Hooked Healthy Seafood opens a new Hawthorn location

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Hooked.
Gastrology was recently invited to attend a night of tastings and nautical themed body art at Hooked Healthy Seafood's recently opened Hawthorn store.
Hooked is inspired by owner Ray Good’s childhood summers by the seaside in the UK, where his parents worked at his Uncle Johnnie Fish and Chip shop. But it was while travelling the world as an internationally recognised DJ that he realised the lack of fresh food offerings on the road, and the importance of healthy eating.

Spotting a gap in the Australian market for healthy fish and chips, Ray launched Hooked, delivering the convenience and old-school taste of traditional British fish and chips with all the benefits of super fresh and healthy produce.
Ray opened the first Hooked in 2006 on Chapel Street, Windsor, with its success leading to him opening a second on Fitzroy’s Brunswick Street in 2010. Now, with the newly opened Hawthorn venue, fresh fish fans will no longer have to cross the river to get their (two to three times, recommended) weekly seafood intake.

Available for both dine in and take away, daily fish specials (e.g. certified-sustainable blue grenadier, snapper, salmon and barramundi) are sourced from the market and cooked fresh to order, while the store’s famous potato chips are hand cut by the kitchen.
It’s not all fish and chips; the menu boasts interesting items like the Baja Fish or Grilled Prawn Tacos, Grilled Calamari, Fish Burritos and Seared Tuna Burgers.
The menu also includes scrumptious salads. We particularly enjoyed the Superfood Salad: quinoa, broccoli, rocket, spinach, mint, semi-dried tomatoes, and toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds topped with a drizzle of yoghurt lemon dressing. 

The Hooked style fish and chips are a twist on that old classic; an attempt to appeal to a more mature, refined audience and make fish and chips ‘trendy’. The ambience of Hooked is inviting, the decor is funky and relaxed and the service warm and prompt.
The tempura batter used to coat the fish is lighter and to a slight extent, less greasy than the offerings from your average ‘run of the mill’ fish and chippery. The “house” fish is blue grenadier instead of flake which, considering the rapidly dwindling numbers of gummy shark around the globe, is definitely a good thing. 
The hand cut chips were addictively good - beautifully crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. 
What Hooked does, it does well. The third instalment of the gourmet seafood eatery, Hooked Hawthorn is a welcome addition to loyal punters and fresh foodies north of the Yarra.

Hooked on Urbanspoon

Weekend in Apollo Bay, Lorne and Geelong

Andrew's Chicken Joint
Location: 134 Mount Joy Pde, Lorne
Phone: 03 5289 1255
Cuisine: Chicken, Fast Food, Pizza
Overall Impression: 5/10
Our first stop was Andrew's Chicken Joint (a favourite among locals and the yearly schoolies and toolies crowd). The food was average. It was a mere notch above what you would expect from a food court but the prices were not dissimilar to one so it was certainly fair.
Andrew's Chicken Joint on Urbanspoon
River Tea House
Location: 4B Mountjoy Pde, Lorne
Phone: 03 5289 2099
Cuisine: Coffee/Tea, Latin American, Breakfast/Brunch 
Overall Impression: 8/10
River Tea House is a precious Lorne establishment. It is the home of the famous Lorne polenta cake. Beautifully tucked away but thankfully not too hidden, the cafe is cosy and the staff are delightful. We were impressed at the selection of teas on offer and incredibly appreciative for the good coffee.
Lemon Polenta Cake

At first instance, the main thing you notice is the peculiar textural element of the cake. The polenta certainly gives it a gritty texture. The flavours are beautiful. The tangyness from the lemon is perfectly balanced by the ample sweetness of the dense and moist cake. All in all it was a delectable cake. Although we found the texture peculiar at first, we quickly enjoyed it and craved it the next day (which is why as you will see, we stopped by again on the way home).
Good coffee
We finally arrived in Apollo Bay.
Chill @ the Bay
Location: 14 Pascoe St, Apollo Bay
Phone: 03 5237 1006
Cuisine: Tapas, Spanish, Wine Bar
Overall Impression: 5/10
We walked around for quite a bit trying to figure out where we should have dinner. Chill @ the Bay caught our eye. Although it was completely empty, against our reservations, we decided to pop in. J and I hadn't had Spanish food for a while so we thought it might be a good idea.
Spanish music fills the air when we arrive. And that exact same Spanish song we heard when we entered was repeated throughout our time at Chill @ the Bay.
Lamb Cochifrito - Slow cooked lamb neck in Rich Spanich flavours $16
Pork Ribs slow roasted in spicy sauce $17

This was the most disappointing dish of the night. For $17, this little bowl of ribs was far from what we expected. Being ribs, there were hardly and real meat we could eat which is fair but due to that fact, we certainly expected a bigger portion. The dish was also disappointing as the sauce was far too sweet and lacked any spice despite being described as being roasted in a spicy sauce.
Paella with chorizo, flathead fish, squid, mussel, king prawns, and butterfllied school prawns $45

The lamb and the paella were underwhelming and lacked flavour and punch synonymous with Spanish cuisine.
Churros (Spanish donuts) with chocolate dipping sauce (four) $8

While still very pleasant, the churros were unfortunately undercooked and doughy in the centre.

All in all, we were disappointed with the food we received and found the items we ordered overpriced for what they were. On the upside, the service is good and attentive and we certainly didn't have any trouble getting a table.   
Chill @ the Bay on Urbanspoon

Having a hike in Otway Park

Apollo Bay Seafood Cafe
Location: 119 Great Ocean Rd, Apollo Bay
Phone: 03 5237 6008
Cuisine: Fish & Chips
Overall Impression: 2/10
After what turned out to be a 4 hour walk in Otway Park, we decided we to reward ourselves with Fish & Chips. We drove past Apollo Bay Seafood Cafe's incredible large blue and white sign and decided to satiate our hunger there.
And there it was. The most overpiced fish and chips I have ever had in my life. This was quite a bit over $30 and they were the two thinnest slices of fish I have ever seen. To make matters worst, everything else we ordered appeared to arrive in a downsized version from what is the norm. Perhaps this is something cafes are tempted to do when they trade on visits by tourists rather than regular customers. Certainly no goodwill here. We left still very hungry but so annoyed that we could not bear to order any more. This is certainly a fish and chip joint I would advise avoiding. So back to River Tea House we ventured. 

Apollo Bay Seafood Cafe on Urbanspoon
River Tea House

Thai red curry soup

 We had a big bowl of soup each and had more lemon polenta cake. YUM!
River Tea House on Urbanspoon

Khan Curry Hut Indian Restaurant
Location: 101-103 Ryrie St, Geelong
Phone: 03 5222 4471
Link: khancurryhut.com.au
Cuisine: Indian
Overall Impression: 5.5/10
We couldn't decide on what to eat so we settled for the "Royal Treat" banquet that was a mere $26.50 per person.
Entree: Samosa, Tikka, Onion Bhaji and Lamb Cutlet
Mains: Butter Chicken, Lamb Madras, Daal, Vegetable Korma, Rice, Naan and Raita

While the mains were very enjoyable to eat. They tasted like they had been dramatically altered to suit the Western palate. The curries were incredibly mild and the butter chicken was very sweet as was the raita. I enjoyed the Vegetable Korma as it tasted the most authentic and there was some heat.
Desserts: Mango Kulfi and Pista Kulfi

Overall, we found the service slow. We had to wait quite a while for our food to arrive and the staff seemed extremely confused - it was as if no one had ever ordered the Royal Treat banquet before and they were not quite sure what to do. To be fair, the food is of a reasonably good standard although not quite authentic and to the restaurant's credit the menu is extremely well priced. At $26.50 for a banquet it is certainly bang for your buck.
Khan Curry Hut Indian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Hunky Dory

Location: 252 Clarendon St, South Melbourne
Phone: 03 9696 4025
Link: hunkydory.com.au
Cuisine: Burgers, Fish and Chips
Overall Impression: 6/10
South Melbourne is such a wonderful pocket in Melbourne. Walking around the boutique little stores selling all sorts of trinkets always makes me feel like I’m on a holiday somewhere far away, as opposed to the reality of being five minutes away from the CBD. One of J and I’s favourite stores is Macphee’s wine store. Stocking all kinds of wine-related paraphernalia, it is always fun to browse through and pick up a few things to go with J’s ever expanding wine cellar. Just around the corner is a trendy little Fish and Chip shop called Hunky Dory.
Old School Pack – Fillet of flake, chips, lemon and tartare
Grilled Fish Pack – Fish of the day grilled with rice or chips and salad

As expected, you can get your usual battered fish with chips on the side but there are quite a few other options available. I like their ‘grilled fish pack’, for a mere $13, you get an extremely big plate consisting of a grilled fish fillet, beautifully cooked brown rice and a salad of your choice. Nothing revolutionary, but it is a great and healthy option to have especially when your dining companion(s) prefer something a lot greasier and you do not!
This place serves honest, simple food in a pleasant atmosphere. I also like how you can still grab lunch there at 4pm when every other café in the area appears to have closed kitchens. It is great for those days you live a jet lagged existence, looking for lunch at 4pm after hopping off a plane.
Hunky Dory on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Portofina

Location: 984 Doncaster Rd, Doncaster East
Phone: 03 9841 7922
Link: portofina.com.au
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Overall Impression: 4/10

My bosom buddy, G and I decided to catch up at Portofina, mainly because of my limited driving skills. Portafina is a few kilometres straight down the road from where she lives. I was picking her up in my car and I didn’t want to have to drive very far or make too many turns without my GPS because I have no sense of direction and cannot read a map.
After looking at the menu and deciding on what we would like, we made our orders to an incredibly impatient and rude waitress. G and I were immediately put off by the place (hence the thumbs down in the picture).
Quiche and salad
Chicken parma burger

Our food arrived and it was of a passable standard. The older lady that brought our food to the table was much nicer so I wouldn’t say that the service is bad all round. The food itself was at best ordinary. To the restaurant’s credit however, the menu is popularly priced, with none of their lunch items costing over $10. Unfortunately, that does not do much in terms of gaining G and I’s patronage in the future.

Portofina Licensed Cafe on Urbanspoon

Restaurant & Bar Review: Holgate Brewhouse

Location: 79 High St, Woodend
Phone: 03 5427 2510
Link: http://www.holgatebrewhouse.com/
Overall Impressions
Beer: 10/10
Bar dining: 5/10
Restaurant dining: 6/10

Sticking to their "Real Beer, No Bull" motto, Holgate Brewhouse continues its legacy of sharing premium boutique beer to its many fans. The one and a half hours drive from Melbourne CBD, is immediately justified with a pint of any of their hand crafted all malt real ales and lagers.
Being there on Cup Day weekend was probably not the best idea - the pub was packed to the brim.
The reason behind its popularity is easy to see. We started the day off quickly with their tasting paddles. It is an amazing way to drink your way through Holgate's full range of delectable beers before deciding what to get more of when you're done!
We decided to dine in the bar area for lunch and the restaurant for dinner...
Bar Meal: Istra sausages & mash
Bar Meal: Wagyu burger
The bar menu consists of old pub favourites. In terms of execution, the food is of a reasonable quality but certainly not above average. Not surprisingly, the quality and standard of the restaurant's menu is superior to that of the bar's.

In the past, the dining experience at the restaurant is one that I would certainly recommend. That said, the restaurant appears to be on a sad decline. It is a far cry from the establishment it was 2 years ago. As it stands, the food meets tolerable expectations but goes no further.  
The following are dishes from their restaurant menu for your viewing pleasure...
Duck Risotto
Fish and Chips
Chicken Risotto
Meat Platter
Bangers and Mash
Meat Pie
Holgate Brewhouse continues to be a temple of beer worship for those in the know. Unfortunately, the food on offer fails to be as impressive. That said, both the food served at the bar and restaurant are far from objectionable. Just expect an average dining experience and you will not be disappointed.

Holgate Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Hooked

Location: 384 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Phone: (03) 9417 7740
Cuisine: Fast food
Overall Impression: 6/10

J and I were in the mood for a casual dinner. Whilst J wanted something naughty and greasy, I felt like something simple and relatively healthy. Hooked was the perfect option as, from what we had heard, it would accommodate both of our cravings. 
Light Tempura Battered Blue Grenadier with Hand Cut Chips $12.90

Nothing can compete with the fish and chips of our childhood. I will forever carry fond memories of the greasy battered fish and chips I would collect from the dingy fish and chip shop after school. Unwrapping the white butchers paper to reveal the salty, greasy, crispy contents was one of life’s great little pleasures.

The Hooked style fish and chips are a twist on that old classic; an attempt to appeal to a more mature, refined audience and make fish and chips ‘trendy’. The ambience of Hooked is inviting, the decor is funky and relaxed and the service warm and prompt.

The tempura batter used to coat the fish is lighter and to a slight extent, less greasy than the offerings from your average ‘run of the mill’ fish and chippery. The “house” fish is blue grenadier instead of flake which, considering the rapidly dwindling numbers of gummy shark around the globe, is definitely a good thing.

As a whole, the fish was well cooked, succulent and tasted relatively fresh. The hand cut chips were beautifully crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Whilst far from earth shattering, as a whole, it was an enjoyable dish.
Grilled Blue Grenadier with Brown Rice and Bok Choy $12.90

Again, the fish was quite fresh and everything on the plate was seasoned well. The grilled fish was slightly overcooked but well within what I would consider acceptable. The portions for both of our dishes were also surprisingly generous.

Although the dish was enjoyable in its entirety, the inescapable reality was:

·         the brown rice had been steamed and drizzled with Soy Sauce;
·         the Bok choy had been boiled and drizzled with Soy Sauce; and
·         the fish had been seasoned and grilled.

It was all very simple.

Hooked proudly proclaims that it offers healthier fish and chips, but precise details regarding this are scarce. The information on their website labelled “why Hooked” simply spruiks the health benefits of consuming any seafood from any source. No information is given regarding the calorie and saturated fat content of their products relative to others.

Sure, if you order a grilled piece of fish and select rice and bok choy instead of chips it will be healthier. But then again, this really isn’t earth shattering news is it? And boiled rice and bok choy soaked in soy sauce is certainly not something unique to Hooked.

What Hooked does, it does well. However, it doesn’t really do that much, which is why Hooked ultimately fails to delight. The decor might have changed, the plating might have improved, there may be alternatives to chips but at the end of the day, it is just another old fish and chip shop, albeit with a face lift.

Hooked on Urbanspoon