Last week was a big week for shock restaurant departures/closures: The Brix lost its head chef in addition to its sous chef and pastry chef (word on the street via Essjay is that they'll be reopening at the end of the month under new head chef Ashly Hicks from Brisbane's Buffalo Club), MoMo announced its 31 March closure in response to head chef Greg Malouf moving to London to head up Petersham Nurseries, and Sydney's Bird Cow Fish closed on the weekend with less than a week of warning. I've heard also that the closure of another fine dining restaurant in Melbourne is poised to be announced in the next week, once all staff have been notified. Ah, it's a tough business.
But of course, that doesn't seem to deter people from opening new places all the time. In the last fortnight we've seen some second venue openings from established Melbourne chefs (well, a seventh concurrent venue opening for George Calombaris if you count all the restaurants in the Made Establishment stable). Bishop of Ostia is the Pope Joan-adjacent bar opened last Thursday week by Matt Wilkinson and Ben Foster, and Marmalade & Soul is Ray Capaldi's new cafe/restaurant opened last week in former pub site The Recreation. I've been to both for preliminary visits (blog posts coming once they've had a chance to settle in!), and they're both very promising.
I'm yet to dine at the restaurant, but I attended the Mama Baba launch party the other week. Never before had I been to a restaurant launch where a celebrity hairdresser was working in the glass pasta room (just down from the $45,000 pasta extruder), fashioning wigs made out of pasta (!!!) for models to wear at the party...
Neil Perry's Spice Temple is now serving yum cha for lunch every day of the week (the regular menu is now for dinners only). On Friday I attended a freebie media launch lunch hosted by NP himself introducing the yum cha menu. I left very impressed by his passion for what he does (sitting next to him I got to hear all about the interesting research trips and recipe testing involved in developing the yum cha menu), the high standard of the dishes (unlike at many yum cha restaurants in Melbourne, the quality and freshness of the ingredients - especially the seafood - really stood out) and the surprisingly reasonable prices (see menu here).
Favourite dishes: the tea smoked duck, the har gow, the steamed tripe with black bean and the egg tart.
Two things I have been enjoying over the last fortnight: coffees from Patricia Coffee Brewers and honey from Melbourne City Rooftop Honey (from a hive on a rooftop in Rankins Lane).
So THAT'S what an entire lobster in tempura looks like. Served along with a whole lot of sashimi - including lobster sashimi - at a Japanese dinner I attended during the week at an underground restaurant out in the suburbs (the person who invited me asked me to not mention the name or location of the venue on the blog, as they weren't sure whether or not the local council approves). So how was the food? Better than Zingara Cucina... ;)
Food trucks/vans in Melbourne will soon no longer be confined to the cities of Darebin and Moreland: a Melbourne Times Weekly article (memorably titled 'Hipsters happy as the man lifts food van ban') confirmed that the Yarra City Council has agreed to overturn the ban on "mobile food vehicles" in the City of Yarra. The adopted guidelines that will operate in the City of Yarra can be found here.
The fly in the ointment is that we have to wait until the Council has decided on a fee structure for the permits (they say they expect the fee structure to be decided by mid-2012) before Beatbox Kitchen, Taco Truck, Le Sausage, Gumbo Kitchen and their like will be allowed to roll into the hood.
Links of Note:
- Speaking of food trucks, last month the City of Sydney announced the 10 winning food trucks that will be allowed to trade in Sydney for a twelve month trial period. The list of the chosen operators (yeah, Melbourne's Taco Truck is one of them) plus a nifty video showing the judging process is on the City of Sydney's website.
- Hot on the heels of his recent victory over 'pink slime' hamburgers, Jamie Oliver is coming to Melbourne and will be giving a talk on 6 March about promoting food education in the community - tickets went on sale today and can be purchased via The Wheeler Centre's website.
- Food is the New Rock: the blog where music and food collide.
- Broadsheet's article Decoded - What's in a Cafe Name?, explaining the origin stories of the names of several Melbourne cafes.
- Delightful Sydney-based Mexican food blog De La Tierra.
- Matt Rodbard from Food Republic (the food blog for men, because "men are underserved in today's conversation about food") writes about The 9 Best Things [He] Ate in Melbourne. Seven of the nine are from just three restaurants, and one of the other nine is a cappuccino. *cough*
- Lauren from Footscray Food Blog discovered a workday cafe in North Melbourne called Crouton that serves Mauritian food at Saturday lunchtime.
- I keep including foodie links from The Design Files in these fortnightly round-ups, but at the risk of sounding repetitive I'm including this interview with James Brown from graphic design studio Mash.
- Restaurant reviews on blogs as videos? Kate Gibbs makes a video about her visit to Surry Hills' El Capo on her blog The Kitchen Inc (I wrote about El Capo here).
- Mondrian, Duchamp, O'Keefe, Pollock, Klimt: famous artworks interpreted in sandwich form.