Saturday, 21 July 2012

Gingerboy and Cookie (Thursday Hedonism Part 2)

The Tour de France has been as action packed as my visit to Cookie last Thursday. Drug accusations, tacks on the road, dogs and illness. None of these themes directly applied to me but it is all happening at Cookie. Cookie, like the Rooftop Bar, is located at 252 Swanson Street in the Melbourne CBD. As usual it is filled with the after work "professionals" where everyone jostles as the bar for position attempting to look good. This is really the only place in Melbourne that I have frequented in the last three months that reminds me of the vacuous Ivy complex in Sydney. The disappointing part is that I knew what I was getting in for as I last drank at this hole two years ago. Sure, there is a good selection of beer available on tap and the bar staff seem to be efficient.

As you venture from the warm bar and past singles that are "reserving" stools and checking their Facebook, you must walk through their restaurant to get to the toilet. On both occasions, both on my entrance and departure from the place of rest, people have aggregated in the corridor making it very difficult to pass. This corridor is probably the quietest place in the complex but as I have come to learn with vacuous stupid people, they possess no social graces so even saying "excuse me" is not enough to dislodge them to gain access to the crapper so your humble writer had to use his shoulder do forge a path. Not just once, but four times over my visit to Cookie. The toilet surely doesn't match the elegance and warmth that Cookie tends to exude as it is as clean and smells like the toilet at Flinders Street Station.

After a great relaxed time drinking at The Rooftop Bar earlier, I did not want to languish at Cookie that long and was happy to go. My drinking partner commented that Cookie is like a bigger version of the bar within the Belgian Beer Cafe which did amuse me. At the time of this writing 84% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like this place. I suppose I can not always agree with the masses here. Moving on to Gingerboy...

Cookie on Urbanspoon

After escaping from Curtin House feeling like a criminal that has been released from gaol, it was time to consider dinner. We walked to Senoritas but was advised that they were full so we didn't bother waiting around. Any restaurant that gets a 12.5/20.0 rating in The Age isn't worth waiting for.

We found ourselves at Gingerboy and they were happy to accommodate our food and beverage requirements upstairs. Given my recent experience at Chin Chin, I was happy to eat at the bar given that I would have immediate access to the lovely and attractive barmaid. Starters of salmon tartare, dumplings and a cocktail were ordered. They were so amazing we ordered a second round of both the food and drink again before getting into the mains. Before when I was disappointed with myself when I did not visit The European until recently after living in Melbourne for nearly three months, I was sullen that I did not previously go to Gingerboy. I had been there a few times over the years, both for lunch and dinner and have never been disappointed.

This is the second part of a three part post. Part one is here. Part three is here.

Gingerboy, Melbourne

Link to review
27-29 Crossley Street  Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9662 4200
My Rating: 15.5/20
Service: 4/5
Ambiance: 3.5/5
Quality: 4/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Comment: Shared dishes and cocktails = win

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

Gingerboy is currently one of my favourite places to eat and drink in Melbourne. At the time of this writing, 82% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also like Gingerboy.

Gingerboy on Urbanspoon

Friday, 20 July 2012

Rooftop Bar and Melbourne Aquarium (Thursday Hedonism Part I)

What started off as a quick lunchtime excursion to the Melbourne Aquarium turned quickly turned into a wild and wanton day where I accumulated so much intelligence on both places I have frequented in the past but also new venues that can easily turn into favourites. I am looking forward to detailing these experiences and posting them over the next three days.

The latter part of the afternoon turned into a relaxing session at the Rooftop Bar which is located at 252 Swanson Street, Melbourne inside the formidable Curtin House. A dodgy old lift is prepared to take you to the sixth floor slowly and when you emerge onto the rooftop after climbing an additional set of stairs I immediately wondered why I hadn't been here before.

Some pints of beer and cider were ordered and it was quickly served in plastic pint glasses. The lady behind the bar had attitude, but the good kind of an attitude that you would expect in a trendy yet relaxed setting. Hipsters languished at the various tables and I overheard one speaking about bogans that have deviant sex lives whilst rolling cigarettes. They seemed harmless enough. Portable heaters adorned the area and I happily took up a perch next to one and as the minutes turned into hours I found myself getting closer and closer to the warming device.

They have a lunchtime menu and were promoting a $12 burger that has two patties. I believe for $15 you can purchase one with chips. After having a quick lunch at the Meat and Wine Co in Southbank earlier, I wasn't hungry but I am intrigued by their menu and I will be returning to sample it and of course enjoy some beer, the sun if it is out and the always interesting Melbourne skyline.

This is the first part of a three part post. The second part can be found here. The third part here.

Rooftop Bar
Link to review
Level 7/252 Swanston St Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9654 5394
no web site
My Rating: 14.5/20
Service: 3/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Quality: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Comment: Relaxed and great view

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

At the time of this writing, 94% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon liked this place. I can understand why and fully agree.

Rooftop Bar on Urbanspoon

Rooftop Bar
View from the Rooftop bar, taken with my Android phone as the sun sets.

Before making the journey to the Rooftop bar, and even before lunch, I spent a couple of hours at the Melbourne Aquarium. Not only did I have a "buy one get one free" entry coupon in my Entertainment Book, but I was keen to visit and see the penguin exhibit. I had not been to the Aquarium in a decade since I first visited Melbourne as an adult with my mate Andrew and I was also keen to see how it changed.

The penguin exhibit is amazing. I could spend hours just looking at the King Penguins waddling around and observing how they socialise with one another. There is both an enclosure that is filled with snow and some rocks that the King penguins seem to like and another area where there is water that the Gentoo penguins fancy to swim in. Both of the areas are connected and when they walk down the hill from one section to another, frequently they will take a bit of a tumble and slide down it which reminded me of the first time that I snowboarded as a teenager. The penguins certainly were not stressed and when I left the exhibit, neither was I.

Melbourne Aquarium King Penguins
King Penguins at Melbourne Aquarium. Photo taken with my Android phone. This is a must-do experience before eating or drinking in the area.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Pier Restaurant, Queen Lear, Shane Watson Returns to QLD

Not long ago, after a particularly long and pressured day where I earned my money professionally for a change, I decided to meet my learned friend and counsel at The Pier Restaurant in Port Melbourne for food and beverage. After spending nearly twelve hours uninterrupted in front of this laptop on my uncomfortable chair, I decided that it would be best to walk to Bay Street in Port Melbourne just to restore my sanity so I followed the footpath that follows the tram line, braved the cold and ended up on a bar stool ordering a Carlton Draught about thirty minutes after my journey began.

Traffic had delayed my drinking buddy so I had a chance to chat with the barman about the building and other places in the area, including the old Beaconsville Hotel where David Hookes was bashed and killed by the bouncer a few years back. After another thirty minutes and two Carlton Draughts later, my learned friend turned up. He was in the mood to celebrate as he had just gotten a client off the hook in some court matter so he ordered a bottle of champagne. That bottle was consumed after we moved outside under the heat lamps so he could smoke and bang on about the law. After we drank the Veuve Clicqout and he smoked a pack of cigarettes in about 23 minutes we retired inside for some food.

It was a Wednesday and the restaurant was very quiet. As we had spent so much time outside carrying on like pork chops, the kitchen was keen to get our order as it was obvious that they wanted to close it. My first starter was the French Onion soup which was very salty and tasted like something that I would get out of a can from the local Coles. I then had the soft shell crab tacos. For those of you that have read by previous blog posts will know that I have a particular affinity to Mexican influenced dishes and seafood where soft shell crab is one of my indulgences. The kitchen got the soft shell crab right and there was a fair amount to eat but it was nearly impossible to eat in the taco, which was a flour shell, without it falling all apart. I thought it was a noble attempt at something different and I would return for this dish and some more beer at the bar. The steak that I finished with was a steak. Nothing special. It probably cost $4 at the CostCo and was being sold for around $30. The service was efficient and friendly however rushed because they wanted to close off the restaurant area later in the evening. Given the proximity of The Pier to the beach (for the lack of a better word) I would return to utilise the services of the bar, perhaps enjoy a few more soft shell crab tacos when the weather warms up a bit and have pleasant conversation with mates but I will not be rushing back to the restaurant with so many other options in the area worth exploring.

Perhaps it was because I enjoyed a few "Ranga" beers (for red beer, they were very tasty) at the MTC bar before Queen Lear commenced last night, but I felt pretty tired. There were a few sick people in the audience, one older woman had a bad case of bronchitis and with the distraction of the sounds of the doctor's surgery around me along with my own fatigue, it was hard to become engaged in the dialogue at first. As I was not familiar with this particular Shakespearian tale, it was rather hard to keep up with what was going on as I was missing out on listening to dialogue as the woman behind me attempted to cough up her lung and uterus. I am not sure if it was because it is a three hour play with a twenty minute intermission or because the other theatre goers were experiencing the same angst but after the intermission, at least 50 people did not return. The last act did answer many of the questions that I had and filled in the blanks. There was a moment when the lady in front of me looked like she was going to faint as I noticed her gasp and hold her face when one of Queen Lear's daughters was having Gloucester tortured and his eyes removed with a sharp object. As the second eyeball thudded on the stage floor, I thought she too was going to go down hard but that was not the case. Perhaps the lesson learned was to attend Shakespearian plays that cost a fair amount of money in the summer months when people tend not to have the flu. The forthcoming performance of "Helicopter" looks interesting so I will be attending that next month.

The big news in Queensland is that Shane Watson is going to be put back together to play for the state 20/20 team. I don't see why this is a big deal in the cricketing world. Because of his national commitments and the fact that he is nearly always injured, how many 20/20 games do they really think that the man will be playing? There was an additional passage in the article that states it is good for the Brisbane 20/20 team as his wife, Lee Furlong, is a sports reporter and will take an interest. The only time that I remember her taking an interest was in the Boxing Day test a couple of years ago when Shane got his second century. For an opening batsman and so-called "all rounder" one would think that having two centuries over a period of eight years playing on and off (mainly because of injury) for the national team would be demonised a bit more. They drop other players for doing much more so once again we get to build up for a summer of cricket on false hopes created by the media where our under-performing national team looks to be trashed by the South Africans.

A few weeks later I visited The Pier once again and had a better experience. That blog post can be found here.

I can be found on Twitter on @epicurean3006

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

My Mexican Cousin + Napoleon @NGV and Internet Dating

Earlier I needed to go to the Melbourne Theatre Company box office and secure tickets for tonight's showing of Queen Lear. I thought I would get around to using a voucher from the Entertainment Book and given the cost of an adult ticket is $95, it is great return on the original investment of $65 for the book. The last Shakespeare adaptation that I saw was Julius Caesar at the Sydney Opera House. I would have enjoyed this more if the schools hadn't forced their teenage charges into attending the show. The teenagers caused such a disturbance you could even tell at a point that the actors were pissed off. So I am looking forward to a civilised evening and being I have never seen a play put on by the MTC before, I am quite excited.

Next to the MTC is an innocuous looking place called My Mexican Cousin. I hadn't eaten anything since my feast of unknown sewerage in the Qantas lounge last night so I was quite hungry and given it was late in the afternoon I was surprised that they were still serving food when I rocked up. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am in Melbourne which is much more service oriented compared to Sydney so I should not be surprised they were more than happy to entertain us. Some interesting artwork and murals adorn the wall. This place has a creole influenced menu and a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce on each table. The bottle claims that one drop is enough to add sufficient heat and spices to any dish. I ordered a Po' Boy with soft shell crab. It was awesome. I ended up using 20% of the bottle of hot sauce though as let me assure you one drop is not enough. Three "Mountain Goat" bottles of beer were sufficient to wash it down. I will come back again to not only enjoy another Po' Boy, but also try the ribs and gumbo. The service was very friendly and enjoyed having a laugh when I told bad jokes. Decent music played in the background and I thought the place was pretty cool but not in the hipster-trendy way.

My Mexican Cousin
Link to review
Melbourne Recital Centre, Southbank VIC 3006
(03) 9686 3389
My Rating: 13.5/20
Service: 3.5/5
Ambiance: 3/5
Quality: 3.5/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Comment: The bottles of spice are not hot enough

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

At the time of this writing, My Mexican Cousin has 61% positive feedback on Urbanspoon which is rather concerning because the food, service and ambiance is just so damned good.

My Mexican Cousin on Urbanspoon

Over beers, I reflected on the Napoleon exhibition at the NGV with my dining companion. I attended it on Bastille Day which was fitting and despite it being a very crowded (by human beings) exhibit, I enjoyed the artwork, the maps on display, Napoleon's throne and some of the other relics from such a bygone era. As you travel around the exhibit, your memory is refreshed on French history, including the demise of Louis XVI, the rise of Danton, The Reign of Terror and of course the Napoleonic era. There were some parts of the exhibit that seemed to be filler, but considering the tickets were $10 each since it was Bastille Day, I thought it was worth it. Now I not only want to re-read A Tale of Two Cities but want to indulge in some French food.

Ultimately moving the conversation away from civilised topics like art, food and causing mayhem, we reflected on internet dating as the more Mountain Goat was consumed. One mate that I caught up with briefly yesterday in Sydney seems to be addicted to meeting ladies on He always has a good story and in fact abandoned me at one point in the Forbes Hotel last night because he needed to meet one of his finds. He goes on dates with new women as often as I dine out and/or drink so that is saying something. I was reflecting that this gentleman tends to prefer to meet women at one particular wine bar that has a large window in the men's toilet. Should he get bored or decide that she is "not the one" he will excuse himself to the toilet and then climb out the window and leave. I would think that telling someone that "they are NOT the one" would be easier, or just be crass and just enjoy each other's company on a physical level, but with this gentleman, nothing is ever that easy. This is why he remains single, and although a successful individual, I am not very surprised. Before he found this "perfect" wine bar and the large window, he was known to escape by going out the front door of a venue commando-style on his stomach almost like a newborn baby crawling towards a shiny object. Pretty amusing stuff if you ask me.

Ozeki Sushi + Qantas/Virgin/Jetstar Sydney Lounges + No Pram Policy at Caffe Panette

Despite having the best of intentions of making a blog post yesterday, I was distracted by meetings and being social as I took a whirlwind one day trip to Sydney. It was a long but productive day and although I was dreading going to Sydney, I enjoyed myself. Perhaps it was because the sun was shining for a change and people just seemed happier. I could have used the Blogger application on my Android phone but I thought I would reserve the first mobile post for something really special or amusing.

The highlight of my trip was lunch at a sushi train in Chatswood called Ozeki Sushi. In a way, it is degrading to the restaurant to call it a "train" but I need to describe it somehow. They offer some of the best quality fish that I have ever had at a "train" style restaurant, the staff are all very friendly and the chef is happy to provide salmon sashimi in bulk at your request. If you are in the Chatswood Chase area, check it out. Reviewers on Urbanspoon seem to agree with me also with 82% of them liking it at the time of this post.

Ozeki Sushi on Urbanspoon

It has been over a year since I flew with Jetstar however when they are offering a round trip ticket from Melbourne to Sydney for $90 which includes the credit card booking fee, it was hard to ignore the deal. They got me where I needed to go on-time which is saying something. They even moved me to an exit row and gave me a free can of Heineken on my return journey which was surprising.

Over the last two years, my loyalty to Qantas was destroyed. The constant delays, industrial action, apathetic staff, horrible lounges and disgusting food that was on offer caused me to switch my loyalty to Virgin Australia. Although I let my Qantas Club membership lapse since I no longer actively try to fly with them, I had a one time use pass for the Club, which I used yesterday whilst waiting for my flight at Sydney Airport.

As I did not enjoy a formal dinner in the Sydney CBD, I decided to eat what was on offer in the lounge. I knew they would have cheese and some sort of salami. As usual the cheese looked to be about twelve years old however when matched with the salami and a constant flow of Coopers Green, it was edible. Even though I haven't been in the Qantas lounge in a year, they still are serving some other sort of slop. I have no idea what it is but there were some potatoes in it. Some of the food that they have on offer is mysterious and even though I am a hedonist, I am not stupid enough to try it without knowing what it is.

One of my worst experiences eating out was at Mexico in Manly but the worst food I have ever had was on one particular Qantas flight. They served some sort of sandwich with olive spread and a mystery meat. I nearly had to spew. I would say that it smelled like the sewer but it would be an insult to the sewer.

It wasn't long after that horrible experience that Virgin Australia offered me a couple of lounge passes. I was amazed at how clean the Sydney lounge was and what food was on offer. I could actually identify everything and they had on offer and they were providing bottles of Asahi at the time. It was a calm experience unlike the Qantas facilities which resemble Taronga Zoo.

Over the last year I changed my credit cards so they would earn Virgin Australia points and have been enjoying the Virgin lounge on every trip as access is included if you fly Business with them, which is a great experience. I was so happy with what they consistently provided that I sent them web feedback saying so. As much as I like to tell people tales of woe when it comes to service, I do enjoy identifying winners and Virgin certainly is one.

Finally I chuckled when I read that Caffe Panette in Port Melbourne has a no pram policy on the weekend. I am going to have to check it out and support them as restaurateurs who take a stand against prams (and children) for the benefit of the safety and the comfort of the other patrons are my heroes.

Monday, 16 July 2012

A Tale of Two Rockpool Winter Truffle Dinners

After choosing not to eat at The Station Hotel yesterday, I was thinking about the Rockpool Winter Truffle Dinner that took place last August 2011 at Rockpool Sydney. Truffles have been on my mind since they appeared as if magically on my fois gras at The European last week. The three shavings were a pleasant surprise but they did not placate my sick obsession for the stinky fungus.

Strangely this morning, The Rockpool Group e-mailed its list where announcing that there would be another Winter Truffle Dinner on 26 July 2012 at Rockpool Sydney.

Last year Rockpool evangelised that each diner would be provided 150g of truffles amalgamated across the various dishes with matching wines for the modest sum of $500 per person. Not surprisingly the announcement this year did not articulate the quantity of truffles that would be provided but the cost has dropped to $360 per person. The respective menus are being provided below.

2011 Menu ($500/pp)

Truffle congee with dried tree mushrooms, bamboo fungi, preserved eggs and truffle ketchup


Abalone, drunken pigeon, truffle and potato salad

Truffle infused egg with rich man’s brioche, Iberico ham and shaved truffles
Salt baked lotus- wrapped truffle chicken, celeriac and truffle mille feuille with kachai and truffle vinaigrette
Truffle trifle

2012 Menu ($360/pp)

Queensland spanner crab with truffle, broccoli and Jerusalem artichoke
N.V. Agrapart & Fils Grand Cru  Blanc de Blancs Champagne, France

Truffle congee, bamboo pith, preserved eggs and truffle ketchup
2009 Emmerich Knoll ‘Loibenberg’ Smaragd Gruner Veltliner, Wachau, Austria

Goat’s cheese and truffle layered lasagna, leeks, endive and Jamon Iberico
2010 Huet ‘Le Mont’ Vouvray, Loire Valley, France

Abalone, drunken pigeon, truffle and potato salad
2009 Bindi Wine Growers ‘Original Vineyard’ Pinot Noir, Macedon Ranges, Victoria

Brioche doughnut with truffle infused egg and braised short ribs
2004 David Franz ‘Benjamin’s Promise’ Shiraz, Barossa Valley, South Australia

Truffle trifle
2009 Domaine des Bernardins Muscat de Beaumes de Venise,  Rhone Valley, France

The drunken pigeon and truffle trifle are making a return and I thought those dishes were amazing. From what I recall, my dining companion, Daniel, actually thought there were too many truffles in the Trifle, if that is possible. I thought of eating them off of his plate but thought it would be considered rude.

Last year I was seated next to Simon Thomsen, the food and beverage writer. I had a few interesting conversations with him but when he realised that I was not in the industry, and just a purveyor of fine food and beverage, he didn't seem to want to know me. My mate was seated next to Joanna Savill, who is the director of Crave (or at least she was last year) Sydney Food Festival. She is lovely and I quite enjoyed speaking with her. We were never able to agree as to why with cooking shows so popular and the whole notion of "celebrity chef" being such a prominent theme on television and even in people's lives these days that the Rockpool Winter Truffle Dinner wasn't attended by more members of the public. At least half of the guests were "industry types" which I thought was interesting and a bit boring at the same time. Of course at $500 per person I can understand why the typical My Kitchen Rules viewer would not be beating down the door of Rockpool to attend. I am also fairly confident that the all of the industry types at this dinner did not pay for it.

Across the table was Guillaume Brahimi of Bistro Guillaume and Guillaume at Bennelong fame. He has to be the most down to earth person that I have ever met "from the industry" and is quite an interesting guy. My experience at this dinner was enriched because of his presence as he is indeed a raconteur. His guest was Yves Camdeborde from Le Comptoir in Paris who also seemingly was on the French version of Masterchef. My French communication skills have degraded ten fold over the years so although I was able to eavesdrop and pick up most of the conversation that he was having, I wasn't able to add to the conversation much. My mate Daniel was able to articulate that he was going to be in Paris not long after the truffle dinner and made arrangements to get into contact with his restaurant, which he did and ultimately visited when he was in Paris. Daniel said that the experience at Le Comptoir was one of the highlights of his life and exceeded his expectations. It is not too often that I am jealous, but I still am that he was able to experience Le Comptoir whilst I abused wine at Cowper Street Wharf.

Daniel did ask me today if I want to go to the next Rockpool Winter Truffle Dinner at the end of the month. I am keen but feel as if I will be disappointed since I was promised 150g of stinky fungus last year and this year they are staying quiet with respect to the quantity on offer. I would hate for a great memory be bastardised by something more current however I do have a dangerous addiction to the truffle and it will take something a bit more dramatic than living in Melbourne to miss this event.

You can follow me on twitter now... @epicurean3006

Rockpool was my favourite restaurant in Australia from 2002 until 2005. That is when I discovered Circa, The Prince and Rockpool was dethroned from my "best of" list. Regardless of special events, I have always been a fan of Neil Perry's flagship restaurant. I did have one bad experience though in 2005 when an incessant amount of swearing was taking place in the kitchen that was clearly audible in the dining room. I pointed this out to the service manager and he didn't seem to give a stuff and was rude to me. Because of this, I abandoned the degustation that I was enjoying at that point, paid the bill and left the restaurant. I did not return for three years. I still like the restaurant but I am a fan of "voting with your feet" after some unremarkable experiences. I do agree with the 81% of reviewers who like this place on Urbanspoon and have kept a keen eye on this restaurant as it devolved, morphed and then evolved again recently.

Rockpool on Urbanspoon

Station Hotel in Prahran, Banksy "Artwork" Destroyed

I read an interesting article in The Daily Life today entitled "Are Restaurant's A Waste Of Money?" that is worth checking out. I agree with the author for the most part. Before the GFC, I would spend with reckless abandon at restaurants and I used to brag (perhaps I am still bragging now, I am not sure) that I went to Vue De Monde 24 times and spent in excess of $1,000 each time as a minimum, sometimes per person. Now since I seem to be more interested in true value for money and the experience, I have learned that you can not easily buy these things. It is in fact easier for an experience at Vue De Monde to go pear-shaped when spending that sort of coin as the smallest thing can ruin your night. Once my degustation experience was nearly ruined because I was insistent that Daniel McPherson's table was getting better service then mine. It is amusing to think about the conditions in retrospect. In the future I will be detailing my experiences at Vue De Monde, but for now, I will write about simpler things.

The area around the Station Hotel is a bit trendy, a bit hipster (sadly) and sometimes a bit weird. It is handy to have the station so close but with that comes the "element" as my old man would call it. It is only a short walk to the wall that was recently altered by workers that effectively destroyed the Banksy rat artwork. A photo is provided below.

Banksy Rat Prahran
The Banksy "Rat" which was destroyed by workers installing new pipes.

Yesterday I met my learned friend and counsel at The Station Hotel in Prahran. I expected the place to have more beer on tap after reviewing their website but I was able to quench my thirst on James Boags Draught whilst watching Anthony Mundine beat the crap out of some American in the ring in Las Vegas. They also have a "Who Wants To Be A Millionare" machine. I haven't seen one of these since I was at the Tuxtoth Hotel in Glebe. If you answer the 15 questions you can win $20, so we played that for a while. Perhaps it was the vast amount of beer consumed but we could never get to the last question. Although I didn't eat there, I agree with the 78% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon and like this place.

The Station Hotel, Prahran

Station Hotel
Link to review
96 Greville Street  Prahran VIC 3181
(03) 9810 0072
My Rating: 10/20
Service: 1/5 (bar service)
Ambiance: 2.5/5
Quality: 2.5/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Comment: The usually broadcast pay per view sport

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

At the time I made this post, 79% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon liked this place.

Station Hotel on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Shark Fin Inn and Lake Mungo

Readers of this blog know that I enjoy my cheesy Australian horror movies. Sometimes the cheese pairs perfectly with the food and in the case of "Crush" which I reflected on the other day the perfect match would have been some three star mince in $1 Coles pasta with a side of tasty cheese. 

Yesterday I screened a flick from 2008 called "Lake Mungo" and if attributed to a fine beverage that is available at The Waiting Room or Der Raum, this unknown and obscure Aussie psychological horror should be matched with something spectacular on the level of what is offered at Vue De Monde. I never heard of this film back in the day but considering in 2008 "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" was ranked #2 in world-wide earnings, I am sullen and disappointed in humankind. Why people would actually pay money to see the latter when this brilliant movie was produced domestically and could not achieve any takings is a mystery to me. It really makes Paranormal Activity (insert version) look foolish and I encourage anyone that is reading this to find this movie and watch it if you fancy the genre if not a great use of television time.

As I leer out the window at the Crown Casino, I am a bit annoyed that punters are enqueued for pork buns at the Shark Fin Inn takeway outlet in the food court. Not to be confused with the proper restaurants (yes, there are two) that are located on Little Bourke Street, this is not a place to be ignored late at night and makes a fantastic substitution for the dodgy kebab (think Ali Baba in Southgate) or Maccas in Freshwater Place as a reasonable and tasty alternative to mediocrity. If you are at Crown Casino in the wee hours, take a few minutes to count your winnings in the food court and enjoy a pork bun at the Shark Fin Inn takeaway outlet. The quality nearly matches its big brothers in the CBD.

After frequenting the Shark Fin Inn (both locations on Little Bourke Street) a few times over the years and most recently as a substitute for seeing Bluejuice at the Hi-Fi and a mate's birthday party, I can attest for the fact that it is quality yum cha. The place is packed all of the time. The carts crash into you with impunity. The buzz affects you more than a fly in Sydney in October. The chicken feet, pork buns, duck, calamari and prawns will put a spell on you that will be as potent as anything Harry Potter can. As you look around you will see the venue is frequented prominently by the Chinese and some of the best advise I was ever given with respect to Chinese food... if the place is packed with Chinese, it must be good. How often do you see the Chinese at Hungry Jacks?

What I discovered is if you manage to avoid the duck, despite it being awesome, a table for two can escape for under $50. Now that is what I call value. Don't waste your time ordering beer as it will take ages for it to be delivered. Enjoy the Melbourne tap water, stuff your face with everything that comes delivered on the carts which arrive as frequently as the city circle trains and enjoy the best of what China Town has to offer. Afterwards head directly to Manchuria or Croft Institute if you stumble outside in the evening.

Shark Fin Inn, Bourke Street, Melbourne

Shark Fin Inn
Link to review
50 Little Bourke Street  Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9662 2681
My Rating: 14/20
Service: 2.5/5
Ambiance: 3/5
Quality: 4/5
Value For Money: 4.5/5
Comment: Saturday afternoon yum cha

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

At the time of this post, I fully agree with the other 81% of the reviwers on Urbanspoon who liked this place.

Shark Fin Inn on Urbanspoon