Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Grey Shark Fish and Chips

After enduring some ups and downs, it’s back in the hands of some seemingly seasoned campaigners who have this quiet little local chish and fippery humming again. The new orange and green menu board does a good job of searing the memory into the mind. And a job well done on the value pack for two including flake, potato cakes, dim sims, chips and a 1.25 litre fizzy drink. The batter is gutsy, crisp and all the deep fried stuff is well drained. There’s also hamburgers for those who aren’t fond of things from the sea. Conclusion? The colour combo might be a bit ugly but the food certainly isn’t, a memory embedded to be in the mind.

3.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 3/11 Old Lilydale Rd, Ringwood East, VIC
What? Value pack $13.90

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Merricks General Store

There’s a lonely looking barn shed on the side of the Frankston Flinders road. You’d expect a yokel farmer shaking a pitchfork to come rushing out to greet you. It’s actually a culinary hot spot of the Peninsula, serving up seasonal appropriate dishes in aged, rustic surrounds.

The pie is ridiculously awesome, on our day unleash the duck and chicken pie from the pastry covering. The duo of poultry is slow cooked and stewed in a rich stock gravy reduction that’s so rich and hearty, roasted parsnip, broccolini freshens the plate up. It’s worth the long wait, so allocate plenty of time for a lazy Sunday arvo. Yup, it’s perfect country style food to feed the farmer inside.

3.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 3458 Frankston Flinders Rd, Merricks, VIC
What? Mains $30

Monday, 28 September 2009

O-Bento, Collins Street

O Bento, Bento, wherefore art thou Bento? Never fear Juliets, you’ll find O-Bento in a little lane between King and William just off Collins. Under exposed concrete ceilings and piping that looks like a converted bomb shelter but provides that Melbourne edge, you’ll find the long communal tables and stools filled and an office crowd milling around the counter like hungry savages desperately waiting their turn to order tucker.

And service the starving they do with most of the typical dons, udon, ramens and sushi you’d find in a Japanese quick food café. Katsu, fried crumbed chicken cutlets are a winner, well drained, crunchy and the meat is moist. The accompanying curry might be unfamiliar to those used to the Sydney types, the potatoes and carrot provide a milder taste and colour compared to the Golden Curry. Also a diversion from up north is the katsu-don, replacing that eggy, onion, soy and mirin sauce is a generous dousing of tonkotsu BBQ sauce with a vibrant scrambled egg underneath. Though both pleasant.

Not exactly the Japanese I know, but definitely a place that I’ll go back to for lunch. Til then, good bye, Good bye! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good bye till it be morrow.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? Church Lane, 500 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC
What? Dons $8.50

Friday, 25 September 2009


Cafenatics is a Melbourne based group of cafés sharing a deep appreciation for coffee and a uniqueness which sets them apart from all the rest.

What they don’t tell you is that they seem to be on a covert mission to rid the world of muffin tops. Behind that brightly light glass cabinet are the weapons behind this crusade, shelves lined with yummy looking baguettes, soft fluffy piadinas and clever roti wraps with healthy, lean chicken fillings with pesto, avocado and cashew, sundried tomato, chorizo, tandoori and schnitzel to name a few. Join the crowd waiting for these healthy treats to be toasted up making them the perfect all year lunchtime option. With a following this loyal, they could call them Cafenatics Fanatics. You could well become one after a visit.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? Church Lane, 500 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC
What? Most food $8.90

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Just Fine Foods

Take your ringside seats, the main event is about to start. As one clever food reporter stated, it’s the thriller in vanilla.

Putting the country spark in a sleepy surf town, Just Fine Foods is the destination in Sorrento for THAT famous vanilla slice. There’s a gourmet deli feel with the lit cabinets displaying a bevy of cheeses, pates, savouries and sweets so the expectations are heightened in anticipation of that much talked about dessert.

Between two sheets of pastry, dusted with icing sugar, the off white cream is something you’ll want to lather yourself with. Seeing as you’ll need a large enough tub for this you’ll just have to cradle the vanilla molten gold in the mouth. Don’t be afraid of the ginormous rectangular slab, it’s not overly sweet and something you could eat plenty of.

For me, despite doing everything right, it’s probably just not sweet enough to deliver a knockout punch. And not enough for me to pull my crouch (R.I.P MJ).

2.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 23 Ocean Rd, Sorrento, VIC
What? Slice $7.50

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

New Quay International Buffet and Bar

Running the risk of vibrio vulnificus is the price you’re going to pay if you want to extract full value at this buffet and bar. There’s nothing like the attraction of associating oysters and all you can eat that appeals to the inner Asian in all of us. Forget about the tough cooked mussels and don’t waste your time peeling the cooked prawns, focusing on the molluscs will get you underway to eating $45 worth on weekends.

Most of the obligatory sections are there, a selection of salads for those who want to respect their bodies, vegetarian sushi, smoked and sashimi salmon and soups. Hot foods are mainly cooked in front of you, frozen crumbed prawn and calamari is deep fried and probably best avoided, a gluggy oily lettuce okonomiyaki and beef steaks cooked on the hot plate, the chicken satay sticks will have you going back for more. There’s covered and heated roast pork, char siu and a thick creamy curry but it’ll be the freshly wrapped peking duck that causes a lengthy queue to be formed by those looking to push themselves over the $45 mark. The skin was a bit papery but that didn’t stop me from going for seconds, thirds and fifths.

Hopefully you’ve saved room for desserts, but the promise of the gorgeous, cute looking tasting portions soon wears off when it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Here’s a tip, only try the ones you actually want to try. A blueberry cheesecake and a warm chocolate pudding that becomes a brownie when cooled are the pick of the lot.

Despite the two-hour limit, you never feel rushed in the ultra modern and comfortable surrounds. You’ll know what I mean once you sit on the well-cushioned brown pleather chairs. Not everything is brilliant, but what is good is very good for an all you can gorge. You should leave more than satisfied, without the sepsis.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 4 – 6 NewQuay Promenade, Docklands VIC
What? $45 on weekends

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Montalto Restaurant

It’s an interesting experience come night at Montalto. There’s a fear of what you can’t see, what you know could be lurking amongst the vineyards. A psychotic axeman, a chainsaw wielding leatherface on the loose, dismembering limbs and bloody guts then flinging them onto the floor to ceiling glass windows like some sick calling card. The surrounding structures aren’t much to keep you safe.

If you can get these creative thoughts off your mind and bring yourself to reality, you are sitting in one of Mornington’s finest. The darkness adds to the mood of the room, filled with those casual bentwood chairs and formal white clothed tables.

On the menu, the food is a calibre that would make any sewer dwelling clown proud. Spring roll is given the Aussie gourmet treatment, golden baked puff pastry is rolled and stuffed with quail, shiitake mushies on a mini mound of caramelised onions and apple compote compliments the game meat. Scallops plump, large and sweet cooked perfectly, the haricot bean puree and fennel foam has the mouth draped in textual luxury but is let down by not reaching the high expected by its looks. It’s still good though.

Masterchef fans will find pleasure in knowing how this pork belly could have been cooked, the thin skin is just crisp, the fat has been completely rendered and cooked flavouring the meat making it a pleasurable experience. It’s worth mentioning there’s a shallot and ginger compote on the dish but when you get pork belly that’s this good, you can easily forget about the rest of the components. Those who feel cheated by small servings at fine diners will go for the 300g rib eye allows the inner Freddy to stab something sharp into. It’s fantastic produce, cooked to order, you’ll want to suckle the remaining fibres from the bone, the roasted gnocchi on tomato fondue (thick relish) a bonus.

A crème brulee holds without the ramekin has the cracking burnt sugar top you’d expect, a rhubarb parfait brings some acidic balance to the sweetness of the velvety custard.

Those looking for a horror show will be sorely disappointed. Though I know there’s probably nothing scary out there, this is one place I don’t want the window seat. You’d die first but at least you’ll go away reasonably happy, if you made it through the meal.

3.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 33 Shoreham Road, Red Hill South, VIC
What? Entrees $19, Mains $38, Desserts $15

Monday, 21 September 2009

Ramen Ya, Melbourne

Ramen? Yes, I'd love some for lunch! But where to go...

It must be a pretty tough gig to live in the shadow of another. Like everyone does when Yao Ming is around. Much like this little ramen joint, having to share space with the entrenched Kenzan @ GPO. The Japanese juggernaut with fine dining pedigree doesn't offer cut priced soup noodles, in fact it's a tad on the exy side so it must be pretty disheartening to see fully filled seats and a crowd of people waiting instead of floating next door for quick service.

So it feels like a bit of a sympathy meal when you eat here. A cloudy brown tonkotsu soup won't trouble most in Hakata comes with thinly shaved char siu, submerged springy el dente ramen noodles and garnished with chopped spring onion, half a hard boiled egg and rehydrated mushrooms. Having said that it’s still amongst the best in Melbourne. If a pork broth doesn’t appeal, there’s also miso and shoyu to choose from. And if you don’t feel like noodles, there’s also a selection of teriyaki chicken, katsu, curry and unagi packaged into bento boxes.

Next time you’re asked if you know a good place for ramen, you could easily respond “ramen ya, ya I do know”.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? Melbourne GPO Building, Shop 25G, 350 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC
What? Most $10

Friday, 18 September 2009

+39 Pizzeria

I swear if they made bases big enough I’d use it as a Snuggie. I’m sure most of the suits and business types that head to +39 are thinking the same thing. Too bad they make them the size of a reasonable dinner plate with sparse quality ingredients synonymous with good traditional Italian pizzettes.

Find round slices of roasted eggplant, chopped garlic, halved cherry tomatoes topped with fresh mozzarella and olive oil in the Gratinata or sautéed radicchio and salami on thin crisp bases with generous fluffy crusts that make for bloody good eating. Get these for $12.5, but they do cater for those who’ve just won Lotto with an extreme pizza with lobster or truffles and mushroom. If you can’t afford that, there’s plenty of dolce including a calzone filled with the oozy Ferrero hazelnut spread. Dinner time changes to a more mid priced menu, the lasagne will have Garfields salivating.

A quality slice of Lygon on a street known for its town of China. And it’s warm enough inside so you can leave that stupid blanket coat outside.

3.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 362 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC
What? Pizzas $12.50

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Beetroot (closed, now Hardware Societe across the road)

With Melbourne’s endless supply of lunchtime destinations, it helps to have a couple of defining points. At this Hardware Lane café, there’s no shortage of enthusiasm or cheer embodied by the eccentric manager with a peacocking pork pie hat. You might also need his cheer and support to lose some weight in an impromptu boot camp to squeeze yourself between tables. Turn your butt correctly to avoid the gluts hanging over someone else’s table. It’s a visual menu, behind a lit glass box are burgers, frittatas, quiches, pies and sandwiches all with a gourmet touch. A chilli chicken burger with tzatziki is healthy but lacks flavour, the patty is very moist mince that barely holds together underneath a good looking coating but needs more heat. It solves the problem of the lunchtime hungers but won’t help you get back pass the tables.

2 / 5 yums!
Where? 123 Hardware St, Melbourne, VIC
What? Dishes average $12

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