Friday, December 28, 2012

Spottiswoode Hotel

62 Hudsons Road
3015 Vic

The Spottiswoode Hotel was apparently constructed in 1888 in the Italian Renaissance Revival style. It retains the original name of the suburb, which comes from the family of J.S. Spottiswoode, one of the first farmers who owned land in the area in the 1840's. The pub had become pretty run down before being re-furbished during 2012. The building stands out amongst the surrounded by car parks and building sites and is across the railway line from the local shops. We headed inside and eventually were shown tot he table we'd booked. The interior is now one large space with plenty of tables, lo and high, booths and sofa's. Some of these were occupied but it wasn't packed out.

We were served drinks at the table and then perused the menu, which included the Aussie pub standards like parma's, steaks and fish and chips as well as some pasta dishes and a seafood platter.

We shared the trio of dips with crusty Turkish bread for entrée, which was plenty for the two of us. The generous serving of bread was lightly toasted and there was plenty of each of the dips. The spinach and cream cheese combination was a little heavy on the cheese for my liking, but the spicy capsicum and hummus were both good, if a little standard or supermarket style.

The warm squid salad with garlic and paprika was a massive disappointment to the better half, the calamari had been hacked in to huge chunks and was tough. The dressing didn't enhance the salad, and most of the meal was left uneaten.

I had the seafood Linguini, this was also presented in a fairly haphazard fashion and topped off with some old looking parmesan. The prawns, scallops and calamari were all cooked well and the tomato based sauce was fine.

The service was super fast, the dips were out in a few minutes, followed by the mains before we'd even finished our entrée! A couple of glasses were dropped and smashed on the floor right behind us, as we ate, they were cleaned up quickly, but it didn't add to the atmosphere. The food was reasonably priced and the total bill came to just over $50 including a couple of drinks. We aren't that likely to head back though.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012


4 Tattersalls Lane
VIC 3000

Gaylord is a bit of Melbourne institution, and one of the few Indian restaurants in Melbourne I knew and visited when I was here 10 years ago. It is on Tattersalls Lane, between Little Bourke and Lonsdale at the Swanston Street end of China Town, across the road from Camy Shanghai Dumpling.

The interior is quite a contrast from the laneway outside, with bright verging on gaudy decor. I'd only been in at night before, so maybe it seemed even brighter when were the first pair of dinners to arrive  for lunch mid-week. A couple of tables were occupied soon after we arrived, but there didn't seem to be a lunchtime rush...

We both ordered Thali's and were soon presented with some popadoms and raita, whilst looking a little darker than usual, were actually pretty standard.

We had to wait a while for our orders to arrive, when they did Phil's non-vegetarian combination included chicken curry, lamb masala and dahl, along with salad and yoghurt. Overall it was fine but lacked a bit of punch. Our garlic naan breads arrived just after the rest of the dishes and were soft and fresh.

My vegetarian  thali also shared most of the same components, with the exception of the palak pannear and the potato and pea curry (alo maiter paneer?). All the dishes were pleasant but a little on the watery side, and were nicely flavoured if not particularly spicy.

The meals were good value at around the $12 mark, and the service was fine, if just a tiny bit on the slow side. Sometimes it is nice not to feel too rushed at lunch. Gaylord seems to be standing up to the test of time.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Fringe

35 Little Lonsdale Street
Vic 3000

Formerly Oddfellows, which I'd visited a couple of times for drinks, The Fringe seems fairly similar, apart from a few cosmetic changes.

According to a wikipedia article about the Little Lon district, the pub dates from the 1850's, but other than the frontage on Little Lonsdale street, little remains from that time. The pub/bar/restaurant now faces on to a courtyard at the end of Madame Brussels Lane which runs up between two office blocks from Lonsdale Street.

Inside the fit out both downstairs and up is modern with plenty of floor to ceiling glass windows. On the ground floor by the staircase the wood fired pizza oven is on display. 

The fish and chips looked good, and the chips I tried was good.

The chicken with lemon, garlic, zucchini, artichoke, parmesan and oregano pizza went down well with Ali.

I had the eggplant pizza, also topped with zucchini, capsicum, pumpkin, feta and oregano. The base was suitably thin and crisp. The veggies were diced a little smaller than sometimes, I was expecting thin maybe pre-grilled slices, but everything tasted OK.

We were part of a big group and given this the service was pretty good, the oven can only cook so many pizzas at a time. At $15 the authentic pizzas are pretty good value for the City.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Piadina Fitzroy

130 Gertrude Street
VIC 3065

When we visited Piadina Slowfood in the city Brendan and I both went for slow food options, this time there was only one choice in the name of this cafe on Gertrude Street in Fitzroy.

Inside there were a quite few table occupied on a Wednesday lunchtime. We ordered at the counter, and found a table outside.

Brendan had the chicken piadina, which also contained bacon and spinach.

My mushroom piadina was also filled with cheese and rocket. The flat bread was nicely prepared and the only complaint was that the three halves of mushroom was a little on the light side.

I think the chicken option was better value at $9.90 compared to for $9.50 the lightly filled mushroom option. The service was a little haphazard and it seemed to take a while to bring out our food. Overall my first try of a piadina was good, if I left not entirely sated.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Beach Box Cafe

6a Ramsay Boulevard
Vic 3996

We visited Inverloch on a warm Saturday lunchtime, and found a park opposite the Beach Box cafe, which was towards the end of a run of shops and takeaways on Ramsay Boulevard. It seemed like a potentially healthier choice than fish and chips so found ourselves a table outside.

There were a few tables inside too, and we ordered at the counter.

Outside there plenty of tables on the covered deck as well as out on the pavement, many of which were busy.

The chickpea and lentil patty was served on a slice of toasted sour-dough and came with salad, avocado and hummus.The patty was hearty and reasonably tasty, but didn't quite live up to Jerry's Vegi burger standard.

I had the veggie burger which came with plenty of trimmings, including leaves, egg plant beetroot and hummus.Everything worked well together, but the burger itself was a little heavy on the potato.

The macchiato featured more foam than we expected.

For a spur of the moment decision the Beach Box Cafe turned out pretty well, with some healthy tasty meals at pretty reasonable prices - the two meals and coffee came to $28.50. The service was friendly if slightly haphazard. I'd happily try it again, if I could again avoid the fish and chip shop tractor beam.

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Jalan Alor

7/206 Bourke Street
Victoria 3000

Named after a street in KL, Jalan Alor is in one of the malls that run between Bourke Street and the China Town section of Little Bourke, it's a few steps from China Red. Despite opening on to the mall, once inside it didn't feel like a food hall, although the densely packed tables made things pretty cosy when we visited on a busy Wednesday lunchtime.

As the roti had come strongly recommended, I had to give it a try. We both had the roti canai kari ayam, or roti bread with chicken curry. The roti was light and didn't feel too greasy, on the first taste of the curry sauce seemed very spicy, but seemed to mellow when mixed with the chicken and bread, and flavours seemed pretty authentic to me. It was slightly tricky getting the meat off the maryland with just chopsticks and a spoon, but I just about managed!

The service was slightly chaotic, but reasonably rapid and friendly. The The meal was good value and satisfying for only $11, and is probably up there as one of the best Malaysian meals I've had in the city.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Sole Cafe - Geelong

1a Yarra Street
VIC 3220

Sole Cafe is associated with the Fisherman's Pier restaurant which is something of a Geelong institution, and stands across a pathway from its architecturally distinctive 'parent' on the foreshore.

The venue is casual in style and probably best suited to warmer days, as it was when we visited on a Sunday lunchtime. The design is modern and it felt clean and well looked after.

The menu included prawns, scallops or calamari with chips, but I went with the flake and chips for $14, which included lemon and an exploding tartar sauce container.The food was all fresh, the batter crispy and light, and the fish moist. It wasn't the largest portion, so I had room for all my chips.

The cafe lived up to it's name and served coffee, which we didn't try. The covered but outdoor setting make it a nice spot to eat and watch the world go by and the fishing boats bob in the harbour.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Annie's Provedore

2/50 Hitchcock Avenue
Barwon Heads

We don't get to Barwon Heads that often, but didn't remember seeing Annie's Provedore before, although apparently it has been open for 6 years. It now serves pizza's in the evening, which suited us when we were looking for a bite to eat on a Saturday evening.

There were quite a few tables already occupied, but we got one outside under the vines and the sign.

We were soon brought bread with great olive oil and thick sweet balsamic.

The menu featured some traditional and some more adventurous combinations of toppings. I ordered the Quattro Stagioni, whose fantastic, authentic thin base was loaded with tomato, mozzarella, artichokes, mushrooms and olives. The only reservation I would have with the pizza was that the mushrooms didn't look fresh.

The porcini pizza also bore tomato, mozzarella, bacon & parsley.

There was a good range of local beers available to accompany the meal. The service was friendly, but it seemed to take a long while, maybe half an hour to be served after ordering, maybe we just overly hungry after a day outdoors! The bill was $68 including 4 drinks.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Borsch, Vodka & Tears

173 Chapel Street
3181 Victoria

Just south of the junction with High Street Borsch, Vodka and Tears treads the line between restaurant, cafe and bar. When we visited on a Friday evening around 8 it was busy and pretty noisy. Inside it has a fairly European vibe which suits the Polish and Russian theme and menu.

Although we were near the front window, it was pretty dark, which meant the mobile snaps didn't turn out that well. I selected a couple of traditional eastern European dishes, the first being the vegetarian Polish borsch, a clear beetroot broth made using a vegetable stock, and was a lot thinner and less satisfying than the Russian variation I have tried before. 

The soup was served with a pancake, rocket salad and sour cream

My other choice was pierogi the traditional polish dumplings which were stuffed with a porcini mushroom and sauerkraut and coated with a breadcrumbs. These were fine but didn't quite live up to home made versions I've tried before!

I also got to try kopytka, the panfried polish gnocchi with a wild mushroom ragout and finished with truffle oil, possibly the best of the dishes I tasted. The service was reasonable given the venue style and the number of people in. The bill came to around $80 for two with a few drinks.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012


130 Little Collins Street
VIC 3000

I probably wouldn't have discovered Famish'd without the recommendation from Linda.

We had lunch there on a weekday and it was pretty busy.

There are plenty of options to choose from at the counter, the first between a spud based meal, a salad or sandwich.

We both opted for potatoes, Linda had cheese, beetroot, corn, Jalapeño and coleslaw on top.

 I went with coleslaw, lentils, grilled pepper and lentils, which were stacked high and proved to be pretty filling.

The service was efficient ad as long as you can find somewhere to perch its a hearty healthy lunch option for only $11.

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