Category Archives: Eating Out

Benu, San Francisco

Course 10

When we decided to spend a couple of nights in San Francisco & Donny told me straight away that he wanted to eat at chef Corey Lee’s restaurant Benu, I didn’t object as his ability to pick brilliant restaurants from a crazy bank of retained information never ceases to amaze me! (On this occasion Donny had discovered Benu from an old tweet by Lee’s former boss Thomas Keller!)

We had a booking for a cold Winter Wednesday night so the minimalist garden area was looking extra sparse, but I’m sure it’s a beautiful area in the warmer months.

Sunday Yum Cha at Spice Temple Melbourne – 16% better than on a weekday?

SpiceTemple_YumCha

We were quite excited about the thought of Spice Temple’s new daily lunchtime Yum Cha menu, having dined there for dinner three times in Melbourne and twice in Sydney, so after a morning out and about in the city we decided to go check it out (check out our initial thoughts here and here).

After managing to score a table quite easily (at 12:30pm on a Sunday it was pretty quiet), we were quickly presented with the menus (there’s no trolleys here – it’s freshly cooked to order, just like Monday – Saturday lunch at David’s), and given some tips on how much food we should order to begin with (for 2 people, they recommended 8 dishes to start).

The Restaurant at Meadowood

Large table

During our stay in the Napa Valley we had the good fortune of dining at the stunning Restaurant at Meadowood. As it was dark and cold when we arrived, we didn’t get a chance to explore any of the vast expanse of the grounds, but we were reminded of the country-like feel of the Lake House in Daylesford when we were seated in the restaurant itself so I can imagine it would be lovely & tranquil.

We went to dinner with no intention of ordering any form of tasting menu as our stomachs (and wallet!) had undergone a fair workout over the last couple of days with visits to The French Laundry, Ad Hoc, Bottega, and countless wineries, but quickly found ourselves being persuaded otherwise as we relaxed into the evening with a pre-dinner cocktail and rather morish appetiser, ‘pillow on a pillow’ – a miniature puff of cheese, topped with a delicate flower, presented on a pillow. I’m sure this comes out before you’ve made a decision regarding the menu as the whimsy in this dish had our interest piqued, making the justification for the $195pp tasting menu (consisting of canapés, first bites, 8 courses and last bites) quite simple!

Bottega, Napa Valley

Pesce Crudo market fresh raw selection from the sea

Across the road from our accommodation in Yountville, we discovered Michael Chiarello’s restaurant Bottega. We’d seen Chef Chiarello compete in the first season of Top Chef Masters, so were naturally drawn to his restaurant on a night where we had no prior plans.

The large, rustic looking restaurant was pumping when we arrived and we’d already been clued up by a girl at one of the nearby wineries, who recommended her favourite dish to start of ‘polenta under glass’, so our appetites where whet for a good evening ahead!

As we’d brunched at Ad Hoc earlier that day (which you can read about here), we decided the sensible thing to do was to only order two courses, and enjoy an alcohol free evening. To my delight, the sparkling mineral water was free flowing so I enjoyed countless refills of my fancy copper cup by the highly attentive staff 🙂

Perfection Defined at The French Laundry

The French Laundry

As Donny recounted here, we were extremely lucky to secure a table at the French Laundry during our short stay in Yountville CA.

When you google The French Laundry, perfection is a word that is synonymous with the numerous reviews that appear, and after our experience at this restaurant I cannot think of a better word to describe the few hours we were lucky enough to have at 6640 Washington Street.

Not only is the service polished and the quality & presentation of each dish impeccable, but each minute detail in the appearance of the restaurant has been thought about – from the wooden pegs that adorn your beautifully pressed napkin, to the prints on the softly glowing lights.

Twist by Pierre Gagnaire

A table full of langoustine!

A few months ago we were lucky enough to be staying at the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas, which is home to the only US outpost for French master Pierre Gagnaire – Twist.

Typically when dining at a restaurant for the first time we opt for the degustation or equivalent to maximise our dining experience, but given we had two weeks of extreme eating ahead of us we thought that we should start our holiday being slightly sensible. OK – who am I kidding… our decision not to go the tasting menu in this instance was due to the fact that you couldn’t get the much talked about langoustine 5 ways!

It wasn’t long after we were seated that our table was adorned with all manner of breads, spreads and appetisers, including a refreshing apple sorbet palate cleanser (out of shot) which we were able to enjoy while sipping our cucumber champagne cocktails. It was definitely a great way to ease into the evening 🙂

Wine Went Everywhere at Bella Vedere

Local Quail with Porcini Risotto

Recently, Ritsy and I got to cross another The Age Good Food Guide one hatted country restaurant off our to-do list, Bella Vedere. It’s located at Badgers Brook Winery in the Yarra Valley, and is part owned by Gary Cooper and Timothy Sawyer.

We arrived at 7:30pm on a Saturday night for an 8pm start to the 5 course degustation ($95 each) – the only dining option on a Friday and Saturday night, and were quickly seated in the beautiful, cosy dining room. Our table (whose white linen tablecloth I would ruin later in the night) was decorated with a beautiful flower arrangement in a vase.

EARL Canteen

Earl Canteen

A rather fortuitous circumstance meant that Ritsy and I were able to pop in to EARL Canteen for lunch one day last month, and after all I have heard about EARL since it’s grand opening a little over a year ago, I was very excited.

Now, it may seem odd for somebody to get excited about a inner-city cafe that pumps out little more than sandwiches all day long – and I would agree, if the sandwiches were of the usual ham / lettuce / tomato variety. What you get at EARL is, effectively, a well conceived “restaurant quality” (their words not mine) meal in between two slices of bread.

The fancy-fillings-inside-a-sandwich idea in itself is not new – Tom Colicchio, one of America’s most notable chef’s, established his ‘wichcraft chain in the USA way back in 2003 – but that doesn’t mean it’s not a welcome addition to the Melbourne lunching scene.

Union Dining

Kingfish Carpaccio with pickled baby beetroots, capers & crema fresca

Adding to the ever-growing list of classy restaurants that are cropping up in Richmond of late is Union Dining. It’s taken over the site of Laikon, the former Greek restaurant on Swan Street. The transformation of the heritage listed building (which, incidentally, is named Union House) feels quite Italian, if only due to the similar decor and style it shares (sans tablecloths) with another great Richmond restaurant, Church Street Enoteca.

The restaurant, or “provincial European dining experience with contemporary Melbourne class”, is headed up by Adam Cash – restaurant manager, formerly of Cutler & Co and Ezard, and Nicky Reimer – the head chef, formerly of Melbourne Wine Room.

Longrain, Melbourne Style

Salt and Pepper Silken Tofu with Fried Eschalots and Garlic

You know how you sometimes hear about a cool new restaurant, really like the sound of it, and vow to go there soon only to realize 5 years and many broken dinner promises later that you still haven’t been?

So what happens when this place you have been meaning to eat at turns out to be one of the best dining options in town? Martin Boetz’s Longrain, Melbourne (the sister restaurant to the Sydney flagship) was that place for us.

From the extremely efficient service, the sexy dining room, the brilliant cocktails, to the sublime Thai food (Martin is David Thompson’s protoge, so you wouldn’t expect anything less), we can’t think of anything we don’t like about this place.

Page 1 of 512345