Friday, April 6, 2012

Giant Steps / Innocent Bystander Winery [at] Healesville

Had heard much about this place, and thought it was a great day to drive up to Healesville for lunch with my sister and her family.

The place does look pretty imposing as you approach it; driving in the Healesville town centre you definitely wouldn't miss it. It is in the middle of town, so there isn't any "rolling-hills" view to be had here (like at De Bortoli or Yering Station).

The place inside definitely looks pretty cool, with multiple vespas just being displayed.

 Spot the Vespa!

Vespa on the barrels

Now on to the food... we shared a terrine, two pizzas, a cheese platter and a cheeseburger from the kids' menu.
 Rabbit, pork and pistachio terrine 
w/ pickled watermelon rind & toasted house made sourdough baguette ($19.0)

The terrine on its own was okay - it was the pickled watermelon rind that added the something special to it. Who would've thought of pickling something that normally goes into the bin to make a dish stand out!

Pumpkin pizza, roasted garlic & caramelised onion, w/ barrel aged feta, pinenuts & rocket ($22.0)

 Pizza w/ Calabrese salami, san marzano tomato, oregano & buffalo mozzarella ($24.0)

Nothing beats wood-fired pizza. I liked the flavours of the pizzas; and the menu does sum it up nicely:
we make authentic artisan, wood-fired oven pizza, and that means it is all about the base. the toppings are simple but effective, showing off the very best produce that we can source - items such as san marzano tomatoes and italian buffalo mozzarella - always using the freshest ingredients including local garlic, seasonal vegetables and herbs grown in wine barrels in our herb garden behind the winery.
 Kids menu: killer cheeseburger w/ shoestring fries

Yum - and fresh fries - double yum!

Service was okay, but we had to call for someone to tell us what our cheese platter consisted of. hmph.

Overall, would definitely come back here for a bite the next time we have an overnight getaway in the Yarra Valley region. As for bringing tourists to visit Yarra Valley, I'd probably bring them to somewhere else where there is more of a view (for the scenic experience)

Giant Steps / Innocent Bystander Winery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Axil Coffee Roasters [at] Hawthorn

Took the day off on Tuesday and decided to have brunch in Hawthorn as I was in the area to pick up my framed paintings (see here for photos!).

I had driven past and wanted to come here the last time I came around to drop my paintings off.

Pretty huge space, it's not a place you can drive past and not notice.

Inside was really spacious too - even though we were seated pretty close to other patrons, I felt the acoustics didn't distract me too much

The coffee, needless to say, is great. Axil Coffee supplies beans to several cafes in town so they wouldn't have disappointed.

Spicy Baked Eggs... w/ Meredith goats cheese, dukkah, etc

I really really liked this - it wasn't too intense or overwhelming. The dukkah and nuts really added a nice earthy touch to it. Eggs were cooked perfectly, with the yolks still runny - yum! *claps with glee*

Potato Hash w/ chilli tomato relish, bacon and poached eggs

This dish was very good - nothing particularly original, but done well. The eggs were poached well, potato hash (potato hash can do no wrong, really) and bacon not greasy and gross.

Overall - a definite recommendation! The food is great, and the place is very accommodating for us to hang about for hours (granted, it was a Tuesday afternoon).

Axil Coffee Roasters on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 24, 2012

PappaRich [at] QV Melbourne, Melbourne CBD

Had the opportunity to come by on their opening day on Labour Day.
The Husband had to stay home and study, so I ended up with K, A and their mum so we had quite a range of dishes to sample. We got a table right at the back wall of the place, which has expanded quite a bit since it was previously Old Town Mamak.

Just to keep in mind - We visited on the first day which I think doesn't give it a complete and fair assessment of the food and service. Had a couple of issues with the service, with the staff coming back with two of the dishes that had already arrived earlier.

Note: the names of the dishes are NOT as per the menu - sorry, I didn't make any attempts to remember the actual names! :(

Mixed  (Beef and Chicken) Satay Platter

Yum - the satays were really good; it was authentic that it had a good amount of FAT on the meat (as compared to some "high-class" satays where it's really just a chunk of meat on a skewer), but it was substantial enough. Flavours were good, and the meat was tender. I know where to go now when I'm a-cravin' satays.

Vegetarian briyani rice with vegetarian mutton curry (or something like that)

They have a pretty substantial vegetarian menu, which I think is pretty good, what with vegetarianism in Australia on the rise. Considering it was their first day, it was forgiveable that the dish was mistakenly served with anchovies (no my dear - anchovy is a not a vegetable). We finally had a chance to dig in when the issue was rectified.

Taste-wise I think is great. Aussies might think 'fake' (vegetarian) mutton might be a bit odd; but I suppose growing up being exposed to the 1001 ways to work with soy and gluten, it didn't seem strange to me at all. I don't know what the "mutton" is made of in this case, so best check with them if you have any dietary requirements.
There was a slight issue with  my friends' mum ordering this dish. As part of her religious vegetarian diet, she is also to avoid both garlic and onion. Unfortunately, I think it's highly unlikely to find a meal in Australia that is vegetarian but does not contain garlic and/or onion. Do not expect any different from this dish.

Curry Laksa 

I had a taste of A's curry laksa, and realised how much I will miss Old Town Kopitiam's version. I felt this was slightly lacking in flavour, but to be honest, it reminded me of the Curry Laksas from home. Now, I never quite liked curry laksa until I moved to Melbourne, so I suspect my taste for curry laksa is probably Australian-influenced.

Hainanese Chicken Chop

Now I really liked this dish that K had ordered - it was pretty much a grilled chicken chop smothered with curry sauce served with chicken rice - drool. Very authentic (right down to the frozen mixed veggies I'm afraid), and I'd be happy to order this next time.

 Hainanese Chicken noodle soup

What was odd about the soup, was that it really tasted like a prawn-based soup instead of a chicken-based broth. But...

it was SO GOOOOOOD! I'm speaking as someone who loves seafood (and meat, and ... heck, I don't discriminate) so prawn soup definitely doesn't put me off. So flavourful, it reminded me of "prawn mee" without the chilli. I slurped and slurped and lapped it all up. Perfect meal when you are feeling cold and just want something with clear soup. YUMM!!!!

Overall, they definitely have had a good start considering it was only their first day, yet they had enough dishes to tantalise my tastebuds. I had a look around and noticed quite a few multi-coloured drinks that I might give a try the next time. I certainly would be keen to come back and give other dishes a try (or I might just order my chicken noodle soup again :D )

PappaRich QV on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Keeping things in perspective

Keeping things in perspective - humility is key.

"Chefs create something that turns to shit in 24 hours".

Suddenly, I'm a fan of René Redzepi of Noma.

Wayside Inn, South Melbourne

The Husband decided that we would have dinner here one Friday evening, just for a change. Wayside Inn is a venture by the guys of Station Hotel (which we love) so we thought we should give it a go.

It was really quite quiet for a Friday evening, it didn't have the same bustle as in Station Hotel.

We decided to order an entree to share :
Chicken liver parfait, currants, muscat jelly ($15.0)

This was not as intense as it looked, but it was packed with good flavour; which was why we easily polished the entire jar (I'm constantly amazed by my normal cholesterol levels!). Not one element overpowered the other, so I really liked this.

 Main: Rotisserie du jour (for Friday) - Suckling pig ($28.0)

This wasn't bad, but it wasn't as great as I expected. Perhaps my expectations were too high, as my last couple of Suckling Pig experiences were at Sydney's Porteno (in Dec 2011) and Cutler & Co (in Jan 2012). To me, the meat was not tender enough, and for some reason I just didn't think the sweetness of the apples cut through the flavour of the pork enough.

Main: BBQ 'Steak Bearnaise' Grass-fed 500g rib-eye ($38.0)

My fault for ordering it rare and not asking for the bearnaise on the side. Should have ordered it medium-rare to medium - totally my bad. Would've have tasted so much better. Flavours were nice though. No real complaints to the chef.

Side: Heirloom tomatoes ($5.0)

Maybe I'm just biased as I'm on a bit of a tomato crazy right now (from totally hating raw tomatoes) but this to me was the dish of the day. I loved the flavours, and liked how they, errrr... "moussed" up the fetta. yum yum yum!!!!!!

Overall, I'd prefer to go back to Station Hotel (after all, it IS in my 'hood), but I'd be more than happy to come back to Wayside Inn if I was in the area or thereabouts. Probably wouldn't order the Suckling Pig on a Friday, but I might give another rotisserie du jour a go.

Wayside Inn on Urbanspoon

Dr. Phil cautions...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Liar, Liar [at] Hawthorn

Caught up with two amazing women for lunch last weekend. I was going to be in Hawthorn to frame up a few paintings we had bought in Tanzania.

Really like the interior of the cafe, but unfortunately no photos as we were seated in the corner, hidden from the rest of the cafe.

A. had already eaten with her hubby and bub earlier, so only ordered a juice, but K and I were keen to order.

Pea and fetta fritters w/ salmon
This was nice, but a bit too soft inside for my liking. I haven't had many (if any) pea fritters, so don't know if it was meant to be like that. Flavours were okay though.

Pants on Fire

This was some sort of beans and sausage in spicy tomato sauce. I very much had food envy when I tried this - flavours were rich but not too intense. yum!

Overall, I would not protest to coming here at someone's suggestion, and would be happy to come here if I was in the neighbourhood, but don't know if I'd travel all the way to Hawthorn just to come here.

Liar, Liar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chillipadi Mamak [at] Flemington

Just a short post - Had the opportunity to catch up with my cuz this evening. Feeling like some roti and not wanting to travel too far.

Mamak Mee Goreng

I quite liked this dish - it wasn't too sweet; some 'mamak mee goreng's I've eaten have been too sweet for my liking.

Roti (2) with Chicken Curry ($9.9)

The roti was sweeter than usual, but I didn't mind it at all. The curry was okay; it was flavourful, but it wasn't a biggest wow.

Nasi Kandar w/ (From L-R) mixed vegetable curry, beef (?rendang?) and lamb curry

The lamb curry and beef rendang were quite nice, but it was extremely disappointing that the "mixed vegetable curry" was made with frozen vegetable mix - peas, carrots, corn. Ugh. The Husband ordered this dish and was so unimpressed.

We then tried to order dessert, but for some reason, could not get their attention, despite some loud "YOOHOO!"s and despite the fact that we were one of the two group of customers. I ended up having to get up from my seat, walk up to the back counter and order our dessert. The ice kacang we ordered was decent, but the service to order it wasn't.

Overall, I wouldn't mind popping by having a quick, quiet meal here if I am in or around the neighbourhood, but don't think it's worth any more effort than that.

Chillipadi Mamak Kopitiam on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Hardware Societe [at] Melbourne CBD

Man, they are strict, when it came to Breakfast vs. Lunch.

A friend was going to meet me for brunch (ha-ha! Take that, Hardware Societe!) at 11:00-11:30am. I got there a bit early and got a couple of coffees while I waited for A. to turn up. While we perused the menu, we quickly realised that it was a cash only, which is a turn-off (BOO TO CASH-ONLY FACILITIES! Unless your mains cost <$10 you should not be cash-only!). Soon after the Husband dashed off to the ATM to withdraw money, the wait staff came over to inform me that they will NOT be taking ANY orders from the breakfast menu at 11:30AM SHARP. Despite telling her that my husband had gone to get money, and my friend had just parked the car, she insisted that I had to order then and there at ~11:29:29am if I wanted to order from the breakfast menu.

Because I can tell my husband what to eat (and because I kinda know what he'd like) I decided to order our meals from the Breakfast menu:

Baked Eggs w/ merguez sausage, almond pistou, black olives, manchengo ($15.0)

Cocette Eggs w/ crab meat, salmon pearls, spinach, creme fraiche, lemon ($17.0)

I ordered the baked eggs for the Husband; we remembered it being nice, but honestly don't remember much about it. We were, actually at the time, extremely upset upon receiving a phone call from our home builder (about needing to fork out an additional $6000) so our lack of memory could be more due to that.

My Cocette Eggs were really nice though. It's not an intense dish as it sounded; quite nice and easy to eat.

My dear friend A. had no choice but to order from the Lunch menu, which ended up being excellent:

Seared scallops - salted cod cakes, saffron rouille, fried capers & cress ($17.0)

I ended up having partial food envy - I really did enjoy what I ordered, but who would say no to scallops for lunch?

The Husband came on another day with a friend of his and really enjoyed lunch, though I had no idea what he ordered.

Overall, the food is enjoyable, not your usual "big fry up" brekkies, not expensive, but still a big thumbs-down to the CASH-ONLY policy.

The Hardware Société on Urbanspoon

I'm so behind!!!

Arrgh! I haven't stopped eating but I've stopped blogging.

Now I feel I just can't keep up!

It doesn't help that Urbanspoon still hasn't posted my last post; I suspect it's because I've changed my blogsite without telling them. Grrr....

Unfortunately, I've forgotten most of what I've eaten recently!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chin Chin [at] Melbourne CBD

At long last we were finally able to be seated at the impossible-to-get-a-table Chin Chin. We were essentially fourth time lucky - first couple of times we tried to get a table, it was a 3 hour wait, the third time was only an hour's wait (seeing it was a Monday evening) but we were starving.

So that leaves us to lucky-number-four.

Actually we weren't lucky - we were just prepared to wait this time round!

It was my birthday and The Husband and I had taken the day off, and so we planned to be at Chin Chin at 5:30pm on a Thursday evening. That should get us a table, right?


We got there at 5:45pm and were told it'd be a 1.5-2.0 hour wait! As we knew our dinner companions were running late, and seeing it was my birthday, we thought that heading down to GoGo bar downstairs would be a good idea.

Note: To enter GoGo Bar, it's through the doors of Chin Chin and down the stairs on your left. 

I liked the ambience of GoGo Bar; it wasn't too ridiculously noisy when we were there, though the music was kinda loud. I liked the menu covers:

L- The Little Black Book; R- XXX R18+ Adults Only

We ordered a cocktail and a wine, and a couple of tapas:

Chicken Wings w/ Chilli and Coriander

I love coriander! The chicken wings were yummy, but not like the most spectacular dish. If you're feeling "chicken wings"-y, you won't be disappointed, but not quite a must-try dish.

Pork Slider

Wowzah - this was ex.pen.sive. At $8.0 each, it is double the price of Porteno's (or rather, Gardel's Bar) pork slider, from what I could recall.

But was it nice? Yes, it was - fortunately or unfortunately I can't decide
  • Fortunately: it wasn't $8.0 down the drain
  • Unfortunately: I may have to order it again next time, and be $8.0 poorer
We wined (wined for The Husband, cocktailed for me) and dined for an hour before they sent us a text message saying our table was ready - Hurrah Hurrah!

Finally seated in Chin Chin

Looking through my photos preparing for this blog post, I realised - damn we ordered a lot of food just for the four of us (but fear not - we still managed to consumed/inhale them all!). Be patient as you scroll down each photo of each dish:

 Kingfish Sashimi w/ Lime, Chilli, Coconut & Thai Basil ($16.0)

Yum! Flavours were so fresh and tangy! The sourness just brought out the flavour of the sashimi, instead of drowning it. yum yum yum!

 Chin Chin Pork "Roll Ups"- Red Braised Suckling Pig with Pancakes Slaw and Sour Herbs ($18.0)

Actually, retrospectively, I think next time I'd give the Pork Slider (mentioned above, from the Bar Menu) a miss, and order this instead, as I think these two dishes tastes similar.

Grilled Roti Madtarbak (where I come from it's just murtabak, ohkay)
filled w/ Indian spiced beef & a cucumber relish ($12.0)

We ordered this right at the end before dessert, as S was stiiiill hungry (*rolls eyes*). S and The Husband were mandated to finish this entire dish, or else.

I had a bit of a taste, but didn't fancy it too much. Either because I am generally NOT a murtabak fan, or because I was just too damn full. I vote for both reasons.

 Son-in-law Eggs w/ Chilli Jam ($8.0)

Now - how does a simple dish of eggs and chilli taste so goooood?
Nevermind the ingredients won't cost $1.0, it's worth a try ordering it.

Pad Thai Noodles w/ King Prawns. Banana Blossoms & Dried Shrimp ($27.0)
I'd be more than happy to eat this again. Pretty pricey, but the King Prawns were real king and barbequed. Flavours were there, and the noodles weren't soggy, but instead firm-ish. yum!

 Dry Red Curry of Soft-shelled Crab w/ Snakebeans, Thai Basil & Kaffir Lime Leaf ($28.0)

So gooooooooooood!!!!!! I loved loved loved this dish! I would have been happy just eating this with rice.  Loved the little round eggplants too - had a nice crunch to them! Must-try.

Crispy-skinned Duck Pickled Cucumber & Ginger Salad
w/ Sesame Salt and Fresh Lemon ($33.0)

Uhm... it's been about a month since we dined here, and I honestly couldn't remember how this tasted like or how it made me feel. I'm sure I enjoyed this dish, but I suppose it wasn't anything spectacular or worth remembering.

Crispy Barramundi and Green Apple Salad w/ Caramelised Pork, Chilli and Lemongrass ($26.0)

The flavours of this dish was good, but I thought the Barra was overcooked, a bit too dry and hard for my liking.

L- Palm Sugar Ice-cream Sundae w/ salted honeycomb and a lime syrup ($14.0)
R- Layered jellies of Coconut Milk, Passionfruit
w/ slow poached pineapple and toasted coconut ($12.0)

The palm sugar ice-cream was veeeeery sweet - I managed to plough through though; I never tasted palm sugar ice-cream before so thought it was pretty unique. But not for the sweet faint-hearted.
The other dessert was far more tolerable, thus enjoyable. Not overly sweet (or maybe because I had already tasted the other dessert so NOTHING else could have tasted sweeter). It was just nice.

Overall, there were some dishes that we weren't too keen on, and probably wouldn't order again, but they certainly tantalised our tastebuds enough to make us want to come again to sample their other dishes. Overall, we were happy with our meal considering the one-hour wait. Still not convinced about three-hour waits though!

Will have happy dreams about the dry red soft-shelled crab curry.....

A special shout-out to the fantastical M and S - No better couple to spend my birthday dinner with! Love you guys super heaps! Hug hug kiss kiss, Big hug, little hug, Big kiss, little kiss (A Nacho Libre reference: OOXX OoXx)