Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar, Washington DC: 18th December 2008
This is a comfortable little place right behind around the Library of Congress which offers a nice wine list to backup a nice selection for your cheese and charcuterie boards. The crispy pork trotter croquettes lightly fried in olive oil with a sprinkling of sea salt were tastily garnished with an apple mustard and pea shoots while the red wine braised lamb shank was soft enough to fall off the bone onto the shiitake-wheat berry ragout. My rating: 3.5/5

The Laurel Glen 2006 Red is a blend of Zinfendal, Carignan and Petite Syrah from the Lodi region. A simple drink offering supple dark fruit with moderate levels of firm tannins and prominent oak influences. 86/100.
The Monte Schiavo 2006 Lacrima di Morro d'Alba from Piedmonte was a good accompaniment to the lamb shank with its sour cherry flavours with sweet chewy oak. The light fruity touch is very pleasing and was good to was down the ragout. 89/100.

Hanabishi: Monday 28th & Thursday 31st May 2007
One can easily walk past Hanabishi without giving it a second thought. Located near a Subway, chinese takeaway and pizzaria, this restaurant at 187 Kings St is easy to miss. From the dark aqua green signboard displaying only its name in simple font to to choice of dark interior fittings and dimmed lighting, the unassuming and simplistic exterior does well to hide unique japanese cuisine of good quality and offering excellent QPR (with exceptions). My rating: 3.5/5

Moriawase: Tuna, Kingfish, Salmon, Swordfish - 4x nigri, 3x tuna sushi rolls, 4x3 sashimi. Fish was served at the perfect temperature, not like it was straight out of the fridge. Texture was firm and thick. Sushi rolls were more fish, less rice; ditto for the nigri.
Tempura: batter was perfect, light in colour as well as oiliness.
Agedashi tofu: oh my god! How can fried tofu be this light and soft on the inside, with such a thin and crisp outer layer! Dish of the night.
Gyusahi: Raw beef slices cut to abotu 1mm thickness, with a tiny splash of soy-based sauce.
Shirauo: white bait fish, our first serve was bad - had a strip of plastic inside.. sent back, got a new batch, good and light. (We weren't charged for this dish eventually)
Sugiita yaki: Patagonian toothfish, wrapped in dried bamboo leaf with mushroom and baked/grilled to perfection. Exotic fishy smell and creamy texture of the meat, texture of the meat was vaguely similar to snowfish.
$146 for 3 ppl.

Sashimi ($34): same 4 types of fish served as before, slices were slightly more chilled than previously. Still great stuff!
California rolls: spanner crab meat with avocado and cucumber. The rich creamy texture of the avocado goes perfectly with the light nature of the crab meat, uplifted by the fresh cucumber.
Agedashi tofu: had to have this again.
Soft shell crab ($17): 3 half pieces of crab. There was abit of residual oil on the palate, but the frying was close to perfect.
Salmon skin salad: A generous serve of crisp salmon skin with a mix of salad leaves.
Bamboo-grilled barramundi ($39): overnight seasoned de-boned barra wrapped in fresh bamboo leaf and sealed in a case of packed salt, then baked. Aroma of light soy enhanced by the bamboo leaf, meat was perfectly soft whilst retaining it's compact texture. Dish of the night.
Tempura udon ($20): I've got gripes about this solely because of the price. The soup was light and clear, no hint of excessive flavours. Udon was supple, and the 2 tempura prawns were great. But for $20, you'd be better off trying some other dish. It's more of a $15 dish in my mind.
$168 for 3 ppl.

312 Drummond: 29th May 2007
Location: 312, Drummond St. Junction of Faraday St (Brunetti's corner) and Drummond, across the street from the Lygon Crt Safeway carpark.
Meal options: a la carte (entrees $20+, mains $30+) or 7 course degustation dinner; $95 per person, $55 for paired wines.
Heard good reviews about the place and food. Decor was nice, nothing too fancy. Bar counter faces the entrance, and the kitchen is visible as you walk to the back stairs to access the second level of dining. Overall impression was good, food wasn't too bad either, and certainly not as refined as Vue de Monde (but what can you expect for dinner at half the cost of VdM). For the price and 2? hats, I think the Court House might be a better go. My rating: 3/5

Clair de Lune oyster, with Goya sherry (Portugal)
An excellent opener, the oyster was well marinated with good subtle flavours and this was washed down well with the cleansing effect of the sherry. 8/10 for the oyster.

 White cut chicken & prawn, with Freeman (NSW) white blend of (I forgot..)
This was a terrible dish! The prawn was not fresh, the shell had dark blotches and the head had a powdery feel typical of less-than-acceptable quality. I'm not sure the combination of chicken and prawn works at all. 3/10
The wine was aromatic but had a poor aftertaste. 86/100

Kingfish, crab & cuttlefish salad, with Leo Buring 1999 Eden? Valley Riesling
There was too much flavour going on in this dish, which was served with pernot dressing separately, but the dressing was totally unnecessary in the confusion of sauces. 5.5/10
The aged riesling was good, with the typical notes of petroleum. 91/100

Slow cooked pigeon, foie gras cigar & chocolate sauce on green lentil and pea base, with Chinon 2003? Cabernet Franc
2 cuts of pigeon were served, a good breast fillet but a less than satisfactory thigh. The breast fillet was perfectly juicey and soft, and matched very well with the chocolate sauce. 6.5/10
The Chinon had earthy, mild herby notes and was a good match for the pigeon. However, not much fruit to talk about. 87/100

Seared Wagyu beef rump with truffled pearl barley & sautéed mushrooms, with Mt Langhi Ghiran 2004 Nowhere Creek Shiraz
The rump was slow cooked to perfection, just a slight layer of brown on the outside, uniform deep purple middle. Pair excellently with the barley accompaniment. 7.5/10
The shiraz was too young and tannic. It's fruity with notes of plum, but lack any solid character. 88/100
Note: I mentioned the wine didn't go well with the dish, and the waitress said that this wasn't the originally intended pairing, but the intended Barolos kept turning up corked (3 out of 4), so they had to ditch that case and make a substitute.

St Agur with poached quince, toasted walnuts & pain d'epics, with Carmes de Rieussec 2004
The blue went very well with the quince. No complaints there. 7/10
But to pair something that strong with a light sauternes?! that's just attempting the silly. I'm not sure whether the decision was an insult to the cheese or the wine. If I were harsher, I'd say both. The 04 is way too young and light to be served now. It had the expected honeyed aromas with almond pear. 89/100
Note: I did mention that the Carmes was too young to be served now, and that I thought either the 02s or 03s would be a better match, and the waitress asked me 'Are you in the industry?' My reply, 'No, I just drink alot'.

Lemon chiboust with vodka granita and poached rhubarb (Palate cleanser)
Chiboust is like creamy ice-cream. Rhubarb was a substitute for fresh raspberries. Very nice. 7/10

Chocolate ganache with parsnip cream, malt milk chocolate parfait & tarragon, with Bress 2006 Kindest Cut
Nice way to finish before a pot of tea. Would've been nice if served with thick, piping hot coffee. 7.5/10
The Bress was a nice light clarified butter colour, sweet mix of Riesling, Muller, and gewurztraminer.88-89/100

The Melbourne Good Food Guide for 2006 has been released, with only 2 restaurants receiving the elusive 3 golden hat standards. Restaurant of the Year goes to Vue de Monde run by chef Shannon Bennett, a local exuding heavy French influences moulded by modern style philosophies. The French outfit is tucked into Lt Collins St where soaking up the ambience is an experience in itself and you're best making reservations for weekday lunches a good month before, and dinners 3 months in advance. The other 3 hatted place is another French diner sited in Prahran, Jacques Reymond. The Flower Drum has been rightfully dropped from 3 hat status to 2, due to an unevolving, unimaginative traditionalist menu, and a less than satisfactory setting brought about by tacky commoner diners with excess cash to splash. Cecconi's which received 2 hats last year is no longer in operation at Crown. The ever popular MoMo (received 2 hats this year), boasting exquisite Moroccan cuisine, has rather unfortunately made way for Jamie Oliver's 15 venture Down Under. However, they will be re-opening on new grounds in the new future. The Court House Hotel just up the road from me in North Melbourne also gains the glory of 2 hats.  The place looks the quite old man sports weekend type of pub from the outside, but the food is lovely. Duck parfait gets a particular mention. Libertine, another French eatery also located in North Melbourne gets Best Short Winelist. 

Vue de Monde (3 hats) Restaurant of the Year 2006
Lunch bookings (only available Tues to Fri) made 1 month prior (a la carte or $38 2 course /$45 3 course set), dinner bookings 3 months in advance (no a la carte menu, 5 to 10 course, or gastranomous 18 course $250pp). My rating: 4/5
Revisiting Vue De Monde 21/11/06:
Jacquesson champagne
Black truffle jelly with potato foam and a potato chip
Seared kingfish in taco on an avacado puree base topped with iceberg lettuce, tomato salsa and fried shredded pork (ba huu texture). Side of berry sauce/puree.
White truffle risotto made from 2 stocks: brown chicken stock and sapps stock (sourced from Bordeaux) with shaved white truffle, served with emulsion of herb and white truffle oil, garnished with dehydrated sapp dust (prepared in-house)
Terrine of pistachio cream, confit moose, geelong ham, foie gras, confit carrot with glazed pistachios and pistachio oil
Clear tomato consommé chilled with bead of dry ice
Roast duck served with mandarin foam in onion skin and duck kiev with chunky bread crumbs with melted gravy core with liquorice powder
Terragon ice cream with raspberry foam
Passionfruit ice cream
Self raising chocolate cookie with rich chocolate and dark/white chocolate powder

Mushroom risotto as starter, the epitome of risotto preparation! Perfect texture to the risotto and the most amazing mouth-filling mushroom flavours.

Lunch #1
: Artichoke entree, Snapper and creme caramel.
THE most amazing crème caramel with rum and raisin sauce! Crème caramel texture is smooth and of the most exquisite sweetness. Balanced brilliantly by the rum and raisin with enhances the crème caramel to a higher level.

Lunch #2
: Pissladiere entree.
tart with olives, thin stripes of peppers and anchovy. Great pastry base. Veal Paillard and fleur de sureau (fromage platter).

Ala carte starter
: Quail Pithivier $20,
ala carte main
: house cured trout $40.
These were the best dishes of the meal. Quail stuffed with something, roasted to golden perfection, and in balance with the meaty fillings. The trout was out-of-this-world, I have never tasted anything like this. No fishy smell, the flesh came off in perfect fresh chunks and were as tender as!! not the tough, plasticized meat that you usually get with cured meat let alone fish!

Tomato consumme
to clear the palate between entree and mains, chilled with a seed of dry ice.

SOSTA Argentinian Kitchen, Rundle St, Adelaide: 300g, 700g ($30) & 1kg steaks, excellent medium rare T-bone, but superb well-done porterhouse ($28), the most amazing texture I've ever had in a well-done cut of meat! Both meats topped off with a hongus sauce - mushroom, though the sauce was a little on the mild side and probably complemented the rare meat better than the well-done. An amazing paella for 2 ($80) with generous portions of fresh clams, mussels, prawns, scallops. $170 for dinner for 4. My rating: 3.5 / 5.
Chocolate Bean, Union St off Rundle St. The most amazing luscious shots of white, dark, milk chocolate and moose. The absolute MUST-TRY is the chocolate filth! 8 shots of chocolates with a slice of chocolate mud cake! Heaven on earth!  My rating: 5/5

Edit: chocolate soup - the cocoa content of an iced chocolate times 1000. warm and served as you would expect a cup of coffee does not seem like alot on first glance but theres a reason why they call it soup, it is molten chocolate, unburnt and pure halfway through you will be wondering whether you can finish it in the first place and whether this is too excessive and you should probably stop but then you wonder again and this is the most electrifying soup I have ever had in my life

Scusami Ristorante, Mid-level Southgate, Southbank, Melbourne (1 hat): Starters: Zuppa Della Casa (posh vegetable soup) $13 was average, Risotto Presidente $21 was created when the Italian president visited the restauarant - perfectly boiled risotto with a cheesy sauce and light flavoured splash of dark vinegerette - so-so. Mains: Veal scaloppine ai funghi $39, well done cuts of veal, Bistecca alla fiore $48 - medium cut of steak which was slightly on the dry side. Pesce Freschissimo - well grilled cuts of fresh fish, dish of the night. Vegetables on the side - $11. Overall, not overly impressive. My rating: 3.5 / 5
The Court House, cnr Errol & Queensberry St, North Melbourne (2 hats): Starters: Warm tuna and avacado with crab on cous cous $18. The tuna cubes were fresh and avacado good. Cous cous prepared to perfection and complemented the crab topping wonderfully. Very impressive dish. Rabbit rillette with truffle sauce $17. Juicey chunks of rabbit, not tough, with flavours enhanced by opulent truffle oil. Mains: Slow roasted duck ($34) cripsy skin with pink juicey mid cuts of duck fillet. Perfection of roast! Beef special $75 (forgot the name, but this is an order for 2) beef in red wine sauce, tender tender! sauce not too acidic nor overwhelming allowing you to savor the amazing tenderness of the beef. Brilliant! The Court house hotel is the most unassuming restaurant I've been to, working out of an old pub (it still retains the pub half and the pub menu is wonderful as well! Ambience is wonderful. Very much deserving of 1 hat! My rating: 4/5

Revisiting The Court House Hotel 20/11/06:
Duck confit with apple and watercress salad: tender duck fillet hot-oiled to perfection with the meat layers sliding off each other like well-greased axels, balanced salad with just the right touch of olive oil to give the visual glitter and substance to the mouth. But this dish could have done with something crisper to accompany the moderately mouth-filling duck.
Garlic and bread soup: Frothy layer of soup which absolutely needs to be consumed whilst hot.  The froth imparts the needed touch of lightness to this creamy soup which came across as being a tad too heavy on the garlic flavour.
Pork and pistachio terrine: the side accompaniment was too salty on its own but a perfect compliment to the tight, compact and clear flavours of the terrine.
Roast Glenloth chicken leg: best
骚鸭 ever!!

This is my site where I show off that I do in the scant abundance of spare time that I have back in my apartment. The views expressed on this page are exclusively my own, unless otherwise stated. An offence caused is regretted, and will be retracted if, after discussion, is deemed reasonable. If you want to pass any snide comments or insults, bring it on!