Tag Archives: review

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.

Noir Is The New Black

Ocean Trout cured in Hendricks Gin with Cucumber, Juniper and Rose

Almost overnight, in the space where the once excellent coffee focused cafe Flavours of Lakhoum used to be, a suave new restaurant called Noir appeared. With virtually no media attention at all, hardly any reviews on the web, and only about 3 weeks of being in operation, it’s 35 – 40 seats have pretty much been booked solid all weekend. Quite impressive – such is the power of Word Of Mouth.

Peter Roddy, who has worked at many restaurants across the globe, including Gordon Ramsay’s ill-fated Amaryllis in Dublin, and Michael Roux Jr’s Le Gavroche in London, is the Chef and owner. He has created a nice little space, the black (noir) walls and polished wooden tables giving it a classy, distinctly Richmond kind of feel.

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.

8 Courses at Attica

Potato cooked in the earth it was grown

As previously mentioned, it was Donny’s 30th Birthday towards the start of January, so what better way to celebrate than with the 8 course tasting menu with matched wines at Ben Shewry’s Attica!

We were lucky enough to decide we wanted to eat there the same week the restaurant started accepting bookings for the New Year (although as it turned out, there were a couple of empty tables on the Friday night that we were there…) and were quite excited to see how the standard menu compared to the Tuesday night Chefs table.

I spent some of the afternoon worrying that something had gone wrong with our booking as I never received a confirmation call like you do from most restaurants, but figured as they took my credit card details at the time of booking everything should be ok – and ok it was – phew!

Sunday Brunch at Ad Hoc

Salad of Little Gem Lettuces

Our beautiful, unseasonably warm sunny Sunday morning in Yountville, Napa Valley, was spent eating brunch at Thomas Keller’s casual restaurant, Ad Hoc.

It’s open for dinner 5 nights a week (Thursday to Monday), and also for brunch on Sunday. We were quite lucky that our 4 nights in the Napa Valley coincided with us being there on a Sunday as we were quite interested in the Brunch 🙂

Brunch is a funny thing – we don’t typically go out for it as Ritsy’s stomach usually gets angry if it hasn’t been sated by 8am! To counteract this, we opted to make our booking quite late (11:30am), which allowed us to get one more “breakfast” in at Bouchon Bakery (also Thomas Keller’s, and just over the road from where we were staying). This ended up working out very well considering the size and richness of the three courses of the day, which cost us $34 pp plus tax.

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”.

Anada Bar & Restaurant

Echuca Berkshire Pork Belly with Fennel Seed & Smoky Aubergine

Anada is another one of those places that we’ve been meaning to go to for a long time (ever since they opened, which is nearly 3 years ago now!) but never got around to it. One Monday in early December, the opportunity arose to eat there as we were heading out to the Fitzroy side of the city. We called up on the day and managed to secure the last table.

Being huge fans of MoVida (see our MoVida Aqui writeup here), we were interested to see how Anada compared, as it’s always been given good reviews from the press and visiting chefs alike. Incidentally, head chef and owner, Jesse Gerner, and his wife Vanessa both worked under Frank Camorra at MoVida.

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 🙁

Colonel Tan’s

Corn Fritters

Colonel Tan’s (Chapel Street, Prahran) is one of our favourite places to go for a few drinks and some tasty thai food on a Friday night, so we figured it was about time we gave the place a bit of a writeup!

For those not in the know, Revolver (and therefore Colonel Tan’s) is owned by the same people as Cookie, the awesome CBD bar-slash-thai-restaurant – and Cookie’s chef, Karen Batson, is in charge of the kitchens here too.

The typical Prahran / Windsor style guide is well and truly enforced: Nana’s tables, old school chairs, a bunch of well worn reclaimed couches, and a few plastic doilies thrown in for good measure. There isn’t a great deal of tables (not surprising given the size of the kitchen – the word “small” doesn’t do it justice!), so if you’re hoping for a Friday or Saturday night walk-in at 7:00pm, expect to be disappointed.

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