Archive | September, 2011

Lupino

10 Sep

Situated inconspicuously next to Bar Lourinha and opening with little fanfare, I was SUPER excited to discover that the restaurant I had walked past on the way to yoga (in the space previous known as Champagne Lounge) was a modern Italian bistro called Lupino.  The new offering from Becco’s Richard Lodge and chef Marco Lori, had me even before ‘hello’ – and it did not disappoint on the night that Z, J and I visited, the start of the long weekend farewell for J.

Courageously undeterred by the no-bookings policy (I believe they have changed this – you can book now) we sent Z to scope out the table situation and see if we could put our names down and were pleasantly surprised – not only did we put our names on the list, we could specify when we wanted to dine.  So after a quick Prosecco at Siglo Bar we found ourselves seated at Lupino in the centre of the restaurant looking into the bustling open kitchen.  The space is modern and fresh, big enough to give everyone enough personal space, but not too big so as to be completely vacuous.  The service is prompt, friendly, unpretentious.  So far so good.

We quickly decide on a few things to share plus a main each.  The menu is full of small delightful morsels to be shared, a few enticing pastas and a selection of seafood and meats for main.

To share we have the polpette wrapped in lemon leaves and the sformata with a chevre-spiked sauce.

Polpette with lemon

Sformata with chevre sauce

The polpette is infused with a lovely and surprisingly pungent lemony fragrance – we could have easily eaten a whole plate of those and been satisfied.  The sformata is light and airy and very appropriately cheesey! Very decadent, and a must for soft cheese lovers!

For mains we each order something different.

Continuing with the cheesey theme I opt for the gnocchi quattro formaggi.  I normally steer well clear of gnocchi and this was a total leap of faith.  It did not disappoint however – the gnocchi is light and that cheese sauce is perfect on a cold winters night.

Gnocchi quattro formaggi

Z opted for the lasagne – an oldie but a goodie.  The Lupino version is baked and served in a ceramic dish with layer upon layer of béchamel, perfect pasta and delicately minced meat.

Lasagna

The non-pasta eater of the group, J went for the slow cooked osso bucco which comes on a bed of polenta and a sprinkle of bacon and peas, all served on a neat wooden plate.  The meat falls off the bone effortlessly and the jus is lovely and meaty and rich.

Osso Bucco

Eggplant Parmagiana

We had also ordered a side of the eggplant parmigiana – with much trepidation on Z’s part given her recent horror experience with the dish at another establishment. Despite waiting a while for it to arrive (the waitress admitted the order had been lost, but was appropriately apologetic – and at least she was honest), we weren’t disappointed.  Thin slices of eggplant (though not too thin) came layered with oozey cheese and pomodoro sauce, and all baked to perfection.  The flavours of the eggplant, tomato and cheese melting perfectly in the mouth.  Win!

Having eyed off the dessert menu well before the mains even arrived, we quickly settle on a serve of the bombolone and the apple strudel.

Bombolone!

The bombolone are huge and smeared generously with Italian Nutella and served with a yoghurt ice cream.  They are delicious – the bombolone cooked to perfection and not too doughy – if not a bit large – let’s just say Z was kind of relieved that she didn’t insist on ordering one for herself (in Z’s books Nutella is not shared – get your own!).

Apple StrudelThe apple strudel is also fantastic – another one of those classic dishes that Lupino executes so well on.  A light and crisp pastry wrapped around REAL apples that have been stewed with large raisins, all served with a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Comfort food done to perfection.

And that is what Lupino is all about. Simple, good Italian food – a new favourite in town (even more so as they have now scrapped the no booking policy!).

Lupino

41 Little Collins Street, Melbourne (map)

(03) 9639 0333

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Smith & Mills

4 Sep

Coffee

Given my current ‘every day is kind of a holiday’ situation whilst in the culinary city that is New York, I’ve been overwhelmed with choice, but have been eating brunch out pretty much everyday.  (Yep!! Have been neglecting my peanut butter obsession for almost 3 weeks now…)  So today, G and I decided to head to Tribeca (and it may or may not have been in hope of the off chance of running into Jay-Z and Beyonce… G has an innate talent for searching out celebrity hang outs and postal codes!)

Tucked away on N Moore Street, we entered to find this little gem, void of hustle and bustle – and or people – and furnished to industrial perfection.  A line of quilted seats line the borders of the cafe and it is decked out with raw iron furnishings.  We like it here.  Apparently so does James Franco… I could go on about Mr Franco and his ability to have his fingers dipped in seemingly EVERY pot of artistic cool!  But I might just spare us all and talk about the food.

The night before we’d made a trip out to Astoria – the Greek equivalent of Lygon Street in Melbourne… but kind of a lot further out on the subway- and I’d made the mistake of letting G order … or OVER ORDER!  So still feeling the food coma of last nights escapade, I decided to go for something lighter.

Greek yogurt, granola, seasonal fresh fruit, raisin walnut toast $9

Normally I would be the one scoffing at the person who would order this out!  And yes!! I am paying 14 times what I probably should be for some cut fruit and yogurt!! But after last night’s mass feed, the mere thought of ANYTHING meat or in oil made me want to hurl!  So my over priced bowl of yogurt and fruit and bread was JUST what I needed!  And for $9 it was actually a VERY generous serving.  (or maybe my values are all askew from being in the states). Although don’t ask me what that bread situation was… because although the menu said raisin walnut, I’m PRETTY sure it was just brioche.  NO MATTER!! I enjoyed every non salty-meaty-greasy bite!

French Toast, seasonal fresh fruit, butter, local maple syrup $14

George also went for something sweet, his French Toast lookin’ all cute stacked up like a Jenga tower… Oh and DROWNED in maple syrup!  By all accounts, it tasted delish.  We did some sharesies and the corner I got was nice and crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside!  Possibly the only gripe I had with both of ours was the finely sliced apple situation.  Bit of a cop out?!

Quilted interiors

Like most cafes here, Smith & Mills also offers a dinner menu and cocktails all day (New Yorkers know how to drink… and it’s anytime of day!!  My kind of people!).  The menu is simple offering raw sections, some starters with a Hungarian twist  and 4 Mains – with one of them being the obligatory burger.

The entire time, besides 2 ladies sitting at the bar enjoying a bit of a cocktail and some flirting with the barman, the place was nice and quiet!  I felt like sitting there all day.  Perhaps if G wasn’t with me, I’d be the one flirting with the Bar Man! Perhaps next Saturday…

Smith & Mills

71 N. Moore Street

New York, NY, 10013

+212 226 2515

The Spotted Pig

2 Sep

The entrance of the Spotted Pig

It’s almost my third week in New York City.  The City that never sleeps… and most certainly NEVER stops eating!!  I’m slowly ticking off my ‘eats list’ around NYC (which is endlessly growing)!

I’d had a fun day at work, and got out kind of early so decided to walk home.  I do that a lot here.  Walking!  Even if I get back from a day of it and SWEAR to not walk 30 blocks again, I always find myself getting home exhausted and feeling like my feet have been raped by pounding the pavement. The upside of walking though means I have A LOT of thinking time.  And it means I work up an excruciating appetite.

George and I decide it’s finally Burger Time!  The Spotted Pig is a small corner pub in the West Village, known for Mario Batali’s heart attack inducing Roquefort Beef Burger.  Despite it’s many accolades and constant crowds you can tell it hasn’t fallen victim to the hype.  It’s cosy.  Still looks like a pub, and the place isn’t jam packed full of hipsters or corporates or wannabes wanting to be seen.  In fact, the only thing it is packed with is pig paraphernalia…

After our 45 minute wait at the bar, by the time we are seated G and I are both beyond starving!  We are presented menus but in my Burger Blinker state, don’t even skim over it and get right to business.  (sitting at the bar for 45 minutes meant I had to watch approximately 3 burgers a minute be ferried from kitchen to customer… it made me ravenous for one!!)

Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese & Shoestrings $ 17

Roquefort cheese oozes over the medium rare patty

The burger arrives cooked to order (we both asked for medium rare) covered with a mountain of shoe string fries.  It’s a decent thick patty, and upon cutting it open, is indeed cooked to how I ordered.  Nice!  Although a simple burger, with nothing but meat and cheese (livin’ the dream in my books… one doesn’t need bother wasting time with greens), there isn’t a moment throughout the experience of flavour boredom.  And yes!  That cheese is intense!!  But it’s by no means over the top!

Given the size of this Meat/Cheese flavour bomb, by the time I finish it I can’t even get through half the fries… and dessert is most certainly not happening!  Instead we leave with a belly full of goodness (it’s nice to leave a restaurant without feeling ripped off, pissed off and hungry!)  Next time though I must be sure to actually read the menu…

I heart NY. I heart Spotted Pig!

The Spotted Pig

314 W. 11th St (@Greenwich St.) West Village

(212) 620-0393

The Age Good Food Guide – the big suck up

1 Sep

DDO doesn’t often use the blog to rant and rave, but the latest release of the Good Food Guide warrants some (a lot) ranting and raving. In case you missed it, Attica won Victorian Restaurant of the Year (don’t necessarily agree, but we all have different points of view), and Vue de Monde was awarded 3 ‘hats’ – the top gong. This was despite not being rated at all (scoring withheld to recognise that ‘it was a work in progress’), with a reviewer quoted as saying ”it will be at least as good as it was at [former home] Normanby Chambers”.
Now don’t get me wrong – I very much enjoyed Vue de Monde on my last visit and unlike Attica, I could see the reason for all the accolades. But I think there is something clearly wrong when they city’s supposed premier food guide starts to award the top rating to something that clearly doesn’t deserve it (yet).
What more proof do you need of a clearly biased and farcical process?
DDO’s advice – scrap the guide and jump online, read REAL reviews and make up your own mind.