Tag Archives: review

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.

A Leisurely Sunday Lunch at Loam

SONY DSC

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).

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!!

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.

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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