Dainty Sichuan

Dainty Sichuan is (now) located in South Yarra, in the space that used to belong to Flower Harbour (which, as nice as it looked, was not very nice!). We had been meaning to eat here for quite some time, as we heard that the food is great, if you can handle spicy dishes.

We knew we were in for some pain as we walked into the restaurant, as we were greeted by a drinks fridge stocked full of 1L bottles of milk, in close reach of both sections of the dining room. Bring it on!

It was pretty quiet when we arrived – around 5:30 on a Friday night – so we didn’t have to wait in line, and we were given a 4 seater table (for the two of us) on the lower level, in front of the windows that look out onto Toorak Road.

Saint Peter’s Restaurant and Bar

We had been quite excited about trying out Maurice Esposito’s new digs after having thoroughly enjoyed Esposito’s in Carlton, which is also all about sustainable seafood.

After a short wait in the entrance outside Saint Peter’s Restaurant and Bar, and another short wait while the waiter who asked if we had a reservation disappeared upstairs without seating us(!!!), we were shown the way to our table by the window.

Soon after we were seated, we were given our menus and the wine list. We ordered a Mojito($16), a Negroni ($17), some Cape Grim Sparkling Mineral Water ($10 / 750ml) and our food.

Four slices of fresh baguette arrived swiftly, which we had with quality self-poured olive oil, and soon afterwards we were treated to a wonderful complimentary appetiser of Seaweed with a Mustard Fruit, Sesame Oil and Thai Basil dressing.

A Leisurely Sunday Lunch at Loam

Yesterday Donny & I had the meal of the year during a beautiful lunch at Loam.

We left home early and built up a sizable appetite visiting a couple of beautiful wineries along the Bellarine Peninsula, so when presented with the list of possible ingredients for the month of November (in place of a conventional menu) it went without saying that we would opt for the maximum  number of courses available (7) with matched wines for $160pp.

Our waitress advised that this could take quite some time, but we were in no hurry, content to enjoy the landscape of olive groves and various wildlife out the large bay windows.

The meal began with a palate cleanser of radish and smoked butter and was followed by our first course of Dutch carrot, brazil nut, pine needle yoghurt, herbs matched with the local Oakdene ‘Jessica’ Sauvignon Blanc.

Spice Temple, Melbourne

Tonight we ate at Spice Temple Melbourne. We have eaten at the Sydney sister restaurant twice before, and both times we were thoroughly impressed, so needless to say we had high hopes!

Situated in the same space previously occupied by Bistro Guillame, and next door to a big favourite of ours – Neil Perry’s Rockpool Bar and Grill – Spice Temple Melbourne simply couldn’t be any more different to it’s predecessor if it tried.

While Bistro Guillame was all about white marble and bright and airy spaces, Spice Temple is dark, moody, and funky. It shares the same tables and light fittings with it’s big sister in Sydney – and, thankfully, the same delicious food (and zodiac inspired cocktails).

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 🙂

Don’t trust the recipe

We have made quite a few tasty recipes from the Longrain cookbook, Modern Thai Food, with a great deal of success. Until the other night. The recipe in question was “Grilled Stuffed Calamari”, which was stuffed with minced pork and Chinese black fungus.

Midway through preparation, with my hands full of minced pork, coriander roots, and fish sauce, Ritsy grabs the 100g packet of dried mushrooms, empties them into a bowl, and moves towards the sink to rehydrate them. All of them.

I tried to explain that there was no way anywhere near that many dried mushrooms were necessary for a 200g quantity of minced pork – but she insisted that the recipe said 4 0z dried black fungus – which, indeed, it did. I decided that the only way to teach Ritsy rule #1 in cooking (don’t trust the recipe), was to let her follow it.

Jacques Reymond, Cuisine Du Temps

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

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.

An Ezard inspired mothers day (with a little help from Bill Granger!)

Perhaps I shouldn’t have joked about how long it might take me to blog about our mothers day lunch in an earlier post, it’s somewhat embarrassing that it’s nearly fathers day!

Mothers day lunch is a tricky proposition in our house as my mum’s partner is somewhat of a fussy eater, thankfully though I have a mum that eats everything! After about a week of consulting our various cook books, we finally settled on a menu of steamed scallop tortellini, roast chicken and a five-spiced creme brulee. Aside from the fussy eating factor, we also wanted a menu that required little effort on the big day.

Entree – Steamed scallop tortellini w/ verjuice and citrus better sauce, crispy leek and herb salad