Sunday, July 17, 2011

Spice Temple - South Bank Melbourne

In a world of maybe just too many restaurants it is refreshing to find one that is truly different. Not only in the way it looks and "feels" but in the type and quality of the food served. Somewhere you go and you just have to tell your dining buddies about it. A place where description almost fails to define the experience. Where visuals flash before your eyes. An experience that lives on in your head long after the bill has been paid. A rare culinary experience that just want leave you.

Of all the restaurants on South Bank Melbourne Spice Temple is different. It is very dark and mysterious. It gives little away as you enter. Sweet Thai smells of lime and coriander tantalise your senses the minute you are seated. Your hart quickens and you look around as you anticipate your evening ahead. The surroundings are simple if not a little understated. You have your own little seating area with a small dim lamp above. Holding the menu to the lamp you attempt to read the lists of dishes. Service is efficient and friendly, the music modern and appropriate.

I would describe the food as "gorgeous". Rich spice without the burn but just enough heat to herald its arrival. Complex flavours which enhance and intertwine with one another. No one spice competing with the other. A marriage of flavours and textures all happening in your mouth. You yearn for more and each dish brings its own signature and leaves its mark on the total experience.

I selected the whole baby snapper and my wife prawns. We never share our meals but this time we had to try what the other had selected. Both dishes were a perfect "10". The quantity was ample, the presentation excellent. As the food descended the experience ascended to bookmark the moment. Wine selection was good and prices reasonable. Once more the bill said "South Bank" but the experience was heavenly. Spice served with food to celebrate its own existence, to flag its part of the meal and to never let you forget: "you were there".

Spice Temple is a shrine to flavoursome food, rare dining experience and the celebration of good eating. It is alive with the desire to impress and impart good times, joy and life. live there.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bowmore and Grouse - Whisky

I love me whisky but 'tend to drink what I can afford. In the past I have had a dram or two of the Tullamore Dew and Bushmills Black Bush. But for everyday sipping The Famous Grouse at $38 a bottle suites my taste and budget. Occasionally Ballantines drops to closer to the $30 mark and though I prefere the Grouse, it is another whisky I can enjoy. With Tullamore Dew and Bushmills I find a bit too much spirit though they are both an excellent whisk(e)y.

Then we have Bowmore Single Malt Scotch. The Grouse has a light bouquet and is not heavy on spirit and more gentle on the stomach than spirited single malt Irish etc. Bowmore is all about nose. Open the bottle in a room and most people and within a few minutes will all identify the "smell". But when Bowmore's hits the lip you know why many go for the single malts. They are distinct and heavy. Bowmore use an Islay (eye-la) malt which I think gives this whisky its nose and rich taste. According to the Web site the Islay malts are renowned for their peaty/smokey flavour. This is a very serious whisky but not at a very serious price. About $65 should get you a dram or two or even 700ml.

Laphroaig at $90 a 700ml bottle was the first whisky I had enjoyed which yielded this heavy bouquet. Again Laphroaig comes from the Islay region (Scotland) and uses the local malts. At $90 and a little hard to get, give me the Bowmore's. Very similar in overall tastes and a big difference in price. But for day-2-day "whisky after work" the Grouse for me is a no brainer. If you drink enough whisky no brainers come easy. Get drunk in moderation.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons - South Bank Melbourne

Not often I have a chance to dine then jump the notebook and post a review. Staying at the Crown Promenade gave my wife and my good self a chance to try somewhere and something new. Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons is quite different. When you first enter you get the impression it is all very dark and mysterious. In fact finding a spot to park the butt where there is enough light to read the menu is almost a challenge.

Some one has taken early Italian restaurant style eating and brought it to Melbourne. The bar and floor staff are clad in white lab coats and the maitre'de in a morning (funeral) coat. The interior is yellow stained marble (Giallo Siena), geometric patterned ceramic tiles, extremely tall stools and dark timber. There is a lot to like about this chunk of Italy which has been transported to Australi. Wine pours from taps in a marble wall into a huge marble trough. Carafe and half carafes are poured this way. Mine was a Crittendon's light red (Ross0 - chilled).

Your knife and folk are held at your table in a dispenser with dipping oil. A good helping of sliced bread, dipped in the oil at you table gets the juices flowing. The oil was good but not great. I chose the pork sausage in pasta, Mezzi Rigatoni, with a chili source and my lady wife the Arancini. My wife said her meal was fine but for me I found the pork sausage over cooked and hard. The pasta was firm and the source just spicy enough. Good source. My meal was pleasant without being stunning. The pork "bits" just had no taste or texture to them. Sad really.

This place would seat huge crowds, it is a massive establishment which stretches on forever and offers a few different seating arrangements. Great place for a celebration, birthday or anniversary. Service is good, staff are young and friendly the bar well stocked with every beer, wine or spirit you could imagine. Price is "South Bank" but you are getting something different. I'm sure the next time I "chow-down" in this slice of early Italian "cucinain" my dish will be "molto bello"! If you do nothing else, while in South Bank Melbourne, look in the door. It is well worth it.