Monday, August 29, 2016

Clock by the Bay (Portland Victoria) 08/2016

*Click on the pic's if you want to enlarge them.
When I arrive at a place at which I'm no0t familiar I often ask Taxi drivers and locals where in town is the best place to eat. Most recommended the pubs or, perhaps a little more upmarket Edwards. Two Chinese restaurants were also favourably regarded. Only one person, almost as an after thought, mentioned the former Post Office, now a restaurant. I have the time to try both Edwards the Clock and perhaps a Chinese restaurant too.
The Clock resides in an attractive white building on the edge of the harbour. 

It's large windows offer views of the Mac, across the road and of the harbour.

The entrance is up a few stairs to a bright, quite sophisticated eating area.

Tables are a good size, made from limed parquetry flooring.

They offer both a sizeable lunch time menu until 3.00 pm and an evening menu.

I arrived at 2.30 and they were happy to serve me.
I started with a dish of muscles in a spicy sauce with a couple of thick toasted slices of bread to mop up the sauce and cutlery, including a spoon for the sauce. 

The muscles were plump and tender and the sauce well balanced and not overwhelmingly spiced. A very good dish.
After that I had a main course of perfectly cooked ling with crumbed shitake mushrooms and a pleasing salad. 

This good size piece of very fresh very white flaky fish has nothing 'fishy' about it's delicate flavour.

 I could have done without it but the chef's gourmet selection of petit desserts ($19) sounded too good to miss. 

It had enough calories for the whole day, perhaps more.
It included a chocolate pot, a lemon curd in a glass, a pannacota, a creme brulee, a slice of rich chocolate cake, a few raspberries and small meringues and lots of sweet crumbs and crumbed nuts plus an espresso coffee. Over all it was a bit too sweet.
It would have been good to share but I ate the lot with the greatest of pleasure. 
Service was a little slow but my wait person was very cheerful and pleasant.
Including a Lemon lime and bitters this was a substantial very good meal. 
Score 15.5/20

The Mac (Portland Victoria) 08/2016

Unless someone has highly recommended a gastropub I no longer go to pubs for food. Of course I do get a meal and it's usually quite substantial and not over expensive, but nowadays I go to see what they are like.
The Bentink, commonly known as the Mac 

is a very old place. 

Virtually everything about the place seemed to be old with the exception of the gas fire 

and the staff. Certainly it is a great building dating from the 1850's and it makes no pretence to being modern. It has a nice ceiling with central roses, 

the dated wall paper is covered in old photos from the 19th century 

and the carpets, 


the furniture,

the newspaper here was three days old!, and even the tables looked ancient.

seem to be just about as old.
The food was robust. A 250 gm fillet steak must have been at least 50% more than promised.
Covered in a decent mushroom sauce, which also bathed most of the chips it was cooked as requested - no complaints.
Score: 12.75/20

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Gordon (Portland, Victoria) 08/201

Portland seems to be a quiet town 

with plenty of takeaway food places and lots of pubs serving meals.
I tested the water at one of the popular spots on the edge of the harbour, The Gordon Hotel.

This is an absolutely typical Australian country pub serving substantial meals undistinguished from hundreds of other similar establishments. The sea food comes from across the road so it's very fresh. There's the usual board of specials

and coffee and cakes

and a slightly less expensive lunch menu offering a wide range of dishes. The minestrone soup was a meal in itself.

Looks normal here but it was at least twice the size of a uual serveA main course is enough to eat unless you are very hungry, which I was not.
As such I started and ended with a spaghetti marinara which turned up as a fettuccini marinara served with a pile of parmesan cheese flakes. 

It had plenty of scallops and prawns and a thick sauce lacking seasoning. 
My friend ordered scallops in a cream garlic sauce which she said was tasty although they turned out to be prawns rather than the scallops she ordered.
Chicken schnitzel though it needed a steak knife to eat it in comfort was exactly what one might expect, as was battered fish and chips.

Lambs fry was three large pieces of, for my liking, over cooked liver which would also have been much better if they was not so cool.

 Score: 12.75/20

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Chatter 54 MasterChef 2016

I'm not sure why I enjoy MasterChef. Matt Preston's outfits, which possibly warrant psychological assessment, George Colambarous's patent kindness and concern for contestants and Gary Meaghan,s almost orgiastic pleasure at the pleasure of some of the dishes, especially the sweet ones, the he gets to taste all amuse me.
Watching people under stress might appeal to some but not me. As a child quiz contestant I've been there and I certainly don't like it. One does see an incredible development over a few months. By the end of it the last few contestants really deserve to be there. Either of the last two, Elena and Matt, would be worthy winners. 
The final consisted of three stages. In the first two the contestants created their own dishes. The last stage was the reproduction of an extremely complex dessert involving a range of techniques and the use of some equipment that the contestants may never have seen before. Even with the recipe there was serious time pressure and little room to correct any error or mishap that might have intervened along the way.
By the time they reached this stage it was still a close contest with Matt three points in front. Unfortunately things unraveled right at the end. He had had to repeat a part of the recipe and was extremely pressed for time. Elena showed great character actually telling him how to use one piece of equipment. Finally though his egg split open on the judges table.
Emotions ran high, as always. 
Elena was a very worth winner.  Throughout the previous weeks Elena had been consistently sound and rarely put a foot wrong. Matt had a rockier course with occasional poor performances and many flashes of brilliance.
Even if there had been no final disaster for Matt you could still have legitimately chosen Elena BUT was this final a fair way of picking the winner?
I don't think so. 
It was finally the place where creativity went out the window. Speed, organization and technique were the keys to success but in the end it was copying the work of another person. 
Is this the way, ultimately, to choose the winner?
I'll say it again I don't think so. 

Peppers at Cradle Mountain (Tasmania) 07/201

It was a grey and drizzly day when I set off for lunch at cradle Mountain, little realizing what a long and twisty journey it was going to be. If you are prone to car sickness I'd look for somewhere else to go but otherwise it is a beautiful drive. 
The building looks the same as the last time we were here some 20 years ago. 

Not much to impress on the outside.

 But inside is another story. A multitude of lounges with big wood fires, comfortable couches and arm chairs wrapped around residents occupied with their knitting, crosswords, board games and children.

They have two restaurants, The Highland restaurant, which is only open for dinner and a Tavern Bar and Bistro. The Highland is fine dining and pricey 

and, had it been possible, I would certainly have tried the food there.

The Tavern is very much like a ski lodge 
with a split level room the lower part having a bar at one end,
including a mountain water dispenser,
a fine view along one side, 
a central wood fire
and a pool table. It's warm and offers a sort of Spartan comfort. 
The menu is simple 

and the food sustaining.

My papradelles with fetta and mushrooms would not be out of place in any bistro.
Time for a stroll.





 A little bit of wonderland!
Comments Score: 13.75/20