Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Gold Class at The Rivoli (Camberwell) 10/2013

Designed to be the ultimate in comfort for viewing movies these are small theatres seating 32 or 40 patrons. They have seating in paired Jason recliner type lounge chairs. They have a cavity for handbags in the side arm and a large tray for food or drinks between each pair of seats. There is a call button so that waiters can serve during the movies.
There is also a bar and the lounge area with seating where patrons can, in theory, enjoy a meal and drinks before their film starts.

We came early so as to relax and have something to eat. The menu is quite limited. We ordered champagne. A piccolo Moet and Chandon was $34 and a glass of the local Moet was $12.Fish and chips, which we ordered was trifling $20 per serve with an additional serve of shoestring chips ($5) which turned out to be rather soft. The fish and chips was very ordinarily and a miserable serve for the price. Two very small battered fillets of fish, I suspect frozen, with a few chips, a wedge of lemon  and a little dipping sauce would have been reasonable at half the price or a bit less. 
 Any pub would be far superior to this.
Whilst there were plenty of waiters the service was quite slow. They originally mistook our order and had to prepare a second serve. I had to smile to myself when the waiter said that "chef" would cook another one. If there is a distinction between a chef and a cook I felt it should have been applied here if anywhere.
The theatre itself is a pleasure BUT if you are going to Gold class I would strongly recommend that you eat before you get to the theatre. I hesitate to give it a mark, it would not reach double figures!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Champion's Grill (Clayton) 10/2013

After reading about this remarkable place at which, almost legless, former Vue de Monde sous chef Clinton McIver has taken the reins we booked asap. 

Just as well, next day Nina Rousseau gave it such a great rap in Epicure that getting a table on a Saturday night has become almost impossible. 
McIver has taken a movement which began gradually as top chef's  began to expand into pubs developing the gastro-pub, bringing modern French influenced cuisine to a most basic cafeteria style venue. This schizophrenic endeavour deserves a new name. Something like HiLow dining!
This place is a bowls club with a restaurant facing on to the bowling green.  

It's plain, pleasant and utilitarian. 
Of course we came for the food. 
They have five course degustation menu for $50 on Saturday night. On week nights a more traditional menu is divided into Smaller, ($14)  Bigger, ($25) Meaty ($29-$49) and Sweeter ($9).
The menu looked quite attractive. Dishes such as Spanish Iberica Ham, organic hen's egg, smoked almond and salt and pepper soft shell crab, sweet herbs, kimchi Mayo looked especially interesting.
Among the bigger dishes free range pork cheek glazed and pickled pear, mustard oil and Spring Lamb muesli bar raisin purée Ortiz anchovy, which also appears on the degustation menu, seemed attractive. There were a variety of steaks and the desserts also looked appealing but we were here for the degustation menu.

Spanner crab, charred corn juice, créam fraiche was a very simple first course of not great distinction it was a tasty nibble. 

 This was followed by another very small course Auschovy chicken wing, Mizo oil. Auschovy actually referred to anchovies of Australian origin. This was also a tasty dish with nice variety of textures however it was also only a couple of bites.

Flinders Island the lamb, "muesli bar" and Ortiz anchovies was quite unusual and I could have done with a much bigger serve. The anchovies were represented by two tiny bits of anchovy.

Peppered steak with smoked and dried blueberry was the last main course. It was a lovely piece of meat and the smokiness of the blueberry carried across and accompanied by a baby leek. This was another nice dish but somehow lacked any thing to make it truly outstanding.

Deserts of toasted lemon curd, yoghurt sorbet, ash meringue was distinguished mostly by its sweetness.

Sandra was feeling quite unwell and could not eat anything. As a result I ended up eating all of her meal as well as my own. At the end of this I was only just satisfied and would have been on the way to McDonald's with out the extra courses!
For some reason they have a policy of no bread on Saturday which I think is a sad mistake.
Service was exceptionally amateurish although very willing and as helpful as possible. Our first waiter, Tony, was there for the first time but he has worked at other clubs. He was unable to answer any question without referring to the kitchen. He poured our bottle of wine without giving us the opportunity to first taste it. It happened to be very pleasant. A Heathcote Shiraz ($48). They have a small, inexpensive list of quite presentable wines.

In all it is distinguished by above average food at very reasonable prices, although the serves are too small, in a plain venue with no pretensions.
Score: 13.75/20
Clinton with his partner Eli