Friday, January 27, 2006

Colombo’s- Balwyn- Essentially Italian

Venue- Colombo’s (Family Restaurants)
Address- 250 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn, Victoria
Phone- 03 9836 6442
Open 7 days, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner from 7am till late
Price- Entrees- $10-$15 Mains: From around $17-$25. Seafood Platter higher. (Pretty average really)

It was the obligatory matriarchal, mother-in-laws age-unspecified birthday and the venue was chosen by my brother-in-law based on location (easily accessible for the crew coming from the Thornbury, Eltham and Croydon regions) and a wide variety of foods for even the fussiest eaters.

Having discovered via its website prior to going that it was a family restaurant, I was expecting it to verge on the tacky side of ambiances but was actually pleasantly surprised by the décor. There was a mixture that could suit all depending on where you were sitting in the multi-levelled complex. Part exposed brick walls, part neutral painted rendered walls which were adorned with a mix of modern art work gave the venue a more up-market feel. There was a section with a whole lot of cricket related paraphernalia but I wasn’t seated near there.
The highly air-conditioned atmosphere, combined with a large screen TV in one section screening the tennis, ensured that the venue would have been busy for most of the day.

We were seated in a raised section. I was lucky to sit on the booth style side of the table which looked a fair bit more comfortable then the wooden chairs on the other side. The table was set with a variety of glasses, icy cold jugs of water, cutlery, linen napkins and a couple of ice buckets. These, I found out later, were essential as the entire restaurant was BYO with no alcoholic beverages available on the menu. I hadn’t come across this for a long time and it is essential knowledge if you plan on dining there.

The service was very good. They were friendly and courteous, even when mother-in-law, who arrived at the restaurant before the rest of us, got confused by the table setting for 8, had them change it all to a different table set for 6 and then realising that the original number was correct, had them move it all back again!

The meals didn’t take all that long to come out and all came at the same time which I think is important when dining with a group. (I’ve eaten out at places before where some people had finished their whole meals before others had even gotten their’s. Not acceptable!)
The boys all enjoyed their main meals. Veal Parmigiana, Scallopine Vino Bianco with Mushrooms (no animal activists on this table) and an Eye Fillet went down very quickly. The boys all chose vegetables over fries which looked really good. The sizes were quite large. I observed the male on the table near ours receiving his entrée of Nachos, which was huge, and overheard the inevitable comment of his wife, “And you ordered a pizza as well?” She had that annoyed look on her face that women get when they take the high road.
The entrée sized pastas were plenty. The Spaghetti Marinara seemed to include a lot of seafood and if I liked seafood then I’m sure it would have been good. It was enjoyed by those that did.
I had a gourmet Vegetarian Pizza but was a little disappointed. The “special sauce” seemed to have been smeared on with a toothpick and perhaps I missed it but I didn’t seem to come across any of the bocconcini cheese or sundried tomatoes that were supposed to be on it. Never-the-less, it was tasty and filling and at $14 a pop, wasn’t worth complaining over.

We all wanted to get out of there because the gang (minus the old folks), were coming back to our place for drinks, but in walking out, I regretted not ordering a dessert. They looked great!
Millions of different individual portions of mouth-watering delights behind glass cabinets paved the walk in and out.
Escaping outside into the street, I thought I had passed all temptation but low and behold, the front windows once again captured my attention with their sticky, sinfull treats. I had to be peeled off the window and I know that if I ever go back (I doubt I’d go out of my way, but if I comes up), I will definitely be getting a dessert!

Oh, and before I forget, for those that are meat adverse, there are a variety of dishes that might suit, from potato skins, to bruschettas, dip trios, pastas, risottos, salads, eggplant stacks, oh, and did I mention those delicious looking deserts that showed no signs of meat whatsoever? Mmmm meat-free-desserts.
Hehe, that makes me think of the Meat Shake album by Ugly Duckling....... sorry this is a restaurant review, not a music review.

Reviewed by Debs

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Kent Hotel - Carlton North - Modern Australian

Venue – Kent Hotel
Cuisine – Modern Australian, which like the neighbourhood includes a strong Italian influence
Address – 370 Rathdowne St, Carlton North
Phone – 9347 5672
Open 7 days, lunch and dinner
Price range – depends on how much you drink, mains ~$19-29 (pizzas and snacks are cheaper)

When I first ate at The Kent it was a typical Aussie, green tiled pub. The front bar was inhabited by old codgers, the back bar was where you grabbed a couple of cold beers to takeaway, when you were feasting on fish and chips over at the park. At some point, a couple of enterprising young women took over the defunct kitchen for a few nights a week and whipped up pastas and other homely treats.

Ah, but those days are over. The Kent is all fold back doors, French café posters and designer beer on tap. Not a green tile in sight. The food also has evolved from chunky fettuccine to large pillows of ravioli and the perfect al dente spaghetti marinara. The menu changes seasonally and is augmented by a daily blackboard of specials. There are always some good sharing options, like a plate of better than average dips and bread, or chunky fries that never fail to please - perfect to snack on with a cold drink or 3 when you don’t feel like indulging in a full meal. There is range of tempting pizzas, thin bases, wood fired (I think), more gourmet than traditional. The staff never blink when I have done a fussy bitch™ order and asked for the seafood pizza without the cheese and what’s more it is always yummy. Mains include chunks of meat (which carnivores always assure me are wonderfully tasty), risotto (vego and non), there is always some kind of delicious dish of crustaceans, pasta and fish and chips. Remember to check out the specials – which usually include a pizza of the day, soup, ravioli, fish, chicken and other meaty dishes. The specials here actually deserve the title, they are a special take on the dish of the day. Then there is dessert! Too hard to decide? They will make you a tasting plate of sweet treats.

The Kent is a modern pub for all seasons. The food is certainly restaurant quality, but offers many options away from the rigidity associated with formal dinning. Whether it is a pizza for lunch with a good cup of coffee, a shared plate of calamari with a friend over one of the excellent wines by the glass or a full on 3 course meal, it suits all occasions. Some people even just come here and drink. On summer days, the extended footpath is the perfect spot to sit overlooking Curtain Square and catch the afternoon sun. Inside you can be seated more informally at one of the tables near the bar, or in the adjoining dinning area. Wherever you sit, the service is almost always excellent.

As much as I miss the homely dinning room in the old pub, I have a growing affection for this versatile local. What’s more it solves the age old quandary of where to go when you have vegetarians/meat heads/allergic/only want a salad/only eat dessert – type of friends wanting to get together for a good night out.

Reviewed by Another Outspoken Female

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Glass - Brighton - Thai

[I feel like the act that follows on after U2, or Radiohead or Elvis, viz Mel's post. Hello, hello, *eeeEEEEEeeeee*, is this thing on?]

Venue: The Glass
Thai Cuisine
Brighton Bay Arcade 293-297 Bay St Brighton.
Across from the Brighton Bay Cinema.
Star date : 14 January 2006, Earth.

It wasnt my idea to come here. I wanted to go the tapas place next door mainly cos I've never had tapas before, ever. Maybe I have. Dont remember. I'd spent a few nights with a Catalonian family many years ago. I remember the paella, but nothing else.

Anyways, it was a pre-movie dinner. And the words "It's not you, it's me" was muttered at the end of it all. More details about this on my blog later in the week, for the curious.

I've never been to this place before. It's quite small. 8 - 10 tables? I didnt really count. Looks quite nice, lots of glass, wooden tables with those paper table clothes. Weird name for a Thai restaurant though.

It was pretty full. The service was not bad. It was quite a comfortable surrounding. Not formal. Nice enough for a pre-movie meal. The food arrived reasonably quickly. Not sure if this is any indication but apart from the owners, I was the only Oriental there, but then, it is frigging Brighton.

We ordered the fish cakes (shared) for entree, and for mains, the massaman with chicken (see pic) and the prawn red curry. All this with steamed rice. The serves were of moderate size.

Verdict - the fish cakes were nice. We were given some sort of sauce. Sort of plum-ish. Sorry for the lack of details. I forgot about the blog and didnt take notes or pics. D'oh.

The chicken was a peanut and potato dish. It was *really* sweet. Too sweet. I dont know if it is supposed to be like this but this sort of spoiled (spoilt?) it for me, a little. My companion had the same opinion. She didnt think it was supposed to be this sweet. Edible though.

The prawns were nice. Had a little bit of heat in it. I quite liked this dish. It was sweet too. Yes, I did wonder if all their other dishes err on the sweet side.

They had the usual fritter with ice cream selection for desserts, and one exotic'ish one which escapes me right now. We didnt have any desserts.

Cost : The bill was presented on a banana leaf. Cute. Above with one glass of sparkling wine came to just under $50. She paid.

Conclusion : It was competent food but nothing exceptional. Passable (no pun intended). I've had much better Thai food elsewhere. Would I eat there again? I wouldnt make a special trip there just for the food, but if I was already in the area, I guess I would consider it but will probably push for the tapas next time. Very generously, I give it a lucky 6/10.

Reviewer: Deuce Chai

Monday, January 16, 2006

Binh Minh – Richmond - Chinese/Malaysian/Thai

Restaurant – Binh Minh
Address – 40 Victoria St, Richmond
Telephone - 03 9421 3802
Price for two – About $40 for two (includes entrée and mains) BYO
My perennial favorite for a mid-week non-cooking evening meal – if you get there about 5pm the place is deserted save for the mother of the owner who can be seen babysitting her grand-daughter at one of the close-to-kitchen tables. If you get there at 6.30pm you’ll need to shout because it’s positively deafening in the place, people talking, dishes clattering and glasses toasting in cheerful clinks.
On the table you’ll find metal cutlery, chop-sticks, plastic soup spoons, paper napkins, the ever-present, always useful soy sauce and a truly alarming bottle of crushed chilies. One of the friendly waiters will come over and set a small bowl and a saucer in front of you – along with the menu. The lunch menu is included – and the kitchen is generally happy to make you whatever you want from the lunch menu, at dinner prices – but when you see the dinner items, you wouldn’t want lunch.
I have to recommend the chau-dum (steamed parcels of mince meat and vermicelli noodles wrapped in spinach leaves) which comes with chili soy and crisp lettuce leaves as an entrée for two to share. In winter I can’t go past a bowl of the delicious won-ton soup with the tenderest slippery dumplings swimming in clear, clean flavored chicken broth. For mains I have a few favorites – beef rendang (with a crunchy roti), Char Quay Teow ( oodles of noodles with fresh bean shoots, prawns, barbeque pork and chicken) and the Chili Lemongrass Combination.
There are always at least six ‘specials’ on the two blackboards skewered to the walls – I’ve tried a few things from that list and have always been delightfully impressed. If you don’t know what to order from the sheer number of possibilities, then ask your waiter – he’ll recommend something for you.
There is a pretty decent bottleshop across the road, venture over and pick up some beer or even a bottle – it’s worth it. Enjoy.

Friday, January 13, 2006

McDonald's - Doncaster East - American Cuisine

Store Name: Doncaster East
Postcode: 3109
Address: Corner of Blackburn & Doncaster Roads
Phone Number: (03) 9842 9987
Price Range: $5 - $8 for a meal, another $3 for dessert

Reviewer: BEVIS
Date: 16th January, 2006


This McDonald's is one of the more pleasant McDonald's in the eastern suburbs, as it has a large, friendly and open atmosphere, having recently been renovated from a more cramped - but equally friendly - layout.

The service I encountered upon my visit was both courteous and efficient. I was especially delighted to hear that it was a pleasure to take my order.

Even though I requested a Quarter Pounder with Cheese as a "grill" (industry term for 'special order'), it was still a pleasure to take my order, as far as I could tell.

My "grill" consisted of "small" onions (another industry term; this time referring to the diced onions they put in the Junior and Cheeseburgers, rather than the coils of raw onions the "large" burgers automatically receive ... and which I loathe), and extra pickles.

Yes, extra pickles.

This reviewer is nothing, if not healthy.

Truth be told, there was going to be a three minute wait on my burger, but I was delighted to discover that it was my choice as to whether or not I wanted to have my Fries and Coke now, or wait and receive it all together. I opted for the former, so that I could eat while I waited for my burger, and not allow my Fries to go cold in the meantime.

The Fries themselves certainly earned their trade-marked subtitle of "Australia's Favourite Fries", as mine were cooked to delightful golden brown and were not-too-salty; not-unsalted-enough. They were also warm, and contained almost no little green or black bits on the end.

The Coke was watered down, of course, but this is par for the course with McDonald's Family Restaurants, as you will no doubt come to learn as this series of McDonald's reviews continues. However, the ice was just enough to keep my drink cool for the duration of my entire meal, without there being so much that it meant I had very little actual drink in the cup at all. A delicate balance to find at the best of times, my Server - whose name was Tammy, apparently - was able to find that balance and leave me feeling refreshed and revitalised as a result.

When my burger came out (handled with grace and care by Derek, another efficient Server - although this time with no smile), I was pleased to discover that my "grill" had been made to order, and the burger was very hot - just how I like them!

Upon biting into the burger, I was astonished to find that it was a veritable taste explosion, hampered only slightly by the streams of juice/fat running down my fingers and onto the burger's wrapper.

I ordered a large meal, which cost me $5.95 (Australian).

The other diners around me were largely young parents with a few children each, the odd businessman or woman, and one druggie in the corner. The restaurant was clean and bright, and the playground out the back was highly enjoyable after the meal (although I was escorted from the grounds after fighting with a three-year-old girl, Penny, about whose turn it was next for the slide).

It was mine, dammit.

Rating: All in all, I give McDonald's in Doncaster East 4 out of 5 stars.

Stars: ****

Sunday, January 01, 2006

The Edible Manifesto

These are just guidelines and not fast and hard rules. Just use your judgement. Just guidelines.

The Edible Manifesto

  1. All new reviews/posts goes into blogger draft.

  2. Indicate on the first line if the content is print-ready or if it is really still in draft mode (so it doesnt accidentally get released).
  3. Suggested format
    • Reviewer name, date

    • Title - Name of establishment, Suburb, Cuisine type
    • This is to make searches easier.
      Hairy Food - City, Fusion, Vegetarian
    • Link - URL link to place, if any.

    • Non-Subjective Section
    • Location plus a generic description of the restaurant, price range, non-subjective stuff.
      eg. address, rough prices, size, decor, opening hours, pics, parking, state of lavatories, wheelchair access, menu choices etc...
    • Subjective Section
    • Subjective review/comment etc... on food, ambience, size, service, whatever. What u ordered? Would you eat there again?

  4. Typically, 1 review published a week.
  5. Every Thursday night/Friday morning, the drafts section will be checked and 1 review released into the wild.
    If there are 3 to 4 reviews in the drafts, 2 reviews will be scheduled to be released the next week (Tue, Fri)
    5 or more, 3 reviews, Mon, Wed, Sat. or something.
  6. Nothing libelious.
  7. If there are any objections from anyone (within and otherwise), the post goes back into draft mode ie. removed from the published blog. Non inflammatory, non-intimidatory, non-offensive stuff, yes? It's a food blog, after all.
  8. Publishing reviews
  9. Priority will be given to under published reviewers. eg. if X has 10 reviews already published and Y has only 1, Y would be published next. I'll use my judgement in the first instance, Ceaucescu style. If you find this disagreeable, say something, diplomatically (but I'm pretty robust).
  10. Eateries/Venues
  11. Anything goes w.r.t. eateries. Little cafes, samosa hawkers, anything! Even multinational fast food joints (mffj) *typed through clenched teeth, applies only to the mffj bit*
    Good places to get raw ingredients? [I am of the opinion no, not as a primary post, but feel free to link it into your eatery review but if enough of you say otherwise, I will bow to mob rule. I leave this bit up in the air. Default = no.]
  12. Contributing reviews
  13. Anyone (non members) can contribute reviews. Just submit review in the comment section and someone will re-package that in a new post. This is highly encouraged.
    You may write the review from memory ie. visit was done in pre-blogian times.
    Subsequent reviews of the same place gets appended to the end of the original review. Just remember to distinguish your appendages (hee hee) by some clever heading or something. This updated blog will then be moved up to the front of the display (via use of the 'Post Change Time and Date').
  14. There are no obligations for anyone to produce anything at anytime.
  15. But it would be nice.
  16. Blogger wanting to leave the group.
  17. Hmmmm... quoting from an Eagles song. Desperado, why dont you come to your senses?
  18. At the end of each month, we all vote on one evictee.
  19. *yes, I had difficulty coming up with 10*

I look forward to the evolution of this blog, based on our intelligent designs. Really.

This document is still evolving.
Just guidelines.