Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pizza Napoli - Melbourne

I worked in the heart of Melbourne for about twenty-five years and ate at many different restaurants over that time. Now I just visit the city four or so times a year. On a few occasions now I have found myself late in the city looking for somewhere to eat. On three occasions I have dined at Pizza Napoli. First I had a pasta meal the last two a Pizza. One very good thing about this smallish restaurant is they served Frost beer in bottles. Not anymore I discovered recently. They do have a good substitute though.

First time I tasted Frost is when I dropped into a small bar opposite the the Trevi fountain in Roma Italy. The barman pulled the beer from a tap. All I can remember it was one of the best beers I have ever had and was delighted when I learned Pizza Napoli stocked it. You will find this “Italian job” in Russell Street near Collins Street and it has been there for many, many years. Service can vary from warm and friendly to cool but always polite and professional. Service is quick even on a busy night.

I’m not sure how “traditional Italian” the food actual is but in this case who cares. It is always good. The gourmet pizza I had last was delicious and though I had a large to myself I didn’t want the eating experience to stop. This almost hidden little city gem will not disappoint even the fine diners amongst us. Ingredients always appears first class and the food comes hot and hearty though presentation is basic. Menu is extensive and always backed by a board of specials. Beer and wine list is sufficient. Find yourself late in the evening, or out for some lunch, in the city of Melbourne, dig up this little gem of Italy. Chow.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thai Restaurant - Somerville

This large Thai restaurant is situated in the Centro shopping centre off Eramosa Road Somerville. There is plenty of parking out front of the restaurant and provided you book ahead you should have no trouble getting in for a feed. After saying that, for two days leading to our night at the restaurant, I rang and left messages for a booking. I was told I would be rung back by the answering service. It never happened but I did get in. I had heard enthusiastic reports about this Thai eat house and was looking forward to it.

Funny when you go to an Italian, Chinese or Thai restaurant you expect to see something from that country or decorations and furnishings that might make you feel “you are there”. Ambience? This joint – nothing. It is large, open and modern but they could have served-up a Hungarian goulash or Moroccan Lamb, the decor was non-descript. Where am I again?? Hey I don’t need to be greeted by a reclining Buda to enjoy Thai food. Bring on the good food for which this place is famous.

Selections are made from a Hogs Breath style menu. Entree was ordinary but I still had main to go. Well at least they are consistent here, main was ordinary too. The food was Thai style and some of the wait staff are genuine Thai - khawp-khun. They must laugh at us for what we think Thai food is like. I spent a few weeks touring all over Thailand and islands. The genuine Thai food served in Thailand is delicious, spicy and exciting. If you are a McDonalds fan you’ll love it here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Salix - Willow Creek Vineyard

The Mornington Peninsula exposes as many excellent restaurants as it hides. Being such a large expanse of heavily treed, green area of rolling hills, vineyards, farms and of housing. It’s not hard to stumble on a place of interest you may not have known even exists. This happen to me while driving to Balnarring. I stumbled across Willow Creek Vineyard. The long drive into the property takes you right up to the old homestead which is one of the quaintest four chimney homes I have ever seen. It is perfectly preserved and the surrounding grounds well kept.

But the restaurant: Perched up on the highest part of this expansive estate is Salix. This complex comprises bar, casual eating area and fine dine eating restaurant. With floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking rolling vineyards the view is as beautiful as it is staggering. There is also a large decked area for those who like to stay close to Mother Nature. I arrived for lunch and chose the casual eatery. The complex is modern, simple and spacious.

It is a bit hard to judge food quality without ordering a full meal. I went of the tasting plate and though I thought it a little costly for what you get it was well presented and of the highest quality. The tasting plate would be good over a wine or two mid-afternoon or as a light lunch. Big eaters forget it you’ll lose weight on this one. Service was prompt and efficient if not just a little cold. The wine list heavily supports the local grower which is great to see.

This would be one place I would recommend if you are not from these parts and wanted to sample the local “noble rot”. The whites are what the Peninsula is best at (in my opinion) and there is an extensive selection on the list. Also tastings are available on the premises so you can try before you buy. Willow Creek Vineyard is beautifully presented, hosts tranquil views of rolling vineyards and has some excellent local wines to savour. Put it on the list.