Thursday, April 29, 2010

Plume at Highpoint

200 Rosamond Road
9318 6833

Yum Cha in Melbourne has definitely been on the slide in terms of quaility. Chinatown is no longer the place to go on a Sunday afternoon with the whole family for dumplings, suburbs like Box Hill, Doncaster and Springvale now call themselves home to the better yum cha restaurants, but one must not forget the West, and this is where Plume comes in. Located right next door to Highpoint, Plume at Highpoint is the sister restaurant to the popular Plume Doncaster.

The place is busy like any good yum cha restaurant but service is still present, there are trolleys being pushed full of baskets of hot food.

We start off with everyone's favourite, prawn dumplings, there are 4 in total, the skin could have been more translucent but the fillings are fresh and the prawns were big. Great with a touch of chilli sauce.

We then moved onto one of the delicacies of yum cha, chicken feet, I know there are many out there who would never try this, but its one of the must haves when having yum cha, it's hard to find on the menu else where. These were steamed with black bean and chilli.

Another popular dumpling is the 'shark fin' dumpling. Don't let the name fool you, there is no shark fin in this dumpling, it's basically a mix of prawns and pork, a bit of a disappointment and for the cost I rather stick with the old fave prawn dumplings.

There are spring rolls and there is the below, minced prawns wrapped in tofu sheets which are lightly fried parcels of fingersized yummyness. Another great option is prawn wrapped in rice paper, these are once again lightly fried.

The salt and pepper white bait were crispy and meaty, but lacked some seasoning.

The taro dumplings are filled with minced pork wrapped in a thick layer of taro that has been boiled and mashed. These are then deep fried with the outer layer becoming crispy.

Egg tarts were fresh out of the oven, the puff pastry was soft and crispy but the egg seemed a tad over cooked, but we have definitely have had some of the best egg tarts here in the past.

Plume at Highpoint differs from your usually yum cha restaurant, here the service is friendly, you are asked which type of tea you want when you sit down, you can ask for chilli paste, chilli oil and even fresh chilli, service comes with a smile, the ladies pushing the food trolleys are wonderful. They all seem to have been working there a long time and they are a great help in suggesting what to eat.

It is slightly pricier than some other Chinese yum cha places, but for the improved service and comfort in dining, we find it more than worthwhile. Top notch yum cha without the exorbitant prices (such as Oriental Tea House). Don't bother for dinner though, have been there before for dinner which is worlds apart from their yum cha!

Plume on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 26, 2010

Melba Restaurant

The Langham Hotel
1 Southgate Avenue
South Bank
1800 641 107

Located inside the 5-Star Langham Hotel in Southbank, the Melba Buffet Restaurant has long being a place to celebrate and relax. Although there are two schools of thought for 5 Star Buffet restaurants in Melbourne, Melba or Crown Conservatory, but Melba has always been winning the votes amongst our friends.

The seafood selection is typical for a buffet, you have your oysters, prawns and spanner crab. The oysters and prawns were fresh and sweet but the crab tasted a bit average.

One of the great inclusions of the Melba buffet is their own tandoori oven, this is kept busy with people lining up to order their freshly made naan bread. You can have garlic, herbs, chill BUT one must leave room for a chocolate filled naan bread for dessert with fresh ice cream, just ask the nice chef to make it (they will know what you mean). They also serve some pretty good Indian food.

The Melba also offer made to order fresh sashimi and sushi, the selection available includes salmon, tuna, octopus, swordfish and more.

In terms of hot food, you can have made to order pasta and noodles. The roast corner includes beef, pork, chicken and peking duck, but don't expect peking duck to be made the usual way. Instead of using the crispy skin, duck meat is used here.

In terms of salads and cold meats Melba has the full range. They have a great selection of cheese.

But the main reason people go to buffets is for the dessert I think and The Melba offers some of the best range of sweets. In bite sized servings one can grab more then one and still feel like they are being good to their tummy. The tiramisu is one of the best in Melbourne, creme caramel and creme brulee were both top notch. And what can you say about that chocolate fountain!

Would we come back? For sure, if only for the naan bread and that chocolate fountain. For those who still haven't chosen a place for Mother's Day, grab that phone and book Melba before everyone else does!

Melba's Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fruits of Passion

188 Bellair Street

9376 8588

Our local and favourite brunch spot, located right opposite Kensington Station, Fruits of Passion offers day long breakfast on weekends and a great coffee before the journey into work during the week. There are other breakfast cafes on Bellair Street but sadly we are very loyal and have stuck with Fruits of Passion when we feel like a great brunch. To begin they know how to make a good coffee, unlike some places they know the difference between a long mac and a long black.

The must have dish (when hungry) is eggs benedict, instead of a muffins they use hash browns, so bad that it is good. The ham and eggs are cooked perfectly every time, it's topped up with spinach leaves which gives it a balance and at least you feel like you have eaten something healthy. Their special 'yummy dressing' is a great touch, we have never fully worked out what goes into it. Extra mushrooms were juicy and well flavored.

Another favourite dish is their vegetarian deluxe consisting of sun dried tomatoes, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and eggs your way on sourdough toast. Once again the poached eggs are runny yet firm. A side dish of sausage is another must have extra.

Fruits of Passion have been around for years, a place that we walked in for a quick coffee has turned into our favorite brunch cafe, we always know that we will get great food, great service and of course great coffee.

Fruits of Passion on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 2, 2010

Match Bar & Grill

219 Little Lonsdale Street

9654 6522

Match Bar & Grill opened over a year ago in Melbourne, its first in Australia, located in the heart of the CBD. The bar offers great cocktails and no fuss wines. There is even a list of
things you won't find at Match Bar like no pints, no happy hour and no 'apple martinis'. During the week it is filled with after work suits who enjoy a bit more class then the local pub, with a fully automatic wine cabinet stocked with wine selected from Matt Skinner you can try a shot, half a glass to a full glass of wine. Match Bar is spacious and offers a nice back drop of Swanston St in Melbourne when drinking on the outdoor deck during the summer.

They have recently updated their menu with thanks to Paul Wilson, never having had a meal prior to this change we are unable to compare. We ordered the olives which were supposedly marinated in rosemary, these sadly disappointed as the olives lacked flavour and were soft. The mushroom and gruyere croquettes were cheap ($1.50 each) and such good value, these were lightly fried and salted, the gruyere complimented the mushrooms so well, they sat light in the mouth with a burst of flavour.

Having not been to the Vic Markets for a few weeks and missing the bratwurst, seeing that Match Bar offered a hot dog we did bite and ordered this immediately. They serve this with the staples, caramelised onions, dijonaise and sauerkraut. The buns was nice and crusty however the bratwurst could have been spicy as it missed a bit of bite.

One of their newest menu items and one we heard so much about was their David Blackmore Wagyu burger ($25), these came with a side of fries. The burger had pancetta, cheese, lettuce and some nice pickles, the pattie was nice and moist.

Match Bar is a great place to visit after work being in such a great location and having a spacious outdoor deck, this place takes their wines, beers and most importantly cocktails seriously and with a new 'beefed' up menu there is no longer a need to drink and then walk aimlessly down Swanston St for that Chinese or souvlaki.

Match Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hellenic Republic

434 Lygon Street
Brunswick East
9381 1222 (must book)

Hellenic Republic located on the non-Italian end of Lygon Street is what you would hope to find in a modern Greek eatery. Owned by the now even more famous George Calombaris this is the low key sister to his 'hatted' Press Club. We have been to Hellenic Republic many times before and walked away full and satisfied by their service and food, and this was no different. We had to make a lunch booking as they were fully booked on a Saturday night. As we walked in we were happy to see George on their communal table discussing business, great to see that even on a break from shooting Master Chef he was interested in the goings on at Hellenic Republic.

As we sat down, we were quickly served their 'orgasmic' taramosalata (cod roe dip) with fresh pita bread, we kindly advised the waitress that we had not ordered yet although this was going to be our number ONE choice. Minutes later we were served olives and pickled octopus, and were told that Ari had organised this.

Throughout our meal we would go on to wonder whether this was the same Ari that used to manage the wonderful Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons at Crown (our fav restaurant but yes, we are yet to review this), I was confused wondering why would he leave GAS for Hellenic Republic. Back home I had to 'google' Ari, it did in fact turn out to be The Age Good Food Guide's Service Excellence Award winner Ari Vlassopoulos. Ari had been poached by George to join the Press Club, for him to remember us from GAS is amazing and once again shows why Ari is one of the best in the business.

The taramosalata was once again perfect, lacked a little bit of salt today, but with fresh pita bread there is no better way to start a Greek meal, the olives were meaty and juicy the way olives should be. Pickled octopus is not something I would have ordered but the tentacles were meaty, a great dish with wine.

One of the day's specials were fried prawns wrapped with angel hair. The prawns were large and so fresh, the aioli like sauce finished it off. After all the complimentary food from Ari we were not wanting anything too over filling so we order the lamb ribs and Greek salad. The way George prepares the salad here and at the Press Club Bar is fresh and crisp, we have started making our Greek salads like him. The ribs just fell off the bone, finger licking stuff. It was well 'caramelized', you could not fault the execution or delivery.

The kitchen is such a well oiled machine, every time we visit Hellenic Republic we are still amazed at the massive open grill that never seems to stop producing and the spit roast out the back that seems to be able to cook three yes three
lamb spits at once.

By this time we were well fed and needed to be in the city to watch a movie, but there was sill time for dessert, always time for dessert, right? We could not fit in any sugary sweetness so we opted for the fresh watermelon salad with feta and almond flakes, not being of Greek descent we were not 100% sure about feta and watermelon, but once again George knows best, the salty feta made the watermelon even sweeter. The next day when I was at the local super market and at the cheese fridge, I picked up a piece of feta and would you believe it they suggest that you serve it with watermelon, who would have known.

We will definitely be returning to Hellenic Republic and the first thing we would do is to say 'hi' to Ari, and maybe ask for another plate of the taramosalata.

Hellenic Republic on Urbanspoon