Sunday, February 23, 2014

Project 219

219 Russell Street

I'd wandered past Project 219 on Russell Street a few times and was initially tempted by the crepes on offer. The exterior decoration recalls a previous use of the building as an "Importer of Hardware"...

Inside the fit out was modern with a bit of grungy industrial look, the counter and prep area was at the front and stairs down to a new cocktail lounge in the basement.

It was pretty quite when we visited on a Tuesday lunchtime, with just one or two other customers.

Brendan went for a burger ($9) which looked good and went down well.

I had the veggie burger which was also $9 and a side of chips for $2. The patty held together pretty well as I ate it despite being moist and with the fillings made up a decent burger. The chips were crisp on the outside too.

The service was friendly, and as swift as we needed at lunch. Overall although it a little atmosphere I'd be happy to go back.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Nautigals - Mexican

57-59 Great Ocean Road
Apollo Bay
Vic 3233

We first ate at Nautigals in 2012, and on our most recent visit it has moved to a Mexican menu on the evenings it is open for. It's worth checking as outside holiday periods if it will be open, as it is often open as a daytime cafe only in the week.

The Mexican theme hasn't been taken too far, although we did spot this sombrero. We ate in the courtyard, which was pretty quiet when we arrived at around 7 on a Saturday, but it soon filled up. 

We shared the bean paste tacos for entree, topped with chopped tomato, red onion and avocado, they were super tasty and disappeared in no time.

The chicken enchiladas topped with a little tomato sauce, cheese and guacamole and served with sour cream and jalapenos, a simple green salad and chips were great value for under $20.

The grilled sweetcorn was some of the best the better half had ever had, sweet, soft and juicy with an awesome spicy sauce. She is a corn fan and has tried plenty of it at different Mexican spots, and this was apparently a winner!

I had a veggie burrito which again had a sensible amount of cheese melted over it, so hopefully didn't raise my cholesterol levels too high. The flavours and textures were authentic and satisfying, and the plate certainly filled me up.

The service was casual and friendly, but still pretty efficient. The meal came to $78 including a few beers and we'll certainly be popping in again when visit Apollo Bay next, if they are open for dinner.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Cafe 153, Apollo Bay

153 Great Ocean Road
Apollo Bay
Vic 3233

03 5237 1123

On the corner of Hardy Street and the Great Ocean Road, in Apollo Bay Cafe 153 is at the northern (Lorne) end of the strip of cafes, shops and pubs. We headed there with some nervousness after reading some average reviews on urbanspoon, mainly focussed on the service, but also on value.

On arrival, the two service staff seemed a little overwhelmed with a flurry of new diners, including a grounp of 7, when there were already two larger tables seated. We were shown to a table by the window of modern, clean and bright interior.

The menus weren't too long but contained some interesting options, I've included them below as they are different to the current online examples, the starters cover plenty of offerings from the ocean... did the mains...

... and indeed the specials.

We shared the house gravlax pizza for entree, which show cased the smoked trout brilliantly, with the goats cheese working much better than expected, all on a small thin and crispy base...

I went with the seafood chowder for my main, the soup was thick and reasonably flavoursome, the seafood was the real star, with great mussels, prawns, fish and scallops. I probably could have done with another slice of the lovely sourdough.

The concept of a Brazilian claypot was new to me, but the seafood stew was beautifully flavoured, packed with plenty of mussels, prawns, fish and scallops and topped off fried soft shell crab. It certainly had the better half raving about it for a couple of days!

We found the service to be friendly and pretty efficient once everyone was settled, certainly more cafe than fine dining, but that was to be expected. Perhaps when Apollo Bay is packed in the holidays it can get very busy, but is that 153's issue? The view across the bay to the Otway hills is fantastic and the good food was worth the $100 we paid including a few drinks. We'll be thinking of heading back next time we are visiting!

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Royal Mail Hotel, Birregurra

49 Main Street
VIC 3242

Birregurra is a small town 18 km east of Colac, just off the Princes Highway on the way to Apollo Bay. The Royal Mail Hotel in Main Street was first licensed in 1871 but the current building is more art deco in style, certainly from the outside.

We stopped in en route to the coast on a Saturday for some lunch and found  ourselves a seat outside in the courtyard and perused the bar menu, there was also a longer restaurant menu, with more substantial dishes.

We both went for the chicken Royal Mail Sliders, which arrived as described, the only slight surprise were the brioche style buns. The chips were crunchy and perfectly cooked. Each of the sauces with the mini-burgers was distinctive with the peri peri standing out, both in spiciness and as an overall standout.

I finished off with a decent long black to aid the next chunk of driving.

Birregurra isn't somewhere I'll find myself that often, but I'd happily go back for a bite. The service was friendly and efficient and they managed to deliver my coffee just as I was finishing off my food!

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