Friday, 24 June 2011

CBD lunches: Hairy Canary

*disclaimer* this post is about a complimentary meal, which was a tasting of a variety of specials in testing at Hairy Canary

Last week PHo took me to lunch to try a ‘wicked wild boar sandwich’  at Hairy Canary. Hairy Canary is generally thought of as a bar that serves food.  However, with Justin Beilin (a friend of PHo’s) recently taking over as executive chef for it and its younger sibling, Hairy Little Sister, it is shifting its focus to the food. Justin has also recently poached Manuel Villegas from Garcia and Sons in Windsor to lend more Spanish sensibility to their menu. 

Upon arrival, Justin sat us down and explained that he wanted us to test out some of the specials they were trying as part of their revamping of the menu. We began with slow braised calamari and crushed baby potatoes. The calamari was tender and braised in a rich caramelised onion sauce, while the rosemary flavoured potatoes complimented the braise. 

Our next dish was roast suckling pig and cacciatore sausage croquettes with a chipotle romesco. The croquettes were nicely crispy on the outside with a luxurious pork and delice cheese filling. 

The croquettes were followed with the wild boar toasted sandwich with onion marmalade, Dijon and baby cos. The boar was slow roasted, which resulted in a meltingly good sandwich filling that combined well with the crisp lettuce and condiments. Wild boar is an unusual menu item in Melbourne, so I asked Chef Justin about it. He explained that on a recent trip to visit their goat supplier in Gippsland, their supplier mentioned that they had had a problem with wild boars tormenting their herd. They have a license to cull them, however hadn’t had any demand for the meat. Justin happily took one off his hands to feature in a series of winter weekend roasts at Hairy Canary (and of course our tasty sandwich).

The next course was a confit Spanish short rib served with roasted bone marrow and a basque style caper and paprika butter sauce. The beef combined well with the sauce and rich marrow. In the context of our tasting it provided a lull amongst punchier dishes. 

Our final savoury course was a cracking dish of fresh linguini with hand foraged rare mushrooms and rich but delicately flavoured marron bisque (mushrooms pictured below). 

We finished our meal with a good chocolate mousse with fresh honeycomb and chocolate Persian fairy floss – an interesting mix of textures. 

I'd like to see Hairy Canary offering tasting menus like this one. 

*All photos courtesy of PHo
Hairy Canary on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

CBD lunches: Roule Galette

I was recently joined by PHo and YP for a Friday lunch at one of my favourite Friday lunch venues, Roule Galette. Roule Galette serves galettes (savoury buckwheat crepes) and crêpes in tiny café on Scott Alley off Flinders Lane.

Some of the perks of food blogging include creative direction in venue choices and tasting rights. On this Friday we agreed to order three galettes and divide them so we all got to taste all three. We began our meal with a Perry from Henry of Harcourt ($11 for 500ml), a traditional accompaniment to galettes, and a nicely dressed side salad.


Our first galette was the Monsieur K ($14) that was filled with creamy melted raclette and topped with salty prosciutto.

Next came the Forestière ($9.50) filled with a decadent mixture of béchamel, bacon, mushrooms and cheese.

Our final galette was the Saint Jacques ($18) filled with flavourful sautéed leek and topped with seared scallops (a tiny bit more done than PHo and I would prefer).

Time constraints meant we skipped the crêpes. However PHo and a dropped into Breadwell to pick up some Macarons by Josephine ($2.50).

 Earl Grey and Rosewater
Roule Galette on Urbanspoon

Weeknight dinner @ Ichi Ni

Ichi Ni
12 The Esplanade, St Kilda

Last week a friend took me for a late dinner at Ichi Ni in St Kilda. Located next door to the Espy and sharing the same owners, Ichi Ni is one of the many Izakayas that have invaded Melbourne of late.  Our table overlooked the bay and had a good view of the open kitchen.

(My date's attempt at turning the Blood's sign into 'blog')

The wine list is mostly dominated by Australian offerings with a smattering of New Zealand. We started with one of the ‘warm jugs’ of Suishen sake ($14 160ml) and edamame with salt ($6.5). The fruity sake was warming on a cold night and the edamame didn’t survive long enough to photograph well due to their ravenous company. 

The menu has a good mixture of small dishes designed to accompany a boozy night. The miso soup ($3.5) also helped to warm us up.

We ordered the unagi (eel) and hamachi (kingfish) yakitori (both $10 for 2), however we ended up with the wagyu ($28.5) instead of the unagi, which was a bit disappointing. The wagyu was smoky, sweet and tender . The hamachi was thinly sliced, which resulted in it being served a bit overcooked and dry, although it had good flavour. On a previous visit to Ichi Ni, I enjoyed the unagi and butabara (pork belly $8) yakitori that were both deliciously juicy. 


Our next dish was the miso pork belly ($12) and of course another jug of sake. The miso marinated pork was thinly sliced and grilled to perfection.

We finished with a sashimi platter ($34) and dragon roll ($20). The sashimi was presented beautifully and was all meltingly fresh. The tuna tataki, tuna slices and kingfish were amazing as well as the scallop sashimi covered in roe. The dragon roll contained seared tuna, cucumber and avocado and was topped with chilli sauce and Japanese mayo. 


Despite the minor hiccups with the yakitori, Ichi Ni is a great place for a quiet dinner or hitting the sake. 

Highlights: miso pork belly and sashimi platter
Lowlight: yakitori mix up

Ichi Ni Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Duck, Duck...... Duck! @ Old Kingdom, Collingwood

Last week I visited Old Kingdom on Smith Street in search of duck to celebrate a friend’s birthday. While Simon Lay is no longer a fixture (having opened a new restaurant in Box Hill South) Old Kingdom is still a mecca for the many duck lovers of Melbourne. It’s unapologetically lacking in fine dining finesse, which adds to its appeal for gluttons wanting their fix of crispy, fatty goodness in a pancake. The décor is simple, the tables covered in paper (you’ll see why) and the service cursory.

The duck must be ordered in advance (1-2 days) and is delivered in three courses for the paltry price of $55. One duck had me and my two dining companions well and truly stuffed full of duck-tastic awesomeness. The banquet began with the theatrical delivery of the whole duck to the table, where the optimistically white shirted server performed a deft dissection of the duck and explained how to make a Peking duck pancake (for the uninitiated). The pancakes were delicate and thin, the spring onion and cucumber crisp, the hoisin just right and the duck the right ratio of crispy skin to fat and meat. The duck meat itself was still juicy and the plate of duck pieces included the wings, legs and part of the neck for those who like to nibble. The waiter was happy to bring out extra pancakes and vegetables when we ran out.

The second course was, of course, going to struggle to live up to the decadent duck pancakes. However, the bean shoot and duck stir fry provided a refreshing follow up to the rich first/main course. It was delicately flavoured, smoky from the wok and the bean shoots maintained their crisp.

The soup was a warming and light cleanser to finish the meal. The duck flavoured the broth nicely and the tofu had soaked up the flavours of the broth and the slight spiciness of the mustard greens.

 Visiting Old Kingdom without being disappointed, has me forming grand plans of going on a duck odyssey a la Matt Preston’s effort for the Age back in the good days before he jumped ship to Taste in the Herald Sun.

Old Kingdom on Urbanspoon

CBD lunches: Yu-u

137 Flinders Lane (entry in Oliver Lane opposite Coda)

This week I caught up for lunch at Yu-u on Flinders Lane with a friend who had recently returned from a stint in Sydney. Yu-u is one of those quintessentially Melbourne venues with its unsigned entrance in a graffittied laneway that one can only enter after ringing a doorbell. Clearly it was the logical choice for cleansing my friend of the shiny Sydney filth. 

Yu-u is a popular destination for its reasonably priced lunch set menu ($18.5). Choices include vegetarian, sashimi and different meat options. We started with a small jug of warm sake, the name of which I neglected to document. It was a perfect choice for an extremely chilly Melbourne day. 

I ordered the sashimi set, while my dining companion ordered the pork. Both sets included hot soup with cabbage and carrot, perfect for a freezing day. They also had a yummy seaweed salad that was suitably flavoured with sesame, and pickled cabbage and carrots that combined sweetness with crunchy piquancy. As an accompaniment to my sashimi, I chose the seasoned rich, which was subtly flavoured with mushroom and of a similar texture to Chinese sticky rice. The sashimi was super fresh and included salmon, salmon belly, tuna and kingfish. 

The pork dish was a delicious combination of thinly sliced pork with a savoury ginger sauce, served on some type of puree with daikon and a refreshing side salad.

Lunch finished with a refreshing slice of rockmelon.

I’ll definitely be adding Yu-u to my lunch rotation. 

Yu-U on Urbanspoon
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...