Sunday, February 26, 2017

Black Spur Inn, Narbethong by Benny

Wandering through the Yarra Ranges National Park is a great way to spend time with friends who want to experience some of Victoria’s great outdoors. Less than two hours’ drive from Melbourne’s CBD takes you to a place of tall eucalypt forests, verdant tree fern gullies and majestic waterfalls. But all this nature and fresh air stimulated the appetite, and the Alchemist declared that it was time for lunch – not just any lunch, but one hopefully involving a big grilled steak!

Black Spur Inn, Narbethong, porterhouse steak
Porterhouse steak

There has been a Black Spur Inn at Narbethong since 1863 – although bushfires have destroyed it at least twice. Today it offers a traditional full country hotel service – accommodation, pub, bar meals and restaurant – in a country-style timber two-storey building with large, welcoming verandas, set in a pleasant forest clearing just off the main highway.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Carosello, Moonee Ponds by Foghorn Leghorn

I like Moonee Ponds, but I hadn’t been for a few years, so the idea of visiting a new restaurant was just what I needed.

Carosello is next to the Moonee Ponds train station, with most of its frontage on Hall Street, a quiet side street. That turns out to be quite a bonus, because it allows for pleasant outdoor seating, where we plonked ourselves down to try the food.

Carosello, Moonee Ponds, antipasto
We started off with a mixed antipasto plate. Just as a good mixed plate should do, it had something for everyone. Cheese, ham, olives, prosciutto, preserved vegetables (capsicum and artichoke), and some frittata slices. The standout was a bocconcino sprinkled with herbs. The creamy and smooth consistency was memorable – it was the first indication that Carosello doesn’t cut corners on quality.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hanging Gardens Restaurant, Brunswick East by Foghorn Leghorn

The Brunswick end of Lygon Street always seems to have one very good Middle Eastern restaurant. Years ago there was Habayib – sorely missed. Then there was Mezza – also missed. The current contender is the Hanging Gardens Restaurant.

Hanging Gardens Restaurant, Brunswick, lamb quzi
Lamb quzi

As the name implies, the Hanging Gardens Restaurant is not Lebanese but Iraqi. Owner Sam, an Assyrian Christian, is welcoming and always ready to explain the food.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

LockCha Teahouse, Hong Kong by Bilby Blue

Hong Kong – so many restaurants, so many great foodie experiences. It can be a bit overwhelming, but in the green oasis of Hong Kong Park, the LockCha Teahouse is a peaceful refuge from the hurly-burly of Central. It is one of my favourite spots in Hong Kong. So when Rose Pink and I were visiting recently for business, it was the ideal spot for a relaxing lunchtime break between appointments.

LockCha Teahouse, Hong Kong, vegetable beancurd roll
Vegetable beancurd roll

Rose Pink is a true tea aficionado. Her all-time bugbear: restaurants that serve a cup of hot water and a tea bag while lavishing loads of care on producing the perfect espresso. And charging similar prices. All she wants is leaf tea in a proper teapot – how difficult is that? So I knew she would love to visit the Flagstaff Museum of Teaware and the adjoining teahouse.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

400 Gradi East, Ringwood by Benny

There are three very good reasons why 400 Gradi has been on our radar – it is the parent restaurant of the wonderful gelateria Zero Gradi; just like the fantastic Pizzaiolo Micheluccio , it is a member of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the international organisation promoting and protecting the true Neapolitan Pizza; and, just like the excellent Zero 95, one of its pizzaioli is a previous winner of the best Margherita pizza in the world. Expectations were very high.

400 Gradi East, Ringwood, mocktails
Tropical and Sour mocktails

The original 400 Gradi is in Brunswick, with well-established siblings in Southbank and Essendon. The newest branch, 400 Gradi East, opened in August 2016, in the rooftop Town Square dining precinct of Eastland shopping centre.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fish Tank, Brighton by Bureaucrat

The best fish and chips that we've ever had was at Rick Stein's humble fish and chip shop in Padstow.  Although we had eaten dinner at his high-end Seafood Restaurant, his fish and chippery was streets ahead when it came to sheer freshness, availability (no need to make a booking!) and value - plus, you also got the beautiful (yet freezing) view of Padstow Harbour as you wolf down the freshest seafood, which was only caught that morning.

Fish Tank, Brighton
We've yet to find a place that equals Stein's Fish and Chip.  However, Fish Tank in Brighton comes the closest to replicating what we had in ye olde England.  Doubling up as a fishmonger and chippery, Fish Tank offers an impressive range of fresh seafood at very reasonable prices.  It is also a cut above the typical chippery as it has quasi table service.  You place your order at the counter, and your meals are delivered to your table on proper plates and cutlery - no plastic plates or forks here.