Thursday, December 31, 2009

Breakfast on Bridge: Grace Food and Wine

Grace Food and Wine
306 Bridge Road
Richmond 3121
Ph: 03 9429 8929

As Bf and I sat in the very pleasant outdoor veranda one morning at Grace, looking through the extensive breakfast menu, I thought it might be time to ditch the usual Big Breakfast or Eggs Benedict in favour of a breakfast dish a little less mainstream. Unfortunately, by the time I'd finished my meal I was feeling unsatisfied and seriously craving that big breaky.

Grace cassoulet of chorizo, spicy beans and poached eggs with a parmesan crust, avocado salsa and sour cream ($16)

This was my first breakfast cassoulet. I'm not in any hurry to try a second. It was a fairly flavourless bowl of mush with a dry, bland "parmesan crust" which really just tasted like breadcrumbs. I enjoyed mixing the beans, sour cream and avocado salsa towards the end of the dish, but I was after breakfast, not Mexican burrito filling.

Grace big breakfast of poached eggs, bacon, sausages, tomato, mushrooms, beans, spinach and a hash brown on toasted Turkish bread ($17.50)

Bf, on the other hand, had "one of the best big breakfasts" he's had, trading the poached eggs for creamy, light scrambled ones instead. The tomatoes, a breakfast side that can sometimes be a bit dull, were strong in flavour from the fresh herbs sprinkled on top, and were given a smokey flavour from, I suspect, being cooked in the same pan as the bacon fat.

Drinks here are good; I had a beautiful creamy chai latte and Bf enjoyed his strawberry thickshake. I felt like I hardly saw the wait staff, as though service was just fine but not outstanding, but this could just be because we were outside, away from the action. Despite my cassoulet disappointment, Bf's breakfast has given me confidence in the rest of the menu, and I'm very interested in going back to sample one of the $9.00 lunch specials.

Grace Food & Wine on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! Here's what I'm eating today...

Basil, goat's feta and fresh tomato toasts

Salt and pepper calamari, served with a lemon aioli

Spinach, green bean and almond salad (Instant Entertaining, Donna Hay)

Above and below: Coquille St Jacques (Doyles Fish Cookbook, Alice Doyle)

Oven roasted garlic and vegetables; wilted bok choy with balsamic

Mum's famous potato salad

Asian noodle salad

Barbequed Char Sui marinated french lamb cutlets

Saturday, December 19, 2009

In search of a hangover cure

Thy Thy House
118 Victoria Street
Richmond 3121
Ph: 03 9429 8668

I've often heard people talk of spending lazy Sundays eating cheap, tasty little dumplings to cure a hangover. I used to swear by a can of tuna and a cup of tea to soothe me through the morning after but this odd combination doesn't seem to work anymore, so figured the day after my work Christmas party was a good time to test out the theory.

Steamed prawn wontons, $8.00

Despite being steamed, these wontons were covered in a greasy dumpling wrapper rather than the smooth, oil-free skin I was expecting. Still, the prawns inside were unprocessed, thick and juicy, with that little bit of crunch that fresh prawns have. Don't bother with the accompanying sauce though: its a thick, gluggy brown mixture that tastes like the flavouring sachet from a pack of two-minute noodles.

Scallops in chili and lemongrass sauce with rice, $8.00

This dish was part of a selection of $8.00 lunch specials; it had a bit of a kick from the chili but overall was quite bland. The vegetables were fresh and crunchy but the scallops were thin, old, and served without the delicious orange roe.

Service was provided by two young Asian boys with Aussie accents. I arrived and found them eating and watching The Nanny, but whenever I required service it was quick, attentive and warm. With a delicious Vietnamese beer (333, $6.00) lunch cost me $22 - good value for the quantity served, but the food itself was not remarkable. It's one of the more flashy looking restaurants along Victoria Street; perhaps next time I'll stick to one of the more authentic, grungy looking places. Still, those little prawn parcels, and all that rice, did indeed leave me cured of my hangover.

Friday, December 18, 2009

For a quick all rounder

Blue Train Cafe
Southgate Complex
Ph: 03 9696 0440

It was a beautiful warm day, and we needed a sunny balcony to sit on. Mum and I headed over to Southbank, walking past the endless rows of snooty-looking restaurants and headed up to an old favourite in the Southgate Complex, Blue Train.

Seared salmon fillet: soba noodle salad, soy dressing ($19.90)

You know a dish is truly fantastic when you cant stop thinking about it for days; that's how I felt about this salmon fillet. The crunchy noodle salad was a great accompaniment to the soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture of the salmon, and the soy dressing was strong and flavoursome without being too salty or overpowering.

Tandoori chicken salad: tomato, cucumber, Spanish onion, steamed rice, papadums, yoghurt raita ($19.90)

The papadums that came with Mum's meal were wholegrain, adding some interesting flavour and texture. Mum's meal was fresh and light but the tandoori chicken was quite dry with an almost stringy texture. Pairing it with the cool, creamy raita helped.

One tiny little critisism: the menu is divided into sections entitled "small plates" and "big plates", and goes on to list quite an extensive selection of "plates". This made the menu hard to read, as I was overwhelmed by the choice and it took me a while to gather what I had to select from. Service is not bad but not fabulous - when we had clearly not even touched our meals yet the same waiter who brought them out came and asked "How is everything?" - but overall Blue Train is a great spot for contemporary meals served fast and at reasonable prices; and a seat on the sunny balcony is the perfect spot to relax after a hard day's shopping.