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.
“You’ve NEVER tried Fratelli before?”
My friend was incredulous and with five Fratelli Fresh cafés and restaurants dotted around Sydney, it is somewhat surprising that I hadn’t yet visited one of them, especially as most of my friends are big fans. To be honest, the main reason I’ve not been is because I hate lining up for restaurants. With that in mind, my more experienced friend instructed me to arrive at Café Sopra on Bridge St before 6pm to be certain of snagging a table without a wait. I dutifully turned up at 5:58pm to a half full restaurant, and as predicted, was immediately ushered to a table.
As my friend was running late, I had plenty of time to peruse the extensive menu. I have written in previous posts of my love of garlic prawns, so I was immediately drawn to the prawn spaghetti with garlic, chilli and pangrattato.
La Grillade has been an institution in Crows Nest for decades, however in recent years it has appeared to have gone through a few different owners and subsequently, there have been frequent menu changes. I’ve sampled the various renditions and have generally been happy with the experience, so I was looking forward to having dinner there on Saturday night.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I adore garlic prawns and will order them just about every time I see them on a menu. I really liked the flavourful garlic infused olive oil that the prawns were cooked in, however the prawns themselves were slightly over-cooked. The dish could have done with some slices of crusty bread on the side with which to mop up the lovely garlic oil; I ended up using the garlic bread we had ordered, which was also delicious and dripping with melted butter, for an extreme garlic hit!
If you’ve been following my blog, you will remember I posted in my review of Khao Pla that I only ended up there because a Japanese restaurant that I wanted to go to was closed. Izakaya Kuroki was that restaurant and the main reason I was keen on going here was for its chicken karaage, which is one of the best that I’ve ever had. It doesn’t look like traditional karaage; it actually reminds me of KFC Hot & Spicy in appearance! There is an earth-shattering crunch when you bite into a piece and the meat is juicy and tender and has incredible flavour. It’s worth going to Kuroki for this dish alone.
Nobu Matsuhisa’s first restaurant in the USA was located in Alaska and went up in flames after just weeks of trading. It’s fair to say that things have only improved since then. Nine years after his ‘Bombe Alaska’ (yep, I went there!), Nobu opened a Japanese-Peruvian fusion restaurant in Beverly Hills and soon became one of the world’s first celebrity chefs. There are now 22 Nobu restaurants around the world, including one in Melbourne which opened in 2007 at Crown Casino.
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.
As mentioned in my review of my South Pacific cruise on the Rhapsody of the Seas, my boyfriend and I took advantage of a pre-paid dining package which allowed us to eat at all of the specialty restaurants on board for USD55. A couple of days after dining at Chops Grille, we went slightly more casual at Giovanni’s Table, an Italian trattoria.
There were a few items that I had in mind for my appetiser, but I eventually went for the almond crusted scallops which I may say, proved to be a good choice despite the dull presentation. The scallops were cooked perfectly and the pesto almond topping was well seasoned and delicious. My only complaint was that there were only two of them – I wanted more!
I first came across the name Joel Robuchon when reading the excellent book Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl (still my all time favourite foodie book) and first tried one of his restaurants in Taiwan a few years ago. The food was exquisite, so when I was in Hong Kong earlier in the year, it was pretty much a given that we would make a trip to Robuchon’s L’Atelier in Central.
The restaurant is located in The Landmark shopping centre and on arriving at the reception area via escalator, it feels as though you are entering another world. The atmosphere is dark – dark carpet, dark walls, dark tables – so when you are led into the dining area, you are almost blinded by the light emanating from the magnificent open kitchen that dominates the space. Most diners are seated at the bar around the kitchen, which gives you a great view for people and chef-watching.
My birthday this year fell on a Monday. This is generally not an issue because I usually have a Chinese dinner banquet with my family and Chinese restaurants are open every day of the week. Unfortunately, my parents were overseas and it was decided that we would do my birthday dinner the day after. My attempts to find a restaurant for dinner with my boyfriend on the Monday were not promising to begin with. My first choice Thai restaurant was under new management and was closed on Mondays. My second choice Japanese restaurant was also closed on Mondays. Eventually, by virtue of it actually being open, we entered my third choice Khao Pla in Chatswood, and I have to say, I’m pretty glad we did. Continue reading