Sunday, December 16, 2012

Discovery XXIII

Late on a hot December afternoon my train left Huntingdale station. We arrived at the mysterious platform 13 at Flinders Street about 25 minutes later. After a short tram ride and a short walk up Little Bourke Street, I was at Curry Corner. But alas there was no Fern's brinjal pickle in stock so my detour was in vain.

Sadly I walked up Russell Street, past Jane Bell Lane, the old Magistrates Court, the old Melbourne gaol and the former Emily MacPherson College. Much of this precinct is owned by RMIT University, so there is an odd mix of old bluestone, modern courtyard and 1920s elegance, with the QV apartments presiding over the whole.

QV apartments from Old Melbounne Gaol
Behind bars
Crossing Victoria Street into Carlton, I continued up Cardigan and Queensberry Streets until I finally arrived at the venue for Discovery XXIII: The Last Jar, which being situated on the corner of Elizabeth and Queensberry Streets is somehow back in the city of Melbourne.

Hot and thirsty after my travels I settled into the snug with a Coopers. My first impression was of a very pleasant and friendly hotel. As it is built on a sharp angled corner it is rather oddly shaped inside but very cosy.

Snug at The Last Jar
Little by little the other discoverers arrived - one on bicycle and two on foot - and we repaired to our laminex topped table in the dining room.

The only drawback of our meal was the noise - the dining room is small and wooden-floored and there was a large table of revellers nearby, so we found it hard to hear each other over the din. But the food was delicious and the waiting staff were very attentive and quite charming with their lovely Irish voices.

Here is a picture of the remains of the soda bread.

Soda bread
Soda bread
And here is my dish of zucchini flowers (my favourite!) with salad and goats cheese.

Zucchini flowers
Zucchini flowers
The chips (not pictured, sorry) were amazing - enormous and very crispy, rather more like roast potatoes than chips and so plentiful that we couldn't finish them all. The other discoverers enjoyed Irish stew, scotch fillet and porterhouse with green pepper sauce, served in its own dear little jug. And The Last Jar has a wonderful beer list. Between us we sampled the Coopers pale, Hawthorn pale, Mountain Goat and Hargreaves Hill.

The Last Jar is definitely worth the trip, however you decide to make your way there.

The Last Jar on Urbanspoon


Friday, December 7, 2012

Discovery XXII

Russia is definitely southeast of somewhere, so this week's discovery could claim to continue in the tradition of some of our recent excursions to Oakleigh and Carnegie.

On Tuesday evening the discovery team made their separate ways from the city, Richmond and Camberwell to meet in new territory at Nevsky in Elsternwick. They came by car, train, bicycle and on foot. For once nobody blinked an eye at the booking in the name of Boris.

Fireplace at Nevsky
Fireplace at Nevsky
On an unseasonably cold and windy evening we were very happy to be seated right next to the fireplace which effectively divides the restaurant into two self contained quiet spaces. Although there were not many people in the restaurant we had to wait a while to be served with a jug of kvass (a soft drink made of fermented rye bread) and a Nevskoe classic ale. The kvass smelt very much like stout, but tasted sweeter. Apparently it is usually consumed by peasants and monks. The Nevskoe tasted just like beer.

We decided to have a main course each rather than trying to share dishes on a rather small table. Except I decided to have three side dishes instead of one main: Euro frites (Russian for chips in beer batter), piroshki and red cabbage. The other discoverers had golubsti (stuffed cabbage leaves); veal stroganoff with buckwheat kasha; and sosiski (sausages and mashed potatoes with caramelised onions and port wine sauce).

This is how it all looked in the dimly lit room near the fire. I forgot to mention that the candles aren't real candles - they are battery operated tea light thingies. But very effective.

Russian feast at Nevsky
Russian feast
I know Euro frites are probably not authentic Russian cuisine, but I loved them. They were hot and crispy and plentiful, unlike some of the offerings we have suffered in the name of discovery. (Are you listening, Bridge Hotel?) The red cabbage was spicy and sour and delicious. The piroshki was not remarkable but very pleasant - just like I could have made at home using one of Anna Thomas's recipes.

The other discoverers were extremely enthusiastic about their meals too. I can highly recommend that you make the trip to Elsternwick for a special eastern European treat. If it is your local, I envy you.

After some coffee, sour cherry blini and more Nevskoe the end of the evening was upon us. Once again we took the traditional drive down Orrong Road (the entire span of it, this time), made the drop-off in Richmond and drove back over the river to the dark and quiet city of Boroondara. Meanwhile Mr 28 proved that a bicycle can beat a car any time.

Nevsky Russian Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Discovery XXI

In keeping with Discovery tradition of keeping it local, keeping it within the group of four, keeping it early, and keeping it to Tuesday, on Wednesday a group of three discoverers made their way out to Oakleigh to Euro Bites, with a booking at 8.00 pm.

This change to the normal routine allowed us to to sample the favourite local of two of our friends, although sadly Mr 28 was unable to join us. Two discoverers travelled by train from the city, after a short detour to Siglo. Meanwhile I drove the short distance down the Princes Highway from Caulfield, after a couple of hours distributing type at the Ancora Press. Our two friends drove from their nearby home.

I haven't really been to Oakleigh (other than passing through on the train) since I lived there for a short time while I was studying at Monash, so it was very pleasant to reacquaint myself with the lively shopping and eating precinct. I was lucky to find a parking spot just a few doors from the restaurant, so I didn't have to brave the monster car park which has mysteriously appeared near the railway station.

Soon the group of five was seated and enjoying some Mythos while we tried to make sense of the menu. It seemed easier to leave the choice up to the locals, who warned us that we only needed a couple of main dishes as the servings were massive.

Dips at Euro Bites
And so it proved to be. First we had some shared light mezze, including a platter of dips (tarama, melitzano and best of all the tyrokafteri), with feta, olives, grilled peppers and pita bread. You can see the tyrokafteri on the right of the photo. It is made with feta, ricotta and graviera cheeses and spices and is an exciting change from the more familiar dips. I do urge you to try it.

Next came kourkoti: delicate fried zucchini slices with skordalia, a lovely creamy mashed potato and garlic dip. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the kourkoti until they were nearly all gone.

No sooner had we disposed of the mezze than a dish of potatoes nicely seasoned with lemon and oregano appeared, followed by rice; a gyro piato lamb platter with tzatziki and Greek salad; and kipouro meze, a vegetarian tasting platter with probably the best spanakopita I have ever tasted, along with gigandes (big white beans in a tomato sauce with carrots and spinach), roasted peppers, more olives and feta, felafel and hommus. And a little bit of salad. And more pita bread. Trust me, you will never leave Euro Bites hungry.

Kipouro meze
Kipouro meze
Some people found room for coffee and sticky sweets. Others found room for more Mythos.

After dinner and farewells in the warm almost-summer night we took the almost-traditional trip down the Princes Highway to Orrong Road, through the dark leafy streets of Armadale and Toorak, over the river to Richmond then back over the river to the city of Boroondara.

Oakleigh and Euro Bites - go there. Discover them for yourself.

Eurobites on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Discovery XX

After a two week rest break the discovery team reconvened to visit Thanh Ha in Victoria Street Richmond. Our researches having convinced us that the place was BYO, we gathered a 6-pack of Coopers, found a handy parking spot in front of Pho Dzung Tan Dinh (opposite Xiao-ting box, the scene of Discovery V) and walked the short distance up Victoria Street to Thanh Ha.

Mr 28 was ready and waiting but Mr 30 was slightly delayed, possibly from exhaustion after his mammoth road trip to North Queensland. Discovering that Thanh Ha is in fact licensed, we ordered a couple of Singha and a VB and stashed the Coopers away for later.

Menu at Thanh Ha
Menu with Singha
This is a picture of the menu. It is a very long and complicated menu so I was relieved when Mr 30 arrived and took over the ordering.

We started with an enormous light crispy pancake stuffed with beanshoots, tofu and other good veggie things. A bit like a Sri Lankan dosa but with more filling. After that the carnivores tackled some very pink prawns with pork. Then we had rice paper rolls with peanut sauce and vermicelli with sugarcane prawns.

While the food was lovely and very reasonably priced, the service was less than attentive, with some dishes served immediately but others totally forgotten. The stash of Coopers came in handy. The boys thought it was funny to affix Singha and VB labels to the bottles in an attempt to make them look like the restaurant's stock, but I'm sure the patient and overworked waiters (when they finally deigned to approach us) were not fooled in the slightest. Nevertheless we managed to avoid the corkage charge. Not that Coopers has corks.

On the way home we decided to drop into the Bridge Hotel to see if it could redeem itself after a previous disastrous discovery experience. We all agreed that it is just fine for a drink (especially with a little impromptu Woodies performance of Courtin' in the Kitchen thrown in to the indifference of the other drinkers), but on no account should any of us attempt eating there again. We'll stick with Thanh Ha.

Thanh Ha 2 on Urbanspoon


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Discovery XIX


I wasn't expecting much of Izakaya Mizu, a little Japanese restaurant on Riversdale Road near the Camberwell market, but this discovery turned out to be one of the best yet. Thank you to the marketers who popped a discount voucher into the letter box yesterday. This encouraged us to give it a try.

Our little group was smaller than usual tonight, with two discoverers offsite on interstate trips. Ms 31 stepped into the breach with aplomb.

Despite being situated on the wrong side of the great divide (Burke Road), Izakaya Mizu is licensed. Small consolation to those of us who had struggled up the hill with a bagful of Coopers on a very hot evening, or made the tram journey with a pile of Budweiser, but easily assuaged with a couple of glasses of Asahi. The complimentary dishes of bean sprouts in a spicy dressing made us feel very welcome too.

This is a picture of a garden on Riversdale Road, near the top of the hill, looking quite fetching in the evening sunshine.

Garden in Riversdale Road
Riversdale Road
The menu at Izakaya Mizu is very prettily laid out with coloured pictures of the dishes and it took some time to choose. We finally settled on eggplant with miso, seaweed salad, "spaghetti" with mushrooms, vegetable gyoza, and ribs to keep the carnivores happy.

Gyoza and eggplant
Gyoza and eggplant
Ribs and seaweed salad
Ribs and salad
We had trouble deciding which dish was the highlight of the evening. The eggplant was beautiful - perfectly cooked and smothered in salty miso, served with some crispy fried noodle and green lettuce. The seaweed salad with broccoli, tomato, cucumber and iceberg lettuce added just the right accent of crisp refreshment. The gyoza were lovely - slightly scorched, soft little pillows of goodness - and the mushroom spaghetti was luscious, with an intriguing range of funghi. Apparently the ribs were OK too - at least there were only bones left when Mr 28 and Ms 31 had done their worst.

Next time, I have to try my all time favourites, the tofu and edamame - but tonight was all about discovery.

The host and the waiter at this restaurant are both absolutely charming and you should go there without delay.

And so we dispersed into the Boroondara night, Mr 28 with his Budweiser and me with my Coopers, already making plans for next week's big discovery.

Izakaya Mizu on Urbanspoon


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Discovery XVIII

Inspired by the Parma Daze review of the Bridge hotel, just over the bridge in Bridge Road Richmond, a depleted set of discoverers arranged to meet at 7.00 pm. On ringing to make the usual booking in the name of Boris, I was told that bookings in the dining area could be made only for 6.00 or 8.00 pm, but that we were welcome to try our luck in one of the bar areas.

And thus we met in the loft, where there were plenty of high tables and chairs. We chose a table with a view across Richmond towards the city. As the dusk settled in we were looking forward to our meal.

View from the loft at the Bridge hotel
From the Bridge
Mr 28 chose the grilled chicken and bacon burger with chips, lettuce and tomato with "seeded mayonnaise"; the other choices were veal schnitzel with coleslaw, beer battered chips and mushroom sauce; and the eggplant parmigiana (hey, it's parma special Tuesday! only $13!) for me.

The first disappointment was the burger, which was devoid of lettuce or seeded mayonnaise, whatever that is. Maybe the chef didn't know either. The second disappointment was the mushroom sauce. According to my trusty discoverer companions, it tasted weird. The third disappointment was the eggplant parma. I should have been paying attention when I read the menu description, but what on earth are they thinking? Why would anybody prefer to eat soggy turkish bread rather than chips with parma? The other discoverers kindly chipped in with contributions of beer battered chips from their own plates, but sadly these chips were barely warm. The only good thing that can be said about them is that they were better than the eggplant, the burger and the schitzel.

The eggplant parma was presented as four rings of eggplant topped with napoli sauce and cheese, on a bed of salad with a couple of pieces of charred but soggy Turkish bread leaning on top. Two of the eggplant segments were fine, but the other two were cut so thick that they were uncooked and inedible. And there was no evidence of any nice crumb coating on any of these sorry vegetables. However the rocket salad was very tasty and I ate it all up.

I've enhanced the following photo using the new inbuilt editing features of FlickStackr (thanks for this update - it's great!) so it probably looks better than it really was. And remember the chips were not in the original.

Picture of eggplant parmigiana
When is a parma not a parma?
The only consolation to look forward to was the special Tuesday parma price.

Imagine my shock then on bring presented with the bill and discovering that the parma had been charged at full price! I was informed that the special parma deal only applied to chicken parma - eggplant parma didn't qualify. Well sorry guys, but don't mess with an angry vegetarian who has just endured an inedible eggplant parma without chips. It took a visit from the manager, but finally justice was restored and the discount was applied.

The best discovery of the night was yet to come. Mr 28 suggested a detour to Dan's on the way home. I had no idea that the Bridge Road instance of the discount liquor store chain boasted a secret car park, complete with lift access right into the store. Worth celebrating with a case of Coopers to help take away the nasty taste of undercooked eggplant!

Bridge Hotel on Urbanspoon


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Discovery XVII

Finally, a true discovery close to home. We decided to try Greek Spot, a small and unassuming neighbourhood restaurant in Burwood Road Hawthorn. So unassuming that we must have driven past here a hundred times without ever noticing it.

Water jug at Greek Spot
Greek Spot jug
We drove to Hawthorn in a shower of rain and luckily chanced on a parking spot right outside the restaurant, after bravely executing a right hand turn across a stream of home-bound traffic. Mr 30 and Mr 28 arrived soon afterwards. Mythos beer and a jug of iced water set the scene for a quickly served and tasty discovery experience.

The vegetarian options on the menu were rather meagre, but a selection of dolmades, baked feta with tomatoes and olives, warm pita bread and Greek salad was delicious. The other discoverers shared a mixed grill of lamb chops, lamb skewers, lamb bits, chicken, bifteck, onion and chips to go with the delicious Greek salad of shredded green lettuce with very finely chopped tomato and onion.

One baklava, some more Mythos and a couple of coffees later we were out the door after our early dinner and into the gloomy Hawthorn evening. By this time the little restaurant was absolutely packed.

Obviously we are not the only ones to have discovered this very pleasant little spot.


Discovery XVI

Back in the world's most liveable city, we decided to sample a very new restaurant. The Hamer Hall redevelopment has transformed the former forbidding fortress with new terraces along the riverfront. In one of these terraces is Saké.

After a quick Coopers pale at the Oxford Scholar (a rather average pub but with very attractive beer pricing), we took the tram down Swanston Street to the Fed Square superstop and walked across Princes Bridge. The directions for meeting were somewhat vague - "how about trying that new bar on the river at Hamer Hall?" But Mr 30 was easy to spot, sitting on the terrace in the late afternoon sunshine with a Mountain Goat hightail ale.

Saké is somewhat expensive ($12 for local beer? Really?) but the food is both delicious and stunningly presented. My absolute favourite baby edamame came in a rustic ceramic dish, all aglitter with salt crystals and perfectly cooked.

The kingfish jalapeño looked like an artist's palette (the palette of a very neat and precise artist) and the tonkatsu cups were even prettier, although not too pretty for the other discoverers to eat. There was also a dish of tofu which was a light crispy salty delight. I think I had eaten up all the tofu before I remembered to take a photo of these beautiful dishes.

Dishes at Saké
Dishes at Saké
The decor and the surroundings are gorgeous and on a balmy dusky Melbourne evening, where else would you want to be? Well, maybe somewhere that serves cheaper beer.

Dusk at Saké
Dusk at Saké

Monday, October 15, 2012

Discovery XV

Discovery XV (aka as the great schism) was held in two separate cities. The northern reformation relocated to Canberra while the southern branch continued operations as normal in Melbourne.

It was agreed that the Melbourne branch would organise the Canberra event, while the northern breakaway would coordinate the Melbourne group. So before we left for Canberra we booked a table for two in the name of Boris at Kanzaman in Bridge Road Richmond.

While we were lunching in the sunshine at the Ivy café by the lake at ANU, the text message came through from down south. Dinner for four at Sub-urban by Belluci's, Dickson, 7.30 pm.

Picture of magpie on chair at the Ivy café
Lunch companion
After managing to salvage our lunch from the local wildlife we went for a stroll around the Acton peninsula and then visited the National Museum.

The 'loop' at the National Museum, Canberra
National Museum
Sub-urban proved to be a pub tucked away in a corner of the Dickson shops. The restaurant section adjoins the bar. On a Tuesday night things are pretty quiet in the bar but the restaurant was reasonably packed with family groups.

Strangely the beer on tap was Carlton Draught rather than one of the NSW brands I would have expected, but it came in a schooner just to prove that we were no longer in Victoria. Meanwhile the others ordered a Bourke Street pinot, which is a local brew from nearby Collector. Go figure.

Carlton Draught beer and Bourke Street pinot noir
Bourke Street
If I see stuffed zucchini flowers on a menu I have to have them. I've tried making them and have come to the conclusion that this is one dish better left to the experts. Belucci's version was quite pleasant - although not quite achieving the crispy ethereal standards of some others I've tried, definitely much better than could be easily made at home. With them I chose a side dish of verde, which was quite excellent - lightly cooked asparagus, bok choy and beans in a light dressing of garlic infused olive oil.

Stuffed zucchini flowers
Zucchini flowers
Dessert was a very pretty crème brûlée with pear crumble.

Crème brûlée
Crème brûlée
We discovered later that the Melbourne branch had indulged in the Kanzaman banquet. Perhaps something worth a future ecumenical discovery.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Discovery XIV

On Tuesday 25 September two discoverers set out for Swan Street by tram. They were joined by discoverer #3 near Burnley Street. Our destination: Mexicali Rose.

As with many of our discoveries to date, Mexicali Rose had already been discovered. A birthday party for discoverer #4 was held here many years ago. The distinctive butterfly gates are still just around the corner, although Rod Quantock's bus tour has not survived. The food here, although maybe not really authentic Mexican cuisine, is still much better than at many alternatives. And you can book and you don't have to queue.

While waiting for the arrival of discoverer #4 we whiled away the time with a Mexican beer bucket and an 'Apperitzer' consisting of guacamole, sikil pak and black bean dip. Once our company was complete we enjoyed a selection of 'combinaciones' including the vegetarian enchilada espinaca, quesadilla de tinga, mushroom taquito, rice & frijoles. This was a very pleasant selection of tastes and textures.

Mexicali Rose is very professionally run and has to be doing something right to have survived in such a competitive location for so many years. I would recommend it for family groups (and discoverers of course). It would be a great choice for a quick meal before an evening footy game at the 'G - or after the cricket.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Discovery XIII

Mayhem, mud and Metro were the themes of our trip south to Carnegie for Discovery XIII. 7&7 is just over the road from Carnegie station, making it potentially very easy for Mr 30 to travel from the city. The rest of us arrived by car, after negotiating the dark and mysterious back streets of Glen Iris and Malvern East and parking conveniently next to a muddy nature strip off Koornang Road.

First surprise was the menu. I had been expecting to sit by and watch everyone indulging in Korean barbecue meats while I nibbled on kimchi, but the menu had lots of vegetarian options. But no sooner had we settled in with a Coopers pale for a serious consideration of the offerings, than a message came through from Mr 30. His train had been waiting at Malvern station for 10 minutes and there was no indication of a departure any time in the near future.

The next pleasant surprise was the arrival of the mystery surprise guest, a former neighbour and now local resident, who informed us that there was a train stuck at Carnegie station. So back to the muddy nature strip I went, for the mercy dash to Malvern.

A surprisingly short time later (after once more parking next to the muddy nature strip - you'd think I'd learn) we were back in the warmth of 7&7, where the others were already tucking into an entrée of seafood and pancakes.

An even shorter time later more dishes arrived. I enjoyed my spicy kimchi, tofu and rice while watching in awe as the others demolished mountains of food, culminating in an extravaganza of meat and vegetables cooked in simmering broth at the table.

Korean soup
After we could eat no more it was time to leave and we emerged from the restaurant to be greeted by traffic chaos in Koornang Road. The boom gates were stuck down and we watched in horrified amazement as some car drivers decided to drive around the gates and across the tracks, rather than turning around as most sensible drivers were doing. Mr 30 and the surprise guest videoed some of the action before it was time to head back down the Princes Highway and Orrong Road en route to Camberwell via the round trip to Richmond.

A train sped through the Grange Road intersection as we passed nearby on Dandenong Road. We could only hope that the Koornang Road level crossing was clear as the train passed through.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Discovery XII

The last time I went to a Hungarian restaurant was probably in nineteen seventy-something. And the restaurant in question, Transylvania in Greville Street Prahran (with thanks to Jane Clifton for her evocative memoir of Melbourne dining way back then) was probably not even Hungarian, being named after a region in Romania. The only vegetarian dish on the menu was deep-fried crumbed mushrooms served with rice and tartare sauce. This was fine by me as they were absolutely scrumptious.

So when it was proposed that we try out The Hungarian in Bridge Road Richmond for Discovery XII, it seemed too good to be true. Except that sadly the crumbed mushrooms (and the Monsterschnitzel) are not available on Mondays or Tuesdays.

Luckily there were other vegetarian dishes to choose from and I opted for the crêpes - one with mushroom ragoût and one with potato and cheese. Nice tasty comforting food. As an alternative I could have had 'Veganoff' (vegetarian stroganoff with broccoli and green peas) or the mushroom ragoût served with nokedli. Definitely a more wide-ranging choice than at the dear old Transylvania, and something to look forward to next time.

The rest of the party went carnivore with pork knuckle (with chips rather than the traditional mashed potato), and stuffed cabbage. Again, tasty and comforting rather than innovative.

The real discovery of the evening was Dreher beer. We could also have had Hungarian shiraz direct from the barrel, a quirky feature in the corner of this very pleasant, unassuming, red-and-white-checked-tableclothed little neighbourhood restaurant.

Picture of Dreher beer at The Hungarian restaurant
Dreher at The Hungarian

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Discovery XI

Cherating is a town in Malaysia. According to the Wikipedia article, it "houses a cultural village and a turtle sanctuary. The turtles lay their eggs between July and August."

Too late for the turtle eggs but closer to home is Cherating restaurant in Kew East, at Harp Junction. We have high hopes of the Harp of Erin hotel over the road, but it turns out to be a soulless place that has been overrun by gaming and betting. After a very quick VB and Bulmers (not a Harp in sight), we head back across the road to the charming Cherating.

Cherating has a dim and streamlined interior and is quiet and comfortable. There are not many people dining out in this corner of Kew tonight. We are made to feel welcome and the service is friendly and attentive.

We start with beancurd wraps and curry puffs. The beancurd wrap is not the thin crispy parcel we are expecting, but a hollowed out piece of beancurd stuffed with beanshoots and other crunchy slivers of vegetable, with a brown peanut sauce and sesame seeds. The dish has a pleasant contrast of flavours and textures but proves to be almost identical to the gado gado I have for my main course. The gado gado does however come with egg slices and pappadams for a bit of contrast.

The carnivores share a couple of dishes from the extensive specials board: black pepper scallops and Mongolian beef, with Sambal spinach for a green accent. The black pepper scallops and the spinach win the votes for the most interesting dishes of the night.

Another chapter in the Discovery narrative closes with a trip down High St and Church St to Richmond, then back to the city of Boroondara via Riversdale Road. The roads are almost as quiet as Cherating.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Discovery X

On the twenty-eighth day of the eighth month in 1930, a little girl was born in Ararat. On the twenty-eighth day of the eighth month in 1984, a little boy was born near Warburton.

On the twenty-eighth day of the eighth month in 2012, the little boy turned 28 and his grandmother turned 82.

To celebrate this beautiful set of numbers, a large family group gathered at Dumpling King in Box Hill. Discovery X was absorbed into a joyous family birthday party.

The lazy susans on two tables were kept busy spinning supplies of dumplings, rice, tofu, szechuan prawns, squid, Asian greens, sweet and sour pork and chicken satay. There were sparkling wines and crown lager and the even more sparkling company of a host of cousins.

Award winning dumpling
The award winning dumplings were the food highlight of the evening. But getting the family back together for super discovery X was just brilliant.


Discovery IX

Fiorelli in Hawthorn East is the scene for Discovery IX. An elegant Italian restaurant with classic Italian food. A very convenient location just a step away from Camberwell junction and across the road from the Rivoli. A table so far away from the door that we feel not a trace of the winter chills and breezes. Attentive waiters and Little Creatures pale ale. A Toolangi pinot noir.

Our food choices are: veal medallions with mushrooms, snow peas and roasted potatoes; gnocchi with olives, tomato and basil; blue eye with potato pureé and spinach; and duck with polenta and spinach. Beautifully cooked and presented.

For those of you who can read Flash websites, here is the link to Fiorelli's website. Alternatively, here are the Urbanspoon reviews.

Picture of the interior of Fiorelli
We had no particular demands on our time and enjoyed a leisurely meal, but if you are planning to see a movie at the Rivoli, you could do much worse than try Fiorelli. It was a great treat to sample such an elegant spot in our discovery tour of local restaurants. If the rules of discovery allow (perhaps when we get to the end of all the discoverable restaurants in Boroondara?) we'll be back.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Discovery VIII

Back to the Boroondara restaurant scene with a visit to Saigon Vietnamese in Toorak Road for Discovery VIII (or post-Olympic Discovery I). This restaurant is an old favourite of Mr 27's, dating from the old Through Road days. It proved to be a really nice place with pleasant food and service. The proprietor amused us immensely by proffering an array of beer varieties from our BYO selection when we asked for more drinks.

The beer selection turned out to be more extensive than originally planned. Mr 30 was somewhat delayed as he had had the honour of attending the funeral service of Nathi Singh Rawat, a kind and generous friend who had unfortunately died a sudden and most untimely death only two days previously. In celebration of so many happy times with Rawat and the family at Taj Palace, Mr 30 had spent the afternoon with a few Haywards 5000s, and had kindly brought some back for us to drink to Rawat's memory.

Back to the food of Saigon! While waiting for the traveller who was making his way from Ascot Vale by train, we had soup - 'vegetable' for me and asparagus, crab meat and egg flowers, followed by a pan-fried pancake with pork, mushrooms, prawns and beanshoots, for them.

We managed to synchronise the arrival of the main courses and Mr 30, who was starving after his harrowing day and his long train trip back from Fawkner via Ascot Vale. Bean curd, meat, vegetables and rice disappeared in a trice and were followed by a vegetarian version of the pancake.

In memory of Rawat and all the happy times and beautiful food at Taj Palace, and in particular of a wonderful 30th birthday celebration just a few months ago, here is a picture of 'Stu's bar' at the Taj Palace.

Stu's bar
Rawat - rest in peace.