Friday, December 30, 2011

Restaurant Review: Oriental Spoon

Location: 254 La Trobe St, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9654 9930
Cuisine: Korean
Overall Impression: 7.5/10
Oriental Spoon is a delightful Korean eatery in the CBD. Authentically good, it takes J and I right back to the time we spent in Seoul together.
The condiments are the part of the Korean meal that I love the most. Although they provide more of a supporting role, the humble Kim chi is what makes my meal.  
Megumi
Korean Casserole with dumplings, assorted vegetables, kimchi and tofu
Seafood pancake
Jap Chae
Clear sweet potato noodles pan-fried with thin slices of marinated beef and assorted seasoned vegetables in sesame sauce oil
Bulgogi
Finely sliced beef marinated in Korean Bulgogi sauce, cooked with vegetables and served on a hot sizzling plate
Korean Fried Chicken
Each dish was incredibly flavoursome. The portions were also incredibly generous. Those 5 dishes fed the 7 of us (with a whole heap of fried chicken left over which KC took home for lunch the next day). It ended up costing us less than $25 each including drinks, offering the soundest bang for your buck.

Oriental Spoon on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Great Northern Hotel

Location: 644 Rathdowne St, Carlton North
Phone: 03 9380 9569
Link: gnh.net.au
Cuisine: English/Irish
Overall Impression: 7/10
Hand pumped, cask conditioned beer. This is how beer used to be (before big corporations started pasteurising and carbonating it) and how beer should be.
After years of mass produced, artificially carbonated beer flooding the market and becoming the new ‘norm’ in Australia, hand pumped beer is beginning its resurgence thanks to breweries like the Holgate Brewhouse in Woodend, and temples of beer worship such as The Royston and the Great Northern Hotel.
Holgate ESB
This genuine, English style of beer shows greater complexity and depth of flavour than its artificially carbonated and pasteurised competitors. A pint of this brings J and I right back to the time we spent in the UK. We were glad to hear that they recently installed a second hand pump!

Apart from excellent beer, Great Northern Hotel provides good food at reasonable prices.
Asian Style Beef Salad
Marinated and fried beef strips, cucumber, chilli tomato, and bean shoots with a soy and sesame dressing
Veal Parmigiana oven baked and served with a choice of beer battered fries and salad or vegetables and baked potato.
Spaghetti Bolognaise a rich red wine and beef sauce, nestled in fresh cooked spaghetti and topped with shaved parmesan
Our visits are always satisfying so it is easy to see why Great Northern Hotel has been gaining a cult following in recent times.

Great Northern Hotel on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Dessert House Eatery

Location: 313 Swanston St, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9663 2284
Cuisine: Hong Kong Cafe Style food
Overall Impression: 5/10
This place is great for their Hong Kong style cafe food. Of particular note is the Lemongrass chicken. With friendly service and a well-priced menu, the appeal is obvious.

Dessert House Eatery on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Portofina

Location: 984 Doncaster Rd, Doncaster East
Phone: 03 9841 7922
Link: portofina.com.au
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Overall Impression: 4/10

My bosom buddy, G and I decided to catch up at Portofina, mainly because of my limited driving skills. Portafina is a few kilometres straight down the road from where she lives. I was picking her up in my car and I didn’t want to have to drive very far or make too many turns without my GPS because I have no sense of direction and cannot read a map.
After looking at the menu and deciding on what we would like, we made our orders to an incredibly impatient and rude waitress. G and I were immediately put off by the place (hence the thumbs down in the picture).
Quiche and salad
Chicken parma burger

Our food arrived and it was of a passable standard. The older lady that brought our food to the table was much nicer so I wouldn’t say that the service is bad all round. The food itself was at best ordinary. To the restaurant’s credit however, the menu is popularly priced, with none of their lunch items costing over $10. Unfortunately, that does not do much in terms of gaining G and I’s patronage in the future.

Portofina Licensed Cafe on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Taiwan Cafe

Location: 273 Swanston St, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9663 6663
Cuisine: Taiwanese street food
Overall Impression: 5/10
Celebrating Taiwanese street food, this little eatery has become increasingly popular. Having come to our attention due to the long queues we had been seeing, we were curious to see if the hype was justified.  
Pork Dumplings with Hot & Sour noodle soup
The dumplings in my noodles were pleasant but the hot and sour soup was neither spicy nor sour enough. It lacked that punch synonymous with Taiwanese street food.
Bento Box
As far as Taiwanese bento boxes go, this ticked every “box”!


All in all, this is a nice eatery that I would revisit but only if I could get a seat easily.
Taiwan Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Restaurant Review: I Love Pho 264

Location: 264 Victoria St, Richmond
Phone: 03 9427 7749
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Overall Impression: 6/10

Boxing Day sales were upon us. It had been a tiring but productive day. J, with my help, (looking for sizes was a nightmare!) managed to get a sexy, well-fitting black suit for 40% off the RRP. We had also successfully “net-worked” randomly with another couple over pre-dinner drinks at a trendy bar in Southbank. This was particularly victorious on my part because I was born socially awkward. I’m not sure what happened but somewhere between finishing the first half of my glass of wine to heading off for dinner, we had exchanged business cards. It was reason to celebrate!
Not wanting to stuff our faces for the umpteenth time this week, we decided to have a light dinner to celebrate. Having heard of the aptly named “I Love Pho” (a sentiment I share) from food blogging circles, we decided to make our way there.
The place was buzzing with Pho-lovers.
Prawn and pork rice paper rolls
As customary in every Vietnamese restaurant that J and I have been to, we decided to start the meal with Pork and Prawn rice paper rolls. We were glad we did. These were the best that we have ever had. The beautifully thin and delicate rice paper encased fresh herbs and ingredients. The sauce was of particular note. It was incredibly scrumptious when eaten with the rice paper rolls. It had the perfect hint of spice from a chilli sauce that had been added right up the top. It was a great appetiser and a wonderful start to our meal.
Rice noodle soup: sliced beef and brisket
Rice noodle soup: shredded chicken
Both the Pho dishes were lovely. The broth was a lot more delicate and subtle in flavour in comparison to your run of the mill Vietnamese pho. The flavours appeared to be far less intense to our “local” Vietnamese eatery, Codo. That said, the broth tasted a lot more real (i.e. made of real chicken and beef stock as opposed to laden with MSG). It was certainly pleasant to eat.

Although slightly overrated, the appeal of I Love Pho is certainly easy to see. With a clear focus on rice noodle soups, it looks like a lot of heart and soul has gone into the food, making it a notch above the rest.
I Love Pho 264 on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 26, 2011

Event Review: The Stokehouse and Schweppes Foodathon

Location: 30 Jacka Blvd, St Kilda
Phone: 03 9525 5555
Link: stokehouse.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian
 
J and I were fortunate enough to be invited to an exclusive Nuffnang Foodathon event at the iconic Stokehouse in St Kilda on Thursday the 8th of December. This intimate event brought together some of Melbourne's finest food bloggers. I felt extremely privileged to be a part of it. Whilst enjoying the serene sun set over St Kilda beach, our taste buds were spoilt with delicious desserts matched to delectable Schweppes cocktails. The kind people at Schweppes also provided us with all the cocktail recipes. I have reproduced these below for you to try at home! The following are pictures from the evening consisting predominantly of the glorious food and cocktails we were fortunate enough to indulge in.
Cocktail: Creole Crush
Matching dessert: Watermelon sorbet

Creole Crush Recipe:
Ingredients
45 ml gin
Cubed water melon
100 ml Schweppes Agrum Citrus blend
3 lime squeezes
3 sprigs of coriander

Method
•    Place the leaves from the coriander into a sturdy highball glass with    watermelon cubes
•    Crush and add ice and gin.
•    Pour in the Schweppes Agrum Citrus blend and stir well
•    Garnish with a lime wedge and a coriander tip
Cocktail: Mojito
Matching dessert: Mango, rum & chilli, mint sorbet, coconut wafer

Mojito Recipe:
Ingredients:
60ml White Rum
6 mint leaves
20 ml fresh lime juice
10 ml sugar syrup
Schweppes Soda Water

Method:
1. Add mint into a highball
2. Add White Rum, lime juice and sugar syrup
3. Add crushed ice and stir
2. Top with Schweppes Soda Water

Garnish: Mint sprig
Cocktail: The Golden Grape
Matching dessert: Passionfruit mousse, brandy snap

The Golden Grape Recipe:
Ingredients:
45ml Brandy
3 pieces of pink grapefruit
8 green seedless grapes
10ml golden syrup
60ml Schweppes Agrum White Grape & Passionfruit

Method:
1.         Add pink grapefruit and grapes into a mixing glass. Muddle.
2.         Add golden syrup and Schweppes Agrum White Grape
            & Passionfruit.
3.         Add ice, shake and strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish: Grapefruit peel
Interlude: Pizzas and chips
Cocktail: Miyagi Kyo
Matching dessert: Poached pear, honey ginger biscuit & mascarpone

Miyagi Kyo Recipe:
Ingredients

30ml Scotch
½ nashi pear (diced) or regular pear if unavailable.
20 ml maple Syrup
Lemon wedge
100 ml Schweppes ginger ale

Method

Crush lemon wedge, nashi pear, maple syrup in the base of a sturdy container with a muddler, or end of rolling pin till all ingredients are well mixed. 
Add ice and shake well, strain through tea strainer or fine sieve into a tumbler with ice.
Garnish with nashi pear slice
Cocktail: Blood Orange Cosmo
Matching dessert: Lemon ricotta cake, lemon curd

Blood Orange Cosmo Recipe:
Ingredients:

45ml Vodka
15ml Cointreau
10ml Fresh Lime juice
2 drops Bitters
30ml Cranberry Juice
30ml Schweppes Agrum Blood Orange

Method:
1. Add all ingredients into a Boston Glass
2. Add ice, shake and strain into a cocktail glass
3. Top with Schweppes Agrum Blood Orange

Garnish: Burnt orange zest
Cocktail: Elixer Honey Gin
Matching dessert: Hazelnut Chocolate ice-cream, strawberry sorbet, honeycomb

Elixer Honey Gin Recipe:
Ingredients:
30ml Gin
10ml honey water
15ml orange juice

Method
Add Gin
Top with Elixir
Squeeze orange wedge garnish
Build & stir highball
Thank you Nuffnang, Schweppes and Stokehouse for a lovely evening of indulgence!

Stokehouse (downstairs) on Urbanspoon

Stokehouse (Downstairs) on Urbanspoon