Archive for the ‘Supper/Late Night’ Category
23 Bank Place, Melbourne
Phone 03 9670 1777
Hours: Mon-Fri: 7:30am til late
. Sat: 6:00pm til late
Syracuse is a delightful little wine bar hidden away in an old Victorian building in Bank Place. It’s one of those places I’ve walked past a gazillion times without even noticing it. Despite google-mapping it before I got there, I still struggled to find it on my first visit.
I took the delightful M there for her birthday in July (yes, I am very slack with these posts), so forgive me if these items are no longer on their ever changing seasonal menu.
As you walk through the arched doorways in Bank Place, it feels as though you are transported to Europe. This small dining room is nothing short of grand, with soaring ceilings, pillars and arches. There are racks and racks of wine, which allude to the fact that this is a place which takes their wine seriously.
The wine list is extensive, and well thought-out, with a good mix of new and old world wines. We ordered a bottle of Domaine Wachu Gruner Vetliner – an Austrian wine varietal that I am a huge fan of.
The menu consists of some wine snacks, some sharing plates and only a few mains, all chosen undoubtedly with an emphasis on food that may be enjoyed and enhanced by wine.
We begin with
A spanner crab remoulade, which consists of delicate pieces of spanner crab with a tart creamy sauce, topped with a boiled egg. A nice refreshing way to begin our meal.
Next was the pig’s head, which was one of the specials of the night. I had images of chunks from the head (hey – I’ve never had pig’s head before..!), but in fact it seemed like little morsels of fried almost creamy meat. I’m not sure how it was prepared, but they were yummy, and if you hadn’t have told me it was pigs head, I would have been none the wiser. These worked well with the little fried quail eggs they were served with.
We also had mussels which were cooked with chorizo – adding a nice smokey spice to the dish. The sauce was promptly soaked up with the bread.
Overall we had a great night, I love this little bar – good food, good wine, how can anyone complain.
I have since revisited, however I only had pitiful photos from my phone camera, but the experience was just as good.
Taste: 8. Food is very rustic, prepared well.
Overall: 8. A hidden gem in Melbourne. I rate it.
209-211 Russell Street, Melbourne CBD
(03) 9663 2895
(Alex: This may or may not be related to the Minh Xuong on Victoria Street in Richmond, not confirmed.)
The latest addition to the cheap Asian restaurant/cafes in Chinatown is Minh Xuong, occupying the space vacated by King of Kings (Alex – oh King of Kings, I will miss you… somehow). Located on Russell Street, between Little Bourke and Lonsdale, Minh Xuong opened around Chinese New Year this year, and has been doing fairly steady trade since.
We visited the place late on Chinese New Year’s day after my insistence that I had to eat Chinese food on Chinese New Year or I wasn’t a good little Chinese girl, especially after being rejected by the North East China Family the night before (Alex – to be fair, we did interrupt their reunion dinner). We were drawn to Minh Xuong, tempted by the glistening skins of the roast meats which were hanging in the windows.
On the menu are a variety noodle and rice dishes, stir fries, congees, claypots, Chinese ‘snacks’, soups, and of course, the Roast Meats.
We are pointed towards the Roast meats by the friendly Chinese waitress; MS went for the roast duck
which was pretty decent considering we were dining at midnight on a Sunday night. The skin was nicely crisp, the meat pretty tender, with a thin, but not excessive layer of fat separating the two. The sauce was decent, not the best in Melbourne, but certainly very tasty.
MS wouldn’t let me order the char kuay teow because apparently only Malaysians are allowed to make this dish (Alex – I’m just sayin, I don’t trust HK/Canto places with CKT!) , so I went for the mapo tofu (stir fried tofu with preserved vegetables in a chili bean sauce with pork mince)
As you can see from the above picture; deliiiicious!! I looooooove mapo tofu and have been surprised how difficult it is to find a decent mapo in the Melbourne CBD. Delicious, silky and relatively large pillows of tofu were cooked with pork in a tasty spicy sauce. I was impressed that slices of pork were used, rather than just cheap mince. It had a nice fiery kick to it. I love my spicy food and did not even have to add any chili to it as it had the perfect heat. I finished this dish despite the size, yet I could have gone more because it was so tasty!
Taste: 8/10. The duck was ok, but I loooved the mapo tofu. I do love that dish, so I may seem biased, but this is definately one of the better mapo’s I have.
Authenticity: 8.5/10. I’m Chinese and I think this is pretty Chinese.
Value: 8/10. I can’t remember how much each dish was, but the overall bill came to less than $20. Great value. dishes well sized and well priced. Quality, reasonably fresh ingredients.
Service: 8/10. Our waitress wasn’t overly knowledgable in the menu (or the English language) but she was super friendly. Service with a smile in Asian restaurants is rare, so the smile earns Minh Xuong bonus points :).
Ambience: 7/10. It is what it is. A cheap Asian cafe/restaurant, but is still clean and comfortable.
Overall: 8/10. This may seem high for the sort of place this is, but remember, this place can serve me a decent feed til 2:30am at this price. Service is much better than most Asian joints we go to (at least friendlier) and it’s clean!
The best news is that this place is open 7 days, and does late night trade nightly until 2:30am. I’ll never go hungry again.
Taste: 7/10. I’ve been dishing out a lot of 7s lately.
Authenticity: 9/10. Couldn’t fault what we ate in terms of authenticity to the HK/Canto roast meats tradition and Mapo Tofu.
Service: 8/10. I agree with Jess, the waitress put in the effort and was very pleasant, not something one is used to in Chinese restaurants.
Ambience: 8/10. I judge it on being clean (at time of writing) and not too noisy.
Overall: 7/10. As I say, a lot of 7s.