Thursday, November 27, 2014

Epicurean - Red Hill, Morington Peninsula

Epicurean sits with a group of other restaurants and stores at a major “T” intersection in Red Hill. The Long Table is on the same grounds. This area and indeed Red Hill itself is packed full of nice eateries. You must try all of them including wineries. But Epicurean is huge compared to most other smaller or even boutique restaurants.  It is like a massive barn with an exceptionally high ceiling. Broad, wide, open and airy. Not only are you confronted with one very large main eating area but there are a number of other more private areas. These can be hired out for weddings, parties and anything.  And each has its only little feel and character.

The quisene is basically Italian\European and very good. We ordered pizza and a seafood linguine plus a bottle of red wine. All meals were absolutely first class and the bread which accompanied the meals was delicious. Our waiter, Giuseppe, was cheeky and fun and could take it as well as he could give it. The staff is efficient and friendly and nothing was too much trouble and there is plenty of parking.  The whole dining experience was fun, satisfying and ensured we will be back. Even if it’s just to say hi to Giuseppe!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

tides - Caloundra, Sunshine Coast

You would like to think that a restaurant which carries a number of local awards for food and service would be good. Well you are right in the case of "tides" in Caloundra. Perched up on the second floor with a view of the water, this modern styled, classy eatery put on a real performance. This multi-award winner restaurant served us and wined and dined us with gourmet seafood treats.

Service was warm and friendly and with a few others to serve, was also timely. Both my wife and I had supped well on the Sunshine Coast this trip. Wherever we ate we were always very impressed with the quality of the local seafood. Tides just took the whole experience of good food, location, ambiance and service one step further. Food was delicious (as you have gathered) wines were fine (with good selections) and the total experience very enjoyable. Need I say more?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Table Manners - Dicky Beach Sunshine Coast QLD.

In other posts on this blog of have spoke of the excellent seafood on the Sunshine Coast. Especially in the Moffat Beach\Dicky Beach\Caloundra region.  You do have to go to an expensive restaurant to get really excellent seafood meals here. The cafes in the Moffat Beach area can provide you a very good meal at pub price and leave you very satisfied with meal size and food quality.

Table Manners, in Dicky Beach, is a casual restaurant offering a little more than food with books, fashion items, art etc. We went for the food. Can’t comment on the rest but I can definitely make some remarks about the consumables! We were up from Melbourne for a beach wedding and Table Manners were chosen for a get together meal prior to the ceremony the next day.

This was our first experience of food in the area (we staying at Moffat Beach) and were extremely impressed. From the scallops entree to the main meal, both my wife and I kept commenting on how beautiful (no other world will do) was. All on our very extended to table had nothing but praise for the food. The quality was “fine dining” grade. Wine was a little pricey but the wine list was extensive. Beers etc. were also well covered.  The restaurant was packed being a dry and cool Friday night so service was a little slow. More than well worth the wait. Don’t wait, book or try your luck and just drop in. Tell them Mark sent you. Lol.

Kasturi - Frankston, Victoria

My favourite “exotic” quisene would have to be Indian. My wife and I have a well visited Indian restaurant only minutes drive from us which is our “go to” restaurant of choice. On suggestion of some friends we tried Kasturi after a night at the Frankston cinemas-“100 Foot Journey”.  A great movie by the way. Indian was on our mind after the movie and Kasturi was only around the corner.

Being a Wednesday night the eatery was sparsely inhabited.  Decor is a little ho-hum but the music was at least Indian flavoured. Speaking of flavours this humble venue is now our fav. Indian. The menu was extensive in contrast to the wine and drinks menu. This is a BYO shop so I would not expect a huge selection of beverages. Looks like they offer re-labelled clean skins, bring your own. I went for a Brown Bros. Lexia, intending to have a spicy lamb dish. What was a very pleasant surprise was the lemon rice. It had a slight buttery flavour with just a hint of lemon. Nice change.

Service is Ok, parking - easy on a Tuesday night. I would imagine a local parking area would be required on a busier night. Food was absolutely delicious though I felt my lamb a little dry. It was tender and fell apart. My wife raved of her beef meal. Sauce is the source of enjoyment in Indian food. And the sauce was good, very good.  The breads we had as entre' were also very good, in fact excellent also. I have to recommend this restaurant even if you are not a hard core Indian food lover. As I stated early in this post – our new fav. “go to” Indian food shop. Don’t wait  for a night at the movies to get you in the mood. Just go!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Moffat Beach Cafes - Sunshine Coast, QLD.

The Sunshine Coast has the allure of sun, surf and food (yes at 62 it is now food).  What we did find was even at any reasonable cafe the seafood in the area is exquisite.  We stayed right on Moffat Beach in “The Norfolks”, 4th floor, looking over the pool. The apartment we stayed in was richly furnished and the view, across the water to the horizon, stunning. We felt spoiled. Five minutes’ walk from our apartment you are in the Moffat Beach cafe precinct.  Let’s eat.

Cafe by the Beach
I had cooked a big brekky back at the apartment but by 1pm needed a top-up.  I really didn't want a big meal and walked down to Cafe by the Beach for a small lunch. I chose a Calamari and Caesar salad for lunch and nearly fell off my chair when the food was delivered.  This was a big meal. At close to pub prices the serving size and quality of food was really excellent. I have to say the seafood here is first class, service friendly and efficient and ambiance modern and open. Dine in or out. I can recommend this restaurant. I came away very satisfied and full. Happy man.

Blackwater Trading Co.
If you like beer Blackwater Trading Co. will fill your tummy and satisfy any craving for fine beer. All beers on tap are exotic, full bodied and delicious. I didn't eat here but sipped all bar one of the beer from tap. My brother, who brews his own, assisted with beer evaluation.  He too was very impressed. Not hard to spend an afternoon here just sampling the fine ales and enjoying the view. Indoor or outdoor the view and company are tops. Once more a warm, casual and friendly staff. If you like fine beer, this place is for you.

Sunny’s @ Moffat

My wife and I dinned here twice and both times for breakfast. In fact I wanted to go somewhere else for the second breakfast but was over-ruled, so it was Sunny's @ Moffat. She loved her first breakfast here and wanted to repeat the experience. I wasn't overly impressed with the first but loved the second. Food quality is good, presentation very good and service friendly and professional. BUT the music they play for breakfast is heavy metal and too loud. We had to ask staff to turn down the music in a packed cafe with every diner talking loudly. Thank God they did comply. No real reason not to eat here. I think you would be pleased with the experience. Give them a try.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Kebabs on Bell - Heidelberg, Victoria

Souvlaki and Kebabs are something you may eat at 2am after a night out at a club or pub. At that time of the morning you are probably not too fussy just how good they are. You need to eat and these tasty take-aways are filling and easy to handle. Do a spot of shopping through the day and not feel like a big sit down high priced meal, a Kebab for lunch or dinner is a no brainer.

I had to take a drive to Heidelberg to test drive a new car. Before leaving I Googled where to eat nearby and timed the test drive to finish right on lunch. After ready a number of really bad reviews about some the cafes and take-aways in the area I settled on Kebabs on Bell. Not one bad review graced the page of this Urpanspoon entry, in fact, the reviews were gushing. Good enough for me. In fact I was a little excited to give this place a try.

I’m not sure whether you would call them a Kebab in a roll or a Souvlaki but my freshly made Kebab was huge and delicious. Turks were eating here which is always a good sign. Not only was the bread smoky flavoured with just a hint of burnt bitterness but unbelievably fresh, cooked to absolute perfection. I questioned the staff if the made the bread on premises, “of course” was the answer. I could have eaten the huge flat roll with nothing in it. The onions and greens tasted fresh and snappy and the meat moist and full of flavour. I had the lamb. Most cafes use sausage meat and not 100% lamb, not here. Chicken was the other selection. To add to the flavour a garlic sauce was added.

I may have experienced the world’s greatest Kebab\Souvlaki, a huge fresh roll, fresh greens and onion and well cooked tasty lamb. The cafe is clean and neat and plenty of room for a few tables of friends, service is fast and courteous with lots of parking out front. If I had one minor quibble is a little more meat may have been nice but this is a very minor quibble.  Best Kebabs ever? I think so.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bottega - Melbourne City, Victoria

I don’t need an excuse to go into Melbourne City but when I have one I always chase-down a meal. Any reason to go into Melbourne is even a better excuse to “fine dine” at a new to me restaurant.  I had a watch repaired and it was high time I took the long train ride and picked it up. I visited Madam Fangs many years ago on two occasions and loved the food and dining experience. Coming into Melbourne was a great opportunity to visit Fangs again. But I couldn't find the restaurant.

 While searching for Fangs I stumbled across Bottega on Burke Street near Exhibition Street. Though an Italian restaurant there is little in the decor to show this. Decor is modern, simple and clean in light and bright tones. Big front windows allow the lucky dinners with a window seats to people watch and what better place than on Bourke Street.  In summer the windows can be slid open.

Wait staff, on my visit, were Italian and were very professional and chatty. The restaurant was quiet and service was prompt. The wine list is extensive with half bottles also listed. All wines are quite expensive with local, Italian and French wines listed. I selected a whole bottle of WA wine and though absurdly pricy, it was well aged (2012) and very nice drinking. I took the two course lunch offer and after washing it down with the vino, was more than enough for lunch. Music was just a little too funky for me but at least it wasn’t techno, dance or trance as in some other dining establishments.

Would I go back, hell yes! I dined alone but would jump at the opportunity to return with others and once more enjoy fine Italian\European quisene. Cured anchovies on a bread with capers and 13 hour cooked Waygue  lamb  and onion is only the start of it. Fine food, clean, simple decor, good service and in the heart of Melbourne, multi grazie.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

1001 Nights Restaurant - Mount Eliza, Mornington Peninsula

Every now and then you dine in a new place which you have not dine at before with the expectancy of a good time. You are never sure exactly what you are going to get. If you have friends who have visited recently and you trust their judgment and they give it the thumbs up you know you should enjoy your visit. The Mornington Peninsula is crowded with restaurants and cafes of varying quality. Just because they are on the Peninsula you are not guaranteed of a good experience. The quality of service and food can vary widely. Dining out is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get. Sometimes its hard to find the forest in the trees.

Serious and steady endeavor is always rewarded with good results. Never give up just because you have had a bad experience. Press on and find that eatery which satisfies, excites and rewards and makes you believe. So it is that I had the extreme pleasure of dinning at 1001 Nights restaurant in Mount Eliza. I was already prepared for a good night with my wife giving me a heads-up about this new restaurant in the heart of the Mount Eliza "village". A heads-up is one thing but nothing beats the subjective enjoyment of eating really good food. Its personal!

The Food is Middle Eastern and decor points in that direction but only just. The restuatnt has a modern feel. Kitchen is on display and you can watch chef employ his craft. Wait staff are very friendly, knowledgeable and efficient. Being on the corner of the main street and being wrapped in glass provides a great view, day or night. But I suppose you would like to know about the food? Parking is easy with some provided behind the restaurant but plenty of street parking. Now I'm teasing. Why? Because when you dine out you should be hungry to enjoy your food to the max and I'm holding you off so you now feel hungry also.

One word to describe the feast we were presented with? I want just one word which will some-up a genuine exquisite dining experience. That word has to be able to convey to you what a fabulous time was had at 1001 Nights. That word must convince you all four of us on the evening were extremely pleased with the meals we were served with ABSOLUTE NO RESERVATIONS!! To be thoroughly engrossed with food quality, portion size (large), taste, textures and flavors. To be surprised and pleased with the free bread and Dukkah at the start of the evening, overwhelmed be the portion size and variety of the dips we ordered. Then to be delightfully shocked once more by the beautiful food served to us as our main. All this at a moderate cost.

There is no one word only gushing prose could convey our delight and enjoyment of our dinning experience. The food is Middle Eastern with delicate smokey flavors and lightly perfumic where required. Add to this high food quality and a side salad which was dreamy and you have an excellent meal and a great night. Don't wait for an excuse, just go. 10\10 1001 Nights.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

China Bar - China Town, Melbourne

Birthday calibrations these days are generally held at a restaurant or even a cafe. If it’s a 21st or 30th or some special birthday you may upgrade the location from the local pub to a classy or better eating venue. For me it is more grist to the mill, yet another feed shack to revue.  My fav. niece had reached the age of 21 years and what better way to celebrate but with the families and her but at a nice eatery. We aren’t all lucky to be able to afford the fine dining venues of the world so some consideration should be made with regard to price per head. China Bar, in China Town Melbourne, was well priced for a buffet style evening meal and a great place for families (and our is much extended) to gather.

Of course with any major city locations parking can be difficult. Fortunately, in this case, there is a multi-story undercover car park right next door. China Bar is a massive complex stretched over two stories. On the second floor are toilets and the area can be hired for private functions.  We had the very front glassed area of the restaurant, on the ground floor, with a view of Exhibition Street. When it comes to food you may never see so much Asian style food anywhere else. Not only is there many, many types of seafood prepared many different ways but if the mood takes you or your hunger drives you, there is steak. All meat types are also available and of course all sorts of sides. Mussels, oysters and Moreton Bay bugs piled high beg to dine with you and a good place to start.

Then there are desserts. These appear as almost miniatures so grab a half dozen or so to sample a few different flavours. These desserts didn’t really excite me but the savoury part of my meal was very good. There is plenty of food and as a buffet you are free to re-visit as many times as your stomach will let you for $69. Many bottled beers and wines are on offer. I found both the house reds and whites very good and could see no reason to spend more.

Birthday, wedding anniversary, date night or just an excuse to eat out I would recommend China Bar. Rydges Hotel is next door (parking beneath) and Her Majesty’s Theatre across the road. Why not stay overnight after the show and a good meal. The only down side here may be the drum show part way through the night. If you enter and see the drums setup, sit well away. We were sat well back from the drums which were uncomfortably loud. Not a tune I recognised and not good dining music. Fortunately the show is only short. Apart from that one small complaint the place is “gold”.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Maleny Mountain Wines and Manely Cheese - Maleny, Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Queensland

Maleny Mountain Wines
While visiting my daughter and grandchildren in Mooloolah Valley I visited the Maleny Mountain Wines. This unusual Barrel shaped winery and cellar door is perched high in the hills but unfortunately there is no view with the cellar door facing onto the main road. I wasn’t here for the view but for a glass or two of the fine liquid - wine. I started with their unwood chardonnay. Most wooded chardonnays are too crisp and acidy for me and a lightly wood or unwood is more to my liking. This chardy was way too soft and really had none of the characters I would expect from a basically crisp wine.

My second glass was the sparkling white. Most champagne style whites have good acid and a refreshing finish but this sparkly (again) was too soft and had none of the bite I would have normally expected. Without being sexist I have found most ladies like their wines on the sweet, soft side. Both of these may appeal therefore but for me I felt there was just no character in either of the wines I tasted.  I wanted more and though I enjoyed my “sip” I wanted more on the lip.

What I am pleased with is two of the jams my wife selected. There are many other products at this winery to choose from so pay it a visit. Also there is a nice cafe – “The Mouse and Belle” on the grounds. Try their coffee and cake or go for something savoury. Both times we ate here it was very good.

Maleny Cheese
If in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland region (Maleny) you must visit Maleny Cheese shop and cafe. Most of the cheese is made on the premises and you can watch all this happening. What makes this cheese shop so special? Try buffalo milk cheese and other buffalo milk products, a triple cream brie, a cheese or feta with a huge variety of flavours; chilli, herbs etc. There are many other products for sale and tasting and a cafe for coffee or tea. Make this a must and try their huge variety of dairy delights. I did and loved it.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Aria - On the Brisbane River, Queensland

There are restaurants and there are restaurants. I may have said this before and it worth saying again. The step-up to fine dining from good or even great dining is a big one. You move into a whole new level of flavours, service, ambiance, presentation and experience. The food is always “off-the-planet” and along with presentation and service you feel really special. You are taken to another world, a world where only the finest food is prepared and served for you. Add this to some superbly fine wines and you are in for an exceptional time, where time is measured in flavours, textures and tastes. You are in Aria land and you may never want to leave.

Aria restaurant, in Brisbane, is right on the water’s edge with a view of the Brisbane River and sea craft. Very pleasant place to be, a great view and nothing better to compliment a fine meal. On being seated you are presented with a starter which compliments your first drink and gets you in the mood to peruse the menu. All the meals, mains, dessert or entre’s are going to be delicious so making your selection is going to be difficult but the rewards are well worth it.

Both my wife and I went with two courses, entre’ and main. As you are aware I usually don’t describe or even mention our menu selection but this being such a great experience I will detail them here. For entre’ I had the scallops in XO sauce. Only one word needed to describe this dish – “perfect”. For main, Wagyu steak, which was succulent and perfectly cooked and the accompanying “veggies” crisp and well presented.   We shared a side of truffled mash. Though this was OK it appeared to be made with potatoes and truffle oil. And though very nice, to me, it did not keep up with the quality of the rest of the meal.  My wife had the barramundi with peas three ways. We both just wanted more. After saying that the serves are of good portions so only the biggest eaters will feel hungry.

Wait staff are friendly and very professional, the decor; modern if verging on a little sterile. Drinks selection is extensive and for around the $65 mark a bottle of red or white can be enjoyed. With the scallops I had a glass of white and the steak, a red but only by the glass. Some wines were absurdly priced but you are not forced to buy them. For those who enjoy inflated restaurant wine prices, knock yourself out. 

To finish the meal a few fine sweet selection are a bonus and like the starters “on the house”.  In Brisbane? Then you must visit Aria, part owned by Matt Moran. You will be wined and dined in very fine form. You will come away feeling that you are just a little bit special, content and eager to go back and experience culinary delights in some of their finest forms. Aria, on the Brisbane River and on my re-visit list. Exceptional!!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ole Restaurant - South Bank, Brisbane, Queensland

While staying for a few days in South Bank Brisbane, my wife and I, made a really serious effort to hit as many restaurants and better cafes as we could. That is three meals a day plus drinks and afternoon teas and snacks. We then proceeded to Mooloolah Valley and once more sort out food stops. After five days of this “death by good food” coming home to simpler meals was well received.  For the next few entries I will post comments about the better eateries we dined at.

From French to Spanish there is truly a huge variety of different restaurants to choose from on South Bank, Brisbane. On our first night’s stay the Ole Restaurant was our first port of call. Dine inside or out. It could get quiet noisy inside with a full house and non-dinning music at volume. The best food idea here maybe is to order a number of small sample plates to try different flavours, tastes and textures. Of course you can order a large meal but for us we tried four different “nibbly” plates.

This is not fine dining and though the restaurant is large the food quality is cafe grade. But unlike a cafe, large or small, the wine prices are fine dining grade. The wine was excessively priced for local vino. We opted for their house red which was a re-labelled clean skin. YUK! This “shit” was awful. Go for a beer or something else and purchase drinks elsewhere. The food is OK without being stunning. Staff are friendly and helpful and sitting outside near the foot path was very pleasant on a cool Brisbane evening. Not my favourite eating establishment but try it for yourself.  Ole!

Theobroma - South Bank, Brisbane, Queensland

Theobroma advertise themselves as a chocolate shop but they are far more than that. Our first food date here was for breakfast. I had the French omelet which was huge and deliciously tasty.  My wife had mushrooms on toast again another large and scrumptious meal. Though the French omelet looked like a train wreck, with hollandaise source layered over it, it was extremely flavorsome and filling.  Both of us were surprised at the price of out meals. Very good value for money.

Coffee is also good so drop in for cake and coffee or chocolate and coffee. There is a huge selection of chocolates so one is bound to satisfy. Have a few with coffee and take a few with you. The ambience is a little upbeat and modern, lovely and cool inside with big open to the world windows. Staff is very friendly and some are French speaking as the chef is also French.  From the few meals we had here (both were breakfast) I can recommend you try their wares. Bound to excite.