Thursday, March 30, 2006

France Soir

Introduction: Long regarded as one of Melbournes finest French restaurants, France Soir continues to thrive at 11 Toorak Rd South Yarra
Ambience: Noisy
crowded and bustling, filled with vitality. Heavy paper sheets cover the table cloths. Solid unexciting cutlery and no side plates make for considerably more space on the tables
Service: Efficient and friendly. Our obviously French waiter provided accurate explanations with some difficulty above the noise

Food: The menu is extensive and I will have to sample more of it. Last night we started with an very good entree of mussels mariniere in an excellent white wine sauce and a prawn quennelle in a superb cream sauce. Unfortunately the quennelles were much too firm. The roast pigeon with petit legumes in a light slightly sweet red sauce was beautifully prepared as was the roast duck served with a large bowl of pomme friites

The creme brullee, an extremely difficult dessert to get just right, proved to be too creamy and rather disappointing
Wine: Probably the best wine list in Victoria. It is presented in a large leather bound book!! We enjoyed a 2004 Palliser Pinot Gris BYO $10/bottle corkage but not on Saturday

Price: Very reasonable at about $55 for two courses for two

Comments: Traditional French without too many frills. The kitchen stays open 'till midnight so you can still get a good meal at 11.30 or even later

My estimation of France Soir has risen! The tripe in wine sauce was super - tender and very good taste, the rabbit casserole as good as any I have ever eaten. Tender not at all dry and with an excellent jus. The 'Filet de Boeuf' served warm blue, as ordered (most unusual in my experience) was also really excellent and the Il flottante dessert an improvement on the creme brullee
Revisited again! And not disappointed at all!!
Snails in garlic butter were unusually tender and tasty - not at all tough. Whole snapper retained its moistness and delicacy, Duck in orange sauce as good as it gets Filet of Hapuka also cooked perfectly. Side dishes are generous Beans in a butter sauce lightly cooked, spinach - satisfying for the most discriminating diner
Tart tatin excellent as was crepe suzzette
A Vouvray Pinot Noir ($55) went well with everything
Score: 16.5/20

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Flower Drum

Not often you get an opportunity to eat at the flower drum where you are happy to pick up the Tab. As part of the International food and wine festival they put on a $49.50 lunch with 3 courses and a fruit platter plus t&c. We started with the Quail san choi bow which had a delicate yet rich flavour unusual for quail and quite delicious. Next came the famous peking duck, with 2 or 3 succulent portions which “melted in your mouth” Then the eye fillet neatly cut into 4 strips of 2cm width. Once again the taste and tenderness of the meat was almost orgasmic! The fruit platter contained many rare and unusual fruits, unfortunately there was not one of each to go round!
Lunch with mates at the flower drum on a postman’s salary…What more could you ask for!

Contributed by PR

Monday, March 27, 2006


Introduction: Around the corner from the Classic Cinema in Glenhuntly Rd Elsternwick
Ambience: Nothing special. Plain tables and chairs. Plain decor

ServiceAmateurish but the girls were sweet!

Food: The Bakonyi soup was tasty and full of goodies a kind of Hungarian minestrone. Unfortunately everything else we tried was in a taste free zone. The smoked pork hock was cooked to tender perfection but had NO flavour at all, the roast duck similar, the goulash equally dissapoiting. Only the crumbed chicken livers were worth eating. Large serves, Side dishes creamed spinach, red cabbage and chips were all the best part of the meal.

Wine: BYO Corkage $5 They have a very limited wine list

Price: Around $50 for two

Comments: Perhaps we should have had schnitzel

Score: 12/20

Cafe Qua

Introduction: Along with Batch, Wallah, Boccone, The Ugly Sister and half a dozen others this cafe competes for the breakfast (all day) trade on Balaclava Road
Ambience: Cafe style

Service: Undistiguished, not bad

Food: The serves are substantial the quality fair. The Eggs Qua, really eggs Benedict, well covered in Hollandaise sauce almost certainly from a packet. The Big Breafast, 2 eggs, fried scrambled or poached, on toast, hash brown, fried tomatoes and mushrooms was very satisfying. They also serve pasta's

Price: around $12 to $15 with some cheaper snacks.

Comments: quite a good place for a light meal

Score: 13/20


Introduction: A recent addition to the Albert Park restaurant scene at 166 Bridport St.
Ambience: Dark wood panelling give an old world feeling enhanced on the night we were there with quiet, pleasant music from the 60's. The white tablecloths with red stripes and matching servettes are very French

Service: Waitresses in all black add to the atmosphere. Efficient, they gave full explanations on request.

Food: Began with a small dish of Tete de Veau and sliced pickled gherkins courtesy of the Chef. The duck breast entree was nice without being special. They have some unusual things on the menu including saddle of rabbit with some offal and a lamb kidney and sweatbread dish which I ordered. It came in a rich red wine jus and was beautifully prepared. The Angus beef steak was tender and came warm blue as requested. The Creme brulee was unusually excellent and the chaboste a champaigne mousse on special was exquisite

Wine> BYO night is Tuesday corkage $10 otherwise corkage $25! Small range of wines by the glass at about $8 and modest list otherwise. Cocktails $10 but theie Bellini was nothing like the real thing

PriceEntrees about $15 mains about $30 desserts about $15. We paid $146 for two

Comments: Well above average suburban French restaurant

Score: 14/20

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Tandoori Times

Introduction: An adventure in Indian food mostly North Indian but with wide variety including many vegetarian meals at 194 Barkly St, St.Kilda.
Ambience: Pleasantly rowdy with a Bollywood DVD (with subtitles) playing on the large overhead TV screen

Service: The owner manager made a point of seeing that our needs were catered for in terms of appropriate dishes for some delicate palates. He was extremely amiable and determined to please

Food: We had the $27 Banquet which was plenty to eat including excellent Roti, Tandoori chicken, of course, Saag - tasty lamb in a pureed spinach, a lamb grilled chop and a Biryani follwed by icecream made Indian style from boiled down milk, Mango or Vanilla flavour. Excellent flavour but suffering from a little ice formation, perhaps too long in the freezer. Herb spiced Indian tea, or ordinary tea or coffee if you wish. This was all classical Indian cooking with fine flavours not destroyed by excessive chilli

Wine: I advise you to bring your own tho' they do have a good range of beers, specially Indian.

Price: Entrees $6 - 9 Mains $10 - 17

Comments: A pleasing addition to the St. Kilda eating scene

Score: 14/20


Introduction: A fish and shellfish specialist restaurant at 213 Barkly St, St.Kilda
Ambience: I am unsure what they are trying to achieve with their grotty bare 5 ply tables and chairs to match except for half a dozen old railway carriage seats on a bare concrete floor. The decor is bare with a huge metal octopus hanging from the ceiling of the main room It's no frills. BASIC. Water is offered in old bottles and the glasses are about as ugly as you can get.

Service: Unhurried, There is a menu on a blackboard and almost no flexibility so the waitress can only tell you a little about the spices

Food: On arrival we were offered a small slice of focaccio with a light, creamy tzadiki. Many of the main courses, but not all, are for two, or more, with prices from $20 for a small crispy skin John Dory with baked potato and Bok Choy to $80 for wild barramundi. A small flounder poached in mirin $25 is about half the size of what you would get at Topogigio There is no doubt about the freshness of the seafood which is offered with a variety of middle eastern spices. None the less, at the end of the day, the cooking is also very basic. There are no sauces available not even tartare.

There are no desserts and I didn't ask about tea or coffee. Frankly I couldn't wait to leave
Wine: BYO Bring your own glass too if you want something pleasant from which to drink

Price: This is not a cheap restaurant. At the extreme 6 oysters for $30 and they're nothing special. They take cash only

Comments: This is something of a cult restaurant that I have been keen to visit for sometime. Unfortunately I found it profoundly disappointing That the food is good could not make up for the other deficiencies

Score: 11/20

Monday, March 20, 2006


Introduction: This old favourite has been at 1193 High St Armadale for nearly 20 years
Ambience: The long narrow room with tables down one side and a cabinet displaying the freshest of fish on the other side has a distinctly oriental feel to it

Service Attentive and informative

Food: Generally of very good standard. The ingredients are excellent however some of the dishes are somewhat bland. The seafood hot pot is a prime example and the traditional Japanese hot pot has the same problem. The roasted eggplant entreeis excellent and the steam crab dumpling very delicate. Their Tempura dishes are all crisp and as tasty as can be expected. The deep fried soft shell crab, another simple dish served with tempura and dipping sauce was especially pleasing.

The desserts are better than expected their mousse being exceptional
Wine: A modest list at reasonable prices

Price: A little above average. About $50 a head

Comments: Well worth a visit for Japanese food lovers

Score: 14/20

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Afghan Bakery and Take Away

Introduction: This single room Halal restaurant in Thomas St Dandenong ( about 250) has half a dozen tables and 6 items on the menu of which the last is Bread They had run out of bread and rice but got supplies from next door (Afghan Sahar Takeaway)
Ambience: It looks like a barely furnished dump

Service: The "chef" put the food on the table with the help of his mate who happily picked up the bread and moved it in his , we hope but doubt, reasonably clean hands

Food: The lamb kebab served with a a mild curry sauce and a great slab of warm flat Afghani bread plus an ungarnished garden salad was de-licious. there was also the posibility of Chicken kebab or a minced lamb shish kebab but we ordered the Pilau a special long grain Basmati rice with raisins some shaved nuts and fine strips of carrot served with meatballs. This required our chef to run in to the retaurant next door from which he returned with the rice dish and a light lamb curry with lentils. Another excellent dish.

No desserts. No tea or coffee. Soft drinks in the frig.
Wine: Not available

Price Mains $6 to $10 Bread $1 and that's all there is

Comments: This place has two things going for it. It's very tasty and it's very cheap
As seems to be becoming customary in some of these places rather than serviettes they have a box of tissues on each table!
Score: 12/20

Monday, March 13, 2006

Wallah Falafel and Grill

Introduction: A Moroccan and Israeli influenced Shishlik, Burger or Pita pocket restaurant at 302 Carlisle Street Balaclava
Ambience: Pretty well indistiguishable from a dozen similar places on strip shopping centres

Service: Amiably inefficient

Food: The Pita pocket stuffed with eggplant, hommus and garden salad with plenty of beef - you could have lamb, beef kebab or chicken if you liked, was large and very satisfying. Served with a tiny plate of lightly marinated vegetables it made an excellent lunch. Their Felafel balls are large, crisp on the outside and soft in the centre and go well with the lightly lemon flavoured hommus

Price: Cheap cash only at present Dips $6 - 7.5 Snacks $4 - 9 Pita pockets $7 - 8.5 Mains $15 - 17.5

Comments: Open from 11.00 am 'till late every day. Rather limited menu but good value for a meal of its type A revisit was as good as before with the addition that the menu is being enlarged and now includes salmon fillet - barbecued, and steak

Score: 13.5/20
Comment After a fire their has been a pleasant renovation. Other changes include an increase in prices by $3 or $4 and a credit card facility. Service is also improved

The Age Cheap Eats has given them 2 stars

Friday, March 10, 2006

Lemnos Tavern

Introduction: Traditional Greek style tavern on High St. Prahran
Ambience: Nicely decorated with nostalgia inducing pictures of Greek islands. White linen tablecloths and serviettes.

Service: Efficient

Food: The usual dips, served with bread. The fried eggplant was particularly good. We tried 3 fish dishes. The whole boned barbecued whiting was as good as it gets - this delicate fish deserves its reputation as the queen of fish. The barbecued Blue eye fillets were also very good. The barbecued boned whole snapper was slightly less successful as there were plenty of bones left. The flesh of the snapper is a lot more fibrous but the taste could not be faulted. The side dish of potato chips was to my taste - crisp and well cooked

Wine: BYO -
my host provided!
Price: Around $50

Comments: Astonishing to find that Tartare Sauce was not available! Still worth a visit

Score: 13.5/20


Introduction: On the Marina at St.Kilda this is a beaut setting particularly on a warm summer night
Ambience: Very open with increasingly louder music as the night passes. A bistro/cafe style
bare wooden tables many with views across St.Kilda or the bay
Service: Our waitress was well informed but aggresive in style

Food: Surprised me with its quality which was better than I expected. The entrees are substantial. The pork belly and duck stack a small meal. Despite explicit explanation of what warm blue means and a promise to return the dish if overcooked the less than tender porterhouse steak came back medium rare. A second attempt was rare but I resisted the temptation to send it back again. The linguini marinara was excellent with good taste and lots of seafood - salmon, prawns, mussels, calamari and wimpy's

Wine: A small and very ordinary list.

Price: Seems to be about average these days. $45 per head

Comments; Reasonably good food. in an unsophisticated place with considerable potential

Score: 13/20