Tag Archives: melbourne

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).

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.

Happy Time at Izakaya Den

Kingfish Sashimi, Asian style dressing

We were tossing up whether to brave the rainy Melbourne weather on Saturday night to head out and try a new Japanese restaurant. After deliberating and procrastinating for about an hour, we decided to make a last minute dash to the train station and see if we could score a table at a place we have only ever heard good things about.

Wet, cold and hungry, a little after 5:30pm, we found the hidden glass doorway down some nondescript stairs on Russell Street. We pushed aside the black curtain behind the door, and headed down another flight of stairs. Japanese chefs and waitstaff flanked the long, black, narrow bar / kitchen / dining space. Welcome to Izakaya Den.

With a handful of diners already seated (tables of two at the bar, tables of 4 against the outer wall), and the projectors streaming a mix of pretty colours and specials on the wall, we took our seats at the bar-slash-table. Our menus came quickly – rolled up in a scroll with Japanese writing on the outside – as did two glasses of water in amazingly cute Japanese glasses.

Ezard, Glorious Ezard

Eight Score Sher Wagyu Beef, Creamed Truffle Potatoes, Asparagus, King Brown Mushrooms, Sticky Shallot Sauce and Mache Salad

Ezard is one of those restaurants that just “has it”. It’s sexy, it’s romantic, and – most importantly – it serves damn good food. It’s no wonder Ritsy chose to come here for her birthday dinner (Well, actually, she chose George Calombaris’s The Press Club for something different, but they were booked out for Saturday nights until August…)

Located down a small flight of stairs at The Adelphi hotel on Flinders Lane, past the not-so-private room (glass and see through curtains means you are eating there to be seen) is the long and narrow restaurant space. Tables of two are gently separated along the banquet-chair lined wall with small, rectangular cushions that divide the territory between you and your next-door diner.

Movida, The Original And Still The Best!

Air-dried Wagyu with Poached Egg and Truffle Foam

Getting a table at Movida pre Movida Next Door and Movida Aqui (see our review here) used to be almost impossible. I remember that every occasion Ritsy and I attempted to get in for (midweek, weekend, it didn’t seem to matter), they would be booked out.

So, when I picked up the phone a month in advance to made a booking for our third wedding anniversary (on a Tuesday night in March), I didn’t exactly have high hopes of being successful. I almost fell off my chair when they said “no problem, see you then”.

As we walked up Hosier Lane, past the already full MoVida Next Door (it was 6:15pm!), we saw the man himself, Frank Camorra, working away in his chef whites. He was still there as we left at about 8pm – it’s always nice to see the “big name chefs” actually working in their kitchens.

Bamboo House

Bamboo House

Early last year, Robert Wong (our favourite Maitre d’ ever!) told us that he and Alex Tseng were selling their share of Bamboo House, the wonderful Northern Chinese restaurant in Little Bourke Street.

As sad as it made us to hear that news, we were hopeful that our favourite Chinese restaurant (yes, Flower Drum is fantastic, but it’s a special occasion place!) wouldn’t lose the two things that make it so great – the service and the food.

Robert sets an exceptionally hard act to follow – after about a year of eating there once every couple of months, he started to recognize my voice over the phone when I called up to make a booking – and then say my last name as he was writing down our booking (at our “usual” table) without me even having to mention it.

Sunday Lunch Kerasma at The Press Club

Birthday Panna Cotta

I wanted something low-key for my 30th birthday lunch with the family. Good, rustic food, a classy, quiet venue, and somewhere not too expensive.

Sunday lunch in early January poses a few problems, as a lot of restaurants are closed – either for the xmas break, or just because it’s Sunday. One of our favorite restaurants which happened to be open (Circa, the Prince) never responded to my web enquiry, despite me calling them and being recommended to use their online enquiry system. After a few false starts, I ended up settling on The Press Club, the swank Greek restaurant by George Calombaris.

A day after my tentative booking, they emailed me a confirmation form (we asked for a table of 14, so this is not unusual) with a sample menu, price per head, and the different menu options for lunch. I was quoted $70 per head for the “Kerasma – to treat and to share”, which consists of “Tastes, entree, main and dessert”, selected by the chef. I queried the cost as Kerasma for regular bookings is listed at $65 per head on the website. Their reservations coordinator explained that “For reservations of 8 and over we require a group menu priced at $70 per person.”, but also added that “Our group menu does include unlimited bottled sparkling or still water”.

Spice Temple Melbourne – Revisited!

Orange jelly cake with orange blossom fairy floss

The last time we dined at Spice Temple, Melbourne, we left feeling a little disappointed. Sure, the food was good, but the atmosphere was lacking compared to the Sydney version we visited twice over the past year or so.

Still, we wanted to come back, determined to get a downstairs table. After Ritsy made our booking, I called closer to the date to confirm that we would be seated downstairs. After being on hold for half an hour (I got the “You have called at a busy time. You can hold the line or leave a message and we’ll call you back tomorrow” message at 5pm on a Sunday night – go figure), I gave up and left them a message, requesting a call back with confirmation of a downstairs table. They never rang 🙁

Dainty Sichuan

Lamb Slices in Chilli and Cumin

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

Seared Canadian Scallops with an essence of asparagus and spinach, salmon roe and baby parsley

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.

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