Thursday, 2 October 2014

Sichuan House

22-26 Corrs Lane 
Melbourne, VIC 

Kungpao Chicken ($19.8)

Stir-Fried Green Beans with Pork Mince ($16.8) 

Steamed and Fried Buns ($3.8, 6pcs)

Sichuan House on Urbanspoon

Monday, 29 September 2014

Gloria Swanston's Kitchen

Upstairs at The Lounge
243 Swanston St 
Melbourne, VIC 3000

I’ve always been rather leery about bars. Though perhaps unfair, I feel like it’s often warranted. It’s not that bars don’t serve food, but I’ve realised that most people don’t go to bars to eat, even if the food is good. But like I always say: whatever floats your goat. And it’s food, not beer, that floats mine. 

Though the sign from the street says ‘Lounge’, it has since gone and reinvented itself, emerging as Gloria Swanston’s Kitchen. Still, a lounge is very much what it is – the music is booming, and there’s a disco ball hanging from the ceiling, casting fractals across the nooks and crannies. With the added bonus of a sheltered balcony for smokers, this is very much a place for the youngsters, especially the ones from RMIT, which is just up the road. Luckily, the staff at the bar are hip yet down to earth, with none of the pretension you may expect.

Kick-Ass Beef Burger ($16.5)

Ethan’s birthday was about a month ago, and because I couldn’t make it to the dinner, I’d vowed to treat the good man to whatever he wanted, which was a good burger. After consulting The Burger Adventure, which is the be-all-end-all guide to burgers of Melbourne if you ask me, we sunk our teeth into the aptly named Kick-Ass Beef Burger ($16.5).

Kick-Ass Beef Burger ($16.5)

It’s not often you get a burger full of salty bacon and double cheese, melted over the thick patty (juicy and charred) by default, so when it happens, it is indeed rather kick-ass. The fatty, messy mouthfuls of brioche, special sauce, and meat were supplemented with crispy shredded lettuce and pickle slices. Oh and, the crinkle cut chips on the side tossed in chipotle salt weren’t half bad either. 

Deep Fried Pizza Balls ($9.5, 5pcs)

Compared to the Deep Fried Pizza Balls ($9.5, 5pcs), the burger we just shared was almost light. Not only were the balls of mozzarella and pizza sauce battered and deep-fried to a golden brown, they were then to be dipped into a rich and thick basil mayo. Not that these weren’t good but dang son, I can feel these working their way into my arteries even now. 

Memphis Chicken Waffles ($10.5, 3pcs)

Like I was before my first time, Ethan was incredibly intrigued, and just a little repulsed by the idea of Memphis Chicken Waffles ($10.5, 3pcs). Though not as intensely flavoured as the waffles from Mr Big Stuff, the mild chicken wings were crisp and juicy, pairing well with the waffle, whose slightly plasticky texture was remedied by a good helping of syrup.

By 6:31, the disco ball was going psychedelically, and I was getting a sore throat shouting over the now-pounding music. Stay away if you have a hangover, or better still, rock up between 12-3pm every Tuesday for an $8 burger and fries combo that will kick that hangover up the buttocks (or so I’m told).

Rating: 15/20 – kick-ass.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.

Gloria Swanston's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Pok Pok

803 Bourke Street 
Docklands, VIC 

Crispy School Prawns ($7.5)

Crispy Rockling with Pad Cha Chilli ($14.5)

Roast Pork Belly and Dry Green Peppercorns ($13.5)

Roast Pork Belly and Dry Green Peppercorns ($13.5)

Crispy Rockling with Pad Cha Chilli ($14.5)/Roast Pork Belly and Dry Green Peppercorns ($13.5)

Pok Pok on Urbanspoon

Monday, 22 September 2014

Self Preservation

70 Bourke Street 
Melbourne, VIC 

I admit that there’s something exciting about trying a less well-known restaurant. I very rarely visit a restaurant that doesn’t have copious amounts of good reviews backing it up – chalk that up to my very science-oriented education – so when I actually pick a place simply because I like the look of it, it’s a bit of a big deal. Not that Self Preservation is exactly hidden away, but it’s a lot more popular as a brunch pit-stop so as a result, I know that they do great coffee and nice eggs, but close to nothing about their dinner. And that’s almost as good as finding a restaurant for myself, right?

Being on the ‘Paris End’ of Bourke Street, Self Preservation fits the mould as a cosily antiquated European wine bar. Most people are here for a drink; the wine list is twice the size of the menu, though in all fairness the latter is rather compact and succinct. 

Spicy Pork and Beef Meatballs ($15) 

Spicy Pork and Beef Meatballs ($15) 

It always amazes me how wildly different the humble meatball can taste, from flavourless grizzle to succulent beauties. The Spicy Pork and Beef Meatballs ($15) of Self Preservation were rather good, the rich and spicy tomato sugo cooled with a dollop of yoghurt, and the meatballs pleasingly lean and meaty. The show was stolen though by the crunchy, smoky wood-fire grilled sourdough, with just a smidge of butter melted over it. 

Truffled Cauliflower Risotto with Seared Scallops ($23)

Like the meatballs, the Truffled Cauliflower Risotto with Seared Scallops ($23) was another staple dish done with care and elegance. The chewy grains of rice were interspersed with diced cauliflower that served to lighten the dish up considerably. The sauce was creamy but not cloying, and the chicken stock could be tasted clearly behind the polite amount of cheese and garlic. The scallops were unfortunately a bit overcooked, but still managed to remain smoky and sweet.

French Fries and Our Tomato Sauce ($8.5) 

We ordered a serve of French Fries and Our Tomato Sauce ($8.5) with no real expectations, with the intention of having them as a filler (that we didn’t end up needing), because the waitress recommended we order 4-5 dishes to share (preposterous!). They fulfilled their purpose, and I’m happy to leave them at that. 

I don’t have meals at cafes very often, as I find the food to be frequently over-priced and lack-lustre. However I actually thoroughly enjoyed having dinner at Self Preservation. Calling the food innovative and exciting would be a stretch of the imagination – it’s no more and no less than simple food done well, but that was enough.

Rating: 13.5/20 – i work close enough to come here for lunch!
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.

Self Preservation on Urbanspoon