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
Tempura Hajime is no ordinary restaurant. It is a 12 seat bar, where patrons sit, interact and enjoy the food of chef Daisuke Miyamoto, a man very passionate about his cooking and ingredients, happily showing off a range of produce, including the cooking oils he uses. There is a genuine interaction between chef and diner, Miyamoto happily sharing stories of the Japanese lifestyle, and how common such establishments as his are in Japan, often with as little as six seats. There is a great level of honesty and integrity about everything that is done at Tempura Hajime. Despite having only 12 seats, there is still only one sitting each evening with guests being asked to arrive at different times to ensure he can maintain consistent quality across all food. The restaurant no longer accepts large bookings either, the maximum being six for this very reason. All of these things alone make the dining experience sensual and unique, but it is the food quality that Hajime is renowed for.
Things start off with a sashimi set. The sahimi preseneted is as good as any I have eaten before: three presentations: soft, fatty ocean trout, a firmer red emperor and spanking fresh kingfish. Each taste like they have come straight from the sea. There is also a small kobachi (appetiser) of what I am told is called nano hana (a Japanese green), containing miso and a creamy dressing which was just wonderful and helps to whett the palette.
After finishing appetisers the tempura courses soon follow. The emphasis is on prime quality ingredients cooked with care. Chef regularly visits Prahran market and other sources to get the freshest ingredients for every sitting. The oil he uses is a blend of 90% soy oil, from Japan along with 5% tea oil from America and 5% sesame oil from Japan, resulting in the perfect balance for his tempura. Miyamoto carefully tests the oil before cooking each morsel, adjusting the heat and adding oil where necessary. Once it is at the perfect temperature each item is quickly cooked in the oil, constantly being pronged with his chopstick like cooking tongs. Once cooked it is drained of any residual oil, rested and sliced.
The first item to arrive is a magnificent king prawn: "king prawn, thank you, king prawn". A huge, incredibly fresh prawn with the lightest, crispiest coating. It is quality that you are simply not going to find elsewhere. From here on in I just know that everything is going to be amazing. Chef follows with a perfect spear of asparagus and continues to alternate with seafood, followed by vegetable, until the later courses. A tempura sauce and fresh lemon also sits at the table for use with each course.
Here is a brief summary of everything else I am presented with. This is spanking fresh produce, prepared simply with amazing results. Each item is savoured as much as the last. I apologise for the particularly poor photos: it seems that my camera was not having a good night.
Fresh scallop stuffed with seaurchin: We are told how the scallop itself has a very mild taste, and that the intensity of the seaurchin works well as a contrast. Bang on, this was an amazing combination.
Sweet Potato: Not the usual Western variety though, this is an intensely creamy purple variety, which I believe is known as okinawan. Chef pre-cooks the potato and then quickly fries it off before serving resulting in a crispy coating, contrasting against a creamy, chestnut-like texture.
Mushroom stuffed with prawn: Incredibly moist, and once again the combinations work together so very well.
Fresh baby corn: The cooking method really highlights the crispness and freshness of the produce. I'm not usually a fan of baby corn, but this piece was very good.
King George whiting fillet: Simply battered and served. Once again you would be hard pressed to get a more natural tasting piece of fish anywhere.
A refreshing salad of mixed lettuce, seaweeds, tomato and avocado.
Eggplant stuffed with minced chicken. Perfectly executed.
Eel with a teriyaki sauce: the fresh eel had a slightly smoky flavour and the sweet, sticky teriyaki contrasted against the flesh perfectly.
John Dory fillet, sliced and finished with pickled plum. Another succesful dish, the fish is perfectly cooked and the flavour of the plum works well to provide another element to the simplicity of fresh fish.
Oyster, fresh from the shell, cooked tempura style. Perfect with a drizzle of lemon juice.
Kakiagedon: Mixed vegetable and seafood tempura atop steamed rice, finished with a sticky Teriyaki sauce. A fitting way to end the savoury courses.
The meal concludes with a small dessert: a simple panacotta with a reduced moscatto syrup and some orange segments. So much better than the typical offering of green tea ice cream served up at most Japanese restaurants.
A meal at Tempura Hajime really is a very special experience, and at $72 it represents great value for what you get. This is important to the chef, who says he likes money but this is not about money. It is about his passion for food and cooking. Its a family run business: Miyamoto cooks, while his wife and friend act as the service staff; always there when you need them, and happy to discuss their life and background after dinner. Chefs wife studied agriculture in Japan, and when she moved to Australia started working on farms, but was rather appauled with some of the treatment of animals. She later moved into restaurant waitressing, where she met Miyamoto and they have been together ever since. It is so nice to be able to have these intimate conversations, which are simply not possible in the big restaurants.
The chef is so modest and proud of his ingredients, happily speaking of his morning trips to Prahran market and the burbs, pulling out his produce for everyone to see. The set up is simple and intimate and service cannot really be faulted: there when you need it, away when you do not. An evening at Tempura Hajime is so much more than a meal. It is an experience, and a very special one at that.
MY RATING: 16.5/20 - Food 8/10 Service 4.5/5 Ambience 4/5
In my opinion it is one of Melbourne's premier French restaurants serving up refined food of the highest calibre. I have dined here a number of times over the past few months, enjoying some of the best dishes I have eaten anywhere, including a sublime tartare of tuna and beetroot, which is probably my dish of the year to date. The food seems to be evolving every time I visit as well. I no longer regard The Brasserie as merely good - it is outstanding.
I won't bore you with to much detail on the decor and service as I have reviewed the restaurant before. The set up is simple but classy, staff are friendly and efficient and the dining experience as a whole is first class. The restaurant is definitely a place I will continue to visit on a regular basis.
Some of the excellent things I have recently enjoyed:
Spanner Crab Cocktail ($22): A rather classy starter. In the bottom of the cocktail glass sits a cucumber jelly, follwed by the crab meat and a custard, served with some fried brioche croutes. Perfect flavours, and an excellent way to start a meal along with a glass of French.
Yellowfin tuna and beetroot tartare ($22): Absolutely sensational. Sashimi grade tuna diced, with beetroot chunks, fresh herbs and lime oil. It is sweet, delicate and certainly one of the best starters I have enjoyed this year.
Pan-roasted beef tenderloin with porcini cream and sautéed potatoes, beef jus ($37.50): Unforunately the picture doesn't do this dish justice. A perfect fillet of grass fed beef sits atop soft cubed potatoes, which have been sauteed in a porcini scented cream. The plate is finished with a rich beef jus, and some crispy potato crisps. Perfect.
Traditional topside wagyu steak tartare, French fries (150gr) ($35): One of the less attractive looking versions of tartare but the taste is amazing. So creamy and delicious. Served with a side of mesculun on the plate and a dish of excellent hand cut frites.
In the background: sauteed mushrooms with parisienne gnocchi ($8) - an excellent side dish.
Chilled green beans and tomato salad ($8.50): with a creamy dressing, boiled egg quarters and anchovies. Served chilled it makes an excellent side dish.
Desserts at The Brasserie are always a joy as well, especially when they involve chocolaate.
One offering I had to try was the Chocolate and raspberry macaroon with raspberry sorbet: I must firstly say that it wasn't as good as Duncan's amazing macaroons, but I definitely enjoyed it nonethless. It is the biggest macaroon I have seen and is well constructed with a raspberry creme as well as fresh berries. The accompanying sorbet is nice, though quite melted.
I should also mention that The Brasserie has one of Melbourne's best value lunch specials: $38.50 for two courses and a side dish. This allows you to choose any courses from the full a la carte menu, with the exception of a few premium dishes such as lobster and wagyu. The offer is valid daily, including weekends making it all the more attractive. Final words for a well chosen wine list, with a good, varied selection available by the glass.
The Brasserie receives a score of 15 out of 20 and was awarded one chefs hat in the 2008 Age Good Food Guide.
My score: 17/20 - Food: 9/10 Service: 4/5 Ambience: 4/5 - I think it is one of our best and it really deserves to be rewarded with two hat status in the upcoming guide.
The Brasserie has previously been reviewed by Melbourne Foodie here
I start the meal off with some of the amazing salumi: this time I choose the enzo ($10), another soft variety that is one of the best I have eaten. The slices are generous and the meat just melts away in the mouth and has such a beautiful mild flavour. Every last bite is savoured. I am surprised that more guests are not trying the range of cured meats: the quality is sensational; something you simply cannot pick up at your local deli.
For mains it was a tough choice whether to order meat, or a pasta. I decided on the latter option and go for the Papardelle with a wild boar ragu ($23): The pasta is cooked al dente (although probably a tad too firm for my liking) and the ragyu is rich with tender pieces of braised boar meat. It has a fairly simple composition, but is a good dish, finished well with a shaving of fresh pecorino. The dish is indicative of the general theme here: simple food that is done really well. The sort of stuff you may be able to cook yourself, but don't have the time or patience to do so.
I have it on good authority that the crumbed pork cutlet, and eggplant "parmigiano" are both very good. I plan on trying both on my next visit. I am also still waiting to try the "Zuppa Inglese" as well, which is only available to be shared amongst two or more. I was set to return with friends earlier this week, but not in the mood to wait around we decided to head down to the Bistro Guillaume bar, where we enjoyed a stunning dinner.
To finish the meal at GA&S my waiter recommends some of their chocolates ($10). Happy to be surprised I let him choose. I receive a chocolate and hazelnut block which is extra smooth. Far superior to most of the commercial chocolate we consume in this country. Along with a good espresso it was a very pleasant way to end the meal.
The overall experience at GA&S is a really good one, with reliable home-style Italian cooking at prices reasonable enough to keep its punters coming back for more. I am adjusting my score a little though as service can nod on and off when busy. My waiter must be given full credit though for doing his best to attend to everyones needs, whilst clearly run off his feet. It was also a little dissapointing to see empty tables remain uncleared for over 20 minutes, knowing that there was a long queue of people outside eager to eat.
MY RATING: 15/20 - Food 7.5/10 Ambience 4/5 Service 3.5/5
Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons has previously been reviewed by Melbourne Foodie here
Its not all bad news though. I do have this weekend off (the whole LONG weekend) so there is plenty for me to post about.
I have recently returned to Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons, which is becomming more popular by the day. I also went back to the Bistro Guillaume bar on Tuesday for a full dinner with friends, which was sensational, especially the fish. I also have plenty to say about the other big French name at Crown, the Brasserie by Phillipe Mouchel, which I feel is better than ever. Tonight I am visiting Tempura Hajime so you can be expecting a review on that experience, and if time persists I may also write up some of my local restaurants.
Until later, happy eating!
In the bar patrons have the option of ordering from the full a la carte menu or a more limited bar tapas menu. I choose the latter option and sample all of the items on offer. You can choose 4, 6 or 8 items) at $22, $33 or $44 respectively, which is reasonable value for the outstanding quality of food you consequently receive.
After a modest wait everything is brought out on a large platter, and the food really is excellent. Clockwise from the top are: In house smoked salmon on an excellent toasted brioche, a quinelle of rabbit meat with mango chutney (a substitution for the terrine du jour), Beetroot with fresh goat's cheese and a cumin vinaigrette, Steak tartare, Two freshly shucked Tasmanian oysters with shallots and red wine vinegar, Mini blue swimmer crabmeat and coriander mayonnaise sandwiches, Chicken and duck foie gras parfait with sauterne jelly and Jamon Iberico and toasted sourdough bruschetta.
Everything was enjoyed but my standout would have to be the chicken and duck foie gras parfait which was incredibly indulgent; the creaminess of the parfait complimenting the sweetness of the jelly so perfectly. The little bruschetta of jamon and pickled vegetables was amongst the best I have tasted; and the steak tartare was almost as good as it gets finished so beautifully with two perfect potato crisps.
Service throughout my sitting was strong. There was never a moment where drinks needed re-filling and the staff seem to have seamlessly settled in to the environment.
I can strongly recommend the bar at Bistro Guillaume in its ownright. It is the perfect setting for a comfortable evening of cocktail sipping. The sort of place where you could sit down for a drink and easily stay all night nibbling on the tapas, or staying on for a full meal. Some may find the space too dark but for me it is perfect - check it out now while you can. Highly Recommended.
MY RATING: 17/20 - Tapas 8/10 Ambience (bar) 5/5 Service 4/5
The Bistro Guillaume restaurant has also been reviewed by Melbourne Foodie here
In the style of restaurants like Fenix and Interlude the menu at Attica is written based on the ingredients of the dish. Most of the dishes have a deconstructed composition, showcasing all of the ingredients in their raw form. I got to experience this in full capacity last night, enjoying the tasting menu: a selection of eight courses that altogether create a dining experience to savour. I have it on good authority that Tuesday nights are another opportunity not to be missed; with chef Ben Shewry (Gourmet Traveller's best new talent, amongst other things) presenting a five course experimental tasting menu, showcasing a range of his newest creations. The cost of this experience: $69 - good value for the sort of food that one ultimately gets to experience. This is certainly something I look forward to trying in the future.
The dining room at Attica is intimate and well set out with soft lighting, banquets along the walls and a comfortable feel to the place. There is a bar station and seating near the entrance, and two separate main dining rooms. Service is seamless and professional in every way. There is never a moment when drinks need filling; and every dish is presented with a thorough explanation by the servers. The passion is evident, and all whom I come across are well informed and enthusiastic about their jobs, happily servicing the requests of all patrons. They are a true asset to the restaurant.
With all this being said its time to talk about the food. Almost everyone in the dining room was ordering the spice-crusted lamb, which did look sensational. I however wanted the full experience and proceeded with Attica's tasting menu ($110) - an eight-course extravaganza, each course as memorable as its predecessor.
To start off with bread is presented: a choice of sourdough or multigrain. Shortly after I receive an amuse guele, which immediately whits the palette making me yearn for more.
amuse guele: leek and squid ink veloute: A creamy leek flavoured puree; squid ink added for its incredible colour. It is finished with the creamiest egg yolk creme and some crispy fried shallot to garnish. Very classy.
cauliflower cheese, yellow plum, clove oil: A deconstructed dish. The bottom of the plate is layered with fromage blanc, on top of which sit the tiny florets of roasted cauliflower, a fine dice of yellow plum, crunchy Sardinian bread crumbs and hand foraged herbs. The combinations work so well together.
red and white radish, yellowfin tuna, hand picked spanner crab, grapefruit, tarragon: A rather sensational course. The dish starts with some thin sheets of shaved red and white radish, the white sheet being cured in ginger syrup, whilst the red sheet is stained with beetroot ink. On top of the sheets sit some perfect cubes of yellow fin tuna along with chunks of the sweetest, most delicate crab meat. In between we have a tiny dice of grapefruit, crispy puffed wild rice and pickled beetroot segments. The dish is ultimately finished with generous amounts of avruga caviar and some micro tarragon leaves. The prime ingredients and contrasting textures make this a rather stunning dish.
smoked trout broth, sorrel oil, crackling, fresh smoke: This dish is first presented at the table covered with a bowl. When lifted the fresh smoke escapes, resulting in a beautiful woody aroma. In the bowl sits three perfect cubes of Confit ocean trout, along with pieces of pork crackling and the sorrel oil. To this, the broth is added from a beaker: a smoky concoction full of baby basil seeds. This is a very creative dish. The trout meat just melts away in the mouth and the broth has a delightful smoky flavour.
quail breast, almond custard, slow cooked carrots, myrtus berries, salt and vinegar crackers: This is another course that has been put together exceptionally well. The star of the show is a perfect rare roasted quail breast. The accompaniments include slow roasted baby carrots, Tasmanian myrtus berries, salt and vinegar "crackers" and a silky almond custard acting as the sauce component. The dish is finished with some nasturtium flowers and micro tarragon leaves, and once again proves to be an incredible course.
poached harpuka, smoked mussel butter, stems, leaves and roots of vegetables, grilled baby squid: A more delicate dish with such a great deal of care taken throughout. The bottom layer of the plate includes a range of "leaves and roots of vegetables" including finely sliced radish, spring onion, seaweed and squash. The piece of fish itself is gently cooked using sous-vide and the result is juicy fall-apart flesh, flavoured by a smoked mussel butter. Also on the plate are puffed rice balls and well-seasoned pieces of tender grilled baby squid flesh. Perfect ingredients cooked with great care. The result: another near-perfect dish.
twice cooked glenloth pigeon breasts, jerusalem artichoke, fresh peanuts, coffee, crispy saltbush: As the name suggests the pigeon breast is cooked twice: firstly using sous vide, then quickly pan fried resulting in crispy skin and tender, rare meat. The breast sits upon segments of warm smoked beetroot and the smoothest artichoke puree. It is all finished off with a sprinkling of coffee grinds, warm peanuts and "crispy saltbush" - deep fried native herbs, which provide an additional textural element to the dish.
That brings us to the end of the savoury courses; after which two incredible, creative desserts arrive.
sauternes custard with plum bits and pieces: From bottom up the glass is lined with a silky sauterne flavoured custard. On top of this sits a scoop of plum/citrus sorbet and the glass is filled with a sweet plum foam. Its all closed off with a toffee tuille dusted with dehydrated black NZ doris plum dust. Wow - Need I say anymore?
pineapple in caramel, licorice, coconut, lime; The final course: Caramelised pineapple finished with micro coriander shoots. On top sits a quenelle of licorice scented ice-cream, finished with an intense lime/citrus foam. To the side of the plate are perfect little licorice pearls, coconut cream and licorice dust. The bitterness of the lime foam provides a refreshing backdrop to the sweet pineapple and creamy ice-cream. Its a wonderful dessert, and has once again been very cleverly planned out.
Overall, Attica is a dining experience not to be missed. The food was magnificent and the degustation serves quite generous. I find it greatly difficult to criticise any aspect of the experience and can thoroughly recommend Attica for a special dining experience.
MY RATING: 18/20 - Food 9.5/10 Ambience 4/5 Service 4.5/5 - Attica is certainly one of Melbourne's best.
All things food and travel were discussed, including stories of PGs childhood and her mothers horrid cooking. She told us that her mothers "cat vomit stew" was the only ever recipe to be pulled from Chowhound for being so bad and went on to claim that her mother is the worlds worst cook. Sadly, the family still has to endure the suffering every Christmas, with a feature being pre-cooked microwaved turkey roll with thick gravox gravy. Ella, on the other hand is an excellent cook, even if she does allow the kids the occasional "marathon dim sim", which disgusted some members of the group. We all had a good chuckle at our good and bad eating habits.
On a more delicious note, here are some pictures of the wonderful food we enjoyed. Everything was excellent, and it was an afternoon well enjoyed by all.
With much of the group starving there was great excitement when Cindy arrived; her tofu balls were the first item we got to enjoy.
Tofu "Soy Bombs": These were so good with everyone demanding more. The accompanying Chinese BBQ sauce was also stunning - by Cindy - Where's the beef
Poor Mans Potatoes: Thanh's rendition of the Movida dish: very yummy - I Eat Therefore I am
Smoked Salmon Bagels: Freshly prepared, with cream cheese - Agnes - Off the Spork
Caramalised onion and feta tarts: Beautiful crust and just delicious - Agnes - Off the Spork
Tart of caramalised onion, blue cheese, figs, balasamic reduction and herbs: A lovely combination with a flaky filo crust - Ella - A Goddess in the Kitchen
Wood-fire oven roasted Rutherglen lamb stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, anchocies and fetta cheese - Perfectly tender, stunning meat - by Ella - A Goddess in the Kitchen
White Chocolate Coconut Butter Cake: A very decadent and delicious cake - by Thanh - I Eat Therefore I Am
Chocolate & cream cheese Brownies - they looked wonderful - by Michael - Where's the beef
Oblatna - A Yugoslav treat of wafer layers, filled with a chocolate, walnut, butter, condensed milk filling: like my grandma makes and just as delicious - Vida - Vida at Penthouse 2
Layered freeform cheescake with stewed cherries, rhubarb and macadamia brittle - Just wonderful; sweet, creamy and the brittle gave it a lovely crunch - Claire - Melbourne Gastronome
The worlds best macaroons: rose and violet - They were seriously sensational - by Duncan - Syrup & Tang
My chocolate tarts - Melbourne Foodie
Many thanks to all who attended for your wonderful food and company. It was a great afternoon.
Labels: Foodie Events
Today I decided that I would get cracking on my contribution. I was originally planning on a chicken and rice dish (kind of like an oven roasted risotto), but lacking time I have sttled on some simple chocolate tartlettes, made with a mix of dark and milk Belgian chocolate and a hint of orange zest. Hopefully they will go down well.
For all the details visit: A Goddess in the Kitchen and email PG herself. I hope to see many of you there.
Inside, the restaurant has an informal, yet classy feel about the place. It has been designed very well; broken into subsections with table seating, bars and benches. They have made use of the (large) space very well. Tables are wooden and set with menus, a single sheet, which also acts as a placemat. There are bulit in slots which house the cuttlery, olive oil and salt and pepper grinders. Service is friendly from the moment you arrive and I am promptly escorted to my table, and welcomed to the restaurant by Maurice.
Upon entering one is quickly drawn to the salumi showcase. A mark that the restaurant is really serious about its cured meats. All of them look fantastic. Local prodcuts of the highest quality, prepared using traditional Italian methods are proudly hung here for the diners to ponder at. It would be hard not to start with something from this selection.
I arrive early, luckily as the restaurant is completely full by 7PM. Melbournians have learnt of this place and have quickly embraced it. The restaurant is casual enough to go to for a quick dinner, yet stylish enough for those seeking a more formal experience. This is present throughout my sitting with a number of patrons simply enjoying a quick pasta, whilst others sampled a variety of dishes. One thing is for sure though: everyone left with a smile on their face, for good reason. This is excellent Italian cooking: simple and fresh - I wouldn't want it any other way.
To begin complimentary bread is served. The restaurant features a bread wall and chopping station, where bread is sliced fresh for each table. I receive this plate featuring four different varieties including foccacia and salted grissini.
Next I simply must order some of that fabulous salumi and after reading Jack's reviews I am compelled to try the "Caciatore" Salumi ($12): Nine petite slices of the best salami I have tried. This particular salami is a soft cured variety and is the ultimate in cured meats with a mild flavour and beautiful texture.
Before I know it the "Gambaretti" arrive - Oregano dusted baby prawns served with lemon and aioli ($18): These prawns are just wonderful. Small and fresh they are fabulous eaten whole with a squeeze of lemon. It was a shame to see others dissecting them. They are so full of flavour when they are this small and have a beautiful crunchy coating. The accompanying aioli is also very good and the dish is a standout.
For mains the pasta options seem the best way to go. I decide upon Chittara "Arrabbiata" ($24) - Spaghetti of crab meat, tomato and chilli baked in a paper bag. It is simple and delicious. I look forward to sampling all of their pasta e risotti - a saffron and pork sausage risotto at a neighbouring table looked divine.
Insalate: Pea, Shallots, Mint, Basil, Air Dried Ricotta ($9) - Fresh and perfect. These ingredients work so well together.
As much as I would have liked to sample the dolci there was simply no room left after enjoying all of this, though the Zuppa Inglese (trifle to share) has definitely got my attention and is on my must try list.
Giuseppe Arnaldo and sons is a fabulous new venue to eat, drink and socialise. I will be coming back soon with friends and it is sure to become a regular haunt for myself and many others. The restaurant does not take bookings so get in now, get in early and enjoy.
MY RATING: 16/20 - Food 8/10 Service 4/5 Ambience 4/5 - Its good value and the sought of place I definitely want to visit again soon.