Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Roule Galette @ Melbourne CBD

Although we are a 20 minute tram ride away to the CBD, we seldom find ourselves in the city on the weekends. Why? we rather drive since the poor black car sits in the garage on most weekdays and coupled by exorbitant CBD car park rates. 


We needed to go to the CBD one weekend and after some research, we realised CBD car park rates is not as bad as I thought it would be. For those who want to know where to get relatively cheap parking, the indoor car park on LaTrobe Street is 5 bucks all day long on weekends (that's less than the price of 2 adult tram tickets). 


Now since we were in the CBD, it meant that even though dinner was an hour away, we had to try something uniquely CBD. One of the places that I have been wanting to visit is Roule Galette. Located in one of the smaller lanes in Melbourne, this places oozes "French". From the french accent, music, crepes and cider, the Wife said it feels a little like sitting in a small cafe in Paris.    


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Because dinner was an hour away, we shared a crepe with a generous serving of chestnut puree and a glass of cider. 

The crepe was awesome and coupled with the cider; excellent.

Fancy experiencing a little French without having to fly to Paris? Try detouring into Roule Galette for a crepe.


Address and contact details:


  Roule Galette on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Will definitely come back to try a few more crepes.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Sharing House @ South Wharf, Melbourne

I remember walking past a couple of under construction "boat sheds" on the way to the South Wharf DFO yonks ago. Fast forward however long it has been, the Internet (or the Blogs) tells me that the "boat sheds" have turned into several restaurants.


One weekday night after taking the in laws to visit the infamous Crown Casino (well it is some form of Melbourne attraction, after all) and decided the restaurants in Crown were either too exorbitant in pricing and the casual place not worth eating, I decided to lead them here. It looks like some attempt has been made to pump life into this quiet stretch with the appearance of these restaurants by the waters but overall, still a very quiet and dark place. 


Two restaurants stood out; The Sharing House and Akachochin. Both restaurants uses one entrance but that night we decided to head to the one with the "western" cuisine. 


One of the first things I noticed about the place is the plentiful use of lego in the bar area (you will know what I mean when you see it for yourself). As the name suggests, the menu is all about sharing, with small dishes to large dishes (the pricing is a pretty good guide).


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We started off with the battered confit rabbit and cauliflower popcorn served alongside some garlic aioli. I like how creative they tried to be with the use of a paper bag instead of a plate and how you don't know whether you got a piece of rabbit or cauliflower till you put a piece in your mouth. For someone who doesn't particularly like cauliflower, I was happy to pop either piece in my mouth. For the sceptics out there wondering if most of the bag is cauliflower, we are happy to report that there were at least a couple pieces of rabbit in there. 


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I had no idea what potted prawns were until this was presented to us. It was basically butter and baby prawns in a pot served with some hot home made crumpets. I wish there was a few more crumpets for the amount of butter we had to go through. Not for the faint hearted.

With the end of our small starters, we proceeded with the heavier items, the 6-7 inch pizzas.

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The waitress told us one was just not enough to share between 5, so we ordered two. One with parma ham and one with prawns. Thin crust and fresh ingredients, this was good but not the best we had. 

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The duck confit and smoked duck breast seemed more of an individual dish rather than a shared dish. The confit was dry and needed every drop of sauce on the plate to go with it while the breast was nicely cooked. The crunchy potato cubes was a good touch to the dish. For $24 though, this is a value of money main for a small eater. 

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The monster 800 gram rib eye (technically a rib eye on the bone) and the bone itself does make a difference of 50-100 grams was the bomb. Cooked to medium rare and rested well, it was served with this awesome peppercorn sauce. For $70 odd, it was quite value for money.

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We all read that restaurants are forever thinking of ways to make money such as expensive drinks or leaving the main as bare as possible so you got to order sides. However, the steak came with generous sides of bacon and cabbage and a potato gratin. Kudos for that.

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I was outside on the phone when the desserts came but I managed to get a snap on my portion of the deconstructed jaffa. There was a tiny chocolate fondant with an oozy centre despite the small size with an orange sauce, dehydrated orange and jellies! Brilliant end. As for the ice-cream, I had my cone but remember I couldn't taste what the flavour was at all (can't decide whether it was my bad palate or the weak flavour). 

Surprisingly for what we ordered which was I think not too much, it got us all leaving satisfied. Best part, the bill came to under $40 per pax which won't even get you a main in any of the nice restaurants at Crown.  

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At the end of the meal, we even got to play with some Lego which bought us all memories to when we were children. Nice touch. 

In terms of food, we definitely see ourselves going back but the obscure location and the quiet and dark surroundings at night might see us visit this place in the day instead.

Address and contact details:

The Sharing House on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars. Now I wonder if their sister Japanese restaurant is as good as this?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sichuan House @ Melbourne CBD

The last few weeks were busy weeks of eating out. The Wife's Cousin was in town and after meals of pasta, pizza and all kind of different cuisines, we decided to go back to our roots. Walking along the street of Chinatown and in front of Sichuan House, the Cousin commented he was craving for Sichuan hot and sour soup and proclaimed that dinner will be in Sichuan House.        


When he moaned about the menu, I realised what he was after was the hot and sour soup you get in the English menu of a typical Chinese restaurant. What we got ourselves into was the land of all kind of chillies. Despite not seeing what he wanted, we soldiered on and chose the least spiciest dishes (yes, ironic in a Sichuan restaurant). 

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Tea smoked duck, not spicy at all! However it was incredibly salty, smoked yes but no taste of tea at all. 

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The pork ribs with dried chillies, peppercorns and cumin. Dust everything out and what you get is juicy chunks of meats. However it is either a like it or hate it dish because of the numbing effect you get from the peppercorns. Kind of an interesting after effect.   

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This was more sweet than spicy but that was how we liked it. The sauce barely coated the deep fried eggplant, maintaining that crispiness. We loved this dish.

Over the course of dinner, we saw pots and plates of different kinds of chilli; certainly a paradise for those who love their food hot and spicy. As for me? I think I might come back for the eggplant and attempt one of the less spicier dishes because everything else on the menu sounds and looks terribly spicy. 

Address and contact details:

Sichuan House on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. Only for those who love their food, spicy and oily!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Naked Japan @ Albert Park, Melbourne

We have been compiling places for quick fix dinners. 


The criteria is pretty simple, affordable which in this part of town is under $20 per person, within 5-10 minute drive away, no queuing required, easy parking, in and out in under an hour and obviously tasty grub.  


So far, we have found a place for Thai, Indonesian and Fish & Chips which are all in South Melbourne. Deciding that we should not over rely on one suburb, we spread our search engine to Albert Park and guess what, all directions seem to point towards this little Japanese shop called Naked Japan. 


So we went on an early Sunday night. The sky was dark even though it was barely minutes after six and the place ticked all the right boxes; no requirement to queue (we were the only ones), plenty of parking and under 10 minutes to get here. Looking at the menu, you can easily eat for under $20 too. 


With everything ticked except tasty grub, lets see what we got.


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The croquette was deep fried to a crisp but the filling was disappointing. No hint of crab like advertised on the menu. 


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The cousin had the curry udon and it did look rather comforting but there was no praises from him.

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We ordered the katsu curry and the katsu don. This is where it tanked badly. For a restaurant that is not occupied and a meal that cost over $10, the least I expect is a meal that is made from scratch. Alas, the chicken and pork katsu were pre-fried and re-fried. This only meant the meat was dry. As for the curry sauce, again I was disappointed. Even the packet version tasted better. 

I also saw fresh gyozas made on the spot but at the same time saw pre-cooked ones on display which I suspect would be the ones served to us had we order some. 

To make things worse (only for me), I realised the whole crew was speaking Korean and not Japanese, marks deducted for authenticity but then again, it just me being particular. 

So even though most of the boxes were ticked, it failed in the biggest box; tasty grub. 

Address and contact details:

Naked Japan on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3 stars out of 5 stars. Sub-par food and we don't think we will be coming back.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cutler & Co @ Fitzroy, Melbourne

It is now June and it looks like we are well on our way in dining as many hatted restaurants in Melbourne (who am I kidding really) with another 2 hatted restaurant ticked off the list last week. With our experience being limited to 1 hatted restaurants to date, we entered into a 2 hatted restaurant with much curiosity.


For those who haven't been to Cutler and Co, the place is curtained up and you can't see what's happening on inside and the only clue that you are in the right place is the blue neon "&" logo. 


I wonder, does the extra element of mystery contribute to the extra hat? 


Service was good from the minute we walked in. Jackets were promptly taken from us to store and menu put to our hands. What I loved was how the waiter was never pushy with alcohol or bottled water. Even after I finished my glass of champagne, he didn't ask if I wanted another one. 


I wonder again, is good service worthy of the second hat?


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While mystery and service was good, the noise level was bad. Don't expect a nice quiet meal because this dim dining area is anything but quiet. Almost full house on a Thursday night, we had to speak out quite loud to get a conversation going.  

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Although the noise level put us off, the fresh hot sour dough roll and a generous amount of butter put wide smiles on our faces. Got to give them credit when they asked if we wanted seconds! 

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The starter of pickled octopus with aioli got the Wife smiling even wider. Although it sounded a little weird, it worked and was yum.

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It was only the weekend before that we decided to share a dozen of fresh oysters at the market. With that experience at the back of my mind, I was blown away when I had this Moonlight oyster. The taste was so fresh and sweet (in a seafood way). At $4 a piece, its 4 times as much as a normal oyster would cost in the market but it was probably close to being 4 times as good.

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The smoked and fried duck, morcilla (blood sausage), golden raisin and beetroot. 


The wife loved it for the strong and bold flavours and well anything fried is always welcomed. The deep fried duck was succulent and tasted like pulled pork from the small pieces I had unless that was the morcilla, hmm I am confused but I can say it was good.

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The hand picked spanner crab, abalone, king brown mushroom with golden chicken broth was fantastic and I thought was way better than what the Wife ordered. The fresh crab meat, the tender abalone slices and the crunchy snow fungus (a first in a savoury dish) all tied with a oh so gorgeous broth.

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We looked at the short list of mains and only one tickled our interest; the striploin, short rib, kohlrabi, onions with jus. While the striploin was good for that bovine flavour, the short rib was better which was slow cooked and probably had a bit of a time on the grill with a sweet glaze. There wasn't much of a side on the plate and was advised to order a side to share. A small plate of lettuce coated with a dressing costing us $10 was probably the only sour point of our night, deemed a big rip off.


Time for desserts.

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Violet ice cream, chocolate ganache, sour cherry and clove meringue seemed a little out of sync to me and the components didn't gel from the taste I got. The "violet" was prominent enough in the ice-cream without tasting like soap powder but apart from that, we felt this dessert a little below average.

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What could go wrong with a chocolate ice cream sandwich, vanilla parfait and salted caramel? Apparently a bit if the "sandwich" is way too thin and hard and the caramel wasn't salty enough. In the end it pretty tasted like ice-cream and desperately needed some more texture in it somewhere.

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The apple terrine, toasted cereal ice cream, burnt butter and oat crumble sounds and tasted like breakfast. While I can appreciate how thinly the apples were sliced in the terrine, it was kind of one dimensional even though you had the "oat crumble" sprinkled all over the plate.


We couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed over the dessert options. However you still got to give them credit for the sweet oyster, magical chicken broth and the juicy short rib we had that night. Overall, is it 2 hat quality? I don't know, time will tell when we try out more restaurants. 


Prices are in the 100-150 region per pax and luckily that night, our friend foot the bill after being awarded a nice referral fee from getting me into this new job of mine. 


Address and contact details:

Cutler & Co on Urbanspoon

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5 stars. If the place was less noisy and the desserts more accepting to our palates, this place would deserve more than 4 stars in my books.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sapore @ St Kilda, Melbourne

The first thing I did when we received our Entertainment Book was to mark down all the restaurants that were either dishing out "Buy 1 Free 1 offers" or possess the coveted Hat status. After drooling at the sample menus, it was to our delight that we saw Sapore in both of our lists! One hatted restaurant with a buy one free one deal, it must have been our day. 


We were probably going to keep it for a special occasion but came Friday night when both of us were uninspired to dig into the fridge and Sapore being that 5-10 minute drive away, we braved the cold winds of St Kilda beach. 


Parking is quite a nightmare in this area, with most places requiring to pay for parking to the early hours of morning. We found free parking with a 1 hour limit and decided to risk it.


Armed without a reservation, we were surprised that the restaurant wasn't as busy as some have experienced. We sat at the bar for 5 minutes where they got us to obviously order drinks before we sat down to some bread and olives.   

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Here bread is served with olive oil, salt and olives. Not complaining at all when it tastes good and is complimentary.


With that 1 hour limit and a conscious budget, we jumped straight to the mains.

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The pork belly came with a rather suss looking crackling but despite the looks, it was fabulous. The apple puree, fennel salad and that fried crochette completes the meal but deep down I really wanted some more pork belly but I guess $37 only buys you this much (its a rare breed according to the menu). 

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Someone commented to me the other day about how an Italian restaurant should be rated according to how good their tiramisu is. I say before we even arrive to desserts, we should first  try their pasta. Ever since I decided I will not try to make gnocchi at home again, gnocchi has been our first choice pasta when we dine in an Italian restaurant. Today we had a version with a braised rabbit. The sauce was outstanding but we felt the gnocchi was slightly too soft for our liking. 

We looked at our watches after the plates were cleared and sadly our hour was coming to an end. Having to skip desserts pained me but oh well, since it was a buy one free one meal, our one hat restaurant experience together with drinks was slightly above $50. 

Based on our experience, we should be back.

Address and contact details:

Sapore on Urbanspoon


Verdict: 4 stars out of 5 stars (just based on our mains). Good Italian food but coming to this part of town at night (hard to find parking) during winter (so freaking cold and strong winds) will be tall ask for me.