Thursday, April 21, 2011

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 - $23-35, Dessert - $14-16.

Complimentary: One brioche and one sourdough roll with butter. Warm and lovely.

We ordered:
Entree: Compression of rabbit and smoked ham hock, orange, soused carrots, medjool dates - $17

Mr.M liked this.

Salad of heirloom tomatoes, garlic croutes, buffalo mozzarella, basil - $15

Classic flavours. The only thing that detracted slightly was the basil which was ice cold, and I am not particularly partial to icy temperatures. But otherwise a nice dish.

Main: Broccoli risotto, pine nuts, truffle, goats curd, grana padana - $26

Perfectly cooked risotto. The flavours went well and I especially liked the addition of the crunchy pinenuts and cool goats curd.

John Dory, crab fritters, shredded lettuce, crushed peas, sauce vierge - $28

Mr.M thoroughly enjoyed the crab fritters.

Dessert: Strawberries and cream - $14

This is what I imagine a care bear would taste like, should you ever eat one; it's rainbows and ribbons and everything delightful. The gorgeous vanilla fluffiness of the cream was the perfect pillow for the macerated strawberries and candyfloss meringues. I truly enjoyed eating this dish. The only component that didn't float my boat was the dehydrated capsicum which I found was too peppery for the delicate, sweet dessert.

Peanut butter parfait, bananas, bitter chocolate - $14

Mr.M just can't help himself when he spies an old favourite, and this dessert is truly one of his favourites. This time around the previously singular present has been split into two fork-friendly parcels with that gorgeous chocolate sorbet in the centre. Lovely as always.

Cost: $114 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: Ample. Street parking is generally 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. 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 - we can always rely on Persimmon to deliver on flavour, presentation and service.

Mr.M: Persimmon food is art on a plate. One of the hidden treasures of the CBD. We go there every time we pass through the city for lunch. I just wish they were open for dinner so that more reviewers could take notice and we could visit more often. After lunch you can take a lovely stroll through the adjoining gardens. I will be back soon!

Persimmon on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Izakaya Den - Melbourne - review

Name: Izakaya Den

114 Russell St
Melbourne 3000 VIC

9654 2977

Food: Japanese

Average price:
Entree: $10-$15, Mains: $15-$33, Dessert: $5-$12

Complimentary:  Nothing.

We ordered: Sweet Corn Kaki Age - $7

We ordered two servings of this as I had heard many good reviews. I am glad we did as I could easily have eaten two plates of these. The fritters had the perfect amount of corn-to-batter ratio and were wonderfully crispy with sweet, juicy corn kernels. What elevated this dish from good to yum though was the green tea salt- there should have been more! There simply wasn't enough to properly season each fritter with.

Greens, fried bean curd and dashi - $10

There was a touch too much broth for my liking as it made the dish more akin to a soup, but I wasn't given a spoon. The dish was salty and savoury and overall pleasant enough.


Mr.M ordered these, he said they were ok, but nothing special.

Dessert: Black sesame brulee - $10

I am not sure whether this was a win for me...The texture of the custard and the crack of the brulee top were great, but the black sesame flavour in a creme brulee was odd for me, I'm not sure why. The others seemed to enjoy it.

Cost: Around $40?
for three savoury and one sweet dish.

Good. Despite having no pen or paper the waiters got all of our orders correct and the food came out fairly quickly. Our water was never topped up though. Before eating you are given a warm hand towel to wipe your hand which is a nice touch seeing as though some of the food is made to be eaten with fingers. The menus are written on wound up scrolls and water is served in plastic cups with Japanese anime figures.

Atmosphere: Hard to find hole in the wall.
From the outside there isn't much in terms of obvious signage to inform you that down two flights of stairs in a cavernous nook wedged between two buildings is a restaurant. The tiny corridor is taken up largely by the bar with some sofas and wooden crates acting as tables in the front half, with some actual tables in the back. It is a very tiny space, very dark and you are very close to your fellow diners. As they didn't take bookings for small groups the only space we could get was sitting on some crates with one wooden box as our table. As you can imagine it was quite awkward to eat as we were all juggling plates and cups as there wasn't enough space for three on the crate. Forget about finding a place to put your handbag. The noise level was also quite loud.

Parking: Ok -
street parking is very limited but there are always underground Paid carparks.


Hours: Tue-Fri noon-2pm
Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight

Would I return: No. The food was decent but I felt too claustrophobic in the cramped interior to be able to enjoy myself and the food properly.

Izakaya Den on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Home Dining Room - Hawthorn - review

Name: Home Dining Room

Address: 601 Burwood Rd
Hawthorn 3122 VIC
9819 5555

Food: English
Average price: Entree: $6-$15, Mains: $23-$33, Dessert: $12

Complimentary: Nothing.

We ordered:

Entrée: Zucchini and feta fritters ŵ cumin and honey yoghurt - $14

Quite a generous entrée serving.
Crunchy exterior but very wet and almost raw on the inside. The cumin yoghurt was gorgeous but there was not nearly enough of it to go around. The fritters were very salty - had Mr.M try one to see if it was just me but he found them even saltier than I did. Due to the saltiness I couldn't finish the dish despite being hungry.

Pork belly with gribiche and apple - $14

Mr.M says: the entrée was great.

Baked ricotta ŵ stuffed onion, tomato and citrus marmalade - $28

This was like two starters shoved together on a plate. The onion was stuffed with plain white rice and peas - it reminded me of nursing home food. The baked ricotta was nice and the citrus marmalade added an interesting contrast but at the end of the day, it wasn't good enough to be called a main meal.

Confit duck ŵ butternut soufflé cake, shallot puree, cherry confit - $30

Mr.M: Main was OK but it felt like the duck was not proportional to the gunk below...either needed more duck, or less gunk. The duck was nice but the duck skin was overcooked.

Eton mess: white chocolate mousse ŵ berry coulis & crushed meringue - $12

It didn't taste any better than it looked. The mousse was grainy and tasted more of cream than white chocolate yet it was very sweet. The fruit is the most shocking part, the berries were defrosted and not fresh. The blueberries' skin was wrinkled and deflated and the insides completely tasteless mush. Mr.M had a blackberry that still had icicles on it. We tried to eat a few mouthfuls out of politeness but it was not nice at all.

Mr.M: dessert was so bad it made me throw up.

Cost: $98 for two entrees, two mains & 1 dessert.

Service: OK, mains took a little long to come out otherwise the service was fine.

Atmosphere: Like an English Nanna's house. It certainly felt like an English grandmother's dining room with mismatched crockery, red and gold wallpapered walls and wooden furniture along with old-school stereos and even a record player. They served us the bill wedged in between pages of Enid Blyton's Enchanted Wood, which I thought was a cute touch. I didn't mind the quirky quaintness, except I felt the music was completely out of place, changing from gangsta rap to reggae to pop, which was bizarre. 

Parking: There is decent street parking.

Hours:  Tue-Sat 7.30am-10.30pm
Sun-Mon 7.30am-3pm

Would I return: No. The food left us feeling unsatisfied to the point we almost went to have ourselves a second dinner.

Home Dining Room on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Charcoal Lane - Fitzroy - review

Name: Charcoal Lane

Address: 136 Gertrude St
Fitzroy 3065 VIC
9418 3400

Food: ModOz
Average price: Entree: $15-$18, Mains: $29-$33, Dessert: $16-$32
Two-course lunch $35; three-course lunch $45

Complimentary:  Warm bread roll with butter.

Amuse bouche of ocean trout, salad & lemon myrtle

Mr.M thought this was OK.

We ordered:

Entrée: Bush tomato salad, fig jam, goats curd cigars, young thyme, black olive

I enjoyed most of this, except for the combination of fresh fig and tomato, that didn't quite work for me. Otherwise the tomatoes were flavoursome and the cigars lovely.

Yabbie, tomato fondue, angel hair, lemon myrtle, baby basil

This is not the kind of dish Mr.M normally chooses, ut everything was harmonious and went beautifully. He enjoyed it.

Main: Kangaroo, broccoli puree, black trumpete, truffle gnocchi, btter chocolate

Mr.M thought this was good, but found the kangaroo a touch chewy. Nice presentation.

Polenta, wild thyme, slow cooked organic egg, parmesan, corn

I didn't think this sounded rather appetising, but it was quite delicious. The polenta was incredibly soft and more akin to a pomme puree texture. The cheese was subtle but went well with the sweet corn and egg (I was told by the waiter that despite its undercooked appearance, due to the method it is cooked it is safe for pregnant women to eat). It also had asparagus and these gorgeous crunchy bits which were great.

Dessert: Apple, cream tart, muntries berries, raspberry terrine

This was not how I envisioned it to be (for starters, where is the apple??). The 'tart' was a tiny bit of filo-esque pastry with a completely liquid centre that tasted a bit like white chocolate. I think the sorbet was flavoured with muntries berries as it was a flavour I couldn't name, but one I enjoyed. I'm not sure where the apple was and the terrine wasn't very raspberry-like. It didn't have any real 'substantial' component so I felt quite unsatisfied when I finished.

Chocolate terrine, marquise, fondant, kaffir lime leaf, sour cherry sorbet

Mr.M thought this was very nice. I much prefered his dessert to mine. My absolute favourite component on this plate would have to be the marquise, I could eat that for days. I also loved the sour cherry sorbet. Great dessert dish overall.

Cost: $130 - for two entrees, two mains, and two desserts. 

Service: Great. Our waiter was excellent and enquired after each meal what we honestly thought of it. The food was a touch slow in coming out though.

Atmosphere: The room is quite plain, with some black accents and wooden furniture being the main decoration. There were some lovely black and white paintings on the roof otherwise the overall atmosphere was quite casual and simple; I was expecting more Indigenous Australian touches. The noise level was rather high.

Parking: There is decent street parking.


Hours: Tue-Sat noon-3pm, 6pm-10pm

Would I return: Yes. The friendly and informed service along with some great dishes warrants a return. The fact that this restaurant is also involved with Mission Australia is a bonus.

Charcoal Lane on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Snow Pony - Balwyn - review

Name: Snow Pony

95 Whitehorse Rd
Balwyn 3103 VIC

Phone: (03) 9816 8911

Food: ModOz, Cafe, Organic
Average price: $4.90-$19.90

Complimentary:  Nothing.

We ordered:

Mocha - $3.5

Affogato - $6

Organic Grapefruit juice - $5

Toasted banana bread with maple syrup mascarpone, fresh banana, berry compote + crushed pistachio - $14.9

This was rather good. The banana bread was a touch crumbly but that didn't matter much as you just scoop it up along with the mascarpone and tart berry compote. It is overall, on the sweet side.

Bruschetta - white bean + roasted garlic puree, baked pumpkin, olive tapenade - $13,9

Mr.M thought this was OK.

Hopkins River Eye fillet steak sandwich, beetroot + blood orange relish, caramel onions, bacon, roast tomato, aged Maffra farmhouse cheddar + a poached googie egg - $21.9

S loved this. Well, loved is an understatement for S who enjoyed it so much that he wanted to go back every week just so he could eat it again. Full of complementing flavours and cooked well.

Cost: $65.20 for two coffees and three breakfasts.

Service: OK. Don't expect your water to be continuously topped up but the food comes out at a decent rate.

Atmosphere: A touch cramped. There are tons of chairs in front, inside and out the back. Mostly dark, neutral colours. The noise level gets quite loud.

Parking: Ample - large amount of street parking, not a super busy area.


Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-4pm
Sat-Sun 8.30am-4pm

Would I return: Yes - because there's not much of a selection on Balwyn.

Snow Pony on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Centonove - Kew - review

Name: Centonove
109 Cotham Rd
Kew 3101 VIC

Phone: (03) 9817 6468

Italian, ModOz
Average price: Entree: $18-24, Mains: $29-42, Dessert: $13-14

Complimentary: Bread with marinated assorted olives.

We ordered:

Entrée: Antipasti - $22

A rather good antipasti, Mr.M particularly, and surprisingly liked the ceviche.

Heirloom tomatoes, oregano, tarragon, goats curd - $18

Simple but packed full of flavour, I enjoyed every mouthful, especially with the assortment of herbs.

Potato gnocchi, sage, brown butter and truffled pecorino - $30

Whilst the overall flavours were nice, I felt that the dish was overall, a touch 'soggy', especially the sage which wasn't crisp.

Suckling pig with parsnip, radicchio and shallot jam and mustard fruit jus - $38

Chocolate parfait, sour cherry and pistachio financier, cherry ice cream - $14.5

I have to admit that when I first read the dessert menu I wasn't particularity excited by anything as I am not much of an ice-cream fan. I soon changed my mind once I tasted this dish. The chocolate parfait, although I wouldn't really call it a parfait, was delicious, and when paired with the moorish financier complete with a sour cherry tang, and the delicious cherry ice cream, this dish was a winner. It was a fantastic combination of chocolate and cherry.

Passionfruit semi freddo, coconut sorbet and pineapple salad - $14.5

Once again this dish didn't sound exciting to me, but the flavour combination spoke for itself. A classic tropical medley with tartness, creaminess, and a hint of sweetness was a very refreshing and light dessert.

Cost: $137 - for two entrees, two mains, and two desserts. 

Service: Great. Food arrived quickly and our water was kept topped up.

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. The lower level is cramped compared to upstairs which is filled with light from the large windows, the tables are also spaced decently apart.

Parking: Ample - there is decent street parking.


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

Would I return: Yes.

Centonove on Urbanspoon