Saturday, July 30, 2005

Sails on the Bay

Introduction: Recently enlarged. Well spaced tables mostly fronting what can best be called a bay window present an attractive view over the water lapping at the sand. Strollers and joggers make for a constantly variable distraction
Ambience: Hanging bits of supposedly sail cloth off the ceiling creates little effect on the generally quiet agreeable and comfortabe atmosphere

Service: Unobtrusive
Food: the Ravioli stuffed with prawns and scallops in a Champgne and chive sauce is an outstanding taste however the sauce was a little on the gluggy side of perfect. The deep sea blue eye in a puff pastry shell was also excellent but again the cream sauce was too heavy. The roast duck and the duck Italian style differed only in what they were served with. The polenta with sage rosemary and onion stuffing accompanied by roast garlic and buttered brocholini in a light jus was very good and the vahronna icecream not to be missed.

Wine: Moderately priced with a reasonable range by the glass. I am not impressed when wine by the glass is poured without the bottle being sighted. In this instance the pinot we were first served had passed its use by date by some time. It was promptly repalced with a frsh glass

Price: Around $50 per head

Comments: Close to being very good

Score:14 /20

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Near East Restaurant

Introduction: Around the corner from the South Melbourne town hall at 254 Park St this restaurant serves a variety of modernised South East Asian dishes
Ambience: With few tables occupied being being back to back with an irritable baby dulled any joy I might have felt about the surroundings. I also found the jaundiced cutlery unattractive

Service: Good!

Food: Mains were just OK. A lobster san chao bau entree was tasty. A deep fried baby snapper was also good, however the fillet steak with vegetables was ordinary and a very small serve at that, the pork ribs in mandarin sauce was in a heavy batter and the pork had been stripped off the bone which did not leave the kitchen, and the beef hot pot was uninspiring.

We tried 3 desserts - a lemon tart, a triple chocolate creation and a passion fruit custard none of which I would ever order again
Wine: BYO and licensed - we brought our own

Price: At about $50 per person all in all I think it's expensive

Comments: Not my cup of Thai
Score: Maybe 13/20

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Introduction: It may be a little unfair to judge Taxi on the special dinner organized by the Chaine de Rotisseurs on July 25 accompanied by five very good wines starting with Moet et
Chandon to accompany the Scallop Prawn and unagi (Grilled eel) sushi entree
Ambience: The brilliant views of almost 360 degrees across the city and the Yarra lend an atmosphere unique to Melbourne

Service: Attentive unobtrusive

Food: Strongly Japanese influenced with Chef Ikuchi Arakone adding flavours which modify all Michael Lambe's dishes. They have a Sushi tasting plate with about a dozen to choose from including salmon prawn tuna and eel among others ($12 for 3 or$18 for 5). The raw scallop was a delicacy There is also a Sushi and Sashimi entree for $19.50 or as a main for $35.

We enjoyed Smokey Bay oysters, crab salad with a Thai style (Red nam jim) dresing, followed by a Spanner crab and truffle salad, tempura oysters and rhubarb compote - yes it is an odd conglomeration and then a main course of Yuba wrapped lamb noisettes - a nice dish made more interesting with a miso jus, some pea puree and a tiny apple and spinach salad with blue cheese. A dessert of rhubarb and apple crumble with custard and vanilla icecream was a pleasant though not special end to the meal greatly enhanced by the BrownBros 'Patricia' Botrytis Reisling (1999) Absolutely luscious. Get some from your local bottle shop if you can!
Wine: As the Chaine included wine I did not look at Taxi's offerings

Price: Not cheap but if you like modern Japanese style food you could not find a more outstanding venue to enjoy it.

Comments : An impressive addition to Federation Square
however I did expect something more exquisite
Score: It's even harder than usual to to judge because of our special menu Say 14.5 /20


Introduction: This bistro/restaurant in Federation Square has some assocciation with Jaques Reymond
Ambience: Warm and friendly.

Service: efficient without being hurried

Food: Nothing to write home about. Everything is OK even quite good but nothing is special. The fishn beer batter is frozen (Hake) The pork belly, the rissotto and the pasta pretty ordinary despite the somewhat fancy descriptions on the menu. Their Burger is substantial, as it should be for $17. Mains run from $17 to $26 with desserts around $10.

Wine: The 2003 wine I ordered turned out to be 2004 which the waitress failed to note. The 2003 being not available we tried a Red Hill Pinot Noir which was corked. The replacement from Tamar (Devils Ridge was just passable but not cheap at $36 and that was about the cheapest wine on the menu!

Price: There is a lot better value around for about that price

Comments: Regretably the name may be there but Jaques Reymond's magic is not

Score: 13/20

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Vue de Monde

Introduction: Now at 430 Little Collins St (Ph 96913888) Shannon Bennett is a true master of modern French cooking I have now been to Vue de Monde four times at its new home. On every occassion the food has been outstanding
Ambience: The entrance to the building is not quite finished which sets a slightly unsophisticated tone. The dining areas are comfortable, the decor simple, the tables well spaced and initially set with rustic style crockery.

Service: Initially very slow. I was peeved at being asked to come at 7.30 rather than at my preferred time of 8.00 pm and then to find myself waiting almost half an hour before a waiter arrived to discuss the menu and a little more irritated when the ice water, poured from an elegant jug was slightly warm and had no ice

Food: The main task was to choose how many courses to have (We chose 7) and ensure that any food fads or restrictions were not breached. After that the menu was a series of surprises - I should say delightful surprises

An initial offering a cup of truffle jelly covered with potato mousse with truffle oil was rich in flavour and an excellent start. Our first course was a cervisce of scallop on shredded celeriac on a remoulade sauce decorated with dots of squid ink around the margin. This was a delicacy most beautifully prepared and presented. This was followed by a mushroom rissotto using reconstituted cep mushrooms, you may know them as porcini mushrooms, which had a rich very strong flavour and was a little oversalted to my taste.
The next course was a cherry tomato creation including tomato on milk fed buffalo cheese, a Sorbet, a tomato torte.
The next course was a terrine of foie gras. Sandwiched between a leaf of Savoy cabbage and layers of Spanish pork proscutto the foie gras was served with Pui lentils and the most delicate small leaf cress salad
The next course, even more outstanding than its predecessors was a tain of linguini flavoured with truffles, beneath a delicate barely cooked quail egg, and surrounded by a delicate crustacean meat which I presumed to be crab
We then had a superb palate cleanser a clear tomato consomme with small cubes of jellied tomato
The next course was a duck cassoulet with Spanish style ham sausage and white beans
Another chef's offering a miniature bomb alaska with a raspberry sauce got us ready for the dessert
The mystery dessert was a trilogy including a rich chocolate tart chocolate pudding.
Finally we were offered a selection of petit fours served on a cute silver multi level candle stick like device (for want of a better word)

For the record here is the menu
Thursday 21st July 2005

Ceviche Saint-Jacques
Ceviche of scallops over a celeriac and apple remoulade,
bound in truffle mayonnaise, completed with Yarra Valley salmon roe

Risotto aux ceps
Ferron Arborio risotto infused with ceps

Tarte Á la tomate confie et au fromage
Confit tomato and mozzarella filo pastry tart with marinated anchovy,
crispy sage and Ligurian olives

Terrine de foie gras
Terrine of Strasbourg foie gras, layered with braised cabbage,
confit rabbit, wagyu salami and a duxelle of wild mushrooms,
served with sautéed Du Puy lentils and sherry vinegar

Linguini 'a la carbonara'
House made linguini wrapped with Spanish Cardoso ham,
accompanied by a soft quails egg and spanner crab

Consomme froid a la tomate
Delicate tomato consommé with gazpacho jelly

Cassoulet de canard
Duck cassoulet set into a puff pastry vol au vent with white beans,
roast breast and duck sausage

Fondant au chocolat
Manjari chocolate fondant, blood orange granita
encased in chocolate bread, served with milk ice cream
Notre sélection de cafés, thés, infusions et petits-fours

A selection of coffee, teas, infusions and miniature teacakes

Wine: Extensive range of Australian French and Italian from about $50 upwards. We had an excellent 2003 Calledonia Pinot Noir from Gippsland.

Price:We paid $110 a head for the food

It was odd that the expensive heavy cutlery did not rest on the raised edge of the plate and kept sliding onto the plate. Minor irritations aside this is a culinary experience worthy of the best restaurants in the world. Shannon Bennett is a most imaginative and creative Chef a master in his field For more information and reviews see their web page at
Score: 18.5/20

For those really interested we sat at the Kitchen Table, see comment and here is the menu
friday 16th september 2005
Mousse de saumon fumÉ et d’estragon façon
‘tom cooper’ au caviar
‘Tom Cooper’ smoked salmon and tarragon mousse,
salmon crisp and Beluga caviar
~Risotto aux truffes
Classically inspired Italian summer truffle risotto
~Ballantine de faison au foie gras et À la mousse de pistache
Ballantine of pheasant with foie gras and pistachio mousse,
served with quince jelly
Braised prawns and crayfish sitting in a crispy puff pastry case,
the juices emulsified with butter and tarragon
Delicate tomato consommé with gazpacho jelly
~SuprÊmes de volaille strasbourgeoise
Poached Kangaroo Island chicken breast, leg meat tortollini,
served with albaforino sauce and white asparagus
~Echine d’Agneau pochée au cous cous de safran
Roasted loin of lamb with saffron cous cous, espice sauce,
babaganoush and aubergine crisps
~Soufflé aux fruits de la passion
Passionfruit soufflé with raspberry sorbet, dusted with strawberry sugar
~Coupe de chocolat, trois parfums
Chocolate espresso cup filled with caramel mousse, orange syrup,
Grand Marnier and milk cappucino
~Notre sélection de cafés, thés, infusions et petits-foursA selection of coffee, teas, infusions and miniature teacakes

For my 4th visit we had several previously untried dishes including a crabclaw and shredded crabmeat in a light creamy tomato sauce and a "deconstructed" cassoulet both most excellent I highly recommend them.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Bayswater Brasserie

Bayswater Brasserie is located at 32 Bayswater Road,in the infamous Kings Cross, Sydney, and offers Modern Australian cuisine to Sydney’s trendy and well-heeled yuppie set. Its dishes are inoffensive, based on simple, fresh ingredients that continue to impress regulars and visitors alike.
Bayswater Brasserie strives to provide the diner with the ambience of a Parisian bistro. Whether it achieves this or not is entirely subjective, but what the restaurant does achieve is an environment that is entirely comfortable; the design and layout of the restaurant offers a level of privacy to each table, but the energetic vibe of the restaurant creates a warm and exciting place to dine.
The menu offers a good selection of appealing dishes. So much so, that it is one of the few restaurants where I have found it extremely difficult to choose between dishes. My table of ravenous twenty-something girlfriends, all of whom have very healthy appetites, decided to start on a selection of oysters, which were freshly shucked and served with eschallot vinegar before our eyes.
My partner often criticizes me for not being particularly adventurous when it comes to ordering out. So, I decided to go against my usual habits, and ordered Crisp Pork Belly with Celeriac Remoulade, something that I have never eaten. I was thoroughly disappointed with the dish, not so much because of its execution, which was clearly outstanding. What I found so thoroughly wrong with this dish was the pork belly itself. I should have ordered the Barramundi with Flageolet Bean Cassoulet or even the Prosciutto wrapped Chicken with Pea Puree, but perhaps I am too set in my ways. Two of my girlfriends ordered sirloin steak with porcini butter and chips, which is a favourite when girls dine out alone, and they were not disappointed. My last girlfriend ordered Blue Swimmer Crab Lasagne with Tomato Beurre Blanc, which was positively delicious!
We were all on the verge of tears when we were politely informed that the Raspberry Bombe Alaska had sold out, which we had been eying of at the table next to us, but were able to choose two other indulgent desserts. Conscious that we had already consumed a huge amount of rich food, we chose to share two desserts between the four of us, which was a perfect end to the meal. We chose a Passionfruit Soufflé with Mascarpone Cream and Chocolate Marquis with Frangelico Ice-cream. I still don’t know what the fuss is about soufflé which has failed to impress me throughout my whole life, despite being treated to the famous Chocolate Soufflé at Maxims, Melbourne by my parents many times throughout my twenty-five years. However, the Chocolate Marquis with Frangelico Ice-cream was everything I expected and more. In fact, it was almost as good as a bag of Haighs Peppermint Frogs.
The girls shared a bottle of champagne and a bottle of white wine. I chose to refrain given that I was designated driver and don’t often indulge in wine in preference for a real drink!
Prices were competitive for a Sydney restaurant. Starters are priced at approximately $15. Mains cost between $22 for the vegetarian option up to $40. Desserts were $12.50.
A fabulous find that is well worth visiting on your next trip to Sydney.
Score:15.5 /20
Contributed by TB

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Tivoli Club

Introduction: Starting in 1860 as a mens gymnastic club this was combined with the German club in 1921
Ambience: Very comfortable and quiet on Sunday night. For the rest of the week - who knows!

Service: Efficient

Food: Two outstanding dishes the Schweinhaxen seved with sauerkraut and roast potato a roast leg of pork (from ankle to knee) and the Eisbein, the same but smoked and ? broiled are tender, tasty and filling. The veal goulash with spatzel (pardon my spelling) and red cabbage was also very tasty and super tender. Schnitzels have been a bit dry in the past and I did not test them today

Desserts a bit ordinary. The Apple strudel made on puff pastry seemed undercooked to me
Wine: A small inexpensive range. Many German beers available

Price: Generally inexpensive About $45 for two

Comments: a very good peasant style German restaurant. On the corner of Dandenong Rd And Chomley St Windsor. Plenty of off street parking

Score: 14/20

Friday, July 15, 2005

Da Noi

Introduction: Well known Italian style restaurant in the heart of Toorak Rd South Yarra
Ambience: Noisy crowded happy atmosphere

Service: Slow The Italian wine list had some information about the wines which was helpful as the staff were not!

Food: We thorougly enjoyed the Chef's choice The al dente pasta dishes were very good, the main courses cooked to perfection, the rabbit being particularly tender and unusually moist

Wine: All Italian I am unable to comment

Price: Fixed $65 or al a carte moderately expensive
Now $80 and no longer expensive
Comments: The poor service seriously compromises this otherwise pretty good place

Score: 14.5/20 That was then NOW 16.5/20!


Banished to the clear plastic lined back garden we enjoyed a truly excellent strongly Sardinian influenced 5 course meal. Each course was a surprise and every one was excellent. You may get something quite different but I feel sure it will be just as good. a wood fire on the barbecue and a central gas heater kept us as warm as toast

We had: Anti paste of Fennel in a light anchovy sauce, capsicum in olive oil and lightly spiced meat balls followed by a Cohlrabi Basil salmon tartar which only needed a little salt to make it perfect. Then came a Sardinian specialty Casa da Musica, I think, a crisp thin sheet of papadam like bread with a chunky tomato sauce in the centre of which sat two lightly poached eggs. Fabulous. A sand crab pasta followed which was mouth wateringly delicious and then a perfectly prepared lamb shoulder in a cream sauce with rosemary spiced roast potato. the dessert a honey flavoured icecream with a ricotta filled pastry with a couple of palmiers and biscuits was a nice end to finish the meal

Service was much better than last time I came. the only thing that disappointed was the rough olive oil served with the crusty sour dough bread and the remarkable information that there was NO butter available. The butter that they did have for cooking was of inadequate standard for table service!

BYO is not available. Wine by the glass around $10. We had a very appropriate Italian Pinot Gris $46

Monday, July 04, 2005

Sinatra Pizza & Pasta Licenced Restaurant

Introduction: In the same buildind as the Capitol Theatre at 9 Gordon St Elsternwick handy for a coffee or meal before, or after, the flicks
Ambience: Cafe style

Service: Amiably incompetent

Food: Large inexpensive and quite reasonable size serves of pasta and substantial desserts. We tried the fettucini with avocado and chicken and the apple strudel ( we also have a vegetarian strudel our waitress told us!) and were well pleased with both dishes

Wine: Small range by glass or bottle at very low prices I ordered the house Trebbiano ( is that white or red?, tho it was the only one offered and a Cab/sav (Is that white or red? too) but both quite passable at $4 and $5.50 per well filled glass

Price: Mains about $12.50

Comments: Doesn't pretend to be anything special and it's not.

Score: 13/20

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Introduction: At 291 Corrigan Road Keysborough this small restaurant seems to be well known and well liked by the local cognisanti
Ambience: I felt a little like being in someones dining room.

Service: Quick - they were not very busy at the time

Food: The Superior Banquet ($22) gives you 3 entrees choice of 3 main courses, rice and dessert. the Samosa's were large, crisp and not too spicy, the tandoori Chicken was done in a gas oven and lacked the characteristic charcoal flavour added to the normal tandoori spices and the kebab was a bit dry. After this, not having high expectations, I was impressed with the main courses. The chicken Korma, the spinach paneer with home made cottage cheese and the fish (Rockling) cooked in coconut milk were all excellent with fine sauces dessert of home made Kulfi (icecream) was extremely good as was the Gulab
jamun - a cottage cheese dumpling in sugar syrup
Wine: BYO

Price: Very inexpensive. There is a smaller choice banquet for $17. Most mains $9-12

Comments: If you live within cooee of Keysborough and you want an Indian meal look no further this is the place to go

Score: 14/20

Gertrude Street Enoteca

Introduction: At 229 Gertrude Street Fitzroy, around the corner from Smith Street this small wine bar exudes an atmosphere of casual bon hommie. Enoteca means "wine library" and here the walls are lined with wines - mostly Italian
Ambience: Friendly

Service: Prompt, specially informative in regard to wines

Food: Simple tasty. Crisp toasted Pannini with smoked chicken, providone, radichio and fennel and rocket salad was very flavoursome as was theFoccacio with pea frittata, prosciuto with parmesan and rocket

I did not try the Pannini with baked pumpkin, rocket and pinenut salad nor the cured meat plate with olive salad which completes the lunch menu.
Wine: Extensive and frequently changing range by the glass or bottle. particulrly enjoyed Shaky Creek (Otago) 2003 pinot noir ($13) and the Tuscan La Massa 2001 Savignon / Cabernet ($15) however most wines were around $7 per 150 ml glass

Price: Modest Pannini and focaccio about $8 -9

Comments: Great place for a snack, coffee or a drink. Friday and Saturday apparently thet shuk oysters (about $2.60) and have a slightly more extensive menu. The blackboard offered the slow food manifesto which struck me as odd, anyway McDonalds is no competition for them!

Score: 14/20

Friday, July 01, 2005

Jacques Reymond

Introduction: Since his recent refurbishment and the loss of some of his longserving staff, to my mind, Jacque Reymond has most successfuly reinvented itself
Ambience: Pleasant large main dining room warmed by two artificial , but effective, wood fires

Service: Attentative, helpful and informed

Food: Beautifully presented, the Winter Degustation menu was unsurpassed at any restaurant I have eaten at in the last few years. It consisted of the following

Packham pear and Jerusalem artichoke soup, gorgonzola and walnut cream - a great start
Asian crab salad, rice crusted tuna and oyster tempura - a small seperate portion of each, the crab being especially tasty
Paradise prawns and wakame (seaweed) chakin rather like a large quennelle in a miso broth - very light and delicate
Lacquered Atlantic salmon, wok of oriental mushrooms a soy and sake glaze - the sweetish glaze with the perfectly so so perfectly cooked salmon was to die for
Choice of Saddle of venison, with celeriac a beetroot and watercress salad or Suckling pig and mild spiced fresh bortolotti beans both of which I tasted were, once again, truly excellent dishes
A pallette cleanser of mint and red plum sorbets topped with a pepper foam was unusual and effective
We were then offered some flexibility with the dessert I enjoyed a date pudding with icecream and a small, surprising, sugared, but still tart, cumquot whilst my wife enjoyed a smooth and perfectly prepared creme brulee
People at the neighbouring table had a trilogy of mushroom with which they were not so enchanted. Although the pate was excellent the capuchino was too dilute and the tempura too oily
There is also a vegetarian degustation menu available and what looked to be a most appealing a la carte menu
Wine: Good range. By the glass $13 to $30 (for a vintage, '86 I think) Moet and Chandon
Price: Two courses $70, 3 courses $94, 4 courses $118 Degustation $120 Vegetarian degustation $86

Side salad $12, with blue cheese $18
Comments: A truly excellent gourmet dinner
We thoroughly enjoyed a second visit and had the Autumn Degustation menu. Now $140 It is 1/3rd of what you would pay for it in America or England
Mark 18.5/20