Monday, September 30, 2013

Tivoli Road Bakery

After reading much about the hype of cronuts in the USA, I was thrilled to find out that I could get them in Melbourne. Instead of being called cronuts they are called doissants here (due to trademark and copyright reasons). For those of you who are unaware, it is basically a cross between a doughnut and a croissant. Both bad for you but just the thought of fluffy goodness of a croissant in a doughnut was enough to get me hooked.

Located on a side street off Toorak Road, this place has quite the hipster vibe. Known to be extremely popular, I had to call ahead to preorder them. 






I got my hands on both the chocolate croissant and the raspberry custard. They lived up to what I expected too. I went nuts and brought 6 of each, which wasn't such a good idea because the next day, they got a bit hard and is nowhere as nice as they are fresh.

I was quite lucky, when I was there, they gave me their famous doughnuts free to try. I may have went there for the doissant, but I left as a fan of their salted caramel doughnut.

Absolute Delish!


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New Shanghai - Brisbane

Being based in Brisbane for 4 months for work, I was really missing Melbourne food. Overall Brisbane food is sadly nowhere as impressive as Melbourne or Sydney. So I was quite glad when I finally found this beauty.

Located on the lower floor of Queen's Plaza, I was quite intrigued when everytime I walked passed there was a queue there. Feeling the longing for Shanghai Street's XLB (Xiao Long Bao) I thought it was worth giving New Shanghai a go.

Their signature dish here is the pan fried pork bun. I had to say it is worth being called the signature dish. This is the best pan fried pork bun I've ever eaten. I dare say it is even better than some of the actual Din Tai Fung restaurants in Asia. The bun was just the right thic

kness with the perfect crispness on the bottom while still being soft on the top. The pork filling was soupy and not too salty. 

Drunken chicken was also quite nice but nothing special. The level of alcohol was not too overpowering which was nice to see for a change. However the jellyfish that went with it was a tad too hard. It lacked the springy texture and was also a bit rough, nowhere near as smooth as it should be.

The fried beans were a good combination as it provided a bit of greenery. Flavors were a nice compliment to the beans, however they may have been a bit heavy handed with the oil.

Stir fry bean shoots was quite a winner for me, simple yet tasty.

Pan fried pork dumpling. Tasty and but nothing extraordinary.

Overall I give this place 15.5/20, for the price you pay it is worth very cent.

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Grossi Florentino

As a surprise my partner took me here for dinner. I have to say, before I even go into the detail about the food... BEST DINING EXPERIENCE I have ever had!

We had the degustation as I really couldn't decide what to pick from the menu. As the night started and before our courses even came out, lots of little surprises came our way. There was the candied eggplant jam toast. Interesting flavors and pairing of flavors.

The bread.... I know this is something little and most people don't mention... But that butter.... velvety smooth, you can taste the rosemary and the full bodied butter intensity. Then there was the lardo.... made from lard.. it was those things you just had to try a little bit of. Then the house olive oil and olives.

To start there was a bincho albacore tuna. A bit of a Japanese influence being raw tuna with charred leak and red onion fennel. Very refreshing way to start the dish.

Veal mousse, this was one of the surprises that came out on a box like a lollipop. Not knowing what to expect you take one bite and this intense flavour explosion of a texture you expect to be sweet, but is instead meaty and punchy. It's a good surprise.... It's almost something you want to just spread on bread.





I did a bit of playing around with the menu and swapped my tuna for the smoked quail and foie gras terrine. This was a heavier dish, but to me it was worth it. Intense flavors that did not overpower one another.

Next was the steamed toothfish. I must say on the menu, this looked really boring but I think it actually ended up being my favorite for the night. The flavors were so delicate and the way it was cooked, the natural sweetness of the fish came out. Together with the nashi and crispy chickpeas, it had all the right textures as well. It was like a ballerina dancing on my tastebuds.

Quinoa salad with mushroom, pinenuts and mayo was another surprise we go in between our meals. This was light and refreshing, I could see myself eating a whole bowl for lunch.

The famous duck and porcini tortellini that I have long heard about. It sure does live up. Basic flavors and true mushroom taste. Nothing artificial but all about the natural taste. Then a bit of sweetness from the candied pear. Delicious!

Suckling pig served with artichokes, apple cider sauce, cumquat, pepper and cime di rapa. If you have this dish on it's own or as part of a 3 course meal, it's a total winner, however as part of a degustation.... it is very heavy. The succulent meat and paired with that sauce.... followed by the cumquat.... It really is a beautiful dish but sadly after so many courses beforehand, stomach space tends to be limited at this point. 

Strawberry sorbet with strawberry jam and shortbread. The sorbet was beautiful and light, teamed with the jam it gave it that extra kick in strawberry intensity. Only thing was, I think I was given a bit too much jam on my serving, after I finished my sorbet and shortbread there was still a lot of jam leftover. For a restaurant of this caliber, I expect finer attention to detail.

Finally the Chocolate part fait. It was light and fluffy and went beautifully with the ice cream. It was very good way to end the meal, however if I looked at it in isolation, this does not even come close to the best dessert that I have ever eaten. If I was to compare it to another restaurant dessert..... umm say.. Mr Hive's Chocolate bar... there would be no comparison.

At the end of the night we got to take home a goodies bag which was a beautiful way to end the night for me. Red wine vinegar and pasta to continue the experience at home.... I was stoked!

Overall I would give it a 18.75/20. The service was amazing, they truly know how to make you feel special and let you feel 'in charge' of the evening. Guy Grossi himself did come out at one stage of the evening, this to me felt quite special, a lot celebrity chefs seems to have forgotten their roots and don't really cook in their own restaurants anymore, so to actually see Guy come out in his chef whites, I was impressed. Generally speaking the food was as you would expect, besides the small hiccup in the dessert, it was one of the best nights of eating out, I've had in a long time.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Meatball & Wine Bar

I had to check this place out last Friday. When I walked in it was a buzzing atmosphere, and we got a lovely waiter who put up with my friends and myself who were quite loud from a couple of pre-drinks while waiting for the table.

To start we got the cheese plate. We paired it with this lovely bottle of red (but now I just can't remember the name, all I remember was that it was $80 a bottle). The mozzarella on that board just perfect with the red. I couldn't tell if it was the red that made the cheese great or vice versa but either way I was impressed.

We got a few selection of the balls to share. Chicken with white sauce on peas was the crowd favourite of the night. My partner just could not get enough. The chicken was done just perfectly, still juicy in the centre finished with a light cream sauce. 

Next there was the beef balls with red sauce on mash. Personally this was my favourite, lovely classic favours, the tomato paste was overpowering just just complmentary. Mash was a smooth consistency

Fish balls with green sauce on pasta was an interesting concept to me. On paper, I just didn't think it would work, but surprisingly it wasn't that bad. Wasn't my favorite but it wasn't bland as I had imagine it to be. The green pesto sauce was probably the hero of this dish as the pasta and the fish balls would have been bland in comparison to the other balls on the menu without that sauce.

Pork ball with red sauce and Italian beans was also a hit in my eyes. 

The sliders, I didn't actually get to try as I wasn't quick enough, but from the reception around the table, everybody seemed to have wanted seconds (had we not ordered so much food earlier).

 
For dessert I just had to try the whoopie mac. Sadly the gooey chocolate cookie, I had hope to get was sold out. Instead I went for Pistachio and lemon shortcake cookie with a caramel ice cream centre.... I like the concept a lot but end result was fairly ordinary and didn't feel like it was worth $11.50. I could've done something like that at home..... =(

The tiramisu..... let's not even bother going there. Not worth trying....

Overall I loved all the meatballs and wine (I guess as the name would suggest, IT IS a meat ball and wine place). Sadly the dessert was a big let down for me. I would give this place 15/20. decent price and good food.



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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gazi

This is the new kid on the block in George Calombaris empire of restaurants and eateries across Australia. It is themed as a Greek Street food eatery and is situated where Press Club use to be.

With a hip and urban vibe, the resturant was buzzing when I visited on the weekend. Light is dim but there was full view of the kitchen, far from a fine dining place. 

The menu is set out to be shared and quite affordable. To start I was quite greedy and went with 3 dips and bread (purely because I could not choose and narrow it down to one). The first dip I got was the cauliflower, smoked almonds and crispy pork mince. I can honestly say, I have never had a dip like this. The flavours were more something you would except as puree on the bottom of a dish in a fine restaurant. the cauliflower taste was robust and intense, then together with the pork mince.... I never knew cauliflower and pork mince would go so well together. MUST TRY
Next dip was the Taramosalata with prawn crackers, this was another explosion of flavours in your mouth. The fish roe flavour was so refined then paired with the salty prawn cracker, it's a flavour you need to try it for yourself.
Finally there was the Sweet potato skordalia, pinenuts, orange. This sounds very orginary compared to the other two. Full bodied sweet potato with buttery reminders of pinenuts. However I learnt to like it more and more as the meal progressed. As the other 2 flavours were very intense, this play a nice balance on my pallet and acted as a good contrast of flavours.

For the main I ordered both the chicken and beef souvlaki. The chicken one was the best chicken souvlaki I have ever eaten. The chicken was juicy and succulent, so juicy that as I ate, the chicken juice came out of the other end of the wrap. It was simply served with chips, onions and mustard mayo. The bread was homemade and thicker than your usual bread but it really does showcase street food CAN be do well inside a restaurant without being overly expensive. 
The beef souvlaki was also nice, but once you have tasted the chicken, the beef will only rate as second best.

On the side we got the feta chips. Interesting flavours and I could easily dust off an entire bowl in 1 sitting.

To finish off I had to try the Pavlova, I saw so many of them walk pass me during my meal and it looked so beautiful. This was a light dessert to finish off the meal despite how big it actually looks. The grapefruit curd and cream was just a divine combination of sourness and creamy texture.

Overall I would give this place a 18/20. There aren't many places that make me want to go back and try the entire menu, but this is one of those places.


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Sunday, September 1, 2013

L'Ovivo

Situated in busy suburban street, this is favourite among est the locals and not the easiest place to get a booking on a Friday night. As a family operated business, it doesn't get much cosier. You walk in and straight away you can smell an Italian kitchen.

On a cold winter night we started with the Arinchini balls. Balls had a crunchy exterior while the risotto was still moist and packed with flavour. Along with a tangy tomato paste, it was a great way to start the meal. 

Next (although the picture looks the same)we got goat cheese fritter. crispy and cheesy...... yummmmmmmmmmmm.

We actually also ordered meat balls but the waitress was frank enough to say that we were over ordering (and she as completely right)

Soup of the day was pumpkin.A nice winter warmer and it was hearty

too. A buttery pumpkin consistency with ginger in it to give it that bit of punch. As good as it gets with a family style pumpkin soup!

This is the dish I always get when I come here. The gnocchi is great the way it is on the menu, but personally I like a tomato cream sauce more as the pasta tastes less heavy this way. With many places they don't take menu alterations well, but here they always get it right.

Overall I give this place a 16/20. This isn't a fine dining restaurant but for what they aim to do, they do it very well. Great local eat out and decent prices along with great service. I can't really fault them on much.



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