Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Noodle Palace

328 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

My lack of enthusiasm in the kitchen seems to be on a never ending run. I think I've hit a mid season lul or something of the sort. On this particularly non-enthused Tuesday eve I wandered down to Noodle Palace.

Noodle Palace offers a stock standard menu of pan-asian dishes. Curry Luksa - check, Singapore Noodle - check, Mee Gorang - check etc etc. Not exactly the most exciting menu, but seriously, how exciting can noodles be? They kind of fall in to the category of cheap take out. However, tonight I decided to dine in.

I ordered vegetarian fried kway teow and the man in black had seafood curry luksa. Inspired choices.

Both dishes were ok. There was nothing horrible about them but there was also nothing to rave about. The veggies were a little soggy in the kway teow and a bit of chili would have gone a long way. The seafood actually looked a little revolting, it had those scary fake fish balls and tiny little pizza prawns (exactly why I order vegetarian).

On the bright side, I didn't leave feeling like I had eaten something cheap and nasty. At $10 a head, we got what we paid for. Overall, I rate Noodle Palace 8/20 and would recommend it as a takeout joint. Don't bring a date here, as they might spontaneously self combust when Lincoln Park plays on the stereo.

Service- 2/5
Menu- 2/5
Atmosphere- 1/5
Value for money- 3/5

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lomond Hotel

225 Nicholson St Brunswick East

I feel really odd writing a review about my local pub. Obviously I like the place, I have been going there on a semi regular basis for 3 years. But I feel that this steak is worth talking about...seriously its an excellent piece of meat.

The Lomond Hotel is situated at the end of the 96 Tram line, conveniently located across the road from 3RRR Radio Station and a minutes walk from my home. They sever counter meals in the front bar, and have fresh flowers and white linen table cloths in the restaurant. Its a pretty stunning contrast, but it seems to work exceptionally well. 

Our visits here are pretty routine these days. A bottle of wine, the eye fillet with sweet onion jam and potato gratin, medium and a porterhouse with mustard, medium/rare. Occasionally we will order the oyster killpatrick. The steak is without question, the juiciest, best tasting beef I have had anywhere else in Melbourne. It is always cooked perfectly, and I am rarely disappointed. I will almost never order a steak at another restaurant. The only rival  I have had was at Punch Lane in Little Bourke St over a year and a half ago. This is the kind of consistency that makes a local so special.

Besides the steak, the rest of the menu is pretty top notch, but does lack in vegetarian mains. You could have a herb crusted rack of lamb, a Roo fillet, pork belly or chicken wrapped in prosciutto with sage butter. The wine list is also worth a mention, there is a good range of local and NZ wines and are generally priced between $26-$45. If you don't know what to choose, ask for a recommendation from James.

The Lomond is like the little place that could. Its not the fanciest Pub out there, but it give the local community what it asks for. There might be a few undesirable characters lurking out the front or in the bar, but this is Brunswick! These are the people that live here. If you give this place a miss because you don't like the look of the guy smoking out the front, you are only cheating yourself, because he might be eating the best steak this side of the Yarra.

I don't want to rate the Lomond, but I will give it the honour of being my Local.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bebida Bar and Cafe

325 Smith Street, Fitzroy

One of my favorite things to do on a Saturday night is go out for dinner with friends. On this particular evening, we were farewelling a friend, chosen destination, Bebida.

Bebida is a lovely little place on Smith Street which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 6 days a week. The atmosphere on a Saturday night is upbeat and welcoming with some local live music on offer. We were treated to a little  banjo playing and disco ball action. An interesting combo. In such as small space, the performance was quite intimate. There is also a cozy courtyard out back with plenty of seating and a fire.

To be honest, the live music was a little bit of a surprise, we had come for the food! The tapas menu has quite a lot on offer. We chose a number of dishes to share:
  • Sugo di Bologna, Rich bolognaise sauce with fresh grated parmesan on fried polenta wedges.
  • Spanish tortilla, Traditional style with potato and onion.
  • Calamari, Pan fried salt & pepper calamari with a citrus aoli.
  • Fried Haloumi with za’atar, Pan fried cheese served with pomegranate molasses.
  • Patatas Bravas, Potatoes tossed in spicy tomato salsa.
  • Chickpea salad.
  • Russian salad.
  • Trio of dips (pea and sage, beetroot and mint and tuna wasabi) served with pide
This really was an amazing feast. One of our diners was vegetarian, which caused no problem in selecting yummy dishes. The only slightly dissapointing dish was the Spanish tortilla, which was a little bland. To pick a standout dish is almost impossible. Each one was uinque and delectable. If I had to chose a stand out, it would be the Haloumi. The texture was beautiful and the za'atar complitmented perfectly. The Sugo di Bologan was rich and morish, the calamari was soft and juicy, the salads were fresh and light and the Patatas Bravas were rich and fulfiling. I find that Patatas can occasinally be a little lacking in flavour, not in this case. In the trip of dips, the stand out was the pea and sage. I really love when you taste something new, and you are totally blown away by the flavour. The pea is creamy and the sage offers a lovely earthy undertone. In addition the the Tapas, we also had room for 2 carafs of Sangria and a dark chocolate fondue.

I would love to post some pics of the feast, but my crappy iphone wasn't up to scratch in the dim warm light.

At the end of the evening, we were pleasently suprised with a tab of just $120. I'm not sure if maybe they forgot to tally everything up, but for 2 litres of Sangria, dessert and a huge meal, this is excellent value.

On this visit I offer Bebida 16.5/20 and would gladly return!

Service- 3/5
Value for money- 5/5
Menu- 4/5
Atmosphere- 4.5/5

Saturday, October 17, 2009


322 Victoria St

For me, reviewing Ray goes a bit like this "long time eater, first time reviewer". And to be honest, I'm not really sure were to start. Back in the day, I had no idea what the place was called, and referred to it as No Name Cafe for an embarrassingly long time.

Like any long term relationship, we have had our ups and downs. Sometimes I loved, it sometimes I hated it. Sometime I don't mind waiting for a table, sometimes I CBFed. Sometimes I don't mind having my coffee forgotten, sometimes I do. All that said though, today was a good day, we came late, and there were tables free.

The menu is as eclectic as the interior. I guess you could call it middle eastern infused cafe fare.  Today I chose the toasted roast pumpkin pide with olive paste, feta, pinenut and rocket and a latte. My sister had the poached eggs with mushroom and parmesan pesto and fresh OJ. The quality of the food is consistently good and very fresh. Meal portions are fair, and not overly huge.  

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thaila Thai

Thaila Thai- Royal Thai Cuisine, 82 Lygon Street, East Brunswick

I recently found myself discussing the perks of the East Brunswick food scene with a work friend/neighbor. We often talk about food, exchange tips, give warnings and the like. My friend has just returned from a five week stint in Spain, France and Italy and is carrying on about how much he missed Asian food during his travels.My sympathy can only stretch so far... but I'm listening. Thaila Thai is where he is heading, he is craving the Chicken with basil and chili. Come to think of it...maybe I am as well.

So upon being rejected from the Moroccan Soup Bar last night, my sister and I decided to give Thaila Thai a go. We both like Thai food a great deal, and were excited to try a new place. Now, I have recently had take out from here, but I strongly believe that its really not the same experience (the take out was good).

Thaila Thai is one of those places which instantly smacks you in the face. Its warm, its noisy and a little chaotic. The entrance is the take away section, and the restaurant is in the back, upstairs and out the front. Every possible nook and cranny which could fit a table is utilised. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I probably wouldn't recommend bringing a first date here.

We are seated upstairs on a shared table. I'm not the biggest fan of this style of dining. I find it a little intrusive, particularly when juicy gossip is in need of being shared. However, I digress. We order vegetarian spring rolls, chicken with basil, chili and cashew and red beef curry.

Despite waving our hands around, people seated after us were served before us and after several failed attempts at delivering the right meal, the spring rolls arrive. I find myself being a little pushy with the waitress, "no we did not order satay chicken squares, no we did not order satay chicken stir fry, we did not order satay anything! thank you, it looks lovely, but its for the girls next to us...seriously!" I really despise having to insist like this, alas, everything arrived, no one missed out on anything.

Other than that, our meals were fab. The curry was rich and spicy,and the beef was tender. The chicken was light and the veggies were very fresh and tasty. I was pleasantly surprised to see pumpkin in the stir fry. Pumpkin! I was over the moon. Be warned, the portion sizes are HUGE. Two mains could easily feed three people. At $36 in total, this was pretty much a cheap eat. Between three people, its would be super.

Overall, I enjoyed Thaila Thai. I will definatly go back, but will probably avoid eating in the restaurant. The service really lets the place down. On this visit I can only really offer 11/20.

Menu- 3/5
Service- 2/5
Value- 4/5
Ambience- 2/5

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Black Ruby, Carlton North

344 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North

My Sunday brunch is scared. I want eggs, I want bacon, and I want coffee. Good coffee. I tend not call in on a lot of places when it comes it this meal. I like to know what I'm getting. I can laugh off a sub par midweek meal. I can even try to forgive and forget a less than impressive Saturday night dinner, but screw up my Sunday brekkie, and you are no friend of mine.

I would like to introduce you to my friend Black Ruby. She is located on lovely Rathdowne Street in North Carlton. Her breakfast menu isn't going to blow your mind, there is nothing overly adventurous, but everything seems so nice. The french toast comes with caramelised banana, the big breakfast comes with a lamb chop. The bread is house made. You get the picture.

Now, I  mentioned earlier that I don't like to step to far out of the square, so today I ordered poached eggs on toast, with tomato relish, avocado and crisp bacon. With a Bloody Mary. The Man in Black ordered the big brekkie, lamb chop and all. While the eggs were fab, the Bloody Mary was not. No celery, no Mary. No worcestershire, no Mary. Take these things away, and you really have is spicy tomato juice with vodka. And that will just give you a tummy ache.

Like most places on Rathdowne St, there is a bit of a snobby under tone to Black Ruby. The cutlery is heavy, the fit out is dark wood, and the linen is crisp. Not your most casual of Cafe's. But is really is quite beautiful.

On a Sunny Sunday, I give Black Ruby 13/20 and recommend that you get the paper and a window seat and make yourself comfortable.