Sunday, May 31, 2015

Downstairs Bistro & Lounge

215 - 217 Sturt Street
VIC 3006

We were off to a gig nearby and settled on checking out Downstairs Bistro and Lounge first. It occupies the ground floor of a mid-rise tower block towards the southern end of Southbank on Sturt Street, and if you aren't looking carefully would be fairly easy to miss.

There is a large covered terrace area out the front, which was busy on the late Autumn Friday evening when we visited. Inside there is a bar area which was hosting a guitarist and chanteuse with an opening through to the simple and elegant dining area.

We were both taken by the glassware for our water I also enjoyed the Yenda pale ale on offer.

We decided to order a couple of the 13 inch pizza's to share. My pick was the Gamberi, topped with tomato sugo, fior di latte, prawns, cherry tomatoes, spinach and black garlic. I think it was my first try of the preserved garlic and certainly a new one to me on a pizza. The combination with the sweet tomato sauce and a bit too much cheese didn't quite win me over, although the prawns were good.

The Fungi featuring fior di latte, mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, rocket, thyme, truffle oil and hazelnuts however was fantastic. The strong fungal flavours were all through the pizza and were nicely complimented by the rocket.

The service was fine, friendly but occasionally it was a little hard to get the staffs attention. The bill came in at just over $60 including a few drinks. I'd be happy to return and think about trying some of the other dishes on the menu... and probably end up going for the Fungi again.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Kitchen Samrat

36 Leeds Street
VIC 3011

The better half wasn't feeling great but was still keen on a spicy curry so we decided to give a takeaway from Kitchen Samrat a try as we hadn't eaten there before. After placing an internet order and waiting the requisite 30 minutes I arrived to find a very quiet restaurant. It was another 10 minutes before the meal was ready, then it was back on the bike to get the boxes home!

The mushroom masala was cooked with onion and capsicum and the flavour was a little too sweet for my preferences.

We asked for the chicken saag extra spicy, and there was certainly a good amount of spicy bit in the smooth spinach sauce.

The channa masala didn't look the best in it's container, the chick peas were cooked in traditional north Indian spices. The dish was a little more watery than versions we've had before but came packed with a kick.

The plain naan was good without being spectacular.

After discounts the bill came to $ 27.9, which is great value for 3 dishes, and despite the slightly long wait at pick up I'd certainly be happy to give a few more dishes on the menu a try...

Kitchen Samrat on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Boulevard, Montsalvat

7 Hillcrest Avenue
Victoria 3095

We headed out to the Boulevard at Montsalvat on a crisp late Autumn morning, the Boulevard occupies one of the closest buildings to the entrance. It isn't quite as grand as some of the other buildings in the complex, but is still interesting. the interior was simple but stylish with artworks on the walls.

All of us chose smaller dishes, mostly from the lunch menu, with one selection from the all day breakfast section.

The orecchiette with spanner crab, chilli, tomato, basil, ricotta rosa sauce and chorizo crumbs was a winner.

Chris enjoyed the kumara gnocchi with asparagus, pinenuts and tarragon mascarpone, the large soft dumplings had been pan fried leaving small crisp dark patches and adding texture.

The better half took the breaky option with the Montsalvat breakfast burrito, featuring a chia seed and quinoa tortilla packed with scrambled egg, coriander, caramelised onion, Mexican style beans, smashed avocado, spinach and sour cream. The flat bread was great and encased a tasty, wholesome and stisying filling.

I went with the beetroot salmon gravalax served with pickled baby beets and ginger, boiled egg, black sesame seed, crispy shallot and daikon salad. The dish was packed with flavours to match the bold colours and seemed more filling than the first appearance suggested.

We all had a taste of the Flourless chocolate cake with raspberries, custard and meringue. The sponge was a little lighter than I expected and moist and custard a perfect match.

The dishes were all just under $20, and the bill for 4 with a few drinks and coffees came in at around $140. The service was efficient yet unhurried and friendly. Given the great presentation as well as flavours in the dishes, it seemed like great value and I'd happily return try some of the options on the menu!

The Boulevard @ Montsalvat on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Royal Albert Hotel

140 Commonwealth Street
Surry Hills
NSW 2010

While visiting Sydney for work, a friend from school, Neil suggested meeting up at the Royal Albert Hotel on the corner of Commonwealth and Reservoir streets in Surry Hills.

It looks like a classic Sydney Hotel from outside and inside plenty of traditional touches remain. The bar taps though, with their selection of craft beers and distinct absence of modern Aussie standard brews are amongst the clues of recent changes. We didn't venture into the Bamboo Dumpling Bar, but did sample the Young Henrys Real Ale, which reminded me of the UK beer in a good way, and very appropriate for the occasion.

I decided to take a look at the burger menu, and decided on the soft shell crab. After a short wait it arrived with its asian 'slaw and wasabi mayo. The serve of crab was generous and the flavours worked nicely. The crinkle cut chips came with a red sauce, which in the dim light could have been tomato, fortunately I was warned about the spicy chilli before dipping!

A little later Neil went for the spiced up Royale with cheese featuring a Jalapeno mustard!

The burgers were around the $16 mark, and perhaps took a little longer than I'd expected to arrive, although the re were a good number of orders from the bar area, along with a reasonably busy sounding dumplings section. The bar staff were friendly and the vibe relaxed. The Royal Albert lives up to its billing as a crafty little corner joint and is well worth seeking out for the burgers as well as the beers.

Royal Albert Hotel on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Rickshaw, Fitzroy

199 Gertrude Street
Victoria 3065

We were wandering down Gertrude Street after work on a Friday evening looking for a bite, on the way to catch up with some mates. We had a vague idea of a few options but decided to give The Rickshaw a try after checking out the menu.

From outside and as soon as you walk inside you can't miss the front section of the restaurants name-sake.

The fit-out is low key and cool with a view through to the kitchen at the back.

The wavy wire ceiling features lights hanging down over the bar. It was pretty quiet when arrived around 6, but the tables filled while we were there. Amit the owner welcomed us and was a friendly presence through the evening.

The menu is fairly short with a mix of dishes from India and across the rest of Asia.

We kicked off by sharing the beautifully presented Papdi Chaat of crushed chickpeas with cumin yoghurt, pomegranate and date sauce. The 'street food' inspired dish tasted as good as it looked!

Amit persuaded us to try the Pani-puri, another Indian street snack, in this case a a hollow semolina puff, containing spiced potato and tamarind and topped up with the coriander and mint emulsion. The resulting delicate casings slip into the mouth then burst with flavour.

We stuck with the veggie Indian theme for our main dishes. The pumpkin lakhanawi was subtly flavoured with mustard and coriander seeds and cooked to leave the pumpkin soft with disintegrating into a mush.

The slow cooked daal bukhara was a wonderful blend of lentils and spices. It had a surprising kick amongst almost smokey flavours. While we tucked in to our mains the head chef came out to chat to us, explaining each dish was cooked with it's own specific base.

The onion seed and basil naan was a nice twist on the classic bread and the rice nice if a little on the small side, indeed we ordered a second serve later.

We would have finished up at that point, but Amit was so keen for us to try a sweet that he shouted us gulab jamun. These again were presented beautifully with the soft dumplings sitting on Chantilly cream, with rose petals and a pistachio crumb. The flavours and textures complimented each other to finish the meal with a flourish!

The service which seemed to have caused a few comments on Urbanspoon was great for us, with plenty of opportunity to hear from Amit and the chef about the food and their influences and inspiration. The bill came to $87.50 including a few beers. The ambiance and attention to detail with the food and it's plating impressed us both and we'd be keen to return and try more of the dishes on the menu.

The Rickshaw on Urbanspoon