Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Gold Leaf Preston

In the outer Northern suburb of Preston you will find a great range of multicultural treats in the streets surrounding Preston Markets. Authentic thai, lebanese, turkish, indian, chinese, vietnamese - a great range of cuisines. 

Gold Leaf is one Chinese restaurant bordering Preston Market. And during a recent trip to Melbourne I decided to dine in during their busy Saturday Yum Cha lunch session. 

The Gold Leaf chain has expanded around Melbourne and I cannot say which locations opened first but the Preston location is definitely an institution amongst locals. 

An extensive wine list with top quality varietals, top shelf liquor and a range of other beverages will keep even the most discerning diner content. 

And there is a reason why Gold Leaf must keep their shelves stocked with fine drinks - they offer fresh crayfish, barramundi and other live seafood - it only makes sense that you will want a nice Grange or Dom Perignon to celebrate with. 

Back to reality, we begin our meal with some stock standards in the yum cha arsenal; dim sum, spring rolls - a westerners delight. 

Things then become a little more adventurous; roast duck with crispy skin, crab claws, ginger dumplings, tempura prawns - all perfectly executed and singing with flavour.

After several rounds of flagging down the yum cha cart I am spent and unable to consume another morsel. It has been a great meal - a extremely busy session but there is no better sign of a quality Chinese establishment when its standing room only during yum cha. 

Gold Leaf on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 30 June 2013


Tucked away in Turnham Avenue Rosanna is an opportunity for a brilliant Greek feast - Byzantine.

AJ and I were visiting some friends in Melbourne and decided to check out what this Northern Suburb eatery had to offer. 

The venue is a large space so noise can be an issue, but in all honesty it is rare to find a Greek restaurant where noise isn't an issue - it is a celebratory cuisine that is bound to bring the banter and joy out diners.

Upon arrival we are greeted by a very friendly waitress who explains the menu options. There is the choice of a-la-carte or banquet. So as to give the kitchen the best test, we opt for the banquet but only for 3 (even though we had four diners) as Byzantine's banquet has a reputation for quite generous sizes.

The wine menu was impressive with a mix of Australian and imported varietals, beers, spirits, cocktails - something for everyone. We had already decided to take advantage of the BYO option which is always a good opportunity to pair a beautiful Shiraz with some flavour packed gyros. 

To commence the banquet a big plate of dips is set down on the table; eggplant, tsatziki and taramasalata. A big basket of pita is provided that is constantly refilled which sets us up for failure appetite wise for the rest of the meal. 

Next comes the saganaki which is tender yet crisp and a must have in any Greek feast. 

The seafood is the next on show; grilled prawns and a seafood saganaki (mussels, calamari, fish, scallops). The prawns are moist and capture the flame grilled flavour. The rich tomato broth makes every morsel of seafood in the saganaki a delight. 

To complete the mains a Greek salad and a meat platter is set own for our group to devour. Lamb cutlets, chicken, sausage - all very satisfying. 

At this stage of the meal you probably are looking to loosen your belt and head home. But then comes some light sweet relief: turkish delight, baklava, stewed fruits and a greek custard pastry. 

As you ponder on how much deliciousness has been consumed you wonder why you haven't been here earlier. The banquet really delivers and is quite reasonably priced. We spent nearly four hours at Byzantine immersed in conversation, great cuisine and felt right at home. Not a fine dining experience but definitely family friendly and great value for money. 

Byzantine on Urbanspoon

Roaring Grill

Dear Reader. 

I must confess - I've been terribly slack in updating TMP over the past weeks. But there definitely hasn't been a shortage of eating out.

So recently AJ and I ventured to a new Steakhouse in North Hobart; the Roaring Grill. 

Steak in a non-pub setting is something North Hobart probably lacks. However as you walk through the doors modern decor, quality glass/tableware and well presented menus signal a refined steak experience. 

We begin our meal with some grilled bread and wait for our mains meals. I decided on a 14 hour slow cooked beef short rib and AJ selected a small eye fillet. The menu has a range of sides but the Mac n Cheese, Chips and Onion Rings were our choices.

After a reasonable wait we are presented with two generous plates served with a tasty side salad in a Waldorf style. 

The eye fillet is cooked under what was requested (which I prefer) however AJ was tempted to ask that it return to the grill for a extra few minutes. My short rib was succulent. The fat was rendered perfectly, the meat flaked off the bone and was immersed in a rich seasoned sauce.

The sides were perfect; crunchy fries and onion rings and some creamy and buttery mac n cheese that rounded off the meal.

Service wise, it was clear that some staff are yet in training. However the venue staff are mostly interested in their craft and show genuine enthusiasm about the menu offerings.

The drinks list is extensive, the desserts also impressive. We didn't launch into this area of the menu but will be back to give the Roaring Grill some further testing.


Thursday, 4 April 2013

Cugini Restaurant

AJ and I rarely venture across the Tasman bridge except for journeys to the airport. However, Bellerive is home not only to cricket matches and the odd football game. It is home to Cugini, a intimate Italian restaurant that is adjacent to the Bellerive yacht club.

The menu is extensive covering pizza, pasta, mains and desserts. There is a decent range of quality Australian and Italian wines and beers. Modern furniture and casual dining are some ways to visualise the experience within your minds eye. Friendly staff who know their menu and specials well add to the enjoyment of your dinner.

I decided on pasta with a creamy gnocchi dish and AJ set her aim on a pepperoni pizza.

The gnocchi was bite sized and enveloped in a creamy Gorgonzola sauce with tender chicken and soft mushrooms.

The pizza had a crispy base and just slightly thick for my liking. The sauce was rich, the pepperoni spicy and amplified by fresh chilli slices adorning the dish.

Next came dessert: I decided to sample the tiramisu and AJ picked the donut.

The tiramisu was slightly sweet which sent the coffee flavour to the background. Some palettes may enjoy this but I thought it detracted slightly from the usually tiramisu experience. The donut was beautifully soft with a crisp sugared crust. Inside was a buttery peanut ice cream and marinated raspberries. A lashing of rich chocolate sauce sealed the deal with this dish.

Cugini really delivers by taking their diners through some traditional Italian fare with modern flavours and fresh ingredients. There were plenty of other menu choices which appealed so we'll be back to visit this eastern shore eatery soon!

Monday, 1 April 2013


For years this Melbourne restaurant has been praised for their large portion sizes - a favourite with parents and kids and even those wanting to get in a load of food before a night on the town.

So AJ and I dined at Mosskito in Clifton Hill. I wanted something Melbourne eateries do best: the chicken Parma. AJ went for an open Souvalaki.

Size-wise: Great big plates equalled big
quantities of food. Salad occupied about a 20% portion, chips about 35% but the focus was on the protein on both plates.

Chips: both plates had some crunchy well cooked chips but they were ruined somewhat by being over salted.

Parma: A good tomato sauce, low on onion, well-seasoned and rich tomato flavour. A decent amount but not so much to make the crumb coating soggy. The cheese was plentiful. The chicken itself was moist but slightly over. All in all - a decent sized Parma that was well cooked. However, if size was the selling point I don't know what all the fuss is about.

Souvlaki: AJ enjoyed the mixed meats of lamb and chicken. The chicken was moist and took on the flavour of the grilled capsicum and onion that it was prepared with. The lamb had a slight lemoney overtone which was refreshing. The accompanying pita bread and tzatziki were both good also. Big portion sizes were reflected well on this plate.

The venue is quite large so can get rather noisy but the staff are generally attentive and know their menu well. Overall it is a good place to get a big feed but to describe the menu I think 'bistro style food of the 80s-90s'.

Mosskitos on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Fresh on Charles

I'm an omnivore and proud. But this doesn't mean I can't appreciate vegetarian cuisine - especially at breakfast. So on a trip to Launceston; AJ, Mr T, aXs and I all started our day at Fresh on Charles.

The hive was buzzing, obviously a testament to its popularity among the Launceston CBD locals. 

It is dark but somewhat offset by a skylit kitchen. The furniture is 70's retro style and the decor is eclectic. 

Onto the food; beautifully prepared - well seasoned and as their name suggests very fresh. 

AJ had a muesli-type contraption with grated apple, berries and yoghurt. 

I tried a poached egg, mushroom and vegetable fritter combination. 

The meals were very good but I spotted a vegetable scone on their counter which I had to sample - which was excellent - moist and flavour packed served with a rich butter and chutney.

We ordered some fresh juices and coffees which all were great. Service was attentive, the only complaint was our table was a bit small but in fairness we didn't book and they did their best to get our party a table in amongst the buzz.

Check them out when you're next in L'ton, but as Mr T said 'Just don't go expecting bacon'.

Fresh On Charles on Urbanspoon

Farm Vigano

Tucked away amongst the back-streets of South Morang is a beautiful manor restaurant; Farm Vigano. The grounds are immaculately kept and the wider surroundings instantly take you away from the suburbs. 

The menu is a mix of traditional italian share plates or pizzas. 

I decided to sample two of the pizza offerings with my 'diner in crime' Mr P. We opted for the Pizza con proscuitto and the Pizza con gamberi.

The base; both pizza had a light and crisp woodfired base that had just the right amount of chew to retain the rich tomato sauce.

The toppings; the freshness of ingredients is emphasised - beautiful clean and bold flavours. Simple and delicious.

The only criticism of the dining experience at Farm Vigano was the service which was a little slow. Seated immediately, but no drink orders for at least 20 minutes and then after the meals were delivered no return table service.

So go for the food, go for the views - but when you're paying decent prices for a pizza just hope you get waited on. 

Farm Vigano on Urbanspoon