Saturday, November 29, 2008

Circa - St Kilda

Name: Circa @ The Prince hotel

Address: 2 Acland
St Kilda 3182 VIC
Phone: (03) 9536 1122

Food: European, French and Modern Australian
Average price: Entree - $25, Main - $43, Dessert - $20
Complimentary: 2 mulit-grain cheese rolls with a small dish of butter.
We ordered:
Complimentary: Choux pastry with goats cheese and walnuts.

The choux pastry was cold and the goats cheese was running out of the bottom like water. Not very nice.

Entrees: Wild rabbit raviolo, braised celery riesling foam, sel saveur - $24.
Ryan didn't like it and the serving was a little small. (It's hard to get specific information out of him other than 'I like it' and 'I don't like it'.

Summer vegetable salad - $21.
This was average, just steamed vegetables with vinegar and cream. Some of the radishes and turnips(?) were quite bitter. They also sprinkled coriander everywhere which was a little annoying as I can't eat coriander (genetic trait passed down, it tastes like a chemical in my mouth).

Mains: slow cooked lamb shoulder brik, rack and sweetbreads, pumpkin, fabales, basil sauce - $46.

Ryan hated the lamb shoulder brik, it was dry and the sweetbreads were weird. The lamb rack was nice though.

Coral trout with avocado puree - $41.

This was originally an entree that they turned into a main for me - I also ended up getting snapper, not coral trout. It would be awesome as an entree but as a main it became a little boring to eat and tasted less great with each bite. The fish was perfectly cooked, a little oily, but still great. The avocado puree was quite sweet and played up the tart sweetness of fruit in the medley of chopped vegetables. Each mouthful had a large number of flavours, with a vinegar tang in each bite. It just got a little too much after 10 mouthfuls.

Complimentary: Lemon Posset with a raspberry.
The raspberry was lovely and fresh whilst the lemon posset was a little runny and grainy.

Desserts: Circa snickers II - $21.
When I ordered this I was thinking of something that definitely contained a lot of chocolate - I was wrong.

The salty caramel layer on the top was really lovely, however I was not in the mood for something cold so the honeycomb ice cream layer didn't really appeal to me and it made the chocolate crumb base a little soggy. The zabagione (not sure what it was exactly) was a lovely accompaniment as it enveloped the flavours in a warm, airy sweetness, however the chocolate foam (?) didn't add anything. It was nice, but not what I expected.

Banana parfait, honeycomb, rum, sesame, chocolate sorbet - $19.
Ryan liked this, especially the honeycomb and rum in the chocolate sorbet.

Cost: $195 - 2 entrees, 2 mains, 2 desserts, 3 bottles of water.

Service: OK. We made our booking through Amex Centurion as Circa is a centurion restaurant which means they have to hold a table until 10am on the day. After I made the initial request Amex called me back to let me know that we would have to leave at 8:30pm as our table had a booking then. I informed them that we wanted to order the degustation (around 9 courses) so we would not be able to leave at that time. Amex told me they would call the restaurant back and let me know if this was possible, if not I would book a different restaurant.
I received an email notifying me that we had a reservation at 6:30pm, the degustation would take 3hours and as we were Centurion members they would no longer need the table back at 8:30. So I thought, great! Circa it is.

Unfortunately when we arrived 15mins late (we called to let them know we would be 15mins late due to unexpected traffic) we were told by the manager that we could not order the degustation as we had to be out by 8:30. I informed him of the email confirmation I had received which he brushed off by informing me that he himself took the reservation and did not agree to let us stay past 8:30.
Obviously I was upset as the whole reason we were there was to order degustation for my partners birthday, if I had known we would have less than 2hours to eat I would have booked somewhere else. I rang Centurion when I arrived home to find out how the mistake happened. It turns out that the second time the Amex representative called he spoke to a different person who obviously did not pass on the information to the manager which is why we were asked to leave by 8:30 rather than given a table which would allow us to order the degustation.

To top it off we were asked what we would like to drink, we responded water as usual, to which the waitress asked whether we wanted still or sparkling. In most restaurants, still means tap water which is offered at no extra charge (Melbourne has awesome drinking water so almost everyone drinks straight from their tap). They brought bottled water which we assumed would be free of charge as they did not offer tap. Right at the end of the evening the table next to us requested water which the same waitress responded 'still, sparkling or TAP'. We then realised that we would probably be charged for the bottled water (which they continued to top up without asking). The bottled water ended up costing $18, a little annoying as we wanted tap water which is free but was not offered to us.

Atmosphere: The decor was lovely, although I'm not too sure about the 'stage-like' lighting that was on rails across the ceiling. The black and pink gauze gave the room a whimsical feel whilst the cane lights and pink peonies were really romantic. It is a very small room with white leather booths and large circular tables.

We went at 6:30 and it didn't start to fill up until 9pm. While we were there the noise was minimal but once everyone started arriving it started to get quite noisy. The vibe was a little 'off' - like the room is full of 'people on first dates' weird.

The restaurant is located within The Prince hotel, so do not wear jeans or dress casual as the restaurant mimics the hotels trendy but upmarket vibe.

Parking: Not good. It all depends on when you go as street parking gets taken up very quickly, and most have hour restrictions. The Prince hotel has car parking but the spaces are really tiny and hard to get out of.


Hours: Sun-Fri 7am-11am, noon-3pm
daily 6.30pm-10.30pm

Would I return: No. Food wasn't good enough to warrant a return, let alone the service.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bistro Guillaume - Southbank

Name: Bistro Guillaume

Address: 8 Whiteman St
Southbank 3006 VIC
Phone: (03) 9693 3888

Food: French
Average price: Entree - $22, Mains - $35, Desserts - $18.
Complimentary: 1 baguette slice for each person with a disk of butter for 3 people that had a sprinkling of fleur de sel (?salt).

We ordered:
Entree: Traditional Onion soup - $16.

Dad and I ordered this and both of us didn't like it. Perhaps it is because we are used to Australianised onion soups we found the dish overly sweet with a weird deepness, perhaps a gravy or sauce? I didn't much like the texture either; I only had a few spoonfuls.

Freshly shucked oysters with shallots and red wine vinegar - $3.50 each.

Anthie ordered these, and Ryan who had never had an oyster before, absolutely loved these.

Chicken & duck liver parfait with pear, ginger chutney & toasted sourdough - $25.
Doris ordered this and cleaned the plate.

Hunter Valley snails with beurre persile - $21 per 1/2 dozen.

Ryan and his dad ordered these and ate them all.

Mains: Berkshire pork cutlet with pommes croquettes and sauce charcutiere - $40.
Ryan absolutely loved the pommes croquettes, and thought the pork was good too.

Duck confit - $38.

Doris had this and liked it.

Bistro Guillaume Fish & Chips - whole whiting with Pont- Neuf and beurre maitre d'hotel - $45.

This looks quite impressive, Louis enjoyed it.

John Dory with pea puree, asparagus - $39.
The fish was seared and salted, which contrasted well to the heavy sweetness of the pea puree and crispness of the asparugus. It was quite nice but got a bit boring.

Risotto with field mushrooms & Reggiano parmesan - $25.
Anthie and dad ordered this, and although the consistency and flavours were nice, it was oversalted.

Desserts: Chocolate Marquise with pistachio ice cream - $20.
Doris and Anthie ordered this and absolutely loved it. The chocolate marquise was like velvet. It also had a raspberry reduction.

Trio of ice creams - $18.

Louis ordered this - it was a trio of chocolate, pistachio and vanilla ice creams.
Poire Belle Helene - $18.
I shared this with Ryan, which was a mistake as it is definitely not enough for two. It is a poached pear, with vanilla bean ice cream and a dark chocolate sauce - classic combination. We didn't get much of the sauce though as everyone else of the table poured it over their own desserts.

Cost: $448 - 6 entrees, 6 mains, 4 desserts - unfortunately there is a ridiculous 10% surcharge on Sundays and Public Holidays.

Service: Great. We didn' really notice the waiters (most of whom had french accents). Our water was topped, our plates cleared without interruption. They were also quite knowledgable about the menu.

Atmosphere: The restaurant is located within the Crown Complex so it feels quite luxurious and upmarket. The interior is gorgeous, large billowing fabric lights take center stage to an otherwise muted colour scheme. Unfortunately the chairs are a little uncomfortable.

It was fairly empty, but there was little noise also. At one instance a light bulb exploded and shattered over a diners seat, who luckliy had taken a bathroom break when it happened, the waiters quickly cleaned it up and replaced her chair by the time she had returned.

Parking: Normally ample as it is within the Crown Complex which has an abundance of parking, unfortunately for us today it was full but we parked in another parking complex in Southbank.


Hours: Sat-Sun 8am-11.30am
daily noon-11pm

Would I return: No. I didn't think the food was anything special considering the great reviews.