Archive | February, 2012

Queen Margaret Pizzeria

27 Feb

It’s the new year!  Traditionally a time for everyone to start afresh, and embrace the prospects of new beginnings, killing all those lingering bad habits and giving themselves so called new years resolutions.  While I’m not a big believer in the latter (especially since I have very little interest in not enjoying life… I actually thrive on eating and drinking excessively!), Z and I (having spent pretty much the WHOLE New Year period eating out of each others pockets) did one night find ourselves straying from our regular ritual at the onset of our Pizza Craving!

The thing is, does one really want to risk being disappointed by a new option, when in our opinion there is the best pizza shop right at within arms reach?!  Well, tonight we decided to throw caution to the balmy wind and try Queen Margaret Pizzeria a new offering on Queens Parade in Clifton Hill, which after reading a few reviews since it’s opening seemed like a good time to try something “new” …

So we arrive to a rather nice, new, but cosy pizzeria.  The novelty of being in a new pizza environment though quickly wears off, and when it takes a while for any of the 4 staff to acknowledge us standing awkwardly at the front corridor, my patience starts to wain.  When we are finally seated, the waitress does a good job of keeping us well wined and hydrated.  As always, we order a pizza each.

And choose a salad (I don’t care too much for greens, but entertain the idea when getting my carb on!!)

We decided to try the Yeh…. Whatever! – Gypsy ham, mushrooms, black olives, tomato and mozarella.  Thankfully, it was a little better than it’s attempt at a witty name would suggest.  The mushrooms were very slightly caramalised and the olives gave it a nice saltiness.

Yeh....Whatever $18

The other pizza was the Times 4!  Presumably an artery’s worst night mare, this was as the title suggests, 4 times cheese; gorgonzola, mozzarella, assiago, parmesan, cherry tomato and basil.  I had very high hopes for this one, mostly due to the guilt factor of ordering something that you know is way too excessive and would result in your whole plate of food being the same colour…(ah!  YEH!  A balanced and meal/dish/plate of food situation should NEVER be all the same colour -thank you for that life tip Ms Canny!!) bar the sporadic dob of red of the cherry tomato.

Times 4! $18

With great expectation often comes great disappointment.  The flavour was good… for about 2 minutes, until the cheeses cooled down!  And then it became a tough slab of gunk on dough… not even double helpings of chilli oil could salvage this situation!!

Caprese $9.50

Thankfully between the Yeh… Whatever! and the Caprese salad we managed to keep ourselves entertained.  The Mozzarella and tomatoes were lightly drizzled with balsamic and olive oil.  Pretty simple, but delicious.

Apple Galette, Rum & Raisin Ice Cream $12

Nutella, Pear Crumble Calzone $12

So as we smiled awkwardly and they cleared our uneaten rock solid shield of cheesey pizza and  empty plates we convinced ourselves we needed dessert…  One each! So out came the Apple Galette and of course the Nutella Calzone.   (Z is a Nutella fiend!  The amount of times I’ve dropped in to find her Nutella tub in hand with a spoon and a shamed look on her face…)

Dessert was probably the best part of the meal. Neither the Galette nor the Calzone had that over chewy denseness of the pizza dough.  The Apple was juicey but not soggy and the texture and tartness of the apple balanced out the rum/raisin combo of the ice-cream.  The calzone, was… as they always are and should be, FILLED to the brim with Nutella, that is slightly warm and so oozes out a little when you cut into it, and the crumble was a nice touch with the pear as well.

As we stumbled out at the end of the evening carrying our bellies – something I seem to be doing a lot since getting back from the States (it seems i’ve become somewhat of a Pizza Addict!) I couldn’t help but keep thinking to myself, if it ain’t broke it doesn’t need fixing!  So this will be the last time I convince myself to ‘try somewhere new’… especially when I can go to DOC, which would take 15 steps instead of 15 minutes, and is the only reliable trauma free pizza craving fix!

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Robert Burns Hotel

24 Feb

Whats the best thing about friends making impromptu visits to Melbourne?!  Well besides having the pleasure of being in their company, it generally means we get to catch up over some good ol’ wining and dining!!  So when the well travelled (and VERY well dined) P, J and P2 came to town from Hong Kong, they thankfully brought their appetites with them.

We’d given them a list of food genres to choose from, and the end result was Spanish.  DAMN!! Why the hell did we suggest Spanish!  Don’t get me wrong.  I love a bit of Paella and a LOT of Sangria… but combining the no bookings/small interiors/us having a big group situation with the places worthy of eating at… things were not looking easy!  Thankfully, the other DDO had an amazing brain fart and thought of the Robert Burns Hotel.  Well done N!  Looks like pregnant brain has yet to take hold…

I’d been to the Robert Burns Hotel prior to its ‘face lift’ when it was still… well… much more ‘traditional’ and family run and meals came out on big plates with food piled high.

The new interior kept touches of the old, keeping the old dark oak furniture and mixing it with sections of (tartan…?) feature walls and flooring.  Regardless, the interior is spacious.  It took our booking for 6 people.  And we weren’t jammed side by side or seated in a line at a bar… so i’m willing to overlook that rather interesting ‘feature wall’ situation and make the most of our environment.

As always, I arrived to find N and JP, already with an open bottle of wine and pretty sure idea of what to order!  So the gang arrives, we pour some more wines order some food and proceed with our catch ups.  The first to arrive was a special – some sort of fried goats cheese- which was added in to the order at the last minute.

Special: Goats cheese and spinach croquette

Now, obviously, this is a serve of 4.  We are a table of 6. Correct me if i’m wrong, but wouldn’t it be common sense to inform us that there is only 4 per serve?!  Not rocket science really…  So the next few ‘sharing’ dishes all came as a serve of 4!!  Which meant we had to order another as each plate was presented (unfortunately our waitress was apparently blissfully ignorant and numerically illiterate to… or just plain negligent in DOING HER JOB!).  OK, rant over.  Back to the Balls.  The Goats cheese and spinach croquette was crispy with a soft interior, and was texturally good, although generally anything deep fried is. Moving on…

Croquetas del mar mussel and prawn croquettes $9.90

This one had much more flavour and bite to it!  A good bit of saltiness from the seafood and the potato was smooth.  Didn’t melt in my mouth, but at least it had flavour.  Thankfully, the best share plate was saved for the last… like a glorious cliche, it was AMAZING!!

Pimientos rellenos de rabo de torto grandma's own recipe, piquillo peppers stuffed with ox tail $11.90

So inside this little red pocket rocket piquillo peppers was what tasted like a slow cooked ox tail.  WIN!! The whole thing kind of fell apart as you cut it with a fork, but the pepper still held its form without being mush.  The richness of the ox tail cooked into the peppers created a super fragrant, delicious pool of sauce in the bottom of the dish.  Would’ve LOVED some bread to soak up those amazing juices… I was so blown away by this meaty flavour bomb that I actually paid little attention to the salad being served at the same time (yes, the ladies of the table – obviously not including me – made sure there was some foliage).

Unfortunately I cannot remember what was in this besides the quail eggs and the olives.  I guess it was just a normal garden salad… The quail eggs were good!! So with starters close to done, we were ready for the main event.  I think by this stage we were second bottle in and ready for something more substantial.

Paella negra con alioli squid ink paella w cuttlefish and scallops served with alioli sauce $22p/p

The squid ink paella was a rather refreshing version of what we normally have access to in Melbourne.  The squid was fresh and the rice was cooked al dante, although I would’ve loved a squeeze of lemon and lots of salt.  We decided to get a serve for 2, considering we’d had the starters and to leave room for…

Mixed Grill plate

MEAT!! This mixed grill doesn’t look that big for 6, but starting from the bottom, there were 2 lamb chops, a rabbit (joint?  fillet? the part that has a bone in it…) a sausage and a big piece of eye fillet.  The eye fillet was probably the best, cooked to pinky perfection on the inside and a little charred on the outside.  The rabbit was a little dry and flavourless, but nothing a good dollop of chimmichurri didn’t fix.

Churros con chocolate $9.90

We’re all pretty full by the end of it – and YES! We did manage to finish it all, save a few bits of leafage from the meat plate – but let’s be real.  There is ALWAYS room for dessert!! Even if it is the safest, most cliched spanish dessert around.  Thankfully, Robert Burns does this cliche rather well.  The Churros are crisp, and not too thick – there is nothing worse than being served a bratwurst sized churros – and the chocolate is a perfect balance of bitter and sweet.

Much like the last taste to pass our lips, despite all the slight misgivings of the evening, it was in the end as it should be, all about the exceptional company.  Which much like the dessert was full of shits and giggles and bitter sweet.

New Year, New Beginnings and a Bun in the Oven!

8 Feb

Yes its all been a bit quiet of late (well the last 4 months) – but not without good reason, including the announcement of a new bun in the oven (pardon the pun, but we couldn’t help ourselves) which has meant that one half of DDO completely lost their appetite for food and still hasn’t fully regained it yet.  But at least we can now look at pictures of food without wanting to dry wretch.

Having said that we are looking forward to the new year and to bringing you more DDO – here’s hoping the new Dragon year will bring many more feasts!

The Moor’s Head

7 Feb

Since our last “cheesy lebanesey” pizza experience at Mankoushe with Z, I’d pretty much start drooling at the mention of pizza!! My mind reminiscing instantly of that fragrant za’atar atop that fluffy pizza base.  So like every other ‘foodie’, when we’d heard Joseph Abboud of Rumi’s had opened another establishment it was only a matter of time before we’d join the masses to try his new offering; a combination of crowd pleasing Pizza with Middle Eastern topping and flavours.  Something he called, Inauthentic Pizza  (assuming not in that gross chain establishment-lets jam as much bad cheese/sausage/bacon into the crust-Pizza kind of way… i’m not joking.  That pizza was called the German King, at Japanese Pizza Hut’s).

It’d been a while since N, Z, JP and I all had a free Friday to catch up together for a carb fest!  It had been an even longer while since somewhere we wanted to eat took bookings!  So we were all feeling pretty positive about this situation… (especially given we now had a pregnant lady in tow.  And that JP can’t wait for anything for more than 17 seconds without getting extremely agitated!)

Now from here on in, you’ll have to excuse me if I get some of the flavours mixed up… we came here so long ago I can’t remember exactly what was what.  What I can guarantee is that all 3 were meat laden flavours!

So we went with The Golden Terrace (the mammoth one to the right) – minced beef, fresh tomato, chilli, almond, lemon ($18).  The almonds on this gave it some good texture, but it could have done with more lemon and maybe more chilli…just more flavour.   The Emir Bashir II (center) which was Hummus, sujuk (sausage), fresh tomato, olives, parsley ($19) and the round one to the end is Fairuz which had Tomato, haloumi, bastourma (more meat… cured i think) and parsley ($18).  This was probably my favourite of the 3, as the bastourma was nice and salty.  Which meant my fingers finally got a break from sprinkling salt onto EVERYTHING to give it some flavour!

Greens for the night (as requested by the pregnant lady) were Cabbage, Mint soused onion, caraway($8.5) and  Roquette- Shanklees ($8).

 If you’re looking at all this thinking ‘that seems like a lot for 4’, you’re pretty right.  It was!  They were all varied in actual size, but all equally bready.  So earlier when I said we were getting our carb on, I wasn’t being sarcastic!!  Although the toppings were generous, it was hard to not be distracted by the rather chewy, dense consistency of the pide/base.

We did the best we could to finish without getting jaw lock, and I took the small window of room left in my belly as an opening for dessert before the carb-coma took hold.

Dessert was Nutella Fatayer ($9) which was served with Persian Fairy floss and a Halva and Banana Fatayer ($9).  In hindsight, probably should have just let that window close.  We were all so full we could pretty much only manage a corner of each and picked at the garnishings before we had to call it quits!! Banana and Halva though… Bit of a winner!! THAT, I would come back for!

On the whole, with the lack of flavour, and the overly chewy bases, The Moor’s Head failed to leave me wanting more…. Think i’m going to stick to the cheap and cheerful option for my future ‘cheesey Lebonesey’ cravings.