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

Reviews: Göz City | Borek Bakehouse | World Restaurant | Nieuw Amsterdam | Jinda Thai | Shandong Mama | Tao Tao House | Om Nom Dessert Bar | Pat Bing Soo

Göz City

Göz City opened its doors in January. Combining the age-old gözleme tradition with a distinctly modern aesthetic and attitude, we liked the relaxed vibe of their cosy cafe. We had previously been invited to a tasting and exclusive preview back in March but were unable to attend. That invitation, however, certainly sparked our interest and we finally got around to visiting Göz City last week.
The menu is lead by four customary gözleme; cheese and spinach, Turkish spiced minced meat, herbed chicken and mushroom and veg. These are complemented with weekly unique and seasonally driven gözleme flavours and include a selection of Turkish, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern style salads, böreks and coffee. We enjoyed the gözleme on offer - they were each well flavoured. A great lunch time option - for those seeking something well-priced and a little different from this end of town.
Goz City on Urbanspoon

Borek Bakehouse

Borek Bakehouse is the real deal. Freshly made, absolutely delicious boreks, at ridiculously cheap prices. Get 2 of these babies for a mere $5 and you’re set for lunch. 
There is a solid variety of breads and there is a range of salads that are equally as delicious.
Whatever you do, don’t go past the spicy lamb borek – Flaky, fluffy boreks with flavoursome and delectably tender morsels of spicy lamb.
The Borek Bakehouse on Urbanspoon

World Restaurant & Bar

World Restaurant & Bar has an amazing view. Overlooking the banks of the Yarra River, it has a great ambience. The menu is internationally inspired and there is an extensive drinks selection.
A greater watering hole than it is a restaurant; the food we ordered at lunch was of a decent standard. 
The service is warm and welcoming and we loved the convenience of being able to book online.
World Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Nieuw Amsterdam
With a focus on sharing plates, Nieuw Amsterdam is one of Melbourne's "hottest" new venues with a brilliant vibe.
The food was of a relatively good standard and the service is brilliant. We thought the $55 banquet option presented good but not great value. It is nevertheless, a great venue to visit with friends.
Nieuw Amsterdam on Urbanspoon

Jinda Thai
Jinda Thai is an amazing Thai restaurant in Richmond which delivers on all fronts.
The food is absolutely delicious, authentic and well-priced. We loved their desserts too which are a modern rendition of classic Thai sweets.
Jinda Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Shangdong Mama
A very popular dumpling haunt, Shandong Mama is packed to the brim most days. While we thought the dumplings tasted reasonably good. We couldn't quite understand the hype.  
All in all, a good place for a cheap dinner with some dumpling options you won't see anywhere else. 
Shandong Mama on Urbanspoon

Tao Tao House
Tao Tao House is a brilliant place for yum cha. The dumplings served are quite a few notches above the regular.
The only downside is some classic favourite are not available like century egg congee and tau fu fah.
Tao Tao House on Urbanspoon

Om Nom

Situated within Adelphi Hotel, we were excited to discover Melbourne's latest dessert bar. We couldn't tell whether it was just an off night (given all the hype and the fact that we have heard great things about this venue) but unfortunately the desserts failed to impress.
Apple Sphere $24
Flavours of Ginger, Caramel and Lemongrass Tea, Vanilla, White Chocolate and Yuzu

The apple sphere was visually stunning but unfortunately lacklustre in taste and the white chocolate lacked the essential "crunch" when we cracked into it.  We felt that the dessert was crying out for the flavour intensity of each component to be amplified. 
Banana Flambe $22
Rum, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Chocolate Sponge, Vanilla and Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream

While, again, beautiful, this dessert was particularly disappointing as the chocolate sponge was incredibly dry. 

While we absolutely love the concept and believe there is great skill in the presentation of the items we tried, unfortunately, our experience was a disappointing one which was further dampened by an unfriendly hostess. 
Om Nom Dessert Bar on Urbanspoon

Pat Bing Soo
Pat Bing Soo is a welcomed new addition to South Melbourne’s food scene. 
Calm & Concentration Tea
Green tea with longan aril, citrus peel, Chinese dates, chrysanthemum & goji berries. Aids memory function & enhances concentration

The cosy eatery boasts a welcoming atmosphere and wonderful service. The menu features modern Korean cuisine which is both refreshing and appetising. 
Korean Fried Chicken

We enjoyed the Korean Fried Chicken which we thought had a beautiful batter but felt the sauce was too sweet. 
Left: Bulgogi pork bapper -  Greenvale Farm shoulder pork, carrot, zucchini, pickled Asian mushrooms, served with egg yolk and ssamjung on rice  
Right: Buckwheat noodle dream - Spicy red cabbage, fried egg and spicy soy, toasted sesame, spring onion, served on buckwheat noodles

Both the bulgogi pork bapper and the noodle dishes had punchy fragrant flavours and were very enjoyable. A bit heavy handed on the salt but nevertheless pleasant and well prepared. 
There were many enjoyable aspects to our visit. Despite our minor quibbles, the food was respectable and the accompanying service was outstanding.
 Patbingsoo on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Mr Carsisi

Location: 37C Piper Street, Kyneton
Phone: 03 5422 3769
Link: http://www.mrcarsisi.com/
Cuisine: Turkish, Middle Eastern
Overall Impression: 8/10
Turkish cuisine, in all its’ delightful glory has made a debut in Kyneton with the presence of Mr Carsisi on Piper Street.
The menu places emphasis on fresh vegetables, fish and lean meat that are prepared with a myriad of aromatic spices like fresh mint, sumac, cumin, cinnamon, oregano and allspice. 
Chef Matthew Fegan and his wife, Clare, travelled to Turkey and fell in love with the flavours and simplicity of the food. More travels through Syria confirmed their affections with the Eastern Mediterranean influences and after returning to Australia and manning the stoves at Kyneton's Royal George Hotel and tossing pizzas at Pizza Verde, they took over the lease of what was then Slow Living on the edge of St Paul's Park. 

Cleverly named after Istanbul's Misir Carsisi spice bazaar, their new venue in a former iceworks is cavernous like a bazaar but kept minimalist in decor. 
Top left: House-made bread
Top right: Grilled lamb cutlets, harra sauce, Turkish tabouleh
Bottom left: Fried salted fish potato cakes, tamarind & tomato sauce
Bottom right: Hommus

We were delighted by their banquet menu. The entrees were a delicious, mouth-watering smorgasbord of Turkish staples including a beautiful chickpea based hommus, charcoal-grilled lamb cutlets and fried salted fish potato cakes, with each dish offering zesty, delicious flavours and tastes. 
Roasted stuffed Port Phillip calamari, Persian Gulf rice, dried Iranian lime butter, herb salad

The calamari was beautifully cooked and stuffed with a medley of exciting flavours and textures. This dish was full of flavour and was perfectly seasoned. 
Confit Milawa duck leg, barberry & orange pilaf, pomegranate & walnut sauce

The duck leg was tender and bursting with flavour. The combination of sweet pomegranate with creamy walnut sauce, fresh coriander and almond slivers did wonders to flavour the pilaf. 
Vanilla halva ice cream sundae, almond mahmoul, tahini butterscotch, vanilla Persian fairy floss

The vanilla halva ice cream sundae was stunning. Each layer had a wonderful flavour intensity that worked beautifully together. We savoured every spoonful.
Turkish delight semifredo baklava sandwich, cinnamon doughnuts, rose petal ice cream

This visually attractive dessert of Turkish delight semifredo baklava sandwich, cinnamon doughnuts, rose petal ice cream was decadent and absolutely delicious. The fragrant rose petal ice cream and fluffy doughnuts concoction, together with the crumbly “sandwich” and creamy semifredo produced a balanced and delectable dessert. 
Mr Carsisi is a self-styled and unique eatery which serves modern Mediterranean meets Turkish cuisine and promises to be a feast for the eyes and palette.

Mr Carsisi on Urbanspoon

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Mr Carsisi.

WTC Wharf - Progressive dinner

Located on Siddeley Street, nestled on the city-side banks of the Yarra River and adjacent to Crown Casino and South Wharf, WTC Wharf is fast becoming one of Melbourne's most exciting new precincts. We arrived at 6.30 pm for our progressive dinner - entree, main and dessert at 3 different restaurants!
The Yarra river waterfront provided a stylish backdrop for our foodie tour around 3 of WTC Wharf's restaurants - The Wharf Hotel, Byblos and Kobe Jones. The 3 restaurants are distinctly different - showcasing WTC Wharf's dining ability to tempt with a wide array of tastes.

The Wharf Hotel
Location: WTC Wharf, World Trade Centre 18-38 Siddeley Street, Melbourne
Phone: 03 8680 6000
Link: http://www.wharfhotel.com.au/
Cuisine: Modern Australian, Pub/Bar Food, Wine Bar
The Wharf Hotel on Urbanspoon
Our journey began at The Wharf Hotel. We were greeted warmly and seated at a cosy booth. 
The Wharf Hotel is a unique combination of a friendly local pub with a waterfront restaurant featuring stunning river views. Their wine list is a particular highlight, incorporating wines from 12 of Australia’s most famous wine producers. 
The interior draws influence from its maritime roots and the walls are adorned with images of early life in Melbourne and historical artefacts. The Wharf Hotel is a great dining (and drinking) destination that is infused with Melbourne history. 
Entree Platter
Five spice crispy calamari, chilli, coriander, shao tsing dressing Saganaki & carrot fritter, spicy yogurt Terrine of smoked pork hock & pistachio, rhubarb compote, pickles, house bread 

The entree platter at The Wharf Hotel was expertly crafted to celebrate the best of Victoria’s local and seasonal produce. There is a clear modern Australian influence on the food which is simple yet elegant.

Location: WTC Wharf, World Trade Centre 18-32 Siddeley Street, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9614 6400
Link: http://www.byblosbar.com.au/melbourne/
Cuisine: Tapas, Wine Bar, Mediterranean
Byblos on Urbanspoon
A short stroll along the boardwalk and we were at Byblos. 
Featuring modern Mediterranean meets Lebanese cuisine, Byblos Restaurant was a feast for the eyes and tastebuds. 
Mixed Grill Mains 
Your choice of four items from the Byblos Grill (we chose Lahim Meshwi, Shish Tawook, Kafta Meshwi and Samak Meshwi) served with hommos, tabouleh, vegetarian skewer and garlic sauce.  
A rustic staple of Lebanon, this combination of Lebanese style couscous and chick peas is slow cooked with onion and is mixed with pieces of lamb fillet and a tradition gravy, Finished with marinaded chicken tenderloin pieces. 
The Samak Harra, grilled fresh John Dory was a particular stand out. We loved the generous use of beautiful spices. Without exception, all of the meat in both dishes was cooked to absolute perfection.

Kobe Jones and Riverside Teppanyaki
Location: WTC Wharf, World Trade Centre G1638 Siddeley Street, Melbourne
Phone: 03 9329 9173
Link: http://www.kobejones.com.au/melbourne
Cuisine: Japanese, Sushi, Vegetarian
 Kobe Jones on Urbanspoon Riverside Teppanyaki by Kobe Jones on Urbanspoon
Our final destination was Kobe Jones and Riverside Teppanyaki. 
We were seated at the teppanyaki dining area (which features the newest and largest teppanyaki table in Australia). 
Be warned, the cocktail menu is incredibly tempting. After much deliberation, we settled on the Kaitiki Dream and the Ko Ko Nut. 
Kaitiki Dream 
a HOT cocktail that is sure to warm you up on cold Melbourne nights – vanilla vodka, brandy, Frangellico and spiced coconut milk 
The Ko Ko Nut 
a coconut lover’s dream, with Malibu, ginger liqueur, coconut milk, palm sugar syrup and a few other Kobe secrets 
Both cocktails were simply magnificent. We both agreed that he Ko Ko Nut was the best cocktail we have ever had. It was decadently creamy with an absolutely harmonious but complex blend of flavours - it was liquid indulgence at its best. 
Our progressive dinner ended on a fiery note with a delicious Crepe suzette which had been spectacularly flambéd with Grand Marnier in front of us. It was exciting to watch the chef’s cooking skills on display as he expertly prepared our dessert. 
Crepe Suzette 
Freshly made on the teppan, Sapporo beer crepe flambéed with Grand Marnier, then glazed with orange caramel sauce and served with French Vanilla bean ice cream

The crepes were beautifully thin and had the perfect level of sweetness, courtesy of the luxurious grand marnier sauce. 
Enjoy an assortment of international cuisines and delectable dishes with 3 courses from 3 different restaurants each Wednesday night at WTC Wharf for just $55 per diner. 

What: WTC Wharf Progressive Dinner 
When: every Wednesday night 
Time: 6.30pm and 7.30pm sittings 
Tickets: $55 per person 
Bookings: 03 9629 9228 or email laura@wtcmelbourne.com.au

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of WTC Wharf.

Restaurant Review: Kolbeh Persian Restaurant

Location: 751 Doncaster Road, Doncaster
Phone: 03 9078 5350
Link: http://www.kolbeh.com.au/
Cuisine: Persian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern
Overall Impression: 6.5/10
Serving unique and exotic Persian food, Kolbeh is a welcome new addition to the Doncaster/Templestowe dining scene.

We started our meal with a lovely assortment of dips served with freshly baked bread. The dips were packed full of flavour and wholesome.
All of the main courses were delicious.
The chicken fillet was tender and juicy, the lamb shank was bursting with flavour and the curries were rich and hearty.
Each main came with a very generous amount of perfectly cooked long grain rice.
For dessert, we shared saffron ice-cream with faloodeh (sweet noodles in rose water ice) and some Persian sweets. It was a lovely end to our meal. 
Kolbeh reigns supreme over all the other Persian restaurants in the Doncaster/Templestowe area. The menu features a variety of competitively priced Persian food of a good standard. The wait staff were friendly and helpful. This may have been our first time to Kolbeh, but it certainly will not be our last.

Kolbeh Persian Restaurant on Urbanspoon