Agapi, Richmond

Agapi

Situated on the quieter side of Swan St, family-owned Agapi has been around since 1968, and under the current owners for over 20 years. Dark, bare brick gives off a warm and homely feel, and the upstairs section is popular for family functions.

Agapi - Saganaki - Grilled goats cheese ($13.50)

Saganaki – Grilled goats cheese ($13.50)

Agapi - Taramasalata - red caviar ($7.50), Hot Pita Bread ($2)

Taramasalata – red caviar ($7.50), Hot Pita Bread ($2)

Agapi - Grilled calamari ($19.50)

Grilled calamari ($19.50)

Agapi - Keftedes - mini burgers ($22)

Keftedes – mini burgers ($22)

Agapi - Lamb Fillet Souvlaki ($26)

Lamb Fillet Souvlaki ($26)

There’s food from the charcoal grill, and traditional dishes like yemista, vegetables stuffed with rice, and Kokkinisto stew. The pink-coloured red caviar-based taramasalata is a bit salty, but there’s also warm, grilled pita to slather it all over. Saganaki is made with goats cheese rather than the more commonly found halloumi. Grilled meats are done well: the squid is tender, and the keftedes and lamb kebabs are tasty and perfectly executed. Traditional sweets are available for desserts, and we have the baklava, the sweet syrupy dish going down well with a cup of coffee.

Agapi - Baklava - pastry & nuts in a syrup of honey ($7.50)

Baklava – pastry & nuts in a syrup of honey ($7.50)

It’s not necessarily fancy, but the food here at Agapi is solid, rustic no frills Greek fare.

Agapi

Disclaimer: I was invited to Agapi as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own, and are based on my experience at the time

Agapi
262 Swan St
Richmond, VIC, 3121
(03) 9428 8337
www.agapirestaurant.com.au
Agapi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Toto’s Pizza, Richmond

Toto’s, the oldest pizza restaurant in Australia, has been expanding. From its origins in Carlton, it’s grown to include a small place in South Melbourne, and now one on Bridge Road. The Richmond branch is more of a takeaway place than a full restaurant, but there are still a handful of seats to dine at, and the warm lighting and wooden tables keep things casual.

Toto's Pizza

Toto's Pizza - Chicken Pesto Spinaci - Napoli sauce, pesto sauce, mozzarella cheese, kalamata olives, onion, marinated chicken breast, baby spinach ($16)

Chicken Pesto Spinaci – Napoli sauce, pesto sauce, mozzarella cheese, kalamata olives, onion, marinated chicken breast, baby spinach ($16)

Toto's Pizza - Pescatore - Napoli sauce, mozzarella cheese, anchovies, tiger prawns, scallops, mussels ($18)

Pescatore – Napoli sauce, mozzarella cheese, anchovies, tiger prawns, scallops, mussels ($18)

Toto's Pizza - 6 pack peri-peri chicken wings ($10)

6 pack peri-peri chicken wings ($10)

The menu encompasses traditional pizza, as well as healthy and gourmet varieties, salads, sides and desserts. From the healthy pizza range comes the Chicken Pesto Spinaci, featuring both Napoli sauce and pesto, mozzarella cheese, kalamata olives, onion, marinated chicken breast and baby spinach. There’s also the Pescatore, topped with Napoli sauce, mozzarella cheese, anchovies, tiger prawns, scallops and mussels. The seafood is particularly fresh, the scallops being impressively plump, and the side of chicken wings are similarly juicy. For dessert you might have Nutella-packed calzone, which is freshened up by vanilla ice cream.

Toto's Pizza - Calzone Chocalata with vanilla ice cream ($16)

Calzone Chocalata with vanilla ice cream ($16)

Toto's Pizza - Calzone Chocalata with vanilla ice cream ($16)

Calzone Chocalata with vanilla ice cream ($16)

With the quality ingredients used in its toppings, Toto’s presents a decent option for your pizza cravings, and they deliver too.

Toto's Pizza

Disclaimer: I was invited to Toto’s as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own, and are based on my experience at the time

Toto’s Pizza
301 Bridge Rd
Richmond, VIC, 3121
(03) 9429 2020
www.totosrichmond.com.au
Toto's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saint Lucia, Windsor

Saint Lucia

It’s always exciting to try something different in a food-filled city like Melbourne. Named after a scenic island in the Caribbean, Saint Lucia’s menu draws its inspiration from Caribbean, Cuban and South American cuisines. Their focus on good drinks means there’s also a large selection of cocktails, tequila, rum and wine.

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia - Fried plantains, paprika salt, chipotle mayo ($7)

Fried plantains, paprika salt, chipotle mayo ($7)

Saint Lucia - Kingfish ceviche cured in lime and coconut milk served w fresh cucumber + coriander ($18)

Kingfish ceviche cured in lime and coconut milk served w fresh cucumber + coriander ($18)

The restaurant itself is small and friendly, and feels almost like you’re making yourself at home in someone else’s lounge. Dinner gets off to a good start with shards of fried plantains seasoned with paprika salt, and coming with chipotle mayo. A good dish, whether you’re after an appetiser, or just some drink nibbles. For protein, the fresh, tangy and zesty kingfish ceviche is cured in lime and coconut milk, truly awakening the tastebuds.

Saint Lucia - Jambalaya - rice with vegetables, spices, chicken, pipis, chorizo, shrimp and chilli paste ($18)

Jambalaya – rice with vegetables, spices, chicken, pipis, chorizo, shrimp and chilli paste ($18)

Jambalaya is Creole comfort food at its best. Not just hot wet rice, this delicious rice dish is filled with tasty spices, vegetables, juicy chicken, pipis, chorizo, and comes with a punchy shrimp and chilli paste.

Saint Lucia - Smokey roasted cauliflower seasoned w smokey paprika and creole remoulade sauce ($8)

Smokey roasted cauliflower seasoned w smokey paprika and creole remoulade sauce ($8)

Saint Lucia - Grilled cuban corn on the cob w herb butter (3 for $7)

Grilled cuban corn on the cob w herb butter (3 for $7)

Saint Lucia - Mac & cheese served piping hot in the skillet w a spicy, crunchy topping ($8)

Mac & cheese served piping hot in the skillet w a spicy, crunchy topping ($8)

Saint Lucia - Jerk salmon - pan-fried salmon fillet marinated in house jerk sauce ($18)

Jerk salmon – pan-fried salmon fillet marinated in house jerk sauce ($18)

Roasted cauliflower is seasoned with smokey paprika and creole remoulade, and the grilled Cuban corn with herb butter is suitably juicy. Mac and cheese is served piping hot from the skillet, coming with a crunchy topping. It’s not bad, but not quite cheesy enough for our liking. Jerk salmon is a standout. It’s tangy, spicy, sour and sweet, a combination that may sound a bit confusing, but is instead more of an exciting flavour experience.

Saint Lucia - La roche flambe - Dark ginger cake, hot caramel, blood orange mousse, ginger soil, candied nuts ($14)

La roche flambe – Dark ginger cake, hot caramel, blood orange mousse, ginger soil, candied nuts ($14)

Saint Lucia - La roche flambe - Dark ginger cake, hot caramel, blood orange mousse, ginger soil, candied nuts ($14)

La roche flambe – Dark ginger cake, hot caramel, blood orange mousse, ginger soil, candied nuts ($14)

For desserts we try the new La roche flambe, aka “the flaming rock”, modelled after a volcano. A conical dark ginger cake contains hot caramel and a lava-like blood orange mousse, the base of the ginger cake soaking up some of the liquid contents. It’s surrounded by a ginger soil and candied nuts, and a bit of a flaming spectacle completes the volcano comparisons. The alcohol is certainly strong in this one, but there’s a non-alcoholic version available too.

Saint Lucia

It’s a bit sad that there isn’t more Caribbean food to be found in these parts, but thankfully we can have a good taste of it here at Saint Lucia.

Saint Lucia
78 Chapel St
Windsor, VIC, 3181
(03) 9530 2085
saintluciawindsor.com.au
Saint Lucia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pablo Honey, St Kilda

Pablo Honey - Pablo Orgasm - Baileys, Kahlua, Amaretto, cream, Tim Tam ($18)

Pablo Orgasm – Baileys, Kahlua, Amaretto, cream, Tim Tam ($18)

One of my favourite new discoveries of the year, Pablo Honey is now just into its fourth menu change, keeping to its promise of seasonality. The atmosphere is as warm as ever, and I settle into dinner with a Pablo Orgasm, a cocktail made up of Baileys, Kahlua, Amaretto, cream and a Tim Tam for a bit of fun. This is not as sweet as it may appear to be, despite all the cream, hundreds and thousands and chocolate biscuit on top. Sometimes I feel like more of a refreshing drink, and other times I yearn for something richer. This cocktail suits the latter quite well.

Pablo Honey - Chorizo and cheese fundido with hickory corn chips ($14)

Chorizo and cheese fundido with hickory corn chips ($14)

Dinner begins with a bang when the fundido arrives. The cheese sauce is not as thick and intense as its pure cheese Swiss counterpart, due to its inclusion of a meat sauce. The fundido has a savoury element from the spicy chorizo and onion, and dipping in with the hickory corn chips is both fun and lip-smackingly satisfying. We were left trying to scrape up every last bit.

Pablo Honey - BBQ Chilli Lime Lamb Neck - Jalapeño mint pebre and black bean chipotle hommus ($17)

BBQ Chilli Lime Lamb Neck – Jalapeño mint pebre and black bean chipotle hommus ($17)

Pablo Honey - Chargrilled Wallaby Fillet - Guindilla chilli, charred leeks and salbitxada ($19)

Chargrilled Wallaby Fillet – Guindilla chilli, charred leeks and salbitxada ($19)

One of the new dishes on the spring menu is the BBQ Chilli Lime Lamb Neck. The lamb is fatty and tender, and the Jalapeño mint pebre helps cuts through it. Black bean chipotle hommus adds an extra little punch of chilli. The Chargrilled Wallaby comes with a thick Guindilla chilli paste, charred leeks and salbitxada. Eaten together with a sweet, and also slightly bitter red gel, it’s an intriguing and tasty flavour sensation.

Pablo Honey - Spring Bay Mussels - Jamon, aji amarillo butter & coriander ($18)

Spring Bay Mussels – Jamon, aji amarillo butter & coriander ($18)

Pablo Honey - BBQ Beef Asado Ribs - Polenta chips, chimmichuri and cumin yoghurt ($45)

BBQ Beef Asado Ribs – Polenta chips, chimmichuri and cumin yoghurt ($45)

Much of the spring menu is meat-based, but there are still the Spring Bay mussels paired with salty jamon, aji amarillo butter and coriander. The broth is a tad salty, but is still complex and rich. BBQ Beef Asado Ribs are chosen as the large share plate. The ribs have a good chilli kick, a tasty charred exterior, and meat that almost melts in the mouth. The decadent mouth-feel of this cut is offset by a vibrant chimichurri, and also tamed with a stack of polenta chips on the side.

Pablo Honey - Grilled Baby Zucchini - Green garlic, manchego, onion ash and lemon ($15)

Grilled Baby Zucchini – Green garlic, manchego, onion ash and lemon ($15)

To balance out all the meat we’ve been eating we also have the Grilled Baby Zucchini, which turns out to be one of our favourite dishes. The zucchini flowers are crunchy without being oily, and its pairing with garlic stems makes for a good combination. Lemon rind and manchego cheese add a bit more sharpness and lift.

Pablo Honey - Burnt Orange Creme Catalan - Creme friache and confit citrus ($15)

Burnt Orange Creme Catalan – Creme friache and confit citrus ($15)

We end with the Burnt Orange Creme Catalan with creme friache and confit citrus fruit. The creme catalan has a nice crust that cracks with the tap of a spoon, and when all the elements are eaten together, there’s a nice balance of sweet and sour flavours.

Many months on from its opening, Pablo Honey still has it in the bag. The interesting cocktail list, and mixture of both delicate and heartier dishes with well-thought out flavours makes it an appealing dining destination.

Pablo Honey - Burnt Orange Creme Catalan - Creme friache and confit citrus ($15)

Burnt Orange Creme Catalan – Creme friache and confit citrus ($15)

Pablo Honey - Chorizo and cheese fundido with hickory corn chips ($14)

Chorizo and cheese fundido with hickory corn chips ($14)

Disclaimer: I was invited to Pablo Honey as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own, and are based on my experience at the time.

Pablo Honey
68 Acland St
St Kilda, VIC, 3182
(03) 9534 3246
http://www.pablohoney.net/
Pablo Honey Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lt Osteria, Melbourne CBD

Lt Osteria

Lt Osteria is a new name on the streets but it’s not technically new, more of a metamorphosis. Started originally as Cafe Salida three years ago, the cafe has been completely rebranded with a tighter focus on good Italian food in a warm and friendly environment. Zwei Interiors Architecture has nailed the redesign. The blonde timbers, timber frames, overhanging plants and splashes of eggshell blue impart the cosy and welcoming atmosphere they were after.

Lt Osteria

Lt Osteria - Mocha with hazelnut Monin syrup, Cappuccino

Mocha & Cappuccino

Coffee beans are from Reverence, and apart from the usual alternative milks, hot drinks can be customised with Monin syrups. If you’re after a lazy lunch, local wines, champagne and beers are on the list too.

Lt Osteria - Mini Brioche Bun - Bacon, egg and spinach ($6); Patate Fritte - Bowl of chunky chips with aioli and tomato sauce ($7.50)

Mini Brioche Bun – Bacon, egg and spinach ($6); Patate Fritte – Bowl of chunky chips with aioli and tomato sauce ($7.50)

Lt Osteria - Mini Brioche Bun - Bacon, egg and spinach ($6)

Mini Brioche Bun – Bacon, egg and spinach ($6)

Breakfast classics are still on the new menu, but we try a tasty mini bun, this one with bacon, egg and spinach on Noisette brioche. As a side we have the patate fritte. A small portion of chips this is not. The large bowl is filled with fat, fluffy and crunchy chips with a delicious aioli to dip into.

Lt Osteria - Pappardelle with beef ragu

Pappardelle with beef ragu

The kitchen makes as much as possible in-house, from the pasta to the sweets in the cabinet; an impressive feat, considering the tiny kitchen and a team made up only of a head chef and kitchen hand. One of the specials for today is pappardelle with beef ragu, the wholesome, tomatoey beef caught nicely by the wide, slippery pappardelle.

Lt Osteria - Spaghetti di Gamberi - Local king prawns with heirloom cherry tomatoes, chilli, garlic, fresh herbs in extra virgin olive oil ($20)

Spaghetti di Gamberi – Local king prawns with heirloom cherry tomatoes, chilli, garlic, fresh herbs in extra virgin olive oil ($20)

The Spaghetti di Gamberi is also delicious. Coming with king prawns and heirloom cherry tomatoes, it’s seasoned with chilli, garlic and fresh herbs. The sweet tomatoes add some extra freshness, and the mild taste of chilli keeps the dish bright.

Lt Osteria - Gluten free salted caramel brownie, lemon and coconut slice with lemon frosting ($4)

Gluten free salted caramel brownie, lemon and coconut slice with lemon frosting ($4)

Lt Osteria - Gluten free salted caramel brownie, lemon and coconut slice with lemon frosting ($4)

Gluten free salted caramel brownie, lemon and coconut slice with lemon frosting ($4)

We finish with a tangy lemon and coconut slice with lemon frosting, and a gluten-free, fudge-like salted caramel brownie, which is rich and definitely decadent, but not too sweet. They make for a great end to a meal, or a naughty treat to grab and go with your takeaway coffee.

Lt Osteria

Although the official address of the complex is on Bourke Street, Lt Osteria’s entrance is acutally on Lt Bourke. Don’t get lost like we did. Find it, and you’ll be rewarded with a hearty breakfast and a tasty Italian meal.

Lt Osteria - Spaghetti di Gamberi - Local king prawns with heirloom cherry tomatoes, chilli, garlic, fresh herbs in extra virgin olive oil ($20); Pappardelle with beef ragu

Spaghetti di Gamberi – Local king prawns with heirloom cherry tomatoes, chilli, garlic, fresh herbs in extra virgin olive oil ($20); Pappardelle with beef ragu

Lt Osteria

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of Lt Osteria. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and based on my experience at the time of the visit

Lt. Osteria
TG25
550 Bourke Street
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9606 0996
http://www.ltosteria.com.au/
Facebook
Lt. Osteria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Oxford Larder, Collingwood

Oxford Larder

A corner store and cafe, Oxford Larder comes from the owners of the not-too-far-away South of Johnston, Stuart McKenzie and Simon Carver. The interior is tight – there are only about 15 seats indoors and 12 outside. We arrive just past 12pm on a Saturday and manage to snag the last of the tiny round tables inside.

Oxford Larder

Oxford Larder

Oxford Larder - Large Market Lane latte ($5)

Large Market Lane latte ($5)

The provedore side of things sells kitchen utensils, cookware and other household items, vegetables, bread, pickles and preserves. Coffee is from Market Lane, and in terms of food, the menu from Glenn Bourke and Matthew Palmer has French and Nordic influences. Meals such as pies, curries and salads can be taken away to consume later, and cakes, pastries and buns also feature at the counter for the on-the-go crowd. The kitchen cabinet displays the day’s salads, pies and tarts. Once finished, they may not be restocked, so if you’re keen on having a wider choice, an earlier visit might be a good idea.

Oxford Larder - Nordic potato waffle - Smoked salmon, crushed avocado, Sour cream, larder beetroot pickle, soft-boiled egg, lemon & dill ($16)

Nordic potato waffle – Smoked salmon, crushed avocado, Sour cream, larder beetroot pickle, soft-boiled egg, lemon & dill ($16)

Oxford Larder - Nordic potato waffle - Smoked salmon, crushed avocado, Sour cream, larder beetroot pickle, soft-boiled egg, lemon & dill ($16)

The green eggs baked with brown rice, lemon zest and zucchini intrigues, but it’s part of the breakfast menu only, so I settle for the Nordic potato waffles instead. Unlike many cafes these days, the breakfast and lunch menu are largely distinct, changing over at noon. There are a few dishes that cross over both sides, and fortunately the Nordic potato waffle is one of them. The waffles consist mostly of finely julienned potato. Smoked salmon, crushed avocado, and a soft-boiled egg are the main toppings, and the flavours are lifted by the sour cream, and zingy pickled beetroot. Though the potato waffle is a bit dry, it’s a great combination of flavours.

Oxford Larder - Oxford larder pie with 2 salads ($12 + 6) Beef cheek and polenta pie, freekeh, cherry tomato and pumpkin salad, cauliflower, kale and black rice salad

Oxford larder pie with 2 salads – Beef cheek and polenta pie, freekeh, cherry tomato and pumpkin salad, cauliflower, kale and black rice salad ($12 + 6)

Oxford Larder - Oxford larder pie with 2 salads ($12 + 6) Beef cheek and polenta pie, freekeh, cherry tomato and pumpkin salad, cauliflower, kale and black rice salad

We also order a pie with two salads, choosing (the last) beef cheek and polenta pie, a freekeh, cherry tomato and pumpkin salad, and the cauliflower, kale and black rice salad. This one is more of a pot pie, the tender, pulled beef cheek and diced carrot filling topped with a ‘crust’ of polenta. The salads are nutritious and tasty, and cauliflower salad in particular is delicious.

Oxford Larder

It may be hard to linger due to its limited seating, but there’s a warm and cosy feel to Oxford Larder that may draw in a regular crowd.

Oxford Larder

Oxford Larder

Oxford Larder
18 Peel St
Collingwood, VIC, 3066
(03) 9417 3675
oxfordlarder.com.au
Oxford Larder Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

House of Hoi An, Windsor

It may be just off Chapel Street, but that doesn’t mean the foodie excitement is over. Wander a few doors down, and it’s hard to miss the colourfully painted facade of House of Hoi An. It’s a place where you can delve into the cuisine of its namesake city, where dishes found on the menu might be unlike any you’ve seen before.

House of Hoi An

Perhaps not as familiar to us here as she is overseas, owner Ms Trinh Diem Vy is a Hoi An local and one of Vietnam’s most well-known restaurateurs and chefs. With over 30 years of restaurant experience in Hoi An, she’s busy running a string of three restaurants, a cooking school and food tours to boot.

House of Hoi An - Fried wonton with crab meat (Hoanh thanh chien) - Fried wonton with sauteed crabmeat, spring onions and tomato (5 for $18)

Fried wonton with crab meat (Hoanh thanh chien) – Fried wonton with sauteed crabmeat, spring onions and tomato (5 for $18)

We kick off with an appetiser of fried wonton skins topped with with sauteed crab meat, spring onions and tomato. Relief from the peppery crab is provided by the tomato and finely diced pineapple. It’s a tongue-awakening start to the night.

House of Hoi An - Pomelo salad with chicken and prawns ($18)

Pomelo salad with chicken and prawns ($18)

If you’re after a refreshing salad, you can’t go past pomelo. Their pomelo salad special comes with chicken, as well as unadvertised prawns. With carrot, beansprouts, coriander, Vietnamese mint and a hint of chilli, it’s bright and tasty. Even without the protein, the pomelo salad is stellar.

House of Hoi An - Stuffed squid with pork (Muc nhoi tom thit) - Squid, shrimp, pork mince, wood-ear mushrooms, mung bean vermicelli ($32)

Stuffed squid with pork (Muc nhoi tom thit) – Squid, shrimp, pork mince, wood-ear mushrooms, mung bean vermicelli ($32)

Particularly noteworthy is the pork-stuffed squid. The dark and handsomely coloured dish also contains shrimp, wood-ear mushrooms and mung bean vermicelli. As with the fried wonton appetiser, pepper is predominant. The heavier flavours of the dish are well suited for pairing with rice, but it’s also one I’d be more than happy to order again.

House of Hoi An - Chicken hot pot with mushrooms (Lau nam ga) - Slow cooked country hen with red dates, wild mushrooms and eight treasures, rice and egg noodles, sesame dip and fresh herbs ($32)

Chicken hot pot with mushrooms (Lau nam ga) – Slow cooked country hen with red dates, wild mushrooms and eight treasures, rice and egg noodles, sesame dip and fresh herbs ($32)

On the other end of the scale is the chicken hot pot with mushrooms. Chicken is slow-cooked with eight treasures, including red dates, wild mushrooms, barley, goji, ginkgo nuts and lotus. The light and delicate herbal broth is paired with both rice and egg noodles on the side, as well as fresh herbs and an interesting roasted sesame, garlic and chilli sauce. It has the sort of flavours that I crave when I’m feeling under the weather, or simply in need of some warming up.

House of Hoi An - Cafe dang - Vietnamese drip filter coffee with condensed milk ($6)

Cafe dang – Vietnamese drip filter coffee with condensed milk ($6)

House of Hoi An - Creme caramel (Kem flan) ($10)

Creme caramel (Kem flan) ($10)

House of Hoi An - Banana flambe (Chuoi chien cot dua) - Sugar bananas flambeed wtih rum, served wtih coconut sago ($15)

Banana flambe (Chuoi chien cot dua) – Sugar bananas flambeed wtih rum, served wtih coconut sago ($15)

End with some sweet treats such as the eggy, and smooth but firm creme caramel, whose condensed milk accompaniment is spiked with a bit of coffee. For something more fruity, sugar bananas are flambeed with rum, laid atop some sago and garnished with both toasted coconut and shaved fresh coconut meat.

It’s a bit pricey, but the food is flavoursome and unique. With all of Ms Vy’s experience now brought over to Melbourne, the cuisine of Hoi An is one we can now explore further.

House of Hoi An

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of House of Hoi An. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and based on my experience at the time of the visit

House of Hoi An
1/40 Green St
Windsor, VIC, 3181
(03) 9078 7448
houseofhoian.com
House of Hoi An Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pintoh, Melbourne CBD

Pintoh

Outshone by the cuisine of its geographical neighbours, Lao cuisine hasn’t made much of an appearance here yet. Pintoh hopes to change that with its spread of modern and traditional Lao dishes. Its menu draws influence from Laos and the northeastern Isan region of Thailand, which has a population of ethnic Lao people that outnumbers those in Laos itself.

Pintoh

Staple dishes in Lao cuisine include larb and tam muk hoong (green papaya salad), and sticky rice is a key component of every meal. Flavours also lean more towards the spicy and bitter side of things compared to Thai and Vietnamese food.

Pintoh - Betel Leaf Prawns - Grilled prawn betel leaf wrap topped with mild chilli-herb sauce ($4.50 pp)

Pintoh (13) Betel Leaf Prawns – Grilled prawn betel leaf wrap topped with mild chilli-herb sauce ($4.50 pp)

Pintoh - Lemongrass Pork (Ua Sing Khai) - Grilled whole lemongrass branch stuffed with a herb, spice and pork mixture ($3.50 pp)

Lemongrass Pork (Ua Sing Khai) – Grilled whole lemongrass branch stuffed with a herb, spice and pork mixture ($3.50 pp)

We begin with the betel leaf prawns, which come with a vibrant herb sauce where lemongrass is predominant, and the herbs punctuated with a mild hit of chilli and crushed peanuts. Lemongrass pork comes next. Open up some of those grilled, whole lemongrass branches to reveal a tasty herbal and spicy pork mixture stuffed inside.

Pintoh - Kuviang Fried Chicken - Fried chicken ribs with 8 herbs and spices, coconut milk batter, sriracha mayo ($12)

Kuviang Fried Chicken – Fried chicken ribs with 8 herbs and spices, coconut milk batter, sriracha mayo ($12)

Kuviang fried chicken ribs are coated in a coconut milk batter, seasoned with a secret combination of eight herbs and spices. There’s almost no grease on our fingers, and the flavoursome batter is light and crunchy. Finger-licking good.

Pintoh - Pork Small Ribs - Confit marinated soft bone ribs with apple, pink radish, walnut and herb salad ($14)

Pork Small Ribs – Confit marinated soft bone ribs with apple, pink radish, walnut and herb salad ($14)

Pintoh - Pork Small Ribs - Confit marinated soft bone ribs with apple, pink radish, walnut and herb salad ($14)

Pork Small Ribs – Confit marinated soft bone ribs with apple, pink radish, walnut and herb salad ($14)

Pintoh - Mussaman Beef - Slow cooked beef cheek, peanut, kipfler potato, char-grilled sweet potato ($30)

Mussaman Beef – Slow cooked beef cheek, peanut, kipfler potato, char-grilled sweet potato ($30)

Pintoh - Chilli Crab (Mamuang) - Stir-fried crispy soft shell crabs in chilli jam, cashew nuts, garlic and chilli ($36)

Chilli Crab (Mamuang) – Stir-fried crispy soft shell crabs in chilli jam, cashew nuts, garlic and chilli ($36)

The confit pork small ribs are sweet and meltingly tender. Though strong on flavour, it’s balanced by a beautifully presented apple, pink radish, walnut and herb salad. Made to order, the freshness of the salad is apparent. The mussaman beef curry utilises beef cheek, cooked until it melts in the mouth. For their chilli crab dish, soft shell crabs are stir-fried and coated in a sweet chilli jam, and whole cashews provide a contrast to the soft and juicy seafood. It’s a much more robust dish compared to the rest.

Pintoh - Larb gai - Spicy chicken mince, toasted rice, red onion, mint, coriander, nam yum dressing ($22)

Larb gai – Spicy chicken mince, toasted rice, red onion, mint, coriander, nam yum dressing ($22)

Larb gai, only rated two out of three on their chilli scale is most definitely hot. Even the chilli-head mentions that it’s quite spicy. A mixture of minced chicken, red onion, mint and coriander is dressed with a nam yum-based sauce, the chilli seeds visible in abundance. Chopped toasted rice add a neat crunch. Spooned into lettuce leaves, wrapped then eaten with the hands, it’s a messy but delicious eat.

Pintoh - Panna Cotta - Coconut panna cotta, sago, black sesame, banana brulee ($11)

Panna Cotta – Coconut panna cotta, sago, black sesame, banana brulee ($11)

Pintoh - Taro Puree, coconut ice cream, pistachio syrup, mint ($12)

Taro Puree, coconut ice cream, pistachio syrup, mint ($12)

To finish, there’s a sweet panna cotta, which is matched with a more savoury layer of sago. The caramelised banana brulee adds some colour, though could have done with a bit more crunch. For something more unusual, there’s the lightly salted taro puree, paired with a scoop of coconut ice cream and pistachio syrup.

Explore Lao cuisine with Pintoh’s flavoursome menu and their casual, share-style dining experience. Not knowing what to expect when we entered, we left having had one of the best feeds we’ve had in a while.

Pintoh

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of Pintoh. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and based on my experience at the time of the visit

Pintoh
165A Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9650 8452
www.pintoh.com.au
Pintoh Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

IONIO: Greek Charcoal BBQ, Doncaster

IONIO

Shopping centre food generally doesn’t get me excited. When catering for the masses, eateries can get a bit slack, with a corresponding change in food quality. IONIO resides in Westfield and could easily be boxed in with the stereotype, but can they stand out from the crowd?

IONIO

IONIO takes pride in food made from scratch and the use of their charcoal-fired rotisserie, which can be seen in action, roasting those rotating spits of meat. Consulting Dani Venn of Masterchef fame, their newly redesigned menu re-focuses on authentic Greek cuisine.

IONIO - House made dips - hommus, taramasalata

House made dips – hommus, taramasalata

No Greek feast is complete without olives, and of course, house made dips. Tzatziki, hummus and taramasalata are slathered onto warm and fluffy pita. Though delicious, self-control is needed; we’re only at the beginning of the meal, and who ever leaves a Greek household feeling hungry?

IONIO - Fried cheese balls - kefalogravieria cheese w lemon

Fried cheese balls – kefalogravieria cheese w lemon

IONIO - Fried cheese balls - kefalogravieria cheese w lemon

Fried cheese balls – kefalogravieria cheese w lemon

IONIO - Grilled Dodoni saganaki - kefalogravieria cheese w oregano & lemon

Grilled Dodoni saganaki – kefalogravieria cheese w oregano & lemon

IONIO - Grilled Dodoni saganaki - kefalogravieria cheese w oregano & lemon

Grilled Dodoni saganaki – kefalogravieria cheese w oregano & lemon

It’s now time for cheese. Fried balls of kefalogravieria cheese are crunchy and oozy. Skillets of Dodoni saganaki arrive hot to the touch, the grilled kefalogravieria inside them flavoured with sprinkles of oregano and squeezes of lemon before being torn apart in all their stringy glory.

IONIO - Charcoal-fired lamb and chicken gyros

Charcoal-fired lamb and chicken gyros

IONIO - Chargrilled rainbow trout wrapped in vine leaves, marinated in lemon & garlic

Chargrilled rainbow trout wrapped in vine leaves, marinated in lemon & garlic

Meat from the charcoal-fired spit is enjoyed as gyros, the succulent and tasty lamb and chicken assembled DIY style at the table. Rainbow trout is marinated in lemon & garlic, and wrapped in vine leaves before being cooked on the charcoal grill. Lifting the leaves away unveils the blushingly pink trout. Juicy and perfectly cooked.

IONIO - Homestyle moussaka with beef, lamb, eggplant, potato and bechamel

Homestyle moussaka with beef, lamb, eggplant, potato and bechamel

My favourite dish of the day is the homestyle moussaka. Minced beef and lamb, tender eggplant, and slices of potato are topped with bechamel, cooked until the creamy white sauce possesses the tasty browned layer on top. Comfort food at its best, it was hard to stop eating until it was demolished.

IONIO - Roasted Beetroot - roast beets w labne, mint & hazelnuts

Roasted Beetroot – roast beets w labne, mint & hazelnuts

IONIO - Goddess of Grains - quinoa, barley, freekah & farro, almond, currants & pomegranate

Goddess of Grains – quinoa, barley, freekah & farro, almond, currants & pomegranate

Salads arrive to balance the meat-heavy mains we’ve received. There’s the Greek salad with its classic combination of tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, feta, olives and oregano, and the zingy and tender roasted beetroot with labne, mint and hazelnuts. Goddess of Grains is a healthy, but textural and enjoyable mix of quinoa, barley, freekah, farro and sliced almonds, sweetened up by currants and pomegranate.

IONIO - Smashed baklava with toasted walnut and honey ice cream

Smashed baklava with toasted walnut and honey ice cream

IONIO - Warm Bougasta with cinnamon sugar

Warm Bougasta with cinnamon sugar

Smashed baklava with toasted walnut, pomegranate and honey ice cream is a deconstructed version of the popular Greek sweet. It’s lighter, fresher, not as saccharine, and probably healthier than the traditional version without all that sugary syrup, though is also less crunchy. One dessert that’s perfect for colder weather is the bougasta. The fragrant pastry dusted in cinnamon sugar contains smooth and piping-hot custard, and it’s the dessert I keep going back to.

Usually not a fan of restaurants in shopping complexes, IONIO surprises. Thankfully bucking the trend, their revamped menu means this is one shopping centre restaurant worth visiting.

IONIO

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of IONIO. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and based on my experience at the time of the visit

IONIO: Greek Charcoal BBQ
Shop 2001 (next to Village Cinemas), Level 3
Westfield Doncaster
619 Doncaster Rd
Doncaster, VIC, 3108
(03) 9840 1423
http://www.ionio.com.au
IONIO Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Cut Cocktail Bar, Melbourne CBD

Originally hailing from Sydney, Fratelli Fresh and The Cut Steakhouse have opened up in Alfred Place, which was most recently the home of Stokehouse City.

The Cut Bar & Grill

The Cut

Fratelli Fresh resides on the ground level, and you’ll find The Cut after a short journey up the plush flight of stairs. Both have a different vibe, Fratelli Fresh feeling more like a casual diner serving up Italian cuisine, and The Cut giving the appearance of a high-end destination with its high ceilings, marble, dark timber and plush leather seating. The two restaurants also have their own separate bars.

The Cut Bar & Grill

The Cut Bar & Grill - The Roy - Talisker 10yo, Laphroaig PX, 10year Old Madeira and whisky aged bitters ($24), Gin at No 7 - Tanqueray, Aperol, framboise, apple, yuzu, bitters ($19)

The Roy – Talisker 10yo, Laphroaig PX, 10year Old Madeira and whisky aged bitters ($24), Gin at No 7 – Tanqueray, Aperol, framboise, apple, yuzu, bitters ($19)

The Cut’s dedicated bar has been done up in speakeasy style, with a fireplace, cushy armchairs and of course, high seats at the bar counter. Thankfully the bar seats have back support, which makes it more comfortable to to lounge around and chat for a few hours. Trying two drinks, we have The Roy, which is a warming cocktail made from Talisker, Laphroaig PX, 10year Old Madeira and whisky aged bitters.  Gin at No. 7 is a lighter, fresher drink of Tanqueray, Aperol, framboise, apple, yuzu and bitters. We’re also given a plate of potato chips, which are lightly coated with a green-coloured seasoning, and taste faintly like salt and vinegar.

With incredible interior styling that brings you to a different time and place, The Cut Cocktail Bar is in a prime location for pre-theatre drinks.

The Cut Bar & Grill

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of The Cut. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and based on my experience at the time of the visit

The Cut Steakhouse
The Alfred
7 Alfred Place
Melbourne CBD, VIC, 3000
1300 253 733
http://www.cutbarandgrill.com
The Cut Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato