Lucy Liu – Red, Asian and Delicious

panda 4 rating

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The long awaited replacement for PM24 – Lucy Liu has arrived, and arrived with a vengeance. The entrance is located down the cobble stoned Oliver Lane – just follow the red neon lights that illuminate the short corridor (or tunnel – whichever you prefer to call it) where you are greeted with a large sign where its name appears – LUCY LIU.

From the moment you step inside you feel like you have been transported to another world – it almost feel like a movie set – complete with bamboo scaffolding, blonde timber, splashes of red (to keep the theme running from the entrance) and a buzz that further adds to the exciting and lively vibe. As you enter, to the right side are some tables if you wanted to just come in for a drink and to the left are tables located for dining and trying some of their delicious food dishes.

Lucy Liu is the brainchild of Michael Lambie (The Smith, Taxi, Circa), Scott Borg and Zac Cribbes. The fit out is done by March Studio (Gazi, Baker D Chirico, Young Bloods Diner and more ) and the result is spectacular. I love the aforementioned bamboo scaffolding which reminds you of building sites in Hong Kong and China mixed together with polished concrete floors and brickwork accents throughout the venue. There is a mix of communal tables, booth seating, low tables, high tables as well as seating at the bar. Tables are either wooden or Laminex topped paired with comfortable seats, with larger tables having a Lazy Susan for ease. There is also a private dining room available for larger parties.

The menu explores Lambie’s distinct fusing of Asian and western flavours to create a spectacular. Lucy Liu isn’t all about the one Asian cuisine, but a little bit of all of them – be it Chinese, Japanese, Thai.
The menu is split into six different sections – Small Bites & Tastes, Dumplings & Buns, Plates, Larger, Sides and Sweets. There is a lot of variety and you left confused with what to choose – there is a Let Lucy Choose option – where you let Lucy pick the dishes that come to your table. There is either a 5 Plate ($55 per person) or 7 Plate ($65 per person) option to choose from.

Small Bites & Tastes include Freshly Shucked Oysters with Red Nam Jim or Ponzu Dipping Suace, Tempura Soft-Shelled Crab, Korean Fried Chicken, Thai Fish Cakes and Organic Tofu just to name a few – there are 11 dishes to select from ranging from $4 to $22.

The Dumplings & Buns section has 4 different dumplings and 4 different “buns” to choose from. Interestingly vegetarian dumplings don’t make it to the list – Crystal Skin Prawn & Bamboo, Steamed Pork & Chestnut, Peking Duck and Barramundi & Scampi are on offer. BBQ Lap Chong ‘Hot Dog’, Crispy Pork Bun and Steamed Sticky Beef Bun are on offer together with a Soft Shelled Crab ‘Jianbing’ Pancake Roll.

Plates and Larger are your more substantially sized dishes and cover a good cross section of your Seafood and Meat dishes, however not very Vegetarian options are available. The Vegetarian options are more evident in the Sides section with Stir Fried Asian Greens, Lucy Liu Spiced Green Apple Coleslaw and Green Bean & Mizuna Salad are available.

Sweets showcase six different desserts, some having the Asian flair running through them. Chocolate lovers aren’t left out either with their delectable Chocolate Dulce de Leche.

I have been to Lucy Liu a few times now (yep it really is that great!) and mostly seem to stick to the dishes that I really love but have ventured into new territory and tried out other dishes as well. The first few times we were seated amongst where most of the tables are located with a view of the kitchen / bar, and the last time I went we sat at the bar and had a great view of the chef’s preparation of the dishes.

The table setting is quite unique with holographic placemats – each showcasing a different picture such as Koalas, Trees, Ducks – that you turnover to reveal the menu. Swanky!
You can’t help but order at least a dish from each of the sections – usually starting with the Small Bites & Tastes. My absolute favourite dish from this section is the Soft Shelled Crab Jianbing Pancake Roll with Spicy Hoi Sin Sauce. The pancake on the outsides is soft, thin and perfectly cooked and contrasts well with the crunch of the soft shell crab on the inside. The spicy hoi sin sauce really brings all the components of the dish together and the result will have your tastebuds dancing and craving more. The first time we ordered this dish, we were tempted to order another serving – a must try dish!

Another dish from the first section was the Crispy Fried Quail with Shichimi Pepper and Spicy Plum Dressing. The girls did enjoy this dish – the spices on the crispy coating on the outside paired well with the sweetness of the plum sauce, with the quail cooked well.

N also ordered the Korean Fried Chicken Ribs with Kewpie Mayo – a simple dish with a kick of spice and hint of garlic. Seeing how quickly the dish was demolished – another great tasting dish.

We all ordered a serving of the Fresh Betel Leaves with Kingfish and Chilli Peanut Sambal – which isto be eaten with the Betel Leaf. The Kingfish was fresh and succulent and the pairing of the Chilli Peanut Sambal worked well together – adding some spice and crunch.

A definite hit with everyone was the Crispy Pork Bun with Spicy Kimchi and Kewpie Mayo. There were many MMMs and YUMMMs mentioned throughout the consumption of this dish. Slightly larger than bite sized – the bun is soft and cloudlike paired together with the spicy kimchi, creamy kewpie mayo, pork and finished with coriander.

One of my favourite dishes is the Barramundi and Scampi Dumplings with Chilli, Ginger and Spring Onions. This was recommended to us the first time from our friendly waiter and boy am I glad he did. The combination when I first read it on the menu sounded intriguing as it is something you don’t usually see. The dish comes out with the dumplings hidden by the chilli, ginger, spring onions and coriander – the soft casing of the dumpling gives way to the exhilarating combination of barramundi and scampi on the inside, the topping of chilli and ginger are the perfect flavouring accompaniment. The sweet and sour hit paired with the freshness of the seafood is divine! Another must try dish!
The Yellow Fin Tuna Tataki, Wasabi Ginger Dressing and Sesame Crackers is an impressive looking dish – from the vibrant pink of the Yellow Fin Tuna to the snow white sesame crackers finishing with the orange tones of the salad. The textured coating of the tuna was delicious with the tuna itself being seared to perfection. The sesame crackers were reminiscent of the prawn crackers you would usually see at a Chinese restaurant and were an interesting addition. The Wasabi Ginger dressing provided some heat and spice which worked well with the sweetness of the carrot.

From the Plates section we ordered the Green Papaya Salad with Beans, Tomato, Peanuts, Hot Chilli. This was quite a colourful and vibrant dish – with the fresh green beans and red cherry tomatoes finished with crunchy peanuts. This dish had quite a lot of spice to it which I loved! Nothing works better than the addition of spice to balance out the tanginess of the papaya.

We also ordered the Tempura Organic Tofu and Seasonal Vegetables with Tomato Chilli Dipping Sauce dish from the Plates section. This was one dish that I didn’t enjoy quite so much. The flavouring of the Tempura itself was quite bland and lacked flavour. The Tomato Chilli Dipping sauce was definitely a needed component for this dish.

The Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Green Chilli Dhal and Cucumber Relish is yet another stand out dish. The Lamb Shoulder had been impeccably cooked – soft, tender and fell off the bone. The Green Chilli Dhal was absolutely divine – milky, wholesome with the right amount of spice to it. Together as a whole paired with the cucumber and yoghurt relish it was a truly great dish. One of those dishes that remind you of a typical lamb roast your mum used to make.

The Roast Barramundi Fillet with Black Bean & Chilli Sambal & Nouc Cham Dipping Sauce is a dish that you will find under the Larger menu. The Barramundi is served atop of the Black Bean & Chilli Samabl, with the Nuoc Cham Dipping sauce served separately in a cup. I am not a huge fan of Black Beans and try to avoid them whenever I can, however this Black Bean was simply delicious. The texture and flavouring worked extremely well with the perfectly roasted Barramundi Fillet – you almost didn’t even need the addition of the Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce. If you love your fish dishes – you should definitely try this dish out.

Despite being quite full, we had to try the desserts and since there was four of us – we decided to order three different desserts and share amongst ourselves.

The Ginger Crème Brulee – Palm Sugar Caramel and Sesame Tuile. The crème brulee was creamy, smooth and silky with the perfect level of crunchiness from the top coating of sugar caramel. The ginger flavouring was slight and not overpowering which is what you want in a dish like this. The sesame tuile was interesting in flavour and I am undecided about the pairing of this with the ginger crème brulee.

The Chocolate Dulce De Leche with Blood Orange Foam – the mousse was quite rich and heavy in flavour, however was light and fluffy in texture. The addition of the foam had a sherbet style tanginess to it which made your tastebuds pop and fizz. You couldn’t eat this foam on its own and the addition of the mousse worked well together – after all chocolate and orange really do seem to mesh.

The Lucy’s Knickerbocker Glory with Lychee Sorbet and Red Fruit Compote would have to be my favourite dessert out of the lot. The knickerbocker is a cross between a sundae and a trifle all rolled into one. There are layers of sweet tart fruit, topped with whipped cream, chocolate buttons, jelly squares and chunky bits of honeycomb. This really is a fun dessert to have as there are many textures and flavours to taste and enjoy. The surprise of every mouthful being different also adds to the deliciousness.

Lucy Liu is a great addition to Melbourne’s laneways bringing a vibrant, casual and funky eating and drink bar that serves up delicious tasting Asian cuisine coupled with brilliantly made drinks. The staff are fantastic – always helpful and offer great opinions on what dishes to order and the amount required for your party size. Another major advantage is that Lucy Liu takes bookings, but also reserves a part of the restaurant for walk-ins. I would highly recommend that you check this awesome place out!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to picture above or visit
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Chick, Unique, Vibrant and Funky. A great place for catch up drinks, celebration dinner or even date night – such a versatile venue!
Standout Dish: Barramundi and Scampi Dumplings with Chilli, Ginger and Spring Onions / Soft Shelled Crab Jianbing Pancake Roll with Spicy Hoi Sin Sauce
Service: Friendly and very helpful. If you can’t decide what to order the staff will go out of their way to let you know their favourite dishes and what dishes work well together.
Online Booking: No – only via phone
Restaurant Details and Location:
lucylius.com.au
23 Oliver Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9639 5777

Opening Hours
Monday to Sunday: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LucyLiuMelbourne
Twitter: @LucyLiu_Melb
Instagram: lucyliu_melbourne

LadyBoy Dining – Cheeky Fun!

panda 4 rating

 

Menu:
Menu at LadyBoy Dining

With a name like Ladyboy Dining you are sure to strike up an interest – adding some curiosity, fun, spice and playfulness to the Richmond area. Ladyboy Dining is created by co-owners Fran Leaper and chef Mitch Townrow (Longrain) who are joined together with chef Pez Bowman (Melbourne Pub Group).

As you step inside you will feel like you have been transported to Bangkok, Thailand. The colourful, cheeky fit out has been done in collaboration with Ingrain Designs. A huge colourful sign with the word SAWASDEE (a greeting to mean welcome/hello) greets you together with a large striking street art ladyboy face. Next to it is a large bright yellow sign – LADYBOY – which hangs above the bar and overlooks the entire dining room. What I love is the installation of multi coloured wastepaper baskets that have been flipped to create light shades that drape loosely from the roof across the front dining area. At the end of the bar is a slightly smaller neon blue sign – ROCK OUT WITH YOUR WOK OUT – and below that is an open kitchen where you can watch as the chefs prepare your meals.

As you walk down the small walkway from the main dining area towards the back of the venue – more seating is available with a funky abstract artwork of an elephant. This leads to the back where there is a large area for the Buddha Bar complete with colourful umbrellas on the ceiling, awesome cane furniture (round, curved seating) and fake grass outside – to keep with the Thai relaxed theme. Here there is also fancy artwork of a large Buddha head on one and neon signage with the words BUDDHA BAR on the opposite side under which the wooden bar sits. The expansive courtyard will no doubt be a hit in the summer. Here you can enjoy the hawker style bar menu which includes oysters and green nahm jim, chicken wings and a selection of banh mi – all for $8, as well as salt & pepper tofu and pork hock with rum glaze. There are cheekily named drinks on their menu for offer such as Adam’s Apple and Trans-gin-der, as well as cocktail buckets and a good selection of beers and wine to try out.

The menu starts off with Smaller Bites such as Betel Leaf, Oysters + Nahm Jim and Son In Law Eggs – progressing to Smaller dishes where you will find Ceviche, Larb, Papaya Salad, Pork Hock and Salt & Pepper Tofu. This is then followed up with your larger dishes that include a selection of Curries (Red Duck or Tofu Curry, Green Fish Curry, Angus Brisket Penang Curry), Whole Fish, Pad Thai and Grilled Salad. There are a handful of sides to choose from which include Rice, Stir Fried Green, Chilli + Prawn + Smoked Coconut Samabl and Cucumber + Krachai + Mustard Green Relish. The menu ends with a selection of Sweet LadyBoy Treats – where coconut features mainly – with desserts such as Coconut Sorbet, Kaffir Lime Pie + Coconut Meringue, Sago + Palm Sugar + Coconut and White Sticky Rice + Ice Cream + Thai Fruits.

There is also an option to enjoy the LadyBoy’s Banquet ($45) which will give you the kitchen’s daily selection. This will require a minimum of 2 people, and if you have a table then the whole table must go on this banquet.

There were four of us at dinner and we ordered the Betel Leaf + Char Grilled Calamari + Green Mango + Peanut each to start. Served on a betel leaf – the dish comes out with striking colours thanks to the chilli, coriander and peanuts. You eat the entire dish as is – betel leaf and all – and as you crunch into the first bite your tastebuds will soar just like fireworks. A combination of spice, tang and the softness of the fresh grilled calamari is breathtaking. A great way to start off your food experience at LadyBoy.

From the smaller dishes we ordered Salt & Pepper Silken Tofu + Chilli Jam and Crispy Pork Hock + Rum Glaze. The Salt & Pepper Tofu was crispy and crunchy on the outside whilst being soft and billowy on the inside. The Chilli Jam that accompanied this dish was just the right consistency and had a great balance of flavours – spice and tang.
The two guys really enjoyed the Pork Hock + Rum Glaze – so much so that they wanted to order another serving of the dish. Clearly a mighty delicious tasting dish.

We also ordered the Green Papaya Salad + Snake Bean + Peanuts from the smaller dishes. Think slivers of green papaya mixed with freshly cut snake beans and tomatoes topped with peanuts and drizzled in spicy and tangy sauce. This dish is refreshing and sure does pack a punch; I also loved the mixture of textures that you get as you delve into it. The addition of coriander adds further depth and flavouring to the dish.

From the larger dishes we ordered three dishes – Green Fish Curry + Apple Eggplant + Pea Eggplant,Dry Red Duck Curry + Snake Beans + Baby Corn and Pad Thai + Salted Calamari + Peanut.
The Green Fish Curry + Apple Eggplant + Pea Eggplant. The dish comes with a generous amount of fish pieces and has just the right amount of coconut to flavour the curry. I have never eaten pea or apple eggplant before – pea eggplants is a very small eggplant and as the name suggests; resembles a pea. They were cooked whole and pop in your mouth when you bite them which release a burst of bitterness that combines nicely with the rich heat of the curry. A great dish.
The duck curry was served dry and looked delicious when it was placed on the table – the vibrant colours of the red duck against the bright yellow of the sweet corn and green from the basil and bean was breathtaking. This was another dish that the table enjoyed.
The Pad Thai was another well cooked and flavoured dish – served with a wedge of lime for extra tang if needed. The serving as with all the other dishes was quite generous.

Dessert was definitely on the cards – out of the four desserts to choose from – I decided to order the Sago + Palm Sugar + Coconut and N ordered the Kaffir Lime Pie + Coconut Meringue.
The Sago comes out served in a blue and white bowl – topped with star fruit and coconut flakes. I love anything with sago so thoroughly enjoyed this dessert. The coconut flakes added a crunch together with the star fruit adding citrusy and lime flavours.
I also had a chance to try out the Kaffir Lime Pie + Coconut Meringue. I am usually not a fan of lemon meringues or key lime pies, but this version was absolutely delicious and had to be my favourite dessert of the night. The coconut meringue was generously placed and flamed to perfection on top of the kaffir lime infused pie and topped with crunchy coconut flakes. The kaffir lime was the star of the dish and together with the combination of the coconut meringue was divine. A definite must try dish that I know anyone would enjoy.

The service at LadyBoy Dining is great – friendly and the staff are knowledgeable and well informed about each dish. LadyBoy is mostly for walk-ins but they do take banquet bookings in the dining area for a group of eight or more. On Sundays they serve Thai style roasts from 5pm onwards. LadyBoy Dining serves up delicious tasting Thai food with a difference – added cheek and fun! Summer days will definitely see this place packed out – especially at the Buddha Bar out the back. Get down and check out LadyBoy Dining now.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above or http://www.ladyboydining.com.au/#!dining/galleryPage
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun, Lively and Memorable. Such a colouful and fun-filled place to hang out and have a great night out with friends and family
Standout Dish: Salt & Pepper Silken Tofu + Chilli Jam AND Kaffir Lime Pie + Coconut Meringue
Service: Fantastic  – Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No, however you can book for 8 or more people.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.ladyboydining.com.au/
394 Bridge Road, Richmond
Tel No: 9421 3206

Opening Hours:
Monday & Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday & Thursday: 6:00pm to Late
Friday – Sunday: 5:00pm to Late

LadyBoy Dining + Bar on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ladyboydiningInstagram: ladyboydining
Twitter: @LadyBoyDining

The Smith – Knickerbocker Glory

panda 4 rating

A and I were looking for a place where we could have some dessert after dinner and I stumbled across The Smith and its renowned dessert – The Knickerbocker. It was a Friday night and I knew that they would be busy so I called up to see if they would have space for the two of us to have dessert – they were very helpful and said to come and they would find a space for us. How nice of them! So we headed down and literally had the best seats in the house – at the bar counter overlooking the kitchen –we could actually watch as our desserts were being made.

The Smith is located in High Street, Prahran – one of the trendier suburbs in Melbourne and the venue matches. The owner is Scott Borg (former director of Taxi and Circa), and he has created this swanky, sophisticated and fun venue that offers all day dining.

From the outside it looks like a pub, but once you are inside you are welcomed by a fun and casual vibe. To the right is the bar and courtyard and to the right is the main dining area, which travels all along to the back room which is another dining area. Here is where the fantastic open kitchen resides, with the opportunity to sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen – best view in the house! The back dining room has high ceilings together with a combination of round, square and communal wooden tables. The fit out is classy, elegant all whilst staying casual and welcoming.

We were just there for desserts so we were given the dessert menu to peruse. Whilst tossing up what we wanted to have for dessert – we could see the other meals being prepared in the kitchen and being sent out to the diners. They looked amazingly delicious! It made us wish that we had come here for dinner as well! The menu is prepared by Michael Lambie (also ex Taxi and Circa). The Smith offers six-course and eight-course tasting menus at $70 and $85.

The menu is split into six sections – starting off with “Oysters” (there are three to choose from), moving onto “Mouthful”, then “Tastes”, followed by “Fish & Meat”, then “Sides” and ending on dessert dubbed “To End.” Mouthful includes morsels of food that ranges from pork croquettes, to tempura king prawns, soft shell crab, tofu and salmon tartare. There are a number of “Tastes” and “Fish & Meat” dishes to select from as well – the variety ensures that there really is a dish for everyone and every dietary requirement. The menu is a combination of many cuisines – from Mexican to Thai to Japanese and even Modern Australian Country.

There were four different desserts to choose from which included The Smith Carrot Cake with citrus cream cheese, Chocolate dulce de elce with blood orange foam and the two desserts we chose to have. What is great about the desserts here are not only do they sound good, but most of them are Gluten-Free, Nut-Free etc. The menu marks down what each dessert is, as well as suggesting what drink it would go well with. There is also a cheese selection if you are a cheese fan.

I ordered the The Smith Knickerbocker Glory (GF, EF, NF) – which was essentially like a trifle – it had layers and layers of sweet goodness. There are layers of macerated sweet tart fruit including pomegranate molasses, berries, strawberries topped with whipped cream, chocolate buttons, jelly squares and chunky bits of honeycomb. There were so many textures and flavours going on and it really was a fun dessert to have. I loved the combination of cream and berries any day so this dessert worked really well for me and was just what I craved and wanted.

A ordered the Raspberry Souffle with White Chocolate Ice Cream (GF) which was mighty impressive when it was placed in front of us. The overflow of the soufflé looked delightful and was topped with icing sugar; to the side was the white chocolate ice cream. The soufflé was literally melt in your mouth and the tanginess worked extremely well in contrast to the sweetness of the white chocolate ice cream. A winner!

Whilst we were eating our desserts we watched as The Smith Carrot cake was being made and boy did it look impressive! There were so many elements that were added – as you watch you think that it would be the last ingredient placed – but wait there’s more – more and more elements added – and the end result: spectacular. The dish was finished with petals, flowers and reminded me of a swan. Definitely wanting to try this out next time!

We also ordered tea to go with our dessert – and I tried the Russian Caravan tea for the first time! I have previously not heard of this flavour and was intrigued to try it out. This tea is a blended oolong, keemun and lapsang souchong tea and has a vibrant and strong aroma to match a nutty, malty and smoky flavouring. I might actually consider purchasing some of my own Russian Caravan tea!

The staff were really helpful and our waiter especially was really friendly! Customer service was really good and the staff looked like they were having a good time.

The Smith is great place be it for a casual catch up dinner or a celebration. The atmosphere is lively, fun and very friendly. The Smith also has two function rooms upstairs, with a separate bar and kitchen. One of the rooms is called “Mr Smith” which is the more masculine version complete with leather seats and can seat up to 40 people. The other room is aptly named “Mrs Smith” – complete with white walls and can seat up to 24 people. There is a wall between the two that can be opened up to create one larger space if needed.

The Smith serves a large variety of food in a venue that is stylish, elegant yet casual and relaxed – the staff are friendly and helpful and the food dishes not only look spectacular but taste great too! What more could you ask for really?

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to http://www.thesmithprahran.com.au/the-food/ The drinks menu can be found here – http://www.thesmithprahran.com.au/the-drinks/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Elegant, Stylish, Casual and Fun. There is an area for dining and an area for drinks, as well as a courtyard. There are also function rooms.
Service: Fantastic – very friendly and helpful!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.thesmithprahran.com.au
213 High St, Prahran
Tel No: 9514 2444

Opening Hours
Monday to Sunday: 12:00 pm – 11:30 pm

The Smith on Urbanspoon

Hercules Morse Kitchen and Bar – Intimate, Relaxed and Great Food!

panda 4 rating

Cocktail List:
Cocktail List at Hercules Morse Kitchen and Ba      More Drinks at Hercules Morse Kitchen and Ba

It was time for another catchup with A and this time my venue selection was at Hercules Morse Kitchen & Bar which is located in South Melbourne. Hercules Morse is the fantastic new venue by Kelly and Ash Cooke, which has been renovated from an old curry serving venue into a stylish and funky one. The name comes from children’s author Lynley Dodd’s series – Hairy Maclary and is the name of an English Mastiff (dog) in the books.

The central focal point is the bar and kitchen which is colourful striped feature. Depending on what you feel like there are high tables with bar stools located at the front and through the walkway of the venue, leading through to a comfortable and cosy back room which houses lower tables and cushion seats. There is also a tree mural and a fireplace to further add warmth. The tables are wooden and the chairs are black which tied in with the black and white circled plates (which I love!). There really was a great first impression!

The menu is created by Brad Cooke (formerly of Chin Chin) and combines a variety of ingredients in a style that is not seen in many places in Melbourne and has a modern twist to the Britannia era. The menu is split into three sections – Snack, Graze and Indulge. The menu is designed to share we are told by the friendly and helpful waiter. Reading the menu you almost want to sample each and every dish. Snacks consists from House Spiced Nuts to Oysters to Fish Fingers and their famous Morse Chip Butty (more on this dish later). Graze dishes are more of your larger dishes and consist of all your main proteins – such as beef, chicken, snapper, scallops, steak tartare and a vegetartian option of warmed barley and mushroom salad – which is a risotto dish. Indulge consists of 4 different desserts – 2 of which are cheese options.

We decided to get one Snack dish and one Graze dish each and share the Warmed Barley and Mushroom Risotto with Enoki and Melted Taleggio dish. A chose the Morse Chip Butty (she loves anything roasted in duck fat – I guess most people do!) as well as the Beef Cigars. I selected the Cheese and Cauliflower Balls as well as the Crispy Skin Snapper. We were seated on bar stools on the high tables near the kitchen so could see into the kitchen as our dishes were being prepared. Our first dish was the Cauliflower and Cheese Balls with Lemon, Rosemary Salt and a Dijon Dipping Mayo. I really loved the combination of the cauliflower and cheese – and I have never seen it done before. The addition of the rosemary salt mixed with the Dijon dipping mayo complemented the dish perfectly.

There was a crisp crunchy coating on the outside with the gooey yuminess on the inside – it really was a great dish! A had the Morse Chip Butty – Roasted Duck Fat Potatoes in a Truffle Buttered Roll and she loved it! It really is a pity I couldn’t try it. It came out in the form of a mini hamburger that was really tall. The potatoes looked crispy and perfectly coloured. For anyone that loves duck fat, potatoes or mini burgers this is a dish for you!

Next up were the larger Graze dishes. The Slow Braised Beef Cheek Cigars and Salsa Verde was visually stunning and vibrant dish and had a taste to match. Once again there was the perfect crispness on the outside to compete with the richness of the beef which paired perfectly with the salsa verde. The Crispy Skin Snapper, Prawn Brandade, Buttered Asparagus and Roquette Pesto was another Graze dish. The snapper was cooked just right with the crispness of the skin added not only texture but additional flavour to the dish. The pesto and asparagus was a great addition to the dish and together every aspect of this dish worked well. I really liked how the snapper was seasoned – so much that you could eat it on its own. A winner of a dish. The last Graze dish was the Warmed Barley and Mushroom Salad with Enoki and Melted Taleggio – which to me was one of their healthier dishes thanks to the barley. Even though the menu calls it a salad it really equated to a mushroom risotto. The barley was cooked well and the Taleggio melted on top added an extra depth to the dish. Yum!

We were both pretty full by this stage but who can say no to dessert right? So we decided to share and A let me decide which dessert to pick – I picked the Deconstructed Apple Pie – Tarte Tatin Apples, Pecan and Cheddar Crumble. This dessert was interesting – as you would expect in an apple pie you have apples and the addition of the pecan was a nice extra – but what threw me was the cheddar crumble. I must admit I wasn’t a big fan of the cheddar crumble and the harshness of this didn’t quite mix so well with me. However hats off for creating a very different apple pie!

There is quite a variety in terms of drinks at Hercules Morse and there are 2 pages of cocktails available as well! They are interestingly named such as XXX Expresso which provides a caffeine hit as well as drinks like Fields of Lavender and Goodie Goodie Gum Drop. Refer to the pictures for what is in each of these drinks.

Hercules Morse is relaxed and intimate restaurant/bar that is great for many occasions – from date night to a casual catch-up with friends. The wait staff are friendly and very helpful in assisting you in dishes and are really knowledgeable about each dish on the menu. It has a great menu which covers a variety of dishes and a fantastic drink menu to match – all in the funky suburb of South Melbourne.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.herculesmorse.com.au/files/HM_MENU_2012.pdf for Food Menu. Refer to picture above for Cocktail List.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Intimate, Cosy and Welcoming. Great for all occasions – from date night to a catch-up with friends or even a celebration!
Standout Dish: Crispy Skin Snapper, Prawn Brandade, Buttered Asparagus and Roquette Pesto AND Morse Chip Butty – Roasted Duck Fat Potatoes in a Truffle Buttered Roll
Service: Friendly, Knowledgeable and Helpful
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.herculesmorse.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.herculesmorse.com.au/
282 Clarendon St, South Melbourne
Tel No: 9690 9402

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Saturday to Sunday: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm

Hercules Morse Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon

The Atlantic – THE Freshest Seafood!

The Fresh Oysters on Display

Oyster Island Inlet – Tasmania

Roasted Cauliflower – Onion and Almonds

Thrice Cooked Russet Potatoes – Rosemary, Garlic, Sea Salt

Wood Fire Grilled King Fish – Wilted Witlof, Ruby Grapefruit, Mint, Coriander, Blood Orange Reduction

Pan Roasted Hapuka – Braised Green Lentils, Sauteed Mushrooms, Jus Gras

The Atlantic is newly opened restaurant at the Crown Entertainment Complex which can seat up to 300 guests over many different dining areas. The Atlantic is the brainchild of Donovan Cooke and shares an “Ocean to Plate” philosophy.

The venue is set in stylish tones of blue and grey and draws on inspiration from the famous New York meat packing district as well as the  hustle and bustle of the fish markets, together with New York’s Grand Central Station. This is evident in the naming of the Private Dining options as well – The Engine Room, The Cabins and The State Room (descriptions about and the capacity of each room can be viewed at http://theatlantic.com.au/the-atlantic/dining/private-dining. There is a mixture of glass and wooden panels which really adds to the nautical feel and does make you feel like you are under the sea.

One of my two favourite things about the design and layout of this restaurant is the selection of Fresh Seafood that is on display from the outside for people walking past the restaurant. This selection changes daily as does the menu. The extensive selection of Australian wine is also on display. My second favourite part is the impressively sized open plan kitchen where you can see the chefs preparing your meals. It is easily one of the biggest kitchen’s I have seen in a restaurant!

Just when you think this place cannot get any better – venture on downstairs to The Den. The Den is an intimate lounge area where you can get together with a group of friends for amazing drinks. They do some of the best mocktails I have had (refer to the picture of the drinks above). The Den is styled with white leather couches along the length of the room together with different styles of chairs and a classy fireplace. It stays true to its name and is an underground escape away from the busy city night life.

Now onto the food – to put it simply – it is the FRESHEST and FLAVOURSOME seafood I have had and in my opinion lives up to its “Ocean to Plate” philosophy. I was impressed from the moment I walked in till the time I  left. My drink was a mix of passionfruit and pineapple with a hint of tang which was both refreshing and revitalizing. The oysters were fresh and the vinegar and shallot dressing was the right amount of tang. The sides of Cauliflower, Onion and Almonds changed my opinion of the vegetable Cauliflower as I have never really been a fan – but the flavours in this dish made me want to give this vegetable a chance. The fish was definitely the best dish of the day. I had the Wood Fire King Fish and the smokiness was just the right amount and the fish was still juicy with no dryness in site. The Blood Orange Reduction isn’t one I’ve seen coupled with Fish but it definitely suited the smoky woody flavour – in one word AMAZING!

The prices might be a little bit dear – you are looking upwards of $35 for a main serving for fish – but you really need to visit The Atlantic and try it out. Be it a special occasion or a group dinner with some great friends this restaurant will definitely impress. I can’t wait to go back and try the Oyster Bar out. The only reason this restaurant hasn’t gotten 5 pandas is because I ran out of time to try out the selection of desserts. Once I do however, I will re-assess the rating.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$$
Menu – A la Carte Menu – can be found at http://theatlantic.com.au/static/files/assets/de52daec/21102012_DINNER_MENU.pdf
The Dessert Menu – can be found at http://theatlantic.com.au/static/files/assets/22c7f28f/13102012_DESSERT_MENU.pdf
The Oyster Bar Menu – can be found at http://theatlantic.com.au/static/files/assets/9e8e83d3/18102012_-_Food.pdf
Please note the menu changes daily.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Stylish and Classy. It feels like you are in New York and under the sea all at the same time.
Standout Dish: Wood Fire Grilled King Fish – Wilted Witlof, Ruby Grapefruit, Mint, Coriander, Blood Orange Reduction
Service: Friendly, Helpful and definitely on the ball!
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.bookarestaurant.com/details/The-Atlantic-Restaurant/3287?ref=BAR03287R
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://theatlantic.com.au/the-atlantic
The Riverside at Crown
8 Whiteman Street, Southbank
Tel No: 9698 8888

Opening Hours:
The Atlantic Restaurant
Lunch and dinner : 7 days

The Oyster Bar
Sunday-Thursday: 12pm – Late
Friday-Saturday: 12pm – l.00am

The Den
Monday to Sunday: 5.30pm-3.00am

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