Monday, April 14, 2014

Brewtown - Newtown

For a lovely brunch catchup with awesome friends, we went to Brewtown in Newtown. On a Saturday at 11am, there was quite a crowd. That, coupled with the fact that we needed a table of 11, meant that we had to wait a bit. However, they accommodated us better than I thought possible.

Drinks first. My coffee was quite delish. Smooth and aromatic. Funnily enough, my coffee-addicted hubby went for the juice of the day - which I think had kale, ginger, apple and something else in it. It was a bit sour but refreshing. I just wish that freshly squeezed juices could be colder. After his juice, hubby succumbed to his caffeine addictions and ordered yet another pretty perfect coffee.
freshly squeezed juice

skim capp
We all ordered, but because we were all pretty hungry whilst waiting for our food, and because we eyed some freshly baked cronuts coming out from the kitchen, we decided to order a few to share. There was the cinnamon one, a glazed one and a jam-filled one. Cronuts remind me of a denser krispy kreme. I like it, but I'm not sure that I absolutely love it. My favourite of the three types was the glazed one :)
cronut variety
My brekkie of choice is the Mini egg benedict brioche roll ($8.50). I had it was a side of avocado smash. This was good and surprisingly heavy... I could barely finish it. Unfortunately, my egg (along with a lot of my friend's) was a bit over-cooked and didn't give that usual ooziness. I was glad I had the avocado to add to the flavours.
Mini egg benedict brioche roll $8.5
Hubby ordered the Corned beef hash with garden peas, poached egg and parmesan crumbs ($15). His meal came out quite a bit later than every one elses. But to reward him for his patience, his eggs were cooked to absolute perfection. The corned beef hash was also heaps tasty. There was a good balance to this meal.
Corned beef hash with garden peas, poached egg and parmesan crumbs $15
For the rest of my friends, they ordered a selection of different meals. I didn't get to sample, but I saw lots of full and satisfied looks around the table. The only critic coming from one of my friends is that their beetroot cured ocean trout was not cured enough and was more akin to sashimi... which he wasn't too huge of a fan of eating first thing in the morning.
meatball, tomato, basil sauce and mozzarella baguette $15

Beetroot cured ocean trout with goat’s cheese, caper berries and baby beats $16.5

poached eggs, sourdough, relish, avocado smash
Beetroot cured ocean trout, avocado smash, rye sour dough toast, dill, persian feta & beetroot relish $16.5

Baked polenta with mushrooms, grilled asparagus, poached egg & parmesan $15
Food - 8/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29/40

6-8 O'Connell Street
NSW 2042
Tel: (02) 9519 2920

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Ezard - Melbourne

We had a booking at Ezard for 9.30pm. We thought that we'd be the only ones dining by this time but we were wrong. The restaurant was still packed out, and there were others like us, with bookings late into the night.

The ambiance here was dark and "romantic?". The food and aromas around us were great, but the service was a bit slow. Bread was given first. The bread was good... but what was better was the trio of powdered accompaniments. One was a sichuan pepper type mix - almost like a 5 spice mixture? Another was this awesome seaweed mix - kind of like jacko rice. And the third...? It was this powdery sweet and spicy mix. My fav was the seaweed one, hubby's favourite was the 5 spice one. Of course, we could also mix it up with the creamy tasty butter.
bread with condiments
The amuse bouche was this tiny crispy tasty thing. I can't for the life of me remember what exactly it was...but there was a bit of chilli stuff and some sashimi stuff and altogether, it was tasty and texturally complex and pleasing.
amuse bouche
We ordered an oyster shooter each. It was japanese inspired with refreshing cucumber, apple and yuzu. Went down in a gulp. But it was a good gulp :)
oyster shooter
Menu-wise, there was a choice between the degustation or the 3 course a-la-carte. After much deliberation, we opted for the three course, with hubby sacrificing his dessert for two entrees. Entree one was a steamed spanner crab dumpling garnished with yarra valley salmon roe and chervil. A really yummy and aromatic coconut tom kha soup was drizzled on top. It was really tasty!
spanner crab dumpling
My entree was the butter poached marron. This perfectly cooked. Tasty, juicy, super sweet. It was served with a foie gras parfait, madeira jelly, chocolate crumbs and bits of candied oranges everywhere. YUM! (but I like all marron :P)
marron with foie gras
Hubby's second entree came probably half an hour after the first? Hubby said it was well worth the wait though - a super tender, really really flavour-packed soy-glazed slow cooked lamb belly. It was soooo lamby. Rubbed with five spice salt and pepper, and served with blood plum and native mint, hubby enjoyed every moment of this dish.
lamb belly
Mains probably came another half an hour later? (yes, service was crazily slow >.<).  Hubby had the wagyu beef (marble score 8). The beef was really really rich and really melt-in-your-mouth tender. It came with white polenta and morels. Accompanied with it was a red wine jam, foie gras and a sticky shallot jus. On top of the beef pile was a mache salad. I thought it was tasty - but it got a bit boring after a while. Hubby likewise liked it, but it lacked any WOW factor.
wagyu beef
My main was pretty good. I initially wanted the john dory - but this was sold out. Instead, I opted for the next best thing - the gold band snapper. This came with tiny crispy golden brown corn croquettes, thinly sliced chorizo, tasty anchovies, dots of garlic aioli and lemon. It exceeded my expectations. The fish was cooked perfectly and with a slight crispy skin. And anchovies and aioli are welcome in my mouth anyday!
The palette cleanser from memory was really good. But I don't remember what it was... I think it was some lime meringue thing? I wish I had better memory :(
palate cleanser
For my actual dessert - I got something AWESOME!!!! It was tasting plate with 6 different dessert minis! There was the pear and poire william parfait, native apples, butterscotch sauce, pear pearls and figs. The whole dish was very very peary. The parfait was rich and smooth. Hubby liked it, I didn't so much... slightly too sweet for my liking. Another dessert was the custard apple mousse served with quandong sorbet, pressed green apple, puff pastry crisp and honey oats. Thirdly, the cheesecake with honey, rosemary and blueberry sorbet and almond crumble. I quite liked the cheesecake. The honeycrunch ice cream was also to my liking. It was served with lightly toasted gingerbread, cinnamon oil and a crisp sugar swirl. There was also a trio of sorbets. But my favourite for the night? This chocolate 'hemisphere' that looked like a half coconut shell. The 'whites' of the coconut shell was a smooth coconut jelly thing. It came with a yummy chocolate sorbet, kaffir lime jelly, almond and hazelnut. Loved it! I think it was the only mini dessert that I completely devoured and finished.
dessert tasting plate
Ezard offered amazingly tasty food. Everything was quite YUM. However, the service was quite abysmal. Our three course meal took 3+ hours (well past midnight)... I shudder to think what would have happened if we got the 8 course degustation? So would I recommend this restaurant? Yeh - but ONLY if you have hours to kill.

Food - 9.5/10
Service -5/10
Ambiance - 7.5/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29/40

187 Flinders Lane
VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9639 6811

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hardware Societe - Melbourne

We met up with one of hubby's colleagues for brunch in Melbourne scheduled for 9am on a Sunday morning. Sounds a bit torturous eh? But turns out - it was pretty lucky, cos any later, we'd be waiting in a super long line.
Coffee first - amazing Melbourne quality (as usual). The coffee in Melbourne just seems stronger and smoother than Sydney ones. Super delicious and much needed for such an early morning weekend breakfast.
skim capp
For the day, there were a couple of specials. One was a sweet dish... chocolate pancake? I don't remember... (my memory is failing me... must be old age). The other was a simply delicious sounding confit duck with poached eggs. I was soooooo close to getting the duck until I remembered... it's 9am. I don't think my stomach is made for oily duck at this time of the day. So instead, I had the bacon slab with corn croquettes, two poached eggs and toasted sourdough. ZOMG it came out like a mountain! The bacon slab drew the jealous eyes of my two male breakfast-eating counterparts. It was beautifully caramelised, crispy and a thick slab of meat! I actually loved this dish - particularly the croquettes with hollandaise sauce. But I think that this is the first time I wasn't able to finish my two eggs at a breakfast. So crazily filling (even with hubby picking at my dish).
bacon slab, poached eggs with croquettes
Hubby had the baked eggs with chorizo and manchego. He thought this was crazy delicious. It had really strong flavours - really tomatoey and with lots of spice.

baked eggs with chorizo
My hubby's colleague ended up ordering the duck. It turned out less impressive than the bacon slab, but it was still really well received. I think that the duck was fall off the bone, tender and tasty? Again, it came with perfectly cooked poached eggs.
confit duck with poached eggs
Colleague's newly-wedded wife went for the omelette. It was topped with a neat pile of prawns. Out of dishes on the table, it looked the most healthy. The fluffiness of the eggs looked quite cleanly appetising :)
prawn omelette
Lots more coffees were ordered around the table. By the time it was 9.30am, there was a ton of people lining up. Whilst the staff weren't crazily attentive, they were nice enough to not hurry us or kick us out.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 7/10
Ambiance - 7/10
Value for money - 7/10
Overall - 29.5/40

Hardware Societe
120 Hardware Lane
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel: (03) 9078 5992

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Saint Crispin - Collingwood

I had complained (just a little) about how we hadn't eaten at a nice restaurant for a while. And so - my awesome hubby decides to spoil me with two hatted restaurants in one day.

For a late lunch, we headed to Collingwood on the outskirts of Melbourne CBD to Saint Crispin. As we had landed relatively late for lunch, only the two or three course menu was available (as opposed to the two degustation options). It took all my bargaining power to convince hubby that a two course meal was more than enough for lunch!

Treated first to their amuse bouches - a crispy rice cracker with seaweed salt flakes and a 'pressed melon'. The rice cracker was a tiny bit moist - not as crispy as I've had at other places before. The 'pressed' melon was a super dense melon ... I'm not too sure if I'm a fan. The bread, on the other hand, was amazing ESPECIALLY when had with their french onion cream cheese dallop. Super rich in oniony flavour, smooth and light. The butter was also not bad but nothing in comparison with the onion concoction.
bread and amuse bouche

For our first course, hubby opted for the quail. The quail was perfectly cooked, juicy and tender, and served with shaved cuttlefish, shiitake mushroom and kombu. The kombu broth was soooo rich and soooo tasty. The whole dish was a bit of a flavour explosion.
Quail with cuttlefish

I had chosen the Atlantic salmon. Small slices of sashimi style salmon was served with a smoked oyster puree sauce, pops of salmon roe, finger lime and sea vegetables. This was quite light and refreshing. A good start to my very short time in Melbourne.
Salmon with smoked oyster

Hubby chose the Cone Bay barramundi for his main. Crispy skinned, perfectly cooked barra was served with plentiful dallops of eggplant, tomato and sea urchin. Bits of kale and quinoa also made it to the plate. We both liked this healthy option.
Barramundi with eggplant and sea urchin

Mine was a Bannockburn chicken - both breast and thigh, both perfectly succulent and juicy. YUM. It came with tasty sweetcorn, spaetzle and basil. LOVED it! Really really tasty and really really well done.
chicken with sweet corn
 A sweet ending of raspberry marshmellows was provided. Not a huge fan of marshmellows normally, but these were pretty good - fluffy and not too sweet.
raspberry marshmellow
 I'm not used to having two course lunches. Looking over at hubby, I could tell that he didn't either. But the food was pretty delicious here. Service was slightly lacking... but we had an enjoyable enough experience.

Food - 8.5/10
Service - 6.5/10
Ambiance - 7.5/10
Value for money - 7.5/10
Overall - 30/40

Saint Crispin
300 Smith Street
VIC, 3066
Tel: (03) 9419 2202