Friday, July 25, 2008

Oakdene Vineyards

Location: 255 Grubb Road Wallington, Ocean Grove
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Company: MSJ Winter Clerks

We were taken down to Ocean Grove for lunch as a farewell for our winter clerkship. It's approximately a 1.5 hour drive to the winery but the food awaiting us was well worth the drive! The meal was accompanied by wine tasting - a series of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot and shiraz.

The food was absolutely amazing. We were given a choice from a set menu for each course. The menu looked like this:

For entree, I ordered the 'King scallops with pancetta, celeriac, Lake Connewarre samphire and black truffle butter'. The scallops were tender and wrapped in crisp pancetta. The flavours complemented each other perfectly and the butter sauce finished it off beautifully.

For the main course, I had the 'Tasmanian salmon fillet with eshallot creamed potato, broccolini and lemon beurre blanc'. The salmon was crispy skinned on the top, and tender and juicy underneath. The salmon was perched on top of broccolini and a bed of creamy mashed potato. The mash was perfect - smooth and creamy, with just enough butter and salt to flavour it. It was finished off with the highlight of the dish - the lemon butter sauce!

I lament that I didn't get a photo of the dessert, for it was so beautifully presented. I chose the 'Chocolate fondant with Belgium chocolate sauce and vanilla ice-cream'. The dish came with a thin chocolate biscuit standing upright in the fondant, which was smothered in chocolate sauce. The ice-cream was a necessity to balance out the richness of the chocolate.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very relaxed. We booked out one of the back rooms that overlooked the garden. Albeit cold without the heaters and overly warm with them, the area was a good area for group functions. The service was quite nice considering they had to deal with almost 30 of us.

I have no idea about the price - the firm paid for us.

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
With the food so amazingly fresh and full of flavour, I recommend the drive to anyone up for a bit of a day trip.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Margo's: Crayfish Mornay

Location: Gaming Area, Crown Entertainment Complex
Cuisine: Grill, Seafood

As part of a work social function, we headed to Margo's for a 'quick' dinner before a movie. Probably not the ideal place to go when you have a big group and don't plan to arrive very early, as the place will not take any bookings and there is generally a waiting line unless you arrive around 6pm. Friday nights and weekends are the busiest nights of the week, and you will be seated much faster if you arrive early.

Half crayfish mornay

I ordered the half crayfish mornay and it was absolutely amazing! The meat inside the shell was soft, sweet and fresh. The mornay sauce was also not too heavy, just enough to add a very nice flavour to the crayfish. The accompanying fries and salad weren't too bad either. One of the best meals I have ever eaten!

Surf'n'turf platter

Two of my colleagues ordered the surf'n'turf platter - one tier of meat, one tier of seafood. I didn't hear any complaints.

The service was pretty decent. Our food arrived at around the same time and was of a very high quality. The waiters were friendly, and we appreciated the way they were able to arrange a large table for us despite us arriving close to 7pm on a Saturday night.

Overall Impression: 9.5/10

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Firehouse

Location: Maroondah Highway, Ringwood
Cuisine: Western
Company: Mark

For a relatively new place, the food was absolutely divine. The menu is interesting. You can either have a meal of small tapas dishes (small entree size dishes) or pick one as an entree and have the usual entree-main-dessert combo. I love the tapas idea. Esp with a group of friends, you get to try a little of everything and not end up over ordering like usual!
We got the marinated octopus- it was fresh and delicious.

Mains where salty, crispy skin duck and angus beef 400g rib eye. The duck itself was beautiful. Very fresh and the skin was delicious. It made a nice change to the usual peking duck! It came with a strange mandarin/apple/potato salad... i didn't like the flavour but it was also very fresh. The beef was also incredibly fresh and juicy. It came with mash (cant go wrong with mash) and beef jus.

The only problem was everything was slightly undersalted for my liking but you can easily add more salt.

I loved the obvious quality of the ingredients used and the fact that they were very mindful of the fructose issue, allowing us to have the jus on the side and taking time to check with the chefs.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The restaurant is very well decorated. It is set inside the old firestation and has retained the charm. There are several small rooms (perfect for functions) and everything is a pretty red colour.

Our waitress was possibly the nicest server I've ever come across. Very helpful but not overly intrusive. Took a lot of care with the fructose as mentioned above. Big ticks there!

Slightly pricey, about $7 for starters (they are small though) and $27-30 for mains. Well worth it for the quality but at the moment only for special occasions! (this one being my birthday keke) Once we have nice, full time employment I think the prices are actually quite reasonable.

~Overall Impression~
10/10- Good food, great service, felt the meal was worth the money we spent.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Location: 197 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne[near Russell Street]
Cuisine: Greek
Company: Dan

The food was decent. We ordered saganaki with red capsicum and fetta for entree. The dish came out in a small pan and the flavours were nice and strong, but well balanced. For mains, I ordered a mixed grill [chicken souvlaki, lamb gyro, lamb rissole, lamb cutlet, sausage, salad etc] and Dan ordered a seafood platter [prawns, fish, Greek pasta, saganaki sauce etc]. Serving sizes were generous and the lamb gyro was amazing. The salad could have done with a little more dressing and fetta though.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The place itself is cosy and casual, but the service was lacking - or rather selective. We were greeted at the door and shown to a table in a very pleasant manner. But once the waitress took our orders, the service pretty much ended there. Our food came out after quite a long wait, and they brought our mains out before we had even finished the entree. The worst part was that they didn't clear away any used plates even though we had piled a nice little collection on the side of the table. And when we waved for service, one waiter nodded curtly and then palmed us off to another waitress.

The prices were suitable given the serving sizes. Usual $20-$30 for mains. They also had set menus and share platters that were a little more expensive.

~Overall Impression: 7/10~
I wouldn't be rushing back to this place, only because the food was nice but not quite enough to make up for the bad service.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Vegie Bar

Location: 380 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Cuisine: vegetarian
Company: Eb and Alex

The menu was quite expansive and covered a whole range of cuisines - just no meat. We got a starter called 'Duo' to share, which was essentially warmed roti bread and some wild rice with a curry dip and a lentil dip. The roti was really good but the dips were a bit bland, especially the curry one.

For main, I ordered the Gado Gado, a whole heap of vegetables and lentils with a bowl of satay sauce. Whilst the serving was large, I could have done with more of the sauce as it was a little on the bland side too. I found it a little amusing they even threw in bok-choy into the mix, as it's one of the vegetables I would never had with satay sauce [and it did taste funny].

For dessert, Alex decided we were going to eat the vegan chocolate cake with soy ice-cream. This was a completely new experience for me, as I only ever eat normal chocolate cake with normal [full cream] ice-cream. I was surprised at how good the cake was, although it was a little hard and crumbly at the sides and the base [like a cookie!] and also at how normal the ice-cream tasted too.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very casual and also very crowded. We arrived around 6.30pm and the place was already bustling. We managed to get some seats at a communal table, where the seats were literally leather stools. Can't say it was the most comfortable seating but the mood of the place was quite relaxed. The service was minimal but we didn't have to wait long for our food or for service [despite it being so busy].

Very cheap. Mains were around $10-$15. Our total bill was just over $45 for three of us. Quite a good deal.

~Overall Impression: 7.5/10~
Given the price, the fast service and the casual nature of the place, the place would be quite suitable for those after a quick cheap feed or those running on time constraints. The menu was intriguing enough for me to want to go back one day and try something else, hopefully with slightly stronger flavour.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Brasserie

Location: Crown Casino
Cuisine: French
Company: Dan

We ordered from the pre-theatre menu, which included either an entree or dessert, and a main for $38.50. For entree, we ordered the 'Tasmanian cured salmon, spelt blini, horseradish crème fraîche and condiments' which was wonderfully done. I'm not usually a fan of raw or rare food, but the salmon was cured so well that there was no 'fishy' taste at all. The 'spelt blini' turned out to be a type of soft bread, something a bit like a spanish omelette. The cream and 'condiments' were awesome very tasty and complemented the salmon well.

For mains, Dan ordered the 'Oven-roasted fillet of gold band snapper, crustacean fumet, chick pea purée' while I had the 'Pan-seared beef sirloin maître d'hôtel or with béarnaise sauce, French fries'. The beef was a little tough but the sauce was really nice. Chips were okay, not quite french fries though. The snapper came with some weird chip looking thing, but the sauce smelt quite nice.

Then came the jackpot of the night - dessert of 'Chocolate marquise with pistachio anglaise and vanilla sorbet'. Absolutely awesome! The chocolate marquise was soft and very rich, and the sorbet was the perfect complement.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The service was friendly but sometimes a little lacking. The French waiters had quite a strong accent and it was sometimes hard to tell what they were saying. One waitress in particular seemed to have a limited grasp of English and when I asked if they stocked 'Appletiser', she thought I meant 'appertiser' and she trotted off confusedly and we never saw her again.

The place itself was quite relaxed but classy. Lighting was slightly dimmed but not dark, and the upstairs windows overlook one of the Crown flamethrowers. There is also outside seating for those who don't mind the cold.

The menu is somewhat quite expensive. The pre-theatre menu is clearly a good deal as most of the mains alone are around the $40 mark. Only catch for this is that you have to order before 7pm.

~Overall Impression~
Very impressed with the quality and presentation of the food, as well as the atmosphere itself. Will probably try it again when the pre-theatre menu changes.
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