Quick bites: Ladro Greville (Melbourne, Australia)

What?

Ladro Greville

162 Greville Street, Prahran

http://www.ladro.com.au

Why?

An Italian restaurant near my apartment,with one hat from the Good Food Guide, I dropped by for a quick dinner on my way home from work.

How was it?

Delectable.

The garlic bread was a perfect focaccia straight from the pizza oven and lathered with olive oil, garlic and oregano.

Meanwhile, I was very happy with my decision to choose the pasta of the day: perfectly al dente cavatelli and grilled baby octopus smashed together with roasted baby tomatoes, garlic, chilli and capers.

The service was quick and friendly but it was not until I finished my meal that I realised I had not been given any water, which was annoying.

Still, I will definitely eat there again.

Where are the photos?

Garlic and herb bread

Garlic and herb bread

Pasta of the day

Pasta of the day

 

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Quick bites: Movida Aqui (Melbourne, Australia)

What?

Movida Aqui

500 Bourke Street, Melbourne

http://www.movida.com.au

Why?

A Spanish tapas restaurant, with one hat from the Good Food Guide, I dropped by for a quick bite on my very late lunch break because:

  • tapas is quick; and
  • photos of the calamari burger were chasing me on the internet.

How was it?

Pretty good.

The olive oil accompanying the bread was divine with the sardines equal parts salty, rich and filling (the fact that they are served in a tin was pretty amusing as well).

I would say equally positive things about the calamari burger, which was more accurately a “slider”, but I thought there was way too much mayo compared to the calamari – however, I will still give it a second chance next time.

Where are the photos?

Bread, olive oil and salt

Bread, olive oil and salt

Bocadillo de calamares (calamari sandwich with Basque guindilla and mayonnaise)

Bocadillo de calamares (calamari sandwich with Basque guindilla and mayonnaise)

Sardines with sourdough and lemon

Sardines with sourdough and lemon

 

Gazi (Melbourne, Australia)

What and where?

Gazi, a Greek restaurant in the Melbourne CBD.

2 Exhibition Street, Melbourne.

http://www.gazirestaurant.com.au

Why?

Awarded one hat in The Age's Good Food Guide, I was always going to visit this restaurant eventually. However, photos of the duck souvlaki (shown below) kept taunting me whenever I was searching for good food options in Melbourne, helping it skyrocket to the top of my list.

How was the food?

Perfect.

The duck souvlaki was a revelation and might've been the best thing I've eaten in terms of a single item since the first time I had a pork bun at Momofuku in New York. The duck itself was perfectly roasted and plentiful, and the mayonnaise and pear provided a nice companion to the meat. The souvlaki wrap itself was the right balance of thick and chewy. And the chips thrown in with the souvlaki? Well ,the perfectly fried chips just made a great dish perfect.

Duck souvlaki

Duck souvlaki

 

The prawns were pretty good too. Cooked on the grill, the prawns had that nice smoky flavour and chewy texture. I don't know what the prawns were marinated in but it worked.

Grilled prawns

Grilled prawns

How were the drinks?

As it was lunchtime and boiling hot outside I decided to go with the non-alcoholic house made watermelon and blood orange soda. It was really good and refreshing, the strong watermelon flavour helping to ease the richness of the food itself.

House made watermelon and blood orange soda

House made watermelon and blood orange soda

How was the venue?

Fine – a relatively big venue with options for bar and table dining. I've only ever sat at the bar but the tables seem reasonably spread out. The bar seats are quite comfortable and spaced apart enough that you're not rubbing elbows with the people next to you (unless that's what you want!). I appreciated the contemporary music, which was not too loud when sitting at the bar, and I thought the empty flowerpots covering the ceiling provided an interesting touch.

How was the service?

Again fine – I sat at the bar on my own so there wasn't much need for intensive service from the staff. Drinks and food orders were taken promptly, which was appreciated, and everything came out relatively quickly. I appreciated the staff giving me an extra prawn, even though I'd only ordered two pieces, because they thought the others were too small. A nice gesture that showed the restaurant was paying attention to ensuring customers got what they paid for.

Would you go again?

Definitely – in fact, I have been twice in the last fortnight!

 

Review: Spice Temple (Melbourne, Australia)

What and where?

Spice Temple

Crown Complex, Southbank, Melbourne

www.spicetemplemelbourne.com

Why?

Owned by Neil Perry, two stars in the Good Food Guide and a yum cha menu on the weekend – do I need another reason? Well, there was also the fact that I had eaten at the Sydney version twice and always enjoyed myself.

How was the food?

Overall, the yum cha menu provided a good meal even if it was not the same standard as the dinner menu.

The dim sum menu was technically quite good – the wrapper had the right texture, the meat was plentiful and some of the flavours in the accompanying sauces were delicious (and quite spicy, as one should expect from a restaurant called Spice Temple). However, at the time I remember being slightly disappointed because I was expecting something more from a two-hat restaurant – something closer to the marvellous dim sum at Man Wah in Hong Kong. But looking back at the prices, which were quite reasonable for high-quality dim sum, I think I was being too harsh. I think people will like what Spice Temple is doing here at lunch provided one is looking for classic dim sum flavours done well rather than for something exceptional.

However, I was quite disappointed with the two buns offered at lunch. Both were clearly homages to the Momofuku pork bun, and in this regard the meat components of both buns were quite successful. But I am not sure why Neil Perry felt the need to differentiate his pork belly bun by using a slider – it didn't add anything, and in fact I felt like it took away from the umami of the pork belly itself. In saying that, the bun that was used for the char siu wasn't that flash – it was not light and airy enough for my taste. In fact, after finishing both buns my wife exclaimed to me that we could make better buns (and we have!). I would not order either of these again.

On the other hand, the main menu items – the tofu and noodle dishes – were excellent. I would definitely eat these dishes again and I suspect that they provide a better indication of the quality of the main menu than what is offered only at lunch.

Jade scallop and crab dumplings

Jade scallop and crab dumplings

Boiled pork dumplings with Sichuan sauce

Boiled pork dumplings with Sichuan sauce

King prawn wontons with aged black vinegar dressing

King prawn wontons with aged black vinegar dressing

Pork slider (left) and gua bao (right)

Crispy Guangxi pork slider (left) and Gua bao with char siu pork and hoisin

Fried salt-and-pepper silken tofu with spicy coriander salad

Fried salt-and-pepper silken tofu with spicy coriander salad

Handmade wheat noodles with chilli paste and capsicum

Handmade wheat noodles with chilli paste and capsicum

How were the drinks?

We ordered a Pig cocktail, which featured a carafe filled with Zubrowka vodka, sake, nashi pear juice and green tea. It was very, very good.

How was the service?

It was professional yet personable enough when the staff were at our table. But the time it took to order our drinks, then our food and then collect the bill seemed like an eternity. While delays can happen when a restaurant is busy, Spice Temple seemed to be only half-full; in any event, it should never happen at a restaurant of this standard (and charging these prices).

Would you go again?

I will certainly be back more than once for the main menu at dinner. But I may not return for the yum cha menu until I have sampled what else Melbourne has to offer.

 

 

Breakfast @ Doughnut Vault – Chicago, USA

Doughnut Vault

USA 098

401 1/2 N. Franklin Street
Chicago IL 60654

http://thedoughnutvault.tumblr.com

The Review

Unfortunately I did not heed the reviews and showed up at the Doughnut Vault an hour after the opening time. I should have arrived half an hour before they opened! This place cooks their donuts before opening and once they are gone, they are gone. 

Of course, this meant that by the time I arrived I was given the last item available, the Gingerbread Stack. Accordingly I was not able to properly review the full range of donuts available. While the Gingerbread Stack was pleasant enough, it lacked the freshness and flavour punch of the donuts I had on previous visits to Do-Rite Donuts (This might be because my order had been sitting on the counter for too long, as opposed to Do-Rite Donuts’ offerings which are freshly baked every hour or so). Nonetheless, I would certainly given it a try should I end up in Chicago again, although next time I will definately arrive earlier.

The Meal

USA 097

Gingerbread Stack

The Doughnut Vault on Urbanspoon

Lunch @ Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria – Chicago, USA

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria

439 North Wells Street
Chicago, IL 60654

http://www.loumalnatis.com

The Review

A very nice, pizza with a buttery crust and ample cheese and tomato sauce. However, it did not adequately represent the Chicago Deep Dish I was seeking. I would have no problems ordering it again if I was in town and looking for an easy pizza fix but I would not go out of my way for it.

The Meal

USA 099

The Malnati Chicago Classic
Deep Dish Pizza with lean sausage, some extra cheese and vine-ripened tomato on Buttercrust.

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria (River North) on Urbanspoon