Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Eat. @ Luxembourg

157 Fitzroy St, St Kilda ph (03) 9528 4488

The "Kinder Girls" let me pick a place for our next Girls' night out to celebrate my birthday and I picked Luxembourg.  This rebirth of Golden Fields into a bar & bistro offered a wonderful menu that was perfect for our dinners out, as the 4 of us love our increasingly "Melbourne" culture of sharing plates and small dishes.  

We were a little early as we were anticipating parking difficulties, but Jo somehow "magicked" a parking spot right round the corner from our destination and the lovely girls shouted me a cocktail from a pub down the road whilst we waited for our table.  I have a notoriously poor tolerance for alcohol and I giggled my way through this delicious Toffee Apple.

Once we were seated in the restaurant and ordered, we were greeted with a rustic bag of bread and some more-ish salt and butter.  Let me say my friends are now getting so good at lightly up my pictures (and not eating until the photos are done, haha), I love the lighting in this photo!

We kept some of our bread to go with the Smoky Eggplant Dip, sesame ($6) served with radishes.  It's quite a novelty to dip the wedges of radishes (including the leaves) into the dip.  We did find the dip to be less smokey and salty than we would've liked, and therefore a little underwhelming, but the crunchy radish made this a quirky dish and the dip also went really well with the bread (and some of that salt).

The Sea Bream Sashimi, horseradish, buttermilk and dill ($14) were little morsels of fresh fish with a slightly tangy dressing that was delicious, and a dish I really enjoyed.

But the Potato Skins with whipped cod roe and avruga ($11) was my favourite dish of the night.  The crunchy little potato skins with the whipped smooth filling was super tasty and more-ish, and like I said on my instagram  post, I could seriously eat my weight in these!

As it was the Melbourne Truffle festival that weekend, it was fitting for us to try the Truffle Raclette Toastie ($18).  It was undoubtedly the most expensive toastie I've had, but the truffle taste was pleasantly strong, and the cheesey truffle-y goodness was definitely worth it.

Then it's onto the Soft shell crab Sandwiches ($9 each) with tartare and iceburg lettuce.  My goodness these were Goooooood..........

Next we had the Fried broccoli, caper & raisin dressing, espelette and salted ricotta ($15), which I thought was a surprisingly tasty dish.  Who knew broccoli could be so tasty when fried?

The Globe artichoke barigoule, salt baked celeriac and duck egg ($17) was very pleasant and the fried duck egg was a highlight.

We rounded out the meal with an excellent side of hand cut chips ($8).

On to desserts :  I had wanted to try their canele ($5) since I spied them on the menu.  These were not as custardy in the centre as I liked but still very nicely caramelised on the outside and buttery inside.

The Mille-feuille, spiced quince and brown sugar cream ($14) was layers and layers of buttery pastry goodness (sourced from Tivoli Road Bakery I believe). Perfectly light, it was beautiful with the tangy quince and fluffy sweet cream.

And finally we shared the baked to order Chocolate Tart ($12) served with cultured Chantilly Cream.    Who could say no to this sweet warm tart on a cold winter night?

Look at the gooey flowing chocolatey centre!

Another wonderful meal out with my lovely friends, who so kindly treated me to this fantastic dinner at Luxembourg.  One of my favourite meals of the year, Luxembourg is definitely a destination I hightly recommend for a night out (sans kids!).  I will definitely have to come back with Hubby!

Luxembourg on Urbanspoon

Eat. @ Saint Crispin

300 Smith St, Collingwood 3066 (03) 9419 2202

My brother-in-law and my Sister-in-Law recently came back from the US for a holiday.  I remember asking them when they left Australia where they'd most want to eat when they came back and their answer was Estelle Bar and Kitchen.  We'd recently just eaten there, so Hubby and I decided to take them to Scott Pickett's other venture since they left, which of course is Saint Crispin, one of my favourite little restaurants in Collingwood.

We started off with an amouse bouche of savoury madeleine with an onion foam.  They were really quite delicious, but much like savoury macarons, my brain kept telling me that they should be sweet!

We had to order the Snap, Crackle and Pop ($9) which are crispy pork crackling with the most addictive spicy seasoning.   I bought a bag of these at the Taste of Melbourne last year with the intent of sharing (nods vigorously) but ended up scoffing the whole lot myself!

They are an excellent bar snack.  I don't like beer, and I admit I know zilch about beer. BIL ordered this German one which was so nice tasting I could swear it's not a beer!

We also ordered the smoked eel croquettes ($8 for two pieces) which were tasty little morsels  of potato with with a zingy sauce.

Then it's off to start our 3 course meals ($60 for 3 courses, $50 for 2, matching wines extra).  For entree BIL tried the Marron (+$14) which was served with their 24  month prosciutto, foie parfait and celeriac.  This was a beautiful looking dish and BIL said it was tasty and fresh.

I had the Venison, heirloom beetroot, radish, chestnut and chocolate, which is an intriguing combination of ingredients, and I found delightful and interesting.  The dish was pretty as a picture and the dish has Scott Pickett's signature mix of opposing yet complimentary ingredients, tastes and textures.   And of course gorgeously presented on the lovely Glenn Tebble tableware.

Hubby and SIL both had the Quail, with shaved cuttlefish, shiitake mushroom and kombu.  A bit of a fusion comfort dish packed with umami.

For mains Hubby and BIL had the Wagyu rump and oyster blade, with parsley risotto, stout and carrot (+$20).   A colourful garden of interesting vegies showcasing the two different cuts of meat which were amazingly different in taste.

SIL and I had the Western Plains pork, with miso, beans, charred cabbage and nashi.  Whilst this was not as pretty as the other dishes, the pork was beautifully done and oh so tender, offsetting the crispy pork skin and crunchy fresh vegetables.

Hubby says the best thing about being married is that you always have someone to share dessert with, so you can order more!  Never as true as this night, as I got to try 2 of the loveliest desserts I've had in a while.  The first was a Brillat savarin cheesecake, mandarin meringue and beurre noisette.  Yes, a beautifully looking deconstructed dessert, I loved the tangy flavour contrasting with the sweet, and of course the smooth cheesecake component mixed with the brilliant citrus crunch of the meringue.

Then there was the Hazelnut and honey parfait, with apple, pear and chamomile.  So pretty to look at but again a lovely play of textures and flavours.  I was pretty full by then but couldn't stop eating!

It was a lovely evening of fun conversations and delicious food.  The restaurant is dimly lit and can be quite noisy but has a great atmosphere.  We ended the night like it started, with a little surprise sweet treat, this time of chocolate.  We've been to Saint Crispin quite a few times now and I love that if you just wanted a straight forward 3 course meal, $60 will get you 3 dishes of extremely high quality, well thought out fare and a fantastic evening out.

Saint Crispin on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Eat. @ Po' Boy Quarter

295 Smith Street, Fitzroy 3065

Yet another fun and trendy take on fast food from overseas.  This time it's Po'Boys from Louisiana, but at a much closer destination in Fitzroy.  We visited on a Saturday afternoon, when there was a steady flow of diners, and we were happy to grab a table for the five of us.  

Po'boys, as I found out, were crusty baguettes with fillings like meat and fried seafood like shrimps and oysters.  We ordered a few to share as they are quite big servings.  First off the Cajun battered cat fish ($9.9), nice crunchy pieces of cat fish in a fresh baguette with lashes of Louisiana hot sauce along with tomato and lettuce.  Nice crunchy fish in a fresh baked baguette, and a decent size serve for lunch.

Next was the Beef Debris ($11.9) which had 10 hour braised beef shredded with cajun gravy, mustard and hot sauce.  A lovely slow cooked flavour and a comfort food type of roll.

We also tried a piece of the Southern Fried Chicken ($5) as a side.  A great piece of fried chicken in a tasty and crunchy batter.

The side of french fries ($5 each) were covered in their amazing sauce which made the chips super more-ish.  The kids wouldn't stop eating them!

We had wanted to try their house made New Orleans Lemonade but they had just run out, so we tried their Canadian Ginger Beer instead.

Yet another good spot for fun food in Fitzroy.  Totally spoilt for choice when you're in the area!

Po' Boy Quarter on Urbanspoon

Toilets - Yes

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Eat. @ Jinda Thai

1-7 Ferguson Street, Richmond 3067 ph (03) 9419 5899

I was a super lucky girl this year for my birthday, as I got taken out to quite a few dinners (I guess everyone knows my love for trying new places to eat!)  "The Gym Girls" suggested Jinda Thai for our dinner, which was fantastic as I'd been hanging out to try this much talked about Thai restaurant in Richmond.  I'm the type of person that goes to the gym only for exercise classes (because I need someone to yell at me and be too embarrassed to just walk -out mid-class) and I mostly just zone out and run around doing my jumping jacks and not saying anything.  So it's extra cool that I now have "gym friends" and ones that seem to love eating out as much as me at that!

We started with a round of Cha Yen - Thai milk teas ($3).  I'd never try this before, and it's interesting how different Asian Cuisines all offer a slightly different version of this drink.  I really like my tea, it's quite a strong tea and not too sweet nor milky.

We couldn't come to a Thai restaurant and not have Pad Thai!  We ordered ours with prawns ($14.9).  This was really delicious and fragrant, not too salty, with a little bit of sweet.

We ordered a small serve of the Boat Noodles ($6) to try as we've heard that this is is quite  a famous dish.   It was pleasant but not something I must have to have every time.

The Fried Soft Shell Crab  ($15.9) was super yummy though.  Good sized pieces with that lovely and slightly spicy dressing which I really liked as I find that this dish can be quite heavy without a good sauce.

The Barramundi with the Green Apple Salad ($19.9) was equally delicious, again the tangyines of the salad gave the dish a good balance in both texture and taste.  

My order for the night was the Red Curry Duck (($15.9) which is what I like to gauge a Thai restaurant by.  Fortunately this didn't disappoint and was wonderful with some fragrant rice.  Like all Thai curries a little goes a long way when eaten with rice, and this was a pretty decently sized serve.

Emily was keen to try the Pineapple Fried Rice with the combination seafood ($14.90) and this was a pretty big serve with a curried fried rice.  I liked the rice although by this stage I was getting really full and knew I NEEDED to save room for my birthday cake!!!

Of course I had to have the famous Crepe Cake ($8.5 served with ice-cream).  We shared 3 pieces between the four of us and tried 3 different flavours : Pandan, Coconut, and Thai Milk Tea.  Whilst Emily liked the pandan, Nancy, May and I all liked the Coconut.  I like the Thai Milk Tea one also, but the delicate coconut flavour was just that more-ish!

After the dinner we wandered into the Thai Grocery Store next door and did a spot of shopping.  Yep, we can shop anywhere anytime!  To our delight we found the lovely crepe cake (which I found out later were made by Tata Bakery) in little take-away packs for $6.5, so Hubby got a piece to try that night!  I have been back quite a few times since to buy more but they are so popular they are often out of stock.  Please feel free to tweet me if you're there and find the cakes in stock!

I finished off the night with some lovely Koko Black chocolates that Nancy, May and Emily had given me.  Thanks Girls for a lovely birthday dinner out!  I look forward to taking Hubby and the kids back to try out other dishes at Jinda Thai and have not doubt this will be a fast favourite of ours.  I suggest booking ahead as we have so far not been able to get a table at short notice!  

Jinda Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon