Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fortnums, Sassafras by Bureaucrat

Up until about a year or two ago, I used to love going to Mt Dandenong to grab a pie from Pie in the Sky.  If we were hungry, we'd eat the pie in the restaurant; if I wasn't hungry just yet, I'd buy two pies (that's two pies per person... I'm not sharing!) and keep it in the car as we wandered around the village; and if I was really not hungry, I'd buy a few frozen pies to take home.  Sadly, in the last few times that I've been there the quality has been going downhill. It's a shame since those pies used to be really, really good.

So in search of a new place for eats, we figured we'd give Fortnums a try.  It's one of them twee restaurants that caters for the tourist crowd, the daytrippers and those getting married.  Bang on midday we turned up and was surprised to see the place fairly full - they were all senior citizens, big groups and small groups.

The place is decorated in a rather dated late-1990s vision of a mountainside reception hall should look like - the now faded pastel green walls, with white trims, lattices...it kinda feels like a time warp... it's just missing some pink carnations and lots of baby's breath. The staff are super friendly and attentive but are very understaffed and rushed off their feet.


Placing our order and waiting for the food to arrive did take quite a bit of time, but we were luckily not in a rush.  The Lawyer's fisherman's basket was a big plate of golden crunchiness.  While everything was from frozen ingredients, it was nicely fried - light batter, golden colour and piping hot.


I had one of the specials, which were corn pancakes with smoked salmon.  Nice fluffy pancakes and a reasonable amount of smoked salmon.  It came with a simple fresh salad. Simple and tasty.


I also got a pot of tea.

Verdict: we liked it.

Overall
The food tastes nice but a touch on the expensive side for the what it is.  I don't know if we just happened to be there on a day when they were short-staffed.  I'd go back again but I'd make sure that we had time to linger for a long lunch.  Also, while you're there, check out the massive (and I mean, MASSIVE... they look like white prehistoric creatures) cockatoos that reside in the garden....SQUAWK!

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Chez Dre, South Melbourne by Bureaucrat

Ah, Chez Dre. One of the stalwarts in the Melbourne breakfast/brunch circuit.  It's known for its brunch stuff and its pastries.  I figured there'd never be the opportunity to see for myself what the hoopla is about given that I don't live near or tend to visit South Melbourne much nor am that enamoured with having eggs done my way to bother lining up for a table.

But it was the Lawyer's birthday and it called for a special meal.  With that in mind, we made plans to meet at Chez Dre on a Saturday morning to line up for a table.  The food had better be worth my time in lining up for an indeterminate period of time.  I know the reasons why places have a 'no booking' policy.  Frankly, I'd much rather pay a deposit to secure a table than to be told that I'd only have to wait "15 minutes or so", which in reality actually means a 30 minute wait, standing around like an idiot.  A question for our readers: has anyone ever turned up to a cafe with a 'no booking' policy, slipped the door b*tch/m'aitre d' a twenty and got a table immediately?

Anyhoo, congratulations if you've made it through my rant(!).  Once (finally) seated, we quickly placed our orders.


Mr Strong's smoked salmon and poached eggs on sourdough was delish.


The birthday boy got this pork dish.  It was an array of colours and textures and he thought it was absolutely scrumptious.  It had thick slices of slow-cooked pork, which was topped with crispy pancetta, kale and was served on a bed of pumpkin puree, sourdough and poached egg.  He licked the plate clean.


I had the smoked fish brandade served with poached eggs, sourdough and capsicum sauce.  I loved the smokey fish.


Mother Hen ordered the croque madame and asked for the fried egg to be served fully cooked.  She enjoyed the quality ham, bechamel sauce and the crispy pan fried bread.


For drinks, we got some pots of chair...


...latte...


...and herbal tea.





Verdict: we loved it

Overall
Okay, the quality is second to none and I begrudgingly acknowledge that the food here is worth lining up for.  I can see what the fuss is about Chez Dre.

Service was a bit flakey.  At times we weren't sure if our waiter had understood our order.  All the food came out promptly but we had to follow up on the tea three times before it came out.

See also Big Fil's review back in 2013.

Click to add a blog post for Chez Dré on Zomato

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Imperial Hotel, Melbourne CBD by Bureaucrat

Although work planning days ain't fun, management usually throws in a free meal to entice everyone to hang around in a 'social' setting in an effort to convince ourselves that we like working with each other.

A free dinner when you're part of a very big group is never going to be memorable unless you're at some seriously swish restaurant and there is no limit to the food budget.  That said, there are other reasons why the meal is memorable.  In this case, this dinner was memorable because some people got sick after being served an under-cooked chicken parma.


But before I get to the salmonella chicken, here are some pics of the properly cooked meals, including the chicken tandoori pizza...


...my steak and veg.  The steak was okay in quality but it definitely was not the best grade of eye fillet... it was a tad rubbery and carpet-like in texture.  The three veg and mash had the hallmarks of being pre-made and sitting in a bain marie.  The quality of the dish is reminiscent of a "beef or chicken" option you'd get at a 1990s wedding reception.


The burgers looked pretty decent in size.


And here is the infamous chicken parma.  About eight people ordered this.  The good points are that it's HUGE.  Definitely get your money's worth in ingredients.  The rocket salad is fresh and the chips are super morish.  Unfortunately, that didn't change the fact that inside the parma the chicken was raw.  We're not talking about a smidge of pink in one of the dishes.  We're talking pink, pink and more pink for all of the parmas... for some of the parmas, the chicken was practically clucking at us.  The management was nice, though, to take them all back and got new ones made up, which were all properly cooked through.  They also didn't charge for those parmas.

Verdict: we wouldn't return.

Overall
Points to the management for rectifying the raw parmas and not charging us for them.  However, while we waited for the new dishes to come out, we couldn't help but check the online reviews for the place... and we found that under-cooked parmas is a speciality of The Imperial Hotel - it's well known for it.  In light of the consistent reviews of the raw parmas, it makes you wonder why the kitchen/management haven't done anything about it.

Click to add a blog post for The Imperial Hotel on Zomato

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Giveaway—WIN a Carbs By Numbers cookbook!

Yes, it’s giveaway time!  Local duo Sandra Dunbar and Meg Pell, who live on the Mornington Peninsula, have teamed up to write Carbs By Numbers – a cookbook where each recipe has 15g of carbs or less per serve.


Every recipe comes with a gorgeous photo, extensive nutrition details and is also gluten-free.  Recipes include artichoke, hazelnut and bacon soup (you had me at bacon!), cauliflower couscous with blueberries and preserved lemon, and steak strips with mustard and buttered celeriac.  To tempt you to enter, the authors have kindly shared a recipe for you to try.

Japanese pancakes - 7g carbs (from Carbs By Numbers by Sandra Dunbar and Meg Pell)
Also called okonomiyaki, these make a lovely light lunch.

1 tablespoon (20ml) canola oil
320g green cabbage
270g zucchini
50g spring onions
110g almond meal
6 eggs
2 tablespoons (40ml) tamari
2 tablespoons (40ml) sesame oil
2 tablespoons (40ml) homemade sweet chilli sauce
2 tablespoons (40ml) homemade mayonnaise

1. Slice one spring onion and set aside for garnish.
2. Grate the cabbage, zucchini and remaining spring onions.
3. Lightly beat the eggs with the tamari, sesame oil and the homemade sweet chilli sauce.
4. Add the almond meal followed by the vegetables.
5. Heat 1 teaspoon of canola oil in a medium frying pan, add a quarter of the batter and cook until bubbling.
6. Flip and cook through. Set aside and keep warm and repeat for the remaining 3 pancakes.
7. Drizzle each pancake with homemade mayonnaise, then sprinkle with the reserved chopped spring onion.

Prep time 10 mins; total time 30 mins; serves 4; serve weight 223g.

Nutrition panel
energy 2085.3kj
energy 498.2cal 
protein 18.1g 
total fat 43.7g 
saturated fat 6.2g 
cholesterol 280.9mg 
carbohydrate 6.7g 
sugars 6.6g 
dietary fibre 5.9g 
vitamin C 76.3mg
total vitamin A equivalents 181.7µg 
sodium 839.5mg 
potassium 684.7mg 
calcium 134.4mg 
iron 3mg

The prize
One lucky reader will win a copy of Carbs By Numbers (RRP $24.95).

How to win
Answer the following question by leaving a comment below:

“What’s your favourite low carb recipe?”

The rules
1. One winner will be drawn randomly and their name will be published on the blog on Sunday, 6 September 2015.

2. The winner has until Wednesday, 9 September 2015 to email the Eat And Be Merry Crew (eatandbemerrycrew @ gmail.com) their name and postal address. The prize will be posted to the winner.

3. Comments that are left anonymously will not be considered.

4. One entry per person.

5. Only Australian residents can participate in the competition.

You can find out more about Carbs by Numbers via their Facebook, Instagram (@carbsbynumbers) or website.

Good luck!
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