Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Discovery XXIX

'Taking it to the people' saw three discoverers taking the 112 tram (popularly known as the one one twelve) to the Lord Newry hotel in North Fitzroy for Discovery XXIX. Meanwhile I drove the discovery taxi to the site and was happy to score a spot in the middle of Newry Street just over the road from the pub.

First a shout out to Max, the Newry's resident handyperson who has done a marvellous job of decoration with flower boxes and planters and even an octopus on the chimney. Yes really. Just look up next time you're passing, if you don't believe me.


Soon the tram travellers and the special local guest arrived and we perused the menu over our drinks (Coopers Pale, sparkling wine and water). Sadly the Newry's famous eggplant chips are no longer available. We made do with Scotch fillet, grilled haloumi, the Lord Newry burger, a rocket and pear salad and pizza.

Scotch fillet
Scotch fillet



The haloumi was probably the star dish of the evening. It was served with lovely crunchy rösti baskets and a rather weedy salad. One of the 'thin & crispy' pizzas was found to be too crunchy and blackened around the edges. The staff were very obliging about this and more than happy to remove the item from the bill.

Pizza with fenugreek

I already had plenty of salad with my haloumi so I didn't need to sample the separate pear and rocket salad. In my opinion this world was a better place before rocket became a ubiquitous salad ingredient, but some people seem to like it. It's OK as long as its bitter mustardy taste is ameliorated by other ingredients. Pear, balsamic vinegar and parmesan generally do the trick.

The ubiquitous rocket

The front bar of the Lord Newry is the new dining room, with the former dining room transmogrified into the pool area. I'm not too sure if this has been a successful move as there was no one playing pool on this warm Wednesday evening, nor were there very many people eating in the front bar. Most people like to sit outside at the footpath tables, and a very pleasant area it is too, with the lovely old green tiles and Max's plantings.

Green tiles
Green tiles

The return trip over the river to the to the quiet and leafy city of Boroondara was accomplished without incident as the dropoff was on the way home. Future dropoffs may be different. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of Disovery 2013.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Discovery XXVIII

I like taking public transport to discovery. But sometimes it is easier to drive home in the later hours when the public transport system starts settling into its off-peak snooze and timely connections are a figment of the imagination. And so Discovery XXVIII saw me driving into the city for the first pickup; to Docklands for the second; then across the Moonee Ponds Creek by way of North Melbourne. Our destination: Philhellene.


Philhellene is not a new restaurant to most of the party but one we were eager to try again. In particular I had fond memories of the cauliflower salad. The three car travellers were joined by two other discoverers (including an Ascot Vale local) who arrived by tram and bus respectively. We were soon enjoying our first Fix of Greek beer. Sadly Mythos was out of stock, but the Fix was a reasonable substitute.

The restaurant was pretty busy and we had to wait quite a while before being supplied with menus and placing our orders. We chose most of our dishes from the specials board, including the zucchini flowers stuffed with rice, the roast kid, the sardines and the loukoumades (Greek donuts with honey). The fava dip (a lovely creamy concoction of puréed yellow split peas topped with oil and chopped red onion, served with delicious chunky bread), the lamb souvlaki with couscous and roast potatoes and the cauliflower salad with pomegranate seeds were chosen from the printed menu. Apart from the donuts everything came together and was happily shared among the discoverers. The carnivores were especially enamoured with the goat, which came with an intriguingly dark and mysterious mass of broad beans and peas.

Philhellene - taking it to the people

Another long wait ensued before we ordered the donuts and coffee. Philhellene is a family run business and the service is charming and friendly as long as you are not very hungry or in a hurry. The food is delicious and I can't wait to try some of the other items on the menu; on the other hand it's hard to avoid choosing the same favourites (cauliflower salad and fava dip, anyone?) on return visits. It's the sort of place that you wish could be your local so that you could just eat your way through the menu.

In keeping with discovery tradition we took the scenic route home, passing through Brunswick, Carlton, Fitzroy and Richmond and stopping briefly to survey the possible reincarnation of the club near Victoria Gardens. A short rediscovery of North Richmond and a trip down a dark and narrow laneway took us to the drop off point. Finally we crossed the Yarra (not having even noticed our second crossing of the Moonee Ponds Creek) and were once more back in the tranquil city of Boroondara.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Discovery XXVII

Discovery 2013 will focus on 'taking it to the people' rather than investigating the narrow confines of our own local area (actually we rarely did that in 2012, but it was the original intention). Another change is the shift from Tuesdays, necessitated by the new timetable of the Monash University fine arts class which uses the Ancora Press as an artists' book studio.

This opened up an opportunity to try Köy restaurant at South Melbourne market (Köy is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays) and for a long-time Albert Park resident and friend to join the discoverers.

A hot Thursday evening saw me happily settled in a sunny corner of the George Hotel diagonally opposite the market with a $7.50 Heineken pint and The Age giant summer crossword. Little by little the others trickled in to the rendezvous point to fortify themselves for the trip across the road to Köy.

South Melbourne market
South Melbourne market

This is a picture of a South Melbourne market stall on Cecil Street, very close to Köy. The Cecil Street market frontage is now home to several restaurants which are open in the evenings when the market is closed. It was pretty quiet in Cecil Street this Thursday evening, probably because it was such a hot night. We were pleased to be seated indoors at Köy - in fact it was so cool we had to ask for the air conditioning to be turned off.

We shared a range of meze dishes including Imam bayildi (eggplant with onion, capsicum and tomato served with yogurt), baked mushrooms, pan-fried lamb liver, marinated chargrilled octopus and an excellent Kizartma (selection of fried vegetables). These all went very nicely with some Efes beer. The boys were served some special raki in little silver pots - and the Turkish delight also came in dear little silver pots with lids.

Turkish delight at Köy
Turkish delight

We were very pleased to have have had the opportunity to try Köy.

As the evening was still balmy when we had finished our meal we walked over to the Railway Hotel for Vale Ale and Coopers nightcaps. The Railway has an excellent beer garden and a great range of beers and is a perfect spot on a warm evening - and probably any other time.

We drove home via the scenic route, encompassing the drop off at Albert Park, the slow drive past the tennis centre abuzz with the early finish of the men's semi-final, the 40k Swan Street zone and the detour to Bridge Road. Then it was over the river (again) and back to the quiet leafy city of Boroondara, still basking in the warm summer night.