September Dining Round-Up

Excellent pepper steak with great crispy chips at Montmartre Cafe

After spending the first half of September in Queensland, mostly pigging out on steaks…

AMAZING rainbow and mint chic chip ice creams with sprinkle cones at Sea World

ice creams…

My favourite kebabs EVER in the whole world at Sahara – we went back more times than I’d like to admit…

kebabs…

We’d heard that BBQ Baron was supposed to be a pretty decent burger joint but this experience was very average.

and burgers…

French Vanilla Pancakes – stack of 3 pancakes with butter and maple syrup ($10, fruit and ice cream extra)

….I got back into the (only slightly) healthier meals once I returned home to Geelong and back to reality. This month there were some great breakfasts, starting with Biagio’s – a relaxed yet professional Italian dining room in Niddrie. Jono’s pancakes were pretty much flawless, fluffy and hot served with real maple syrup and generous portions of fruit and ice cream.

Eggs Florentine – 2 softly poached eggs with spinach and hollandaise sauce on a toasted English muffin ($10).

My eggs florentine brekky was great too, and the hollandaise – although not the best I’ve had – was laced with wholegrain mustard, making for a nice twist to the famous sauce.

 

Lemon meringue pie ($13)

 

Armageddon Cake is a cute little dessert bar that opened in late 2011 and, despite hearing rave reviews, I only managed to get myself down there a few weeks ago. We should have visited sooner – the venue is more ‘lounge’ than ‘bar’; in fact, it’s just like being in a friend’s lounge room. Jono loved it as he got to sink into one of the big, old, comfy chairs in the front corner and relax with a hot chocolate and a massive piece of cake. As well as the pie, we had an excellent sticky date pudding, and the coffees and peach nectar were delicious too. Armageddon Cake’s friendly staff serve up an ever-changing menu Thursday to Saturday from 8pm-11pm. It’s a much needed nightspot for Geelong – I love that they don’t even open until many of Geelong’s restaurants are closing their kitchens.

 

63 big brekky with scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, spinach, hash brown & kransky sausage on zeally bay sourdough toast w side of 63 baked beans ($21).

and

Sweet potato & bacon hash cakes with roasted beetroot relish, rosemary & feta scrambled egg with chive hollandaise ($16.5)

You can’t really go wrong when it comes to breakfast and brunch at 63 Degrees. Generally, both the Highton and Pakington Street stores get it right and I couldn’t help but revisit an old favourite, the sweet potato and bacon hash cakes. I love this meal; the hash cakes are beautiful little balls of carbs that go perfecctly with the fresh beetroot relish, the scrambled eggs are always creamy and the hollandaise sauce at 63 is probably my favourite in Geelong. Jono was equally happy with his big, man sized breakfast.

 

Two scrambled eggs on sourdough with smoked salmon and hollandaise ($15.50)

The new Winter’s spring menu is fantastic – it has some really interesting breakfast choices that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in Geelong, like an open crab omelette with fresh papaya salad, or vodka cured salmon gravlax on charred rye with sauce vierge, cottage cheese and micro herbs. On this occasion, however, I was craving a simple breakfast of eggs and smoked salmon, again with my old favourite, hollandaise – I reckon Winter’s takes second place in the unofficial “ravenous melbourne’s Best Hollandaise in Geelong” competition.

 

Jono and I took a trip to my old neighbourhood, Port Melbourne, for lunch before catching the VFL semi final. I’ve only been up that way a handful of times since moving back to Geelong two years ago, and it was interesting to see how many of the local cafes are no longer there or have changed hands. Port Melbourne can be a really funny place for dining out and it took us a while to settle on a venue. Creme was nothing spectacular, but it did the job – we ordered a big, carb-y lunch of pasta, Turkish bread and arancini balls. The portions were big and good value, and while this place won’t have you raving, it’s a quick, reliable option with lots of menu choice.

 

And it wouldn’t be a round up without a few dishes from my work at The Shed @ Terindah Estate – this month for staff lunches we’ve been treated to some really beautiful eye fillet served simply as is, or in a fresh salad accompanied by organic chicken, confit garlic bread and Andy Pye’s famous Russian potato salad.

Advertisements

Pei Modern – my new favourite

Pei Modern

45 Collins Street

Melbourne

VIC 3000

(03) 9654 8545

I’ve been far too busy lately to attend to the backlog of draft posts waiting to be published on this blog, but I have to share these images from Mark Best’s Pei Modern – my new favourite restaurant.

These photos are from Pei Modern’s mini degustation, excellent value at $50 per person.

Parmesan, anchovy shortbread

Blue swimmer crab, almond gazpacho

Seared calamari, spinach puree

Pork, quince, radicchio

Vanilla bean ice cream, rhubarb


Sorrel ice cream

I’ve been to Pei Modern twice now and ordered this gazpacho both times – it’s fantastic, with each flavour component (the smooth, creamy gazpacho; the soft crab; the fresh, crisp grapes and the strong taste of the coriander) playing its part and working in harmony with all the other ingredients. I love this restaurant for the way it provides really beautiful, innovative meals at an excellent price, and I love that you can come for breakfast, lunch or dinner or just have a bite at the Pei Bar. As well as the amazing food, the venue itself is great and the team is solid – Sommelier-manager Ainslie Lubbock recently took out the Good Food Guide’s Service Excellence Award, and Pei Modern itself won Best New Restaurant. Congrats to an excellent and very worthy team.

Oakdene: quick review

Oakdene

255 Grubb Road

Wallington

Victoria 3221

(03) 5255 1255

oakdene.com.au

It was a work dinner and I wasn’t going to worry about taking snaps, but after the amazing food, wine and service we had at Oakdene I had to share. From Wednesday to Saturday, Oakdene offers a choice of entrée and main course for $58 per person.

Diamantina Wagyu Eye Fillet Carpaccio, Crispy Potato, Truffle  Pecorino, Soft Egg Gribiche, Watercress Salad, Horseradish Snow

This was incredible, the highlight of the night for me in terms of food. The flavour of the cheese and truffle was so strong, balanced out by the delicate wagyu. Served cold, this was a dish that really focused on textures and made for an interesting and surprising meal.

14hr Kurobuta Sticky Pork Belly, Roasted Sea Scallop, Shredded Raw Potato & Garlic Slaw, Crispy Pigs Ear

Queenscliff King Fish, Portarlington Mussels, Finger lime Salad, Pickled Wombok

Broccolini with slivered almonds


We polished everything off very easily; it’s the kind of food that leaves you wishing you could pick up your plate and lick it clean. The sauces on my kingfish were so moreish and left me scraping up every last bit.

Oakdene Dessert Tasting Plate

The menu reads:

Selection of our desserts served on a platter to share
(Minimum 2 person’s $5 pp supplement)

Lemon Meringue & Strawberry Gateaux, Crème Fraiche Sherbet

Textures of Chocolate, Honeycomb Ice-Cream

Banana, Toffee & Espresso Cream Pie, Salted Caramel Ice-Cream

“Knickerbokerglory” Peach Nectar, Peach Yoghurt, Peach Compote,
 Strawberry Granita, Vanilla Bean Ice-Cream

 This is how I love doing dessert – tasting just a little bit of everything. The salted caramel ice-cream was fantastic, the highlight of the plate for me.

Oakdene is a fabulous special occasion restaurant. The venue consistently receives rave reviews from both in-the-know locals, and visitors travelling long distances just to experience the incredible food, and now I understand why – it’s well worth the drive.

Oakdene Vineyards Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sydney weekend: Guillaume at Bennelong

Guillaume at Bennelong

Sydney Opera House

Bennelong Point
 Sydney NSW
 (02) 9241 1999

Sunday night’s episode of MasterChef was exciting for me and Mum. We’ve just returned from a girl’s weekend in Sydney where we spent out first night at the amazing Guillaume at Bennelong, and it gave us a buzz to see all the amazing dishes we ate again – as well as seeing the very wait staff who served us. Last week we chose to have a sort of mini degustation – a choice of dishes from a four course menu for $140 per person.

The restaurant has a good cocktail list with an emphasis on martinis. We decided to start the night off with a few excellent Japanese slippers…

… and a choice of two complimentary breads: slices of fresh sourdough, or this brioche with caramelised onions – a beautiful little starter and a nice point of difference to the plain bread often served in fine dining restaurants.

OYSTERS

cucumber jelly, yuzu cream

As soon as I saw oysters on the starters menu, there was nothing more to think about. Cucumber jelly was a great accompaniment – it let you taste the fresh, salty oysters whilst just providing a bit of clean, refreshing flavour.

DUCK RILLETTES

duck parfait, port jelly, truffle salad, brioche

Similar to a pate, the rich duck and truffle salad was matched perfectly with simple brioche.

SCALLOPS

(R0ttnest Island, Western Australia)

lemon emulsion, watercress veloute, Sterling caviar

This was probably my favourite dish, and both of us ordered it. This was scallops at their best and as they should be; plump, perfectly cooked and with a beautiful texture. The lemon emulsion looked so delicate yet was so full of tangy flavour, and the crisp disk of potato was the perfect base for those little bubbles of caviar.

STEAMED PINK SNAPPER

clams, mussels, braised endive, sea urchin butter

Continuing on with my seafood theme for the evening, I chose a beautiful, delicate piece of snapper served with a rich butter and Guillaume’s famous ‘Paris mash’ – the most silky smooth mashed potato I’ve ever had. The waiters came around with a big bowl of the mash and served it right there at the table. The creamy, buttery mash is, as described here by The Age, “potato heaven and wickedness itself”, but a spoonful is worth every calorie.

DEBONED RIB EYE OF TAJIMA WAGYU BEEF

(500 day grain fed, F1, marble grade 7-8)

shimeji mushroom, baby spinach, shallot, merlot sauce

As happy as I was with my main, I’d have to say that Mum’s pick was the winner – amazingly cooked wagyu was served with fairly simple sides and sauces to let the amazing rib eye remain the star of the dish.

 Vanilla Panna Cotta with Fresh Strawberries

Between courses, we were served these little complimentary desserts. We laughed when we saw it was a panna cotta – my Mum is not a fan after a few bad experiences – but it was great and even she actually really enjoyed it.

FRESH RASPBERRIES

pistachio gateaux, vanilla cream, creme brûlée, raspberry sorbet

This is such a simple looking dessert but there is so much going on on this plate. Always a sucker for creme brûlée, I loved the way these mini brûlées were served, perfectly circular and standing on their own. Smooth vanilla cream was a perfect base for the raspberry-themed dish, and those simple, fresh, plump raspberries were left to shine on their own.

VALRHONA CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE

vanilla bean and cherry ripple ice cream

 

As I’ve mentioned previously on the blog I don’t have a massive sweet tooth, but this was a perfect chocolate souffle that would leave any chocoholic in absolute heaven. The souffle was brought to the table with its top still intact, then our waiter spooned the vanilla bean and cherry ripple ice cream on top. It pierced the surface of the souffle and sunk to the middle, forming an amazing mix of flavours and hot, cold, smooth and gooey textures.

Our girls weekend was a special trip, and Guillaume at Bennelong was the perfect way to kick it off. Service was excellent and the food was unforgettable – I highly recommend it as a special occasion destination next time you’re down at the harbour.

Guillaume at Bennelong on Urbanspoon