Saturday, October 31, 2009

Centonove - Kew

Name: Centonove
109 Cotham Rd
Kew 3101 VIC

Phone: (03) 9817 6468

Average price: Entree: $18-22, Mains: $29-36, Dessert: $13-14

Complimentary: Bread with olive oil and marinated olives.

The bread was nice and spongy whilst the oil was light. The olives were marinated in lemon, chilli, oregano and oil.

We ordered dinner:

Entree: Bruschetta with broad bean puree and 24 month old Parma Prosciutto - $18

Ryan enjoyed this. Great balance of flavours.

Pizza with confit potato, Asiago fondue and black truffle - $18

The base was that perfect balance between crispy and fluffy. The potato was as tender as it could be with a delightful, thin cheesy skin. The smattering of truffle was just enough to impart that beautiful, earthy aroma. It is a huge portion for an entree and it did mean I couldn't eat much of the subsequent dishes.

Drinks: Stella Beer - $8

Mains: Parmesan and pistachio crumbed veal scallopine with Italian buffalo mozarella an lemon bread crumbs - $33

Ryan liked this - he liked the crumb coating. The meat was tender and succulent.

Pan fried fillet of snapper with kipfler potatoes and an orange, fennel and wild olive salad - $34

The snapper was overcooked and was therefore a little tough and chewy. The potatoes were also overcooked and dry, I don;t feel they went with the dish. The salad was lovely enough, fresh and zingy. In the end though this hinged on the fish being cooked well and it wasn't.

Dessert: Steamed chocolate pudding with ice cream and caramel sauce - $14

Ryan liked this but found the chocolate pudding a touch dry, had it been a little more moist he would have loved it.

Zuppa Anglaise - trifle of raspberries, raspberry sherry jelly, cream, sponge and almonds - $14

The raspberry tartness helps to cut through the lusciously thick vanilla flecked cream and sweet sponge. The raspberry jelly then comes through followed by the crunchy flaked almonds. A nice enough trifle, nothing extraordinary but nothing wrong with it.

Cost: $131 - for two entrees, two mains, two desserts, and 1 drink.

Service: Great. Food has never arrived so fast before. The water was always filled and we got our cheque seconds after we asked for it.

Atmosphere: Chilled but classy. The decor is dark, modern and elegant with a large chandelier, marble topped bar and pieces of marble in the red concrete floor. It is a little on the cramped side, especially if you have a table right next to the bar.

Parking: Ample - there is decent street parking.


Hours: Tue-Sat 11am-3pm, 6pm-10pm

Would I return: Maybe - for a local place it was OK.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pearl Restaurant - Richmond

Name: Pearl Restaurant

Address:631 Church St
Richmond 3121 VIC

Phone: (03) 9421 4599

Food: Asian, ModOz
Average price: Entree: $22-28, Mains: $31-44, Dessert: $12-25

Complimentary: 1 slice of soft, sourdough with a lemon olive oil.

Kate's opinion: the bread was awesome. It made me want to make bread again. I wish I knew how they got that dense pillow texture. but I do not think that the oil alone was enough. The little rub we made of salt and pepper brought it all together I think. Gave the bread a base to rise from.

Duck broth with pearl meat and basil

Kate's words: This was smoky with aniseed undertones. basil complimentary, gave it a light sweet like current. Was better when chewed not just swallowed cos it brought out the full realm of Asiatic flavours in the broth. pearl meat.. intriguing. kinda like meat texture.. kinda like freshly made tofu.. and kinda like packing foam. Definitely had a crustacean taste.

We ordered dinner:

Entree: Red lentil and ginger soup with sweet potato and mint bhaji spiced with cumin and coriander, watermelon, rind pickle, fresh green pea and mint salad with soft goats curd - $22

The soup was lentil, a little gritty, with a ginger aftertaste. The sweet potato and mint bhaji were crunchy and chewy and only slightly greasy, they were however quite salty so the sweet watermelon and rind pickle chutney helped to cut through that. The pea with goats curd side salad was refreshing, there were some shoots that were bitter though. Whist separately the three components were lovely, I didn't understand how they went as a whole dish.

A salad of moreton bay bug tails and avocado, shredded peppers and cucumber, two gazpachos: one almond and one tomato and cucumber - $28

Steph loved the two gazpachos but felt the dish was unbalanced with too much avocado for her liking.

Watermark banana prawns stuffed with noosa spanner crab, coriander and coconut cream, hot and sour sauce with cucumber - $34

In Kate's words: well the entree was amazing. Every forkful was a wonderful hit of flavours.. and being one of my favourite flavour combinations that is hardly surprising.. but still it was great. wish I could have it always. Well prepared too. Easy to eat and I could get to all of the prawn meat without having to mess around with shells.

Thrice cooked chips, truffle salt - $11

Kim loved these, they are a side dish but she had them brought out the same time as our mains. They were crunchy, perfectly salted and fluffy on the inside.

Mains: One side only seared yellowfin tuna, sweet smoked fish salad with sunflower shoots, galangal and kaffir lime, pickled young coconut and lemon oil - $40

I was a little disappointed in the presentation to start off. Unfortunately for me there was also coriander leaves in this so I had a hard time picking them out after one mouthful of metallicness. Otherwise this was salty, bitter and sweet, even with a generous spritzing of lime, which cooked the tuna a little too much. I just didn't enjoy this dish too much. Steph on the other hand, enjoyed it.

Zucchini, lemon and ricotta tortellini with green and gold zucchini and lemon oil dressing, slow cooked baby fennel and crumbled ricotta salad - $31

Kim enjoyed this but found one flavour quite strong and overpowering, she couldn't figure out what it was.

Gippsland black angus rib-eye steak, jerusalem artichoke remoulade - $41

Kate's words: The steak.. oh my the steak.. love a good amount of meat.. especially when I'm lacking in iron, and it was a manageable amount for me. Though something to balance it with would've been nice. The remoulade was really lovely. I normally don't like horseradish but it gave the condiment enough kick to aide the meat. Slice of lemon on the side made the seasoning of the steak work beautifully, especially because I ordered mine blue. The seasoning was a slat and pepper crust. The meat had been cooked perfectly for me. Seared just enough to hold most of the juice inside and to heat the flesh without cooking it. Probably the best steak I've ever had.

Dessert: The pearl family sri lankan ‘love cake’ with rhubarb and pink lady apple crumble and granny smith apple sorbet - $20

I liked the presentation. The cake was nice enough, perhaps a little too sweet for me and a touch doughy. It was lacking something. The crumble was tart, not much sweetness there at all which I actually liked. The sorbet had a wonderful, fresh apple taste but was a touch grainy. I loved the dehydrated apple slice. Once again, I felt the sorbet in particular didn't really go well with the cake which was more like a slice in texture.

Kate's words: sri lankan love cake left a little to be desired though. The crumble was my favourite, by far. Kinda wish it'd just been more than that. Though I did like the love cake itself.. just not enough punch.. too much like a Disney princess without any gusto. A shame really because figs and pistachio's are two ingredients I love, and I don't think they get used together enough. I did like the base though.
I appreciated that it wasn't crunchy or tough.

Blood orange jube, orange blossom marshmallow, coconut jam truffle, love cake, fairy floss and “brigadeiro”, a Brazilian chocolate delight - $10

Kim really enjoyed the jubes and marshmallow while Steph liked the coconut jam truffle and love cake. Kate tried some and found the Brazilian chocolate was quite milky. Kate loved the vanilla pashmak. This was a decent serving considering the price.

Cost: $307 - for 3 entrees, 1 side, 4 mains, 2 desserts and 2 dessert tasting plates.

Service: OK. We had to wait a while before receiving our menus. In terms of food it was quite slow in coming out and we only received our desserts at 11pm when we had arrived at 8pm. By the time the next meal came we had already been hungry and wondering when it would be arriving.

Atmosphere: EXTREMELY NOISY. We could not believe the noise level. The restaurant is almost like an army barrack and the tables are packed closely together, too close in my opinion as Kim and I were repeatedly knocked throughout the night. We had to yell to be heard and even then only the person next to us could hear. When 11pm came and half the restaurant had left we could finally relax and have a nice conversation, unfortunately the waiters were packing up the tables around us so we had to leave.

Parking: OK. We went on a Friday night and there was some street parking, but not a whole lot. You might have to walk a bit.


Hours: Daily noon-3pm, 6.30pm-11pm

Would I return: No - it was the atmosphere that ruined it for me, much too loud.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Tower Hotel - Hawthorn

Name: Tower Hotel

Address:686 Burwood Rd,
VIC 3122

(03) 9882 2347

Food: Australian - Pub
Average price: Entree: $10, Mains: $20, Dessert: $6

Complimentary: Nothing.

We ordered dinner:

Mains: Eggplant Parmigiana - $18.90

This was warm at best, with cold rocket and baby spinach leaves throughout which I didn't like as it made it more like salad than a Parmigiana. The eggplant was fine, as was the sauce and cream. The bocconcini cheese was a little dry but the sliced tomatoes were fine. This would have been better with something like potatoes in place of the salad leaves in the layers.

Tower Burger - $21.90

This had a beef patty, bacon, fried egg and cheese.Ryan thought it was a bit boring - the meat was overcooked and therefore a bit dry. The egg was nice, the bun was was too stale. The chips were average.

Roast Turkey

This had sliced turkey breast, roast potatoes and pumpkin in a gravy sauce. Nanna enjoyed her dish.

Porterhouse Steak

The steak was well cooked and came with a tasty mushroom sauce and steamed vegetable sides. Mum liked it.

Tuscan Meat

This came with various meats on a skewer, gravy coated fries, fried egg and Greek salad. Dom thought this was fine.

Drinks: Lemon, lime & Bitters - $4?

A bit small, but typical of its type.

Iced chocolate - $6

This was ok, a bit sugary and cheap chocolate-y.

Cost: Around $142 for 5 mains and 5 drinks, everyone paid upfront separately.

Service: OK - food was brought out fairly quickly but obviously it's a pub not a restaurant so there's no other service than that.

Atmosphere: Casual/family friendly. The slot machines are completely separate from the dining area which has plenty of natural light and well spaced tables. There were lots of family's dining when we ate.

Parking: Ample - lots of street parking, on Sunday at 6pm it was almost empty.


Hours: Mon 12am-4:30am, 8:30am-4:30am; Tue-Sat 8:30am-4:30am; Sun 10am-12am

Would I return: No. OK but I've been to pubs with nicer food.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Magic City - Camberwell

Name: Magic City

Address: 871-873 Burke Rd
Camberwell 3124 VIC

Phone: (03) 9882 7788

Food: ModOz, Thai
Average price: Entree: $3-18, Mains: $20-32, Dessert: $10-14

Complimentary: Rosemary focaccia with two disks of butter. The rosemary flavoured it nicely but I found it a touch greasy and dry.

We ordered dinner:

Entree: Slow-roasted pork belly with vincotto & apple & sweet potato puree - $19.50

This looked gorgeous on the plate. Ryan found the belly a touch fatty but he enjoyed it overall. He also thought it was a bit warm if meant to be a cold dish, or too cold if it was meant to be a hot dish.

Bean & pasta soup - $12

This was nice but I wish the beans hadn't been pureed though as it was a little unappetising looks wise and a touch grainy. A bit too homey for me though and not enough variety flavour wise - too mushy.

Mains: Pan-fried Atlantic salmon, marinated red onion and a chive & radish salad - $26

I didn't like this dish. The salmon actually tasted 'fishy' which I have never experienced before. The onions were OK, crunchy and tangy, the spinach tasted oily which was off putting and the overall Asian-flavoured watery sauce wasn't that nice.

Duo of duck, confit leg and spice roasted crispy skin breast - $34

Ryan liked the confit leg, as well as the sides, purees and soft vegetable, but found the breast too dry. He also thought it was a bit boring with too much meat and not enough side flavours to cut through. Ryan also thought it was a bit on the cool side temperature-wise.

Dessert: Hot fudge sundae with berries, peanuts honeycomb & salted chocolate sauce - $14

Getting the salty balance right is hard. The chocolate sauce failed, miserably. All I could taste was salt, and harsh salt, not subtle salt. Therefore the chocolate sauce was unusable.
I'm not sure where the fudge was, did they mean the berry coulis?
The cream was a little can-whipped, the ice cream was ok, a bit icy, the honeycomb was lovely and the raspberries (4) and puree gave it some much needed flavour but overall nothing fantastic. At least it was plated nicely.

Creme brulee with pedro ximenez figs - $14

I loved the presentation of this, although I'm not sure why it had an asian theme when the dish was not asian influenced...
The texture of the brulee was really lovely, and the sugar crust was perfect. It was flecked with vanilla seeds which imparted a nice subtle flavour but overall the brulee was loaded with sugar, so much so that towards the end I was knocking back glass after glass as my heart had started racing and I started to get that sugar-overload-saliva filling my mouth - a shame as it really didn't need to be that sweet. It was also completely cold.
In terms of the figs, I had one piece, which took me forever to cut through with my spoon. Couldn't taste the alcohol at all, the dried figs were in a sugar syrup and were quite leathery.

Cost: $119.50 for 2 entrees, 2 mains and 2 desserts.

Service: Great. Waiters were great and the food didn't take too long to come out.

Atmosphere: Casual. The decor is neutral but really tasteful with feature windows and ornate ceilings. When the restaurant started to fill up it did become quite noisy though.

Parking: Ample street parking as well as parking open lots not far away.


Hours: Tue-Thu 10am-9pm, Fri-Sun 9am-10pm

Would I return: No. Food was average and not cheap.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Matteo's - Fitzroy - Raymond Capaldi - German

Name: Matteo's

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

Food: ModOz, European, Asian (German 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 German.

Complimentary: Bread with butter.

We ordered the 3 course set menu ($60 pp - I had vegetarian one) plus one starter and two sides:

Drink: Blackforrest Cocktail - $17

Starter: Warm Kransky sausage, mustard - $8

Entree: Kartoffelsalat - potato terrine, smoked eel, sour cream, rye crumbs

Stephanie really enjoyed this.

Watrercress soup

Peppery and thicker and creamier than last time.

Eisbein - crisp pork knuckle, sauerkraut, pea puree

Stephanie is German so she was expecting a giant piece of meat and was uncertain, but the size was much more manageable than she's had before.

Cheese souffle with beetroot salad

This was yummy. The sweet salty cheese souffle was soft and delicious and played well against the sweet beetroot and fresh salad with tangy buttermilk.

Sides: Mashed Royal blue potatoes - $8

These were thick, smooth and buttery.

Salad Blindhuhn - pear, apple, carot, bacon, green beans, buttermilk

Dessert: Apfeltorte mit Rum - Apple torte with rum soaked currants

Flaky pastry, rum soaked currants, slightly crisp apple and a gorgeous, smooth and sweet custard.

Cost: $161 for 1 starter, 2 entrees, 2 mains, 2 sides and 2 desserts.

Service: Great as always.

Atmosphere: Relaxed. 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: No.