Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tataki (Elsternwick) 09/2011

There seem to be Japanese restaurants in every suburban shopping strip. Not infrequently they advertise their dishes with window displays which I find discouraging but his can be a mistaken view.
Tataki, which I'm told means something like "be happy" at 470 Glenhuntly Rd. fell into that class. It's a small place, simply furnished exuding a quiet air, perhaps because it was only half full when we were there.

An entree of Gyoza, five of them, filled with pork and vegetables, ($7.5), were just half the price, and much more to my taste with a touch of mirin sweetening the dipping sauce, than the ones at Heirloom. Age Dafi Dofu, crisp deep fried bean din a soy based sauce were undistinguished and not really crisp at all.We followed this with an eggplant with a miso paste which tasted as good as it looked. A very successful dish that I have not seen before was a mixed seafood offering in a white sauce. The accompanying salad on the plate was aesthetically unusual. The textural and taste contrast here were such that I would have preferred the salad on another plate however the sea food was excellent. A prawn tempura, three prawns and vegetables ($17) also had a slightly wine sweetened dipping sauce. The batter could have been lighter but it was a reasonable dish. Tataki duck ($27) eight portions of roast duck with home made miso paste wrapped in crepes, a version of Peking duck, was especially satisfying. They are licensed and accept BYO. Open daily for dinner an Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and also serve takeaway meals. Theyalso have a function room that seats 30. I would not hesitate to stop by here for a casual meal.Score: 13.5/20


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Heirloom (Melbourne CBD) 09/2011

One way or another many restaurants which get extreme scores from controversial reviewer Stephen Downes fail to live up to expectations when we visit them and that goes as much for some of the critical reviews as it does for the highly complimentary ones. I find it hard to think of any restaurant meal at which the food has been so excellent in every way that it would merit a perfect score but that is what Downes felt about Heirloom.

This French/Japanese hybrid occupies an impressive space with high ceilings and a very open feel to it in Melbourne’s CBD. We had to book a long way ahead and it was well worth going there but perfect it certainly is not. We tried a couple of Isakaya, the Japanese equivalent of tapas.
The slow roast duck gyoza, sauce a la orange ($3 ea) looked crisp but were flaccid and, although well filled with duck it was quite hard to recognise any duck taste.
The crisp salmon and chive cigar ($9) was a misnomer not being at all crisp and also, whilst pleasant enough, certainly not an outstanding offering. I was tempted to have the charcuterie entrée but it hardly displays a chef’s ability. All the dishes had a lot of accompaniments on the plate which kept the kitchen in frantic activity. This resulted in very erratic service at some tables where some diners had finished their dishes before others were served. Kabocha pumpkin parfait, hazelnuts, salted buffalo ricotta, sesame brittle, wasabi pearls, soy, yoghurt emulsion. ($18) was very attractively presented. I found the parfait a bit dull, the yogurt, which had been foamed fell off it and did not improve it for me. Another very well presented dish the rare seared yellow fin tuna loin, piperade, crisp basil, white anchovy tempura, black olive crumbs, ($20) was quite excellent, the tempura especially good. Hickory smoked Pekin duck breast, miso glazed endame, daikon fondant, quail scotch egg, (very cute), bacon bouillon. ($34) was first class. Oddly, whilst ours was extremely tasty and tender, so very good, another member of our party found his duck very chewy and not very good at all!
48 hour pork belly and seared Akami tuna, ginger caviar, braised orange witlof, cider foam, granny smith puree. ($35) another multi product dish was very well prepared, the pork melted in the mouth, the tuna seared, perhaps for 20 seconds more than I would have liked, remained delicate. It did seem to me to be a rather strange pairing but I treated it as two separate dishes on the one plate. The crisp skinned Hamachi/kingfish fillet, crushed kipfler, anagi, octopus tempura, pickled seaweed, smoked tomato sauce ($34) was, I’m told, very good but I did not taste it. Three sorts of bread were served at the end of the meal. It was particularly moorish and perhaps just as well it did not come earlier but I would have liked it sooner. Wines were not notable but I enjoyed the Saki the waitress recommended.

Crockery was attractive as it so often is at Japanese restaurants without being over the top and cutlery very average.Petit fours were colourful.

This was an interesting meal with testing modern cooking techniques on display in every dish.

Score 15/20

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chatter 41 Melbourne, A Garden City

I was born only a few miles from where I now live in Melbourne, a city very recently voted as the most livable city in the world. Maybe it is, who knows. One thing is for sure there are wonderful gardens everywhere displaying a stunning variety of flowers and trees. I took these snaps on a short walk and thought I might share them with you. We do take an interest in a lot more than restaurant reviews!!

Wisteria is related to the pea family, here is the edible variety in flower.
and beans
Gorgeous flowers abound

The heavily symbolic lily

Colourful shrubs

and trees

Bird of Paradise
and an enormous variety of other attractive things

and ever more

it's endless

and all sorts of other interesting flora
This is a great city, with a temperate climate, in which you can grow almost anything.
You don't have to go to the Botanical Gardens, it's all here in the streets.