Thursday, December 25, 2008

Yet More Pic's from Vue Dec 08

Shannon Bennett seems to have had a burst of creativity perhaps stimulated by the vacuum extractor that he can now use to extract the essences of the products he uses. We enjoyed a Chef's menu which featured five quite different dishes to any we had previously eaten and lesser variations for the rest of the dinner.
This amuse bouche is an artisanal Sydney rock oyster, grown at Batemans Bay atop a seaweed broth covered with a pink grapefruit foam each element retaining it's individual flavour and the whole combining beautifully.

Marinated scallops with XO sauce on a bed of apple and wasabi sauce simply delicious was followed by an extraordinary dish - goose liver frozen pulverized in a thermomix the reduced to minus 37 degrees, served as a dome covered with mushrooms and very fresh Perigord truffles. A unique dish with the richest of pate flavour perfectly matched with the mushrooms and the truffles. It did have the most peculiar texture the pate beginning like dust in the mouth reconstructing itself into a rich pate as it absorbed moisture Yes that means saliva!
Virtually everything had been deconstructed to some degree. Perhaps the closest to a 'normal dish was the goose breast served with a farce and two balls of the dark goose meat rolled into a coating of crisp chopped nuts with a consomme

Score:Still the top of the list 19 /20

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Matteos (Fitzroy North)

Matteo's has long been an outstanding restaurant. Years ago it served excellent Italian influenced modern European dishes. That's all changed now except for the quality which remains excellent. At 533 Brunswick St. the restaurant is little changed with well spaced very good sized tables in three rooms. White cloths, well weighted cutlery and copy cat Villeroy and Bosch crockery set a quiet sophisticated tone. As always the staff are courteous and efficient. What's really different is the food. Chef Brendan McQueen has introduces a strong element of Asian fusion, particularly Japanese and done it very well. I started with a 'Pithivier' puff pastry pie filled with minced turkey, pork belly, 'lup cheong' sausage crushed peas and red currant sauce.
The name comes from the French town of Pithiviers where this domed pie was traditionally served as a Twelth Night pastry (filled with broad beans) for X'mas. For those in search of further knowledge the lup cheong is also known as a Chinese sweet sausage. It is air dried, not cooked, usually made up of pork, pork fat, salt. honey or sugar, soy sauce and Five spice ( It was a fantastic start to the meal ($20). There was a slight mix up with the Tempura zucchini flowers with chevre, watermelon, radish and coriander salad. ($18)

however the absence of the watermelon hardly seemed to matter. Others at the table thoroughly enjoyed a Japanese seafood plate with Hiramasa kingfish, Ocean trout tataki and teriyaki glazed smoked trout with suitable Japanese sauces ($24)For mains the roasted, five spiced, Chinese style duck breast, spring roll with creamed leeks and soya beans, fresh cucumber, coriander and peanut pesto, hoisin duck sauce sounded very elaborate but the flavours melded well in this substantial sized dish ($40).

The milk fed veal loin rolled in porchini dust, taro and root vegetable rosti, spinach and feta and leek cannaloni with crumbed herb butter was frankly delicious. ($39). Sides ($8) were a little unusual too. Asparagus spears in oyster sauce, large wedges of Desiree poatoes with lemon thyme and garlic and Iceberg salad with tomato, bocconcini, toasted pita bread, dried black olives lemon and oregano dressing deserved recommending.
They also have a tasting menu ($99) or $159 with wine. Desserts and cheese, all $18, all looked good but we had only the warm dark chocolate fondant pudding, coconut milk gelato - rich and lovely.

Order it early as there is a 12 minute wait. I strongly recommend Matteo's for a special night out.

Wine: They have a good list including some quite inexpensive We enjoyed a Chandon NV bubbly ($50) and a $35 New Zealand white.

Score: 16,5/20

Friday, December 19, 2008


11.45 Friday 19/12/08
Rumour has it that John Lethlean has left the Age, indeed escorted from the Age, and Neicia Wilden, editor of Epicure and The Good Food Guide has also left - presumably resigned.
If this is true it wll mean radical changes. These two journalists have been the heart and soul of Epicure which has been one of the most popular parts of that paper. Confirmation of this rumour is likely very soon

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gigi Baba (Collingwood) 08

There are a lot of recipes that never seem to work out well when you try to follow them and here’s one for opening a restaurant that is astonishing because it worked. Open with no fanfare, don’t have any sign with the name displayed, don’t even have the street number displayed and don’t take reservations. Just have very good food. That’s Gigi Baba which is between 100 and 104 Smith St. Collingwood! Yes it is at 102 if you like. There is a bar and a table, also for sharing, at each end of the room which is sparsely decorated with a few photographs of a Turkish theme

and a large rug on the wall
In fashion, the dishes are all entree size and designed to share. They are small, sometimes very small, quite lightly spiced with nothing overwhelming the delicacy of the dishes. We had what amounted to a 13 course menu of considerable variety. The first three dishes were a bean salad,

a slice of air dried beef
and a piece of barbecued haloumi. again very tastily seasoned was A fish salad followed

and then a superb prawn wrapped in eggplant.
A very, no pun intended, moorish lamb cutlet

followed by a most delicate serve of Murray cod presented in a small finjan. Quail

and fish in batter came next

and then a broad bean salad and a vine leaf wrapped 'cigar' of rice

before the dessert an excellent hazelnut mousse accompanied by an apricot and a prune creation

Wine There is a modest range at either as 120, 240 or 500 ml.
Price By the time we finished it ran to about $75/ person with only a small contribution from the wine.

Comments: This is the sort of place that makes Melbourne dining so exiting. I loved the meal tho' other elements of the restaurant were a bit ordinary.

Score: 15/20

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Fish Tank

After two years in Church St Brighton The Fish Tank has become a very popular fish and chippery offering a wide variety of fresh seafood which can be cooked for you served with salad and sauces or sold for you to cook at home. Choose at the counter, take a number and very soon you are served with very fresh products, cooked as requested. We had a good size slice of salmon which could not be faulted and a shaslik stick of octopus which was very tender and another of scallops, only $6.50 each.
Consrad, pictured here, is delighted if you express pleasure at his efforts. A nice touch is the Aerogard freely available at the outside tables.
Price: inexpensive
Score:13.5 /20

Chatter 9 - Dinner with Neil

I often eat at the homes of my friends and occasionally take pictures of the dishes they serve. These are just for a reminder, like a diary entry, of what was eaten. Some of the food served is exceptional but I don't usually comment on it on this blog.
Today I'm happily making an exception. Neil (of At My Table www. ) and Dorothy Murray invited us to an impromptu meal to try some fresh Alba white truffles

purchased the previous day. After an entree of oysters, prawns, pippies smoked salmon and mussels with pink grapefruit on a bed of endive with a home made vinaigrette sauce the coupe de gras was delivered. The truffles were shaved onto a bed of home made fettucini.
(115 gm flour/egg)
The key to this dish was the freshness of the truffles exuding a powerful and distinctive truffle smell they melded beautifully with the pasta adding a crunchy element to the texture.

The meal finished with fresh berries and organic cream all washed down with a Champagne to begin with followed by a French light red and a Yering Station botritus semillon

This meal, would have been more than acceptable at most Melbourne restaurants. Indeed the truffles were the most impressive I have ever eaten. One swallow may not make a summer, or a dinner, but every swallow on this occasion was a joy - Thanks Neil and Dorothy

Saturday, December 06, 2008


A newcomer at 165 Fitzroy St. St, Kilda offering street side dining as well a large restaurant split between a back room with bankettes

and larger tables and a front area split by a large chinese style room divider. The decor is simple and pleasantly Chinese too

We had the $70 banquet which was fairly typical of meals of this type. The entree is a choice between a seafood san chao bua

or a spinach egg soup

which were both very nice without being exceptional. This was followed by a serve of three dumplings - prawn, crab meat and prawn with chives,

delicate and very freshA request for no chilli with the spicy calamari was promised to be no problem but was forgotten and arrived replete with chilli!
This was followes by a rather dry deep fried fish in batter which would have been much better steamed,

The next dish described as steak with Chinese sauce was a large slab of meat, lacking any of the delicacy usually associated with Chinese dishes

A very fresh prawn dish with candied walnuts and snow peas was particularly good

The accompanying Singapore noodles were unusual agin being broad flat noodles the name of the dish deriving from the sauce.

The dessert was an exceptional custard tart.

Comments : A bit patchy with some very good dishes. The service was very willing but haphazard with special requests being forgotten.
Score: 14/20