Friday, March 24, 2017

Almazett (Nth Caulfield) 03/2017

Not only have the wait staff changed, and the price of course, but the room seems to be lighter and more attractive. 
Decor is simple with little decoration. 

White clothed tables  promise a better class of restaurant.
As well as an a la carte menu they offer a $44 banquet and, for an extra six dollars, the addition of crustaceans. Corkage is $5/ bottle and, not unreasonably, with screw top bottles, we opened them ourselves. 
A plate of pickled turnip, diacon I guess, and carrot was served while we considered the menu. 

The menu is pretty much the same as years ago. Of course we went for the big banquet.
Before long dishes began to arrive in rapid succession. We had to ask them to slow down as we could not eat that fast and the table was becoming over full.
Mezze, a series of small dishes, came first. 
Taboule, a Lebanese classic lemon flavoured salad of parsley, burghul, tomato and other ingredients such as spring onions and mint with olive oil. 
This came with bowls of Hummus,

and Tahinna
Pita bread  
These were quickly followed by felafel with a tasty yogurt salad dressing

and meat rolls.
Until the meat rolls everything was very good and plentiful but the luke warm rolls, with a soft pastry missed the mark.
Lemon flavoured barbecued chicken wings was another winner

Lebanese meat balls, rissoles you might say, are usually seasoned with a variety of Middle Eastern spices and often have pine nuts included. 
Unfortunately these were over baked and dry with very little flavour except for lemon, yet again. A bowl of roast potato again with lemon and parsley, 

was also served before the crustaceans. 
The BBQ'd prawns were a little over cooked but quite tasty and the scallops were excellent.
This was followed by a whole fish, between four of us, 

which was seriously overcooked, as was the next course of chicken and lamb shashlik coverd by slices of thin luke warm pizza.

This was accompanied by bowls of rice

and beans
Mahalabia is a classic Lebanese dessert made by boiling down milk and then adding sugar, rose water, cream and cardamon. 
This one was not sweet enough, lacked taste and was too firm.

Finally we were served Baklava and Turkish delight with Arabic style coffee, with a touch of cardamon, in a Finjan
It was not haute cuisine but Almazett gave us a taste of Lebanese cooking and hospitality - there was a very large amount of food which we could not finish. On the down side the fish, the rissoles and the chicken and lamb shashliks were very overcooked and the seasoning was monotonous, almost every dish dominated, to a greater or lesser degree, by lemon.
Comparisons, they say are, are odious. Looking back at Abla's, which we went to almost 10 years ago, I would say that Abla had a little more variety but suffered from the same problems as Almazett. Perhaps, being so disappointed, we were overly harsh in our judgement of Abla which, ( ), as far as quality of the cooking, was much the same as Almazett.
Comments Score:12.75 /20

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Frogmore Creek (Cambridge Tasmania) 03/2017

This restaurant/reception centre/winery 

sits in a gorgeous site 
about 20 minutes out of Hobart. They offer a reasonable a la carte menu and wines from three labels - Frogmore Creek, 42 Degrees and Storm Creek. They are all cold climate wines priced from about $25 to $30 which is very reasonable.
I enjoyed a three course dinner starting with pressed and smoked salmon potato, capers,white anchovies, caramelised red onion, crostini, lemon and dill dressing.

Attractive to look at as well as to eat very good start to the meal. The alternative for this dinner, organized by the ANZCA was terrine of slow cooked chicken, with gherkin, potato, crisped bacon, avocado puree and caesar dressing. 
Despite the fine ingredients this was a little bland but very acceptable.
My main was slow cooked pork belly, croquette of the shoulder,apple puree, rhubarb compote, pork cracker and Picalilli sauce.
An OK dish but the cracker was very thin and when I get pork belly I really like it to be fat, which this was not!
It was served with oven roasted baby potatoes with sea salt and rosemary 
which were totally delicious. Roasted beetroot salad with feta, rocket, croutons and sherry dressing
was pleasant enough but the dressing was almost not noticeable.
The alternative main, roast lamb loin with confit potatoes,baby carrots, eggplant and cumin puree, smoked garlic aioli, juniper berry jus looked a lot more appealing 
though I'm told the lamb was a little chewy. 
Desserts were sticky date pudding, caramel sauce, mascarpone and vanilla cream, candied pecan nuts and yogurt sorbet. 
Not too sweet I loved it.
Chocolate, coffee and Lark whisky mousse and fudge, chocolate tuille and vanilla ice cream looked rich, sweet and moorish 
and, I'm told' it was all of that and beaut.
Comments: This certainly is an extremely pleasant place to eat, especially on a pleasant March evening. The setting is beautiful, the venue is attractive, the service was friendly and efficient, the wines (I drank the 2013 Frogmore Creek Pinot Noir and their 2013 cab/sav) were very good. On top of that the food was generally very good too. 
Score: 15 /20



Attica (Riponlea) 03/201

We're pretty lucky people. We've eaten at eight of what are regarded as the top 50 restaurants in the world - some of them several times. Furthermore we've also eaten at five of the next 50. We have not been to Attica for a while, currently ranked 33, (32 in 2014 and 2015) Last time I went Sandra was unwell and could not join me. Not so this week. 
A lot of the old favourites have gone and it is largely a new menu. Not only is the menu new but also the dining area has been renovated with a thick black carpet and light, more homely walls. 
There is also a new partition and bar all of which help keep the noise level down.  
The menu has an Australian emphasis not only with the meats, pork  jumbuck (lamb) kangaroo marron features too, and also with exotic fruit such as quondong.  The menu, which is available on the internet, is not informative. Even the pic's do not come near to doing the food justice.
Here are the dishes we had.

Cooks leaves 
This moorish dipping sauce came with a small vase containing three different flavoured edible leaves 
The whole thing was delicious.
Aged Santa Claus (Christmas) melon
Another surprise, the melon had been marinated and became semi translucent, very sweet and firm.
Hidden in here was a small tomato with a little flavouring - I don't think it was an errant bug!
Smashed Avo on toast
About what you would expect.
An imperfect history of Ripponlea
Black pudding reminds us of the English, the chicken pie with jellied chicken soup reminds us of the Jewish influence and my history lets me down for the last one. 
Gazza's Vegemite pie
Tasted like vegemite too but not oppressively. 
Chewy carrots
As promised with a beaut. avocado dip
Pork neck
Lance Wifen's mussel
An old favourite.
Beef on the Bone

As promised.
Aromatic Ripponlea broth
A very clear broth but the flavours were bland.
Those were the 'small tastes'

Wattleseed bread came with a flavoursome dip sprinkled with crisp saltbush leaves, butter and Murray river salt too.
Salted Red kangaroo and Bunya Bunya (You could substitute eggplant if you didn't want to eat Skippy)
All parts of the pumpkin
A poor pic of pumpkin cooked in a variety of ways with crunchy pumpkin seeds, and (I think), sunflower seeds
Marron and grilled lettuce
The marron tail was under the lettuce.
Jumbuck, waxflower oil dessert oak
I don't mind if things don't taste what they are to but this didn't taste of anything except it had the texture of stringy meat - my least favourite dish of the night.
Backyard spider
A sort of spider.
Pineapple and anise myrtle
This was cute.
Little cones made up of long thin strips of apple curled around a dob of yogurt, flavoured with tiny crunchy balls of finger lime,

Whipped emu egg with sugar bag
The emu egg shell was filled with a zablione style dessert covering a soft chocolate
Attica Cheftales
A couple of fantales, presented in a glass chicken, with quizzes about chefs. 
All the early dishes were unusual, stimulated interest in what was to come and very enjoyable. the kangaroo the lamb and the pork were a bit disappointing.  there was an emphasis on citrus on to many of the dishes which also detracted from the quality of the meal. Desserts looked nice but the emu egg was a bit pedestrian. 
Nevertheless a vey good meal.
 Score:17.75 /20