Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Chocolate Mill - Knowledge Is Power + Darrell Lea Going Bust

After moving to Melbourne, my second day-trip out of the CBD as an "official" resident involved the aptly named "Gold Rush Trail" which is essentially the motorway that connects Ballarat and Bendigo. During this excursion though I deviated and also visited the "Hanging Rock" which is best known from the Aussie classic Picnic At Hanging Rock which is near Woodend.

The day started off rather innocuously in sleepy Ballarat. Whilst wandering around what they refer to as the central business district, I spotted one of the barmaids that works in Bar Americano. She actually resides in Ballarat and commutes to the Melbourne CBD to work in Der Raum's sister bar. I thought that was intriguing. Mad, yet intriguing.

A quick drive to Sovereign Hill encouraged me leave the area and Ballarat when I saw not only the price to enter this tourist area but the abundance of tour buses. I really doubt that I missed anything worth seeing.

Fleeing Ballarat via the Midland Highway (A300) I came across "The Chocolate Mill" which is just south of Mt Franklin and north of Daylesford. It was 1:50PM and their sign was advertising a free demonstration of the chocolate making process at 2:00PM which seemed interesting enough since I knew nothing about the it.

What I discovered would change my outlook and appreciation for chocolate as knowledge is indeed power.

Their chocolate is all made onsite. They only use Callebaut Belgian Couverture (Certified Fair Trade) chocolate to prepare their offerings along with cocoa beans, natural bourbon vanilla, 100% pure cocoa butter and no palm oil. During the demonstration, I learned that the one of the keys to making "proper" chocolate products that can be differentiated from staple products sold by Cadbury and other brands on offer in the local supermarket is that "proper" chocolate does not include any use of palm oil and always uses natural vanilla. After tasting some of the fresh chocolate that was available for sale at The Chocolate Mill, all I could say is "WOW!" along with a few expletives as the difference between the other generic and substandard products that I have consumed throughout my life was evident after tasting this superior product.

On my recent trip to Sydney, I called into the Darrell Lea chocolate shop on King Street and George Street. This was after the news reports that Darrell Lea went bust and punters with a sense of nationalistic pride flooded their stores thinking that they could save the sinking ship at least if you believe the news. This particular shop was empty at the time despite its close proximity to Pitt Street Mall and surprisingly because it is on a main CBD pedestrian thoroughfare. I quizzed the attendant who appeared very bored and asked if their offerings were made with palm oil. She didn't know. I asked her the percentage of cocoa solids that was used in a product that I was pointed at. She didn't know. I asked if the products were Halal certified. She knew the answer to this and she replied "No, but we are working on getting that certification" which was interesting. No wonder the chain went bust. I found the staff at The Chocolate Mill to be extremely knowledgeable with their products.

My education at The Chocolate Mill made me a more informed consumer and I am not only grateful for this as up to the point of my visit, I never really went out of my way to taste chocolate regardless of type. Now I am always keen just to be able to compare and contrast the tastes from not only the aforementioned experience but with the offerings that I have since purchased from their on-line shop and had shipped to me. Although they do not offer chilli-infused chocolate which I highly recommend for purchase on-line, and the offerings available on-line are limited compared to what they have for sale on-site, one can only be encouraged to pack up the kids and take a drive and experience everything that The Chocolate Mill has on offer in person. This place and its products are highly recommended and I regret not taking the time to have a hot chocolate in their cafe.

The exact location of the Chocolate Mill and the other pertinent information with respect to demonstrations, opening times and links to their story and on-line store can be found here.

The Chocolate Mill

Chocolate Mill
Link to review
5451 Midland Highway  Mt Franklin VIC 3461
(03) 5476 4208
My Rating: 13.5/20
Service: 1/5 (n/a)
Ambiance: 3.5/5
Quality: 5/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Comment: Best chocolate I have ever had

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

As of this writing only 77% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like this place. I am not sure why the figure is so low.

Chocolate Mill on Urbanspoon

Friday, 27 July 2012

Der Raum - The Best Bar in Melbourne and Australia

Der Raum has closed as of December 2012 and the brand is relocating to Germany. The old Der Raum site is going to be transformed into a new bar, Bar Economico which will be reviewed as a separate post when appropriate.


When I first stumbled into Der Raum four years ago I thought it was the coolest bar that I had ever come across. My opinion has not changed since. Enjoying the cocktail degustation before taking part in an Attica or Vue De Monde dining experience became second nature until I decided to move to Melbourne and claim Der Raum as my local boozer. Fortunately now I come armed with a fob to open the door so that I can exert the presence of a true Magpies supporter since they wisely began charging for membership.

I fondly recall languishing in my study in Brisbane a little over a year ago and reading that Der Raum possessed the arrogance of all things to charge a membership fee to enter their humble bar. The only thing I could do is chortle like a truffle eating pig and promise my credit card details knowing that I would be busting down their door in record time with the aforementioned fob. Over the next year I would frequent the bar and take notice of the happy members on hand. I never experienced a true traffic jam of customers, like one would experience in the Burnley tunnel after a crash until I recently decided to enjoy the cocktails with other members the other week. The place really does get packed to the rafters and the bar depends on a lowly vixen (at the time of this writing she does not look like Zoe Ventoura or even Angus Mclaren really unless you blink) to control the door and ensure that the hordes from the East do not enter. She was successful most of the time.

Sucking back the Bax beetroot wine, the aptly named Ben Shewry, a Blood & Sand if you can talk the bar into it, a Margarita pizza reduced cocktail, their take on beer or even a beer, which will lead to ten -- which is really not a beer, is all part of the enigma of a place that will consume you and leaving you wanting more.

Although it was a year before Luke Whearty and his team welcomed me as a member as I threw the door open and claimed the usual bar stool as my own, I was always enamoured by this place as it was something that neither Sydney or Brisbane could never muster. A small bar with world class service with spirits, staff and professionalism that beckoned me from interstate.

The principles of project management dictate three themes:
  • Budget. Der Raum articulates budgetary guidance up front so there is no disappointment,
  • Time. Everything is carried out at the bar with full transparency. You are never left wondering what is happening but it helps if you are actually sitting at the bar as what is on offer is demonstrated as an art on your time and with discretion,
  • Quality. Bottles of alcohol dangle from the ceiling. Four years ago they were the properly named bottles but they have since been migrated into bottles that nominate "Poison" where some would think they are being robbed as per the liquor license. Each and every bottle is marked as not to break the licensing law. I find the attention to detail amazing and sensual.
Since my time visiting Der Raum I have grown out of my absent-minded dedication of sorts of the Shannon Bennett regime and adopted more of an open mind to life and times that led me to everything that Matthew Bax, Luke Whearty and his team has to offer which is sheer brilliance along with suggestions from the team that do not include the usual hatted restaurants but those in the community. As per their recommendations I have found Maedaya and Fonda to name a few along with a rich and vibrant area.

There is no point in breaking this place down into the usual categories. It deserves a 20/20 based on the multiple and consistent experiences that I have had over the last four years. In my humble opinion it is the best place in Melbourne. As Liam Gallagher once said, "Be here now."

Der Raum, Richmond

Der Raum
Link to review
438 Church Street  Richmond VIC 3121
No phone - make bookings via website
My Rating: 20/20
Service: 5/5
Ambiance: 5/5
Quality: 5/5
Value For Money: 5/5
Comment: Perfect in everyway. Always supurb!

Follow me on Twitter... @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

As of this writing 85% of those who reviewed Der Raum on Urbanspoon thought this place was excellent. The others were living in the twilight zone.

Der Raum on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Food Poisoning Part 2 - The e-mail to the Melbourne Marriott

Anyone that has walked past the Crown Casino would have noticed advertisements outside of The Atlantic. It is a seafood restaurant which I attended in June 20120 and I am anticipating returning next month so that I can remark on it using this blog. At The Atlantic, I had some of the best quality seafood prepared which was prepared perfectly. The Atlantic also uses a photo of a woman with the head of a fish on its marketing materials. I think it is so cool, I have the fish-headed woman in a small frame at home. After my experience at the Melbourne Marriott yesterday, I dreamed about the fish headed woman chasing me around with an iron. Although I woke up not feeling very rested at least I am feeling "normal" after the awful experience with the seafood platter at Essence Restaurant yesterday. I am providing the e-mail that I sent to the Marriott below for your reading pleasure. Should I get a response, I shall post it on the blog. You will notice that I am only looking for an apology.

Sent: Wednesday, 25 July 2012 11:48 PM
Subject: Essence Restaurant made Marriott Gold Australia Member Ill - Disgusting Seafood


Please pass this correspondence on to the manager of the Essence Restaurant. My Marriott Gold Australia Membership Number is XXXXXX.

Myself and one other made the mistake of dining in Essence Restaurant today for lunch. For our first course we each had the chicken Caesar salad. The highlight was the one anchovy and one crouton. For the main, we decided to order the seafood platter to share.

In my life I have not had the displeasure of eating such horrible seafood. The oyster that I consumed had to have been farmed from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam however it may be an insult to the Mekong Delta to insinuate such a thing as one expects a standard in that flowing sewer. It was so disgusting and left such a horrific taste of iron in my mouth I really thought that I used my mouth to mine the whole of the BHP Billiton iron ore mine in Perth. Only that single oyster was consumed as the gentleman I was dining with was in shock by the look on my face and the slurs that I used to describe it. I then tried two of the cold baby octopuses. They were chewy and devoid of flavour. Still feeling adventurous given that I was still seated, I ate two of the mussels. They were dry and left a different metallic flavour in my mouth. It is hard to describe since I had already used my mouth to mine the Pilbara minutes prior. I regret eating the second mussel. I then ate half of the blue swimmer crab, with half being about 10g of meat that I could exhume from its corpse.

My dining partner also attempted a single octopus and was not impressed. He passed on everything else on the “cold” upper deck of the platter.

I had a bite of the deep fried white fish. I am not sure if it was because the horrible tastes of the oyster and mussel lingered in my mouth but I could not identify the fish most likely because it was encased in more grease compared to what can be found in the McDonalds grease traps on Swanston Street.

We each ate two prawns and found them to be fine. I was still hoping to eradicate the horrible taste from my mouth so I then ate the three lime wedges that were provided. My dining partner said the best part about the so-called seafood platter was the bed of rice that the prawns were served on.

The floor manager (I assume that is who it was) was a bit surprised when I summoned him and asked for the bill. I believe he was a bit shocked that I claimed that we were “finished” with this so-called seafood platter. I told him that it was very poor quality and disgusting. He probably agreed by not saying anything at all and by simply walking away with it. Perhaps he was tired of hearing complaints about the seafood and afraid that I was going to blame him for the sins of the kitchen. When I walked up to the desk to pay as I was not interested in languishing around any longer I was a bit surprised that I was charged for this platter. Although I did not ask not to be charged, or make a fuss, I took out a 50% Marriott Club voucher, presented it, had the bill adjusted and paid the final bill by credit card. This was the one voucher that is given to members once per year and can be used for up to a table of eight diners. Can you imagine if I would have brought six additional guests to take advantage of this “discount” I would have most likely have lost friends (either by choice or by death) or business colleagues (future earnings) which is scary in itself if they had decided to consume this seafood.

After fleeing the most revolting experience with food that I ever have had, I had to degrade myself in the facilities of both the Elephant & Wheelbarrow on Bourke Street and also I had the pleasure of inspecting the facilities at Young and Jackson’s on Swanston Street; a toilet that I barely made it to before my body insisted on removing the disgusting food from my system regardless of hole, one way or another.

I still have a foul taste in my mouth even after nine hours and using Listerine. I have attempted to exorcise it from my being much like Father Merrin did with the demon that took possession of poor little Regan in The Exorcist however so far I have not been as successful as the clergy was with her. This demon will live in my memories for some time and I will exorcise it by informing those interested in their health and well-being to not eat the seafood served at the Melbourne Marriott.

I would suggest evaluating your inventory of seafood and also your storage practices. I have quite a healthy constitution and have not succumbed to the horrors of poisoning by horrific food in eight years and I eat out frequently. After enjoying your seafood buffet multiple times at your Gold Coast property and also the seafood platter at your Brisbane property, you should be ashamed. defines “food” as “a substance you eat, then poop out usually followed (by) a nap” so I am fortunate that I actually woke up from my nap after eating this fish! Unfortunately for Essence Restaurant I have lived to tell the tale.

What is interesting is that my Marriott Gold Card is up for renewal and I have missed a few calls from your Queensland Call Centre over the last few days. If you cannot be bothered to reply with a simple apology, can you kindly ring them on (07) 3053-4000 and advise them that I will not be renewing my membership. You can even lie as to the reason why I refuse to renew. The restaurant is good at lying as it claims to serve food that is fit for human consumption. Once again, my Marriott Gold Australia Membership Number is XXXXXX so you can advise them.

Try not to ruin many other patron’s days.


Melbourne Marriott Essence Restaurant Food Poisoning

The planned activities and hedonism for today after lunch had to be delayed. The lunch that I consumed at Essence Restaurant at the Melbourne Marriott hotel caused me to fall ill and ultimately take refuge in various pub toilets. I have written to the Marriott Melbourne and articulated my concerns and I await their reply.


About one week after e-mailing both the hotel and the general manager, the food and beverage manager sent me an e-mail. He did not want to discuss the e-mail that I sent but he reference the post on this site as the cause for why he wanted to have a chat. After responding to his e-mail saying I am happy to chat, and I was happy to be alive after I was food poisoned, no further contact was made.

The second part of this two part posting, including the e-mail that was sent to the Melbourne Marriott, including the General Manager, can be found here.

Essence Restaurant at Marriott Melbourne

Essence Restaurant at Melbourne Marriott
Link to review
Lonsdale Street  Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9660 1183
My Rating: 8/20
Service: 3/5
Ambiance: 3/5
Quality: 0/5
Value For Money: 2/5
Comment: Became sick after eating the seafood

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

After making edits to this post and republishing it on 14/09/12, I refreshed the statistics from Urbanspoon and found that 71% of the (28) reviewers on that site liked Essence Restaurant. Perhaps the typical standard hotel food is just fine but I would suggest steering clear of the seafood!

Essence Restaurant at Melbourne Marriott on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cumulus Inc. - A big puffy white cloud of culinary goodness

Following on from the topic of Andrew McDonnell yesterday, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on my recent experience at Cumulus, Inc. which is located near Chin Chin on Little Flinders Lane in the Melbourne CBD. When I was frequenting restaurants as both an indulgence and a bit of a hobby during my escapes from Sydney, Cumulus was always on my list of "places to go" and I was incessantly quizzed by a friend from Channel Seven if I had attended this eatery as she seemingly has a small obsession with it. My intentions finally came a reality when it was suggested by a friend over the weekend that we catch up there with three others for lunch.

I have walked past Cumulus many times as I typically use Little Flinders Street as a pedestrian thoroughfare to move around the city by foot. I knew that the place was not that large and had more of a community vibe where sharing of food is encouraged. The ambiance is simple and hospitable. When I called ahead to secure a booking I was advised that no bookings could be taken for a party of five so we presented ourselves to the restaurant and ultimately the bar, ordered drinks and engaged in pleasant conversation whilst we waited for a table in the corner that was earmarked for us.

Normally I can not stand waiting for a table but the professionalism of the Cumulus staff made it not only feel like you were not really waiting for anything but in the end probably because of the insightful and enthusiastic conversation with some people that I had not seen in a few months, the time flew. Drinks were supplied by the bar staff with haste and various team members kept us informed about the status of table in the corner about every five minutes. One reason why I always get frustrated playing the waiting game with no formal reservation as you are told that it will be 30 minutes until your table is ready and you do not hear anything until you are beckoned like a hound in heat which is usually long after the expected committed time. This was not the case at Cumulus.

After skimming some other reviews of this place, I had a bit of a chuckle when Time Out Melbourne insinuated there is "natural light" in the restaurant. There is minimal at best. Anyone who is familiar with Flinders Lane would know that it is hard to get any natural light when the only windows in an establishment face a wall in laneway. I would suspect that most people come here for the food, service and ambiance anyway so it is a moot point.

The table that we were supplied was an awkward circular one in the corner that was bordered by a booth where two people were supposed to sit along with three chairs. One of these chairs and ultimately the person who was sitting in it was extremely close to a patron seated next to us. Since inevitably we became quite loud discussing the merits of both the current federal Labor government and the Opposition, no doubt our banter would have easily distracted if not infuriated the diners close to us given our proximity but then the restaurant did have a vexed problem as how to seat five so I will not hold it against them. I am afraid the other patrons may though.

Fresh bread provided from the cart which is located in the aisle that punters follow to and from the toilets started our dining experience on a high. Those sitting on the booth could keep an eye on the kitchen and the chef and staff worked efficiently and did not need to swear at each other to get anything done. For me the anchovies were a highlight but I also enjoyed the duck breast and the tuna that was provided. I was confident that we did not order enough food as each dish ended up serving five people usually so be aware that you will need to spend up to walk out feeling like you actually ate a meal and did not just taste a meal.

The wine list was intriguing but since it was lunch, I drank the Cricketers Arms Lager whilst others drank cocktails and cider. I did not want to be the only one to enjoy anything from the varied wine list.

Walking past Cumulus you would think that it would be a loud restaurant but that is not the case. With the exception of one person at my table who starting speaking with great enthusiasm about politics which other patrons could hear, you never notice what is taking place at other tables. The service is very professional and efficient and what impressed me that even after we paid the bill and continued to talk for another thirty minutes, service continued to pour us water. So many restaurants forget about this and will abandon you after the bill is paid, but not Cumulus Inc.

I certainly was impressed and I will be returning there next month for another relaxing lunch.

Cumulus Inc, Flinders Street Melbourne
Cumulus Inc.
Link to review
45 Flinders Lane  Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9650 1445
My Rating: 15/20
Service: 4/5
Ambiance: 3.5/5
Quality: 4/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Comment: The diversity of the menu is a highlight

Cumulus Inc. won one hat in the 2013 Age Good Food Guide.
Cumulus rated as #1 restaurant in my "Top 5" list posted after the first 47 days of blogging.

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

At the time that this post was updated, 86% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also liked this restaurant.

Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Circa, The Prince -> St Kilda Pier Kiosk + Brighton

Although I feel like I am starting this post with some sort of third party omniscient and omnipresent narrative that resembles the voice-over in How I Met Your Mother, it would be appropriate to reflect now to the humble readers, that back in the day before the GFC, when my liver could still take a serious beating and come back wanting more wine the next day and when Andrew McConnell had something to do with Circa, the Prince located on Acland Street, St Kilda, it was my favourite restaurant in Australia. I looked forward to a monthly trip to Melbourne from Sydney and Circa was always the first booking that I made. Before both Circa devolved and I matured, I would also stay the weekend at The Prince Hotel above the restaurant as it made it very convenient to enjoy the food, service and fine wine and ultimately stumble up the stairs to level four where I would sleep like a corpse in a room the size of a coffin. Oh, the good old days.

After Andrew McConnell ceased having a formal relationship with the restaurant and became from what I recall as a consultant (I too am a consultant but nobody really knows or understands what I do) he of course took interest Restaurant 312 (which was pleasant but now closed) and then Cutler & Co and Cumulus. After Andrew left, I noticed the standards in my then favourite restaurant degrade to the point that it drove me into the arms of Shannon Bennett and I did not return to Circa for some time. When I did though, I was surprised to see that the place was renovated, they abandoned the degustation menu along with the formal dining room and made everything a more "shared" tasting experience, like you would find at Cumulus.

There is something about this metamorphosis that has never seemed right to me. Perhaps because I have had so many great degustation experiences that I was bitter to have to resort to the informal "sharing" experience. The food and service is still good, but it is nothing that remains on my radar as a "best of" experience in Melbourne. Much like when I reflect on "The Pier" being a great place to spend Saturday afternoons with friends, drinks, soft shell crab tacos and sport, for now Circa remains a place that I want to meet up with friends in the southern suburbs on a Sunday for a relaxing lunch in their courtyard. If I wanted something more formal and serious in the area I would definitely attend The Stokehouse or Donovan's.

Circa, St Kilda

Link to review
2 Acland Street  St Kilda VIC 3182
(03) 9536 1122
My Rating: 15/20
Service: 4/5
Ambiance: 3.5/5
Quality: 4/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Comment: Great bar and wine list

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

As of this writing, 82% of the punters on Urbanspoon like Circa.

Circa, the Prince on Urbanspoon

Some other fluff..

A short walk from Circa and you will find the St Kilda pier. At the end of the pier is the "historic" St Kilda Pier Kiosk. In 2003, the kiosk burned down and unlike Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, it wasn't from arson. It has since rebuilt and is worth frequently simply for some light refreshments. I use it as the halfway point when I exercise. Given the amount of tourist foot traffic and screaming children, I do not think I would ever eat here, but that is a personal preference. I don't need to pay for a view to be satisfied which is one reason why I haven't rushed back into the arms of Shannon Bennett as of late. The coffee though is decent.

St Kilda Pier Kiosk 1
St Kilda Pier Kiosk. That is a security camera in the upper left hand corner. Taken with a Samsung Galaxy S2

St Kilda Pier Kiosk 2
View of the Melbourne CBD from the St Kilda Pier
On the exercise theme, you could walk from the St Kilda Pier Kiosk to Brighton Beach where you can see the historic and picturesque sheds. Given I do not take photos of food, I thought I would provide some decent photos of the beach as it is worth a visit.

Brighton Beach Sheds 1
Brighton Beach, photo taken with a Samsung Galaxy S2
Brighton Beach Sheds 2
Brighton Beach, photo taken with a Samsung Galaxy S2

Brighton Beach Sheds 3
Brighton Beach, photo taken with a Samsung Galaxy S2 

Monday, 23 July 2012

A Return to "The Pier" + A Weekend of Sport

I would never bother watching the golf but I laughed when I listened to the commentary about Adam Scott blowing his chance to win the latest competition. The Newcastle Knights led by the man who never smiles, Wayne Bennett, managed to beat the Kiwis in the NRL despite a strong start by the Warriors. I can only imagine Andrew Johns having a bit of a party on the sidelines.

"Disappointing" is the politically correct word that comes to mind when I think of the announcement by Cricket Australia with respect to the forthcoming summer of cricket. After we were spanked by the South Africans in Australia four years ago, I wasn't too surprised that their forthcoming tour of Australia will only be three games. A second Sri Lankan tour was also announced to follow up our impending loss which will include matches at the MCG and SCG. I can watch virtually any team play cricket but I think the Sri Lankan team is boring and have never been interested in watching them so I will not be busting down the gates of the MCG or the SCG to get a seat. It will almost be painful to watch on the television as I am fearful that I will fall asleep in my beer so I may have to retreat to the Whitsundays and work on my tan and not succumb to the frustration that is our national cricket team is.

Although I never demonised The Pier in my recent musings on this blog, I did state that I would be keen to return in the future to enjoy their soft shell tacos and also the offerings out of the tap at the bar. On Saturday, I decided to meet two others at this place as a substitute for attending the Collingwood-Hawthorn game at the MCG. A mate was flying in from Sydney and knowing that he as landing at Tullamarine at 1:20PM, I figured it would be rather dramatic for him to attend the game before the second quarter. As we are both Collingwood supporters, we toasted my decision later at The Pier in Port Melbourne as it would not have been very fun to watch the Magpies get their collective arses kicked.

Before retiring into the lounge at The Pier to (enjoy) the game, we indulged in soup, soft shell tacos and fish tacos in the restaurant. The tacos are very tasty but I do prefer the soft shell offering compared to the fish. My only criticism of this dish is that they continue to use toasted flour tortillas instead of corn ones. The dish is simple and no wacky sauces are introduced to obscure the flavour of the crab. We did not want to venture away from the "Starters" despite being quizzed multiple times if we have decided on our mains. Being quizzed incessantly about Mains is a pet hate of mine. We probably would have ultimately ordered a main (for me the duck risotto looked interesting) only because it was a late lunch, we had other dinner plans and because we also wanted to retire to their lounge to watch the Magpies lose.

Their lounge is relaxing and comfortable. A fire rages on a wall and a couple of televisions are erected for viewing sport and also silly television shows. I wasn't sure that they planned to broadcast the AFL as when we arrived Zac Efron was singing about something in what I assumed was High School Musical so I was elated to find the AFL being broadcast when I later returned to the area with a beer. Although they do not provide table service in the lounge, both the bar and the toilet are in striking distance and it is not inconvenient to hang out and watch the sport at this place. When I previously attended The Pier, I thought that it would be a good candidate for a relaxing Saturday afternoon so I was pleased that I was not disappointed.

The ramblings from my previous experience at The Pier can be found here

The Pier, Port Melbourne

The Pier
Link to review
1 Bay Street  Port Melbourne VIC 3207
(03) 9646 3990
My Rating: 12/20
Service: 3/5
Ambiance: 3/5
Quality: 3/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Comment: The lounge is quite relaxing

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

At the time of this writing, 56% of the punters who reviewed The Pier on Urbanspoon liked it.

Pier on Urbanspoon

Manchuria and Meat & Wine Co (Thursday Hedonism Part 3)

Previously I wrote about the vexed problem that is known as lunch. It should not always turn into such a difficult personal decision but it also should be easier to have a late lunch.

After visiting the Aquarium on Thursday, we decided that we wanted to eat as well as the King Penguins so we walked to Nobu at the Crown. As it was 2:30PM, we were quickly turned away as they were no longer serving lunch. Instead of embarrassing myself further by trying my luck at Spice Temple, we walked over to Queensbridge Square and entered the Meat & Wine Co. as they were advertising lunch specials that were valid from 12:00 PM until 4:00 PM.

This isn't the first time that I have attended this place for lunch and it probably will not be my last. You essentially dine outside but are protected by a condom-like drape to protect you from the elements. I previously enjoyed a lunch here in the summer when it was rather hot and eating here proved uncomfortable as the air conditioning that operates inside of the restaurant does not flow outside very well and because the condom-like shroud doesn't completely cover the dining area, the air conditioning escapes and small birds enter and roam freely.

We took advantage of the lunch special for $25 and I had the hamburger with a glass of Shiraz. It was a great hamburger. Is it better than Andrew's Hamburgers? I don't think so. Still, it was nice to sit down, have it served and have a glass of wine. The wine that is matched with the meal as part of the offer is rather disgusting though.

At the time of this writing, 81% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like The Meat & Wine Co.

Meat & Wine Co. on Urbanspoon

To finalise the day of hedonism, which to remind you included visits to the Melbourne Aquarium, the aforementioned Meat & Wine Co. for a late lunch, The Rooftop Bar, Cookie and Gingerboy, we walked to Manchuria which is a bar hidden away on Waratah Lane off of Little Bourke Street in the CBD

Manchuria always impresses. It never seems to be packed and both the ambiance and the furnishings provides ample room to actually relax and converse. After all of the eating and boozing earlier, I wanted to finish off my day (and myself off) with a Zombie. This is perhaps the most alcoholic drink that I have purchased in an Australian bar, even more so than when you can find the elusive Long Island Iced Tea that is made properly. There is a caveat where Manchuria will only sell you two Zombies. I have been to Manchuria seven times I believe and I have not only enjoyed myself but met interesting attractive people and experienced great service. 

If only I was in a sober state after this long but great day, I would have stopped at Gin Palace on my stagger home as not only their drinks awesome but it has been recommended to me that I try their chicken sandwich late at night. As I haven't consumed it yet, I haven't felt the need of posting a review of the place on here which will include a decade of experiences but rest assured that it is on my radar and in the next few weeks there will be a posting about that place and others like Vue de Monde, Cumulus and Der Raum just to name a few.

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

Manchuria Bar, Waratah Lane Melbourne
Link to review
7 Waratah Place  Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9663 1997
no web site
My Rating: 16/20
Service: 4/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Quality: 4/5
Value For Money: 4/5
Comment: Zombies to finish the night

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

At the time of this writing, 94% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like Manchuria.

Manchuria on Urbanspoon