Arbory Bar & Eatery – Melbourne’s Longest Outdoor Bar!

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Menu: Arbory – Melbourne’s longest outdoor bar and eatery – is conveniently located right across from where I work so is very easily accessible to me. However its location makes it easily accessible to just about anyone that catches a … Continue reading

Tonka – Indian Malaysian Fusion Food

panda-3-5-rating2

For Dad’s birthday I decided to take my family out to a new restaurant called Tonka. Being of a Sri-Lankan background I was so excited to hear about a new restaurant that was specialising in Sri Lankan flavours. Tonka comes to you by the team behind the fantastic restaurant – Mykal and Kate Batholomew together with Adam D’Sylva. The location is in one of the iconic laneways of Melbourne and is where Honky Tonks used to reside. The team has transformed this space into an elegant and modern space (and the name even pays tribute to the former venue).

The venue itself is split into three separate areas – there is a bar – allows people to sit on high tables where you can order a drink from the extensive drink menu and have bar snacks., followed by the formal restaurant area (where you can make bookings) and then a more casual restaurant style bar area, with large windows which over look Flinders St – where restaurateurs don’t need to make a booking to enjoy the full menu. Despite these three different areas, they are all seamless and you really don’t feel the difference in any of the areas.

As you walk into the restaurant you are greeted by friendly staff that are very happy to assist you. We had a booking in the formal restaurant which was located in the middle section. We walked past the open kitchen which was lined with colourful jars of spices and other condiments. There is a real wow factor that you get as you step in the doors of Tonka. There are distressed walls and the definite wow factor is the art installation by Naomi Troski – which his featured on the ceiling – white twists of mesh that remind you of clouds in a dramatic sense.

The menu is inspired by the unique range and variety of flavours from southern India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The executive chef is Adam D’Sylva and the Head Chef is Michael Smith together with Mumbai born sous chef Ved Navghare. The menu is accentuated by two tandoor ovens which definitely add and enhance the brilliant flavours of each dish – such as tandoori meats, fish and naan.

I arrived before the rest of my fam, so I ordered the Tonka take on the traditional Lassi drink (there are two options the alcoholic version which has Rum as well as a non-alcoholic version) – I opted for the non-alcoholic version which consisted of mango, rose and the addition of pistachio nuts. The lassi was one of the better lassi’s that I have tasted – a great starter drink!

Once the rest of the fam arrived we settled on our order – we ordered two entrée’s, two mains, a side, naans and rice.

The first entrée we had was the Pani Puri – crispy parcel filled with spiced potato and lentils, date and tamarind chutney served with mango infused aromatic water. For some reason the idea in my head of what a Pani Puri was, was different to what arrived at our table. These Pani Puri were cute (yes, I know it’s a weird way to describe food, but seriously that’s what they were). Our waiter presented this dish to us and then poured some of the aromatic water and said that was to enhance the flavours and not to leave it to get too soggy before you ate it. These were delicious and the only downside was that the dish was so small. The potato and lentils were perfectly flavoured and the data and tamarind chutney added the sourness. The aromatic water on its had a pleasant sourness taste to it as well. The next entrée we ordered was the Spanner Crab Salad with puffed rice, green mango, peanuts, coriander and green chilli. This was another stand out dish that all the fam enjoyed! It had a bit of a hint of what a Thai dish would represent and all the flavours were infused together really well. My only criticism was that the puffed rice to me didn’t have as much crunch as I would have liked it to have.

For mains we ordered the Goan Fish Curry and Hiramasa Kingish from the Tandoor. The Goan Fish Curry when it came out was this richly coloured curry that came not only with fish, but had additional seafood as well – King Prawns and Mussels, as well veggies (beans). This was a great surprise as we weren’t expecting this. The Kingfish from the tandoor was hands-down my favourite dish. The kingfish was perfectly cooked and had the smoky tandoori flavours with the right salt levels and spice added to it. It was served with another asian influenced salad that added to making the balance of flavours complete. This is a definite must try dish when you come to Tonka. We also had the Fried Cauliflower, Garam Masala Salt, Fenugreek and Yoghurt Dressing as a side – yet another winner of a dish. The mix of cauliflower, garam masala and fenugreek had a strong taste to it, yet it wasn’t overpowering and the addition of the yoghurt lightened these flavours.

When you get your mains, you are also given the Tonka version of a Raita (Yoghurt Sauce) where they have added pomegranate pieces. I loved this idea as one of my favourite yoghurts is pomegranate yoghurt =) You also get a chilli sauce if you need more spice added to your dish. I wasn’t a huge fan of this second sauce.

Next up was dessert – we orderd the Saffron baked meringue, strawberry, pistachio and rose water and orderd Tonka’s Gulab Jamun with saffron syrup and silver leaf. I must say that I wasn’t too impressed with either of these desserts. I have eaten Gulab Jamun’s better and say your local Indian takeaway restaurant and at $6 per ball, I expected much more. I didn’t like the texture or the flavour of the Gulab Jamun. The other dessert we ordered was the Saffron Baked Meringue and I was expecting the meringue to be crunchier on the outside than it was. The flavours however were quite nice – the mixture of the strawberry, pistachio ice cream and rose water together with the tang and sourness of the pomegranate seeds.

Tonka is a great addition to the Melbourne laneway culture, and the team have created a warm, welcoming and cosy area that overlooks some of the great tourist spots. The food is flavoursome and hold true to the authentic flavours together with a modern twist. The use of the tandoor ovens definitely needs to be tried out by one and all. If you are a fan of Coda (or even if you haven’t tried out Coda) you will definitely find a new favourite in this place.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A la Carte menu – can be viewed at http://www.tonkarestaurant.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Food-Menu-10-4-13.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Has a wow factor, and is a great place to catch up for a drink with friends or have a celebration dinner. The lighting and decor makes the place feel warm, cosy and comfortable.
Standout Dish: Hiramasa Kingfish from the Tandoor
Service: Friendly, Attentive and Helpful.
Online Booking: No, but you can call up the restaurant to make  a booking in their formal sit down area, or you can just walk-in
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://tonkarestaurant.com.au
20 Duckboard Place, Melbourne
Tel No: 9650 3155

Opening Hours:
Open for Lunch Monday to Friday
Open for Dinner Monday to Saturday

Tonka on Urbanspoon

Trocadero – Stunning Views and Food to Match

trocadero

Trocadero Kingfish Tartare, Pomelo, Lemongrass, Samphire Pot Roasted Lamb Shoulder, Grain Salad, Smoked Leek Squid Ink Taglioni, Crab, Chilli, Tomato Mains are served! Toasted Coconut Bavorois, Mango, Pineapple, Raspberry Sorbet Tiramasu, Mascarpone Ice Cream, Blackcurrant Jelly

In order from Left to Right:
Trocadero Menu
Kingfish Tartare, Swordfish, Pomelo, Lemongrass, Samphire
Pot Roasted Lamb Shoulder, Grain Salad, Smoked Leek
Squid Ink Tagliolini, Crab, Chilli, Tomato
Main Dishes together
Toasted Coconut Bavorois, Mango, Pineapple, Raspberry Sorbet
Tiramasu, Mascarpone Ice Cream, Blackcurrant Jelly

A and I headed to Trocadero for dinner one evening after work for one of our many catchups. I hadn’t heard too much about this newly opened restaurant and initially wasn’t sure where to find it. Trocadero is located along the Yarra River within Melbourne’s iconic Arts Centra at Hamer Hall, and has stunning view of the Melbourne City Skyline and river.
It is a brasserie style restaurant that is modern, sophisticated and has a very vibrant and energetic feel about the place. The staff are inviting and welcoming as is the decor such as the specially commissioned wall mural by Japanese Graffiti artist Jun Inoue. It is a great addition to the Arts Centre precinct and adds class to the Southbank area.

The modern European menu is created by Head Chef Nick Bennett and comprises of Appetisers, Entrees, Pasta & Risottos, Mains and Desserts & Cheeses. There are also four different sides to choose from. There is a Brassiere menu, a Prixe Fix Lunch Menu , Pre-Theatre, Snacks, Dinner and even a Supper Menu. Refer to Menu section below and check out the link for the Menu’s on their website.

We ordered the Kingfish Tartare to share as a starter and I ordered the Squid Ink Tagliolini, Crab, Chilli, Tomato and A ordered Pot Roasted Lamb Shoulder, Grain Salad, Smoked Leek. The Kingish Tartare was one of the best tartare’s that both A and I had tried. The dish was fresh and flavoursome and the combination of Pomelo and Samphire really made the dish. My main dish was the Tagliolini with Crab and Chilli. The dish might sound simple but sure does pack a punch and is delicious. There was the right amount of lemon and salt, but I could have used a bit more Chilli – but that’s just me..I LOVE my chilli. A did enjoy her Pot Roasted Lamb Shoulder but wasn’t a huge fan of the smoked leek, but enjoyed the texture and flavours of the grain salad (which compromised of lentils mostly). The lamb was soft and fell off easily when it was cut.

Dessert time was next up and I ordered the Toasted Coconut Bavorois, Mango, Pineapple, Raspberry Sorbet and A who loves her Tiramasu’s couldnt look past the Tiramasu, Mascarpone Ice Cream, Blackcurrant Jelly. I asked the waitress about my dessert before I ordered it, and to be honest she described it a lot better than it actually was. There was some popping candy on the top which was a nice addition and the flavours were fresh and nice but I wasn’t a huge fan of the texture of the casing of the bavorois. A was looking forward to the Mascarpone Ice Cream the most in the Tiramasu but said that the mixture of that (it wasn’t very flavoursome) together with the Blackcurrant Jelly didn’t work and the whole dessert was ruined. She said she would have preferred the dessert without the Blackcurrant Jelly. This was an interesting take on the Tiramasu and good on them for trying to put a spin on a traditional dessert.

Trocadeo is run by the Van Haandel group ( they are the team behind places such as Comme and Stokehouse) and is a great addition to the Melbourne dining scene. It allows you to enjoy great food together with having one of the best seats in the house to take in some of Melbourne’s icons such as Flinders St, St Pauls Cathedral, Yarra River and Southbank. Trocadero is definitely a place that I would recommend to friends, not just for its locality but for its food. Since I have been there, the dessert menu has changed and I am keen to go back and  try some different ones.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Brasserie Menu (http://trocadero.co/menu/brasserie/), Prixe Fix Lunch Menu (Monday to Friday only)- 2 courses and a glass of wine $29 – 2 courses and a glass of wine $39 (http://trocadero.co/menu/lunch/) and Bar Menu (http://trocadero.co/menu/bar/)
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy and Comfortable – overlooks the Melbourne City Skyline and Yarra River. Good for a celebration dinner or on date night.
Standout Dish: Kingfish Tartare, Swordfish, Pomelo, Lemongrass, Samphire
Service: Fantastic, Attentive and Friendly
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://trocadero.co/reservations/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://trocadero.co/
Upper Riverside Terrace
Hammer Hall
100 St Kilda Rd
Tel No: 8698 8888

Opening Hours:
Seven Days & Nights: 11am till Late

Trocadero on Urbanspoon