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Archive for the ‘South Melbourne’ Category

Fit for a King

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The Palace

505 City Rd
South Melbourne 3205

(03) 9699 6410

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Hours: Mon-Sun Lunch 12pm-3pm
Dinner 6-10pm


The Palace is not the kind of place you stumble into… I often drive up and down Bay Street to go to Thomas Dux green grocers, and although I knew roughly where I should be expecting to find it, it still took me a couple of times driving past to spot the Palace.

Basically, it’s on City Road, South Melbourne just before it turns into Bay Street, Port Melbourne. Even though I’ve now been there twice, I still need to keep my eyes peeled for it so I don’t drive past it.

Drive towards the bay, look left, and it’s just after a petrol station, in a blue double story period building.

Inside, there is a pub with the standard bar, but behind it a small, but warm dining room with white linen table cloths. The first time I went, we were seated in the dining room, which was very comfortable. The second time, we were seated just outside the dining room which wasn’t as comfortable, sort of in a dark  space between the bar and the dining room.

The wine list is approachable and reasonably priced with some pretty good quality drops. There is a selection of around 8 entrees priced around the $20 mark, around 5 mains around the $35 mark, a choice of 5 steaks and three main dishes to share, with a few changing daily specials. The best way to the describe the cuisine would be Modern Australian I guess.. though it is heavily influenced by other cultures such as Italian, or Chinese. Though, I guess that probably is the meaning of Australian cuisine – dishes with inspiration from the best from other cultures to highlight great quality produce. We’re lucky to be Aussies.

Anyways, I digress.

The only entree I tried on the two separate visits I had was the steak tartare.

Steak tartare $20

I have this horrible habit of staring at other peoples dishes shamelessly. During my first visit to the Palace, I noticed that half the tables seemed to be ordering the tartare. Thus, I vowed to order it second time round, however, when I arrived I was devastated to see it was no longer on the menu. My pout turned into a massive grin when the waiter said that the kitchen could make the dish for us.

The steak tartare is chunky tender minced eye fillet mixed with herbs and topped by a quail yolk. This is mixed up, and eaten on mini toasts with your choice of the perfectly quinelled condiments which I believe are minced gherkins, white anchovies, capers, shallots and Dijon mustard. A small bottle of Tabasco accompanied so spice could be added if required. The steak was wondrously soft and the condiments went well to highlight the flavour of the meat.

I’m a big believer of variety is the spice of life, but after my first visit, I had to order the next dish a second time around.

The Chateaubriand.

chateaubriand - in all it's glory

chateaubriand - plated up

The photos really don’t do this dish justice. I fell in lust at first sight, and in love at first bite.

The Chateaubriand consists of 500g (yes, half a kilo, this is why it’s for 2) of tender steak, cooked to order served on top of a bed of brussel sprouts and pancetta lardons, crowned with onion rings and served with bordelaise sauce. Accompanying is potato mash and rocket and parmesan salad.

This dish is as close to perfect as I’ve come in a long time. The steak is wonderful. I’m not the type to order steak unless we’re at a steak restaurant, but i would say this is one of the best steaks I’ve had. Juicy, tender, the accompanying sauce wonderful. My dining companions all claimed they didn’t like brussel sprouts, but I argued that they just hadn’t had well cooked sprouts. A taste of these buttery, perfectly cooked sprouts quickly changed their minds (the fat pancetta lardons accompanying also may have helped sway them). The mash was perfectly smooth and simply divine. And onion rings. Really. Palace – you had me at onion rings. These certainly did not disappoint.

At $42 a head, an absolute bargain, especially considering the quality of the meat and the fact it comes with two sides. It reminds me of a similar dish of a hanger steak for two to share that the Station Hotel in Footscray do, but I prefer this one. Though the one at the Station Hotel is fricken amazing also.

Sadly, I must admit that I went to the Palace a few months ago and I can’t remember the exact components of the next couple of dishes we tried.

jewfish - served with a stew of mussels and prawns

The jewfish was well cooked, the seafood was quite fresh. The dish was good, but not exceptional. I did enjoy it though.

confit duck leg, served on a bed of lentils

I really liked this dish, I am a massive fan of duck though, but it was well cooked and the lentil stew was a great accompaniment.

Excuse the blurriness of the photos of the desserts, I was losing the steadiness of my hands as I increasingly consumed the wonderful wine (who can resist Bass Philip Pinot Noir?!?!)

hot chocolate fondant with cookies and cream - $17

Crème brûlée with almond biscotti - $15

eton mess

The desserts were nice but not amazing. The fondant was wonderfully chocolately, and seeing the chocolate ooze from the pudding is visually orgasmic. The brulee was well flavoured, and the eton mess was a compliment from the kitchen (which I suspect was because we spent a lot of money on wine).

The service was exceptional both times I went. Questions were answered thoughtfully and knowledgeably. I often put myself in the hands of the wait staff, and I hate nothing more than when asking for a recommendation, receiving a response like “I dunno… what do you like,” or worse yet “I don’t know, I haven’t tried them.” There was none of this here, the staff were happy to guide us in our decisions and were very attentive and friendly throughout.

The Age Good Food Guide rates it 14/20.

Jess’ Ratings

Taste: 9. I think the food is amazing. Each dish is full of well balanced flavours.

Value: 9. For the price you pay, you’ll be hard-pressed to find similar quality. Food is surprisingly well priced for the quality and quantity you get.

Service: 9. Hard to fault.

Atmosphere: 8. The dining room is wonderful. The side part next to the bar is a bit dingy.

Overall: 9. Love this lace. Can’t stop raving about how much I love it. Can’t wait to go back. Best of all, only a 5 minute bike ride from home.

Gastropubs. Win.

Written by glutamatejess

December 8, 2010 at 12:56 am

Peko Peko

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Peko Peko
190 Wells Street,
South Melbourne, 3205
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Peko Peko on Urbanspoon

After so much ramen, I needed to eat and review something not noodly. So I went with rice.

Peko Peko (or pekopeko, it’s so hard to figure out proper spellings for a spelling Nazi like me) is a Taiwanese restaurant in Southbank (or South Melbourne, it’s so hard to… oh you get the drill). You will find that, invariably, when reviewed, the place will almost always be described as ‘cute’ or ‘cosy’ or something of that order. Much of that comes from its logo, its staff, all the cute little art on the walls and just the general vibe of the place. See, my way of avoiding cliches is by agreeing with them but in a round-about manner. I’m awesome.

Like much of popular Taiwanese culture (food and design included), the Japanese influence at pekopeko (see how I’m trying out different spelling to see which I like best?) is palpable. I’m no expert on Taiwanese cuisine, I was there in 2004 but I ate mostly street food (which was amazing) and don’t remember a great deal of it. The food at pekopeko is best described as fusion, many of the flavours will be familiar to patrons of Westernised Chinese outlets (sweet & sour? honey glazed?) but with nary a ‘beef in black bean sauce’ in sight.

I would like to point out right now to those that rail against Westernised Chinese food, pekopeko is proof that with good design, a cool vibe, and food that actually tastes good, sweet & sour chicken actually can be cool… and desirable. Let’s face it guys, much of pekopeko’s menu (clearly I’ve settled on this spelling) is heavily reminiscent of Westernised Chinese food. And that’s not a bad thing!

Pop Chicken bento @ Peko Peko

The menu is extensive, but the bento boxes are popular and come recommended. I have tried a number of them. And can tell you that the standout for me so far is the pop chicken (pictured above, deep fried bites of chicken, much like tori karaage but smaller, sort of like a larger version of KFC’s popcorn chicken), followed by the five spice squid (pictured below). All bentos come with rice (excellent), a halved spring roll full of carrot (not very inspiring) and some form of salad (quality varies).

Five Spice Squid Bento @ Peko Peko

Dishes that were a little more fail were the Sweet & Sour Chicken Crunch and the Honey Beef, both of which were far too sweet. The sauces used for these dishes just felt too much like that synthetic flavouring that is usually associated with Westernised Chinese but dialed up an extra notch or two. Not very pleasant.

Still, something has to be said for good rice.

Sweet & Sour Chicken Crunch Bento @ pekopeko

It must also be said that Pekopeko’s special were kind of zomg the last time I went. The wasabi mayo beef strips were delicious as expected. Tender beef strips with deliciously large lashings of wasabi mayo. This is not an elegant dish, it’s a wasabi mayo explosion but hey, I love wasabi mayo, so why not.

Black Sesame Ice Cream & Earl Grey Tea Panna Cotta

The real superstar special on the night was the black sesame ice cream & earl grey tea panna cotta (pictured above). I don’t know where they source their ice cream, perhaps it’s homemade, but it was wonderful. It was full of real sesame seeds which added a mile of awesome to the taste of the ice cream. The panna cotta was amazing too, the earl grey tea flavour was rich enough but not overwhelming. A perfect dish. As you can see form the below picture, I literally licked the bowl.

After.

Get in while stocks last folks, these specials aren’t going to be around forever. If you’re in the mood for an affordable (bentos are $12 each, the specials were under $10) and delicious meal in a cute, cosy and interesting restaurant then Peko Peko is a goer. Do it. Your stomach will thank you later.

Alex’s Ratings:

Taste: 8. The amazing specials and solid pop chicken more than made up for the inferior dishes mentioned above.

Value: 9. A meal for this price is not uncommon but this is something different for those sick of the usual $10-15 range food options. The menu is huge, all affordable and the specials add an extra layer of quality, value and variety.

Service: 8. They seem to be always busy but the staff are always friendly, polite and attentive. The waitress forgot to bring me an extra spoon/fork for the dessert which was being shared and she apologised profusely a million times for the slight error. That is what I look for in service, not inch perfect execution but simply understanding and politeness.

Atmosphere: 9. Cute, comfortable, interesting, innovative and different. Peko peko has put effort into the way the place looks and it shows. A labour of love, much preferred to the usual blandness.

Overall: 8. Need I say more? Head on down.

Bonus: Check out Jeroxie’s review and the ones over at Cruxie Faye and Food Rehab.

Coffee Culture – St. Ali Laneway Party & Latte Art Comp

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St Ali
12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne
(03) 9686 2990

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Sun-Tues 7am-5pm
Wed-Sat 7am-11pm

Coffee Culture in Melbourne is massive. Coffee  is an obsession to many, with coffee aficionados chasing every latest cafe to pop up in Melbourne. It’s a cult following that ensures that any cafe which produces an excellent coffee will not have an empty seat.  As Alex posted earlier, Three Bags Full had only been open a couple of weeks before we made it down and it was already packed out, and had been since day one. I think at one point they were even running out of beans. A cafe, specialising in coffee, running out of beans? Like, what the fuck?!

Alex, whom I fondly refer to as monosodium (much to his disgust) and I spent the first glorious weekend of February 2010, reveling in the the amazing coffee culture that exists in our truly wonderful city. It was a celebration of coffee, held in the tiny laneway that houses St Ali.

St Ali is one of the pioneers in bringing this new wave of trendy cafe/roasters which have been popping up all throughout Melbourne in the past few years. It is housed in Yarra Place and has been there for years but on February 6, 2010, the laneway was rechristened with a bang with graffiti artists painting all along its sides.

The colourful laneway was pumping, with DJs and a BBQ and even a bike race.

White rabbit was on tap

this one's my favourite

We followed this up with a latte art competition in the Sunday evening, with some of the best baristas in Melbourne pitting Slayer against Synesso (or at least their milk wands as all shots were put through the Slayer) producing some excellent pours, judged by the Australian latte art champion, Will Priestly.

what a great tshirt

Rosetta vs. Rosetta with hearts. Not bad for two random ad hoc pours.

the winner, the enigmatic Henry.

National Latte Art Champ Will Priestly schools us on how it's done.

A swan... and a massive tulip poured into a demitasse (machiatto cup), count those leaves! Nice one Will!

I thought I knew coffee, but Alex, assures me that I do not. Whatever. I love my coffee, but Alex knows his coffee. So I’ll let him have that. Coffee is his forte, booze is mine 😉 So, rather than offend MS by how little I know, I’ll just post some pics that we took of the weekend. Interestingly, our weekend devoted to coffee involved very little coffee drinking 🙂

Alex: it’s all a journey of discovery for all of us, there’s so much to learn about coffee. I’m just a n00b like everyone else.

But also check out this great post  this great post from Alvin with a photo documentary of the graffiti festival.

Written by glutamatejess

February 20, 2010 at 12:14 pm