Monday, September 29, 2008

Tender Trap

Name: Tender Trap

Shop 2/266 Blackburn Road, Doncaster East,
9842 3466

Modern, European
Average price: Entree - $17. Main - $24. Dessert - $10.50.
Complimentary: Two slices of thick white bread with olive oil, slices of garlic, and kalamata olives.

We ordered:

Entree: Mediterranean "Taster Platter" tapas style selection of dishes (serves 2) - $21.80. Picture was taken after consuming around 1/3 of the platter.
This was a much larger dish than we anticipated, and was largely meat and seafood. Not everything that was on the platter was on the entree menu so excuse my guesses. There was two portions of the following:
  • grilled ciabatta bread
  • pepper crusted rare beef with a tonnato mayonnaise, balsamic, rocket, olive oil and sea salt crostini
  • prawns served with garlic and a smoked paprika citrus butter
  • grilled octopus
  • chorizo
  • fried whitebait
  • chicken skewer
  • lamb skewer
  • vegetarian corn/vegetable parcel
  • fried fish
As I don't eat meat I only tasted the fish and vegetarian portions. The parcels were filled with corn, cheese and something else; they were delicious, perfect ratio of pastry to filling. The fried fish however was dry and full of bones so I didn't eat much of it. My partner loved everything on the platter and found it difficult to finish as it was a large serving. His favourite though was the rare beef with mayonnaise.

Mains: Potato and semolina gnocchi tossed with roasted pumpkin, pine nuts, spinach and goats cheese - $20.80.

This was fantastic! Absolutely HUGE portion, I left two pieces of gnocchi as I simply could not finish it. The pumpkin actually looked like bacon as it was diced really fine and then fried with sage and the pine nuts. The spinach was barely wilted and was slightly overpowered by the gnocchi and pumpkin. Overall, the flavours worked really well together. The gnocchi pieces were large and crispy with a doughy centre. The goats cheese brought a great creaminess and saltiness to the otherwise sweet flavours. As soon as I got home I wanted another plate.

Roasted Lamb cutlets set upon field mushroom tart, finished with goat cheese, rocket, Spanish onion and pomegranate glaze - $28.90. Ryan loved this, and as everything else tonight, the portion size was very generous. The lamb was pink and juicy whilst the tart on the bottom was still crisp, with slices of one large field mushroom. The pomegranate glaze was subtle and used sparingly, whilst the goats cheese was draped in what may be a salsa verde.

Dessert: Dessert Platter (serves 2) - $24.50.

Our eyes popped out of our heads when this came around, after Svago's disappointing, and tiny portioned dessert degustation for 2 we had very low expectations. The platter consisted of:
  • 'Famous' Lemon tart
  • Greek donuts (loukoumathes) drizzled with honey, cinnamon and pistachio syrup
  • Five spice pannacotta
  • Wild berry creme brulee
  • Strawberry balsamic parfait
  • Tiramisu
The lemon tart was what you would expect a lemon tart to be - soft pastry with a smooth, tangy lemon filling. It was sharp and bitey and like velvet on your tongue. This was my 2nd favourite.

The Greek donuts were DELICIOUS. They had a warm crisp exterior that was coated in luscious honey and cinnamon (didn't really taste the pistachio) with a hot gooey, doughy, sweet centre. I could h
ave eaten an entire bowl of these. Absolutely yum, my favourite of the platter.

The five spice pannacotta was alright, it wobbled like a pannacotta should but just wasn't that exciting. The five spices weren't pronounced and were lost in my mouth.

The wild berry creme brulee was a little disappointing as the berries were macerated and drenched in a lovely thick syrup which softened the brulee top (so not much of a 'crack') and then proceeded to 'curdle' the custard. It looked unappealing and didn't taste that great.

The strawberry balsamic parfait was interesting. It had that half way between an ice cream and mousse texture which was divine, very cloudlike. The strawberries were the first taste followed by the sweet balsamic. Whilst this was my 3rd favourite I'm not sure I could have eaten a lot of it.

The Tiramisu unfortunately was a bust for me. It wasn't a conventional tiramisu, it had a thin marsala saturated cake base, with a thick cream filling and another thin cake top dusted with cocoa. It was like a mouthful of whipped cream with soggy cake and a hit of liquor. Perhaps because my father makes a Tiramisu every week (he's not Italian, it's just his favourite dessert) it fell below my expectations of a Tiramisu.

Overall the platter was great value - once again we could barely eat half of it between us. The desserts didn't seem miniaturised at all, which is normally the case with most of the dessert platters we have had in the past. The drawback though is that they weren't served with their intended individual sides, so the taste experience would not be the same had you ordered them separately. Still, we were really happy with the platter and thoroughly enjoyed trying everything (we did manage to eat every single loukoumathe though).

Cost: $96 - 1 entree platter, 2 mains, 1 dessert platter.

Service: Fantastic -
The waiters were very friendly and quite accommodating when we wanted to switch tables. Most of the waiters were wearing Hawthorn jumpers (as the hawks had won the premiership) and were knowledgeable on the dishes. The wait between courses was perhaps 20mins - it did not feel like we were waiting long. Our water was always topped up and the dishes were cleared promptly. We didn't even have to wait more than a few seconds to get the waiters attention for the cheque which came immediately.

The restaurant is lit by down lights and has a bar that runs across the left wall. One wall is a brushed concrete whilst the other is painted a dark grey with booth seating. The back wall of the restaurant is a vibrant red that polishes off the modern interior.
Unfortunately from a lot of the tables you can see the door to the kitchen, when opened emits a lot of cutlery clings, plate clatters and kitchen chatter. We had to change our original table as my partner was distracted by the noises and smells of the kitchen. The restaurant was 1/3 full whilst we were there so the noise level was low, but not so low that you had to whisper to keep your conversations private.

The restaurant is in a string of shops in a service lane off Blackburn rd. There are quite a few car parks in that lane in front of the stores, but at 7pm on a Saturday night 90% were full (we managed to snag one). There seemed to be street parking on the side streets as well.


Lunch - 12pm to 3pm Mon to Fri. Dinner - 6pm til late Mon - Sat.

Would I return:
Yes, for a local restaurant I am quite impressed with the value and quality of the food, I will definately be back.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Name: Svago

285 High Street, Kew, Vic 3101
Phone: (03) 9855 0505

They have sharing plates, so small sharing plates are around $11, and larger plates are around $22. Desserts around $11.

We ordered (descriptions aren't detailed as I cannot recall exact ingredients and there is no website):

Four bruschette platter: smoked ocean trout with goat cheese, marinated mushrooms, mozzarella, tomato, basil & rocket pesto and roasted capsicum with a salami on top

This was smaller than we expected as the bruschette was served on those small packet toast shaped crisp breads; not a baked bread. The ocean trout was quite bland and became mush in you mouth. The marinated mushrooms were quite tangy and predominantly tasted like lemon juice. The mozzarella combo was my favourite, as the tomatoes were fresh and the traditional flavours melded well.The second smaller dish was Baccalà Mantecato (salt cod) with potato foam and Parmigiano cylinder. This was really tiny and maybe 4 tablespoons worth. The fish was only a small teaspoon-size paste on the top of a Parmesan wafer which had become soggy from being in the potato foam which was more like a puree in texture. I didn't find this appealing at all. It was quite bland and the cold temperature made it less appetising on the tastebuds.

"Mains": Porchetta (pork) rolled with herbs: Ryan found this super-fatty to the point he couldn't even swallow around 1/4 of the slice. He described it as being reminiscent of a deli purchase, straight from the counter to his plate.

Grilled scamorza cheese served with minty zucchini slices: There were 3 quinelles of melted yellow cheese with around 1/2 a minted zucchini. The cheese was gluey and tasted like fish. It was room temperature at most. The zucchini was nice, slight hint of mint, but only 3tbs worth on the plate. I didn't enjoy it, and were it not for the fact I was starving I wouldn't have eaten it.

Bread salad: This was perhaps the most substantial portion of all 3 'main' size plates. It consisted of bread, onion, artichoke, olives, tomatoes and was dressed in a vinaigrette. Most of the bread chunks were already soggy when it arrived. It was the tastiest and most pleasing dish we had ordered, but still average.

Dessert: Dessert degustation for 2: Rum Baba and Ricotta Cannoli - $18.

This was perhaps the worst dish of the lot. It was barely enough for two. The rum buba was dry and stale, I could barely find a splashing of rum on the top. The cannoli parcels were doughy, Ryan bit into one looking forward to tasting the filling, his hopes dashed upon tasting 'nothing'. The scattered walnuts and drops of what might have been sherry added nothing. Horrible value for money, we were so hungry we had to resort to buying McDonald's next door when we left at 10pm.

Cost: $77 - 2 entrees, 2 mains, salad and dessert for two.

Fair. The waiter was walking around chatting to all of the guests and at a few stages interrupted my partners and my private conversations to add his opinions etc.

Atmosphere: Fair. The interior was dark, with single tealights on each wooden table. The chairs were wooden, with the edge of the chair cutting into my legs. There was a blackboard across the wall with the booths which had chalk figures and scribblings from patrons. The bar runs along the left hand side. Our table for two was in between it and the booth tables. We constantly had waiters squeezing past and felt quite like we were in the middle of two lanes. The noise level was quite loud and consisted of both the patrons and the waiters chiming in.

Street. We went on a Friday night at 9pm and found parking across the street immediately.


Monday - Saturday from 6pm.

Would I return:
No. Never again.