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Gazi: Greek Funtimes

16 Aug
Terracotta pot lined ceiling

Terracotta pot lined ceiling

IMG_1895[1]Its been a while since DDO posted – not necessarily a reflection of suddenly becoming hermits, but more of the fact that our little one has sucked up any spare time (and energy) that we previously had for blogging…but I digress.

So to celebrate our (N&J’s) recent wedding anniversary (4 years!), we paid a visit to Gazi – the latest slightly schizophrenic, neon clad addition to George. C’s already bursting culinary empire.  Whilst it was probably the complete opposite to the romantic venue we had hoped for (a la Jacques Reymond, which by the way is closed on a Sunday) it wasn’t a poor choice food-wise, and given J’s selective auditory issues (i.e. I usually have to repeat everything I say at least once) shouting across the table was no divergence from the norm (although I do blame the noise for ordering a cocktail with ouzo in it – either that or the waiter omitted this ingredient).  But if you do value your space, the place will probably induce claustrophobia, with tables so close that even the wait staff have difficulties passing through – the terracotta pot lined ceiling, whilst visually impressive, don’t really help to create the illusion of space either (to quote J: ‘I don’t get the pots – it’s a health and safety hazard’).

So noise and space aside, the food (self described Greek street food), whilst being good, is probably very far from being authentic, and is certainly not priced as street food.  There is also a slightly over-priced wine list, which is certainly a little adventurous with its Greek offerings (we went for a Bordeaux red, which J said tasted fine, but to my ouzo inflicted tastebuds, was a little bit too spicy?).

Saganaki

Saganaki

Taromasalata and Prawns

Taromasalata and Prawns

To start we ordered the Taramosalata dip – which comes dotted with broken prawn crackers and a small serving of fluffy flat bread. YUM.

We also ordered some Ethnika Vromika (Hellenic Dirty Food) Saganaki and prawns which wasn’t really ‘dirty’ at all, and unfortunately not much to write home about – I much prefer the basic (and ‘dirtier’) versions served at tavernas like Jims.

Lamb Cutlets

Lamb Cutlets

From the ‘Wood Fired Grill’ we ordered some lamb cutlets (priced per cutlet) – which were tasty but a little bit too fatty for my liking, and J had half a corn cob, which came glistening with butter (or perhaps olive oil) and topped with cheese, and by all accounts was delicious.  At the same time our side – a big fat plate of thick chips – was served up, golden and crisp.

At this point I am slightly dreading the sight of our Souvlakakias (I was suffering some abdominal discomfort from a mild case of gastroenteritis passed on from the little one – the lunch we had earlier at Matteo’s was a struggle…) which arrive momentarily – lucky they are small compared to the traditional souvo bar offering.  J had the beef brisket and I the chicken.  Both were wrapped in fresh fluffy flat bread and came stuffed with shoe string fries (turns out we really didn’t need those aforementioned chips! – although no one told us that).  The meat inside both were delicious and quite succulent, although I probably preferred the beef brisket.  There are less traditional souvlaki options such as duck and crab for the more adventurous that we didn’t get to sample this time around.

IMG_1893[1]

Fat Chips

IMG_1892[1]

Soulakakias

 

No dessert for us – as both J and I are well and truly stuffed – but the menu is certainly varied with modern takes on traditional favourites such as rice pudding (Risogalo Jar which comes in a smoking glass pot) and Loukomathes (cocoa nibs, honey as described on the menu).  For those wanting a smaller sweet snack, there are ION chocolate bars and blocks from the Periptero (Greek Milk Bar) on offer.

If you’re after a fun night with a bit of a gimmicky menu, then Gazi is your place – vibey, good food in a good location.  Personally, if I want good Greek food or a stinky souvo, I am pretty happy with my favourite tavern / souvo bar.

Gazi

2 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

http://gazirestaurant.com.au

+61 (3) 9207 7444

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Bistro Guillaume

8 Nov

It’s birthday season – when I say season I mean it… managed to drag out this twenty something birthday with a whole week of eating drinking and being extremely excessive.  And as tradition would have it the DDO duo once again indulged and so celebrated with a feast at Bistro Guillaume at Crown.  I’m choosing not to bore you with the details, but thought visual show and tell of our glorious 4 hour dinner would be of interest!  I suggest putting on a bib… images may provoke excessive drooling…

The famous silk light features

Steak Tartare

Escargot persillade

Rack of lamb on a bed of ratatouille, tapenade and zucchini flower

Barramundi with carrot and ginger purée, coriander butter and pommes allumettes

Beef Daube – braised beef cheek

Leg of duck confit with brussel sprouts, spring onions and speck

Tea served with Guillaume green macaron and Passionfruit Creme Brulee

Dark Chocolate, salted caramel and hazelnut tart with raisin ice cream and lemon tart

Happy Birthday!

Bistro Guillaume

Crown Entertainment Complex

(03) 9292 4751 

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!

Brunch at The Brix

7 Oct

A welcome breath of fresh air, The Brix is unlike any other restaurant you will find in Fitzroy. Located just off Brunswick street down the somewhat lackluster northern end, this new(ish) establishment serves modern French style food – complete with a prix fixe set menu on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

On the outside the fresh white paint gives the place a light airy feel which translate also to its interiors of wooden floors, simple lines and lots of big windows that let in the natural sunlight. Its not a big place, with probably a maximum of 15 small tables plus several seats at the bar. The staff are dressed in white t-shirts, black skinny jeans and braces and provide a professional and friendly service.

I meet O on a Saturday morning for what was intended as a late brunch, but at The Brix actually turns out to be lunch – they stop serving the breakfast menu at 12noon, oh how very French!

Cured Ocean Trout with Nicoise Garnish

Pork Cassoulet

Not to worry, there is plenty on the lunch menu to satisfy, and we quickly put in our orders – O goes for the cured ocean trout with nicoise garnish and I opt for the Pork Cassoulet.

The ocean trout comes on a black slate plate which is the perfect backdrop to the vibrant colours of the salmon and the light nicoise style salad on the side. By O’s account it’s not only a pretty dish, its also tasty and fresh.

The cassoulet comes in a cast iron dish and is served together with a couple of slices of toasted rye bread on a wooden board. The pork is tender and melts in the mouth, and the persillade (a mix of parsley chopped together with seasonings including garlic, herbs, oil, and vinegar) provides a crunchy texture to the dish. The servings aren’t big – just perfect for a light lunch, but if you’re a big eater, you’ll definitely be left wanting more.

Frangipani Tart

A meal with O always involve sweets and on this occasion we choose the frangipani tart which is a pleasant offering but not exactly mind blowing. The tart casing is not too doughy or chewy and the frangipani is subtle and not too sweet.

Peppermint Tea with Artisan Honey

Washed down with my peppermint tea (served with some artisan honey from NZ) it’s a nice way to finish off a light meal.

All in all The Brix is a good addition to this part of Fitzroy and offers something completely different to the casual café fare served in these parts. Next time we’ll try the prix fixe menu.

The Brix

Rear 412 Brunswick Street,

Fitzroy VIC 3065

(03) 9417 6114

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.

Lunch at Freeman’s NYC

22 Aug

Entrance to Freemans

It’s day 4 of my New York adventure with G.  And I’d say we’ve taken to being New Yorkers with great success; ask for a ‘kawfeee’ instead of a latte (save yourself the pain and frustration), look left first when crossing the street, no-one understands  the meaning of ‘down the road’ as all streets are streets, pharmacies are a girl’s best friend… they sell EVERYTHING… from Neurofen to nicotine!! But although we’ve taken to these minor little colloquialisms with some what ease, we can’t help but seek out some things that remind us of home!!

Just when we thought we’d seen enough of that “hidden lane way” establishment, we seeked out Freemans for lunch tucked away at the end of an alley way off Rivington St.

The interior is a mix of old taxidermy mixed with trophy room.  Filled with old wooden tables and distressed walls, walking into Freeman’s you’d expect to see men dressed in smoking robes, menus like leather bound books and maybe some cigar smoking.

We are seated and immediately told the specials of the day ( i  think it was some sort of braised shank thing with some sort of salad that undoubtedly involved arugula and kale – they are OBSESSED with that here).  Sounded AMAZING!  But even my “on VAY-KAYYYYY” mentality held me back from ordering a slow cooked hunk of meat at breakfast time.

More Interiors

The Brunch menu is divided into 4 main sections of Starters, Sweet, Savory and Dessert, as well as a column of sides.  You find starters like Hot Artichoke Dip with crisp bread and Mixed Greens, apples, radishes & lemon olive oil dressing.  Savory offers a quite a heavier meal, with the obligatory Burger (everywhere has a burger on the menu!  I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to find one amongst a Dumplings menu in china town… these people are OBSESSED!), Beef Brisket Hash and of course a few Egg options as well.

After much deliberation (ordering here takes me twice as long!! a) because the menu seems to go for days and b) because when i’d normally just go for the meatiest option… each menu offers me at least 5 meat options!!)  I decide on the Smoked Trout, and pass on the Bloody Mary.

Smoked Trout, Hard Boiled Egg, Horse Radish Cream and sourdough toast $11

My meal came out served on a round wooden platter, and you can’t really tell from this picture, but the serving was very American… super generous!  Reminder to self:  It’s named the Land of the Fat for a reason!  The trout had a wonderfully fragrant smokiness, and with the squeeze of lemon, a mouthful of pickle and horse radish cream jammed all together (…which is officially my new favourite condiment) in one oversized American mouthful… Flavour Nation!

George decided to go with the Grilled Egg Whites which came out PIPING HOT and smelled absolutely delicious.

Grilled egg whites with goats cheese, heirloom tomatoes and basil $12

Must be something about having to walk everywhere, but every time our food arrives on the table, we seem to inhale everything before the plate even begins to cool.  I got to have a little taster of his and (although it was vegetarian…) it was a well balanced mix of textures and flavours.

We continue to be astounded by how cheap brunch is here in comparison to Melbourne, even with the addition of tips and tax… we are loving eating our way around this new city (quite literally… walking.  eating.  Walking to our next eating place…) But it’s so nice to find little gems that remind us of home.

Freemans Restaraunt

8 Rivington St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 420-0012

DDO in NYC!

18 Aug

Keep an eye out for the latest on DDO in NYC…until then if you want to follow the adventures of one half of the DDO duo, visit Jade Rose Goes

China Bar signature

19 Jul

Remember that episode of 30 Rock when Jenna comes back from a season break 30 pounds heavier after eating a whole summer of Pizza during her run on Broadway in ‘Mystic Pizza: The Musical.’?  Well, DDO didn’t just do a musical tv series.  Or anything to do with Pizza!  But this family dinner WAS most certainly inspired by something on TV (an extremely overplayed, over glamourised tvc on the Chinese cable channel TVB Jade), and left me  bellowing “ME WANT FOOOOOOD!!”

China Bar Signature

Said commercial was for China Bar Signature, an Asian food buffet emporium, offering every possible type of stereotypically eaten asian delight!   It’s a combination of clever marketing, hiring an amazing photographer and offering this “Eat As Much As You Like” haven of food that seems to have made this place EXTREMELY successful, and the whole experience – from booking our table, to the morning of our reservation, to before we arrived, to when we were 3 minutes late, and finally being shoo-ed out once our ‘allocated eating time’ was up – left us speechless… or was that the food coma…?

China Bar Signature is HUGE!  As you drive down Burwood Highway it’s hard to miss this giant food cube of a restaurant as it glistens on the corner lit up by the token red neons that China Bar is so famously known for.  You walk in to find a grand dining hall packed with people, packed with staff, and most of all PACKED with food.  As we are hurriedly seated (much to the distress of the maitre’d we are 4 minutes late, well not late but 4 minutes into our booking time range of 6:15 – 6:30) at our round table for 5 near the entrance.  In case you haven’t picked up already, there’s a reason this place is so damn big.  It’s because when you offer people too much food, with endless food varieties (…they even offered dim sum!  Ummm! Its 7:30pm…. ) people come in HOARDS!!

So in order to deal with the masses of hungry humans needing to stuff their face with limitless amounts of Asian themed fare (present company included…), the establishment has 2 seatings, 5:30pm and 8:00pm.  With our booking for 6:30 we are warned almost every 4 minutes leading up to 6:30 that we HAVE to leave at 7:45 and asked “are you sure that is enough time to finish eating…?”

Dim Sum assortments

Given the pressure from the restaurant to eat and leave, DDO and the Fam had devised some what of an eating plan of attack… which was almost immediately VITTO-ed by JP and I.  You see, N along with Mumsy and Dadsy thought it a good idea to tackle one station per person, to ensure we got to try as much as humanly possible without wasting time.  Clever idea.  But I was only interested in eating an hour and a half worth of unauthentic sushi and sashimi… and maybe a dumpling or 2 (coz eating Sui Mai at dinner times … like eating chocolate for breakfast…!!).  And JP was pretty much all over that Oystar bar (2 rounds worth) faster then we could pour our first cups of tea.

Seafood bar

So aside from the usual fried rice, noodle bar, steamed dumplings -which include xiao long bao and assortment of dim sum dumplings… which I think is PRETTY WEIRD but then again, so is the whole concept of this place! SO sparing judgment.

…there are stir fries,  a Japanese section, an Indian/Malaysian offering, a salad bar (uh… AS IF!!  needless to say that area was untouched on my part… ) Chinese roast meats – which were roast pork, pork belly and peking duck, and of course seafood bar.

Maki assortment

It didn’t take me long to beeline for the sushi bar (which was my favourite part of the TVC) with it’s brightly coloured maki rolls all lined up.  The flavours were pretty standard, but tasted acceptable considering the environment we were in…

Seared Salmon & Eel Sushi

My favourite was the seared Salmon and Eel Sushi, which I’m pretty sure I cleaned out at least a whole platter of each!  They were really fresh and surprisingly, the bed of rice it nestled on was far from being dry and rock solid like many other places that offer this type of sushi.  Although I did manage to try some of the other things, like satay, and peking duck, after about 3 rounds of sushi my stomach was so full of rice I could almost explode.  Thats the thing with “all you can eat”… there really is only so much you can eat, before you feel ill.  And I was certainly well on my way…

mums tailor made fishball noodle soup

Mumsy was probably the smartest with her eating choices and opted to head straight for the noodle man where she was able to tailor make her bowl with choice of noodles as well as assorted dumplings, balls and vegetable accompaniments.   Thankfully for us, her relatively un-overstuffed belly meant she still had room for dessert…

Coconut pudding

Mixed cakes

The dessert spread was just as impressive as the savory food.  So impressive in fact, there was a massive line that wrapped all the way around the dessert run and around the bend towards to restrooms. It may also have been something to do with the fact that it was getting close to that 7:45 cut off.

Offering everything from pastries and tarts, cheese and bread to sponge cakes, cheese cakes and puddings… Most impressively being the retail sized

Pastries & more sweets

freezer full of ice cream sticks!! (You know those one’s you always see at asian grocers that you never quite know if they are icey poles or ice creams… icey creams…?)  By this stage, JP had to excuse himself from being so full.  He literally got up and had to walk around the restaurant. Mum, N and I did a round of desserts for the table, and Dadsy stayed by the table … smart move Dadsy!!

Although we only returned with 2 small plates of an assortment of little cakes and something red beany, we all struggled to finish them, and even the mere hand to mouth action was too difficult.

Freezer full of ice cream poles (?)

We started as a troop bellowing “Me want FOooood!” with eye’s for food being bigger then our actual stomachs, and walked out (to a line of hopefuls outside, awaiting their glorious hour and a half of excess consumption) feeling completely defeated by the Food Monster that drew us in!

NOTE TO SELF: its much funnier experiencing the effects of over consumption through Jenna on TV Land than in real life… should also probably stop eating sundae’s whilst working out on the treadmill….

China Bar Signature

380 Burwood Highway, Burwood East  (03) 9887 8011