Fenix – Venue with a View

Dinner at Fenix was my second time here. This time it was for a girlfriends Hens Night, the previous time it was for Lunch. I have to admit that when I was told that we were going to Fenix for dinner, I wasn’t looking forward to it because the last time when I came for lunch I wasn’t very impressed. The food was not bad, but from a Gary Mehigan restaurant I was expecting a LOT more. But I have to say that the experience and the food this time around was a lot better and the food was delicious! Not all dishes were fantastic but a majority of the dishes we had were great tasting dishes and all the girls enjoyed their meals. One thing that is consistent is the service – both times it was impeccable and friendly.

Fenix is owned by Masterchef Judge and Chef Gary Mehigan in the picturesque part of Richmond with overlooking views of the Yarra River. The restaurant is split level and impressive with its floor to ceiling glass windows surrounding the whole venue to allow for the views. On the higher level, there is a fire place which sets the mood to cosy and is great for those wintry Melbourne nights. The set up is formal yet somewhat casual at the same time and the friendly staff do make you feel at ease. Fenix upstairs also serves as a reception centre for weddings or cocktail functions. For further info refer to the following link – http://www.fenix.com.au/page/Weddings.

As we walked into Fenix and were shown to our table we were greeted by none other than Gary Mehigan himself. Gary went around to each of the tables that night and said hello and had a little chat which I thought was a very nice touch. When he came over to our table (of 15 girls mind you) he obliged to take a photo with about 8 different cameras. Gary was very obliging and even suggested different poses for the different cameras.

My friend who had booked for the Hen’s Dinner was told at the time of booking that we would need to pick from the set menu either 2 or 3 courses, however when we got there and were looking at the menu’s we were told that we could pick from the A la Carte menu and choose any of the dishes, so we didn’t have that restriction. This was very nice of them as we had free reign on the menu. Most of the girls had  selection of Entrées and main, whilst some had all three courses – Entrée, Main and Dessert (Yes…I was one of them =p).

For the Entrée I ordered Blue Swimmer Crab Stuffed Zucchini Flowers with Cashews and Black Garlic Dressing. These Zucchini Flowers were very tasty and the right amount of seasoning. The Crab was cooked perfectly and together with the black garlic dressing made for a great combination. The other Entrée I tried was the Atlantic Salmon Ceviche with Watermelon, Persian Feta and Coriander Shoot Salad. The mixture of salmon with the fresh flavours of the watermelon was delicious! This Entrée was actually one of my favourite dishes of the night. The addition of lime added the extra tang and further enhanced the feta used.

My main dish was Yellow fin tuna & spanner crab spaghettini, confit tomatoes, olives & lemon. There was an addition of caviar and breadcrumbs. I really enjoyed the breadcrumbs which added to the texture of the dish. The spaghettini was nicely flavoured, however I wasnt a fan of the yellow fin tuna. The yellow fin tuna still had an overly “fishy” taste and some bits were dry. I also tried the Ricotta & basil gnocchi, Otway forest shiitake mushrooms, spring peas. This is one of the best Gnocchi dishes I have tasted. The gnocchi was melt in your mouth and as I am a huge fan of mushrooms, was the best compliment to the dish. The Squid Ink Risotto, Seared Japanese Scallops, Green Asparagus Salad was also great. There was a tang mixed in with the flavours of squid and scallops. All dishes were of a generous serving size and were really filling. I was regretting ordering dessert!

For Dessert my order was Dan’s decadent chocolate trifle passion fruit jelly, hazelnut crunch. The aim of the dish is to get every layer in one mouthful. The addition of popcorn on the top was an interesting addition that you dont usually see on many desserts. This added for an extra texture amongst the trifle, jelly and crunch. The other desserts ordered were presented beautifully and tasted just as great. The Baked orange cheesecake, citrus salad, blood orange sorbet also came with some edible flowers on the side, which added extra colour and pop.  The Bourbon vanilla bean crème brûlée, chocolate & honey madelines I was told was amazing and a definite must try.

I must say that my experience at Fenix the second time around was fantastic and the food was of higher and better quality than the first time around. The venue is great and the dishes tasty. And also you might just get a photo op with Gary himself.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Various Menus – go to http://www.fenix.com.au/page/Restaurant – there are variety of menus, from Spring Dinner Menus, Express Lunch, Sunday Set Lunch, Dinner, Breakfast and Bar Snacks
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy – a room with a view of Melbourne from 55 floors up
Standout Dish:
Service:
Online Booking: Yes via http://www.fenix.com.au/page/Book_a_Table
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.fenix.com.au/
680 Victoria St, Richmond
Tel No: 9427 8500

Opening Hours:
Coffee – from 8:00am daily
Breakfast: Saturday & Sunday: from 8:30am onwards
Lunch: Monday to Saturday:  12:00 – 3:00pm
Sunday Lunch: Set lunch from 12:00 – 4:00pm
Dinner: Monday to Satuday: 6:00 pm – Late

Fenix on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Anshumann Da Dhaba – Hidden Indian Gem

panda-4-rating1

Anshumann Da Dhaba is a small restaurant which has two branches in Clayton and one in Daylesford. It isn’t your typical fine dining restaurant but it serves great North Indian food. The service is attentive and the food once ordered is served quite quickly. I went here with my family on a Sunday evening around 9pm and the place was packed with a mixed crowd of young families, groups of friends and parents. My dad asked one of the waitresses if the crowd is usually this busy, and it usually is. It is open till late at night and is great for people who do night shift and work long hours. I asked one of my friends about this place, and he too said that this place is quite busy at most times. This serves as a testament that the food is quite fantastic and tasty.

The dishes are cooked using fresh ingredients and you can really tell – the result is mouth watering dishes. We ordered the Lamb Rogan Josh and Lamb Korma Curry, as well as two of the specials available that night – Mushroom Tikka Kalimirch and Kashmiri Chilli Chicken. The Lamb curries came out in little copper coloured dishes on top of a holder which houses a candle to keep the dishes warm as you eat it. The Lamb Korma was creamy and spicy all at the same time, and the lamb was tender and cooked perfectly. This I thought was such a great idea. The Naan bread is one of the BEST I have had. It was garlic buttery goodness and it felt like you were eating clouds – yes it was that soft! The Mushroom Tikka Kalimirch (although the dish didn’t look appealing – you can have a look at the pic above) tasted fantastic. The flavours were not too strong and had a corriander hit to it. I haven’t had mushrooms cooked this way before. One downfall was the Kashmiri Chilli Chicken. The dish was filled with more cashew nuts and thick curry rather than chicken itself, and although the dish was meant to be Chilli Chicken, there wasnt much spice at all.

Overall I would definitely recommend this place if you are looking to try some authentic North Indian food for a very reasonable price. The dishes are decently sized as well. Also as you are waiting for your food, you are given free pappadums together with some sauces and a small salad.

Rating: 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – refer to http://www.anshumanndadhaba.com.au/index.php/our-menu – Has a selection of various curries (Meat & Veg varieties), Rice, Breads etc.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Buzzing
Standout Dish: Lamb Korma Curry and Mushroom Tikka Kalimirch (this was a special when I went)
Service: Good service and Friendly. (Although it did take a while for the Mango Milkshake to come out)
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.anshumanndadhaba.com.au/

290 Clayton Road
Clayton
Tel No: 9543 1068
Opening Hours:
Monday, Wednesday to Sunday (Closed Tuesdays)
11am to 12:45am

331 Clayton Road
Clayton
Tel No: 9544 2291
Opening Hours:
Monday-Tuesday, Thursday to Sunday (Closed Wednesdays)
11am to 12:45am

Level 1, 74 Vincent Street
Daylesford
Tel No: 5348 2982
Opening Hours:
Tues – Sunday (closed Mondays)
12pm to 9pm

Anshumann Da Dhaba Indian Restaurant & Take Away on Urbanspoon

Taco Truck – Delicious Mexican Food Truck

panda-4-rating1Taco Truck

20121207_200738The Potato Taco, The Fish Taco and two Chicken Tacos

20121207_200753Fish and Potato Tacos

Food trucks have been all the rage in America, and it has taken over Melbourne. Ever since I heard about the Taco Truck I wanted to try it. The Taco Truck is the mastermind of Raph Rashid (who also owns the Beatbox Kitchen – check out https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/trucks-and-burgers-good-mix/for my review). I finally got my chance to try out the Taco Truck when it was at the Big Designers Market at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. In order to track down the Taco Truck you need to decipher clues that are given out or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. The Taco Truck’s usual haunt is generally the inner city suburbs such as Carlton, Northcote, Brunswick.

The Taco Trucks sells ..you guessed it TACOS! You can individual tacos for $6 each or you can get a Taco Plate which comes with 2 Tacos  (of any combination) and a serving of house made corn chips for $12. There are three different types of Tacos – Fish, Potato or Chicken.

I ordered a Taco Plate with a fish and potato taco and N had a Taco plate with 2 chicken tacos. The potato taco comes with jalapeno, ‘slaw with salsa verde in a crispy tortilla topped with ricotta. This was the most interesting out of all the tacos, due to its crispy tortilla. The salsa verde and ricotta complimented the potato and the crunch perfectly. The fish taco is lightly battered and fried Rockling fillets, with rough ‘slaw, a squeeze of lemon and poppyseed aioli. The poppyseed aioli was fresh and had the right amount of tang and worked perfectly with the fish. These are cooked to order in the van, and have a glorious crunch when they come out. The chicken taco came with grilled chicken, fresh corn, baby spinach and a smoky chipotle mayo. I love how the corn in this taco just oozed out – it is one of the first times I have seen corn in a taco.

All the tacos are cooked to order and therefore have that fresh, unpretentious air about them and boy are they packed with flavour. If you love mexican food and love tacos, definitely hunt this truck down and try it out.

Taco Truck Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Taco-truck-melbourne/187938917910211

Twitter: @tacotruckmelb

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – 3 different types of Tacos – Chicken, Potato and Fish as well as House made Corn Chips
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun !!
Standout Dish: ALL THE TACOS!
Service: Friendly, inviting and fun!
Online Booking: No…you will need to track them down!!
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://tacotruck.com.au/
15 Keele St
Collingwood
(this is where they were intially based, but they go around to the inner suburbs, check their Facebook and Twitter for locations)
Tel No: 8060 6664

Taco Truck on Urbanspoon

Gumbo Kitchen – A Must Try Food Truck!

panda-3-5-rating2gumbo kitchen

Gumbo Kitchen is another food truck in the streets of Melbourne. Gumbo Kitchen is the brainchild of Michael Cotter and Patricia Stanton who were inspired on their visit to New Orleans. The focus of food from this truck is on the Cajun food of New Orleans such as the traditional and spicy stews served with rice – aka GUMBO.

I got to try out this specialty truck one lunchtime, when the food truck was parked out side of Ethihad Stadium down at Docklands. Just like many of the other trucks, you will need to follow them on Facebook or Twitter in order to find out their location.I had no idea what type of food was sold at the Gumbo Kitchen and even looking at the Menu and seeing words like Po Boys, The Dom and Gumbo thrown at me I still had no idea =p
There are three main varieties on the menu – a Po Boy is a fresh roll stuffed with a meat/seafood of your choice and topped with a chilli sauce if desired. Gumbo is a soup/stew with meat and a small amount of rice. The Dom is Beef served with Fries and Remoulade.

Before ordering I had to ask what each of them were. I settled with ordering a Shrimp Po Boy and I certainly am glad I made that choice. The Shrimp Po Boy was crunchy bread on outside filled with small deep fried battered prawns with hints of lemon juice, spicy cajun sauce and finished with slices of tomato and pickles. I am not a huge pickle fan but in this mix it was delicious and complimented the other flavours. The prawns were coated in delicious batter with a tinge of spice and the flavours literally popped in your mouth!The crunch of bread on the outside mixed with the softness of the filling on the inside was pure heaven and it seriously is one of the best bread / sandwiches I have ever come across! They are quite large, but they were that good that I wanted a second serving.

My friends who had the Gumbo and The Dom said that the dishes were good, but not as flavoursome as they thought it would be. Both the chicken and the beef were cooked well and were the heroes of each of the dishes. The dishes were filling and quite decently sized.

Overall, I had a great experience with the Gumbo Kitchen and would definitely try them again – especially the Shrimp Po Boy!!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gumbo-Kitchen/113192782105826?fref=ts

Twitter: @gumbokitchen

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – You can choose from Gumbo,Po Boys, The Dom and for dessert there is an Lemon Ice Box Pie – can be found at http://gumbokitchen.com/2012/09/14/gumbo-kitchen-menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun !!
Standout Dish: Fried Shrimp Po Boy
Service: Friendly, inviting and fun!
Online Booking: No…you will need to track them down!!
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://gumbokitchen.com/
164 High St
Northcote
(this is where they were intially based, but they go around to the inner suburbs, check their Facebook and Twitter for locations)
Tel No: 0411 037 652

Gumbo Kitchen on Urbanspoon

De Mad Hatter – Alice in Wonderland Style

Menu:
De Mad Hatter Menu

De Mad Hatter is a newly opened cafe in the Docklands area and is brought to you by the owners of Beanstalk Cafe (which is also located at Docklands, a 3 minute walk from De Mad Hatter in fact). De Mad Hatter has a Alice in Wonderland theme, from the name down to the decor. There is a bird cage which has a massive key encased inside to the upside down signs and of course the Rabbit’s timepiece.

The menu has mushrooms and the timepiece and interesting sayings on it, as well as a well put together food under the themed categories – We’re all with chips here – which are the burgers (there are 4 different burgers), A Mad Parma Party which consists of 6 different Parma’s including a Gluten Free option, “Who stole my sald?” Said the Queen of hearts – where three options of salads are available and finally Down the Risotto Mole – which has 5 different risottos to choose from.

I ordered the Pasta dish  which was Ricotta and Spinach Tortellini in Napoli Cream Sauce. The pasta was good, but wasn’t house made and the flavours of the dish were fresh and delicious. The second time around I ordered the Three Mushroom Risotto with Rocket and Parmesan. The dish was indeed full of mushrooms (sometimes when a dish says it contains a particular ingredient, it can sometimes be a scarce amount), and the serving was quite generous. The risotto was cooked perfectly, the rice was just the right texture and the flavours worked. I am a huge fan of mushrooms, but there was one type in there that I didn’t quite like. I also tasted some of my friends dish – Black Ink Risotto tossed with Seafood – and that too was packed with flavour together with a tangy taste. The majority of the table ordered Parmas and they were all impressed with the size of these dishes as well. The Parmas came with a serving of chips and the Gluten Free Parma with a serving of salad instead. I must say De Mad Hatter’s chips is one of the yummiest chips I have come across. They were crunchy and absolutely tasty!

Another major plus point is the coffee that is served here. You will find a queue during peak hour times in the morning and the afternoon with people waiting to get their coffee hit. One of the good coffee places in and around the docklands area. Their chai latte’s are also really good and creamy.

One negative however, was the wait for food. At lunch times if you are ordering from their menu, we had to wait around 30-40 minutes for our food once we ordered. If you order from the bain marie and sit down to eat, or from the food that is on display it will be quick.  Overall though I think that it is a great addition to the Docklands area.

Rating : 3 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A la Carte as well as food served in Bain Marie’s, as well as a selection of salads, foccacias, baguettes etc.
Fullness: 90%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Quirky and fun
Standout Dish: Any of the Risotto dishes
Service: Friendly but a tad bit slow. Might need a few more wait staff perhaps
Online Booking: No – you are best to book a table for lunch if you have more than 4 people
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/d3madhatt3r
797 Collins St, Docklands
Tel No: 9620 2226

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 6am – 5pm

De Mad Hatter on Urbanspoon

Pok Pok – A Lunch Favourite in Docklands

Pok Pok is a Thai restaurant newly opened in July this year and is located in Docklands and is soon becoming a fast lunch favourite. Pok Pok is styled in tones of pink and blue, and has both communal tables for large groups or the smaller tables for more personal dining. Fresh flowers provide the centrepiece on the tables which add a nice homely touch.

Pok Pok  gets its names from the Thai term to describe the sounds of a pestle hitting spices in a granite mortar, which is reminiscent of the background noises in the streets of eateries in the streets of Bangkok. Pok Pok’s aim is to bring authentic and fresh Thai street food to streets of Melbourne, using the freshest of ingredients – and this they do achieve.

My first trip to Pok Pok was a Friday lunchtime and we had our work team head over. We sat on the communal tables and were promptly given our menus. The menu is filled with a variety of dishes – ranging from something to small, quick and light to something to warm the belly and ending with the finishing touches. There are curries, things from the Wok as well as rice and noodle dishes. I had the Spicy Stir Fried Rockling with “Pad Cha” Chilli. The rockling was fresh and cooked perfectly and came mixed with Pad Cha which consisted of garlic paste, basil and of course chilli. Most of the table had the Massaman Lamb Curry with Crisp Roti Bread, which everyone that had it raved about. The Lamb was soft and tender and literally melted off the bone and the Roti Bread crispy and buttery. I also had the Cabbage, Chives and Shitake Mushroom Pan Fried Dumplings. This is a very different combination of flavours in a dumpling, but they not only looked good,but tasted great. The combination of those ingredients had a somewhat nutty flavour. The dumplings were juicy and flavoursome. There are two other combinations to try as well – Taro and water chestnut and Chicken and sweet corn.

Another Thai touch, is that water is given out to you in tiny little silver cups that you cup in your hands to drink out of. The only thing is that they are quite small that you could almost run out of water in one gulp.

The next time I went to Pok Pok was again at lunchtime and this time around I ordered the Grilled King Fish and King Prawn Curry – Grilled in a Red Coconut Curry and Wrapped in Banana Leaf flavoured with Kaffir Leaves and Basil. When I ordered this dish, the waiter asked me if I didn’t mind that some of the dish is a bit raw. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by this but when the dish came out, both the fish and the prawn were cooked and tasted delicious. The fish did have towards the end have an overly fishy taste and I guess this is where the “rawness” came into it – afterall it had been wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. The mixture of the red coconut, basil and kaffir leaves was authentic, spicy and provided a burstful of flavour in your mouth.

The dishes are decently sized and you are left with a warm feeling in your tummy that comes not only from the spiciness but the fullness. The ingredients are fresh and the flavours authentic. Service is quite good as well, but the wait staff are kept quite busy and are bustling about to service all the tables. Check it out.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – A la Carte Menu – refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Lunchtimes are very busy and you do feel like you are in the busy streets of Bangkok
Standout Dish: Massaman Lamb Curry with Crisp Roti Bread and Spicy Stir Fried Rockling with “Pad Cha” Chilli
Service:
Online Booking: No, but if you are to go during lunch time and have a large group it is best advised to book.
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/POKPOKMELB
801-803 Bouke St, Docklands
Tel No: 9620 4580

Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday: 7am to 4pm
Thursday to Friday: 7am to 10pm
Saturday: 6pm t0 10pm

Pok Pok on Urbanspoon