Wednesday, November 30, 2011

McKinnon Hotel - McKinnon

When you visit the McKinnon Hotel, if by its exterior you think it has been there for One-Hundred years, you’d be right. Try One-Hundred and Fifty years plus! It was originally called the “Gardeners’ Arms Hotel” because of the market gardening in the area. Inside it is thoroughly modern. Complete with bottle shop, pokies, lounge, atrium bistro, outdoor eats area and bar. The bistro atrium area is bright and airy and a great place for lunch.

The wine and beer list is extensive. Let’s face it if a pub can’t provide a huge wine and beer list then meals isn’t going to win customers. I go for their Stout on tap. I have eaten at the McKinnon on two other occasions and both times thought the meals excellent. Service too was efficient and prompt. This time I moved out of my pasta comfort zone and ordered crumbed lamb cutlets. Next time I’ll be more sheepish with my selection.

I waited an extraordinarily long time for the meal to arrive. There was only a few tables of patrons in the bistro and others got their meal ahead of mine. I just kept thinking “it’s going to be good that’s why it is taking so long”. But the meal wasn’t good and I waited far too long for it. The lamp meat, the cutlet, appeared OK itself but the so called crumbing was shocking. No other way to describe it. It looked like either the cutlets had been pre-cooked then re-cooked to server or they had been crumbed and frozen, therefore the lengthy wait. The crumbing was rock-hard and heavily chard in some areas and most of it fell off the meat as I cut into the cutlet. A very poor effort on chef’s behalf.

If this was my first and only meal at the McKinnon Hotel I would be saying “eat somewhere else”. Because I have had two excellent dining experiences here over the last year or so I would have no qualms to re-visit. Try the pasta and risotto and forget the cutlets. Or just go for the stout on tap.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Biscottini - Main Street Mornington

If you thought there is a lot of hair dressing salons in Mount Eliza try to count the number restaurants, cafes and take-away stores in Mornington. With completion like this in one main street you would think that standards in Mornington would be high. You would feel that each establishment wants to standout over the other in some way. Or is that being average really doesn’t matter because you are going to get the customers regardless. For whatever reason Biscottini’s is very average if not below par! With an exciting Italian name like this cafe has you would think you are in for something special. In a way you are, it is especially average.
There is no decor here which says “Italian” or even “European”. Its says “Average Cafe”. Eat on Main Street or in their large tabled area or catch a stool at the sliding open air window. Lunch menu is short except if you want it fried and with chips. I rarely choose Risotto but due to poor menu selection I chose seafood Risotto. The wine list has the lowest number of choices I have ever seen on a wine list anywhere. There was nothing local in the whites but at least Victorian.
The meal looked delicious. Prawns, scallops and sausage bobbing up everywhere. Wow! Unfortunately for my stomach this book was judged by its cover. The whole meal had no taste at all. It was creamy but not in a well prepared creamy way, more like squirted out of a tube creamy way. The prawns tough and tasteless and the scallops, not sure they really were scallops, tender at least. The parmesan cheese was fatty and lacked any zest. Risotto should be dry on the bottom, here it was quiet soggy.
I would suggest if you drop into Biscottini’s try a beer or a coffee and cake and chase meals elsewhere. If you are feeling average a beer and a watch of Ellen on the LCD TV might just be what you want. It maybe all you will get here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Canadian Bay Hotel - Mount Eliza

For many years you could not get an alcoholic drink, in a pub, in Mount Eliza. Though there is not a pub on every corning there is one quite modern one in Ranelagh Drive right in the heart of “The Village”. Canadian Bay Hotel or “CB” is divided into two parts. A bar where you can down a few with the lads and brag about the latest sexual conquests and the main longue where you can wine and dine a promise. The establishment is modern, open, smart and well run.

I dropped in for lunch mid-week. Though I have eaten here a number of times before this time I wanted to take notes for a post on the DineWineMeet blog. It was quiet with only a few tables taken. There are a few good beers on tap and I started with a Stella Artios. The Stella was a flat, first pour of the day and should not have reached my table.

I’m not a crepe man but I went for the Seafood Crepe. Prawns (probably frozen) were tough and so was the sqid but scallops were very nice. The sauce was buttery with a little too much salt for me but quite flavoursome. Would I order it again. Yes. Service was fast and polite, staff ready for a smile and a joke. The wine list, for both reds and whites, was very extensive with lots of Vic and Peninsula wines. I had the Pinocchio Pinot Grigio with the crepe which was excellent. Prices are about “pub” prices with the food “pub” food or just a little better. Small un-exciting salad as a side.

As I finished my meal I was completely distracted by the noise coming from the kitchen as staff were cleaning-up after lunch and preparing for the evening. There was far too much noise which detracted from the whole experience, good up to this point. I was well away from the kitchen but pity anyone even close to it. On top of the kitchen noise was some horrid old rock music, not afternoon relax over a drink music, forced out of noisy little speakers. Too bad “CB” you were so close to Michelin Star-NOT. I would still go back though, even with zero Michelin Stars.