Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sonido, Fitzroy

69 Gertrude Street
VIC 3065

After enjoying our visit to Caffettino - Fitzroy Brendan and I returned to Gertrude Street for lunch at Sonido a south american restaurant which had plenty of good reviews. From the outside it was pretty anonymous with a small sign and a few random seating options outside.

As we got closer we realised it was busy inside with people sat at all the smaller and larger shared tables, which we were offered the option of perching on the end of. We opted to go out side and selected the bench and coffee table rather than the kiddie sized table!

This was the first time either us had tried food from south of Mexico. We both went for arepa's, which are apparently a typical food of northern South America (Colombia and Venezuela) and are crispy flat round 'goodies' made of ground corn. Brendan selected the Arepa con Huevo, which with scrambled free range eggs with spring onions and tomato. It seemed to go down well and had a distinctive flavour from the added greens.

I had the Frijoles con feta - Black Beans and Feta on a Arepa, served with guacamole and picadillo. The beans were brilliantly earthy in a slightly spicy sauce with just enough bitey feta on top. The guacamole was super zesty an broke things up along with the picadillo. the arepa was crispy and satisfying, I guess this is almost a south American beans on toast!

The waiting staff were all distinctively unkempt but friendly at the same time, despite how busy things were. Our dishes took enough time to arrive that we were definitely ready for them when they appeared! Both were $11.50. I'd happily go back to try some of the other options on the menu.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Don Too

330 Little Lonsdale Street
Vic 3000

After our visit to Kokoro Ramen and seeing comments that the best ramen in Melbourne was possibly served at Don Too, it seemed like it would be worth a try. So a lunch with Phil came up, and seeing he'd come up to my end of town last time, I jumped on my bike at lunch time to get across town.

On arrival from the outside the place looked pretty good, nicely set up with wooden tables and chairs, a clean design, and busy!

Looking at the menu I worked out a couple of things, one ramen isn't served at lunch time and two this place is very similar to Don Don even sharing the menu. The cheap prices also stay as does the super fast service, however maybe it's being away from Swanson street, it seemed just slightly more relaxed...

In the end both of us selected the teriyaki chicken don for $7. Again this looked similar the offerings at the other branch, but the sauce seemed to have a little more kick here which was welcome.

On doing some more research later, it seems that the ramen is strictly evenings only, which means I'm less likely to try it. Don Too certainly joins its sibling in offering great value, and probably beats it in terms of atmosphere and fit out. This isn't fine dining, but is well priced fast lunch food.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Caffettino - Fitzroy

43 Gertrude Street
VIC 3065

Rather than wandering into the city for lunch with Brendan we headed for the quieter streets of Fitzroy, Gertrude street and Caffettino in particular.

The tables outside were all taken when we arrived, but we managed to find a spot inside, where the walls were decorated with Italian style food related photos.

The menu was on boards behind the counter and is also hiding on their on their website and covers sandwiches, soups various pasta options and more, all apparently home made.

The penne with pesto and sundried tomato topped with shaved parmesan was rich and tasty and delivered what was expected.

I decided on the the lentil soup, which arrived looking like a vegetable soup, but on further inspection was packed with small brown lentils. The bowl was a good size and the soup was hearty and tasty, it came with some good bread.

The meals were good value, only $8 for the soup! The staff were friendly, if maybe a little disorganised. It certainly isn't a bad option if you need to grab lunch while in the area, the coffees looked good too.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chill @ the Bay

14 Pascoe Street
Apollo Bay
VIC 3233

Chill @ the bay is tucked away off the main street of Apollo Bay, but is signposted from there. When we arrived on the Friday evening of a long weekend, there were plenty of other diners already there, both inside and outside. Initially we were told it was full, although we'd spotted some tables outside, slightly taken aback we left, only to be called back by the waitress who'd realised her mistake. To be fair it looked like the table may have been recently vacated and as seems often to be the case in seaside towns in the holidays the staff seem to be slightly overwhelmed. The set up outside was fairly standard and basic, inside behind the darkened windows it was nightclub like with low couches, high tables and stool as well as a bar.

The menu featured tapas dishes, some traditional Spanish style ones and others such as spring rolls, slightly larger "raciones" and sharing dishes including paella.
We selected some of our favourite dishes as well as some new ones. The first tapas to arrive being the patatas bravas these were fine, resembling mini roast potatoes rather than usual fried and came with an average tomato sauce.

The Garden salad was fresh and made a good healthy accompaniment to go with the more intense flavours.

The hake croquets were crunchy on outside and soft and tasty inside.

The salt and pepper calamari were a bit on the orange side and lacked some flavour.

The mushrooms were nicely cooked but didn't have much to lift them above the ordinary...

After the initial confusion, the service was friendly and the dishes arrived at a good pace as we grazed. Overall the meal wasn't as good as the one we'd had at El Burro a few weeks before, which was really good. The bill was around $60 with a couple of drinks.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Cafe Nautigals - Apollo Bay

57-59 Great Ocean Road
Apollo Bay
Vic 3233

While down in Apollo Bay for a long weekend we noticed Nautigals cafe had started serving dinner and decided to give it a try. Later we found out this was the first summer holiday season that they'd been open late, after previously doing this during in Easter 2011. The beachy café feel remains with tables on the pavement, a courtyard out the front as well as a couple of rooms inside, the café counter area with some computers and fishy wallpapered dining area with a mix of tables including the 'church area' where we literally found a pew. The menu was relatively short with around 4 entrées and 5 mains on offer. There few other tables occupied when we arrived, but it filled up,to start, and was pretty busy by the time we left.

We shared the trio of dips to start, I'm not sure the photo quite does justice to the size of the servings of the dips, they were big, larger than I'd seen as an entrée before and it was good that we were sharing! The beetroot and mint dip and eggplant and garlic were our favourites, the capsicum dip was a little on the creamy side, and with plenty of each of the others, we ran out of toast Turkish bread before we got really stuck into it.

I went for the oven cooked fish of the day with a herb crust, served on chips (I'd assumed this meant fries, but they were more like crisps) and a rocket, goats cheese, walnut and pear salad. The fish was moist and gently flavoured by the crust and the salad was fresh and interesting.

The prawn linguine with rocket and baby tomatoes featured prawns that had been completely shelled rather than left with their tales on which now seems to be the standard. Other than that the dish was up to scratch.

The staff were all fairly young, even those spotted when peaking into the kitchen behind the counter looked to be barely out of their teens. They provided friendly service and gradually got busier and maybe a bit slower during the Saturday evening. The bill came to just over $70 including an Otway beer and a couple of glasses of bubbles, served in a standard glass. Overall this was one our best dining experiences in Apollo Bay, and I reckon we'd give it another go if they are open when we are open again.
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