Sunday, March 14, 2010
There is a photo here that we just had to share.
Yes, that's the daily paper framed up there!
Saturday, March 06, 2010
It surprised me that readers in a survey we did claimed to be little influenced by restaurant reviews. We are certainly inclined to avoid places that get bad reviews and want to go to those that reviewers favour. Without John Lethleans’ very positive remarks about Hu Tong I doubt we would have ever gone there. It’s a dim sum specialty Chinese restaurant, they also have a a la carte menu, opposite the Prahran Market on Commercial Rd. It occupies a very attractive space on the ground floor of the very new and very modern Cullen hotel. It is bright and open
with large glass windows facing an open entrance passageway and the street. They have two sessions for Sunday and we came, as requested, at 11.30 for the first sitting. It took some time before any food became available. It was presented by waiters moving about with trays of the usual things served at Yum Cha. Service was, to put it mildly, erratic. Requests were forgotten, they presented the same thing several times at some tables and missed other. Food was well prepared, the pastry for the steamed sea food dumplings finer than most but the Shanghai pork dumplings, large portion, which we had to order and waited over 40 minutes for was thicker and coarser than usual. The dumpling did contain a mouth wateringly flavour full soup encouraging us to eat more than we originally intended. Some of the other dumplings also had a heavy pastry. Another highly recommended dish was their tofu.
This silken loaf, bathed in a dark sauce had a velvety smooth texture delighted any tofu lover.We also tried several other very ordinary dishes. Drunken chicken cooked in rice wine,
battered crispy calamari
and large, very crisp Bankers purses
added nothing special to the lunch.Undeterred we kept trying more dishes. Scallops in a bread batter,
pot stickers and more steamed food.
Comments: Everything was done wel, indeed very well,l but there was a lack of inspiration in the food. The variety was limited in that there were no offal dishes at all. No chicken feet or duck web,or duck tongue, no tripe, indeed nothing from inside an animal. A very pleasant venue but rarely rising above the very ordinary.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
The Brandon Hotel falls into this category. Whilst the service might be a little amateurish, (To the question "Do you have a dessert menu?" the response was "Yes I will bring it out when the time comes") the place is attractive and the food excellent. It has a slightly old fashioned look with 50's style chairs.
Tables have white linen clothes and napkins and good weight cutlery.
There are a variety of starters including a vegetarian option, oysters, with lime and sherry. or salmon. Mains also include a vegetarian dish, fish or chicken as well as slow cooked lamb neck and steaks. Sides of Heirloom tomatoes, crushed Kipfler potaoes or green beans with fetta are all $8.
We began with a starter of free range pork with Yarra Valley pickled pear and crispy pigs ear ($15) Chef Nigel Cunningham, late of the award winning Healesville Hotel, started here a couple of months ago. He has introduced a lot of very good Yarra Valley products and wines. The thought of pigs ear might be off putting but it was similar to something between crispy bacon and crackling. The pork, a nice size piece of pork belly was superb and the colourful sweet poached pear a very good accompaniment. The boneless quail wrapped in prosciutto with white bean puree, roasted hazelnuts and Cafe de Paris butter ($16)
was a tasteful and tasty presentation and the bean puree excellent. For mains I had the special 120 day grain fed beef steak
and Sandra the char grilled 31 day dry aged grass fed Gippsland Black Angus beef with roasted bone marrow, gratin of colcannon potato and parsley with a caper and red onion salad ($36). Both steaks were cooked as requested and were reasonably tender. There was a distinct difference in the taste of the grass fed meat and the grain fed beef but I could not say I had a taste of fresh mown grass!
There is a small choice of desserts or a cheese platter. We had a Kennedy and Wilson chocolate brownie with Alexandria cherries poached in Pedro Ximenez sherry with a dollop of cream ($16).
This was a great end to the meal for a lover of sweet things, Coffee was served with chockies.
They have a fair range of wines - there are over four dozen on their list, mostly Australian, with half a dozen reds or whites by the glass and half a dozen fortified and dessert wines. The prices are extremely reasonable running from $22 for an 08 Rothbury Estate sav. blanc to $550 for an 01 Penfolds Grange. This turned out to be a very good meal at a reasonable cost.
We are happy to recommend the Brandon.Score:14.25 /20