Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Iron Chef Kazu, Highett

Iron Chef Kazu turns that dream into a reality. Tucking into a bento box with a view of people self servicing… their Toyota Echo.

This is a Japanese roadside diner nestled into Fueltown petrol station that takes on the name the Gourmet Academy’s highest honour. Though they haven’t exactly channelled Michiba’s elegance in the simple cafe style Japanese dons and sushi, the surprise is there’s also a touch of Masahiko Kobe with a few Italian pasta choices.

Living up to the Aussie roadside diner standard, end of day sushi rice doesn’t make for good sushi, kaarage is just battered chicken without a peppery spice, but the the eggy sauce on the katsu-don recommended. So on the presentation of these three dishes, Kazu probably won’t be hearing “Tetsujin Kazu” at the end of the show that often.

2.5 / 5 yums!
Where? Shop 2 / 1152b Nepean Hwy, Highett, VIC
What? Plates around $10

Left to Right : Salmon sushi, Katsu-Don, Chicken Kaarage

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Marmalade Cafe, Brighton

Long before Jack Johnson came out with the 3 Rs to educate our social conscious, this shy Brighton East café was taking at least 2 of the Rs to the extreme by reusing and recycling most of the fixtures and fittings. And with a bit of elbow grease to spruce up, there’s an airy, effortless country feel taking the best of a Caucasian granny flat with her 22 year old designer daughter’s sensibility.

So what happened to the third R? So while the menu is basically classics done extremely well, the dishes served up are far from reduced, as you’ll feed to make the most of puberty growth spurt. Hollandaise sauce has the texture of engine oil with just enough acidity that’s divine on perfectly poached eggs. A must, even as a side to dip with your gourmet sanger. Big brekky comes with sautéed mushrooms and quality baked beans along with the usual eggs, snags and bacon. Shepherds Pie will provide a complete meal of protein, carbs and veg as stewed down whole chunks of steak in a mildly peppery gravy served in a mini cauldron topped with a creamy mash, long beans and toasted soldiers for dipping. Delightfully regional.

A humble place that is what it is. Only thing missing is some banana pancakes.

4 / 5 yums!
Where? 763 Hawthorn Road, Brighton East, VIC
What? Dishes $8 - $15

Monday, 6 September 2010

92 on Gavan, Bright

They say in the country (and by country I mean not in the city), things move a little bit slower. ANZ haven’t updated their logo that’s so early 2009. That’s not the country’s fault, that’s just head office fail. Just like the unchanged bank, opposite is 92 on Gavan, a humble corner restaurant that looks like it’s only just come to the 1980s party. A little bit church multipurpose room on the inside, and food that similarly sticks to the bible of tried and true. Beer battered flathead fillets, lasagne, crumbed calamari rings, grilled fish and a chicken burger amongst the tastebud friendly that will always be main stays on the menu. Come back in 2020 and expect the same. Being behind the times ain’t such a bad thing.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 92 Gavan Street, Bright, VIC
What? Lunch around $15, more for dinner.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Revisiting Sydney Favourites

Mamak: Still rulers of the roti, saints of the satay, kings of the kurry. A 40 minute wait just to get inside with no regrets. 4 / 5 yums

Ramen-Kan: The elevator still a death trap but running the risk doesn’t reap the rewards with this kaisen-don not of the same quality last sampled. Wet, stodgy rice, overcooked sashimi, sloppy presentation. 2.5 / 5 yums

Sydney Fish Markets: Mix and match fresh seafood from the fish mongers and cooked from the food court mongers for DIY smorgasbord fit for a meal amongst a colony of seagulls. 3.5 / 5 yums

Where? Sydney, NSW
What? Depends

Monday, 30 August 2010

Baffi & Mo, Redfern

With a crowd milling around the shop front in the ever increasingly person friendly Redfern, you could have mistaken it for the launch of the iPhone 4. So be sure to bring your 3G or 3GS as an electronic companion while you wait for an opening at this quant café that can only accommodate a small Italian family. With seats at such a premium they’ve even had to scour nature strips for discards to furnish the alfresco dining on the footpath. So whilst you might be sitting on some hard rubbish, the stuff coming out of the open kitchen is anything but.

Get past the boring breakfast stuff at the top of the menu for sweet ricotta hotcakes with passionfruit, lemon curd and strawberries or porridge with strawberries, rhubarb and ginger compote. Then there’s the awesome sounding lunch of smoked salmon cakes, pea corn and haloumi fritters chicken pie or the trio mini burgers and gourmet sangers. But below is what we had:

Melted fetta gives nice creaminess to the scrambled eggs, pesto provides the weird green tinge that tastes better than it looks.

Potato hash stack is the naughty to the nice of the double smoked ham, avocado, tomato, asparagus, lemon dressed rocket and poached egg.

You want to dunk your head into the cast iron baking dish that carries a runny pool of sobrasada (Spanish cured snag with paprika and pepper), roasted capsicum, mozzarella, cherry tomatos and baked eggs if it wasn’t so hot.

Unusual name, but I definitely want some Mo. Look out Surry Hills.

4.5 / 5 yums!
Where? 94 Redfern St, Redfern, NSW
What? Around $15

Friday, 27 August 2010

Workshop Espresso, Sydney

It’s been a while since I’d been back to Sydney, the CBD that lacks a decent brew except for a few choice spots. But now Sydneysiders don’t have to travel all the way to Newtown or Rosebery for a quality cup of the black liquid. Oh it’s a trend… and finally the city with the big lights is getting the convenient access to the stuff Melbournians have on tap. From this hole in the wall at The Galeries, get a Toby Estate blend in a great looking takeaway cup that will give you an impressive caffeine buzz.

4 / 5 yums!
Where? The Galeries Victoria, 500 George Street, Sydney, NSW
What? $3.50 a cup

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Klink, Sydney

It’s been a while since I’d been back to Sydney, the CBD that lacks a decent brew except for a few choice spots. But now Sydneysiders don’t have to travel all the way to Newtown or Rosebery for a quality cup of the black liquid. Just follow the funky arty looking gents and ladies in the skinny jeans, thick rimmed glasses and Glebe Market shoes to Gaffa Gallery where there is a little boutique café with a barista who is known to rule the tamper and portafilter with an iron fist. But what a master of the dark art who creates a great shot of pick me up that’s strong and gutsy with a feint bitter aftertaste. Delicious. And nutritious.

4.5 / 5 yums!
Where? Gaffa Gallery, 281 Clarence St, Sydney, NSW

Monday, 23 August 2010

Aria, Sydney

Get past the Masterchef hype, views of the Opera House and Bridge and it’s food that plays to the tune of a food DJ mashing up classic combinations. It would be harsh to say that the creativity is lacking, but if the a la carte menu had limbs, they would be fully attached.

Amuse Bouche of Pumpkin soup with Parmesan Foam: tasty.

Peking Duck Consomme with Duck Dumplings, shaved abalone and mushrooms: great duck juice again, but I think that was so three years ago.

Pork belly with pork croquette, apple puree, white cabbage and apple salad: pig with an old friend. Perfectly cooked, perfect combination, perfectly safe.

Spatchcock poached with bok choy, cucumber, shitake mushrooms and coriander broth: Spatchcock poached with bok choy, cucumber, shitake mushrooms and coriander broth (it is what it is)

Roasted fillet and short rib of beef, celeriac puree, roasted shallots with bordelaise sauce: cow dish that’s like scouring the mouth with a whole cow and rinsing with a bottle of red.

Banana soufflé with banana rum and raisin brulee: soft, light, the favoured flavour of our ancestors (if you believe in Darwin’s theory) truly comes through.

Coconut Macaroon, Chocolate Truffle, Pistachio Nougat.

Yeah it was a bit like Parklife or Future Music with your Dad spinning BABBA or ACCA DACCA. Not like that’s a bad thing, just not what you expect for the price you pay.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 1 Macquarie St, Sydney, NSW
What? Entrees $36+, Mains $55+, Desserts $25+

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Golden Gate Hotel, South Melbourne

Smell the Old Spice and Brut that lingers in this revamped old man’s art deco pub. If that’s not the fishing line that reels you in, surely the “you can’t complain” food will. $5 pizzas, $5 for small and $10 large plates of “you can’t go wrong” combos that won’t make it a gastro pub but just far away from normal grub. So the finished products are a little rough around the edges, but for what you’re paying for, shut your hole and keep the tasty thoughts to yourself.

3 / 5 yums!
Where? 238 Clarendon St, South Melbourne, VIC
What? Pizzas $5, Small Plates $5, Large Plates $10

Left to Right : Proscuitto, Gorgonzola, Caramelised Onion, Rocket Pizza; Chips; $20 platter, Confit Pork Belly and Apple Relish, Scallop, Chorizo, Mash; Soft Shell Crab & chilli jam; Duck & wild mushroom pasties with plum sauce; Labna, dukkah pita; Golden Gate club
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