At a glance - Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead is a Mexican Spanish Tapas Restaurant Bar  in the centre of St Kilda on Fitzroy Street with an extensive cocktail list. 

The restaurant had a wide variety of spirits on display at the bar with the back drop of an eye catching piece of artwork on the wall. 

To start with, we enjoyed a cold refreshing light Argentinian Beer which was perfect after a hot day. 

The buffalo wings (of which we chose the spicy option) was tender and packed full of flavour. The thyme and citrus infusions along with the special homemade wing sauce provided an excellent start to the meal. 

The Nachos were filled with the usual ingredients of guacamole, jalapeno, generous cheese, black beans, capsicum and corn which was served in the ceramic bowl it was cooked in. A generous serving of this classic dish was also accompanied with sour cream which provided us with a refreshing contrast. 

A quartet of tacos were   served on blue corn tortillas with deconstructed toppings. The fish taco was well cooked which resulted in a light and tasty taco. The slow cooked beef taco was a delight topped with homemade cheese. The chicken taco was also a great dish which was refreshing with the slaw served in it. 

Overall, Day of the Dead was a nice casual place to relax with some great food and extensive drinks list. 


By Helena Lea.

Day of the Dead Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Waterslide Bar

An exciting new addition to the Southgate precinct, the Waterslide Bar is located in the precinct’s opening onto the spiral staircase overlooking the Princes Bridge and city skyline.

Waterslide’s Venue Manager Tim Wastell has an impressive resume. Australian Bar Manager of the Year 2009, Wastell has plied his craft at some of Melbourne’s best loved bars such as The Blue Diamond on Queen St and The Saint St Kilda. He comes to Waterslide after a year pursuing excellence at Rockpool Bar and Grill in Perth.
Less than a week old and the bar is already making splashes with its tribute to the colourful area once known as “near Princes Bridge”. Favoured as a circus location and outdoor playground since the 1870s, Princes Bridge was Melbourne’s entertainment hub until well into the 20th century. Just metres from Southgate’s spiral staircase, adventure seekers used to hop into a water chute taller than the skyscrapers of the time. They would then be propelled down a wooden waterslide, fully dressed to the nines!
Various elements from the history of the cocktail were an inspiration in the concept with added contemporary quirky characteristics like, swing seats, lounge nooks, dramatic bottle display, rocking chairs and rotating stools as subtle touch points for customers to draw to.

Tones of gold, dark timbers and deep reddish-purple hues set the scene for the interior, through the use of curtain waves, eccentric banquette seating and reflective metallic mirror finishes.
Wastell has joined forces with Black Pearl’s Fred Siggins to design a fun and accessible cocktail menu and drinks list that incorporates modern techniques, seasonal ingredients and unique flavour combinations, as well as the highest quality spirits and some cracking grower produced wines.

We commenced our evening with a couple of outstanding cocktails.
Grace Kelly

Our first cocktail of the evening was the Grace Kelly cocktail which was made from Hendrick’s Gin, fresh pressed pear juice, Earl Grey, honey, cinnamon syrup, dehydrated apple garnish. A delicious fruity cocktail with plenty of character, it was an enlivening start.
Sage Advice

Our favourite cocktail of the night, the Sage Advice was magnificent. Not one for the faint hearted, the cocktail was a heady combination of Talisker 10yo Scotch Whiskey, Johnny Walker Black Label, Benedictine, apricot & sage syrup and orange bitters.
While Waterslide Bar is dedicated first and foremost to the art of drinking, the bar also offers a laid back environment for catching up with friends and family with Mediterranean inspired food designed to share which goes down a treat with their drink offerings.
Hand harvested Cuca sardines in olive oil and crusted ciabatta bread

Don’t let the “being served from a can” aspect fool you. The sardines were a delight, boasting a wonderful depth of flavour.
Market choice fish carpaccio, Juliann fennel, dill, lemon and olive oil

The fish carpaccio was beautifully presented and tasted even better than it looked. It was a wonderful mélange of different textures, natural sweetness and acidity. The fresh cured slices were embellished with pockets of fennel and dill. The lemon and olive oil dressing added the final touch to an enlivening combination of ingredients.
Mediterranean style pickled and marinated octopus with grated goat feta

The octopus pieces were tender and matched well with the medley of herbs and luxurious feta.
Cuban sandwich Roasted pork, premium shaved ham, melted gruyere cheese, Dijon mustard and pickled cucumber

An extravagant toasted ham and cheese sandwich containing luscious roast pork, gruyere cheese, pickle, mustard and slices of ham which added a nice touch of saltiness to the creamy cheese fusion. The sandwich was the perfect supper treat.
Suntory Yamazaki 18 y.o. Osaka

Our evening at Waterslide concluded on a great high. Overwhelmed by the brilliant choices available, we asked for a Japanese Whiskey recommendation and were presented with the outstanding 18 y.o Suntory Yamazaki. It was a delicate yet profound expression of a Japanese single malt. Smooth, well-balanced with great complexity and a lovely balance of fruit, silky malt and a touch of smoke. Just one of the many examples of the high end offerings available at the Waterslide.
The Waterslide Bar is the answer to your dreams. Finally, a bar that takes its drink choices very seriously, but not itself. With offerings for all enthusiasts (whether you are a craft beer aficionado, cocktail geek, spirit epicurean or wine appreciator there are a range of choices to suit your needs), the bar caters for everyone from those that are out for a fun night with mates to those looking to be inspired.

Location: Shop MR3, Mid Level East, Southgate Avenue, Southbank
Cuisine: Bar, Mediterranean, Cocktails, Wine, Spirits

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Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Waterslide Bar.

Mr Miyagi

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Mr Miyagi.
Drawing influence from the izakaya style of Japanese eating and drinking, Mr Miyagi offers a compelling proposition - stylish, laid back surrounds, a diverse drinks list and a clear focus on serving up delicious, playful dishes.
The decor fuses modern, grungy elements with traditional Japanese design to produce a cohesive whole. 
Specialising in Japanese and Pan-Asian share plates, the food served ranges from creative and contemporary such as nori tacos and tuna tataki pizza, to Japanese classics such as sashimi, nigiri and yakitori.
Nori taco  - grilled salmon belly, vinegar rice, spicy napa cabbage, Japanese mayo, chilli oil

Mr Miyagi’s pièce de résistance, the Nori taco was mind-blowingly good. The crisp taco shell of tempura nori sheets was filled with perfectly seasoned sushi rice, tangy kimchi, rich salmon adorned with chilli oil and Japanese mayonnaise. With all ingredients in perfect harmony, every bite was a feast for the senses - a stunning dish.
Tempura broccoli 

Another highlight was the tempura broccoli. The soft broccoli was encased in ethereally light and crispy tempura batter. Generously covered with a layer of grated cheese, this dish was vegetarian comfort food and would make anyone with a distaste for broccoli reconsider.
“MFC” - Miyagi Fried Chicken

The famous MFC lived up to expectations. Each morsel of fried chicken was tender, juicy and distinctly flavoursome. We loved how this crispy bar staple was done impeccably well without compromise.
Kabocha pumpkin toast – white chocolate and pumpkin ganache, honeycomb, yoghurt sorbet and pumpkin ice cream

Our favourite dessert of the evening, the kabocha pumpkin toast can best be described with one word - wow. The scattered presentation was an artistic mix of order and chaos. The bursts of tartness from the yoghurt sorbet worked well with the creamy white chocolate and pumpkin ganache while the honeycomb provided a wonderful textural element. A fantastically delicious amalgam of unlikely ingredients, the kabocha pumpkin toast is a must try for any visitor of Mr Miyagi.
Combined with a vibrant atmosphere, diverse beverage selection and warm staff, Mr Miyagi is an exciting foodie destination and has certainly earned our stamp of approval.

Location: 99 Chapel Street, Windsor
Phone: 03 9529 5999
Cuisine: Japanese

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Winter @ Cecconi’s

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Cecconi's.
One of Melbourne's premier fine dining institutions Cecconi’s is a Melbourne icon that requires no introduction.
Cecconi’s continues to deliver with dishes that are consistently well executed and highlighted by innovative, yet familiar, flavour combinations. The restaurant’s colour palette mixes black, white and copper while incorporating varying textures and tones to create contrast, producing a space that possesses familial warmth. 
The luxe, dark and clubby basement space of Cecconi’s boasts one of the more theatrical kitchens in Melbourne – wide-open and centre stage.
Caramelised scallops, crispy pork belly, shaved fennel, blood orange dressing

The scallops were perfectly seared and bursting with natural flavour while the pork belly was punchy with a delicate lining of pork fat and crunchy crackling providing an added kick of sinful pleasure. The subtle sweetness of the shaved fennel further and the fruity acidity of the blood orange dressing introduced further layers of complexity.  
Moreton bay bug tortellini, mustard fruit butter sauce, fried leek

The tortellini was exceptional. The filling of deliciously savoury and perfectly cooked Moreton Bay Bug was encased in al dente pasta. The accompanying crispy fried leek and stunning mustard fruit brown butter sauce made this a perfectly executed, expertly balanced and intelligent dish.
The slow cooked wagyu brisket, truffled gnocchi, spinach puree, red onion jam was decadent and flavoursome. Incredibly tender, it fell away easily with the weight of our forks. Coated with the earthy braising sauce, the dish was very enjoyable to consume with the light gnocchi which captivated with its delightfully pungent truffle aroma.
Roasted duck breast, confit leg, brussel sprouts, bacon, chestnut spaetzle

The slices of duck breast were cooked to perfection with allowing the natural rich flavour of the duck to shine through. The accompanying confit leg was tender, the skin crisp while the hearty chestnut spaetzli adorned with crispy bacon provided the crowning element to this luxurious dish.
Dessert tasting plate - Gianduja cheesecake, hazelnut nougat, Oreo crumbs, chocolate sorbet; Banana and passionfruit sorbet, blondie, toasted marshmallow, brandy snaps; and Lemon yoghurt cream, cassis jam, crispy meringue, vanilla sugar

Continuing the trend for the evening, the desserts were delicious. The rich cheesecake was beautifully made while the Banana and passionfruit sorbet was zesty and well-balanced and the Lemon yoghurt cream was silky smooth.
A modern Italian restaurant where food, wine, service and atmosphere blend beautifully together, Cecconi's boasts delicious Italian cuisine while taking great pride in using only the freshest ingredients available. The new Cecconi’s winter menu is, as expected from its predecessors, excellent.

Location: Basement, 61 Flinders Lane  Melbourne
Phone: 03 8663 0500
Cuisine: European, Italian, International

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Restaurant & Bar Dansk

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Restaurant Dansk.
Restaurant Dansk impresses with outstanding contemporary Danish cuisine. Located in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, the Restaurant Dansk is a brilliant introduction to Nordic cuisine and focuses on modern techniques to emphasise clean, crisp flavours, especially from hedgerows.
The menu created by top Danish chef Bente Grysbæk and Head Chef, Zoran Micevski is exciting without being over-theatrical, featuring lighter and traditional dishes like smørrebrod to bolder and more heartier dishes. 
The design of the dining room is Nordic cool at its best - egalitarian, clean, understated and timeless. 
Copenhagen - Bols Genever, Cherry Heering, lime juice, Angostura Bitters

Our dining experience at Restaurant Dansk commenced with a lovely cocktail over some traditional dark Danish rye bread based starters. The Copenhagen, a classic Denmark House cocktail combined a slight anise flavour from the Bols Genever and was perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the Cheery Heering liqueur while delivering a fresh sourness from the lime and aroma from the Angostura Bitters.
Curried herring on organic rye bread

The curried herring (a cherished staple) was a smooth exotic taste combining flavours of the orient and the north. 
Pate on organic rye bread

The pate on the other hand was light with beautifully caramelised onions which added sweetness and crispy bacon which added an addictive salinity to the dish.
Seafood sausages made with scallops and prawns served with sautéed spinach and creamy scallop sauce

This seemingly casual dish sausages was the absolute highlight of our evening. Carefully and intelligently composed to combine texture and flavour in exciting ways, the delicate seafood sausage of emulsified mousseline was poached to perfection before searing. The result was sensational - a light in texture and flavoursome scallop and prawn sausage with luxurious scallop beurre blanc and wonderfully wilted spinach. The addition of coriander was a masterstroke which added interest and a delightful freshness.
Braised pears and apples served with sweet crumbs, whipped cream and pear chips

The pear apple crumble consisted of syrupy morsels of pear and apple which harmonised with the biscuit-like crumble.
Warm beer porridge and white chocolate ganache

Made from Dansk Restaurant’s organic rye bread and dark ale, the bread and beer porridge had a wonderfully rich, complex taste. We loved the addition of decadent chocolate ganache which echoed the creaminess of the porridge. It was both interesting and absolutely delicious.
A Danish oasis with plenty of gastronomic rigour, Restaurant Dansk stands out from the crown with Nordic clean-tasting, honest dishes made from impeccable ingredients. 

Location: Level 3, 428 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9600 4477
Cuisine: Danish, European, Nordic

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Brother Burger opens second restaurant on Chapel Street

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew.
Adored Fitzroy burger destination, Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew, has crossed the river to open its second restaurant on Melbourne’s iconic Chapel Street. Taking over the site formerly home to Café Greco, Brother Burger is part of the new guard of Chapel Street hangouts.
We loved the atmosphere and social vibe of their new haunt. Owner, Marcelo Tummino, who in a former life worked in advertising as an art director, has filled the industrial inspired space with pre-­‐loved items he personally collected. Recycled materials complement the nostalgic ambiance of the venue, which boasts a receding courtyard entrance framed by New York loft-style windows, large red semi-circle leather booths, a wall panelled in deconstructed metal shelves, tennis court lighting and over 800 vintage meat grinders.
The menu focuses on producing authentic, high quality food. You can expect a few tweaks to the original menu you know and love, but we can confirm there is no deviation from the timeless flavour combinations which are all made by hand, from scratch. 
We enjoyed the Hot Stuff burger - an almighty burger with a large 100% wagyu grilled beef patty, smoky double bacon, melted cheese, house-made pickles, mustard-mayo and chilli jam all squeezed into a fresh, toasted brioche bun. It was the small details that set it apart - from the slightly crispy edges of the pattie to the subtle smokiness of the bacon. Yum!
For something a little different from the beef patty, we recommend their Hey Ewe! burger which is filled with beautifully spiced lamb, beetroot, lettuce, preserved lemon and minted yoghurt and house-made pickles. A clever and pleasingly complex combination of flavours that we loved. 
Their fries were beautifully crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside while their onion rings had us doing it Gollum style - fighting for the last ring. They were deliciously sweet, soft, sticky and encased by incredibly crispy batter (highly recommended).

And while you're there, don't leave without having a look at their ever changing dessert specials. We loved indulging in their very decadent chocolate ganache tart.
Showcasing a menu that maintains the integrity of premium produce and an impressive 15 tap beer selection, Brother Burger combines the winning combination of juicy burgers with independent craft beers. We will be back. 

Location: 560 Chapel Street, South Yarra
Phone: 03 9041 1393
Cuisine: Burgers, Bar, Bar & Grill

Brother Burger and the Marvellous Brew on Urbanspoon

Kumo Izakaya

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Kumo Izakaya.
Standing proudly at the corner of Lygon and O'Connor Streets in Brunswick East, Kumo Izakaya and Sake Bar is a Japanese oasis which embraces the social izakaya-style side of Japanese eating and drinking. Offering a laid back environment for catching up with friends and family, Kumo Izakaya focuses on quality food designed to share all of which is served in stylish, modern Japanese surroundings.
Effortlessly blending strong Japanese themes with industrial and Art Deco influences, the restaurant's fit out is a masterstroke. Its symmetrical design features geometric booths with dividers providing flexibility to dine communally or more intimately. Magically lit, the space glows in soft  amber light.
Kumo Izakaya founder and owner Andre Bishop is one of Melbourne's quiet achievers in hospitality. A self-confessed Japanophile and sake connoisseur, he's the man behind the revitalisation of Japanese institution Izakaya Chuji on Lonsdale Street in Melbourne. He also created Izakaya Chuji's South Melbourne offshoot. Andre is also behind Nihonshu Sake & Shochu Bar in Melbourne's CBD, his first venue dedicated to his prime passion of sake.
At Kumo Izakaya, food and sake pairing is a key focus. The exceptional staff are happy to guide diners through the extensive sake menu. We found an exceptional range of sake styles on offer, ranging from floral and fruity to nutty and earthy, all of which are conveniently set out in the sake menu along with tasting notes.
The kitchen is headed by Akimi Iguchi and Eriko Hamabe. Akimi brings exquisite skills to the Kumo kitchen having trained in many top Japanese kitchens as well as Melbourne's Yu-U and Bar Lourinha. Eriko on the other hand worked the kitchens of Kobe Jones and the Royal George Hotel. Together, they bring their unique take on izakaya cuisine.
Left: Chicken Thigh Yakitori Skewers
Right: Uzaku - grilled teriyaki eel with wakame & cucumber pickle

The slices of grilled eel were a delicious appetiser. Stained with teriyaki marinade, the fatty flesh was counteracted by the tart pickle and savoury wakame.

The Chicken Thigh Yakitori Skewers had been sufficiently seasoned and were wonderfully flavoursome. The skewers benefited from a delectable outer charring courtesy of spending the perfect time on the grill. A simple dish, prepared with care and precision.
Premium assorted Sashimi of the day

The sashimi plate featured a variety of sliced raw fish. Each slice of fish had an enjoyably firm yet soft texture. Of particular note were the plump, sweet scallops. It is clear that Kumo Izakaya are using only the freshest, highest quality seafood.
Seared Scallops with Butter & Soy topped with Bonito Flakes

The scallops were perfectly seared and bursting with natural flavour, a flavour further enhanced by the restrained savouriness of the butter & soy sauce. The bonito flakes brought a tremendous savoury element - a magnificent dish.
Shiitake mushroom stuffed Tsukune chicken ball with cheddar cheese & Teriyaki sauce

These savoury ball-shaped dumplings were adorned with melting cheddar and a mushroom base and laced with copious amounts of delicious teriyaki sauce - A simple but very enjoyable treat.
Pumpkin & cream cheese stuffed zucchini flower tempura with green tea salt

The tempura zucchini flowers stuffed with pumpkin & cream cheese and served with green tea salt were fantastic.  The batter encasing the zucchini flower was ethereally light and crisp while the stuffing was rich, flavoursome and exquisitely smooth.  The addition of green tea salt was a masterstroke that was a delightful departure from the norm.
Spicy Black vinegar Karaage Chicken with spring onion

The Japanese bar staple of Karaage Chicken was a delicious sight.  The meaty morsels were encrusted with a flavoursome spice mix and then perfectly fried to achieve a moreish crunchy exterior - dangerously addictive.
Miso marinated grilled kingfish fillet

Our savoury courses concluded with beautifully fresh kingfish which had been cooked to perfection. A light coating of golden-brown, caramelised miso charring added complexity to the soft kingfish flesh.
Dessert platter for two: Baked Green tea & White Chocolate cake with Raspberry compote;
Yuzu infused Cheesecake with cream and Yuzu sauce; and Japanese plum wine mousse with mint infused umeshu Jelly & cream

Unable to decide which desserts to choose, we opted for the dessert platter which comprises an assortment of Kumo Izakaya's Japanese inspired desserts. Each item on the platter was a welcome departure from the ordinary – from the absolutely moreish baked Green tea & White Chocolate cake with Raspberry compote to the smooth, rich consistency of the Yuzu infused Cheesecake, to the vibrant flavours of the Japanese plum wine mousse.  An exemplary display of Kumo Izakaya’s versatility.
Kumo Izakaya is the destination izakaya for Japanophiles who want to get inside the izakaya culture and experience it in an immersive way. Offering a vast array of delicious food, one of the most impressive sake lists in Melbourne and an effortlessly trendy Japanese, industrial chic fit out, Kumo Izakaya is definitely a place to put on your "must visit" list. 

Location: 152 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Phone: 03 9388 1505
Cuisine: Japanese, Wine Bar, Tapas

Kumo Izakaya & Sake Bar on Urbanspoon

Chow City Media Launch

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Chow City.
Chow City is the hottest addition to Melbourne’s Pan-Asian dining scene. Offering a playful approach to dining, Chow City owner, Thu Fampidi, draws on her Vietnamese heritage and love of Vietnamese cuisine in creating the venue.
The kitchen is led by Kim-Maree Moore (formerly of Seamstress and Robbie Steins) and her sous chef, Olivia Badaracco. Together, they bring a wealth of experience in Asian cuisine to the kitchen, placing the focus on fresh and authentic dishes, which are at the same time unapologetically modern and unapologetically traditionalist.
The restaurant presents a vibrant menu of Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai and Malaysian plates, which feature a creative blend of authentic, traditional family-inspired dishes and modern street food. Small plates, like the Tom Sum and Thai Larb Moo (pork mince with lettuce cups) lead on to medium shared plates (although Chow City does not care if you share) including local Mt Martha mussels, Thit Kho Tau and Kim’s signature Crying Tiger.
The focus on stellar ingredients is clear with use of high quality, seasonal products from local, smaller farmers. 
Chow City’s beverage offering is delightful with interesting fusion-style cocktails featuring ingredients such as kaffir lime leaf, coriander, plum wine and rhubarb bitters. Local brews sit comfortably alongside imported Asian beers in a skilful blending of Asian and Melbourne dining cultures.

Low and slow, sticky plum lamb ribs, prickly ash rub & nam jim

The sticky plum lamb ribs were expertly prepared - juicy and succulent from having been slow cooked for over 12 hours. The outstanding ribs were slathered with a flavoursome sticky plum and served with delicious prickly ash rub & nam jim.

Blue eye ceviche, young coconut, nuoc cham, finger lime, radish, micro herbs, chilli oil, purple radish shoot.

The thick slices of very fresh blue eye were served with young coconut, nuoc cham, finger lime, radish, micro herbs, chilli oil, purple radish shoot. The dish was notable for the quality of the fish and the interplay between salinity, sweetness, heat and acidity. It was a simple but well executed dish.

Cauliflower, tofu, soy bean pods, mapo san choy bao herbs and crushed cashew crumble

This vegetarian delight was beautifully simple and delicious. Assembled similarly to any san choi bao, a lettuce cup is used as a “base” and then layered with the cauliflower, tofu and soy bean mix.

Slow roasted Kurabuta pork belly, Petite citrus and green mango, shallot and vietnamese mint

The slow roasted Kurabuta pork belly was another crowd favourite. Each pork belly slice had been succulently roasted to retain a porky juiciness, thereby achieving a healthy layer of melt-in-the-mouth fat in the process. The feature item was the crackling which possessed the ultimate crunch and acted as an ideal seasoning for the pork meat.

Beef Tataki Rare seared eye fillet, shredded daikon, ginger, heirloom tomato, radish, micro herbs tataki

The Beef Tataki was our favourite dish of the night. Displaying technique, elegance and skilful restraint, the tataki was both beautifully presented and absolutely delicious. The melt in your mouth slices of beef combined the best of both worlds (partially cooked, partially raw). A light searing ensured that each slice was lined with a thin crisp layer packed with caramelised beef flavour. It was a wonderful mélange of flavours and textures.

Lemongrass, ginger, red chilli coconut curry, snake beans, pumpkin, holy basil and kaffir lime with crispy duck

The perfectly seasoned curry possessed the customary punchy flavours exhibited by South East Asian curries and was a great match for the beautifully cooked duck. We loved the inclusion of sweet pumpkin and textural snake beans.
Chow City presents a journey of flavours: from light to rich, sweet to sour; inspired by ingredients, people, experiences, conversations and a visual environment, all with a very charming hidden sense of humour. 
Location: 287 Exhibition Street, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9663 7898
Cuisine: Asian, Bar, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese

Chow City on Urbanspoon

The Noble Experiment

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of The Noble Experiment.
The Noble Experiment presents an exciting departure from the mainstream by serving exciting cuisine influenced by Head Chef Cameron Bell’s haunts across North America and Europe.
Bell’s Michelin starred background brings a finesse and understanding of flavour combinations. His unique culinary signature has been instrumental in shaping the culture of The Noble Experiment, and his developed style is embedded in the heart and soul of every dish. Melding influences from across the US, France and the UK, the complex culinary enigma constructed by Bell leaves patrons with an unforgettable experience. 
The venue boasts a wonderfully relaxed vibe. The dining room is comfortably vast with a bar at its far end equipped with mixologists ready to serve you a delicious cocktail or some fine aged whiskeys and champagnes.
In line with its social setting, the menu items are primarily designed for sharing, from snacks to share plates, chefs menu to large format feasts.
12 hour lamb steamed bun 

The lamb buns were an absolute winner. The fluffy, moist and slightly sweet buns were filled with an addictive medley of red miso and peanuts. Sitting alongside this was the wonderful 12 hour slow roasted lamb. Having truly mastered the art roasting, the lamb had been succulently roasted and was tender, juicy and packed with flavour.

This cheese sensation demonstrated that unforgettable dishes can sometimes be very simple. In this instance, a ball of unadulterated burrata simply paired with chargrilled bread and a fresh and slightly tart “green sauce”. When the outer solid mozzarella shell was cut, we loved how the creamy interior of soft, stringy curd and fresh cream revealed itself. The sumptuously rich yet sensibly balanced flavours were sensational.
Crispy brussel sprouts, coconut, lime, caramel

This was a well-conceived dish that would easily melt away any aversion to brussel sprouts. The wonderful morsels of coconut encrusted sprouts were wonderfully crisp and beautifully caramelised to develop a toffee-like outer shell.  Although vegetarian dishes are often easily dismissed, this particular gem is one that commands respect. More than a side dish, it was a jaw-dropping highlight of our evening. 
Lamb breast, green papaya, peanuts, spring onions

The lamb breast was tender and delicious falling away at the weight of our spoons. The salad was the perfect accompaniment. Fresh, vibrant and crisp, the salad provided acidity and texture. It was a magnificent dish.
Beef short rib, burnt onion, coffee

The beef short rib continued the trend of stunning dishes that preceded it. It was a memorable dish combining flawless texture with equally superlative flavours and was particularly noteworthy for its fragrant and complex beefy flavours and slight smokiness.
From left: Beetroot parfait, green peppercorn, sorrel; Maple custard rhubarb, shortbread, bacon

Both desserts were wonderfully executed. Each, a welcome departure from the mundane and each, offered its own unique characteristics. It was an exemplary display of Bell’s versatility.
The most exciting and memorable dining experiences tend to revolve around bold and innovative flavour combinations that seize the attention of diners from start to finish. This successful "experiment" manages to do just that. 

Location: 284 Smith Street, Collingwood
Phone: 03 9416 0058
Cuisine: Bar, International, Modern

The Noble Experiment on Urbanspoon

Raffa & the Fox

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Raffa & the Fox.
Raffa & the Fox is an exciting addition to Albert Park’s Food Precinct. The menu has loose connections to a Middle Eastern palette which sets it apart from the other restaurants in the area.
Owners Christian (Fox) and Jay Raffaele (Raffa) have a combined total of 30+ years in the industry working in all manner of venues. Together, they opened Raffa & the Fox in July of 2014 with the aim of providing patrons with a relaxed vibe restaurant that served quality food at an affordable price.

Jay’s impressive resume includes stints at Bistro Verdi in Mount Eliza and Woodman Estate on the Mornington Peninsula under the watchful eye of Executive Chef David Sarfaty.

Sweet potato & chickpea falafels w/ maple infused hummus

The Sweet potato & chickpea falafels were beautifully made. Wonderfully crisp and combined with maple infused hummus to provide a delicious salinity and sweetness to the dish. It was a simple dish executed perfectly.

Za’atar calamari w/ pomelo, dried kumato & black olive crumbs

Tender ribbons of lightly battered calamari were enhanced by dried kumato and black olive crumbs. The calamari was perfectly seasoned with Middle Eastern spices.

24 hour coffee lamb w/ carrot puree & black garlic

The lamb was exceedingly tender. When eaten together with the coffee jus and coffee puree, the dish was full of flavour.

Swordfish, Chickpeas, watercress

The quality of the swordfish was exemplary. The flesh was delicate and moist. It was a fresh dish that allowed the natural subtle sweetness of the fish to be enjoyed.

Roasted carrot, olive & sultana salad w/ harissa pomegranate dressing

This seemingly simple salad was not only complex with layers of flavour, it was also perfectly balanced.  The wonderfully cooked carrot matched beautifully with the sweetness of the sultana. The fruity acidity of the pomegranate dressing provided balance. It was a delightful side dish

Deconstructed pineapple and lime cheesecake

Continuing the trend for the evening, the cheesecake was beautiful. Each component on the plate worked well together. The tartness of the lime perfectly counterbalanced the richness of the cheesecake mousse.

Coverture chocolate tart 

Beautifully rich, the chocolate tart was a decadent end to our evening.
What Raffa & the Fox do, they do very well. We adored their take on slick, contemporary cuisine served within a casual environment.

Location: 181 Victoria Ave  Albert Park
Phone: 03 9696 9389
Cuisine: Cocktails, Modern Australian, Wine Bar

Raffa And The Fox on Urbanspoon

Shinwa Izakaya - Japanese Bar & Restaurant

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Shinwa Izakaya.
Shinwa is an izakaya-style establishment located on Brunswick’s bustling Sydney Road, dedicated first and foremost to the art of Japanese eating and drinking, offering a laid back environment for catching up with friends and family with a focus on quality food designed to share in stylish but comfortable surroundings.
Accompanying the wide range of sake, Japanese beers, umeshu and shochu is a smorgasbord of Japanese small eats comprising of skewers, gyoza, okonomiyaki and the like.
Gyoza Teppan – fried housemade dumplings with special ponzu sauce

Shinwa boasts some of the best yakitori that Melbourne has to offer. We absolutely loved their range of grilled skewers. Without exception, each skewer had been sufficiently seasoned and was wonderfully flavoursome and displayed a delectable outer charring courtesy of having benefited from the perfect time on the grill.
The eggplant skewer was of particular note. Complemented by a delicious sauce and dried bonito flakes, it was a memorable treat for its beautiful texture and burst of umami.
Shinwa tempura set

The Shinwa tempura set featured deep fried king prawn and fish fillet and assorted vegetables (black mushroom, pumpkin, eggplant, sweet potato) served with grounded ginger and meshed radish and tempura dipping sauce. The tempura batter was ethereally light and crispy. The ingredients inside the batter were fresh and pleasing - the eggplant and king prawn were the most memorable.
Housemade Japanese curry sauce served on top of rice and garnished with red pickles

The Japanese curry was outstanding. The beef was perfectly cooked and the curry was robust, fragrant and had just the perfect amount of spice. Together with steamed rice, it was an addictive and comforting dish.
Nigiri selection

The sushi platter of assorted nigiri sushi boasted a tenderness exhibited by high quality produce. The seared salmon nigiri was our favourite - this melt in your mouth nigiri combined the best of both worlds (partially cooked, partially raw).
Japanese greentea cheesecake
Kokutou manjyu

Our dinner ended on a sweet note with the Kokutou manjyu, a delightful Japanese brown sugar and red bean cake. Shinwa’s rendition of this traditional dessert was beautifully light and fluffy and when eaten with the creamy sesame ice cream, was a little piece of heaven.
Fairly new to Melbourne’s culinary scene, Shinwa Izakaya already has a band of loyal followers and it is easy to understand why.  Unblemished execution of Japanese food in light of its vibrant atmosphere, desirable beverage selection and overall dining experience, Shinwa has certainly earned our stamp of approval.

Location: 139 Sydney Rd  Brunswick
Phone: 0412 705 314
Cuisine: Japanese, Bar, Seafood, Tapas, Asian

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The Piano Restaurant & Bar

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of The Piano Restaurant & Bar.
The Piano Restaurant & Bar on Bridge Road in Richmond celebrates assertive Thai flavours with youthful vigour.
With head chef and owner, Tom’s impressive background the restaurant menu boasts modern Thai cuisine that makes a statement.
Betel leaf, smoked river trout, green papaya, mint 

The betel leaf was a multitude of intense flavours and was highlighted on by the luxuriously savoury smoked river trout and the gentle tartness of the green papaya.  The ocean trout was masterfully cooked to showcase the delicate texture of the trout.  
Spicy chicken wings

The chicken wings were nicely caramelised and were flavoured well by the sweet chilli-tamarind sauce.  It was a delicious starter.
Crispy Pork and Prawn Egg Net 

The egg net was enjoyable and highlighted by the superbly cooked prawns and wonderfully crispy and addictive morsel of pork belly. The gentle tartness of the cucumber relish brought the dish together in perfect harmony.
Piano Crispy Duck with spicy soy dressing topped with crispy Thai basil

The signature dish, the Piano Crispy duck was a standout. The generous morsels of duck were encased in the most perfect crispy skin and imbibed with spicy soy dressing. Each bite truly gratified the palate in both texture and taste. The dish was unfaultable. 
King fish salad, pomelo, mint, green papaya

The kingfish salad was a positive highlight. The beautifully cooked kingfish was served with pomelo, mint, green papaya and peanuts. The dish was notable for the quality of the kingfish and the interplay between the tartness of the pomelo and the richness of the creamy curry dressing. It was a simple but well executed dish.
Chu Chi (Red Creamy) Curry of Salmon with snake beans, tomato and lime leaves

The perfectly seasoned curry broth possessed the customary punchy flavours exhibited by South East Asian curries and was a great match for the oily texture of the salmon. We loved the inclusion of juicy cherry tomatoes and textural snake beans. 
Bangkok Winter
Banana Fritters with Ice Cream

The Piano’s take on the traditional banana fritter was delicious. The banana had an ethereally light and crispy batter and was soft and sweet inside. Served with a creamy vanilla ice cream, this was a pleasant end to our meal.  
With beautiful and punchy food, decor to match and a team that clearly loves the food with a passion, The Piano Restaurant and Bar hits all the right notes.

Location: 18 Bridge Rd  Richmond
Phone: 03 9428 9385
Cuisine: Thai, Asian, Bar

The Piano Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

The Wolf and I

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of The Wolf and I. Mention this review when you book for a special complimentary surprise.
Combining Scandinavian-inspired interior, great Aussie pub grub and a firm focus on affordable hospitality, the Wolf and I is a great addition to Windsor’s bustling food precinct.
The venue sits upon a historic site which occupies the former old Swan Hotel and is split into three distinct areas:  front bar, dining room and casual seating areas. The ambience is warm and inviting with stylish furnishings and fittings, exposed brick walls and timber ceilings. 
The kitchen is in safe hands with Head Chef Daniel Groom leading the charge. Groom had his most recent stint at Leftbank Restaurant and Bar and has a decade worth of experience at impressive dining establishments in the UK and Denmark.  
The menu features Modern Australian fare as well as pub classics. 
Duck cigars with chilli jam sauce

An Asian take on the cigar, the mouth-watering pastry cigars were delightful. Biting through thin, crunchy exterior pastry, our taste buds were greeted with a flavoursome concoction of tender duck, carrot, coriander and crisp shallots. 
Quinoa salad

An enlivening salad of quinoa, roasted pumpkin, sunflower seeds, Danish feta, candied walnuts, parsley and brought together with a basil pesto dressing, the salad was a medley of exciting flavours and textures which will appeal to even the most carnivorous individuals.
Barramundi, carrot puree, bacon lardons, barramundi croquettes, israeli cous cous, sweet corn & red wine jus

The quality of the barramundi was exemplary. The skin of the fish was perfectly seared to be very crisp while the flesh was delicate and moist. It was a wonderfully simple dish that allowed the natural subtle sweetness of the fish to be enjoyed.
Lamb rump, broad beans, pea puree, lamb beignets, gratin potato & balsamic jus

The lamb rump was an excellent dish. The lamb was very tender and fell away easily with the weight of our forks. Coated with a beautiful balsamic jus sauce, both items were very enjoyable to consume. The accompanying balsamic jus was beautiful, as was the pea puree which was creamy and well-seasoned.
Sticky date pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream

Mastering the perfect amount of sweetness, this dessert was a truly ambrosial version of the classic sticky date pudding. The pudding was well made and decadently coated in copious amounts of luscious caramel sauce.
Chocolate fondant, mascarpone cream, hazelnut crumbs and pistachio ice cream

Well made with a rich billowing chocolate centre and a slightly crisp cake exterior, this dessert would delight any chocolate lover.  The pistachio ice cream which accompanied the fondant matched it well and was refreshingly light and fragrant.  
The Wolf and I offers uncomplicated, affordable, masterfully executed pub favourites as well as Modern Australian dishes within a highly contemporary fit-out which combines the best of old and new. 

Location: 152 Chapel Street, Windsor 
Phone: 03 9510 1819
Cuisine: Pub Food, Modern Australian

Don't forget to mention this review when you book for a special complimentary surprise!

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