Saturday, September 25, 2010

Two Fat Indians (East Melbourne) 09/2010

Ethnic restaurants abound in Melbourne and where Indian restaurants are concerned they are not just Indian but South Indian, North Indian even Kashmiri or Mongolian. Two Fat Indians (TFI) produced a North Indian banquet for us, under the direction of one of Australia's food icon and National treasure, Elizabeth Chong.
Starting with Chef Khush's
oven roasted Pappadams served with Mango chutney and Raita we progressed to a selection of entrees - vegetable samosa,
chicken tika, Tandoor lamb cutlet and potato and green pea patties called Aloo Tikki.
Then came two mains, a slow cooked boneless goat curry here called 'Beef Bollywood'

with a fenugreek caress served with seasonal salad and curry leaves in a spicy sauce and Balti butter chicken
and Kardahi tossed pepper fried prawns. These were served with safron Bamati rice, naan bread, raita and mixed pickles. The meal finished with Galub Jamun with ice cream.
All the dishes were tasty and the place itself is roomy
and tastefully set out with some cute glassware.
A very good meal for those who love tis sort of cuisine., the food can be anything from mild to extremely hot depending on patrons desires.
Score: 14/20

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bergerac (Melbourne) 09/2010

Bergerac is a town on the edge of Bordeaux which might have been best known for truffles and goose pate if not for the adventures of its most famous citizen, Cyrano de Bergerac. He was distinguished by an exceptionally large nose, a romantic nature, which created many adventures and outstanding swordsmanship which saved him from a sort life. He is the subject of both books and a movie which has almost nothing to do with Restaurant Bergerac except that the owner comes from the same town. This is a convenient place for a bistro meal in town at 131 King St. The place is warm and friendly with a very French feel about it
encouraged by a background of 60's French music as well as the decor. We had a memorable meal there but not for the best reasons. From the start things were not quite right. A basket of sliced baguettes must have been lying around for a long time to become stale hard and dry. They were replaced with another lot barely any better. Two small slices of garlic and herb bread ($3)
seemed to be missing the garlic.The menu looked very appealing and was enlarged by a blackboard of specials.
We settled on two entrees- a crab ravioli in a spinner crab bisque
and a grilled king prawns on saffron risotto.($18) These both illustrated major culinary deficiencies. Whilst the crab was quite tasty the pastry was hard and the bisque was a dense sauce rather than a soup. The over grilled prawns were on top of a mushy rice which lacked the character of a good risotto. A sad start. For mains we tried the Duck in orange sauce (Confit de canard à l'Orange $28) on a bed of potato and parsnip. The thin slivers of Kiffler potato were over cooked as was the duck which was dry and the parsnip actually burnt! I'm astonished anyone would serve this.
The sauce was thick and seriously over reduced too. A 400 hundred gram rib eye proved to be the only really well prepared dish. It was served with plenty of Bernaise sauce, which was also nice on the accompanying side dish of chips. A bomb Alaska at an adjacent table looked to good to resist
and started off well but the excess alcohol started to burn the meringue before we managed to put it out. But for that it was pretty good. Service was patchy slow and not always well informed. This is a pleasant venue but it will take a substantial improvement in the kitchen to get up to ordinary for the food. They have no answering machine and I rang three or four times at different times before anyone answered the phone. I should not have tried so hard.
This might have been a very off night so I'm not giving a score.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Moonambel Hotel Sept 2010

A group of black garbed ‘bikies’ were almost the only other clients for lunch, bookings essential!,

at this typical small town country pub. A row of shining Harley Davidson’s outside
may have deterred other customers, but I doubt it.

After paying for dinner at the bar we moved into the spacious dining room. Lunch starts with a self serve selection of well cooked veggies in a bain marie.
The broccoli and cauliflower in a béchamel sauce were outstanding and there was nothing to complain about the roast potatoes, roast pumpkin, carrots, beans or the peas and corn. The very well cooked roast beef,
turkey or pork, or any combination you like, wrapped in foil to keep warm, were served by staff.
A selection of mustards and dressings were also available. For dessert we chose Apple crumble
just out of the oven. It seemed to have been placed on top of a sponge cake. Although not too sweet, with plenty of cream, it supplied calories for the week.Of course there are other choices available on blackboard menus.

They have plenty of moderately priced local wines by the glass or bottle. Bottomless tea or coffee, instant, made this a decent Sunday roast for $20 Just what one expects from honest country pub grub

Score 13.5/20

Monday, September 13, 2010


Morels are an edible fungus found in Europe, China and Japan, Australia and America. They are exotic, difficult to cultivate and very expensive. You are unlikely to ever find them in Australia, except at a mushroom specialty shop, unless an experienced 'hunter' takes you to the right areas and even then you might need a bit of luck. We struck it lucky when Neil Murray, of At My Table fame, , took us out to some of his favourite spots.
Morels are rarely more than 5 to 10 cm tall they stand like little sentinels in scattered groups. They have a honeycombed conical cap, which is hollow as is their stem. We never saw more than about half a dozen in one area often had to search 100 metres or more to find another

and then it might only be one or two. There are half a dozen in this photo. Evidently they contain a small amount of a poisonous acid which is destroyed by cooking.
They share the forest floor with an immense variety of other funghi,
probably edible, but I'm not adventurous enough to test this,
or this.
A little mossas well as lots of little flowering plants.

According to Davidson's Oxford Companion to Food many edible funghi are near tasteless, not morels though, and also have little nutritional value. Wild varieties of mushrooms, generally, are much tastier than cultivated ones. He names seven varieties of morels and notes their great popularity in USA where there are morel festivals, notably in Boyne, Michigan in Spring.
They can be frozen or dried and keep well.
For those fortunate to get hold of half a kilo of morels they make an excellent sauce for pasta when fried up with onion, garlic and a little wine, seasoned and mixed with cream before serving.
They are also extremely pleasing halved and deep fried in batter.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Rossini Ristorante Italiano (Malvern) 09/2010

Look through the window of Rossini and you will see a crowded restaurant seven days a week. Can there be a better advertisement? At 213 Glenferrie Rd this family style restaurant has an amiable band of Italian waiters presided over by Frank Fera. It is crowded, warm and welcoming. Food is well prepared, served on well filled large plates. This is a simple venue, without pretensions, exemplified by paper coverd tables, paper serviettes, modest crockery and cutlery and basic furnishings. Bread is served only if requested. An entree of tortellini ($18)
with an excellent white sauce, creamy and tasty, of good consistency was accompanied by a large bowl of grated cheese which was left on the table. The tortellini could have been a little firmer to give them a more interesting texture. We then had a salmon, crusted with herbs ($30)
requested 'blue' it was more cooked than I would have liked but passable. It was not to spicy and came with an impressive serve of mashed potato, some slices of zuchinni and pumpkin and peppers. A spaghetti marinara was another substantial dish served with mussels and prawn heads on the plate.
The prawns were not so easy to find. the waiter assured us that they were inside. For $29.50 Sandra did not think one should have to search for them! Indeed they were there and the pasta had a strong taste of prawn through it. Veal escalope with eggplant and cheese ($29.50)
came with al dente cauliflower and broccoli and a very large potato. Another substantial, rustic, dish that would fill a hard working farmer it had the hallmarks of sound Italian domestic cooking. We had all this with a 2007 Vallpolicella Chianti Superiore ($45)
before coming to dessert. A Zablione
was dominated by the alcohol and not sweet enough for us but the pannacotta
was beyond criticism with custard of perfect texture and sweetness.
They have quite an extensive menu including pizzas and also offer takeaway and BYO wine.
This is a very good place for a winter dinner. We'll be happy to come back and try some more of their menu
Score: 13.75