Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Matteo's - Fitzroy - Raymond Capaldi

Name: Matteo's

Address: 533 Brunswick St
Fitzroy 3068 VIC
Phone: (03) 9481 1177

Food: ModOz, European (Scandinavian for tonight only)
Average price: Entree: $15-$20, Mains: $32-$39, Dessert: $16
Degustation menu: 7 courses, $85
Set menu: 3 courses, $78

We went for the European Vacation with Raymond Capaldi - our night's theme was Scandinavian.

Complimentary: Bread with butter - the bread was topped up all night.

We ordered the 3 course set menu ($60 pp - I had vegetarian one) plus 1 entree and 1 side:

Entree: Breakfast radishes ;in the pot', Tarragon cream, malt soil - $18

This was creatively presented in a little clay pot with the radishes planted in the tarragon cream with malt soil littered across the surface. I really enjoyed this and found it an interesting way to eat radishes. The radishes were crunchy and best eaten with hands rather than utensils. The cream was very light and smooth with a hint of tarragon whilst the malt soil was crunchy

Pressed terrine of smoked eel, kipfler potato, pickled cabbage, sour apple, buttermilk

Ryan was hesitant about this dish because of the eel but he actually enjoyed it. He thought there was a touch too much potato, and the strongest taste was the buttermilk. It was nice.

Watercress soup with sour cream

This was a strong soup. The sour cream had a thickening agent so it had an almost bocconcini texture, it helped to cut through the peppery, tangy watercress. The texture was nice but at the end it was a little powdery.

Mains: Roast Western Plains pork belly, celeriac baked in hay ash

Ryan freakin' loved this, he chewed each mouthful for ages, and we are the scoffing-down-without-pausing-for-air type. He couldn't taste the hay as the overwhelming flavour was that of the pork belly. The dish also had either a potato or celeriac puree which was super smooth. He said the fat and meat of the pork melded beautifully and was the best pork belly he had. He said the flavours were simple and didn't compete.

Vegetable vol-au-vents

This was simple and light. The pastry was flaky and went well with the vegetables which were still crisp but well cooked. The baby carrots were lovely as were the mini courgettes and leeks, I found the onion a little hard to cut through and too strong for me. It was served on a gorgeous puree (potato I think) with hints of caramelised garlic(?). Overall it was lovely.

Side: Salad of beetroots, pickled quince, rye, truffle tapenade, hazelnut, chestnuts, watercress

This reminded us of the style of dishes at our favourite restaurant, Persimmon. The combination of all the ingredients went well. The rye and truffle tapenade as it was very crunchy but went well. The beetroots were perfectly sweet with a hint of acidity whilst the pickled quince was almost like a tomato in taste, and the dried chestnuts looked a little like small dried apples. Both Ryan and I enjoyed this dish as it was full of flavour and interesting.

Dessert: Glazed goats milk curd, caramel of green anise, iced sorrel

My goodness, I did not know what to expect with this dish. The first taste I got was the creamy, gelatinous tangy goats milk with shards of crunchy sugary wafer followed by the icy, grassy sorrel. Whilst this combination was lovely, and hubby loved it, it didn't strike gold for me until I ate one of the fennel seeds stuck to the caramel shard with a mouthful. It brought everything together, as the tangy, grassy, sweetness ended with a punch of lovely licorice from the fennel. It made everything harmonious and stronger in flavour than before. This is a really refreshing, light, zingy dessert with unexpected but complementing flavours.

Drinks: Frozen Linie Aquavit - $8

This 41% Norwegian distilled liquor is distinctive in that it is made by being carried in oak casks on board ships crossing the equator (linje) twice before being sold. It is flavoured with herbs such as caraway seeds, dill, anise, fennel, coriander or "grains of paradise. ”

Cost: $154 for 3 entrees, 2 mains, 1 side, 2 desserts and 1 alcoholic shot.

Service: Good. Our water was topped up, our bill was given soon after asking and they were very attentive with dolling out the bread. Not all the waiters explained the dishes when they gave them to us, but we had the menu on the table.

Atmosphere: Relaxed. The restaurant is quite dark with wood panelling, Asian gold wallpaper, and dim lighting. There was a lovely green glass chandelier near us and an interesting painting of a naked woman with a rather large derriere. Unfortunately we were seated next to a dumb waiter trolley and so had the staff right next to us all night, as well as being opposite the bathrooms. On one occasion we got and extremely bad down wind- if you catch my drift, which made me gag and temporarily stopped me eating. Other than that the atmosphere was quite chilled, with minimal noise and wells paced tables. They played Abba songs to accompany the Scandinavian theme, which I thought was fun.

Parking: Ample. We went on a Tuesday night at 7pm, there was plenty of unlimited parking right in front of the restaurant.

Website: http://www.matteos.com.au/

Hours: Sun-Fri noon-3pm, daily 6pm-10pm

Would I return: Yes - to another Raymond Capaldi evening, as tonight's dinner was not indicative of Matteo's usual cuisine.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dalmatino - Port Melbourne

Name: Dalmatino

Address: 280 Bay St
Port Melbourne 3207 VIC
Phone: (03) 9645 6584

Food: Croatian, European, Mediterranean
Average price: Entree: $17, Mains: $32, Dessert: $14

Complimentary: Fresh bread with oil

The bread was crusty and super soft on the inside.

We ordered lunch:

Entree: Ciabatta with Tuna, Spanish onion, Olive Paste, Tomato - $10.50

The bread was gorgeously crusty with a warm, fluffy centre. The balance of tuna, onion, olive and tomato was perfect. Light but full of flavour.

Chicken vegetable soup on polenta - $14.50

Anthie loved this. The chicken was super soft.

Mains: Home made Potato Dumplings (gnocchi) with Traditional Beef Ragu - $22

My dad has ordered this many times before. The gnocci is absolutely perfect - soft and chewy and melt in your mouth. The beef was very tender and the ragu was flavoursome and had depth.

Home made Potato Dumplings (gnocchi) with Asparagus, Truffle Oil and Cream - $22.00

Absolutely divine. Once again the gnocci was made to perfection. The cream sauce was rich without being overly heavy. The truffle oil is the first taste you get followed by a hint of crunchy asparagus and then the cream sauce. The only thing I would change would be to add a little more of the crunchy asparagus.

Grilled Baby Chicken with Sautéed Spinach, Pine nuts, Sultanas and Grape Sauce - $21.00

Ryan cooed over this. The chicken was beautifully soft whilst the sultanas and sauce gave sweetness in contrast to the nutty pine nuts and perfectly sauteed spinach. The flavours went well together.

Dessert: Knedle – crumbed dumplings with plum and sour cream - $12.00.

The plum sauce was a great texture and added a lovely tartness to compliment the sweetness of the dumplings. Unfortunately the dumplings were undercooked and were doughy to the point that it stretched like a dough and clogged up your mouth suffocating the delicate sour cream and punchy plum. Had they been cooked more it would have been a lovely light dessert.

Cost: $124 - 2 entrees, 4 mains, 1 desserts.

Service: Good. We had our orders taken quickly and our entree came out quickly. There was a little bit of a wait for the main but other than that service was friendly and we only had to ask once to have our water and oil (for bread) refilled.

Atmosphere: Casual. The overall feel is rather industrial with exposed bricks, ducts and lighting cables, however one wall sports white plaster with wooden panelling which gives off a very traditional eastern European feel. The lighting is quite dark and tables are separated by lines of san pellegrino. There is a fireplace and some wine stockpiles as well.

Parking: Ample - the main street has 1 hour parking restrictions but I think Little Bay st has plenty of parking.

Website: http://www.dalmatino.com.au/

Hours: Mon-Fri 10am-11pm, Sat 8.30am-11pm, Sun 8.30am-4pm

Would I return: Yes. Good value for good food.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Attica - Ripponlea

Name: Attica

Address: 74 Glen Eira Rd
Ripponlea 3185 VIC
Phone: (03) 9530 0111

Food: ModOz,
Average price: Entree: $20-$30, Mains: $30-$45, Dessert: $18
Degustation menu: 6 courses, $75, 8 courses: $130, $215 matched beverage

Complimentary: Bread with eggplant, tomato relish, olives, almonds & butter

The bread was really lovely and fresh and the relish was lovely - salty, sweet and bitter.

Salted cod in grapeseed oil with watercress, nettle puree

This was light, fresh with saltiness and a hint of sweet bitterness.

We ordered:

Fresh trout with smoked trout broth, pork crackling and basil seeds, with fresh hickory smoke - $23

This dish has been talked about in almost every blog and review so I shall keep it short - Ryan enjoyed it, however, he said he would have liked the pork crackling more had it not been soggy.

A simple dish of potato cooked in the earth it was grown - $20

The potato was tender, creamy and went well with the sour sauce (fromage blanc?), salty shaved trot, and crispy saltbush leaves which still allowed the potato to shine through. It was a little on the small side though.

Lamb shoulder brik with mint manuka honey, lamb spice with Jerusalem artichoke puree - $38

Ryan said the shoulder was tender and flaky, the sliced lamb on the other hand was a little cold. He loved the minted honey with the Moroccan spiced brik. There were also fried Jerusalem artichoke skins which he liked as well as baby leeks. He felt like there were two separate dishes on the one plate which he didn't like.

Heirloom tomatoes in a Moroccan crust, celery sticks, apple disks, smoky tomato, celeriac puree, leaves - $30

The crust was loaded with black pepper, it made me cough and my eyes water so I had to scrape it off. The tomatoes were mushy and overwhelmed the subtle celeriac, walnuts, apple and celery, only the smoky tomato jam managed to come through. It left me hungry.

Terroir -$18

This was a combination of fromage frais, beetroot and almond cake, berries, brewing malt, flowers, white pepper, golden kiwifruit, vanilla avocado jelly, & sorrel granita.

Each mouthful interchanged between pleasure and somewhat yukky tastes. The first taste reminded me of eating moist earth - not pleasant. Then the sharp, tangy berries came in as well as the sweet fruit and it became lovely but overall this didn't really do anything for me, hubby liked it a little more though.

Violet crumble - $18

Both of us liked this, hubby adored it. I wish the violet fromage frais had been a violet ice cream as I was hoping for something creamy to go with the honeycomb, chocolate dust and caramel, not something with a lemony tang. It was nice overall, but I would have loved creamy over tangy/icy.

Cost: $147 - 2 entrees, 2 mains, 2 desserts.

Service: OK. There was a bit of a mix up, I originally called to book on a Saturday for a degustation (one vegetarian) but they wanted a credit card and we were in the process of cancelling ours (overseas fraud situation) so I said we'd go on the Friday instead. Upon arriving we are informed that they only do vegetarian degustation a Saturday night, so my husband was a little disappointed. There was quite a long wait in between the entree and main meals.

Atmosphere: Mellow. The lighting is definitely dark, towards the end of the evening it began to make us tired as the restaurant is also decorated in dark, woody hues. The noise level isn't to loud and the tables are spaced apart. It has a stylish casual feel. The only downside was that I could see straight into a washing room, so I spent most of the evening watching a waitress unload a dishwasher and polish cutlery etc, which just reminded me of the housework I left behind at home.
Parking: Ample - the main street doesn't get much traffic after hours (we went at 8:30).

Website: http://www.attica.com.au/

Hours: Tues-Sat: 6pm til late

Would I return: Yes. Hubby wants to give it another try.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Abla's - Carlton

Name: Abla's

Address: 109 Elgin St
Carlton 3053 VIC
Phone: (03) 9347 0006

Food: Lebanese
Average price: Starters- $15, Main - $25, Dessert - $3
Banquet - $50 per person.

Complimentary: Baked pita chips with some olives and pickled carrots(?).We had the banquet which consisted of:
  • Mixed dips served with fresh pita - Labnee: this was tangy and creamy with a little heat. Nice.
  • Hummus bi Tahini - a nice chickpea dip with lemon and peanut-y tahini.
  • Baba Ghanooj - some found the eggplant overwhelmingly smoky but I thought it was nice.
  • Makaneek (Grilled home-made spiced lamb and beef sausages)- everyone seemed to like these sausages.
  • Silverbeet rolls (Silverbeet leaves stuffed with rice, chickpeas, tomato, herbs and spices) - similar in taste to dolmathes except the rice was a little chewy.
  • Ladies' fingers (Filo pastry cigars filled with minced lamb, pine nuts and spices) -Well liked.
  • Loubyeh (Green beans cooked in a tangy tomato sauce)- These were tender and flavourful, except they came out a little cool.
  • Chicken wings (Tender chicken wings baked with garlic and lemon juice) - everyone liked these.
  • Tabbouleh (Lebanese salad of parsley, tomato, mint, spring onion and cracked wheat)- Most liked this, I found it had a touch too much lemon.
  • Veg Sub - beans with onions - it was nice but a touch bland.
  • Kibbee (Casing of minced lamb and cracked wheat stuffed with spiced meat and pine nuts and served with laban)- everyone loved these balls of lamb, and I loved my veg ones - lovely soft texture.
  • Falafel (Patties of chick pea, broad bean, parsley, coriander and spices served with tahini tarator)- these fried chickpea fritters were too crunchy and coriander-overloaded for me, but everyone else liked them.
  • Lahem mishwee (Pieces of lamb fillet, marinated, grilled and served with tabbouleh) - chunks of marinated lamb - these were tender and Ryan wolfed them down.
  • Chicken and rice (Exquisitely flavoured rice pilaff with minced lamb, chicken and almonds) - their most famous dish, wasn't super great, but it was nice.
  • Mjadra (veg sub - Lentil and rice pilaff served with yoghurt) - this was my favourite vegetarian meal. The lentil, rice and caramelised onion pilaf went really well with the tangy yoghurt.
  • Foulia Medammas (veg sub - Broad beans with tahini, garlic and lemon juice) - these were over lemony for me but everyone else thought they were too spicy.
  • Eggplant with tomato - too watery and bland for me.
  • Battered fish with sauce (veg sub) - the fish was moist and the condiment went well.
  • Lebanese coffee - everyone enjoyed this.
  • Baklawa (4pcs)- a bit dry.
  • Turkish delight (4pcs) - no one had any so no idea what it is like.
Cost: $200 - 13 items of food per person for $50each.

Service: Ok- our water was never filled by the waitress, and on two occasions we had to ask for another bottle of water. Abla cam out to say hello and ask if we were ok (one of us was 1metre from the door so there was a lot of draughts). She was very friendly.

Atmosphere: Noisy - the room is tiny - about 8 tables downstairs. A table of 9 was next to us and they were very boisterous which made us have to raise our voices to carry on a conversation. The decor is very homely with dark green hues and maroon fabric chairs.

Parking: Decent - there is a large amount of street parking -however as it close to Lygon st it does tend to fill up quickly at night.

Website: http://www.ablas.com.au/

Hours: Thurs-Fri: noon-3pm;
Mon-Sat: 6-11pm

Would I return: No - i is good value for money, but my yia yia makes similar food for free and it gives me an extra reason to visit more often.