I have to admit that I haven’t really eaten much Greek food in my life. The odd souvlaki or the occasional haloumi salad (although I really do love haloumi!), but I can’t remember the last time I went to a Greek restaurant. Gazi in the Melbourne CBD was suggested by an old school friend for our very long overdue catch-up, and when she gave me the address, I was surprised to find that it was ridiculously close to where I work, yet I had never noticed it. As I always do before going to a new restaurant, I checked out the menu and I was immediately drawn to the soft shell crab souvlakakia.
Walking down Flinders Lane, I’ve often passed ACDC Lane and noticed a restaurant at the very end – Pastuso, a “modern Peruvian grill, cevicheria and pisco bar”. My only previous experience with Peruvian cuisine has been the Japanese-Peruvian fusion of Nobu, which I loved, so I did have quite high expectations of Pastuso.
I first came across Contrabando when I was invited to a work lunch for Taco Tuesday, which featured $3 tacos all day every Tuesday. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but I did check out the menu and was keen to go at the next available opportunity. A couple of weeks later, after a little confusion finding it, my boyfriend and I eventually arrived at the upside down Noble House sign and made our way down the dimly lit stairs. I wanted to try just about everything on the menu, but had to settle for the sensible option of only ordering enough for two people. We began with the crab tostadas – the shredded crab was sweet and creamy, with a hint of chilli, and was perfect with the crisp tostadas.
Latin American restaurants seem to be popping up all over the place lately, and after checking out the menu at Argentine-born chef Oscar Gorosito’s Bridge St Garage, I was keen to visit. As I only managed to get there during a workday lunch, I wasn’t able to sample as much of the menu as I would like, but the food I tried was impressive enough for me to plan another visit. After much deliberation, I eventually went for the soft shell crab salad which is probably one of the most appealing salads I’ve ever seen.
The Deutsche Bank building is one of the most striking office blocks in the city, with the glass elevators shooting up the interior of the heavy glassed walls, reminiscent of those found in the chocolate factory of Roald Dahl’s imagination. The food court located within is a cool haven from the bustling streets, a huge, airy space dominated by long, rectangular water features. I had first eaten at Mordeo Bistro and Bar during a work lunch and was so pleased with my meal, I dragged my boyfriend along at the next possible opportunity. I was fascinated by the jamon and pineapple cocktail (I’m a sucker for unusual combinations) and that impression was not lessened on the drink’s arrival.
Group buying vouchers are a hit and miss affair. I’ve gone to restaurants where they’re offering these deals as a last ditch effort to generate some income before shutting down and conversely, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the quality of food at other establishments. Barramundi Bar & Grill was one of the good ones. On a number of occasions in the past, my boyfriend and I had taken advantage of several deals from Barramundi, which provided you with an excellent tower of seafood and a bottle of wine for the surprisingly low price $49. We had always felt slightly bad that we had never actually returned to Barramundi without a voucher, so last week, we finally decided to try out their ‘regular’ menu.
Located in the Sydney CBD, the restaurant was less than half full with business types mainly seated in the outdoor terrace area when we arrived for lunch on this unusually fine, almost-winter day.