A toast to good food & great wine @ The Valley Cellardoor

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of The Valley Cellardoor.
Since first opening its doors in June 2010, The Valley Cellardoor has developed a reputation for keeping locals well lubricated with well-priced wine and good food (which, of course, goes perfectly with wine) in a comfortable environment which reflects rustic sophistication.
We sat at the newly expanded area of the cellar door which has increased the venue’s seating capacity to 150 people and offers a view into the cosy, open plan kitchen. We loved the welcoming and cosy ambience.
The focal point of The Valley Cellardoor is the wine with over 250 to choose from, all from boutique producers ranging in price from $10 – $35 take away and $17 – $42 drink in house.  
There is also an impressive list of craft beer and cider that will impress and suit any taste.
For those eager to increase their knowledge of wine, the staff offer advice, plenty of expert knowledge and guidance.
Owners and brothers Tony and Mark Pendreich possess extensive experience in wine and hospitality. Mark is a trained sommelier, and has an impressive resume including having worked in London for Marco Pierre White and the Conran Group whilst Tony spent 7 years in Hong Kong and China as a Project Manager. The pair were one of the first to introduce the BYO food concept and minimal in house corkage through their original wine bar ‘Mordialloc Cellardoor’.
Their passion for the liquid gold is clear and their warmth and hospitality is palpable as you step into the venue. 
Charcuterie platter

The charcuterie was a respectable assembly of salami, prosciutto, cheddar, brie, olives, cornichons, antipasto mix, quince paste and bread. The salami and prosciutto were in particular excellent – both possessing a richness that had been further enhanced by the flavours of the intense curing salt mix. 
Pizza of the month - Housemade tomato sauce, potato, leek, bacon pieces

The potato, leek and bacon pizza was a winner and featured a classic amalgamation of flavours which could not be faulted.
Vegetarian pizza 
Housemade tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, caramelised onions, roasted pumpkin, roasted peppers, roasted eggplant, pinenuts

The vegetarian pizza was lovely. Layers of mozzarella were teamed with delightful melt-in-your’s-mouth eggplant slices, juicy pumpkin and mellow roasted peppers. Encircled with a puffy crisp crust, this pizza was the perfect Friday night treat.
It is no surprise that The Valley Cellardoor quickly attracted a steady stream of devoted clientele, impressed by its rustic, yet fine foods, use of local, specialty purveyors, and their exceptional wine and beer offerings.

Location: 18 Hall Street  Moonee Ponds
Phone: 03 9370 2000
The Valley Cellardoor - Wine Store & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Win[e]ding down @ Strangeloves Bar

Gastrology bloggers visited as guests of Strangeloves Bar.
Gastrology was recently invited to review Strangeloves Bar anonymously.
We were asked to book a table and at the end of the visit, introduce ourselves, where we then enjoyed chatting to owner, Michael about the concept behind the bar and his passion for wine.
We loved Strangeloves’ BYO food policy which benefits the surrounding fantastic selection of restaurants, making Strangelove ideal for a group pf people that have different appetites and tastes. 
The space is divided into intimate spots with soft low lighting and relaxing background music, making it a contemplative environment, conducive for conversations.
Gas log heaters provide warmth and comfort during chilly Melbourne evenings.
The wine list is extensive (14 pages worth) and there is a large selection of cocktails and a small selection of spirits.
We enjoyed sipping on top shelf whisky and cognac – a lovely way to wind down after a working week.

Location: 577 Mt Alexander Rd  Moonee Ponds
Phone: 03 9078 3574
Strangeloves on Urbanspoon

Risotto Heaven - Vicolo Cafe & Risotto Bar

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Vicolo.
While good Italian restaurants seem nearly ubiquitous in Melbourne, good Italian restaurants serving perfectly cooked risotto are not. Fortunately for us, there’s Vicolo Cafe & Risotto Bar, the Moonee Ponds restaurant serving delectable dishes and inspiring risottos.
A selection of starters 

The starting plates at Vicolo are meant to be shared, providing ample opportunity to try several dishes. A favourite was the polpette, a recipe by owner, Maria Larosa’s nonna. 
Risotto Anatra
Braised duck, porcini mushrooms, caramelised onion, roast garlic, sage & pecorino

The Risotto Anatra was irresistible. Served with tender braised duck and earthy porcini mushrooms, the risotto had a beautiful depth of flavour. 
Risotto Nero
Squid ink risotto with calamari, roast garlic & parsley

The rice in the risotto was puffy and al-dente and, coupled with generous amounts of tender squid pieces and a jet black squid ink broth, was rich and headily flavoured.  
Our evening at Vicolo concluded on a sweet note. Both our desserts of sticky date pudding and ricotta cheesecake were delicious.  
Quietly tucked away in Young St, Vicolo is Moonee Ponds Best Kept Secret. The restaurant offers a relaxing family environment and a menu that captures the traditional flavours of Italy and in particular, perfectly prepared and authentic risotto.

Vicolo Cafe & Risotto Bar on Urbanspoon

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Vicolo Cafe & Risotto Bar.