Ascot Food Store, Ascot Vale

Ascot Food Store

I took A2 to the airport this morning and after saying our goodbyes I used the opportunity to visit the Western suburbs for a change. I rarely come here so there were many cafes to pick from. In the end I chose Ascot Food Store. Also because, well, there aren’t many cafes open at 7am on Sunday morning.

Ascot Food Store

The cafe has a retro feel, especially in the back rooms which feature bright orange furniture and funky light fixtures. A quaint hodge-podge of items are used in the decor too – water is served in anything from beakers to wine bottles.

Ascot Food Store

The 62-degree eggs with brioche and pickled truffles were a tempting proposition, but I didn’t think I could handle its richness at that ungodly hour of the morning.

Ascot Food Store - Apple Wood Smoked Ocean Trout, Freekeh, Roasted Cauliflower, Cress, Shredded Kale ($20)

Apple Wood Smoked Ocean Trout, Freekeh, Roasted Cauliflower, Cress, Shredded Kale ($20)

Instead, I chose the smoked ocean trout to start my day on a healthy and nutritious note. The kale had a lovely, gentle sweetness, the trout had crispy skin, pull-apart smokey flesh, and, of course, I loved the cauliflower and freekeh on the side.

Ascot Food Store (17)edit9

The cafe has a nice neighbourhood feel to it, and it’s no surprise that it’s popular, though I have to say I was surprised to find this many people up and running so early on Sunday morning.

Ascot Food Store
320 Ascot Vale Rd
Moonee Ponds, VIC, 3039
(03) 9370 2649
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Tipo 00, Melbourne CBD

For her final dinner in Melbourne A2 and I went to a place we’ve both been wanting to visit – Tipo 00. Tipo 00 has been on my radar since I heard it was in development. A pasta bar dedicated to serving up unadulterated home-made pasta dishes? Yes please.

Tipo 00

Polished concrete with a painted-on geometric pattern, white marble benchtops, dark woods and bentwood chairs and stools lend a simple, and friendly European air to the restaurant. The restaurant is small with only about 40 odd seats, so it was no surprise to see that it was packed. Tipo 00 was recently voted best casual dining restaurant in the TimeOut Melbourne awards, and it’s reflected by its popularity. Bookings are recommended.

Tipo 00 - Focaccia with Ricotta and Basil Oil

Focaccia with Ricotta and Basil Oil

There was a twist on the usual complimentary bread, where we were served focaccia with fresh ricotta and basil oil. The warm, freshly baked focaccia and the subtle flavours of the ricotta and basil oil made for good beginnings.

Tipo 00 - Lingua - Grilled Ox Tongue, Balsamic Vinegar & Pink Peppercorns ($15)

Lingua – Grilled Ox Tongue, Balsamic Vinegar & Pink Peppercorns ($15)

We shared one entree between us – the lingua. The grilled ox tongue was amazingly smooth and almost melt-in-your-mouth. Its sweet flavour was highlighted by balsamic vinegar and peppery crunches from the pink peppercorns.

Tipo 00 - Tagliolini Al Nero - Squid Ink Tagliolini, Squid & Bottarga ($27)

Tagliolini Al Nero – Squid Ink Tagliolini, Squid & Bottarga ($27)

There are large plates other than pasta on offer, but we all want to try some of their specialty. J’s dinner choice was the tagliolini al nero – squid ink tagliolini, squid and bottarga. I didn’t try much of it, but it seemed to have a good flavour, with savoury hints of cheese in the light sauce.

Tipo 00 - Pappardelle - Braised Rabbit, Marjoram & Hazelnut ($27)

Pappardelle – Braised Rabbit, Marjoram & Hazelnut ($27)

A2 chose the pappardelle. Probably because she likes pappardelle. And rabbit. A decent portion of the braised rabbit was nestled on top of the thick ribbons of pasta, with a scattering of chopped hazelnuts for texture. A2 and J found this to be their favourite pasta of the night.

Tipo 00 - Tagliolini with Saffron, Spanner Crab, Chilli And Zucchini ($28)

Tagliolini with Saffron, Spanner Crab, Chilli And Zucchini ($28)

There were so many tempting choices, but I had the pasta special, which was tagliolini with saffron, spanner crab, chilli and zucchini. I might be biased, but this was my favourite of the three pastas we sampled tonight. I loved its clean flavours, the subtle lift from the chilli, the depth from the saffron, and of course, the little morsels of delicate crab meat.

Tipo 00 - Tipomisù - Chocolate, Coffee & Mascarpone ($14)

Tipomisù – Chocolate, Coffee & Mascarpone ($14)

We ended our dinner with their signature tipomisù. A ring of rich, chocolatey brownie-like cake encircled a mascarpone centre, and was topped with a tempered chocolate disc. Additional dollops of mascarpone abounded, and everything was drizzled over by a slightly savoury, rich and decadent coffee caramel sauce. Yum.

As expected, the pasta was perfectly cooked, and flavours simple but satisfying. Everything we tasted impressed. I’ll definitely be back for more.

Tipo 00
361 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9942 3946
http://www.tipo00.com.au
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Araliya, St Kilda

A Hawthorn stalwart for 30 years, Araliya was sadly forced to relocate due to redevelopment of its old home. Head chef Sam Wedande is trained in Western cuisine and brings a contemporary twist to Sri Lankan cuisine, such as modern twists on street foods like hoppers. Whilst I’m not too familiar with Sri Lankan cuisine, I’m told that common spices included coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.

Araliya

For its new digs in St Kilda, the interior was designed to match its vision for the menu. A dark, modern look features textured walls, a cocktail bar, banquette seating and ottomans.

Araliya - Basil Mojito

Basil Mojito

Araliya - Raspberry, Chilli, Chocolate

Raspberry, Chilli, Chocolate

We kick things off with some cocktail samplers – a refreshing basil mojito, and a special concoction for the day made with raspberry, chilli and chocolate.

Araliya - Beetroot Cured Salmon - Sichuan Pickled Cucumber, Capers

Beetroot Cured Salmon – Sichuan Pickled Cucumber, Capers

Araliya - Steamed Cabbage Rolls – Cabbage, Banana Blossom, Quinoa, Chilli Jam ($8 for 2)

Steamed Cabbage Rolls – Cabbage, Banana Blossom, Quinoa, Chilli Jam ($8 for 2)

Araliya - Scallops In A Hopper – Rice Flour Pancake, Lime Leaves, Light Spices ($22)

Scallops In A Hopper – Rice Flour Pancake, Lime Leaves, Light Spices ($22)

A selection of starters soon follow. There’s steamed cabbage rolls with a soft and creamy banana blossom and quinoa filling topped with chilli jam, simple and clean-tasting beetroot-cured salmon with Sichuan pickled cucumber and capers, and the intriguing hopper filled with scallops. A hopper is a fermented rice flour pancake, typically found as street food. Often found on the side to accompany other things, Sam has used it as a vehicle for the scallops, which have been flavoured with lime leaves and light spices including lemongrass. It’s a handsome and tasty dish.

Araliya - Green Beans with Cashew Nuts ($14), Beetroot and Turnip with Curry Leaves ($14), Saffron Rice

Green Beans with Cashew Nuts, Beetroot and Turnip with Curry Leaves, Saffron Rice

Araliya - Asian Greens with Wild Rice

Asian Greens with Wild Rice

A parade of mains then flows from the kitchen. We are served a variety of vegetable dishes including green beans with cashew nuts, creamy lentils with baby spinach (which I particularly enjoy), refreshing beetroot and turnip with curry leaves, and Asian greens with wild rice for some nutty crunch. To go with all these we have both saffron and regular white rice and some roti.

Araliya - Pork Belly – Tamarind Peanuts, Rockmelon, Pickled Papaya

Pork Belly – Tamarind Peanuts, Rockmelon, Pickled Papaya

Araliya - Araliya Chicken – Milawa Chicken, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves ($29)

Araliya Chicken – Milawa Chicken, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves

Araliya - Crusted Fish – Saltbush, Mandarin, Cucumber, Gambodge, Tamarind

Crusted Fish – Saltbush, Mandarin, Cucumber, Gambodge, Tamarind

A number of meat dishes come next. The Araliya Chicken is made with tender Milawa Chicken, and flavoured with cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. The pork belly is also rather popular. Juicy and moreish pork is coated in tamarind peanuts to a form a sort of crust, and served with rockmelon and pickled papaya on the side. My personal favourite is the crusted fish with saltbush, mandarin, cucumber, gambodge and tamarind.

Araliya - Milk Chocolate Mousse, Sweet Potato Custard, Salted Caramel, Hazelnut Crumble ($15)

Milk Chocolate Mousse, Sweet Potato Custard, Salted Caramel, Hazelnut Crumble

Araliya - Steamed Coconut Custard, Banana Sorbet ($15)

Steamed Coconut Custard, Banana Sorbet

Araliya - Chilli and Ginger, Roasted Pineapple, Basil Sorbet

Chilli and Ginger, Roasted Pineapple, Basil Sorbet

Three different desserts wrap up our dinner. First to arrive is the decadent and rich milk chocolate mousse and sweet potato custard with salted caramel and hazelnut crumble. The sweet potato custard is thick, and goes surprisingly well with the chocolate. Steamed rectangles of coconut custard are served alongside an intensely flavoured but refreshing banana sorbet. For something quite different, the roasted pineapple dessert is flavoured with chilli and ginger. A large quenelle of basil sorbet is perched on top and has to be eaten quickly before it melted. It’s a very enjoyable, light dessert.

Dinner at Araliya was certainly an eye-opening experience, and St Kilda locals are lucky to have such an experienced chef cooking up these delights right at their doorstep. A brunch menu is on the cards, so look out for it soon!

Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Araliya as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way

Araliya
157 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda, VIC, 3185
(03) 9818 5120
www.araliya.com.au/
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Woodland House, Prahran

So the reason I’ve been going out to eat at so many nice places lately is that A2 is moving out of Melbourne again. This all culminated with our final dinner together as a family, at least for a number of months. When mum suggested Woodland House for our last hurrah, I was quite happy to accept.

Woodland House (62) Front Door

Thomas Woods and Hayden McFarland took over the kitchen once Jacques Reymond’s eponymous restaurant closed its doors, and they had rather big shoes to fill. They’ve done quite well for themselves too, earning a Good Food Guide chef’s hat in its first year of operation. Most of the staff stayed on, and service standards remain high.

Woodland House - Purple Congo Potato Chips

Purple congo potato chips were presented together with the menu. The large, thin shards of potato were a spectacular sight to behold and a pleasure to eat. There are a few different dining options available, all involving selection of a certain number of courses. We opted for the full 10-course Woodland House Menu.

Woodland House - Wood-fired Oven

Wood-fired Oven

Woodland House - House Churned Butter with Black Sumac Salt, Savoury Danish, Multigrain

Throughout the night we were offered two types of bread, which had been baked in their wood-fired oven. There was a multigrain bread and a savoury buttery danish served with house churned butter with black sumac salt. The oven did exist during the Jacques Reymond days, but has since been relocated to the back garden near the carpark.

Woodland House - Deep-fried Foie Gras, Kiwi

The first course arrived promptly. We were instructed to eat the foie gras with kiwi as a whole. It was a little burst of molten flavour in a deep-fried morsel. I wouldn’t have thought to pair kiwi with something like foie gras, but it acted well to balance with the foie gras’ richness. A good start to the meal.

Woodland House - Rainbow Trout, Cuttlefish, Ink Dressing, Brassica

Woodland House - Rainbow Trout, Cuttlefish, Ink Dressing, Brassica

Hidden beneath the leaf was a beautifully cooked rectangular portion of rainbow trout, which itself obscured cuttlefish, brassica and ink dressing at the base.

Woodland House - Spanner Crab Mornay, Oyster Emulsion, Panko

Next was the Spanner crab with oyster emulsion and panko crumb. It was full of rich flavours and highly enjoyed by all.

Woodland House - Storm Clam, House-Made XO Sauce, Daikon, Bacon Broth

Woodland House - Storm Clam, House-Made XO Sauce, Daikon, Bacon Broth

Presented rather prettily was the New Zealand storm clam with house made XO sauce, daikon and bacon broth. We had to be careful not to spill the beautiful smokey broth out of the shell. It was so good.

Woodland House - John Dory, Deep-Fried Cavelo Nero, Sheep’s Whey, Bottarga, Succulents

John Dory came alongside cavelo nero, bottarga and succulents. The plump and crunchy succulents went well with the fish, and to my surprise, the deep-fried cavelo nero tasted a little like nori.

Woodland House - Pacific Oyster, White Soy, Shiitake, Sea Grapes

This was followed by the Pacific oyster, with white soy, shiitake, and sea grapes. The oyster was absolutely bursting with flavour. It was pure and intense – an amazing way to appreciate the quality of the produce on offer. The sea grapes, which are sourced from South Korea because they’re unavailable here, provided an interesting crunch and a touch of sea saltiness to the dish.

Woodland House - Pork Cheek, Salt-Baked Swede, Wattleseed, Sancho Berry

Pretty as a picture, the unctuous pork cheek, salt-baked swede, wattleseed, sancho berry. The pork literally melted in our mouths and the sancho berry cut through the richness to make each bite a perfectly balanced pleasure.

Woodland House - Lamb Tomahawk, Perilla, Bamboo Salt, Rosemary Scented Towel

The next course was a little more hands-on. The lamb tomahawk was seasoned with parilla and bamboo salt, and was presented together with warmed, rosemary scented towels to complete the gustatolfactory experience. I marveled at how the meat evenly cooked in all directions, and how tender and tasty it was. There was no hint of gaminess. It was the best grilled lamb I’ve ever had.

Woodland House - Venison, Jerusalem Artichoke, Juniper and Horseradish, Grilled Nasturtium Leaves, Black Garlic

Truffle season is coming to an end, and there was an option to add shavings of the impressive specimen to the venison dish. The aroma of the truffles was so intense that when the samples were shown to other tables nearby, the fragrance wafted over and taunted us. We declined the offer of truffles, but the dish was still delicious. I haven’t had nasturtium stems before. It had an interesting peppery kick to it. The Jerusalem artichoke puree was amazingly smooth and provided a nice counterbalance to the black garlic sauce.

Woodland House - Corn Fed Hay-Aged Duck with Spinach, Black Barley, Broad Bean, Beetroot and Tamarind

Our final savoury dish, the corn-fed and hay-aged duck arrived with spinach, black barley, broad bean, beetroot and tamarind. The skin was delightfully crisp and the meat was succulent.

Woodland House - Chocolate Tuile, Chocolate Ganache, Chocolate Flan Dome, Salted Caramel, Mandarin, Pepper Berry Gel, Prickly Pear

The first of the two sweet courses was a chocolate based one. A sculpture-like chocolate tuile took centre stage. It was accompanied by chocolate ganache, a chocolate flan dome, salted caramel, mandarin, pepper berry gel and prickly pear. Despite the number of chocolate elements on the plate, it was a well balanced dessert.

Woodland House - Celeriac Financier, Celeriac Web, Macadamia Nut Milk Sorbet, Fermented Pineapple Syrup, Peanuts

Our final dish of the degustation was the celeriac financier with fermented pineapple syrup and macadamia milk sorbet. An element of crunch was brought to the dessert by the web of celeriac and scattering of peanuts. Interestingly I found the celeriac reminded me of the arrowroot chips I so love to munch on. It was a nice, delicate end to an amazing dinner.

Woodland House - Pine Needle and Yuzu Jelly, Madelines with Lemon Curd

Our degustation closed with hot drinks and petit fours of pine needle and yuzu jelly, madelines with lemon curd and an assortment of cocoa dusted nuts.

It would not be an overstatement to say we were all floored with the quality of the food and the service here. It was simply the best meal we’ve had in many years and words don’t seem to give the food justice. Refined simplicity, Woodland House is a shining example of contemporary fine dining at its best.

 

Woodland House
78 Williams Rd
Prahran, VIC, 3181
(03) 9525 2178
www.woodlandhouse.com.au
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Munich Brauhaus, South Wharf

Munich Brauhaus has just turned one, and as part of its birthday celebrations they held a boat party over five nights. I was invited to join them on a Friday night, where we started with pre-drinks in their upstairs VIP area.

Munich Brauhaus 1st Birthday Boat Party (18)

We were soon ushered onto the boat, chartered from Melbourne River Cruises, when we then and cruised up and down the Yarra while enjoying drinks and delicious Bavarian food. The stand outs for me were the crispy, succulent pork belly with crackling, and the juicy and moreish BBQ ribs. The restaurant itself is located in South Wharf and in addition to its VIP area, boasts a 900-seat traditional Bavarian bier hall, 250 seats with views of the waterfront, three bars, an outdoor bier garden and a number of other private function and dining rooms. It’s no surprise that they can cater for functions of various sizes and requirements.

Munich Brauhaus 1st Birthday Boat Party (15)

Munich Brauhaus 1st Birthday Boat Party - Pork Belly Bites - Crackling, Apple Compote

Pork Belly Bites – Crackling, Apple Compote

Munich Brauhaus 1st Birthday Boat Party - Mini Cheeseburger

Mini Cheeseburger

Munich Brauhaus 1st Birthday Boat Party - BBQ Spareribs

BBQ Spareribs

Munich Brauhaus 1st Birthday Boat Party - Sausage in Pastry

Sausage in Pastry

Munich Brauhaus 1st Birthday Boat Party - Vegetarian Gnocchi

Vegetarian Gnocchi

Munich Brauhaus 1st Birthday Boat Party - Bavarian Pretzel

Bavarian Pretzel

Disclaimer: I was invited to the Munich Brauhaus Birthday Boat Party as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way

Munich Brauhaus
45 South Wharf Promenade
South Wharf, VIC, 3006
(03) 8658 3418
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Circa, St Kilda

I tend to expect very little from hotel restaurants, but Circa is an exception. Located within The Prince hotel in St Kilda, Circa has retained a number of chef hats for many years. The seasonal menu has been put together by head chef Ashly Hicks and Melbourne Pub Group Executive Chef Stephen Burke. Sustainable and organic premium produce is used when possible, prepared with clean flavours so that the ingredients really shine.

Circa

The space was modern, bright and airy, with well-spaced tables and a more laid-back vibe than I had expected.

Circa - Duck with Cinapa, Malted Onion Coriander Flower, Nettle Sauce ($22)

Duck with Cinapa, Malted Onion Coriander Flower, Nettle Sauce ($22)

A2 and I decided to share an entree, going for the duck with cinapa, malted onion, coriander flower and nettle sauce. It had a lip-smacking combination of flavours that were vibrant and punchy.

Circa - Milk-fed Flinders Island Lamb with Turnip and Salt Bush, Olives ($42)

Milk-fed Flinders Island Lamb with Turnip and Salt Bush, Olives ($42)

A2’s main of milk-fed Flinders Island lamb came with turnip and salt bush. The addition of olives gave the dish quite a savoury flavour that A2 really enjoyed.

Circa - Ike-jime Sea Bream with Icicle Radish, Black Garlic ($40)

Ike-jime Sea Bream with Icicle Radish, Black Garlic ($40)

My ike-jime sea bream was beautifully cooked. The icicle radishes were tender, and I loved how the black garlic sauce complemented the fish without detracting from its glory. There was a simple but satisfying amalgamation of flavours on the plate, and it did not disappoint.

Circa

Serving sizes are small, though I’ve come to expect that from most fine-dining restaurants. They did live up to their ethos of letting their premium produce being the star of the show and Circa stands out amongst the many restaurants in St Kilda.

Circa, The Prince
2 Acland St
St Kilda, VIC, 3182
(03) 9536 1122
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Cutler & Co, Fitzroy

Cutler & Co

Cutler & Co, Andrew McConnell’s flagship restaurant, first opened in 2009 and has been converted from an old metal works factory. The restaurant actually had a more casual atmosphere than I expected, with bar seating, a lounge area on the side, and more tables, including banquette seating, towards the back. We had come to try their $130pp 6 course degustation menu, so ordering was quick and easy.

Cutler & Co - Seeded Loaf and Salted Sourdough with House-Made Butter and Beetroot Relish

Seeded Loaf and Salted Sourdough with House-Made Butter and Beetroot Relish

The bread on offer tonight were the sliced seeded loaf and salted sourdough, accompanied by light and fluffy house-made butter and a beetroot relish, which was wonderful. The sourdough took a bit of effort to break into at first, but it was my preferred bread of the two.

Cutler & Co - Amuse-bouche Salt Cod Soup with Spring Onion Oil

Amuse-bouche Salt Cod Soup with Spring Onion Oil

We began with an amuse bouche of salt cod soup with spring onion oil. Thick, smooth and velvety, it was full of flavour and almost chowder-like. Delicious.

Cutler & Co - Bonito Escabeche, Fromage Blanc and Bottarga, Avocado Puree, Pickled Carrot

Bonito Escabeche, Fromage Blanc and Bottarga, Avocado Puree, Pickled Carrot

Cutler & Co - Bonito Escabeche, Fromage Blanc and Bottarga, Avocado Puree, Pickled Carrot

Bonito Escabeche, Fromage Blanc and Bottarga, Avocado Puree, Pickled Carrot

The first course was the bonito escabeche, fromage blanc and bottarga. Crispy shards were arranged around the pieces of bonito in layers, with pieces of greenery (maybe dill) peeking out, making the plate look like a landscape photograph. The method of preparing escabeche meant we could appreciate the delightful, firm but smooth texture of the bonito, and its subtle flavour was interspersed with slightly acidic bites from the finely diced, pickled carrots, refreshing avocado puree, fromage blanc and spices. This was my favourite dish of the night.

Cutler & Co - Nettle Soup, Handpicked Spanner Crab and Rye

Nettle Soup, Handpicked Spanner Crab and Rye

Handpicked spanner crab with decadently buttery segments of leek, rye crisps and caviar soon followed. The nettle soup was poured out for us at the table. One thing that everyone commented on was how salty the nettle soup was. When mixed through, the cream helped to temper some of the soup’s saltiness and it was rather good, but there wasn’t quite enough of it to balance the flavours adequately.

Cutler & Co - Turbot, Brown Butter & Pickled Onion

Turbot, Brown Butter & Pickled Onion

Next up was the turbot with brown butter, pickled onion, and black leek. The fish was cooked perfectly and I liked the charred flavour and textural contrast provided by the leeks, though again, the sauce was a bit too salty and it overpowered the turbot.

Cutler & Co - Manjimup Truffle and Parmesan Tart, Dandelion, Celeriac Walnut Salad

Manjimup Truffle and Parmesan Tart, Dandelion, Celeriac Walnut Salad

We transitioned from the seafood courses to the Manjimup truffle and parmesan tart with dandelion, celeriac and walnut salad. There was enough restraint with the parmesan to allow the truffle be the star of the dish, and it was light enough to be able to enjoy without being weighed down with richness.

Cutler & Co - Braised Short Rib, Smoked Oyster and Pepper Sauce, Nettle Puree, Braised Shallots

Braised Short Rib, Smoked Oyster and Pepper Sauce, Nettle Puree, Braised Shallots

Our final savoury course was the braised short rib with smoked oyster and pepper sauce, nettle puree, and braised shallots. The beef was incredibly tender and moreish. My knife cut through it with little effort. The beef itself had a slightly sweet flavour, and the oyster sauce and nettle puree lent many punchy flavours to each mouthful.

Cutler & Co - Pre-Dessert - Mandarin Soda and Mango Sorbet

Pre-Dessert – Mandarin Soda and Mango Sorbet

The mandarin soda and mango sorbet pre-dessert was beautiful. Refreshing, light and delicate, it was a great palate cleanser.

Cutler & Co - Whipped Ricotta Cake, Soft Chocolate, Sour Cream and Clementine

Whipped Ricotta Cake, Soft Chocolate, Sour Cream and Clementine

Cutler & Co - Whipped Ricotta Cake, Soft Chocolate, Sour Cream and Clementine

Whipped Ricotta Cake, Soft Chocolate, Sour Cream and Clementine

Our evening finished with the dessert. It was a whipped ricotta cake, with soft chocolate, sour cream and clementine. There were so many textures and layers in the dessert, which were only fully revealed when cut into. There was a soft chocolate layer, chocolate shavings and small chocolately balls that provided little pops of crunch. It was a light, and not too rich desert.

There weren’t any petit fours offered at the end of the dinner, though we were quite full by this point as the servings were quite substantial. I did enjoy the ambiance here and service was attentive. There were a few hits and misses tonight and we were expecting a little more from a two-hatted restaurant, but thankfully there were just enough hits to satisfy.

Cutler & Co
55-57 Gertrude St
Fitzroy, VIC, 3065
(03) 9419 4888
cutlerandco.com.au/
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Horse Bazaar, Melbourne CBD

Horse Bazaar (4)

Horse Bazaar is an casual izakaya on Little Lonsdale St, and it’s just celebrated its 10th birthday. Only one door down from the Hardware Street junction, it offers cocktails, beers, ciders, wines, spirits and special Japanese imports. In terms of food, there’s Japanese tapas to go along with the drinks, though there’s mains to feast on too.

Horse Bazaar (5)

It doubles as a small event space, hosting things such as live music, hip hop open mic nights and storytelling. Every weeknight there’s a food special on. You might come in for Dumpling and Massage Night on Tuesdays, or 2 for 1 Spicy Wings on Thursdays.

Horse Bazaar (22)

There’s plenty of character to be found here, with quirky figurines lining the shelves and counters, and a long white wall at the back, used to project a variety of things like local artwork and music videos.

Horse Bazaar (29)

It’s a small team at work, with Taka Enomoto in the kitchen as head chef (helped by a second chef) and Fumi Tamura manning the bar and front of house.

Espresso Martini (Vodka, Kahlua, Frangelico, Espresso $18), Citrus Highball (Vodka, Yuzu Juice, Lime, Lemonade $10)

Espresso Martini (Vodka, Kahlua, Frangelico, Espresso $18), Citrus Highball (Vodka, Yuzu Juice, Lime, Lemonade $10)

We began our night with some drinks. I had the espresso martini, with Kahlua, espresso, vodka and frangelico added for a special nuttiness. Strong and satisfying. A2 had the refreshing Citrus Highball, which had lemonade, lime and Yuzu juice imported from Kochi prefecture, a region of Japan famous for its yuzu.

Half Serve Sweet Potato Chips ($5)

Half Serve Sweet Potato Chips ($5)

They’ve just started a gluten-free menu, which is currently being integrated into the main menu. Some gluten-free items are completely new offerings, whilst others are gluten-free versions of other menu favourites. We decided to order mostly half-serves of the tapas so we could try more dishes. I love sweet potato and couldn’t resist the allure of them in chip form. They were moist and were accompanied by tasty mayo and honey on the side.

Half Serve Agedashi Tofu ($5)

Half Serve Agedashi Tofu ($5)

The agedashi tofu was coated in something that was more like panko than the starch that’s typically used, giving it a crunchier exterior. The insides were still scrumptiously soft and I wouldn’t have minded a full serve of it.

Full Serve Miso Eggplant with Negi Miso Sauce ($10)

Full Serve Miso Eggplant with Negi Miso Sauce ($10)

We ordered a full serve of the miso eggplant. Some pieces had a bit too much sauce, so the saltiness was a bit overpowering, but when proportioned well, the flavours of the eggplant and onion miso sauce together were delicious.

Half Serve Grilled Salted Edamame ($5)

Half Serve Grilled Salted Edamame ($5)

Horse Bazaar - Half Serve Japanese Fried Chicken with Japanese Sauce ($5)

Half Serve Japanese Fried Chicken with Japanese Sauce ($5)

Both crunchy and juicy, the JFC came with a savoury sauce at the bottom of the bowl. Unfortunately, by the time we reached the bottom pieces, some of them had lost their crunchiness, but they were still very yummy.

Horse Bazaar - Tofu Skewer with Coriander Pesto, Chicken Gyoza, Prawn Gyoza

Tofu Skewer with Coriander Pesto, Chicken Gyoza, Prawn Gyoza

Coriander injected some freshness into the tofu skewer and the gyoza were cooked nicely. I was particularly impressed by the freshness of the prawn filling.

Salmon Steak with Potato, Eggplant and Miso Butter Sauce and Rice ($18)

Salmon Steak with Potato, Eggplant and Miso Butter Sauce and Rice ($18)

The salmon steak with potato, eggplant and miso butter sauce was hearty and so satisfying – almost like comfort food. The salmon was cooked well and the flavours were punchy. It wrapped up our dinner perfectly.

Horse Bazaar (27)

Horse Bazaar is a great place for casual hangouts in a groovy location. The atmosphere was warm and friendly and the food was good – I found myself happy to linger a little longer.

Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Horse Bazaar as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way

Horse Bazaar
397 Little Lonsdale St
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9670 2329
www.horsebazaar.com.au
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Lemon, Middle and Orange, Collingwood

Lemon, Middle and Orange sits in a very unlikely location. Occupying the building that was once Goodlass Wall Paint Co, it’s on a narrow one-way street surrounded by graffiti-decorated warehouses. You might completely miss it if not for the large banner hanging out the front.

Lemon, Middle & Orange - Communal Table

Tables inside are a spaced little tightly together, but there are a handful of seats out the front, which today were utilised by dog-owners who’d brought their pooches along for brunch, and to savour the lovely sunny weather.

Lemon, Middle & Orange - Corned Beef Hash, Mustard Piccalilli Puree, Kohlrabi Sauerkraut, Swiss Cheese, Bagel Wafer, Fried Egg ($17.90)

A2 went with the corned beef hash, swapping out the fried egg for a poached one. It was accompanied by a mustard piccalilli puree, kohlrabi sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and a bagel wafer. The wafer was very crunchy, being easier to break up with the teeth rather than cutlery (unless you’d like to shower the table with shards of bagel), but it did provide a nice textural contrast with the corned beef hash. It was a very tasty and substantial dish, though A2 did wish there was more sauerkraut to subdue some of its saltiness.

Lemon, Middle & Orange - House Hot Smoked Cured Tasmanian Salmon, Potato Latkes, Poached Eggs, Fennel, Horseradish Crème Fraiche ($21)

I ordered the house hot-smoked cured Tasmanian salmon, which I’ve been wanting to try ever since I first saw a photo of it. Three, surprisingly large batons of salmon came leaning on a potato latke, which had a satisfying crunch and interestingly, was made into an elongated sausage shape rather than a round patty. On the side were two poached eggs, spiralised fennel and horseradish crème fraiche. The fennel was simply prepared, but it, together with the crème fraiche, acted well to counter the inherent saltiness of the hot-smoked salmon. It was quite filling – unsurprising given all the protein that came on the plate. Perfect for a mid-day meal.

Lemon, Middle & Orange Exterior

All in all we enjoyed our outing to Lemon, Middle and Orange and were glad we took the effort to find it!

Lemon, Middle and Orange
25-31 Rokeby Street
Collingwood, VIC, 3066
(03) 9415 1593
www.lemonmiddleandorange.com/
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The Town Mouse, Carlton

The Town Mouse has been with us for over two years, taking over the small Carlton venue that was once Embrasse. Co-owners Christian and Amber McCabe, Jay Comeskey and chef Dave Verheul have made quite a name for themselves in this relatively short time, earning a chef’s hat in the Good Food Guide in 2014, and being voted by chefs and restauranteurs as #18 in the AFR’s inaugural national restaurant awards this year.

The Town Mouse

The atmosphere is dark but cosy with high stools, classy, glossy black tiling, and terrazzo flooring. Small tables are arranged around the central, well-stocked bar, with a few tables in the outdoors courtyard and quite a number of seats at the bar perfect for solo diners and pairs. We scored a slightly larger table by the window for our party of four tonight.

The Town Mouse - Bread with Sesame Butter

Bread with Sesame Butter

The menu consists of starters and a few raw appetisers, vegetables, meat and fish to share, and desserts. At first we weren’t sure about the size of the servings and how much to order, but the staff were on hand to help out with suggestions. No seaweed butter today. Instead we had sesame butter to go with our lovely complimentary sourdough.

The Town Mouse - Goat’s Cheese Profiterole, Caraway, Thyme & Our Honey ($4), Smoked Duck Liver Parfait, Pickled Cucumber & Crisp Potato ($4)

Goat’s Cheese Profiterole, Caraway, Thyme & Our Honey ($4 each), Smoked Duck Liver Parfait, Pickled Cucumber & Crisp Potato ($4 each)

We began with a few small bites. The goat’s cheese profiterole, caraway, and thyme was seated on top of some house-made honey – they have beehives on the roof – and were eaten by scooping up all the bite-sized goodness in a spoon. I initially chose the duck parfait because I don’t like caraway, but I did end up having a small taste of the profiterole and found that the caraway wasn’t too prominent. The smoked duck liver parfait and pickled cucumber were sandwiched between two amazingly thin and crispy slices of potato. There was a big parfait:potato ratio, and though it was nice to be able to enjoy the parfait, a bit more potato may have helped to temper some of its richness. It was also a little difficult to eat neatly, because one bite would cause most of the parfait to be squeezed out by the potato crisp before it broke between my teeth. Its messiness did not make it any less delicious though.

The Town Mouse - Duck Breast, Jerusalem Artichoke, Porcini, Horseradish & Winter Leaves ($35)

Duck Breast, Jerusalem Artichoke, Porcini, Horseradish & Winter Leaves ($35)

We decided to share three dishes from the meat and fish section of the menu. The duck breast and Jerusalem artichokes were dressed at the table with a lovely porcini sauce. The meat was cooked very well, and not at all dry. Though it wasn’t a bad dish, I felt it didn’t quite stand out against the others.

The Town Mouse - Black Angus Intercostals (500g), Watercress & Green Chilli ($40)

Black Angus Intercostals (500g), Watercress & Green Chilli ($40)

The Black Angus intercostals were well-seasoned, with a tasty, dark char on the outside but were beautifully, evenly pink and soft on the inside. I enjoyed them both with and without the interesting watercress and green chilli sauce (which was made with a ‘secret blend’ of herbs and spices).

The Town Mouse - Albacore, Rosemary, Baby Brussels Sprouts, Mussel & Fennel ($21)

Albacore, Rosemary, Baby Brussels Sprouts, Mussel & Fennel ($21)

The Town Mouse - Albacore, Rosemary, Baby Brussels Sprouts, Mussel & Fennel ($21)

Albacore, Rosemary, Baby Brussels Sprouts, Mussel & Fennel ($21)

Our pick of the fish options was the albacore. The fillet of tuna was presented with baby brussel sprout leaves cascading artfully over the top, and dressed with a light, but flavoursome white sauce that had a gentle acidity to it. This only just edged out the intercostals as my favourite meat/fish dish for tonight.

The Town Mouse - Slow Roast Red Cabbage, Prune, Parmesan & Red Apple ($15)

Slow Roast Red Cabbage, Prune, Parmesan & Red Apple ($15)

The Town Mouse - Roast Cauliflower, Almond & Broad Bean Miso ($12)

Roast Cauliflower, Almond & Broad Bean Miso ($12)

I don’t often order veggies when I go out, but I’d heard about the amazing things they did with vegetables here, so how could I not? In fact, we ordered two vegetable dishes: the slow-roasted red cabbage and the roast cauliflower. The chunky wedge of cabbage was amazingly tender, and full of rich flavour. Even though there was prune and red apple nestled within its leafy layers, the dish was not overpoweringly sweet. Mum was enamoured with it and immediately wondered if she could make it at home. Heh. I don’t think you’ll be getting the recipe anytime soon, mum. The cauliflower was similarly easy to cut through, and was accompanied by a scrumptious, velvety sauce and sprinkled with deliciously crunchy crushed almonds.

I was excited by the slightly unusual and refreshing flavour combinations that were presented on the menu here. Would it be strange to say the cauliflower was my favourite dish of the night, with the red cabbage coming a close second? Perhaps not a conventional answer, but The Town Mouse indeed does wonders with the humble vegetable.

 

The Town Mouse
312 Drummond St
Carlton, VIC, 3053
(03) 9347 3312
thetownmouse.com.au/
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