Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Vineyard, St Kilda

71 Acland Street
St Kilda,
Vic 3182

We'd been to the Vineyard a few times before, more often when we lived a lot nearer, but our visits had been later in the day and mainly for drinks.

This visit was for brunch after the City to Sea running event. St Kilda was filling up with runners and their friends and family, and we got one of the last outside tables in the sun. The breakfast menu wasn't huge but offered planty of options to customise the various egg options. It took a little while for our orders to be taken, partially due to the steady stream of new arrivals. We had to wait a short while for our coffees, but both the long black and skinny flat white were worth it.

Our meals arrived soon after the coffees. I had poached eggs on toasted cibatta with mushrooms. The eggs lived up to my high standards and were pretty much perfectly cooked, with nicely runny yolks, the mushrooms weren't bad either.

The scrambled eggs with mushrooms and spinach were also prepared to the better half's tastes.

The bill was just over $30 which was pretty good value for good quality food, in a great spot to watch the world go by, but not too crowded either. The service was fine given how busy the place was fairly early on a Sunday. I'd happily get brecky there again.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Bridge Hotel, Richmond

642 Bridge Road
Vic 3121

At the Hawthorn end of Bridge Road in Richmond, I hadn't visited the  Bridge Hotel, before, although the better half had, a few years back.

It re-opened in November 2011, and despite looking like a regular Melbourne Pub on the outside inside hosts its own lane-way which hosts urban art, including multi-layered stencils, paper paste-ups and aerosol free-form pieces developed with help from the Alleycat Creative. The open air space divides the bar area from the sit down dining area which offers table service from the same menu.

The refurbishment in the dining section was also quite dramatic, with plenty of exposed concrete and new spaces.

The tables are fairly low or bar height and the vibe was quiet and relaxed on a Saturday lunch time. The menu was mostly standard pub style, given the radical makeover the building had gone through.

The presentation of the vegetarian lasagne didn't quite live up to the architecture either, but the eggplant, spinach and mushrooms topped with bechamel sauce and plenty of cheese tasted better than it looked.It was accompanied by a basic rocket, semi dried tomato and parmesan salad.

The mushrooms stuffed with herbed goats cheese, ricotta and pistachios vanished quickly, which I took as a sign of popularity.

The 'House Made' dips, including beetroot and mint, raita and capsicum offerings, seemed fairly standard, and came with plenty of fresh grilled bread.

The service was friendly and efficient. The bill came to around $40 including a soft drink. The food wasn't at all bad, but didn't quite live up to the great refurbishment, but I would happily go back next time I was at that end of Richmond.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Portland Hotel & James Squire Brewhouse

115 Russell Street
Vic 3000

The Portland Hotel and James Squire Brewhouse occupies a quiet section of Russell Street between Little Collins and Bourke Streets. I've been there a couple of times recently with colleagues from work.

On both occasions the kitchen and service staff dealt with reasonably big groups pretty efficiently, whether we had ordered in advance or not.

On the first visit I had the pan fried home made gnocchi with James Squire Port braised rabbit, date and thyme ragout, peas and pecorino. The flavours were all there, it was all well cooked although it didn't stand out or seem that large for $22.50.

During our second excursion to the Portland I tried the Shark and Morton Bay Bug fish cakes, which came with a tomato and red onion salsa and rouille of olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and chilli. These were more enjoyable and slightly better value at $15.50.

Overall it is certainly a good venue for larger groups, although it seemed a little over priced for the dishes on offer, compared to other options available in the CBD.

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