Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

I write this post with a small degree of reservation. Why? Because Oscar’s Hangout is quite small, and I’d be really pissed off if I turned up for dinner and it was full of people who read this blog. So if you are going, try to go when I’m not there. OK?

Oscar’s Hangout is plonked in the middle of suburban Mordialloc, no where near the Mordy strip or any other commercial establishments. It is cafe-style food – open for breakfast and lunch all week and dinner on Friday and Saturday night.

There was no dish on the tapas menu that was not enjoyed by out group of 6. The food was a tad slow coming out, but certainly worth the wait. Is the food the most outstanding you’ll find anywhere in Melbourne? No, probably not. But it’s damn good, and a welcome find in the Bayside culinary wasteland.

And they have White Rabbits, which rates an extra vote.

Oscar's Hangout on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »


I want dining at The Corner Store in Mentone to be a good experience. Seriously I do. Why? Because this is the third restaurant (and I repeat, restaurant) that has been created by the same team in our local area. The other two are fine, and it is great to see people trying to deliver quality in what is largely a culinary wasteland.

The first couple of times we ate at The Corner Store, the service was terrible and the food average for the price. We gave them the benefit of the doubt the first time, not long after it opened, but it’s been harder to find excuses subsequently.

So when my partner told me we were going there for a birthday celebration, my eyebrows were raised. They were raised further when we walked in the door and noted the sign that advised of live music on Saturday nights, particularly as it still appears to be a restaurant, not a pub, wine bar or nightclub.

So, the verdict on the food? Better, but still not outstanding. My wife would have liked the chicken special, but was told it was unavailable after the order had gone to the kitchen. Her second choice, the lamb pie, was OK though quite salty. That description applies for my pork belly as well, although I acknowledge that pork is a salty meat. The Parmageddon certainly didn’t warrant the name. And it was impossible to easily communicate with the others on the quality of their meals – more on that later. One would struggle to describe it as good value for the price.

The service was better. We were attended to promptly and the meals arrived in a timely manner. Having determined we were celebrating a birthday, complimentary champagne arrived for the birthday folks. A somewhat self-indulgent waiter with a disposition for regularly calling people “Buddy” got pretty hard to take pretty quickly.

The big problem was the music from a duet comprising a guy on guitar and a female vocalist. To put it quite simply, the music was ridiculously loud. At a table of six, communicating to the other end of the table involved shouting and leaning into the middle of the table. And this was, as I pointed out before, in a restaurant, not a pub, wine bar or nightclub.

We asked for the volume to be reduced, and it was for a while, with an accompanying smart arse comment from our waiter. He also tried to explain that this night’s act was louder than normal. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the volume to go back up, even louder than it was previously.

So was it just me, the grumpy old bastard, that had the issue? Apparently not. Everyone on our table, from young to (not so) old felt the same, and weren’t the least bit interested in staying for dessert and coffee. Also, in a restaurant that was probably 75% full, I counted eight people who applauded at the end of each song, suggesting it was an issue for others.

We’ve just come back from Europe – none of the restaurateurs there were compelled to use music to sell their food. They relied on its quality instead. It would be good if The Corner Store tried a similar approach.

The Corner Store on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

Culinary Heaven

I discovered culinary heaven last night. It came in the form of a fish, a barramundi to be precise.

My beloved and I agonised over a venue for dinner. We ignored recommendations of people whose opinions I value highly and went to that irrefutable source of recommendations – the interweb. Think about it, you’ve never gotten any false information off the interweb, have you?

The interweb told us about a restaurant in Springvale, My Cambodia, which many people had raved about. So we thought, why not?

The layout of My Cambodia is pretty typical of Asian restaurants across places like Footscray, Richmond and the rest of Springvale. Box of tissues as serviettes, plastic top tables, mounted TV on the wall playing musical favourites. You know what I mean.

However, we didn’t let the surrounds deter us, and I was so glad we didn’t. Because I found culinary heaven.

And I have to tell you folks, culinary heaven is a crispy fried barramundi done in a sweet ginger sauce, with shredded ginger on top. I kid you not, this was far and away the greatest dish I have had in any restaurant for quite a few years. For $20.

The owner was telling us afterwards that ginger is an absolute staple of Cambodian cooking, which suits me fine. Coz I love the stuff. And the way the sauce supplemented the fish was just magnificent.

Other dishes we tried were a BBQ pork on Asian greens and a Satay Beef, both of which were terrific. The rice paper rolls for entre were great too.

So do yourself a favour and get to My Cambodia, in Buckingham Avenue, Springvale.

And experience a (ginger) taste of heaven!

My Cambodia on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

Tandoori Cottage

“403 Waverley Road”, he said. “East Malvern. Near the corner of Malvern Road.”

So, why on earth would I look up 403 Malvern Road on Google Maps? Why did my brain not tweek something wasn’t right when Google brought up a location in Prahran? Why did I have to drive to that location in Prahran before I realised something wasn’t right? Damn I hate getting old.

So, to get the address part right, it’s 403 Waverley Road, East Malvern. It’s called Tandoori Cottage. And it is some of the best value Indian food we have had for quite a while.

The surroundings, both outside and in, aren’t particularly salubrious. The service struggles a bit. But the food is really, really excellent. Carol and I were there with two friends who consider Tandoori Cottage one of their “locals”. We were happy to drive there, based on their recommendation, and weren’t disappointed.

And. And. Entrees and mains for four people with rice and roti – $120. Tell me that’s not great value in that part of town.

‘Nuff Said.

Tandoori Cottage on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

Citrus @ Beaumaris

Carol and I dined at Citrus in Beaumaris (http://www.citrusrestaurant.com.au/) last night. Its reputation had preceded it for a while and the Entertainment Book reviews we read were OK.

So how do I sum it up? Boring! Expensive for what it offered! And extremely ordinary food.

Where do I start? How about with the maître d’hôtel who mumbled some sort of greeting and, when I explained we had a reservation, seemed to be concerned he was expecting half the entire suburb of (boring) Beaumaris to turn up. The four occupied tables suggested this wasn’t going to happen. It wasn’t as though everyone had decided not to eat last night – the Lobster Cave next door was positively buzzing.

We could then move onto he fact we sat for ten minutes at out table before we were even asked if we’d like a drink. Not to worry, it gave us a chance to take in the wonderful atmosphere, which consisted of a bunch of boring as bat shit 80s songs playing in the background. Guess what? Chuck e’s in love.

The menu was largely unspectacular. At a venue where I was expecting to shell out more than $200 for the two of us for dinner, and was more than happy to do so, I thought it was very disappointing.

The tasting plate as an appetiser with our drinks (yep, we finally got them) was OK, but at $23, should have had double the amount of food on it. And given we told them we were sharing, why would they only put one mussel on the plate? And one mushroom?

Carol’s pan fried scallops, chorizo and capsicum puree for entre was disappointing – very bland, with the puree adding absolutely nothing to the dish. My tempura battered oysters with wasabi mignonette was a major disappointment. The batter was soggy – I’ve actually seen better batters produced by my local fish and chips shop. The mignonette just tasted like lime juice.

Our mains were also disappointing. Carol thought the ingredients in her risotto were good, but where was the chilli? My bouillabaisse, which is supposed to be the house specialty, was terrible. My dictionary says that bouillabaisse is a “highly seasoned fish stew made with at least two kinds of fish”. It turned up on an ordinary dinner plate, instead of a bowl, which is how I would have thought most people would serve a stew. And “highly seasoned”? It had a flavourless sauce of some sort spread over it.

The ordinary experience continued with the $35 bottle of Mornington Peninsula Pinot we had, which was unspectacular.

We decided not to bother with deserts or coffee – we’d had enough. At this point, we moved on to the best part of the night – the taxi turned up within 3 minutes of me booking it on my iPad.

Citrus @ Beaumaris – you need to lift your game. Big time. A good starting point would be to start offering better value. And give your food some character.

Citrus on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »


I’ve never really liked Carl Barron. I actually think he’s about as funny as a multiple patient car accident. And we almost had one when I went to park in my usual parking area in St Kilda and found it blocked off to accommodate a large number of people who were there to see him at the Palais. The net result was having to park on Beaconsfield Parade, but that, thankfully, was the only downside of a great night.

phamish (http://www.phamish.com.au/) is on The Esplanade, immediately opposite the entrance to Luna Park. It’s a new entrant to the Entertainment Book (http://www.entertainmentbook.com.au/) this year, so independent reviews were a bit hard to come by. However, with a desire to show Mitchell an example of cosmopolitan Melbourne, we thought we would give it a go, right in the middle of a typical St Kilda Saturday night.

We weren’t disappointed – phamish was phantastic!

Cocktails, milkshakes and a very acceptable Kilikanoon ‘Killerman’s Run’ Cabernet Sauvignon got us started, with a selection of entrees from which we grazed. The favourite here was the dips with the sesame bread – almost a cross between turkish bread and a cracker.

Mains were terrific – with favourites being the gnocchi and the paella. Our fitness fanatic at the table was disappointed that the salt and pepper squid was fried, and felt it could have been described as such on the menu.

The deserts were the highlight of the night, particularly the  sweet custard pizza. A normal pizza base cooked as such, but with a great mix of apple, custard and sliced almonds.

The $35 discount through the Entertainment Book meant a cost of around $50 per person – perfectly reasonable for what was a great night. Probably not a lot more than you’d pay to see Carl Barron.

Phamish on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

So Maybe I Was Wrong

1. A Day In BKK

2. Main Street

I have a bowls colleague who reckons he’s only been wrong twice. And the first time was only because he thought he was wrong, but he wasn’t, because it turned out he was right. Are you with me?

So how was I wrong? I’ve quoted myself as saying that Carol and I live in a culinary wasteland. While we love where we live because of its proximity to the Bay, access to public transport, schools, shops, etc, we’ve always felt there was a significant shortage in quality eating establishments. We always had to head towards town to find anywhere decent.

So, as a result of purchasing the Entertainment Book this year, we’ve decided to try a few local places and I’m pleased to report that maybe I was wr……….. Ha, if Fonzie struggled with it, then so can I.Smile

The first place was a couple of months ago now – I’ve been meaning to blog about it but never quite got around to it. As a result, we’ve forgotten what we actually had to eat, but we can certainly remember the food was fantastic. It’s called A Day In BKK, BKK of course being the airport code for Bangkok. So full points if you’ve worked out it’s a Thai restaurant.

A Day In BKK is located on the Nepean Highway in Chelsea. Chelsea? “Hang on, is that the same Chelsea that…….?”, I hear you ask. Yep that’s the one. Down in the general vicinity of Frankston. It is a small family-owned and operated business where the food is brilliant and the service is incredibly friendly. It really is a little Thai treasure bang in the middle of Chelsea.

Secondly, to tonight. We’ve heard many people rave about Main Street (http://www.mainstreet3195.com.au/) in Main Street, Mordialloc (funnily enough). Everything about this place is terrific. For starters, I reckon their branding and the way they market themselves is brilliant. Being able to look at the menu on the web is great. How frustrating is it going to a restaurant on spec and not being able to find anything you really want to eat.

We shared the blackboard special seared prawns and scallops, and a saganaki for starters. This was accompanied by a real find for the night, a 2007 Dust Kicker Shiraz / Mataro, which we both enjoyed immensely.

For mains, I had a Moroccan Chicken Kiev (interesting mixture of ethnicities there) and Carol had the vegetable curry. Both had a slight over-reliance on potatoes unfortunately – the chicken could certainly have done with a couple of other vegetables. But all in all, two terrific meals. And the atmosphere was just fantastic – absolutely bursting with noise and every table full.

So both restaurants come extremely highly recommended. And maybe I need to concede I don’t live in a culinary wasteland. Just a small desert perhaps. The quest continues.

A Day in BKK on Urbanspoon

Main Street on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

As I’ve said before, I don’t do restaurant reviews. I leave those to people who are much better at it than me. But I am prepared to go into print when I find a place that is good. Having said that, Babble On Babylon (83 Brighton Road, Elwood) isn’t good. It’s bloody magnificent.

Being Mothers Day, the family headed over there for lunch today. Our visit was based on a recommendation from a colleague, Mairead (http://filluponbread.blogspot.com/).

The cuisine is West Indian, the closest thing to genuine West Indian cuisine you will find in Melbourne, so I’ve read somewhere. We had a mixture of dishes, starting with dips and bread. These ranged from the full Jamaican breakfast, to a cajun omelette with crab meat, to spicy lamb and chicken dishes. Everyone commented on how spicy the food was, yet it did not detract from some great flavours.

The desserts were fantastic, the coffee good and the service was great – extremely friendly and relaxed. And consistent with my belief that life’s too short to drink shit beer, they were serving Mountain Goat Hightail ale (http://goatbeer.com.au/).

Babble On Babylon would certainly be the best restaurant experience I’ve had in a very long time – strongly recommended.

Babble on Babylon on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

Kimchi Grandma

It was Carol’s birthday during the week, so we all headed off to Kimchi Grandma in Carnegie. My colleague Mairead writes a much better food review than I’m ever likely to – I’m not even going to try. I encourage you to have a look at her blog – http://filluponbread.blogspot.com/.

This is the second occasion we’ve been to this Korean restaurant now and the food is absolutely magnificent, and extremely reasonably priced. I really encourage you to check it out – it’s at 125 Koornang Road, Carnegie.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Carol.

Kimchi Grandma on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

Imperial Kingdom – Yum Cha

We had one of those happy occasions today where we got the whole family together for lunch – had a great time.

Where did we go? Yum cha at the Imperial Kingdom, 546 Waverley Road (cnr Blackburn Road), Glen Waverley. Googling “imperial kingdom glen waverley” seems to do the trick if you need more details.

There was, as usual, an incredible range of offerings and it was all absolutely fantastic. We got there at 11:30am – it was already starting to fill up by then, so reservations are definitely recommended. It’s definitely the spot for weekend yum cha. Highly recommended.

Read Full Post »