Wednesday, April 16, 2014


3-5 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda
Vic 3182

We visited Sapore at the beach end of Fitzroy Street after booking on via dimmi special offer. It was dark on the evening we visited, but during the dayor at sunset the views across the bay would be great. Approaching and entering the restaurant the frontage seemed small, due to the large pillar in the middle of the building, which contributes to part of an interesting architecture.

Inside, the walls and ceiling are almost all curved, with the central column merging into to an oversize beam. This creates an interesting space, which is painted in strong colours. The tables are reasonably closely backed and there were a fair number of diners seated for a Tuesday night. The Autumn menu was distinctly Italian featuring plenty of seasonal locally sourced produce. While we enjoyed our drinks we were offered freshly baked bread rolls with great olive oil, and a few olives.

We shared the crumbed South Australian sardines, tartare sauce and shaved fennel bruschetta, the strong flavours combining beautifully on the toasted bread.

The arancini of the day, served on aioli, had a rich tomato led flavour, along with some cheese and ham, they stood out as some of the most original and enjoyable I've tried.

The seafood linguine was loaded with plenty of uber tender calamari, fish, mussels and prawns chilli and parsley.

I had the special of gamberi spaghetti with a crab, tomato, basil and chilli sauce. The prawns were both plentiful and perfectly cooked, and the sauce complemented them perfectly and had a definite spicy kick.

After the 50% food discount the bill came to $70, (the 3 drinks we'd had were full price), for the quality of the meal, that was amazing value. The service was great, all the staff were friendly, knowledge and attentive, with out getting in the way. Sapore is well worth a visit, especially if you can nab a special deal!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Royston Hotel

12 River Street
VIC 3121

On a quiet backstreet corner at the Burnley end of Richmond, the Royston Hotel is fairly discreet in its presence.

Through the door we headed right, where we'd reserved a table wood paneled dining room which had an almost French Bistro vibe. We began to peruse the menu which has a mix of pub classics and some different options.

Rick had been hanging out for a burger, so went for the double patty Wagyu beef number which was also stuffed with cheddar, bacon, salad, pickles and mustard and served with fries. He looked like he enjoyed making his way through most of it.

I had the beer battered trevally fillets with salad, fries, tartare sauce. Unfortunately the fish was a little oily and I ended up thinking that the marlin from the specials may have been a better option.

 and was very tender.

The green bean salad also featured peas, mustard seeds, tarragon and a light oil dressing.

The service was friendly and happily tolerated our slow menu decisions and our loitering after eating.  The bill with a one or two drinks each came to $150. The Royston is an atmospheric back street Richmond local that is a great option to dine at if you fancy some good pub food.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Grill'd, South Melbourne

278 Clarendon Street
South Melbourne
VIC 3205

We popped into the Grill'd on Clarendon street in South Melbourne on a sunny Sunday lunchtime. There were people eating inside and at the tables on the street. It was the first time I tried any of the chain's stores, partly because the better half had won a two for one voucher.

The fit out inside was bright and modern, with a bit of an industrial feel, and plenty of menu options up behind the counter.

We both ended up deciding on veggie options. The Field of Dreams burger enclosed a grilled field mushroom, basil pesto, roasted peppers, tasty cheese, salad and herbed mayo. It seemed to eat well, although the mushroom provided quite a bit juice that leaked out! The thick-cut chips were crisp on the outside and soft inside and sprinkled with a tasty salt and thyme mix.

I had the Bombay bliss burger, filled with a chickpea pattie, roasted peppers, tzatziki, salad and relish. The burger was a little crunchy on the outside unusually for a pulse based burger, but held together pretty well and was complemented by the other components.

The service was pretty efficient and although the burger didn't quite reach the level of Jerry's masterpiece, but I'd happily have another...

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Bing Boy QV

Shop 1-017,
Vic 3000

Although I've worked not far from QV for years, I can't remember ever eating there before. David suggested trying bing boy, which specialise in thin Chinese Crepes (Jian Bing) wraps with various fillings which are made to order in front of you. Apparently they have been made in the streets of China for centuries although I don't think I came across them when back packing there a few years ago, to be fair I didn't cover the whole country!

We queued for a while, in front of the bright yellow store which gave me the change to select my filling and observe the process of cooking the super thin wheat omelettes and the wrapping of the ingredients. Once we'd ordered, it only took a few minutes before we had our warm lunch in our hands.

I went for the "Prawn King" with egg, coriander, spring onion and sesame seed omelette wrap filled with prawn, baby spinach, sweet and sour carrot, avocado, wonton skin and sweet chilli sauce. The wrap was contained in a handy tearaway-able paper wrapping. It was clearly fresh and tasty, the only downside being that the prawns were obviously pre-cooked and clearly cold, perhaps even straight out the fridge.

I wouldn't mind trying one or two other of the options on offer, but I might try another branch of the chain as the cool crustacean was a bit off putting.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

La Cassolette

26 Rebecca Walk
VIC 3000

We read a bit about la Cassolette online and decided to give it a try on a Saturday evening. The location by the river and under the railway tracks across from Southbank's bright lights isn't glamorous, but with seats outside as well as in offers views and a little bit of atmosphere.

Inside things are basic, but with just French enough touches. We were greeted by Mickael the manager who showed us to our seats, we had booked, but it wasn't that busy.

We were brought an olive tapanade as as hors d'œuvre with our drinks and explored the menu, which isn't huge but offers a selection of classic French dishes, with an emphasis on fish and seafood.

I started off with the vegetable soup of the day which was a light potato and leak offering on our visit, topped with basil oil and served with croutons.

The crab salad and quinoa taboule brought more striking flavours, featuring fresh crab in a homemade lemon mayonnaise served on top of a quinoa, tomato and cucumber salad.

Mickael came to our table to prepare the house specialty of seared scallops.

He explained he'd been down to Lakes Entrance for the first time and out on the fishing boat with a huge Greek fisherman "with fingers the size of my hand" too ensure a regular supply of scallops of the right size and quality. The Flambé in Cognac was suitable dramatic and impressive!

The scallops were served with homemade Parisian potatoes and parmesan along with a green salad. They were perfectly cooked and tasted great.

I had the fish casserole which was served in a small casserole pot with a side of potatoes drizzled with basil oil. The white fish was cooked with thin slices of leek and carrots topped with a homemade aïoli sauce, and was a little more creamy than I anticipated but still beautiful.

The bill including a few drinks came to $110 which for the quality of the food was great value, you would probably be paying a lot more to get similar dishes across the river. The service was very friendly and the service was swift, if a little haphazard when things got even a little busy. Having lived in Paris I don't often eat French food in Melbourne, but we'll certainly be visiting la Cassolette again soon.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bun Ta Kitchen

108 Hopkins Street
VIC 3011

We headed out looking for a lunchtime Vietnamese soup hit in Footscray and decided to give the fresh face of Bun Ta Kitchen a try.

Their Facebook page explains that Bun Ta Kitchen is re-launch of the former Huy Huy after the 12 year old business underwent a major renovation late last year. The new look is much more modern and the space is transformed with stylish, light and airy feel.

The menu is extensive, only a few excerpts are shown below, it seems similar to the previous version.

There are plenty of Bun Ta options.

Pho and other rice or egg noodle soups are available too.

We started with the combination spring rolls, which came with the usual lettuce, and thin sweet chilli dipping sauce. The rolls were crunchy and tasty.

The Pho Ga looked good as always, especially after being topped up with bean shoots and Vietnamese basil. There was a mix of types of pieces of poultry and the broth was fair, but not good enough to supplant the favoured local offering.

I had the Hu Tieu Rau Cai - rice noodles with vegetables, which had plenty of bok choy, broccoli and carrot. Unfortunately I had to wait at least 10 minutes after the Pho arrived before my dish came, and even that was after asking about it.

The dishes are still priced competitively for the area and the refurb has certainly brought it up to be at least the equal of any of it's competitors on looks. The food also was up there without quite excelling. Unfortunately the delay between the bowls of soup slightly disappointed on this visit for us.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Dolan Uyghur Food Heaven

166 Little Lonsdale Street
VIC 3000

Dolan Uyghur Food Heaven seems a like a fairly ambitious promise as restaurant names go, so after spotting this basic looking eatery on Little Lonsdale, and doing a little research, Brendan and I were keen to give it a go.

Inside the decor was again pretty basic, with a few original touches, including these silver rings hanging from the ceiling.

The menu had some lunch specials mainly featuring rice, and a series of hand made noodle based dishes, as well as several more pages offering some familiar and some new sounding options.

Brendan went for the Qanalgan Korma Lagmeni, finely cut and stir fried handmade noodles with vegetables and chicken, rather than the standard lamb. (There was a choice of meat for any of the top five items on the menu.)  As well as the noodles being diced, so were the veggies and chook, which gave the dish a novel look, a little different to expectations. A god effort was made to clear most of the plate though.

Ignoring both the 3 chillies next to the dish on the menu and the warning/question from the waitress, I chose dish 2, the hand made noodles with chilli and chicken. There was also a 'dry' version of this dish, and my non-dry came with plenty of sauce and a spoon, which proved handy. There was certainly a kick to the dish and I was soon fishing out some of the chillies to give my taste buds a chance. The noodles fantastic, silky, but thick and satisfying, and were well complimented by the celery, onion and chicken, not to mention the spices.

In the end I left a small pile of the spicy red devils, and I'm not sure I'd have enjoyed the dish had I tried to take them on... Brendan's dish was not hot which was fortunate, as he isn't a chilli fan, so the menu guidance seems accurate.

The serves were generous, and certainly good value for $12. Although the atmosphere lacks punch the food certainly delivers it, and I reckon I'll be back to checkout more of the interesting items on the menu.

*Updated - 16/4/14* On a return visit I had the less spicy Korma Lagmeni of fried handmade noodles with chicken and vegetables, which was great and slightly easier to eat without the oodles of chilli laden sauce.

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