Monday, February 20, 2017

Grill'd (St.Kilda East) 02/2017

Sometimes you just feel like having a hamburger and there are plenty to choose from in Melbourne. Over the years we've tried quite a few of them from the massive chains, like McDonalds, Hungry Jacks and so on to the individual operators, such as Ripponlea Fish Supplies and various fish and chip shops. Today we tried yet another "Grill'd"
This home grown Australian franchise has grown from a small start to over 120 shops last year. There has been some controversy over staff pay which has all been ironed out now.
The E. St.Kilda property is simply furnished.
 Order at the entrance.

There's a choice of buns and of sauces - ketchup, aioli with herbs and a couple of spicy ones, and you can have additions to the burger of your choice. Their menu 
includes a few cute names, which have little to do with anything, for example Nourish and Flourish, Mighty Melbourne, Zen Hen. 
They also have steak sandwiches and a few other dishes but we came for a hamburger.
This was the simple version.
Mighty Melbourne hid a free range egg, avocado, bacon cheese, beetroot and lettuce.
 It and the chips were really good. Made excellent by the seasoning, herbs and crisp buns. Not the biggest, not the most stuffed with filling but very tasty.
We have no hesitation in recommending this place for a great hamburger.

Comments Score: 14/20

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Matsuzaka (Caulfield South - Melbourne) 02/2017

It is almost four years since we last ate here and in that time it has changed very little at all. The decor is unchanged.
 They've stuck their take away menu, updated 18 months ago, on the window.
 That's about all. the long narrow room 
  is graced with two Teppanyaki tables and the rest are economically and simply set.

 The Japanese waitresses seemed a little better informed and they have added some
new cocktails with Japanese plum wines or sake mixes with regular spirits and given them fancy names which are rather nice.

 We had different dishes this time starting with chefs special crab dumplings.

which were wrapped in noodles rather than pastry. They were delicate and excellent.
Tempura prawns had extremey good crisp batter and are an excellent appetizer for $7.
There was one more before I took the pic!
I'm not sure how this happened, nor quite what it is but the waitress brought this to the table in place of the poterhouse Sukiyake hot pot that we ordered. She was reluctant to take it back saying we would have to wait for the Sukiyaki which seemed strange as one has to cook it for oneself at the table. We certainly did have to wait, almost half an hour. Evidently this was because the porterhouse was frozen solid and could not be sliced immediately.

 Eventually, just as we were ready to walk out, it arrived. 

 It was worth waiting for. A substantial dish ($28) it came wth a raw egg and was filled with goodies. Glass noodles, fine tofu and plenty of vegetables in a pleasing, slightly sweet soup.
My choice of Ika, (Calamari), grilled and served with garlic butter with an accompanying sake and ponzi flavoured soya sauce,
was not so fortunate. The calamarie were bland, with no crispness, the sauce was dull and the salad on the plate a mismatch.
We enjoyed their plum wine cocktail ($12) and drank cold Bishonen Jumai sake.
The meal was a bit patchy but overall quite good. 
Score:13.75 /20

Friday, February 10, 2017

Palm Room at the Plaza (6th Ave and 59th St) 01/2017

The Plaza was once owned by Donald Trump. It's a classy old hotel in a fantastic position across the road from Central Park.
In their basement they have a restaurant and food halls serving everything from the most expensive caviar to hot dogs. 
On the ground floor, designated as 1 in America, is the Palm Room which gets its name from the substantial palm trees in the room.

It's an elegant hotel and this is an elegant breakfast room with an impressive entrance.

It is attractively furnished 

and lit by a huge skylight.
There is a choice of a $48 buffet with all the usual things, very nicely presented, 

or an a la carte menu

Eggs Benedick 
always popular (the salmon cost an extra A$10)
Shakshuka, pretty traditional 
and very spicy with plenty of tomato and two eggs hidden in the centre.
Pancakes are popular with the kids.
Child friendly too.
Comments: Breakfast for the well heeled.
Score: 14/20

Vue de Monde - Why go Again? (CBD Melbourne) 02/2017

So here's the menu and the dishes, 

Sunday 5th. February 2017

Chefs Tasting menu

Quail egg and rocket

Summer vegetable pickles with brown butter and tarragon vinaigrette
Ume plum, kumato, parmesan snow
Flinders Island wallaby with rock melon and fennel

Mussels with sorrel and apple,
 Mooloolaba saucer scallops with nashi pear and lime
Rusty wire oysters with lemon myrtle
Beer and fennel bread with cultured butter was served through the meal
Kohlrabi noodles with salmon pearls, yes truffles too.

Western Australian marron with almond and lemon verbena

Marron snag sizzle with seaweed mustard and onions

Onion jam
One with the lot! 
Dried zucchini flowers with pickled & charred stems, powdered vinegar, crème fraise and leatherwood honey

Red hair kangaroo served raw with native fruit pickles and spicy spring greens
This was served with thin sheets of 'bread' cooked at the table.

If you think you don't like kangaroo this is a dish that might change your mind!
Striped black Grouper with baby cucumber, sea grapes and kombu oil

Davidson plum sorbet with sorrel and flowers

The flowers are frozen and crushed at the table.
Flinders Island milk-fed lamb with macadamia nut and sour onions

David Blackmore wagyu tenderloin with carrot heart and leek ash

and more.
Trolley of cheese


Barbequed mango with ginger and lime
Chocolate soufflé with 

crème anglaise
We also drank some wine!
NV Ruinart Rosé, Reims, Champagne, France
Also 2014 Joh Jos Prüm Graacher Himmelreich Gold Kapsel Auslese (Riesling), Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany
2015 Bindi Vue de Monde (Pinot Noir), Macedon Ranges, Australia- not the whole bottle of course and 2013 Ca' d'Gal Vigna Vecchia Moscato d'Asti DOCG, Piedmont, Italy.

What is there to say about this meal.
Firstly, not a bad thing. Everything was excellent. 
The venue is of course unmatched in Melbourne.
The service is close to impeccable. There was an occasional problem with understanding accents but explanations were readily repeated.
The food was beyond criticism. A few dishes were finished at the table, usually with sauces but sometimes unexpectedly with truffles.
Although this is a large menu it was quite well balanced.
Vue has a new head chef, Nobu, who created the red hair kangaroo served raw with native fruit pickles and spicy spring greens which was served for the first time that day. He also visited us and discussed some culinary matters.
All that is fine but for the price we could have had 50 pizza's or 100 hamburgers or donated to whoever so is it reasonable to go to Vue de Monde? This is a philosophical question but for us, 
in a word yes. We would rather have one incredible meal than x number of hamburgers.
It's an experience with unique qualities - a feast for all the senses but, in the end, it's a personal decision.
Perhaps a sneak preview here might help you make up your mind. 
Comments: It's not possible to get much better