Saturday, December 28, 2013

Etzel Haturki Restaurant (Or Yehuda) 12/2013

What's changed here in two years? Absolutely nothing as far as we could see.
The same 15 or so salads arrived without an order before we chose our main courses.
We did  eat through almost the whole menu last time, see and took lots of pic's.
There were two things on the menu that you will not see almost anywhere else apart from the middle east. The first a sashlik stick of foie gras, six good size pieces of mouth watering cholesterol and calorie packed goose liver either to die for or from! That for a mere $17. The second a shashlik stick of beautifully prepared sweetbread, about double or more, the amount you might normally get in Australia, and that for $12.
At the same time, like a busy McDonalds, a crowd of hungry patrons wait for takeaway. the food is tasty, copious, cheap and the place looks clean - the elements of a successful restaurant.
Score:13.5 /20

Friday, December 27, 2013

Shesh Besh (South Caulfield) 12/2013

The catering place is next door!
Tables are set simply,
and decor is minimal.

There are now quite a few unusual ethnic restaurants scattered around Melbourne. Central Asian food is well represented by this fairly new restaurant. Two years ago we ate Uzbekistani food in Israel at Samarkand
 Shesh Besh is like its twin. The decor quieter, the atmosphere is a little sterile but the food could have come from the same kitchen,
Salads came before the main courses.
Salad tri colouri

Smoked salmon with tomato and anchovy


Pickled vegetables

A tuna salad, an egg salad, a spicy carrot salad and a chicken salad among others were all pleasant enough but none were especially memorable.
The first outstanding dish, a variation on a calzone was a sort of cheese sandwich called hachapuri. The bread was crisp and the cheese delicious.

There were also two excellent main courses. Ciborecki were well filled with tasty mince meat.
and Manti, a variation on a Shanghai dumpling, served with Greek style yoghurt.

There were chicken and beef shashlik sticks and a platter of mixed meats including sweet marinated ribs, was passable but a rather crude dish.
 A belly dancer worked hard but did not arose the audience sufficiently to ply her with money.

Worth a try if you want to experience something different, they also have a regular menu and a take away menu.
Prices are very reasonable and BYO is popular.
Score:13.25 /20

Quanjude (Melbourne CBD) 12/2013

Lately we have been revisiting some of our old favourites. It seems nothing here has changed in the last year or so.. The floor manager, the setting, the service and the food have not changed at all. It remains a quiet, comfortable, attractive venue.
Apart from the duck they offer a regular Chinese a la carte menu.
San chao bau.


Peking Duck - the real deal, 

 roasted upright in special oven and then carved at the table
by specially trained Chinese chefs.
The skin and the breast are beautifully presented.
The paper thin pancakes were folded in half but opened easily to their full size.

 Duck soup, made from the left over bones, which are also offered.

Desserts Here we recommend a policy of look, don't  touch.
Tiramasu, rock hard, straight from the freezer. Whatever it was it should have been rechristened.
Banana fritter visually striking.

  Score:14.5 /20

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Soza (Armadale) 12/2013

Patrons return to restaurants for a myriad of reasons. The quality of the food is crucial, of course the price counts too. Beyond that ambiance, the buzz, convenience and other considerations come into play. Whatever the reason Soja was fairly full last week and we had to eat upstairs, which suited us well as it was quieter there. The room was just bare floors, tables and chairs, almost no decoration. This is the servery.

Table settings are simple.

We started with a few small dishes.
Gyoza were unusual, almost square, they were pan fried but had no crispness and no character. They were just a bit dull.
Tofu was much better

 and miso soup fairly standard.

 A stuffed egg plant was dominated by sweetness to the extent that it was almost cloying and not enjoyable.
Smoked eel is one of my favourite dishes and the eel here was excellent however the rest of the dish again had no character.
 Sukiyaki beef in another over sweet sauce might suit some people but it was too sweet for us. The tofu was the best of it.

They do have a range of sushi, sashimi and tempura dishes so there is plenty to choose from.

They have a small, moderately priced, wine list and do not permit BYO. 
Service was pleasant and unexceptional.
Here's a bit of trivia. I'm told Soza means fish in Japanese!
Score:13 /20

Monday, December 02, 2013

Rolld Vietnamese Street Food (Melbourne CBD) 11/2013

 Madam Brussels Lane, adjacent to 50 Lonsdale St., gets it's name from a Melbourne brothel owner, Madame Brussels, who owned eight high-class brothels in the late 1800's. 
Today it is a busy pedestrian mall filled with small cafe/restaurants and retail outlets. 
In the middle of them Rolld has launched a tiny kitchen selling Vietnamese Street food.
As a publicity promotion they spent a day last week giving away B's, 100's of them. The B is a traditional noodle salad served with either chicken, beef, pork spring rolls, roast pork with crackling or tofu vegetarian spring rolls topped with a Vietnamese salad. They normally sell them for $8.90 or $9.90 and they taste fantastic.
They have a small menu which you can see, illustrated, at their web site:
If you're in the area I'd recommend it.

 Score:13 /20

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Movida Aqui (Melbourne CBD) 11/2013

I think it was the 10th anniversary of Movida, a bit of the Melbourne Food Festival and an opportunity, with Greg Malouf in town, to get two great chefs to turn out a joint dinner. Frank Cammora and Greg turned out an interesting series of dishes that one is not likely to ever again see on one menu.
 Starters included gently seasoned Pittwater oysters lightly spiced with tomato vinaigrette and a slice of Merguez sausage.

 Bastourma, one of Greg's favourites, air dried beef wrapped around goats cheese and rocket leaves is an irresistable canape.
A beaker of fresh veggies followed with baby pitas and a labneh dip flavoured with cucumber and tarragon. Not too hard a dish to produce for any decent chef.

Another of Greg's favourite dishes came next, and this was really excellent, a large fillet of salmon covered with  a tahini and yoghurt dressing, coriander and crushed walnuts. The salmon which had been cured was also cooked - I would have preferred it raw, but it is a dish not to be missed.

Quail with saffron, fenugreek and organic chick peas was yet another dish with Greg's name written all over it. It provides the sort of reason he got a Michelin star in England last year. Tender, tasty, fragrant super.

Fish stew was a bit disappointing to me. I did not care for the potatoes, the fish was overcooked and it could not be saved by the seasoning, lemon rind and mint. The mussels, plump and perfectly prepared was the best of the dish. It did look nice 

but what was astonishingly attractive was the salad that came with it.
 The last main course was quite excellent. A slow roasted shoulder of lamb served on smouldering hay. The meat was nicely spiced with a touch of chilli and wonderfully tender. I don't particularly care for having to fish bits of hay out of my dinner but it is a great dish.It was served with an eggplant salad.

.This was supposed to be a set menu but, because Sandra has developed an allergy to chilli Frank Cammora prepared a special meal for her without chilli which was used in most of the dishes. This was an exceptional courtesy and furthermore a very fine meal.
Dessert was a variation on a yoghurt and burnt honey pannacotta  flavoured with flower water. It had a slice of caramelized peach under another Malouf specialty, a very light fairy floss. It was accompanied by an undistinguished chocolate ice cream. Bits of Turkish Delight, chopped nuts and an orange baklava completed the dish. I felt it was a bit tricked up for this meal.

Each dish was served with a Spanish wine on which I don't feel in any way competent to comment.
It was in all a very interesting meal of very good quality products, presented attractively, served in beautifully spiced and delicate middle eastern sauces. A great night and one which led us to return a few days later.

The meal we had last week was  stamped with Greg Malouf's influence. On this occasion we returned to sample a more extensive range of their regular menu which was stamped all over with Farank Camorra's influence (he was not there).
The menu is designed for sharing and is divided into small dishes, Tapas Classica, medium size dishes, Raciones, rice dishes, Arroces as well as a number of fish and meat dishes.

We sampled   quite a few. 

Jambon, ($18). Movida is noted for it's Iberican food and of course pork is a specialty.

 Tortilla, ($5), confit potato with organic egg and caramelised onion - de licious!

Venado, ($7), cured venison loin on brik pastrywith celeriac and morcilla. A tiny titivating serve.

Bocadillo de calamaris, (8) a calamari sandwich with Basque guindilla and mayonnaise. Here the calamarie were sandwiched in a lightly toasted small bun. Quite different but reminiscent of Andrew McConnels signature lobster roll at Golden Fields and equally good.

 Sopa, ($6.50) chilled hazelnut with grape granita, pickled and black garlic a special that night, just a couple of very tasty mouths full.

Asparagus ($16) char grilled with Romesco sauce.

 Croquettes, four to a serve. Don't miss them if they are on the menu.
Gambas con sobrasada ($22). Prawns with sobrasada, broad beans and cider. Large, sweet, tender and great if you like prawns. I don't generally care for them but these were very nice.
Mejillones, ($18). Jumbo Spring Bay mussels cooked a la plancha with parsley, garlic and fino. These were the plumpest most fantastic mussels I can ever remember. A super dish.

Bistec (35), a large serve of char grilled Robbins Island rump with sweetbreads, white anchovy, egg and patatas fritas. They could not get all this on one plate! It was cooked as requested. The sweetbreads were outstanding and it was a totally enjoyable dish.
 Here is the egg on chips.

And a couple of desserts
Helados, ($14.50). Ice creams served with fig bread

and creme caramel ($14.50) served with pestinos. Far from the best creme caramel but we were not expecting to be blown away by desserts

The place is buzzing with it's odd interior decor; drink crates hanging over the bar,

its rough wooden tables inside and casual patio furniture outside. It has plenty of atmosphere well supported by the food.
We were pleased to break with tradition here and drank sherry instead of wine. They served us a pleasantly dry Manzanilla and a superb sweet dark, almost oily smooth Pedro Jimenez. Never mind the terroir, the berry notes, the slight plum hints of this wine or that, the sherries were simply delicious.
Score:15.25 /20