We don't visit Prahran Market often being Northern suburbs residents but we found ourselves on a day out Southside on a sunny Saturday.
I have seen too many videos and photos of the oozy, cheesy goodness chez Maker and Monger that we couldn't leave without sampling.
Having indulged in a pretty satisfying lunch, we could only make room to share a toastie and we went for the Pimento which is a blend of cheeses and some cayenne pepper and cornichons.
Oh they do a cheese toastie well!
Golden brown, crispy bread and oozy cheese it's absolutely delicious and stays on the right side of greasiness...just! I definitely need to play bingo here and try everything they have to offer. That blow torched Reuben is one to watch and one that needs to be eaten! I guess we'll be coming Southside more often!
Friday night, chef's menu, birthday dinner at Ramblr. That's easy enough to describe. What is harder is defining the cuisine at this South side joint. It's truly modern but with influences of Asia, Italy, England. Ramblr by name and a ramble through this World we live in and eat from.
Starting off with the ubiquitous snack like share feast and we were presented with:
This finger feast was a contrast of flavours and textures. Loved the crispy fritters and earthy baked artichokes. The capocollo added some saltiness and the taco was actually wrapped in a pickled root veg maybe like daikon or something similar. More taco in appearance but not so much in Mexican flavour.
The sour cream and roe dip didn't have the punchy flavours the rest of the snacks had but as a sour cream dip with the artichoke it was like a seasonal Autumnal homage to the old classic potato skins and sour cream.
Loved the squishy, brioche bun of the bug sandwich and the crunchy fried bug. Think Supernormal lobster roll but with crunch. Yum.
After snacks we headed to:
Two little dishes that go so well with one another with the Asian notes running through and the tang from fermentation and pickling. Those curly, spring calamari noodles are fun and bouncy in the mouth with the tasty meatiness of smoked bone marrow that comes through as a dressing rather than in its more gelatinous form which I find off putting so this provides me with the flavour delight but with none of the gloopiness. The spike of chilli and punch of funky fermentation is really delicious.
The crudo is looks like a little circular mosaic with diced cubes of fish and more cubes of silken tofu. The flavours are fresh and zingy. Shame the mood lighting isn't so complimentary for photographs.
We also share a big dish of charcoal roasted vegetables dressed in lemon and they are zippy and crunchy and fresh.
Ramblr is modern Australian in the truest sense of the term. It's fun, exciting and tasty. I look forward to the next ramble in the eatery.
A generous selection of snacks arrived very promptly. We enjoyed the pace of the courses for the whole meal and never felt that proceedings dragged or we were left waiting.
The table was filled with these appetite inducing morsels of delight. The buckwheat cracker with the salty parmesan melted in the mouth with a lingering seafood flavour from the squid ink; umami galore.
I enjoyed the fatty indulgence if the fried duck tongues - a bowlful with a beer on a hot day would be an amazing experience but they'd be heavy on the tummy but then again so is pork crackling and no one would complain about beers and pork crackling!
The Parker pretzel is like a pull apart brioche; the coming apart of the segments reminded me of the heady delights of the Tipsy Cake at Dinner by Heston. This is like the savoury version and not as indulgent. The tofu dip is interesting with an airy foamy lightness in the texture.
Pepper spiced kangaroo fillet served rolled up on a skewer was delicious. Perfectly seasoned so the natural game flavours of the kangaroo come out and cooked rare, it was so good. Perfect protein.
My least favourite was the gravlax, I thought the trout was a touch underseasoned and the cold fish consomme was just not that appetising. I think I'd prefer it warm but it's usually my personal preference for broth and soup to be hot.
First course was:
The Murray cod was sashimi style which I wasn't expecting. The sticky almost gluey ham stock was poured over the rosette of fish. As sashimi goes, I wasn't 100% convinced Murray cod is the best. It was certainly fresh but the texture was a little bit too chewy and it isn't the most flavoursome. The savoury ham stock helped with the clean flavours though adding some depth. I would have really loved a spoon to scoop up the ham stock that I couldn't devour with a fork. Steve said he would have loved some bread to do the trick!
My photo of the final course seems to have disappeared and it was a very festive red sight perfectly timed with lunar new year. Delicious chocolate nougat ish type chunks on top of caramel sauce and then the sugar whalloping hit is softened by the sour cherry in the form of granita. Definitely a crowd pleaser!
We had room for dessert especially after hearing my favourite, Tete de Moine was on offer! I found the triple cream a little bitey and ripe for me but I'm a cheese wuss. I liked the American goat's cheese and of course the carnation like ruffle of Tete de Moine was a wonderful way to end this sophisticated meal.
Woodland House is classy, elegant and a wonderful place for an indulgent celebration. It's worth of its two hat accolade. The food is refined and the service faultless. We found it approachable but with a sense of decorum and occasion befitting of its white tablecloths and and smart bow tie wearing owner working the floor!
We chose to wine match as it was just too much like hard work to make the decision ourselves and we really enjoyed the selections. The 2015 Simao & Co 'Old Vine' Shiraz from Rutherglen was a silky smooth treat to have with the Sher Wagyu and we also particularly enjoyed the 2015 Dappled 'La Petanque' Chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsula with the lobster.
The manor house in Prahran has not lost any of its former glory since when we visited last in its predecessor state, nor is it a carbon replica of days gone by. It has its own personality; discreet, strong but also understated and worthy of respect.
Four of us ended up in Monterey's late on a Saturday night. I was surprised it was so quiet but that's good news for us as it meant we scored a great corner table for our second dinner. Yes, you read that correctly. Whilst the food we had immediately before was pretty tasty at another restaurant close by there just wasn't enough so we felt the need to call in for a lobster roll.
Shared dishes of ceviche, mac and cheese and then either a lobster roll or po boy went down a storm as did the accompanying two bottles of wine. Service was friendly even though we got the wrong wine first time round and when the right one it wasn't quite cold enough but it was all managed and we got our cold wine.
I had the Maine lobster roll which is with butter and chives. I think it could have done with being a bit more buttery and the bread roll was a touch dry but not terribly so. The lobster was deliciously sweet though. Thoroughly enjoyed the ceviche and the mac and cheese too.
A cheeky mid week breakfast date meant that this popular Prahran premises was laidback and leisurely and the frantic, hectic weekend crowds were avoided. We were able to relax and smell the awesome coffee and enjoy an indulgent breakfast served by personable and friendly FOH staff - perfect!
Oh the Oscar Benedict! Truly a stellar choice; crispy potato rosti replaces the English muffin and beautiful bacon lies on a bed of mashed avocado for another Oscar twist on the classic. What remains true to textbook though are wonderful poached eggs with oozing, orange yolks and a tangy Hollandaise sauce that in spite of its creaminess cuts through all the richness.
It's just the perfect size to be a good breakfast that is a treat but won't leave you comatosed and unable to be productive for the remainder of the day. It's a true breakfast that provides fuel for what lies ahead.
Oscar Cooper, how nice to meet you! Let's be friends.
Morris Jones is one of those restaurants that is better known as a bar and when brought up in conversation people know of it but don't know how great the food is!
Steve and I have been fans since Matthew Butcher has been doing his thing there from around 18 months ago but admittedly because of various things, we'd not revisited since before Christmas. We couldn't get into their Christmas Food Society dinner which is a monthly mid week gathering that is fun and interesting and then we never really made the effort from then.
Anyway July being Steve's birthday month, he was kindly sent an invitation to enjoy the 4 course Chef's Dinner as long as we paid for me! So we decided to take advantage and went on Friday.
Last week was the first week back at work after 5 weeks off so Friday had been very illusive and a long time coming and I have to admit, by the time we got to Morris Jones, I was pretty tired and enthusiasm was hard to muster up. The beautifully sweet and fragrant lychee martini helped though!
The first things to come out were some canape like bites:
The mad cow shots were very playful and all about getting involved with a mix and a squirt and then down the hatch! Salty, tasty and with a sharp tang from the sour spheres at the bottom of the shot glass, this was a fun start.
The saltbush crisps were slightly warm and a bit like the crispy seaweed stuff you get at Chinese restaurants in texture. The flavours of salt and vinegar were very powerful though. Think super strength salt and vinegar crisps. Very moreish!
The official starter was:
We've had this one before but it is a favourite. It's all very dramatic as a smoke filled glass cloche arrives at the table and once the cloche is lifted the smoke escapes triggering the sense of smell as well as delighting the sense of sight.
Once the smoke disperses there is a very pretty and clean dish of fish fillets with some pale green avocado and accents of brown and black. There's also a modern looking pipette to squeeze the yuzu onto the fish. This is a very classic dish in appearance and flavour - bar the pipette and I love the textures of soft fish, silky puree and crunchy LSA (linseed, sunflower seeds and almonds) and then there's the salt of the black beads of caviar and the citrus hit of yuzu. Timeless and elegant yet with a flair of theatre it's a very well thought out and clever number.
Steve caught sight of another table receiving this dish for what must have been the first time and awe on their faces was quite a picture apparently!
The Green Pea Risotto, Marjoram, WA Truffle was nicely flavoured and balanced; a little claggy in texture and didn't quite have the silkiness of the risottos at Tipo 00 but we still managed to clean our plates and lick our lips!
We weren't expecting the next dish but it came with compliments and we're so glad it did! It was the Wild Barramundi, Ginger Sauce, Broccoli Couscous, Spring Onion and Coriander. The ginger sauce came in a test tube to be poured out as preferred. It was so delicious. I'm not a huge ginger fan but this was salty and savoury and deep in flavour and seasoned the delicate fish so well which had a crispy skin and soft white flesh. The green veg was dressed in some lemon juice and had just enough acidity to cut through the salty richness of the sauce and bring out those fishy flavours of the barra. So excited by this fishy on my dishy!
The meat course was the 12 Hour Braised Lamb Shoulder, Yoghurt Tahini, Carrot Foam, Braised Carrots. I don't like carrots but didn't think to mention this but it was fine as it was more about sweetness and cumin and the lamb that was soft and tender. I was pretty full by this point but have to concede that it was a dish executed well. Rich braised meats don't do it for me but on a chef's menu and done well, I can see where the enjoyment is!
As if the barramundi wasn't enough generosity, dessert was an artist's creation! Out come a platter of delights and the token candle! Visually stunning pretty much every dessert available was on it:
I couldn't say I contributed much to the destruction of such a beautiful plate as pretty darn full but Steve did an incredibly good job! The frozen grapes were a great palette cleanser and the popping candy sure did pop. Sometimes I've had it on a dessert and it's gone soggy so popability is very low.
The honeycomb and chocolate appeals to everyone and not a bad word can be said about it. I loved the passionfruit ice cream as it was fresh and sharp and those citrussy fruit flavours are my kind of dessert.
We had a ball at Morris Jones. Great, creative food; attentive service all round in spite of a lively and busy bar, plenty of restaurant customers and a private function upstairs make for a wonderful birthday celebration. We had no idea how much a hole it had left by not revisiting in the last 6 months and it was made so obvious after this dinner!
El Alamo is a pop up shop / cafe brought to the Melbourne massiv by Argentinian Ignacio and Sicilian Andrea who are on a mission to bring the empanada to Melbourne.
They describe the empanada as:
"a pastry clad hot pocket, filled with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Hand-carved beef slow cooked in red wine, fresh herbs and vegetables in a béchamel sauce, chicken, chorizo, fish (the list is endless) - all wrapped and baked in freshly rolled pastry crisped to perfection."
Faced with logistical challenges such as a retail shop front with no kitchen and all that comes with being a start up business, those little empanadas are truly a product that is not only filled with love, nurture and pipe dreams but blood, sweat and tears. They have set up a project:
to generate support to make this start up an ongoing possibility so if you believe in the empanada, do pledge your support to these two new entrants to the hospitality industry.
So are the empanadas worth a pledge. We entered the airy and bright pop up shop on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Give the restrictions in the shop, there's licence, coffee machine or anything really permanent so the empanadas really have to do the the talking.
And we had to wait a while as the orders piled in so there was an anticipated wait but the wait was worth it and these little pastries are delicious. We tried every flavour except the sweet and whilst the meat ones were delicious, funnily enough it was the veggie cheesy ones that were our favourites. Just wonderfully seasoned fillings and the chimichurri sauce with it's acidic tang and fragrant herbs enhanced those flavours. All hail the empanada!
What was great to see too, although it added to our wait time, was the queue of people coming in to pick up takeaway empanadas and speaking native Spanish so these have to be authentic! And now having read more about this mission and the restrictive nature of the current set up, well utmost respect to Andrea and Ignacio for managing and succeeding through it and for wanting to continue to take over Melbourne!
Gregg at Third invited us to try out the offerings at the Prahran location and having looked at the menu and salivated at offerings and descriptions such as:
"Don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is “just another chicken”. Most people who tried it, said - it was one of, if not the best, chicken they have EVER had. The chicken is marinated overnight and smoked using Maple wood for up to 5 hours."
"Brined for 8 hours in salt, sugar and spices. The salmon comes out different to all your expectations (in a good way). It is smoked using Apple wood, giving it a very mild smoke flavour. The texture is amazing. Served with a house made dill sauce."
With such a personal style of menu writing how could we refuse such wonderful delights? It was a wet and wild Thursday evening that we ventured over after work, The week had been long, our heads were heavy, we were tired, we were cold, we were late because of Melbourne traffic... Boy did Third Wave have its work cut out to cheer up this glum pair.
Upon entering the cafe, it was bright and airy and we were greeted warmly and shown to our table. A quick look round and everyone looked pretty happy and satisfied so we sat back, relaxed and tried to decide what to eat.
for up to
So much to try...and in the end we opted for brisket and pork ribs accompanied by peas with onions and bacon (Francaise style) and smoked mac and cheese.
The meat dishes were such generous portions and so tender whilst remaining juicy. I felt some of the accompanying condiments were a bit same same but nothing can deter from some great meat.
The peas were somewhat random and not quite in theme but our fault for choosing them, I don't think they're on the menu any more so likely because they don't quite go and we should have gone for coleslaw or salad. Don't get me wrong they were tasty little peas but French and BBQ isn't really going to take off as the newest fusion cuisine. They were beautifully done that French way with butter and probably too rich for the meat. Completely our fault for not thinking that one through before ordering. Zingy coleslaw or fresh green salad would be much better for cutting through the meat.
I had high hopes for the smoked mac and cheese but unfortunately the pasta was a little claggy and there wasn't much sauce so it wasn't successful. The crunchy chips (unpictured) were great though.
I'd love to give Third Wave another visit and take my South of the river paleo friends about it. The funny thing is in spite of eating BBQ, I can't help but think of it has a brunch cafe. The decor has definitely more a day time breakfast feel and whilst it does the BBQ food well I can't help but think dimmed down lights, perhaps red checked tablecloths, paper bibs, chunky cutlery, some fiddle music, a bit of sawdust on the floor and an odd yee ha might make the BBQ experience just that little bit more authentic and enjoyable.
Friday evening date night and we wanted to go somewhere fairly easy going, unpretentious, good food and that wouldn't keep us out too late. Rock n roll lifestyle!
We met there and as I entered it was dark and a small space and I struggled to spot Steve at first. It's am intimate dining space - a few small tables for two and a larger table in the window. Romantic and atmospheric, definitely a date place and we were surrounded by mainly couples.
The menu is on the blackboard and consists of a two or three entrees, two mains and two to three desserts and a couple of side dishes. We tend to eat most things so there was enough for us to choose from but I can imagine for fussier eaters it may be difficult and there was no vegetarian main so I wonder what they do in that respect.
There's an obligatory two courses as they are a small business and I guess it has to be worth their while but given the size of the courses, two courses is good.
I started with the spaghetti with Rockling, bottarga and tomato. It was a fish fragrant dish of steaming pasta that was scented with herbs and the fresh tang of tomato. The pasta was perfect; I love it al dente as served in good Italian restaurants and can never seem to recreate this at home. Delicate pieces of white fish flavoured with tomato and soaked up by pasta; this was delicious.
Steve had the prosciutto, Gorgonzola and witlof salad which was flavourful and robust start to dinner with the saltiness and intensity of prosciutto and blue cheese and then the bitterness of the salad leaves.
We ordered one of the main courses: beef and chicken like being on air plane but so much better. The beef was braised intercostal with a risotto and the chicken was served with smoked aubergine puree and a ratatouille.
We swapped plates halfway through so we could each sample both. The flavours and tenderness of the beef was incredible and then the creamy risotto made this such a dish of comfort and pleasure. The chicken dish was homely and rustic and so tasty. The beef probably edged the chicken dish slightly but both were like a hug from Nonna.
The side dish of green beans and onion was again simply cooked but delicious.
Dessert time and I went with the vanilla panna cotta with poached peach, raspberries and a basil granita. Fresh, creamy, soft, sweet and zingy. The couple seated next to us raved about the basil granita whereas I was happy with or without it.
Steve had the plum tart with hazelnut semi freddo. Baked goods like Nonna would make and the semi freddo was soft and creamy and so fragrant with toasty nutty flavours.
We loved our meal at Franco Choo's. Such a great neighbourhood restaurant that is lunderstated, unpretentious and creates platefuls of traditional, tasty goodness.
It was a cold, wet and wintry Monday night and Tanya and I wanted French fare to comfort our work ravaged souls. We drive to Chez Olivier but it was shut so we decided to try Thierry instead. Luckily we arrived just before the rush and it was surprisingly busy for a Monday night. Initial impressions of the clientele were the corporate crowd and some regulars positioning it in our minds as a good neighbourhood bistro.
The front of house team were charmingly Gallic. The decor was tres Parisien and I half expected the them tune of 'Allo 'Allo to start tinkling in the background. French onion soup arrived super quickly and it was steamingly hot and tasty warding off those nasty Winter chills. The cheesy crouton was yummily oozy but could have done with being a touch crispier around the edges. Perfect temperature though and I just got away with not blistering my mouth. Loved the little earthenware pot with the Thierry emblem.
We bothe went with steak frites and I went with a mushroom sauce . Loved the shoestring fries - crispy and golden just like they should be. The steak was tender but Tanya's comment was that it wasn't as silky as the one at Chez Olivier. My comment is that whilst tender it and cooked rare as ordered, it had been over char grilled and so the crust on it tasted burnt and added bitterness to the overall flavour which was not my bag.
Loved the petits pois and the spinach but really we could have done without as the steak and frites were huge. I wish the waiters had warned us as it was such a waste.
No room for dessert...but a pleasant meal. I'd come again but maybe try something other than the steak. The candlelit ambience make it a lovely intimate place for a date. Bistro Thierry is a welcome slice of chic Europe amidst the laidback easiness of Australia.
For those that know us, this section will probably come with no surprise! Steve and I love eating out so this is our record of our time in Australia.