Friday, July 4, 2014

Review | MELT Pizza

Have you heard the news? The great, fresh and delicious news? The opening of MELT Pizza in Windsor has created quite a hype - and with good reason too. Owners Dan and Elise have a great little idea on their hands. Pizza - with a fresh take.

In just a few words, it's like Subway for pizza. At MELT, customers can choose from a fantastic line up of classic pizzas, or let their creativity run loose and customise their own, from the sauce bases right the way through toppings and garnishes.

A group of friends and I decided to head down to MELT on a freezing Friday night. Keen to get some goodness in our tummies, we ordered pretty straight away after being greeted by Dan himself. He was super friendly and was more than happy to explain the concept.

While my friends all decided to customise their pizzas, I felt like tasting their take on a true classic and ordered the Margherita, but added a touch of extra garlic.

I also ordered a side of 'doughballs' which are served with a  garlic butter. These are exactly as described - little balls of dough. Heavenly little balls of hot delicious dough. I initially ordered these for us all to share, but when they got to the table, three of us accidentally ate all of them, and then tried to hide the plate/evidence from our other two friends. Awkward. But necessary. Please try these! (pictured below)

I do have to say, I was pretty impressed (and proud) of the toppings my friends ordered. It's so cool to see everyone be able to customise their dinners, and to see the differences and similarities between them all - like a pizza personality test!

Two of my friends are vegetarian. First up we have pumpkin, caramelised onion, capsicum, and capers, with mozzarella and served with fresh basil.

Next, we have mushrooms, eggplant, and goats cheese.

On to the meat eaters - we have salami, olives, mushrooms, spinach and mozzarella.

Last but not least, we have the Italian sausage, ham, friarielli (which is a strong tasting friend of spinach) and mozzarella.

Now you're probably wondering, great, we know what you all ordered, but HOW DID IT TASTE!? Well I've left it all to write together, because as soon as we had been served our pizzas (which was about 2 minutes after we had each ordered!!) our whole table descended into silence. Until we had finished, which to me just proves how delicious these pizzas were.

The pizza bases were so moreish. I told my friend off for not eating her crusts, but she assured me she was in fact saving them to eat last. And she did! The pizzas as a whole, were for me, and all of my friends agreed, exactly how pizzas were meant to be. Perfect. They were light, flavoursome, fresh and simply delicious. I can not find anything to fault the MELT pizzas on.

We had planned to go out for a few drinks after dinner, but to be completely honest, we all agreed that we were already 100% satisfied with the evening and decided to go home and mull about on the couch, totally content with our lives at that moment. 

MELT was a pleasure to dine at. All the staff were so helpful, friendly, and obviously happy to be there. They knew about the food and drinks they were serving and were great at giving advice or explaining anything. Dan was also kind enough to show us around through their outdoor dining area, and private dining room. Even though there was an icy cold wind blowing at the time, we could easily imagine the outdoor area would be perfect in summer - with a cool drink and perfect pizza!

On the way home, my friend was super quiet for a few minutes and then said she thinks she will have her birthday dinner at MELT later in the year! So it's a done deal - we'll all be back soon! Thanks to Dan, Elise and all the MELT team - we had a great night :)

Melt Pizza on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 27, 2014

Review | Maha

After hearing nothing but great things about Maha, my sister and I decided it would be the perfect place to take our parents for their Christmas present. 'Inspired by Shane Delia's travels through the Middle East and Turkey' the Spice Journey Sundays feature a four course sharing menu.

We order drinks to start, and I decided to go for the Lebanese Iced Tea, which was a mixture of darjeeling,
fresh mint, pomegranate molasses & pinenuts. It was so refreshing, and I really enjoyed having a pinenut snack while we were chatting.

My sister ordered a cocktail, but sadly I never got the name of it :( I think it had rose water. It was delicious and looked superb!

Our first course was so good, and I was so excited to get into it, I forgot to take a photo! It was soup, called Bissara, made from broad  bean, cumin, burghal dumplings, and was served with labneh which is similar to Greek yoghurt. It had such a delicate mix of flavours, and was a little bit smokey tasting. So good!

The second course was Mezze. This included olives 'fel fel', a dip of tarama (caviar), prawns and herbs, quinoa salad, with goji berries, walnuts, snow pea, miso and saffron, and lamb kefta, served with babaganoush, sumac and mint. We also got some fresh bread to mop up all the goodness.

This course was so good. I think my favourite part of it was the tarama dip. The little prawns that were served on top of the dip were so salty and zingy, I couldn't get enough of it. The quinoa salad had such a nice mix of flavours - the combination of miso and saffron was really intriguing. The lamb kefta, were cooked to perfection, and with the babaganoush the combination of the sumac and the mint, all in all, it was a spectacular dish.

The next course had my sister buzzing with excitement. I could tell by her anticipation that this was going to be the main event.

The Grill course consisted of grilled swordfish, with Brussels sprouts, parsnip and za'atar, a cracked wheat pilaf with fennel seed, tarragon and sunflower seed, and fattoush, served with sumac, roasted garlic and pita. And last but certainly not the least - slow roasted chermoula lamb shoulder, with a green olive tabouleh.

Ermagherrd. Where to start. Everything was excellent. The swordfish, was beautiful. The sprouts were delicate little baby sprouts, and the flavour of the parsnip, with the za'atar was super interesting and different to anything I'd ever really had. Za'atar is a type of Middle Easter spice mix, and it really added another dimension to this dish.

The lamb shoulder. While you read this paragraph, just picture a choir of angels perched up in the clouds singing in the background. Because this dish took me straight to heaven. Seriously. I was in love. If you think you have had slow roasted lamb, that falls away from the bone, think again. This was the juiciest, softest (best tasting) meat in the whole world. Served with the green olive tabouleh and a creamy quenelle of what I am now guessing was labneh, which is a type of fresh cheese, and only added to the deliciousness of the dish.

The pilaf was so good. I went back to the dish for seconds and thirds and almost forgot we were sharing -oops! It had quite a soft flavour, which I do like, and each bead of wheat was so nicely separate from the other, it was really tasty. The pilaf was a great accompaniment to the meat and fish dishes of this course.

The fattoush - which I had never ever had before, was really refreshing. The pita was mixed in to this unsuspecting bowl of salad greens, but once the flavours hit my mouth, I was mesmerised. Bold, fresh, zingy, colourful and light. This was not just any salad.

Sigh. My sister was right to have so much emotion invested in the Grill course.

The next course had a lot to live up to, but luckily it was the Sweets course! This featured Maha's famous Turkish delight filled doughnuts, with honey and walnuts. We also the watermelon and beetroot sponge, with beetroot ganache, with peppermint crisp ice cream served with rosewater ice AND a pecan spiced syrup cake, with white chocolate and date ice cream and strawberry powder.

The watermelon and beetroot dessert was meant to be a kind of palate cleanser in between courses. It was so fresh and happy. The use of beetroot as a sweet was really great with the mix of the watermelon and peppermint flavours. The beetroot ganache was unbelievably smooth. I wanted more!

The doughnuts were so sweet. Turkish delight is definitely up there on my list of favourite desserts, so as you can imagine, I was having a pretty good moment. This was a real treat.

Lastly, we tasted the pecan spiced syrup cake. This was pretty tasty! I wanted it to be a little bit more syrupy, since it was a syrup cake, to me, it was more like a tea cake - still cook though! This icecream was insanely good. White chocolate and date? Yum. But guys - strawberry powder?? Amazing. It tasted like the best fresh strawberries, multiplied by 100 time of goodness, and in a powder! So fun.

To finish off our lunch degustation we decided to have some traditional mint tea, which I love. Such a great end to a great lunch with the family.

I definitely recommend Maha, and the Sunday sharing menu is a great way to get a great feel for the menu.

Maha Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Review | Gelato Messina

After a nice family dinner, my sister and I decided to go on a secret excursion to Messina on the "way" home!

The weather had recently turned pretty cool, so I was surprised to see a queue of eager customers waiting to order their icecreams. The queue moved pretty quickly, and it wasn't long before it was our turn to order. While the queue itself was managed well - with staff handing out menus to us so we could start thinking about our options - the crowd inside the place was a bit of a mess. After being ushered inside to the far side, we noticed customers that were behind us in the original queue being served before us.

I decided to order two scoops, one of the Lychee Martini (a special that night) and the other of Pandan & Coconut. Lychee Martini. Amazing. I have no words for this. At my first taste I had a flashback to a time when I had picked a lychee from a tree, spent time meticulously de-shelling it and getting sticky fingers, all for one sweet bite of the perfect lychee. Now, I have never picked a lychee from a tree, but, this gelato had impeccably harnessed the big taste of the little fruit.

The Pandan & Coconut was also delicious. It had such a delicate flavour and smooth texture, it was a pleasure to eat.

My sister order two scoops as well. She chose the Honey Pot (also a special) which was hocolate, honey and coconut gelato with honeycomb, and Milk Chocolate with Choc Peanut Fudge for her second scoop. Both of these were excellent. After a little sisterly taste, I can only agree.

Lychee with Pandan & Coconut, Honey Pot with Milk Chocolate with Choc Peanut Fudge ($6 each)

Can't wait to go back to Messina and try some more flavours!!! Perhaps next time I won't have dinner so I'll be able to try more flavours :P

Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review | Hanoi Hannah

I've heard a few mixed reviews about Hanoi Hannah, but after having a quick look over the menu and website, I knew I wanted to try it for myself. For a couple of weeks now, E and I have been trying to not eat a whole heap of gluten, so Vietnamese food was definitely something we could easily eat.

On a windy Friday night in Melbourne, we left our details with the lovely Maitre D (is that term still in fashion?) at Hanoi Hannah, and he let us know that it would probably be about a half hour wait. Without fail, about 35 minutes later we received the call.

With such an ease that only experience eaters can display, we looked over the menu and quickly decided what to order.

For drinks, I ordered a rosetta wine, and E decided to try the lychee and pineapple slushie, and as soon as I tasted his slushie, I had drink envy. The wine was nice, but the slushie was superb. Try them!

First up, were the Yellowfin Tuna rice paper rolls. Wow, what a hit these were. The tuna was amazing, and with a tang from some wasabi, these were possibly the best rice paper rolls we have ever eaten.

Next we decided to get down and dirty with some prawn spring rolls. There is something so fun about rolling these babies up in a lettuce leaf, with the fragrant vietnamese mint. By the end of these we had our hands covered in dipping sauce, but our bellies were full of delicious spring rolls.

The next dish was by far the highlight for me. Do you know what glass noodles are? My mind was blown when I first had another glass noodle salad. Delicious would be an understatement. And served so perfectly by Hanoi Hannah, my mouth was in heaven. These noodles were served with shredded duck and a citrus dressing. I couldn't get enough of it. They were pretty generous with the yummy duck - and it was so tender and tasty. The salad had been doused (in a great way) with the zingy citrus dressing - I would love to know the recipe for this dressing.. it was great. I'll definitely be ordering this one again next time I visit Hannah! E and I were both so overwhelmed by this amazing salad that we accidentally lost blogger control and started eating the salad before snapping a pic...

Our last* dish was the grilled squid which was served with a chilli dipping sauce. The squid was cooked to perfection and the flavour of it was great. But to be honest, I'm pretty sure we were still discussing how great the glass noodle salad was while eating the squid :P

After a few minutes, E and I exchanged a quick look, and I knew we would be ordering one more dish as we both had just a little bit more room for something extra. We decided to try the tofu rice paper rolls. A blink of our eyes later, and we were eating them. These weren't as amazing as the tuna rolls we had at the start of the night, but they were still very tasty. And they came with a different sauce too - if it wasn't hoisin sauce, then it tasted like it! Om nom nom - these were good. And a great way to end our night at Hanoi Hannah.

Hanoi Hannah on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Review | Baby Pizza

Before heading out to a show at Rod Laver, I decided to take E to Baby Pizza for some pre-show dinner action. Scooping up the very last table at the bar and also overlooking the kitchen, it seems we got in with the best timing, as a line quickly formed at the front door for the next table.

We decided to order a Funghi pizza, the Rigatoni Al Ragu and a Piselli e Prosciutto salad, and share the lot.

The pizza arrived first, and we promptly dug right into it - as we were starving! With the first bite, came an extreme sense of satisfaction, knowing that every other bite to follow would be delicious. The flavours of the cheeses and the wild mushrooms were a great match. By the time the waitress came to deliver our salad, we had devoured the entire pizza.

Funghi Pizza - $21.50

Our next target, the salad, had no chance. The flavours seemed to sing out in happiness. Dressed in what looked like a delicate snowfall of parmesan, this salad was so fresh, and amazingly so. The prosciutto was so tender, it melted on the tongue, and, with the peas, the mint leaves and the slightest hint of a vinaigrette, not to mention the buffalo mozzarella, this salad was almost too good.

Piselli e Prosciutto Salad - $22.50

I have to say, all of the dishes we tried that night really made me remember just why I love good Italian food so much - the pureness and simplicity of the flavours, and the celebration a combination of fresh ingredients is always a winner.

We noticed that a good while had gone past and there was still no sign of our pasta. Our waitress followed up with the kitchen on its whereabouts (on her own accord), and still it hadn't found its way to us. When we received the pasta, we were so surprised to hear a sincere apology and an offer of a complimentary dessert, because we hadn't even complained, or thought about doing so yet!

Rigantoni al Ragu - $24.50

The Rigatoni was out of this world. I looked up to look at E and noticed he was almost in tears of joy. He had missed this traditional flavour - he said he never thought he would've tasted it again, and that it tasted just like what his nonna used to make. I knew that what I was eating was delicious, but in all of our eating adventures I had never seen E so utterly surprised and delighted about a meal (and we are passionate eaters!). This dish will definitely be ordered each time we return to Baby Pizza - and I hope there will be many returns!

For our complimentary dessert, we opted for their Pizza Dolce, and it was swiftly at our table before I even had time to ask if we could put a rush on the order, since the starting time for our show was quickly approaching. Not only was this made and ready in a matter of blinks, but the head chef brought it out himself, again profusely apologising for the delay with our previous order. E and I have never felt so special as restaurant customers ever before. We were so impressed, not only that they realised there was an issue, and quickly finding a solution to it, but that all this was done without even the slightest of complaint or negative breath from either of us. This was service at its best.

Pizza Dolce - $17.50

The Pizza Dolce was gone even quicker than the speed at which it was created. YUM was the only thing that was coming to our minds. This was a dessert pizza like never before. There was no overpowering chocolate, or marshmallows, or even cornflakes, banana or honeycomb. No. This pizza had class, and flavour. Poached pears, lemon thyme crumble, drizzled with a salted caramel sauce, and finished with a perfect globe of nougat ice cream.. all in my mouth. Let it be known that I will be ordering this again very soon.

Please do yourself a favour and head down to Baby Pizza for delicious and affordable food, and fantastic service. It is definitely worth the wait! See you soon Baby ;)

Baby Cafe & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review | The Merrywell

A lovely summery Melbourne evening...

For a catch up with some old friends E and I decided to head out to The Merrywell on a lovely summery Melbourne evening. We had never been there before, but we were very intrigued to take a look at the menu.

E and I are both cursed with being ridiculously on time all the time, and on this particular occasion, we were about an hour early. Luckily for us, our table was ready and we were able to wait for our friends while perusing and planning our meal. We decided to order some snackage while we waited, and, letting our eyes and stomachs do the ordering, we went for the Mac & Cheese bites and the Crispy Onion Rings.

The Mac & Cheese bites were very interesting. They were super cheesey, but I wanted them to have more Mac. The crispy exterior of the bites was perfect. I would probably order these again if I ever return to The Merrywell :)

Mac & Cheese Bites - $13
The onion rings were very crispy. I don't think I can fault these - they were tasty, crispy, and the lemon rosemary aioli on the side was great.

Crispy Onion Rings - $12

Moving on to our mains... after a great deliberation E ordered the BLT Sam-wich, and I, after a moment of weakness and confusion (seriously, I still cannot explain my choice), I ordered their fried chicken served with chocolate waffles and 'killer bee' honey.

The BLT was very impressive. With bacon, porchetta, pancetta, rocket, tomato, egg and aioli, it's not for the small-stomached. E downed this with no trouble, licking his fingers at the end as to not miss out on any of the goodness.

D&G BLT Sam-Wich - $27

My dish was confused. Was it a dessert? Was it a savoury dish? No clue. Don't get me wrong - I'm totally open for things like bacon with maple syrup. But for some reason I just couldn't wrap my brain around this one. So I stopped trying to find a solution, and just went right in for it. The chicken was cooked to perfection. The crumbs were delightfully crispy and sweet, and with the added sweetness of the fresh honey, they were great. The waffles - if they were supposed to be chocolate waffles, well, they could have been MORE chocolatey. They were served with some kind of sauce - perhaps with ricotta or marscapone in it - which was really tasty.

Our Fried Chicken - $27

Together, the waffles with the chicken, the combination was tasty. Again, I was wishing there was a bit more flavour to the waffles, but since the sweetness from the chicken and the honey was so strong, I decided it wasn't such a big deal.

I'm not sure whether I would order this one again if I had the chance - but that would be because I'd be more inclined to try something new.

The Merrywell was kind of fun in a way, because the menu is pretty fun, random and all food to splurge on - there are no diets here! It was a little overpriced in my opinion, however the decor, and service were all great when we were there.

I wouldn't be opposed to returning - it could be another fun night out trying more confused food!

The Merrywell on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 28, 2013

Review | 400 Gradi

400 Degrees of Delicious.

Continuing to explore some of Melbourne's best pizzas, as listed by Epicure, my sister and I were lucky to stumble across 400 Gradi for a late bite to eat. This turned out to be less of a small bite to eat, and more of an amazing pizza sensation.

400 Gradi are all about traditional Italian pizza. The chef here was the first Australian to train and receive accreditation from the AVPN, so you can be sure that the pizza's from his restaurant are guaranteed to be the real deal.

After some deliberation, we decided to order a two pizzas - The Frutti di Mare and the Caserta.

Tasting these pizzas was a game changer for me. Simple ingredients, perfect dough and amazing mind blowing flavour. Every inch of pizza to enter my mouth from now on will ever be compared to these. I was also hit with an indescribably urge to pack my bags and fly to Naples that night.

The Frutti Di Mare was so impressive. The seafood was so fresh, and my sister, coming from overseas where seafood is not so easily attainable was losing her mind and stealing my prawns. She was even bargaining a prawn for my scallop etc. The flavour was incredible. Matched with the San Marzano tomatoes, I didn't think life could get much better than this pizza, but then our Caserta came along.

Holy mother of deliciousness. This was heaven. The imported mozzarella di bufala (fresh.. FROM ITALY) with the San Marzano tomatoes was fantastic. The star of the show however was the Levoni prosciutto, that had been freshly sliced just for our pizza. I didn't think ham could get better than the San Daniele we had at D.O.C but this prosciutto was from the Gods.

400 Gradi on Urbanspoon