Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Lake House

Find romance, Jack and Annie style at Daylesford’s Lake House. The prized two hat restaurant ranked amongst regional Victoria and Australia’s best has kicked more goals than Romario’s professional career and the awards to go with it. Situated on Lake Daylesford, the large windows offer majestic views of the water and forest surrounds from the comfort of linen clothed tables in the Barry White let’s make love baby candlelight dining space. No 50 miles per hour thrills and excitement here, just an intimately relaxed groove and a sense that it’s 7pm when it’s really 11pm. Executive chef Alla Wolf Tasker, the grand dame of Australian cooking directs and creates luxurious dishes using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients that give the tastebuds a deep sensual massage. Thank goodness for the glossery at the back of her other half’s artfully designed menu to navigate and educate about the offerings, but the more than friendly staff are more than willing help with their business at the front but party at the back mullet approach. Might need their assistance to choose from the smorgasbord.

Entrees of Bambi carpaccio, hairline thin slices of rare, gamey deer is drizzled with a sparky herb and mushroom vinaigrette, nicola potatoes and taking an Iron Chef technique straight doubling up on the theme ingredient with pan fried deer sausage. Bambi’s mate Thumper comes in a large Krang raviolo that’s braised with leek, chestnut provides constrast to the tender rabbit meat.

Mains came in multiple acts and parts. Work through each of the soft fillet that’s salty brined, slow roasted pork belly with all the tasty fat trimmings, a ragout stew of trotters and crispy golden brown crackling that is a demonstration of master cooking of the humble Porky Pig. Daffy follows a similar serving theme, sip rich duck consommé from a modern champagne flute with the surprise of a duck dumpling at the bottom, roast duck breast cooked to medium rare with duck snag, celeriac and apple puree pairs beautifully with the gamey meat.

If you’re not completely stuffed, there’s a fine selection of worldly cheese. What better way to have coffee than to have some chocolate with it and then some, warm chocolate fondant with a dark chocolate oozy centre, a coffee chocolate marquise, a sophisticate, dense and very adult goo, a creamy chocolate sorbet with a coffee cardamom croquant (toffee crisp).

Little wonder this place is a culinary gem. Unlike the American rebadged movie of the same name, there is no shortage of imagination and creativity in the Lake House offerings.

3.5 / 5 yums!
Where? King Street, Daylesford, VIC

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Bavarian Bier Cafe

Craving foreign beer you can barely pronounce and a protein fix? Tuesday nights at Bavarian Bier Café hosts the schnitzel challenge. Bashed flat chicken, crumbed and deep fried, a slab as big as the plate (roughly 30cm x 30cm) resting on hand cut chips comes with a slice of lemon to prevent the mouth from becoming too desert. Down that and you’re rewarded with a shot of schnapps theatrically presented on a long wooden paddle. With all the enticing beers to try, it becomes a dangerous place to have a drink.

2.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 24 York Street, Sydney, NSW (also on O’Connell, Manly Wharf, Entertainment Quarter, Parramatta)
What? Schnitel Challenge under $20

Monday, 19 January 2009

Bar Lourinha

It could be a nod to the municipality in Portugal, or a clever sounding phrase. Who really cares when the tapas served up at this quirkily decorated hole in the wall is Billy Elliot (as a grown up) divine. Simplicity, yet utter bliss in the signature yellow tail kingfish ‘pancetta’ & lemon oil, the light citrus notes compliment the thinly sliced peachy flesh. Equally delightful, roasted mushrooms and garlic cream, though less successful for me was the banderillos, tooth-picked skewers of cucumber, octopus, pickle and olive, a bit too lively in sour vinegar for me. Definitely try the slow cooked lamb shoulder in sherry and paprika, which melts off the bone and guaranteed to warm any hearts of ice. Churros or a mousse of spiced dark chocolate and hazelnut topped with crystals of ruby toffee has a majestic smoothness that leaps on the tongue. With the menu changing seasonally, return trips are a no brainer, provided you’ll box the legions of loyal fans for a seat. Out of respect for the restaurant, no photos either. This is one bar you don’t want to be barred from.

4 / 5 yums!
Where? 37 Little Collins St, Melbourne, VIC
What? Dishes under $20

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Arthur’s Pizza

Arthur’s Pizza Pizzas, they’re big and they’re cheesy. Okay, they don’t answer their phone like that but WOW, talk about yearning for a baked base with your cheese. Why yes I most certainly, that would be lovely! In all honesty, I cannot remember what toppings existed amongst the molten flowing lava of fatty mozzarella, nor can I remember the pizza ordered. Delivered pizzas were of similar sub standard. Why this place still exists and is considered a local institution confounds. Pass me a $10 large special from a Melbourne local any day. Feeling stooged for the cash coughed up? Yup.

1 / 5 yums!
Where? 47 Peruse Street, Randwick (The Spot), NSW
What? Small $10, Family $25

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


Contamination can be a good thing. So this is the Korean take on Chinese food. Why not when you’re armed with an arsenal of Sun’s chicken recipes to unleash on willing diners. Not quite fusion, but not strictly of one cuisine either. Koreanish options include springy noodles lathered in a pitch black, thick black bean sauce and a range of kimchi hot pots simmering wombok and sliced tofu. Chinesesy dishes come in the form crispy fried pork bathed in a sticky red sweet chilli sauce and salt and pepper squid. Deserving of a Buffer entrance announcement, assorted chicken bits of Sun’s chicken encased by a sweet soy flavoured, deep fried, golden brown batter that keeps the meat Amazon moist. Delicious, but over eating could lead to a face resembling the moon. Desserts unexplored, but surprisingly for an Asian restaurant, the service was just sweet enough.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? Dixon St, Sydney, NSW
What? Under $20

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Allpress Espresso

Rosebery has been blessed with this outpost that’s a magnet for caffeine lovers. It’s all about the coffee porn here folks. Although the industrial area is less than glamorous, the promise of a near perfect brew that’s strong, bold and flavoursome to rival the best in Sydney is well worth making the pilgrimage. Pastries, toasts and sangers refuel the travel weary. A mixed breakfast plate of triangle toast, avocado, freshly sliced tomato, provolone and hard boil egg equates to a guilt free start to the day. For the less fat conscious, there’s the generous shredded chicken that’s lightly poached in a ginger mixture sandwiched between spring onion, tomato, lettuce and panini. Thinly sliced corned beef with a creamy aioli styled dressing could be all that’s left if you get there too late. Highly recommended for the cuppa and perve on those sexy La Marzoccos.

3.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 58 Epsom Road, Rosebery, NSW
What? Under $10

Monday, 5 January 2009

Adriano Zumbo

Adriano Zumbo, YO. The Sean P Diddy Combs of patisseries, majorly BLING BLING. Designer lamp shades, acrylic balls and stars suspend from the ceiling, the immaculately crystal clear sneeze guard display cabinets imprison the endless rows of sweet and savoury baddies. Find the notorious W.G. aka Wheely Good bursting with mascapone, white chocolate, pistachio and apricots, the dark chocolate coffee meringue Rokka, Mac Daddy macaroons and skanky tartes. Should you choose to free these innocent souls, just remember, everything in moderation, as over consumption of these treats could sentence you to a life with a spare tire.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 296 Darling Street, Balmain, NSW
What? Under $10

Sunday, 4 January 2009

A Tavola

It is The Table that binds us, that brings us closer together. That is the “suck in your stomach to squeeze past” rhino sized communal tavola at, well, “To The Table”. Where I was expecting to be seated. Hidden is the back room, down the stairs from the main area, filled with tabelles for a more regular dining experience. Nothing showcases the authenticity of this Italian Gaststätte than having a blackboard with the presumably changing menu and vino scribed on it. But you can’t help but feel like you’re in sitting in an examination during reading time, flicking through the papers yet have no freaking idea what the questions. Finally a waiter arrives to help out the struggling diner who seems exhausted by the dual responsibility of translator and managing the floor.

And to translate the dishes using the official language of Jamaica, the salad of blanched borlotti, wedges of cherry tomato and slippery rings of calamari dressed in a citrus vinaigrette is a simple, fresh mouth amuser for the mains. Ravoli parcelled spanner crab, served with a dollop of tomato paste and garnished with capers good but unless the crustacean was hand caught, this reeked of a large profit margin given the less than generous portions. Thick ribbons of house pappardelle, is rustically arranged with a red wine enriched rabbit and pea ragu which again is pleasant without being mind altering, though it would be nice if the chef allowed for a longer tasting session. What is fairly apportioned is the pannacotta, custard you could bounce a coin off, hinted with lemon, is accompanied by slithers of mango and drizzled with a gentle sugar syrup. This example is a study of balance and perfection, one to be etched into dictionaries of any language.

Whilst the pasta cannot be faulted, it is the value of the dishes bought To The Table that lets this istituzione down. Which is a pity, because but for that, I would be saying bellissimo.

2.5 / 5 yums!

Where? 348 Victoria St, Darlinghurst, NSW
What? Entrees $19, Mains $22 for regulars, $33 for specials, Desserts $12

Left to Right : Calamari and Borlotti Salad, Spanner Crab Ravoli, Rabbit Pappardelle
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