Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Vivid Star

110 Hopkins Street

We hadn't tried Vivid Star before and were planning on grabbing a bowl of Pho, which seemed to be offered on the menu/pictures posted over the windows. When we got inside the pho section on the menu had a big line through it, so we had to go for something different. Fortunately the menu was huge, covering a variety of Vietnamese, Chinese and other south-east Asian dishes including laksas.

The Tom Yum soup was offered as an entrée rather than a main, and the bowl was small but packed with fish balls, mushrooms, tomatoes and even some unexpected pineapple. The flavours were good, perhaps not quite as spicy as I prefer.

I went for the prawn rice paper rolls which certainly looked the part and came with the standard bowl of dipping sauce topped with crushed nuts. Unfortunately although the prawns were tasty the rest of the rolls were a disappointment, with a lack of flavour and freshness normally present.

The whole flounder looked spectacular, and the the crispy coating was crunchy and lightly spicy. The flesh was cooked, but seemed a bit thinner than sometimes with flounder. We also had the Chinese broccoli with garlic which was cooked and delivered as expected.

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The service was friendly and the prices were reasonable, and we may go back to explore different parts of the menu, but with stiff competition, it may not be that soon!

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Little Creatures Dining Hall

222 Brunswick Street
Fitzroy, 3065

We met friends at the Little Creatures Dining Hall on a Friday evening, it was already busy at 6:30 when we arrived, but a table had already been secured. The place is huge, and has the feel of an old industrial building, with high ceilings with some light streaming through.

The kitchen is open at the back of the building with a bar running down one side. The majority of the space is given over to tables and booths, with waiters to serve both drinks and food. The staff are generally all very hip, and pretty friendly, just difficult to get hold of.

When we arrived some of the roast pumpkin dip with flat bread had been ordered. The bread was good and the dip tasty.

I went for the spiced red lentil dahl with the flat bread. Maybe we are spoiled for good cheap Indian food around Footscray, but I found the dahl pretty bland, again the flat bread was good. It did fill me up and was pretty healthy.

Various pizza's were ordered, with mixed receptions. With both of the salami, olive, capers, anchovies & mozzarella pizza's extra anchovies were requested, but didn't seem to appear. Both these and the spicy meatball, tomato, oregano & mozzarella number were pretty bland, and the amount of toppings was disappointing.
The prawn, prosciutto, salsa verde & mozzarella and chorizo, sweet corn & feta options were both more popular with their respective recipients, so maybe it's luck of the draw!

Obviously the beers were good, I'm a fan of the little creatures ales, and overall we had a good evening, more punchy flavoursome food and quicker service or more waiting staff would make it a great venue.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Yarrawood Estate

1275 Melba Highway
Yarra Glen
VIC 3775

We'd been to Yarrawood a few years ago, and were back for a Saturday lunch. There were a few other diners but there was plenty of space, as the weather was great for the deck outside. The cellar door cafe menu focus on sharing plates and light lunch items.

I went for the turkey foccacia, which was tasty and filling without being out of this world.

The chicken schnitzel foccacia was likewise fine without being exceptional.

I didn't try the wine, but apparently the rose was great.

The setting amongst the vineyards is spectacular with wonderful views of vines and the Yarra valley beyond. The service was a bit Jekyll and Hyde, with one wonderful waitress and a seemingly stressed or angry manager... It's worth popping in here on a sunny day for the setting alone!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Phu Vinh

93 Hopkins Street
Vic 3011

We hadn't been to Phu Vinh before the recent refurbishment, so for our first visit we were greeted by the new modern look. We were there late on a Sunday afternoon, there were a few other diners, but it wasn't packed.

The menu was pretty extensive and varied compared to some of the options on Barkly and Hopkins Streets. We ordered the prawn rice paper rolls for entrée, although we seemed to get the pork and prawn rolls, although we didn't notice immediately, so didn't bother mentioning. The rolls and dipping sauce were fresh and flavoursome.

We shared a couple of mains, the first to arrive was the stir fried fish fillets with ginger and spring onions. The fish was fine without being exceptional, with the odd bones, the veggies were fresh and the ginger flavours stood out. The sauce was a bit on the gloopy side.

The Mongolian Chicken was sizzling as it arrived at the table. The chicken was tender and juicy with the sauce being spicy.

The meal came to $41 including some rice. It was good if not outstanding and the service was friendly.

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Red Door

1 McIlwrick St
Windsor, 3181

Red Door is down a laneway off Chapel St in Windsor. It doubles as an antiques shop, and it is certainly a change from some of our usual Footscray eateries! We visited on a Saturday lunchtime, there were 3 or 4 other groups of diners there.

We ordered a few dishes, the northern Chinese vegetable jiao-zi, which were very tasty and quickly demolished. When these arrived we eventually managed to explain we would like the rest of our dishes fairly quickly, we had to be somewhere later that afternoon.

The rest of dishes arrived pretty quickly. The Prawn and Crab dumplings were gorgeous brightly coloured as the wrapping was almost see-through and big chunks of prawn inside! The chicken curry buns were good and suitably filling! The beef dumplings good too.

We didn't linger, but the vibe was very relaxed. The service was fine. It all came to just over $30. It would be good to go back in less off a rush!

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

African Taste

124 Victoria St
Seddon, 3011

Finally we've eaten to somewhere new in the Footscray area!

We'd wandered past African Taste a few times without going in. Its at the northern end of the Seddon stretch of Victoria Street, and is fairly small.

I like the Ethiopian places I've tried in Footscray, but the everything served on and eaten with injera bread style doesn't work for everyone. It was reasonably busy when we did try on a Friday evening.

We started off with a couple of Ethiopian beers, which were both good, reasonably hoppy in flavour, which I like, one was quite fruity too.

For entrée we shared some cramped/crumbed cauliflower which were nice and some of the sambusas or African style samosas, which were great, a bit smaller than the Indian style ones I'm used too, with fantastically light pastry and a spicy meaty beef filling.

I also tried the stout beer, which was a little milder and lighter in colour than a British stout and very enjoyable.

We shared a couple of mains, the chicken Genfu African Fufu, a gnocchi made from toasted barley flour. This gnocchi was a little nutty in flavour and sauce wonderfully flavoured and just a little spicy. The African Fasting Food was a combination of 5 vegetarian dishes, featuring, lentils , pumpkin and eggplant, split beans, cabbage and carrot as well as beans and carrot. Injera bread was served on the side The range of flavours was great, and there was almost too much to eat!

We had a great meal, and the atmosphere was cosy and pleasant. The service was fantastic and very friendly! I'm sure we will be back soon...

Update: We were back again a week later, and mostly had more of the same - with the addition of the Spicy Fish Tibes, another winner with plenty of garlic.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Blok M Express

380 Little Bourke St
Melbourne, 3000

After failing to find our original destination for lunch Phil and I headed to Little Bourke Street to Blok M. We'd thought about eating there one evening with Chris, but didn't in the end as it isn't licensed.

Inside it's bright thanks to the big windows, the tables are pretty small, some have chairs, others stools. There is a raised esction towards the back, and on the wall there is more information about Blok M in Jakarta.

I liked the table number holders you are given after ordering - shaped and painted like the front of a bus, it brought back to me thoughts of various bus trips from travels in Asia... (Actually looking at it again, it might be a tuk-tuk, plenty of fun memories of them too though...)

The menu contained a variety of Indonesian dishes from the familiar Nasi Goreng to some less familiar dishes, including curries, and plenty of friend and grilled fish.

Phil had the Gule Kambing a lamb curry, which was tasty without being super spicy,  it seemed to go down well marrow included!

I went for the pecel bakar, a grilled catfish, which had a crispy, well done, sweet and spicy coating.

The service was friendly and both dishes were around the $10 mark, I think we might visit again to try some more of the options on the menu!

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