Thursday, January 23, 2014

Abesha Ethiopean Restaurant

327 Barkly Street
VIC 3011

Although it's not far from home, we hadn't ever visited Abesha until deciding to try it recently on a Saturday. The colour scheme is certainly true to the country of origin.

Inside the decor is fairly basic, but there are quite a few African touches, and the clientele was mixed.

Behind our table there was a coffee set.

There were a couple of imported Ethiopian beers options on the menu, and we and enjoyed refreshing our memory of both.

The menu (which I couldn't find online so have included below) features a range of Ethiopian dishes, some of which were familiar, some less so.

We shared the vegetable sambusa's as an entree, which was served with a sour cream dip.

The crisp pastry enclosed a satisfying lentil heavy filling.

The Abesha special features a range of dishes served on injera. The kay watt, of chopped lamb in a berber sauce, red onion, garlic and ginger and the alicha wat worked well with the range of veggie and lentil based dishes.

I had the vegetarian combo with a large serve of the rich yemiser wat lentil stew and six other unique other flavours.

The bill including four beers was just over $50. The service was friendly and the atmosphere relaxed, with some groups sharing drinks and others also eating. We certainly left feeling heavy bellied and may well return.

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Greenpoint Brasserie at Domaine Chandon

727 Maroondah Highway
VIC 3770

It had been a long time since we had visited the Greenpoint Brasserie at Domain Chandon in the Yarra Valley, but good memories of previous experiences there persuaded us to return with visitors staying briefly in Melbourne.

The setting amongst the tidy vines and gardens is idyllic.

The simple modern fit out make best use of the location, with views across to the Yarra ranges. We had a booking and were promptly shown to our seats, both the tasting bar and the restaurant were pretty busy, with a variety of patrons, some in decent sized groups.

The salmon rillette with capers and horseradish was served in a coffee cup and topped with a fine layer of jelly along with rye bread. The texture was great and although the flavour was pleasant it lacked some punch.

We shared the charcuterie platter this included a rustic Pork, apple and cabbage terrine, a much finer chicken liver parfait and Casalinga Sopressa for the carnivores. On the veggie side, the balsamic onions were the best pickled onions I can remember having, the mixed olives were good and I liked the sweet tomato and pepper caramel chutney. The only quibble would be the size of the board and servings given the $32 price tag.

Three of us ended up choosing the herb crusted hapuka, which I don't remember seeing outside of New Zealand before. The fish was fresh, firm and perfectly prepared with the crust adding texture and flavour. The nicola potato, asparagus, speck, parmesan and beurre blanc all added to the dish.

The lamb rack served with truffled white polenta, broad beans and tomato was the other dish sampled by our party and proved equally popular, as did the 2010 sparkling


We found the service friendly, attentive and efficient. The bill with several glasses of wine came to $240 which didn't seem over the top given the quality of the food and wine. The afternoon we visited there were a reasonable number of flies around, and as guests were regularly using the sliding restaurant doors to wander in and out of the beautiful garden, plenty had made it inside, and certainly knew when our mains arrived. There isn't much that could be done, but it did leave a distinct entry in the memory bank. Domaine is certainly worth a visit if you are in the Yarra Valley for the combination of the food, wine and vistas.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

D.O.C. Pizza & Mozzarella Bar, Carlton

295 Drummond Street
VIC 3053

After reading some reviews we decided to check out D.O.C. whilst we were in Carlton. When we arrived at 6:30 on a warm summer Sunday evening most of the other tables were already taken both inside and outside where we chose to sit.

Living up to their claim of providing "...real Italian eating and age old simplicity..." the vibe is certainly pretty latin, with most if all the waiters hailing from there. The Carlton restaurant occupies a building that may once have been a pub on the corner of Faraday and Drummond streets, there is also a cafe and a deli on Lygon street not far away.

We ordered some drinks and then reviewed the menu featuring a mix of classic and original options. The Lurisia “Sei” or 6 beer I had was a new one to me, a Belgian wheat style beer brewed in Italy which was pretty sweet and a nice change. We grabbed the waiters attention and ordered.

My choice was the trusty napoletana with San Marzano tomato, mozzarella, anchovies and olives. The base was perfectly crisp, light and browned, the flavour from the small salty fish permeated the pizza making a definite hit.

The Pizza Tiger Prawns lived up to its name featuring one crustacean per slice along with tomato, mozzarella, endive and fresh chilli. Again it was cooked just so and the spice permeated the dish.

The mista salad of spinach, radicchio and rocket leaves well dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar provided a contrast of flavour and texture to the rest of the meal.

As we ate the a queue began to form, by 7 it stretched along the front of the building, which made eating our meal feel like being the key attraction in a spectator sport!

The pizza's were great, some of the best I've eaten in Melbourne, the service was fairly prompt despite the crowds and certainly Italian and friendly. The bill came to $70 with a couple of drinks, and we'd certainly return, being careful to try to get there early if we weren't keen on queueing for a seat.

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