Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Flower Drum (Melbourne CBD) 04/2015

The Flower Drum has managed to  resurrect it's reputation as one of the best Chinese restaurants in Australia, and possibly in the world. It is certainly one of the most expensive and offer excellent service in a tiring venue.
Table settings have not changed in decades,

and their show plates are gorgeous.

They have an extensive menu and also offer a six course degustation menu ($190) to which you can add $75 for matched wines and an extra $30 if you swap the eye fillet  for a waghu sirloin, which we did and I regretted as it did not improve the dish.
Here is the menu:

Chef’s 6 Course Signature Banquet
Crab Meat Crystal NoodlesHand picked mud crab, spring onion served on clear
mung bean noodles with sesame sauce.

 A delicate quality dish
2014 Leo Buring ‘Dry’ Riesling, Clare Valley SA
Wok Fried Fillet of Blue CodWild blue cod from Chatham Island, New Zealand,
filleted and wok fried. Served with seasoned soy and spring onion.
Pretty ordinary
2013 T Gallant ‘Tribute’ Pinot Gris, Mornington Peninsula Vic   
We swapped the next dish, a spicy quail, for another fish dish which turned out to be just a nice pieceof fish in batter.
Sauté Seafood w/ Ginger
Live Tasmanian crayfish coupled with king prawn, scallop and pearl meat,
stir fried in a wok with ginger and spring onion.
2011 Kooyong 'Estate' Chardonnay, Mornington Peninsula VicSome how I think I missed a course here!
Blackmore Waghu Sirloin w/ Sichuan SauceCooked medium rare or to your liking and
dressed in a spicy Sichuan sauce. Served with seasonal vegetables.
Another very nice but oh so ordinary dish
2012 Langmeil ‘Valley Floor’ Shiraz, Barossa Valley SA 
Special Fried Rice Not very special
Choice of Dessert(excludes Bird’s Nest Soup)
Fresh hand-made almond cookies
Chinese Tea or Vittoria Coffee

A very nice but very expensive uninspiring meal
 Score:14 /20

Donovan's (St.Kilda) 03/2015

Yep, Donovan's is open again and catering for diners with an attempt at seriously good food.
The place has had a facelift and looks better than it used to. The interior has been altered although the original structure is still evident.
The Greek columns outside and the brilliant views along St.Kilda beach from the window seats are unchanged.

Their menu contains lots of their former dishes, denoted by a little line drawn house on the menu, and a lot that is new. There is also a heavy promotion of their name on glasses, plates                                                                                        

and so on. 
Tables are bare

 and bread is served with both butter and a bean dip.
Their 'crudo' selection was yellow fin tuna, finely sliced over a dome of vegetables dominated by avocado and a strong lemon taste.      Rather unbalanced I thought.


My preferred starter was the twice cooked soufflé of Beaufort and Reggiano chees with vineyard snails and parsley sauce $24.00
Unfortunately the souffle was very bland. A pretty dish and the little garden of snails, cream fraiche and ?spinach puree was lovely to see and eat.
Beef cheek in a very cheesy macaroni sauce was too rich for comfort.
On the other hand BBQ'd snapper could not have been more plain. No messing around with the hero of this dish. The fish did the talking.

It did come with potato wedges and a few lettuce leaves.
A linguini marinara was undistinguished and seriously overpriced at $52 as a main course.

The best looking dish we had was a bomb Alaska to share.

Ultimately I felt that they tried very hard but did not quite succeed in producing really good food.

Score: A bare 14/20

Brooks Bros (Melbourne CBD) 03/2015

It's a while since we have written anything here a we have so much, excuse the pun, on our plate just now. We revisited Brooks from which one of our favourite chefs  Nicholas Poelart, has now departed. The food is different but it is still seriously good. Prices are at the upper edge of the range with a couple of special dishes like Grade 9+ Waghu at $125. 
You can see it in their display case and it is obviously the real deal. I saw it at $250 a Kg in Malvern Rd. last week if you feel like making it at home!
Desserts are another high point.

 Service is notably good under the supervision of Brian Lloyd, who worked with Shannon Bennett for many years at Vue de Monde and at the Point with Scot Pickett.
Score:15 /20