Tuesday, 30 June 2009


Gigibaba for lovers of Turkish food is like Zac Efron for the ladies. Everyone just wants a piece. Too bad you can’t book online for “17 Again” and stroll up on the red carpet to the ticket window like you would at Village so line up like everyone else.

There is a glorious simplicity to most of the dishes that are deliciously awesome served up on fine crockery probably obtained from wealthy, elderly, noble, English aristocrats. These antiques are stark contrast to the sleek interior design, a white marble bar dominates, a liquidation sale rug forms the back feature wall, wires connecting the bulbous globes thrown around like streamers celebrating Turkey’s 3rd place at the World Cup.

The food will have you jumping for joy too. A combination of prawns and eggplant flavoured with capsicum butter and topped with yoghurt makes you wish you got the four instead of two but it is pricey. The oregano and sea salt rub into the lamb cutlets transcends any sheep I’ve eaten, the spices a standout against a back drop of the perfectly cooked, earthy flavour of the meat. Baklava high quality as you’d expect following the mains, but the interesting prunes stuffed in walnuts soaked in cassis, with cream and garnished with shaved chocolate an unexpected pleasure.

Ah Gigibaba, such is the charm. Speaking of charm, maybe a date with Zac could be your ticket to bypass the queue. It might not have the legions of screaming fans outside but you’ll be screaming on the inside once you get a taste of Gigibaba.

4.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 102 Smith Street, Collingwood, VIC
What? Dishes $8 - $18


Pastas, salads and sandwiches are not new to any CBD office worker. So it’s little surprise to find all this at Fusion, the foyer café, pre made and ready to be nuked. All can be served on white plates and enjoyed on premises, or packaged and eaten out of those plastic containers at your desk. The cream and tomato sauces that cling to the pastas are on the heavy side but no doubt will increase your serotonin levels that will send you back to the dredges of work satisfied and a little happier.

2 / 5 yums!
Where? O'Connell St, Sydney, NSW

Monday, 29 June 2009

Fratelli Paradiso

Fratelli Paradiso is Meazza in Totti’s skin. A menu of simple Italian classics scores plenty of goals with the people that crowd the penalty areas and benches of this stylishly modern trattoria. Formality is thrown out the window, no heavy linens here with naked chestnut tabletops, artfully designed wallpaper adorns one wall, opposite a blackboard lists the wine and dishes such as a nonchalant grilled beef salad of rocket, a balsamic reduction dressing and shaved parmesan and a lasagne that our inner Garfields would approve. A couple of years at your Tuscan retreat will help you order without the waiter’s translation. Dolce of course but check out the in house bakery next door for sweets to go with a good cup of the black stuff. There is a popularity premium but good looks and produce require maintenance. Francesco can attest to that.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 12 Challis Ave, Potts Point, NSW
What? Mains under $25

Four Points

Buffets are a dangerous caper. Add seafood and it teeters on an icy precipice. Which is why it’s very important that if you plan to have all-you-can-eat sea thingos that they be pretty good.

Unfortunately, even with the Sheraton backing, it cannot be saved. The lobster encountered overly chilled, the meat lacked fresh sweetness and the texture a touch chalky. Oysters ok and cooked prawns better. Attempts at gourmet under the clear perspex lids include a fish of orange roughy, apricot and sage, beef tail with raspberry peppercorn and sardine capsicum salsa. Sounds better than it tastes.

1.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 161 Sussex Street, Sydney, NSW

Friday, 26 June 2009

Four in Hand

Does the thought of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea make you a bit squeamish? Then the giant squid sketching that dominates the room only illuminated by tea lights probably isn’t for you. They seem to take Earth Hour quite seriously. Not a bad thing, except if you want to see what you’re cutting into.

That said, the avocado puree a good platform to accentuate the cuttlefish cassoulet and sweetness of the plumb seared scallops. Real skill shown to cook the medallions. Duck egg sunny side up surrounded by parsley, croutons could have used more duck meat cooked in its own fat. Chef gets creative to incorporates lesser cuts into the mains, such as the earthy ‘nose and tail’ pudding with the Berkshire pork fillet with a side of crackling and a smokey savoury pancetta jus and the tender braised beef cheek, veal tongue’s gives contrasting firmness.

Plenty of work, 16 hours to be precise, results in a baked apple terrine, the now gelatinous fruit paired with a prune and sherry ice cream. Interesting but not for me. A fail-safe marriage of spice and cocoa in the decadent dark chocolate delice that’s almost ganache, the cinnamon and nutmeg accents in the ice cream very nice.

If you can get past your phobia of the monster cephalopods, then you’ll find an old English charm to the place and good French food. Full steam ahead Captain Nemo.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 105 Sutherland Street (Cnr Elizabeth Street), Paddington, NSW
What? Entrees $20, Mains $30, Desserts $15


I like these local neighbourhood cafes. What I don’t like is that they aren’t in my neighbourhood. Attempting to stay inconspicuous, there is little signage, but it seems easier to find the orange shop front than a seat inside. There’s not a lot to the place, a limited menu, but plenty on the plate to satisfy and the in house coffee rates a mention.

Big breakfast’s big plate struggles to hold the sautéed spinach, roasted tomato, baked beans, mushrooms, avocado, pesto, tomato relish, succulently grilled bacon and softly poached eggs. Banana pancake stack drizzled with a good maple would be made better if served in bed.

Despite the lack of seats, I would be willing to share a dance and table with a scaramouche.

3.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 97 Errol St, North Melbourne, VIC
What? Under $10

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Ezard (2008)

Y: My 4th visit to this Melbourne institution came with the heightened expectation of being completely blown away on my previous three visits. Would it live up to expectation or would I be completely let down? All I can say is that this place not only lived up to my expectation but cemented the place as my favourite restaurant ever. Ranked only 26 in the Australian Gourmet Traveller Guide – in my opinion the experience at Ezard surpasses what I have received at VDM and Tetsuya (4th and 3rd respectively). I won’t go through the big flavoured 8 course degustation – but the classics (Oyster Shooter & Duck) and the subtly changing support cast (Seasame Pannacotta with Sashimi, or Blue Swimmer Crab Sandwiched between two pieces of Toro) continue to delight. There were no low points to the restaurant, the service friendly but professional and unpretentious wine service, suggested to meet taste and budget. Ezard continues to go from strength to strength and I hope that it sticks around for another 10 excellent years.

5 / 5 yums!
Where? 187 Flinders Ln, Melbourne, VIC

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