Sunday, February 26, 2006

Cafe Vic

Introduction: At the Arts centre. Set up for prompt service for pre show dinner or post performance supper.
Ambience: Always packed before performances, which is 6 nights a week. Tables outside on warm nights

Service: Take your tray, examine the menu while in the queue, uniformed staff fill the order, move to the cashier, go and eat! You need about an hour to have a comfortable time to eat without hurry

Food: Pretty good. We were running a little late so only tried two dishes. The piping hot beef pie with mashed potato and steamed vegetables and the lamb rump with same vegetables and mash.

Both were well prepared, the large piece of lamb medium rare, the vegetables crisp and the mash smooth and creamy. Other dishes such as pork on Asian greens and a chicken dish looked attractive.
Wine. Asmall selection including 175 ml bottles

Price: Modest. Mains $16 to $21

Comments: I will have to try this again

Score:: 13/20

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ugly Sister

Introduction: One of a myriad of breakfast all places> On the corner of Balaclava Rd and Westbury St
Ambience: Unfortunately this place put me in an ugly mood. The style is modern/ugly a noise trap with no redeeming features.

Service: Pleasant and quite efficient

Food: I only had eggs benedict which was mared by an overcooked poached egg covered in a too heavy Hollandaise sauce sour with vinegar.

Price: Hot chocolate or coffee $3 00. Extra 30 cents for Soy milk
Eggs Benedict $13
Score: 10/20

Monday, February 20, 2006


Introduction: Another in the Zampelli stable at Station Pier on the water behind Campari
Ambience: Unpretentious, some large square glass top tables for 8 the remainder bare wood The cane chairs are a hazard for ladies stockings when bits of the cane have broken away. The noise level made it difficult to have a conversation with anyone but the person immediately next to you.

Service: Initially slow later very slow

Food: The concentration is on seafood. Their menu is available on their internet site.

We tried the Snapper and blue swimmer crab cake, Spanish style pepperonatta the black lip mussels with garlic white wine and chilli the tomato and mozzarella salad with mustard cress and the Boston clam chowder. Each was quite tasty but undistiguished. For mains the roast salmon fillet on fennel and marmalade was OK, the 3 nice beer battered flathead fillets with chips and house tartar sauce very very nice and the roasted whole baby snapper with tomato and herbs and the whole baby NZ flounder were also quite nice without being specially good
The desserts are all large but the Vanilla creme brulee was particularly disappointing. They had a much better apple and rhubarb crumble with icecream but best of all was the pannacotta with pear which must have been on special
Wine: We drank Cape Mentelle Cab Sav Blanc ($40) which suited the meal well. The reasonable wine list can be viewed on their web site at
Price: See the menu About $60/head for 3 courses plus wine

Comments; Another slightly better than average middle of the road restaurant

Score: 13.5/20

Friday, February 17, 2006


Introduction: A design of intertwining flowers, leaves and vines common on persian rug
Ambience: Simple decor, bare tables, cloth serviettes, carpet does not diminish the noisy vitality of the place. A few tables outside are beaut on the right night
Service: The boss (Jeff Malouf, brother of Greg) and two waiters share the work.

Food: Down to earth good quality Middle Eastern cuisine with distinct well balanced flavours. For starters the eggplant with tomato salad and tahini youghurt dressing was as good as it gets because the eggplant was perfectly cooked. The filo pastry stuffed with lamb and pine nuts was a little dry with a delicate flavoured entree however the pomegranite essence dribbled on it was rather overpowering. The traditional cabbage rolls with spicy lamb and rice with a tomato salsa was also extremely tasty.

For mains the BBQ lamb kebabs served with tomato were cooked as requested and tender and tasty as were the lamb cutlets served with stuffed vine leaves and a yoghurt sauce. The best dish of the lot however was the whole baby barramundi beautifully baked to retain its flavour served with roast potato and a tahini sauce
For dessert there were 3 choices The pistachio and halva icecream which is very rich, a rose water flavoured soft custard topped with spun sugar and pistachio and Turkish delight and baclava excuse the spelling please. These were enhanced when accompanied by Cardamon flavoured Turkish coffee (without sugar) served in a small finjan or Syrian flower tea
Wine: BYO $6/ bottle Modest list around $30/bottle

Price: Around $55 gets you a very good dinner

Comments: The entrees are large and all the dishes are good or better than good without being too fancy.

A good Middle eastern eating experience
Score: 14/20

Monday, February 13, 2006

Improving Deteriorating Closed!

Da Noi
Le Gourmet
Melba Brasserie

Silky Apple
Healesville Hotel

La Madrague
Pomodoro Quadrato
Tasty Cooking
Near East

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Middle Brighton Baths

Introduction: Briliant site overlooking the bay at 251 The Esplanade Brighton
Ambience: Well spaced tables with white linen sevietes and table cloths and aided by a very pleasing view on a fine evening there is a good feeling that this will be a great place for a meal

Service: Pedestrian. There seemed to be something missing though I can not quite determine what. Unobtrusive to the point of almost being absent

Food: The Parmesan baked scallops with garlic and soy ( 5 of them ) on the half shell were modest size and tasted very good ($18) The two small pieces of "open" raviolli resting on a mushroom with another mushroom between was very dull and grossly overpriced at $16. It might have been better to try one of the pasta dishes for an entree but who was to know.

The two whiting fillets in batter with fried potato, $29, an expensive serve of fish and chips really, served with a piece of lemon but no tartare or other sauce did not justify any special praise and the John Dory was just a nice piece of fish with no accompaniment and dead plain. Worst was the oven roasted eye fillet with potato and bacon gratin, spinach and porchini jus. I asked for it warm blue and got it medium rare. At other times I would have sent it back but regretably decided to have it as it was. It was the worst piece of fillet I can remember- as tough as rump but not as tasty and poor value at $32.
The double chocolateand pistachio tart with rosemary icecream $14 was rich and satisfying
Wine: We drank an excellent Cape Mentelle Savignon semillon blanc (2005) $42 which could have been colder Cocktails at $13.50 are reasonable but a very small Hennesy VSOP cognac at $12.50 was a bit hot

Price: Quite expensive where the main attraction is the view

Comments: They have a web page in which the menu bears no resemblance to the things they are serving now. In all a poor culinary experience

Score:12.5 /20

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Introduction: Highly favoured by several of my Chinese colleagues
Ambience: Past the two tanks crowded with lobsters and fish the very lrge room is equally crowded with diners and very noisy White table cloths and serviettes suggested a bit more upmarket establishment

Service: Courteous and attentive to our requests. Slightly marred by the failure to produce steamed rice without several requests and then removing the container so we had to ask for its return when we wanted a top up

Food: In brief The mushroom with duck and powdered scallop soup was quite ordinary as was the steamed duck with taro. The roast duck, served at our request with poku veg and snowpeas in oyster sauce, was about as good as it could be extremely juicy and succulent. The best dish was the sweet and sour battered prawns in which the balance between the sweet and acid and the consistancy of the sauce could not be bettered The Scallops with chinese vegetables and whole macadamia nuts was disappointingly bland. Neither the almond float nor the mango desserts were available and the ? manager offered us a plate of fresh fruit gratis which we were glad to accept

Wine: BYO is best

Price: around $30 a head gets a pretty reasonable meal

Comments: A reasonable restaurant but lacking any real distinction. I will still try their yum cha.
Oops tried to book for a yum cha - they don't have one!!
Score:13.5 /20

Da Cuba

Introduction: On the corner of Broadway and Glenhuntly Road Elwood this is a popular eatery with the locals
Ambience: Very open space with small bare tables and somewhat uncomfortable chairs spreading out to the footpath. Simple and fresh.

Service: Pleasant young staff

Food: The spaghetti marinara, served with a light red sauce with a touch of chilli was excellent, plenty of prawns, scallops, mussels and salmon. At our request they also made a marinara in a white sauce with out chilli which was exceptionally good. The warm beef salad, a special that day, had heaps of spinach, fried noodles, and a slightly sweet sauce flavoured with fennel and plenty of meat. The chicken salad served with spinach and cashew nuts was also a satisfying substantial serve
Wine: the $5 Hardys Cab. Sav was almost undrinkable. I should have had a look at the bottle and asked how long it had been open!

Price: Mains $15 -23

Comments: Healthy serves of healthy food at this summery restaurant. G
ood place to go if you are in the area
Score: 13/20