Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wild Dog Winery

Warragul Korumburra Road,
Vic 3820

We'd visited the Wild Dog Winery a couple of times before and eaten there once before, it is perched in a beautiful spot in the rolling green Gippsland hills, just south of Warragul.

The interior is bright, airy and spacious, the carpeted floor prevented it becoming echoey, it was fairly busy when the four of us arrived on a spring Sunday lunch time, with a couple of largish groups as well as plenty of smaller tables.

The menu offered a couple of degustation options, but we decided to select our own dishes, however it was a little tricky working out how much/what to order as the dishes were grouped into sections charcuterie, sea, meat and earth with items of differing sizes hard to identify. The waiting staff weren't able to easily explain of suggest things either. In addition the pizza's on the website menu were on offer when we visited.

In the end we decided to share two items from the charcuterie section for entree, which with some extra bread worked out well. The Spanish chorizo pan-fried with tomato came with slices of toasted bread. The combination of flavours was suitably Iberian, the tomato based sauce being a particular highlight.

I don't often eat Chicken liver pate these days, not good for keeping the cholesterol under control, but this carefully presented dish reminded me what I've been missing.

We had a long wait after the first dishes came out before our 'mains' came out, we were relaxed, but too much time passed with only extra bread offered to go with our entrées and a brief explanation of a busy kitchen from a waitress. The pan fried atlantic salmon fillet, was served with highly praised squid ink, a smoked eel croquette and a micro herb salad.

The milk fed veal scallopini came with portobello mushrooms and a garlic, wine cream sauce and polenta.

The Gypsy Pig pork bellie, micro thai salad, espuma, black sesame rice crisps looked wonderful.

I ordered the King George whiting, but was initially presented with the King fish dish, a much lighter affair accompanied with Tasmanian shima wasabi, pickeled shallots, radish, watercress and lemon oil. The waitress apologised and let us have the extra dish on the house, it was interesting and great to share and try, but I'm not sure I would have been happy with it as a main.

The whiting was crumbed and came with tarragon, lemon pepper, lemon and aioli. The fish was perfectly cooked and the dish was more filling than it initially appeared to be.

As sides we shared a couple of 'Earth' dishes between the four of us. The curry beer batter cauliflower with onions, tomato, greens, quinoa, balsamic and yoghurt.was an interesting and well executed combination, I was left wanting more of the cauliflower!

The house smoked beetroot, was another taste sensation I hadn't experienced which left me wanting more! It came with chopped greens and cottage cheese.

Overall the food was great, the only downside of the whole experience was the long wait and the mix up with the my main.The bill came to around $190 for the four of us including a bottle of Wilddog Riesling, a few glasses of the Pinot Grigio, a beer and some coffees, not to forget the Noojee Num Num!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chicco - Seddon

77 Charles street,
Vic, 3011

Chicco sprang up on the site of the former Touks a few months ago, but we hadn't made it down. There have been plenty of superficial changes to the decor and a new all white exterior, but the layout is still the same. It was fairly busy on the SUnday lunchtime when we visited, but we managed to grab a table in the spring sunshine.

The site at the end of Victoria street meant we had a view straight back up the street, and the trees down the middle of the street are growing to add a nice arborial touch.

We had coffees first up, my long black was a little on the intense side for my tastes, and could perhaps been just a little longer. the cups were cute and the tea spoons reminded me on my dear departed grandma's.

I had the vegetable and chickpea pattie stack with tomato relish and hummus. These were actually presented side by side on a bed of fresh peppery rocket. They were well executed, full of flavour and despite being tender held together well. The condiments were both great, the relish being the winner for me.

The home made baked beans with pesto and roast red onions was good without quite departing far enough from my memories of beans on toast to be really special.

The bill came to $37.50, which was fair for what we'd had. The staff were friendly and the service prompt. It's a great addition to the range of café's and eateries in Seddon and a good change from Touk's although from someone who mainly eats out in the evening, not quite so convenient. I did note that they were advertising the arrival of degustation dinner nights, which could be worth a visit!

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Monday, September 17, 2012

The Union Hotel, Brunswick

109 Union Street,
VIC, 3056

We'd had dinner at The Union Hotel in Brunswick a while back, this time we met friends for lunch, and on a spring day sat in a covered area in the garden out the back. It has the look and feel of a backstreet suburban pub, albeit one that has been gently modernised.

I had the fish of the day, barramundi which came with kiffler potatoes, spinach cherry tomatoes and capers. The skin was super crispy, maybe just a bit too crunchy, and the fish was a tiny bit on the dry side and fairly small, other than that everything was well prepared and combined nicely.

The chilli bean enchiladas were topped with melted cheese, guacamole and sour cream and were served on a capsicum, spanish onion and cherry tomato salad and was a generous plateful... so much so I got half the serve to finish! The enchiladas were tasty but somewhat dry.

The grilled sausages were certainly generously proportioned and cane with bacon and parsley mash, greens and jus. They seemed to go down well.

The service was smooth and friendly even for our fairly large group. The mains were around $20 each, and I'd certainly happily go back.

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Friday, September 14, 2012


2 The Causeway
VIC 3000

Phil suggested meeting at Dognation for lunch after reading good things about it. It is at the Little Collins end of the Causeway which runs down from Bourke Street Mall.

I was expecting Dognation t be small, but not literally a hole in the wall... well there was one table with three chairs, but that was occupied... The menu offers five hot dogs from different cities, including Berlin, Tokyo and Melbourne, with appropriate ingredients and flavours, and a choice of multigrain or white rolls.

We made our choices waited a couple of minutes, received our stamped boxes and headed up to Bourke Street to find a bench to eat on.

I went for the London ‘Bangers & Mash’ Dog containing a British beef & pork sausage, almost hidden beneath plenty of mashed potato, smashed peas and gravy. The toppings were well prepared if a little difficult to eat without any cutlery! The multigrain roll was fresh and enclosed the sausage which was lean and meaty. I'm not sure if I've ever seen a ot dog like this in England, but the flavours were certainly familiar.

Phil's Mexico City Chilli Dog contained a Mexican Beef, pork & bean sausage, topped with spicy chilli
con carne, cheese and jalapenos which he enjoyed.

At $8 or $9 a go the well loaded hot dogs are pretty good value, although they didn't fill us up 100%at lunch, maybe we are just a bit greedy. They were some of the best hot dogs I'd seen or tasted, just don't expect a seat!

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grill 3182 - St Kilda

16 The Esplanade
St Kilda
VIC 3182

We don't normally choose restaurants in large hotels however as we'd won a voucher and despite some average reviews on urbanspoon we headed to Grill 3182at the Novatel in St Kilda.

The dining area occupies the ground floor section facing the Esplanade at the front of the hotel, overlooking the bay, seating also available outside.

The fit out inside was clean and modern, but couldn't quite escape the we are in a big hotel feeling. On arrival the table we had booked wasn't available so we took advantage of happy hour at the bar.

Once seated we perused the menu, which had been updated from that shown on the web. The tales we'd read of poor service already started to ring true, as a waitress didn't know much about the dishes and even confessed to be being very new. We also overheard complaints about long waits for food!

In fact our entrées came after a reasonably short period of time. The scallops with fennel and beetroot salad was packed with strong flavours which overpowered the only just done and cold scallops...

The seasonal vegetable soup came in a huge bowl and was simple but also well prepared and satisfying.

We waited over half an hour for our mains to come out, a little longer than was comfortable, especially as a table ended up being re-arranged right next to us during the wait.... I had the salmon with pea mash and roasted tomatoes. The fish was a just little on the dry side, the mash was more potato than pea, other than the colour there wasn't much different from a slightly dry standard mashed potato.

The beef cheek came with some undercooked seasonal veggies and came with an intense sweet sauce that overpowered the meat.

Our side of chips were great!

Overall with the almost amateur level of service and hit and miss dishes, I'm glad we didn't have to pay the full $145 for the meal!

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Gertrude Hotel

148 Gertrude Street
VIC 3065

Brendan and I had strolled past the Gertrude Hotel after a previous lunch, and were interested enough by the recently renovated pub to return. As the name suggests it's situated on Gertrude street in Fitzroy, and was originally the "The Drewery Family Hotel" with a history to suit the area's colourful past.

Inside the front area still has a pub feel, albeit a stylish modern one, with stools and high tables, there were also tables outside on the wide pavement. It serves a range of interesting beers which I had to resist.

The restaurant area at the rear of the building has some original looking features, but also dark wooden tables and bench seats and leather seats.

Although we were ordering from the bar menu we were seated in the restaurant area where we received table service, there quite a few other tables occupied in this area and a one or two outside. After ordering we were brought some good quality bread, butter and salt.

We both took advantage of the Tuesday $12 special on the chicken parmigiana with chips and salad. I prefer chunkier chips, but the thin ones were super crunchy. The salad was fresh with a subtle dressing. The parma covered a big area but was fairly thin, and mine verged into the slightly dry territory, but not enough to stop me from devouring it all.

The service was certainly at a level above what I'd expect at a pub, certainly one serving food at the price of their specials! I'd be happy to go back again to try another lunchtime special, or in the evening/at a weekend to grab a beer with food.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Discover India

115b Princes Highway
VIC 3823

We hadn't spotted Discover India nestled in the shops lining the service road next to the Princes highway in Yarragon, to be fair we are normally cruising past at 80k's an hour... We were debating where to eat in the area and found the restaurant on Urbanspoon, where it had a few positive reviews.

Inside the fit out is fairly modern with comfy leather dining chairs. The menu on the wall shows that during day western breakfast and lunch dishes are available, along with coffee, which I guess is a pragmatic decision given the location. There were a few other tables occupied when we arrived at around 7:30 on a Saturday.

We tried a few dishes, the including a new one to us, the Mutter Spinach, which featured green peas cooked with spinach, spices and herbs. We asked for this at medium spiciness, as by default everything is mild. The combination of ingredients, textures and flavours worked beautifully.

The Dal Tadka, with its yellow lentils seasoned with garlic, green chillies and cumin seeds produced a wonderfully delicate dish.

The the boneless chicken in the Jalfrezi was wonderfully tender and was complimented beautifully with the ginger, tomatoes and  spice.

The garlic naan was possibly a bit on the small side but otherwise up to scratch.

We chatted to the owner or manager and found out that she previously run restaurants in Footscray and St Kilda, we'd had lunch in the Rajdhani cafe on Barkly street soon after we moved to the area, but it had closed after problems with the landlord, It's now the Yummie Hong Kong Dim Sum. She seemed happy with the new location and with the opportunity to cook different styles of food.

The bill came to around $60 including a couple of Kingfishers, great value for such great food, I'm sure we will be back when we are in the area.

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