Thursday, April 16, 2015

#zomatomeetup at Claypots St Kilda

213/215 Barkly Street
St Kilda
VIC 3182

We've enjoyed previous visits to Claypots, so when zomato invited me to a meet-up there I jumped at the chance!

The kick-off was fairly early at 6pmon a Monday, and I almost didn't recognise the quiet restaurant, as it was still empty. After finding Pranav from zomato and being introduced to fellow bloggers including (excuse the lazy use of instagram links) @evelovelle, @lydiapebbles, @embel, @mel_bin_blog, @monsadventure and @simtiaz_grazingpanda as well as  @confessionsofalittlepiggy, @mmeparker and @clamhands from zomato. We had a drink in the bar first, I stuck to the super low alcohol German lager as I was on the bike.

We sat down towards the back of the restaurant, under the octopus, and near the chalk board menu

To start things off we were presented with Turkish bread with a selection of Meze...

...including somw garfish, squid and tasty salads.

Next up out came the signature garlic king prawns, which lived up to their name in size alone...

...and also delivered in the flavour stakes.

The chilli crabs were served on platters also loaded with mussels.

It was fun to extract the tasty morsels from both components which complimented each other well.

The 'secret recipe' Cajun style Flathead was the closest of the whole fish dishes to me, and the dark coating added to the star of the show.

The fearsome looking crispy skin silver dory was given a kick by the sambal.

I loved the full flavours of the coral trout twinned with the asian influences of the sessame, soy and ginger.

By the time I thought about trying the actual claypot I was just too full.

The evening was great fun and the range of food pushed it into surpassing previous dining eperiences, it is a venue that works even better with large groups sharing big meals! I didn't have to pay for the meal - thanks to zomato and Claypots.

Neither organisation had any control over this post.

Claypots Seafood & Wine on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Ovest, West Footscray

572 Barkly Street
West Footscray
Vic 3012

We'd been keen to try Ovest after hearing of its impending arrival and subsequent popularity. The distinctive former bank building on the corner of Buxton and Barkly streets struck me as an odd choice when I first heard about the venue, however it really works and is distinct from the other restaurants of #wefo.

We went for a slightly later than usual 8pm booking on a Saturday evening, thinking things may have quietened down, but it was packed with a mix of family groups and tables of adults. The fit out worked for me, with the geometric lines on the white walls, parquet floor, feature industrial lampshades and wooden chairs of mixed designs. Behind the bar the kitchen was open, and the large metal pizza oven sat behind floor to ceiling shelving.

We were quickly provided with menu's and served some water while we pondered the entrée, main, side and pizza options.

We decided to share the crumbed zucchini fritters to start, which retained a little more bitterness than we'd have liked but when paired with the truffle mayo were winners.

I went for the sardine pizza, with the wild fish sitting atop a tomato base and 'scamorza affumicata' smoked cheese. The base was thin and crisp with a dough not entirely familiar but still bubbling a little at the edges. The combination of flavours and textures hit the spot though.

The Ovest pizza with it's tomato base, mozzarella, olives, anchovies, capers, chilli, tomato and fresh basil was packed with fresh flavours along with a decent kick.

With a few beers our meal came in at just under $75 and the service all evening was both efficient and friendly. As we wandered back to #mifo we discussed the proliferation of good pizza joints in the greater Footscray area since we moved west in the late naughties. Back then pizza meant a call to Domenico's and picking up a (decent) classic Aussie takeaway, now with Ovest joining the Mozzarella Bar and Casa di Tutti in Seddon and the Plough in Footscray there are numerous decent options, which all seem to be doing well. It's great to have choice and an Italian in #wefo is a welcome addition to Barkly street.

Ovest on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 13, 2015

Boynton's Feathertop Winery, Porepunkah

6619 Great Alpine Road
Victoria 3740

The autumn lunchtime we visited Boynton's Feathertop Winery was beautiful, showing off the location near Mount Buffalo and the colours in the trees.

As it was Easter the restaurant was fully booked, but the cellar door also offers food and it was a perfect day to enjoy the busy outdoor area.

It was busy inside too, with plenty of interest in sampling the produce.

In one corner was the fridge containing a range of dips, meats, cheeses and smoked fish. After selecting the items you are interested in and paying at the counter, they are brought out on a platter. 

We selected a baguette and some dips....

...along with a smoked rainbow trout. The flesh of the fish was moist and only subtly smoky, the better half wasn't a fan of the skin, but I enjoyed it.

The zucchini dip was heavy on the cumin, not in a bad way, but it was the dominant flavour. The olive tapenade had a strong kalamata hit, with occasional hints of the capers and anchovies.

Due to an earlier ride up Buffalo I didn't try the wines, but I was assured they were good. My long black was a good and helped recharge me for the afternoon.

Despite the crowds the service was pretty swift and friendly, possibly helped by the semi self service platter selection process. The components of the meal seemed expensive as we selected them, and our food came to $38, given the setting and the service overall the experience was worth it, and I'd happily head back if we were in the area on such a nice day again.

Boynton's Feathertop Winery on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Alpine Hotel, Bright

7-9 Anderson Street
Victoria 3741

We visited the Alpine Hotel in Bright with friends, the building is large with several sections and that's just downstairs, there are also more tables outside. It was very busy on the Easter Saturday we were in town, but we eventually got ourselves a table in the Bistro. The décor inside is classic country pub style, with a few nods here and there to the surrounding mountains.

The menu has a range of cuisines on offer...

...we'd been advised to try the Sri Lankan curry's.

I went for the fish with mustard and turmeric in coconut which was subtly brilliant.

The better half went for the goat curry, with the rich meatiness well complimented by the spices.

Our mates swapped plates halfway through their meal, they both liked the beef with it's chilli base, spices and pandanus leaves.

But their unanimous winner was the tamarind and coconut flavoured chicken.

The service was good given how busy the pub was and featured typical country town friendliness. We were all pleasantly surprised by the quality of the curries, I would normal eschew the option in a pub in town never mind out amongst the hills, but they are well worth a try in Bright and at $22.70 good value too.

The Alpine Hotel on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Main Street Cafe, Benella

74 Bridge Street East
Victoria 3672

We stopped for lunch in Benella, and after looking at a cafe across the road decided to give the Main Street Cafe a go. The exterior has a bit of an art deco vibe, and not too much branding. Inside the white walls are dotted with paintings.

The breakfast menu ran until 12, but we were in during lunch which offered the following options.

In addition there were further choices available on the chalk boards.

The chicken and avocado turkish bread sandwich looked the part, and went down well.

I had the soup of the day, lamb and vegetable, which contained some decent hunks of meat along with pearl barley, corn and other veggies.

The coffee arrived after our meals, despite being ordered at the same time, which was ideal timing from my perspective, it was a nice long black too.

The food and two coffees came to $33.60, and saw us well refreshed and re-fuelled to continue on our way. The only negative about our visit was what seemed to be a constant banging of crockery and cutlery from behind the counter! I'd happily return to the Main Street Cafe if we find ourselves in town again.

Main Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Thai @ Toorak

517 Toorak Road
Victoria 3142

We were across town in Toorak for a gig, and wanted dinner before and Thai @ Toorak was conveniently located with a good score on Urbanspoon, so we decided to check it out. We found the entrance and headed up the stairs from ground level into glitzy and ground dining room, we certainly weren't in Footscray anymore!

The menu featured plenty of Thai standards, along with a few less regularly spotted options. We stuck with the fish cakes for entree, which were generously sized, nicely flavoured and had the distinctive texture one expects.

The roti was light and flaky and not too oily.

The stir fried duck with basil also featured plenty of veggies and chilli! The combination of ingredients was a winner.

I ordered the vegetarian red curry which had a great combination of spice and less potent flavours.

The bill came to $84 including a couple of beers, which seemed a little expensive to our westsider wallets, but the meal was flavour packed and satisfying. the service was a little haphazard but friendly all the same. We don't head out this way often so I doubt we will be re-tracing our steps soon, but I wouldn't rule that out either.

Thai @ Toorak Restaurant on Urbanspoon