15 Celestial Avenue, Melbourne (map)
One drunken and debauched night out with a big group of mates a few years ago, someone had the bright idea of taking us all to the Supper Club, but ended up leading us to the Supper Inn by mistake. Best Mistake Ever.
A Melbourne institution, the Supper Inn continues to dish up great Chinese food. When O brought me here, she insisted we try the steamed oysters with ginger and spring onion, and pork with chilli and sesame. The oysters in particular were sublime!
Federation Square, Melbourne (map)
I was less enamoured on a recent visit to Chocolate Buddha one sticky February night with best-friend-K. In years past, Choc Buddha has always been a fairly safe reliable bet for grabbing a pre-theatre bite to eat, but lately the quality of the food seems to have taken a slide (what's with the fillet-o-fish tartare sauce served with the $23.50 Okonomi Barramundi Katsu?), and the service was downright lousy. Has anyone else been to Choc Buddha lately?
398 Bridge Road, Richmond (map)
Orion is an unassuming little restaurant on Bridge Road that Mum and Dad reckon is their best local Indian. We took Buster there when he was last home from Italy, and he really relished tucking into the hottest vindaloo he could get his hands on. I hadn't really had mushrooms cooked Indian-style before, but those chilli mushrooms on their entree menu are a definite highlight.
Tea House on Burke
911 Burke Road, Hawthorn East (map)
I went to Tea House on Burke with the family in December - we were celebrating Birdie's VCE results. Tea House on Burke is another pricey but classy Chinese restaurant in the inner burbs which we are quite fond of.
Mum had the won ton soup because she was recovering from having her wisdom teeth out. The rest of us lurrrved the sinful stuffed garfish, the claypot prawns and the eye fillet in Szechuan sauce.
94 Victoria Street, Richmond (map)
Minh Minh is housemate DJ's pick of the Victoria Street Vietnamese restaurants, but its menu also includes a great selection of Thai and Laotian dishes. Last time I went there I yummed up the Lab Nua, a spicy grilled beef salad cooked Lao style. Highly recommended.
430 Little Collins, Melbourne (map)
I visited Bistro Vue for the first time a few weeks ago, for the $35 Espresso lunch during the Food and Wine Festival. I was pretty excited - I really love the lunchboxes and cocktail nights at Cafe Vue, and I continue to long for the day when some kindly soul will bestow a meal at Vue de Monde upon me - but I'm sorry to report that the Espresso lunch was a frost (sorry Miss T!).
Unlike previous Espresso lunches I've been to at other restaurants, there was only one entree, one main and one dessert to choose from. The tarte a la tomate was delicious (walking past the kitchen on the way in and seeing hundreds of them being mass-prepared kind of killed the romance, but that's the price you pay when you go for an Espresso lunch I guess). However, the Coq au Riesling was really disappointing: bland, dry and garnished with a few sad and watery button mushrooms and peeled cherry tomatoes, like the ones served in an in-flight cooked breakfast. The Bavarois a la vanille was rubbery and unexciting.
I'd like to give Bistro Vue another try, but I don't think I'm going to bother going along to any more Espresso lunches in the future - you just don't seem to get much value for money. I'm sure the food I had that day is in no way indicative of the kind of food I'd be served if I dined from their regular menu!
333 Burnley Street, Richmond (map)
I'd already dined in the fancy restaurant part of The Grand, but the other weekend I went to try out the pub menu with DJ, ex-office-buddy J, Miss C and J's mates. All of the boys were ravenous, having just completed the Run for the Kids.
What was supposed to be a veal schnitzel with roasted capsicum and eggplant salad ($24) came out as grilled veal with a green salad. It was nice though. Miss C and DJ enjoyed the pan-fried Blue Eye served with roast potatoes and green beans ($24.50), and the other boys polished off the fish and chips ($18) and the beef and vegetable stew with creamy mash ($21). Nice pub food with a cosy atmosphere.
1st floor, 200 Bourke Street, Melbourne (map)
I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: on a Friday night, there are few better places to drink with mates than out on the balcony at Red Silks. My colleague for the last two years and friend for the last ten years L just loves this place, and often entreats us to come along with him after work. The balcony, overlooking Bourke Street just opposite the Carlton Club, is HUGE, with retractable awnings to protect from rain and heaters for cold nights. We've whiled away many an hour here, drinking big silver cans of Sapporo beer ("silver bullets", we call them - not to be confused with the Coors Lite beer of the same name) served up by the fabulous over-the-top Jason. When we go there CD always drinks an alcoholic fizzy drink called Tsunami, which she swears tastes like those Nerds lollies.
Oh, and the food is cheap as chips. We often get their Haianese chicken rice, and the crispy tender salt and pepper squid.
16 Market Lane, Melbourne (map)
Dear Hu Tong,
Your $10.50 Xiao Long Bao are amazing, but why do you insist on making it so hard for me to love you?
I've been to Hu Tong twice, on a Tuesday for lunch and on a Wednesday for dinner. Both times the place was busy but not full. On both occasions we had to wait for inordinate lengths of time for stuff we'd ordered: when we went for dinner, my eggplant hotpot came out 45 minutes after all the mains my friends had ordered had arrived, even though we'd all ordered at the same time...
...and when I went with O for lunch they brought out our (utterly delicious) wontons in chilli and XLBs very promptly, but never brought out the pan-fried dumplings we'd ordered (given that they looked so fabulous on mellie's blog). After waiting over 30 minutes for a plate of dumplings we asked our waitress. She was completely nonplussed, telling us without a hint of apology that they hadn't started making them yet, and that we could leave without having them if we'd prefer. I don't want to sound bitchy or petty, but the fact that this happened to us twice (and also to Sarah, from the sounds of her Hu Tong review) makes me reluctant to sing their praises.
But who knows, perhaps you'll have better luck than I did with the service. And provided they actually make it to your table, the XLBs, sauteed snow pea shoots in garlic, eggplant in claypot, wontons in chilli and noodles with shredded pork and Shanghai pickles in soup are all delicious.
The Press Club
72 Flinders Street, Melbourne (map)
Finally, had a sensational meal at the Press Club bar with S and his wonderful friend Q, who wrote me perhaps the funniest Melbourne Gastronome email I have ever received - I would dearly love to reprint it here but I promised her I wouldn't as the email includes vital details that her love interest would be able to identify her from, so we need to keep her subterfuge sub.
Anyway, the dishes on the Press Club bar menu are every bit as wonderful as those served in the Press Club restaurant. We particularly enjoyed the BBQ haloumi with peppered figs ($9), the fried feta filled olives ($9), the grilled half shell scallops served with garlic skordalia ($12) and the Press Club open souvlaki in all its deconstructed deliciousness ($17.90).
...and that makes 20 places! Sigh. More Amnesty Fortnight posts will follow over the weekend, but I promise they won't be this long... :)