Monday, May 28, 2012

Longrain @ Melbourne, CBD

Part of the Melbourne dining scene is all about trend eating and that means eating at the hottest and "in" restaurants in town. However that also means ridiculous queues or an impossible task to get a booking without weeks in advance. So for people like me, it means eating "the last season cuisine" or "the last "in" restaurant". 


After opening doors since 2005, Longrain probably doesn't get as much mention as Chin Chin. Both serve similar cuisine but Longrain goes about doing its own thing. After reading recent promising reviews, we made a booking (bonus points for allowing reservations). 


This was a long time ago but we were obviously celebrating something like the Wife finally starting work or passing the first month by stepping foot in the dark and mysterious restaurant. 


We were early so we had to sip on some Asian inspired cocktails which used lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf. Really potent but hurts your wallet a fair bit since a glass is in the 20-25 dollar range. 

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One thing I also noticed is that Longrain is all about the communal seating arrangement. There is a really long table that can sit about 40-50 people and you sit randomly side by side (if you are a couple). I think sitting side by side is brilliant because you are closer to the person and it makes it easier to chat. Without having to shout across, the noise level with a pretty full crowd was surprisingly bearable. 

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The menu is compact or limited in some sense. No more than 5 choices for entree, mains and desserts, it makes it easier to choose what you really want to eat. 


For us it was easy, deep fried pork hock pieces with a sweet and spicy dressing. Crispy on the outside but maybe could have been a tad more succulent inside. The dressing was faultless.


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Slow cooked massaman beef curry. Another brilliant dish. However we thought it the portion was small for the price tag of almost 40 dollars. 


Served with white rice and we were a happy couple that night. 

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Dessert was a combination of sticky black rice, custard apple and coconut cream. The Wife was sitting on the fence over this one although I loved it.


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What was slightly disappointing was the palm sugar ice-cream. It lacked the fragrance of palm sugar and considering all we had was good that night, this was probably not the best way to end the meal.


I don't know if I really get the whole hype of South East Asian cuisine done with a twist or the Australian take on it but admittedly what we had that night was pretty good despite the above average pricing of $60 per pax. 


Address and contact details:


Longrain Melbourne on Urbanspoon


Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Cool dark ambience, communal seating and hip thai food, whether you like this concept or not, its rather subjective, what do you think?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A dessert of all sorts @ Various places across Melbourne

Ever so often I collect photographs of random things I eat and then realise if I were to ever blog about them, it would never last more than a paragraph or two. So it sits in the ever growing Flickr account of mine before it is forgotten. Instead of going to waste, I guess I might as well share it all with you under a single post. By no means is this original and I am the first to admit that I have taken inspiration (worded nicely) from other blogs in doing what essentially is a summary of places post.


The title says it all and the pictures below speaks for itself and today is all about desserts.


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Jocks is not the most gourmet or the most creamiest ice cream I had before but the brand and the flavours is all about fun. Located somewhere near Albert Park, it is so convenient for us to either pop by for a scoop when the sweet tooth acts up or worse still take away a pre-packed tub. Flavours like Rum and Raisin (with real alcohol!) to classic flavours like Peanut Butter and Jelly or just plain old Chocolate, you will be spoilt for choice. Another thing to note is the more than reasonable prices, I remember paying somewhere around 5 dollars for 2 scoops in waffle cone which is a steal compared to Ben & Jerry. 


Can't replace our favourite gelato place in Brisbane but will be close to our hearts (or stomach).


Address and contact details:

Jock's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon


Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. I know its winter but can't wait for summer to come!


From a casual ice cream shop to a posher "sweet studio". Burch & Purchese brings to life a fantasy land for those who craves anything sweet. From individual cakes on display, handmade ice-cream, jams and spreads to biscuits, chocolates and I can't remember what else, this is not for those on a sugar diet. For some reason the Wife wanted to pop by looking for Hot Cross Buns and since they didn't sell any and we didn't want to leave empty handed, we bought a cake.


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I remember when I was young and the only place you could buy cakes were from old school bakeries. Those days, cakes don't come in an individual portion per se, they bake a whole cake and they sell to your by slice. Blink an eye and some 15 years later, look where desserts have come.


Back to the cake, there's nothing like a good mousse but I would have liked a thicker crust because I am one for texture. I guess another cake would have suited me better but it was still a pretty fine cake and I can't wait to go back.


Address and contact details:


Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio on Urbanspoon


Verdict: 1 cake in and I can dare say this is another spot worthy of 4 stars out of 5 stars.


Naturally after B&P, comes the place where we finally found some hot cross buns. French Fantasies may sound a little naughty (think French maids) but is every little bit naughty in their own way by greeting their customers with a variety of pastries and breads on display. The hot cross buns was something like 3 bucks a bun, sacrilegious some would say but it was pure gold once you spread some butter on it and pop it into the oven to heat. Apart from the buns, we had the almond croissant, as good as the french bakery in Brisbane and a good multi-grain loaf which thankfully didn't cost us an arm and a leg.

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It also helps that the waitresses has that heavy french accent of course.


Address and contact details:


French Fantasies on Urbanspoon


Verdict: Another 4 stars! Convenience and quality, only a 5 minute drive from my place so I am not complaining!


Don't you feel a little thirsty after all that drooling? Well after some walking at the Doncaster shopping centre, a trip to the supermarket to get some water suddenly turned into a sinful chocolate experience at Koko Black.


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It was still pretty hot then so an iced chocolate was called to action. Seriously unless you really really love your chocolate, call one to share, its one heavy drink.


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Being greedy we ordered a platter of desserts and I think at this point it was an over kill. Not to mention, there was no real stand outs except for their gourmet chocolates.


Stick to the iced chocolate I say although it's pretty pricey at 11-12 dollars a drink.


Address and contact details:

Koko Black on Urbanspoon

Verdict: The poor desserts and the poor price point means its really 3 stars at max.

There you go, my first compilation post, now I wonder if i can collect enough for another theme...hmmm...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Chez Olivier @ Prahran, Melbourne

A couple of weeks ago, the Wife craved for French, thankfully not for french men but french food. Using the excuse to celebrate the end of my probation period and the fact that we could start using the Entertainment Book, we headed down to Chez Olivier. 


The place can be summed up as your neighbourhood old school French bistro (that's if you can afford a place in the vicinity). You would think that the decor or lack of and the empty bottles of wine on display would look a little tacky but instead it adds on to the charm of the place. Of course, the heavy french accent waiters completes the experience.  


People always think that french food will blow a hole in your wallet but Chez Olivier has a bargain $28 2 course or $35 3 course lunch menu.

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Complimentary bread and unsalted butter (with salt on the side for those who can't live without salted butter). 

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Part of the lunch set was the onion soup. Taking the first sip, there was never a doubt that this was onion soup and I would have happily have it all. However the Wife's more refined palate from her Parisian experience said that this wasn't on par. Oh well.

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The Salmon on a bed of Ratatouille (part of the lunch menu). I always thought I do a pretty decent pan fried salmon but this was way better. Excellent crispy skin and well basted with butter, it was a good match for a very well seasoned ratatouille (mixed vegetables in a tomato base). 

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Not part of the lunch menu but from the ala carte side, we ordered one of the more cliche of French dishes, the duck a l'orange. A generous half duck portion sitting on pumpkin puree and tied together with an orange sauce. I couldn't help but think cynical about the freshness of the duck. The skin and the meat looked a little dated and different from let's say a freshly roasted duck would be. Taste wise, it was alright. For $39, a little steep for my taste buds.

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Part of the lunch menu, the creme caramel. I don't think I ever had the french version of this dish but it sure looks different from the Chinese version. With caramel served on the side, the "creme" was smooth and the strawberries providing a nice balance.

Overall, the atmosphere played its part but the food seemed a little average for what seems like a really good rating on Urbanspoon. The lunch menu is still value for money but I would think twice if I wanted to come here for dinner (with the duck at the back of my mind). The Entertainment Card gives you a 25% discount on your meal up to a maximum of $45. 

Address and contact details:

Chez Olivier - Le Bistro on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Loved the whole setup but the food we had that day wasn't wow. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Middle Fish @ North Melbourne

I must have heard about Middle Fish ever since it was open for business and never really got a chance to pop over. Staying on the south side of town doesn't really help too. However with all things in life, if you set your mind to it, you will achieve it. I wouldn't say popping into Middle Fish is quite an achievement to boast about but at least we finally got to see what it was all about.


The Middle Fish is not your average small and cozy Thai restaurant, on the contrary quite the opposite. On the same row as Seven Seeds means what you are entering into is essentially an ex-warehouse unit; its spacious. Tables were nicely spread out and you even had a lounge like section.


Unlike most brunch places on the weekends, we were quite happy to see that the place was not packed like sardines in a can; meaning no queuing involved or being stuffed into a corner behind the toilet. We picked an empty table big enough for four which meant plenty of space to read the newspapers.


To the food and drinks.


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There's nothing like a thai milk tea. Its strong and certainly as potent as a coffee. I would love to come back for one even though it's been freezing the last couple of days to even think of an iced drink. 


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With Seven Seeds next door, its all too easy to have your meal and walk over for a coffee. However, I don't see the necessity as their latte was as good as any.

Time to judge the food.

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Crispy Fried Egg and Sticky Roast Pork Belly for breakfast? You bet. I will be bias and say this was the bomb of a breakfast to have. To be honest, I think I am getting sick of all the brunches we been having, you know the different variations of eggs, avocado, bacon, potato and sausages on a plate. This was a pleasant surprise for me. I would have liked a stronger basil flavour coming through the sauce but all in all, I can't fault this. 

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The Brown Rice Soup with chicken meatballs was another hit. After taking two sips, the Wife commented that it reminded her of the food she had in a Bangkok home stay. Comfort food that is cooked from the heart. I had a couple of spoonfuls and I agreed. This is worth coming back for in winter, despite as the name suggests is nothing more than broth with rice with a few condiments. 


What can I say, we loved our experience and we look forward to coming back again and this time maybe try a few more dishes.


Address and contact details:

Middle Fish  on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. A refreshing change to our usual poached eggs and toast.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Coin Laundry @ Armadale, Melbourne

We heard a lot about Coin Laundry and how this breakfast place serves a mean burger. When a recent burger craving struck, there was only one place to go. 


Located in the suburb of Armadale, we fell in love with the immediate surroundings. Posh looking houses and leafy surroundings with the only noise and signs of people belonging to Coin Laundry. With a train station nearby, we wanted to call this street home except for the crazy price tags.


Almost exactly opposite of the surroundings, Coin Laundry was packed and a 10 minute wait suddenly grew to 20 minutes before we were seated. Throughout brunch / lunch, a steady stream of people were patiently waiting outside while others were chit chatting and digging into food / coffee.  

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As the name suggests, the venue takes place in a former laundromat and I guess the wall decor is put up there to remind us of the history of the place.

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Something a little different, vietnamese iced coffee. What looked like and tasted a bit like condensed milk was not sickeningly sweet but rather toned down, perfect for people who want something really strong.

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For those who want their usual cup, the cappuccino was decent too.

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Much has been talked about this burger, well actually it was my cousin who sang praise about this and the Wife caught wind of it. So was it worth the wait and the singing? Pretty much. A nice juicy wagyu burger (seriously though, I can't tell the difference between wagyu and non wagyu in a burger) with beetroot relish amongst other things inside made for a brilliant lunch. Shoe string fries with a dosage of spiced salt completes the meal. 

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On a lighter note, well light on portion but not on palate is the manchego corn fritters. I was slightly disappointed at the carelessness of the kitchen who happened to brown the fritter beyond brown and conveniently flip it the other way around on the plate. The fritter was on the stodgy side and if not for the scattered corn niblets, you couldn't really tell. The rocket, parsley and guacamole lifts the dish up.

So what we have here is a beautiful surrounding, busy place, a long queue, a kick ass burger and an uncertain breakfast. Sounds like a mix bag but I think we will still be returning, sooner or later.

Address and contact details:

Coin Laundry Cafe on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Another option out there for breakfast in Melbourne.