Embrasse: MFWF express lunch (closed)

Wouldn’t it be good to be able to tap into a collective memory? Then you would always have access to important details, and it wouldn’t be a problem if your mind was crowded with useless things like the lyrics to “Deep deep trouble” even though you haven’t heard that song for 15 years. (Oh, is that just me? And yes, I do know the words. I can totally bust it out at any time. HELP I CAN’T FORGET IT.)

Fortunately, I have friends who help me remember things. When I eat out I sometimes can’t recall all the details and will message whoever I ate with: “Hey, do you remember what was in that dish?”

After our lunch at Embrasse, Thanh and I had the following conversation.

“What was the fish again?”
“Ummmm. I can’t remember.”
“It was silver something, wasn’t it?”
“Oh! It was silver dory!”

Food bloggers hive mind win. With our memories combined, we are… one normal person!


La Petanque

How did people decide on places to eat and activities to do before the internet? When I started planning our Mornington Peninsula weekend a couple of days before heading down there, I looked at blogs, websites, checked out menus, and I even made restaurant bookings online.

One place I booked was La Petanque, located in Red Hill, Mornington Peninsula. It’s a casual, southern French style restaurant seating 60 that’s located in a rustic wooden building with rose and herb gardens leading to the entrance. Inside, it’s all wooden floors, wooden ceiling beams, tables with white tablecloths and large windows.


Café Vue: Melbourne Airport T2

On Australia Day last week, Alastair and I celebrated by jetting off to New Zealand. Yes, very patriotic indeed!

Our flight was early in the morning, so we skipped breakfast and took the opportunity to eat at the newish Café Vue at the Melbourne Airport international terminal.

This Café Vue outlet is open rather long hours (4am-1am daily) and offer breakfast, lunch, dinner, as well as pastries and take away boxes for the plane. From what I saw of the breakfast menu, prices of the food look similar (if not the same) as the other Café Vue outlets. Breakfast and lunch take away boxes were $15, and a dinner box was $30. I was kind of astounded, because one of the things I hate the most about eating at airports is the outrageously marked up prices for horrible, substandard food. And here they hadn’t marked up the prices to gouge a captive audience?? Amazement!

Bistro Vue

I’ve only mentioned this briefly here – my parents arrived in mid December for a month long visit and it was FABULOUS. In exchange for teaching them how to use iphones and stocking mum up with computer games to play, they did all the house drudgery – buying groceries, cooking dinner, cleaning, and laundry. Life was good! I joked that it was like having a housekeeper… except I didn’t have to pay them! (It really was just like that, hah!) Sadly they left on Saturday, so it’s now back to regular life for me. Boohoo!

On the evening that mum and dad arrived, Bro and I picked them up at the airport, deposited them at home, and then dashed out the door as we were running late for Maria’s birthday dinner. Maria’s partner, Daz, had organised dinner at Bistro Vue as a surprise – isn’t that sweet!

Because there was a large group of us, we had to order off a set menu, with 2 courses for $70 or 3 courses for $80, including tea and coffee. Three or four choices of dish were available for each course.


Café Vue at 401 St Kilda Road

It was my Bro’s birthday earlier this month, and we took him out for a spontaneous birthday lunch to celebrate.

I have eaten at the St Kilda Road version of Café Vue a couple of times for breakfast/brunch, but have never ordered off their menu de jour. So a a birthday was the perfect excuse for an indulgent Sunday lunch.

Cafe Vue, St Kilda Road

I’m not sure why, but the bread at Cafe Vue comes in a bag. Strange, but cute. It was pretty good bread too.

Parisian Patisserie Boulangerie

Parisian Patisserie, Essendon Parisian Patisserie, Essendon

Disclosure: We visited and sampled items courtesy of Harvey Publicity & Parisian Patisserie.

Last Saturday, Alastair and I headed up to Essendon to check out Parisian Patisserie. Parisian Patisserie has only been open for 12 weeks, and seem to have already amassed a loyal following for their fantastic baked goods.

Parisian Patisserie, Essendon


Cookbook Challenge: Week 37, Hearty

Beef Provencale

Recipe: Beef Provencale

From: Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery Course

The theme for this week’s Cookbook Challenge is hearty, and to paraphrase Ange: almost everything I’m cooking at the moment could be classified as hearty. It’s this damned weather – why oh why when Alastair and I left Wellington didn’t we move to a tropical country? Or Queensland? (Oh yeah, because it’s Queensland.)

For the theme this week I made beef provencale – well sort of. Normally when I make a beef stew I don’t follow a recipe. I just throw in whatever vegetables I have (normally carrots and celery) along with copious amounts of onion and garlic, plus whatever spices and seasoning I feel like.


The Brasserie by Philippe Mouchel: Bastille Day dinner

On Bastille Day last week, we joined Benisa for dinner at the brasserie by Philippe Mouchel. A four course set menu was being served in celebration of all things French (or so the promotional email stated!). When we arrived, the first thing we saw was a guy in a beret playing the accordion. Is an accordion particularly French? I don’t know! It was kind of funny though and fortunately he was pretty good (insert disparaging accordion joke here), since he played the entire evening.

Bastille Day dinner

The first course were snails wrapped in cabbage, on top of a poached liquorice bouillon. The snails were diced and mixed with finely cut vegetables inside the cabbage leaf. I think that even people who would normally have issues with snails would have no problems with this dish. I couldn’t really taste the liquorice in the bouillon, but the broth was very nice and worked well with the sweetness of the cabbage. The snail meat reminded me of the texture of paua/abalone – which wikipedia says is a sea snail. That would explain the similarity!

Bastille Day dinner

For the second course we received sautéed scallops with couscous and vegetables and Argan oil vinaigrette. Look at those scallops – they were lovely, perfectly cooked and flavoured with ginger and chives. A small amount of cous cous and a couple of little vegetables were on the plate, but the scallops were really the star.

Bastille Day dinner

Next course was a slow-braised wagyu ox cheek with carrots and mashed potatoes. I’ve had a larger version of this dish before, when Alastair and I went to the brasserie for lunch a while back, and was happy to eat it again. The meat was very, very tender and braised in that dark, rich sauce. It was on the verge of being too salty, but when eaten with a bit of the smooth mashed potato it was fantastic.

Bastille Day dinner

Dessert was chocolate fondant with vanilla anglaise and pistachio ice cream. Hard to go wrong with chocolate fondant, especially when it was –

Bastille Day dinner

Mhmmm, gooey……

Bastille Day dinner

And finally some petit fours to finish off. Bro and I made everyone wait while we had a cup of tea (served in a very cute little teapot) and finished our petit fours. Yum.

Read about a previous visit to the brasserie here.

the brasserie by Philippe Mouchel
Riverside at Crown,
8 Whiteman Street,
Phone: (03) 9292 7808

Arcadia Gastronomique

Oh, my friends. On Wednesday I was struck down with the lergy that has been plaguing my office and I have been ILL. I’ve spent a couple of days in a snotty, feverish haze and even today I’m still leaving masses of used tissues in my wake. My head has been so foggy that thinking has been difficult and my taste buds have gone on strike. This Friday I spent on the couch watching a crappy chick flick (the most taxing thing that my poor overheated brain could take), but on a previous Friday, Alastair and I went out to dinner.

We went to Arcadia Gastronomique, located on Union Road in Ascot Vale. Arcadia is small but nicely fitted out, with the lower walls a dark wood panel, highlighted by a deep emerald green on the top. It felt very calm and serene – lovely for a quiet dinner for two.

Arcadia Gastronomique

We shared a starter of middle eastern spiced tiger prawns, served sizzling with garlic ($15) and some bread ($6.50). The prawns had some lovely flavour from the spices, but was let down because of a lack of salt (it didn’t taste like there was any, to be honest). As there wasn’t any salt on the table it wasn’t easily rectified. Anyhoo, it wasn’t that big a deal and fortunately our mains didn’t have seasoning issues.

After the prawns, Alastair and I both had seafood mains. We obviously hadn’t thought about our food choices very carefully!

Arcadia Gastronomique

I had the ragout of mixed seafood braised in a sauvignon velouté with soft herbs, served in a case of puff pastry ($25). Pretty good. Creamy seafood, crispy puff pastry… Yum.

Arcadia Gastronomique

Alastair had the seafood linguini, which came with wild olives, spinach, prawns, calamari, shellfish, and mussels tossed in a lemon olive oil emulsion ($24). It was rather good – the fresh pasta was toothsome and the whole thing was tied together with the tangy oil.

Arcadia Gastronomique

And for dessert, we shared the flourless chocolate slice, with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream ($9.90). It was served warm and was a slice of chocolatety goodness.

Reasonable prices, and a nice setting made for a good evening out. I can’t wait for my sense of taste to return so I can enjoy eating again!

Arcadia Gastronomique
152 Union Road,
Ascot Vale
Phone : 03 9375 2751

The European: Ladies who Lunch

I started a new job when I got back from my holiday, so I’m now one of those people who work in the city. Yey! Access to new shops and restaurants is very exciting. My credit card is a bit scared, but I’m very excited.

The other week I had a lunch date with a friend, and her lovely 7 month old daughter at the European. The European is located on Spring St, next to the Princess Theatre. It’s a moody little place – a long narrow dining room, black and white chequered floor, and dark wood panelled walls. As we were toting a pram, we were seated at the front of the room which meant a bit more natural light for pictures. Grand.

The European: oysters

Freshly shucked oysters – slurp

We started with one of the day’s specials – freshly shucked oysters. These were served with a little dish of a vinegary sauce. They were very hard to eat gracefully with the little garnish on top. Good thing we weren’t trying to impress! The oysters were fresh and sweet.

The European: cheese

Manchego and fig salami

We shared another starter – Manchego with fig “salami”. Manchego is a sheep’s milk cheese from Spain (as I have discovered). The slightly salty, creamy cheese was lovely with the fig (and on bread, and by itself).

The European: fish soup

This was fish, prawn, clam, mussel, and a scallop surrounded by a tomato based broth. The seafood came out in the bowl by itself, and then the broth was poured on top. It was slightly tangy and seafoody. I also got some toast, which you can see in the background.

The food was presented nicely and the other plus were the little touches. For example, the lemon half that came with the oysters was wrapped in muslim to prevent lemon seeds from falling in. There was nice bread with a good quantity of garlic aioli. And the staff didn’t bat an eyelid when cutlery and napkins got thrown to the floor or when my friend’s lovely little daughter got a bit grizzly because she needed a nap. Thankfully it was fairly lively (noisy) in there so we didn’t seem to disturb other diners.

This might be an ongoing series. My friend has gone overseas but we have a lunch date for January when she returns. It’s my choice of restaurant this time; recommendations of good eating places around the top end of the city would be welcome (as long as they’re pram friendly!).

The European
161 Spring St, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9654 0811

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