Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Susie Wong, Windsor (by invitation) by Bilby Blue

Located way down at the Dandenong Road end of Chapel Street, Susie Wong is a mod-Asian fusion restaurant and bar. It’s a warm and welcoming space – ideal for meeting up with friends, popping in for a pre-theatre meal (the Red Stitch Theatre is close by) or drinks and nibbles after catching a movie at the Astor cinema. Indeed, many of the other patrons were clearly regulars.

The original Suzie (with a “z”) Wong is an iconic fictional character from the 1957 novel The World of Suzie Wong, set in Hong Kong. It was subsequently made into a film in 1960 (in the process transforming the original British hero into an American, but that is another story). With a change in spelling, Susie is the inspiration behind the restaurant.

Susie Wong, chicken, sweetcorn and prawn wontons
Chicken, prawn and sweetcorn wontons

The original timber-lined ceiling is stunning – the building interior has been stripped back and festooned with an eclectic range of items sourced by Peter (the owner) from his travels through Asia. Large red lanterns and timber birdcages hang from the rafters. Wooden masks and graphic posters line the walls.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Tender Trap, Doncaster East by Obelix

The Tender Trap is an old Frank Sinatra movie from the Golden Age of Hollywood and I was expecting some sort of cinematic reference at the Tender Trap but it turned out to be modern contemporary dining.  It was a cozy intimate space and K, P and I had a wonderful time snaffling down fine food and a drink or two over a long overdue catch up.

The service was impeccable and some of our picks were under guidance by our friendly wait staff.

 chargrilled octopus, kumara, feta, capers and smoked citrus
With a few drinkie-poos under my belt I tucked into my char-grilled octopus entree with kumara, crumbled feta and smoked citrus and capers.  The salty capers and feta combined beautifully with the sweetness of the kumara.  The char-grilled octopus joined smokey-flavoured forces with the smoked citrus.  Yum!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Gelato Messina, Richmond by Bilby Blue

Gelato Messina aims to set the benchmark for gelato in Australia – a bold statement, considering some of the amazing artisan gelato we have been sampling over the past year. While we had previously visited its Pyrmont store in Sydney, a trip to one of its Melbourne outlets was long overdue.

Gelato Messina, Richmond, gianduia, Nonno Carlo
Gianduia and Nonno Carlo gelato

So early one Sunday afternoon – Benny and I avoided the crowds by arriving just after Gelato Messina opened for the day – we found ourselves being swamped for flavour choice. With no other customers (really!), we were able to chat with our friendly server and find out more about the Gelato Messina experience.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Damon Bradley, Southbank (by invitation) by Bureaucrat

Damon Bradley is, quite simply, affordable luxury for any occasion.  The Eat and Be Merry Crew was invited to try out Damon Bradley's spring/summer menu. It's easily one of the more popular eateries located inside Southgate Melbourne.  With hues of purple and crisp white, and the most friendly service you'll ever come across, it's a fabulous place to treat yourself to a little sweet delicacy or something more substantial.  While we were there, the place was filled with what appeared to be an elegant hen's party (where the women were all wearing floral wreaths and having high tea), groups of baby boomers, young families and couples - it seems like no one can resist the lure of gorgeous cakes, desserts and light savoury meals that are on offer.

Damon Bradley, Southbank, Perfectly Purple
One of the showpiece spring/summer items is called Perfectly Purple.  It's an absolutely pretty dessert, that's reminiscent of a deconstructed black currant cheesecake.  This was sumptuous, divine, delicious!  As the Lawyer declared, "it's berry, berry nice!".

Served in a glass, it has layers of white Belgium chocolate, fresh blueberries and raspberries, passionfruit macarons, vanilla custard and double cream. It's garnished with edible flowers and a macaron shell.  With the generous amount of fresh plump berries in there (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, to name a few), you could easily convince yourself that this can go towards your five-a-day (as Homer Simpson says, "it has purple in it - purple is a fruit").

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Zero95, Doncaster East by Benny

There was once a time when the only place to get good Italian food in Melbourne was in Lygon Street, Carlton (unless you were personally acquainted with an Italian Nonna). But now Italian excellence has well and truly spread beyond Carlton, and Bilby Blue and I have been fortunate to have dined at no less than five great Italian restaurants this year (Trattoria Emilia, Eat’aliano, Italian Chef, Tutto Bene and Il Melograno). As we near the end of the year, I’d like to add a sixth to the list.

Zero95 first came to our attention only a couple of months ago when one of its chefs, Andrea Cozzolino, defeated more than 600 other chefs in an international competition in Naples, Italy, seeking the maker of the best margarita pizza. So exactly how good are Zero95’s pizzas? Bilby and I resolved to check it out for ourselves.

Zero 95, cannoli
Cannoli Siciliani 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Mum's Dumplings, Balwyn by Obelix

Having a reliable dumpling source is a necessity for when those hankerings hit and one is far from the Madding dumpling crowd of Box Hill, CBD, etc. In my mission to establish such source, I tried out Mum's Dumplings in Balwyn. 

Mum's Dumplings offer Shanghainese fare. The dumplings are made on premises and whilst they also do claypot dishes and stock standard Chinese dishes, it would be remiss to go to a dumpling house and not have dumplings.

pan fried vegetarian dumplings;  mums dumplings
So dumplings we had. Kiddo and I ordered between us a serve of the vegetarian pan fried dumplings and the steamed version.