Thursday, September 23, 2010

Champagne Darling ?

We all love it.  How could you not?  And if you don't, I am unsure what we have in common, the biggest difference being our bank balances.  Herein lies the BIGGEST issue I have with champagne.  I just can not afford to drink it as much as I would like.

Well, the folks at Champagne Darling? may have given us a little assistance in enjoying this delectable drop more regularly, even if only slightly, by sourcing and importing the products themselves from smaller, boutique houses.
What you then get is an opportunity to not only try houses you are unfamiliar with but get a serious increase in you 'bang for buck' as far as quality goes.  OK, it is still not cheap, but you certainly have some good options that come in under the $100 mark.

The list is not limited to Champagne, with healthy representation from the other majors regions like Burgundy and Bordeaux and a good dose of the rest of the globe, including Oz.  OH YEAH.... they also have an 'off premise' license so you can take stuff home at a discounted price.

What we have here is a family business, and they fly the flag high about the fact, but you get engaged and informative service from the team that obviously have a strong relationship with wine.
The food, designed for bubbles, is mostly hors d'Ĺ“uvre yet there is capacity for main course as well.  These guys are one of the few places that stock a favourite treat of mine,  a simple smoked salmon from the master, Tom Cooper, a tazzie fellow that creates the tastiest strips of the fishy world.  A fair amount of the fare does end up a little on the oily side if you do like I did and order everything on the menu.

Must haves are the Launois Champagne and the smoked salmon, of course.  All else is just icing on the cake.

I really think this is a great option for something different, not over the top night out, that still can support a wine list that can excite.  Even you Melbournian's may not have heard about these guys. 

14.5 / 20

Friday, September 17, 2010

The European

A fitting start to my new pastime.  The European was a place suggested to me by Eva Johansen on my first visit to Melbourne way back in 2001.  I fell in love with the place back then and nothing has really changed since.

The Melbournians reading this will of course know of its merits, but our western compatriots may not have heard of its long standing pedigree.  Attached to the famous Supper Club and the lessor known City Wine Store and Siglo, this is one of the few kitchens operating after 10pm that do more than stirfry and short order.  In fact, you can get a proper meal, up until 3am. 

Situated right next to the Princess Theatre, the menu notes quick tasty snacks and charcuterie for those that are time poor and trying to get to the newest hip Melbourne show, right through to multiple course play.  

Typically Melbourne in style you sit amongst a clean but well weathered environment of wood, brass and glass.  The black and white checked tiles and undressed table tops sing "BISTRO" in an unpretentious, and classic manner.  I nearly half expect a cliche frenchman in a red and white stripe top offering me some baguette he is carrying under his arm.

The wine list holds true to the restaurants name, sporting only the old world in an array seldom available but a mark up a few years ahead of its time.  You will have access to some decent producers and aged wines that are not generally stocked on other lists so there is opportunity to spoil yourself silly.  Business credit card anyone?  There is a sommelier on board to help navigate your way through the wine menu if you require.  I, surprisingly, managed to contain myself this time and only go by the

Dinner for me was the Free Range Duck Pie with Mushroom and Orange Confit.  I can hear all you out there saying, " What a surprise.  He ordered duck! "  I just can't help myself, and I am glad I did. I have never been disappointed with the food and consistency reigns.

Staff know their stuff, and are more than happy to take control.  I guess they are a little used to the more stuffy, top of the town types that would frequent, but loosened up when they realised we were there to play.
As one of my favored playgrounds I usually take my WA mates there as a Melbourne must do.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back in the West

Hey folks.

So here I am, finalising my move back to the west side, and wondering where it will lead me.

One of the motivators in my return is looking to give something back to the world.  Now how to do that?
Well, one way is get a place that will house hundreds of cats.  I would however, like to be known for more, than being the crazy old cat lady.  Which leads me to this blog.

The vast majority of my disposable income is wasted on.... no, let's call it "supporting",  the food and wine industry around this wide brown land.  Through my dining adventures, I have been to many places that rate from world class leaders to ones that possibly would prefer no mention at all.  My friends and family often call me for recommendations on venues and wines, so I thought I might start a little web thingy that loved ones can log into.  You never know. If enough of you peoples check in, I may make this a little more of a formal gig.

By no means do I consider myself an accomplished writer nor a sommelier, but I am certainly well fed and watered.  I apologise to all those that have seen me overly watered.  I will take a rating system similar to the "GOOD FOOD GUIDE" and rate out of 20, taking in consideration 6 major criteria. Service : Ambiance : Menu Choice : Beverage List : Presentation with the score based on overall experience.

I hope you folks enjoy the read, as I know I will enjoy the task of going to all of these lovely venues.  By all means I would love to go to your favourite place to have a look, perhaps even with you.  Email me suggestions of these hidden gems.

Until my return