Lunch at Palour Wine Room

Knowing that it was an impromptu lunch to fulfill my friend’s craving for pasta, I suggested that we go early to Parlour Wine Room as we didn’t have a booking. We arrived just before midday and were limited to a few tables which filled up quickly with other ‘walk in’ patrons, we were lucky as during the lunch service we saw several people get turned away due to lack of space.

We were partially going to the Parlour Wine Room to take advantage of the lunch special of a drink (soft drink or house wine) and a meal for $16 but we were really there to taste the food so that’s why we couldn’t help ourselves but to order something extra with our meal.

We were quickly set up with table water, lunch specials menu, normal menu and a drinks menu when we were seated.20140712-201529-72929114.jpgI love their funky cutlery and choice of lunch specials. I love myself a croque monsieur but it was definitely a soup weather kind of day.20140712-201530-72930545.jpgToo pretty to eat off but when the food came, I was more than happy to make a mess on top. 😀20140712-201531-72931957.jpgI love the unique lounge seating they had all over the place. The tables are often moved around to accommodate for large bookings etc and whilst also being round and small, I would find it squishy to sit with a large group.20140712-202000-73200425.jpg20140712-202001-73201959.jpgThe whole venue was centred around the bar area like a wine room should be.20140712-202003-73203602.jpgSoup of the day~

Creamy cauliflower ($10.00). My eyes widen when I saw my soup portion. Luckily I had ordered something ‘lighter’ for my main. This soup was unbelievably velvety smooth and full of flavour while the condiments helped add to the texture and salty levels. I could drink this soup all day! Unfortunately it was the soup of the day so who knows when it will come back on the menu, but I look forward to it. In anticipation of more food yet to come, I offered my bread and oil to my friend who happily dipped it amongst her prawns. She really liked the bread and I could only assume it came from A. Baker as it is so close.20140712-202418-73458689.jpgThe soup was also served with bread and dipping oil.20140712-202417-73457366.jpgTapas plates~

Prawns, garlic chips, chilli ($17.00). I couldn’t taste much chilli and the prawns were borderline too salty but when paired with the oil and the bread it balanced out. It is sad to only expect four prawns despite paying $17.00 for the dish, but it is what I have come to expect from the pricey New Acton area.20140712-202232-73352519.jpg 20140712-202229-73349600.jpgLunch special~

Drinks (house wine or soft drinks): house red and lemon lime bitters. We weren’t told what the house red was but my friend really enjoyed it and said it was heavy and full bodied.20140712-202228-73348258.jpgPappardelle pasta, pork belly, sofrito ($16.00 paired with a drink). The pasta was cooked perfectly with the chunks of pork being really tender in a very rich tomato sauce. It was not an overly large portion and would have been perfectly paired with something sweet, I was almost tempted but I was on a strict time schedule so we couldn’t squeeze it in. Lucky we ordered the extra entrees 😉 20140712-202420-73460060.jpgBattered calamari, chipotle aioli, pickled cucumber ($16.00 paired with a drink). The salad was nice enough, presented well in a shallow bowl and I also really liked the sauce. The calamari was not stringy and chewy but nicely battered and tender. The salad greens were fresh and crisp but I felt the whole thing was ruined by someone who was a bit vigorous with the paprika. It was everywhere and often the dominating flavour. I tried to shake off as much as I could but it was still there.20140712-202530-73530266.jpgAs much as I tried, I couldn’t shake the paprika off my salad.20140712-202531-73531614.jpgDespite being busy, I felt that we were well looked after by the staff. I would definitely come back and try more things from the lunch specials, but I probably wouldn’t order the calamari salad again. If anyone sees the cauliflower soup back on the menu, let me know!

Venue: Parlour Wine Room

Address: 16 Kendall Lane, Newacton Pavilion, Canberra ACT 2601

Phone: (02) 6257 7325

Website: http://www.parlour.net.au/

Parlour Wine Room on Urbanspoon

Melbourne long weekend – il Bacaro

We were trying to fit in as much as we could before we flew back to Canberra later that day and we were going to finish the trip off with great Italian food based on a recommendation at Il Bacaro cucine e bar.

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Complimentary warm bread with gorgeous olive oil.

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Pappardelle con ragu d’agnello, piselli, tartufo e pecorino hand cut pappardelle with lamb ragu, truffle paste, peas and pecorino (sml $29.00). The lamb itself was tender and so flavoursome, that the pasta being fresh and a perfectly cooked was just a bonus.

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Ravioli di fontina con castagna e uva moscato fontina ravioli with roasted chestnut, muscatel and chestnut puree (lge $35.00). Amazing delicate parcels filled with subtle cheese presented beautifully on the plate. This was truly delicious!

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Gnocchi con ragu di lepre, cioccolata e burrata gnocchi with hare ragu, chocolate, and burrata (sml $29.00).

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Spaghettini con cicale di mare, aglio, “olio visadi” e rucola spaghettini with Moreton Bay Bugs “olio visadi”, garlic, chilli and rocket (lge $39.00). A nice hint of spice with perfectly cooked bay bugs and pasta. I love the fact that they wilted rocket throughout the dish and I didn’t have to add any cracked pepper.

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We didn’t have time for dessert as we wanted to squeeze in a spot of shopping before flying out but their dessert options did look tempting. The dining room quickly filled up with suits having lunch, which made me and my comfy airport outfit feel very under dressed.

The portion sizes are very small but that doesn’t take away from the amazing flavours from the pasta. This is one of the best Italian restaurants I have eaten at. I would come here again and maybe ask for more bread if I wasn’t full enough (or maybe an expensive dessert or two?).

I booked on Saturday night for Monday lunch with no problems (they are closed on Sundays) but if you were going for a busier time maybe book ahead.

Venue: il Bacaro Cucina e Bar

Address: 170 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000

Phone: (03) 9654 6778

Websitehttp://www.ilbacaro.com.au/

Il Bacaro Cucina e Bar on Urbanspoon

Melbourne long weekend – Lux bite re-run

If I was taking my friends around to the best of the best in Melbourne, then of course that would include Lux Bite in South Yarra. They have fabulous unique cakes you couldn’t get anywhere else. 

Meringue Monster ~signature cake~green tea sponge, pistachio, watermelon yoghurt, sour strawberry mousse, meringue ($8.50). Despite being their signature cake, I haven’t tried a Meringue Monster until today. It was so good and I couldn’t imagine coming here without ordering one now.

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Be my Love ~best seller~milk chocolate mousse, raspberry cream, raspberry and hazelnut crunch ($8.50). The richer and sweeter cake of the two and as well as chocolate and raspberry go together, I much preferred the Meringue Monster.

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I travelled back to Canberra cautiously and carefully with two other cakes, the lolly bag was more successful as my Endless Love looked like it was trodded on. image

Lolly bag – When I took a bite, my tongue searched through all the flavours- jaffa; spearmint; musk; redskin and chocolate freckles and while I talked in amazement about all the flavours I was experiencing, all the pop rocks went off in my mouth! It was a Willy Wonka experience with all the textures yet different distinct flavours all topped off with nostalgic flavours from the lollies of my primary school years, too bad that Ovaltines didn’t make the cut.

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Endless love – Just as delicious as I remember it. I’ve had Pierre Herme’s Ispahan many a time and this is the closest thing to it without leaving the country.

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Melbourne long weekend – Svago Ristorante

I’ll admit it now, we were a bit disorganised when it came to planning our meals for the weekend, I had only really sussed out brunch options and afternoon cake areas. We probably should have planned our dinners more wisely. After Mr. Hive was completely booked out (we almost got a reservation for 7 people at 9:30pm but even then I would have been starving by that time), we started searching for alternatives. Dumpling restaurants, Spanish tapas, Mexican and even Mrs. Parmas couldn’t fit in 7 people or not without being seated ridiculously late. After my fifth call (my other friends were calling around too), I started to loose hope, even if a restaurant was able to seat 7 at a decent hour without being booked out on a Saturday night, what’s that say about the restaurant that we were left with?

I searched for restaurants on Lygon street, I had never really been impressed with that area before but these were desperate times. I had seen on Urbanspoon that Svago Ristorante rated rather quite highly with recent raving reviews from patrons. I dialled the number and asked if they had an opening for 7 people around 7:30pm with a hopeful tone. They said that was not a problem and looked forward to seeing us. I breathed a sigh of relief, finally we got in somewhere! Hmmm but that only left us girls 45 minutes to all get ready and be there… Better start getting changed! 

We were taking someone down Lygon street for the first time, I told them to count how many people ask them to come into their restaurant to eat while we walked one and a half blocks. After being pestered by many Italian men all rugged up braving the outside weather, we finally find Svago Ristorante in a quaint quiet, romantically lit restaurant with no spruiker out the front to wave us in.

I love their Robert Welch cutlery set!

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Complimentary bread and olives – delicious warm bread served with fabulous olive oil and balsamic and a great selection of warm olives.

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Mains~

Pear gnocchi homemade potato gnocchi with Taleggio cheese, pear and roasted walnuts ($23.00). The softest parcels of gnocchi with a fabulous cheese sauce balanced by the walnuts and sweetness of pear. The only complaint would been that they could have used a few more walnuts in the dish. One of the best gnocchi I’ve ever eaten!

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Spaghetti del mar homemade spaghetti with fresh seafood in a salsa verde sauce ($25.00). Perfectly cooked pasta with a good mix of seafood, although one of my mussels did taste like it just came out from the sea. I think this dish could have done with some chilli though. I asked for some parmesan cheese and they gave me a delicious freshly ‘microplane’d cheese, no powdered stuff here.

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Loin of lamb lamb backstrap served with braised sprouted legumes, pea puree and juniper berries jus ($31.00) served medium rare. My friend absolutely loved her lamb.

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Aged fillet steak of beef char-grilled eye fillet, served with horseradish potato puree, roasted shallots and red wine jus ($34.00). The boys promptly finished their steaks which were very tender and well cooked.

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Desserts~

We weren’t going to stay for dessert. Half of us wanted to eat somewhere else to get a bit of variety and then the other half wanted to stay because the experience so far had been so wonderful. Two of us were just going to share a tiramisu but when we ordered, everyone else happen to sneak in an order as well.

Individually baked banana cake caramel sauce and ice cream ($12.00). Made to order, these cakes were steaming hot and perfectly accompanied by ice cream and caramel sauce.

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Dutch chocolate mousse with liquid chocolate Galliano centre ($14.00). A very rich mousse with a smooth shot of Galliano to warm the heart and stomach as you took a bite.

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Tiramisu our way your own way… DIY ($13.00). We were really curious about what the description meant, the waiter kindly offered to show us how to assemble the dessert- stack the lady fingers, pour the espresso all over, smother with mascarpone cheese and top with a bit of Frangelico, rinse and repeat.

We probably didn’t leave the sponge fingers in enough espresso as some were still hard as we dug our spoon through. The strong espresso hits the palette soften by the taste of mascarpone then finished with a delicate after taste of frangelico. This dessert is more for novelty but I think a good consistent dessert needs to be left to the kitchen.

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I have eaten in many restaurants down Lygon street and I never understood what the fuss was about, for me it was always mediocre food, powdered parmesan cheese and spruikers. Svago is the best place I have eaten at here with top notch pastas and secondi options. 

We were thrilled with the service and the food. I’m still astounded that this little gem on such a busy street wasn’t filled with more patrons but that was fine by us as we got to chat and laugh and not compete with other table noise.

Venue: Svago Ristorante

Address: 118 Lygon St, Carlton, VIC 3053

Phone: (03) 9663 3536

Websitehttp://www.svagoristorante.com.au/

Opening Hours: 

Lunch : Mon – Fri 12:00pm ~ 3:00pm

Dinner : Mon – Sun 5:00pm ~ 11:00pm

Melbourne long weekend – The Grain Store

After waking up before dawn and leaving our bags at the hotel, I dragged mine and all my tired friends’ asses down for brunch to where I thought would be close by. Twenty minutes later and walking further and further away from the city, I was desperately hoping that the Grain Store was worth it.

I was relieved to get off the windy streets of Melbourne and get in the warm dining area of the restaurant but my heart skipped a beat when we were asked how many people and if we had made a booking. Luckily they were able to put us in a back area with a long table perfect for friends that want to catch up.

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I was excited to see that their brunch menu strayed away from the typical eggs benny and breakfast with the lot. All their menu items are made in house, they had vegan options as well as an extensive coffee menu.

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Prana chai ($4.00). Great loose leaf chai served with soy milk.

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Chilli and fennel sausage, Winter vegetable hash poached egg, Russian red kale, pear and cider relish ($17.00). The sausage didn’t have much of a bite to it but this was a very hearty and meaty breakfast. My friend really enjoyed the pear and cider relish.

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Grain store toasted musli parfait mandarin, chia seed yoghurt and quince jam, quinoa milk ($10.00). Beautifully presented and my friend really enjoyed the musli.

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Breakfast special ~ brioche French toast, caramelised banana and candied lime ($17.00). I didn’t have to ask my friend if she enjoyed her breakfast because when I looked over at her plate, it was completely scraped clean. The French toast was very light and fluffy and I could really taste the candied lime in the cream.

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Portobello mushroom and raclette potato rosti poached eggs, hazelnut hollandaise ($18.00) and a side of dry cured bacon ($4.00). I surprised even myself when I ordered a vegetarian breakfast and I didn’t order the bacon because I think adding meat makes everything better, I just thought it was be nice to try but the bacon was very ordinary and wasn’t necessary at all to the breakfast. For me, even though the mushrooms were plump and juicy, the hash was awesome and the eggs were perfectly cooked, the hazelnut hollandaise was the star of the plate.

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The wait staff was very attentive and friendly, the food was fabulous and the pastries (if you can fit it in) are also worth coming for.

Venue: The Grain Store

Address: 517 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, VIC 3000

Phone: (03) 9972 6993

Websitehttp://www.grainstore.com.au/

The Grain Store on Urbanspoon