Thursday, March 30, 2017

Rendezvous Restaurant (Mildura) 03/2017

Among the premier restaurants in Milldura Rendezvous suffered the indignity of forgetting to renew their liquor licence and then also getting fined for serving alcohol without a licence. After some delay they are hoping to get it back next week. They are able to operate as a restaurant and i was fortunate to be able to have a meal there at a function, where they served meals from their regular menu.
It's a nice venue exuding an air of quality.

We started with a Charcuterie platter with crumbed calamari and scallops, pate, prosciuto,  pesto, fetta, olives, sausage and biscuits and a dip.
It was a very nice start to a meal. Perhaps the crumbed items could have been crisper but for the rest everything was excellent.
An entree of quail was well seasoned with a slice of lemon if one wanted more of that. This was followed by a choice of rack of lamb, or stuffed chicken supreme or salmon or a vegetarian option.

I never order salmon at meetings because it is invariably over cooked, as was the case here, however I requested the lamb rack rare and they served it rare. You could say a rare pleasure!
Dessert was a selection of small tastes.
Not ideal for sharing with more than one I think they would have done better to have had a single dessert, or perhaps a choice of two.

The Bistro (Mildura) 03/2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Amaru (Armadale - Melbourne) 03/2017

Names are more than just designations. They often have meaning. They may be strong and give their possesor strength, or the converse. Wikipedia tells us that In the mythology of Andean civilizations of South America, the amaro, amaru (quechua) or katari (aymara) is a mythical serpent or dragon. In Inca mythology, the amaru is a huge double-headed serpent that dwells underground.

Kabalarian philosophy is more appealing. It attributes all sorts of characteristics to people as a result of their names, for example:
The name of Amaru gives you a very inquisitive, restless, seeking nature.
You feel impelled by intense desires that you cannot comprehend or satisfy.
You have had the desire to accomplish something outstanding and to do something very worthwhile for humanity, especially early in your life.
 You resent obstacles, delays, and restrictions.
This name gives you ambition, high ideals, and much creative ability, but the intense dynamic nature is too often spent in feelings and in moods, rather than in constructive action.
This name has given you an appreciation for refinement, and the better things in life such as art, music, and literature.
and a few other mostly nice things.
Anyway Amaru is a comfortable restaurant. Decor is pleasant 
with the soft lighting reflected off the ceiling. There is a bar opposite the kitchen with four seats referred to as the chef's table.

These seem more appropriate for Amaru though I doubt they played a part in the choice of the name. 
They have a degustation menu of five courses and two desserts preceded by some inventive amuse bouche.
Everything was unusual, even the pumpkin seed butter. (I think that's what it was.)
Activated Nuts and Seeds / Pickled Vegetables Emulsion

The emulsion disappeared very very quickly. It was delicious.
Onion /Garfish / Smoked Sheep's Yogurt.

Amaru's version of dumplings

Lightly Smoked Duck Ham
These were about a centimetre in diameter. They had the texture of bacon with the taste of duck.
Yellow Fin Tuna / Sweet Ginger / Trout Pearls / Cured Melon Juice

Otway Shitake / Green Onion Oil / Chawanmushi
Mud Crab / Native Cherry / Dessert Lime / Frozen Peanut
Everyone at the table especially liked this dish 
Smoked Prawn / Caramelized Yoghurt / Yeast Oil / Begonia Leaves

This was really fantastic, I've never had a better prepared prawn.
Dry Aged Kangaroo / Raw Liquorice / Blackberries
Dirty Potato

Jonella corn / Frozen Peach / Sunflower Seeds / Verbena
I seem to have missed this pic! Strawberries / Buckwheat / Buffalo Mozzarella / Olive Oil


Digestive Biscuit
Grass Fed Beef Caramel

Beverages are fairly expensive. I had a sake which was served at room temperature in a wine glass.
It's very difficult to describe a meal like this. It's very unusual, the cooking is unique in terms of the combinations of ingredients and flavours. Presentation is also unusual, the crockery is mostly very plain and could be more appealing.
It suits the adventurous. It's unlikely that many people would like every dish, although I did enjoy nearly all of them. 
Score: 17/20

Friday, March 24, 2017

Almazett (Nth Caulfield) 03/2017

Not only have the wait staff changed, and the price of course, but the room seems to be lighter and more attractive. 
Decor is simple with little decoration. 

White clothed tables  promise a better class of restaurant.
As well as an a la carte menu they offer a $44 banquet and, for an extra six dollars, the addition of crustaceans. Corkage is $5/ bottle and, not unreasonably, with screw top bottles, we opened them ourselves. 
A plate of pickled turnip, diacon I guess, and carrot was served while we considered the menu. 

The menu is pretty much the same as years ago. Of course we went for the big banquet.
Before long dishes began to arrive in rapid succession. We had to ask them to slow down as we could not eat that fast and the table was becoming over full.
Mezze, a series of small dishes, came first. 
Taboule, a Lebanese classic lemon flavoured salad of parsley, burghul, tomato and other ingredients such as spring onions and mint with olive oil. 
This came with bowls of Hummus,

and Tahinna
Pita bread  
These were quickly followed by felafel with a tasty yogurt salad dressing

and meat rolls.
Until the meat rolls everything was very good and plentiful but the luke warm rolls, with a soft pastry missed the mark.
Lemon flavoured barbecued chicken wings was another winner

Lebanese meat balls, rissoles you might say, are usually seasoned with a variety of Middle Eastern spices and often have pine nuts included. 
Unfortunately these were over baked and dry with very little flavour except for lemon, yet again. A bowl of roast potato again with lemon and parsley, 

was also served before the crustaceans. 
The BBQ'd prawns were a little over cooked but quite tasty and the scallops were excellent.
This was followed by a whole fish, between four of us, 

which was seriously overcooked, as was the next course of chicken and lamb shashlik coverd by slices of thin luke warm pizza.

This was accompanied by bowls of rice

and beans
Mahalabia is a classic Lebanese dessert made by boiling down milk and then adding sugar, rose water, cream and cardamon. 
This one was not sweet enough, lacked taste and was too firm.

Finally we were served Baklava and Turkish delight with Arabic style coffee, with a touch of cardamon, in a Finjan
It was not haute cuisine but Almazett gave us a taste of Lebanese cooking and hospitality - there was a very large amount of food which we could not finish. On the down side the fish, the rissoles and the chicken and lamb shashliks were very overcooked and the seasoning was monotonous, almost every dish dominated, to a greater or lesser degree, by lemon.
Comparisons, they say are, are odious. Looking back at Abla's, which we went to almost 10 years ago, I would say that Abla had a little more variety but suffered from the same problems as Almazett. Perhaps, being so disappointed, we were overly harsh in our judgement of Abla which, ( ), as far as quality of the cooking, was much the same as Almazett.
Comments Score:12.75 /20

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Frogmore Creek (Cambridge Tasmania) 03/2017

This restaurant/reception centre/winery 

sits in a gorgeous site 
about 20 minutes out of Hobart. They offer a reasonable a la carte menu and wines from three labels - Frogmore Creek, 42 Degrees and Storm Creek. They are all cold climate wines priced from about $25 to $30 which is very reasonable.
I enjoyed a three course dinner starting with pressed and smoked salmon potato, capers,white anchovies, caramelised red onion, crostini, lemon and dill dressing.

Attractive to look at as well as to eat very good start to the meal. The alternative for this dinner, organized by the ANZCA was terrine of slow cooked chicken, with gherkin, potato, crisped bacon, avocado puree and caesar dressing. 
Despite the fine ingredients this was a little bland but very acceptable.
My main was slow cooked pork belly, croquette of the shoulder,apple puree, rhubarb compote, pork cracker and Picalilli sauce.
An OK dish but the cracker was very thin and when I get pork belly I really like it to be fat, which this was not!
It was served with oven roasted baby potatoes with sea salt and rosemary 
which were totally delicious. Roasted beetroot salad with feta, rocket, croutons and sherry dressing
was pleasant enough but the dressing was almost not noticeable.
The alternative main, roast lamb loin with confit potatoes,baby carrots, eggplant and cumin puree, smoked garlic aioli, juniper berry jus looked a lot more appealing 
though I'm told the lamb was a little chewy. 
Desserts were sticky date pudding, caramel sauce, mascarpone and vanilla cream, candied pecan nuts and yogurt sorbet. 
Not too sweet I loved it.
Chocolate, coffee and Lark whisky mousse and fudge, chocolate tuille and vanilla ice cream looked rich, sweet and moorish 
and, I'm told' it was all of that and beaut.
Comments: This certainly is an extremely pleasant place to eat, especially on a pleasant March evening. The setting is beautiful, the venue is attractive, the service was friendly and efficient, the wines (I drank the 2013 Frogmore Creek Pinot Noir and their 2013 cab/sav) were very good. On top of that the food was generally very good too. 
Score: 15 /20