Monday, April 9, 2012

Tazio Birraria Pizzeria Cucina

Location: 66 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 3000
Phone: (03) 9654 9119
Cuisine: Italian

It's been a long time since I'd been to Tazio - another one of those little places that I was taken to whilst clerking down the 'Paris-end' of Collins Street all those years ago. Back then, I was impressed with their pizzas, so when a friend suggested we head there for a catch up dinner, I was all up for it.

spaghetti con le cozze (mussels) w/ fresh tomotoes, rocket and garlic crumbs
We started off with just four of us - and all three of them opted for the spaghetti.  Good reviews all round. I would have ordered it but for the rocket.

Instead, I ordered the lamb ragu risotto. Now, I've never had lamb with risotto before, but having been suitably impressed with lamb ragu with pasta before, I thought it was a worth the risk.

rustic lamb ragu risotto w/ fresh pea and mint
I was impressed. The risotto arrived looking a little too stodgy but it was all in the presentation. The risotto itself was the equivalent of 'al dente' for rice, soft enough to eat, but cooked just right that the individual grains of rice were still identifiable.  The ragu was rich with flavours of lamb, tomato and carrot. The lamb itself was soft and fell apart with minimal effort. A good combination and a very filling meal.

Waiting for the remainder of our crew to arrive, we ordered dessert. After a few comments from the waitress, we ended up all ordering the same dessert - chocolate pudding.

chocolate pudding with vanilla bean creme fraiche
No regrets at all. The chocolate pudding was served warm, with an almost gooey fondant like texture inside, and a nice solid outershell. The chocolate sauce was rich and decadent, and not too sweet. The strawberries and creme fraiche helped to cut through the richness of the pudding and sauce. The one thing that was missing was an element of crunch. And I personally would have preferred ice-cream instead of the creme fraiche. 

Service was pleasant and our waitress was one of the most hospitable ones I've encountered, particularly since it was the night before the Easter long weekend and there place was packed with people out for after work drinks. She was also very tolerant as we continually added more people to our table and brought out more water and empty glasses, even though we didn't order much more after dessert.

Overall Impression: 8.5/10

Tazio Birraria Pizzeria Cucina on Urbanspoon

The Aylesbury - express lunch menu

Location: 103 Lonsdale Street Melbourne 3000
Phone: (03) 9077 0451
Cuisine: Spanish

I'm not even back in Canberra yet and I'm already posting. I guess this is what happens when the choice is between doing this, going to bed early or doing uni assignments.

Off the plane and it was straight off to lunch at the Aylesbury.  This time it's the $30 express lunch menu - choice of entrée and main, finished off with a petit four and either coffee or tea.

For entrée, there's a choice of oysters, beetroot and goat's cheese or lamb ribs. I go for the oysters - there's a lack of decent seafood in Canberra and I've had the lamb before (and as amazing as it was last time, I wanted something different).

Sydney rock oysters
The oysters were served fresh, accompanied with a zingy vinaigrette and a wedge of lemon. Simple and brilliant.

For mains there was a choice between market fish, gnudi and steak. The tarragon shallot butter intrigues me, so I opt for the steak.

steak, tarragon shallot butter

It's not until it arrives that I realise I haven't been asked how I want it cooked. It's a little too close to the well done side of things for my liking, but they have somehow managed to keep the meat from drying out (possibly from all the butter). The butter is glossy and fragrant from the tarragon and shallot. The dish is topped with crispy fried onion rings - the rings are indeed crispy, but there is more batter than there is onion.

All in all, it's another pleasant dining experience at the Aylesbury. The staff are again polite, friendly and helpful. The express lunch is a good deal - good value and good quality food. But it lacked the 'wow factor' that I got from my last visit. I think I'll be sticking to the a la carte from now on.

Overall Impression: 8.5/10
The Aylesbury on Urbanspoon