Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Lane Cafe, Ballarat

27 Lydiard Street North
Victoria 3350

After a busy viewing of the Archibald exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ballarat we crossed the road to the grand old Victorian George Hotel.

We headed to the adjoining Lane Cafe which is more art deco on the outside, but is linked to the main building.

Inside was more of a bustling modern vibe. The menu stresses a heavy reliance on quality local ingredients.

We both ended up selecting pizza's, the prawn, chorizo, chilli, tomato, basil, rocket, aioli and lemon number delivered a winning combination of flavours!

I went for the margarita with chevre and garlic added to the regular mozzarella, Napoli lane sauce and basil. Both the toppings and base hit the spot.

It took a little while for our meals to arrive but it was a busy public holiday weekend. The pizza's ranged from $14 to $24 each. I'd certainly be happy to go back for more!

The Lane Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, December 19, 2016

Mount Macedon Hotel

694 Mount Macedon Road
Mount Macedon
Victoria 3441

We stopped in at the Mount Macedon Hotel for lunch on a sunny spring day and found ourselves a table in the front courtyard area. We found ourselves a menu and then headed inside through the Art Deco doors to order at the bar.

I went for the basic vegetarian pizza, which lived up to its billing. I hadn't noticed the presence of pineapple on the menu, but apart from that it did the job.

The chicken burger was more of a hit ...

...and it came with some chunky fries.

The service was timely especially given the decent number of diners, and the meal came in just over $40 including a couple of drinks. Overall we enjoyed the stop in a great place to enjoy the sun amongst the trees.

Mount Macedon Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Piano, Richmond

18 Bridge Road
Victoria 3121

The Piano was lively and busy when we visited on a warm spring evening. The open doors and windows on to the street built a connection to the street. We'd booked one of the few remaining tables and were soon perusing the menu which was packed with Thai favourites.

The modern fit out eschewed south east Asian influences, with plenty of wood and concrete and a bar at the back.

We skipped starters due to a shortage of time and I went for the veggie version of the slow cooked Massaman curry, which featured puffed tofu in place of lamb, along with potato, comfit onion and roasted peanut. It was a rich and creamy rendition of one of my favourites and it even won over the normally sceptical better half...

The Pad Thai with roasted peanuts in a tamarind sauce featured some tasty prawns which don't seem too obvious in the picture. The flavours hit the mark with lots of smoky wok in there!

The side of roti started disappearing before I could even get a snap.

The bill came in at $65 including rice and a shared jug of Singha, which seemed like good value, as we were both fully sated. The staff were friendly and we didn't have to wait too long for our dishes to arrive especially given how busy the Piano was. I'd certainly be happy to head back.

The Piano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Montereys, Prahran

218 Chapel Street
Victoria 3011

We were in Prahran on a Saturday looking for a spot for dinner and wandered past Montereys and decided to give it a try. We got a seat in the front area featuring a bar as well as tables which had a modern look, is fairly dimly lit and was fairly busy when we visited. There is also another dining area out the back

The restaurant is modelled on those of the Californian town it takes it's name from, which we visited about a year back. We kicked off by sharing a serve of fish tacos, which meant one each. These came with a decent chunk of battered fish along with some salad and dressing, which hot the spot and turned out to be the highlight of our visit.

I went with the beer battered fish and chips for my main which was served with a lemon wedge and tartar sauce, but no greenery of any sort. It did the job, but little more.

The Monterey seafood chowder was quite different from similarly named soups we've had before. A fairly thin broth accompanied by whole mussels and scallops and chunks of seafood, rather than a thicker richer chowder with the seafood blended in. While the ingredients were good and fresh it just wasn't what we expected...

The service was friendly and we were fed quickly, suiting our hungry stomachs. The bill came to $91  including few drinks, probably normal for that end of town, but it seemed a little overpriced.

Monterey's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant, Carlton

201-203 Faraday Street
Victoria 3053

We hadn't made a booking at Shakahari, but got a table towards the back of the restaurant easily enough when we visited on a Friday evening, although the front section was quite busy. From the outside the modern paint job and signage contrasts with the pair of old terraced bungalows that house the restaurant. The melange of styles continue inside with some foliage to soften the lines. the one downside of being near the back, were the drafts from the tricky to open door to the toilets which require a trip outside.

The menu isn't huge, but most dishes were tempting., We kicked off by sharing the vegan mushroom hemp dumplings. These are individually filled with a mixture of mushroom and hempseeds and then poached in a lemon grass and galangal flavoured soy milk stock laced with fresh Thai herbs. The flavours and textures were wonderful, but both components weren't very warm.

The millet souk savier, was a Moroccan Arab dish cooked with black olives and fried chilli onion in veggie stock. It was served with a mildly spiced chick pea stew and assorted baked vegetables including eggplant, purple and orange carrots, swede and quince in herbal oil, topped with wilted rocket. The hearty dish certainly went down well.

I went for the vegan nonya curry, which came served across a plate and tray. The porcelain featured the turmeric brown rice, leaves, mustard fresh pear chutney and pappadam. 

The Malaysian flavoured curry of mixed vegetables including cauliflower and courgette, cooked in spiced coconut stock with fresh lemongrass, galangal and ginger flower was in one half the of the metal tray. the other side held a green split pea dhal. I enjoyed all the components, but would have loved a little more kick in the curry and perhaps a mango chutney rather than pear, but perhaps the British Indian curries of my youth have tainted my thinking!

The staff seemed pretty busy all evening, but the service was friendly and timely. The bill came to $76.50 including a couple of drinks. I'd certainly be happy to check out some of the other veggie offerings on the menu next time we are in Carlton.

Shakahari Vegetarian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, July 18, 2016

Empress of China

120 Little Bourke Street
Victoria 3000

We'd been planning to visit Shanghai Village Dumplings, but it was closed so we headed next door to the more grandly named Empress of China.

Inside the restaurant resembles many of its China Town neighbours, with a basic fit out with a few east Asian touches.

We stuck to the dumpling section of the menu, sharing a few dishes. First up were the wantons with hot chilli sauce both looked and tasted the part.

The 8 steamed prawn dumplings were pleasingly plumb and packed with pink prawn meat!

The 15 pan fried vegetarian dumplings were nicely crisp on the outside and full of spinachy goodness, but the skin was a little on the thick side.

The meal came in around $25 and was served pretty quickly given the weekend crowd. We'd certainly consider another try if we were looking for a filling dumpling fix again.

Empress of China Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, June 6, 2016

CJ Lunch Bar

391 Little Lonsdale Street
Victoria 3000

Although the street address of  CJ Lunch Bar is on Little Lonsdale street, the entrance is actually around the corner on Hardware Street, with bright signage easy to spot.

Inside the table are squeezed together and were all full when we visited for lunch. After getting a table and studying the menu, I queued up to order, which took several minutes, despite a fairly short line. There were a variety of dishes on offer, mostly of Korean origin, both on the main menu and the Don specials list.

Brendan enjoyed his Chicken Teriyaki don with its deep fried chicken and veggies in the eponymous sauce.

I went for the Chicken Bulgogi Don, featuring grilled marinated chook and a spicy sauce that lived up to it's billing. There weren't too many of the promised vegetables present but there was a bit of salad on the side.

If you don't mind a crowded space and a potential wait, then the meals are great value at $7.90, being both tasty and satisfying.

CJ Lunch Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ciao Bella, Balnarring

2998 Frankston-Flinders Road
Victoria 3926

We popped into Ciao Bella in the afternoon to check it out and booked a table. The small frontage hidden behind the greenery disguises a deceptively larger space inside, as well as a covered outdoor area.

Most of the tables were taken when we arrived around 7pm on a Saturday, the interior had a casual rustic feel. As well as the main menu there were specials on offer.

We ended up sticking with the pizzas on the main list. The Ciao Bella features portobello and brown mushrooms, mozzarella, Fontina cheese, Parma prosciutto, truffle oil and thyme.

I went for the traditional Napoletana with San Marzano tomato, mozzarella, black anchovies, black olives, oregano. The base thin and crisp around the edges benefiting from the wood fired oven. The quality of the ingredients resulted in explosions of flavour.

The service was very quick, with our meals arriving within about ten minutes of ordering, I guess thay were ready for the number of patrons! The bill came to $64 including a couple of drinks and we'd happily return if we were in town again.

Ciao Bella Pizzeria & Wine Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Little Sister Cafe, Keilor East

52 Wingara Avenue
Keilor East 
Victoria 3033

An invitation to try lunch at Little Sister tempted us to get on our bikes for the ride up the Maribyrnong to Keilor East, where the stylish cafe sits in a quiet square.

The interior featured brightly patterned wall paper, with plenty of retro styled tables and a covered outdoor area out the back. There were lots of interesting items on the menu both on the all day breakfast and lunch lists as well as a few specials.

 I enjoyed a good long black while we pondered our choices which kept warm in its double walled glass.

The flat white hit the spot too.

I went for the wild mushroom risotto with caramelised onion, parmesan crisp and drizzled truffle oil. The presentation was great, with the crunchy cheese shards and petals adding finesse and vibrant colour to the look. The flavour was rich too, with plenty of mushrooms too.

The Mexican chicken burger was packed with lettuce, corn salsa and avocado and came with fat chips with a strong lemon pepper seasoning and great little mango-lime aioli. The burger flavours worked together perfectly and I was happy that we'd agreed to share our meals!

The service was good throughout with plenty of attentive and friendly staff. The coffees came out quickly and the meals after a pleasant pause. We didn't have to pay for our meals, but with most options under $20 it seemed like great value. I think we'll be contemplating a another trip out this way soon.

Little Sister Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato