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
Bistro Guillaume is located riverside at Crown, neighbouring Rockpool. It occupies the space which was formerly Prada, and its fit out (costing a whopping $10 million) is about style and opulence. The entry point is simple, but classy; a small sign on the exterior pointing to what lies inside.
Service is strong from the moment you arrive with a door attendant welcoming you and the friendly staff showing you to your seat. I am seated at the rear of the restaurant, along a wall, which has the disadvantage of being uncomfortable as your arm leans against it. I think banquette seating along the walls would possibly have been a better choice. The room is decorated nicely with a French bistro theme throughout. Padded chairs (worth a grand each), fluffy light fittings and lots of cream colours and wood finishes throughout. Tables are also dreseed with thick patterned white linen and set with quality sant andrea cuttlery, laguiole steak knives and good stemware. Great sums of money have been invested throughout. As well as the restaurant proper there is also a bar down stairs, which I cannot comment on as I did not enter.
Things start off with bread; a crusty baguette slice, which is served without any butter or oil, until it is later requested. My waitress is keen to tell me about many of the dishes on the menu including the plats du jour, which I consequently order and is always friendly and eager to try and help. Most of the staff seem fairly enthusiastic though some lack finesse. The gentleman taking my dessert order seemed to lack any knowledge. Tell me about the tarts - well one is raspberry and the other is peach. I could tell you that the raspberry tart is an individual, round frangipane tart, encased in a perfect shortcrust pastry topped with fresh raspberries and sided by a quinelle of house made pistachio ice-cream. Surely that sought of a description is not too difficult. Most of the others I encountered were more knowledgeable however, though something I witnessed did disturb me greatly. The maitre'd screaming at a young waitress: "what the hell are you doing, put that back right now" as she had removed both table cloths when resetting a table. Surely this could have been done much more discreetly with an offer to assist, rather than yelling at her and storming off. Enough said about these matters though, here is my summary of the food.
terrine du jour - rabbit ($22): An excellent terrine, constructed with confit rabbit meat, stock and tarragon, a dominant ingredient in the food here. The terrine is sided by an excellent spiced plum chutney, a herb salad and some toasted croutons. A very good starter, the sweetness of the chutney melding perfectly with the rabbit. The seasoning throughout is spot-on.
Roasted Flinders Island Lamb - Thursday's plat du jour ($38): Chef buys the whole lamb I am told - the leg is used for another dish and the remaining meat (chefs choice), is used to create this excellent dish. Here we have perfectly roasted lamb loin cooked to medium rare alongside slow roasted shoulder mear, which is cooked to tender perfection. The accompaniments are a tombe of sauteed olives, garlic, cherry tomatoes and green beans. All perfect flavours, the plate finished with an exceptional, light veal and tarragon jus. I really enjoyed this dish, and once again the seasoning was just right.
Gratin Dauphinois ($8): A good, creamy potato gratin. Just one of the available sides.
Seasonal tart - raspberry ($22): A very good tart with a perfect shortcrust shell, filled with a light frangipane filling (an almond cream mix) and finished with fresh raspberries. It is sided by a quinelle of very good pistachio ice cream and is an enjoyable, albeit fairly expensive end to the meal. I mention this mainly because other restaurants in this class, eg. Bistro Vue can offer excellent desserts of a similar quality for around $12.
Extras at Bistro Guillaume are expensive - Sparkling water (Santa Vittoria) is $10 for a 750ml bottle and coffee is $5 without petit fours - ouch!
MY RATING: 16.5/20 - Food 8.5/10 Service 4/5 Ambience 4/5
Bistro Guillaume is a welcome addition to the Melbourne dining scene. I look forward to tracking its progress in the near future. Highly Recommended!
Now I just have to try out Melbourne's other hot new restaurant, also at Crown: Guiseppe Arnaldo and sons. Hopefully next week.
1) East Ocean Chinese Restaurant: In a nutshell, dissappointed. The a la carte food was pretty average, though some of the live fish dishes (which we did not order) looked excellent. I returned the following night (because it was the only yum cha open at midnight) for yum cha, which was excellent, though one of my scallop dumplings was full of broken bits of shell, which kind of ruined the whole experience again. Service was also rather disgraceful. They must be given some credit though: for getting our order right on both occasions.
A la carte:
Roasted BBQ duck: OK, but lots of bones and less than perfect meat and skin.
Salt and Pepper Calamari: Coated in a heavy batter which made it difficult to really taste and enjoy.
Chicken with broccoli: Once again fine, but nothing exciting.
Yum Cha: Good quality and good value - much better food quality than anything I have experienced in Melbourne
Scallop Dumplings: The best thing I tried and the worst. Wonderful freshness, though a mouth full of crushed scallop shell is not a nice experience.
Pork buns: Light and fluffy with real chunks of meat.
2) Gung Ho: A cheap Asian restaurant, in Haymarket next to our original accommodation, that served up rather tasty offerings for the $10-$13 price of most dishes. Probably worthy of a full review: very friendly staff and a great informal place to eat. Robert and Kat ate here several times.
A chicken and vegetable soup; served with rice and salad:
Extremely tender beef brisket red curry: I really liked this.
A good version of salt and pepper calamari with a light, crispy batter:
3) Lenotre Afternoon Tea @ The Sofitel Wentworth: As a Club Sofitel guest this was a fabulous complimentary indulgence every afternoon, as was an excellent brekfast, as well as canapes and top shelf booze in the evenings. I must also give praise to the first rate accommodation and uber comfy beds.
Lenotre Dessert platter:
Eclair and lemon tart: Yum.
Chocolate millefeuille and raspberry macaroon: More yum.
4) MV2000 Dinner Cruise: A fantastic experience. I went for the Sky Deck Gold 7-course degustation dinner with an open bar and matched wines, which was $159. The food was pretty good, but not exceptional. It was a lot of fun though: live music and got better and better as I drunk more and the night went on. Will definitely do this again the next time I am in Sydney.
Oh, and I can proudly say that I climed the bridge.
My new domain is in place and design work has finished. Many thanks to the talented Susie at Bluebird Blogs for all your work. She did this amazing new design for me and I couldn't be happpier. If you're thinking of getting a blog make over, or even just a new banner Susie will be able to create something special for you.
So, what do you think?
Banana Crepes ($13): Two perfect thin crepes, filled with banana slices, grilled and served warm with a scoop of white chocolate ice-cream and a drizzling of chocolate. Decadent, but not overwhelming.
So, it looks like Max Brenner can be enjoyed by all of us. Those who want something rich and indulgent, as well as those of us seeking a slightly less confronting option.
For all the details see my previous post.
After doing some research I found that buying a domain was a lot cheaper and easier than I thought. I decided to purchase the domain directly through Blogger. It only costs $10 for a year and the beauty is they do all of the technical stuff for you, as well as automatically re-directing all visitors from the old domain to the new domain and updating your google results and listings as well. So, all of this has started and I'm now melbournefoodie.com. How exciting!
To my fellow bloggers who link to me, please update your listings, though your current links will still work.
I can also now be contacted at: jon(at)melbournefoodie.com
Until later, Happy Easter & Happy Eating.
Located in the lower level foodcourt Jia attracts a lot of passing traffic. They have a take-away side and also do cooked to order meals, which can be consumed in their adjoining dining area. What attracts most visitors though are their specialty: pork dumplings. They are available steamed or grilled and a plate of 10 will set you back $8.80. They really are quite good and you get a substantial feed for the money. I find myself ordering them most times I visit Chadstone.
These dumplings are good because they're hand made and simple. Three ladies, who don't speak a word of English, work at the front of the shop stretching out dough and filling it with a fragrant mix of minced pork, coriander and spring onion. The dumplings are shaped, steamed and ultimately grilled. They are good and upon enquiry I find out that they sell at least 2000-3000 of them each day. Whoa!
Jia also does decent Asian meals and good hot soups, many of which are around the $10 mark. So the next time you are in Chadstone and need a food fix go past the greesy burger and chip joints and head down to Jia. You'll hopefully be pleasantly surprised.
Shop 70B - Lower Level Food Court
Chadstone Shopping Centre
This entry has been cross-posted on Very Cheap Eats
Some of the easter range at Koko Black: You have to see them in real life to appreciate how beautiful they are. But starting at $20 for the tiny bunnies and about $60 for these bigger ones, I think I will be sticking to the Lindt variety this easter.
The major draw card for me though is their hot chocolate.
Traditional Belgian Hot Chocolate ($5.75): Is this Melbourne's best hot chocolate? Well, I can hardly say that I have tasted them all but I have tried my fair share and for me, Koko Black comes out on top. What makes it so good? They use real Belgian chocolate flakes (no powder), mixed with hot milk and a thick layer of creme. Its served piping hot and is finished with a swirl of chocolate sauce that is spiked for presentation. It looks beautiful and tastes amazing. So creamy and rich but not too overwhelming. It is my perfect hot chocolate and I can confidently say I'm not the only one that loves it. Next time though I'm going to try their Chilli Blend: intriguing.
Something else that I have fallen in love with is the Iced Chocolate ($6.50). It is described as a rich combination of Koko Black's chocolate and vanilla ice-cream, their own special iced chocolate blend, and chocolate shavings. This is so creamy and delicious. The sides of the glass are covered with thick chocolate sauce and it is ultimately finished with two scoops of ice-cream and served with a straw and spoon. Seriously Yum.
And for a real treat you simply mustn't go past the Belgian Spoil ($12): Koko Black's version of a chocolate tasting plate containing: a lovely little chocolate cake, a perfect butter shortbread, 2 belgian chocolate truffles, spiced chocolate mousse and Koko Black's own chocolate ice-cream. This is the ultimate chocolate lovers dessert plate - every component as good as the other. The mousse is particularly good, spiked with hazelnuts and cinamon to make it stand out from the norm. And those truffles from the showcase are just divine.
To top off the experience you also get real service. You sit in a lovely little cafe, on nice tables and chairs, and are immediately brought water and treated as you would expect to be in a good restaurant. This helps to set Koko Black apart from its competitors. Its not cheap, but is well worth the money. Koko Black makes fantastic chocolates and the perfect way to enjoy what they do is to sit down in one of their stores, order a hot chocolate and dissapear into your own dream world. You can watch the in-house chocalatiers creating tasty treats, whilst savouring your own and contemplating what you want to take home with you. It really is that good.
I'm addicted. I drove 26km this morning to Chadstone, my nearest Koko Black location for no other reason than to visit the store. Was it worth it? Hell yeah!
My chocolate blocks: A macadamia milk block and a ginger and walnut dark block.
If you haven't been to Koko Black and don't know what I'm talking about I recommend visiting one of their saloons soon. There are two city stores at the Royal Arcade on Bourke Street, and at the Paris End of Collins Street, as well as locations in Chadstone, Carlton, Camberwell and Canberra. Sydneysiders, you'll just have to live with the Lindt Cafe, or fly down to Melbourne and see what I'm talking about.
After trying to get a booking here many times over the past year to no avail I finally set a date and ate at The Press Club last night; thoroughly enjoying the “Kerasma B” menu, a selection of just about everything the kitchen has to offer for $75. It is great value in my opinion, for the vast amount of high quality food that is presented. The service I received was very good, but this may be inconsistent. My drinks were constantly filled and the eager to please staff always there whenever needed. Conversing with other guests showed that this treatment was not universal. Louise, a patron at a nearby table who popped over for a chat pre-dessert, stated a 20-minute wait after ordering expensive champagne (I think it probably needed to be chilled) and constant struggling for attention. I also observed another nearby table having to ask for wine to be filled after glasses sat empty for some time. I know the feeling, but had no such trouble here. My waiter was very attentive.
The Press Club has a nice, informal ambience. A long marble bar sits along the front, as well as an open kitchen. I am pleased to report that there are definitely no smoke or ventilation issues inside; something which was apparently an issue when they first opened. Swanky lights drop down from the ceiling across the room and dark colours and wood panneling are used to create a more intimate space. The place is buzzing; filled with smartly attired young wait staff. Tables covered with a white sheet stamped with The Press Club logo in the corner. I like it a lot, but must grumble a little about table spacing. There are quite simply too many tables jammed into the modest dining room. Staff must struggle, squeezing between tables to deliver food. One negative of an otherwise well set up room.
Before I review the food I must credit the staff who gave thorough descriptions of each dish, as well as the Greek names. Unfortunately I did not absorb a lot of this information but will do my best to summarise everything I ate.
Things start off at The Press Club with a customary offering of bread: no less than three varieties are presented. A crusty yoghurt sourdough, pistachio honey loaf and a lovely sun dried tomato bread, the flavours subtle but apparent. The bread is served with a good Greek olive oil and black flake salt from Cyprus. Each variety is excellent but I am careful to simply have a nibble of each so as to not fill up before the food proper arrives.
The first course is an excellent mezedes (tastes) board: Clockwise from the top, the board contains: Rather excellent pickled cabbage and cucumber slices, a slightly sweet vegetarian dolmade (vine leaf stuffed with rice and drizzled with honey), a fresh mussel topped with a fetta and tomato crust, saganaki martini - A warm skewered piece of grilled haloumi ontop of a "martini" of chilled "tomato tea", marinated Australian and Greek olives and finally a dish of seasoned baby octopus meat. Each morsel is excellent. I particularly enjoyed the haloumi skewer, and the tender spiced octopus meat.
After the mezedes two different orektika (appetisers) arrive. The first is this dumpling of minced chicken, sitting on a creamy capsicum and fetta dip. It is sided with a crisp cucumber spaghetti, perfectly dressed with olive oil, mint and dill and a sweet fig paste. The dumpling itself is fine but not spectacular. The accompaniments however are top rate.
The second orektika is excellent. A crispy fried zucchini flower, stuffed with ricotta and sided by a perfect quinelle of creamy pine nut skordalia and a drizzling of Greek honey.
After enjoying the orektika two different salates (salads) are presented. The first is this sensational dish of fresh sliced figs, sitting atop Greek yoghurt and finished with flaked roasted almonds, olive oil and a sticky balsamic reduction. The flavours work together so well - the freshness of the figs with the creamy youghurt and sweetness of the balsamic. So good.
The other salate is this creative little dish of watermelon, topped with crumbled Greek fetta, small green olives, caramalised walnuts, shaved radish and micro beetroot shoots. Another explosion of fresh flavours. Certainly not your typical salad dish.
Whilst I am finishing my salads the kyrio (mains) board is presented. Again I am gobsmacked by the amount of food. The board contains a beautiful pan-fried fillet of garfish, the most amazing spit roasted lamb of both rack and skirt meat, a serve of roasted lemon potatoes, "horiatiki" - Greek salad, pickled cucumbers, a diced potato salad with a mustard dressing and the creamy capsicum and fetta dip. So much food.
Lovely fillet of garfish, garnished "Greek style" with olive oil and herbs, served with a wedge of lemon. Slightly crisp outside and soft inside. A simple, tasty piece of fish.
"Hot off the Press" Lamb Spit: My notes from the night - "Fall off the bone fatty goodness" just about sums this dish up. It reminds me of my grandmas roasted lamb. It was so soft and gelatinous with beautiful crisp skin. The potatoes were exactly like my grandmas, like big wedges: crisp on the outside and soft inside, with a very subtle hint of lemon. The meat lays nicely on a good white bean skordalia and is finished with roasted onion, green beans and a little fetta. So good.
"Horiatiki" - Greek Salad. Large chunks of cucumber that have been seeded, along with red onion, tomato, fetta, fennel and plump olives. I've seen chefs remove the seeds from cucumbers before but never really understood it. This salad is the reason why. Its so crisp and the dressing is excellent. All in all making it the best Greek salad I've ever had.
A selection of dessert mezedes: I am seriously given enough for three people here. Tables of two and three seemed to receive the same plate. Everything is really good, though the presentation of one of the dishes is less than appetising, another guest commenting that it looked like cat turd. Clockwise from the top the board contains: chocolate fondant, with a squiggle of rich mousse and a smooth coconut scented ice-cream. It is rich and delicious, but maybe the mould should not be so heavily floured, and the squiggle? Next is mastic panacotta with marinated strawberries. Mastic is a small evergreen shrub which produces an aromatic resin, which adds flavour and texture when used in cooking. I love panacotta and this was a good, albeit different version. Next are the loukoumades, fabulously light greek doughnuts drizzled with attiki honey and finally a textbook perfect classic creme caramel. The desserts are really very good and I am hard pressed to criticise any of them.
Things are wrapped up with a strong espresso and I leave very satisfied. I now have to convince my grandmother to come with me for dinner, who declined my invitation.
If you really want a Greek feast, and the chance to see George Calombaris and his team in action you simply must visit The Press Club. But book ahead because its always full. You can order a la carte or trust the chefs and go for the kerasma. It is well worth it and they will customise a feast to suit your needs, with dietary requirements and personal preferences taken into consideration.
The Press club received a score of 16 out of 20 and was awarded two chefs hats in the 2008 Age Good Food Guide. It also received the award for Best New Restaurant.
MY RATING: 16.5/20 - Food 8.5/10 Ambience 4/5 Service 4/5 - Highly Recommended
We went to the Darling Harbour location, being told by hotel staff that the original "Rocks" store is gone (not sure if this is true?) and arrive to a quiet, fairly new establishment with comfortable leather booth seating. Menus, with pictures of each dish, arrive and we order. Robert gets the ribs, Kat orders crepes and I order a long stack of pancakes (only $8.95, as opposed to $13.40 at the Pancake Parlour).
We really enjoyed the food and went back again for brunch a couple of days later.
Here are some pictures of the tatsty things we tried.
Famous Long Stack ($8.95): 4 thick buttermilk pancakes served with your choice of whipped butter, cream or ice cream and maple syrup. Or you can have cream and ice-cream, as I did for $1 extra. These were really good pancakes. Robert tells me that the chocolate pancakes are not as good.
Strawberry Patch ($12.95): Buttermilk pancakes (or crepes) with fresh strawberries, cream, vanilla ice-cream and strawberry coullis.
Farmers Brunch ($14.95): Crepes filled with potato, bacon, egg, onion, cheese topped with a creamy cheese sauce and a mixed lettuce side salad.
Pork Ribs ($23.95): A huge rack covered in barbeque sauce, served with wedges. Robert enjoyed them, stating that the barbeque sauce was particularly excellent, and proclaimed that the wedges in Sydney were awesome.
Now I can tell you I wouldn't mind having a Pancakes on the Rocks in Melbourne. The excellent long stack with thick buttermilk pancakes I had was a damn lot better than the stingy stack I had at Pancake Parlour last week - which had thinner, flavourless pancakes and only a small scoop of cream, and Pancakes on the Rocks was much cheaper.
If you are in Sydney and want good pancakes in a nice setting then you should definitely try Pancakes on the Rocks. Established in 1975 its become something of an institution. Final words for the jukebox and video screens which were pretty cool.
As soon as you walk into Max Brenner the smell of chocolate immediately hits you. There is a well of it near the entrance and products everywhere, in liquid and solid form. Max Brenner is a serious chocolate house and seriously good chocolate treats are what they do best. Their philosophy is that chocolate portrays romance, sensuality, passion, addiction, prestige, warmth, sex, love and nostalgia. Chocolate is seen as a culture, rather than a simple taste and the stencilled sign below speaks for itself.
As we arrive I have a look at the menu board. I quickly know that we want the waffles and the souffle, and to drink I must have a hot chocolate, which is available in a variety of forms, and for the r.a. it is an iced frappe. Here's a quick wrap up of our goodies.
Italian Milk Hot Chocolate: available in milk/ white /dark ($5.50): This sinful caraffe of hot chocolate is almost like drinking pure chocolate. It is so thick, creamy and sweet: such an indulgence.
Whipped Milk Chocolate Frappe ($7): This is also extremely rich and chocolatey. A nice cool drink.
Chocolate Souffle ($9.50): Wow - this is really something. Max Brenner's signature delight is this small pillow, which lies in the middle of the plate drizzled in milk chocolate. It is so rich and decadent. As you break into it the centre oozes with warm white chocolate. You take a bite and it just melts away in your mouth. So very rich, but so very good.
Tutti-frutti waffles ($16): Two perfect Belgian waffles warmed under the grill are served covered with warm melted chocolate, along with sliced bananas, strawberries and a scoop of excellent white chocolate ice-cream. Seriously yum, but trying to demolish two of these is no easy task.
So if you really feel like chocolate it is pretty hard to go past Max Brenner. Just be mindful that their treats are extremely rich and decadent - ordering a hot chocolate AND dessert here is simply too much, even for a sweet tooth like myself. I left rather overwhelmed and feeling like I had consumed much more than I actually did.
Recommended: excellent desserts in a nice setting, but for the best hot chocolate I still cannot go past Koko Black. Review coming soon.