Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mentone Hotel (Edgewater) - Mentone

If you live around the Mentone/Beaumaris area you will know there are not dozens of Hotels to “wet your whistle” like Frankston. Frankston has three pubs and a night club on one corner.  The two in the area are the Beaumaris Hotel and the Mentone Hotel (Edgewater).  The Mentone Hotel is a sprawling grand old hotel which has had a number of make-overs over its very extensive existence.  It’s definitely modern inertia supports a number of bars and indoor and outdoor eating areas. There is plenty of off street parking.

This hotel attracts better than its fair share of the younger set. Live entertainment is provided on most of the popular nights but it would require more than this to bring the predominately young crowd. There is a number eating areas and most are large and open. Catering for large groups is easily accommodated but bear in mind this is a family hotel. If you out for a quiet romantic night pick where you sit carefully.

Bar staff are a little casual and you may find others being served before you regardless of how long you have been waiting. Table service is better and staff are friendly and reasonably efficient. This is not a fine dining restaurant so don’t expect high quality food perfectly prepared. This is a pub after all and serves pub food. Drinks are reasonably priced and there is a huge range of beers, wines, cocktails and soft drinks.

For me a good and varied selection of beer on tap is important. This hotel does have that.  If you like to try some different beers on tap in a pleasant environment amongst the younger set, take a trip to Mentone. It can be noisy so once more for the romantic evening choose your seat wisely. Enjoy.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cerberus Beach House - Half Moon Bay Black Rock

Living on Port Phillip Bay certainly has its advantages even if, like me, you never visit the beach. We have a number of cafes ad restaurants which are situated right on the water’s edge.  These always provide stunning views of the bay and at the setting of the sun, gorgeous horizons. There is just something special about dining while looking out across blue water. In the warmer weather the sun lovers provide additional amusement.

Cerberus Beach House, right on the water’s edge at Half Moon Bay Black Rock, is a two storey affair with floor to ceiling glass doors showcasing some of the best bay views. There is plenty of parking but be aware some is for cars with boat trailers only and a ticket is required until 8pm. What’s left of Cerberus is still visible and there is a jetty for an after lunch stroll. Add to this the views of the beach and brightly coloured cliff face. Wow!

The cafe area is not overly large and a booking would be best to ensure a good seat. Book early and ask for a window seat. The folded glass doors open to bring you closer to Mother Nature. Service is good and staff and very friendly and informative. The menu is gourmet and fig and goat’s cheese bruschetta is a fine way to wake-up the stomach. The chilled muscles are a must.  There were four of us for dinner on a Sunday and all our meals were excellent.

The wine list may not be as extensive as other cafes but you should find something you like. Buy by the bottle for the cheapest way to hydrate unless you are by yourself and want only one glass. There are some inexpensive wines which should lessen the pain of a non-BYO dinner.

On Sunday night the cafe had a one man guitar and vocal show. What started out as a quiet song and strum soon became an annoyingly loud noise which table dwellers had to shout over to communicate with one another.  Unfortunately most entertainers inflict this treatment on their audience and believe if you like what they do quietly you will like it more LOUD! WRONG.  What could have been a perfect meal and evening with friends soon turned into a sore throat. Pity really. But don’t let this stop you from going. Find out when they DON’T provide entertainment and book.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mosskito - Clifton Hill

In and around the city of Melbourne there are many fine restaurants and cafes. Lygon Street holds some of the trendiest and on any given Sunday you will struggle to find a park to be a part of the action.  Up near the top of Hoddle Street (Clifton Hill) is a very large restaurant, night club and bar called Mosskito. I have eaten here a few time and both times pasta dishes.

Mosskito advertise to come hungry. Heed this wise advice the meal sizes are generous. The food style is Italian and quality is high. The drinks menu is sufficient without being extensive and the service is relaxed but efficient. I have only ever been here through the day for lunch so I can’t comment on what the night club is like. Toilets are modern and clean not something you see at every restaurant.  You can eat inside or out or stretch out on a Chesterfield leather lounge in front of an open fire during winter.

If you live in the area or are driving through fly in and take a bite at Mosskito the whole experience should be excellent. The inertia is modern and spacious and there is plenty of car park space. The building and some of the surrounding buildings are Art Deco. You get the feeling this is an old part of greater Melbourne and the Italian influence seeps through to make a pleasant time of it. The Buzz is high.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Morning Star Restaurant - Mount Eliza

Mount Eliza, on the Mornington Peninsula, has many quaint and interesting homesteads, farms, vineyards and restaurants. It also has history and some notoriety with the multi-acre homesteads of Sir Reginald Ansett and the Coles family. I, in a working capacity, have visited both properties and have seen first-hand their size and grandeur.  

One other property, which has intrigue around it, I did visit was Morning Star Catholic Boys Home in Sunnyside Lane.  This was first established in 1932 and extended in 1944 by the Franciscans.  The boys were not always treated well and some, being locked in cells for punishment, did not survive. I did see the cells before the whole complex was first transformed into a grand domestic home and later restaurant, vineyards, accommodation and reception center.  Rumor has it that some boys still roam the buildings and grounds. I have seen boy’s names penciled in nooks and crannies around the buildings.

Morning Star Restaurant and complex has some of the most beautiful gardens and grounds you will see anyway. Not only is it a large vineyard but also has a gallery on the grounds. There is lots of good reasons to visit here and give yourself the whole day to do so. My wife and I have eaten here a few times the most recent was early in 2012. We sat with a long table of a ten or so and enjoyed a two course meal while looking over the beautiful gardens. This was a Sunday afternoon and the restaurant was nearly full. Book ahead.

The food quality is high and in inverse proportion to the portion size. An entree of scallops is three scallops.  I will say it again the food quality is high and the scallops were excellent. All at our table enjoyed the meals but most commented on the size. The wine list is extensive and supports local produce. Table service may depend on your waiter on the day. On our table service was OK and a little humorous. If you are a big eater or don’t like expensive meals Morning Star may not fill your needs and you might be better satisfied at some of the Mornington pubs which are excellent. If fine dining, a stroll in the magnificent gardens and delicious food are what makes you smile, book a table at Morning Star, the experience will be no apparition.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Maggie Beer - Barossa Valley - SA.

I (and my wife) had recently posted an entry for the Barossa Valley in South Australia and included a number of memorable locations visited. One place we did visit but did not mention is Maggie Beer. When we visited Maggie’s eight years earlier we had quite an enjoyable experience.  We sat for lunch and was served a tasting plate with about a dozen different meats, quinces, pate’ etc. and a wine to go with it. The experience was memorable and we enjoyed it a lot.

This time on a re-visited we felt that Maggie’s (well deserved) success had taken away some of the uniqueness and quaintness of the place.  The lunch basket appeared lacking for the cost.  Bread rolls are a central part of the meal and when they feel stale and hard it impacts on the whole “luncheon” experience. Of course most of the basket was very nice and there were definitely some very good local products there.

A lake full of turtles is a very appealing sight and had us fascinated. The fact the Maggie puts on cooking demonstrations, free, is admirable and if you are into cooking this would be a highlight of the afternoon. A cooking lesson over a glass of wine, that’s for me! What did impress us immensely was the huge range of foods available for tasting. This is something you must do. Try everything in the shop.  You can help yourself to pate’, quinces, olives, sources, chutneys, etc. The range and depth of the products is overwhelming and all of them taste absolutely divine.  Don’t miss this tasting extravaganza. Don’t miss Maggie's.