Author Archives: Donny

Sunday Yum Cha at Spice Temple Melbourne – 16% better than on a weekday?

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).

Wine Went Everywhere at Bella Vedere

Recently, Ritsy and I got to cross another The Age Good Food Guide one hatted country restaurant off our to-do list, Bella Vedere. It’s located at Badgers Brook Winery in the Yarra Valley, and is part owned by Gary Cooper and Timothy Sawyer.

We arrived at 7:30pm on a Saturday night for an 8pm start to the 5 course degustation ($95 each) – the only dining option on a Friday and Saturday night, and were quickly seated in the beautiful, cosy dining room. Our table (whose white linen tablecloth I would ruin later in the night) was decorated with a beautiful flower arrangement in a vase.

EARL Canteen

A rather fortuitous circumstance meant that Ritsy and I were able to pop in to EARL Canteen for lunch one day last month, and after all I have heard about EARL since it’s grand opening a little over a year ago, I was very excited.

Now, it may seem odd for somebody to get excited about a inner-city cafe that pumps out little more than sandwiches all day long – and I would agree, if the sandwiches were of the usual ham / lettuce / tomato variety. What you get at EARL is, effectively, a well conceived “restaurant quality” (their words not mine) meal in between two slices of bread.

The fancy-fillings-inside-a-sandwich idea in itself is not new – Tom Colicchio, one of America’s most notable chef’s, established his ‘wichcraft chain in the USA way back in 2003 – but that doesn’t mean it’s not a welcome addition to the Melbourne lunching scene.

Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio

The first post in our new section, Specialty Stores, where we aim to share our favourite and most interesting places to get your foodie fix in Melbourne and beyond, is fittingly dedicated to the masterstroke that is Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio!

It’s located on Chapel Street, South Yarra, next to the funky Olsen hotel, and across the road from the new Vogue shopping center / apartment complex. Among the fabulous looking cake displays, it also houses the semi-open kitchen where you can see Ian Burch and Darren Purchese (and their helpers) showing off their sweet-making techniques from the early hours of the morning through to the late hours of the evening.

I first visited B&P Sweet Studio back when it was a pop-up studio on Flinders Street in March this year, and was thoroughly impressed with just how beautiful and thoughtful the cakes and other sweet treats they were making looked. Given that both Ian Burch and Darren Purchese are veteran pastry chefs – Ian was most recently stationed at No 35 (incidentally, we hated the desserts we had there – sorry Ian!!), while Darren has recently been working at The Press Club – the quality is not surprising.

Union Dining

Adding to the ever-growing list of classy restaurants that are cropping up in Richmond of late is Union Dining. It’s taken over the site of Laikon, the former Greek restaurant on Swan Street. The transformation of the heritage listed building (which, incidentally, is named Union House) feels quite Italian, if only due to the similar decor and style it shares (sans tablecloths) with another great Richmond restaurant, Church Street Enoteca.

The restaurant, or “provincial European dining experience with contemporary Melbourne class”, is headed up by Adam Cash – restaurant manager, formerly of Cutler & Co and Ezard, and Nicky Reimer – the head chef, formerly of Melbourne Wine Room.

Longrain, Melbourne Style

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.

Dinner at David’s

Over the past five or so years we’ve eaten at David’s, the Shanghainese restaurant tucked down Cecil Place (off Chapel Street, Prahran) more times than we can remember. Aside from the one Saturday lunch that we were unable to be seated for Yum Cha, the story has always been the same – consistently excellent food, great service, and some of the freshest, tastiest, and most reasonably priced Yum Cha around.

We’ve had Yum Cha lunches at David’s a lot more than dinners, but that’s not to say we prefer one to the other. Dinner is a much different experience to the trolley-less Yum Cha – the lights are turned down, the menus expand, and a small dish of their house made and very tasty Spiced Peanuts is placed on each table.

Ladro, Prahran

How many local pizza chains do you know of that have Aesop hand soap and hand balm in the toilets, and an apiary on the roof? None? I thought as much!

Located in Greville Street, Prahran (the older, original restaurant that was started by Supermaxi‘s Rita Macali is in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy), Ladro has quite a funky fitout. White tiles adorn the walls, which doubles as the drinks / food specials board, on which the “Arrosto” of the day (roast from the wood oven) and the Beer of the Day, amongst other things, are scribbled on.

We started our third trip to Ladro with two of the aforementioned beers of the day, Forst Lager ($8 each). We have never tried / seen Forst before, and I think Ritsy got a taste for them, so we’re going to have to find a retail supplier pronto!

Happy Time at Izakaya Den

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

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.