Thursday, October 23, 2008

Queen Victoria Market

Location: corner Elizabeth and Victoria Streets
Cuisine: various
Company: Janette, Duy

Skip the food court, and take the entrance near McDonald's. Inside you'll find a vast array of freshly made pies, baguettes, sausages and boreks. The Queen Vic Market has so much food at cheap prices, and you know it's all fresh because the food sells like crazy! We jostled our way to the counter of one particular shop and ordered the borek, which looked like a sausage roll, but with a thinner pastry and actual meat inside. I didn't quite catch the name of the place, but you'll find it by the line up, and the menus [the boreks are $2.50 each!]

After you have filled up on savouries, you can stop by one of the ice cream or juice shops, or skip them and try out the American donuts sold from the van near the groceries area. Again, so so cheap - 6 donuts for $5!!

~Overall Impression: 9/10~
The place to go when you're after quick, cheap and freshly made food!

Concorde Creperie

Location: Kiosk 3, Melbourne GPO [corner Little Bourke and Elizabeth Streets]
Cuisine: Crepes
Company: Mandy, Mel

The place sells crepe, crepe and more crepe. It has a vast array of fillings, ranging from sweet ones like lemon and sugar, banana and nutella, and stewed apple and cinnamon, to savoury fillings such as cheese, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, smoked salmon and peking duck [the list could go one]. I ordered the lemon and sugar crepe, hoping it would be like the old crepe van days, to be fairly disappointed. The crepe itself was thicker than they used to be, and seemed more suited to a savoury filling. They also made it with too much lemon syrup, and too little sugar.

Not phased though, I plan on trying out the savoury ones over the weekend, and will post a note to this afterwards.

~Atmosphere and Service~
Very simple, it is just a small kiosk hidden in a corner of GPO near the post office. There is some casual seating scattered along the kerb like the other GPO cafes, but the crepe is served in a paper bag, and most people walk and eat.

The ladies who served us were friendly, but somewhat not so experienced. One left the crepe on for too long as she went off to help another look for the ingredients in their flour (a customer had asked if their flour contained yeast) and as a result the crepe was tougher than it should have been.

Rather expensive, although the crepe is quite large. The sweet ones start at $4.90, and prices range up to $12.90 for the peking duck one.

~Overall Impression: 7/10~
Not overly impressed, but impressed enough to want to return and try the savoury ones.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Izakaya Chuji

Location: 165 Lonsdale Street
Cuisine: Japanese, Tapas, BBQ
Company: Jie, Jenn, Mel, Emma, Helen

The food was rather average. I suspect BBQ would have been nicer, but given it was a very hot day, we went a la carte with a stack of small tapas-like dishes. A few dishes stood out, including the asari butter (clam in butter soup) and the crab croquettes. Amusingly, the description for sukiyaki was 'a very popular dish served in pot with special sauce', although it didn't quite live up to expectations. It merely tasted like sukiyaki from any other Jap restaurant.

~Atmosphere and Service~
When we arrived at about 6pm, it was already starting to look busy. Downstairs was more crowded and had a market-like atmosphere. Upstairs was a little quieter and more restaurant like. Lighting was slightly dimmed and the place had character.

Unfortunately for the place, the service was shocking. The waiters and waitresses could barely understand English, which made communication a bit of a problem. Our first issue arose when we decided it was too hot for BBQ and opted to order from the main menu. We asked one waitress whether it was possible to order a la carte instead of BBQ, and asked for the main menu. Given that she left and returned with the menus, we assumed it would be okay. Not quite so. Another waitress later came up and told us off for not ordering BBQ when we had booked for BBQ. That would have been fair enough if they had told us when we asked. Instead they then complained about us taking up a BBQ table when they had to turn away people who wanted BBQ - despite there still being a few empty BBQ tables around us...

The prices seemed quite cheap when we first looked at the menu, but the dishes were all rather small and after paying $20 each, we left rather unsatisfied.

~Overall Impression~
Would perhaps return to try out the Jap BBQ, but other than that, not particularly keen to return.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Casa Del Gelato

Location: 163 Lygon Street, Carlton
Cuisine: Italian, Ice-Cream and Gelati
Company: Janette, Duy

After stuffing ourselves with pasta, we decided to get some gelati for 'dessert'. Case Del was the first gelati spot that we walked past. Enticed by the endless glass windows of gelati, we went in. There were literally tubs and tubs of different flavoured gelati, there were fruity ones, creamy ones and soya ones, with a huge range for each type. I bought a 3-scoop cup of Chocolate Kiss, Choc Mint and Strawberry for $4.50. And it tasted fantastic!! The Chocolate Kiss was creamy and chocolatey, without being too rich or too sweet. The Choc Mint was fresh and cool, with nice chunks of choc chip blended throughout, and the strawberry was just very fruity and tangy. Perfect gelato.

I was especially impressed by the strawberry as it was the first time I had ordered a fruit flavour gelati - I had never thought it would work out, but it did. A must try!

Overall Impression: 9.5/10
Casa Del Gelato on Urbanspoon

Cafe Notturno

Location: 177-179 Lygon Street, Carlton
Cuisine: Italian
Company: Janette, Duy

Every time I walk down Lygon Street, Cafe Notturno always seems to be bustling with people. So today, when we went to Lygon for an early lunch, we decided we would give it a shot.

The menu had a good range of pastas, pizzas and typical main meals, including parmas, steaks and salads. We all ordered pastas. My penne bascaioli was essentially penne with chicken and mushrooms, with a cream and napoli sauce. Quite rich, but the flavours were tossed together nicely. Janette had the penne matriciana, which looked tasty, but was apparently quite spicy. Duy's sundried tomatoes and olive gnocchi came with a cream sauce, and looked far too rich and filling for my liking, although he asserted that it did in fact taste quite good.

The menu also had a small range of desserts (including nutella crepe) and a large drinks list.

~Atmosphere and Service~
The place was very casual. Seating was available both indoors and out, although we saw ants on the outdoor tables and decided to sit inside.

As it was an early lunch, the place itself wasn't that busy yet, however the service was somewhat disappointing. Our main waitress seemed to be very snappy and appeared quite rude. There was no indication of any customer service as she expressionlessly took our orders, and seemed somewhat lazy when setting the table - all it involved was putting down serviettes with a knife and fork, yet she was too lazy to do a bit of walking, and left my cutlery in front of Janette.

The plus side was that the food came out relatively quickly, however I was again disappointed that cracked black pepper and fresh parmasan were not offered, even though upon leaving I saw that it was available. Instead, we were given a shaker of parmasan, which was stuck together and didn't taste all too spectacular.

The prices were reasonable. The pastas were around $11-$15 and the main meals didn't look too pricey either.

~Overall Impression: 6.5/10~
Suitable for a quick, cheap lunch, but not a place I would recommend for any meal where you're after decent service.
Café Notturno on Urbanspoon