Monday, May 27, 2013

Rococo (St.Kilda) 05/2013


Acland St has been a tourist precinct for over 50 years allowing shops to trade on days and at times when others were forced to remain closed. It has always been known for it's cake shops and it still is but much has changed in the street.

Shops and restaurants which were there for decades, Cosmos, the Fairy Stork, Sherazade come to mind, have disappeared. So largely, have the old holocaust survivors who used to gather to shmooze daily at the coffee shops. Cafe's and coffee shops abound and spread out on to the footpaths every where.

The clients are younger now. They come with partners, with prams, young children and their dogs. Many have multiple pierced body parts and their tattoos are very different from the former patrons but there is a great atmosphere to the area.

Rococo is typical of the restaurants here now, although a bit bigger than most. 

There is the usual selection of entree's. Mediteranean style, they serve a particularly good bread

 with mixed dips for sharing. Choose four from a selection of eight. ($15).

Creamed artichoke, 



and fetta 

proved to be excellent and although they looked small, were quite filling.

Main courses are substantial. Prawn risotto had plenty of prawns in it and good taste although the risotto did not have the character and creaminess that distinguishes a well made risotto. ($28.5)


Spaghetti marinara was very good. Heaps of seafood, I was surprised it was 50 cents less than the risotto.

A duck risotto was served with a piece of duck on it rather than being shredded into the risotto.


Wine by the glass are from $9 to $15. A 2010 Heathcote Shiraz ($15) was very good, though a trifle expensive.

An honest cafe meal. I will be happy to come back again. Score 13.25/20

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Steer Bar and Grill (Soth Yarra) 05/2013

About every six weeks SB &;G have been putting on interesting set menu’s, with wine, featuring things out of the ordinary. The last one I went to was all about Wagyu with a talk about Mayura farm and a demonstration of how a carcass is broken down and where the different cuts actually come from. Last Wednesday they out did themselves with a beef oddity meal featuring parts of the animal, nose to tail, that are not commonly eaten. The menu was certainly unusual. Here is a run down of the  Beef Oddity Dinner.

Full Blood Wagyu ‘Lardo’ on Tuscan Bread
200 Chateau St.Jean Chardonnay, Sonoma Ca.
Whilst I did not care much for the Chardonnay this thin lice of pure animal fat was delicious. Cholesterol and calories be damned, it was tender, rich and totally decadent. I’d love it before every meal.
First Course
Beef Cheek and Jowl Terrine
Sweetbread gribiche, salad leaves.
2012 Coldstrem Hills Pinot Noir  Yarra Valley Vic
A pleasant entrée.
Second Course
Lower Shank and Heel Dumpling
Liver consommé, ginger crab
2009 Castello Gabbiano Riserva Chianti Tuscany.
Although the dumpling was a little too al dente, really undercooked, the consommé was outstanding, definitely the hero of this dish. 

                                                                                                                                                             Third Course
Tendon Bordelaise
Wilted watercress, beef pilaf rice
2006 Seppelts Silverband Shiraz, Grampians, Vic.
It may not sound appealing but so far each dish was better than the preceding one and this continued the trend. Very tender, it had a superb texture, and in terms normally used for wines, light flavour, and a great feeling in the mouth. A treat, it also came with the wine I enjoyed most.

Fourth Course
Tail and Neck Bolognaise
Dripping noodles, gremolata
2009 SaltramMamre Brook Cabernet Sauvignon, Barossa Valley, SA.
Another totally different taste sensation, a dish I would be happy to have any time. For meat like this you don’t need teeth.
Fifth Course
Roast Tri Tip
Popes cap hash, potato gratin, flank gravy
2010 Annie’s Lane Queltaler Watervale Shiraz Cabernet, Claire Valley, SA.
Popes cap is a euphemism for a part of the animal not usually thought of for human consumption – the arsehole! Well not really that but the sphincter muscle that surrounds it. It was a very dense very tender meat with extremely fine fibres and no hint of fat. Forget where it comes from and you’ll also love it.
Sixth Course
Candied and Spiced Tongue Petite Fours
NV Bailey’s of Glenrowan Founder Series Topaque, Glenrowan, Vic.
When I have chocolate on my tongue it’s generally because I put it there. Not this time. 

For carnivores this was an especially interesting meal. Not only were the odd bits of the beef very well presented but also the cooking was excellent. Staff were attentive and did not hesitate to consult the chef about questions they could not answer
Score 15//20

Epocha (Carlton) 05/2013

There are 1000's of restaurants in Melbourne and although they are all different, to some considerable extent most of them fit reasonably into categories which fairly closely define them and their cuisine. If you choose to go to a Chinese, an Indian, an Italian or what ever restaurant you have a good idea of what you will get. Of course there are plenty of exceptions, the room for invention and innovation is limitless.
Epocha is what might be called modern Australian. It does not really fall into any category.
Housed in a Victorian terrace house at the city end of Rathdown St., at the edge of the CBD it has a warm, welcoming atmosphere. 

There is an upstairs bar and eating area as well as the downstairs eating area occupying a double room on the ground floor.

Tables are made from old parquet floor boards and have tiles in the centre.

The menu is on one side of an A2 sheet and I found it impossible to read in the dim light. A waiters iPhone torch solved the problem. It is divided into sections and is designed for sharing.
Snacks ($5-8), Small shares($14-28) Large shares ($24-38) and a Cote de Boeuf $64, Accompaniments ($6-9) and Dessert and Cheese ($12). They have a modest range of wines by the glass ($9-20) and a fair variety by the bottle. Sadly, and for no good reason that I can see, none come from Australia.  
Black bread rolls are served warm wrapped in a towel, oil or butter are available.

We went through a fair bit of the menu. Small shares are not really all that small so it was a bit of a food overload. 
Chicken liver pate, with a thin crisp toast, was smooth, creamy and seductive. 

Quinoa and wild rice salad, pomegranate, yoghurt  is the best way I can think of to serve quinoa, a grain that I have never taken to. Here the pomegranate and yoghurt lifted it to a new level, a second serve would have been fine.

Fig salad, goat curd, chard guanciale was another salad served at its prime. Everything about it was just right.

Lamb kalamaki, seared but not overcooked on the grill had only one problem, not enough.

There was an extra on the small serves, Beef cheek and tongue. The cheek was quite excellent, it must have been slow cooked for eve. Wonderful rich full flavour and falling apart texture. In contrast the tongue was just a bit ordinary.

Trevally, courgette, squash, tomato, requested barely cooked came completely over cooked despite the waiters assurance before it was tasted. It was promptly replaced. 

Bird- breast thigh, leg and wing is just a fancy name for chicken.
The best of the mains was Pig - belly, jowl, neck . About three times as much belly as one usually gets, crisp but not tooth shattering crackling and fine taste.

Sides, Roast sweet potato puree, Roast potato duck fat, Green beans, almonds, mixed leaves, maple dressing and Broccolini, shaved garlic were all excellent

 but by now dessert, off a dessert trolley 
or cheese off a cheese trolley
 were beyond our capacity.

There were a few hiccups with this meal which was, in most regards extremely interesting, well cooked, imaginative and structured so that it was easy to please everyone despite sharing and well worth a visit.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Matsuzaka (South Caulfield) 05/13

 Some where below $55 Full Body Massage and unlimited entry to Dreamworld from $69.99 on the back of the receipts I get from Coles supermarkets there is an offer from Matsuzaka  for a free meal, naturally with some strings attached. Still it can give you up to $30 off your meal which is nice if the food is good. It's quite a big double room, simply furnished with a slightly sterile atmosphere. This, I thought, was the best bit of decor.
We were isolated from the bar area and, although the  attractive young waiters, mostly Japanese Uni students, were efficient and obliging we were often out of sight and perhaps out of mind. 
It's set up for teppanyaki, hot pot dishes are made at the table on portable small gas stoves , if I want to cook for myself I'd prefer to stay home, and the menu contains a fair range of dishes. 
The cooking is very much good standard suburban restaurant fare.
We ate a range of dishes including dumplings which were very good,
and vegetarian spring rolls, there wee five before I took this pic, which were pleasant.

Tempura prawns were fresh and had firm texture, originally there was another one of these on the plate too.

Seared salmon in a light terryaki sauce was unremarkable, certainly quite good and a reasonable size serve. 
Their udon soup was another satisfying dish.

Sliced tenderloin with mushrooms and vegetables was very nice the meat being particularly delicate and tasty.
Desserts were very ordinary 
with the exception of this construction which was filled with bean paste.
Whilst there was nothing spectacular about this meal it was very pleasant, good quality products, well prepared, served with enthusiasm. We thoroughly enjoyed it after they got the air conditioning working.
Score: 13.75/20