Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Guts on the Loose in Melbourne

Aaah Melbourne. Don't you just love it?

We lunched at Verge (http://www.vergerestaurant.com.au/) on the corner of Flinders Lane and Spring St. Just a hop-skip-jump across the road to Treasury Gardens. From the outside Verge looks little more than a bar-slash-cafe, but inside the warehouse-style environs is an airy loft-like upstairs dining room. The food is modern-European with a distinct Japanese influence. Stand-out dishes were the Zensai Moriawase (Japanese horses' doovers) and the Scallop Gyoza. Stylish, gorgeous. Just adored the wee baby-baby broad beans and the teensiest baby shitakes I've ever seen. Staff were excellent, although shaved eyebrows aren't the prettiest, boys.

Bellies full, we staggered around the city killing time. Aaah, Melbourne.

Dinner? What dinner? We hit the bars at 4:00pm and didn't look back. Starting at Syracuse ("Please", I said, "do you really want that Gunns-owned Tamar Ridge on your wine list? And how about some Jansz please??" - Ooops, is that the lawyer at the door again!). A bit stuffy (am I surprised after that outburst!), so we moved on to something a little more my style: The Love Lounge at Tony Starr's Kitten Club (http://www.kittenclub.com.au/splash.php) in Little Collins St. The Kitten Club, up a steep staircase, is famed for slinky martinis and if you find a nook in the Love Lounge (all pink velvet and dim lighting) you could wind up with pash rash before the night's out. Naturally I was very well behaved.

Next stop: Double Happiness in Liverpool St, Chinatown. This is the home of espresso martinis, Maoist propaganda posters, and little padlocked cubby holes for you to store your very own bottle of whiskey for next time. I don't have a bottle of whiskey but mmmm ... Espresso martiniiiiiiiiiis.

Next day we started all over again at Bokchoy Tang in Federation Square (http://www.bokchoytang.com.au/). The decor here is stunning. Cuisine is Northern Chinese with a modern edge. Being mere mortals (read: lazy/guts), we ordered the Banquet Menu II. Soon I was so stuffed I almost couldn't finish my share of the lobster. If I hadn't been gas-bagging when I should have been studying the sincerely comprehensive menu, in hindsight I would have ordered individual dishes - the dim sum or one of the prawn dishes. Needless to say, we came, we saw, we disgraced ourselves.
A tip for newcomers: Although you might think the toilets here are broken, the flush button is a mysterious dot on the chrome panel behind you. Very modern, very tricky.

We waddled back to our digs in St Kilda for a Nanna-nap. Stuffed and chockers are two words coming to mind. Star Wars are two more. We were slated for dinner at a fancy-schmancy restaurant, but couldn't face it. Stayed in with delish Thai take away and a DVD. I'm not match-fit, it's true.

Next day we did St Kilda, starting with a lazy breakfast and newspapers at Mash in Fitzroy St(http://www.mashrestaurant.com.au/). Great Eggs Benedict and damn good coffee. Lunch was at Purple Sands, a little yum cha joint in Acland St. Cheap and tasty. For dinner we trotted round the corner for tapas at Pelican in Fitzroy St. This place is fairly casual, but a bit of a 'scene', if that makes sense. The food is good and it's a favourite with the locals, I'm told.

I love Melbourne (does it show). Not so sure my arteries would agree. But as if to say "don't even think about it", the view from the aircraft as we flew over Tassie was crystal clear and stunning. A long trailing plume of bushfire smoke. Polished-glass lake-tops. Sun sinking behind Mt Wellington as we came in to land.

Aaah, Hobart. Such simple pleasures.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Have We All Finished Yet?

Right. That was fun. I've finished sitting in the corner with my arms crossed, holding my breath till I went blue. Thanks for all the great and most entertaining comments. Welcome Hobart Restaurant Veteran and Garrulous Gourmet, thank you Stephen, Zelda, and Christina, and Lord love all you anonymice!

Recent experiments with a low-carb high protein diet have left me vicious. Suddenly I want to take up smoking again and drink smooth neat whiskies. I've been gorging mega rib-eye steaks from the Hill St Butcher ... mmmm mouth is watering as we speak. But damn that protein's a killer. So today I let slithery oily salmon and prawn linguine slide down my throat at the Cornelian Bay Boathouse. Tasty, but way too oily. Coffee was average. Service was bloody excellent.

Speaking of coffee, what has happened to Dukkah? With the move to new premises we seem to have succumbed to the cafe-as-franchise model. I don't know what a "Red Star Concept" is, but they are now fully emblazoned with it. Coffee was good, but not as good as I remember.

On a musical note: Beertallica at The Trout on Saturday night was hilarious. My bladder barely withstood the mirth of be-locked boys thrashing their hair to and fro, arms around one another in a medieval embrace. Bless.

Sad news: One of the chefs at Lebrina is giving up on the chefing world. Recently overheard to say something along the lines of: Chefing in Hobart, what's the point?

Another one bites the dust, and my heart breaks.

GW the HRB (and lovin' it)