Friday, January 22, 2010

Sud, Melbourne

If I had to describe Sud in three words, they would be 'warm', 'intimate' and 'unassuming'.  If I had to describe the food at Sud in three words, they would be 'tasty', 'simple', and 'authentic'.

I came across this place online - during one of my weekly searches for places to eat in Melbourne.  Every review was outstanding which only led me to want to try Sud even more.

So tonight, I had booked a table for four.  We arrived after what seemed to be an exhausting twenty minute walk.  Exhausting due to the humidity of the early evening heat in the city. 

Sud doesn't look anything special from the outside.  It's merely a simple, unassuming shopfront looking type of a place.  Step inside though and enter a long, intimate, softly lit room with crisp white linen table cloths and bottles upon bottles of wine and spirits.  All strategically placed and laid out like ornaments so as to fill the place with a cosy, almost cellar-like atmosphere.

We were greeted by a friendly waiter who led us to our table.  Another came soon after to offer us some water of our choice.  A much needed liquid to quench our thirst from the walk here. 

A wine list was brought to the table, and seeing as the food menu changes on a weekly basis (Mondays), it is simply written up on a large 'Food' board that hangs on one side of the wall.  The fact that the menu changes on a weekly basis, I love.  It shows pure imagination and a want to create something different for their clientele.   

The food menu had a lot of traditional Italian named dishes, and so we were a little unsure as to what some of them were.  Luckily, the very knowledgable manager (and waiter) went through every dish, carefully explaining each one of them to us.  It all sounded absolutely divine. 

He even offered some good suggestions such as recommending which antipasto would be good for sharing.

We went with the 'Prosciutto di Parma with warm Ligurian olives' ($21) and the 'Heirloom tomato, mozzarella salad' ($19). 

Whilst waiting for the antipasto, we were brought a basket of fresh focaccia and small bowl of extra virgin olive oil.  The bread was simply delicious; soft and herb-alicious! 

The prosciutto di parma arrived along with a shallow bowl of Ligurian olives.  In terms of crockery, I simply love the Italian styled floral edged plates that they use here at Sud.  It gave the food an even more authentic rustic Italian feel.  

The proscuitto was beautifully moist and full of flavour.  The Ligurian olives were warmed through; the flesh was delicious and the stones were, as one can imagine, small. 

The heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad followed soon after.  Mixed with basil leaves, it was indeed a lovely variety of tomatoes - black russians, teardrops and ox hearts.  The buffalo mozzarella was ripped rather than cut with a knife which seemed a more authentic way to serve it.  We all murmered in delight as we tried the black russians, which were super sweet.  None of us had eaten them before and we all vowed to try and find them in the market.

For mains, three of us chose the 'Confit lamb shoulder with caponata' ($35) and the other chose the 'Pork cutlet, fig and radicchio salad, hazelnuts' ($35).  Although the three sides all sounded rather good (and we were recommended the roasted potatoes),  we all decided to forego a side so as to leave room for a bit of dessert at the end.  Instead, we were offered some more bread to accompany our mains - of which we happily accepted.

The confit lamb shoulder with caponata arrived for the three of us.  They looked utterly devine and tasted exceptionally sublime.  The lamb was oh so tender and simply fell apart as I cut into it.  The caponata (which is a Siciilian aubergine or eggplant dish) also had red bell peppers mixed into it.  The combination was magic and it was just the right amount.  Not too large so as to stuff one up, and not too small so as to leave one hungry and begging for more. 

The pork cutlet with fig, radicchio salad and hazelnuts looked equally as good.  The pork was beautifully cooked through and wasn't tough in the slightest.  My companion enjoyed it so much, highly praising the dish and commenting on how the figs were simply heaven.   

We finished off the meal with a tiramisu and a chocolate parfait with boozy grappa soaked cherries and a small serving of grappa jelly. 

The tiramisu was served in a Martini cocktail glass, generously topped with cocoa.  Made with the traditional lady fingers, it had a strong coffee taste which I really like.  Obviously homemade, it was delicious.  Unfortunately, I don't have the best camera for taking food shots and as an amateur photographer, my photo really doesn't do it any justice at all. 

The chocolate parfait was rich - chocolatey rich good that is.  The grappa jelly certainly tasted of grappa and as I was told, the cherries were truly boozy.  This one, I can say, was definitely an adult dessert. 

The staff here know their stuff; are quite obviously passionate about food and wine; are super helpful, polite and welcoming.

Whilst chatting away to the manager, he told us that their lunches are often very hectic due to them servicing the local office crowd.  But that their dinners take on a more relaxed pace.  We all loved the fact that it was informal, relaxed and uncomplicatedly easy in terms of not being packed in.

A gorgeous place with a homey feel, attentive service, great food, knowledgeable staff.  The fact that my dining companions are all talking about when we will visit next is a sure sign that everyone felt right at home at Sud.

219 King Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel: +61 (0)3 9670 8451

Open Mon-Fri -
Lunch: Midday - 3pm
Dinner: 6pm - late

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Co Dȏ, Melbourne

Victoria Street in Richmond is also known to some as 'Little Saigon'.  Having arrived there by the 109 tram from the city, I can understand why.  There is Vietnamese restaurant after Vietnames restaurants, Vietnamese groceries, Vietnamese butchers, even Vietnamese DVD stores. 

It really did feel like mini Asia in the middle of this city fringe suburb.  I was delighted to have discovered it and now know where to do my Asian food shopping which sell items cheaper than those in the CBD. 

Anyhow, back to lunch, my friend and I had decided to visit a place called 'Co Dȏ'.  This was chosen after having read a few online reviews, so seeing as we are foodie companions who are willing to try most things, we agreed to give this place a go.

Walking in, the air-conditioned restaurant was a welcome respite from the hot humid oven-like air outside.

The place is pleasantly decorated with laminate flooring, clean walls and unobtrusive lighting.

Each table is set with a tray of condiments - chilli sauce, soy sauce, fresh chilli, hoisin sauce and so on.  There are also plenty of eating utensils - chopsticks, spoons, sauce bowls and a box of tissues.

A waiter came along with a flask of tea with two cups and a couple of menus.  The tea had a lovely subtle sweetness to it. 

The menu is vast and seeing as everyone else had a bowl of noodles, we had to try the beef phở .  We decided to start with some prawn spring rolls ($7.50), beef phở  noodles ($8.00) and a dish that my friend had to have - sweet and sour chicken ($12).  Not my first choice, but it was requested with such enthusiasm - who am I to refuse a fellow foodie their choice of food?!

In pure Vietnamese tradition, a plate of fresh crisp iceberg lettuce, beansprouts and Vietnamese coriander accompanied by a bowl sweet dip was brought to our table. 

Our prawn spring rolls arrived soon after.  There were eight in total, but I forgot to take a photo before greedily digging in.  They were very non-greasy and cigar-thin like in shape, unlike traditional Chinese ones.  Wrapping them in the lettuce leaves and dipping into the sauce was oh, sooo good.

Next came the beef phở noodles.  It was made up of an aromatic soup, vermicelli rice noodles and ultra fine, paper thin slices of rare beef (which cook as they sit in the hot soup), chopped coriander, green and red onions.  The soup was absolutely gorgeous.  The beef was super tender and the noodles deliciously, well delicious! 

The sweet and sour chicken was a little yellow.  I think the batter had turmeric in it.  It was only just mediocre, I ate it out of politeness to my dining companion more than anything.  But then, I really am not a huge fan of sweet and sour.  It seems that so many non-Asians seem to love sweet and sour anything...

I really wouldn't order this again as I prefer to stick to more traditional Vietnamese dishes. 

Service here is pretty quick and the portions are generous.  I am intrigued to come back to try some more traditional dishes.  However, seeing as there are so many Vietnamese restaurants located all along this particular strip of Victoria street, I think I will have to pop into some others next time. 

Nevertheless, 'Co Dȏ' was super busy full of locals, bringing their families for a midweek lunch - always a good sign in my book.  If you want to sample Vietnamese and have a browse in some Asian groceries to stock up on your pantry, drop by 'Co Dȏ' and give it a whirl.  Just stay clear of the sweet and sour chicken.

Co Dȏ
196 Victoria Street, Richmond, VIC 3121
Tel: +61 (0)3 9421 2418

Daily: 9am-10:30pm

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bluestone Bar Lounge, Melbourne

Housed inside an historic old wool shed, Bluestone Restaurant Bar Lounge resides on Flinders Lane between Queen and Elizabeth Streets. 

Upon entering this establishment, take the stairs directly in front of you to the downstairs lounge area which is styled in the fashion of a New York lounge bar.  That is - modern, seductive and contemporary with little touches of cool; little Morrocan lanterns, gorgeous cushions, bare stone walls and so on.

There are leather Chesterfield chairs with low tables - perfect for a gathering of friends, comfy wall benches, ambient lighting and spatterings of floral wall paper covering. 

A party of six tonight, we decide to share some tapas - olives, goats cheese stuffed bell peppers and some ciabatta with olive oil and dukkah.  It was all good and plenty of bread!

We also ordered the special prawn skewers with a mango salsa.  Two skewers lined with small prawns.  Tasty, tangy mango salsa and succulent little prawns.

Seeing as I had read all about their infamous pizzas, I decided to share the number three pizza consisting of hot salami, olives, chilli peppers and mushrooms.  It was enough for two people and perhaps a side salad would have been a good accompaniment.  Something to remember for next time...

Being a midweek school night, this place was pretty quiet.  Service was polite and friendly though and we never felt rushed.  Playing upbeat grooves in the background, this is a great place to come for drinks after work or for get-togethers at the weekend.

Bluestone Restaurant Bar Lounge
349 Flinders Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 (0)3 9620 4060

Lunch: Mon-Fri - From 12pm
Dinner: Mon-Fri - From 5:30pm, Sat - From 6pm

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Singapore Chom Chom, Melbourne

Lunch today was at a place in the CBD called Singapore Chom Chom.  This place certainly isn't anything special inside.  The tables and chairs are basic, and the wall decor is thin.  Still, it's always full of office workers at lunch.

I have eaten here twice before.  Both times I had the Chicken Kapitan with rice.  The first time with spicy eggplant and the second with spicy green beans.  The second visit was so much better than the first - the chicken wasn't so dry and the green beans were spicy as opposed to bland.  Inconsistency may be the word here, and I am guessing it depends on who the chef of the day is.

The menu is vast and one could, if one wanted to that is, spend a good ten or so minutes going through it.  I decided to go for 'Ban Mian with spicy beef' ($9.50).  Ban Mian is a Hokkien style egg noodle soup. 

The noodles are quite doughy and are usually handmade.  The bowl arrived bubblingly steaming hot and was carried with careful precision (so as not to spill any liquid) by a daring young waitress. 

The bowl also contained a boiled egg, choi sum (chinese vegetable) and slices of spring onion (scallions or green onions).  Although the beef chunks were tender, they weren't spicy in the slightest.  In fact, it wasn't a spicy dish at all.  Did they forget to add any chilli?! 

Seeing as I am used to eating chilli on a regular basis and having inherited a partially Thai palate, I am probably not the best judge.  I can only guess that mortals with regular palates would find it spicy. 

Nevertheless it was extremely hot, in the temperature sense of the word and as you can see, the steam was literally bubbling out of it in the picture below. 

The bowl looked huge and I wasn't sure if I would be able to finish it all.  Thankfully, there wasn't a huge abundance of noodles as these ones were pretty doughy and heavy.  All in all, it was OK - not great, but not terrible either.  Perhaps a little bland for my palate...I have had better though and I can safely say that this Ban Main isn't one that I would come back in a hurry for. 

My lunch companion had the 'Chicken Kapitan with noodles' ($9.50).  The Kapitan looked good with plenty of sauce, a handful of steamed choi sum and a very generous amount of noodles. 

You're not going to get a gastronomic meal here, but then I don't think that is the intention.

Singapore Chom Chom is a quick service, cheap lunch - with huge portions, and free tea or water.  If you need just one meal in the day, come here and you'll be sure to fill up for the rest of the day.

Singapore Chom Chom
188 Bourke Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel: +61 (0)3 9663 3778

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Just Fine Food, Sorrento

Lunch yesterday (Sunday) was another pitstop along our Ocean Road drive in the Mornington Peninsula.  Just Fine Food in Sorrento was bustling and there was an available table outside.

Famous for their Vanilla Slices, I decided that I should try it.  However, a late lunch was the order of the afternoon and therefore my savoury tastebuds needed satisfying first and foremost.

Consisting of mainly sandwiches - focaccia, open (with warning that they are large), toasted etc. The choice was simply immense - if you want a sandwich that is! 

However, seeing as I had already had two huge slices of sourdough in the morning, I was pretty breaded out.  The problem was, there wasn't a huge choice of dishes without bread.  So, I ordered the 'Spinach quiche with salad'.  I'll have fatty buttery pastry instead?!

It came out piping warm and was lovingly light and egg custard like.  It wasn't salty and the pastry was delicious.  For $16 though, I thought it was a little on the pricey side.

My other two companions ordered the 'Ploughmans lunch' - a very substantial chunk of ham; a generous wedge of cheddar; fresh salad including gherkins and picked onions; and a chutney pickle. 

Unfortunately none of us could manage any Vanilla slice.   We were all so full and eating any more would have been far too glutinous for words.  I concluded that I should save my calories for another day.

Still, I believe their Vanilla slices are probably pretty good. But seeing as I didn't try one, I am just going by the faces of all the vanilla slice diners around us - who all seemed to gobble them up quickly.

The deli counters inside displayed lots of various enchanting delights from pork pies to cheeses to vegetarian fritatas.  I imagine Just Fine Food is a good place to stock up on goodies if you are having a picnic on the beach.  This place really does do what it says on the tin.

In terms of service, it wasn't the friendliest and I almost felt like I would be asking too much if I asked for extra hot water for my tea.  Although the young lad clearing tables seemed the most approachable and in my opinion, did a much better job than the rest.  The waitresses just looked too stressed out - the sea air obviously doesn't do much for them.

Just Fine Food
23 Ocean Road, Sorrento, VIC 3942
Tel:  +61 (0)3 5984 4666 

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The Boyz 4 Breakie, Mornington

Having set out early yesterday Sunday morning, we decided to have a breakfast stop in Mornington.  We parked by the Information centre and wondered over to a busy beachside looking pitstop of a place - 'The Boyz 4 Breakie'.

Sounds more like a boyband than a breakfast cafe.  Look at their logo and it almost resembles an old vinyl cover!

Nevertheless, this place was rocking with people inside as well as outside.  As we approached the cafe, I could see a small queue just forming inside.  It appeared that we had unknowingly come to the place to go for breakfast in Mornington.

Luckily, we managed to get a table upstairs on the mezzanine level which gave us all great views of the ground floor and into the open kitchen.  I could see the chefs all busily preparing big breakfasts.  And believe me, they are big here.

Plate after plate of poached, fried, scrambled, any which way you-like-it eggs were being carted off to tables by every available waitress. 

I decided to go for 'Poached eggs on sourdough toast' ($9.50) with a side of bacon ($2.50) and a side of baked beans ($2.50).  And to be really English about it, I ordered a pot of English breakfast tea.  What better way to start off the day!

My three companions all went for 'The Turkish' - two fried eggs, bacon and tomato salsa on toasted turkish bread.  This was my first choice, but I decided against the fried eggs for the more healthy choice of poaching.

Unfortunately, we had a bit of wait for our food and drinks to arrive.  Although this place was busy, some tables seemed to get theirs quickly.

When they did finally arrive, my poached eggs were beautifully done and all was forgiven.  Golden yellow, rich tasting yolks and perfectly cooked whites. The bacon was deliciously crispy and the beans were just heaven.  If I could have made it even better, I would have requested my beans to be cooked until just soft and mushy; just how I like them - which is probably a bit too wierd for some. 

The Turkish's all looked amazing good as well.  The eggs weren't greasy and the salsa was diced fresh tomato with red onion and chopped basil. 

This place was super busy with the waitresses constantly bringing out breakfasts.  It's a sunny sort of place with upbeat music, sunny interior, smiley (although a tad slow) service and great breakfasts, served all day long as well!

P.S. This place also does lunch and dinner.  

The Boyz 4 Breakie
1a Main Street, Mornington, VIC 3931
Tel: +61 (0)3) 5977 2888

Mon-Thu: 8am-5pm
Fri-Sun: 8am-Late

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Kookaburra Bar & Bistro, Halls Gap

I was on the road last week and stayed over in Halls Gap.  There isn't a huge choice of eateries in Halls Gap, so when I walked past this place and observed the menu, I thought "why not?".  There was a good choice of light meals, entrees and mains. 

It doesn't look like much from the street, and with a huge 'Beer on tap' banner hanging on the outside, one could be mistaken for thinking that this place was just a regular drinking hole.  How wrong could we have been?!

Four of us reserved a table for the evening and arrived in good time.  A friendly lady showed us to our table and a waiter came by with menu's for us all.

The menu has a good selection of meals to choose from including fish and kangaroo.  There's even a kid's menu as well.  Tonight there were a few specials and we decided to share an 'Asparagus timbale with spears'.  Put simply it was described as a melt in your mouth asparagas custard baked slowly and served with new season's asparagas spears and reduced cream and rosemary sauce. 

Well, as you can clearly see, the tips are actually green bean tips...not asparagas.  We think they must have run out of asparagas in the kitchen...Nevertheless, it was well presented and we didn't complain as it tasted absolutely devine. 

For mains, I chose the 'Blackened barramundi' - coated in Cajun spices which blacken when grilled.  It comes atop mashed potato with a couple of poached prawns in a fish stock, tomato, wine and cream sauce. 

It was simply devine.  The fish was cooked just right - still soft and flaky.  The sauce was deliciously tasty and the prawns added to the overall Cajun inspired dish.  A thoroughly enjoyable meal. 

Service was attentive and friendly; the food was delicious and the portions were generous.  A great place to come to if you are visiting Halls Gap.

Kookaburra Bar & Bistro
125-127 Grampians Rd, Halls Gap VIC 3381
Tel:  +61 (03) 5356 4222 

Lunch: Midday-3pm Sat & Sun
Dinner: 6pm onwards Tue-Sun

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Spoons, Port Fairy

This cute little town certainly boasts a few good eateries in The Age 2010 Good Food Guide.  There's the Merrijig Inn, The Hub, Portofino's, and The Stag. 

We started at The Hub, who politely told us that they were full but to perhaps try our luck at the Merrijig Inn or Portofino's.  Following their instructions, we all walked towards the wharf and eventually found the Merrijig.  Again, they told us that they were full.  So we decided that it was onto The Stag.  Again, this proved a fruitless task - it was closed tonight (being their one night off in the week). 

From the evening's event of trying to get into a restaurant, it almost felt like being in a Nativity play; "sorry, no room at the restaurant tonight".

The four of us decided to wearily walk back into the main street and passed a little cafe style restaurant with white linen covered tables and a few diners inside.  All famished and hungry, I stepped inside to ask if they had a table available for four.  The waitress asked me to hold on whilst she had quick look around and pointed to a lovely table in the front room.  Hoorah!  We were going to get a meal tonight...

The table had already been set up with linen napkins, silver cutlery and wine glasses.  It was as though we were meant to have this table. 

The waitress wasted no time in presenting us all with a menu each.  The choices looked good and being extremely hungry tonight, my eyes went straight for the 'Eye fillet on pea and wine risotto with wilted spinach and a red wine jus'. 

Whilst our mains were being prepared, we decided to start off by sharing some warmed olives.  They were certainly yummy and we polished them all off pretty quickly. 

Unfortunately, our mains seemed to be taking rather long to come out.  So long in fact, my companions had polished off a bottle of wine and were onto their second.  However, seeing as we had been turned away from so many other restaurants beforehand, a long wait for our food didn't seem too much of a hardship considering.

Nevertheless, after a good forty-five minutes (just as our patience was being tested), our meals arrived.  OK, so they looked good, but boy, they could have hurried them up...

My eye fillet looked so good.  Like a pig on steroids, I grabbed my cutlery and literally started wolfing it down.  The steak was beautifully cooked to medium, the risotto was velvety smooth and creamy, and the combination of spinach and red wine jus made it oh so delectable.  I've never had steak and risotto together before, but I think I will have to try it when I get back to my kitchen at home.

One of my companions had the belly pork with potato and balsamic reduction.  Again, it was very well presented and very well received. 

The waitresses are polite, friendly and attentive.  Spoons is a great little cosy cafe which turns out excellently presented evening meals that are truly good enough to rival the more established restaurants. 

Despite the long wait for our food, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this place - with warning of course.  We even went back for breakfast and fortunately we didn't have to wait long for our scrambled eggs and coffee. 

Thus, I can safely say that this was a great stumble-upon find.  A simply gorgeous little gem in Port Fairy.

Spoons Cafe
42 Sackville Street, Port Fairy, VIC
Tel: +61 (0)3 5568 3452

The Bay Leaf Cafe, Apollo Bay

Having stayed overnight at Apollo Bay along The Great Ocean Road, breakfast the next morning led me to The Bay Leaf Cafe.  The girls were busy behind the coffee counter and asked us to take a table and they'd be over with menus.

This place is small, but light and airy.  With colourful paintings by a local artist hung on the walls, (each one for sale), and a glass cookie jar filled with yummy chocolate covered cookies sitting next to the coffee machine, it felt all cosy and homely.

The breakfast menu included all the familiar eggs, bacon, sausages, muesli, yoghurt, fruit and so on.  Feeling like something substantial this morning, I went for poached eggs with bacon and a side of spinach.

A hearty plate piled high with the eggs, crispy bacon and wilted spinach arrived in good time.  The bacon was, I have to say, probably the best grilled bacon that I have had since being in Australia.  It was crispy in all the right places and not greasy at all.  The spinach had been wilted to perfection and the poached eggs were superb.  It was a truly fantastic breakfast!

A great little family run cafe with hearty, wholesome and well cooked food.  They certainly take pride in what they churn out.  And with the amount of people that kept coming in for breakfast, they certainly do a good trade in feeding the masses.

The Bay Leaf Cafe
131 Great Ocean Road, Apollo Bay, VIC 3233
Tel:  +61 (0)3 5237 6470 

Dec-Jun: Mon-Sun 6am-9pm
Jul-Nov: Mon-Sun 8am-2:30pm

Great Ocean Road Deli, Apollo Bay

Warning: Eat here at your own peril.

Having arrived in Apollo Bay for our first night's stop along The Great Ocean, we didn't have anywhere in mind to eat.  So when we came to view this place, we thought it looked OK - clean, modern and fresh.

We were shown to our table by a polite and smiling English waitress.  The menu had lots of fish and seafood and a list of specials. 

I decided to go for the 'scallops, tiger prawns cooked in a rich Napoli sauce tossed in linguini pasta'.

Little did we know, we all had a long wait for our mains.  I think it actually took forty-five minutes.  My dish arrived with dry linguine, diced fresh tomato and garlic, with a bit of scallop and prawn.  They had given me the wrong dish - basically the other linguine listed special. 

Calling the English waitress back, I notified her that this was the wrong dish.  She immediately apologised and took my plate telling me that she would tell the chef and get it corrected.  Two minutes later, she came back and told me that the chef would toss it in tomato sauce.  Hmm, this didn't sound too promising.  But I was hungry and didn't fancy another long wait. 

Whilst everyone else started tucking in, the English waitress came back with my dish almost swimming in the said tomato sauce.  This is what I was presented with...look at the pathetic basil that was added as a last minute presentation...

The linguine was soft and therefore, overcooked; the seafood was well, let's just say, two prawns and two scallops (which weren't fresh either, rather frozen ones I think); the Napoli sauce - what can I say, it was a reddish brown watery thin sauce.  Not the rich tomato Napoli that it should have been.  I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry as the so called chef obviously didn't know what a Napoli sauce was or even how to cook pasta 'al dente'. 

We complained to the English manageress who eventually knocked the price of this dish off our bill.  The least she could have done really.  She even made the absurd excuse that the pasta had a little napoli sauce under the pasta the first time, but I had missed it.  What a lie, she was the one who actually took away my pasta to be doused in sauce and apologised for it not having any in the first place.  Some people will try any excuse under the sun.

Great Ocean Road Deli should be renamed to Abysmal Great Ocean Road Deli.  All I can say is, looks can be deceiving...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Basso Cafe, CBD, Melbourne

So exciting, my first entry for 2010!  Happy New Year to all my blog readers.  I am so looking forward to trying out some new places this year and telling you all about them. 

Having had a week or so off during the Christmas and New Year, I am now getting back into eating out again.  And today, I was off out for lunch...

Love thin crust pizza?  Looking for a good lunch option for under $10?  Then look no further than Basso.  For under $10, or $9.80 to be precise, you can pick up two square slices of pizza AND a glass of wine or a soft drink.  Now that is a bargain in my book!!

This place is located just inside 'The Georges Building' on Little Collins (on the East side of Swanston Street).  Recommended by a friend for a cheap lunch option, I decided it was too good an opportunity to miss. 

Walking inside The Georges building, my friend led me past the ground floor tables and chairs of the Basso cafe and towards some steps just off to the right hand side.  To the left at the bottom of the stairs, we were faced with a slightly robust looking statue of a round faced lady wearing an old-fashioned Victorian style chefs hat holding a chalkboard prompting diners to, 'Take a voucher for your free drink'.

After picking up a voucher, we proceeded to the long counter lined with large rectangular trays of pizza after pizza.  Here, they serve traditional neopolitan style pizza's which are freshly baked on a daily basis.  The selection is huge and they all looked utterly enticing. 

The chalkboard on the wall lists a choice of different pasta with an array of sauces, risottos, salads and mains including t-bone steak and parmigiana.  The choice really is immense.

Having chosen our pizzas, we gave our order to the guy behind the counter who gave us each a piece of paper with the number '21' written on it and our chosen pizza slices.  We went to pay at the end of the counter, picked up our free drink and proceeded to our designated table - number twenty-one.  All we had to do now was to wait for our heated up pizzas to be brought to us.

My friend went for a slice of 'Meatlovers' (on the left below) and a 'Feta and spinach'.  Both of which looked good. 

I chose the 'Volcano' which is topped with capsicum, olives and chilli; and the 'Calabrese', which is topped with mild calabrese salami and olives.  The 'Volcano' was surprisingly rather spicy, more so than I expected it to be actually.  So if you can't take spicy, then I would avoid this one on that basis.  The 'Calabrese' was scrumptious with delicious slices of salami and black olives.  It served as a nice non-spicy follow on to the Volcano slice. 

Basso is a great place for an 'express lunch' for under $10 and other great Italian options too.  It was pretty noisy during this busy work day lunchtime between midday to one-thirty, so if you want a more serene lunch hour, I'd recommending getting here after one o'clock or before midday for an early lunch. 

Basso Cafe
The Georges Building, 195 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel:  +61 (0)3 9650 0077 

Mon-Thurs: 7:30am-5pm
Fri: 7:30am-8pm
Sat & Sun: 8am-4pm