Tag Archives: Steak

Michael Lambie, 17 Years in 17 Dishes at The Smith

I was at The Smith a few weeks back and noticed a sign up in the ladies room: “Michael Lambie, 17 Years in 17 Dishes”.   The man behind some of the most famous restaurants (Stokehouse, Circa, & Taxi) was celebrating his 17 years in the Melbourne dining scene by serving up some of his most delicious dishes.  Needless to say, the very next day I signed up for it!

I was pleasantly surprised to discover upon arrival that drinks were included in the cost and with unlimited top ups!   Turned out to be a much bigger night than I’d originally anticipated…

We started off with three canapes:  kingfish sashimi with nam jim and toasted coconut, organic tofu with pickled ginger, cucumber and mint, and freshly shucked oysters with ponzu and wasabi caviar.   A lovely refreshing start to the dinner.

Canapes

The food was broken into time periods, so the first four dishes represented 1995 – 2000.  The mushroom cappuccino with truffle cream was like heaven in a cup.  It was rich, earthy, and creamy.

Mushroom cappuccino with truffle cream

Harrisa crusted yellow fin tuna with Thai style spanner crab salad was excellent.  Refreshing and light.

Harrisa crusted yellow fin tuna with Thai style spanner crab salad

Seared Atlantic scallops with cauliflower puree and curry oil… well I loved this dish.  Beautiful and delicately seared scallops with creamy puree… yum!

Seared Atlantic scallops with cauliflower puree and curry oil

King Island crayfish salad with tomato confit and lobster oil dressing…  Can’t go wrong with that combo!   The cray was fresh and perfectly cooked.  The dish salad added a nice crunch.

King Island crayfish salad with tomato confit and lobster oil dressing

The next episode was 2001 – 2004 and first up was quail salad with apple and celery salad, bois bourdon sauce.  Crispy pan fried quail on a tangy salad.

Quail salad with apple and celery salad, bois bourdon sauce

We were then presented with a very full plate housing San Daniele proscuitto with blue cheese dressing and crostini and ballotine of duck and foie gras with rillettes, parfait, hot toast and ginger pear chutney.   I love these charcuterie plates – heaped with salty tasty goodness and crusty bread.

San Daniele proscuitto with blue cheese dressing and crostini

And last lastly, we go into 2005 – 2012.  The roast wild barramundi fillet with eggplant caviar, basil puree and orange miso jus was an interesting combo but worked well and tasted good.

Roast wild barramundi fillet with eggplant caviar, basil puree and orange miso jus

Wonderfully cooked and tasty rolled roast rabbit saddle with rabbit confit and grain mustard veloute.

Rolled roast rabbit saddle with rabbit confit and grain mustard veloute

This was so so good:  Wagyu 7+ rump cap with horseradish cream and yakaniku dipping sauce. Meat was  cooked perfectly and the accompaniments were amazing!

Wagyu 7+ rump cap with horseradish cream and yakaniku dipping sauce

And last but not least, a modest raspberry souffle with white chocolate sorbet to finish a marvellous dinner.

Raspberry souffle with white chocolate sorbet

I hear you asking “how did she walk out of the restaurant?”.  Stuffed full of fine fine food?  Stumbling from too many wine top ups?  Euphoric from eating some of the best dishes ever?   Yes, twas all of the above.

For more info on The Smith:
The Smith on Urbanspoon

Old School French at Benoit, Paris

We were in Paris in September and really wanted to try an old school French bistro so we decided to dine at Benoit, owned by the delightfully charming Alain Ducasse.  Wood paneled walls, clean crisp white tablecloths and waiters that are nice but slightly stand offish was exactly the atmosphere I was after.  Also, as you can see from the pics below, even the plates had the name of the restaurant printed on them – so French!

Something I noticed in France, was when they give you an amuse bouche or complimentary food item to whet your appetite, it’s almost like an entree serve in itself!   We were presented with fluffy cheese puffs and rabbit rilette with toast.   The cheese puffs were light and hollow, but packed a punch and the rilette was delicious (perhaps the best I’d ever had).

Now, I chose the foie gras as my entree, which came with a toasted brioche.  Whilst it tasted good, I was overwhelmed by the two slices that I had.  Being from Australia, you rarely get to eat more than 3 mouthfuls of foie gras.  I managed to eat one slice, and I felt terrible wasting such a divine piece of food.

My boyfriend chose the crayfish soup with creamy chives and the mouthful that I sampled was divine!   Tasted spectacularly of crayfish (surprise!).

For my main course, I chose sole with wilted spinach.  I was watching Masterchef Professionals UK and Michel Roux Jr. stated that this was one of his favorite dishes.   Sole is not something you can commonly get in Australia, so I had to give it a go!  It was fantastic.  The fish was firm and had a light sweet taste to it.  The sauce on top was a lobster bisque and the spinach and cream at the bottom was delicious.  

The boyfriend chose the beef fillet with marrow bordelaise sauce served on the side with a macaroni gratin.  The steak was cooked perfectly as was the side dish, and the marrow sauce (the star of the show) pulled it all together.

Dessert was the classic vanilla millefeuille, and I have to say, it was the best millefeuille I’ve ever had.  The layers were cooked to the point where it was just caramalised and has that burnt butter flavor and the cream inside was thick, rich and creamy.

One memorable part of this dinner was that menu’s are not available in English, so listening to the patient waiters translate it over and over again to the non-French was quite amusing.  I kept expecting them to throw the towel in and start swearing, but they kept their cool and pushed through.

All up, it’s exactly the charming bistro you would expect, complete with great French food.   The restaurant was packed on a Wed night.    I would definitely recommend it, and I would go again.

Great modern French fare at Noir

Believe the hype, Noir is as good as they say it is.  The food was absolutely flawless.   The restaurant is cozy and comfortable, nestled in the midst of Swan St in Richmond.  The food is modern French, and flavours, textures, combinations of dishes is fantastic.  The presentation of food is gorgeous, as can be seen from the pics below.

Started with “crisp belly of pork, peas and prawns” which came sitting on top of a creamy rich garlic puree. Pork and prawn is a winning combo, enough said.

The other entree we had was the “salmon cured in Hendrick’s gin” which came with a gin granata, shaved cucumber and dill dressing.  Cool and refreshing on a warms summer day.

My main was the “crisp breast and confit leg of duck with kohlrabi, cherry and almonds“.  I wiped my plate clean.   The duck was cooked medium rare, just the way I like it.  The sauce was rich and delicious.  The kohlrabi was sweet and a perfect accompaniment.

My partner had the “eye fillet and braised shin of Black Angus” which came divided by a potato gratin with 3 onion rings sitting on top of it.  I stole a few bites, and gotta say, if my duck was not so darn good, I would have had the biggest case of food envy ever.  Perfect melt in your mouth eye fillet and tasty braised shin…. drool!

First dessert was the “raspberry soufflé with white chocolate ice cream on macadamias“.  Souffle was tart, and light and fluffy.  Greatly complimented by the white chocolate ice cream.

The “pot au chocolat” was fantastic!  It had Milo and crackle and malt foam and a chocolate biscuit wafer… all up, a tasty delight!

Have to say, we’ve had some great new restaurants pop up in Melbourne in the last 12 months and this is may be my favourite. I adore French food so this instantly has an advantage to win my affections.  Couple that with a great menu, perfectly executed food and solid wine to accompany the food and I’m pretty much in love.  Can’t wait to go back!

For more info:
Noir on Urbanspoon

San Sebastian…. Greatest Hits!

Was in San Sebastian, Spain in September and had the greatest culinary adventures whilst walking the streets of the old town (Parte Vieja).  Every corner unveiled another narrow street with more pintxos (tapas) bars to visit.   This is my homage to the best little street out there (Calle 31 De Agosto), with the three places that we had to go back for over and over again.     Warning: google maps may fail you.  Another warning:  these places keep ridiculous hours.

First up is the cool and modern Fuegro Negro.  It’s pintxos with a twist here.  Modernised version of small food.  Twas so good!  The top thing to try here is definitely the “Mackobe with Txips” – a miniburger served in a tomato bun along with banana chips.  Insanely good.

Other dishes of note: “Pickled Pork with Frozen Mole” and the “Foie Snack“.  The surprise element of the frozen mole melting in your mouth with a piece of porky goodness is a winner.  The foie snack is for those that love foie gras – big serve of foie gras which has been caramalised on top, with lots of bread.

Next up, Bar Martinez.  A more traditional kind of place with no seats, a huge bar with lots of pintxos up on display, and grumpy old men behind the counter.   There are two things that you must have here.  First are the chicken skewers.  It’s not up on show, so you have to ask for it.   Marinated tasty chicken on a stick grilled to golden perfection.

The croquettes here may have been the yummies in the whole of Spain.   There are a few different varieties – cheese, chorizo, jamon, salted cod – and they are all excellent.  There is a fair amount of variety here for other pintxos, so go nuts!


This place has the greatest seared steak ever: Gandarias.  Again, it’s not on the menu, and the dudes in the shop don’t speak English… but you’ll get there.  It’s so good.  We had it 3x in 2 days.  It’s topped with grilled capsicum and sea salt.  Yum!  The tapas here are a bit more uppity then Bar Martinez (as can be seen from the pics below).

So that’s it.  All in one street, with plenty of other places around the corner.  There’s a nice little beach around the corner, so between the food and sunshine, it’s fantastic in San Sebastian!

La Luna… wow!

Had dinner at La Luna last weekend and was so impressed, that I had to blog about it straight away!  I loved the location of the restaurant, in a lovely quiet corner of Carlton.  We had a nice little table by the window and at one point the chef Adrian Richardson even stopped by to check on the air conditioning!  The service was consistent and great throughout the evening.  The food was fantastic!

Started with two entrees between 3 of us.  First up we had one of the specials of the bistro: garlic prawns.   They were super tasty, super garlicky and so good that all the sauce was mopped up by extra bread.

The 2nd entree was from the normal menu:  bacon and onion croquettes, with a bacon jam mayo.  Gotta say, they were tasty.  And interesting – I’ve never had bacon and onion croquettes.   I liked it, anything with bacon is a winner.

For my main, I had the beef and bacon pie, covered with suet pastry and atop mushy peas and gravy.  Wow, this pie was amazing!  The pastry was beautiful – soft and crusty.  The meat filling inside was moist and tender.  The gravy – holy moly!  It had meaty depth.  I’m drooling just thinking about it.

My two friends had specials for their mains.   One had a lamb shank slow cooked garlic and white wine.  I tried a bit and the meat was beautifully cooked – delicate in flavour.   My other friend had the fish of the day, which was a pan fried hapuka fillet with a cauliflower salad.  The dish was tasty and the fish cooked to perfection.

For dessert, we shared a dessert platter for two.  It was more than enough for 3 girls!  From the top left to bottom right, we had a creme brûlée, lemon meringue, home made ice cream, chocolate fudge cake, chocolate mousse and berry gelati.   All of these items were perfectly delicious.

I absolutely loved dining here.  The food was amazingly good.  The service was very good.  The atmosphere of the restaurant was busy but comfortable and the location is lovely.  Can’t wait to go back for more!

For more info:

La Luna Bistro on Urbanspoon

Great Italian Food at Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons

Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons (GAS) really do a spectacular job of cooking delicious Italian food.  I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve dined there, but I know I’ve never been disappointed.

Had a heartwarming winter dinner there, which started with wonderfully crispy ‘Baccala Fritto” Crispy Salt Balls, Aioli”.   Interesting flaky crispy texture filled with creamy potato with salty shreds of cod running through it.  Yum!

I can’t resist cured meat.  If I recall correctly, “Salumi Ossocullo” is a cut of meat from the neck of the pig.   It was tasty.

Given the Melbourne weather has been a bit cold and dreary, the “Risotto “alla Milanese”, Saffron, Minced Pork Sausage, Finished with Parsley & Bone Marrow” was the perfect homely and warm dish to counter the outside elements.  Rich in texture and flavour, with perfectly cooked rice.

The perfectly seasoned “Grass Fed Sirloin on the Bone 450 Grams Firm Texture, Full Flavoured, Parmesan Herb Crumbed Onion Rings” goes extremely well with a side of crunchy “Potaotes, Rosemary, Garlic”.

Dessert for the night was “Baked Chocolate Pot, Chocolate Pearls Served Chilled”.  It was creamy silky dark chocolate perfection.

Great atmosphere, good food.  Can’t wait to dine here again!

For more info:
Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons on Urbanspoon

Ma Peche: casual cool meets fine dining

Ma Peche was an interesting restaurant… it has a casual atmosphere, but fine dining food. Slight disjoint for me, but the food was delicious.

The fresh seafood available when we were there got us these lovely fresh prawns, served on ice and with a delicious sauce on the side.

Scallops with coffee” sounds unappetising, but was really good! The scallops were coated in coffee and were lightly cooked, and tasted delicate and sweet. As you can see from the picture below, the presentation of the dish was pretty and perfect.

Another strange sounding combination “tetsuta age chicken with watermelon” again was surprisingly good. I was worried that the watermelon would make the diminish the crispiness of the chicken but it was all good. Again, pretty as a picture (sorry about mine, it’s a tad blurry!).

Last dish on the agenda was the acclaimed “steak with rice chips” which were fantastic! Steak was cooked perfectly, chips were thick and crispy. Ordered a side of “corn with seaweed and spring onions” and it was huge! By far the largest dish we had the whole evening and it was a side dish!

Lastly, as Ma Peche is right above the Momofuku Milk Bar, we got a few cookies for dessert! Had the “cornflake, chocolate chip, marshmallow cookie” and it was superb!

Overall, a good dinner but I have to warn you all it was the more expensive of the Momofuku’s. The food was delicious (as expected), my only criticism was that the dishes were not as generous in portion as I’d like. Would I go again? Yup, to try the new menu!

Date of visit: August 2011.

For more info and reviews:

Ma Peche on Urbanspoon