Monday, December 29, 2014

En Izakaya (Balaclava) 12/2014

Although we have not mentioned this restaurant for nearly six years we have been not infrequent visitors, The decor is simple, unostentatious and unchanged
 It was a spur of the moment decision to drop in tonight and we were fortunate that they were open, being Monday. Only in December do they open on a Monday.
They have a regular menu and a number of specials written up on a glass panel, 
Not too many there and they are entree size so we decided to eat through that menu with the exception of the chicken dish which has chili in it.
Our first course, Hokado slightly seared scallops and Negri sushimi was an attractive, small, delicate dish with a small tower of lightly pickled ginger, a  potent cone of wasabi and alight soy dipping sauce, We both loved it 
Next came a cold dish, thin sliced, grade 9 wagu on a block of the finest silken tofu topped with sour cabbage and a slice of garlic. I did not find the waghu impressive on this but the complete dish was excellent particularly because of the outstanding tofu.

This was followed by a serve of beef dumplings covered with sticky rice, Totally delicious.

Our last course was a Japanese pancake with mushrooms, scallop and prawns. A remarkably well combined variety of tastes and textures..

En Izakaya has deservedly survived in a very testing environment. We certainly hope they flourish in 2015 and look forward to returning.
Score: 13.75/20

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Man Mo World Trade Centre Melbourne 12/2014

In their own words
"Man Mo is a candle-lit temple style restaurant offering fine dining with both traditional and modern dishes inspired from cooking styles of the Malaysian cultures.
Man Mo’s menu features an extensive selection of dishes inspired by the ingredients and cooking styles of the Chinese and Malaysian cultures. The resulting modern Chinese Malaysian food is served with a European flourish.
Boasting an interior space that is white, light and airy, Man Mo also features a casual dining area alongside the bar. Visitors are encouraged to sit back and relax. The glass walls slide back when the weather’s fine, allowing diners to eat al fresco or on the promenade seats with fine waterfront and city views."
Which is quite a good summary.
It is a very nice place with a mixture of traditional Chinese decor

and modern Western table settings

And what restaurant today can resist stencilling there name on their glasses?

Under the guiding hand of Elizabeth Choong, who must be a National treasure, seen here with two chefs,we had a end of year celebratory dinner enhanced with Mitchelton wines and the added pleasure of a very  proficient magician at Man Mo

The menu was rather too large. It began with three entrées:
Tasmanian oyster platter; steamed with ginger and shallots, natural with a piquant plum sauce and deep fried with a dry chili garlic.

A very tasty and appropriate start.
The second entrée was mango scallop in kataifi pastry and Man Mo garfish supreme. This is a super dish. The garfish outstanding. Everything here was concealed and transformed.

Followed by a delicate preserved Chinese cabbage clear soup,

which was also excellent, after which came a third entrée, Buddha Belly Quail. This was, according to the chef, twice cooked- steamed & fried whole boned quail stuffed with chicken mince served with tempura vegetables in a goose liver & sweet soya sauce. Over whelmed by the sauce, which also had some chilli in it, I could not recognize any thing but quail.

Not quite as special as it's name might have suggested.
These dishes were accompanied by a pleasant 2013 Blackwood Park reisling

and a 2012 Marsanne

The first two main courses, served with steamed rice, were braised pork belly with miso and Supreme soya in a taro basket,

an OK dish but not really special,
and a claypot of mixed Chinese vegetables with preserved bean curd,

which I thoroughly enjoyed.
These came with the only red wine for the night,

a MicheltonCrescent SGM (shiraz, grenache, mouvedre).
The last two mains were described as Free range chicken duet, deboned and layered with mince prawn meat, lightly battered crispy fillets

which also presented beautifully and was texturally interesting but lacking in taste.
and a rather dull noodle dish Char Kway Teow. This is a great traditional Singapore and Malay favourite. According to Wikepedia this is supposed to be especially tasty containing shahe fen, (the rice noodles) light and dark soy sauce, chilli, belachan (shrimp paste), whole prawns, de shelled  cockles, bean sprouts and Chinese chives. It totally missed the mark here.

These came with a 2013 Chardonnay
Desert was a mango pudding served with ice cream.

After this huge meal I did not relish the dessert, served with a Blackwood Park botrytis reisling.
The entrées were excellent but after that the meal became less than special. I think they are capable of producing very good food but the menu has to be chosen carefully. I am also chary of single vineyard  wines for multi course dinners. It is are for more than ne of them to particularly enhance the food.
Score: 14/20

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Richmond Oyster Bar

It is almost seven years since we reviewed this restaurant and it has changed very little in that time. It still has a sterile bare appearance with paper covered linen clothed tables.

We have been back there perhaps a dozen times which is surprising because the only improvement is the liquor licence! They have two things that are very good. Fish and chips and oysters. As they have a retail business fish can be selected from a wide range on display. They range from sustainably farmed Patagonian tooth fish, (69/Kg) to the humble shark, at about $14/kg. Choose your fish and have it crumbed, battered or grilled. It's excellent. 

Oysters are cheap but usually only Sydney rock  or Pacific oysters are available.
We ate through quite a lot of the menu none of which either of us would care to have again. A prawn cocktail is a filling entree, a throw back to the sixties, totally lacking in distinction.

Linguini marinara is packed with seafood, filling but lacking good seasoning 

as was their risotto. Paella somehow did not taste much different either. If you really want to splash out they have a massive sea food platter, with a price to match.

We tried a couple of desserts which looked nice but were far from special.

Score: 13/20 in 2008 and still the same.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Steer Bar and Grill Waghu Dinner 11/2014

These days you can get a pretty good steak at heaps of places but Steer Bar and Grill is a bit special. Why? Because they do a lot of Waghu so we were pretty excited by an offer of a five course waghu dinner, normal price $165 but only $125 for entertainment book owners.
The menu started with 5 Degrees, that's quite a bit below room temperature! So it was raw citrus cured F1 tenderloin, with crisp potato, eggplant and parsley. Sounds a lot but it was only a tiny amuse bouche mouthful, a pleasurable mouthful. This was accompanied by Mountain Pass Semillon Savignon blanc. 

The second course was described as 18 Degree poached full blood waghu oyster blade, tarragon soubise, celeriac boulangerie served with Tenuta de Areno Reserva Chianti Classico 2008. This was another elegant mouthful. We could all have done with twice as much

This was followed by100 Degree full blood waghu cheek dumpling, lobster XO sauce crisp garlic served with Heargreaves Hefeurizen Wheat Ale. Two little dumplings filled with a meat which was not distinguishable as waghu. The pastry was a little claggy. 

The last main course, if you could call it that was 350 Degrees F2 waghu porterhouse steak, mushrooms in red wine, potato puree. Longview Devils Elbow cab/sav 2009 came with the steak.

The final course, 15 degrees, was hay infused waghu milk ice cream with candied F1 rump and ration feed. Waghu suet pudding. This was served with Chateau Suduiraut Les Lions 2010.

This was a very inventive meal with more than enough interesting wine, but suffered from a serious lack of volume. We stopped off at KFC on the way home. I am becoming wary of these special dinners and would have been very disappointed if I had paid the full price.
Score: somewhere between 13.5 and 15!

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Tommy Ruff Elsternwick) 11/2014


Tommy Ruff is a very popular fish and chip eat in or take away cafe. The fish theme is overwhelming and, symptomatic of the place. There are fish symbols everywhere.
The water jugs.

 The glasses

The bare tabletops

On the walls

And, in case you've forgotten where you are there are a few reminders

Decor is basic with a wall of pic's the significance of which escaped me,
and a blackboard of specials

They don't wrap the fish in newspaper but serve it up on photocopies of a montage of newspaper clippings related to fish and chip and cafes.

Apart from fish and chips, which may be baked or battered they have a fairly extensive menu including a chowder
which my friends particularly like, and a range of salads
and sweets on display.

The food is quite reasonable and inexpensive but I did not care for the atmosphere. The chairs are uncomfortable and, as with most popular and busy places, the noise level made conversation difficult.
 Score:13.5 /20