Category Archives: Uncategorized

Woodland House

Developing a sense of creativity.

Woodland House looks and feels like a teenager forced to walk their parents’ career path. The website notes ‘a playful sense of adventure and whimsy’, but walking through the austere entrance, and greeted with a somber welcoming, playful and whimsy seem as foreign as words as you could imagine. Glancing through the multiple dining rooms, the clientele are the well-dressed Armadale set, most likely bankers or, judging by the conversation at the adjoining table, data processors.

Not exactly Alice in Wonderland.

 

So we settle in, straight backs, and elbows off tables, lest we be chastised by the staff.

 

Once the ball starts rolling, you being to understand the whimsy and wonder. The dishes hit mid scores on creativity, as demonstrated by a puffed quinoa crusted flathead that tried but failed to add the texture it was likely designed for, but the balance of flavours, technique and execution of each dish was beyond fault.

Still, you feel as though they are trying to push the boundaries, but being held back, by what I’m not sure. The surroundings? The memory of Jacque Reymond? Take the pork belly, slow roasted and melting away at the touch of a fork, is pulled too left field by a sweet caramel topping that didn’t really hit the mark. You can see they wanted to take this dish to an exciting new level, but for whatever reason, it felt half-baked.

The six course degustation finishes with a crowd favourite – Bomb Alaska. Honeycomb icecream, layered with Italian meringue and dollops of caramel, it encompassed neither wonder nor playfulness, but for a classic dessert, it was pure perfection.

 

WOODLAND HOUSE

78 Williams Road, Prahran, VIC 3181

03 9525 2178

info@woodlandhouse.com.au

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Lee Ho Fook

Over-indulge me

It starts with ‘is that a lot for two people?’
By the end, the answer was all too obvious.

 

Walking through the downstairs bar, you can tell you are in for a uber-cool ride. Heading up-stairs to the large, mess hall style dining area, its difficult to tell just what you are in for. I never visited the original, more street style Lee Ho Fook, but comes with good reputation. It is often a gamble, these establishments that make their reputation on the streets, serving honest and authentic cuisine. The danger being when they move to the cbd, they forget their roots – what made them so special to begin with.

It’s the culinary version of liking their old stuff better than their new stuff. But Lee Ho Fook jazz up the classic dishes to beautifully artistic plates, but load up on the flavour and complexity. It’s another level.

Its an undeniable fact that all good meals start with oysters, and these pacific oysters came with an added kick of wasabi, piquing my taste buds for what was to follow.

Chongqing style chicken crackling was hot, with extra chilli and loaded with spice. Completely antithetical to the oysters, the ying to the oysters yang.

Crispy eggplant was rich.   Sweet and rich. Coated in sticky red vinegar, the eggplant was lost in the candied coating, and the serving was too large, but still too difficult to resist.

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The raw hiramasa kingfish with leeks was mistimed, arriving after the eggplant, indicative of the very friendly, but somewhat casual service. Delicate and fresh, it would have been better had it come immediately after the oysters. Unfortunately our taste buds had been beaten up by the egg plant and the sashimi didn’t stand a chance.

The wagyu beef sang choi bau was the best looking dish of the night. Served with beef strips and crispy carrots, a brilliant re-imagining of the classic street dish.

Finally, and most significantly, the seafood rice, which was not a side as we expected but a bowl of soupy, congee style stew. Sweet, and salty, but ultimately too rich heavy and large for the distance we had travelled. It would have been a perfect dish for a group of ten. Unfortunately the two of us barely made a dent in it. Flattered they thought our appetite was up to the challenge.

Lee Ho Fook, has their eyes on the future but their feet are firmly planted in their heritage. This is one example where a move of streets has been a move for the better. Just take some friends.
11-15 Duckboard Place Melbourne 3000
03 9077 6261
info@leehofook.com.au

 

Lamaro’s Bodega

The Pigs Head, (or Things not to Eat on Dates)

  1. Taco’s
  2. Sang choy bow
  3. A pigs head

My friend Brett says “you eat with your eyes as much as your mouth. Wiser words are rarely said.

The pigs head at Lamaro’s (oddly since taken from the menu I note) is undisputedly delicious, and somewhat traumatic to order.

Chef  Louis Naepels  know’s meat.  As the carefully selected salumi of the charcuterie plate clearly demonstrates.

lamaro 2

Charcuterie

However, as I set out to prove my ‘foodie’ credentials to my date and order the suckling pigs head, like a true gourmand, I was completely unprepared to be served exactly what I had ordered.

I once ordered pigs face from a Parisian bistro. Paper thin slices of meat, served on a heated plate that ever so gently cooked the ham so it resembled  warm prosciutto.  It was amazing.

This is not what I was served at Lamaro’s.

I was served a pigs head.

It was confronting.

lamaro

Suckling Pig’s Head

Furthermore, without any direction or advice from the waiter, who simply placed head in the centre of the table and ran off quickly to avoid the same evil eye Porky was giving me, I was left somewhat lost as to how to approach my poor Suidae friend.

“Whoa, whoa” I called the waited back. “How do I do this?”.

The waiter, poor thing, had no idea, and simply explained with a shrug that most people eat the whole thing, even the eyes. Hugely helpful.

I rotated the plate to divert Wilbur’s stare away from me, but this brought his ear canal in direct eye line with the girl, who was not coping with poor Babe’s charred, albeit beautifully seasoned, dial.

“Only one way to do this” I thought as I dove in fork first, and to no real great surprise, it was jaw-droppingly delicious. Once you got through the half inch of fat (in itself very tasty), you came across the most extraordinary flesh within the cheek.  Meltingly tender and sweet.

And thanks to the aesthetic, it was all mine as the girl picked at the left overs of charcuterie and squid.

Lamaro’s has reinvented intself, not only as a bodega, but a bloody good one at that. With a respect for the animal that encourages nose-to-tail cooking, and a courageous approach by the head chef, the South Melbourne locals will be welcoming their new local.

 

273-279 CECIL STREET

SOUTH MELBOURNE

info@lamarosbodega.com.au

03 9690 3737

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Lune

Take me to the moon.

 

Yep, they really are worth waiting for.

The latest ‘must queue’ item in Melbourne, tucked away amongst the back streets of Fitzroy, is not a re-interpretation of a childhood classic (shout out to Freak-shakes), or a fusion of of two equally amazing, yet not at all compatible pastries (duffins and cronuts – thanks but no thanks, and wtf is a muffle?).  No, its time to talk about the humble croissant.

Except these bad boys are far from humble.  Surgically constructed in a laboratory warehouse, one can view these baby rolls of butter and pastry from behind the viewing glass, whilst queuing for a good hour and debating whether ti cut your losses to babka around the corner.

Stick it out weary traveller.  These are not just croissants, they are half-moons of centuries-old traditional French boulangeries, tucked away within fashionably chic cardboard boxes, emblazoned with Lune, that you will be proud to brandish as you walk up and down Brunswick Street.

And judging by the strong buttery taste, you best you do another lap.

 

Lune Croissanterie
119 Rose St, Fitzroy

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L’Hotel Gitan

L’Hotel GItan

The last place you’d look.

Dirty Commercial Road is not the first place you think of when searching for authentic French cuisine in Melbourne, but it is here that Jacques Reymond has successfully merged gastro pub and French bistro with L’Hotel Gitan.

From a gastro pub perspective, it is charmingly relaxed, but with white-papered table clothes and dark wood furniture, it feels fancy without stuffy. In terms of bistro, the dishes are simple and honest, without fancy technique, but also without the overbearing richness with which much French food is associated. Each dish is fresh, and clean, and sauces, the trademark of the French, are designed to compliment rather than outshine the principle.

The ballontine of duck starter is chunky and textured, and although not to everyone’s liking (it can be difficult managing the fatty, gelatinous sensation) left me wanting more, with my girl generously obliging. The cassolette was standout, delicately balanced with champagne and saffron foam, the perfectly cooked medley of prawns, mussels and squid was flawless, and a reminder of how amazing Australian seafood can get. The barramundi en croute shone brightly and built upon the seafood theme of the previous dish. Tender and juicy fillet of cod, layered with a salmon mousse that didn’t really add anything other than a protective layer separating the barramundi and the lusciously flaky puff pastry ceiling.

However, the dish on which all French bistros are so often (and rightly) judged, the steak and frites, was unexceptional, although pleasant enough. A well-executed dish that failed to live up to the standard that preceded it, it was the only dish that failed to leave a memorable impression.

Jacques Reymond is a true gentleman of Melbourne’s French scene, presenting dishes both classical, and classy, much like the man himself who greeted each and every diner once the kitchen and closed up. A class act all the way.

 

L’Hotel Gitan

32 Commercial Road, Prahran

+61 3 9999 0990

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Paris. Je t’aime.

A Tall Tour part 1

Paris. Je t’aime.

Paris is bistro dining. Simple, uncomplicated fare, the way it should be. Haute cuisine has its place, sure, but when in Paris, do as the Parisians do, and go the bistro, every time.

These are my two favourite bistros in Paris, which sum up this philosophy perfectly.

Le Pantruche, located in the 9th arrondisement, not being well known as a tourist hot spot, it is one of the best reasons to visit the area. Here, chef Franck Baranger progresses further development of Paris’ revitalized bistro scene, serving up authentic and relatively inexpensive dishes to warm the soul. It takes you back to a simpler time, when there was one of these on every Parisian corner. Or so I would like to believe, because in my eyes, Le Pantruche sums up all I want Paris to be, or ever be.

Pot au Feu

Pot au Feu

Le Pantruche

Le Pantruche

Le Pantruche

Le Pantruche

All the bistro classics are here served beautifully in assortments of rich broths and sauces and delicate foams, tempting you to run your finger around the plate and lick it clean. The Pot au Feu, a rich cold meat dish with ribbons of carrot and beetroot sang for a cooking style of era’s long gone.

Lamb loin, roasted ever so slightly was pink and juicy, and the roast chicken, both served with sauces that appeared to be centuries in the making. This is truly bistro cooking as it was always intended.

Taking up a further notch is the always amazing, nearly impossible to get in to, Le Comptoir du Relais. Chef Yves Camdeborde, recognized by some as being responsible for Paris’ modern bistronomy scene turns on a masterclass. The Monday to Friday 5 course tasting menu, comes as a no frills, all kills experience. Each dish picture perfect, each mouthful an explosion.

Raviole de Colvert

Raviole de Colvert

Maigre de Ligne

Maigre de Ligne

Plateau de Fromage

Plateau de Fromage

Le Comptoir

Le Comptoir

The price pushes it above your standard bistro fare, but when one of the courses includes an all you can eat, help yourself cheese plate, it’s difficult to complain. If you are fortunate enough to land a table at Le Comptoir, and staying at the adjacent hotel next door is your foot in the door, you have just treated yourself to the best bistro Paris has to offer.

Le Pantruche

3 Rue Victor Masse, 75009 Paris, France
+33 1 48 78 55 60
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Le Comptoir du Relais

l’Odéon França, 5 Carrefour de l’Odéon, Paris, France
+33 1 44 27 07 97
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Andrew’s Burgers

Andrew’s Burgers

Keeping it real.

Now that the girl has left town, chasing the fashion circuit across the globe, I’m left to fend for myself. That means I’m settling in for the evening with a bottle of red, the pup at my feet, a roaring fire, and tucking into some Andrew’s Burgers.

Andrew’s, although looking somewhat anachronistic in Albert Park, with its hand drawn tuck shop menu and cramped ordering space has endeared itself to the locals for years. It’s longevity testament to the old fashioned philosophy of doing one thing, but doing ridiculously well. Sure, there are chicken burgers, and kebabs, but lets face it, they’re the support act. The main event is the Andrew’s with the lot.

This in not your fancy pants, trending, instagram worthy burger. There’s no brioche bun, or gourmet cheese, or rocket salad. The well-dressed couple in front of me seemed confused about this bustling hole in the wall burger joint. Eventually they left wondering if they were in the wrong place. They will rue that decision. Andrew’s is the real deal.

The Andrew’s burger is your old fashioned two-hander, with a perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned patty, paired with centimeter thick tomato, oozing cheese, and smoky bacon. One wonders how such a simple concept is so often poorly executed elsewhere. But maybe that’s the secret, Andrew’s simplifies the whole concept, even down to the production line cooking system (how do they fit that many people into that tiny space?), that manages to churn out burgers at an impressive rate. But this is no fast food. The wait extends to 45 minutes on busy nights, which just happens to be a perfect amount of time to enjoy a couple of wines across the road at the Albert Park Hotel.

The dry cleaner style celebrity photos suggest it’s more than just the locals that know a good burger when they see one. And judging by the age of some of those photos, its clear Andrew’s was a crowd favourite long before burgers received the gourmet makeover witnessed today. Thank goodness they didn’t buy into the hype, electing to continue working with a formula that although less than glamorous, works exceptionally well. Lets just hope they continue making them the way they always have done.
144 Bridport Street Albert Park
PHONE ORDERS 9690
Monday to Saturday — 11:00am to 9:00pm
2126

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