Tag Archives: Melbourne

Treat 64: Screams Melbourne but with Perth service

I’m a tragic when it comes to new places in Perth. I try to be the first one there. If I like the place I keep going back. So that’s the situation I have found myself at Gordon’s Street Garage. Don’t get me wrong, it has let me down at times. The coffee that never came, receiving a white wine when I ordered a very red Sangiovese, getting charged for three bottles of wine when we only ordered three glasses….sadly the list of service mishaps goes on. Can we put it down to teething problems? I do have to criticise how each mishap was handled. Apologies were never received. In fact the coffee that never came was blamed on us even though we had paid for it and had an itemised bill to prove it. When you order two take away coffees and only receive one take away cup – there is no other way to explain it but a miscommunication between the barista and wait-staff. This should be rectified immediately rather than questioning the customer. That was my second breakfast visit at Gordon’s and compared to my other visits was the one with the worst service. Considering it was quite empty for a Wednesday morning, it was very slow to have our orders taken and even slower to get coffees to four dedicated females who don’t work in West Perth but wanted to experience Gordon’s breakfast delights. Sorry for the negative start to this treat. I will now write with a more positive tone. The first breakky experience showcased how busy a new place in Perth gets. Though we didn’t have to wait long to get a table for our big group of seven. Service was polished despite mounting pressure from the heaving crowds. The food that came out was delicious. The bruschetta, avocado, heirloom tomato, labneh and rocket combination was spot on. The labneh was deliciously tart as I expected it to be. The gluten free banana bread toast with cinnamon butter was a hit with my coeliac sister Suzy. I think I ate most of it (poor Suzy). All my dining companions were impressed with their breaky dishes. The vegetarian breakfast was very filling and I admit food envy as I saw my friend Louise plough through it. The only negative point was they ran out of the savoury muffins, which sounded amazing. It was an artichoke number. At this stage, Gordon’s had been opened for less than two weeks. So far I was impressed. The second breakky visit as discussed above let me down. The pumpkin and feta muffin was slightly dry. The real let down was in the service. Now to dinner. You will be happy to know that Gordon’s is open late Monday to Sunday. About time there is a late night dining venue where you can have a nice red wine and graze over a pizza with your mates. The first dinner experience had hits and misses. My friend Krystle has severe gluten intolerance so we had to be careful with what we ordered. That rules out the pizzas and half the salads. Unfortunately the menu isn’t very flexible so asking to have the buckwheat replaced with quinoa in the tabouleh was a fail. The highlight was the beetroot salad. So elegant. Delicately shaved beetroot perfectly matched the walnuts and blue cheese. The fish was delicious but we needed more of it. As it was on the share menu, there wasn’t much of it to go around. The tabouleh was a disappointment. It was a modern take on this Middle Eastern classic and lacked dressing. What I do love about the menu is that it works well for sharing. The next dinner experience was all about the pizza. I was a big fan of the 4 seasons with prosciutto, artichoke and mushrooms. I just love artichokes full stop. It didn’t take much for this to be a winner. The Hunters pizza was like a fancy meat eaters with house made salami picante and prosciutto. Yes I googled what picante meant and it refers to the salami being prepared in such a way as to be spicy. I didn’t feel the heat from the salami but I have increased my spicy tolerance thanks to a trip to Thailand. The pizzas weren’t amazing like Dough (see Treat 26) but they do have a delicious flavour profile. Plus add a glass of Tempranillo, good company and you have yourself a lovely night. So there is room for improvement at Gordon’s. However, I can’t believe I left it this long to describe the interior. The space screams Melbourne. From funky booths, to an upstairs area with an old-fashioned record player, it is quirky, cool and industrial. It is loud. The universal music playing in the background will make you think you’re in Spain one minute, the Middle East the next and then off to France you go. I’ll also make a note about the bathrooms. Thanks to the low basins I felt very tall. Maybe not practical but hey it was nice to feel tall for a moment. Overall I would go back to Gordon’s Street Garage. I am not ready to give up on it. Though it’s had woeful service in a couple of my visits, in my last visit service was spot on. We even had a few laughs with the wait-staff as they patiently waited for us to make up our mind. This place makes you feel like you are in another place (Melbourne or Barcelona come to mind because of the arty décor) but a couple of the service mishaps bring you back to earth that you are in Perth.

THE DESTINATION
Gordon St Garage on Urbanspoon

Quick Treat: I’m corny

Hola amigos! Como estas? Can you tell I’m going through a Mexican phase. It all started on my Melbourne trip over the Australia Day weekend where I finally got to try Mamasitas. Now this restaurant is meant to be the bees’ knees of Mexican food in Melbourne. I’ve tried Mexican before in Melbourne at the Newmarket Hotel in St Kilda and was very impressed with their quinoa salad which I have now replicated at home. The food at Newmarket for a pub was on another level. It was by no means pub grub. The dishes were packed with fresh flavours and the pub’s fit out had that whole Melbourne industrial look going on. Now it was Mamasitas turn. Last time I was in Melbourne this was a failed expedition because the waiting time was so long and we ended up eating at Chin Chins at 11pm instead (so so so so delicious). Now I know why there is such a long wait…the space is tiny. This time round I learnt my lesson and had lunch at the awkward afternoon time of 3pm. The service was fantastic. The waitress patiently answered all our questions (and there were a lot of them). She recommended we try their signature dish….corn on the cob. I know such a simple dish is their signature. It was bang on delicious. The parmesan cheese and buttery corn with a squeeze of lime was amazing. The meal was off to a great start. Next were the tostadas aka Mexican canapés. Imagine a corn chip topped with chicken, avocado and cheese. To be honest for the price you pay it’s not worth it. Get yourself a taco instead. The chicken also had a weird tuna like texture and taste. It did not win us over. The soft shell tacos with the pork filling were delicious. We should have stopped there. The mushroom quesadilla was bland with a capital B. No amount of salsa or spicy sauce could redeem it. So Mamasita was both a hit and a miss. I would still go back just for the corn and the caramel popcorn ice cream. Even though I was about to catch up with a friend at Hopetoun Tearooms, I could not stop myself from ordering dessert at Mamasitas. There were more ice creams going around then drinks. It probably was the time of day, possibly too early for tequila o’clock. I’m just relieved that I finally got to try Mamasita. Another Mexican that I walked by in Melbourne was Guzman y Gomez, which has recently opened with much hype thanks to a free burrito day. As you all know I don’t wait in lines so I was happy to wait a few days and pay to try it out. Watch out for my next treat as my Mexican love affair continues.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

I'm corny...corny, corny, corny

I’m corny…corny, corny, corny

Tostadas = Mexican canapes = waste of stomach space

Tostadas = Mexican canapes = waste of stomach space

Pork tacos with a squeeze of lime...delish

Pork tacos with a squeeze of lime…delish

Don't bother with the quesadilla.

Don’t bother with the quesadilla.

I'd come back just for the corn and popcorn icecream!

I’d come back just for the corn and popcorn icecream!

THE DESTINATION
Mamasita on Urbanspoon

Treat 50: I feel pretty, Oh so pretty…

To celebrate my half century treat I am sharing one of my best dining experiences. What can I say about Vue de Monde…for once in my life I am speechless. Fancy posh restaurants normally scare me. I don’t carry a designer handbag, my clothes are usually bargain buys and my credit card limit can be maxed out quite quickly. So what am I doing on the 51st floor of the Rialto building? Instead of feeling inadequate, I feel like I belong. From the beginning where the hostess takes you to the lift and introduces you to a waiter who takes you up to the 51st floor you know this is going to be a special afternoon. My friends Kirsty, Neha and I caught the red-eye to Melbourne and after wandering the streets we were excited to feast on the unknown. I had heard about Vue de Monde from Masterchef when Shane Bennett showed us how to make clear ravioli in a masterclass (he probably won’t like me calling it that). I did not think much of it but the more I read about the Melbourne eating scene, Vue de Monde kept popping up. So here we were on this beautiful sunny day in Melbourne, walking through a magnificent wine cellar and being seated in these funky fur chairs. I decided to test the wait staff straight away by asking to move near the window and they kindly obliged. They moved our bag stools (yes a stool designed specifically for our bags to rest) and again placed the napkins down on our laps. It was off to a great start. Our host for the day Julien introduced us to the menu and in my booking I mentioned we had a vegetarian so he discussed her options and even said he could change items on the menu for her. She looked up at us with a big smile on her face, she’s had experiences where wait staff give her the evils but not today. Julien was firstly French so the accent had us swooning and also he was generally accommodating, answering all our questions (and there were quite a few) and charming us throughout the 3 hour dining experience. I promise I will get to the food slowly but surely. Julien introduced us to our sommelier for the day, Clemente. We gave him our budget and asked him to recommend something red that would suit the menu. Off he went to the wine cellar and returned with three choices, the perfect amount that would not confuse us. He spoke about the characters of the wine, describing one with feminine notes which I actually understood. We settled on a 2009 Massolino Barbera, Italy (yes the one with feminine notes), which was a delicate red with raspberry fruit, oak and a touch of liquorice. So I may have had to google that but it was a lovely drop of wine. Now to the food, here is the menu for you. How do I know the menu word for word because Vue de Monde email it you after you have dined there. Very handy for the bloggers out there.

AMUSE BOUCHE
Oyster
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Salt cured venison
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Celeriac, Sunflower seed
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Smoked eel, white chocolate, caviar
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Dandelion, apple, cashew
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Kangaroo, beetroot, chocolate
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CLEANSER
Cucumber sorbet, crushed herbs
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Smoked eggplant, onion, thyme
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Flathead, tarragon, swede
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Duck, yabbie, kale, raspberry
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Assortment of cheeses, bread, jams
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BEER & NUTS
Passionfruit, licorice, coconut
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Lemon meringue ice cream, white chocolate, lemon curd, parsley
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Beetroot, grass, raspberries
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Chocolate soufflé, chocolate mousse, crème anglaise
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A selection of coffee, teas, infusions & petit-fours

The amuse bouche was a delight for the eyes, the food delicious and delicate. The salt cured venison was cleverly rolled up by our waiter, the meat was so soft it melted in your mouth. The oyster was in the clear ravioli that I saw on Masterchef, the taste so clean that the oyster bursted in your mouth with flavour. The entree also did not disappoint with the clever combination of kangaroo and chocolate. Why should chocolate be reserved for dessert, I had it for breakfast the other day. I am so glad Vue de Monde agrees with me. The kangaroo was cooked to perfection, medium rare without the fearful chewiness. Here comes my favourite part of the meal, the palate cleanser. Three chefs come out of the kitchen, one in safety glasses with the liquid nitrogen pouring it over microherbs in a morter and pestal. The chef then instructs us to get our pestal and start mashing up the microherbs. Then the third chef scoops in cucmber sorbet and we are told to mix the two together. What an experience! The cucumber so refreshing and the microherbs take what would be an ordinary palate cleanser to a theatrical experience adding crunch to the smooth sorbet. The theatrics continue onto the mains with Neha’s smoked eggplants arriving literally with smoke as the Chef removed the lid we saw the smoke waft away. For mains I had the duck, which was in one word delicious. I have fond memories of the yabbie, cooked to perfection and adding another dimension to what could have been a simple duck dish. But this is Vue De Monde, nothing is simple here. I have it on good authority that Kirsty’s flathead main and Neha’s smoked eggplant dish were also amazing (I had a sneaky taste of both). My love affair with France continues, it’s evident everytime I order a cheese board or eat a croissant or palmier for breakfast. So when Julien wheels over their cheese display (yes a display) he asks us what different cheeses we would like to eat. By this stage we were in food comas and also transfixed by his accent so we let Julien choose the cheeses. Never underestimate the amazingness of the cheese course, it’s like getting a bonus at work or a free gift with purchase. So you would think by this point dessert would be on the radar. You are wrong. The next course is affectionately known as ‘Beer and Nuts’ but given it’s own Vue de Monde spin. The passionatefruit beer was another palate cleanser and the nuts were these tasty morsels of delight. After that enjoyable detour we were now ready for dessert. We each ordered a different dessert and they were all amazing. My deconstructed lemon meringue was a taste sensation, as I carefully put all the different components on my spoon. I have become more accepting of herbs in my dessert (exhibit a – basil sorbet for dessert at Marque) and the parsely was a friendly addition to the lemon dessert. Parsley is a great mate of lemon especially in tabouli so it was an eye opener to take this friendship to the other level. Kirsty took a risk with beetroot and grass for dessert. We have been getting our heads around vegetables and savory items transformed into dessert but grass really? I mean I don’t go to Boost Juice and order a wheatgrass shot let alone except it on a fine dining menu. This is no ordinary grass though so don’t start mowing your front lawn and bringing it into the kitchen. This grass puree if I can call it that was a mixture of herbs that sung in tune with the beetroot. I leave the best dessert for last, Neha cleverly ordered the chocolate souffle. It was spellbounding, the creme anglais cut through the chocolate’s depth and by the end Neha was scraping the bottom of the ramekin. This souffle also had it’s opening act as the Chef elegantly put a hole in the middle and poured the creme anglais into the middle of the souffe causing a chocolate eruption. That wasn’t the end, this show is not over yet. The encore of petite fours and coffee was the icing on the cake. We couldn’t move from our seats and we didn’t for another half an hour. We bantered with Julien and Clemente, I disappointed them with my Star Wars ignorance. We shocked them when we told them we weren’t going to the Australian Open though we were in Melbourne during it. Funnily enough, I think it swayed us into going the next day to watch Rafael Nadal battle it out with Roger Federer on the big screen at the Australian Open grounds. It was time to go as we had planned to meet up with a friend and it was bordering 4pm. Before we left we did need a rest at the Lui Bar, taking all the opulence in. Then through the maze of mirrors we found the lifts. The hostess stopped us before we headed into the lift giving us ‘Morning after’ bags filled with brioche, toasted muesli and jam. So that’s breakfast for the next day ticked off the list. All in all Vue de Monde blew me away. It was a culinary experience, I am brave enough to say the best one so far in Australia. The food was creative, mind blowing, imaginative and no I’m not copying words out of a thesauras. From start to finish you are made to feel so special and I think that’s what sets Vue de Monde a part. The service is exceptional and as Julien explained to us they learn the menu through tasting sessions where they brainstorm describing words to help diners like us with our million questions. Do yourself a favour, if you want escape to a new foundland where you are king/queen of the castle then you must take the lift to the 51st floor of the Rialto Tower. You truly feel like you are on top of the world.

THE FOOD JOURNEY

How awesome is the table setting!

How awesome is the table setting!

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THE DESTINATION
Vue de Monde on Urbanspoon

Treat 14: HOLA SenoRITA!

I am loving this current mex/tex/rex/etc phase that is hitting Perth, inspired from the laneways of Melbourne, further inspired from the actual location of South and Central America without the Northern American touch of Taco Bell.  Now don’t get me wrong I love me some Taco Bell, why wouldn’t you for under $3 you can get a burrito, nachos and a taco thanks to their 99 cent menu.  When I was living in the USA back when the Aussie dollar was only worth 63 cents, Taco Bell was a staple.  Now with the Aussie dollar at $1.05 (weakest in 7 weeks) it would have made that $3 even cheaper.  Though Taco Bell is low in dollars it’s high in kilos, so your wallet and body gets heavier.  I love my mum’s version of Mexican, spices from her mother country Lebanon she adds a dash of cumin while she sautees the onions and garlic, bit of mixed spice for extra flavour and Meemo Khouri’s healthy touch of putting as many vegetables in that chilli con carne.  She marries kidney beans, onions and mince with zucchini and then the wrap (wholewheat of course)/burrito is given more love with avocado, chopped tomato, spinach and carrot to make a rainbow burrito.  Use your imagination – add some snow peas or even bean sprouts for crunch.  This healthy and delicious meal definately has me back for seconds.  It does make going out for Mexican tricky business, with the standard and sloppy fake looking mince tacos topped with sour cream, random red sauce and shredded lettuce no longer satisfying.  So me and Taco Bell have grown apart what with me being in Perth and Taco Bell unable to get a visa here makes this long distance relationship challenging.  So I am left with Perth’s overpriced Mexican fare, shout out to Sante Fe Subiaco if it wasn’t for $2 Tuesday tacos you would not see me in there.  On a random visit to Cabos San Lucas a popular place for celebrities to hang out – think Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler not that I stayed in the same resort as them.  I’m guessing there’s was 5 stars and mine was 3 stars but still pretty amazing with a pool and overlooking the beach.  To think that a week before Beyonce partied there – yes it’s true New Idea told me so.  This is all besides the point, the food we came across was cheap and delicious.  A favourite combination of mine was pork and pineapple, the irony was that my meal came from a chain restaurant in Mexico.  This flavour combination was (to quote Manu) a marriage in heaven.  I think about it till this day but have yet to find it in Perth.  I have ranted and raved quite a lot about this blog but I am very close to a lot of latinas out there, Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull are ones that come to mind.    So this won’t be the last time I blog about this cuisine and the rate Perth is popping out Mexican restaurants (2 in less than 6 months I rest my case) there will be more talk about burritos, nachos, fajitas but finally our vocab for this cuisine will expand.  As you can tell I might need to do a bit more research, i.e. more eating to really master and understand the foods from such a massive area.  I will not let the 4 year olds out there be the only ones speaking Spanish (thanks Dora), I too will say hola, gracias and per favour.  As you can tell those were the only Spanish words I picked up in Mexico, which puzzled the locals who thought I was from there.  I digress, back to the food.  All this time I wanted to talk about my Melbourne experience with Mexican food and on my long list of food I was so excited to go to Mamasitas.  This restaurant takes no bookings, it’s 10pm on a Friday night and we were told there was another 1 hour and half wait.  So we….did not wait and went to Chin Chin instead which I will treat about another time.  I will mention Newmarket Hotel in St Kilda, which with it’s cool industrial interior would fit perfectly in Subiaco or Mt Lawley.  Sadly it’s all the way in St Kilda.  I was with a vegetarian friend so we kept the options to that and why not because the quinoa and zucchini salad was amazing.  I actually now make it for lunch (add a few more vegetables – I am my mother’s daughter after all), squeeze of lemon, add some parsley and bang a lunch that packs flavour and is healthy.  To quote Justin Timberlake, ‘Senorita I feel for you.  You deal with things that you don’t have to’ – as you can tell Justin was writing about me.  I have to deal with overpriced Mexican food, I can’t even get the pretend $3 kind but watch this space….on Friday I am going to give La Cholita in Northbridge a go finally!  As this fad is in full motion in my three attempts to eat there I have been turned away (or told to wait for more than 2 hours – same same but different).  Not anymore amigos – on Friday I will do what’s never been done before (by me) stick it out for the wait and have my Mexican food (even if it might be overpriced) and get a taste of Melbourne/Mexico that I dearly miss.  Hasta la vista baby!