Monday, March 28, 2011

Tender Trap - Doncaster East - review

Name: Tender Trap

Shop 2/266 Blackburn Road,  
Doncaster East,
9842 3466

ModOz, European
Average price: Entree - $17. Main - $24. Dessert - $10.50.

Complimentary: Two slices of thick white bread with olive oil, slices of garlic, and kalamata olives.

We ordered: Entree: Slowly roasted pork belly with apple, watercress and truffle potatoes - $18.9

Goat’s cheese and pickled beetroot salad finished with roquette, watercress, orange and walnut praline  - $18.00

A nice combination of flavours.

Main: Pan fried gnocchi with pickled baby beetroot, asparagus, gorgonzola and water chestnuts  - $26.9

After having loved the gnocchi the last time I came, I ordered a different version tonight. The gnocchi had the same gorgeous texture I remembered from before, however this time around, the flavour combination was not as nice. The water chestnuts seemed to be the component that complimented the dish the least, although they did add a textural element. The dish was OK, but the combination just didn't gel well.

Fish of the day - $36.9

Mr.M did not enjoy this dish at all. After consuming one of the razor clams he found bits of some texturally unpleasant, almost gristle or shell like, and therefore decided to give the other one a miss. The rest of the dish was dull and lacking flavour.

Dessert: Caramelized lemon tart served with toasted sesame gelato  - $14.5

Decent tart with a nice level of acidity, however the gelato didn't mesh well flavour-wise.

Greek donuts (loukoumathes) with honey, cinnamon and pistachio syrup with baklava ice cream  - $14.5

Mr.M enjoyed these but I found them to almost have an alcoholic edge to them. 

Cost: $$129.70 - 2 entrees, 2 mains, and 2 desserts.

Service: Great -
The waiters were very friendly our water was always topped up and the dishes were cleared promptly.

The restaurant is lit by down lights and has a bar that runs across the left wall. One wall is a brushed concrete whilst the other is painted a dark grey with booth seating. The back wall of the restaurant is a vibrant red that polishes off the modern interior.

The restaurant is in a string of shops in a service lane off Blackburn rd. There are quite a few car parks in that lane in front of the stores, but at 7pm on a Saturday night 90% were full (we managed to snag one). There seemed to be street parking on the side streets as well.


Lunch - 12pm to 3pm Mon to Fri. Dinner - 6pm til late Mon - Sat.

Would I return:
Yes - decent local restaurant.

Tender Trap on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cutler & Co. - Fitzroy - review

Name: Cutler & Co.

Address: 55-57 Gertrude St
Fitzroy 3065 VIC

(03) 9419 4888

Food: ModOz
Average price: Entree: $19-$26, Mains: $34-$48, Dessert: $17-$22, Degustation menu: 8 courses, $130, Matching degustation wine flight $100

Complimentary: Bread with butter.

Chocolate fudge with black sea salt.

I loved these, the smoky salt was a great contrast against the sticky, sweet chocolate.

We ordered:
Entrée: heirloom tomatoes, house-made ricotta, brik pastry, white balsamic - $20

Simple, but when the produce is good it speaks for itself. The medley of tomatoes went gorgeously with the ricotta, basil and balsamic. A lovely, light dish.

Cured kingfish, wasabi - $25

All three who ordered this loved it. They also mentioned that the wasabi was mild.

Main: Roast suckling pig boudin noir plum and kohlrabi - $46

Mr.M throughly enjoyed this dish but felt that there wasn't enough sauce to accompany the meat.

Potato gnocchi roasted with taleggio and cauliflower salad -$35

I found the salad too vinegary for me so I chose to leave it. The gnocchi was wonderfully cooked but I felt the dish needed something to cut through the richness of it in order to balance it out.

Roast lamb saddle, eggplant, purslane and spiced carrots -$43

C liked this, but found the meat outweighed the sides and she found the last couple of bites were only of the lamb. She also preferred the pork to this dish.

Dessert: Violet ice cream, chocolate ganache, sour cherry and clove meringue -$18

Mr.M was extremely happy with his choice. The violet ice cream was gorgeously perfumed and went well with the rich ganache, sour cherries and clove meringues.  

Chocolate ice cream sandwich, vanilla parfait and salted caramel -$18

This was a delicious, albeit quite sweet, dessert. I have to start by mentioning that C proclaimed this her "favourite dessert EVER". The parfait was beautifully flavoured and wonderfully soft. The chocolate biscuit gave the dish a touch of texture, but it was the salted caramel that was my favourite, and in all honesty I wish there had been MORE, because it also helped to temper the sweetness a little, but it ran out too soon.

Cost: 338 for four entrees, four mains & four desserts.

Service: Good. Food came out at a decent rate and our water was topped up without having to ask.

Chic with an industrial edge. Whilst some of us liked the muted neutrals decor, including the unusual lights, others did not. I must admit that the mismatched glassware and crockery was a bit strange. The seats, including the booths, are well spaced apart so the noise level doesn't become an issue. We were told to leave by 8:30 despite the restaurant being half empty by 8:45...

Parking: Decent amount of street parking, but can get hard to find a park during busiest times.


Hours: Tue-Sun 6pm-11pm
Fri noon-3pm

Would I return: Yes - Mr.M loved all his dishes and said it was his best night out to date this year.

Cutler & Co on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fenix - Richmond - review

Name: Fenix 
Address: 680-682 Victoria St
Richmond 3121 VIC

9427 8500

Food: ModOz, English
Average price: Entree: $19-$23, Mains: $35-$39, Dessert: $18

Complimentary: Slice of bread with olive oil.

We ordered:
Entree: Pork & pistachio terrine, Madeira & date jelly, shallot marmelade - $18

Mr.M enjoyed this.

Apple & fennel salad, beetroot jelly, elderflower dressing - $17

Classic flavours but I felt it was let down by the large amount of jelly. I am not a fan of jelly as I feel it weakens the flavour, and in this case, it didn't give me that earthy sweetness you expect from beetroot. It was ok, nice presentation, but not the most memorable dish I have had with this flavour combination.

Main: Crispy suckling pig with granny smith apples, braised fennel & crème fraiche - $48

Mr.M thought this was OK.

Stuffed sweet peppers with caponata, grilled haloumi & gremolata - $28

The rice was well cooked and I loved the addition of the salty haloumi. What was lacking was some sweetness from the peppers to balance the strong savoury and herb elements of the dish.

Dessert: Chocolate marquise with black figs, PX sherry & anise ice cream - $17

Mr.M really enjoyed this dish as did I. I loved the texture and deep chocolate of the marquis which went gorgeously with the syrupy figs and spiced ice cream. Whilst I enjoyed a touch of the bitter lemon peel, there was way too much on the plate and it completely overpowered the other components. With a touch less lemon it would be a stellar dish. I would definitely order it again.

Treacle tart with buffalo yoghurt ice cream - $15

Simple but lovely presentation. On its own I found the ice cream too strong in flavour for me (very grassy and animal-ish) but it was the perfect counter to the heavy sweetness of the tart. Whilst I liked the flavour and texture of the tart, it was quite rich and I couldn't finish the serve.

Cost: $143 for two entrees, two mains and two desserts.

Service: OK. Not bad but not particularly stand-out either, fairly minimal.

Atmosphere: Almost cafe-esque. The tables were spaced well apart and the chairs were quite casual and simple. There were some red accents in the room, as well as a fire place, but everything was quite sparse in design with the large windows and outdoor views being the main focus. Although there was a wedding upstairs, downstairs remained quite empty and therefore the vibe was a little low and lacking.

Parking: Ample - there is a decent amount of street parking and plenty over the road at Ikea.


Hours: Mon-Fri noon-3pm, 6pm-late
Sat 8.30am-noon, noon-3pm, 6pm-late
Sun 8.30am-noon, noon-4pm
Open for coffee daily from 8am

Would I return: Yes. 

Fenix on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 10, 2011

St Jude's Cellars - Fitzroy - review

Name: St Jude's Cellars
Address: 389-391 Brunswick St
Fitzroy 3065 VIC
(03) 9419 7411

Food: ModOz
Average price: Entrée: $8-$12.50, Mains: $8-$60, Desserts: $12.50

Complimentary: Sliced white bread.

We ordered:
Starters: Charred corn croquettes with Mahón cheese (3) - $7.50

These were ok, they could have used a touch more seasoning but otherwise they were a decent croquette.

Fried chicken wings with a sesame and yoghurt sauce (3)  -$7.50

The presentation was lacking and the chicken on its own was boring, but thankfully yhe sace was delicious and saved the dish.

Pickled carrots - $8

I didn't even remember ordering these as I don't really like pickled carrots and these were no exception.

Entrée: Calamari marinated in chilli with cucumber, basil and grapefruit salad -$17.00

Mr.M said this was OK.

Main: Gnocchi Romano with charred leeks and Sovrano cheese - $15.00

I did not enjoy this at all. The gnocchi didn't resemble gnocchi for me in both taste AND texture - it was more akin to polenta. The flavour combo also fell flat for me, there was nothing to lift it or to cut through the bitterness. It was also under seasoned.

Lamb ragout with pappardelle and chicory  - $22.00

This looked extremely watery on the plate and was exactly that, it wasn't as much as a ragout as  it was overcooked pasta with some meat thrown on top. Mr. M didn't eat much of it.

Dessert: Dark chocolate mousse, raspberry mascarpone and nectarine - $12.50

I was used to the lack of style regarding plating up by now but when this came out I was still quite shocked as it was a $12.50 dessert, so I expected something better than what my 8year old niece could dish up.
The chocolate mousse was standard, nice but nothing special, whilst the raspberry mascarpone tasted almost like icing sugar mixed with raspberry. The nectarine was just a nectarine cut in half, and all together I didn't really feel the textures or flavour meshed. I had one spoonful and that was enough for me.

Cost: $89.50 for 3 starters, 1 entrée, 2 mains and 1 dessert.

Service: Bad. We ended up having a huge wait for our mains, which the waiter informed us later was because they didn't tell them away. They also didn't put the orders through as asked - I requested to make the croquettes into an entrée size but they came out as a starter. Our water wasn't topped up very often and after being told they didn't want to take our dessert order at the beginning, we had to tell two separate waiters that we wanted to order dessert before the order was finally put through.

Atmosphere: The wine cage is in the middle of the room with fairly casual tables and chairs scattered around. For some reason the atmosphere reminded me of my school cafeteria. The noise level was quite loud and with the waiters being pretty much absent it felt almost like a self serve place.

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


Hours: Tue-Fri noon-10pm, Sat-Sun 8am-10pm

Would I return: No.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Flower Drum - Melbourne - review

Name: Flower Drum
Address: 17 Market La
Melbourne 3000 VIC
(03) 9662 3655

Food: Chinese, Cantonese
Average price: Entree: $11-$25, Mains: $12-$160, Dessert: $13.50-$135, Degustation menu: 6 courses, $165,  Set menu: 4 courses $99, Four-course luncheon $65 per person, Six-course Dinner $165 per person

Complimentary: Nothing.

We ordered:

Wok Fried Red Emperor Fillet
Fresh fillet of red emperor lightly battered then wok fried and
accompanied by spring onions and seasoned soy sauce.

Tofu egg roll?

I can't quite remember the name of this dish, but it was nice.

Quail Sang Choi Bao
Minced quail meat cooked together with Chinese sausage, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots and spring onion, served in a lettuce leaf.

Mr M enjoyed his quail version whilst my veggie version was my favourite dish of the night. The cool lettuce helps to soften the saltiness of the rice.

Supreme shark fin soup

Mr M enjoyed this.


Simple but lovely.

Mains: Peking Duck
Tender pieces of roast duck wrapped within a pancake accompanied by spring onion, cucumber & a touch of plum sauce.

Mr M liked this but wish there it had been a slightly bigger serve.

Veggie pancake

The filling tasted remarkably like my vegetarian Sang Choi Bao, so whilst it was lovely, it was much of the same.

Grain Fed Eye Fillet w/ Black Pepper Sauce
Black Angus Eye fillet beef cooked medium rare or to your liking & dressed in a Cantonese sauce. Served w/seasonal vegetables.

Assorted mushrooms

This was my least favourite dish of the night, the texture of some of the mushrooms were a touch too slimy or spongy for me.

Special Fried Rice

Standard fried rice.

Mango crepe with passionfruit sorbet

This was ok. The pancake was a touch rubbery but otherwise it was fine.

toffee apple with vanilla icecream

We enjoyed watching the waiters serve this up for us but unfortunately, the apple was undercooked inside the batter. The ice cream also tasted like it was out of a blue ribbon tub.

Fresh hand-made almond cookies
Chinese Tea

Cost: $330 for two 6 course degustations as well as a supplementary cost for the shark fin soup.

Service: Great. The staff were friendly and very accommodating to my vegetarian needs. The food

Atmosphere: Typical Chinese restaurant. The colour scheme was dark reds with black and gold and accented with wooden furniture. The tables are spaced far apart and therefore, despite a moderate noise level, you cannot hear other conversations.

Parking: Ok - some street parking nearby but there are plenty of paid underground parking lots.


Hours: Mon-Sat noon-3pm, 6pm-11pm
Sun 6pm-10.30pm

Would I return: Yes.