Tuesday, October 21, 2014

MeatMaiden, Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

Gothic overtones and dead meat - that pretty much sums up MeatMaiden.  Located far below the daylight dwelling office folk, our clanging footsteps on the metal staircase echo off the shiny white tiles as we made our way past the hidden sanctum that is MeatMaiden.  

A moody den of darkened booths, a display of carrion and, to liven up the atmosphere, pretty young waitresses awaiting your order.


Ensconced in our booth, the four of us decided to go for the score 6 wagyu.  With a minimum order of 900 grams (each 100 gram is $12), we ordered our 1.1kgs of wagyu to be served medium rare, which the waitress noted was the way they served it here.  That was the closest we ever came to the wagyu.

This was about 500gms of brisket - the other 600gms was on another tray.

What came instead was 1.1kgs of brisket.  It was funny because we were so hyped up about having the wagyu that we were all puzzled about the dish that was presented.  Mr A and I remarked that it didn't look like wagyu (none of the pockets of translucent fatty goodness); within two bites, Mr G commented that it tasted like pork; Mr P said that for something was supposed to be medium rare, this was pretty much well cooked; and I said that it tasted of brisket.  Despite all the doubts, we didn't question or ask the staff whether we were served the wrong thing - because the waitress had confirmed our order at the time.

Despite being bummed that we didn't get what we ordered (clearly the waitress got the order wrong, as our bill said 1.1kgs of brisket at $10 per 100gms), the brisket was tasty.  Thin but large slices of very tender beef that had a very earthy-bbq smoky flavour.  On the outside was a pepper based rub. The meat was tender and there was a nice amount of melt-in-your-mouth layer of fat on top to keep things juicy. This was easily the best brisket I've ever have had.  We also had fun trying out the housemade condiments - chilli sauce, BBQ sauce and seeded mustard (all of them were very nice) with the meat.

Ignoring all pretenses of being healthy, we loaded up on two carb-based sides (you don't make friends with salad) - chips, which were nicely crispy and...

...mash and gravy, which was heavenly as it was creamy, rich and smooth.

I also got a serve of housemade lemonade, which was nicely tart and not too sweet.

Food – 7.5
Ambiance – 7
Service – 6.5
Price - 7

The biggest let down was the waitress getting our order wrong.  The good points are that the meat is tasty, as were the sides, and you definitely leave feeling full. 

I don't have anything against MeatMaiden but I'm not sure that I'd go back in a hurry.  Sure, its kitschy, it's moody and it's fun to discover something different but I'm not sure this place lends itself to repeat visits (at least for me).  The place captures the soulless, nihilistic vibe quite well and, frankly, if I'm going for a nice steak, I prefer to eat in surroundings that are more in line with my bourgeois sensibilities.

Basement, 195 Lt Collins St
Melbourne 3000
Telephone: 9078 7747 

Meatmaiden on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Fudgery, Banff (Canada) by Bureaucrat

With the glorious late summer sun, the Lawyer did the touristy thing and decided to amble up and down Banff following our dinner at Tooloulou's.

There's a couple of confectionery shops in Banff - and one of them is The Fudgery.  It's a narrow shop that has it's diabetes-inducing wares displayed by the window... taunting, tempting and teasing you to come in and be like Charlie Bucket.  If the visual display doesn't get you, then the oh-so-aromatic perfume of roasted pecans and caramel will definitely draw you in.

Inside, you'll find a range of fudge on sale (sold by per 100 grams), bear claws, toffee and candy covered apples and a range of biscuits decorated with a lot of chocolate, sugar and nuts.  We chose the pecan butter fudge.  A soft but chewy nougat slab, smothered in smooth fudge and absolutely covered with roasted pecans.  It's tooth-achingly sweet and sinful but we couldn't stop eating it.  It would have been better had we had a cup of tea to temper the sweetness.  And, dang it, we're on holidays, and everyone knows that holiday calories don't count.

Food – 7
Service – 6.5
Ambience – 7
Price – 6.5

You're inner child will love this place but your dentist may not.

The Fudgery
215 Banff Ave  
Banff, AB T1L
Telephone: (403) 762-3003

The Fudgery on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tooloulou's, Banff (Canada) by Bureaucrat

Having had the chance to wander through downtown Banff, we were able to pick a nice spot for dinner - Tooloulou's a restaurant with a Francophile-bayou vibe.

It wasn't hard to chose this place as the promise of deliciousness such as crab cakes, jambalaya and seafood was hard to ignore.

While it was easy to pick the restaurant, it took longer for us to pick our meals as there were plenty of options. 

The Lawyer picked the seafood and sausage gumbo - a rich seafood stew w shrimps, clams, scallops, Andouille sausage served over Cajun "dirty rice" (which is white rice cooked with a range of seasonings to get a dirty appearance).  It came with a nice slab of warm, fluffy cornbread and pickled chillies.  He loved this dish, although, it seemed to resemble jambalaya than a true gumbo (which is meant to be soupier).

To ensure that I ate some veggies during my trip, I chose the mile high stir fry but opted to get some blackened scallops as an extra on top.  To my delight, the stir fry was pretty damn good.  A great mix of different chunky veg (zucchini, broccoli, onion, caps and mushrooms) that were nicely al dente, fresh and flavoursome (it was tossed through a savoury sauce) and served over white rice.  The small but plump and plentiful scallops were cooked just perfect (not over cooked) and sweet.  There were far more than I thought I'd get for the seven bucks.  It also came with the cornbread, which was sweeter than I imagined cornbread to be.

Food – 8.5
Ambiance – 7
Service – 7
Price - 7.5

Really great food - pretty good serves, flavor and freshness.  If we had stayed longer, I'd definitely go back there for food.  The only minor quibble is the slightly odd staff who can be a bit standoffish with a hint of surliness.

204 Caribou St  
Banff AB T1L
Telephone: (403) 762-2633

Tooloulou's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 17, 2014

Gypsy & Pig, Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

One of my favourite places for a special but affordable meal is at Gyspy & Pig.  Big Fil took me some time ago (see his review July 2012) and I've loved it ever since.  It's classy Japanese that's perfect for something that gives a sense of occasion that you don't get from a run-of-the-mill sushi and bento box places but it's not so formal and over-priced that you couldn't go here more often than just for extra special occasions.

What I also like about G&P is that the food has been consistently above average each time I've been here.  For a girly gossip session, I took Mrs H, Ms W and Ms H to G&P.

We all had difficulty deciding what to order as each of us had several dishes that were tempting us.  Mrs H got the katsu curry- a lovely light, crunchy crumbed loin of pork w Japanese curry sauce and rice.  It came with a trio of side dishes and a serve of miso soup.

I forgot to note down what Ms H ordered but I think it was the ton katsu - deep fried strips of pork loin.

Ms W and I both got the shoga-yaki - pork strips marinated in soy and ginger.  It also came with the same trio of sides, rice, a mound of finely grated radish and miso soup.  Great flavour in the pork, tender and a nice amount of fat to add that delectable juiciness to the pork.

Food – 8.5
Service – 7
Ambience – 7.5
Price – 8

Love the place.  It's small but intimate.  Quality through and through.  I love the fresh pots and bottles of complex and very tasty dressings and condiments that's on each table which you add to your salads and rice.

Gypsy & Pig
Shop 3, 391 Little Lonsdale St 
Telephone: 9640 0731

Gypsy & Pig on Urbanspoon
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