Saturday, August 26, 2006

for when you want mores, go to limors - Caulfield

Limor's International
67 Kooyong, Road
Caulfield North 3161

T 9509 8183/9509 8855

At Limor's, they have the motto:

where too much is just enough!

This is the sort of place you go when you are ravenous. When you feel you could eat an entire cow, giant squid or a barnyard of chickens. Apologies to the vegetarians amongst us but this is certainly a place for omnivores.

Before we go on, I would like to throw out a challenge. I defy anyone to go here and eat one of their main courses on their own. You should be warned, the platters are made to share. Last night we popped in for a quickie, and had the chicken schnitzel platter, and a bowl of chips. The schnitzel came with rice and veg, and salad. This amount was perfectly adequate for our party of 5 [2 adults, 3 kids]. We all have "healthy appetites"* and while my mantra of "portion control" has become a bit of a joke with my man's Italian family, I find that portion control has made all of us healthier, and leaner.

Portion control is not something that is exercised at Limor's. We arrive shouting Limor's! and we leave, groaning and doubled over saying "Li-less". We think we are very funny.

The schnitzels are fine and perfectly undistinguished in any way. So are the chips: thin, french fry style. Rice is overcooked and peas/carrots likewise. The salads that come with the platters are simple and eastern european in style, with pickled green cabbage and red cabbage, as well as some diced tomato and cucumber. While I like the salad accompaniment, and so does Princess, she LOVES the green cabbage, it's all about the meat. This place is like a meat mecca. Go to Limor's and do some serious worshipping.

They also serve dishes of calamari and marinated chicken wings, which we've had before. I have seen people with meat platters; huge silver dishes piled high with all kinds of bbq'd animal products. People hunker down over these meals; there is little talking and much chewing.

The decor is brassy and glassy, nothing particularly noteworthy, though they have a little interior atrium garden which is ok. The maitre'd is a small man who has the most beautiful manners and is always very friendly, and always tries to sell you some mocktails for the kids, which at $8.50 each we always say no thanks to. I'm a hard bitch, I know. But he is always very pleasant, and I always am pleasant back. Big smiles. Etc. He reminds of the man from Fantasy Island in the way he stands and kind of welcomes you. But he looks more like Tattoo in the face.

Some menu samplers:

chicken soup with kreplach
garlic prawns
atlantic smoked salmon
u.s. baby ribs
chicken shasliks
continental sausages
range of dips
whole flounder
the mermaid seafood platter - $49 but serves 2 (or more)
range of schnitzels, from wiener to "G"ordon bleu to mexican (?) to american. all serves have three (large) pieces of schnitzel.

Then they have pasta dishes as well.

This is a great place for a quick and filling feed. It's also fine to take kids there, and there are often other people with kids there who might be noisier than yours, and then you feel better about having kids. This is not a place for romance and hand-holding. There's plenty of room, with large tables for bigger groups. They are licensed and happy to work around food allergies etc. (with notification.)

Basically, this is a quick in, quick out sort of joint. It's not cheap but works out all right as you order one dish for $27 between 5 say (as we did last night) rather than two adults having mains for $20+ then three kids for $10 or so (if they have a kid menu. Some places don't and then it's even more expensive.)

Takeaway is also available, and boy, is it fast.

* code for "like to overeat if allowed"

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Joseph's Restaurant at Werribee Mansion Hotel. International cuisine.

[REPRINT - Originally published Thursday, March 09, 2006]

Joseph's Restaurant (at Werribee Mansion)
K Road, Werribee, Vic, 3030
phone: (03) 9731 4000
hours: I'm not sure but open for lunch for sure, we had a 12 noon booking. call them.
prices: entrees high teens, mains low to mid 30s

Today is my honey's birthday so I made him take the day off work, so I could take him to lunch. We drove down to Werribee and had lunch at Joseph's. When we arrived, there was no one else in the restaurant and the table we were given next to a window had a lovely view of the garden.

We decided to have a glass each of sparkling wine, Ninth Island from Tasmania. It was very bubbly, always a good sign and cost $11.50 each. Like I have said before I can't really tell the difference between this normal champagne and something that really costs a lot, it is the same to me.

The wait staff were really nice, and we were given menus which included, in addition to the a la carte one, a set menu option, with $27.50 for two courses and glass of house wine, or $35 for three courses, with wine.

We decided to go a la carte and this is where my memory goes bad. After some quipping about me needing a spy-type wrist watch that I can talk into at moments like these, so I don't have to try and remember stuff, I grabbed the sculpture programs we had, and scribbled, supposedly in a way that would not draw attention to myself.

I ordered spicy calamari on a bed of cous cous, which when it came was gorgeous and fragrant but could have done with just one more spoonful of the cous cous which was fairly miserly in quantity. This was strange because the portion of squid was generous. I really loved this dish.

My love had fried zucchini flowers stuffed with Persian fetta, which perched atop a chop of vegetables; the only one I can remember was celery. The fetta oozed out quite spectacularly when each floret was pierced, but I felt the celery just seemed incongruous.

The entrees came out too quickly - this was because at the stage of ordering, we were the only guests at table. This I thought was quite nice, and I was having special romantic notions of no one else coming, that we would have the restaurant to ourselves for the entire session. Then I noticed a high chair being positioned at the table next to us. I turned away from thoughts of what this might mean, and concentrated on my squid.

The waitress told us, as she served our entrees, that there was bread in the oven for us. I wonder if wait people ever mistakenly say 'buns.' This should have been brought before the entrees. But when it came, we saw straight away that it was good bread. It was crusty yet soft inside, thickly cut, sourdough. But with margarine, not butter.

Please indulge me for a moment here. I simply do not understand why any restaurant or fine dining establishment would put margarine on the table. I don't care if it's in a nice circle pat. Please, any restaurateurs out there, if you are reading this, hear me now. One word. Butter. Olive oil is ok. But do not serve margarine. Please.

For main I had venison with pommes mash and blueberry and sage jus. Though the waitress explained at the beginning that the red meat dishes would be served medium-rare, my venison was truly rare. This didn't bother me, as I like a rare dish, however it would have put off someone who could never go bluer than a true med-rare. I feel the chef got it wrong with this. Having said that, I loved this dish. The jus was divine. I enjoyed my mashed potatoes, and the venison was tasty and tender. And rare. Did I say that already?

John had fillet of salmon, cooked to perfection with crispy skin on a calconn* of seafood, which was chopped potatoes with prawn in a creamy mayonnaisy sort of dressing. We had a side of French beans in butter.

The beans were sensational. I would go there again just to eat those beans. They were perfectly cooked, they were straight and they were a beautiful, beautiful green.

We loved those beans, oh how we were in raptures over them.

Oh, the wine. With my main I had a glass of local shiraz from Werribee because it had a plum nose, rather than the pinot which had a lifted bouquet. My honey had a glass of sauvignon blanc, I don't know where. Had stopped taking notes by then.

Have I mentioned the nuns? Well, the family turned up during entree and sat at the table next to us, their child was adorable and she happily coloured in.

The two nuns came in and sat at a window table. They were in the "complete garb" and I found they looked quite confronting. They ordered symmetrically; two glasses of coke. Really nice glassware, by the way. Then it seemed they ordered one glass of red wine. The communal wine, my love quipped. My we laughed. Then they had two of the same main meals.

For dessert we had cherry ripe souffle with ice cream and raspberry coulis, and mille-feuille with berries. Did you like how I wrote "we" then? I would say the desserts were the ordinary part of the meal. They didn't really measure up and to me weren't worth the $14 odd.

So that's about it. $200 including tip, a really fine meal and in lovely surroundings. Afterwards we had a quick stroll through the rose garden, and I used the umbrella as a parasol and made funny, saying over and over again "because I'm a lady, don't you know. I'm a lady" a la Little Britain. I was hilarious and laughed a lot at my joke. No, not tedious and annoying at all.

And how did this dreamy day finish?

You can pick the ending:

[We went home and made wonderful love with very full tummies then had a two-hour nap.]

[We went to the school and picked up the kids and then came home and took Gigi for a walk. And found a chair in the street, in a hard-rubbish heap with really nice wood, old you know, antique even, it does need work yes but it's lovely. I knocked on the door, asked the young man if I could take it, he said yes, and we carried it home with us. So happy.]

* don't ask, I just don't know

Monday, August 07, 2006

Zam Zam - Indian City

Venue : Zam Zam Cafe Restaurant 1
Cuisine : Indian
Address : 364 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000
Tel number : (03) 9606 0109

Ever since I started cycling to work a fortnight ago (so-so-sooo co-co-coolllldddd, so-so-sooo co-co-colllldddd), all I do is think about FOOD. What's for morning tea, what am I going to have for lunch, what will I be having for dinner and what more in between.

Anyway, armed with this frame of mind, choosing what to eat is the primary activity of the day. Despite the presence of many, many excellent and reasonably priced lunch places of various ethnicities all around my place of employment, I repeatedly find myself gravitating towards Zam Zam in my quasi random wanderings at lunch hour, and given that it is not the closest Indian place (ok, at best marginal), this is saying a lot.

Indian food. I love it.

It's easy to miss this place. The shop front is quite inconspicuous. I usually just tell those interested that it is in between the two JB Hifi entrances on Lonsdale St.

On entry, the first thing one notices is the pungent aroma of spices. I dont notice it anymore but it's there. Pleasant? I'm not sure. I do remember that on my first visit there, I thought that it was quite strong but I guess such experiences are all very subjective.

The decor is far from flashy, probably opting for functionality over form. You have your formica tables and non-descript chairs. What more do you need?

Admittedly, it is lacking a little in the ambience department. It is on the darkish side and the positioning of the fridge and various boxes of drinks etc. do not help. I dont recall any music being played but that could be me tuning out. But the bottom line is that the food is tasty and reasonably cheap (especially for Indian). The food is served on stainless steel compartmentalised plates, likewise the water from stainless steel cups.

I've had the murtabak before which was pretty good. The roti casing was firm and not soggy (firm is good). The filling had just the right spicyness though I suspect they could have been more generous when stuffing this (with the filling). It's hard to describe the complex flavours which come from the many spices used but I assure you, it's salivatory to say the least. That first mouthful, the explosion of flavours. It's phantasmagorical. I can also recommend the biryani rice. It was really yummy as well. But generally, I prefer the roti to the rice. I'm salivating as I write this.

The lamb? Sorry, I dont eat lamb but I understand the goat curry is pretty good. I dont remember if I do or do not eat goat. Take note that they dont have any beef nor pork dishes, in case you have a preference for that.

The curries I've had have all been very tasty especially the butter chicken, which is part of my regular order. What I usually get is the roti (x 2) with the butter chicken and some dhal. This costs me $7.50 but I've been charged $7, $7.20 and $7.70 before. I'm uncertain if there is any correlation with how much I flirt with the pretty Indian lady who sometimes man the counter. The other dishes are all roughly around that price. Unrelated bit of info - I understand the owner is from Penang or so he tells me.

Turnover seems reasonably brisk and the service was pretty quick. The serves dont always appear overly generous but I've always had difficulty finishing what I get. Maybe my eyes are bigger than my stomach. Regarding bookings, I'm not sure if it is neccessary or if they do take any at all but I guess there is no harm in trying, if you think you need to that is.

Anyway, in case it wasnt clear, I do recommend this place. It's had my patronage on a regular basis for many months now.

In case you need any reinforcement as to why you should be eating more Indian food, this New Scientist article here might help.

Here is to brainy food.
BTW, the food is halal for the religiously inclined.

ps photos to come. Check in later in the week, maybe.

1 Apparently ZamZam is a well near Mecca. More info at Wikipedia. Now you cant say you dont learn anything new from this blog.