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

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review | Estelle Bar & Kitchen

For my birthday, the lovely E decided to treat me to dinner at Estelle Bar & Kitchen, which had been recommended to him as a fantastic restaurant by some work friends. We never really head out to the Northcote area, since we are both suburban babies, but we were not disappointed - the staff at Estelle really know how to serve up a lovely, delicate meal.

We opted for the 5 course tasting menu.

To begin, we were served with a few little 'amuse bouches'. The first was a cube of melon served in edible wrapping, which had really lovely flavours. I wasn't too sure about the wrapping, but it definitely made the little cube look very pretty and very intriguing. Next up there were Jerusalem artichokes adorned with Persian fetta, which simply melted in my mouth.  Lastly for this plate was the fake chicken skin with yoghurt. This was good too - but I really wanted to know what the fake chicken skin was made out of! Does anybody know?

We were then presented with two bowls of what looked like white mousse, but after a small introduction, it turns out that it was a cured salmon gazpacho. This was great. It had a fresh and refreshing taste, which was perfect as it was a hot evening. Sorry for not having a photo of the gazpacho underneath the foam - I was distracted by the great taste!

The first course was a gorgeous arrangement of beetroot, orange and ashed goats cheese. We were told that the goats cheese was covered in a fake ash - but again, I didn't find out what it was really made from. This dish was decorated with a basil gel, watercress and the thinnest slices of radish I have ever encountered. I really enjoyed this dish, it was very light and so colourful.

Next up was one of my favourites of the night - the Estelle Tartare. Framed by the wafer thin shard of potato chip, the silky steak tartare was served with fresh herbs, tomatoes, and a quail egg! There was also a few dots of a apricot coloured sweet gel on the plate, which made for a great mix of flavours. The waiter poured the wonderously green sauce over our plates, and carefully explained that it was made from the stem of the garlic, which is where the intense flavour and great colour come from. I could not get enough of this sauce and I scooped up every last bit of this dish with the chip. This dish was a real highlight for me.

We were then promptly served the Blue Swimmer Crab Mornay which was topped with a lovely melty and crispy combination of brioche crumbs and parmesan. The flavours of this dish were very refined, and I only wished that there was more for me to gobble up. There was a hint of curry flavour in this dish, and judging by the colour of it, I'd take a guess that there was some tumeric involved!

Our last savoury dish for the night was Pork Belly. Served with a heirloom carrot and some lovely this slices of cauliflower, this dish was perfect. The crackling on the pork was cooked to perfection, and below that the juicy fat had kept the meat so tender. Unfortunately I have forgotten what the sauce was on this dish, but I do remember it being a great accompaniment to both the pork, and the vegetables as well.

For dessert, we were served with an impressive looking dish - Sour cream icecream, pumkin seeds, salted caramel, on a bed of vanilla sponge. This was nothing less than a taste sensation. The sour cream icecream was ridiculously refreshing and delicious. Teamed up with the combination of the lightly sweet sponge, and the salted caramel, this dessert was a definite hit. And such a surprising combination.

After that E and I were wondering what our last course would be. Secretly, I was wishing for something chocolatey - and somehow, I think Estelle got my memo! The dish was named Albert's Chocolate Garden. This was made up of a chocolate soil, and chocolate twigs, and underneath those was a sharp coffee gel and macerated cherries. This dish was intense. The chocolate flavour from the soil and twigs was so earthy, and had an unbelievable smokey taste to it. The combination of textures was also very exciting. Both of these dessert dishes were so unique and unconventional, and so enjoyable.

E and I were then discussing whether they would bring the bill to us, and we were surprised with a last little surprise. Berry compote covered with a pink musk foam. These little sweeties were great! The musk tasted wonderful, and was a fun throw back to the must sticks we grew up with.

Throughout our time at Estelle we were impressed at the lovely service from all the staff who looked after us. For something fun, delicious and a little out of the ordinary - I definitely recommend Estelle Bar & Kitchen.

Estelle Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review | Jus Burgers

It's been a while since there has been development in the Burger Adventure. It can be sometimes quite difficult having so many adventures when it comes to eating out. Nevertheless, I digress. Not too long ago, E & I had the pleasure of visiting Jus Burgers one lovely evening to investigate their burgers.

Jus Burgers is already quite established in Perth, and have fairly recently opened up shop in Melbourne. They are all about promoting locally sourced ingredients, that is all fresh and delicious, and in my opinion it definitely makes a difference to the food they serve up.

We could not go past the famous onion rings - cut and battered fresh daily. I am so glad we got to taste these - they were simply amazing. The batter was so crunchy and flavoursome, and the onions were finger licking good, with a great sweetness to them. Such a classic combination brought to life again simply by freshness and lots of love. The chips were also a hit, cooked to perfection, but I would definitely recommend tasting the onion rings.

For the main event, I ordered The Pommy Burger - '100% hormone free, grass fed beef from the Gippsland region' – char grilled and served with cheddar and bacon, as well as lettuce, tomato, spanish onion and housemade aioli and relish. To that, I added (I was hungry) a serve of balsamic onions.

This burger was massive. But even more importantly, it was mind blowingly delicious. Everything was so fresh and juicy, and the balsamic onions were a delight. I was  in burger heaven. All the elements of the burger came together to create a juicy perfection. I would order this again in a heartbeat.

I find it kind of fitting that this place is called 'Jus' Burgers, as in french, jus means juice - and these burgers were so so juicy.

E's burger was pretty impressive. Towering over everything, the Wagyu Beef burger was made up of 'Hormone free, fully traceable, full blood Wagyu' with wasabi mayo. E also decided to add bacon to that, as we both believe life is better simply because of bacon.

We were both so happy about these burgers. The vibe at Jus Burgers was also great. It was a real relaxed, positive environment and the staff there were all really friendly.

While we rolled out of Jus Burgers, almost entering the food coma stage of fullness, I reflected. This had been my favourite part of the burger adventure so far. Big call! But I know the burgers here will back me up - Jus Burgers, highly recommended!

Jus Burgers (South Yarra) on Urbanspoon