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

Friday, January 4, 2013

Review | Radio Mexico

I was so excited to finally try the extremely popular Radio Mexico, although it was without the lovely E. I will have to go back there with him!

I had been instructed to order the chicken nachos if I ever visited Radio Mexico, so that was very first thing I ordered. Listed on the menu as Chilaquiles Verde, it also said that this was a popular breakfast  meal in Mexico. Is that true? I have no idea, what I do know, however, is that this dish was delicious! It was so moreish.

Next up we decided to order a few tacos to share. These were all delicious! I have unfortunately left this review a little too late to write up and I can't remember a few of the names that we ordered, however, I can show you the photos! If you know what any of them are, please let me know!!

We also ordered the Quinoa Y Calabaza salad, which was great. Served with roasted pumpkin (that's the Calabaza!), toasted seeds and goats curd, this salad was really fresh and a great addition to our meal.

Even though we were kind of in a hurry to get to a show nearby, we squeezed in some time for dessert. I am so glad we did this, as this dessert was phenomenal! Actually phenomenal. I promise!! We ordered the the Fresas, and a chocolate mousse (which doesn't seem to be on the menu anymore).

The Fresas, macerated strawberries, with homemade cream, meringue and a coconut sugar, was possibly the best thing I have ever tasted, ever. The combination of sweet and tart, as well as the combination of textures in this dish blew my mind. I don't want to say too much more, other than please, for your own sake, leave room for this dessert! Plus, it's got fruit - so there is not reason to feel guilty!!

The Chocolate mousse was impeccable. It was unbelievably chocolatey! The berry compote it was served with was a great match with the rich chocolate.

I will be going back to Radio Mexico very soon, with E this time - and I will make sure to make better note of the tacos we order!!

Radio Mexico on Urbanspoon

Review | Piqueos

Since hearing about this brand new Carlton restaurant, I was so excited to try their take on Argentinian and Peruvian cuisine. When we visited Piqueos, it was only their second week of business - so a massive congratulations to them, to get up and running so successfully in the busy December/end of year period.

The staff at the restaurant were all very friendly, and the service was no less that excellent. They were never too busy to explain the menu in detail, or even just to have a friendly chat to us. The decor of the restaurant was also very cool - at the time, I was just about to buy a new camera, and I was really disappointed I didn't have it to take some awesome shots of the restaurant. I will have to go back!!

The menu is designed for sharing. It is broken up into a few main parts - Piqueos, which are small portions to whet the appetite, Raciones, which are slightly larger in portion, but great for sharing, and the Parilla - which are all the delicious meats and fish that have been cooked on the large charcoal grill. We were a bit in shambles deciding how and what to order, but we ended up sharing a few dishes between the group, which was great as we all got to taste a good number of the dishes available.

To start, I couldn't go past tasting a beef Empanada. These were so cute!! But I didn't admire them for too long - they were way too tasty! The photo below shows three of the beef Empanadas, and one chicken one (on the left). The plate was promptly emptied.

Empanadas - $4 each

Next up for me was the Provoleta - grilled provolone cheese. This was one of the highlights for me. The simple combination of the hot, melted cheese with a slight crispiness, and the freshly squeezed lemon juice on top was delicious. I definitely recommend this dish to everyone!

Provoleta - $11

My mum ordered the Pescado, grilled fish from the Parilla, served with Chimmichurri and lemon. I didn't get to taste this, but from what I heard at the other end of the table, it was the most delicious fish in the world! Both my mum and my sister were amazed at the fantastic flavour.

Pescado - $24

For me though, I couldn't leave without trying some meaty goodness. E and I shared the Churrasco - sirloin steak which had been marinated in Chimmichurri for 24 hours..mmmmmmm. If you have read my review of San Telmo, you will know of my love for this condiment. What better way to serve a steak? The meat was perfectly cooked - so tender and moist, and the flavour of the Chimmichurri was so intense and for me, just wonderful.
Churrasco - $29

I tasted a few of the sides that we ordered too. The Zanahoria - blackened carrots that were still so vibrant in colour and fresh in taste, and a great match with the goats curd. Papas - these were some good potato chips! The exterior was so golden and crisp - these were great for soaking up the leftover Chimmichurri goodness from my steak. I left a few chips in my steak plate to marinate whilst I tried a few dishes.

Zanahoria - $8

Papas - $8

The salads at Piqueos were also good. Even though I am not always a fan of seeds, the Ensalada de Quinoa, with pomegranate, and radicchio was so refreshing. We also ordered the Ensalada de Palmitos, with palm hearts, tomato, olive and goats cheese - just to try the palm hearts. I had never had these before, but I really enjoyed these. The soft texture and rather subtle taste reminded me of an artichoke.

Ensalada de Quinoa - $14

Ensalada de Palmitos - $13

After a bit of a break, we were approached by one of the owners, Shaun, to see whether we still wanted to try a serve of the Mollejas. A few days before, my sister had asked me to ask Piqueos whether they had 'Mollejas', so I tweeted the restaurant to ask, without knowing exactly what this dish was. Turns out they do have it, but it isn't on the menu. It also turns out, Mollejas are the glands from animals. Glands! These ones were from the Pancreas area. I wasn't sure whether I would be able to stomach this, but when Shaun kindly brought out the dish, it really looked delicious. Everyone else dug in really quickly, and I only got to taste a small cut of E's molleja. These tasted pretty good. If anyone is game, I do recommend this dish - of course since it isn't on the menu, it would be at Piqueos' discretion!


As the awkward looks started going around the table, I knew that it was time for dessert. I don't mind being the first to bring up the dicussion, since I knew I wanted to taste the Alfajor, and I had also been recommended the Suspira Limeno. So E and I ordered both, naturally!

Both looked so pretty! I was impressed with the amount of Dulce de Leche in the Alfajor, I could see it oozing out the sides as I cut it in half. This made me very happy! The biscuit itself tasted similar to shortbread. I really liked the effect of the pieces of coconut on the outside of the Alfajor, and all in all, this was a delectable dessert.

Alfajor - $4

The Suspira Limeno. Oh my! This was definitely sweet! This dessert was made up of a layer of Dulce de Leche at the bottom, and a luscious, soft meringue over it. Anything with Dulce de Leche is guaranteed to be a hit with me, but this meringue was just a whole other story. I didn't think it was possible, but it was sweeter than the DDL! I definitely recommend this dessert to anyone with a sweet tooth. The serving size was just perfect, and I would order this again in a heartbeat.

Suspira Limeno - $5

Throughout the night, I was impressed with the prices on the menu, I thought they were very reasonable, and good value!

Piqueos is definitely on the path to success. With a great menu, and fantastic staff, I definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone who would like to try their unique mix of Argentinian and Peruvian food.

See you soon Piqueos!!

Piqueos on Urbanspoon