Eitam Brami, Tomer Gian and Albert Einstein. Three names that you may never have heard in the same sentence until January 2012. For those who are out of the loop – one will just regard the trio as a nice bunch of Jewish gentleman. The in-the loop cafe crowd will know these three gents are the team behind the hugely popular cafe Einstein’s 251. (I am not 100% sure if Albert is a working partner or just a silent investor – please do not quote me on it).
The inside has been kitted out with all the regularities you would expect from a Melbourne cafe. I won’t delve into it because you all know it and all love it. Coffee is a central focus and with Gian behind the beautiful La Marzocco machine at almost any hour of the day, you are in capable hands. Grinding out kilo’s of Small Batch Roasters coffee seven days a week and a menu with a scientific twist there will surely be something here for you.
Now, to kick start the eating we ordered the Reuben sandwich – pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, pickles and Russian dressing ($14.50). I have to say they did an excellent job. There is no skimping on the meat, which always makes me smile and rings true to the US style of sandwiches. You can’t deny the combination of pickles and pastrami, enhanced by beautifully melted cheese and good quality bread.
Nobel Prize Winner – Warm haloumi and mushrooms with cashew nuts, cucumber, tomato, spanish onion and sesame seeds ($17.00). Good salads are hard to find these days – most of the time there is too much greenery. At Einstein’s they have defied my theory to provide a very substantial dish. The haloumi is fresh off the pan accompanied by warm mushrooms, both smothered in delicious teriyaki sauce. The sauce was similar to the miso glaze you will commonly find on nasuden – which I am in love with. A top dish.
E=MC² – Potato and spring onion fritters with grilled tomato, avocado, grilled haloumi, tomato relish and a poached egg ($17.50). Besides the fact that this has an amazing name about an equation I will never understand, this was a very wholesome, delicious dish. The best way that I would describe these fritters would be similiar to latkes, slighty more plump and less greasy. More value and less fatty = the chefs here could be geniuses. Add a perfectly poached egg on top with sweet relish all around – my friends, this is Chommery approved.
Theory of Relativity – Spiced grilled chicken, fresh tomato, beetroot, harissa aioli, Spanish onion and rocket ($13.00). Labelled the ‘not so serious’ chicken sandwich – I would have to agree compared to it’s Reuben brethren. A relatively basic option that has stood the test of time.
Jack’s Burger – Mixed lamb and beef patty, tomato, beetroot relish, pickles, spanish onion, aioli, lettuce with smokey cut chips ($17.50). This burger was almost too big to fit in the lens of our camera. The chommery himself did not acutally sample the burger because the pattty apparently contained pinenuts (unfortunate allergy). The report back described this beauty as very juicy and delicious, maybe a touch too much lettuce, easily fixed. The chips were awesome and who doesn’t love aioli?
Now, Eitam and Tomer may be geniuses or even potential descendants of the great man himself. Maybe they are just two blokes with their heads firmly screwed on who saw a gaping hole in the Caulfield cafe market. I cannot help but mention some serious help from their two lovely wives who manage the very busy floor Monday to Sunday. Einstein’s 251 has braved their location and been rewarded accordingly. Locals love it. It has brought great coffee and excellent cafe fare to an otherwise quiet strip. I will love and leave you on that note – we can all use our brains and give Einsteins’ a shot.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Smart cafe fare
Suitable for: All people
Dress: Preferably in clothes or a lab coat
Price: $15 – $20 per head w coffee
My View: Easily the best Caulfield has to offer!
Address: 251 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield North
Phone: (03) 9939 51365
When a new cafe springs up in relatively uncharted territory, one word that comes to mind is ‘Respect’. Respect to the owners of the establishment that brave a new location and attempt to bring new-hip life to a new area. We all know starting a business is a big risk which can be even greater if the location is yet to be deemed a destination. Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea, is slowly but surely becoming a destination with particular thanks to Spout.
Spout co-owners Dvash and Zul saw the opportunity here and took on the challenge with full force. I’m sure there were some initial concerns whether Spout would be a hit or not in this low-density cafe part of Melbourne. But the fears were quickly alleviated. From opening day onwards the crowds have not stopped pouring in or out of this little gem. Visiting Spout for the first time a good two months in, it would appear that Spout is not a one off visit – it is already a beloved local hangout. Good on ya boys!
The inside dining space is cosy, intimate and warm. The staff greet you as you arrive in a very unpretentious manner, which unfortunately is so rare in new cafes in Melbourne these days. As best as they could, they helped fulfill our need for a rather large table, with ease on such a busy Sunday morning. After a surprisingly short wait, we were seated and gazed over the scrumptious sounding menu. A date porridge, chorizo sumac, and pan-fried challah were some of the breakfast options which we will be back for next time. On the lunch side, a schnitzel or corned beef ’sanga’ or the smoked salmon pastrami took my eye and were noted for future choms.
From left we have a smooth cappuccino and a soy latte. Dvash takes charge of the coffee machine, pumping out consistently good Allpress Esspresso. Complemented by my love affair with Bonsoy, Spout’s coffee are no frills. Just damn good caffeine hits.
Shakshuka with haloumi and Trukish Bread ($15.50). Wikipedia claims that this breakfast dish could originate in Algeria or Tunisia. While this may well be true, my fondest memories are eating this in Israel in the morning at most good cafes. Shakshuka – in English is usually eggs, cooked in a tomato stew made of tomatoes (obviously), peppers and onions. Zul has done an excellent job of replicating this dish and serving it in the Southern Hemisphere. A Chommery approved breakfast choice. Totally delicious.
Homemade baked beans tagine with persian feta and Turkish bread ($14.50). Almost a nostalgic feeling came over me when these beans were placed in front of me. I can remember so vividly, eating the Heinz baked beans on toast when I was a tot. These were significantly better than Heinz and I have only been in contact with feta in my more recent eating years. Neverthless, baked beans make for a wholesome, delicious feed. The pre-cut bread made for easy tearing and then dipping in the homemade tomato-based sauce. Love.
Spiced bircher muesli with yoghurt, strawberries and pistachio ($7.50). Great consistency with just enough spice to taste but not too overpowering. The pistachios make for a nice final touch on this light meal. Very reasonably priced breakfast option if I don’t say so myself.
Soft, creamy scrambled eggs ($9.00), cooked in the way we all know and love. Complemented by toasted Turkish bread, avocado mash ($3.00) and crispy bacon ($4.00). Need I go on any further? Excellent news for all the ‘don’t butter my bread’ folk, you will be relieved to know that it automatically comes on the side. You can spread or not spread as much you like.
Arranging a perfect adventure, one chommer would recommend a lovely outing down Ripponlea way consisting of the following activities. Head to Spout for a lovely breakfast/lunch and coffee, pop into Firebrand Bakery and pick up a fresh loaf of sourdough, grab some Yumi’s dips capped off with a visit to the famous Attica and try your luck on getting a booking for dinner. Ripponlea is most certainly undergoing a change to become a very popular destination in Melbourne. Spout is one of the main driving forces – so get on board and join in the movement while you can.
The Important Details…
Noise: Happening buzz
Suitable for: All folk
Price: $15-$20 per head
My View: Perfect spot for breakfast and lunch
Address: 48 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea
Phone: (03) 9523 8155
Finding a good lunch destination around the Chapel Street precinct can be a daunting experience. One must have their wits about them when making the crucial decision of which cafe to place your bottom in. There are a plethora of overpriced, commercial and frankly down right unappealing spots to grab some lunch on/around possibly Melbourne’s most iconic Street. Thankfully, for your sake, you are reading The Chommery, which will bestow upon you the power of knowledge. With this knowledge you can eat happy & eat happy you will.
The crazy crew behind The Chommery would recommend Tyranny of Distance, located on Union Street, Windsor as a super spot for a feed. Just look how happy the bloke in two different shoes is standing out front! Carefully placed, just away from the frantic Chapel street, Tyranny is conveniently open from breakfast to dinner every day of the week. We headed on down here on a lazy Sunday morning after we avoided some of the berserk crowds we noticed at all the well-known ‘hot-spots’ in South Yarra and Prahran. If you are looking to relax and skip the up-to hour long queues then Tyranny is a solid choice.
Let me be the first one to tell you that it’s preferable to sit in the room pictured above. When the room that is photographed is full, often the staff will direct you towards an atmosphereless, dark and dingy over-flow room. I will not eat/drink at Tyranny unless I’m placed in the room above. The main dining room is open plan and spacious. You can smoke in there with good ventilation, and last but not least, those funky gas cylinders placed all around the shop are very funky.
Some teas and coffees to start? Why not. Soy Latte (left @$3.50) and Chai Latte ($4.00). Personally, I am not a fan of the soy milk used at Tyranny. Sorry to sound like a massive fuss pot, but the Nature’s Own Soy brand tastes terrible. I drank it, but didn’t love it. The chai Latte arrived nicely presented on an Olde English tray using loose leaf chai and a side of honey.
I usually prefer the table orders an array of different and exciting dishes when The Chommery is considering writing up an eatery. On this day, we could not help but order a very egg-fuelled assortment of breakfasts. You can not blame us though, ey! Scrambled eggs with mushroom, cured salmon and flatbread ($14.50). Totally adore the homemade flatbread here. I think everyone does. The salmon was fresh, the shrooms were buttery and flavoursome and the scrambled eggs were fluffy with little hints of parsley.
Poached eggs with avocado, cured salmon and flatbread ($15.50). Very generous serving of avocado – nearly a full one. Can you ever be served too much? Eggs poached perfectly. Once again – no complaints from here. The flat bread can be used as a sponge – like friend to mop the egg yolk up!
Scrambled eggs with grilled tomato, spinach, mushrooms, and housemade flatbread ($17.50).
Spanish style baked eggs with chorizo, roasted capsicum, smoked paprika, tomato compote and sweet onion ($13.50). I would describe this as a great replica of an Israeli style dish called Shakshuka – which I really love. On the topic of love, I loved this dish t0o. I rated the big chunks of juicy chorizo and sweet potato pieces floating in the stew as well as the eggs cooked in a different way. Besides the fact I burnt my entire mouth when I started eating, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal.
I have eaten at Tyranny many times. An affordable and easily likeable dinner menu is on each night as well. The lunch offerings are pleasant too, with many flat bread varieties (can’t get enough of that flatbread). It’s not the warmest inside the Tyranny, so I would suggest rugging up and heading down for B/L or D (breakfast, lunch or dinner). Even the late night beer or wine may take your fancy as well.
No need to keep your distance from Tyranny of Distance.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Regular cafe fare
Noise: Gentle buzz
Bookings: Possible but hard to organise
Suitable for: Most types
Dress: Funky as you feel
Price: $20 per head
My View: Groovy cafe – Great flat bread!
Address: 147 Union Street, Windsor
Phone: (03) 9525 1005
As Melbourne fast approaches Winter, with a deep chill in the air, leaving the house becomes a task in itself. My desires to travel to uncharted and unfamiliar restaurant territory is quashed precisely for this reason. You may have found yourself in this recent situation, deciding on a particular spot for dinner, coming to the conclusion to go with an old favourite after a lengthy discussion. Further, a place that allows bookings can prevent one from potentially catching pneumonia while standing in a queue for hours on end. Thus, we decided on Hu Tong Dumpling Bar in Prahran. Local – Check. Booking – check. Reliable – check.
This, my friends, is no ordinary door. This is both the entrance to the Hu Tong eatery and a gym work out all in one. If I was you, I would consider a few bicep curls before attempting to push your way through the heavy metal displayed above. Once we entered the restaurant we were glad to have a reservation. Even though we dined on a weeknight, Hu Tong attracts a variety of locals and families looking for a reasonably priced - it was very busy. Undoubtedly, you will notice a ‘dumpling-preparation viewing station’ as you enter the main dining room. Take a minute to watch the cooks prepare excellent dim sum, in a multitude of varieties, which you will surely be chomming minutes later.
You will notice some of the most elegant restaurateurs in Melbourne sipping Chinese tea and chatting the night away, in the friendly spacious environment. While our numbers weren’t large enough to constitute a round table (my personal favourite), we did notice the unfortunate lack of the ‘lazy susan’ that saddened me ever so slightly. You will love the menu, which, in Japanese fashion, has many photos next to the available dishes. Usually, this does not bode well for a restaurant but in this instance I let it slide.
To begin warming our engines, we dined on vegetable dumplings (12 pieces for $16.80). The interesting green wrappers, with its chewy texture provide a casing for the insides, which formed a piece of vegetable mash. Vinegar, soy and chilli dipping sauce varieties all available for your coating pleasures.
Now we really start to get into the good stuff. The wontons with hot chilli sauce (8 pieces for $12.80) – a must order. These are very soft dumplings and the oil/soy/chilli sauce in which they are bathed matched perfectly with each parcel. Make sure to try to use a soup spoon to get some of the sauce with the wonton when eating. Amazing! Note: these were not very spicy, I would say more on the mild side of hotness.
The staff will always recommend Hu Tong’s signature dumpling dish of Shao-long Bao (8 pieces for $12.80). Often staff will talk up a dish that often does not match expectations. This is not the case here. I have had these every time I’ve visited Hu’s and you will not regret ordering these. To break it down, these are pork dumplings with captured broth inside the wrapping. Not only are they delicious, but fun to eat as well. A must order. On the back of the menu is an in depth depiction of how to eat these dumplings. A good read, to ensure no spillage of the broth and full eating pleasure.
Peking Duck (Half a duck – 8 pieces for $33.00). Another great appetizer, Hu Tong excel in preparing this dish. Soft duck, crispy skin, warm pancake and a dash of plum sauce. Two pieces each really hit the spot, (especially because they were slightly on the smaller side). Once piece is never enough. There is a funny guide on the back of the menu with steps on how to eat the duck too. Bloody obvious though – chom it in the mouth in one go. Obviously!
Diced chicken in chilli sauce with peanuts ($22.80). This was an appealing and inexpensive large sharing dish. No unique chomming experience here, just a reliable Chinese plate that pleased all. Note: I had to remove the plethora of dried chilli skins from my helping – good practice of chop sticks. The waiter informed us that no vegetables would arrive with our main course but from the photo above it looks like either we got lucky or he gave us wrong information. Either way, it’s always good to have some vegetables – right?
The shredded beef with home made BBQ sauce ($28.80) can be viewed above. These beefs strips were heavily glazed and fried but totally addictive. Without question, the small amount of beef within the batter was of a poor standard. Nevertheless, myself and fellow chommers did not leave any left overs. The photo is quite deceiving in that it looks like a small serve, when in truth the mound of beef was built tall rather than wide.
I’m a little confused as to why Hu Tong is ranked as the third best Melbourne restaurant on Urbanspoon. Don’t get me wrong I have enjoyed all my visits to this spot, but number three – I don’t think so. Here we have a solid mid-range Chinese restaurant, that is family friendly and open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. It is a reliable spot to hit up some classic Chinese food out of the city- just off Chapel Street. Take it from The Chommery; do not hesitate to order more dumplings – that’s where the money’s at!. It’s called a ‘dumpling bar’ for a reason.
The Important Details…
Noise: Loads of
Suitable for: All
Dress: Smart casual
Price: $40 a head (not including alcohol)
My View: Superb dumplings found here
Address: 161 Commercial Road, Prahran (The Cullen Hotel)
Phone: (03) 9098 1188
Axil Coffee Roasters is a brilliant cafe and could very well be one of the best in Melbourne. Need I say more? Probably not. Will I waffle on for a bit and talk about my experience? Yes. If your goal for logging on to this post was to decide whether or not to try the lovely Axil, I would say, yes, go! If you keep reading, I have warned you that I like to have a good waffle. Mmmmm waffles.
A grand looking entrance that fronts onto to Burwood Road and is situated a few metres away from the corner of Glenferrie Road in Hawthorn. The only outside seating can be seen in the above photo. Personally, I think you will have a much more enjoyable Axil experience sitting within the beast.
A bright open dining area that makes use of the signature Melbourne exposed ventilation and hanging lights among other pleasant features. You may notice the great hanging pot plant display that divides the space between the eating-in customers and the abundance of staff working their butts off behind a long work bench on the right hand side.
The soy latte was creamy, bubble free and smooth($4.00). I wouldn’t expect anything else from a cafe that not only has their own Axil coffee products station, but also a full roasting factory at the rear of the premises. You can tell that the crew behind this joint are most definitely into coffee, as well as coffee related paraphernalia.
How can anyone go past a steak sandwich ($17.00)? But really, a classic Aussie favourite that dates back to when Captain Cook first discovered Australia. Served in toasted turkish bread with rocket salad and other nice insides, not to mention a decent quality fillet. The side potato salad with mayo and red onion was a nice companion. If the other sangas are also getting served in halves, could be an option to split with a friend to sample a second.
You may have heard of the BigMac index, more recently the iPod index. The latest one of all, taking Melbourne by storm is the smashed avocado and fetta index. Now that this breakfast dish has become a staple addition to pretty much every cafe in Melbourne, we can make our own measures and conclusions of each one. Lo and behold, the smashed avocado ($14.50) at Axil was pretty damn good. This was the consensus of the group and not just the humble opinion of The Chommery. Points were awarded for the second piece of sourdough, the overly generous serving of mash and the complementary lemon.
Doesn’t the combination of greens, white, red, yellow and a few more shades of green just look magnificent. Even if this dish tasted like crap – which it certainly did not, I would have to give votes just for the amazing use of colour. These were the fritters ($17.00). A careful incision was made by no one else but a budding surgeon on this poached egg. He deemed it to be impeccably cooked.
A pasta/gnocchi dish is a very upmarket (dinner-esque) offering for a cafe – I wanted one of my fellow chommers to order it so we could see how Axil’s fared. We ordered the veal ragu with gnocchi (yes – I know that is penne ($21.00). The penne was a late substitution and we were all a little worried when we were informed of this by our bubbly waitress. The pasta was cooked exactly to our liking, al dente, and none of that watery soggy stuff either. The small cubes of veal were almost falling apart off the fork as you took each mouthful. What a great variation to standard cafe fare – a beautiful dish.
The food just kept getting better and better. The lamb wrap ($17.00) was really sensational. The lamb had been prepared in a similar fashion to the veal, in that it was as soft as cake – too good. An amazing (possibly home-made) tomato salsa and humus dressing formed a bed for the tabouleh to rest on top. My only criticism is that after I had been peer pressured to fold up the wrap and start eating it like a man, the package became much smaller. This in turn, meant my eating experience was much quicker.
I took the time to find the real definition of the word axil. Until earlier I thought it had something to do with bikes and levers. Dictionary.com defines it as ‘the upper surface of a branch or leafstalk and the stem from which it grows’ (WTF is correct). I tried several times to combine this with a witty ending note for my post using the name in some sort of pun. The result was negative. I will leave you on this note.
No more waffling, time to get serious. Axil Coffee Roasters is the bomb. Go and enjoy a beautiful breakfast or lunch.
The Important Details…
Noise: Not quiet
Suitable for: All
Dress: As you like
Price: $15 – $25 a head
My View: One of Melbourne’s best Cafe – well in my top 10
Address: 322 Burwood Road, Hawthorn
Phone: (03) 9819 0091
Chinese food for me is all about about predictable and reliable dishes that bring people together. Before going, you know what you love, you know what you want to order, and the menu becomes an obsolete guide that is rarely used. Once the family has sat around the Lazy Susan, each will nominate their beloved dish to add to the order so everyone feels like they have contributed. When I am bestowed with the responsibility of ordering, I’ll filter the crap suggestions, naturally.
Choi’s, in Riversdale Road, Hawthorn has always been a pillar in my Chinese restaurant repertoire. Besides the renovations, a few more awards added to their wall and the occasional price increase, Choi’s has remained a quality eating house for over 20 years. According to the staff, Choi’s holds roughly 6000 climate controlled bottles of wine on hand at any given time. Although if you don’t want to pay double or triple the cost price, they allow BYO for a relatively minor fee. Interesting use of the spaceship-like glass/metal sliding door entrance; admire the fluoro lit name running vertically down.
It is a more elegant and sophisticated dining room than what you may expect in your average Chinese. David Yap (owner and head chef) has completed several refurbishments over the years to transform the dining space to what it has become. Personally, I think it makes for a pleasant eating space, the patterned light shades are very cool.
Chicken San choi bao ($10.00 for 2 pieces). Make sure you request a serving of plum sauce, and be sure to generously coat the insides of the lettuce leaf with the plum goodness. San choi bao’s are very good here, it is possible they are slightly smaller than usual but are a delicious entree.
Mixed steamed dim sim basket ($9.00). I could eat dim sim’s all day and night! Two of these moist parcels of goodness per person is just not enough – the Chommer needs more. These are an excellent appetizer and for any dumpling fan are a must order. I like to dip in soya sauce before the consumption process begins. You may eat they way you like.
Could Peking duck possibly be the best dish in the world? To answer my own question, I’m not really sure. To say that it is safely within my top ten favourite courses, would be a more correct statement. Choi’s do a great Peking duck ($30.00 for 6 pieces), always have, hopefully always will. The ultra soft thin pancakes gently hug the juicy fat piece of duck inside. The duck’s skin is slightly crunchy, combined with a plum sauce coating and the hint of vegetable with the spring onion, cucumber and other pickled vegetables, makes for an extremely delicious entree. Till not long ago you would have only seen one piece of this delicacy on the plate above. I wised up as of late – two is always better than one.
The must order main course is the Cantonese beef ($28.00). Large, tender pieces of beef completed by the amazingly rich, thick Cantonese sauce resting peacefully on a bed of fresh broccoli. You can tell I love this dish. It is executed as good as anywhere here. Note: When all the solids have been consumed tip that sauce onto a bowl of rice. Then breathe in deep and chom.
The chilli chicken with cashews ($23.00) was a generous serving. A stock standard classic Chinese dish that rarely faults and Choi’s present it beautifully. To be pedantic, I couldn’t taste a strong chilli flavour which I was hoping for. Although, this is good thing for the mild spice orientated out there.
Tom yam prawns ($30.00). You barely get any prawns in a serve, be it the Chadstone food court, a fancy shmancy Chinese or anywhere that a dish involves prawns. I really should expect it by now, that is the way it goes in Melbourne. It still frustrates me though. Another one, or prawns per person, shouldn’t break the bank, should it? Back on track! This was an enjoyable dish in which they use very fresh prawns and a light sauce that all will be delighted with (especially those in favour of chilli).
The softest buttery, almond cookies arrive at your table after the meal concludes. Not only are these complimentary (very rare these days), but they are mighty delicious. Just a warning, they are stupidly addictive, once you start, you will find it a challenge to stop. On several occasions I have asked for seconds, the staff always oblige. Yum.
Choi’s is open for dinners seven nights a week from 5pm, and lunches Monday to Friday form 12pm-3pm. I haven’t lunched here yet, although I am under the impression they don’t have yum-cha (damn!) and the dinner menu is utilised. Choi’s is a step up from the mid range Chinese options about town. Here they offer superb service, premium Chinese fare in a more elegant atmosphere. You can expect to pay slightly more for these aspects, but to celebrate a birthday or just to have an enjoyable night out it is easy to justify the coin.
Share your thoughts if you have had an equally enjoyable experience at Choi’s.
The Important Details…
Noise: Friendly chit chat
Bookings: Yes, via phone
Suitable for: All people
Dress: Smart casual
Price: $40-$50 per head (with BYO)
My View: Excellent and very consistent
Address: 186 Riversdale Road, Hawthorn
Phone: (03) 9818 2299
San Telmo is known to many as one of the oldest suburbs in Argentina. One that is very popular with tourists seeking a real Buenos Aires experience by walking the cobblestone streets while observing the antique stores that line the way. San Telmo, Melbourne, is known to many ‘in the know Melbournians’ as a new and exciting restaurant, which is churning out customers night after night, serving up excellent Argentinian fare. Due to my recent trip to the South of America, I like to think of myself as an adequate judge of this cuisine, and I tell you, the crew here are doing a bang up job.
Could Argentinian be a new food trend to take Melbourne by storm?
Located on Meyers Place in Melbourne’s city, San Telmo could be considered just a number in the scheme of top restaurants in this part of the city. Open for breakfast Monday to Friday from 8am through to lunch and dinner till late and from 9am till late on the weekends, you can rest easy that you will find a time that suits. A pleasant entrance, which isn’t too fancy, one would have no idea of the treasures inside.
The restaurant is a large space that spans from the formal entrance in Meyers Place through to the parallel lane way of Windsor Place. The above photo displays the open kitchen where you can sit and watch these guys boil while cooking many different pieces of meat. The floor is lined with black and white tiles around the kitchen and changes to dark red carpet for the majority of the restaurant. Staff in serious work aprons, cow hide along the wall, with a massive display of wines and thick leather place mats lining the tables are some of the interesting features you may notice upon arrival.
Empanadas are a very popular snack to get you through the day while touring Argentina and will often find their way to becoming an entree before any lunch or dinner. We ordered both varieties of Empanadas on offer – firstly, beef, egg and olives. The other was provolone, mozzarella, basil and capsicum ($6.00each). To my surprise, these were heavily fried, which is interesting because I only remember eating baked ones during my travels. Nevertheless, they were a delicious treat to begin the feast and can be easily divided in half using a knife or the hands god gave you.
Humitas – fried corn, polenta and chipotle mayonnaise ($12.00). I like to think of polenta chips as the newer and cooler version of french fries and for some odd reason I convince myself they are healthier. They are, right? Delicately crunchy with a hot soft gooey inside, each bite was heaven. I may have overdressed the polenta sticks in the light mayo provided – it tasted so damn good it had to happen.
Ceviche is a common dish found in many South American destinations, from my experience, namely Peru. It usually consists of raw fish dressed in a tangy or spicy sauce and served cold. We ordered the white fish, chilli, sweet potato and ginger ceviche ($16.00). Very soft, bite sized pieces of cold fish were used, small enough to be fully coated in the superb dressing.
Provoleta – grilled provolone cheese ($12.00). Provoleta or saganaki? Are these one and the same or are they cousins? – one from Arg and the other from Greece. I am not going to debate backgrounds, I’d much rather just say: – Intense. The only word I can think of to describe how good this starter is. Squish that lemon juice all over and slice this warm piece of dairy up as well as you can out of the dark ceramic serving dish. We shared between three and that was perfect.
You will order a Chorizo Argentino – pork sausage ($14.00). It is a hefty price tag to pay for a single snag but once you sink your teeth into the pre-cut slices of juicy meat you will easily forget finances. Might I mention this is best suited for two people (three at a massive stretch) and once you have one slice, you are drooling for more. I found this to be a little oily in hindsight but considering how quickly this dish was chommed, it is amazing that any neurons had time to process a conclusion.
Zanahorias – Burnt carrots, thyme and goat’s cheese ($12.00). These soft, buttery carrots were a pleasant side to the upcoming meats. Might I mention the excellent use of melted goat’s cheese rather than the standard solid cubes you will find with breakfast.
Just to throw it out there, I have a fetish for ribs. They are fun to eat, are generally extremely flavoursome and just a top notch dish to put smiles on every face. Tira de Asado – Beef short ribs ($28.00) These ticked all my boxes as I chewed the bones dry of the salty but carefully charred little treasures. A decent size serve, cut up to share, is great to put in the middle. My accompanying Chommer did not agree with my view of these treats with the comment “they have fantastic flavour but there is little meat and are thus predominantly fat and bone.”
Something inside bellows that you have to put some greens on the table. So we followed our thoughts and ordered Pimientos con heuvos – Grilled capsicum, with egg, beans and olives ($10.00). Very self-explanatory salad with a perfectly poached egg on top just in case you haven’t had enough protein in the meal.
We probably didn’t need to order any more, but we did any way and, before we knew it, the Asado especial del dia – 8 hour slow cooked lamb ($39.00) was perched on our table. This dish is only available after 6:00pm due to the lengthy cooking time and results in amazing, tender pieces of lamb that melt in your mouth (aka no teeth required for this succulent meat). Brilliant! – mind you there are still those fatty pieces which always accompany lamb.
You don’t always have to order dessert, you don’t, control yourself…..We will have one Flan de dulce de leche please. The Flan with caramel and salted peanuts ($14.00). A sweet end to a meal is always a good end to a meal. This perfectly sized, soft creamy option was a winner and ideal to share. A couple of mouthfuls is all you need. If you are a Where’s Wally expert, I’m sure you undoubtedly saw the problem with the above photo. (Don’t tell anyone, but someone couldn’t wait for the photo to be taken – a bite is missing from the rear end)
The standard of food and drink in Buenos Aires, Argentina was exceptional to say the least (of course, granted you know where to dine). During my short visit last year, we ate meat every night till the sweats came on and drank amazing red wines well into the early morning (probably too often). San Telmo is your more local alternative if you can’t get to Argentina in the near future. Besides the pricing, I found this place to be a very authentic Argentinian Bistro that includes a variety of Argentinian wines such as Malbec, which brought back some cherished memories of South America. Make a booking, aim to go with four people or more and don’t be scared to try it all because ‘La comida es rica! (the food is delicious!)
The Important Details…
Noise: Yep, plenty
Bookings: Yes, via phone and website
Suitable for: Over 18+ crowd
Dress: Casual – smart
Price: $65 per person
My View: Pricy authentic Argentinian well worth seeking
Address: 14 Meyers Place, Melbourne
Phone: (03) 9650 5526