Category Archives: Dinner

Rumi

116 Lygon Street
Brunswick East
T: 9388 8255
 

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There are not  many choices for Middle Eastern cuisine in Melbourne that fit somewhere between your local take away doner kebab and the fine dining experiences of ‘Maha’. Rumi has been my saviour during the times I have wanted to enjoy the very best authentic cuisine in a romantic atmosphere without having to fuss over reservations or give my credit card a workout. Located on the brunswick end of Lygon street, Rumi is named after the great 13th century  Persian poet and celebrates food & wine from the area with a modern twist.

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The menu is designed to be shared and has a selection of small to large dishes. Usually a couple of small dishes, couple of medium dishes and one larger item is a perfect combination for 2 people. Spiced school prawns with tahini sauce, not pictured, are a must try and I warn are highly addictive. Persian meatballs (pictured above) are also a favourite of mine. Exceptionally flavourful and tender from being slow cooked in a tomato saffron sauce. The richness best complimented with a fresh shaved cabbage salad, soused onions, raisons and almonds (pictured above).

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Lamb shish kebab with labne (yoghurt).

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Rice Pilaf with spring onion and chives; one of the tastiest pilaf’s I have ever tried, my mum’s included.

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Almond milk pudding with sour cherries and pistachios; kind of a middle eastern panna cotta though with a more grainy texture and less sweetness. Other sweet options included baklava and turkish delight of course.

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Food aside the service at Rumi is one of the best which is no wonder it was recently awarded the best specialty restaurant in the nation for service & catering excellence. The bill is presented with chewing gum from Lebanon, very different from your traditional mint so worth a try though not maybe to everyones taste.

5/5 Bites

Price $$

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Maedaya Sake and Grill

400 Bridge road
Richmond
T: 9428 3918
 

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I love Japanese food, so when I learnt of a sake and grill bar in Richmond I couldn’t wait to try it. And Maedaya did not disappoint. When we walked in we were greeted “Youkoso irasshai mashita” (Welcome) by friendly staff and I felt like I had been transported to a sake bar in Tokyo city.  Inside the walls were decorated with large ship ropes from floor to ceiling, patrons sat along the bar watching the sake master at work while chefs were busy at an open grill frying skewers.

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Maedaya kept the surprises coming with their Menu on an ipad, just ingenious. You can place your orders directly to the kitchen and/or bar in your own time. Just make sure you pace yourself as it’s very easy, as I found, to get click happy and order more than you can eat. The menu is broken up into tapa style small dishes to more larger main plates along with a selection of sushi and sashimi. Perfect for sharing a meal with company or for just having nibbles while you drink.

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Hot miso soup with friend tofu croutons hit the spot on a cold winter evening, while their crunchy prawn karage (to be eaten whole) was finger licking good.

As a sake house Maedaya had an abundant selection of sake and wines lined up along the wall, I chose my favourite plum wine to accompany my supper. Plum wine is very different from any wine you may have tried, it’s sweet fruity and incredibly smooth, just delicious if you ask me.

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Their chicken gyoza (Japanese dumplings) are some of the best I have had and I highly recommend them.

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D was a big fan of their spicy soy marinated Salmon which was served with Japanese mayo and dried chilli.

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The sizzling plate of miso chicken was my favourite; great flavour and tender chicken pieces with fresh vegies.

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Calamari rings with sweet chilli and mayo.

An entertaining dinner experience, whether you come with friends or by yourself.

3/5 Bites

Price $

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Sapore

3-5 Fitzroy street
St Kilda
T: 9534 9666
 

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There are very few places on Fitzroy street, St Kilda that I have loved instantly but Sapore is definitely an exception. D and I went there for dinner on a Sunday night to find a full house and was lucky enough to get the last table. The last available table happened to be the cutest little love seat on a cosy corner so we could sit side by side.

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 The staff were extremely attentive and made sure we had menus straightaway, knew when we were ready to order and made sure our glasses were never empty. A breath of fresh air compared to our last dinner venture at “Dish” which left a lot to be desired, more on that on another post.

A seasonal menu especially crafted by head chef Simon Moss makes the best of Melbourne’s fresh produce. Sunday night offered dinner course specials with wine however we could not go past the a la carte menu.  While we waited for our meals we nibbled on freshly baked sour dough bread, which came out of the kitchen piping hot.

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I had the duck ‘tre modi’ with Sicilian cabbage salad, slowed cooked onions and jus gras. A wonderful dish with duck cooked two ways, a blue cheese mousse contrasted by a crunchy cabbage salad with pine nuts.

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D went with the fish of the day; pan seared halibut with grilled prawns, baby spinach and swede puree. Normally he allows me more than a bite but this dish was apparently too good to share, not that I could blame him. The skin was crispy and the flesh still moist and full of flavour.

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On the side we had a warm salad of farro, cucumber, nuts, lemon and salted ricotta; perfect for a winters night. Unfortunately we did not leave room for dessert but I know I will be back here again and again so wasn’t worried

Sapore is fantastic in all aspects and definitely deserving of all its rave reviews.

5/5 Bites

Price $$$

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La citta

11 Degraves street
Melbourne
T: 9639 1860
 

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A real gem to be discovered on Degraves, Lacitta is a cosy yet elegant restaurant with exceptional food and an extensive range of wines.

D and I had a the fortune of coming across this place while wondering along the alleyways of Melbourne city looking for somewhere to grab dinner after work.

The menu is modern european and offered a great selection of dishes; from fish to slow roasted lamb shoulder. However the greatest surprise is to learn that Lacitta offers some of the greatest pastas in Melbourne that I have ever tasted. 

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Potato and carrot gnocchi with rosemarry and lamb ragu; slow cooked lamb with fluffy pillows of pasta.

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Squid ink pappardelle with king prawns and cherry tomato; perfectly cooked pasta with the taste of the sea in every bite balanced with sweet prawn flesh and tomatoes. Make sure you try this place at least once.

4/5 Bites

Price $$

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Carlton Espresso

326 Lygon street
Carlton
T: 9347 8482

Part of the D.O.C family, Carlton Espresso is my favourite Italian restaurant on Lygon Street hands down. There coffee is always fantastic, the atmosphere is very relaxed and the place is buzzing with people who share meals on long communal tables. Having said that, all of the D.O.C restaurants are exceptional and expanding to new locations like Mornington  it seems.

It was the perfect place to meet up with girlfriends, H and MR, after work for a casual dinner.

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 H and I happened to get there a little earlier than MR and while sipping on our drinks a waiter brought over a tasting platter courtesy of the house. It was a lovely gesture and we got to nibble on tasty olives, crumbly cheese and gourmet crackers.

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Italian beer and lemon ice tea.

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MR had the farro salad with rocket, vegetable and fresh ricotta.

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The lasagne at Carlton Espresso is one of my favourites, using fresh pasta and generous layers of beef bolognese.

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H had her favourite dish too, the spaghetti pomodoro with san marzano tomato and fresh bazil.

4/5 Bites

Price $

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Mamasita

Level 1, 11 Collins street
Melbourne
T: 9650 3821
 

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As a hotspot for trendy Melburnians on any night, Mamasita has firmly established itself as one of the top restaurants in town. Suggesting to go there on a ‘Monday night’ for dinner and drinks, with old uni friends N and S, still didn’t save us from the unavoidable wait time for a table. Like alot of popular new restaurants you can’t book ahead and waiting along a narrow stairway, while patrons that are leaving squeeze by you,  is not very pleasant. 

Luckily we were only waiting for 15 mins and once seated the overall experience of the evening was marvellous.  The wait staff were friendly and made great suggestions for what to order however, at times difficult to get a hold of which is the downside of dining somewhere so busy.

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Apart from Mamasita Margarita’s, we sipped on a bizarre cocktail that tasted like it had been made from Tabasco sauce and was garnished with a cooked prawn.

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There was only one item on the menu I insisted we had to try, the famous “street style” chargrilled corn aka elotes callejeros that I had heard so much about. And we all agreed it definitely lived up to the hype. Sweet corn on the cob covered in salty, sharp grated cheese and mexican spices (possibly paprika and cummin) finished with a squeeze of fresh lime. Absolutely delicious!

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Tostaditas with de Cangrejo – fried tortilla chips that have different toppings. We chose to have topped with crab, avocado and tamarind mayonnaise. Very tasty but a little too pricey for the size of the dish. 

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From the selection of tacos we each chose either the steak with refried beans or the braised ox tongue and cheek (above) which was the clear winner for best tasting.

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Mole negro con pollo – confit chicken with “black mole” caught our attention and on further enquiry it turned out the black mole was a sticky chocolate sauce. I thought this dish would be more exciting and flavourful, in reality it was quite bland and heavy.

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Salmon ahumado casero – hickory smoked salmon with ancho glaze. A great dish complemented by broken rice (or so we suspect) and a delicious sticky glaze. Salmon was also cooked to perfection.

Definitely will be coming back to Mamasita again, sooner rather than later (still dreaming about their corn on the cob!!).

4/5 Bites

Price $$

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Los Hermanos Mexican Taqueria

399 Victoria St
Brunswick
T: 9939 3661
 

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When M and I caught up for after work drinks and nibbles  she took  me to this little mexican taqueria hidden between houses and some local shops in Brunswick. From the outside you wouldn’t have realised it was a bar if it weren’t for the papel picado (tissue paper banners) hanging from the wooden awning.

Inside people were seated around a modern bar, on small wooden tables or along a long table facing the large window at the front which let in the last rays of the setting sun. At the back the bar boasted a spacious courtyard, lemon tree included, which was left wanting as the cold evening breeze had set in. We decided to sit at the bar so we could view the menu written on the chalkboard wall (sounds tacky but it wasn’t). All of the cocktails were tequila based and though had quirky names like “el diablo” sounded absolutely delicious.

Los Hermanos offered us a tantalising selection of tacos, sopes and ensalada de nopales along with home made salsas and lots of hot sauce. After wanting to try almost everything on the menu but our appetites after 2 drinks not permitting we settled on a tasting platter of our own making. And agreed to come back again to gorge ourselves on tacos, tacos, tacos.

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Los Gorditas – Soft tortilla pockets filled with refried mexican beans.

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Los Tacos – de res (beef) and de pollo (chicken) are open tortilla tacos with slow cooked meat, cheese, lettuce, home made salsa, potato and coriander.

3/5 Bites

Price $$

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