Wednesday, March 30, 2011

La Bel' Amici - Frankston

This restaurant has now changed hands and is called "beach 162". A review will follow. 

There are a few good spots for brekky in Frankston and Mornington. Boys in Main Street Mornington is extremely good but always full (even a line down the street) or Boys at Manyung (at least not the cue). Both "Boys" are a little more expensive and harder to get into than La Bel' Amici . Once a nursery and now a cafe, situated on Beach Street Frankston, La Bel' Amici is quaint, inside or out and does a good brekky.
La Bel' Amici never stopped being nursery but that side of the business is taking a definite back seat. Also they display a little art work, from local artists and even sell some cheap, brand-name knock-offs! They combine a florist too. Not only the big breakfast but a full meal or just cake and coffee if you wish. The food is very good and the coffee always well made. I'm an Eggs Benedict man and though I prefer my poached eggs on grilled sower dough, Amici's version is excellent. My wife loves her mushrooms on toast. And don't forget the coffee. Did I mention the coffee. Well it's great.

La Bel' Amici has recently opened a wood fired pizza section and are now licenced. I've not tried their pizzas to now but should I, I'll fill you in. The out door front area, with its high trees, can suffer a bit from road noise though there is a high fence all around. Inside is my favourite but try both. There is street parking and parking out the back. Also out the back is the shabby remains of the nursery. The owners are lovely people and do their very best to ensure you will enjoy the Amici experience. And try the coffee. Did I mention the coffee. Well it's great.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Indian Mahal - Baxter

Lets start at the end. We had a fabulous two course meal and asked to settle the account. We offered our credit card and it came back for signing. We opened the small bill folder to find a mini Flake and Boost bar inside. Now that's a nice touch. Indian Mahal may not have the smartest looking restaurant, both on the inside and out, but the food leaves you hungry. Let me explain. The menu is so extensive and the food so very, very good you just HUNGER for more. But after a course or two, you're full.

We had heard for a long time that the best Indian was just out of Baxter. It looked just like a little take-away joint. Then you spy the white table cloths and table settings. No it's a restaurant. Inside the "shop" it could almost past for any Asian style eatery. Then you look at the menu which is extremely well arranged and very stylishly presented. It is almost an art work. The first page is about Nepal and how it dropped its century old boarders to unite with the rest of the world. I figure the food is based on food from Nepal. In the menu you will see (among many other selections) a Nepal page.

Just the different Breads (Roti), entrees and starters leaves your taste buds bursting and you are yet to select your main or mains!! I went for an old fav. Tandoori Lamb and my wife the prawns. The prawns were huge and not frozen before preparation. The lamb was soft, juicy and melted in the mouth. My wife's meal was rated "medium hot" mine "hot". A more accurate rating would have been medium and medium hot. If you want denture melting hot and spicy food ask the waiter for extra hot. They are happy to oblige. Be careful what you wish for.

Take the kid's piggy bank with you and your best bottle of wine. Indian Mahal is both very inexpensive and BYO. You want to try their wines and beers? They have a good selection of both. Ignore the plain interior of the restaurant. Try to ignore the big screen tele with the cricket on. It's not noisy inside and there is plenty of room between tables. Any back ground music or entertainment is kept to a minimum. Gaze at the menu and try to select from dozens and dozens of beautiful Indian dishes. You will have your fill and hunger for more. Best Indian food on the Peninsula. Period.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

thebeaumaris - Beaumaris

The Beaumaris hotel has been around since I was a child and lived only minutes from its doors. It had gone from being a very popular drinking hole and restaurant to a very run down pub. It even closed and up until recently looked like being demolished.

But it is back now, quite refurbished as a modern restaurant. The decor is simple, clean and quite understated. It feels modern. It feels fresh. The Beaumaris joins a well known restaurant area with Keys Street just around the corner. I have visited the Keys Street restaurants on a few occasions and have enjoyed the experience each time. So the "beauy" has some well established competition.

We booked for a Saturday night for 7:30pm to find the restaurant nearly full. Service was excellent with the waiters dressed in white shirts and black bottoms and aprons. Smart attire and bodes well with the new simple and modern look of the interior. The wine list and beer menu are extremely extensive. If you are into trying some locally brewed beer 2 Brothers Taxi Pilsner from Moorabbin is well worth a crack! I liked it but in the end I settled on Peroni.

We went with two friends and of the four meals ordered mine was the only one which got no complaints. The friends we went with are regular diners and excellent cooks. When I received three complaints about the meals I took it seriously. I had the FOD (fish of the day) which though a small portion was pleasant on its bed of sweet potatoes and artichoke. Neither of the other three said they would order their meal again. A bad night in the kitchen? Or are the meals too basic.

The hotel complex is large with a number of bars and eating areas. The restaurant area we were in was noisy. On less busy nights it may not be so bad. Try thebeaumaris, it certainly looks the part and on another day the meals may be more satisfying. At this point we make Keys Street the "goto" area for "beauy" dining. For a few drinks from a huge list of beverages thebeaumaris, fits the bill. Enjoy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Caesars Restautant - Frankston

Caesars, Bar, Restaurant, Cafe and Function room sits right on Nepean Hwy near the city of Frankston. Caesars was formerly Via Marie some years back which also had a good name. The owner and head chef is himself Italian and takes huge pride in what he serves to his patrons. I would like to think that the food is as traditional Italian as possible. Italian is my favourite style of food.

We have dined here on a number of occasions and have sampled most of the menu. From fish of the day to Italian sausage. I like a good sausage and what is served here is one of my favourite dishes. Caesars also have daily specials and I have picked from these on a number of occasions. Fish of the day is generally off the specials board.

There is one thing my wife and myself are fussy about is the bruschetta. What some restaurants try to pass off as bruschetta is a joke. At Caesars there are a few different styles. All are good and we have tried them all. But for us the best is what I would call the basic or plain bruschetta. Caesars make an excellent bruschetta.

Wines are reasonable priced and if you are like me and must start with a sparkling to cleanse the palate you will be served a piccolo. Whites or reds, there is a good selection and at moderate prices. The decor is simple but with a hard floor and only minimum sound baffling on the ceiling it can get noisy. Window seats, during the day, provide a lookout on to the highway and a bright spot to enjoy. Service is basic and only one occasion were my wife and I not pleased with the meal. That happened to be a lunch. Every other time the food has been excellent.

Caesars is very easy to recommend. The food is very, very good and for us it is close to home. Their desserts are excellent so try at least a couple of courses. Bring on the sausage.

Stillwater at Crittenden - Mornington Peninsula

We have arrived at the true jewel of the south. Mornington Peninsula can truly boast it has the very best to offer in food, wine and location with Stillwater at Crittenden. Not only the best of food, good wines both local and not-so local but a stunning setting, good service and a cellar door. Once more you could drop in for a coffee and cake or a red and cheese platter but you may not appreciate what really can be served up here. You just may never know unless you have at least a two course meal. The guy in the kitchen with the tall white hat can really cook. Yes REALLY cook!

My wife and I, Cathy, have frequented Stillwater a number of times, both alone, with friends and as part of a birthday party (my 50th actually) Every time, everyone has absolutely agreed the food is beyond reproach, perfectly prepared, plated and left you yearning for more. If price for fine dinning is an issue take your issues else where, they are not welcome here. Gods eat here, angles prepare the food and humans indulge. And your senses heavenly blessed.

For me it is the Black Angus every time. After saying that there are number of cuts and grades to select from. The green sides ground you while the steak steals your credit card. The wine seduces you and scenery serenades your eyes. Service can run a little hot and cold but is always sufficient. Start with the house sparkly, sip a white while sampling the starters and entree and hit the reds with a bull on your plate whose name is Angus the Blue.

Do not miss this place. There is only one Stillwater and it's down behind the Dromana drive in. Go for lunch mid-week if an intimate meal is your thing. Inside or out, I've done both. Inside with a full house can get noisy but inside mid-week and a chauffer can make you forget name. But you will not forget Stillwater. Good food, wine and location R them.