Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Enoteca Vino Bar

Introduction: Something different. 14 Assagini from different regions of Italy There is also a large retail outlet with a giant selection of Italian wines and fine foods - oils, pasta, risotto rice and much more
Ambience: Bustling cafe

Service: Prompt and helpful

Food: I tried 4 mostly delicious dishes Small serves. The skewered prawn with wild bitter onions on sweet and sour apple and tomato chutney from Molise is very special (and very expensive at $17 for 2!) The eggplant with melted buffalo mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano (Puglia) very good $6. The caprese salad of fresh tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil from Campania was pretty ordinary and expensive $8.50 and 3 olives stuffed with fish and lightly fried for $6.50 tasted great but filled only a very small space

Wine: Large range of Italian wines available by the glass

Price; Extremely expensive

Comments: Very interesting food

Score: 15/20

Old Kingdom

Introduction: Long established Peking Duck specialty restaurant in Smith St Fitzroy
Ambience: Run down, crowded and battered

Service: Friendly but somewhat confused

Food: The Peking duck is carved at the table and you make your own packet with the spring onion, cucumber and plum sauce and thin pancakes. the duck is then removed and the remaining meat used to make a duck and beanshoot dish. The bones are cooked up to make a duck soup which is served last. An excellent meal.

There is also a full menu of chinese dishes which, having tried Lemon Chicken, Beef with mushroom and vegetables and Fried tofu I can confidently say they are just OK but certainly nothing special
Wine: Byo

Price: Very inexpensive

Comments: The place to go for Peking duck. Make sure you make a reservation Ph. 9417 2438 and organize that they have duck available (Closed Monday)

Score: 13.5/20

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bok Choy Tang

Introduction: Another Federation Square restaurant.
Ambience: A pianist adds to the pleasant feeling in this restaurant distinguished by a large open kitchen at the end of a good size carpeted room with a bar at its far end
and fine views
Service: Good

Food: Regional style reminiscent of chilli spiced cantonese Fried tofu was very bland despite the light chilli flavoured sauce. Pork belly was tender and succulent tho I prefer crisper crackling. Their duck melted in the mouth but was very fat and the lobster on golden noodles was delicious

There are a couple of banquets at reasonable prices. They have an extensive menu available on the internet
Price: Soups and desserts $8 Mains mostly about $25 to $30 up to $50 for wok fried lobster and smoked salmon

Comments: I enjoyed the meal and the atmosphere and will go back again

Score: 15/20

yering station wine bar

Set in a handsome stone building separate from the cellar door at Yering Station this cafe style restaurant boasts a menu that would not be out of place in a top city restaurant
I think our waitress might have been in the job for a very short time but tried hard to please
Food:The confit leg and rolled saddle of rabbit with braised olives and carrots with vanilla and vincotta dressing looked good but tasted very ordinary and for $17.5 was a very small serve
The ocean trout cutlet and grilled scallops with caramelised angel hair pasta, beetroot pickle and saffron sauce was disappointing and my sirloin steak on a bed of celariac ( which tasted like half cooked potato) was undistiguished.
The lime and vanilla cream brulee with quince fritters was made with gelatine and tasted like it.
Wine: There is an extensive list - not only their own wines and very reasonably priced
Price: Entrees about $17 Mains $28 -$32 Desserts $12.5
Comment: There is a wonderful view of rolling hills but i'd go somewhere else for food as it is far too expensive for what you get
Score 12.5/20

Monday, December 12, 2005

Bistro Moncur - Sydney

Introduction: An ex Melbournian Damien Pignolet has a very French bistro in the heart of Woolharra.
Ambience: Unpretentious, the usual paper covered table cloths, a family style place

Service: Prompt and attentive

Food: Both the French onion souffle gratin
and the crab omelette are fabulous dishes. The minute steak w wine merchants sauce is a delight to the taste buds and was tender too. The sirloin with cafe de paris butter, one of his signature dishes was also tops though I find the butter all together too spicy- what can I say!

After a second visit I now have some reservations about the sirloin. They were really not able to serve the meat 'warm blue', merely very rare and it certainly was no longer a top dish.

Duck rillettes a sort of coarse duck pate with beetroot relish, cornichons (litte pickles) and sourdoughtoast was very good and I thoroughly enjoyed the braised honeycomb tripe in a sort of a soup with chorizo, tomato chickpeas and aioli
Honey comb tripe
Mandarin souffle light as a feather and tasty too
Berries on custard filled puff pastry no complaints here

Wine: A Hardy's pinot noir under a special label (Woodforth) 2002 was a fine accompaniment for the meal and only $25

Price: As with most Sydney restaurants it seems Entree about $17 Mains about $28 to $38 - Around $55 for two courses plus wine

Comments: They don't take bookings. No problem if you arrive soon after opening but it fills quickly

No longer on my list of must come back to My original score of 16.5 was over generous
Score: 14/20


Introduction: Like well known speakers Luke Mangans new restaurant at the refurbished Sydney Hilton probably needs no introduction
Ambience: Set in an immense room with wooden floors and a ceiling so high it's almost out of sight it has a wall of wine, which must be at least twice the size of the feature wall at the Botanic in Melbourne, and an impressively large open kitchen. It was a surprise, which seems to be a Sydney thing, that the linen table cloths were covered with paper

Service: Luke Mangan greeted us, and presumably everyone else, on entry and led us to our table. Our waiter was efficient, well informed, courteous and personable.

Food: We had an entree of Salad of Yabbies, orange jelly, feta and campari dressing which was quite tasty and delicate without being exquisite was a good starter. The crab bisque, sauteed prawns and pickled mushrooms had a very strong flavour but still needed to be boiled down to a thicker consistancy. The chicken liver parfait with pickles and toasted brioche was very rich and creamy. Best to share between two or even three people.

For main courses I had the barbequed T bone on kipfler potatoes which was on special and was tasty but tough. The roast duck breast, caramelised peach with vanilla and pomme puree suffered the same problem and two slices of breast at $37.50 seemed a little ungenerous. The chargrilled spiced prawns cucumber and fennel salad were large very fresh and good texture but they also would not satisfy a hungry patron.
We had a selection of desserts for the table of which the standout was the Creme Brulee. The summer pudding bomb Alaska with berry compot was also very good
There is a six course degustation menu for $100 or $145 with matching wines
Price: Our 3 course meal with wine came out at about $85 per head
Comment: It is odd that the menu haeadings all all in French although by and large the rest of the menu is in plain English. The outstanding feature of this restaurant is the setting and not the food
Score: 15.5/20

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

ezard at the Adelphi

Introduction: In the basement of the Adelphi in Flinders Lane close to Swanston St. There is plenty of off street parking close by. Access for the wheel chair bound is extremely difficult
Ambience: Refurbished about early 2005 there is more carpet now and a small private dining area at the front of this rather long narrow room. Dark with added lighting from small enclosed candles - quite romantic!

Service: Very slow when asked for butter instead of oil for the bread but generally tried very hard to please
Food: We indulged in an eight course degustation menu. i will give the a la carte
prices for these dishes as I describe them

japanese (ezards menu has no capital letters!) inspired swordfish shooter - a wasabi flavoured dumpling in a sweet Chinese wine with a small nori wrapped sushimi accompaniment $4.5. An interesting starter
pepper and soy cured tunaw purple asparagus, thai basil and blood orange $21.5 Another interesting combination but I would not have liked a large serve.
wild mushroom dumpling, spiced short soup just a tiny cup - disappointing very strong taste of coriander and mushroom no delicacy here
crispy fried zucchini flower with goats cheese, panzanella salad, balsamic syrup and basil oil $20.5 a totally delicious creation
steamed tiger prawn rice noodle roll, chinese wine, ginger soy dressing $23.5 was rather ordinary although the dressing was excellent
humpty doo barramundi, red nam jam, thai salad, corn cakes $39.5 a delicate succulent dish
crispy skin duck, green chilli and shallot sauce silk melon, coconut rice $39.5 another quite superb dish my favourite
banana parfait with cinnamon wafer and passion fruit sauce $18.5 an excellent finish to the meal
t2 tea $7.5 or gravity xtc coffee $6.5 is a bit of a hot price
I should add the their bread is warm and fresh, the oil aromatic and spiced and there a three additional "spices' on the table worth tasting - sweet and hot, a ground pepper and a mixture ? what flavoured with sesame seeds
Wine: We enjoyed eight wines chosen by a restauranter not generally available so I am unable to comment on the wine list

Price: Expensive

Comments: Since my last visit a couple of years ago I think ezard has become less 'fussy' and his flavours are now clearer and more to my taste. You can have a brilliant meal here if you choose well or be awfully disappointed if you choose badly

Score: 16.5/20

Monday, November 28, 2005


Introduction: Another modern Asian High St Armadale restaurant
Ambience: Carpeted room w well spaced tables, linen tablecloths and servietes, plain decor. Very pleasant

Service: Prompt informed and attentive

Food: Extremely pleasing. Entree ($11.5) of Thai Chicken parcels was delicate and juicy preserving all the flavour of the chicken. Prawn dumpling also very tasty. they are also well known for their "Monsoon Oysters" lightly grilled and spiced. For mains the Crispy Thai fish a small whole snapper I think, with a tangy capsicum red sauce was excellent as was the Wafu steak cooked as requested.

Wine: Licenced or BYO wine We brought our own ($7 corkage) and I regret that I did not look at the wine list
Price:About $36 per head. There are several very good value degustation or banquet menus starting at $40
Comments: A very good meaL well worth a visit - and a revisit!

Score: 15/20

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Introduction: A large open room with a wall of glass panels that can be moved to open on to Glenhuntly Rd a short walk from the Classic Cinema
Ambience: Pedestrian furnishings, cutlery and crockery. Good lighting A family style restaurant

Service: Can be slow specially on Saturday when they can be very busy. The menu is posted outside and they don't appreciate patrons getting their own!

Food: Known for the large size of the serves the quality was better than I expected. A large flounder (about 10 cm across) and very nicely cooked served with a mass of thin crisp chips, coleslaw and red cabbage salad ($29) was enough for two ordinary diners. Spaghetti Marinara ($22) as a main was filled with scallops mussels and prawns filled a large plate.

They are also well known for their middle eastern salads
Wine: a small inexpensive list with a House South Aust. Cabernet blend for $4 a glass or $15 a caraffe. If you want a really good wine BYO and pay a mere $1 per head corkage

Price: If you share meals very inexpensive. Mains start around $20
Comments: A good place to go and share a dish or two with friends after the cinema or for a square meal if you haven't eaten for a few days!
Score: 13.5/20

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Chine on Paramount

Introduction: Apocraphilly rumoured originally to be run by staff recruited from the Flower Drum CoP managed to maintain a level of delicacy of flavour that marks it as above the average of its Little Bourke Street competitors
Ambience: Well appointed pleasantly unhurried
atmoshere with what I suspect is a background of Chinese Muzak
Service: Attentive

Food: Quite by accident we enjoyed several dishes which are not on the printed menu. Deep fried battered oysters and steamed scallops in a ginger sauce was delicious. The vegetarian san chow bau was fully up to expectation and the Bailing mushrooms with bokchoy, broccoli and snow peas is a superb vegetarian dish. The atlantic salmon with battered snow peas another unusual dish. Sweet and sour prawns were distinguished by the fine balance in the sauce and the crunchy very fresh prawns. Finally the crispy boned duck with plumb sauce was extremely tender, looked good, tasted good and had excellent texture. Generally I am not impressed with Chinese desserts. There are no pretensions about the icecream its Rickitts and its very good rich creamy and full of flavour

Wine: The 21 page wine list should satisfy most patrons. Plenty by the glass. Bottles from about $35 upwards. We enjoyed an O'Leary Cabernet Merlot @ $38 a bottle

Quite expensive but you can eat cheap if you wish - there is a pre show dinner $25 Bit like a business lunch We paid $45 per person for the food and ate really well
Comments: Top quality

Score: 18.5/20

Sunday, November 06, 2005


Introduction: Situated at 340 Glenhuntly Rd Elsternwick the signage announces that this is a "Fine Italian Cafe" The last word is right.
Ambience: Crowded bustling and happy

Service: When the waitress asked if the Cabernet Savignon was red I suspected I might be dealing with an amateur!

Food: Quite tasty although totally lacking refinement. Good size serves. Fish and chips a nice peice of whiting in batter a small green salad and a mass of crisp thin chips was cheap at $13.50 and the Fettuccini Calabrese with chicken and mushroom in a white sauce reasonably satisfying
Wine: Licenced or BYO If you want something good

Price: About $45 for two courses for two

Comments: Open for breakfast lunch and dinner and serve 'till about 11.00pm probably best for Breakfast or supper

Score: 13/20

Friday, November 04, 2005


Introduction: At 394 Collins St in the National Trust listed building which originally housed the first Bank of Australia this bears no resemblance to todays banks!
Ambience: Rather dark (they need a cherry picker to change a light bulb) but filled with the feel of an elegant old building. The original bars sparating the tellers from the public are still in place. Enormously high ceilings are well in proportion with the very large eating space. A very comfortable space.

Service: Very patchy. Our waitress, apparently having just moved from breakfasts, had very little idea about looking after our wine needs but tried hard

Food: There is a good range of fish and meat dishes on the menu $25-34 supported by interesting entrees $16-21 and very good desserts about $15 Very tasty well presented, good size serves, steak cooked as requested. I thoroughly enjoyed the Raviolo entree and the prawn salad was also well received. The twice cooked duck (breast and leg) with shitake mushrooms and green vegetables with reduced master stock could hardly have been better. The filet steak on a bed of parsnip puree was tender and the grilled Barramundi praised by my guest.

Wine: Inexpensive small range by the glass and modest range by the bottle

Price: About $100 for two plus wine

Comments: It was a pleasure to have such a good meal in such fine surroundings. I'll happily recommend it to my friends

Score:15.5 /20

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Le Gourmet

Introduction: At 366 Albert St opposite the park this quiet restaurant belongs in the fine dining class
Ambience: Large carpeted room in which everything speaks of modest uncluttered quality

Service: Professional

Food: I had the Spring Degustation menu ($98)

Salad of asparagus with tallegio, caramelised walnuts and parsley in walnut dressing Delicate and tasty
Steamed Moreton Bay bugs with shaved apple, watercress, fennel and Meyer lemon salad Rather dominated by the lemon
Terrine of pork hock, white beans & chorizo wrapped in bacon w baby leaves and radishes
A light Cappuccino of fresh morels dusted with porcini powder
Grilled cutlets of spring lamb on artichoke & dutch carrot stir fry w risotto fritters & thyme glace Surprisingly tough lamb
Selection of cheeses with condiments "Salzburger Nockerl" Hot souffle w hazelnuts, chocolate chips served w icecream, fruit & hot chocolate sauce.
A la carte there is a good range of entr'ees ($15-23) Mains ($27-34) Desserts($13-17) and soups and side dishes.
Wine: Good range reasonably priced with the exception of Fred's Red a ridiculously cheap ($22 a bottle) cab/sav which is acceptable though neithe the connosseur or the wine buff would find it satisfactory

Price: As above

Comments: A good place for a special night out tho' a bit on the expensive side.

Score: 14.5 - 15/20

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Recenly revisited restaurants

THE ANGLIS Looks much better than it is. Special Chef's dinner was very poor value expensive and little better than ordinary food. left hungry! 13.5

Attica Underrated initially worth a third try 3rd time lucky fabulous now 17.5/20

BALA DA DHABA Yet again! Retains all it good things and all its faults I still like best or takeaway

Bamboo House Wonderful food in a tired setting

Bistro Moncur Not quite as good as I first thought 13.75/20

C'EST BON It sure is

DADA NOI I liked it before I LOVE it now 16.5/20

ezard at the Adelphi So very good

IMPERIAL KINGDOM 10 times at least! Retains an even, very good, standard !6/20 for Yum Cha 14/20 for A la carte Not any more Slipping 14/20 perhaps!

FLOWER DRUM Despite John Lethlean and the AGF Guide remains a really good restaurant

FRANCE- SOIR Very very good 16.5/20

FENIX Three times Up with the very best 17.75/20 and yet again! Now closed I'm waiting for Raymond Capaldi to open at the former Mercy Hospital in East Melbourne

JAQUES REYMOND Very very good 17.5/20

RIPPLES Great for Yum Cha but I wouldn't rush there for a la carte

Ru Inn maintains a good standard

SAUCIER 3 times Service remains too slow 15/20 for food 12/20 for service




SUPPER INN Little change in 20+ years not quite as good as ever Still need to queue at 10.30 pm They now take credit cards

VUE DE MONDE 7 times and counting! and as good if not better than ever 18/20


Introduction: Close to Victoria Gardens on Victoria Street Richmond This is one of the "new wave" restaurants serving adventurous dishes - French international but out of the usual mould.
Ambience: Linen serviettes and table cloths, good quality cutlery and crockery, attractive original paintings interestingly framed by the wood surrounds make for a pleasing atmosphere
Service: Faultless
Food: We started with the Liquid Nitrogen palate cleanser, a parfait of green tea, lime, vodka and egg white poached at the table in a bowl of liquid nitrogen which was both fun and effective ($12) The entrees were quite magnificent the caramelised pork belly with Thai style coconut spaghetti is delectable and the 6 large scallops grilled on the shell topped with cheese mornay style and grated parmigano equally excellent. The troncon of greenback flounder was very well prepared but not as exciting as the rabbit leg stuffed with black bean and bacon served on a bed of rich creamed potato and surrounded by wild mushrooms. The dishes are not skimpy and even their bread is hard to resist so by the time it got to desserts there was no room to enjoy their 'best dessert of 2005' a Tuille of turbinado sugar, bell pepper jam and cucumber white chocolate. Next time!
Our waiter was happy to explain the way dishes were prepared and translate the French terms on the menu but there is also a glossary at the foot of each section of the menu
Wine: Modest range available by the glass $8-12 Reasonable range by the bottle.

Price: About $140 for a really good dinner for two

Comments: This is another excellent restaurant in the same league as Circa and not far behind Vue de Monde

Score: 17.5/20

Well things have changed at Fenix. A $1.2 mil uptade has left the decor more like a bistro than a top restaurant (no table cloths now!) BUT, fortunately, the food is as good as ever and the waiters are as attentive as it isposible to be with out being in your face.They now have an eight course tasting menu $125 or $165 with matched wines as well as their a' la carte menu.Of course we had to go for the fancy stuff and how very good it is. Served on specilly designed plates with somewhat unusual cutlery these were superb small dishes

The follwing photo's show most of the courses.

Above Is a smoked Tuna broth with field and dried mushrooms
These Yabby tails in sago and loganberry were extraordinary

Lightly cooked Barramundi with a delightful Turnip mash and vegies
Above the right pic of medium rare rump of lamb on an eggplant mash with baby honeyed leeks

Desserts - Above Pear with deconstructed apple crumble and olive ice cream and on left Frozen marshmellow and Tea ice cream

All this followed by Petit fours and coffee.
The asymmetric plates are not the result of my indifferent photography!!
Worth every bit of 17.75/20

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Wong's Cafe

On Glenhuntly Rd a few doors toward the beach from Orrong Rd This is a fairly typical suburban Chinese restaurant.
Service: Efficient, bordering on obsequious

Food: Varied from less than ordinary to very nice. The sweet and sour battered pork fellinto the former category the fried rice very ordinary whilst chicken and vegetables was quite acceptable and the beef in oyster sauce was
very tasty and delicate. Desserts are extremely simple e.g. fruit salad and icecream or bannana fritter and icecream.
Wine: BYO or small inexpensive range by glass or bottle

Price: Cheap. A small banquet for 2 - soup 3 mains fried rice dessert and tea/coffee $23 or a slightly smaller banquet for $16/head. A la carte also very cheap
Comments: Handy for an inexpensive meal if you are in the area
Score: 13/20

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sung's Kitchen Restaurant

Introduction: Close to Victoria Market at 118 Franklin St. patrons can enjoy a surprisingly inexpensive meal of very good quality.
Ambience: There is a quiet private room upstairs and a large open space downstairs dining area Generally pleasant

Service: We were well looked after by Eric, the"Major Domo" and a team of attractive young waitresses

Food: The Gatronomic tour of China would need special arrangements as some of the dishes need 24 hrs notice to prepare. This is what we had: Shanghai specialties: Juicy Pork Dumpling succulent somehow retaining chiken soup in a pastry pocket, Beggars chicken stuffed with mushroom and herbs wrapped in a lotus leaf and foil and cooked for 8 hours in a clay pot (at some restaurants you are invited to smash this open with a hammer) de-licious! From Sichuan Hot and sour soup as good as any being at the same time hot sour sweet salty and piquant, Spicy prawns slightly glazed almost as crunchy as an apple and Sichuan string beans prepared with pickled turnip dried prawns and pork and cooked in a very hot wok 'explosive cooking!' From Xian: Shrimp roe tofu - evidently there are hundreds of ways of making tofu, crunchy shredded beef with leek and shallots. From Beijing Lamb roast (pre slow boiled for 6 hrs to reduce the fat before roasting, served with sauteed Tianjin cabbage and from Hong Kong Egg Fu noodles and a sweet dessert soup with sesame paste balls.

Served with Lichee tea and steam rice.
Wine: It did not really go with his meal but we had a bubbly Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier Chardonnay followed by a Pinot Grigio 2004 a Patrice Chardonnay 2002, a Tampranillo 2003 and a Patrice Shiraz 2002 all from Brown Bros. The bubbly and the Tampranillo were most suited to the meal. No I did not drink all of them and drive home

Price: The General menu is extremely inexpensive with most mains about $13 to 18 with some above and below that.

Comments: Sung is a master Chef This is a must go to restaurant for any lover of Chinese food who wants to get something more than well prepared Cantonese style food

This North Chinese Yum Cha is quite different from the Cantonese style served at almost every other restaurant. Choose from some 30 dishes on their menu - they are prepared on the spot.
Accompanied by an aromatic rose tea I particularly enjoyed the Szechuan spicy dried beef, the mustard cress w dried bean curd, the fresh crab meat dumpling, the Peking souffle prawns and the emporer meat dumpling.
Nothing changed my view that this is one of the most underrated Chinese restaurants in Melbourne
Score: 16/20

Friday, October 14, 2005

George's Greek Tavern

Introduction: As you enter Malvern restaurant you pass a large refrigerated cabinet displaying prawns, snapper, crabs, octopus, flounder, sea perch, garfish and a variety of other fresh and attractive seafood. An encouraging start.
Ambience: A very clean almost sterile but friendly atmosphere in this large wooden floored room
Service: Casual!

Food: Plain well prepared dishes Nothing fancy We had a mixed dip and fried eggplant both very tasty entrees accompanied by a loaf of oven heated bread followed by lamb souvlaki and a whole barbecued baby snapper both served with roast potato and a large salad. Portions are good size a liitle overcooked for my taste but I should have said how I wanted the lamb cooked

Wine: We brought our own (which happened to be excellent) and there was no charge for corkage - probably an oversight

Price: Entrees $6-7 Mains $17 to 25 except crab

Comments: A no nonsense very good suburban Greek restaurant

Score: 14/20

Monday, September 26, 2005

Pioneer Homestead Mt Tambourine Qld

Introduction: Their banner proclaims they make the best pies!
Ambience: A sort of pub style indoor/outdoor place in an huge old mansion fairly typical of touristy country towns with a wine tasting area attached.

Service: Don't come for the service. It is friendly and helpful but very unprofessional They were apologetic when I pointed out we had three knives and one fork for the two of us they helpfully brought two more forks. They said it was against health regulations to serve tap water, there sad lack of salt and pepper shakers

Food: Sea perch fillet in light beer batter with thick crisp chips and salad was a huge and very good dish and the beef pie with mushroom filled with chunks of meat worthy of the acclaim.

Wine: Naturally they sell their own - not to my taste but very inexpensive

Price: Less than you'd expect $40 for two

Score: 13/20


Introduction: This multiaward winning (best Chinese restaurant in Australia 2003, best in Qld and so on) is one of a bevy of restaurants at Conrads, Jupitor Casino at Broadbeach
Ambience: This clearly sophisticated venue is only a little diminished by the racket emanating from the piano bar next door

Service: Very attentive

Food: An almost fat free crispy skin duck was a little tough but beautifully spiced. Sweet and sour battered pork fillets with peppers , pineapple and onion, a classical dish, had a excellent sauce - not too thick nor too acid nor too sweet. We only had two dishes!

Wine: Expensive limited list. A modest range by the glass at about $10

Price:Range is from modest to fearsome eg Lobster $201/kgm, Coral trout $191/kgm, Abalone similar. Soups range from about $9 to $178 however a reasonable meal could run out at about $90 for two courses for two

Comments: Somewhat mystified by the odd prices. I very much enjoyed my meal here.

Score: 16/20

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Lazy Lobster

Introduction:This Gold Coast (Labrador) sister of a Sydney restaurant of the same name claims to have the freshest of lobsters and half price lunches, not including lobsters tho, every day.
Ambience: Another typical waters edge informal eatery

Service: Efficient

Food: The entrees of scallops, Moreton Bay bugs and BBQ octopus were all very good size and very tasty dishes. Lobster Thermidor ($59) could have passed for Mornay! however the lobster itself was excellent.

The Creme Brullee with ice cream was very acceptable.
Wine: BYO at dinner only! A small list reasonably priced

Price: $60 will buy you an excellent lunch

Comments: Excellent products reasonably presented. Nothing fancy

Score: 13.5/20

Omeros Bros

Introduction: Every person I spoke tp recommended this place as rhe absolute best sea food restaurant on the Gold Coast
Ambience: Great site on the waters edge at Marina Mirage, informal feeling with well appointed and well spaced tables

Service: Keen to please tho it took a considerable time a simple request for bread to be delivered

Food: Mussels in a red wine sauce were huge, delicately prepared and could not have been better. Top marks. Whiting fillets in light beer batter were about as good as you can expect from fish and chips. The lobster Mornay ($99) served on a massive bed of somewhat dry fried rice, with a large handfull of parsley plumped on the middle of the dish was tender sweet and obviously very very fresh. That it lacked in presentation wa unfortunate but there could be no complaints about the lobster
Wine: Inexpensive modest range

Price: Modest by Melbourne standards about $80 for 2 if you avoid the lobster

Comments: Despite the heaps of awards this restaurant has won there is still room for a lot of improvement

Score: 14.5/20

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I revisited Attica yesterday in reaction to the wholesome praise being heaped upon it recently. Age food writers seem to be spell bound and Gourmet Traveller chose chef Ben Shewry as best 'new talent' of the year 'tho he doesn't seem very new to me having been at Attica for 3 or 4 years now And Ed Charles had something of a rave review on his site (http://www.tomatom.com/)
So is Attica set for a stellar rise - I don't think so.
The degustation menu is in the general style of Interlude, Fenix and Vue de Monde. The number of dishes is less but the serves are bigger
The venue is something of a noise trap with bare walls, stone floor and reasonable height ceilings but it's pleasant enough.
the service was exemplary, the wines reasonably priced - we had a 2006 Villa Wolf Pinot Gris ($38) and the presentation of the food tops
These were complicated dishes with many ingredients, often in amounts too tiny to savour, barely a mouthful of anything. There were a profusion of textures but the tastes did not titivate the taste buds. the only exception was the venison which was cooked to juicy perfection.
For me Attica has a long way to go before it justifies the recent reviews! Here are some pictures The food does really look good It's not that the Emperor has no clothes it's just that there not quite regal - yet!

Homage to Alain Passasd's egg with a W.A. Truffle from Peche his Paris restaurant

A Almond cream, shaved squid, kinkawooka mussels and clams, candied olives, red gaspachio jelly! Smoked ocean trout, cured kingfish, pickled melon and and cucumber, lemonade fruit, soy vinaigrettte

Butter poached sea bass, spring onion, oyster sauce, oyster fritters, chive flowers, prawn paper

The worst photo but the best taste! Rare seared NZ venison, caramelised pumpkin,air dried quince, black pudding crumbs and beetroot

pear in tea, carrot and sauternes (not really tho) custard, pear cider, pop rocks

My original review follows but I would now increase the mark to 14.75/20

Introduction: Set in a former bank on Glenferie Rd a few doors from Hotham. Food is strongly Thai influenced
Ambience: White linen table cloths and serviettes, unrushed comfortable atmosphere

Service: Quietly efficient

Food: Menu is divided into Appetisers about $6, Pear in tea, carrot and sauterne custard, pear
The Dessert a taste tease gone in a bite cider, pop rocks
Entrees about $12, Mains about $27, Desserts about$12 and some small sweet things to go with coffee $2.5 up to $12
The hand picked crab remoulade was a delicate and tasty appetiser. we also had the baby barramundi entree which was dominated by coriander and a sweet chilli sauce. For mains the beef cheek in alovely red wine sauce was outstanding but the side salad of smoked eggplant, rice, mushroom and a lightly boiled egg was inedible and tasted only of ?preserved lemon or lime juice and coriander. The pressed lamb shoulder was very good but a little dry. Grandma's chocolate cake also failed to inspire any special feelings and, surprisingly there was no ice cream available.
Wine: Fully licenced - no BYO. A very small selection. By the glass $7 the Long Gully Pinot noir was OK and the Sally's Hill shiraz excellent

Price: About $100 for two.

Comments: If you like Thai and you live around there give it a try

Score: 13.5/20

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Introduction: Fusion food - Japanese modern at 34 Jackson St, Toorak
Ambience: A plethora of young Japanese waiters and plain setting give Orita's a distinctly Japanese feel

Service: Confused and error prone. The manager did well acknowledging. apologising and doing a reasonable job of repairing the errors

Food: I had the Signature Omakase (Degustation) Menu ($68) upgraded from the fish to to the Lobster main course ($97). The half lobster tail came from a very small lobster and was not quite as good as I'd hoped a little dry and hard. All the other dishes were excellent. Beautifully presented and tasty. The marinated salmon, topped by a small ring of onion containing a colourful delicate edible flower was enhanced when combined with the light vinagrette lettuce. The stewed beef spare rib with a fine potato salad was very good as was the delicate sushi. Perhaps the best was the small cup of carrot soup- I have no idea how they did it but it was devine.
The crispy garlic fried rice was very acceptable and the dessert, a peanut mousse was interesting but not outstanding. Of the other dishes we tried the tempura was unsurpassable, there was a a Japanese prawn rice, a bit like a porridge, well worth trying. The pigeon, which turned out to be half a pigeon ($30) was extremely tasty but rather a small serve. Other desserts- mint chocolate mousse and the tempura icecream were not notable.
Wine: We drank some basic cocktails - G&T cheap at $6 and Mt Adam Pinot Noir (60) which I found indifferent. You can bring your own.

Price: Around $90/ head

Comments: After closing for 6 months for refurbishment there is little change to see in the main body of the restaurant. The food is as good as ever. Chef Hikaru Orita is innovative and interesting. If I gave out hats he'd get one

Score: 15.5/20

Friday, September 02, 2005


Introduction: Recently elevated to one hat by the Age Good Food Guide this South Yarra restaurant deserves to thrive

Ambience: Walls decorated with a couple of Ala Wolf-Tasker's striking works, and some pleasant still life works (for sale), provide a comfortable environment

Service: Very attentive

Food: Michael Bacash's signature entree Garfish and prawn Nori rolls ($19) stuffed with prawn salmon, King prawns and garfish, the head and tail of which decorate the dish, is outstanding with most delicate flavour imparted by the careful addition of ginger, garlic and coriander. The roast pumpkin and goat cheese Agnolotti ($15) are much stronger but also exellently flavoured with sage and a rich garlic brown butter. Mains: The grain fed Filet Mignon ($35) seved as ordered, very rare, was tender and extremely tasty with its port wine juice served with mushroom, onion and potato Dauphin (incorporating cheese). The fish of the day, founder, was surprisingly succulent A handsome bowl of fries and a garden salad completed the meal.

Wine: An adequate list by the glass or bottle but clearly not their specialty

Price: At the upper end of prices but, in my view, worth a visit

Comments: I have no hesitation in recommending Bacash for a very good dinner. A revisit did not quite live up to expectations.The two tiny stuffed Zuchini flowers were disgracefully expensive at $17. The spaghettii Marinara ordinary. The pork belly also a small serve very nice as was the sweatbread entree. The home made icecream less than ordinary but the sticky date souffle really excellent. A patchy dinner - only 15/20!

Score: 16/20

Monday, August 29, 2005


Introduction: Fine dining
Ambience: The feeling is of old and refined. The odd conglomeration of prints, autographed photograhs, paintings and pictures on the walls reminded me of a teenagers bedroom!

Service: Attentative, informed and faultless

Food: This was outstanding. We had a crab tortollino with prawns and a mushroom rissotto wrapped in spinach for entrees both - two excellent tasty dishes. The cornbeef and mashed potato was made into a fabulous meal by the accompanying light, creamy mustard sauce. the roast duck was cooked to perfection. The soufle dessert was also as good as it gets!

Wine: By the glass our waiter advised us to prefer the Seville Pinot Noir which was a good choice. Surprisingly he later offered us a good size taste of the Geelong Pinot that he had guided us away from and another sample of a most excellent shiraz. Both confirmed his judgemen.

Price: Expensive. Our bill with coffee was over $200

Comments: A worthy winner of the Michelin award for overall excellence in 2003

Regretably the high standard was not maintained at a second visit 9 months later
The atmosphere of the place is unchanged and it was really nice to enjoy a quiet meal in their upstairs room.
Unfortunately the service was exceptionally slow and our young waitress seemed somewhat distressed.
Oysters Kilpatrick ($48) were small, the bacon overcooked and all together unimpressve. This was an unfortunate start to an otherwise impressive meal
the entree of Goat cheese souffle on a bed of grilled eggplant was excellent as was was the Chef's special roast pheasant in a wonderful jus. The potato that came with it was barely cooked and woody in the middle. The King George whiting fish and chips had a fine batter and the chips were crisp. A side dish of Caesar salad was also very good The raspberry Souffle dessert had excellent texture tho it might have been a little too sweet for some
Wine by the glass is very reasonable Scotchman Hill Pinot Grigio and Scotchman Hill sav blanc were both acceptable at about $8/glass
Score: 7 /20 second visit 15/20

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Introduction: Could not resist trying this restaurant after a very nice article in the Age
Ambience: Feels like an Italian wine bar

Service: Amiable and unhurried

Food: The chicken liver parfait ($7.50) is exquisite and would not be out of place across the road at Vue de Monde. The small antipasto ($16.50), quite a good size, with eggplant, tomato cheese, calamari, sausage peppers and meat was an honest dish of consistant good quality. The duck sausage on a bed of mash is a strange main course ($25.00) and not much to my taste. The pot roast rabbit was tender succulent and very tasty ($25.00), The veal saltimbucca was also excellently prepared ($25.00) The marinara made from fresh ingredients was another good dish. The desserts, of which there were only two choices by the time we got to them, were unusually good. The two flavours of semi-frodo, pear and passoinfruit were exceptional and the chocolate parfait really nice ($6.50) eac.

Wine: We had a 2004 Mornington Peninsula pinot noir - Massala by Kooyong ($35.00) I'd try something else if we return.
There is a modest range of Italian and local wines at reasonable prices
Price: Good value

Comments: There is a fairly limited dinner menu which means it will be quite a while before I return. I have no complaints about the food some of which was quite excellent and well worth the visit.

Score: 14.5/20

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Morri's Place

Introduction: Formerly Cafe Renzi, after several changes of owner, this 1121 High St Armadale restaurant seems to be thriving.
Ambience: Gave me a feeling of an unpretentious 'good restaurant'

Service: Efficient, informed uniformed young staff

Food: The Oysters Alaska - stuffed with smoked salmon and crab meat with grilled Mornay sauce ($19.50 for 6) were fabulous. The oxtail and beef cheek ragu with baby turnips, shallots on a bed of crushed chats was filling and tasty, the meat cooked beautifully 'till it was falling off the bone. Crispy skin roast duck with prunes, blood oranges and armangac served with lightly cooked peas in the pod, young carrots and broccoli was also a handsome well prepared serve but sounded a lot fancier than it was

Wine: Licenced or what I rarely resist - BYO corkage $5

Price: Entrees about $12 Mains $21 to about $27 Desserts $10.50

Comments: Cuisine bourgeoise no doubt tasty substantial and sustaining

Score: 13.5/20

Sunday, August 07, 2005


Introduction: A unique elegant restaurant set on 5 levels at the Park Hyatt
Ambience: Sophisticated breathes quality

Service: Unobtrusive suits the venu

Food: The starters are excellent. we had Chilli flour dusted cuttlefis, Wood roasted herb bread and Prosciuto, olives and reggianno parmesan - all excellent

The Shellfish soup with blue swimmer crab fritte and rouille was very tasty but for those who can afford the cholesterol the Chicken liver parfait with Pedro Ximenez jelly was to drool over
Unfortunately the main courses were not that fantastic. I felt the slow cooked pork scotch filllet needed a few more hours although the crackling and the quince paste that accompanied it were excellent. The ocean trout was not distiguished.
Desserts looked good but again were not really special The liquorice sorbet most interesting and the panacotta laced with cognac (I think) was also quite good
Wine: A very pleasant Punt Road Pinot Noir at $50 went well with our meal

Price: On the expensive side Around $75 plus wine

Comments: I found the quality of the meal somewhat uneven but this is a fine venu and a good place to take a visitor

Score: /16/20

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Sails on the Bay

Introduction: Recently enlarged. Well spaced tables mostly fronting what can best be called a bay window present an attractive view over the water lapping at the sand. Strollers and joggers make for a constantly variable distraction
Ambience: Hanging bits of supposedly sail cloth off the ceiling creates little effect on the generally quiet agreeable and comfortabe atmosphere

Service: Unobtrusive
Food: the Ravioli stuffed with prawns and scallops in a Champgne and chive sauce is an outstanding taste however the sauce was a little on the gluggy side of perfect. The deep sea blue eye in a puff pastry shell was also excellent but again the cream sauce was too heavy. The roast duck and the duck Italian style differed only in what they were served with. The polenta with sage rosemary and onion stuffing accompanied by roast garlic and buttered brocholini in a light jus was very good and the vahronna icecream not to be missed.

Wine: Moderately priced with a reasonable range by the glass. I am not impressed when wine by the glass is poured without the bottle being sighted. In this instance the pinot we were first served had passed its use by date by some time. It was promptly repalced with a frsh glass

Price: Around $50 per head

Comments: Close to being very good

Score:14 /20

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Near East Restaurant

Introduction: Around the corner from the South Melbourne town hall at 254 Park St this restaurant serves a variety of modernised South East Asian dishes
Ambience: With few tables occupied being being back to back with an irritable baby dulled any joy I might have felt about the surroundings. I also found the jaundiced cutlery unattractive

Service: Good!

Food: Mains were just OK. A lobster san chao bau entree was tasty. A deep fried baby snapper was also good, however the fillet steak with vegetables was ordinary and a very small serve at that, the pork ribs in mandarin sauce was in a heavy batter and the pork had been stripped off the bone which did not leave the kitchen, and the beef hot pot was uninspiring.

We tried 3 desserts - a lemon tart, a triple chocolate creation and a passion fruit custard none of which I would ever order again
Wine: BYO and licensed - we brought our own

Price: At about $50 per person all in all I think it's expensive

Comments: Not my cup of Thai
Score: Maybe 13/20

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Introduction: It may be a little unfair to judge Taxi on the special dinner organized by the Chaine de Rotisseurs on July 25 accompanied by five very good wines starting with Moet et
Chandon to accompany the Scallop Prawn and unagi (Grilled eel) sushi entree
Ambience: The brilliant views of almost 360 degrees across the city and the Yarra lend an atmosphere unique to Melbourne

Service: Attentive unobtrusive

Food: Strongly Japanese influenced with Chef Ikuchi Arakone adding flavours which modify all Michael Lambe's dishes. They have a Sushi tasting plate with about a dozen to choose from including salmon prawn tuna and eel among others ($12 for 3 or$18 for 5). The raw scallop was a delicacy There is also a Sushi and Sashimi entree for $19.50 or as a main for $35.

We enjoyed Smokey Bay oysters, crab salad with a Thai style (Red nam jim) dresing, followed by a Spanner crab and truffle salad, tempura oysters and rhubarb compote - yes it is an odd conglomeration and then a main course of Yuba wrapped lamb noisettes - a nice dish made more interesting with a miso jus, some pea puree and a tiny apple and spinach salad with blue cheese. A dessert of rhubarb and apple crumble with custard and vanilla icecream was a pleasant though not special end to the meal greatly enhanced by the BrownBros 'Patricia' Botrytis Reisling (1999) Absolutely luscious. Get some from your local bottle shop if you can!
Wine: As the Chaine included wine I did not look at Taxi's offerings

Price: Not cheap but if you like modern Japanese style food you could not find a more outstanding venue to enjoy it.

Comments : An impressive addition to Federation Square
however I did expect something more exquisite
Score: It's even harder than usual to to judge because of our special menu Say 14.5 /20


Introduction: This bistro/restaurant in Federation Square has some assocciation with Jaques Reymond
Ambience: Warm and friendly.

Service: efficient without being hurried

Food: Nothing to write home about. Everything is OK even quite good but nothing is special. The fishn beer batter is frozen (Hake) The pork belly, the rissotto and the pasta pretty ordinary despite the somewhat fancy descriptions on the menu. Their Burger is substantial, as it should be for $17. Mains run from $17 to $26 with desserts around $10.

Wine: The 2003 wine I ordered turned out to be 2004 which the waitress failed to note. The 2003 being not available we tried a Red Hill Pinot Noir which was corked. The replacement from Tamar (Devils Ridge was just passable but not cheap at $36 and that was about the cheapest wine on the menu!

Price: There is a lot better value around for about that price

Comments: Regretably the name may be there but Jaques Reymond's magic is not

Score: 13/20

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Vue de Monde

Introduction: Now at 430 Little Collins St (Ph 96913888) Shannon Bennett is a true master of modern French cooking I have now been to Vue de Monde four times at its new home. On every occassion the food has been outstanding
Ambience: The entrance to the building is not quite finished which sets a slightly unsophisticated tone. The dining areas are comfortable, the decor simple, the tables well spaced and initially set with rustic style crockery.

Service: Initially very slow. I was peeved at being asked to come at 7.30 rather than at my preferred time of 8.00 pm and then to find myself waiting almost half an hour before a waiter arrived to discuss the menu and a little more irritated when the ice water, poured from an elegant jug was slightly warm and had no ice

Food: The main task was to choose how many courses to have (We chose 7) and ensure that any food fads or restrictions were not breached. After that the menu was a series of surprises - I should say delightful surprises

An initial offering a cup of truffle jelly covered with potato mousse with truffle oil was rich in flavour and an excellent start. Our first course was a cervisce of scallop on shredded celeriac on a remoulade sauce decorated with dots of squid ink around the margin. This was a delicacy most beautifully prepared and presented. This was followed by a mushroom rissotto using reconstituted cep mushrooms, you may know them as porcini mushrooms, which had a rich very strong flavour and was a little oversalted to my taste.
The next course was a cherry tomato creation including tomato on milk fed buffalo cheese, a Sorbet, a tomato torte.
The next course was a terrine of foie gras. Sandwiched between a leaf of Savoy cabbage and layers of Spanish pork proscutto the foie gras was served with Pui lentils and the most delicate small leaf cress salad
The next course, even more outstanding than its predecessors was a tain of linguini flavoured with truffles, beneath a delicate barely cooked quail egg, and surrounded by a delicate crustacean meat which I presumed to be crab
We then had a superb palate cleanser a clear tomato consomme with small cubes of jellied tomato
The next course was a duck cassoulet with Spanish style ham sausage and white beans
Another chef's offering a miniature bomb alaska with a raspberry sauce got us ready for the dessert
The mystery dessert was a trilogy including a rich chocolate tart chocolate pudding.
Finally we were offered a selection of petit fours served on a cute silver multi level candle stick like device (for want of a better word)

For the record here is the menu
Thursday 21st July 2005

Ceviche Saint-Jacques
Ceviche of scallops over a celeriac and apple remoulade,
bound in truffle mayonnaise, completed with Yarra Valley salmon roe

Risotto aux ceps
Ferron Arborio risotto infused with ceps

Tarte Á la tomate confie et au fromage
Confit tomato and mozzarella filo pastry tart with marinated anchovy,
crispy sage and Ligurian olives

Terrine de foie gras
Terrine of Strasbourg foie gras, layered with braised cabbage,
confit rabbit, wagyu salami and a duxelle of wild mushrooms,
served with sautéed Du Puy lentils and sherry vinegar

Linguini 'a la carbonara'
House made linguini wrapped with Spanish Cardoso ham,
accompanied by a soft quails egg and spanner crab

Consomme froid a la tomate
Delicate tomato consommé with gazpacho jelly

Cassoulet de canard
Duck cassoulet set into a puff pastry vol au vent with white beans,
roast breast and duck sausage

Fondant au chocolat
Manjari chocolate fondant, blood orange granita
encased in chocolate bread, served with milk ice cream
Notre sélection de cafés, thés, infusions et petits-fours

A selection of coffee, teas, infusions and miniature teacakes

Wine: Extensive range of Australian French and Italian from about $50 upwards. We had an excellent 2003 Calledonia Pinot Noir from Gippsland.

Price:We paid $110 a head for the food

It was odd that the expensive heavy cutlery did not rest on the raised edge of the plate and kept sliding onto the plate. Minor irritations aside this is a culinary experience worthy of the best restaurants in the world. Shannon Bennett is a most imaginative and creative Chef a master in his field For more information and reviews see their web page at www.vuedemonde.com.au
Score: 18.5/20

For those really interested we sat at the Kitchen Table, see comment and here is the menu
friday 16th september 2005
Mousse de saumon fumÉ et d’estragon façon
‘tom cooper’ au caviar
‘Tom Cooper’ smoked salmon and tarragon mousse,
salmon crisp and Beluga caviar
~Risotto aux truffes
Classically inspired Italian summer truffle risotto
~Ballantine de faison au foie gras et À la mousse de pistache
Ballantine of pheasant with foie gras and pistachio mousse,
served with quince jelly
Braised prawns and crayfish sitting in a crispy puff pastry case,
the juices emulsified with butter and tarragon
Delicate tomato consommé with gazpacho jelly
~SuprÊmes de volaille strasbourgeoise
Poached Kangaroo Island chicken breast, leg meat tortollini,
served with albaforino sauce and white asparagus
~Echine d’Agneau pochée au cous cous de safran
Roasted loin of lamb with saffron cous cous, espice sauce,
babaganoush and aubergine crisps
~Soufflé aux fruits de la passion
Passionfruit soufflé with raspberry sorbet, dusted with strawberry sugar
~Coupe de chocolat, trois parfums
Chocolate espresso cup filled with caramel mousse, orange syrup,
Grand Marnier and milk cappucino
~Notre sélection de cafés, thés, infusions et petits-foursA selection of coffee, teas, infusions and miniature teacakes

For my 4th visit we had several previously untried dishes including a crabclaw and shredded crabmeat in a light creamy tomato sauce and a "deconstructed" cassoulet both most excellent I highly recommend them.