Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Rickshaw, Fitzroy

199 Gertrude Street
Victoria 3065

We were wandering down Gertrude Street after work on a Friday evening looking for a bite, on the way to catch up with some mates. We had a vague idea of a few options but decided to give The Rickshaw a try after checking out the menu.

From outside and as soon as you walk inside you can't miss the front section of the restaurants name-sake.

The fit-out is low key and cool with a view through to the kitchen at the back.

The wavy wire ceiling features lights hanging down over the bar. It was pretty quiet when arrived around 6, but the tables filled while we were there. Amit the owner welcomed us and was a friendly presence through the evening.

The menu is fairly short with a mix of dishes from India and across the rest of Asia.

We kicked off by sharing the beautifully presented Papdi Chaat of crushed chickpeas with cumin yoghurt, pomegranate and date sauce. The 'street food' inspired dish tasted as good as it looked!

Amit persuaded us to try the Pani-puri, another Indian street snack, in this case a a hollow semolina puff, containing spiced potato and tamarind and topped up with the coriander and mint emulsion. The resulting delicate casings slip into the mouth then burst with flavour.

We stuck with the veggie Indian theme for our main dishes. The pumpkin lakhanawi was subtly flavoured with mustard and coriander seeds and cooked to leave the pumpkin soft with disintegrating into a mush.

The slow cooked daal bukhara was a wonderful blend of lentils and spices. It had a surprising kick amongst almost smokey flavours. While we tucked in to our mains the head chef came out to chat to us, explaining each dish was cooked with it's own specific base.

The onion seed and basil naan was a nice twist on the classic bread and the rice nice if a little on the small side, indeed we ordered a second serve later.

We would have finished up at that point, but Amit was so keen for us to try a sweet that he shouted us gulab jamun. These again were presented beautifully with the soft dumplings sitting on Chantilly cream, with rose petals and a pistachio crumb. The flavours and textures complimented each other to finish the meal with a flourish!

The service which seemed to have caused a few comments on Urbanspoon was great for us, with plenty of opportunity to hear from Amit and the chef about the food and their influences and inspiration. The bill came to $87.50 including a few beers. The ambiance and attention to detail with the food and it's plating impressed us both and we'd be keen to return and try more of the dishes on the menu.

The Rickshaw on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Ayam Chef

67 Coventry Street
VIC 3006

We were invited to dine at Ayam Chef on Coventry Street Southbank. The restaurant is at the base of a large block not far from St Kilda Road. There were a few tables under bright yellow parasols outside on a warm autumn evening.

Inside the fit out is modern, featuring plenty of wooden along with a few hints of Malaysia.

Early in the evening it was quiet, but it filled up surprisingly rapidly. Along the back wall were reminders of the rainforest and some feature lights. The menu covers a range of dishes, most of which were familiar, with a few new options.

We kicked off sharing a few entrees, including a great chicken San Choy Bao with its minced chicken and spring onion in lettuce topped with an appealing combination of sesame seeds, crispy enoki mushroom and hoisin sauce.

The roti looked quite small but packed many light and flaky layers and the mopped up the slightly sweet peanut sauce well.

We both enjoyed the 'Original Recipe' school prawns with their homemade chilli lime sauce. Crunching through the crisply coated shells dipped in the lightly spiced sauce was really satisfying and moreish.

The mains we also shared included the Sambal Fish, featuring deep fried cod cutlets on a banana leaf in the sambal sauce. It was well worth pulling the fish apart to extract the bones before tucking into the perfectly cooked flesh, beneath the crunchy coating in the chilli based sauce.

Hogan who had got in touch with me had mentioned that the "San Low Fried Bee Hoon" was a new dish which can't be found anywhere else in Melbourne, it seems to be a speciality of Johur Bahru as mentioned in a post by Cavin Teo. The combination fried rice vermicelli, with egg, choy sum, pork slices, prawn and fishcake aren't a visual stunner, but the flavours are great! As Calvin mentions the smokey 'wok hei' flavours leap out, the phrase translates apparently as wok heat or ‘breath of the wok’ and is familiar from wok fried dishes from the region. It is always great to find a new dish to enjoy and this mix of well cooked seafood, meat, veggies, egg and noodles brought that.

We may have been greedy adding garlic spinach to our meal, but it was good to add the greens with their different texture, moisture and vibrant colour!  

We didn't have to pay for our meal and the restaurant hasn't had any influence over this post.

We deffinately enjoyed our meal, and the staff were friendly and helpful all evening. Ayam Chef will certainly be high up on my list next time I'm dining in Southbank!

Ayam Chef on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 20, 2015

Aux Batifolles

400 Nicholson Street
North Fitzroy
VIC 3068

We were keen to dine francophile style, so headed to Aux Batifolles on Nicholson Street in North Fitzroy fairly earl yon a Friday evening.

Both inside and out the look was stylish and subtly French, without veering into cliché. It was pretty quite when we arrived, but filled up a bit during the evening.

We studied the menu which featured plenty of gallic classics to choose between.  The "Ragout 72 gratiné" featured scallops, prawns, mussels, calamari and crab with mushrooms and leeks in a creamy sauce with a hint of cheese lightly browned. The mix of well cooked seafood with the other flavours was a winner.

I had an old favourite of "Moules Marinieres". There were a few variations from the dish I remember, including the steamed black mussels having one shell conveniently removed and a creamier white wine and parsley sauce. The changes didn't spoil the dish and the shellfish still starred.

The "Steak-frites au poivre" was served in classic French style. The porterhouse atop the fries and served with a surprisingly sweat peppercorn sauce with a green salad on the side. The better half wasn't keen on the soft gravy soaked chips but I didn't mind them. I ended up with plenty of the meet to try as we swapped plates half way through, and I was happy with it.

I went for the "Pitivier", a French pie in perfectly crisp crust containing chicken and crayfish with a hint of gruyere cheese and served with a brandy bisque. The flavours encased inside the pastry were a fantastic combination, and I think the favourite of the night.

The pie was served with a "Salades du jardin" of mixed leaves with a subtle blue cheese and mustard dressin.

Both the waiter and waitress who served us were French and they happily tolerated my rapidly fading language skills. They also let us choose the pace of the meal and were friendly throughout. The bill with several drinks came in around $130. We enjoyed the evening and would happily return together or with friends.

Aux Batifolles on Urbanspoon

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