Monday, December 27, 2010

Top 10 Dishes of 2010


1: Pumpkin gnocchi, Gorgonzola, macadamia, beetroot shoots, shallot, gingerbread - Persimmon @ NGV

I have eaten this three times and each time it was a pleasure.

2:  Potato with purple basil and candied lemon - L'Arpege 

A taste revelation for me, certainly elevates the simple spud.

3: Poivrade artichoke in a touch of thyme with tomato confit - Joel Robuchon 

A flavour explosion - artichokes have never tasted better.

4: Sautéed Shredded Potato in Vegetarian X.O. Chilli Sauce - Lung King Heen  

Highly addictive!

5: Brownie - $12.90 - The Pier  

Chocolate heaven.

6: Mushroom Tart - Persimmon @ NGV

Delicious, light and satisfying.

7: Tomato soup & tartare - Guy Savoy

Seaweed ice anyone?

8: Slow cooked egg yolk, truffle pomme mousseline, and sesame soldiers - $19 - Cafe Vue 

Truffle and egg - classic.

9: Banana Three Times - Absynthe

Finally, the banana done elegantly, and well.

10: Fines ravioles potagères; consommé végétal  - beet, smoked vegetable ravioli in broth - L'Arpege



I will always remember this dish. I did not want the dish to finish. I wish I was stuck in ground-hog day on the day I had this dish! Its hard to describe the flavours, but there is something about the hibiscus that just cut through the dish and made me moan with pleasure. Sex on a plate might be the best way to describe it.

2: Caramelised pork belly - $32 - Pure Tastes

The perfect balance of Apple Puree Vs Pork. Trying to order the same thing from other restaurants 2 or 3 times this year leaves me dissapointed.

3: Violet crumble - Attica

Best desert I've had. Wish I lived closer to Ripponlea so I could have it once a week!

4: Fines ravioles potagères; consommé végétal  - beet, smoked vegetable ravioli in broth - L'Arpege

You wouldn't think this dish would be spectacular, but don't let the picture fool you. Perfectly cooked with such simple flavours that melt in your mouth.

5: Bitter chocolate fondant, mint ice cream, chocolate pop rocks - $17 - Persimmon @ NGV

Ordered 5 or so times. The best fondant around!

6: Cooked tomatoes - L'Arpege

I will always remember getting this plate in front of me and thinking "is that it? We are paying 300 euro and we are just getting cherry tomatoes". Boy did I eat my words, or my thoughts I should say.
Best tasting tomatoes ever, with bursting flavour with every bite. Amazing.

7: Braised Shark's Fin with Fresh Crab Meat - Lung King Heen

The couple of drops of vinegar that where added to this made this amazing.
8: Mushroom arancini - Huka Lodge

Just a appetiser, but there had to be something good about considering I had 6 or so of them.

9: Berthillon Ice Cream

One flavour didn't stick out more the other for me. But when someone asks you "what's the best icecream you have ever had" I know my answer. It just tastes what proper icecream is meant to taste like!

10: Peanut butter parfait, caramelised banana, bitter chocolate - $15 - Persimmon @ NGV

Eating a desert that looks like a present...awesome.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Persimmon - NGV - Melbourne - review

 Name: Persimmon at the National Gallery of Victoria

Address: Ground Level, NGV
180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
8620 2434

Food: ModOz
Average price: Entrée - $14-16, Main - $23-32, Dessert - $14-16.

Complimentary: 2 rolls of bread with butter

Smoked tomato jam, fried cauliflower, leek

For me this dish was like a Clint Eastwood Western - ballsy and bad-ass. The smoked tomato jam gave everything a tough, complex edge. The mixture of herbs, sweetness, cool cucumber and meaty cauliflower was fantastic - I wanted more.

Citrus cured ocean trout, cauliflower picalli, dutch carrots, herb salad 

R liked this.

Pickled blueberries, short bread crumble, green apple bavarois, maple jelly, dehydrated blueberry

Now is that art on a plate or what? And it tasted as good as it looked. Eating this was like being a kid, but with a grown ups palette. It felt like a really posh Granola somehow to me. The dehydrated blueberry crisps were wonderful. Everything was clean, crisp and sweet, but in a refreshing way. I loved everything together but felt the blueberries still remained the headlining flavour.

Entrees: Butter poached prawns, toasted rye, avocado, heirlooms, smoked tomato jam - $18

Gazpacho, red onions, kumato, compressed cucumbers, capsicum, basil dust - $15

The best gazpacho I have had to date. The soup was extremely silky, slightly sweet with a sharp tang, that was tempered by the cool cucumber. I'm not sure what the yellow dust was (dehydrated basil) but it was delicious and picked the dish up.

Mains: Potato and herb gnocchi, broad beans, parsley, blue cheese, brown butter - $26

The gnocchi was pillow soft  with the perfect amount of 'bite' as I have come to expect here. Whilst I enjoyed the sweet and bitter herby tastes I felt the dish needed something fresh to elevate it and bring it some 'life'. Would have loved a touch more cheese as well.

Slow cooked pork belly, fennel escabeche, grapefruit, baby herbs, cinnamon and star anise broth - $26

R loved everything except the grapefruit which he felt was jarring and not harmonious with the other flavours.

Desserts: Bitter chocolate fondant, malt ice cream, honeycomb - $14

A dependable dessert - always the right amount of molten goodness within. I loved the pairing with the honeycomb, but found the malt ice-cream, whilst lovely, a touch dull.

Sticky date pudding, matcha green tea ice cream, milk jam - $14

I have to admit, this fell a little short for me, perhaps because I simply adore a traditional sticky date pudding, which this wasn't. The pudding, whilst nice and fairly moist, was not sticky and not drenched in some sweet, overindulgent sauce which left me unsatisfied. What let it down most, for me, was pairing it was the matcha tea and milk jam - there was an almost fruity acidic taste that was completely out of place when paired with the spicy, winter-esque pudding. It was average when compared to the other desserts.

Cost: $93 for two entrees, two mains and two desserts.

Service: Perfect. Food comes out at a great pace, waiters are knowledgeable and our water always filled.

Atmosphere: Lively but very relaxed. The interior is a mixture of black, red and white with a modern minimal feel. There are textures of plastic, steel and leather with one slate wall surrounded by panoramic windows that allowed us to view landscaped Grollo Equiset gardens. There are leather and fabric booths with red leather chairs, or small black veneer tables with Perspex chairs. 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 so you never feel cramped or listened in on. The dark interior helps to frame the gorgeous outside surroundings.

Parking: Limited as car spots are generally taken - they are metered except for Sundays - 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 - food that not only looks spectacular but also tastes good too.

Persimmon on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cafe Vue @ Heide - Bulleen - review

 Name: Cafe Vue at Heidi

Address: Café Vue at Heide
7 Templestowe Road

98522 2346

Food: ModOz, Cafe, French
Average price: $3.50 - $45

Complimentary: 1 slice of bread and butter.

We ordered: Two $55 three course menus

Textures of Heide Garden beetroot with goat’s curd

I have had many incarnations of beetroot and goats cheese salads from various restaurants, and until today it was always a 'sure choice' flavour-wise; without mincing words, this was the worst beet and cheese salad I have had.
There was none of that wonderful earthy sweetness you would expect from a beetroot, these beets were almost flavourless and the fried versions, just bitter. The goats cheese was chalky, bitter and without any sort of wonderful tang or creaminess. To top it all off the salad was heavy handed with the vinegar, so much so I felt as though my taste-buds had been burned off by the high acidity.

Such a shame too, as visually, it was so very beautiful, art on a plate.

Ox tongue with red wine jelly

Nowhere on the menu did it mention that the ox tongue was a pate - therefore when my husband received a pate and some bread he was slightly disappointed. That slight disappointment increased, when upon attempting to smear the pate onto his bread his knife did not slice gracefully in. The pate was completely cold and very solid. Coming straihgt from the fridge it crumbled under the knife's plunge and was completely adverse to being 'spread on the bread',rather my husband had to clump it on. Unfortunately, taste wise, it also failed to impress.

Pea and broad bean croquettes with marjoram pesto

Lovely, earthy presentation once again. Whilst I enjoyed the croquettes themselves, the green puree which I will assume is the pesto was bitter and added nothing to the dish. With only the fried croquettes this dish was quite one dimensional and un-spectacular.

Waygu steak with sweet corn purée

R found this to be rather average, although he did want to mention that the corn puree was rather nice. He also wanted to mention that he did not like the way the waygu was presented and also felt that the side component clashed flavour-wise and felt like it didn't belong.

Mango soufflé with yoghurt sorbet

The souffle had a nice texture but was a little eggy at first until the mango came in. The yoghurt sorbet was too strong for the delicate mango, I think perhaps it might have been a goat's yoghurt as my husband did not like it one bit.

Cherries and chocolate mousse

Whilst pretty to look at it was a huge let-down. I could have done this combination more justice with my very limited cooking skills. The mousse was nondescript, I have had better supermarket mousses. The cookie crumbs were cocoa-y and basically like a store-bought chocolate cookie pulverised. The cherries were decent but it just didn't feel like a 'complete' dessert to me. It left us unsatisfied.

Orange juice - $4

Cost: $114 for two entrees, two mains, two desserts and one juice.

Service: Terrible. It was the worst service I have ever experienced. When we arrived shortly after 6pm there was only one other couple in the restaurant. After being shown to our seats it took the waiter over 20minutes to return with our menus, despite the fact that we sat there watching him help the kitchen with prep work rather than give us the menus so we could order. After handing us our menus he took another 20minutes to return to take our orders. At this point there were still only two other patrons. After our orders were taken, 20mins in we still had not received neither bread nor food, my husband and I were starving and asked for the bread which arrived 10mins later with the food - we had been there for over an hour before receiving food despite being this waiters ONLY table. The service did not improve - needless to say our water or the bottle were never topped up and food was left sitting on our table for quite a while in between courses. If the restaurant had been busy I would have understood, but there were two wait staff and only two tables for an hour.

Atmosphere: Backyard dining. The restaurant is situated in the Heide gardens and has not only views of them but also plenty of potted plants indoors as well. The wire frame chairs also give the room a very casual, outdoor dining feel. The noise level got quite loud despite being only half full in the end and made the place feel a touch like a beer garden...

Parking: Good - there's a decent amount of on-site parking


Hours: Tuesday to Friday 10am-5pm
Saturday and Sunday 9am-5pm
Thursday to Saturday 6pm-9pm

Would I return: Maybe - choices in my area are slim.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mamma's Boys - Kew East - review

Name: Mamma's Boys

Address: 647 High St
Kew East 3102 VIC
Phone: (03) 9859 0583

Food: Italian.
Average prices: Starters - $12, Entrees - $16, Mains - $25, Desserts - $12
Complimentary: Nothing.

We ordered:

Starters: Bruschetta - $6.

This was average. The bread was a little tough, the tomatoes were bland and there was no other flavour besides onion.

Whilst the eggplant was marinated nicely it too was a little tough.

Gnocchi in Romano sauce with mozzarella baked in clay pot - $22

The gnocchi, supposedly fresh, was doughy, heavy and chewy whilst the sauce was only ok and a little too much on the sweet side. There also wasn't enough mozzarella for me. I found it rather disappointing for a restaurant that prides itself on making 'mamma's food' - nothing we ate really felt like it was made 'with love'.

Twice cooked pork belly with crackle and fig and apple sauce -$36

R said this was OK.

Mixed berry brulee tart - $12.

The custard was very runny, it had the consistency of eggnog. It was also SUPER SWEET - far too sugary for me. Thankfully the berries added a sharpness to help cut through a tad. What really ruined this dish was the clumsy, extremely thick and dry pastry, not appetising to the eye or the tastebud (I had to use a nice to cut through it.)

Apple tart tatine - $12

I'm not sure how this can be considered an apple tart tatine...
It had the same thick, dry crust as mine except this one also tasted bitterly burnt. The scant apple and sultana filling was also overly sweet. R could barely eat it.

Cost: $88 for 1 starter, 2 mains and 2 desserts.

Service: Only OK this time around. The staff were ok but the food took a long time to come out. They also chose to sit everyone on the same side, so despite the restaurant only being half full, as we were all seated next to each other the noise level was quite loud.

Atmosphere: Muted. The noise level got quite loud as everyone was seated side by side. The decor is a mix of browns with food-inspired artwork on the walls and a small water feature by the window. The atmosphere was a little lacking this time around.

Parking: Ample - there is street parking, but it may get difficult to find a close-by parking later in the evening.


Hours: Mon-Sat 5pm-11pm

Would I return: No.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Estivo - Kew - Review

Name: Estivo

330 High St
Kew 3101 VIC
Phone: (03) 9853 1727

Food: ModOz, Italian
Average price: appetiser - $9, entrée - $18, main - $30, dessert - $13.

Complimentary: 2 slices bread with olive oil and balsamic.

We ordered:

Entrees: Fried goat's cheese, caramelised shallots, endive, truffled honey - $12

I rather enjoyed this. The cheese was crunchy on the outside and wonderfully soft and oozy within. There was a great balance of salty, sweet, and  bitter tastes.

Tapas plate - $20

R enjoyed everything except the brains. And he learnt something new, that tempura oysters are delicious.

Seared scallops, skordalia, air dried Spanish Jamon, mache leaves & sherry vinegar dressing - $19

S said this was a very good dish.

Mushroom risotto - $26

This was well cooked with tasty mixture of mushrooms, but perhaps just need an extra dash of salt to enliven flavours would benefit it.

Wild barramundi & mussels  - $34

S said this was rather boring.

Duck  - $35

R said this was fine. 

Watermelon jelly, berries, Frangelico infused yoghurt - $13

S wasn't sold on this, he said the flavours tasted weird together.

Honey roasted pears, sweet raisin brioche with cardamom spiced Sangria & clotted cream- $13

R said this was far too sweet, even for him - complete sugar overload.

Chocolate creme brulee, fresh fig tart, pear sorbet, Vincotto syrup - $13

Brulee had great crust with a wonderfully silky chocolate custard beneath that was lovely. The fig was lovely but the pastry was a touch undercooked. The sorbet tasted like pear juce rather than fresh pear, it was quite sweet. Overall the brulee made this a nice dessert.

Cost: $212 for three entrees, three mains, two beers and three desserts.

Service: Ok.  The food came out at a decent rate and our water was topped up. The staff were perfectly polite and accommodating when I asked for a vegetarian option as there were none on the menu.

Atmosphere: Smart neutral. The interior was a cool brown with neutral tones and artwork on the walls. There is downstairs and upstairs seating. There wasn't much noise at all considering the tables were almost full. The lighting was low but not too low.

Parking: Good. There is street parking along High St although it can get a little scarce on a Friday or Saturday night, but there are side streets.

Website: None.

Hours: Tue-Fri noon-3.30pm, Tue-Sat 6pm-10.30pm

Would I return: Yes. The food was decent and it is just down the road for me. I shall definitely be returning.

Estivo on Urbanspoon