Firechief. The simple title given to Paul Mathis’ pizza venture located on Camberwell Road on the east side of Hawthorn. The name has not escaped my memory for the last month or so. Who would think that a local pizza shop could leave such a long-lasting impression in my mind?
Firechief’s big draw card for me was the availability of three different pizza types. You are truly spoilt here with the choice of: the traditional wood-fired oven, the Moretti double decker oven and finally the conveyor belt option. Each of these three ranges boast 8 different pizzas that are believed to best suit each cooking method. We sampled 6 different pizzas on this lovely occasion, which we believe was a great representation of all the offerings.
The space makes for a boisterous, yet comfortable eating hall. Accommodating for smaller groups (1-4) and larger groups on the long tables (shown above). Further eating quarters are located at Goldilock’s cafe (at rear, also part of Mathis’ group) which is used as an overflow on busy nights – from what I have heard, its used all the time. Don’t be put off by the plethora of followers here. The friendly staff take bookings 7 days a week for lunch and dinners so you will be eating pizza before you know it.
Do with this next amount of info as you like, but pizzas are not the only thing available at Firechief. If you happen to fall into the category of not liking pizzas (freak) then you can chom on some calamari + tzatziki, char-grilled lamb skewers, roasted chicken breast or even prawn tagliatelle to name a few. I can’t vouch for the above-mentioned, but if they follow the same standard as pizza, then you will have a pleasant evening/day of eating.
We began with a pea and spinach salad with goat’s cheese, mint and croutons ($14.00 – above) to make ourselves feel fresh and healthy. A basic side salad that works if you need to see some green with every meal. Personally, I would just order more pizza
The warm green bean salad with toasted hazelnuts ($10.00) is more up my alley. I found a sense of comfort in these veggies which more often than not will accompany a fine piece of eye-fillet. These complemented the pizzas very well.
Obviously unnecessary but totally delicious shoestring fries with rosemary salt flakes ($7.50).
‘Ocean Trout’ with fior di latte, smoked ocean trout, taleggio cheese, fresh parsley and lemon ($24.90 – Moretti oven). A true success story. Note: trout toppings compete with the likes of other heroes i.e. ham, chicken and prosciutto. I need not go on about the pizza bases – they are all thin to mid sized and are perfectly cooked/fired depending on the respective method.
‘Funghi’ with fior di latte, wood-fired baked mushrooms, porcini, taleggio and fresh parsley ($21.90 – Moretti oven). A solid vegetarian option though chommed by carnivores across the table.
I have to give my full votes to this pizza cooked with the perfect amount of wood-fired char. The ‘Melanzane and Peperoni’ with san marzano tomato, fior di latte, wood-fired roasted capsicum and eggplant parmigiano and fresh basil ($22.00 – Wood-fired). Next time I will be ordering from this range, but throwing some protein on top.
‘Braised Lamb’ with Italian crushed tomatoes, 8 hour braised lamb, goat’s cheese, toasted almonds, fresh parsley and mint ($23.90 – Moretti oven).
‘Vegetarian’ with seasonal vegetables, pineapple, kalamata olives on crushed tomato and mozzarella ($16.90 – conveyor oven). Again, another vegetarian option enjoyed by all. Each pizza was sizeable, 8 slices per pizza (one standard size) and not to mention, very affordable for restaurant standards.
You don’t mess with this Australian classic – except this time we replaced ham with chicken. The ‘Hawaiian’ with crushed tomato, mozzarella, shredded Virginia ham (chicken today) and pineapple ($16.90 – conveyor oven).
‘Firechief tiramisu’ with coffee jelly, genois sponge, vanilla bean custard, creamed ricotta, toasted almonds and kahlua ($14.00). A rich, tasty and easily divisible choice among 3 – 4 chommers. Mind the strong coffee jelly loitering at the base – not suitable for children and non-coffee lovers. Overall this was a great way to end a tremendous feast at this fine establishment.
Do not even sit there for one second and pretend that you don’t like pizza because you do. The Chommery knows the truth. Look no further if you desire delicious, family friendly and affordable dining. Why not make a night of it? Catch a screening at The Rivoli Cinemas located diagonally opposite. Pizza + Movie (+-) choc top = Good times.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Italian – pizza focus
Noise: Most definitely
Bookings: Via phone and e-mail
Suitable for: Pizza lovers + very kid friendly
Price: $25 per head
My View: A superb eating hall
Address: 169 Camberwell Road, Hawthorn East (loads of parking at rear of building)
Phone: (03) 9831 1700
Batch Espresso has been fuelling the good people of Balaclava with honest food and quality coffee way back before eating out was the cool thing to do. This small cafe, situated in the midst of cosmopolitan Carlisle Street, is worth visiting as part of anyone’s food journey.
Although I do love sitting inside and getting amongst the hustle and bustle that occurs inside Batch’s premises, you will not regret nabbing a spot on Carlisle Street, weather permitting. It is truly a captivating experience to observe the eclectic crowds that flock to and fro.
Batch has created a space that is humble, warm and welcoming for all people, from whatever walk of life you hail from. Retro black and white floor tiles are the absolute bomb and a rare sight to behold. Meanwhile, you’re looking at only 25-30 cosy seats inside which packs out like you wouldn’t believe. Best is to head down early in the morning or just after the lunch rush if you want to avoid any queues. Today’s chom was for lunch and praise the good Lord, an abridged breakfast menu was available too.
Fresh seasonal fruit salad with lavender yoghurt and almond maple crunch ($9.50). One of the lighter dishes that Batch has on their menu. This plate has all your favourite fruity friends and while the crunch appears to be muesli – it is in-fact a more sugary topping. A light, but sweet choice.
Fried haloumi with roast vegetables, pesto, balsamic reduction and sourdough ($14.00). Could haloumi be the new goat’s cheese? It is soft and tasty but can be slightly chewy if you leave it for too long. If eaten with appropriate haste this cheese (and the dish) is so delicious!
Batch have made an awesome attempt at an old Eastern European dish, commonly known to many as ‘latkes’. These are potato pancakes with NZ smoked salmon, cornichons, chives and horseradish cream friache ($15.00). While these are not as thick as I remember Bubba used to make, they certainly are as delicious. Thin, oiled up potato treats perfectly matched with a cream and salmon topping. I love these – may not be for all.
Fried eggs with lemon, cumin, mint, baba ghanoush and rocket on taosted Turkish bread ($14.00). A generous layer of baba was spread onto one piece of Turkish bread all hiding under the double egg roof. A respectably sized breakfast option that I would recommend to anyone that is not starving. A top combo of flavours.
Batch’s avocado and feta mash on sourdough ($12.00). Don’t tell me you are over this dish. I see people order it everywhere. On the avo-feta spectrum, this one scores very highly for me. The portion size is monstrous, two pieces of toast is kind and you know the rest. Definitely big enough, although a side of salmon or a poached egg would look great.
Why not follow the Melb-Mex trend and order something hip and trendy? The quesadilla with truffled corn, mushrooms, guacamole and sour cream ($15.00) is magnifico. Have fun alternating between the two dipping sauces (double dipping essential). Only negative about this - trying to pronounce it.
There you have it, another happy chom. Batch Espresso was one of the first cafes I explored as I began my food conquest a few years back and it was love at first sight. As I am sure you can easily tell, my love is still burning as bright as ever. Give this place a shot and I am sure yours will too.
Once you have finished your meal, I could not recommend a stroll down Carlisle Street more highly. Be sure to collect a bunch of sesame and poppy seed bagels from Glick’s and seek out the new smash-hit self-serve yoghurt joint ‘Yo-Chi’ for dessert. Upon the successful completion of all three of these food-inspired adventures you are sure to be left in a blissful state.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Tip-top cafe fare
Noise: Hustle bustle
Suitable for: The young and old
Dress: St Kilda cosmopolitan
Price: $15 – $20 per head
My View: A classic
Address: 320 Carlisle Street, Balaclava
Phone: (03) 9530 3550
Pei Modern. The name of Australian restauranteur Mark Best’s newest venture in Melbourne’s CBD. Best is well known by many for his multiple award winning Marque Restaurant in Surry Hills, NSW. I have not been to Marque and assuming that the big wheels keep on turnin’ – I shall one day. I did visit Pei Modern for dinner in September 2012 and to be frankly honest - it was awesome.
Located at the base of the Sofitel Hotel on Collins Street, Pei has established itself as a premiere all-day dining venue offering a breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as a bar menu. Pei has recently been awarded the prestigious honour of ‘Best New Restaurant’ in Victoria for 2012, by the ever reliable Age Good Food Guide. Being awarded such a prestigious honor certainly pumped up my expectations (and appetite) before attending.
The cuisine is modern Australian incorporating gastronomic edge to many of the dishes. I was recommended by many to take advantage of the degustation dining experience. This consisted of 7 courses at, dare I say, a reasonable price of $90 per head (without tip or alcohol included) but I do think that it was quite reasonable for the callibre of the food. As such, we swooped in while we can still afford it. An a la carte option is available too.
Our palette was whet with freshly sliced sourdough, butter and salt – the key to this chommer’s heart. The simple combination of these three basic staples makes for a superb beginning to the feast. To cap it off, the hospitable staff replaced the full package as soon as we were done. Believe it or not – the upcoming feast was so large we only went through two rounds of bread!
The first course was the almond garzpachio with blue swimmer crab. This was a fabulous opening dish that was light but flavourfilled. Small pieces of fresh crab were hidden under a dressing that we felt tasted almost like hummus. Sweet red grapes were included too, which balanced the dish well.
We moved onto the cold smoked tuna with goat’s curd and mustard seeds. This dish was an artist’s piece and almost looked to good to chom. Almost! Possibly the finest tuna that has ever graced my lips. Add all that other craziness and liquid goat’s curd underneath – you have a delicious dish.
Just a little warning, don’t be a hater and just eat Peter – he tastes delicious. The rabbit meatballs with slow cooked carrot were to die for! Definitely in the top 7 dishes we had for the night. While these were not as visually appealing, they made up for it in sheer eating delight. Warm, soft and full of juice, lying in juice. The carrots were not the center of attention but were divine too and soft as butter.
From my understanding, this is quickly becoming Pei’s signature dish. This is Dutch cream potatoes with bone marrow, potatoe mousse and coffee grounds. While the name/description do not sound too desirable, I felt I was comfortably in safe hands. This was a massive serving of soft potatoes hiding beneath the super flavoursome creamy broth. Word’s cannot describe the flavours – a must try!
The fifth and final savoury course was the wood fire grilled hanger steak charred pablano pepper and harissa. A beautiful, rare piece of meat to take the centre stage with the harissa a ‘match made in heaven’ accompaniment. Truthfully, we were all full to the brim by this point. How did we manage dessert?
Dark chocolate sorbet with crushed chocolate and honeycomb. The photo does not depict this well, you may be able to make out the chocolate at the base of the cones. This is for dipping the ice cream into – need I say more? And, YES double dipping did occur – triple too!
The 7th course finally arrived – the one that we truly believed that our stomachs had no room for. It was white chocolate and yoghurt ganache with fresh mandarin and sorrel sorbet. I summoned to the almighty chomming gods for the strength to plough this dessert.
Pei Modern is truly something special. Save it for a special occasion or don’t – either way just make sure that you find the time to go down. Hands down I would recommend the degustation experience as an awesome way of trying a large portion of the menu. From what I am aware, the menu changes every day of the week but Sunday when Pei has a little rest. Open from 5:30pm all other days – Pei Modern is at your service.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Modern Australian / Gastronimic
Noise: Nice hum
Bookings: Yes – Praise the lord
Suitable for: Adults inclined
Dress: Work wear appropriate
Price: $90 per head (excluding alcohol)
My View: An affordable and scrumptious degustation experience
Address: 45 Collins Street, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9654 8545
Deep in the heart of Melbourne’s prized eating precinct of St Kilda you will find a small and friendly cafe that goes by the name of Miss Jackson (MJ). The address of these premises is 2/19 Grey Street, although humans would be wise to enter from Jackson Street – if in doubt use a Google map application or the good ol’ fashioned Melways.
MJ is a great neighborhood cafe run by a very friendly team that have been providing St Kilda with delicious cafe fare for some time now. From what I hear the menu has remained the same for a little while offering many customer favourites, in addition to 1-2 specials every day. All day breakfast with a handful of lunch options complemented with more-than drinkable coffee is really all you need to know. Sitting inside you may find your experience to be surprisingly comfortable, I must attribute this drawing card to the fact that MJ has been around before the ‘sit-on-top-of-each-other’ cafe model was introduced.
To kick off the festivities we shared a plate of crumbed polenta chips with harissa mayo ($7.50). One deliciously oily finger lathered in dipping sauce is all you need the edge off before each chommer’s individual dish arrives.
Spanish baked eggs with chorizo, char grilled capsicum and olives ($16.00). A classic combination that we all know and love. Also great to chom a large piece of toast with this dish.
Goat’s cheese omelette with fresh herbs and organic sourdough toast ($14.50). An egg variety that we all are fond of, made a trillion times better with the inclusion of the smash-hit ingredient of the decade, goat’s cheese - makes for yummy times. A wise chommer added a side of salty and juicy bacon to join in the fun – no complaints.
Scientists have reported that you need three things to live; water, shelter and schintzel. I’m not one to challenge scientific research and as such ordered the Panko schnitzel burger with radish and fennel slaw ($14.00). The MJ crew have gone down the thin+crunchy schnitty path, encased by the ever reliable Turkish roll and thrown some fresh slaw in the middle. A tasty burger that more than does the trick. You may want a side of mayo or tommy sauce to give it that extra booya! On another note, my near equal favourite reuben sanga is also available and will be sampled in the not-too-distant future.
A delicate and light option can be found in the breakfast crumble with apple, blackberry, pistachio granola and yoghurt ($9.00). Light on the lipids and the wallet, this is a nice muesli option complemented perfectly with the generous golf ball of yoghurt.
Corn fritters with bacon, avocado and roasted vine tomatoes with homemade chili jam ($15.00). A respectable serving of two soft, fluffy fritters carefully roofed by some crispy bacon and avocado slices. The spread-as-you like type of sauce allows you to sweeten these hot-cakes as much as you desire.
To finish this post on a heavy note, we went all out with the steak sandwich with caramelised onion, fresh tomato, rocket and fries ($15.50). Lightly toasted ciabatta coated nicely with a layer of mayo worked brilliantly to enclose the thick rare roast piece of protein inside. An excellent sandwich that I would be happy to recommend to all. Extra brownie points for top Maccas style fries.
If you can visualise yourself hoeing into some of this fine cafe grub after glancing over this here post then there is no need to hesitate. Opening hours are 7:00 – 4:00 every day bar Monday which should provide you with availability to enjoy. Although I did not take advantage of it this time, the space is fully licensed and as such a frothy or two could go down a treat upon the next visit.
The Important Details…
Noise: Very light music
Suitable for: All
Dress: Yes please
Price: $15 – $20 per head
Address: 2/19 Grey Street, St Kilda
Phone: (03) 9534 8415
A range of different Chinese restaurants, take-away outlets and other oriental cuisine line the extended walkways that make up Chinatown in Melbourne. Often you find yourself bewildered by the choice as you make your way down Little Bourke Street. Some of the premises are presumably serving totally inedible MSG, while others may delight your taste-buds all night long. With the external facades and menus all of a similar nature, it could prove to be a game of luck landing one of the better choices.
Either way, as a good-food navigator, I have a duty of care to my readers to send them in the direction of where I believe they will enjoy themselves. Today’s chom spot is Bamboo House, located at 47 Little Bourke Street, which is about half way between Exhibition and Spring Streets. This house began operations in 1984, offering a large variety of northern Chinese dishes in a comfortable setting. Trading successfully for over 25 years, there is much to love about Bamboo House and it’s excellent choice of Chinese fare. Most importantly, in all those years, the prices have remained reasonable.
There is nothing quite like the typical ‘Aussie-Chinese’ look that can be found at Bamboo House. Waiters are dressed in slacks, white shirts and black vests. The tables are completed with white cloths and the floor is non-other than classic dark red carpet. Some may say ‘out dated, where is the exposed brick’? For me, I can’t stress how much I love it when venues keep their original look eg Pellegrini’s and France Soir.
To begin the feast we had the chicken san choy bau. How can I resist? The cool and crunchy lettuce leaf compliments the chopped chook+veg+ nut mix so perfectly portioned inside. A favourite entree that I would recommend to all. Note: ask for extra plum sauce and drizzle all over, not because it needs extra flavour – it just tastes so damn good.
What an army of dumplings above? Soft, plush, juicy pan-fried beef and steamed pork dumpling. Excellent dumplings – no further elaboration required.
You almost need sunglasses to shade the shiny red glow that is glistening off this Peking duck. We requested the full duck and this is exactly what arrived. It’s so delicious I could demolish this little beauty all on my lonesome.
We were lucky enough that a duck master came out from the kitchen in order to prepare the individual parcels for my troops. This bloke was a lovely chap, cooked some ridiculous duck and likes playing tennis in his spare time.
The photo does not do justice to these two constructed Peking duck wraps. Deep inside, the delicate, warm wrap holds a thin, sweet layer of plum sauce and two strips of spring onion – not to forget a generous portion of duck! Eating perfection.
To help balance the stampede of main courses to follow we ate a plate of steamed Chinese greens with mushrooms. Nothing amazing here, just an attempt to try be slightly healthy.
The steamed Mongolian chicken with capsicum is a crowd pleaser. An above average version of a stock-standard Chinese dish. The chicken pieces are tender, the vegetables are fresh while the sauce is not too overpowering.
I have come to know and love this dish in my more recent chomming years. Sichuan dry fried beef has all too quickly become one of my favourite courses on an oriental night out. Ultra-thin pieces of beef, fried in the boiling hot depths of cooking oil and then drenched in a sickly-sweet dressing. Maybe the description does not sound the best – take it from me this is eating bliss. Each croft (crunchy + soft) bite into these mouthfuls is just ‘top-notch’.
Important to offer something for the fish eating vegetarians and the Omega 3 crowd. The steamed barramundi with ginger and spring onion is an excellent choice. The pre-cut, fluffy pieces of Barra are bathing so eloquently in a very light soy dressing. This dish is light and certainly Chommery approved.
As I am sitting here jibber-jabbering I can’t help but salivate. The Cantonese beef with snow peas was exactly what I was hoping for. Generously sized pillows of beef, meaty goodness, each one more lathered in the sweet Cantonese sauce than the next. The snow peas are only visually appealing, while the whole dish is worth it simply for the succulence of the beef.
We dined here as a group of 11 to celebrate a family members day of birth and the Bamboo staff looked after us considerately by perfectly portioning each dish to suit the numbers. Bamboo House is also great if you are a smaller group looking to get a quality Chinese fix when floating around the CBD. I will say that this is not the most economical option on Little Bourke and neither is my equal favourite venue of Longrain (diagonally opposite). Now, you have seen the photos and maybe read some of my dribble so you can make a more informed choice. Bamboo House is not a house, it’s a home and one worth living in even if only for one night (or day).
The Important Details…
Noise: Mid-level chit chat
Suitable for: All
Dress: More upmarket than usual
Price: $50 per person
My View: Tip top Chinese Fare
Address: 47 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9662 1565
Now you are probably thinking that this does not look like a typical Melbourne cafe. If you are thinking along those lines that is good. This post is more of an adventure piece. The Chommery and Co. rugged up, filled the ol’ truck with juice and set off for a one hour drive south of Melbourne’s CBD.
The destination was the Red Hill Market, operating on the first Saturday of every month from September through to May (refer to website for more details). Driving for two hours (return trip) on a Saturday is no small task, but I have been here many times and knew that it was well worth it. This market prides itself on hosting over 300 stallholders and is the self titled ‘Great Dame’ of Victoria’s markets. Established in 1975 this beauty seems to only get better each time I have visited over the years.
There is an array of fresh fruits and vegetables available at the market from the surrounding farms including locally produced cheese, bread, wine and dessert. The entire arts and crafts game is not really my scene, nevertheless there is plenty of it at this bad boy. I set forth on the first day of trading in September for one purpose – to eat! We slowly made our way around the stalls, eating as we went. I would describe it as a strolling degustation. One that I would strongly recommend to any foodie. Note: the Delgrosso’s apple juice above is liquid gold!
I have a rich history of scouting in my blood. My two brothers and I are all proud to say that we were once scouts, while my youngest sibling is currently a pack leader – making the family proud. Not to go too far off track, it is an organisation that I hold much respect for and my way of supporting the cause includes visiting their tent at the market. Not to mention, their scones totally rock!
Scones with jam and cream. Rarely would you order scones from a cafe or a restaurant so this was a real treat. They’re handmade by the Red Hill scout group in old barreled drums. You can’t beat home-made, fresh out of the oven scones. And $5.00 for 4 halves – you can’t go wrong.
These are famous caneles. These little gems may not look overly appealing but ask for a tester and you won’t be able to resist buying a few for the drive home. You are not going crazy if you think you have seen this treat before. The company Canele de Bordeaux supply these to many of your favourite Melbourne cafes but for some reason they taste so much better here!
I am sure you can tell this eating frenzy has no rules. Desserts can arrive before mains, and entrees at the end – it doesn’t really matter. An oven full of freshly baked sausage rolls and assorted meat pies is a hard one to miss.
The query was posed before eating this little beauty whether we should add some good ol’ tomato sauce. Let it be known that it was perfectly delicious on its own. This pie was the s#@*! It had generous chunks of lamb and was cooked in amazing rosemary juices. Dare I say – Better than four’n twenty.
Watching this gentleman prepare these Japanese delicacies is truly mesmerizing. You’ll stand and watch perplexed after placing your order for these small Japanese pancakes. Savoury and sweet varieties are available. Just a heads up, be prepared for a small wait – these take time to put the love and care into each one – but well worth it.
We had three different ones in total. Firstly, the chocolate with chocolate cream inside (Top left). Followed by tuna with cheese (bottom right) and lastly the green tea with red bean and cream (bottom left). These are served hot and squishy. The green tea was my pick of the day – save the best ’til last.
Poffertjes! YUMMMMMO! Who could say no to tiny pancakes! It’s like getting that precious part of the muffin in a mouthful, but of pancakes instead. Dusted with icing sugar and drizzled with maple syrup – here’s breakfast. If you ever make a smart move in your eating career you will take it upon yourself to chom a plate of these.
What’s Australia, and Melbourne, without a touch of cultural difference? So we threw in some gyoza, which were very delicious. $10.00 for a serve of 6. We had three chicken + shitake and three pork and shallot. Couldn’t for the life of me tell the difference, but they were great. As good as you would expect in a Melbourne bistro.
Had to save the best for last. The Flying Calamari Bros are a more recent stall to arrive at the market for me. I never saw this when I was a youngen. But I really feel that now I need to make up for some serious lost time. This store contains only one feature in their product line – a cone of calamari @ $12.50.
Worth every single penny. Wow. Just get them. And add the sweet chilli mayo. The calamari pieces are soft and only lightly battered. None of that rubbery crap which seems to plague many restaurants. These are truly heavenly and my market dish of choice.
Take it from me (or don’t – it doesn’t really matter) but this truly is a tremendous market if you are into your food. The stalls open at 8:00am sharp and close very promptly and efficiently at 1:00pm. The Chommery approved suggestion is to arrive somewhere between 10 and 11am and try to give yourself a relaxing two hour wander from stall to stall. Have a loose $4.00 in change for the local Red Hill Lions Club parking service.
Enough from me – once again I leave it in your capable hands.
Maybe I will catch you at the next market.
Bye for now.
In the pursuit of becoming an all knowledgeable foodie (one can dream) I have found one cuisine falls by the way-side – Italian. I think it relates to a loopy mentality that goes something along the lines of, “I can make a spag-bol at home”, so why would you go out for it? You are now probably thinking that I am naive and slightly stupid. You’re probably right too.
We decided to steer clear of the burger bonanza, take a trip away from Thai and choose something other than Chinese. I had Franco Choo’s in Prahran on my list ever since it opened in 2011.
The menu consisted of three entrees, two main courses and two desserts. For a night out as a couple, this was a blogger’s paradise. It was suggested by the waiter that a 3 course menu was available for $43.00 per person. We did some calculations, assessed our hunger levels and naturally, obliged gracefully.
The vitello tonnato was a beautiful appetiser consisting of thinly sliced poached veal with tuna mayonnaise ($13.00). The veal was served cold and the pieces were much thicker than a carpaccio which is good for the big chommer. The thick dressing of mayo was full on but totally delicious.
If only this pasta came in a main course size – if not that – if only I could have a life time supply in my fridge. Either one, I will be happy with. The pasta was perfectly boiled – perfect al dente (none of that shmooshy/watery stuff). The pork mince gave it a meaty goodness that my heart desires, and the shavings of cheese was a great topping (especially when tossed through). Note: Photo does not do justice (PDNDJ).
Saffron braised free-range milawa chicken leg, artichokes and polenta gnocchi ($26.00). If the chicken falls off the bone without the use of a knife then generally speaking you have a winner. Each soft piece was dripping with chicken goodness as the remainder braised itself in the sauce on the plate. The polenta crisps were delicious without being over-fried and worked well to soak up the sauce.
Why not throw in an overused cliche – This dish looked too good to eat! Pan roasted barramundi, squid ink risotto and new season’s pea ($28.00). A generous portion of fish that possessed a crunchy and nutritious skin. Call me crazy but the highlight was actually the risotto. I don’t know if you buy the squid ink from a calamari store or Officeworks but it makes for amazing flavours!
Almond meringue rotolo (roll), strawberry and blood orange sauce ($11.00). Strawberries (check), cream (check) = happiness.
While dessert has become a staple conclusion on my eating adventures, it usually only consists of one only – we did manage with two this time. Warm semolina pudding, burnt orange caramel, pear and mascarpone ($12.00). Another very visually pleasing dish for the evening. A really interesting option that worked very well. The crushed pistachios are a great finishing touch.
I am sure these are not the typical dish you imagine when you hear of an Italian restaurant, but sometimes it is better that way. The combination of flavours, the beautiful arrangements and the high quality produce used in each dish, places this gem aside from the standard pizza/pasta charade. The menu changes every 2-3 weeks, so odds are we will have a different experience next time. Now it is time to tie up your shoes, because you can’t refuse a lovely night out at Franco Choo’s.
The Important Details…
Noise: Gentle background music
Suitable for: Adults – no children
Dress: Slightly above average
Price: $43 for 3 courses – no alcohol
My View: Small but great!
Address: 179a High Street, Prahran
Phone: (03) 9529 7310