Disclosure: Alastair and I dined courtesy of Wayside Inn.
Located on a stretch of City Road that doesn’t seem to have much else around it, Wayside Inn was taken over late last year by the team behind Station Hotel. Being a big fan of Station Hotel (see posts here and here) I was pretty keen to check it out. And so when I was invited a bloggers dinner there before Christmas with stickifingers, Claire and Gem, I was a happy gal indeed.
Bro and I had been speaking about checking out Gasometer for a while. Located in Collingwood, they’re a pub that serves American style diner food. Bro loves American food, and I’m a food enabler, so ever we found out Gasometer serves chicken and waffles, it has been on our “to visit” list.
It was my birthday on Tuesday (thank you thank you) and I wanted to go somewhere casual and not too pricey. So I figured we may as well cross Gasometer off the list.
Pork is very common in Chinese cooking. And when my mum cooks, she puts pork in almost everything. When she’s cooking a vegetable dish she will normally add strips of pork, even when she’s already serving a couple of meat dishes. When making Chinese soups, she normally adds pork meat or bones. It would be pretty hard to be a non pork eater (or a vegetarian!) in her house.
I, however, very, very rarely cook pork. It’s not that I don’t like it – I just don’t like to cook it! So when I see an offer for a pork dinner, I’m all over it like a donkey on a waffle.
Kimberly organised a mini porkfest dinner recently at the Provincial Hotel with some fellow twitterers/bloggers – for $50 we had three courses of pork followed by dessert. The Provincial Hotel surprises me. I’d never eaten there before, despite walking past a thousand times (Alastair and I lived in Fitzroy years ago). It’s the large, beige-yellow building with a terrible case of peeling paint, on the corner of Brunswick Street and Johnston Street. Inside the building is a pub, but also a rather good restaurant. (more…)
I must be getting old(er) because I’ve become a big fan of going out for lunch in the weekend, rather than dinner.
Why? Well, some positives: Lunch is more relaxed. Plus there’s more light in restaurants, which means it’s easier to take photos – always important to a food blogger. It’s nice being home in the evenings, particularly when the weather is shit, as it has been this year. And in addition, lunch tends to be a bit cheaper and some restaurants do lunch specials (oh joy!).
But there are negatives: I can’t eat as much at lunch time. And having a big lunch means I skip dinner. (Although maybe I should put this in the positives column?)
Speaking of big lunches, we recently caught up with Maria and Daz for lunch at the Station Hotel. The Station Hotel in Footscray is in a building that was built in 1864, and was reinvented a few years ago as a gastro pub. Food wise, there’s an emphasis on steak, pub food, and food with French influences. (more…)
After stops at two wineries (T-Gallant and Montalto), our lunch stop was Pier 10. Pier 10 used to be a weekender, and became a vineyard in 1996. It’s a very pleasant spot, with the restaurant looking out over the vines and fields. I seem to remember being told that it’s called Pier 10 because the structure in the front garden used to be part of a pier.
After tasting a few wines in the tasting room (where we came across a bucket of seriously gigantic zucchinis that were looking for homes), we headed to the back deck for food.
For lunch, we had an antipasto platter to share. It was all pretty good – olives, cured meats, some very good crunchy green beans, marinated vegetables and a bit of smooth pate.
And for the mains, the options were: a wild mushroom risotto, fish and chips, roast chicken breast and pan roasted ocean trout.
Alastair, Terry and I, ordered the pan roasted ocean trout, with nicoise salad and basil pesto. We were all pleased with our lunch – the trout was perfectly cooked with crispy skin, and the vegetables and salad were crunchy and fresh. Good boiled egg too!
Annette had the roast chicken breast with mashed potato, green beans, and gravy. This looked great – and it was a massive portion!
It was a very pleasant lunch – nothing fancy, but the food was well cooked and tasty. And as a bonus, we took a zucchini home for later – I told you they were massive!
Going back to the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival for a moment – as well as the Hawkers’ Market, Bro and I also attended the “Are you game?” dinner at the Royal Mail Hotel on Spencer.
Also known as the “roadkill” dinner, it was an evening of dishes showcasing different Australian game meats. Apart from the yabbies, all the meat that evening was wild caught game. Drink wise, we started with a glass of Prosecco, and then over the course of the evening were served three glasses of wine from the wine label, Ladies Who Shoot their Lunch. Seriously, how perfect was that wine label for the evening. I’m not going to talk about the wine because I know sweet FA about wine, apart from the fact I like to drink it. On to the food!
There were TEN courses… when we saw the menu we thought that we might have to select from some of the options. But no, there were TEN COURSES! Oh my goodness. Let’s get stuck in.
First up was a Yarra Valley yabby martini with lime aioli and spring onion cigar. The yabby meat was very delicately flavoured, and we found a bonus quail egg at the bottom of the glass. The aioli was nice and creamy, although I found the spring onion cigar rather sweet, which was disconcerting!
Next up we received a quail pithivier with wild rice and curly kale. The pithivier had light flakey pastry and I also noted that it was buttery – mhmmm so buttery – with hints of cinnamon. The wild rice was chewy and sweetish, and the kale was also buttery. It was a very enjoyable dish.
The third course was a smoked Flinders Island mutton bird salad with Mount Buffalo organic hazelnuts and grapefruit dressing. This was one dish that had everyone divided. The mutton bird was interesting, and was unlike any other bird I had ever eaten before – it had a very strong, oily anchovy flavour. Yes, anchovy! Mutton bird tastes like fish! Amazing. I can’t say that mutton bird is a meat that I would seek out again, but it was interesting to try it.
After the mutton bird, we received wild barramundi with “sand of the sea” and clam foam. The barramundi was BEAUTIFUL – it had fantastic flavour, was perfectly cooked and flaked away under my fork. The “sand” was finely ground breadcrumbs, and the “foam” was tapioca. Chives represented seaweed and thinly sliced potato on the fish represented scales. I was so impressed that the fish was perfectly cooked when the kitchen would have had to cook so many portions at the same time. This was the dish of the night for me. Seriously lovely.
Following the barramundi was a duck liver parfait with apple and pear chutney and brioche. The duck liver parfait was very, very rich – to the point where it was almost bitter. It was nice though, very smooth, with the sweet, fruity chutney helping to cut through some of the richness, both from the parfait and the buttery (and heavily buttered!) brioche.
Next was a Flinders Range kangaroo rogan josh curry served with a pappadam and a piece of nann. The curry had big bold flavours and the roo meat was made into a couple of large meatballs. I’ve had (and cooked) roo many times before, and because it’s so lean it’s not a meat that is nice when overcooked. So I’m not entirely sure about roo meatballs – while the roo meatballs weren’t too dry, they were noticeably drier than a beef meatball would be. It was a tasty curry though.
After the curry there was a palate cleanser of crocodile ceviche with Yarra Valley salmon roe and limoncello. This was really interesting, it was like a lemon liqueur crocodile chewing gum!
Moving into the final courses, next up was herb crumbed Daylesford venison with mushrooms, kipfler potatoes and saffron cream. Maybe I was a bit delirious with food by this stage, but I wrote in my notes that the venison had a pate like flavour with a texture that made me think of boiled meat.
And for our last savoury course, we received slow braised wild Redesdale rabbit with squid ink gnocchi. This was supposed to come with Flinders Island wallaby prosciutto, but they must have had a shortage because a small amount of the prosciutto was passed around the table (which didn’t get to us). The chewy and tough gnocchi was the only disappointment of the night. The rabbit, however, was good – tender and flavoursome, and in my notes, I wrote that it tasted like a savoury chicken pie! I think I was definitely delirious with food by this stage. The thing that was topped with a mushroom was a potato filled with rabbit liver.
And finally, for dessert, we had duck egg crème brulee. This was SUPER rich, and very creamy. It was lovely, but oh my god it was SO RICH, particularly after ni
ne other courses! I enjoyed smelling the sprig of rosemary and lemon too.
I was mostly very impressed with the food that evening. Most of it was cooked really well, presented nicely and nothing was too strange (not that Bro and I mind strange, we did do offal last year). It was a very good event to attend and we went home two happy eaters.
Royal Mail Hotel on Spencer 519 Spencer St West Melbourne Phone: 03 9329 6955
Oh hai! I’ve been very quiet on the food blogging front. If you’ve guessed it’s because I haven’t been doing much cooking since mum and dad arrived – you would be correct!
(How has it been? It has been fan-fricken-tastic. I haven’t been this spoilt since… well, since the last time they came for a visit!)
So even though I haven’t been cooking I thought I’d put up a little post about a lunch I had with colleagues recently.
We used to have a weekly Friday lunch club at work. One person in particular had the duty of organising the Friday lunches, and when he left the weekly lunches stopped. Not too long ago, we found a volunteer happy to take over the lunch organising duties, and the inaugural Friday Lunch Club 2.0 was held at Mrs Parma’s.
While there are a few other options on the menu, if you don’t like parmas, this is not the place for you! Mrs Parma’s is all about parmas and beer. The website states that it is Melbourne’s first and only bar/bistro that specialises in parmagianas and Victorian micro brewery beers.
With the parmas, first you choose a base: chicken, veal or eggplant. Next, you choose a topping. You could go the original route (ham, Napoli and cheese) or go for something a bit different like the Greek (olive, onion, tomato & feta salsa) or pumpkin (roasted pumpkin, feta cheese and caramelised onions).
I choose a Mexican chicken parma, topped with tomato salsa, sour cream, guacamole and jalapenos – I can’t resist jalapenos and sour cream! Chips and salad were bought out in separate bowls to share amongst the table. Reading other reviews online, I see that you can ask for a top up of chips for no extra charge.
And the verdict? It was pretty good. The chicken was moist, and not too oily, and I enjoyed it with the jalapenos and sour cream. While it wasn’t the best parma out there, and definitely not one to win over a parma purist, I enjoyed it. I thought it was good that the chips and salad were shared amongst the table, as the parmas were so large that we didn’t finish the sides off anyway. It was a good Friday lunch club choice!
Mum and dad are off home next weekend (gulp), so I’ll be getting back into the cooking grove shortly. Think I’ll be starting off Soup Sundays again!
Mrs Parma’s 25 Little Bourke Street Melbourne Victoria Phone : (03) 9639 2269
The other weekend we headed to Tonik with our regular dining pals, Benisa (Ben + Lisa) plus Nathan. Tonik is a bar located in Kensington Village, which does some rather good food. It feels very cosy inside, with couches and an open fire place on one side of the room and tables on the other. At the back is the bar, along with a staircase that leads upstairs where more tables are located.
We started with the Tonik Tasting Plate – “a selection of delicately prepared morsels designed to share” ($12.50 per person with a minimum of 2 people). Menu descriptions makes me chortle sometimes! Anyhoo, sometimes when I order a “tasting plate” I get disappointed because what comes out is mostly dips and bread. This wasn’t the case with this one! I was quite impressed by what we received. There were two little cups of a curried lentil soup, two beef skewers, polenta chips, calamari, roasted mushrooms, pita bread and tzatziki. The calamari, polenta chips and mushrooms were particularly good.
For mains, Ben and I both had the potato gnocchi covered in a creamy blue cheese and broccoli sauce finished with rocket and toasted walnuts ($17.90). I’ve been in a gnocchi mood lately – and the gnocchi at Tonik were pretty good. It was a mild blue cheese sauce, creamy and rather tasty. But I got a bit tired of the rocket after a while, it was fairly bitter and I had loads!
Alastair had the other gnocchi option – the pork and veal meatballs, cooked in a spicy tomato ragout ($17.90). It’s hard to go wrong with meatballs in a tomato sauce!
Lisa had the chicken mushroom, leek & juniper berry ‘pot pie’ with sour cream flaky pastry and iceberg salad ($21.00). Lisa’s meal was massive – almost bigger than her!
After our meals, Alastair and I shared a dessert. I know how much he loves sticky date pudding, so that’s what we had, a big slab of it sitting in butterscotch sauce ($10.50). I let him eat most of it.
Benisa shared the self saucing chocolate pudding laced with brandy and accompanied with ice cream and fresh cream ($10.50). It looked super pleasingly gooey inside.
During the week, Tonik does some bargain dinners. On Mondays there’s $6 pizzas, and Wednesdays is steak and a beer for $12. I can recommend the steak and beer evening – it’s a good, inexpensive way of celebrating the middle of the working week.
A friend of my Bro’s came to visit over New Years, and during his visit we gave him many good eating experiences. One of those was to experience the wonder of a parma, as he had never eaten one before. Those who read superparma.com (sadly, it looks like the domain hasn’t been renewed) will recognise the Palmerston Hotel, a pub that held the #1 spot for a while.
The key to a good chicken parmagiana is a juicy chicken breast, topped with ham, a flavoursome sauce and melted cheese. At the Palmerston, a large crumbed chicken breast is topped with Virginian ham, Napoli sauce and melted mozzarella ($16). You can choose between chips and salad or mash and vege.
The parma is gigantic! The chicken breast was juicy, and the Napoli sauce, although there wasn’t much, was decent and even had real basil in it. The edges of the parma that weren’t underneath sauce or cheese went nice and crispy. The mash was good too – mostly smooth and buttery, and the boiled vegetables were acceptable. I didn’t eat much of the sides though, because I was trying to focus my efforts on the large slab of chicken in front of me (ultimately I was defeated). The boys had chips with their parmas, and these were good pub chips, thick and crispy.
There was some debate among us as to whether this was the #1 parma in Victoria due to the lack of sauciness. However, #1 or not, it would be hard to go home hungry or unhappy after eating this parma.
Palmerston Hotel 51 Palmerston Crescent South Melbourne Phone: (03) 9690 5749