Monday, March 28, 2005

The Royal Hotel

Introduction: In it's 148th year this historic Mornington pub has housed the Duke of Edinburgh and hosted the Prince of Wales

Ambience: Pleasing old style Feels like the 1950's

Food: Fairly extensive menu of typical pub food and salad bar. Orders from the 'kitchen', delivered to the table by attractive young staff. The beer batter did nothing for the excellent cape whiting and the chips were soggy. The battered prawns were fresh and crisp. The Mud cake was good value at $5.50

Wine: Good range of modestly priced wine by the glass.

Price: Slightly above average - about $65 for two

Comments: Nice for a Sunday lunch.

Score:13 /20

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Introduction: Wednesday, 23 March 2005 6:52 PM
Scorched is a new restaurant on the Esplanade, Torquay. With views of the ocean it is casual & refined.

Food is fine modern. Our 7 year old daughter enjoyed the quail & the chef cooked prawns at our sons request which were not on the menu but please take only well behaved children! The extensive wine list is well chosen. The somelier is passionate & informative. Fine dining on the coast.
Score: 17/20
Posted by RD

Circa at the Prince of Wales

Introduction: Fine reputation, well deserved

Ambience: Quietly sophisticated

Service: Attentive without fuss

Food: Entree of braised Bangalow pork neck, sauteed balmain bugs, Asian celery and cashew nuts, whilst not so delicate, was excellent.
The warm Vichyssoise with salad of spanner crab, spearmint and Pernod cream was absolutely exquisite.

The butter poached breast and roast leg of organic baby chicken with bread stuffing, ricotta dumpling and white truffle sauce more than lived up to expectations whilst the slow cooked duck in Tunisian brik pastry, green peppercorn and tamarind sauce with fresh radish was brilliant.
A platter of tasty fruit and a selection of icecream was a rather ordinary choice of dessert after this first class meal. There is a colourful selection or a cheese platter for those unconcerned about cholesterol
Wine: A good selection, you have to look hard for anything under $35 a bottle $10 up by the glass.

Price: Entrees $19 - $24 Mains mostly about $36 Side dishes $9 about $19 Cheese to $29 Two courses without wine about $120 for two.

Comments: There is a 7 course tasting menu ($100 or 90 for vegetarians) however it was only available for the entire table or I would have had that. This is an expensive restaurant but Chef
Andrew McConnell gave us consistent quality.
Score: 18/20

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Watergrill - Second thoughts

Comments: Perhaps a little harsh in my previous review. Today we had a linen table cloth and padded bench seats. Not so noisy (or crowded) more pleasing than on my first visit. Entrees and Mains remain excellent but the selection of icecream was very ordinary
Score: 15.5/20 Average of 3 reviews 15.5 Fits well in the Very Good category.

Melba Brasserie

The old Sheraton Hotel, now called Langham Hotel is located on the bank of the Yarra River, just about on the way into the city. A few minutes' walk from the Arts Centre, the hotel is convenient and gracious. The lobby is beautiful, adorned with plush carpets and huge vases filled with magnificent flowers. Just walking through the lobby on the way to the buffet restaurant is worth some of the price of dinner!
The buffet is available for both lunch and dinner, and this last time we went for lunch. One can request a seat near the window and gaze out at the Yarra, the bridge, and watch the Southbank traffic go by. A view of a few of the classic buildings of Melbourne are visible in the background. It is a very nice view and certainly a place one wants to show off to out-of-town visitors.
The service is very good. The waiter seems to appear very often to make sure you have what you need. An addicted tea drinker, I asked the waiter to refill my tea cup 4 or 5 times, and he obliged each time with a pleasant smile.
The buffet itself seems too good to be true, and it is too good to be true! It is ample, but much of the individual selections are just not excellent. There is a lot of everything, and it is exciting to have so much of everything available with no limit, but one tires of the choices quickly as each dish is often quite mediocre. In order of appearance:
The bread is actually excellent. They have a bread tray with many kinds of delicious breads and breadrolls. They then have warmers filled with hot selections - some fish, some chicken, some vegetable based. It looked and tasted like cafeteria food. There was hot pasta cooked before your eyes by a chef handling a small fry-pan. I ordered penne with sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, in a tomato sauce, sprinkled with parmesan cheese on top. It was fun to watch, it looked good, but the flavor was bland and the tomato sauce not very tasty. The olives were not that good, and, overall, I imagine most home cooks do a better job.
On the cold buffet, the feta cheese, tomato, cucumber salad was so sleepy, that i did not eat it. I wondered how many days it had been tossed and put out again.
The cold buffet of smoked salmon was also not as fresh as one would like, with the rims of the smoked salmon a bit crusty and old. the sushi looked so dark and malevolent that I was afraid to try it. There were cold cheeses that were lovely, blue cheese, cheddar and brie - just delicious Australian cheeses.
I had little dessert - mostly strawberries and whipped cream, which was nice, although i would have liked larger and sweeter strawberries. The few tarts I tasted were ok.
There is a wonderful feeling of endless food and endless eating at a buffet, and they certainly do not make you feel self-conscious in any way. It is an old-fashioned experience of plenty, designed in a different time, perhaps by a bit of an older generation. So, it is lovely to step back in time a bit, go to a hotel, and just eat until you cannot walk out properly. I think some of the other hotels have had to suspend their buffets and close them because they do not make any money on them. So, I hate to add restraint to a possibly already struggling enterprise. but, for really great food, this might not be the best choice. For a great hotel, a great view, and all the prawns you can fit into your stomach however, this is your best choice!

Score: 13/20
Contributed by EB


Water Grill restaurant looks French. When one walks into it, one can sense an almost bistro ambience, with a wooded counter and mirrors behind the bar. It looks meticulous and spacious, and has a Continental air about it.
The waiters look formal in their starched white servers' uniform, and they carry themselves with an air of formality as well. It seems that they want their patrons to feel they are dining in a fine restaurant. Accommodating yet not too friendly with the customers, their proper restraint looks like it was part of their training.
Much of the food is excellent. The bread they serve is very good white flour classic French bread, which makes everything taste better. The salad nicoise is one of the best I've ever had, with a lovely salad of mixed greens, some hard boiled egg, cherry tomatoes, purple onions, olives, and superb tuna carpaccio in slices on the side of the plate. The tuna carpaccio had a peppercorn coating, (only on the rim of the slice) which lent a crunchy and pleasantly sharp flavor to each raw tuna slice. Superb.
The main that I chose was a penne with chunks of yellowfin tuna. It was coated in a nice pesto. It was ok, nice, average and flavorful. I tasted my friends' dishes, and they were superb. The whole fish steamed snapper was very nicely prepared and served. And, the fish and chips were extremely well done. The fried and coated fish really melted in your mouth.
Dessert was not remarkable. The ice cream was ok, and the middle eastern wrapped pastry accompanying the ice cream had too much cinnamon and not enough of other flavors to suit my taste. The pot of tea at the end was weak and not hot enough.
All in all, though, it is an excellent place. It is very comfortable. The restaurant itself is very large, and the table and booths are spacious and comfortable. The service is polite and good, and one could have a long meal there with friends and linger over good food and good ambience.
Wine: Amodest slightly expensive list $8.50 -$11 by the glass
Price: A very good value Special ? may not be available at night included a glass of wine and two courses for $25 Generally about $90 for 2 courses for two not including drinks
Score: 16/20


Babka Cafe is a light fare restaurant in Brunswick St.that specializes in wonderful bread and in Russian cuisine. A perfect place for lunch or light dinner, the ambience is friendly. You can order an entree or main or dessert, or all three, and be served with politeness, and with a pleasant attention to needs. They seem to want you to come and enjoy your indulgence, either your light lunch, or dessert, or a regular meal.
They pride themselves on unusual breads, both dark and light. As you eat your meal you will see many people come into the shop to pick up breads to take home. They have breads with olive slices, with sunflower seeds, with sourdough, rye and with plain white flour. People can enjoy bread with one of their specialties - homemade borscht. The borscht, very light and made purely vegetarian, was so easy on the palate and on the calorie guilt that you were encouraged to try one of their lovely desserts. At our table we all had the lemon tart, and it was delicious. Everyone loved it. They served a nice pot of tea at the end of the meal.
You can also find large salads, meat sandwiches, and hot full main dishes to choose from. One could certainly have a satisfying three course meal there as well.
The place is small, with tables close to one another, so this is for causal dining, not for quiet intimate tete-a-tete types of evenings. It is more like an expanded bakery that realized it offered very good food, than a regular restaurant. Still, for a lovely piece of pie and tea, or for a light soup and exotic bread, Babka Cafe is a nice choice.
Price: Ladies don't always know these things!
Score: 16/20
Contributed by EB

Friday, March 11, 2005


Introduction: Definitely fine Japanese dining

Ambience: Sedate refined atmosphere created in part by the large central water garden.

Service: Unhurried, provided by a helpful team (mostly of slender attractive Japanese waitresses)

Food: Beautifully presented without excessive fussyness. A selection of Sushi and Sushimi could not be faulted. The fish and vegetable Tempura was also excellent. Patagonian toothfish with a special dipping sauce was extremely delicate - a new taste experience for me. The one dessert we tried a pancake and green tea icecream was a delight to the eye and the taste buds! Teppanyaki is also available.

Wine: Good list but expensive Best value the Saki

Price: Entrees $18 -25 Mains $22 - 40+ Desserts around $15 About $110 for 2 courses plus drinks

Comments: The elegance is fading but this remains a classy venue serving fine food.

Score: 17/20

Monday, March 07, 2005

Mercer's Restaurant

Introduction: Situated in an old weatherboard house on Main road Eltham
Ambience: A sort of countrified laid back colonial elegance.

Service: Uniformed waiters astonished me on two occasions - when we said we would pour the wine ourselves the waiter said that's all right and continued and emptied the bottle and secondly when an opinion on the food was offered it was met with the remark "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion".

Rather sedate but otherwise satisfactory.
Food: All dishes were very attractively presented. The rabbit sauternes and wild mushroom pie served with a small nicoise salad was surprisingly bland as was the salmon terrine while the blue cheese souffle was excellent.
Mains included something for everyone fish fowl meat or vegetarian.
The duck was rather tough, the free range chicken very good the potato canneloni wrapped wild mushrooms on a bed of beans excellent but the best of all was the fillet, cooked as requested, on well cooked ox cheek on a bed of potatoes.
Desserts were uniformly excellent with top billing for the Grand dessert for two - a sample of all the desserts available.
Wine: An excellent list to suit all pockets
Price: $47 for two courses $60 for three. Tasters menu $72 or $100 with wine.
Comments: With the mandatory dozen or so certificates around the walls, the excellent home made bread, the gratis appetiser (a really fine tomato capachino or a salmon pate topped with a thin layer of ?jelly and fruit mousse) Mercer's has the accoutrements of the fine restaurant that it is. Well worth a visit
Score: 16/20

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Red Emporer

Introduction: Reputedly perhaps the best Yum Cha in Melbourne

Ambience: Very pleasant on the upper level overlooking the Yarra at Southbank.

Service: The usual constant passage of food laden trolleys

Food: Again much the same as everywhere else. One unusual dish was a scallop with mushroom served in a cream sauce topped with grilled cheese served on the shell.

Wine: Some inexpensive by the glass. Reasonable selection at fair prices
Price: Only a little dearer than suburban restaurants - about $30 per person

Comments: Good but not as good as Imperial Kingdom my benchmark for excellence for Yum Cha

Score: 14/20

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


Introduction: Round the corner from the Prime Minister's lodge in Kirribilli

Ambience: Warm - the air conditioning was not coping!, friendly very pleasing

Service: Attentative without being obsequious

Food:Entrees from $22 to $28 are expensive by Melbourne standards. The oxheart tomato terrine w goats curd, balsamic caramel and rocket cress was interesting but I would try something else next time.

The crisp skinned snapper on a cassoulet of white beans w roasted tomato and basil was succulent and the oven roast lamb loin w olive oil poached artichokes, black lentils, and red wine kalamata olive sauce prepared to perfection
Bread served with humus and olive oil, ($2 a serve!), and palate cleansers between courses were nice additions
Desserts were exquisite i had a mangari chocolate delight w prunes to die for
Wine: BYO except on Saturday! A fair range, not too expensive

Price: About $140 fr two courses

Comments: Not quite "upper crust" but getting there. well worth a visit.

Score:15.5 /20