Monday, April 22, 2013

The Plough Hotel, Footscray

333 Barkly Street

Although it has always been in walking distance we'd never tried the Plough Hotel before it was recently renovated, we'd never heard much positive or negative about it, and the mirrored windows never gave off that inviting a vibe.

There haven't been too many changes outside, inside however things are looking very modern and sleek, we sat in the slightly more casual bistro area, the restaurant is further fro the door, behind the shelving/screen.

The bar takes up a chunk of the room, with plenty of bottles, mostly from Victoria behind it, as well some local beers on tap.

I tried the Brunswick Bitter by the Thunder Road brewery which was a more flavoursome 'house' beer than most and reasonably priced at $6 for 330ml, there were several other beers and ciders from smaller producers around the state also on offer on tap or bottled.

We shared the olive, anchovy, chilli & parsley foccacia as an entrée. The toppings were great quality and sat on top of well prepared bread.

The menu features plenty of pub classics, often with a little twist, plenty of steaks and a range of pizza's.

I had the the Fish ‘n’ chips featuring three moist flathead fillets in crispy local beer batter good chips, salad and tartare sauce.

The Plough Parmigiana was big but ridiculously huge and had fresh tasting chunky tomato salsa, along with the gypsy ham and mozzarella on top and came with the similar chips n salad.

It's great to see that another of Footscray's pubs has been preserved and compliments the other two that have survived the apartment conversion trend that seems to sweep all before it! It's not quite as fine dining as The Station, or as grungy, funky and interesting as the Reverence, but the emphasis on great local produce, stylish fit out, good service and competitive pricing means I hope it does well. It was certainly pretty busy on the Wednesday evening we visited. Our meal came in around $75 including a few drinks.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chef Lagenda, Flemington

16 Pin Oak Crescent
VIC 3031

We spotted Chef Lagenda next to the famed Laksa King on a previous visit to Flemmington, but it wasn't until after reading an article on Melbourne's best Laksas in the Melbourne Broadsheet that we decided to pay it a visit. It is operated by Thomas Lee who has worked in Malaysia, Melbourne and Taiwan and was born in Ipoh, a town in central Malaysia not far from the Cameron Highlands, which we've visited.

From the outside it looks pretty small with just a pair of doors and a small wall with the menu showing, but it is modern and well presented.Inside there are several areas, with a few tables just inside the door, a rear section on the ground floor and stairs up a level.

The first floor has another couple of area's inside and a small terrace, which was covered and heated on our visit on an autumnal Thursday evening. Most of the indoor tables were taken and we were offered a spot outside, which was fine with us. The decor throughout was stylish and modern.

Our tea came in a pot/jug a nice upgrade from the 'traditional' flask and even the teacups were branded.

We shared the plain roti which was light and not quite as buttery as sometimes, which kept me happy and came with a satay sauce that was more spicy than a Thai style satay, which we enjoyed.

We both ended up choosing the curry laksa which featured tofu, chicken and prawns, as well as a few veggies and egg and rice noodles. It was fantastic with the rich flavours we'd hoped for and just the right amount of heat from the chilli.

We didn't have to wait too long for our meal and the service was friendly if chaotic. We ended up waiting a little while for our bill, which we needed before heading downstairs to pay (cash only). The atmosphere was good and the various areas made it feel more intimate than its  slightly cavernous neighbour. I think we've found a new a favourite laksa spot, and I'm sure we will be making a return visit soon. The bill was around $30.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Forrest brewing company

Apollo Bay Road
VIC 3236

The Forrest Brewery in the Otway hinterland town of Forrest, north of Apollo Bay is a combination of microbrewery and eating place, established by siblings Matt and Sharon Bradshaw in the rebuilt general store in 2010. We stopped in for lunch on Easter Monday to break up our trip back to Melbourne.

Inside it was fairly busy with quite a few families, we found a small table outside and perused the special holiday menu.

The pumpkin soup came topped with macadamia nuts, which added another dimension to a well executed classic, the sour dough roll was small and perfectly frmed.

We also shared the sweet potato wedges, which came topped with avocado and sour cream. The wedges had a roasted feel about them and were very warming and satisfying.

Given the queue when I ordered the service was surprisingly fast if a little haphazard, we were offered a couple of other items before our order arrived! I'd tried the Pale Ale a couple of nights earlier and had been impressed, but with plenty of driving ahead it wasn't the time for another, the coffee however was good. It is certainly worth stopping in if you are passing through!

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Great Ocean Hotel, Apollo Bay

29 Great Ocean Road
Apollo Bay,
VIC 3233

We'd popped in to the the Great Ocean Hotel for a drink before but hadn't stayed to eat. It's located at the 'top end' of Apollo bay, closer to Marengo than the other pub in town.

We found a table outside in the courtyard before ordering at the bar, the menu was stacked with classic Australian pub dishes. It was a fairly busy through out the establishment on the Easter holiday night we visited on.

I had the flake fish and chip special, great value for $17 with 3 decent sized freshly cooked pieces of beer battered fish with chips and salad.

The "Certified" Black Angus Scotch Fillet also with chips and salad and a slightly disappointing pepper sauce, the steak itself was excellent however.

The service was fine, and the meal pretty good value. The only real downer was the enforced sharing of the courtyard with smokers, who didn't seem to worry about where diners were sat. In a way this is just a reminder of how far we moved to a smoke free world, but it was frustrating at the time.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sandy Feet Cafe, Apollo Bay

139 Great Ocean Road
Apollo Bay,
VIC 3233

We hadn't dined at Sandy Feet before, although it seems to have been open for a while, on the main street through Apollo Bay, across from the foreshore area. We visited over Easter and it was fairly busy inside but no diners were keen on eating outside.

The decor was fairly basic style and it is billed as a cafe and health food venue, the walls have bare feet prints painted on appropriately.

The menu had a variety of standard options, and a few different ones. We shared the herbed damper with whipped butter to start, it was large, heavy and filling.

The special of green curry bouillabaisse with mussles, prawns, squid and scallops was super flavoursome with some great seafood.

I had the Australian mixed grill featuring crocodile, which I'd only eaten in a sausage before, and resembled a cross between chicken and pork, emu which I had maybe had once before. The third element was kangaroo which is a favourite of mine, and again turned out to be my preferred of the three meats.

I also had a local Forrest Brewery beer, which was well flavoured and easily quaffed. The service was friendly and well paced for a busy venue. I'd definitely go back when we are next in town.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Reverence Hotel, Footscray

28 Napier Street
VIC 3011

The Reverence Hotel occupies the site of the former Exchange Hotelwhich we'd never visited, on the corner of Napier and Whitehall streets. After reading about the changes, including an article/interview with the owners on Footscray Life, we finally managed a visit fairly early on a Saturday evening.

Given the amount of live music on at the Reverence, and it generally not being quite our favourite styles, we got there before any of the bands kicked off.

It was fairly quiet inside, but there were several tables with diners tucking into or ordering meals.

Towards the back, the outdoor courtyard area was busier...

In general it had the feel of a cool grungy pub, which has been missing from the Footscray area, it's great that one has finally arrived!

We ordered our meals at the bar and helped ourselves to cutlery and salt and pepper!

There were also several options when it came to Mexican hot sauces, I the Cholula, for no particular reason.

The menu features a range of Mexican dishes and some pizza's, we stuck with the Latin American options. We had the empanadas for entrée, one each of the chorizo and potato and the vegan chorizo and potato, pastry parcels lightly deep fried served with a side of house made aioli. Slightly surprisingly the waiter didn't know which was which, but we think we worked it out, and they were certainly tasty and enjoyable.

We both went for taco platters for main each with two 'gourmet' tacos served with mexi rice and the weekly salad special, which featured rocket, roast pumpkin and walnut on our visit. I had the vegan pulled pork pan fried with smokey paprika, coleslaw and coriander served with chipotle lime mayo, lime wedge and the black bean taco a spicy bean mix with spinach, guacamole, capsicum, coriander, chipotle lime mayo. I was again surprised by how well the vegan meat dish worked and enjoyed this healthy Mexican combination of flavours.

The better half also went with the black bean option, along with the slow cooked beef taco, which had been pan fried with smoky paprika and house made tomatillo sauce, spinach, capsicum, coriander, served with guacamole and chipotle lime mayo which was also enjoyed.

The food order came to a very reasonable $36 and the service very friendly if a little haphazard and slow. I'm sure we will return to try some of the other Mexican dishes and maybe the Pizza's.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Havana Bar, Wellington

32a-34 Wigan Street
Te Aro,

Eight of us descended on Havana Bar for dinner, arriving fairly early as they don't take bookings, after a drink outside on the deck area, we went inside to secure a table.

The dining area has a clear roof which provided plenty of light early in the evening, as you can see below that means as time went by the photo quality dropped.

There was a clear view into the kitchen from kitchen from our table, with the occaisional erruption of flames.

The menu consisted of a range of smallish dishes, and our waitress suggested we set a per head price and they would bring us a selection, which we agreed to. We had $40 per head meal.

The first dish was sautéed prawns in Kashmiri chilli and garlic which were good enough to mean some of us ate the shells.

The stuffed figs wrapped in pancetta tastes as good as they looked!

The lamb cutlets were gilled perfectly.

The aged beef fillet skewers with Café de Paris butter were so popular with a couple of the diners that thet ordered more for 'dessert'.

The pork belly was served with a fresh nectarine and coriander relish.

The multicoloured carrots with walnuts were beautifully prepared... were the green beans, which were served with confit onions, toasted almonds and lemon butter.

The crushed gourmet potatoes were taken to another level with spring onion and honey.

I didn't find out which more conventional dessert was ordered, but they looked good.

The service was slick and friendly, and we had a great time sharing the various courses, without any arguments over who got what! For a large group it certainly was an enjoyable spot to dine.

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