Good evening, good morning, good afternoon, ni hao, ciao, bon jour, ca va?... wherever and whenever you are in the world: "Hello!"
My name is Kit Fennessy, and I've been writing this blog with your help for eight years, and there's over a hundred recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours. I hope you enjoy it, and please send me any feedback or suggestions about what you'd like to see herein through the feedback link at the bottom of posts.
A big thank you, as always, to my sponsors at Blue Vapours (use them for all your design and advertising needs), and without further ado, let's launch into it.
Now, what's on the bill of fare today?
Friday, February 27, 2009
Footscray VIC 3011
ph: 9687 2913
What was ostensibly an old man’s pub only a few years ago, the Station Hotel has been transformed into what I have been reliably informed is a gastro-pub; and no, you won’t get a stomach complaint. Apparently it’s become the project of Sean Donovan, formerly of the Botannical Hotel - and that’s how good it is!
The outside looks unpromising, a blue trimmed corner pub looking down at heel 80’s, but step inside the refurbished dining room and be transported to the watering hole of the literati and glitterati of the West.
The restaurant has a high end menu, featuring some fantastic seafood, but apparently they take particular pride in their steaks- all of which were surprisingly good. The top of the line is a Gippsland (VIC) grass fed Black Angus rib eye at $38 (and not the Wagyu that also graces the menu). I’d go out on a limb and say it was the best steak I’ve had in two years.
Served with hand cut chips, salad and béarnaise sauce with just a touch of tarragon, it really was a meal to remember. I’d also recommend washing down your fleshy feast with a glass of Heathcote Shiraz – the wine menu is short but excellent.
The service is friendly without being OTT and while the general tenor, as against the many other pubs in Footscray and Seddon in its nearby surrounds, is a little bitty “spensy”, I can only say that some times quality is wirth the price. It is little surprise to me that this won the 3AW pub of the Year . I give it 6.5 out of 8.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009
Fitzroy VIC 3065
ph: 9415 8262
You may have heard of a biblioteca – a library for books in Italy. Well an enoteca is a wine library, and it seems it’s become the trendy way to name wine bars these days.
The Gertrude Street Enoteca is beautiful, lots of timber and a kind of poverty chique without the matching price tag. Some tables are made from wine boxes and the walls are covered in wines.
As a wine store, you can chose anything from the walls and pay an extra few dollars to drink it there. They also have a simple food menu – toasted panini and a “selection of cured meats”, known everywhere else as an antipasto, that is simply fantastic, with beautiful marinated olives and goats cheese.
As this venue is just down the road from Blue Vapours, a particular favourite of mine is their silver salver of oysters on the bar at $2 a pop on Friday evenings.
The seats may be a little hard, but the coffee is good. While some may decry the trendification of Gertrude St - Enoteca is, after all, like a piece of upscale Melbourne (Toorak?) landing on the old streets of blood – if you like a tipple and a fancy nibble, they are reliable. I rate it 5 out of 8.
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Sunday, February 22, 2009
Melbourne VIC 3000
ph: 9654 0811
Welcome to what makes Melbourne great as the food destination of Australia. It’s not this venue, in itself, but what it represents about Melbourne food.
Welcome to what makes Melbourne great as the food destination of Australia. It’s not this venue, in itself, but what it represents about Melbourne food. The European has been around a long time. Its quiet café interior is casual and reminiscent of, well, Europe. And the food is excellent, without being budget breaking.
Located opposite Parliament House and in the theatre district, excess wooden chairs hang from hooks on the wall at the back and the staff are relaxed in their professionalism and black aprons.
On my most recent visit there, I had the Manchego, an aged Spanish cheese, with fig salami as an appetiser - which I must say was an education. The fig salami was just that – figs. Rather like a fig paste. I can’t say that I’d have it again, but it was tasty and washed down with one of their European beers was an excellent start. I enjoyed a Czech Pilsner.
As a piscean, I am a fastidious fish eater, and think that the hallmark of any restaurant is the quality of the marinara pasta they make. The number of times I’ve been disappointed by tinned clams in heavy tomato on flaccid pasta I can’t tell you. But here, magnificent! The spaghettini – al dente. The fish, all fresh. Done with a garlic infused oil coating on the pasta, a feast fit for a king!
The melon sorbet comes in traffic light colours of watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe to create a well rounded palate cleansing experience.
If visiting Melbourne for only a short time, you could do far worse than choosing the European for lunch. I give it 7 out of 8.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Melbourne VIC 3000
ph: 9663 3000
Tucked down a laneway on Melbourne’s dining hill behind the Melbourne institution Pelligrini’s, I have to admit I am biased when it comes to Becco. I was taken there a few years ago by a good friend, and had such a fantastic experience that I’ve gone back many times.
But be prepared to pay the piper at the end. It has recently been elevated to a two chefs hat ranking in the Age Good Food Guide, but it is not stuffy. Indeed, the large windows overlooking the lane beside Pelligrini’s let in tonnes of light, the staff never write a thing down and the kitchen is on show at the rear.
The food is Italian in its origins, but not of the cheap and nasty pasta and pizza variety,. Primi piatis coinsist instread of choice like pan fried sardines or beef carpaccio. They do do pasta, with lobster, and could potentially be faulted for not having a comprehensive cool food menu (I went there when it was 43 degrees) but the blue eye fillet was … enter the superlative of your choice here.
There’s something reassuring about a menu that doesn’t change much, staff that have worked in the one venue for years and the immutable law that cream always rises to the top. A restaurant for the cognascenti of Melbourne‘s dining scene. 7 and a half tentacles out of 8 from me!
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