Diners Club

Posted: November 6, 2014 in Diners Club

About 8 or so years ago, I was dining in Sydney with one of my great mates from Uni – Shane, and we were discussing the food scenes in Melbourne vs. Sydney. After a few hours of discussions and refreshments, we felt the only way to truly be able to compare dining standards was to visit the best of the best in each city. But how to do that? Neither of us were particularly wealthy, how could we afford to go out for a Degustation for example at $300 a head? How could we spend that much without feeling guilty. A few more hours and a few more refreshments and we finally came up with the idea of the diners club. At the time, the plan was to put $50 a month into a joint savings account and when we caught up every 6 months or so we would have enough money to enjoy a fine dining food and wine experience. All without feeling guilty or blowing the budget. It took a few months to get our act together, but eventually we got organized and found ourselves with $600 to spend and table at Rockpool in Melbourne booked. We’ve been continuing the tradition ever since and as a result of our club, we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some of the finest dining and best steaks Melbourne and Sydney have to offer, including Aria, Est, MoMo, Grill on the Hill, Vlado’s and Rockpool. We don’t always manage to catch up as much as we would like, but we do continue to put the money aside each month. Who knows where our adventures will take us.

I plan to detail our experiences in this section of my blog every 6 to 12 months. If only I had thought to write up some of our amazing adventures in the past, including that one time we spent $500 on a bottle of Champagne because we wanted to see if we could spend the whole $1800 that had amassed in our account – Yeah, we probably should have saved our money for next time – but we never claimed to be particularly intelligent.

Burgers

Posted: March 1, 2014 in Burger Hunt
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I like Burgers as much as the next guy, In fact probably more than the next guy to be honest. After all the blogs I’ve read lately that have talked about the “Top 10 Burgers in Melbourne”, I thought to myself, I need a burger… And then after that, I though, why not try some of these places and see for myself. And then after that, I though, hey, why not document the process. As you can see, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, and my thought process is clearly long and convoluted and inefficient. That being said, tonight I’m off to one of these vaunted Burger establishments and my plan is to visit a few of these places and share the experience.

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The Burger Lounge in Eltham has been on my Burger to do list for quite some time, I’ve just never gotten around to making the journey up to Eltham. That is of course until now. Being out in Burwood these days, Eltham isn’t really all that far away, so when Chris and Katie decided they wanted to join me on a Burger hunt – we all agreed that The Burger Lounge was the obvious destination.  The drive up into Eltham is lovely, I’ve never actually been up this way and I think I’ll be coming back to explore the area further.

An easy and an easy park – we found a park right out the front of the Burger Lounge and proceeded to venture in. A group was just leaving as we arrived so getting a table out the front wasn’t hard even though the place was quite busy – we timed our arrival perfectly. All signs were looking good. Browsing through the menu, there looked to be some very interesting choices.

Katie ordered the signature burger which is a beef patty stuffed with Havarti cheese then a balsamic glaze on top, with pickled cucumber, red onion, lettuce, tomato, relish and herb aioli – all for $13, add $7 for a large soft drink and their thick cut herbed chips. Chris went for the BBQ with crispy smoked beef, it comes with a beef patty, beetroot, tasty cheese, BBQ sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion, relish and herb aioli – $12. I was a little bit stuck so I asked the girl at the counter what would be the normal burger people get and she told me to get the Classic with Cheese – which I ordered. The classic comes with a standard beef patty, lettuce, tomato, red onion, Tasty Cheese, relish and herb aioli – $10.50. I also got the meal deal with onion rings.

So, just looking at the menu and the prices, you think, gee – this place looks good value, and the burgers sound great. So what were they like you ask?

Let’s start with Katie’s burger. As mentioned she ordered the signature burger – which sounds great. After a couple of bites she noted that the burger wasn’t the burger she ordered. Expecting to bite into the patty and get some gooey Havarti cheese, instead she had tasted nothing by dry patty. Opening up the burger she noticed that there was a slab of fried Halloumi, and no Havarti in the patty. We asked the girl who was cleaning the tables what the deal was, as no mention had been made as it came out. She thought that it usually came with Halloumi on top – thankfully we had the menu next to us and we showed her, so she went and investigated what had happened. Apparently, they had run out of Havarti, and instead of telling Katie, they had just made a differently burger and given it to her without any comment what-so-ever… Katie, as you can imagine was not impressed, no solution or offer to take the burger back was given by the girl, and Katie decided not to complain and ask for another burger because 1) She didn’t want to wait and 2) It wasn’t that good and she didn’t really want any more. So Katie ‘s burger adventure ended in disaster…

On to Chris – here’s what he had to say:

The Burger that they serve at the burger lounge is not a good burger. The bun is not good, the patty is not good, the sauce is OK the lettuce is OK. the cheese is passable. The chips and the onion rings are very good but that’s like 18 inch rims on a Ford Cortina. The patty is thin, dry, not enough fat and overcooked. It has that “herby” flavor which I always suspect means that they haven’t used good meat. Overall this is a disappointing experience and not one that I am keen to repeat.

OK – so we can surmise that Chris wasn’t too impressed with his burger… What about my burger you ask. Well, for those of you playing at home, here are my thoughts:

The burger bun is the first disappointment – it’s not a great option – it’s too bready and solid. It’s great bread roll – no doubt, but it’s not the right choice here. The patty is over worked and has too much going on. It reminds me of the Grill’d patty, only it’s not flame grilled so you don’t get any smokey charred notes – it’s also a lot dryer. The beef is over cooked and you really don’t get much of a beef flavour. There’s also not enough fat in the patty mix, leading to a  very dry patty. The Relish and aioli do work to counteract the dryness, but only so much can be done. The salad elements are good, but I would have loved some sharpness from a pickle… Overall a very underwhelming burger that I couldn’t give more that a 5.5. Very disappointing on a number of fronts after hearing so many good things – I really wanted this place to be awesome. I did note that in the kitchen it looked like there were a lot of very young staff – no one seemed to be older than 25, and most seemed under this age. Perhaps the normal crew were off for the long weekend and the kitchen hand had stepped in – I don’t know. What I do know, is that I wouldn’t recommend this place, based on my experience.

The Burger Lounge on Urbanspoon

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People keep posting reviews about burgers to my facebook page – You would think I have a thing for Burgers or something… Anyway – one of these posts just happened to catch my attention. JD’s Burgers in Kew has a reputation for serving up some ridiculously huge burgers and then challenging you to eat them in a very short amount of time. Take for example their “Legendary Super Saiyan Challenge”. You get 15 minutes to eat a burger with 8 beef patties, 8 slices of American cheddar, 8 pieces of bacon with their secret sauce on a Brioche bun… It should be noted that there is a waiver down the bottom of their menu that absolves JD of any responsibility for “health issues, disabilities, DEATH or harm done” due to any attempt to eat this half a cow masquerading as a burger monstrosity. Now, me personally, I’ve never been hugely into the whole lets see how much I can beat before I throw up and die scene. Although, back in the day I was pretty handy at pizza hut’s all you can eat works bar. Ah, memories from year 7… But I digress – So, anyway, this burger place grabbed my attention – So when Paul comes over for a hit of golf, I suggest when head off for a bite to eat beforehand. JD’s is just around the corner now, so I figure we go and see what all this hype is about. One thing I wasn’t aware of was their opening hours – they close at 2:30. We arrive at about 3pm, luckily they had received a late take away order which keep them open, and they were kind enough to take our orders as well. Their menu looks very interesting – I was intrigued by their Asian fusion burgers and I think I’ll be back to try one of their more Asian fusion style creations. On this occasion Paul and I just stuck to the basics and got the #1 Best seller – JD’s Mighty Beef Burger – which comes with Bacon, caramelized onion, lettuce, cheese, tomato and JD’s secret sauces. We both got an extra patty because we were a little bit peckish and some of their really tasty chips. Apparently they had sold out of their Brioche buns so we were offered just a normal hamburger bun which I was actually happy to accept – sometimes I just feel that the Brioche is too cakey and sweet.

When the burgers arrived – wrapped up and good to go, Paul and I rushed off to find a shady spot outside to demolish our lunch. Before my first bite I was confused as to why they were called “Asian fusion burgers”. This confusion vanished after the first bite. You really get a hit of Asian flavours, my first though was a slight curry note, a little bit of cumin perhaps, the sweet Kewpie style mayo perhaps, and possibly some soy sauce in there too. All of this melding with the American Cheddar, the crispy bacon, the juicy beef, the sweet/savoury caramelized onion and your traditional Lettuce and tomato. It really worked – it was a satisfying and interesting burger. Not a traditional burger, sure, but an interesting riff on an old favourite. I really liked my burger, and judging by the speed of consumption – so did Paul. I’ve got no problems giving this burger a solid 7.5. It’s quite nice, a little different, but you wont be disappointed when you eat it.

As a side note, both Paul and I agreed that the Level 8 Super Saiyan challenge was beyond our capabilities, but we thought (probably delusionally) we’d have a fair chance at the 5 patty burger in 10 minutes…  Stay tuned for a possible attempt in the near future.

JD's Burgers on Urbanspoon

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So I’ve finally finished moving out to the burbs – we now have a much bigger place, so at least when we bring the new bubs home she wont have to sleep in a draw in our bed room… I think this is a good thing. The down side of course is that I now live in the suburbs – I had nightmares before moving that I would never get a good hamburger again. That I would be isolated from all that is good in the world…So to try to calm things down a bit I decided that I would just nip down the road and grab a burger. We decided to try Groove train at they were easy to get to, and they had a lunch special with a cheese burger for $12.50…

Sitting down in the huge cafe/restaurant for the first time, I was a little bit put off. The place was just too big – it felt like a dinning hall. I also discovered that Groove Train is a franchise – I’m not sure why, it just seems like a run of the mill suburban cafe/restaurant – there doesn’t seem to be anything special about the place – However there are quite a few of them around the country… The prices were reasonable for the most part, although the specials were pretty cheap. I ordered the Cheese burger with bacon which came to I think $15.00 and Katie got the creamy spinach, pumpkin and sage Gnocchi which I think was on special but is normally $18.90. Katie enjoyed her Gnocchi, but thought there was too much pumpkin which she didn’t love. I had a try, and it tasted pretty good – nothing to write home about though. Ok, so on to the burger. I didn’t have high expectations going in – I had seen a few burgers on other tables and they didn’t look like any thing special. When my burger came out I was disappointed to see that they had served it American style and left the top bun off to the side so I had to sauce the thing myself. I had to add some tomato sauce as the only sauce on the burger was the mayo. The Cheese burger comes standard with – lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayo and the patty, a fairly plain burger. I added bacon, because…  well, bacon. First bite in I noticed the bun – too much bread to burger. The bun was quite dense, and a little sweet – It reminded me of focaccia bread a bit – just really dense, although still soft and fresh. Getting past the bun, the next flavour is the patty. It’s one of those big rissole like patties. It actually tasted quite nice and was juicy enough, but it really did remind me of a rissole. There was just too much going on in the patty – the meat wasn’t the star here. Look, I love a good rissole and gravy, and some mashed potato… But I’m not a huge fan of them in a burger. The bacon was crispy and delicious and is a necessary addition to this burger. The salad was the fancy lettuce, and some small slices of tomato, it sorely lacked the onion for balance and bite. I was desperately disappointed that there was no pickle – every burger should have a pickle…

My final gripe was the cheese. As you can see from the photo, the cheese is just your every day, supermarket, prepackaged, Colby/Tasty Cheddar cheese. There really isn’t much flavour – especially when it is just wilted and not melted. Cheese in a burger like this needs to be melted. That half melted wilt, which just makes the fats in the cheese start to sweat and gives you this greasy mouth feel… Not a fan.

Overall, the burger was OK, there was nothing really offensive about it, it was tasty enough, it just lacked anything to lift it up. No pickle, half melted cheese, too much bread to burger, and a rissole patty. I’d give it a 6.

Groove Train on Urbanspoon

I’ve been hearing about the Continental Deli and Restaurant, DOC Pizza & Mozzarella Bar located in Mornington for a while now. It certainly seems to polarise people, with what I can only call their interesting approach to hospitality – I’ve read some less than impressive (read scathing) reviews. So when Katie suggested pizza at DOC’s for Dinner a few weeks back when Melissa and Shane where in town, well, I was a little apprehensive. However, one thing I have noticed about DOC is that it is normally quite full, normally with a waiting list of groups to be seated. When we arrived it was very busy – the middle of the tourist season in Mornington is never a good time to try to get seat anywhere, but it seemed especially busy at DOC. We sat at the window waiting for a table in the very overcrowded seating area, and after a bit of a wait we were hurriedly shown to our table.

Looking at the menu, the Pizza’s aren’t cheap – and I already knew that was going to be the case – sure if you compare these pizza’s with a take away place, then yes, they are expensive. But the point a lot of people obviously miss, is that these are not your standard run of the mill pizza’s. We ordered three pizza’s and Melissa ordered the Lasagne. Made in the Italian style, the pizza’s are thin and not too crispy and have a light topping of a tomato based sauce and a scattering of creamy melting disks of fresh Mozzarella. Toppings are generally pretty sparse as well, so you get to enjoy the individual flavours and notice the quality of the ingredients. To be honest, these would have to be some of the best pizza’s I’ve ever tried – the base was so good that we ate the crusts dipped in the olive oil that was provided on the table as though it was a delicious warm flat bread – And Katie never eats her crusts!

There’s no doubting the quality of the food or the ingredients -the service on the other hand is somewhat eccentric. It seems as though their hiring policy is that the waiter must be from Italy first, and training or experience in hospitality in not necessarily required. The wait staff aren’t all that attentive, some of them actually seem put out to be serving you and would rather be having fun with the other staff members… However, the vibe at the restaurant is fun and frivolous. The wait staff seem to be having a great time with each other and are often yelling across the bar, or joking with one another – If you don’t take the waiters too seriously and go to simply enjoy good quality authentic food, I’m sure it will be a worthwhile experience.

Note: Once again my phone was playing up – so no photos for this one…

D.O.C Mornington on Urbanspoon

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Chris and I were driving down Chapel Street, trying to pick a burger place for a quick bite to eat when we drove past Boston Sub. Chris noticed that the sign out front said “Boston Sub – Sandwich Americana”. Well that can’t be bad we thought – let’s have look. Knowing nothing about the place, we walked in and perused the menu. There seemed to be some sort of naming convention for the subs – with names like “The Jordan”, The Ali”, “The Lincoln”, although we couldn’t figure out the connections – The Lincoln was lamb, mint sauce and coleslaw… The Poutine’s were similarly named, although we figured out the Jabba the Hut, which was a loaded poutine, at least sense. Anyway, we were sufficiently intrigued to hang around and order. Chris ordered the Jordan, and I got the Ali, we got a Jabba the Hut to share and then I got a salted Banana Milkshake and Chris a Wheatbeer. Strangely they had a very large and eclectic selection of beers for a small take away sub shop… They also had a really large fridge door – but more about that later.

I’m not sure what we were expecting for $7.50, but when the subs came out I was a little disappointed. They were rather small and plain looking and Chris’s was really just a hot dog – it looked like a good hot dog, but I think we were expecting some sort of massive American style sub. Well, appearances can be deceiving. The “Ali” was advertised as Beef with BBQ sauce and cabbage. It was exactly that, but at the same time, it was much more. The sub was a very soft, sweet 6 inch roll, spongy and fresh. It complemented the delicious pulled beef, the cabbage and mayo added texture and fat. It was actually really good – just not what I had envisaged when I walked in. The Jabba the Hut on the other hand was exactly what I was expecting. A huge mound of chips, pulled beef and lamb, pork crackle, bacon, cheese curds and gravy. God I love Poutine – that crazy Canadien contribution to the fast food landscape. My Salted Banana Milkshake was also pretty damn tasty.

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So Chris and I were sitting there ruminating about how the food had both exceeded and fallen short of our expectation when a group of young, hipster types walked in and asked to go to the bar. I’m sure there was some sort of secret nod, wink or hand shake, and then the large fridge door was opened and the secret passage was reveled. So the sub shop was just a front for a blind tiger – a speakeasy straight from the roaring 20’s! After a few more well dressed trendy looking young things had been shown through, Chris plucked up the courage to ask if he too to go through. I was half expecting the guy to say, “Um, I’m sorry, I don’t know what you are talking about? You want go in the fridge? There’s no bar here…” Through the fridge door lies a very nicely appointed cocktail bar, it’s a Alice in Wonderland like transition. Very weird, and of course nauseatingly Melbourne. Apparently it’s really popular on the weekend, it just so happened that we were there during a quite period, so we were able to sneak in for a look. It seemed like a pretty cool place to relax with a group of friends. Anyway, back to the food – at $7.50 for a sub and $15 for the massive poutine, it’s good value, and the food is really good. I’d definitely come back, and the surprise factor of the bar out the back is pretty cool too.

Boston Sub on Urbanspoon

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After the more recent debacles on the Burger Hunt, Damo mentioned that he knew a pub that did a half decent burger, it just happened to be in walking distance from his place, and we’d be passing it on the way to the train station. Decision made and off we trotted to the Terminus Hotel. On arrival we were greeted by a friendly barman and an extensive selection of craft beers. Conversation ensued as to the merit of various craft beers and then on to locations around the world that have more expensive beers than Australia. We all agreed that there are perhaps only three or 4 location around the world where the beers are at least as expensive as they are here. God it sucks to have to pay such ridiculously expensive prices for a cool refreshing beverage in Melbourne… Ah well, anyway, so after ordering a cleansing libation, we moved on to food and ordered the burger. For $23.90 – yeah, we didn’t check the price before we ordered – you get a Wagyu beef burger, on the requisite Brioche bun, Dijon mustard, mayo, a sweet tomato relish, lettuce, cheese, tomato and some nice sharp pickles. You also get a side of nice pub chips. The Burger itself was a nice change from the rubbish I’ve been getting recently, and it was nice to get a patty that was made pretty much exclusively of Beef, well seasoned and juicy and pink. There is still hope out there! The patty was covered in a melted slice of cheese – not strong, probably a mild cheddar. The Sauces were good, and I particularly liked the mustard, which I’m pretty sure was a nice Dijon. There was also a pretty sweet tomato relish thing, which I’m sure could work, but with the very sweet and cakey brioche bun, the burger overall became just too sweet. Bacon and onion would really have rounded out the sweetness and improved the burger by quite a bit – the burger just lacked balance. If you are going to do such a simple burger you need to nail it. The brioche was a mistake on this burger. Still, I enjoyed the burger for the most part, with a few tweaks this could bit a great burger. I’d give it a 7.

Terminus Hotel on Urbanspoon

With Melissa and her Mum in town, we decided to do the touristy thing and drive down the Great Ocean Road. We arrived in Lorne around 12pm and by this stage Katie was in need of some form of nourishment. At this time of year Lorne is always busy and the town was packed and the traffic backed up on the main thoroughfare. It looked like it might be difficult finding a park, so I suggested we try down at the Lorne Hotel. It was still pretty early so I thought the pub would be reasonably quite. Thankfully I was right and we were able to get a park and a table with a nice view quite easily. It’s a great spot, no doubt about it, lovely views, even when it is a bit grey and dreary. The prices however, are a bit on the steep side – even for a tourist trap like Lorne. I had forgotten just how ridiculous the prices here could be. I mean, $27 for a standard pub parma in a order at the bar, get your own cutlery kind of place. I ordered the fish and chips – Local Gummy Shark, beer battered, served with average chips and an uninspired salad all for the bargain price of $26.90. Katie and Melissa ordered the Spaghetti Bolognaise and Maria got an entree of the Prawns. No one was particularly impressed by their meal – I felt a bit bloated after mine, the fish was a bit tough and seemed over cooked and the batter was very heavy. Unfortunately my phone was flat at the time so I didn’t get any photo’s. I wouldn’t recommend eating here, the prices are just too much for what you get. I’d grab and drink and enjoy the view and then head somewhere else.

Lorne Hotel on Urbanspoon

Located right down the end of Main Street Mornington, Boyz 4 Breakie is a popular place to get that bacon and egg fix so often needed on a Saturday or Sunday morning after…  After a big day spent adventuring down the Great Ocean road yesterday, none of us felt much like cooking so the decision was made to head down to Boyz 4 Breakie. A good time to get a late breakfast before heading back up to the city and saying goodbye to Melissa and her Mum, Maria as they return to Sydney. I’ve been a few times to Boyz 4 Breakie and it’s always packed – probably because the food has always been pretty decent.

When we arrived today, Melissa spotted another table finishing off what looked like three burgers – I was of course intrigued. Further investigation revealed that one of the menu offerings was the three Breakie Burger Sliders! Happy days I thought, I grab those thank you very much. Melissa ordered the same, with Katie getting a big Breakfast type of arrangement and Maria ordering the Pancakes. Katie really enjoyed her breakfast and I was lucky enough to sample a little bit of her plate. The chipolatas were really good and the scrambled eggs were lovely. Maria enjoyed her pancakes, and everyone thought their coffees were nice – god I hate coffee… But I wont go off on that rant – I had a T2 Tea, in a pot, English Breakfast, just the way I like it – a civilized way to start the day.
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The Breakie Burgers came with Black Angus beef patties, bacon, fried eggs, cheese, lettuce, tomato relish, all served in-between three rather generously sized, white bread, sesame seeded slider buns. The patties were more of a back note – cooked medium and lightly herbed, put together with good quality meat, not overly beefy – they worked well, allowing the bacon and eggs to be the stars of the show.

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The eggs were fried, still runny, one exploded on me and the yolk went all over my hand and arm, thankfully missing my clothes – I love that runny egg yolk on a burger – so good. The bacon was salty and had a nice grill flavour and light char marks, and the relish really rounded out the sliders. All in all, one of the better burgers I’ve had recently – and it was for breakfast. Great way to start the day, I give them a solid 7. Very nice.

Boyz 4 Breakie on Urbanspoon

A little while back Katie and I caught up for lunch/brunch with Paul and Ness on the way back from some house hunting. Ness suggested Crackerjack Café right on Carrum Beach as it was hot as hell and they were headed to the beach anyway. Crackerjack is located in the new Carrum bowls club, and the name stems from the fact that some of the scenes from the movie “Crakerjack” were filmed here. Anyway, so the café is up stairs and has been designed to make the most of the view – you get uninterrupted views of the bay and the beach here is also pretty nice. We organised to meet at the café but didn’t think to make a booking – unfortunately when we arrived there were no tables inside. It was a very hot and windy day, the conditions weren’t the best out on the deck – our menus were blowing all over the place. Thankfully the friendly waitress did mention that it shouldn’t be too long before a table was ready and we could order our meals and then move inside when a table became free. We didn’t have to wait too long and we were soon inside in the air-conditioned comfort ordering our meals.

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Paul and Ness were looking at the lunch items and Katie wanted a few of the smaller plates – I had skipped breakfast however so I really felt the need for eggs of some description. I ended up ordering the crackerjack big breakfast which was quite nice, it comes with your choice of two eggs, tomato, mushrooms, spinach, bacon, chipolata, hash brown and hollandaise sauce pretty standard big breakfast – however I only realised on the drive home that they forgot to give me any bacon – I must have been effected by the heat to not realise that… Oh well, and if I didn’t notice it during the meal then it can’t have been too badly missed – that or I was distracted by the great conversation and company (More likely).

I liked the addition of the hollandaise, not so much for the eggs – since mine were scrambled – but to dip the hash browns in, quite tasty actually. The breakfast itself as a whole was average, the eggs were over cooked and a little dry and the chipolata was dead and rubbery. I’d probably go poached eggs next time to be safe and the hollandaise would make sense then. The hash browns were the frozen kind, they were the ok I guess, but not winning any points here. The mushrooms were uninteresting and could have used some herbs or seasoning although the spinach and tomato’s were both quite good and well seasoned. To be honest, it was standard suburban breakfast fare – I make it better myself at home and it doesn’t cost me $22, however I don’t have the view and it’s nice to have someone make it and then clean up. I should mention that everyone else enjoyed their meals, so I guess mine could have just been the odd one out – but then no one was raving about it afterwards. Would I go back? Probably, but I wouldn’t go out of my way.

Crackerjack Waterfront Cafe on Urbanspoon

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I love French food. I love to cook it, I love to read about it, I love to watch people cooking it and talking about it on TV, it’s a cuisine the just resonates with me. Particularly the provincial-style cuisine – French peasant food. God I love butter, cream, duck fat, wine and garlic and all those good things that go into French cooking. I find it pretty difficult to pass up an opportunity to gorge myself on a good confit duck or a tasty cassoulet… So when my Step Mum, Penny texted to say that she would be in town from her quick trip over to look after Granny in New Zealand, and suggested that we all catch up at A La Bouffe in Toorak for dinner – well, lets just say that I didn’t need any convincing. I’ve been to A La Bouffe a few times now and always enjoyed their approach. The menu is a collection of the classics, with a few interesting twists – generally executed exceptionally well, and the service is always friendly yet professional – not pretentious. Overall I feel they have the balance just right here. Generally I’ll start with the French onion soup, order one of the classic peasant style dishes or of course some form of Duck confit matched to a nice Côtes-Du-Rhône or Burgundy… I might even finish with their delicious tarte tatin. Of course, that’s if it’s not 40 degrees Celsius. The problem I faced on the last trip was that none of the usual food sounded appealing considering it was so bloody hot. I mean, Hell probably would have been a few degrees cooler on the day we met up. Opening the door of the car to walk to the restaurant was like opening the door to an oven.

Katie and I arrived early, and even though the restaurant is air conditioned, it’s hard to cool off completely – I sort of felt sick from being so hot all day. Looking though the menu, none of my usual French favourites really appealed. I was certainly not in the mood for soup. After much discussion and some refreshing beverages, I decided to opt for the steak. Jo, Penny and Taz had joined us by this stage and Jo had suggested the Eye Filet steak with Béarnaise. Since I love Béarnaise, this seemed like an appropriate choice. I ordered my steak medium rare and it came perfectly cooked, a really simple approach to the meat, no seasoning other than the necessary salt and pepper. The Béarnaise was amazing. There something about the buttery tarragon richness that I just love with steak. I don’t know why I don’t have it more often… Oh, that’s right – you either have to make it fresh yourself which isn’t all that easy, or find a restaurant that offers it – which is increasingly difficult… Jo felt that she could have done with a little more sauce, but then she was slathering it all over her steak – I felt there was more than enough. The lightly dressed green salad on the side was refreshing and the dressing tangy and bowl of French fries as always the perfect accompaniment.

Jo and I both decided to order Crêpes Suzette for dessert, I love the sauce and the theatre of the Flambé at the table. On this occasion though it felt a little more dangerous than usual. I almost felt like the waiter could just take the dish outside and wait for it to spontaneously combust in the heat!

Oh no - my dessert is on fire - oh wait - it's supposed to be...

Oh no – my dessert is on fire – oh wait – it’s supposed to be… That’s totally ok then.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meals and the waitstaff were fun and friendly. I’d highly recommend A La Bouffe Bar & Bistro if you want good quality, and great tasting French cuisine.

 

A La Bouffe Bar & Bistro on Urbanspoon