Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ba'get Argus building for Vietnamese Tapas and Tales

Shop 3
284-294 La Trobe Street
VIC 3000

I was grateful to receive an invite from Duy the CEO of Ba'get to come to a Vietnamese 'Tapas and Tales' evening at the Argus Building Branch on the corner of La Trobe and Elizabeth streets. The smaller dishes are a new move for the Ba'get restaurants, aiming to diversify from their current offerings which attract more of a lunchtime crowd. We were going to get the opportunity to try all of the new offerings which are all prepared and cooked by the team.

We kicked off with a 'Mekong Breeze' cocktail which adds mint, lime, ginger and ice to a rum base, giving it a flavour kick to go along with spirit. Duy told us a little of the origins of the family business which stretch back to the Mekong river delta in Vietnam where his father and grandmother started selling bánh mì to support a large family after his grandfather had passed away. Later after arriving in Australia as refugees the family had run bakeries and restaurants in Footscray and beyond, before moving into the city and setting up two branches of Ba'get with more to follow now in Werribee and Watergardens.

The first dish to arrive was the salt and pepper whitebait, which packed in lots of fishy flavour into the crispy coating with a hint of spice.

Next up we were challenged to make our own rice paper rolls, with the ingredients coming out first... 

...along with the cleverly designed combined rice paper holder and dipping device, the water is in the reservoirs on either side of the central paper holder. One of the tricks is only to wet the rice paper briefly all over, before removing while still firm. It will then continue softening as it sits on the plate being assembled. 

Next we added the lettuce, herbs, vermicelli picked carrot and pork and were ready to roll...

... I don't think I did too badly for a first attempt. The freshness was obvious upon biting into it, and everyone around the table enjoyed the process and result.

It's obvious why Mama's chicken wings have made it onto the menu, with a fantastic crisp coating and succulent white meat inside.

The salt and pepper calamari was another popular dish and board was soon empty. There was added kick in the chilli mayo dip which complimented the tender and rings and tentacles.

The pomme frites came with mayo, and were well executed. By now I was accompanying my meal with a 333 Vietnamese beer, bring back memories of time spent there.

The pork and taro spring rolls were a creamy and mellow twist on the classic dish.

The Vietnamese coleslaw with chicken, was served with prawn crackers to eat it in and turned out to be another table favourite.

The spicy prawn twists were filled with decent chunks of crustacean wrapped in a handy way to eat.

The sweet potato fries were super soft inside with enough crunch and subtle five spice flavours on the outside to make them very moreish! We also got to try the gin and lychee based Peaceful Dragon cocktail with lemon grass and chilli to heat things up despite the ice.

The final dish was the grilled meat balls which were nicely caramelised and the last few were finished, despite what had been a generously sized shared feast!

We finished of with a traditional iced coffee, not something I've really been a fan of in the past, but this converted me! 

The decor has a modern and funky twist on the Vietnamese theme.

The evening was an tasty and enjoyable intro to the new tapas dishes being introduced at Ba'get and I think I'll be heading back with the better half! The beer and cocktails complimented the fresh flavours, I'll be unsurprised if the new menu is a success. Our host and the fellow diners from a variety of backgrounds, both bloggers and regulars/friends added to the occasion.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Mozzarella Bar, Seddon

103 Victoria Street
Vic 3011

The first word of mouth feedback we got about the Mozzarella Bar on Victoria Street in Seddon was positive, but the first couple of evenings we'd been past it had been rammed so we hadn't tried. After reading some mixed on reviews on Urbanspoon we were still keen to check it out, as it still seemed popular. On a Friday in late summer we easily got a table outside...

...although we may have struggled inside as it was as busy as usual. We perused the menu, and were offered drinks and served by a variety of the team, but everything ran smoothly.

We eschewed other options and made a bee-line for the pizzas which arrived pretty promptly given the full house. The Napoli topped with San Marzano tomato sauce, fior di latte, anchovies, olives and fresh chill packed a spicy punch. With seed filled fellas removed went down well, so much so that I didn't get to trade a slice to try! 

I went for the Campagna which featured roasted eggplant and pesto on a traditional skinny wood fired base. There seems to be a mixed reaction to the style of pizza, but it reminded me of some of the best traditional offerings I've had both here in Melbourne and Italy. Yes there is a wide crust and the more heavily topped centre can get a little soft, but that's just how I remember it!

We also had a side of the green beans with pine nuts which also had a massive garlic hit!

With a few drinks the bill came to $79, so not cheap, but the quality of the food made it seem fair. The service was good all evening and the manager or owner was keen to mention at the end that they would be offering special deal cards during the forthcoming Seddon festival (7/3/15). We also like Casa di Tutti across the road and Seddon is lucky to have two great options (and competition) for pizza!

Mozzarella Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 26, 2015


205 Russell Street
VIC 3000

I'd failed on my only previous attempt to visit SugarBun, heading there on a Monday when they are closed. It sits next to the Exford Hotel, near the corner of Little Bourke and Russell streets.

Inside you enter via a corridor, which ends in a doorway into the main dining room, with stairs to another area, both had modern clean fit outs.  When we arrived downstairs was full and we were given menus to read while we waited for for a table. In the end we were directed upstairs, along with a couple of other groups.

We were able to order soon after we were at our table, and didn't have to wait too long until being served our meals. Merry went for the seafood hotpot featuring wok-fired prawns, squid, fish and vegetables simmered in seafood broth which was bubbling as it arrived. It was served with mixed grain rice and seemed to go down well. 

I had the Laksa which is inspired by the Sarawak version and was loaded with prawns, shredded chicken, strips of egg, beansprouts and vermicelli noodles in the house-concocted spicy broth.The flavour was good, especially after topping up with the extra paste and lemon, but I missed the tofu and veggies found in the versions from Laksa King and Chef Lagenda in Flemmington.

The meals were satisfying and good value at between $11 and $14 each, there were also lunch specials on offer with sweet Malaysian hot drinks included. The service was a bit haphazard, but still amiable. It certainly not a bad option if you want to get a taste of Borneo on Russell Street.

SugarBun on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

San Telmo

14 Meyers Place
VIC 3000

On turning into Myers Place it's hard to miss San Telmo, with the name emblazoned on the chimney running up the front of the building it is housed in. We had family in town who were in the mood for some South American meat, and this was our target for the evening...

Immediately inside on the left is  the open kitchen with the imported 2.5 meter parrilla charcoal grill, 'hand made by Pirincho', and a bunch of busy chefs.

When we visited fairly early on a mid week evening there was already quite a buzz about the place, with plenty of tables filled. We were shown to our table which featured a leather sofa against a wall appointed with cow hides,along with more conventional wooden chairs. The fit out merged modern Melbourne and Argentinian themes effortlessly to create a chic feel. 

With a little help from the friendly waitresses we figured out a bunch of dishes to share, kicking off with some empanadaa, traditional Argentine fried pastries. The red wine braised beef, almond and raisin went down well down while the silverbeet, leek and bechamel version I tried was a great combination in a great shell.

The fried broccoli with pecorino was one of the highlights of the meal tasting as good as it looks below, which a great crunch to boot.

We were brought some Provoleta, or fried provolone cheese by mistake, but were given it to try on the house, and it was good to even a non-cheese fan.

The humita, polenta, corn and basil chips which came with chipotle mayonnaise were another hit.

The "Mejilla de Cerdo" or braised berkshire pork jowl with crackling was succulent and very sweet.

The Cuadril de cordero, a pasture fed lamb rump spiced with coriander and chipotle was another perfectly prepared winner, succulent and subtly flavoured.

The Tira de asado, O’Connor premium pasture fed beef short ribs were a little on the fatty side for my taste, ending up with an almost lamby flavour, rather than beef.

The 'Papas' - baby potatoes came with plenty of herb butter and less of the slow cooked onion and slid down easily.

The coal roasted pumpkin with feta and a caper and raisin vinaigrette or the more succinct 'Zapallo' was another hit around our table.... were the Zanahorias, burnt carrots with hazelnuts, thyme and garlic goats curd.

The bill for four came in at around $250 including a drink or two each. We all left well satisfied with our meals, both in terms of flavour and sustenance. The service was friendly and attentive all evening. Meat heavy menu's aren't our normal staple, but we may head back, if we do fancy more of that while we are in town.

San Telmo on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Kaiser's Sausages

Food truck visited at:
Moreland Street
VIC 3011

We tried the Kaiser Sausages (facebook twitter) at St Jeromes Laneway festival in Footscray.

They were attracting a reasonable queue, and importantly were nearby when hunger struck...

...and had a variety of sausages on offer.

I ended up going the veggie route, which was fine with out being inspiring, the better half had a spicy 'duke' which packed quite a punch.

The chips were good, and had nearly disappeared before I snapped them, there had plenty more a few minutes earlier.

Apparently the truck is often at the MCG for footy and cricket. Our food came quickly and was reasonably priced at around $10 per dog, and it certainly provided sustenance during a busy day.

Kaiser's Sausages on Urbanspoon