Portello Rosso

No Comments

Category: CBD, Dinner, Lunch, Monday to Saturday, Small plates, Spanish, Tapas

First floor of Portello Rosso: comfy and inviting

Bird's eye view of a tapas and jamon restaurant called Portello Rosso

Once upon a time, in a winter wonderland called Melbourne, there was a lady called Tubbymistress and a tapas-slash-jamon restaurant called Portello Rosso. Their long-awaited rendezvous took place on an icy Saturday night in June – not so much a meeting of minds as a meeting of empty stomach with Spanish-inspired food …

Portello Rosso
15 Warburton Lane (off Little Bourke St), Melbourne VIC
www.portellorosso.com.au

Read more…

Izakaya Den

2 Comments

Category: CBD, Dinner, Japanese, Lunch, Small plates

The pork belly (background) and eggplant (foreground): two dishes on offer at Izakaya Den

The pork belly (background) and eggplant (foreground): two dishes on offer at Izakaya Den

SOMETIME IN THE LATE 1980s

Little Tubbymistress is sitting on the carpet in her primary school classroom, cross-legged, petite and shy. Despite her small stature – and a brain that has never loved processing numbers – she has no hesitation belting out the 10 times table with three other children in her class, harmonising in the monotone, singsong way that primary school children do.

As she sang, Little Tubbymistress could not know that basis mathematics (and a lack of research) would be her undoing some twenty years later. In May 2010, a section of Russell St became a catwalk for the hungry and navigationally challenged, as three Melburnians searched in vain for one elusive number.

LITTLE TUBBYMISTRESS (sings earnestly): Fifteen 10s are … hun-dred and fiff-ty!

Izakaya Den
Basement, 150 Russell St, Melbourne VIC
www.izakayaden.com.au

Read more…

Bistro Vue

No Comments

Category: CBD, Dinner, French, Lunch, Monday to Saturday

Tulips blushing in the sun at Monet's Garden in Giverny, France

Tulips blushing in the sun at Monet's Garden in Giverny, France

A SUN-DRENCHED SPRING MORNING IN FRANCE

Tubbymistress is standing in Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France, shoulder-to-shoulder with an American couple. It’s a warm morning but, despite the influx of tourists to this small, floral oasis, it’s surprisingly serene and calm.

Inspired by the works of impressionist painter Claude Monet, the gardens are immaculately conceived and maintained. Weeping willows lean casually over the pond; beds of tulips (vivid reds, yellows, pinks and mauves) stretch toward the sky as if competing for the attention of the sun; dainty roses climb and twirl around iron arches that frame the central walkway. It’s living artwork, enchanting fodder for the many camera lenses working hard for their money.

A world away, a restaurant called Bistro Vue springs to life, imbued with the kind of charm and appeal found by the tulip-bed in Giverny. This carefully constructed slither of old-world Paris immediately piques the curiosity and appetite of Tubbymistress, a twenty-something with an unfortunate penchant for killing plants.

Bistro Vue
Normanby Chambers, 430 Lt Collins St, Melbourne VIC
(entrance on New Chancery Lane)
www.bistrovue.com.au

Read more…

Rockpool Bar & Grill, Melbourne

No Comments

Category: CBD, Dinner, Lunch, Modern Australian, Steakhouse

The first time I dined at Rockpool Bar and Grill was the year I started at my first full-time job. Cashed up, carefree and childlike, I strode into the restaurant with my two high school friends, past the open-plan kitchen and through to the equally grand dining room resplendent in plums and browns. I remember being seated at the table in one of those comfortable leather chairs and being greeted by the image of a proudly posing cow on the menu in front of me – all the while feeling as if I was crashing a party made for wealthy businessmen.

On this night, the proudly posing cow had the last laugh. My friends unwittingly chose ‘My steak tartare with chips’ and were stunned to find that it was a dish best served cold. As they alternated between gagging and giggling at the prospect of eating this uncooked delicacy, I couldn’t help but savour every bite of my delectable duck ragu. It was sublime.

Rockpool Bar & Grill
Crown complex, Southbank VIC
(the last restaurant before Queensbridge St, right next to Crown Towers)
http://www.rockpool.com.au/melbourne/rockpool-bar-and-grill.html

Read more…

Eh? Aix.

No Comments

Category: CBD, French, Monday to Saturday, breakfast

The Peking duck crepe, sliced through the gut and ready to go (foreground); meatball baguette (background); mandarin and blood orange blend

(from bottom) Peking duck crepe, sliced through the gut and ready to go; meatball baguette; mandarin and blood orange blend

 A RANDOM SATURDAY MORNING

Tubbymistress gazes longingly at a pair of blue and mustard candy-striped heels in the window at Kinki Gerlinki, a fashion oasis amongst the plethora of eateries in Melbourne’s Centre Place.

TUBBYMISTRESS: I want those shoes.

There’s only one thing that can save the credit card now.

Aix Café Creperie Salon
24 Centre Place, Melbourne VIC

Read more…

Il Bacaro: When in Rome …

No Comments

Category: CBD, Dinner, Italian, Lunch

Il Bacaro, gleaming under the street lights on Lt Collins St

Il Bacaro, gleaming under the street lights on Lt Collins St

Sometimes the best decisions are made on the fly. Like, choosing where to dine on a Saturday night. Or securing a rare on-street car park in Melbourne’s Lt Collins St and deciding that the Italian place across the road is just the place to chow down.

When I stepped into Il Bacaro, I saw a cosy restaurant filled with diners – and seemingly little chance of securing a table. Listed in the Australian Good Food Guide as a premium cut on Victoria’s restaurant menu, this was hardly a surprise. What was a surprise was that we couldn’t have planned the night better if we tried – settling for a place at the bar offered one of the best first-time dining experiences I’ve had in some time.

Il Bacaro Cucina & Bar
168–170 Lt Collins St, Melbourne, VIC
www.ilbacaro.com.au

Read more…

Cafe Vue cocktail night

No Comments

Category: CBD, Dinner, French, Lunch, breakfast

If only I’d discovered this earlier. Last chance: 7 pm on 26 March!
$75 per person.

Cafe Vue Cocktail night
‘Friday night at the movies’
430 Lt Collins St, Melbourne VIC
http://www.vuedemonde.com.au/

Il Solito Posto

No Comments

Category: CBD, Dinner, Italian, Lunch, breakfast

Feel like pasta? Try Il Solito Posto. Tucked down a laneway off Collins St, this little bistro may look unassuming from the outside, but inside it’s a hub of activity, buzzing with conversation and oozing with charm; its dimly lit, rustic atmosphere the perfect canvas for after-work drinks and a bite to eat.

Il Solito Posto
Basement 113 Collins St (entry on George Pde), Melbourne VIC
www.ilsolitoposto.com.au

Read more…

Benito’s (not Mussolini’s)

2 Comments

Category: CBD, Dinner, Italian, Lunch, Monday to Friday

antipasto platter

Antipasto platter

I first encountered Benito’s a couple of years ago after emerging from a fun, girly dinner at Bistro Vue.* As I headed down the laneway with my friend Larrabee, I shoved my hands deeper into my coat pockets, fumbling for my car keys and an ounce of warmth.

Larrabee took my arm, leading me toward Lt Collins St. ‘There’s a little restaurant I want to look at,’ she said, nodding toward a small, unassuming café/restaurant across the road. ‘I walked past the other day. I can’t remember its name … but I think it sounds kind of fascist?’

Benito’s
445 Lt Collins St, Melbourne VIC

* More about Bistro Vue another time.

Read more…

Coda

2 Comments

Category: CBD, Dinner, French, Lunch, Tapas, Vietnamese

Don't want to book? The bar is your friend.

Don't want to book? The bar is your friend.

Craving Vietnamese food? Or maybe something a little more ooh la la? Whether it’s Vietnamese or French cuisine you’re after, you’ll find something to please your tastebuds at Coda—another Hot New Thing Down a Laneway Serving Dishes Designed to be Shared.

Coda
141 Flinders La, Melbourne
www.codarestaurant.com.au

Read more…