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


sublime-ation said...

Ugly Duckling can be spoken/written about anywhere, anytime, as far as I'm concerned.
Besides, there's 'duck' in their name, that's a yummy

Chai said...

Cool review. I've been there a few times, when I was working in Box Hill. They make tasty pizzas. And you have a sharp tongue, my friend.

Another Outspoken Female said...

I find a sharp tongue goes well with a peppery shiraz.

Husky Nutmeg said...

Love it. That was so real, I thought I was there.

And the comment - “And you ordered a pizza as well?” People can be so entertaining.

debs said...

Thank you all kindly.

Djali said...

Mmm...yes duck.
I have a request. My boyfriend wants to take me out for duck to celebrate us being together for an entire month, whoo. And also because I have never eaten a duck before. Does anybody know of any good places for good duck eating? Maybe somewhere close to Brunswick, or the city?

Chai said...

OK... I'm not a big fan of duck. Too many bones. However, I hear this place in the food court cnr Swanston/Burke make pretty nice roast duck.
Nothing fancy but tasty, I was told.
It's the first one on the left via the entry on the Bourke St side. They sell laksa too, which is yummylicious. U get to choose 6 items to have with the laksa. I usually have that. *salivates*

MelbourneGirl said...

djali, duck is good at the chinese restaurant corner of russell i think and whatever chinatown runs down. it's an upstairs place, called peking duck i think, and it is faded elegance supreme, with the best peking duck, with the little crepes, a touch of spring onion, the juicy duck and special sauce. this place also has the most "exotic" menu i have seen in such a casual place.

check it out but don't tell anyone. it's one of my secret places.

Another Outspoken Female said...

On the weekend I watched the carnivores consume a roast duck red curry, at Classic Thai (or is it thai classic?), Nicholson St, N. Carlton. Their responses were orgasmic which I took to mean "good duck" :) It was different to the other red curries as it had some lyches in it too (which really were delicious).

sublime-ation said...

Yes yes yes I know! Got this one from my Dad, fellow duck lover: best duck in Melbourne next to the extravagant 'Flowerdrum' is on Smith St. Yes Smith St, Fitzroy side. I've forgotten the name but I'm going to Smith St for lunch so will get back to you with it.
You order Peking Duck and DO WHAT THE MAN SAYS CAUSE HE Nearly made me cry once cause I was mucking around puting the cucumber at 12 o'clock etc. (you'll understand when you go there) and he doesn't like that. Duck is a very seriousness business to him. This place IS Duck. The clientele is mostly Chinese/former ex-pats.
It's almost as good as the Flowerdrum for about 1 eighth the price.

Mel said...

I think the one people are thinking about on Smith Street is called 'Old Kingdom' - it's sublime. Simply stunning - crisp skin burnished to the colour of amber, sweet, tangy and melt in your mouth unctuousness - and please, don't even bother questioning or rearranging anything with the Duck King, he'll snap you in half. I'll post a review later.

Chai said...

Gawwwddd..... I just had lunch and u're making me salivate.....

sublime-ation said...

Mel: That's it. Just went and had lunch at Coconut Palms (cripsy skin chicken noodels: yum) on Smith and it IS Old Kingdom, well done!
It's at 197 Smith St and ph number 9417 2438.
And follow Mel's advice :don't be a silly duffa and mess with the Duck King. I learnt my lesson. Just keep mouth shut, follow instructions and eat. It's so good...

debs said...

I find it amusing that a whole conversation on Duck started due to a comment about Ugly Duckling. From now on, we should all include the random name of a band we like in our reviews and see what food conversations can be generated. Yeh.
Also, whats with the "GASPED" thing next to each recent comment?

Adrian said...

The suckling pig at the Supper Inn off Little Bourke Street is swoonworthy.

You could put a beak on it, and it would taste just like duck, but they do duck also (I haven't had it, but I'm sure it's great).

I have it on good authority that along with The Flower Drum, this is the best Chinese restaurant in Melbourne.

And it's open until 5am. All the waiters from the other restaurants go there for a feed after work!

Djali said...

Oh my, thank you all for all your suggestions, this has been most helpful. What a handy dandy blog site this is. Tonight, I head off on my gastronomic venture for duck, wish me luck. A full report of my endeavors will ensue.

sublime-ation said...

Debs: That's why there is never a wrong time to mention (good) music. Look at the incredible chain of events that follow...
also, I've had an excuse to play Ugly Duckling all week since that post.

Adrian: That suckling pig is awesome. I go to the Supper Inn really early though (they open at 5.30), otherwise you have to queue for ages.

We are so giving away all the Melbourne secrets on this blog. I hope the tourists don't ever find it.

MelbourneGirl said...

maybe we need to have a code, known only to us. eg. the duck is shit here IN MY HUMBLE OPINION* = the duck is the best in the world. this duck gave me food poisoning = i loved this duck.

what do you think?

* this is to stop defamation lawsuits.

Mel said...

Come on lovely people, let's share our top eating places, let's make the rest of the world salivate with envy that they don't live in the gastronomic haven that is our Melbourne - from the handmade pastas from Guy Grossi to the 'best suckling pig ...ever!' from Supper Inn. Let's share with fellow Melbournians and eat up this town.

sublime-ation said...

ok. But if I can't get into Supper Inn or Old Kingdom again cause of the shopping tour buses out the front I'm using the code.

debs said...

I love the chain of events that are spurred on by a single comment.

I merely have to ask what the "gasped" thing was and next thing I know, my inbox is flooded with the longest conversation surrounding a single word. Hey, its been entertaining.

Perhaps we could consider having some private live chat or something at certain times? I know that not everyone will be available at the one time, but last night, judging by the times i was receiving the emails, it seemed as though there were quite a few of us all sitting at the computer at the same time.

MG: loved your code idea. I found it both awfully amusing and handy at the same time.

Another Outspoken Female said...

More on Supper Inn: I really really want people who have never gone there, to not try it. The queues are too long already as it is :)

I love it so much more that we are a city of nonsmoking restaurants now, before I used to feel like i got black lung just walking into the place.

My fave is congee. They do great congee and it's extremely cheap. They also seem to be honest when I ask for no msg - and tell me what foods already have it in, so to avoid.

Random band name: Sigor Ros

Chai said...

Just for completeness, in Cantonese, congee is called "choke", well, phonetically, it sounds like "choke". Intonation? Hmmmm... any will be fine, I think.

Random band? Does it have to be quasi-obscure, non radio and non pop? Why is Human Nature so uncool? Oh alright, Death Cab for Cutie.
*disclaimer* I dont have any HN albums/songs. Why did I feel the need to have this disclaimer? Are they really *that* uncool?

sublime-ation said...

I thought Sigur Røs no sorry Rós was her word verif thingy...
oh yeah but we don't have them (I knew that).

Dudes, don't you love how I spelt that all correct and with an accent? Or was it a grave? Get me and my Icelandicness!

Next person to blog about an Icelandic restaurant wins.

Susanne said...

Wow Deb! Great review. I am most impressed.

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