Friday, January 23, 2015

Melbourne Eats: Spice Temple

Oftentimes, not everything goes as planned.  Take Spice Temple, for example.  The original plan was to eat at the Conservatory, Crown Casino's buffet.  We booked too late and was put on the waitlist for 8PM.  As 8PM was too late, we opted for another restaurant.  First was the steak place Rockpool Bar & Grill, and second was the famed Japanese restaurant Nobu.  Guess it's never a good thing to plan where to eat on the day itself, (and during Christmas season, nonetheless!) because all three restaurants were full, full, full!  And so we ended up on my brother's last choice for a restaurant - Chinese!

Unlike traditional Chinese restaurants with boring decor, Spice Temple is a hip, modern version of it.  There was definitely a dark and mysterious vibe inside.  Sorry no photos though, it was too dark!

Here's what we had:
Stir Fried Grass Fed Beef Fillet with Wok Blistered Peppers and Black Bean

Red Braised Pork, shredded with Chili, Ginger and Black Vinegar

House Fried Rice

So far everything was so-so until this came along:
Caramelised Lamb Spare Ribs
And of course, I saved the best for last.  Spice Temple's caramelised lamb spare ribs.  Sweet, tender and oh so flavorful.  My only complaint for this dish is that there was more fat than meat, making it hard not to feel guilty when having seconds!

So the verdict?  Spice Temple is actually surprisingly good!  Wasn't expecting good Chinese food outside Chinatown, but a good surprise is better than a disappointment, right?  3.5 out of 5 stars!

Spice Temple is at the Crown Complex, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank, VIC, Australia

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Melbourne Eats: Hunky Dory

After a long day of shopping at Chadstone (one of the biggest malls I've been to, with more than 500 stores!) everyone was dead tired and wanted to back to the hotel and rest.  It's a good thing that there were a couple of restaurants lining up the street near our hotel, so we picked one and gave it a try.  That lucky restaurant was Hunky Dory.  LOL.  Well not really.  It's probably because I've complained about not getting to eat fish and chips in Australia before, so this time, the family gave in.

Hunky Dory is actually a very simple, no frills self-service restaurant.  The menu was pretty straightforward too; it consists of mainly fish and seafood.

No one liked the salad.  Guess you really shouldn't order something that's not the restaurant specialty, eh?  Lesson learned.

I personally thought the calamari batter lacked the crunch.  The calamari itself was soft and fresh though.

The Hunky Dory

Fish of the day, potato cake, dim sim, chips, lemon and tartare with an additional order of a piece of scallop

Whoa.  HUGE order.  Fish of the day was called flake, and it was tender although not as tender as dory (which is the most commonly used fish in fish and chips).  The scallop was so-so, they overcooked it and it wasn't as big as expected.  Dim Sim, on the other hand, was a nice surprise.  It's basically minced meat wrapped in thick dough.  And the potatoes?  Well.. they're.. err.. potatoes.

Overall Hunky Dory was fine, but it wasn't anything special.  Not really the best fish and chips I've tried.  That award still belongs to one of the restaurants here in Manila.  2.5 out of 5 stars.

Hunky Dory is at 670 Chapel Street, South Yarra, Melbourne, Australia

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Melbourne Eats: Gradi

For our first meal in Melbourne, we met up with Mom's goddaughter, VF.  VF has been living in Melbourne for quite some time now, and rarely goes back to Manila.  So we visited her instead and asked her to tour us around.  But first, lunch!  Initially, VF wanted to bring us to a steak place near our hotel, but sadly, it was closed for lunch.  So we opted to just go someplace near the outlets, since we were planning to shop afterwards.  We ended up at the Crowne Melbourne Casino.  It was already about 3PM when we got there, and among the restaurants in that stretch, the tables in Gradi were still full.  We figured it must be pretty good, so we chose Gradi.

Patate Fritte
Erm... not so found of how their version of fries tasted.  I couldn't quite put my finger into it, but somehow it tasted off.  

Tagliata di manzo con infuso di olio alle erbe aromatiche
Eye fillet marinated with herb infused oil, chargrilled and sliced to serve

Very tender.  Look at how well they cooked it!  Perfect doneness!  It was a good thing it came out great because this was what 4/6 of the table ordered.  It would be a bad thing to see 4 disappointed faces.  Lol!  

Tortelli emiliani di carne in salsa di tartufo, parmigiano asparagi
Four meat filled tortelli Emiliani in a truffle and parmesan sauce with asparagus

My order.  I was expecting great things.  But ended up wishing I ordered the steak too.  The meat inside tasted bland and dry.  And the sauce?  Lacked truffle smell!

Tortelli insides
See?  You could tell it was dry even from the pictures alone.  Boo.

Cotoletta di vitello

Crumbed and fried Sicilian style veal cutlet served on the bone

Tasted like... Err... Breaded porkchop?  They even mixed up the orders so this was the very last one to arrive, after everyone was already finished with their own meals.  So not worth the wait.

So the verdict?  The only thing we really liked was the steak.  I've had better versions of the other dishes we had, so this was not am impressive meal at all.  Oh well.  2 out of 5 stars.

Gradi is at the Ground Floor, Riverwalk, Crown Melbourne, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank 3006, Melbourne, Australia

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Art Series - The Olsen, Melbourne

Happy New Year Guys!!!  I know, I know, I've been AWOL lately from the blog.  Blame it on the holiday season.  It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also the busiest!  But I'm back now, and boy do I have some stuff to share! 

So how was YOUR holiday?  Ours was spent in Australia.  3 days in Melbourne and 3 days in Sydney.  Since it was a really short trip, we decided to just hang out, eat and shop for the whole trip.  No sightseeing, no touristy stuff.  Besides, the whole Australia was closed during Christmas day so that's another day we had to slash off from our trip.

First up, is our hotel.  Do you guys remember my post about Sydney's QT Hotel last 2013?  Was really blown away with that one.  So we stayed at the QT again this time.  Funny thing is, they gave us the exact same room!  So no blog post about QT since everything was exactly the was we remembered it.  Let's go to the Melbourne hotel, shall we?

The Olsen was booked by my Dad.  He actually tasked me to book a hotel somewhere near CBD or someplace with a lot of shopping places, but I wasn't able to find one.  So he did the booking himself and sent me the confirmation email.  I briefly researched about the hotel, and found it ok.  It looked nice enough, but somehow didn't interest me as much as the QT did.  So I didn't think much of it until the moment I set foot at The Olsen. 

First look at the room

Working table and Kitchen
That's a fully working kitchen complete with a mini refrigerator, sink, microwave, induction cooker, plates, cups and utensils.  You could easily get food from the supermarket and cook it yourself.  Oh what convenience!

Master's Bed
Couch and Dining Area
Notice the small entry way beside the working area?  It leads you to...

Second Room
...this!  A second room!  Just as we were thinking we'd have to sleep on the floor... surprise, surprise!   

The view from our window
The Olsen's Hotel Lobby

Hats off to my Dad.  I have no words - Australians really know their hotels!  First was QT Hotel, and now this.  QT might be aesthetically pleasing to the eyes, but this one wins as the most complete.  They even had a washing and drying room right next to our room.  Plus, they offer Smart cars for rent.  As if that's not enough, The Olsen's location is quite fantastic too - lots of small boutiques/restaurants around the area and a Big W (superstore somewhat similar to Target/Kmart) plus a huge supermarket is just right across it!  How awesome is that?!  5 out of 5 stars!  I love it!  

Art Series - The Olsen is at 637-641 Chapel Street, Melbourne, Australia