Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Station Hotel

After a whole week of all work and no play, D took me to Station Hotel when I told him I was hungry and tired. Located in Footscray, it's a place that you would drive past and not think much of it. D had been here before with the boys and always told me it was one of the best steaks he has ever had. Thought it was time I gave it a go!



We got there at 9pm and was informed the restaurant was full but we could sit at the bar/pub side and had only 30 minutes before the kitchen closed. Under such time pressure, D and I had to make a very fast decision, and thankfully for him, I'm one of those people who responds well under time pressure. ;)

Feeling a little gluttony, D and I got the crumbed mussels and spicy ragu bolognaise to start of with. The crumbed mussel came in a small bowl with chorizo and olives and a side of dipping butter. It was my first time having crumbed mussels so I wasn't too sure what to expect, but it did not fail me. The exterior was perfectly deep fried whilst maintaining the texture and taste of the mussel. The chorizo was oily (but not too oily) and made the whole dish feel like a guilty pleasure.


The spicy ragu bolognaise looked quite sloppily plated up but more than made up for it in taste. The ricotta, slightly spicy sauce and the al dente penne all served with a heap of salad on top was just the best pasta I've eaten in a long time. The creaminess of ricotta paired with that mild spiciness ragu is homey but also luxe. I will be coming back for this one (but next time I'll have it as a main and not share it with D). A definite must try and you could just come here for the pasta it was that good.



Now to the mains; I saw wagyu on the menu for less than $50 so my decision was made within 2 seconds and it was a great choice too.


 The steak was a perfect medium rare. The basting wasn't overdone and just right. With a dollop of Bearnaise and some pepper sauce to mix it up a little, I was very happy.


D got the Gippsland scotch fillet. His was also succulent and perfectly medium rare. D is a mustard person so he opted for that and the Bearnaise. Though he did have a bit of steak envy after he tasted my wagyu.


The Bearnaise was more like a thick hollandaise cross aioli with herbs. Not quite your usual Bearnaise and it worked well. Both steaks came with a generous serving of salad and chips.


We got greedy and got a side of beans. We really didn't need to and I regretted it, not because it was bad but we just couldn't finish it. Needless to say, we never reached dessert. =(


Overall 17.5/20 That wagyu steak was amazing, I would drive another 45 minutes just to come back for that wagyu steak and spicy ragu bolognaise.



Station Hotel on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Resident Cafe

In between a Saturday of open house inspections, D and I managed to duck in for sneaky brunch between all the house hunting commotion. Resident is located on High Street Rd in Ashburton, right next to a bike trail (perfect for the pit stop feed). It's a cosy, slightly hipster, local cafe with a flare.

As soon as we were sat down, the staff were very attentive and made sure to take our drink orders immediately and then giving us time to snoop out the menu. D decided to be on the healthy side and ordered the red juice, while I opted for my usual soy latte and a coconut crush as well. The coffee was smooth and a good brew. I loved my refreshing coconut crush and I think D got a bit of drink envy too.


I got the muesli with yoghurt panna cotta. This was beautiful when it came out, it was served with clusters of nuts and muesli as well as generous amounts of berries and banana. It was probably on the guilty side but the fruits and muesli made me feel good about this dish and all elements fitted together nicely. You got the crunchy, the tangy, the smooth all in one dish. I would order it again!

D got the deconstructed fish pie. This was an assortment of fish and prawn in a bouillabaisse stew and a stick of pastry. I honestly had no idea what bouillabaisse was prior to this dish and for those of you who don't know, it is a seafood stew where the fish/prawn/shellfish is cooked in a broth made from an assortment of vegetables, herbs and normally served with bread and pepper. Anyway facts aside, the fish pie didn't really feel like a fish pie but more just a stew with a stick of pastry. The fish stew packed a punch in terms or flavour but it just didn't feel like a pie to me in any form or taste. I think it can be renamed to better reflect the nature of the dish, because it caused D some confusion. He had imagine something of a creamy nature (he didn't know what bouillabaisse was either) or something thicker that would resonate typical pie fillings. Naming aside, the bouillabaisse had a intense taste with a generous amount of fish and prawns. I would imagine that someone who likes to order spaghetti marinara would really enjoy this dish.

Since we were feeling moorish when we were ordering, we got a side of chips with paprika ailoi, I loved the perfect crunch to fluffy ratio of these chips and the kick in the aioli was a perfect partner.

Overall 16/20 I think the resident is a great addition to local cafe selection in Ashburton. They execute their dishes with skill and refinement. Love their innovative presentation and menu options.


The Resident Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hello Sam

On a bright sunny midweek lunch date, AH and I wandered out to celebrate her belated birthday lunch.... and what better way to celebrate than over a burger! Perched on the sidewalk table, AH and I couldn't wait to sink our teeth into some tasty burgers.

I got the Simply Sam, which was medium cooked Angus patty served on a brioche bun with mustard mayo, tomato, lettuce, onion and relish. I loved the charred brioche that bought the sweetness to the burger and the patty was so succulent. This burger was a upmarket classic from any angle you look at it. My favorite burger place at the moment is Pavilion but for some reason I felt it was unfair to compare the 2. As Pavilion is more the


super tasty, greasy, guilty pleasure and Hello Sam is a sophisticated classic you expect in a nice hotel bar.

AH got the Too cheesy which was the same as Simply Sam except for the extra cheddar ale. A described her burger as "delicous sooo tasty, like a party in my mouth but only the cool people are invited with the good alcohol". I got jealous of the cheddar she got, once our burgers arrived. I made myself a mental note, to never repeat that mistake again.

Between us we shared the beer batter chips. It was golden, fluffy, crispy goodness. The garlic aioli was a bit boring, it was not a bad garlic aioli but with the competition in Melbourne cafe these days, it lacked the flare.

Overall 15/20 the heart of the burger (ie the patty) was cooked to perfection. Chips were good, and I'm keen to try the other burgers on the menu next time.  Great place for a perfect, classy bite of burger. Hmm on my next visit, think I'll go with a chicken burger.

Hello Sam Burger Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tonka

After months and months of rescheduling, I finally booked in Tonka with CB. Located in a laneway (typical Melbourne fashion), it is not a place you would just 'walk past'. Tonka is slightly different to all the other modern fusion in Melbourne (generally Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese fusion); it offer's fine dining Indian fusion food (it also takes bookings which is not the norm these days!!).  From the moment you walk through the door, that fine dining atmosphere is apparent with a long bar, dim lighting and a sleek interior.

To start with, we got a soft shell crab deep fried with a side of cucumber and chilli, lemon, mint sauce. I found the chickpea batter on this to be quite interesting, as it is done to mimic normal batter and you won't know it's chickpea unless someone told you.


The scallops with peppers and spiced cauliflower puree was our next starter. I can't find much to fault with this dish, but also there is nothing special about it either. The spiced cauliflower puree was a nice compliment to the scallop, but at $7.80 a scallop I was really looking for a 'wow' factor.


Our last started was the spanner crab salad with puffed rice, green papaya, chilli and peanuts. I found this to be the most interesting starter. The puffed rice gave it a nice crunchy texture to balance the soft crab meat. The mild spiciness also worked very well with the flavours.



For mains we got the duck which was served with cucumber, mint and goat curd. This was not very spicy which was good, since the redness scared me off when it first came out. The meat was soft and falling off the bone but still had some texture to it. A good dish overall.

The Goan fish was soft and succulent, the spice was just right, it managed to maintain the fish flavours without the spices overpowering the dish. The salad is a great compliment - this dish is a real winner.


We also got adventurous and tried one of the daily specials. Initially we were unsure but it turned out to be the lamb ribs and it was an excellent choice. The aromas infused into the meat was just beautiful, and the meat just fell off the bone. Yummmmmmm


On the side was the fried cauliflower with a yoghurt dressing. This was well seasoned and worked well with the spice in the rest of the meal. The creaminess just cut through the spice and balanced the whole meal.




For dessert I decided on the banana parfait with a chocolate mousse and coconut sorbet. There was also a bit of sherbet to tie the whole thing together. It sounds like a mess when I re-read my own description, but when I ate it, everything just fell into place and tasted great. The mousse had a velvet texture, the coconut sorbet was light and refreshing. Just the perfect way to end the meal - just try it when you are there and you will see for yourself.

Overall 16/20 Besides the creativity in the menu, they had outstanding and attentive service. The staff had great knowledge on the menu and the sommelier was helpful with the wine list. Personally I am not a big fan of Indian, but Tonka made me want to try more.






Tonka on Urbanspoon