Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Church St. Enoteca

527 Church St Richmond, Victoria, 3121 tel : 03 9428 7898

This is an honest review about this restaurant's food. However, before you decide to attend this restaurant based on this review, please read my most recent review in regards to their service

When you hear people talking about Italian restaurants in Melbourne, for some reason you never hear them mention Church St. Enoteca. Surrounded by designer furniture stores and Imported Car stores which stock cars that cost more than I could ever afford. The restaurant is set in an old car showroom itself, but has had a magnificent make over, which is now a beautiful room to dine.
I've been to Church St. Enoteca many times now and there's many reasons as to why I return. The service is friendly and attentive, the prices are very reasonable and most importantly, the food is simply stunning!
Now, you'll have to forgive me, because I have been a bit lazy and when I took these photos, it was actually a couple of months ago, so I can't remember exactly what we ordered, but I'll do my best to remember.
First up we were offered a tasting spoon, compliments of the kitchen. Unfortunately, I can't remember exactly what it was, but I'm pretty sure it was a Scallop Ceviche. I do remember that it was tasty though.

For Entree, we always order the Anti Pasto Della Casa plate to share ($24), which tickles every different taste bud in your mouth- it's so good. It contains things like Baby Beets with Goats Curd, Deep Fried Olives (this things are amazing!), Buffalo Mozzarella wrapped with Basil and Prosciutto, Deep Fried Cheese (I think it was Fontina cheese), a chopped up mix of traditional Italian cold meats (this kind of looks like Pate) and there's also a Octopus Salad.

For mains I had the tastiest Blue Eye, which was served on perfectly cooked Lemon Risotto. I can't believe how many restaurants do Risotto so badly, but this place does it spot on. On the side are little deep fried balls of Mud Crab and the whole lot is drizzled with Lemon infused Olive oil.

Rach had the Whole, Deep Fried Snapper, served on Italian Vegetables. Once again, perfectly cooked and so, so tasty!

I apologise for the lack of detail in this review, unfortunately I forgot all about writing the review, but hopefully the photographs of the beautifully fresh, well presented, delicious food, speak for themselves. Church St. Enoteca is by far my favourite Italian restaurant in Melbourne and let me tell you Fifteen can only hope to one day cook Italian food as good as this!


Modern Italian Flavours, with Art Deco Surrounds

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


680 Victoria St, Richmond. Ph 03 9427 8500

Set next to the Yarra in Richmond, just down from Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre and virtually in the same building as Nova 100 Radio Station is another one of Melbourne's big names, Fenix. The home of Mr Molecular Gastronome himself, Raymond Capaldi.
Since the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is in full swing, Rach and I decided to take advantage of the Express Lunch option at Fenix, which gets you two courses and a glass of Victorian vino for $30 per head. Bargain!
Fenix apparently had a recent -very expensive makeover, which I think has left the room looking amazing. I'm not sure what it looked like before, as this was my first visit, but we were definately impressed. Fenix is classy with a capital 'C'! I'm not used to visiting classy restaurants like this for lunch, but I think this might change now. Everything seems different at a restaurant in the afternoon. Everything is so bright, especially with the sun shining in through the big windows over the yarra trees and the Victoria St Bridge.

The waiter showed us to our table, a nice little table right in the corner with lots of privacy, but right next to the huge windows looking across the Yarra towards Hawthorn.
Everything at Fenix is just right, the tables are set perfectly with slightly odd shaped utensils, the menus are covered with a nice soft micro-suede like material, which matches the suede covered delightfully comfy chairs.

Our 'just right' lunch experience started off with house-made Ciabatta which perfectly warm and soft in the middle. I'm pretty sure this is the best restaurant bread I've eaten and I'm glad they gave us seconds! The little bars of butter were served on what I think was a block of marble, sprinkled with thyme leaves and sea salt flakes.

Given we were ordering from the Express menu, I was disappointed that there were no slightly 'weird' options available, which is Mr Capaldi's signature. Instead there were things like Sweet Pea Risotto and Schnitzel of Atlantic Salmon.

To start, I ordered a Yellow Pepper soup with Haddock. The soup was an amazing yellow colour with delicious soft flakes of Salty fish throughout. It wasn't 'weird' as such, but there were tastes in there that I hadn't really tasted together before, it was fantastic! Rach had Goat's Cheese Stuffed Courgette Flowers with a salad of watermelon, tomato and Herb Oil. Once again the flavours were so fresh and the goats cheese perfectly creamy. Perfect for an early Autumn lunch in the sun.

For mains, we both went for the 36 Hour Slow Cooked Lamb, with baby potatoes and eggplant. It just sounded too enticing to not try! If someone has gone to the trouble to cook something for 36 hours, it had to be good. And it was! Oh my god, the meat, was so, so soft! It literally fell apart as soon as the fork touched it! Our servings were quite small and we were disappointed when they were placed on the table, but once we started eating, we understood why they were small. The meat was very rich and the potatoes looked to be coated with lots of oil and butter, which always leaves you feeling full. The lamb was simply amazing, probably some of the best meat I have ever eaten anywhere. By the time we finished our meal we were as full as could be. Thankfully this express lunch was only two courses, because I don't think we could have fit anything else in!

Fenix, is a beautiful place, one of the slickest restaurants I've seen. The staff were very professional, but not very smiley or talkative it seemed. Maybe they're just less friendly to the Express Lunch Customers. It was early on Sunday afternoon, so maybe they had hangovers, but hey, it was the end of daylight savings so they had an extra hours sleep!
I'm looking forward to visiting Fenix again for lunch, but next time I definately want to sample some of Mr Capaldi's signature Molecular' dishes which he is famous for.

Comfy, Slick, Bright and Simply Delicious!

Pearl's Famous Hot Chocolate

631-633 Church Street, Richmond. Ph 03 9421 4599

Ok, now you might be thinking, "this guy is really struggling for something to review - he's writing about hot chocolate!"
Well, let me tell you, that this hot chocolate is too good NOT to write about!
Now that we're coming into the cooler months (although, in Melbourne you never really can tell), it's going to be time for sipping on hot drinks to get you through the chilli Autumn days.
Where better to do this, than sitting in the sleek surroundings of Pearl, at the bar on one of their new comfy couch type bar stools?
Pearl do their hot chocolate as classy as can be. You don't just get your hot chocolate and that's it - it's like a cup of tea, you get to adjust it as you like.
On your plate you'll get your hot chocolate glass which is lined with the sweet chocolate topping around the bottom and then covered in frothy hot milk. When the milk is poured over the chocolate topping, you get three layers, dark on the bottom, slightly chocolatey in the middle and frothy milk on top. (My photo was taken after I stirred the glass) With this, you also get a cup of frothy milk to adjust the chocolate to your liking and the best bit - the extended hot chocolate. Because you get a little cup of (what I think is Valrhona - I didn't check this) chocolate you can add the chocolate to your hot chocolate and make it even stronger and then add some of the extra milk and it's like having 2 hot chocolates!
I honestly haven't had a better hot chocolate anywhere in Melbourne and would like people to tell me if they know anywhere else that does a hot choccie as good as this.
At $6.50, it may be one of the most expensive hot chocolates in town, but you pay for what you get and in this case, it's perfection!!

While I'm here I'll tell you about the lamington I had there too... $5.
Nothing too different here, but I think the jam inside was home made, quite nice, but $5 was a little much for a lamington, but you do get to eat it at Pearl!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sticky Banana Pudding with Honeycomb Ice-Cream

A few days ago, I was lucky enough to acquire one of the now EXTREMELY rare copies of Geoff Lindsay's book- Chow Down. I have been looking for this book forever and since it went out of print years ago, it's nowhere to be found. I searched second hand book stores, put my name down on a waiting list at 'Books for Cooks' and even wrote to Geoff himself at Pearl. All to no avail. I did have a search set up on ebay though, which would notify me if and when it appeared on ebay and lucky for me, it finally appeared after months of waiting!! I managed to win the auction for almost $50, a bargain if you ask me!

Since the book is out of print, I'm sure Geoff wouldn't mind me including a couple of recipes for you all to try on here (I hope!)

Here is the first one I cooked from the book a couple of nights ago, Sticky Banana Pudding with Honeycomb Ice-Cream. It's very much like Sticky Date Pudding, but instead of dates, you use Bananas. I have to say I like it much better than Sticky Date, it seems a lot less 'sickly' than Sticky Date Pudding but is just as delightful to eat. Geoff's version is a classic in it's own right!
The recipe asks you to make the Honeycomb Ice Cream yourself, but I cheated, in a bid to save some time and visited Trampoline again and picked up some of their delicious 'Violet Rumble' ice cream.


Caramel Sauce:
200g Brown Sugar
100g Unsalted Butter
150ml Cream (35% Fat)

Banana Pudding:
2 Ripe Bananas, skins on
125g Unsalted Butter
125 Castor Sugar
2 x 55g Eggs
75 Self-Raising Flour
1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence

Honeycomb Ice-Cream
125g Castor Sugar
125ml Water
1/2 Tsp Bi-Carb Soda
500ml Cream (35% Fat)
6 Egg Yolks


Caramel Sauce
Simmer the butter Sugar and Cream together to form a rich sauce

Banana Pudding
Preheat the oven to 200c
Roast the bananas whole with their skins on for 15 mins and peel

Cream the butter, sugar and eggs, add the bananas and flour and then pour the batter into four moulds that have been lined with caramel sauce.

Place the moulds into a bain-marie filled with hot water to reach half way up the sides

Cover the tops with foil and place in the oven for 40 mins

Honeycomb Ice-Cream
Caramelise the sugar and water
When the sugar is light golden, add the bicarb soda, stir and pour onto a tray lined with foil and leave to cool.
Warm the cream and pour over the yolks.
Return to the saucepan and cook until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.
Crush the honeycomb with a rolling pin, reserve the larger pieces and mix the smaller bits with the custard mixture.
Churn in an ice cream machine, as per manufacturer's instructions, when it is frozen, add the larger pieces of honeycomb.

To Serve:
Invert the Pudding on to a warmed plate.
Pour some extra caramel sauce over and top with a scoop of ice cream.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Ezard's Red Duck Curry with Lychees - My 50th Post...Yaay!

Well, it's my 50th post, so I thought I'd celebrate with my favourite food by my favourite Melbourne chef, Teage Ezard. One of my first posts here was my attempt at re-creating Geoff Lindsay's Roast Red Duck Curry, even though someone had ripped the actual red curry paste recipe out of the library book. This time, I've found a similar recipe in Ezard's lastest book Lotus - Asian Flavours. The method for cooking the duck in this one is quite different as it's steamed and then deep fried.
Unfortunately, I won't be giving you the recipe here, because you'll have to buy the book for that, but check out the method and if you like the look of the final product, you might like to try it yourself.

First you'll need to dry roast your spices - coriander, cumin, star anise, nutmeg and white peppercorns. Once roasted, you'll need to bash them up in a mortar and pestle and coat your duck meat in the spices. You then need to steam the duck pieces until cooked.

Once the duck has been steamed, you'll need to deep fry the duck until the skin has gone nice and crispy.

You then need to make your Red Curry Paste by bashing up all your ingredients in a Mortar and Pestle, which includes things like chillies, garlic, ginger, galangal, coriander roots, etc.

You then need to fry your paste in a wok for about 10 mins, until its fragrant... you'll be able to tell when it's ready because it smells AMAZING!

Mix in coconut cream and your duck and simmer for a few mins until the duck has heated through. Then you can mix your Lychees through and check the curry for seasoning, adding lime or fish sauce if needed. Now all that's left to do is plate up your masterpiece and enjoy the fantastic zingy flavours that bounce around your mouth like golf balls at a driving range!
The curry is a bit spicy, but the sweetness of the Lychees balances this out beautifully. This is almost exactly like the Red Duck Curry we had when were in Sydney at Papaya in Cremorne .

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bella Vedere

874 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream, VIC 3770, Phone 5962-6161
Wed - Sun: Breakfast from 8:30am and Lunch from 12 noon
Fri - Sat: Dinner (bookings essential)

This is officially the first review that I've written where I haven't included a photo of the food that I've eaten. I have however included photos of the beautiful surroundings that is Bella Vedere. Hopefully by looking at these photo's you can get an idea of the type of food these guys would serve at a place like this.

Bella Vedere is located along the Maroondah Hwy in Coldstream, about 5 minutes away from Healesville. It's located in a renovated Cellar Door of a winery, which is probably about one of the most beautiful places I have had the opportunity to eat.
As you walk into the restaurant, you pass tables and shelves of fresh bread and pastries baked on site at their own bakery, which look simply amazing! We also saw a large bookshelf stacked with Kennedy and Wilson Easter eggs. Buy your family one of these each this Easter and you'll be paying off your credit card until next Easter!

The restaurant itself is exactly like every picture I've ever imagined of a country kitchen. The big breakfast table sits between big windows on one side, look out over the mountains and the other side is the kitchen, which is completely open. You can see right into the kitchen and watch the chef's doing their thing. The kitchen was also surrounded with piles of fantastic looking eggs, chillies, tomatoes and various other fresh goodies for the chefs to use. The breakfast table itself had two huge sunflowers lying on it, minus their petals. Oh so country. If you look at the photo of the kitchen, you can see how close I was to the chefs and they could see me perfectly, which is why I kind of felt weird taking photos of the food. Especially since I just bought my new camera that makes me look like I work for a newspaper!

The wait staff, were very professional and snazzy looking in their uniforms with aprons on. I did find that they were a little over-professional though for a nice little country place like this, they could have definately relaxed a little, but at the same time, it was nice to have very professional breakfast service, which I find is very rare, especially in the city.

For breakfast I ordered poached eggs with sourdough and roasted tomato and freshly squeezed OJ. The eggs arrived plain on a white plate. Nothing special to look at, but let me tell you- I have never ever had a more perfect breakfast. So simple - bread, eggs and tomato, but so well done! The eggs were perfectly poached and exploded with a burst of yolk when prodded with my knife. The tomato not overly roasted and perfectly soft and served on the most delicious bread - cut the perfect thickness. Season all this with some Murray River Sea Salt and you have the most perfect breakfast! Sure you might have to drive 50 mins out of Melbourne, but believe me, it's worth it.

The breakfast menu isn't huge and there isn't anything that's particularly fancy on it, but Bella Vedere really proves the point that if you use the best and freshest produce and do the right things to it, you will get the best final product possible.

So if you're heading out to the Yarra Valley or even if you're not - you should go out of your way to do breakfast here... I challenge you to find a nicer place to have breakfast within an hour of Melbourne that does food as good as this!

Bella Vedere loses a half a point, simply because the staff could have been a tad friendlier and a tad less professional.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Apple and Blueberry Shortcake with Trampoline Vanilla Ice Cream

I have so many cookbooks sitting on my shelf, good cookbooks. Cookbooks you might find on a professional's shelf. Yet, somehow I always seem to come back to Bill Granger for my breakfasts and desserts. The reason for this I guess is that they are so easy. Who wants to be slaving away in a kitchen at breakfast time? Simple is all you need. As for desserts, well I suck big time in the pastry field of things, so Bills is a sure fire way to make sure I succeed 95% of the time.
This one was a little bit tricky, simply because my kitchen was so hot, it made the pastry get hot very quickly and difficult to roll out without falling apart. The trick was to put it in the freezer for about 10 - 20 mins until it's pretty hard (but not frozen!), the butter firms up and makes it much easier to roll out.
Give this one a try, it's definately worth it. Lucky me lives right near a Trampoline store, so I went and bought some of their delicious Vanilla Ice Cream to go with the cake, it was fantastic. There's even little chunks of the Vanilla Bean itself in the Ice Cream! Yum!!

Apple & Blueberry Shortcake

4 large Granny Smith Apples
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
1 egg
185g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
155g (1 cup) blueberries
sugar, for sprinkling

Peel the apples, remove the cores & cut each apple into about 16 slices.
Put the apples, lemon zest, sugar & 2 tablespoons of water into a medium saucepan, then cover & stew over a low heat for about 10 minutes, until the apples are soft but not mushy.
Allow to cool.

Cream the butter & caster sugar together in a bowl until fluffy & smooth.
Add the egg and mix well. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and stir until combined.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface & knead until smooth
Divide into two and place in the freezer for 10 - 20 minutes

Preheat the oven to 180c.
Roll each half of cake dough into a round approximately 22cm across.
Press one round into a 24cm non-stick springform cake tin.
Spread the apples over the dough, leaving a small border around the edge. S
prinkle with the blueberries.

Place the other round of dough on top & press the edges together.
Brush with water & sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, then allow to cool in the tin for 20 minutes before removing.

El Fayha Sweets

648 Sydney Road, Brunswick Ph 03 9386 9674

After visiting A1 Bakery, we decided to cross the road and pay a visit to El Fayha Sweets. Their window claims that they have the “best Lebanese sweets in Melbourne.”
And you know what? I think they’re right. Inside this quaint shop, you’ll find a little Lebanese man sitting behind a counter, covered with various, Lebanese pastries.
Having never tried Lebanese sweets before I asked a lady who was waiting, which were the best to try. She said that she swears by the Pistachio version. Now to me, all the sweets basically looked the same; pastries, smothered in honey and sprinkled with nuts, the only difference being the shapes. From what I could tell, you are actually charged by the weight of the cakes you purchase. Some people before us actually bought $100 worth and another $50 worth! We asked for $10 worth of mixed pastries. The little man looks like he has been there for years- so much so, he didn’t even need to weigh our purchase.

When we got home and finally tasted the sweet little treats, there was little difference between the flavours of each different shaped pastry. One of them had some Turkish delight at the bottom, which was the main difference. Another had a little more honey than the other. Even though they all tasted almost all the same, they were all delicious. Very sweet, sticky, yet crunchy at the same time. The little old Lebanese man seems to have this sweet treat making thing down pat!

A1 Bakery

643 - 645 Sydney Rd, Brunswick, VIC. 3056 Phone: +61 3 9386 0440

Right in the middle of our very own Middle East- Sydney Rd Coburg, you’ll find A1 Bakery. A Middle Eastern Food Store, where you’ll find everything from Rose Water to vats of Olive Oil. Set at the back of the food store is a very busy bakery, which sells breads, pizzas and more. The prices here are cheap, REALLY cheap… and the food is great! When we visited I got myself a Sausage Pizza ($4.50 from memory), which was flavoured in tomato, olives and a spicy sausage, then covered in cheese. Crunchy around the edges and just soft enough in the middle, delicious. We also tried the Spinach and Feta Cheese Pie, ($3 from memory also) which was really tasy, but the liquid from the spinach had made the bottom of the pastry a little too soggy. Not to worry, it’s good, healthy, interesting, cheap, food.

De Los Santos

175 Brunswick St,Fitzroy, VictoriaTelephone: 03 9417 1567

For years now De Los Santos has been serving up some of the city’s best Paella, or so I was led to believe. It’s true that they’ve been serving Paella and other traditional Spanish food for years, but as far as it being some of the best, I didn’t find that the case.
To start we were served up some Sourdough Bread. I never knew that it was possible for Sourdough to actually be too sour. It was sour to the point that it was almost bitter.
We ordered the Seafood Paella for two for mains. There was lots of shellfish on top of the Paella and about 3 prawns as well. The Mussels really didn’t seem all that fresh and it would have been great if the prawns could have been de-veined, prior to cooking. The rice was gluggy and overall wasn’t a great meal.

The restaurant was hot and stuffy. Admittedly it was about 28c on a warm summer’s night outside, but in a busy restaurant with only one small air-conditioner it was quite uncomfortable.
Maybe some of the other meals on the menu might have been better, because the place was quite busy, but if you’re looking for some good Spanish Paella, try around the corner on Johnson St, you’re pretty sure to do better than here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


376 Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Sassafras. 9755 2100

I've placed a picture of Ripe at the top of this blog for a good reason. There's no sign outside Ripe and if you don't know where it is, you could wander up and down the main street of Sassafras looking for it. The front of Ripe looks like your average country style house, but inside lies an above gourmet food store and a cafe that champions local produce like no one's business!
When you enter through the doors, you are surrounded by products that come various producers around the Dandenongs and the Yarra Valley. Some of my favourites being Cunliffe and Waters Jams and preserves, Yarra Valley Ice Cream and Yarra Valley Pasta.
The menu here is seasonal, using the best of what the area has to offer each season. There are three areas where you can choose to eat; a courtyard out the back, inside, or where we chose - the front porch - perfect for us to bring Scooter the Spoodle along.
I ordered the Chicken Spaghetti, with Mushrooms and Avocado. Probably not the most interesting choice on the menu, so I don't know why I was expecting anything overly special. I guess because I'd read so many good things about this place, I had high hopes. The dish was nice enough, but at $20, I usually expect a bit more bang for my buck.

Rach ordered the Prawn Salad, which I think was about $22 from memory. Again, it was nice enough, but as a main, you really didnt get all that much on the plate.

The staff are pleasant enough here, offering service with a smile. It's a nice place for Breakfast or Lunch if you're perusing the Dandenongs, however, beware if you're visiting on the weekend. Word is that it's best to book, because apparently it gets chocca's with all the tourists coming through the area. Speaking of chocca's, I've read that these guys make their hot chocolates with Lindt Chocolate that they shave theirselves. What could be better than a nice hot chocolate and a cruise through the mountains in Autumn?

Verge Restaurant

1 Flinders Lane, Melbourne 3000.P +613 9639 9500 F +613 9639 9555E

I have been wanting to visit Verge for quite a while now, even more so since it featured in the recent The Age, Good Food Guide. So, what better time to visit a nice restaurant than for some one's birthday and that's just what we did for Rach's Birthday on Saturday night. We booked a week in advance, and managed to get the last table in the place for Saturday night - a table for 2.
When you walk into Verge, you walk through the bar area downstairs to the pass area outside the kitchen. This is where the waiters take you to your table upstairs. Upstairs, Verge looks like a modern warehouse apartment conversion, with an exposed concrete roof and a view looking out over Fitzroy Gardens. It's quite a small space, with many tables squeezed into the space. We were directed to the area at the back of the restaurant near the Waiter's Bar. Next to us was another table of two people and another table of about 10 people. Normally I wouldn't even bother mentioning these tables, but they come into play later on... trust me.
The menu at Verge is predominately Japanese, mixed with influences from other parts of the world, Italian and French being the obvious ones.
To start, we ordered the Zensai moriawase - Assorted Japanese hors d'oeuvres ($13.50 p.h.). This was a plate of various tastes, some interesting, some nice, some not so nice. I really liked the interestingly shaped Scallop Tempura, as well as the Beef Tartare, which was as red as could be. One that didn't quite hit the spot was the Soy Panna Cotta with Jelly on top. It had tiny little mushrooms (shitake I think) set in the Jelly, which was quite cool, but there was very little taste to the Panna Cotta, but for some reason it was very hard to swallow, this was the only one I couldn't finish - and I'm usually one for trying new things!

As we were working through the tasting plate, we were distracted by a commotion on the table next to us. There was a man on the previously mentioned table of 10, who had lost the plot and was literally yelling abuse at the waiters over the fact that the entree he was given, wasn't what he thought it was. This continued on for quite sometime and got to the point where half of his own table was so embarrassed by him, they actually left the restaurant. Then the couple dining on the table behind us, stood up and explained to the guy that he had wrecked their night and left also. We were contemplating leaving also, but because it was Rach's Birthday and that fact that we had basically just got there, we thought we'd stick it out, while the rude guy still went on and on. We thought about asking for a different table, but as it was a full house, there was nowhere to go.
Now, if this was my restaurant and I had someone going off at a table in a particularly smallish room, I'd do something about either calming the guy down, so the rest of the patrons could enjoy the night, or getting the nutter to leave. The waiters did neither and left the guy to go off and left us to sit there and listen to him.
Our mains arrived after a bit of an expected wait (due to the commotion, I assumed there would be a wait.) I ordered the Tea smoked duck breast, gobo choucroute, braised figs ($34.50) and Rach ordered the Roast lamb rack, neck canneloni, pea and purslane (34.50)

Apart from the fact that no longer did I feel like eating nor enjoying my night due to the psycho sitting next to us... my meal really wasn't that great. The duck was dry and overcooked (don't let the pink in the middle of the pieces fool you in the photo), the prosciutto it was served with was also dried out. The figs however were the saviour of the dish and once I'd run out of figs to eat the meat with, I couldn't eat anymore... it was just too dry.
Rach's meal did look very interesting and she did think it was very tasty. The lamb rack was tender and the sauce was delicious. The 'neck cannelloni' was an interesting addition to a somewhat Japanese influenced menu. (Psycho next to us is still rabbiting on about something...)
Now I come to the next disappointment of my evening. About 3 days before we were to eat at Verge, I called up and spoke a guy and asked if they could do something nice for Rach's birthday. Now, I know that this is a bit of extra effort for a restaurant to go to, but I was giving them notice. I was told they they could do a nice little dessert plate with 'Happy Birthday Rach' written on it. I said 'perfect!!'

So, when it came to dessert time, we were definately sick of the psycho next to us and really wanted to leave. Rach wanted to leave too, but I had to convince her to stay for my special sup rise. The waiters bought over a dessert menu... so I wasn't sure how this whole thing was going to work, but I thought they would have it sussed. We ordered one dessert to share; Millefeuille of cherry and pistachio, Maracaibo chocolate sorbet ($15.50). I was hoping to get away from the table to maybe remind the guys about the 'special' dessert, but was unable to without Rachel seeing me speak to the waiters.
When the dessert arrived, it was just your plain old Millefeuille with no writing on the plate or anything!! Like I said, it's a bit of extra effort on the restaurant's behalf, but I was prepared to pay and if they didnt want to do it, they could have told me. When I called to request it, they knew they were going to be busy that night.

Overall we had a very average night. My dinner wasn't that special, we had to put up with the Psycho next to me going nuts at his family and waiters and the disappointment of the birthday treat not arriving.
It would have been nice if the waiters could have apologised regarding the guy next to us. I know it's not their fault, but when you're paying lots of money for a nice meal, you want your environment to be pleasant and I'm sure it is most nights, but unfortunately, we dined on the wrong night. The service was pleasant enough, but they could have went the extra mile for us to make up for the unpleasantness, but it wasn't mentioned once, not even when we were leaving. The waiters knew it was an issue though, because every time they walked past us or away from the psycho guy, they would make a disgruntled face at us.
I'm sure the food must be good most nights, because it's a 2 chef hatted restaurant... why did it have to all go pear shaped on a special night for us?

Mare Blue

Mare Blue, 367 Brunswick St, Fitzroy. 8415 0898

Wandering down Brunswick St on the weekend, I was surprised to see a new restaurant had popped up, an Italian one as well. The place is called Mare Blue. The opening page on their menu says that they want to change the way that a lot of people view Italian Food. Apparently it's not all about the pizza and pasta dishes, so they're here to show us the diversity of Italian Food.
It was almost 3pm and we hadn't had lunch yet, so we thought that we'd give the place a go. We noticed that there were 3 lunch specials available- Bolognese, Veal Saltimbocca and Fish of the day with wine sauce. All are served with a Salad and a glass of Vino or Soft Drink.
I ordered the Fish of the Day, which turned out to be Salmon steaks, while Rach ordered the Veal.

The Salmon was quite nice, cooked all the way through, none of this 'pink in the middle' business for these guys. It could have been cooked a little less, but it was OK. As for the White Wine sauce, it may have been cooked in the sauce, but they forgot to actually serve the fish with any. I'm not sure if this was on purpose or not. Don't get me wrong though, the fish was very nice, albeit, slightly over cooked and lacking sauce.
The Salad, was very Italian and very fresh. I did like the fact that they serve the salad with a bottle of Olive Oil and Balsamic, so you can add extra dressing if you like. I liked.

Rach's Saltimbocca was a completely different story, there was lots of sauce which was full of fresh tomato, the veal was perfectly cooked and overall it's was fantastic! I tasted the Veal and loved it. I think it's something you'd find straight out of the Silver Spoon cookbook. Very authentic.

The staff here are lovely, the chef himself bought our meals out, to help the waitress carry everything. Afterwards, the staff were very eager to make sure we enjoyed our meals.
The prices here are very reasonable, especially for Brunswick St, where almost everywhere seems to be overpriced.
I'm looking forward to returning to Mare Blue, to check out what else they have on offer. Overall not a bad start for a brand new restaurant.