Monday, 31 December 2012

Maney's Dumpling Kitchen

Located in the outer northern suburbs of Melbourne is not usually where you find great Asian restaurants. While they are certainly around, they just usually aren't that great. Changing this and bringing some quality to the 'burbs, Maney's Dumpling Kitchen in Bundoora (just off Plenty Road) offers tasty and great value dumplings and main-style dishes in a relaxed atmosphere.

The service at Maney's is quick. But those seeking fine dining will have to head elsewhere; your soft drink will come served to you in a can unless you ask for a glass - this isn't silver service but your bill at the end of your meal will reflect that.

If you can look beyond these little things, a range of tasty morsels are available; spiced fried calamari, shanghai pork dumplings, a range of fried rice/noodle dishes, pan fried dumplings, beef/chicken/prawn dishes.

I visited Maney's twice; and both times the food was pretty damn good. The fried rice on the second visit was a tad oily, the pan fried dumplings had a slightly soupy filling for me but this may be the style. 

Overall, you can really get a great selection of dishes in a big group and be looking at $20-30 head. The alcoholic beverages are quite reasonable and soft drinks dirt cheap.

Maney's Dumpling on Urbanspoon

Kafe Kara

Liverpool Street, Hobart; 

It's a busy mix of cafes, small restaurants and retail outlets. It's also where quite a few of Hobart's working class will roam to pick up lunch or at least a coffee.

Kafe Kara have their coffee perfected. But that's not what I was here to sample. Over a few visits I tried both breakfast and lunch options at this narrow cafe. With friendly waitstaff and a limited (but very tasty) selection of savoury and sweet treats this cafe made a great addition to my day.

There is a great emphasis on quality ingredients at this cafe. The menu as mentioned above is not extensive but every dish is well thought out. Using clean and balanced flavours to serve up simple and delicious food. Some of the dishes I sampled were the eggs benedict, the house-made baked beans and mushrooms, a crisp focaccia (all pictured below). Other highlights included a beautiful french toast with berry compote and bacon! 

Highly recommend anyone who happens to have a few minutes at lunch time to check this place out - it's a nice way to spend lunch and their coffee is spot on.

Kafe Kara on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Guyllian Chocolate Cafe

Now I must warn any reader expecting to read about this restaurants sweet selections - we didn't try these. This post concerns only the lunch options we shared of a more cafe/savoury nature.

As you will have read from the other most recent post today we're in Sydney and since we are staying in Circular Quay we thought we'd try a local eatery from those in the 'Eastbank' strip.

Guyllian Belgian Chocolate Cafe was where we ended up and we sampled some of their hot chocolates and some savoury bites from the menu.

The savoury dishes were a Quiche Lorraine and a Smoked chicken baguette. Both were fresh, tasty and hit the spot. It is good to know that amongst a menu that is a diabetics nightmare you can still get some quality 'ordinary' food.

We couldn't resist adding some chocolate to the table so out came a rich Belgian hot chocolate and an affogato.

The sweet treats look amazing all of course utilising the Guyllian brand of Belgian chocolate.

Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe on Urbanspoon

Guillaume at Bennelong

AJ and I have broadened our journey to Sydney this week. So after a trip to some usual tourist landmarks I thought it was time for some fine dining at the Opera House.

Guillaume at Bennelong is a highly renowned and popular restaurant with diners and critics alike. The French menu and the beautiful views of Sydney harbour make it a tempting offer.

Since we had plans later in the evening we decided to try the Pre Theatre menu which comes with either 2 or 3 courses.

In usual 'bite off more than you can chew' fashion we opted for the 3 courses. AJ chose the Berkshire Pork Belly, the Lamb Rack and the Citrus Tart. I selected the Asparagus royale, Sirloin steak and Chocolate Creme Brûlée.

Firstly both entrees were superb. AJ's Pork Belly was delicious with wafer thin crackling, beautifully rendered meat and caramelisation in all the right places. My Asparagus royale was served with shredded Blue Swimmer crab meat which was delicate, sweet and had an amazing depth with a slight citrus note to cut through the usually strong flavours.

The mains were equally outstanding. AJ was served a generous portion of lamb rack served with some salad and a roast garlic purée. My Sirloin was charcoaled and a perfect 'medium' and served with some crispy Kipfler potatoes. We decided to have some Pomme purée but probably didn't need it as the serving sizes were very generous.

Finally, dessert continued to impress and cemented this venue in our minds as an excellent choice for dinner.

AJ had the citrus tart: delicate buttery pastry, a devilish creamy lemon filling topped with a perfectly prepared meringue. I had the Chocolate Creme Brûlée: a delicate square of brûlée complete with a dark caramel sugar coating to 'crack' through. This was served with a sweet quenelle of cherry sorbet, marinated cherries, chocolate crumbs and chocolate sauce.

Now we came here expecting tiny portion sizes and hype exceeding the reality. But from that amazing experience we left satisfied and our next visit to the Opera House we'll be ready to book another table.

Guillaume at Bennelong on Urbanspoon

Monday, 17 December 2012


Almost instinctively whenever I hear the word 'Calzone' I cannot help but think of George Costanza from 90's sitcom Seinfeld. In one episode, George brings one to a meeting at which his boss is amazed by the aroma of his lunch and decides that a Calzone is his new daily lunch - and it will be George's job to get them for him.

Pizzarazzi are a recently opened pizza outlet in Hobart on Morrison Street. And one of their specialities apart from a variety of amazing pizzas is the Calzone. 

But the twist here is that they make them as desserts!

The savoury list of pizzas includes weird and wonderful creations such as the 'Souvlaki', the 'Nacho', the 'Pesto Chicken'. Of course, they have all the usual favourites but it's the differences in menu that makes this eatery worth trying.

AJ and I ordered a Choc-Caramel Calzone and some large savoury pizzas from the standard menu when her grandparents were down. The 'Volcano' was beautiful - hot chili, spicy salami, rich tomato and on a traditional base that was crispy in all the right places. I had a 'Margarita' but tried something a bit different and had the kitchen throw on some prawns. 

Again, beautiful base, rich tomato - not too much cheese. They definitely have mastered pizza construction here and pay attention to what they use as ingredients. 

Finally, the time came to enjoy the Choc-Caramel calzone. A thin pocket of sweet dough, filled with warm flowing choc-caramel topped with icing sugar. 

If they weren't so bad for you I think I'd have one for lunch every day too!

Pizzarazzi on Urbanspoon

Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons

AJ and I have been staying in Melbourne for a few days, but since we've now lived in Tassie for a few years we feel the urge to hang out with any of our fellow Tasmanians and be 'good hosts'.

So, one of our best friends Samwise was working around in Southbank and we decided to revisit an old favourite - Crown Casino. What more could you want? Boutiques? Cafes? Restaurants? Black-jack?

After what seemed an eternity walking around looking at each and every restaurant menu, finally we saw something we could all agree on - Italian. 

Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons or 'GAS' is a traditional Italian restaurant with a range of beef, chicken, seafood, offal, cured meats; it's all there. The waitstaff tour the restaurant floor in long butcher-style coats, the red and green Italian inspired colour palette is accompanied with dark lighting. On either side of your table is your cutlery, condiments and even a bottle of Olive oil.

We had already had a few snacks and drinks at some of the other Crown bars so hit the ground running with mains. AJ ordered the 'Bologna' Style Pappardele, Samwise ordered 'Vengole' spaghetti and I had the Squid Ink Risotto.

I didn't try the Vengole, but it looked quite appetising and Samwise was quite satisfied. 

My squid-ink risotto came with a portion of diced calamari, a subtle parsley/lemon/garlic flavouring throughout. The calamari was cooked perfectly, the risotto superb - thoroughly enjoyed it. 

AJ's pappardele was another story. A mixture of veal and beef mince made up the sauce. But there was a disappointing lack of flavour and the rather clumsily minced veal had hard fatty pieces that weren't rendered down. While the pasta itself was well cooked this did not save the dish.

Moving on to our next and final course - we looked forward to dessert. Samwise and I had the Cannoli. AJ had the Chocolate pot.

The chocolate pot was rich, mousse-like and absolutely decadent. I couldn't have more than a few small tastes without feeling close to chocolate overdose. 

The cannoli were delicate, crisp and sweet. The fillings; mocha zabaglione, a traditional vanilla bean custard and a sweetened ricotta with pistachio. Both desserts were enjoyable but I think mine (for a change) was the better choice.

Overall, we were content but not impressed. The prices at GAS were reasonable but disproportionate to the quality of food that reached the table. 

We would re-visit but probably for something more interesting like the 'Suckling Pig' which unfortunately was unavailable. 

Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Cafes & Snacks in Melb CBD

This week I was in Melbourne on a short course. So I resolved to use any available break to either run around for Christmas presents or to check out the little cafes and treats around the CBD.

I was in Little Collins on the first day so decided to grab a bite to eat at 'Henry and the Fox'. 

Wood panelling, trendy drivers caps, marble and wooden tables and an open kitchen where you can see chefs whipping up your breakfast right in front of you. All these elements combine to make this restaurant a great place to start off your day.

I wasn't overly hungry so opted just for some scrambled eggs and latte but these were both superb. The sourdough was fresh, the eggs fluffy and buttery. The other choices on the menu such as the 'Corn Fritters' with poached egg and avocado salsa looked amazing coming out to customers. As did the 'Bubble & Squeak' with morcilla, roasted cherry tomatoes and sage buttler. 

Definitely a great atmosphere for breakfast, lunch or dinner with some friendly staff to make you feel at home.

Later that day came lunch which called for a walk to EARL Canteen. Now, the concept of this eatery is essentially rolls and salads. But there is a distinct difference. The fillings of the rolls here are more akin to a gourmet main and the salads are not your standard garden or greek. 

I selected the 'Pork Belly' which came with moist pork, crunchy crackling pieces and filled with a shredded salad of cabbage, apple, fennel and silver beet. Some other choices included lime chicken, harissa lamb, chicken and chips, meatball, ratatouille. 

To accompany the sandwich was a tasty salad of carrot, fetta, currants and balsamic vinegar. A sweet little berry friand was also placed in the 'lunch box' to complete the meal. 

An excellent concept and it is executed well taking advantage of seasonal ingredients and appealing to foodies who want more than just a boring old roll for lunch.

Another opportunity came for a lunch outing so I decided to try the 'Vue Cafe' which is an off-shoot of the growing Bennett empire of restaurants and cafes. Again, I tried a similar 'lunch box' style lunch.

This time however, it was Christmas themed. A dinner roll with turkey, stuffing and crispy salad. A cup of pumpkin soup. Some crunchy crisps. A small salad and a mince tart. 
Each element was an interesting combination of flavour. I felt as if I was a little kid eating my 'packed lunch' but at the same time felt like I was eating with family at Christmas. A great example of Christmas inspired food. 

Henry and the Fox on UrbanspoonCafé Vue on UrbanspoonEARL Canteen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Fish Frenzy

The Hobart waterfront is packed with many fish and chipperies; floating take-away outlets, sit down and take away restaurants and some more formal seafood dining.

Today I visited Fish Frenzy which is a small restaurant offering a wide menu and is licensed. The menu offers takeaway packs and more substantial main style dishes that can be enjoyed with a nice glass of wine or a beer.

So in keeping with the name of this place I ordered the namesake 'fish frenzy' pack.

It came served in a large paper cone: golden crispy chips, lightly crumbed blue eye trevalla, fresh scallops and calamari.

Everything was cooked really well, with one disappointing preparation mistake, being the calamari still had that annoying membrane attached. Aside from that, the home made tartare sauce was a great addition and unlike some fish and chip outlets, there was no pool of oil left at the end of the plate.

It unfair to criticise a fish and chip shop for the quality of their produce and in the Hobart area most have some of the freshest available. So it comes down to those little differences: quick and friendly service of a great range of products - that is what I saw served at Fish Frenzy and will be back soon to try some of their other options!

Fish Frenzy on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Point Revolving Restaurant

Literally perched high above every other restaurant in Hobart is the Point Revolving restaurant. It is a great way to dine on a mix of modern australian/french cuisine and take in some of the Hobart landscape from the top floor of Wrest Point Casino. 

Each year AJ's grandparents come and visit us in Hobart and we visit the Point without fail. The service is always excellent with knowledgable and professional waitstaff, sommeliers, etc. 

Just like the restaurant, the menu too revolves - but only with the seasons. 

Tonight I tried three dishes from the 'Table d Hote' menu. Which for just over $80 is a great way to sample some fine dishes. 

Our meal began with an amuse bouche of Cauliflower Pannacotta. A great appetiser with seasoned crumbs to add texture. 

Next, an entree of butter poached chicken with pate, brioche and a sweet gel. The chicken was beautifully tender and moist. 

The pate was rich and with an intricate depth of flavour that was offset by the sweetness and slight acidity of the gel. 

For main - a slow cooked pork shoulder that was cleverly rolled and served with a smoked potato and bacon croquette. The combination of pork shoulder with the creamy croquette was a pleasure to enjoy. The juices combined to make each mouthful simply amazing. Some shaved fennel accompanied these two 'star' elements and helped balance the flavour landscape.

Next came my dessert; the Chocolate Marquise. 

I must say, comparing my dessert with the other dishes on the table (AJ's Meringue Sphere and Grandpa B's Crepe Suzette) I felt a little disappointed. While the dish was enjoyable, it lacked the finesse and flavour of the other desserts. 

That being said, a generous serving of rich chocolate and a quenelle of peppermint ice cream was a great way to finish my meal.

But wait! There's more. Just as we finished, the waiter comes around with what can only be described as a theatrical end to the night - some housemade chocolates that are served dish with white smoke (created with the aid of some dry ice) pouring out onto the table. 

Definitely a restaurant for special occasions, the Point is a favourite among Hobartians for a dining experience that is consistently classy and has a character like no other. 

 P.S. Here are some of the other dishes from the night; AJ's Meringue Sphere, Grandpa B's Crepe Suzette and AJ's Sweet Potato Gnocchi.

Point Revolving Restaurant on Urbanspoon