Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Press Club - Melbourne

Name: The Press Club

72 Flinders St
Melbourne 3000 VIC
Phone: (03) 9677 9677

Food: Modern Greek
Average price: Entree: $21-$29.90
Mains: $34-$42
Dessert: $14-$18.90
Kerasma menus: four courses $74, five courses $84
Degustation: 8 courses for $135pp.

Complimentary: Bread with olives.

We ordered an 8 course degustation (this was quite a long time ago so I can only comment on the dishes I remember):

Watermelon and ouzo jelly cubes

I did not like these at all - not sure how vegetarian they could be as most jelly does contain gelatine.

Prawns – tomato soup, olive sponge, young basil, kefalograviera crisp 

The others thought the skewers were ok. The saganaki cigars were lovely but the soup was a little lacklustre and too bitter for me. What we all went nuts over were the potato crisps with a paprika seasoning - absolutely awesome, I would love to know what they were spiced with, best chips ever.

Flowers - zucchini, feta, maniataropita, sweet kalaboki 

This was ok, nothing special.

Oysters with olive oil   

The olive oil was smoking as it was a liquid nitrogen concoction. Although once it melted it made the oysters a little too liquid.

Beetroot – raw, pickled, pressed, roasted, horseradish yoghurt, cumin vinaigrette

I really enjoyed this. The  highlight was the powder streak going down the plate, it had a wonderful flavour and just brought everything else to life. Lovely dish.


Everyone thought this was nice.

Chicken – pastelaki of its wings, kritharaki, mytzithra snow

Everyone enjoyed this. Mine didn't have the chicken of mytzithra but corn instead. I would have liked the kritharaki to be a little more cooked as it was just a touch too doughy for me, but then again I grew up with it mostly in soups so I am used to it being really soft. The flavours were lovely and it was a comforting dish.

Pig – baklava, loin, belly, apple horiatiki

This was ok.

Lamb – neck, sweetbreads, black garlic

Mushroom Pie - black garlic

I hated this. I've never seen anything like it in reek food anyway, mushrooms aren't exactly a big thing and I thought the pie was lacking in flavour. I actually didn't like the tangy black garlic either, I barely touched this dish.

Tzatziki glyko – candied cucumber, honey cream, yoghurt snow, pistachio powder

We all liked this.

Aphrodite - white chocolate mousse, cherries, roses, soil, scent 

Reading the description I was beyond excited - chocolate, cherries and roses are my idea of dessert heaven.
Boy was I surprised - I did not like this at all. I kept trying different spoon combinations - anything to try and enjoy this but in the end I gave up.The white chocolate blob wasn't tasty or texturally pleasant, the chocolate soil was just bitter and powdery, the lovely rose petals were lost with the tangy berries and horrible jelly blobs.
Plus side - it looked gorgeous on the plate. And G, unlike the rest of us, liked it.

Cost: $540 for an 8 course degustation for four people (the boys also ordered beer but I no longer have the receipt so I am unsure what they cost).

Service: Ok. Whilst one of our waiters was really friendly and helpful, the other was quite rude, especially when I mentioned that I don't drink alcohol. Other than that the service was fine.

Atmosphere: Dark and stylish. The best feature is the window which wraps around the restaurant on both sides and lets some light into the to otherwise pitch black restaurant. Like most restaurants these days you can see into the kitchen.

Parking: Limited street but plenty of paid underground car parks.


Hours: Mon-Fri noon-3pm
Sun-Thu 6pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 6pm-11pm

Would I return: No. It's pricey and none of the dishes really knocked out socks off.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Absynthe - Surfer's Paradise - Queensland

Name: Absynthe

Ground floor
Hamilton Av (Cnr Surfers Paradise Bvd)
Surfers Paradise 4217 QLD

Phone: (07) 5504 6466

Food: ModOz, French
Average price: Entree: $18.50-$36.50
Mains: $28.50-$42.50
Dessert: $16.50
Degustation: 7 courses for $135pp.

Complimentary:  Bread with oil, balsamic and butter.

I chose a date roll whilst R choose a hazelnut and curry roll.

We ordered a 7 course degustation:
Golden Egg, Soft Green Olive & Vanilla Crouton

Unfortunately this was a failure for me, I couldn't even finish it. The 'soft egg' was an egg mousse that just tasted completely wrong to me, I don't like the taste of raw eggs. The olive wasn't pleasant and neither was the puree - there was nothing pleasing on this plate for me.
R, on the other hand, liked it.

The Garden
Crispy Parmesan, Tomato Confit in Vanilla Oil, Eggplant ice cream

This dish was more to my liking. The subtle smokyness of the eggplant icecream paired well with the sweet tomato and salty parmesan.

R's included pancetta, he didn't enjoy this though.

Macquarie Harbour
Beetroot Raviolo, Cured Ocean Trout, Goats Cheese

Both of us enjoyed this dish. The beetroot was finely sliced and went well with the accompanying ingredients.

The Ocean
Pan-Fried Red Emperor, Pumpkin & Girolles Mushrooms

R doesn't remember this dish.

The Black Diamonds
Pumpkin Ravioli, Asparagus “Grenobloise”

The pasta was cooked well and it was enjoyable. 

Perigord Truffle Risotto 

The rice was a little underdone for me, but the truffle taste was pleasant. Serving size was very small though.

The Farm
Chicken wrapped in pancetta, Celeriac Puree & Braised baby fennel

R thought this was nice.

The Sweet Start
Banana Three Times

I absolutely loved this dish - so comforting and yummy. There was roasted banana which was hot, caramelised and delicious when paired with the creamy and almost toffee-like banana ice cream. I can't recall all of the components but I was scraping up every last morsel I could.

Heavenly Sweet
Liquid chocolate, Pineapple sorbet, Yoghurt “Bubble”

This just did not work. The chocolate component was delicious but when paired with the acidic, fresh pineapple sorbet and the tangy yoghurt bubble, along with the pineapple jubes, and sticky cake it just didn't make sense or taste nice.

Cost: $270 for a 7 course degustation for two people.

Service: Not great. Our water went empty often and the waitress smashed three glasses in succession next to our table, the other waitress was in a bad mood made us feel as if we were putting her out. The biggest issue was that we waited 25minutes between every course of the degustation meaning that by the time the next course came we were already staving again (the vegetarian serving sizes are also very small).

Atmosphere: Sleek and modern. The space is quite open with eating areas on three sides of the room. On a Monday night the restaurant was fairly empty and therefore the noise level was low.

Parking: Limited.


Hours: Fri noon-2.30pm, Mon-Sat 6.30pm-9.30pm

Would I return: No.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cafe Vue - South Yarra

Name: Cafe Vue

401 St Kilda Rd
Melbourne 3000 VIC

Phone: (03) 9866 8055

Food: ModOz, Cafe, French
Average price: 3.50 - $18

Complimentary:  Tomato sauce.

We ordered:

Yoghurt with poached pears, dates & walnuts - $6.50

S enjoyed this but they weren't any better than what she makes for breakfast herself at home.

Corn fritters with avocado & tomato $12.50

As soon as I saw these my heart sank. Visually, it was very pretty, especially the gutted and hacked tomatoes. The corn fritters had a plastic sheen to them, and after only sticking my fork into them, I knew they would have a plastic texture as well. These were truly horrible - whilst there was corn, there was no flavour and the texture was inedible, if it wasn't for my enormous hunger I would have sent it back and waited another 30mins for a different meal. I was also looking forward to healthy avocado slices, but instead got a sweet puree.

62° eggs on toast - $9.50

K ordered these as is, but for some reason they came with bacon (which she hates) although they deducted the bacon from the final bill. She found the toast was cold and the eggs only average.

Fresh Juice - $4

It was orange juice - S found it tasted really watered down and not sweet at all - she didn't finish it.

Chicken & truffle pie - $14.50

Cost: $47 for 3 breakfasts, 1 pie and 1 juice.

Service: Good. Whilst the food was quite slow to come out, our waiter was wonderful, after spying us chatting outside after paying for our meal he told us to come back in and take a seat as we obviously had much to talk about. He also stopped me from leaving without my pie (oops).

Atmosphere: Interesting but casual. The decor is quite mixed with booth seating, tables and then a giant birdcage with yellow chairs - not to mention the wall of mirrors which leads to the blood-red bathrooms. On  a Saturday morning it wasn't as busy as I thought it might have been so the noise level was decent.

Parking: Ok - there's a decent amount of street parking.


Hours: Mon-Tue 7am-4pm
Wed-Fri 7am-11pm
Sat 8am-11pm
Sun 8am-4pm

Would I return: Maybe - might give their lunch a go as they are decently priced.

Friday, March 5, 2010

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: Entrée - $14-16, Main - $23-32, Dessert - $14-16.

Complimentary: Chef Terry Clark is visiting back home, so while he is away Chefs Jahdre' Hayward, Nick Bennet and Ben Greis are running the kitchen.

3 pieces of bread with salted butter, and salt and pepper

Once again the bread was comfortingly warm,with a generous amount of butter. There was my favourite, sweet and salty brioche with its perfect buttery-ness as well as the sour dough caramelised shallot and a pumpkin seed, both lovely.

Watercress soup, goat's curd gnocchi, grated nutmeg

R really enjoyed this, I found it leaning towards the bitter, which I don't really enjoy. Otherwise the soup is velvet soft, there was also olive bread which lent it texture and taste as well as a herb emulsion.

Pumpkin gnocchi, Gorgonzola, macadamia, beetroot shoots, shallot, gingerbread

Simply divine!!! The gnocchi had that perfect chewy, browned exterior that encase the softest, and tastiest filling - perfect texture. The flavours were all perfectly balanced -the Gorgonzola was soft and modest but still provided that 'bite' to counter the sweetness of the pumpkin and shallots. The macadamias added a wonderful crunch and butteryness and the shoots added that touch of 'cleanness' you get from green leaves. To top ot all off you get that wonderful warmth of spices from the gingerbread. Hubby said' it makes you feel all warm inside.'

Mango and grapefruit cannelloni, lime ice cream, lemon meringues, yoghurt

This was very refreshing - for those who enjoy lighter desserts. It also contained violet rocks which I love - the mango is mellow and super smooth whilst the grapefruit is cubed and offers bursts of juicy bitterness. The lime ice cream is strong and tart and the meringue is soft as is the yoghurt. Not a sweet dessert at all, but very enjoyable.

We ordered:

Entrée: Salmon 'mis cuit', avocado, beetroot, horseradish - $17

The salmon is cooked at 68C(?) for 8mins so it looks raw but flakes beneath the fork. R really liked it, he loved the beetroot chips, and although the flavours were unusual they all complimented each other in an interesting way, even the Nasturtium leaf.

Side: Roast Dutch carrots with spiced gingerbread crumble - $8.50

I will now be scouring the net trying to find a similar recipe so that I can make this at home. Even children would love this. The gentle warming spices compliment the caramelised carrots so perfectly.

Mains: Pumpkin gnocchi, gorgonzola, macadamia, beetroot shoots, shallot - $28

I was looking forward to this after the previous sneak taste and I was soooo happy to have it again. Simply delicious - the gnocchi is perfection and there's not much else I can say that I haven't already said. 

Desserts: Apple pannacotta, cinnamon crumble, green apple sorbet, vanilla and cinnamon cloud - $15

This was not what I expected. I loved the martini presentation wtih the crispy but still flavourful dried apple ring. The 'pannacotta' was a mixture of the above plus a jelly with apple pieces - it was unusual but full of flavour. The crisp, clean apple was everywhere in the cold, refreshing sorbet, and in small chunks in the jelly. The cloud was feather-light and delightful, with only a hint of cinnamon. There was also another white, firmer component but I can't recall what it was. Overall, this is not a sweet dish, although sweeter and more decadent than the mango cannelloni. I really enjoyed it. 

Bitter chocolate fondant, mint ice cream, chocolate pop rocks - $17

Next time i am ordering one of these since R always gets it to himself. Perfect lava to cake ratio once again without being overly chocolaty. The alteration this time was the mint ice cream, which hubby thought was 'very minty'. 

Cost: $118 for 1 entrée, 2 mains, 1 side and 2 desserts. 

Service: Perfect. The service is always flawless. 

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 - 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. Again and again,

Monday, March 1, 2010

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, $95, 8 courses: $140, $235 with matched beverage
Complimentary:2 slices bread with almonds, olives, butter and smoky tomato relish with olives.

The bread was lukewarm but easily tear able. The assorted olives and almond are a nice touch. The butter is slightly tangy but its the relish that wins the day with it flavourful punch.

Carrot cooked in its own juices.
This was ok, a touch boring.

Pineapple jube
This was actually really strong and pina-colada-esque, also quite sticky and dense too. 

We ordered:

textured cauliflower with horseradish

Delicious and complex. I can't recall the sequence in which everything revealed itself but the strongest contenders were the horseradish with its peppery bite, the calming, exotic coconut and the sharp tang of the crimson barberries. This dish is fun. It also contained puffed wild rice, leek, and witlof.

snow crab 

This dish was like mine except it included crab and roe. R loved it also.

young peas, grains and natural pea juices

The peas are cooked at a low temperature, therefore they still have that firmness as if straight from the pod. The mixture of grains added a nice textural element as did the house-made fromage frais with its soft coolness. The dish did lack a little 'oomph' and was slightly monotone in flavour but overall it was a nice, light dish.

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

The potato, which is sightly sweet perhaps from being cooked in cabbage, was tender but still firm - perfectly cooked. The smoked goat's cheese with coconut husk ash gave a wonderful tangy, smoky element to compliment the potatoes starchy creaminess. The crunchy fried saltbush leaves also worked well. R's also had dried Spanish tuna.
bass groper, chorizo, smoked jasmine flowers, almond

Unfortunately R did not enjoy this at all and barely ate half - it just didn't personally appeal to him.
chilled cream of antonello garlic and green grapes

The cream was thick and the dish was cold. The garlic was the key note and tended to mute everything else.
It was nice. It also had chives, carrots and mustard cress.

beef, sour milk jam, dandelion salt, asparagus

R found this a little too salty.
crispy tofu, braised kelp, spring onion, pickled cucumber

I'm not one for fried or pickled foods really so I wasn't a fan of this. It also had sweet maple glazed witlof and white onion puree, nasturtium leaf with kipfler potato chips. The braised kelp was lovely though and I liked the texture of the tofu - it was just a little heavy for me.
pork loin, morcilla, wild fennel pollen

R thought this was ok - but he hated the relish, he didn't feel it went at all. He liked the pink lady apple reduction though.
spice crusted tomato, hazelnut, zucchini, shanklish

Similar to the dish I had last visit - and once again I just didn't enjoy the texture or taste of the tomatoes. The other elements were nice though.

This time around the waitress suggested we mix everything together - I liked it a little more than last time but it still isn't a winning dish for me. R thought it reminded him of cheap cereal with dehydrated fruit. It's interesting. This is a combination of fromage frais, beetroot and almond cake, freeze dried raspberries, brewing malt, flowers, white pepper, golden kiwifruit, vanilla avocado jelly, & sorrel granita.

Violet crumble

This made R's Top 10 last year and I am fairly certain it will again - he tried to scrape every drop from his AND my glass. I don't like icy treats like sorbet or ice-cream but for a cold dish, it's nice - the flavours of the violet fromage frais and crystallised flowers to the chocolate dust, house honeycomb crumble and butterscotch syrup make a dynamite team.
Cost: $280 - two 8 course degustations.

Service: Great. We had different staff each time but they all knew about the dishes and our water was always filled.

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 very loud and the tables are spaced apart well. It has a stylish casual feel. The view this time was into the kitchen to a very strange looking and most likely expensive contraption, but there was also a lovely view into the courtyard, I would recommend being seated in this area rather than the front.

Parking: Ample - the main street doesn't get much traffic after hours (we went at 6:30).


Hours: Tues-Sat: 6pm til late

Would I return: Maybe - only for the violet crumble (R).

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