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.

22 comments:

hrv said...

G.W. Next time your'e in Melbourne you should go to three places in Bourke Street Hill (Little Italy)

Bottega (refreshing decor and clean and classic food combos) European (old school class and the best morning after heartstarter - Heuvos Mandrelleos - can cure any hangover) and my favourite Becco for the best, most unpretentious Italian I have had in Melbourne (sorry to Guy Grossi)

Georgie Weston said...

Sounds like a plan. Will give it a bash.

Anonymous said...

Ain't you sick of all that Italian glug HRV?
Soggy risotto, cheese, tomatoes, cheese, pasta, pasta, pasta.
Give me some good old Tassie lamb, pinkeye spuds, local veggies, King Island cheeses and dairy.

Wishfull Waiter said...

You obviously have not had the pleasure of eating a true Italian Meal. If you have had True Italian, you would know that the risotto is not soggy, cheese is not a predominant ingredient and tomatoes are not the only vegetable that is used. I strongly suggest that you try Italian cooked properly. There is Aussie Italian just like there is Aussie Chinese. Some authenticity please. P.S. KI Cheese is Victorian and not Tasmanian. If you want to indulge in Tasmanian Cheese there are plenty of fantastic small Tasmanian owned Cheeseries.

Stephen said...

Any thoughts on which is the best Italian restaurant in Hobart?

Wishfull Waiter said...

Unfortunatly, I find that they are all 'Australian Italian'. However, I have recently dined at Moorilla Estate where I found the menu to be heavily influenced by modern Italian and Spanish Cusine.

foodkitty said...

On escapes from Hobart, I think downstairs at Grossi is fabulous for low key, stylish Italian (I don't think any Hobart restaurant does this style) If you say you want to be out by a certain time, it happens-even if you want to guts down 3 courses! Just imply it's to see a show rather than to race back to your hotel to watch a TV addiction.

Anonymous said...

The might serve Victorian beer on tap at the King Island pub but the island is still part of Tasmania. Therefore KI cheese is Tasmanian. Or do they feed the cows Victorian grass?

Stpehen said...

Anyone been to Don Camillo in the last 20yrs??

Stephen said...

Wishfull, I've got an irrational dislike of Moorilla - something about the management out there, but I can't put my finger on it. Something wrong with the karma/attitude pervading the place.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Stephen about the 'karma' at Morilla. What a souless place! That Moo brew is good though!

Garrulous Gourmet said...

Melbourne.
The Florentino, The Society, Tsindos Bistrot, Tiamo. Pellegrini's, Don Camillo, Quadri, Massoni, Donnini's, The Latin, The Italian Waiters Club. Il Duca,Campari(the original)La Rustica, Luccatini's. Whats old is new again & its all come back, this rekindled Italian love affair. Musings from an old fart.GG

hrv said...

Most of the milk for King Island chesses come from Victoria. Only a proportion comes from the Island. National Foods owns King Island and now Lactos, another venerable Tasmanian food producer. Look at the Lactos "Wineglas Bay Cheddar" made in New Zealand. Having lived in N.Z. I didn't ever come across their Wineglass bay.

Anonymous said...

Stephen et al - for those who have not being out to Moorilla in a while maybe come and see how it is now.

It is owned by Tasmanians after all.

I don't like the management of many companies but I still by their products and use their services. We should not get predjudiced by our personal feelings

Anonymous said...

Yea Right-on Anon! That logic makes sense. Lets not be predjudiced against the good folks of Gunns, Forestry, Halleburton, Nestles, Monsanto & Coca-Cola Amamtil. Wake up from your coma & look around, you MUST get personal & let your feelings get in the way. If Moronilla aint got no karma, theres a reason. Too much money, zero management presence & a wasted apportunity to do a REAL Tasmanian icon.

Anonymous said...

Point taken, but is that why they are trying to up the ante and make the Northern Suburbs of Hobart a better place? You wouldn't sink $50 million or so into a WORLD CLASS MUSEUM just for kick. Oh and it is free to the public.

Gunns and Federal they are not.

foodkitty said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
foodkitty said...

Give Moorilla a go. Within the last six months, where else have you had tiny zucchini flowers cooked so perfectly?

Stephen said...

I just tried to book a table at Verandahs in New Norfolk. The answering machine voice says, "I sorry if this is a disappointment or inconvenient, but we are now closed. If you want to speak to someone please leave a message"

Now, do you think that means that they just happen to be closed this afternoon, or that they've closed the business??? Their website http://www.verandahsvalley.com.au/index.htm still seems to work.

Anonymous said...

sad to be the bearer of bad news but verandas is no more. really a huge pity it was a nice place to stop and have a drink in the sun!

Anonymous said...

Bok Choy Tang. Are you serious? That has to be the worst faux Chinese tourist slopshop in Melbourne! Why would you go there when there is a dozen better Chinese restaurants? Georgie, this is definitely a HUDSON's moment!

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