Sunday, September 27, 2009

Persimmon - Melbourne - NGV

Name: Persimmon at the National Gallery of Victoria

Address: Ground Level, NGV
180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Call NGV and follow prompts - 8620 2222

Food: ModOz
Average price: Entree - $16, Main - $27, Dessert - $15.

Complimentary: We got absolutely spoiled rotten today - and we loved it!

2 pieces of bread with butter.

I really loved the hot buttery, sweet brioche. My favoruite for sure, whilst Ryan prefered the salty sour dough.

Mini Tart tatin of Jerusalem artichokes, beetroot bavarois, lentils, sherry vinegar caramel

Like last time this is bursting with different flavours and textures. The sweetness of the beetroot with the nutty Jerusalem artichokes, tangy and sweet sherry vinegar caramel and earthy lentils is a great combination. Lovely.

Salad of pumpkin ribbons, blue cheese, compressed pear, hazelnut dressing

This is for blue cheese lovers. The delicate sweet pumpkin gives way to juicy pear and creamy hazelnut before the creamy blue cheese comes through at the end.

Potato & herb gnocchi, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower & pecorino crumble

This was different to the last time. The gnocchi was even softer and there was a bigger crunch and cheesiness to the crumble which played well against the smooth, sweet brussel sprouts.

Chestnut cake, raspberry dust, cooked pear, pear & ginger sorbet

Huge flavour explosion here. This one evoked memories of cooking over a camp fire on a school trip for me, love when food triggers great memories. The charcoal warm pear gives a great smokiness to the dish which has a refreshing sorbet, moist and nutty cake with a zing from the raspberry dust.The lingering flavour is the battered(?) pear.

We ordered:

Entree: Croquettes of truffled macaroni & cheese with sherry vinegar aioli - $12

The aioli with shards of saffron helps to cut through the rich crumbed croquettes filled with creamy macaroni. Couldn't taste the truffle but that didn't really matter.

Baked scallops, fennel escabeche, mushroom cream, Gruyere - $15

Ryan protested that he didn't really like scallops but I convinced him to give this a try, and what do you know, he loved it. He also has an aversion to squeezing lemon (I don't know why) but when he tried it with the lemon he loved it even more, he said it needs the acidity to bring out the other flavours.

Mains: Tasmanian salmon, toasted cous cous, tomato jam, pickled cucumbers - $26

This was also a little different to the last variation I had. The salmon portion is much bigger and the cous cous crunchier. The cucumbers have turned from ribbons to cubes, which I prefer as they add a saltier juicer burst. The tomato jam wasn't smoky like last time, I think I missed the smokiness a bit. I'm glad the aubergine puree was still there as well as the basil oil, but I still couldn't really taste the red wine emulsion.

Braised veal shank, artichoke, radicchio - $27

Ryan loved this. This was his favourite 11hour braised meat dish. The meat was melt in the mouth with a texture he loved. He said the side vegetables help to cut through the richness of the succulent meat. Overall he thoroughly enjoyed it.

Desserts: Stewed quince, pan perdu, milk jam & cinnamon stick ice cream - $14

Once again this had Ryan singing gleefully, he's a fan of anything that resembles french toast. I also loved this.The pan perdu was gorgeously crunchy and buttery sweet on the outside with a fluffy centre. The poached, but firm spiced quince cuts through the bread before heady cinnamon spiked milk ice cream envelopes everything with its spicy coolness. It also had really yummy crunchy, crumbs.Yummier than the title sounded.

Pear tart tatin, turron ice cream - $15

This was also really yummy. The perfectly cooked pears and pastry gives way to the almondy ice cream before deep, caramel takes over your mouth. Sometimes I find caramel too bitter, this is my idea of a perfect caramel, it had me licking the plate.

Cost: $109ish (forgot the receipt) for 2 entrees, 2 mains, 2 desserts and 4 complimentary dishes.

Service: Perfect. The service is always flawless.

Atmosphere: Lively. The window seats are lovely as the booth seating is very comfy and the view of the gardens is really calming. It can get a little noisy when full but the tables are well spaced. The dark interior helps to frame the gorgeous outside surroundings.

Parking: Limited as car spots are generally taken - although a tram runs along St Kilda rd, and Flinders station is not far down the road. We managed to get a car park a block down the road and there are side streets you might get lucky with. There is also underground gallery parking which is $12 for non-members.


Hours: Daily 11am to 4pm (except Tuesdays).

Would I return: Yes. No matter how many dishes we eat, we still want more.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Matteo's - Fitzroy - Raymond Capaldi- Polish

Name: Matteo's

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

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

We enjoyed ourselves so much the last time that we couldn't resist coming back for the second round of the Extended European Vacation with Raymond Capaldi - tonight's theme was Polish.

Complimentary: Bread with butter as well as THREE sides (how lucky are we).

The bread (rye?) was served slightly cold and had a pleasant tang to it.

Polish Salad - carrot, apple, potato, kohlrabi, buttermilk - $8

This was quite light and vegetable heavy. Everything was cooked well and the flavours complimented each other (there were peas as well).

Cracow kasha - buckwheat groats, barley - $8

This was my absolute favourite side, I think I had more than my fair share of this. The grains were lovely and they were enveloped in sour cream(?) which was gorgeous against the crunchy onions/shallots(?). Really yummy and everyone loved it.

Steamed potatoes, dill butter - $8

Once again the potatoes were perfectly tender with a bite as well as being enveloped in melted butter and sprinkled with dill. Generous portion, the whole table had trouble trying to finish these off.

We ordered the 3 course set menu ($60 pp - I had vegetarian one) plus 2 starters:

Starter: Braised meat pierogi, milk curd, fried onions, paprika - $6 (4 pieces)

Everyone liked the filling.

Artisan cured meats, pickled berries & cucumber, rye bread - $16

This was a hit with everyone. The sliced meats were lovely, and the sausage was also great. They went really well with the flavoursome pickled berries that everyone was smearing on their bread. The dill cucumber lovers chomped away happily.

Borsch - beetroot soup, soft boiled egg

This came loaded with beetroot and a gorgeous egg, with luscious runny yolk.

Buttermilk soup with beetroot, apple, dill, baby leeks(?)

There was a whole lotta buttermilk in this. The sweet beetroot slices and crunchy tart apple helped to cut through the silken tanginess of the buttermilk.

Main: Shadowy - crumbed pork loin, braised 'golabki' stuffed cabbage

A huge piece of well-crumbed and cooked pork loin served with a lemon in muslin, and cabbage leaves stuffed with a meat I think in a tomato sauce.

Braise golabki

Cabbage leaves (and maybe kale?) stuffed with onions and maybe barley in a lovely spicy tomato sauce - not really sure what was in it but it was tasty.

Dessert: Baba - Polish rum cake, chocolate, clotted cream

I was worried when I saw this, as every baba au rhum I have had has either been too dry or drowned in alcohol.
Boy was I happy when I tasted this beast. Absolutely yummy - a huge cylinder of sponge perfectly soaked with a gorgeous rum that packed a punch but was not overpowering at all
(and I don't drink) which had a gorgeous, thick clotted cream and even thicker quenelle of luscious chocolate. Really gorgeous, although only three of us managed to polish off the whole giant sponge (put a plate in front of me now and I'd eat it all).

Cost: $382 - 6 set menus, 2 starters & 3 complimentary sides.

Service: Great - we had a wheat/lactose/other intolerant diner with us and they were catered for with some off the menu items.

Atmosphere: Relaxed - my sister-in-law was thrilled when we asked her to come as she has forever walked past the restaurant, loved the interior and wanted to see inside. Lovely dark hues, wallpaper accents, feature lighting and fresh flowers give it a polished, refined look.

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


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

Would I return: Yes - to yet another Raymond Capaldi evening held at this restaurant.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Coda - Melbourne

Name: Coda

Address: 141 Flinders La
Melbourne 3000 VIC
Phone: (03) 9650 3155

Food: Asian, European
Average price: small - $3-$17, bigger - $18-30, desserts - $13-$18

Complimentary: Nothing (but some ordered dishes were comped).

Entree: Sweet potato fritter, roasted chilli dip - $5 (adjusted to be vegetarian)

This was nicely spiced and crispy with a spicy, creamy chilli sauce, it was however a little on the oily side.

Crispy prawn and tapioca betel leaf - $5

The boys loved these so much that they ordered another two to eat. Ryan thought it was cool and asked me to at least smell it.

Sugar cane prawn with sweet chilli sauce - $5

This was ok but paled in comparison to the crispy prawn above.

Eggplant and tofu lettuce delight, enoki mushroom, crispy garlic and black vinegar -$5

I enjoyed this - it was tangy and deep in flavour with a crisp lettuce and variety of textures, a little messy to eat (would have liked a small water bowl to rinse my fingers) but I enjoyed it.

Roasted Coffin Bay scallop, pearl tapioca and Yarra Valley salmon caviar -$6

Steph liked this overall, but felt it didn't need the green leaf dressing that just got stuck in her teeth - it would be the same without it.

Roasted chicken wings stuffed with pork, glass noodle, jicama and spring onion relish -$9.80

Ryan enjoyed this.

Coda roll, crisp parcel of bone marrow, ginger, shitake mushroom and rice paddy herb -$8.80

From what I remember Steph and George liked this.

Seven spiced cuttlefish and ponzu soy - $15

There was nothing wrong with this, but it wasn't special either. Generous proportion to the rest of the dishes.

Main: Roasted yellow duck curry and lotus root -$29

Ryan liked this, it was pretty good, but you do need a side dish like the Jasmine rice to go with it. The duck was tender and everything was balanced.

Hopkins River steak Bearnaise charcoal grilled - $29

George thought this looked a bit small but it was surprisingly filling.

Sides: Wok fried snake beans, yellow soya bean sauce and caramelised shallots - $8

We were under the impression that this would only be enough for 1 so we ordered two, it is definitely large enough for two people to share. The beans are super soft with a lovely salty sweetness and crunchy fried shallots.

Pomme frites - $8

Decent sized serving of well cooked and well salted fries.

Jasmin rice - $5

This was a touch on the crunchy side but fine to eat with the other dishes.

Dessert: Valrhona chocolate custard pot hazelnut brittle & pumpkin foam with a banana souffle with Pedro Ximenez and drunken date ice cream - $16

This was supposed to be the tasting platter but the original lemon tart fell apart so they gave us a chocolate pot each (rather than 1 for 2 people) and a souffle to share (which is $16 on its own). The souffle was light and dissolved in your mouth with a sweet banana taste and a hint of Pedro Ximenez. The ice cream was studded with chunky, sticky dates and was the lingering flavour.

The chocolate pots were lovely. The pumpkin foam was like a super light mousse that tasted a little more like honeycomb to me. It gave way to silky Valhrona custard that was similar to Nutella in texture, not eggy like a custard at all. There were also crunchy pieces of sweet hazelnut brittle, overall it was the perfect sized little dessert.

Cost: $202.60 - 12 small sizes, 2 large sizes, 4 sides, 2 dessert platters, 2 beers, 1 glass chardonnay (1 side and 1 dessert were complimentary).

Service: Great. The service was extremely friendly and informal. Through a miscommunication my rice didn't come out with the rest of the dishes so we were given it for free. Also with the dessert we ordered the tasting plate and as one of the components was unable to be used we were given individual desserts as well as a large souffle for the same price.

Atmosphere: Trendy casual. The decor is quite industrial with splashes of colour from hanging lanterns and the like. The seating was comfortable and whilst the noise level was a little boisterous you didn't need to yell. The tables are also well spaced, although the bathrooms are a bit of a hike. There was a slight draught towards the end of the night.

Parking: Ample - street parking might be scarce but there are plenty of paid parking garages available.


Hours: Tue-Sun noon-11pm (closing time may vary)

Would I return: Yes.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Matteo's - Fitzroy - Raymond Capaldi- British

Name: Matteo's

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

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

We enjoyed ourselves so much the last time that we couldn't resist coming back for the second round of the Extended European Vacation with Raymond Capaldi - tonight's theme was British.

I need to add that at the moment I have an irritable tummy so the past few days I have not eaten much and what I have eaten has caused me pain, however I just could not miss out on tonight so I tried my best to eat as much as I could.

Complimentary: Bread with butter.

The bread was soft and the butter was soft enough to spread, we also got some sea salt to sprinkle on top.

We were also unexpectedly given 2 complentary sides which was a real treat.

Sides: 'Colcannon' - potato puree with braised Savoy cabbage & spring onions -$8

Super yummy - smooth but not gluey with salty, sweet cabbage
and sharp spring onions - I could eat a whole bowl.

Buttered carrot fingers -$8

Cooked to perfection, soft but still crunchy with a slight sweetness. Ryan normally hates carrots but loved these.

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

Appetiser: Whisky Scotch egg with grannies salad cream - $5

Ryan's favourite dish from the night. We were only gong to order one as the whisky scotch egg I grew up on had meat so I assumed this would too. The waiter then informed us that it in fact did not have meat and only had breadcrumbs so we ordered two. On first taste I thought I could taste meat, I couldn't see any so I asked my husband if he could also taste meat, which he said he could not so I kept on eating (it's been 15 years since I hav eaten meat so I was unsure). I should have stuck to my instincts as after I had finished I was informed that the dish did indeed have meat, which was upsetting for me.
That aside, the eggs were perfectly cooked with a slightly runny yoke. The crumbing did not fall apart and went well with the egg - what tied it together for me was the salad cream - sharp, bitey and creamy - like a tangy mayonnaise with mustard.

Drink: Pimm's cup - $9

Ryan liked this a lot - his first Pimm's (my mother grew up on the stuff thanks to my Great Grandmother from Liverpool). This came with orange and lemon slcies, mint and a mighty long cucumnber.

Entree: Blue eye, welsh rarebit, smoked tomato

Ryan liked this, the fish was cooked extremely well and was not overpowered by the fresh tomato side.

Smoked tomato, peppered mascarpone & tomato jelly

Really beautiful, clean, complimentary flavours. The tomatoes were slightly smokey and tangy which went well with the peppery, smooth and creamy mascarpone (hubby loved the mascarpone so much that he stole some.)

Main: Steamed Angus steak & mushroom pudding, mushy peas

Ryan enjoyed this. The steak was tender and went well the mushrooms.

Bread pudding filled vegetables with pea puree

This was a little rich for me by this stage. The puree was sweet and rich in taste whilst the bread was brioche-like in its butteryness. The vegetable were finely chopped and well cooked.

Dessert: Nana Frasers' Lemon delicious 'in the tin', lemon custard

Absolutely perfect lemon pudding. Smooth and unctuous with a lemon tang. The custard is like a smooth creme brulee custard, super creamy and slightly lemony. It melts beautifully into the steaming hot lemon pudding which is topped with a lovely, chewy crust that gives way to the luscious lemon pudding which has a runnier lemon curd-like substance down the bottom. If my tummy wasn't sore I would have eaten this and licked it clean.

Cost: $139 - two three course meals, 1 appetiser, 1 drink and two complimentary sides.

Service: Great - apart from the mistake regarding the inclusion of meat in a dish there was nothing to fault. Our appetisers were out in a flash - super fast.

Atmosphere: Relaxed. The restaurant has three different sections that are joined but feel separated also. There was some colourful artwork behind us which complimented the red lampshades and large light hangings. The atmosphere was quite chilled, with minimal noise and well spaced tables. Depending on where you sit you get a different view so it always feel new.
It was a bit of a blogger fest also as Ed from Tomato was there (whom I was introduced to by Matteo) as well as Patrick from Eat almost anything and Jeff from Thermomixer (whom I did not get to meet). Would have chatted a bit if I didn't need to dash home on account of being unwell.

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


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

Would I return: Yes - to yet another Raymond Capaldi evening held at this restaurant.