Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Standard Hotel - Fitzroy

293 Fitzroy Street,
VIC 3065

The Standard, tucked away on a backstreet in Fitzroy, still feels like the old school pub it did 10 years ago when I first visited. Out the back there is a courtyard/beer garden area which is unexpectedly large and warren like.


We were sat inside and a largish group of us pretty much had a side room to ourselves. We ordered at the bar as each of us arrived and made our selections, so a procession of meals arrived over the course of an hour, which suited us.

I had the veggie burger from the specials menu, which had a sweet potato and pumpkin 'patty', eggplant, salad, tomato and cheese in an impressively tall white bun, and was served with chips. Unfortunately the burger didn't match up to Jerry's quality, it was dry even with added tomato sauce and not particularly flavoursome.

A few people went for another special, the cold lamb salad with grilled saganaki some after a recommendation from the bar staff and it won universal praise!

The steak sandwich looked good and seemed to go down well.

The service was friendly and pretty efficient given our random ordering process. It's a great venue, just a shame the choice from the special board wasn't the best...

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Garamerica - South Melbourne

230 Dorcas Street,
South Melbourne,
VIC, 3205

We were in South Melbourne to do some shopping and then grab lunch before heading out of town for the night. We picked Garamerica as it seemed one of the few Asian options that were open for lunch at on Saturday. Just off Clarendon St on Dorcas St, despite the sign Garamerica would be easy to miss.

Inside it was pretty cosy, and relatively busy when we arrived at around 2, it emptied while we were there. The welcome was warm and we were offered help with the menu and suggestions!

Bali is the only part of Indonesia we've visited, and although we got around the island, I'm sure it only represents part of the national cuisine. I did remember a few dishes on the menu.

I had most of the Ayam Bakar, the marinated chicken grilled with garamerica's 'authentic sauce', was beautifully cooked, crispy spicy on the outside and tender inside. It came with rice, shrimp paste, chilli and a few veggies, along with some hot and sour soup.

The Mie Ayam had egg noodles blended with spices topped with minced chicken and mushrooms cooked in a "special sauce", was a new one to me and nicely flavoured.

We shared the Siomai which the menu listed as steamed Indonesian fish dumplings with home made peanut sauce. It came with with tofu and boiled egg as well as the dumplings, which were more gelatinous than we expected. The sauce was quite sweet and reminded me of those that I'd had on gado-gado in the past. It was certainly a different dish, and I'm still not quite sure if I'm a fan. The waitress mentioned that her favourite was the fried version, which maybe worth a try on another occasion.

The dishes were good value at around $10 each, we would have been fine with just one each... The service was very friendly, and I'd certainly pop in again if was in the area.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lentil as Anything St Kilda

41 Blessington Street,
St Kilda,
Vic, 3182

We'd eaten at Lentil as Anything in St Kilda three or four years ago and more recently at the now more local Lentil as Anything Footscray. I'd remembered the meal fondly, especially as it was my first pay as you feel meal, and the whole experience went well. We've found the Footscray branch to be bigger and a little less personal with its serve yourself buffet style.

So we were in the area and decided to test if our memories were right. Things are certainly more cosy in St Kilda, with a couple of tables outside and 8 or so inside, and most of these were full on a Saturday evening. We squeezed into a spot at the back and perused the menu. A chai latte arrived which we wanted but hadn't ordered while we perused the menu. There were lentil and potato burgers on offer as well as a range of vegetarian curries, and we went for two of these.

The eggplant curry had a spicy coconut based sauce and featured beautifully cooked chunks of aubergine which melted in the mouth, but stayed together on the plate.

The chickpea curry had a similar flavour and came with a more generous serve of veggies, unfortunately these were a little harder than we would have liked, and could have been cooked a bit more maybe.

Both dishes were served with rice, some salad leaves and a slice of toast, we'd thought we might have had a naan or roti on our last visit, but we may have been mistaken.

The service was friendly if a little hap-hazard, but that is part of the charm of Lentil as Anything. Being pay as you like we felt we paid a fair amount. Overall the cosy St Kilda style Lentil pretty lived up to my memories...

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Monday, November 14, 2011

The Beach

97 Beaconsfield Parade,
Albert Park,
VIC, 3206

The Beach sells itself as "...the ultimate place to socialise, entertain or celebrate with your friends." The location on Beaconsfield Parade with views across the road to the bay is enviable, especially on a sunny day.

We were originally booked in the courtyard and had been told we'd need to be out by 3pm, which was fine as we had a 1pm booking. On arrival we were informed that we'd have to be out of the courtyard by 2:30, and seeing as the view was far better from the dining room we got a bay-view window table inside. The fit out inside was modern and stylish and was fairly well separated from the sports bar/TAB area.

Apparently the new Executive Chef "...has created a menu using fresh local ingredients that he combines to create dishes that will tantalise your taste buds." There were daily specials along with pizza's pub classics and some seafood options.

My choice of fish and chips ($22) was advertised as having a light tempura batter. The plate arrived and I was surprised at the three small pieces of fish in a brown rather than golden coating and smattering of chips. Whilst the covering was crunchy the lack of a decent chunk of fish inside was disappointing. The salad was small but fresh.

The seafood linguine came with mussels, prawns and fish but didn't live up to it's looks.

I also tried the salt and pepper calamari which was very tender although the coating was quite bland.

Our meals took a fair while to arrive given an almost empty restaurant when we arrived and after finishing our plates weren't cleared whilst we finished our drinks. Despite the wonderful view I wouldn't be rushing back to the Beach.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Imperial Rhino

15 Bell St
VIC 3228

We visited the Imperial Rhino 'cafe-bar-restaurant' for Sunday brunch.

It was reasonably busy and 7 or 8 years ago had apparently been pretty good. We ordered coffees before our meals. They came in a reasonable time and were good.

We waited a lot longer for our food.

I had the Veggie Breakfast with poached eggs, tomato, mushrooms, fried potato chuncks and toast. This was all fine except for the dry unbuttered toast, something so easy to get right!

The bacon and eggs with extra sautéed mushrooms came with loads of bacon and was also served with the dry toast. It is a shame when something so simple spoils otherwise decent dishes.

The bill came to around $30, the wait for food was also disapointing, I don't think we'd rush back.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Growlers Torquay

23 The Esplanade,
VIC 3228

Growlers is located on the Esplanade in Torquay with views across to the ocean. The website mentions some celebrity involvement/ownership and it is probably a good thing I didn't read about this until after we'd visited, as it would have probably put me off.

It was pretty busy when we arrived on a sunny Saturday evening, and it still was when we left, with a mix of diners and those enjoying a drink in the courtyard area, and plenty more eating on the balcony and inside.

The layout and décor worked well, it felt modern and stylish, but still laid back and beachy at the same time. We ordered inside and moved from a bar style table to a sit down one, still in the courtyard. The table was large for two and quite wide, this turned out to be an advantage later!

We kept with the coastal vibe by going for the seafood platter for two, which took about 40 minutes to arrive after ordering, including an agonising(!) final 5 minutes during which the various accompaniments, utensils and the stand for the plates arrived. We started off with the natural oysters which I enjoyed more than I often do, maybe they are something I'm finally learning to appreciate, but the whole texture thing seemed to work for me. These were followed by some big Portarlington mussels in a great creamy garlic sauce. The king prawns had the shells removed but not the head or tail, which meant easy eating, they were perfectly cooked too, as were the scallops brochette, the smoked salmon rosettes worked well with the side salad. We then took on our respective blue swimmer crab, which were a hard work at first, but proved worth the effort with a decent amount of sweet meat inside. The rest of the chips were finished with the whiting,
and generous portion of salt and pepper calamari.

The manager had a chat after we'd finished mentioning how unexpectedly busy it was. Other than a slightly long wait for food it didn't bother us. The courtyard was closing at 9pm so we decided to move on and ended up grabbing a seaside desert of ice-cream and gelato from the traditional corner shop down the road...

The platter was $78.

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Sandbah Cafe

21 Gilbert Street, 
VIC 3228

We were looking for somewhere to grab some lunch soon after arriving in Torquay on what had forecast and turned out to be one of the sunniest days of spring so far. We went for Sandbah as it looked good and quite busy, not noticing their awards until I took a closer look at the snap later...

We grabbed a table near the open entrance before placing our order at the counter, and then perused the Saturday papers for a while, and then a while longer. While we didn't expect instant service, we weren't expecting a half hour wait for a sandwich and a bowl of soup, especially when the staff didn't appear particularly busy.

Eventually our food arrived, with no comments about the delay. The sandwich was a decent size and the light rye bread looked good. What was a bit worrying was a small bug emerging from the bread just before a first bite was taken. We thought it looked like it must have crawled in recently and decided to avoid another potential waiting for anything to be done about it. Ignoring the insect the chicken and salad filling was generous and the meal was finished, perhaps owing partly to hunger!

The soup bowl was large and filled with plenty of the promised creamy pumpkin soup of the day. It was satisfying and home style, very similar to soup I've made in the past...

The food was certainly fine, if not quite award worthy, and perhaps we caught them on a particularly busy day, or are just impatient city folk, but the wait for our food and bug were our abiding memories and we wont be rushing back...

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