Bar Nacional - 727 Collins St Melbourne - Visited Bar Nacional with a group from work. I was certainly curious to see what this Pete Evan co-owned place was like. We had a set menu which turned out to be great. We received a series of starters, then we had to each order a main course to share and a dessert to also share. We ended up eating our mains and desserts separately rather than sharing. I had a lovely pork belly as a main and a great crema Catalan for dessert. I thought the food was excellent and they have a decent wine list as well. I'd certainly go back again.
Philhellene - 551 Mt Alexander Rd Moonee Ponds - Went here for a group function recently - and it was a big function so it was a full house there in fact. They handled it all very well and the food was great. There was plenty of it too and it just kept arriving. Very impressed with the quality and the quantity - and the prices were very reasonable as well.
The Grain Store - 517 Flinders Lane - Staying nearby and looking for a good breakfast place eventually lead me to The Grain Store. Mlady had been encouraging me to eat a bit healthier so I ordered the Toasted Granola Parfait which came with apple compote, kiwi salsa, mandarin, chia seed yoghurt and quinoa milk. It was impressive - tasting and looking great. A more than decent coffee topped off a lovely breakfast just perfectly.
Shanghai Street Dumpling - 342 Little Bourke St - Dropped in late one evening for a quick bite while in the city. The pork and prawn wonton in chilli oil with peanut and sesame butter sauce caught my eye. It was a large serving that came in 15 pieces and it was delicious (and so cheap as well). A side of homemade golden sesame seeded bacon and spring onion cakes was also substantial and tasty. The place isn't fancy but service is fast and the food is great.
Rockpool Bar and Grill - Southbank - Crown Casino - Popped in one evening for a quick drink and meal. The bar menu is quite interesting but the "famous" burger was something that's been on my wish list for a while. It's described as David Blackmore’s full blood Wagyu hamburger with bacon, gruyere cheese and zuni pickle. I was asked if medium was fine for the beef as that's the usual way it comes. This certainly suited me. For $24.00 I was expecting a pretty impressive burger - and it was! The meat was tender and juicy and the rest was delicious. It's not a burger that's overloaded. In fact it's fairly simple but what is there is quality. I loved it. I also added a serving of their onion rings with house-made ketchup for an extra $9.00 and a lovely red or two and the meal was complete. It was a decent sized serving too. Service was excellent as you would expect here. I'm certainly planning a return trip!
Gills Diner - rear of 360 Little Collins St, Melbourne CBD - Down a laneway and into a semi industrial looking space you will find the charming and awarded Gills Diner. It has a retro workshop feel to it with yellowed tiles on the walls and exposed ducting above. The well spaced tables have a workbench feel to them. For our group of seven we started with the Gills charcuterie selection which turned out to be impressive and extremely tasty. We also shared a selection of antipasti as well. Mains were ordered individually. My choice, and the choice of several others in our group, was spaghetti marinara which came with fresh seafood, chilli, parsley and oil. It was certainly a good marinara. The next most popular main was the special of the day - duck confit. I was lucky enough to taste it and it was beautifully cooked. Gills Diner has repeatedly been awarded one star and the food here certainly was very good. The service was also excellent and the ambiance is very unique and interesting.
The Lui Bar - Rialto Tower - Melbourne CBD - Wow. If you've been here (or to Vue de Monde) you'll know that this view from 55 floors up is magnificent. You need to ask downstairs to get the lift up here and then they send you up (as the lift doesn't have a button for level 55). Then a short stroll down a dimly lit corridor takes you into The Lui Bar with it's magical views out over Melbourne. The drinks aren't cheap but the quality and variety is great and the views just keep mesmerising everyone. We dropped by after dinner for a night cap of Pedro Ximinez and felt like we on top of the world. If you haven't experienced this place yet - it's certainly worth trying!
MoVida Aqui - Melbourne CBD - It's a little bit hard to find this surprisingly spacious restaurant - but it's well worth looking for. Having already sampled the delicacies of both MoVida and MoVida Next Door I was keen to continue the MoVida journey and to also see what may be new at this particular venue. MoVida Aqui is a long narrowish restaurant that is on the first floor of the NAB building at 500 Bourke St. It is predominantly an indoor venue although there is a smallish outdoor area. The menu, as with the rest of the MoVida group, is set out with cuca conservas (or tinned stuff), embutidos, tapas and raciones (or larger plates). I was in a group of four and we started with mejillones rias gallegas - tinned mussels in a tangy red sauce with sourdough. They were very tasty and we devoured them. Next was bocadillo de calamares - individual calamari sandwiches with Basque guindilla and mayonnaise. These were amazing and possibly my favourite dish of the night. Then we had costilla de cordero- lamb cutlets with pork and paprika pate. The meat was extremely tender but so rare that a few in our group felt they were undercooked. Nice flavours though and another good dish. The carrillera de buey - slowly braised beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez on cauliflower puree - was extremely tender and almost dissolved. The flavours were also rich and distinct. We had a pulpo (octopus) dish as well as a pork dish. We finished by sharing two servings of churros - or Spanish doughnuts that came with a rich drinking chocolate mixture that we all agreed wasn't that good which was a pity. MoVida Aqui was a great dining experience.
Izakaya Den - Melbourne CBD - This is a hard to find place. It's not brilliantly signposted and it's down a flight of stairs (as you'd expect from a den) and through a curtained doorway. You may perhaps pause to make sure you're going in the right doorway! It's a long narrow room with some lounge chairs along the right hand wall and then tables the rest of the way. There's a long bar/servery along the left wall that you can also sit at to eat. I was in town late and after a quick meal so I started with a glass of merlot (from quite a decent wine list) and the den fried chicken ($11.00) followed by grilled duck breast with pomegranate soy ($19.00). The chicken was amazing - so tender inside and nice and crisp on the outside. The sauce was nice and tangy as well and it was a generous serving for the price. The duck breast was delicately done with thin slices topped with slivers of baby corn and scattered pomegranate seeds surrounding it. Izakaya Den is popular. The food is great and the service matched this. It's a pleasant place. Even though it's hard to find - it's worth looking for Izakaya Den.
- De Mad Hatter - Docklands - This is a busy place at the bottom of Collins St that seems to attract a large coffee crowd but also plenty of people grabbing food as well. They have a wide range of food available ranging from plenty of cakes, slices and muffins through to some very tasty looking salads in the front counter. Service is fast and friendly. Only had coffee this time but will certsinly try the food another time as it looked appealing.
- Lorca - Centre Place Melbourne - If you've ever seen Diagon Alley from one of the Harry Potter films and wanted the same atmosphere - go here. Lovely bustling place - we had a delicious brunch. The scrambled eggs were great and they have good coffee too. Plenty of very interesting food options at this charming place - sit at the bench on a stool and look out over the laneway at life and people rushing by.