October/November mashup

Posted on November 15, 2011

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So it looks like we’re speeding towards the end of the year here and the absence in posts for the last month is really just a reflection of how busy things have been.  I am beginning to amass quite a large backlog of posts to be written, and I’m afraid I’m not likely to get through them all. So consider this a bit of a mash up of the past month or so. In spite of life getting in the way, this intrepid food lover has still managed to indulge in quite a few tasty treats.

Tesselaar’s Tulip Festival (359 Monbulk Road, Silvan VIC) is held at their tulip farm during the opening months of Spring, and what a lovely place it is to visit, if just a little pricey ($18 single adult entry). The fields were alive with colour and the mood was generally quite festive. Each weekend tends to have its own individual character, be it a jazz or Turkish theme. Advice here is to try and get there in the earlier weeks of the festival when the tulips are still standing tall and haven’t yet been trampled on by the masses of visitors – better luck next year for the folks who haven’t been yet.

Viewpoint (1284 Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, Kalorama VIC) had only recently been featured in The Age with the writer praising its fluffy freshly baked scones, but has now unfortunately closed its business. We were lucky enough to have visited before it closed and can concur that the scones were indeed good. It even came close to competing with the unforgettable Dollhouse. And the prices were reasonable ($10 for a devonshire tea set with 1 drink), especially their takeaway scones, being only $1 each! Why are all these lovely places dishing up yummy scones disappearing? Where’s a girl to get an afternoon treat these days?

Rainbow Restaurant (Level 2 206 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC) is one of the new residents of the old Village Cinema complex on Bourke Street, and it’s a big one. Unbeknownst to me, this is actually a restaurant specialising in all manners of buffet, even an all you can eat yum cha! I was led here by a good friend for their steamboat (or hot pot) offering. Just under $40 buys you all you can eat hot pot. For those unfamiliar with steamboat, it is similar to the Japanese dish of shabu shabu. This happens to be the Chinese version. You’re presented with a big steaming pot of soup, in our case we selected both the nutritious soup base and the ma la (hot and spicy) soup. Then it’s just a matter of cooking whatever goodies you find along the buffet line.

There was a good range of fresh seafood including oysters, scallops, prawns and baby octopus, as well as a decent range of raw meats, meat balls, veggies and other random tidbits that the Chinese like to throw into their steam boat. I’m not usually a fan of buffet lines, but this one isn’t so bad. The desserts weren’t the best so don’t stress about filling up on the savory stuff. Overall a fun way to dine with a bunch of mates.

Sourdough Kitchen (172 Victoria Street, Seddon VIC) is a newcomer to this cute little strip of shops near Charles Street, opening up earlier this year. It’s one of only a handful of truly artisan bakeries in urban Melbourne using the traditional sourdough cultures in their breads and the locals have taken to it like moths to a flame. This place is bustling on the weekends with people buying bread or just stopping in for a quick brunch. Prices are very reasonable and the service is always with a smile.

We’ve tried a number of their loaves including the house loaf; pumpkin; potato and garlic; multigrain and fruit. Can safely say that we loved all the savory loaves, which were dense and deliciously full of flavour. The sweet loaf, not so much. Being true to their name, even the fruit loaf carried the culture and while it wasn’t bad, I can’t say it is really to my taste either. The kitchen also makes a small range of vegan pizza slices which we sampled. Yum yum and yum. This coming from someone who usually requires meat in a dish to call it a meal! Suffices to say this bakery knows their bread – their only room for improvement is a need for better coffee.

Seddon Deadly Sins (148 Victoria Street, Seddon VIC) is rather likeable, especially if you’ve sat in their sun drenched courtyard out the back. Coffee is of a good standard and the menu is an interesting mix of the classic and the modern. Am I revealing my age when I say I particularly adore that their menu is concealed within old school Little Golden Books? The food is average in price and having been here enough times to sample a wide range of their menu, I find it a bit hit and miss. Some things were rather mediocre and I would advise against the beer battered haloumi. Sounds good, but the batter was a tad overwhelming and renders the cheesy inside tasteless. Their conventional brekky options were similarly so-so.

Where Seddon Deadly Sins shines is in their modern interpretation of old favourites. The corn and zucchini pikletts were a welcome way to introduce veggies into a morning meal, and the spiced sweet potato latkes (potato cakes that originated from Eastern Europe and is commonly associated with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah) were truly delicious! Pick your dishes carefully and you’re sure to be rewarded in this Westside haunt.

Duck Duck Goose (31-37 Artemis Lane QV, Melbourne VIC) is perhaps a slightly strange concept. It’s Chinese-French fusion food. It started out with a dual menu; one with more classic Chinese noodle dishes, and the other with their signature fine dining Chinese-French fare. They have since undergone a minor revamp and out went the Chinese menu. We were again rather fortunate enough to have visited at the right time to be able to sample both menus. Too bad their dumpling offers are now gone because they were sublime. Wonderfully thin pastry filled with yummy insides. No cheap filler meats here. You get the real deal. The traditional prawn dumplings (har gao) had no bamboo shoots through it, just the delightfully sweet prawn meat.

The fusion dishes were equally as good. It is a bit of a shame and mildly surprising that Duck Duck Goose doesn’t have a better reputation. In saying that, the venue does have a strange ambiance, how many upmarket restaurants would have commercial rnb hits blaring through their sound system?! But if you can ignore that, the food really is quite nice; bold Chinese flavours with the finesse of French style cooking. It may sound like an odd coupling, but it is actually a lovely marriage of flavours and technique. It is at least worth a consideration.

Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder (48-50 Bridge Road, Richmond VIC) has been around for donkey’s years and is still as popular as ever, as evidenced by our visit on a particularly sunny Saturday morning. Alive with activity, this is a clearly the place to be for a weekend brekky stop. There is an interesting range of breakfast items from around the globe, including the fantastically simple but tasty Baghdad eggs; sunny side up eggs spiked with cumin served on warm pita bread. Another great thing they’ve got going for them is their dedicated cheese room for all you cheese lovers! Prices are just a tad on the higher end of the scale with most items in the high teens, but everyone deserves a little treat once in a while.

Cutler & Co (55-57 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy VIC) has had rave reviews from people I usually pay attention to, but has never really been high on my radar to visit. However, a good friend’s pendence for good steak led a small group of us there to sample the 1.1kg slow cooked Angus rib eye. This hunk of meat took a hour to cook and gave us plenty of time to savour the lovely entrees. The short snippet I’m providing here really doesn’t do the restaurant much justice, but it was great food in a fabulous atmosphere with great staff. Worthy of all their hats.

Hausfraus (32 Ballarat Street, Yarraville VIC) was once a bit drab, but it has since been jazzed up to fit in with funky Yarraville. It now looks like a cute country bakery complete with benches along the front window and giant utensils as decoration. The coffee was fairly good and there was a decent selection of house baked goodies including savory pastries and cakes. The pies were fairly tasty if a little expensive for their size. It definitely has appeal though and I’ll have to try some of their sweet goods next time.

And I think that’s all folks. See, I wasn’t lying about how hectic it has been. With any luck, some of the madness will dissipate. That is probably overly optimistic of me given that the silly season is just around the corner. But I will endevour to be more frequent with my posts!

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