Summer Sensations: Blog AmnestyFebruary 5, 2012
I got the idea of a blog amnesty post from Melbourne Gastronome’s similar post. Basically over the summer I’ve been to lots of places but haven’t had the time to write them each up individually. So pardon me for being quite lax but here they are, all bundled together and quite brief. Hopefully you can make some sense of them and I can finally move on to reviewing other places!
Aix Cafe Creperie Salon
Down one of my favourite lane-ways in Melbourne is a funky little creperie that also serves up some excellent baguettes (try their meatball and tomato sugo one) and good coffee.
I had just come from the intersection of Swanston and Collins St, where the Occupy Melbourne protestors had taken over the street. It was grey and drizling with rain, and after nearly being hit by a flying can of coke, I thought it best to seek some refuge and nourishment. Aix was a quiet, jazz filled haven with cosy red seats and friendly staff.
I do, however, think that the last three words in their name are interchangeable and a tad superfluous. Surely one would suffice. Aix Cafe. Aix Creperie. Aix Salon. All three, to me, seems like overkill.
But enough about the name, “What of the crepes?”, you ask. The crepes are good. Really good. On the day I went I began with a savory crepe with field mushroom, teleggio and spinach, which was brilliant, especially the tangy pungent taste of the cheese. The crepe itself is the perfect thickness: not stodgy nor flimsy.
As a sweet finish to my meal, I had the crepe with mixed berries and rosewater yoghurt. This was nice, but there was far too much yoghurt which tended to overwhelm the rest of the dish. Next time I’ll be sure to try the blood orange crepe with burnt sugar.
One wall is decorated in this luminous wall paper, which tends to reflect the dim light coming from the restaurant’s lamps.
A small restaurant, the place has a decidedly grungy feel, though we noticed a curious hole in the back wall revealing a larger table upstairs. Quite cool, really.
I’m afraid the lighting was very poor, so my photos aren’t good quality (I was using my small digital camera). First up (if you can make out the picture below) was the Tsuke Maguro, yellowfin tuna marinated in soy, sesame oil and mirin sauce. This was lovely and fresh, a very pleasant appetiser, if a little pricy – but I suppose that reflects the quality of the fish.
We also ordered a serve of the Nasu Dengaku, eggplant pieces in a sweet miso sauce with spinach. I really enjoyed this dish, but I found the eggplant skin unusually tough. Plus I found a piece that had the end stalk of the eggplant, which I’d normally expect to be cut off.
What followed was the dish I am now using to compare all Japanese restaurants that offer it, the SASHIMI DON (see previously chronicled sashimi don on my Otsumami post). I’d read on another blog that the serving size was quite mean here – not true at all! This was a very large bowl of rice with a good portion of raw fish on top and excellent marinade. All in all a very good rendition of one of my favourite Japanese dishes.
To end, we shared a plate of the Pirikara, tiger prawns in a spicy soy, garlic, sesame and plam sugar sauce with peanuts. Though I really liked the spicy sauce, I have several issues with this dish. Firstly, the prawns were tough and over cooked. Secondly, I couldn’t see what the peanuts added to the dish. They seemed a little unnecessary, and because they were diced up, they made me think I was eating prawn shell every time I bit into one.
Let Me Feed You Sydney
Ok, so quite a while back (November) I was in Sydney on a business trip (It was actually more of a training week for my summer internship but I was flown up, put up, and made to wear a suit, so I’m calling that a goddamn business trip, ok?). One night a group of us ended up at some sort of beer hall (can’t quite remember the exact name), which I thought was kind of cool because they’d hung up lots of beer glasses above the bar, giving an awesome effect as they twinkled in the light.
The beer selection was, unsurprisingly, huge. Pictured below are two beers: no prizes for guessing which one was mine.
While in Sydney, we also took the opportunity to sus out The Ivy. Essentially, it’s a very swanky bar-cum-club that has “SYDNEY” written all over it. Mildly beach-side feel, lots of white marble and summery yellow accents, not a grungy piece of furniture in sight.
I was in the mood for a cocktail, and forwent my usual gin base to order the “Secret Garden” – Herradura blanco tequila with cucumber, basil and apple juice. It was sensational.
I was also tempted by one involving Belvedere vodka, creme de peche and spiced honey apple, topped with dried ginger and breakfast tea, if only to see how “topping” something with tea would work. Surely you’d just get bits of dried leaves dispersing into the liquid? I was also slightly turned off by the name of the cocktail, “The Teabag”, which unfortunately had me thinking of a rather explicit scene from Sex and the City.
The rooftop area is also rather swanky, and we enjoyed dominating the lounges in the centre of the space, on a marble platform that juts out into the pool. Quite the experience, but not really my kind of place, ultimately. Give me a dimly lit cocktail bar on Brunswick street or a back alley of the CBD any day!
The Mess Hall
Their bircher museli, though nothing compared to the version served up at the Hardware Societe, is yummy, if a little too dry. I especially liked the addition of pistachios, macadamias, cherries and coconut, and the crunchy apple mohawk crowning the dish.
I was initially drawn in by the delicious looking croissants sitting in the window, and the chocolate muffins, all crowded and snuggly in their wooden trays.
I was there on a Saturday, quite early in the morning because I had to be in the office later on. A quick chocolate croissant (pleasantly flakey) and a flat white did very well as breakfast, and I would very much like to return at some stage to try out their lunch menu.
Rockpool Wine Bar
I decided on one with zucchini, mint and Meredith goats cheese. It was absolutely brilliant – one of the best lunches I’d had in weeks. A large roll filled till bursting with soft, chargrilled pieces of zucchini and LOTS of goats cheese. Lip-smackingly good – please try them out, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
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