Northern Lights Bar & Eatery – Fusion Food with Fanciful Lights

panda 4 rating 
Love the Lights!

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Menu:
Northern Light Menu

We needed a place to have dinner after a full day at the Good Food and Wine show in the Fitzroy / Collingwood area, as we were heading to drinks in that area later. I referred to my trusty list of places I wanted to go and realised Northern Light Bar & Eatery worked perfectly.

Northern Light is located on Smith Street in Collingwood – in what used to be the old Gigibaba. Venue owners are Adam Liston and Glen Bagnara (ex-Chester White) together with manager Emily Pullen, and they have created a fusion Chinese and Japanese eatery that is all about shared dishes. Clearly the years Liston spent in Shanghai were utilised in the creation of the menu and the idea behind Northern Light.

From the moment you step in you feel like you are transported to another world – almost forest like (hence the name) – thanks to the plethora of dangling combination of light bulbs and lanterns. It’s beautiful. The next thing your eyes are drawn to is the marble white bar that takes up the length of the venue, finished with dark wood. There is seating all along the bar, along with lower tables at the front which has a massive white decorative mirror overlooking it. Exposed brick walls and mood lighting completes the look.

The menu designed by Liston and is split into 6 different sections – Snacks, Plates, Cooked over Binchotan, Meat, fish & Vegetables, Sides and finishes with Desserts. You can pick from the enticing dishes yourself or have the banquet menu – 5 courses for $55 and 7 courses for $75. Snack dishes include Spiced Prawn Cracker, a golden egg, Plate dishes which are slightly larger consists of an edamame dish with kimchi sauce, an interesting eel dish and air dried Blackbmore beef. Cooked over the Binchotan have a selection of skewers that come in the form of mushroom, chicken, beef or pork belly. The meat, fish & vegetable section include soba noodles, suckling pig, a smoked trout okonomiyaki and lamb ribs. There are three different sides to choose from as well three different desserts.

The drink menu includes Sapporo on tap along with other drink options include cider, wine, and a concise selection of cocktails. I ordered a mocktail of mint and pineapple and it was quite tasty.

We have a few dietary requirements and the staff are happy to help us out and let us know which dishes are Gluten-free. With that knowledge we decide to order for ourselves – there are four of us – and get a couple of dishes from each section. What I also liked was that each time a dish came out – the staff explained what the dish was and each component.

We start off with the Golden Egg, Caramel, Fried Shallot, Furikake. This came highly recommended from the staff, and after eating this dish we could see why. The dish was quite a colourful dish thanks to the blue background of the plate together with the fried shallots and furikake (nori, seasame and chilli) all adding to the colourfulness. The golden egg was perfectly soft centered – it had been poached and then flash fried to create a crackling outer shell that had been rolled in caramel. The dish was finished with the onion as well as the furikake and worked extremely well together. It was a combination of spice, salt, sugar, crunch and gooeyness – try it out for yourselves.

The Sichuan Spiced School Prawns, Curry Mayo were up next. There was a bit division here with this dish but only with regards to the Curry Mayo – half of us liked it and half of us didn’t. I was on team I LIKE THE MAYO – it was an interesting combination and I think it worked well with the flavour of the prawns. The Sichuan spiced prawns on the other hand was a clear winner – everyone loved it and we sat around discussing how we could recreate this dish at home. They were perfectly crunchy and flavoured well and you could sit there eating them all day!

The Edamame, Broccolini, Gai Lan, Kimchi Sauce was an interesting dish. I am obsessed with Broccolini at the moment, so when I saw this as one of the components I had to get it. The Edamame came already out of the pod – which was a bit disappointing – the whole fun attributed to popping them yourself was missing, however I get why it was done for this dish. The dish was fresh and tasty thanks to the kimchi sauce.

Next up was the Eel unagi, Squid Sauce, salted Grapes, Mojama. This was a really great dish! A hadn’t ever had eel before and she tried it for the first time here and quite enjoyed it. The dish was presented interestingly, with grape halves dispersed amongst the eel, which lay on top of the squid sauce and topped with mojama (salt-preserved tuna). The eel was smooth and had a smoky flavour which worked well when coupled with the sweetness of the grapes and the saltiness of the mojama. A dish well worth ordering.

The Air dried Blackmore beef, wasabi, yolk, fried potato was another interestingly plated up dish – the main focus was the nest of thin potato slices that you needed to push aside to reveal the vibrant Blackmore beef and the bright yolk. The dish was completed with fresh wasabi, horseradish and sorrel leaves. The boys quite enjoyed the beef dish and said it was interesting to have it combined with the walk runny yolk.

The Wagyu oyster blade skewers with Bulldog Sauce were a hit as well. They are quite small in size and I am sure they all could have eaten another three skewers each – they were that easy to eat – tender and flavoursome, and the bulldog sauce always makes things more interesting.

I used to order vegetarian okonomiyakis all the time and really enjoyed the dish, so was interested to see what Northern Light’s version would taste like. We ordered the Smoked trout, salted shrimp okonomiyaki, katsuobushi (this is the Japanese name for dried, fermented and smoked skip jack tuna). We were all enthralled by this dish when it was placed in front of us as we saw pieces of food moving – this turned out to be the katsuobushi. When placed on hot food, the heat waves causes the thin and light katsuobushi to move about which made the dish seem alive with the “dancing” katsuobushi. The dish resembled a seafood omelette and was quite tasty – however we found it a tad bit too salty. The saltiness took over the other flavours of the dish so I couldn’t really taste the smokiness of the trout.

To accompany the dishes we had ordered we also ordered the Warm soba noodles, wild mushrooms, white sesame and the Vegetarian Fried Rice. The soba noodle dish I loved – anything combined with mushrooms and sesame to me is brilliant. The noodles weren’t overcooked either so all in all a good dish.

After all the dishes we got try I actually was quite full and wasn’t really considering dessert – but I am glad that I decided to change my mind at the last minute. I ordered the Broken Ice Cream Sandwich. This was yet another interestingly presented dish – it came out with jagged edged shards made out of chocolate and reminiscent of a hardened cake – placed in form of a tent shape. Once you open this fort like surrounds you reveal a luscious and creamy vanilla ice cream rectangle chunk, which is topped with dollops of equally creamy chocolate mousse and gooey salted caramel. The combination of these three elements together was spectacular and it was the best end to a great meal. Who knew something so simple when put together could taste so great!

We apparently beat the Saturday night rush as we had a pretty early dinner – around 6pm and left around 7:30pm. So if you want to beat the rush go early! Northern Light Bar & Eatery is a great place to just hang out and enjoy some great Japanese/Chinese inspired dishes whether it be with a group of four people or even a romantic night out. The mood is casual and relaxed, the staff really friendly and those multiple hanging lights are a winner in my book!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to above pic. Menu can also be found at http://www.northernlightbarandeatery.com/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Romantic, Mood Lighting, Casual and Relaxed. Great for a first date – but works well for a group of 4 as well!
Standout Dish: Golden Egg, Caramel, Fried Shallot, Furikake AND Broken Ice Cream Sandwich
Service: Fantastic! Very helpful when we needed to find out about which dishes were Gluten Free. Friendly as well!
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.northernlightbarandeatery.com/bookings/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.northernlightbarandeatery.com/
102 Smith Street, Collingwood
Tel No: 9416 0698

Opening Hours:
Closed Mondays
Tuesday to Thursday: 5:30pm – Late

Northern Light on Urbanspoon

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Gorksi and Jones – Melbourne Style, Simple Tasty Food

panda-3-5-rating2

For my birthday dinner with my group of friends I picked Gorski & Jones. This great restaurant is located in Smith Street in Collingwood and is brought to you by Paul and Linda Jones – who also head up Brunswick Street’s popular Alimnetari together with Meaghan Gorski (ex-Jacques Reymond, St Peter’s) and voila you get the name Gorski & Jones. It was Gorski herself who drew up the initial sketches to overhaul what used to be The Last Record Store (which had been here for the last 18 years) and gave the ideas over to artist David Murray.

The result is a welcoming and warm room despite its high wooden ceilings – it is complete with bare brick walls, industrial lightshades which create mood lighting, plant boxes, an open kitchen with white tiles and the highlight of the kitchen – the wood-fire oven. The other main highlight of the room is the long marble bar with dark wooden pannelling. Atop of the bar is ever changing daily selection of antipasti which is displayed in a glass cabinet.You can walk through the main room through to the well constructed outside inside courtyard, so it’s a great place for all types of weather. The courtyard is long, homely and warm complete with its wooden floors and over-sized lights.

The wait staff are just as warm as the venue is and are super-friendly and happy to help in any way. They knew it was a birthday dinner and offered the table a free glass of wine for everyone which I thought was a nice touch. The menu is split into 5 different sections – antipasto, entree, main, sides and desserts. We are all quite hungry so it doesn’t take too long to decide on what we want. There were some specials that were available as well – with the highlight amongst the table being the crackling pork. The fish of the day was a Snapper cooked whole. I was deciding between the fish of the day, the risotto and the gnocchi pasta. I decided to go with the gnocchi in the end.

Whilst our food arrived we were given warm house made bread together with ricotta which was placed along with the olive oil. Something so simple yet tasted so good and everyone around the table enjoyed this addition of ricotta. Gorski and Jones was already off to a great start in terms of food.

For starters we got a serving of the Zucchini Flowers – Stuffed Zucchini Flowers, Mozzarella and Peperonata. The Zucchini Flowers come in a tempura style covering and are stuffed with delicious creamy ricotta which comes atop of the peperonata. The dish is fresh and flavoursome and one of the better zucchini flowers I have tasted.

There was a variety of different dishes around the table for mains. This ranged from lamb to chicken livers! There was Chicken Cacciatore, Pancetta, Kiplers, Olives as well as Pappardelle, Guanciale, Chicken Livers, Caramelised Onions & Radicchio. N had the pasta with chicken livers and thought it was quite a tasty dish, however couldn’t finish the entire dish as it was quite filling. S had the Roasted Lamb Rump with White Beans, Rosemary and Olive Tapenade – which was quite a generous serving and the white beans complimented the perfectly cooked lamb. M had the Saffron Risotto with Scallops, Peas, Dill and Lemon – of which I got to taste a portion of. The risotto was cooked well and had all the seafoody flavours from the scallops – the only feedback that both M and I would have was that there could have been more scallops added. L had the Fish of the Day which was the Snapper on this night ( I got to try a bit of this dish as well) – the snapper came with the bones attached and was flavoured with a lemon sauce with capers. The dish that I got for my main was the Ricotta Gnocchi, Broccolini, Pangratata. The gnocchi was quite tasty and perfectly sized – some pieces were tougher than others. I enjoyed the combination of the Broccolini and Pangratata (which is breadcrumbs), together with the tangyness of the tomato. The portion sizing might look small – but it definitely fills you right up. L&P both ordered the special of the Crackling Pig Pie with Potatoes and both loved the dish! If you have a look at the pictures of these dishes – the serving sizes were massive! It was safe to say that everyone around the table were quite satisfyingly full after each of their mans. The food was homely and delicious thanks to the fresh produce and the interesting combination of flavours.

Some of us around the table decided to get dessert dishes and share them – we got the Squacquerone Panna cotta, Spiced Pear and the Hot Chocolate Pudding, Chestnut Ice Cream. We all wondered what squacquerone was – turns out it is a type of cheese – quite mild in taste and reminds me of a tangy version of mascarpone. I have never had a cheesy flavoured panna cotta before so was intrigued to see what it tasted like. This panna cotta was different to any other panna cotta I have tasted before – it had sour tang flavour to it that blended well with the vanilla bean taste of the panna cotta – put together with the spiced pear it worked effortlessly. This flavour combination is something that I am quite sure most people would never have tried – but definitely try this dish when you come to Gorski and Jones. The Hot Chocolate Pudding was another great dessert dish – warm and with a gooey chocolatey centre paired with the chestnut ice cream. A must for chocolate lovers.

Gorski and Jones is a great venue for any occasion – be it a casual or more formal affair. It presents affordable dining in typical Melbourne surrounds that is warm and refreshing. The menu has an Italian influence with modern touches and is all round delicious. Next time you are in the area – come into Gorski and Jones – you really wont regret it!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.gorskiandjones.com/ for Breakfast (http://gorskiandjones.com/assets/pdf/breakfast.pdf), Lunch (http://gorskiandjones.com/assets/pdf/lunch.pdf), Dinner (http://gorskiandjones.com/assets/pdf/dinner.pdf), Drinks (http://gorskiandjones.com/assets/pdf/drinks.pdf), Wines (http://gorskiandjones.com/assets/pdf/winelist.pdf) and Dessert (http://gorskiandjones.com/assets/pdf/dessert.pdf) menus
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Fun and Casual. Great place to just chill out and enjoy some great food amongst friends.
Standout Dish: Squacquerone Pannacota, Spiced Pear
Service: Friendly, Warm and Receptive.
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://gorskiandjones.com/wordpress/
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.gorskiandjones.com
304 Smith Street, Collingwood
Tel No: 9417 7779

Opening Hours
Mondays Closed
Tuesday: 5pm to 11pm
Wednesday to Sunday: 8am to 11pm

Gorski & Jones on Urbanspoon