Tag Archives: Melbourne

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

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 

The Aylesbury

21 Oct

Arriving at The Aylesbury a bit later than I wanted to, I was not keen to find out how long the wait would have to be for a table (yes its one of those places with a no bookings policy unless you have more than 6 people – but more on that later). Luckily at ten to 7 the next available table was at 8:30, and the low-key roof top bar was the perfect place to while away the time with my good friend BFM who had come home for 2 weeks from London (thank you Melbourne for not raining that evening).  Buzzed through by the waitress we arrived at the roof top to the pleasant buzz of end of week drinks – but thankfully not to a sea of suits that is typical of many a bar in the CBD on Fridays.  Perched on a stool overlooking Exhibition Street and sipping a cold drink, time went by pretty quickly – oh and if you’re hungry then there is a good menu of bar snacks that broadly reflects the larger menu of the restaurant downstairs.

As it approaches 8:40 (we have been joined by JP and JT) we head down to see if our table is ready only to be told ‘no its not ready as the table was not been rebooked when the guests sat down so no time limit was given, and they have only just ordered dessert’.  And therein lies the awkward situation you get when you have a mixed booking policy.  Honestly you either take bookings or you don’t.  Plus given the hype surrounding the place and the no booking policy for small groups, wouldn’t you think to tell people that there is a time limit – because the no booking thing pretty much guarantees that there will be a waiting list.  So back we go upstairs and just as I am about to keel over from hunger and fall off the top of the roof, the lovely hostess comes up to show us to our table (its 9:10 by now).

The menu itself is not super extensive, and if you are vegetarian you might struggle to find a decent feed as the focus is squarely on meat and seafood.  They use Warialda Belted Galloway beef and Glenora Heritage Produce – both wonderful local Victorian suppliers – as well as some produce straight from the chef’s garden.  Struggling to choose (hunger has well and truly taken over now), we opt for the very reasonably priced Feasting Menu for $65 a head, which offers up the best from the menu (10 dishes plus 2 sides).

Beef Tartare

Garden on a Plate...

Mackarel with Gazpacho

We started with Coffin Bay Oysters – shucked fresh with a squeeze of lemon, followed by the beef tartar which comes with the most delicately toasted bread.  Both dishes focus on the freshness of the produce which is fantastic.

Next comes the garden on a plate (I can’t recall exactly what it was called) – which is a colourful dish of small bits of various raw vegetables arranged artistically on a black plate.  Not much to say about this one really…

Asparagus and Curd

Wagyu, Marrow & Morcilla

Lamb Cutlets

The aired dried wagyu with marrow and morcilla  is a bit on the salty side and the asparagus with curd is surprisingly refreshing – the curd being extremely light in flavour.  The mackerel with green gazpacho cream was not extraordinary.  And then what turned out to be my favourite dish of the night – the lamb cutlets delicately baked in dehydrated peas and lemon zest which were wonderful accompaniments to the tender and juicy cutlets.

Aylesbury Duck

Salt Baked Flathead

For the bigger dishes we had the Salt Baked Rock Flathead – which certainly looked impressive, but lacked a little in flavour – and the Aylesbury Duck which was served a little pink with a beetroot puree.  In the midst of all this a side of carrots and a side of potato in duck fat appears on our table.

For dessert we opt for the Beignets with chocolate and the Chocolate Slice.

Chocolate slice

Beignet with Chocolate Sauce

The Beignets are rather large – but are soft and fluffy on the inside and the dark chocolate sauce is the perfect consistency.  The Chocolate Slice is a bit too rich – lucky there isn’t too much of it.  It is past midnight by the time we fix the bill and bade our farewells.

Top marks for the fresh produce and the creativity of some of the dishes, but all in all a little overpriced and a little bit bland.  The food doesn’t have the same wow factor as Anada does (well what I remember of it) and that mixed booking policy means I won’t be a regular at the Aylesbury – well not the restaurant at least…but that rooftop has a lot of promise!

The Aylesbury

103 Lonsdale Street Melbourne

(03) 9077 0451

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

Hardware Societe

3 Apr

People that know me will doubt what I am about to admit.  But as of today, I am in love!  They say the best way to a Man’s heart is through his stomach… turns out, I am a man and Hardware Societe has won my heart.

Hardware Societe has been on my ‘brunch must try list’ for a quite some time now and arriving on this brisk Saturday morning to find a cluster of hopefuls waiting for a table , I must admit made my stomach turn.  I hate a line.  I live to be waited on, not to wait!  But thankfully, the extremely efficient and super friendly staff were quick to take our name, and assure us it was only a 5-10 minute wait.  And sure enough the DDO duo (N and I) were seated within 10 minutes in a cosy bench seat overlooking the open kitchen.  Tick and Tick!

view from the bench

As soon as we were seated water was brought to us, our coffee orders were taken and a menu was offered.  This place is busy.   But they run a tight ship.  Tick number 3!

It was a pretty hard decision choosing from the wide and tempting offerings, with Noisette breads, a range of eggs and of course the lighter cold offerings (one being the continental, which included an extremely tempting mix of fruits, crumble, fresh Bio yoghurt which I can’t recall exactly but it sounded delicious) as well as an AMAZING looking fried brioche.  I wanted to eat EVERYTHING on the menu, but decided to go with the Fried Eggs with Jamon, pesto and snow pea shoots.   They also have daily specials, which on this day was Pork belly served on a bean ragu with poached eggs.

Plating up.  Pork Belly to the front, Croque Monsieur to the back. 

I’m actually really glad we were seated where we were.  It gave N and I the opportunity to have a cheeky perve on how the dishes looked when plated up.  Given my indecisiveness on choosing a dish (if only I had the 4 stomachs of a cow…) seeing the finished product helped me decide on something.  N decided on the Mushrooms served on Brioche with eggs en cocotte.

Coffee’s come served with mini cinnamon donuts

Our dishes arrived just as I finished the last sip of my coffee and everything perfect.  I can’t actually remember the last time I went out for a brunch and (despite the crowds) was genuinely excited and happy to be amongst it!! My fried egg’s were cooked to perfection.  Still a little runny in the yolk, but beautifully crisp edges of egg white stacked atop 2 thinly toasted slices of whole grain Noisette bread. This is the perfect example of good quality produce, cooked and served to its full advantage.

Fried Eggs with Jamon, snow pea shoots, pesto and grated cheese ($13)

Of course N and I have a mutual understanding of the sharesy situation, so we got half of each.  And i’m glad, because I definitely would have got food envy if we hadn’t.

Mushrooms on toasted brioche and olive tapenade with eggs in a pan ($15)

The mushrooms were earthy and meaty (oh yeh, vegetarian options too…) atop a tapenade covered, thick cut brioche finished with cheese in the grill.  And then paired with some runny egg yolk… Flavour nation!!  These guys sure know how to impress a girl!!  Having grown up hearing the phrase, “there is no such thing as perfect” you do leave Hardware Societe questioning that very suggestion.  And if their only fault was how (understandably) in demand they are causing a 5 minute wait, I’d say the service, food and that sweet little donut that comes with my coffee is enough for me forgive and forget. Love is a many splendid thing.  And Hardware Societe, you are Love!!

Hardware Societe  20 Hardware Street Melbourne VIC 3000

(03) 9078 5992