Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Restaurant Review: Dragon Boat

Location: Chinatown, Melbourne
Link: http://www.dragonboat.com.au/
Cuisine: Chinese

I've never really been a Yum Cha fan. And no, Dragon Boat hasn't changed my mind.
But everybody else in my family loves it so we decided to check out the newly refurbished Dragon Boat in Chinatown.
The service was quick. Given it was very busy, the waiters did very well.
Overall Impression: 5.5/10
Great variety and good service. Highly recommended if you want to get your 'Yum Cha' on.
Dragon Boat on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Dragon Boat Palace

Location: 149 Lonsdale St, Melbourne
Link: www.dragonboat.com.au
Cuisine: Chinese

For someone who doesn't enjoy Yum Cha, I sure do end up having it quite a lot. And this time, it was of the all-you-can-eat variety...

We went all out and ate til we had to unbuckle our belts!

Overall Impression: 5.3/10
I do apologize for the decimal place... but I liked Chinatown's Dragon Boat just a tad better. It just had a nicer ambience, I think. And the all-you-can-eat style yum cha at Dragon Boat Palace meant, everyone was engulfing everything pretty quickly so the waiters were under a lot more pressure. So, you end up being surrounded by really stressed people. And then you start feeling really stressed... So, maybe thats why I didn't think the ambience was as good.
Dragon Boat Palace on Urbanspoon

Monday, 30 May 2011

Restaurant Review: Kitchen Workshop

Location: Ground Floor, Clarendon Street Entrance, Crown
Link: http://www.crowncasino.com.au/kitchen-workshop
Cuisine: International, Buffet
I hate buffets. But due to several factors including undue influence, I went to Kitchen Workshop last night. There was a pretty decent selection of mains and entrees. From memory, there were lots of random deep fried things, beef bourginon, calamari, fish, roasts, antipastos, salads, pasta, biriyani rice, an interactive teppanyaki station (where you get to choose what you want in your stir-fry). I was waiting in line at the teppanyaki station and saw them pour a ridiculous amount of oil on and chickened out, quickly leaving my position. J and R tried it though and they said there were nice flavours but it was really nothing to shout about. There was also a generous selection of desserts (that included a chocolate fountain).
The mango pudding in particular was a winner. Simple and pleasant.

Overall Impression: 5/10
Delivers everything it promises but goes no further. Great value for money. An all you can eat dinner that cost us 19.50AUD perhead. Relaxed ambience. Helpful staff.

Kitchen Workshop on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Function at Park Hyatt (catering by Radii)

Location: 1 Parliament Sq, East Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9224 1234
Link: www.radiirestaurant.com.au

Cuisine: Modern Australian
Overall Impression: 6/10

When I last visited Radii, I was very impressed by the quality of the restaurant's offerings. So, when I found out that I had been invited to a function caterd by them, I was particularly excited.
From the moment we arrived, there was food on the table. A selection of seafood, cold meats, marinated and grilled vegetables, cheese and bread kept us all very very happy
Entree: Duck terrine
Entree: Baby cos lettuce with crisp Pancetta, poached egg, ceasar dressing

Main: Breast of chicken stuffed with Herbed Goat's Cheese

Main: Eye fillet
Dessert: Chocolate Dome

Dessert: Ginger and Tea Pannacotta

As with any catered event, the sheer number of guests means that the quality of the food on offer will undoubtedly suffer. All in all, the food was very good. Highlights were both the desserts and the Chicken breast that was cooked perfectly. The steak was unfortunately a dissapointment as it was sinew ridden. The entrees were both passable.
Radii Restaurant & Bar, Park Hyatt Melbourne on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Mezzo Bar and Grill

Location: 35 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9650 0988
Cuisine: Italian
Overall Impression: 7.5/10

Oyster on Little Bourke used to be one of my very favourite restaurants. So I was heartbroken when it closed down at the end of 2009. A restaurant named Mezzo Bar and Grill took its place but I didn't really take notice until I found out it was actually run by the executive chef behind Oyster, Joseph Vargetto! There had actually been an executive and strategic reason behind the change. In essence, Oyster never really "closed down". Instead, there was a name change to showcase Joseph's evolving Sicilian food.
Beautiful bread that was served with delicious extra virgin olive oil

From the moment we arrived, we noticed how lovely the ambience was. It was a formal dining space, and yet the ambience maintained an air of casualness about it. The wait staff that took care of us was excellent. He provided us with great service and care. He was even attentive with the amount of bread we had for the table. And the extra virgin olive oil we had with the bread was seriously divine. 
Entree: semolina dusted calamari, shaved fennel and herb salad, salsa of sultanas, lemon and capers

The calamari was cooked perfectly and the accompaniments provided such a balance of acidity to the dish. The crust was crisp, the calamari was tender. And the flavours.. Oh the flavours. There was a burst of Middle Eastern tasting flavours. Which I found very interesting. This is an entrée I would highly recommend.
Main: cavatelli (semolina gnocchi), pork and veal ragu

When I read 'gnocchi' on the menu, this was certainly not what I was expecting at all. In my mind, I thought it would resemble the semolina gnocchi I had at Café Di Stasio. Nevertheless, the pasta was cooked perfectly and the pork and veal ragu was tasty and hearty.
Main: angus porterhouse served with caponata 'messinesi', herb oil

Of all the dishes, this was the biggest let down. The steak itself was tender and perfectly cooked. However, the caponata was not to my liking. The flavours tasted like run of the mill café mixed vegetables you could order on the side.  
Dessert: tiramisu della nonna . my nonna's recipe

The tiramisu was great. Everything you would expect from the perfect tiramisu. Every morsel was moreish. It was an excellent way to finish a lovely meal.
Another great thing about Mezzo is that they certainly do not skimp on portion sizes. You *will* leave well-fed. Extremely well-fed.

Mezzo Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Recipe: How to make a giant cupcake

 Giant Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe
I decided to bake J a giant cupcake for his birthday because he loves things that are the wrong size but to scale! E.g. A Jeroboam (double magnum) from Yering station:
So I thought a giant cupcake would be a good idea. The only problem is my lack of skill in the kitchen but I really tried my best and after lots of trial runs, here is the recipe I came up with. Because I didn't want to buy a special giant cupcake maker, I used an oven-safe bowl for the dome-shaped upper tier of the cupcake and a regular round cake tin for the lower tier. Make sure that the bowl fits nicely on top of the cake tin. Happy baking!

Makes 16 servings.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups self-raising flour 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 cup greek-style yoghurt
1/2 cup milk
30ml Red Food Colouring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


250gms butter
2 cups icing sugar
juice of 1 small lemon
2 "triangles" of Happy Cow cheese
Lollies etc to decorate your giant cupcake. (I used mini marshmallows)


1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an oven-safe bowl and a round cake tin. Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.

2. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in yoghurt, milk, food color and vanilla. Gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed until just blended. Do not overbeat. Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean in both the cakes baking in the oven-safe bowl and the round cake tin. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire rack.

4. For the Frosting, beat cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in icing sugar until smooth.

5. Cut the top bits of the two separate cakes from the oven-safe bowl and round cake tin.

6. Spread frosting on the bottom part of the dome shaped cake.

7. Place the dome shaped cake on top of the round cake.

8. Frost the dome shaped (top tier) part of the cake with frosting until it looks like a giant cupcake!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Cafe Review: Badger Creek Blueberry Farm Winery & Cafe

Location: 11 Garnook Grove, Badger Creek
Link: www.mantirri.com.au
Cuisine: Cafe style food
Driving up and around the Dandenongs, we noticed a 'Blueberry farm' sign. We decided to follow the signs and we found ourselves at the Badger Creek Blueberry Farm Winery & Cafe.
As we had already had lunch, we decided to each have lovely iced coffees together. Very quickly, we realised there were blueberry smoothies on offer but it was too late as our iced coffees had arrived. Will definitely make a point to come back here to give those smoothies a go the next time I'm in Healesville.

Overall Impression: 6/10
What a lovely cafe with beautiful surrounds. Really wish we had more time there to actually go on a blueberry picking adventure. 
And on a side note, Badger Creek reminds me of Badgers. And Honey Badgers...

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Restaurant Review: RA, Collins Quarter

Location: Collins Quarter, 86a Collins St,Melbourne
Phone: (03) 96508500
Link: http://www.collinsquarter.com/
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Overall Impression: 6/10

RA is well known among the younger corporate crowd. Jam packed on a Friday night, this upmarket city pub is tucked away in an alley (in a very Melbourne sort of way). Less known is the fact that they offer delicious food for those seeking to reward their taste buds.
I had the opportunity to sample their Christmas menu…

 Turkey Gallotine
Stuffed with Lemon and Oregano served with Tequila cherries and caramalised pistachio

 Roast Pork Belly with Bread Stuffing, Grain mustard coleslaw and Roast yellow peaches
Christmas Pudding with Brandy Anglaise
Service was prompt and friendly. The food was wonderfully Christmas-y =) The pork had good crackling, the turkey was tender, the pudding was moist! It was simple and to the point.

Collins Quarter on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Woolshed

Location: t18/161 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands
Phone: (03) 8623 9640
Link: www.woolshedpub.com.au
Cuisine: Modern Australian

Had the opportunity to try their Christmas dinner menu. This gastropub dishes up delicious food. Everything was plated up beautifully and tasted just as good as it looked! Great for a group function.
Woolshed Pub on Urbanspoon