Friday, July 23, 2010

Cafe Vue - Melbourne - Review

Name: Cafe Vue

401 St Kilda Rd
Melbourne 3000 VIC

Phone: (03) 9866 8055

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

Complimentary:  Four slices of bread with butter.

The bread was cold but soft in the centre.

We ordered: Slow cooked egg yolk, truffle pomme mousseline, and sesame soldiers - $19 (par of two course $35 lunch special)

This was a pleasant surprise, I actually wasn't expecting three eggs, so I kindly gave one to S to have, which she was thrilled with because this dish was absolutely delicious. The yolk was soft with a truffled mousse (?) beneath that was packed full of flavour and stunning with the sesame soldiers (they were a tad greasy but yummy nonetheless). I think the eggshells were sitting upon more pureed potato, but without the truffle. The flavours sung exquisitely and this was a light, but tasty entrée.

Crab salad - $19

S enjoyed this, but thought the serving size was a little small.

Rhubarb trifle - $16 (part of lunch special)

S thought the presentation was cute, but I thought it looked a little clumsy with all that metal and glass. Taste wise I enjoyed this. The rhubarb was tart, soft, sweet and delicious. The vanilla flecked cream lightened it beautifully (there is more cream than both rhubarb and topping combined), but the crumble topping was a little dry and tasteless for me. I still enjoyed it overall but don't think the serving size is worth $16...

Tonka bean fruit salad gateau - $5.50

S was a little shocked when this came out.You see, on the menu, the title is split with the word gateau on a seperate line, so at first glance it appears to be just - tonka bean fruit salad. Therefore, that's what S was expecting, so when she got an actual gateau rather than a bowl of fruit salad she was a little dismayed, but didn't want to send it back just because she had misread it. She only ate the fruit on top.

Cost: $59.50 for 2 entrees, 1 dessert, and 1 mini dessert.

Service: Great. The food came out quickly and the waiters were charming.

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 Thursday afternoon it was extremely busy and we had a 20minute wait - the noise level on the communal table side of the cafe was much louder than the birdcage end.

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, July 16, 2010

Persimmon - NGV - Melbourne

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: 6 pieces of bread - brioche, sour dough and pumpkin seed - served warm with lovely salted butter.

Pumpkin soup, roast butternut, pumpkin seed biscotti, pumpernickel, micro herbs

Velvety smooth, like liquid silk. Everyone loved it, I found it a touch sweet but tasty nonetheless.

Entrees: Smoked ham hock terrine, kipfler potato salad, apples and chicory - $17

My mother was happy with this dish - full of flavour and fun to eat. As soon as it was set down I could smell a hint of liquorice, perhaps a dusting of fennel seed? Y, who also got a taste, said the meat was very tasty.

Salad of poached prawns, baby cos, watercress, garlic croutes, apple, creme fraiche - $18

Whilst cooked perfectly, those who had this dish said it needed a 'punch of flavour' to take it up a notch.

Vegetable terrine with poached egg, capsicum - $17

Vegetables were well cooked and the egg poached wonderfully. The capsicum paste tied everything together nicely.

Mains: Casserole of rabbit, winter vegetables, caraway seed dumplings, beer - $29

R thought the flavours were wonderul, but some of the pieces of rabbit were a little dry for him.

Grilled Scotch fillet of beef, fat chips, watercress, Dijon mustard mayonnaise - $35

Unfortunately most who had this dish said they thought the meat had a little too much gristle and was slightly 'soggy' - they wanted the outside to be a little more seared and less wet on the plate.

Jerusalem artichoke risotto, pickled trompettes, truffle oil, black cabbage - $26

Well cooked, strong acidic, salty and bitter flavours that give it a 'freshness' rather than sumptuousness. I didn't taste the truffle. I assume the artichokes were the 'chip-like discs' that gave the risotto some crunch, but I'm not sure if there were incorporated elsewhere in the dish. I also found the nettle leaves to be quite strong in flavour and am surprised they aren't mentioned in the dish's title.

Desserts: Microwave pistachio cake, chocolate sorbet, buttermilk, rhubarb - $15

Ryan went apeshit (sorry for the strong language, but its necessary to convey his reaction) for the sorbet - once he tasted the sorbet he forgot everything else. He even asked for a second quinelle and continued to talk about it on the way home -'I normally HATE chocolate sorbet but this was like perfect chocolate...' When I asked about the rest of the dish he commented that he remembered he liked it, but all he could think about was the sorbet...he really is so helpful with his opinions....

Bitter chocolate fondant, mint ice cream, pop rocks - $15

Mum went crazy for this - she absolutey adored it, she was also surprised that the violets tasted nice. Y also said it tasted great. P gave all the dishes 10/10 for presentation, he said they looked beautiful. Once again the pop rocks turned the adults into giggling children.

Vanilla cream, burnt citrus, blood orange, olive oil powder, lime vinaigrette - $15

Y had this but she didn't tell me whether she liked it.

Coffee cream, amaretto, sponge, bitter chocolate - $15

I would have loved some more moist cake to accompany the lusciously fluffy coffee cream and ice cream. With only a tiny portion of cake, which was soaked nicely, I felt like I had barely had dessert. Flavours worked well though and weren't overpowering both coffee and alcohol-wise.

Coffees: Cappucino - $4
Long Black - $4
Caffe Latte - $4

D thought this was a well made coffee.

Cost: $418 for 6 entrees, 6 mains, 4 desserts, 1 bottle of wine ($58 - Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot) and 3 coffees.

Service: Perfect. Must make a special mention of our waitress, Tess - because of her service my grandfather claimed that he had never had better service elsewhere.

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.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The European - Melbourne

Name: The European
161 Spring St
Melbourne 3000 VIC

Phone: (03) 9654 0811

Average price: Entree: $9.50-26, Mains: $19.50-72, Dessert: $11-15.50

Complimentary: One slice of toast with cherry jam and butter (we aren't entirely sure it was complimentary, but we have no idea whose breakfast it was meant to be a part of.)

K said the bread was stale. Regarding the jam: weird packaged seemed like it was shipped over from some middle European convenience store.. ha. odd.. nice enough I suppose. Nothing special at all

Breakfast crumble
Poached pear, apple, apricot, prunes and fig with yoghurt and muesli - $14

As I ate this I felt as if I was in a forest, sitting on spongy loam and surrounded by trees wet with dew- it had that kind of feel and look. The mint was wonderfully unexpected with its freshness amongst the jammy figs and prunes, tart apples, crunchy muesli and tangy yoghurt. I couldn't taste any apricots but it didn't matter as the medley of fruit on my plate was varied in tastes and textures and pleasant to eat. The only gripe I have is that this wasn't the 'crumble' I was expecting. Had it been called poached fruit with yoghurt and muesli it would be exactly what I was expecting, but call it a crumble and I'm going to think WARM and SOFT with a wonderful TOPPING and yoghurt on the side, being a cold chilly day I was hoping for a hot, comforting crumble and was slightly disappointed in its coldness. That being said, the flavours made up for its temperature and 'un-crumbleness'.

Turkish eggs 
poached eggs with Turkish bread and baba ganoush - $18

K asked for the eggs to be fried rather than poached and said the eggs were fried perfectly and the toast cuttable. She was not expecting the extra pepper adornments and didn't really want them. She just wanted eggs and toast.

European breakfast
eggs, bacon, mushroom, tomato, toast - $17.50

(Written by K) Perfectly cooked good quality bacon, not too much or little. The eggs tasted plain but nice enough, though I would've enjoyed them much more if they'd been cooked a little longer. The stand out was the mushrooms, fresh field mushrooms, plump and cooked well, retaining all flavour. Way too overpriced considering how little effort would've gone into the dish. No extra flavouring to speak of, a little salt perhaps. Oh! bad bread,  bread was crap. Tasteless overcooked and a little stale.

Decaf latte - $4.20

(K) Decent for a decaf but not remarkable in anyway

Cost: $53.70 for 3 breakfasts and 1 coffee.

Service: Good. We had to wait around 30mins for a table at 11am but once in the menus were prompt as was the food and our water was kept topped up - they are also fine with splitting the bill.

Atmosphere: Old charm. The decor reminded me of old European cigar bars - the chequered tiles have seen better days as have the well-worn wooden tables that wobble at the slightest touch with remnants of lacquer cluttered around the edges, but somehow it works. The lighting is incredibly low,even during the day, almost cavernous. The noise level, was a little boisterous but nothing more than normal at a cafe.

Parking: Street and paid underground - at 7pm on a Sunday night there was some street parking left, otherwise there are paid underground car parks close by. Public transport is also an option.


Hours: Daily 7.30am-3.30am

Would I return: Yes - the darkness and noise factor is much more tolerable during the day.

The European on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Groove Train - Doncaster

Name: The Groove Train

Westfield Doncaster
Suite 2002 Level 2
619 Doncaster Rd
Doncaster 3108 VIC

Phone: (03) 9840 6466

Food: Italian, Mediterranean, Cafe,
Average price: Entrée: $12.50-$16.90
Mains: $13.50-$32.50
Desserts: $10

Complimentary:  Nothing.

We ordered:

Starters: Groovy eggplant chips - $12.90
parmesan crumbed & stacked on a balsamic reduction, served with aioli

Immediately I was hoping for a little more balsamic to go with the enormous stack of eggplant batons - and it was needed as the batons, whilst perfectly cooked, were oily and heavy. They needed the creamy aioli (which was more like watery mayonnaise) and bitey balsamic to balance it out. It has potential.

Crunchy burschetta - $11.90
ripe tomatoes marinated with Spanish onion and basil, set on chunky pesto ciabatta, topped with shaved Parmesan

R, S and D liked the balance of the flavours, the only problem was that the bread was soggy upon arrival and therefore didn't contribute that 'crunchiness' that was needed (and implied).

Fried calamari - $15.90
floured with lemon pepper and lightly fried, garnished with salad and fresh lemon, serves with tartare sauce and chips

R said this was really nice.

Mains: Pan-fried gnocchi - $18.90
with spinach, roasted pumpkin and sage, laced with cream and parmesan cheese

This was a generous serving and I did struggle to finish (that's not a bad thing). The gnocchi was perfectly toothsome, although it did lack that golden crispness of a pan-fried gnocchi, if I wasn't expecting them to be pan-fried then I would have found them to be perfectly cooked. The cream sauce was nice but I wish there had been more spinach, sage and pumpkin to balance out the portion of gnocchi.

Desserts: Baci chocolate cake - $9.40

This was ENORMOUS - great value for money. I had mine served with cream (very light cream). The cake was thick, rich, chocolatey and satisfying. Although be warned, you may need to share to finish it.

Apple pie - $9.90

S and D said this was nice, although a little plain (lacked spices). Theirs was served with ice cream.

Cost: $78.90 for three entrees, one main and two desserts.

Service: Average. We had to ask for our water to be refilled and the slice of cake took 20mins to come out due to a 'mix up' - even though the waitress asked for it three times before we received it. One of our entrees came out as a main by mistake but they only charged us the entrée price when we told them it was the wrong size.

Atmosphere: Casual with great views. The entire back wall of the open restaurant is floor to ceiling glass with sweeping views towards over the valley. The noise level is loud as it is surrounded by other restaurants and a foyer.

Parking: Ample - it's in Westfield Doncaster Shoppingtown so there is ample parking - it's free for the first 3 hours or if you spend over $200 in the centre.


Hours: Daily 8am-10pm (hours vary on weekends)

Would I return: Yes - it's a decent 'shopping centre' eatery.