Welcome to Melbourne Foodie. The blogspace of a young foodie with a passion for cooking, fine dining and quality food and produce.
Melbourne Foodie, along with the other sources I write for is my way of casually expressing and recording some of the experiences I have had for others to enjoy. I always welcome any feedback,
comments or restaurant suggestions you may have and would love to hear from you soon.
MUST VISIT SOON: Livingroom, Hare & Grace
MOST RECENT FEASTINGS: Pei Modern, Sarti, PM24, Vue de Monde
BLOG OF THE MOMENT: I Eat Therefore I Am
Oyster has now been open for two years, and has become renowned for, amongst other things their range of freshly shucked oysters and some of the best steaks in Melbourne. The establishment itself is simple but classy, with quality fittings and smart service to match. I really am privileged to be able to dine here for just $30. You would struggle to get two courses and wine at a simple cafe for this sum. My one whinge however about the setting is the butchers paper on the tables. It really detracts from the ambience, but I believe that this is only taking place at lunchtime, for the Express lunch, to reduce costs and more easily enable two sittings.
On offer for the "Express" lunch are three fantastic entree, main and dessert choices. To start with one can choose between a 1/2 a dozen fresh oysters, salmon gravlax on a potato salad or a fantastic gnocchi dish. And for mains it is a choice of steak, pork or fish. All of which look fantastic. Desserts, including a tiramisu, are also available.
I opt for the gnocchi and steak along with a glass of red. I also order a side of chips to accompany my main.
First Course: Ricotta Gnocchi with a chicken and mushroom ragout:
Generous and delicious. I tend to steer away from Gnocchi in restaurants, but having eaten chef Joseph Vargetto's excellent pasta many times whilst he served at Number 8, I have confidence here and the dish is indeed wonderful: perfectly light pillows of gnocchi sit in a hearty ragout of the most tender braised chicken and mushrooms finished in a thick herby tomato sauce.
Main: New York Steak served minute style on a bed of crushed peas.
A very good course. The steak was seasoned well and perfectly pink inside. It is lightly crusted and sits atop a bed of fresh crushed peas. The flavour of the meat excellent, as was the intense jus surrounding it, showcasing the dish as much more than just a simple piece of steak.
Side: Hand cut French fries ($6):
A picture-perfect example of how chips should be.
The meal is finished with a good cup of coffee and I am rather impressed with the whole experience. Many discounted lunches can result in poor quality food, or diminished servings. This was certainly not the case at Oyster.
The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival ends March 8 so get yourself an express lunch booking and enjoy it while you can. Click here to download a list of participating restaurants.
Oyster offers a year-round lunch special with 2 courses and a glass of wine for $39 or 3 courses for $49. An offer which represents very good value for the quality of food on offer.
Oyster Little Bourke received a score of 15.5 out of 20 in the 2008 Age Good Food Guide and was awarded one chefs hat.
MY RATING: 15.5/20 - Food 8/10 Ambience 3.5/5 Service 4/5
Hobart really is a lovely city. It has a beautiful river setting and is fairly peaceful and full of lovely little cafes, markets, galleries and museums. Needless to say it was a great trip, and a good opportunity to explore a city that I had never visited before.
For my final night in Hobart I decided to visit a restaurant which I have read many good things about. It is a restaurant that literally stared me in the face each day I was in Hobart as it is conveniently located along the pier of the hotel where I was staying. That restaurant is Marque IV, perched along the base of the Elizabeth Street pier.
Marque IV gets its name as it is the fourth restaurant to have occupied its stunning waterfront location. Opening in 2005, Marque IV can best be described as a "Modern Australian" restaurant with a range of European and Asian influences throughout their food. It is modern, spacious, boasts fantastic views across the Derwent river, and is expensive, particularly by Hobart standards, with entrees around $25 and most mains at least $40. On the evening of my visit I opt for the degustation menu ($135), with matched Australian wines. This menu proves popular on the Friday night, with many surrounding tables also ordering this way. I don't think anyone could have been dissapointed with the offerings. Every course presented was absolutely stunning. The matched wines were also very good, and represented good value at only $45 extra for eight generous pourings. It goes to show that you don't need to pair expensive French and foreign wines with every course to create an excellent vinous adventure. The largely Tasmanian based selection worked exceptionally well with the meal.
This statement from their website accurately sums up the dining experience: "To dine at Marque IV is to expect contemporary fine dining, surrounded by waterfront harbour views. The atmosphere is suited to relaxation with friends and colleagues, the ultimate escapism. The ambience is understated, with starched linen, low lighting and subtle jazz filling the room." And most importantly the food is brilliant.
I am sure it is the food you are most interested in reading about though, so here we go:
Things start off with a crusty bread roll and a delicate dish of olive and chilli oil:
Demi tasse of porcini mushroom, white bean, truffle oil and chives:
Seriosuly one of the most delicious things I have ever consumed. A creamy, fluffy, intense broth carefully flavoured by porcini and truffle. Orgasmic.
Wine: 2005 Milton Limited Release pinot noir chardonnay
Sashimi of Macquarie Harbour ocean trout, squid ink risotto, ginger and blood orange vinaigrette:
A tiny, fresh slice of ocean trout sitting on a perfect quinelle of sticky, squid ink risotto with dots of accompanying vinaigrettes on the plate. Very well executed.
Spring Bay baby abalone ceviche, zucchini flower, almond oil:
An exquisite dish. Paper thin slices of raw abalone are given a non-typical treatment, covered in a frothy dressing, finished with baby herbs and two perfectly fried segments of crispy zucchini flower and a drizzling of almond oil. Sublime.]
Wine: 2007 Clemens Hill sauvignon blanc
Seared Spring Bay scallops and red cooked brisket, Vietnamese salad lemongrass and lime leaf foam:
Another excellent dish. Two fresh, local scallops top a slab of slow cooked, tender brisket. The dish is sided by a fragrant herb salad and a magnificent lime, lemongrass foam. It is an excellent dish. I cannot really say much more.
Wine: 2007 Chartley Estate pinot gris
Caramelized pork belly, granny smith apple tapioca and candied walnuts:
A perfect cube of slow roasted pork, tender and gelatinous inside with perfectly crisp crackling. This is served atop a vibrant green apple puree and is finished with tapioca pearls that have been cooked with granny smith apples to provide colour and flavour. The dish is finished with two candied walnuts and some baby herbs to aid in presentation.
Wine: Derwent Estate pinot noir
Ashbolt elderflower 'champagne', Lark distillery gin sorbet and lime foam:
A yummy pallette cleanser with a difference. Presented as a cocktail it is sweet/ sour and very refreshing.
Carpaccio of cured King Island beef tenderloin, calamata olive mousse, sweet and sour courgette, pink eye potato wafers and salsa verde:
The main course. Four slices of the sweetest, most tender beef you could possibly want finished with an array of accompaniments; each of which makes the dish unique and amazing. I can still taste these flavours in the back of my mouth - the sweet and sour courgette complimenting the beef and the creaminess of the olive mousse. Once again, sublime.
Wine: 2006 Serafino cabernet sauvignon
'Sashimi' of mango, lychee and pickled ginger syrup:
So simple, yet so perfect. The freshest mango is given a wonderful treatment of sweet pickled ginger syrup and finished with some strawberry flakes and a fresh lychee. A dish to slowly pick apart and savour. Its all about freshness and seasonality and I love it.
Wine: 2000 Kreglinger Brut
Warm Valrhona Manjari tart, ginger syrup, muscatel and armagnac ice-cream:
Its rich and indulgent and really does taste every bit as good as it looks.
2005 Laurel Bank dessert riesling
I don't need to say too much more about the food. It is perfectly balanced in flavour, beautifully presented and tastes divine. Do yourself a favour and visit this place the next time you are in Hobart.
Marque IV serves inventive, quality food in a classy environment, with smart service to match. An exceptional restaurant in all aspects which is very hard to fault. Very Highly Recommended.
MY RATING: 18/20 - Food 9/10 Ambience 4.5/5 Service 4.5/5
One of the reasons I like the restaurant so much is because of its excellent value lunches. At lunch time you can choose any two courses and a side dish for only $37.90 or three courses for $43.90. This entitles you to choose any courses from their full a la carte menu, with the exception of a few premium items such as Wagyu and lobster. To top things off service is of a high standard and the restaurant is stylish and comfortable with quality tableware and linen. There is also an outdoor terrace area, which overlooks the river and is a wonderful place to eat during the warmer months.
A meal at Number 8 always begins with an offering of fresh house-baked bread and a complimentary offering of dips which may include such selections as: beetroot, pumpkin, white-bean, chunky eggplant, olive tapenade, hummus or tzatziki. Always a good way to start a meal in my view.
Entrees and mains offer a great variety of seafood, meat and vegetarian offerings so there is always something to suit most people's tastes, and their range of side dishes is one of the biggest in town with everything from salads and fries to porcini risotto.
On my last visit my dining companion and I sampled a number of dishes which I will only speak briefly on.
Salt and pepper calamari - My favourite calamari anywhere. It is amazingly tender and served atop a tomato and lime compote, sided by an excellent herbed aioli.
Zucchini Flowers - Stuffed with ricotta and served with wild rocket, red peppers and a balsamic dressing. Unlike most zucchini flowers, these are lightly steamed rather than fried and you can taste the true freshness of the baby zucchini.
Chicken - Free range chicken breast served with asparagus and a puff pastry filled with king brown mushrooms and parmesan. A good dish.
We also sample a couple of desserts:
Vanilla pana cotta: Served with blackberries, baked peach and toffee crunch. Pana cotta is a dessert which has become unfashionable in recent times, but nevertheless it is still a favourite of mine. This one is a very good example.
Chocolate and Coffee Ganache: An intensely rich offering served with some fresh berries and sided with an excellent mascarpone ice cream. One of my favourites.
Number 8 is an excellent restaurant for all occasions and their lunch special makes a visit all the more worthwhile. Highly Recommended.
MY RATING: 15/20 - Food 7.5/10 Ambience 3.75/5 Service 3.75/5
As I’m sure most of you are aware the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival has just begun. Between the 22nd of February and the 8th of March Melbourne celebrates with a huge range of food events, seminars, tastings and special lunches and dinners throughout the city.
As I have just found out from Ed at Tomato, this year there are a special series of sessions, one of which is Out of the Frying Pan, an all day talk fest that will enlighten listeners on future trends in food, restaurants and the media. The program suggests that blogging is going to invoke some detailed discussion as the work and presence of bloggers is finally being recognised as important in the industry. Some of the fantastic panellists in this session include Ed Charles from Tomato, leading food critic Matt Preston, and Fairfax writer/ blogger Stephanie Wood. There will be sessions devoted to future food and future media, as well as a dedicated session on how to blog, and how not to blog.
The day will be divided into four sessions, with choices available and the ticket price also includes lunch, with a glass of wine, coffee tastings and a showbag.
If you are interested in attending this event check out the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival event page here.
I recommend checking out the program as there are many sessions of interest ranging from: food writing and media, restaurant designs and trends, waiters: selling or serving; featuring head staff from leading Melbourne restaurants, as well as a dedicated session on the future of drinking.
Out of the Frying Pan is on Monday February 3. Tickets for this full-day event are available for $135 and can be purchased from Ticketmaster.
I look forward to attending the event, and hopefully meeting some fellow bloggers and foodies. It should be a great day.
Thanks to Ed for posting about this event and arranging free tickets for 20 bloggers. You can read Ed’s original post here.
Until later, happy eating.
Labels: Foodie Events
Entering Rockpool one can easily be overwhelmed by a number of things. The sheer size of the restaurant is amazing, seating 150 patrons, in addition to the bar space. You are also immediately confronted by hanging carcasses in a cool room near the entry and soon walk into a large room awaft with smoke coming from the open grills. Initially a turn off but you soon realise that it just adds to the ambience. From the moment you walk in it is apparent that Rockpool is a serious steak restaurant, and not withstanding the price it would be difficult not to consider one of the fine cuts of meat on offer.
As a restaurant Rockpool looks really good. It is comfortable with large, leather topped wooden tables, and leather lounges as seats. All clever reminders that you are in a steak restaurant. This continues when the menu arrives, which is presented as a single sheet of paper with a large picture of a cow in the background. The theme is clear. Look around and nearly everyone is eating steak. With all this in mind it must be noted that Rockpool Melbourne is not just about the steak. Like the original Sydney establishment seafood plays a big part on the menu, with freshness being paramount. All shellfish is kept live in a tank until ordered and fish is dry filleted to maintain quality and integrity. You can read all about the Rockpool philosophy on their website. There is a true passion for produce and excellence. Not just gimmicks.
On the night I contemplate the menu for some time. I decide to start with a couple of oysters ($4ea). These are freshly shucked at a station at the front of the restaurant, and are served on ice, along with muslin wrapped lemon and a wonderful mignonette dressing. Not in your ordinary style though. The dressing is translucent and pink, but all of the wonderful flavours of egg, onion, caper and herbs are present. There is great care taken in the preparation and presentation of such a seemingly simple dish. Care, which is strongly appreciated on my part.
Next up is my entree. One of Rockpool's signature dishes: "Four raw tastes of the sea" ($26) - an excellent dish comprising four different morsels, each with their own condiment. From left to right these include: kingfish with a minced cos and smoked oyster topping, ocean trout with finely diced preserved lemon and harissa, tuna topped with julienne ginger and cilantro and a ceviche of squid with an intense citrus dressing. Each is amazingly fresh and beautifully presented. A great way to start the meal, as are a number of the seafood offerings.
To follow is the steak. A decision, which I contemplated for some time. I ultimately decide upon the Wagyu Sirloin, at a hefty $110. For this price you don't just get any old piece of steak, but rather some of the best meat that money can buy. It is grade 9+ wagyu (the highest grade available in Australia); bread by Blackmore wagyu and only available at a select few restaurants across the country, with most of the limited meat being reserved for export. The fact that you are getting the very best therefore justifies the need to pay such a premium.
I am surprised when I first receive the steak. It is served "minute style", flattened out like a sandwich steak. This is not what I expected when ordering "rib eye", but I soon get over it. To accompany it are Rockpool's usual accompaniments of horseradish cream and béarnaise, in addition to a condiment service, which offers a range of mustards as well as a house-made harissa or barbecue sauce, which I opt for. The steak is something special and is amazingly tender. The marbling is present throughout, as you can see in the picture below. I must say though that this was not the best tasting beef that I have eaten. That honour has to go to an incredible piece of meat, which I consumed at Vue de monde, but this was still very good and was worth it for the experience. Eating good wagyu really is a different experience to your ordinary piece of steak; something you must try to understand. To go with my steak I am obliged to order sides. I opt for some excellent chips ($8) and amazing mushrooms ($12), which have been wood-fire grilled and sit in a bowl with their incredible juices. They help to conclude an excellent, albeit expensive course.
To finish this fine dinner I ask my waiter for some help in choosing dessert. This was not an easy task as it depends on what I like. I ultimately go for the Strawberry Soup, served with mango sorbet. In a bowl sits a wonderful broth made from strawberries, which have been marinated in citrus juices and then pressed and extracted to create a translucent liquid. This is served, along with some diced strawberry, pineapple and melon pieces and finished with three small scoops of mango sorbet. The dish works well as a light refreshing dessert. The "soup" is bitter-sweet with the freshness of the fruit pieces contrasting along with the sorbet, which tastes intensely of fresh mango that just melts away in your mouth. A fitting end to a great meal.
Service at Rockpool was good, but not great. The staff are very visible, dressed in white jackets, which doesn't quite work for me and despite the massive volume of them, a level of finesse seems to be lacking. Simply depositing a $110 steak on a guests table with “your steak” and quickly moving off seems less than one should expect in this level of restaurant. Adding to this I had to return to the restaurant for my coat as it was not retrieved by staff. The second time this has happened at this restaurant. I mention this mostly because it is in stark contrast to the amazing service I have received when visiting Rockpool Sydney, where the whole experience is far more polished and a lot more magical.
Overall Rockpool is an excellent restaurant, but I feel that some service refinements are needed if it is to be considered one of our best.
Rockpool Bar & Grill received a score of 17 out of 20 in the 2008 Age Good Food Guide and was awarded two chefs hats.
My Rating: 16.5/ 20 - Food: 9/10 Ambience: 4/5 Service: 3.5/5
To start with I order a couple of the tapa: a croqueta, and a scallop. I then move on to the racion (larger dishes) and must try the Cecina and the rabbit. As expected the food is excellent. I think you would struggle to find better value food of this quality anywhere in Melbourne. A hungry person can easily eat like a king for under $50 and that's really saying something, seeing that some of our best restaurants are nearing the $50 mark for a main course.
Here is a quick summary of the meal. Every dish as good as the other.
"Croqueta" ($3) - Fried Croquette filled with mushrooms.
A wonderful oval shaped parcel lightly crumbed with a silky mushroom centre. There is an intense, creamy mushroom flavour and it is a delicious way to start.
"Vieira, jamon y espuma" ($4.50) - Half shell scallop oven baked with jamon and potato foam.
A single scallop sits in the shell with a thin shaving of jamon (air dried ham) topped with the lightest potato foam and finished with a herb oil. Really good.
"Cecina" ($17) - Air cured wagyu beef thinly sliced with a truffle foam and poached egg.
This is a dish which carries high expectations. It was awarded "Dish of the Year" in the 2007 Good Food Guide so it has to be good. It is. Sitting on the plate are several thin slices of wagyu bresaola, an air cured beef, which covers the base. On top of this is another impossibly light, truffle scented foam and the plate is finished with a soft poached egg. Upon my waiters advice I break the egg open and let the yolk explode and then mix it all together. The result is a warm, light fluffy dish with the sweet cured wagyu meat contrasting against the warmth and saltiness of the foam and egg topping. It really comes together so well and you get a warm fuzzy sort of a feeling when you are eating it.
"Conejo" ($17.50) - Confit farmed rabbit twice cooked with piquillo peppers.
Another generous tasty dish. Pieces of rabbit meat, which have been slow cooked are later crumbed and fried before serving. The meat is served on a bed of roasted peppers and a sweet, sour vinagrette. An excellent accompaniment to the tender and flavoursome rabbit meat and a successful dish on the whole.
"Flan con pestinos" ($10) - Creme caramel served with spiced sherry pastries.
An excellent versions of the classic French desert. Perfectly formed and served with some lovely little pastries, made with sherry and coated in a cinamon sugar. An excellent way to end the meal.
Overall MoVida remains an exceptional place to eat with good service, a great atmosphere and truly excellent food at modest prices. No wonder its always full and getting a table booking at peak times can take months.
My rating for MoVida is: 16/20
Excellent Food (8.5/10), Good atmosphere, informal comfortable feel (4/5), Good Service (3.5/5)
Apologies for not posting over the last month, but I have been very busy. I have recently travelled to Hobart and Sydney and have much to report on. I have also dined at a number of Melbourne restaurants including visits to MoVida, The Brasserie by Phillipe Mouchel and Rockpool Bar & Grill, all of which have been fantastic meals.
In Hobart I was privileged to eat at the fabulous Marque IV and a number of informal restaurants, whilst Sydney was more low key, predominately eating in-house, though I do have a few experiences to report on including: East Ocean Chinese & Yum Cha, Captain Cook MV2000 Dinner Cruise, Lenotre Afternoon Tea @ the Sofitel, Pancakes on the Rocks, Lindt Cafe and more.
I will do my best to post about many of these experiences over the next week or so.
Until then, happy eating.