Category Archives: Eating Out

NorthSouth opening soon

I walked past the location for the new Ron O’Bryan (the ex 1 hatted Church St. Enoteca head chef) venture today. I have to say, it will be interesting to see what sort of food they can put out of such a tiny place.

It takes over from The Italian Kitchen (760 Chapel St, South Yarra), which had been there for about a year, and never really seemed busy enough to sustain itself(which it obviously wasn’t!). Luckily for the owner of the building, it wasn’t vacant for too long.

The focus is on “Simple, honest food w/ an emphasis on local & sustainable”. Sounds great to me, considering it was the more simple dishes (hello Abbacchio alla Romana!!) that I really loved about Church St. Enoteca. Hopefully they have enough space to bake their own bread / foccaccia too 🙂

Jacques Reymond, Cuisine Du Temps

Warm terrine of leek, daikon and peanuts, watermelon and beetroot tajine

This, ladies and gentlemen, carries a food porn warning. I won’t bother writing much about our second visit to Jacques Reymond in Prahran, as our pictures tell the story. What I will say, though, is that it is easily the best restaurant in Melbourne, if not one of the best in Australia.

We went there for Friday lunch, had the 3 course menu selection (for $65, including coffee and petit fours), and a wonderful bottle of  white burgundy – Rully Vieilles Vignes Nicolas Potel 2007 ($68).

If you don’t want to eat here after seeing this, there is something wrong with you!!

Hits & a few misses – Guide Season 2011

Well it’s that time of the year again – little more than 4 hours had passed on release day until we had The Age Good Food Guide 2011 in our hands.

Here’s our quick take on the hits, and the misses, of the 2011 guide.

Hits Vin Cellar

This year, they received their first hat. We predicted they were on this path earlier this year when we shared our experience of one of our favorite restaurants.

Jacques Reymond

For remaining the number one ranked restaurant in Melbourne. It’s a great testament to the family-run business, even after losing their highly regarded maitre’d.

Eleonore’s at Chateau Yering

For getting closer to it’s deserved ranking of 2 hats. The dining room is still amazing, the service is still great, and the food, although quite different from it’s Gary Cooper heyday, is wonderful.

Misses The Bund

No 35

Suzuki Mulloway, Sweetcorn, Chicken Wing, Cavolo Nero

Having been lucky enough to eat at Le Restaurant about a year before it closed (interestingly enough, with the same chef as the current chef – Stuart McVeigh) we had high hopes (literally!) for The Sofitel’s re-entry into the fine diner category – the aptly named No 35.

We had been very eager to see what The Sofitel had done with the space that had been a function room since Le Restaurant’s demise. Situated on the 35th floor of the hotel, with huge floor to ceiling windows that make the most of the bay views, it’s still unquestionably one of the best dining views in Melbourne.

The interior is quite modern – the main part of the restaurant floor is lined with marble tiles, whilst a more secluded area is carpeted and feels a bit quieter as a result. This is where we were seated for our dinner.

MoVida Aqui

Ritsy and I went to dinner at MoVida Aqui last month. It was the first time we had been there since the great launch event for MoVida Rustica that Richard Cornish and Frank Camorra ran last year.

The room was packed for a rainy wintry Wednesday night, and the few brave walk-ins were being turned away. This is testament to the MoVida empire.

For the past 3 years it’s been notoriously difficult to secure a reservation at MoVida (the original). Even with MoVida Next Door and MoVida Aqui opening, it hasn’t really changed. Friday or Saturday nights are booked out around 2 months in advance – we were lucky enough to be going on a Wednesday night and they just managed to squeeze the three of us in.

The World’s Top 100 Restaurants

Gentle braise of sea scallops, pearl oyster, rock lobster, lettuce hearts, cucumbers, lobster velvet, oyster cream, pea flowers

I was looking at the San Pellegrino World’s Top 100 Restaurants list for 2010 (1 – 50 here, 51 – 100 here), and was surprised that Ritsy and I have actually been to 4 of them.

4% of the top 100 restaurants isn’t all that many in the scheme of things – but considering a night out at any of these restaurants (especially in Europe and America) can cost $1000AUD, it’s not too shabby.

Here’s our thoughts on the ones that we have been fortunate enough to dine at.

Number 15: Le Bernardin

We went here for dinner in 2008 (was it really that long ago!?). It specialises in seafood, and has held 3 Michelin Stars since 2005.

When Restaurants Go Mad – Pearl and the iPad Menu

Pearl Restaurant, one of the best dining experiences in Melbourne, has perhaps lost the plot – and it’s not the chef that is to blame.

I read an article in The Australian that Chris Lucas, the new owner of Pearl since last year, has spent an astonishing $40,000 on five months worth of software development costs for what can only be described as gimmickry.

They are replacing the traditional paper menu’s with iPads. Oh how Steve Jobs will rejoice. $40,000 is a lot of money in the restaurant world. It’s enough to pay a waiter for a whole year. That’s not including the cost of the iPads, which are currently $629AUD each for the cheapest model. Apparently, they will only have 15 of them – at an additional cost of $9,435.

Lau’s Family Kitchen

We booked a table at Lau’s Family Kitchen on a Tuesday night as we were heading out to The Palais to watch the Rockwiz tour show. They have two sittings there for dinner – one at 6pm, and one at 8:30pm, so we opted for the 6pm start.

After battling through horrific Punt Road traffic, we parked at The Prince hotel carpark. Fitzroy street parking is notoriously difficult to get, and the parking limits are retarded for a street that is basically lined with restaurants (1/4P, 1/2P in most parts…). The Prince has about 300 spaces and will cost a maximum $10 for an evening, so it’s a good choice.

Gilbert Lau was the owner of the much lauded Flower Drum in Market Lane, Melbourne. He opened this restaurant shortly after retiring from his post at the Flower Drum, and it’s clear that his philosophy of great food and superior service still stands.

Hutong Dumpling Bar, Prahran

Our second visit to Hutong Dumpling Bar, Prahran, left a slight taste of disappointment in our mouths. Although the service has improved, the food seems to have gotten worse.

We started off with some Duck San Choi Bao, which were pretty tasty and very generously portioned. They obviously expect you to make a mess with these as you are handed a wet refresher towel (in a packet, like the ones KFC has except slightly fancier). I still prefer the class of a nice warm cloth hand towel.

We then received some Szechuan Pickled Vegetables, which were good at cutting through the heat from the rather nice Chilli Wontons that also arrived at the table (easily the best dish of the night), along with the Xiao-long-bao (soup dumplings).

Vin Cellar

We had dinner at Vin Cellar on Friday night. This was Ritsy’s second dinner here, and my third, thanks to an awesome work function last year.

We sat down in front of the open fire at the back of the restaurant, and started proceedings with a couple of glasses of Veuve Clicquot. There are not many places in Melbourne that you can get a glass of champagne for $16.50, let alone Veuve Clicquot. This is the Vin Cellar style.

Their wine philosophy is probably best explained by quoting their website:

At VIN we love our wine. VIN boasts one of the most prolific wine lists in Melbourne, ranging from Old World Burgundies and Bordeaux, to back vintages of iconic Australian brands such as Giaconda, Rockford, Wendouree and Bass Phillip. All our wines are offered at competitive bottle shop prices, with an additional cost of $5 per bottle to drink in.

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