Flower Drum Review
The Flower Drum is a Melbourne institution that has been pushing out high end Cantonese cuisine for the past 40 years. They have been, and continue to be awarded for their food, high standards and unprecedented service – so it goes without saying that I was excited to try this 3-Hatted Melbourne restaurant.
The thing about the Flower Drum that sets it apart is their impeccable service. This restaurant still has tableside service, multiple servers per patron and an old world feel that can’t be replicated. The dining room is divided into sections where there is a headwaiter that oversees individual table waiters, so no table or empty glass is overlooked.
Restaurants which hold the covenant 3-Hat ranking in Melbourne are Attica, Vue du Monde and Flower Drum, which is much more affordable than the other two. It is still expensive, but not outrageously so. There are many less awarded restaurants in this town that would cost you more for a meal.
We decided to visit this establishment during lunch and I opted for the multi course option; Wonton Soup, Quail Sang Choi Bao, Peking Duck Pancakes, Steamed Bass Groper Fillet, Crispy Skinned Chicken, Grain Fed Eye Fillet with Black Pepper Sauce and I finished with Battered Deep Fried Bananas, Coffee and House Made Almond Cookies. It was a filling lunch. I washed this all down with an Australian Pinot Noir.
The food was good, but not mind-blowing. I couldn’t pick any flaws in any of the dishes, but I expected more from such an established institution. The Quail was my favorite dish on the day because it was bursting with flavor and incredibly fresh, but some of the other dishes like the Wonton Soup or Dessert were not up to the standard they needed to be and were frankly disappointing. The ingredients were all top-shelf and the dishes were well put together, but there was no wow factor that I anticipated for one of Melbourne’s most awarded restaurant.
Telephone: +61 3 9662 3655
Facsimile: +61 3 9663 5199
17 Market Lane, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
Lunch: Monday – Saturday,
Noon to 3 PM
Dinner: Monday – Saturday,
6PM to 11PM
Sunday til 10:30 PM
Food Quality 8/10
For more reviews by Seasoned Plate go to:
Port Phillip Estate Review
Some friends and I recently visited Port Phillip Estate, located on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. Port Phillip is renowned for their award winning wines, their stunning cellar door and their fine dining restaurant.
Initially entering the property can be a little intimidating because the outside resembles a CIA headquarters building with no windows, hidden doors and a daunting appearance. There is little or no indication that behind the intimidating facade lies a fine dinning restaurant and an impressive cellar door.
We finally ventured into the interior of this massive structure to find an open view of grape vines with the ocean in the background. It was absolutely breathtaking with its grandeur and awe. Immediately to the right is the cellar door with an impressive tasting menu. All wines are on display and for sale within the shop. To the left is the fine dining restaurant – 2 course minimum, but we opted for the bistro menu and outdoor space.
The patio overlooks the property and has the bistro menu which is a much more relaxed environment than the restaurant. It was exactly what we were looking for after a morning of wine tastings at various vineyards. We opted to share multiple plates which gave everybody the chance to try a variety of dishes. We ordered the warm marinated olives, fried bocconcini, potato parmesan croquettes, pomme frites with garlic aioli, seared scallops, walnut and gorgonzola salad and a pulled pork sandwich. This was plenty for the group we had and everybody left full.
Our food was generally good but there were some major flaws in the dishes. One of the first dishes to come out was the bocconcini. These were battered and deep fried balls of crispy goodness, but they were freezing cold in the middle. It was an unsuspected sensation when biting into a piping hot dish. I was disappointed. The other let down were the scallops. At an entree or large plate price of $22, the portion of three small scallops with a few peas was unacceptable and outright cheap by the estates behalf. They were even located with the mains on the menu. If I was alone and ordered this dish for my meal, I would leave unsatisfied and be forced to stop by a burger joint on the way home to satisfy my hunger – luckily we were all sharing so nobody went hungry.
The other dishes were good. The olives were warm and had a brilliant texture, the croquettes were hot and addicting, the fries were crispy and salty, the salad was really well balanced and the flavours complimented each other perfectly and the pulled pork put us all over the edge.
I would go back to Port Phillip Estate. The views are stunning, the building is beautiful and they make great wine. The only advice I can give – be selective with food orders and ask clarifying questions, because the descriptions can be disappointedly misleading.
Port Phillip Estate
263 Red Hill Road
Red Hill South
Telephone +61 3 5989 4444
Food Quality 6/10
More Reviews by www.seasonedplate.com
City Wine Shop – Melbourne, Australia
Little Creatures Brew Pub – Geelong, Australia
Incheon – South Korea
Incheon is a South Korean city located just outside the capitol of Seoul. It is a bustling place where many travellers go for layovers if passing through South Korea, as it is home to one of the main airports in the country. Like its neighbour, Seoul, Incheon is home to lots of Korean eateries teeming with delicious Korean fare.
Whilst passing through South Korea on a layover, I was fortunate enough to take in some of their famous BBQ, consisting of lots of meat, egg, kimchi, soups, soju, beer and rice – just to name a few of the items consumed. I even located a red dog beer that I thought was discontinued while I was still a child. Korea is a culinary delight and a must do for food travellers.
For more on South Korea, check out these articles:
Seoul – South Korea – The Food Will Blow Your Mind
Korean Markets – Seoul – South Korea
Top 10 From 2013
With St. Patties Day just around the corner, there’ll be lots of Guinness being poured at pubs and homes throughout the world. Daniel Lewis from The Age explains how to pour the perfect pint.
Last night we dined at Ragusa Restaurant in beautiful Williamstown. Ragusa is a Croatian restaurant located on the main strip, facing the harbor. The restaurant is located in a beautiful old building and the dining room was welcoming and well laid out. I haven’t really ventured into Croatian cuisine before, so this experience was both new and exciting for me.
We were immediately welcomed upon arrival and brought to our seats that were located next to an impressive wine rack situated in the middle of the restaurant. I’m always a bit skeptical about wine on display in restaurants because it’s not proper storage for the wine and may result in off bottles. It is, however, aesthetically pleasing.
I ordered a couple of oysters au natural, muscles in a beautiful tomato and garlic sauce, a traditional Croatian dish – punjene paprika (braised beef and pork in capsicum) and a well made vanilla bean brûlée with poached mandarin. My wife ordered the risotto with yabbies and it looked great.
I was impressed with the food. The oysters were fresh, the muscles were cooked in an absolutely delicious yet simple sauce, the capsicum was surprisingly good and not something I’d regularly order, but it reminded me of cabbage rolls, but more flavourful and the brûlée was rich with a strong orange taste that paired perfectly with the gorgeous vanilla. The brûlée had candied mandarin zest topper that added to the presentation. It was a satisfying meal and I was pleased with our Croatian choice.
Our service was entertaining and prompt, but the only drawback was a fly that decided to dine with us as well. Our server did apologise for the fly and explained that they had the door opened, but it was distracting. I did finish my meal however and was completely full and satisfied by the time we left.
139 Nelson Place
PH. 9399 8500
Food Quality 8/10
Seoul is a modern city of millions located fairly close to the border in South Korea. It is a fast paced city with a good bar scene, Asian markets, busy shopping malls, relaxing bathhouses and delicately beautiful Korean food. Seoul is an organized city with a great public transport system but due to the mass population the city does experience smog. This creates a hazy surface, but once you get past that outer façade, the food scene is worth the effort.
I visited Seoul a couple of month ago and stayed with a couple of expatriate friends of mine. They had been there for a while and knew the city quite well, so they were able to show me around. I was initially unimpressed with the city – it’s not the best-looking city I’ve ever seen, but it works. The food on the other hand was a completely different beast, it blew my mind! Koreans don’t mess around with their food – in Seoul food is serious. This is the land of Korean BBQ, Kimchi, Bibimbap, Korean Fried Chicken, Edible Dog and ice cold beer.
In Korea the food is so incredibly flavorful. A lot of restaurant goers are expected to cook their own food over a red hot grill located center table, plates are often replaced with various types of edible leafs (which adds a kick of flavor and depth to any dish), Kimchi is used like a condiment found on every table and meat is always on the menu. In addition to well thought out, meat-filled menus, the beer is cheap and always ice-cold. Seoul is a food tourists dreamland.
Seoul can be a little intimidating at first because of the pace, smog and general ugliness of the city, but once you dive past all of that, way past into the deep laneways or smoky bbq joints, you may just be surprised how much wonderful food is on offer. Go, eat and enjoy. Seoul is as foodie as any modern city I’ve seen.
The Herald Sun – Top 10 Burgers in Melbourne
Today the Herald Sun listed their Top 10 Burgers in Melbourne. Surprisingly Huxtaburger, Grill’d, Urban Burger, The Beer and Burger Lounge or the iconic Andrews Hamburgers did not make the list.
Check it out for yourself:
Radio Mexico is a trendy Mexican joint in Melbourne’s beachside suburb, St. Kilda. The restaurant is usually busy and they have proven to be quite popular amongst the locals. Their menu spans across individual dishes such as tacos or burritos, but they also have larger dishes designed for sharing such as cerveche or camarones con pozole.
We were seated in an awkward corner of the restaurant that was difficult to get to which made it challenging for the serving staff to reach us. It also seemed as if the staff depended on the restaurants popularity and they had a sense of arrogance about them. It felt that we were just a number and not a guest. They were there simply to supply us with food, but not to give us a real dining experience.
I decided upon the albondigas (spicy beef, pork and rice meatballs with salsa, served with green rice). The food came out at a varying pace and my wife received and finished her tacos before my food was even brought to the table. The tacos looked decent – soft shell corn tacos with a range of fillings, but not mind-blowing. I was fixated on her meal in anticipation for my own.
My food eventually came. By this point I had acquired quite a hunger, so I devoured my dish quickly, without stopping long to pick it apart. The meal was sufficient but not completely satisfying. The rice was plain and not overly exciting and the meatballs, whilst fairly moist and well seasoned – did not fulfill my hunger.
Due to our awkward placement in the restaurant, our wait for the food and the lack of interaction or care by the wait staff, it really detracted from the overall dining experience. The quality of the food was above average, but they were pushing out numbers and it showed. We left unsatisfied and went around the corner to one of the little cake shops on Auckland Street to finish up.
Radio Mexico, yet trendy and immensely popular, is overrated. The location is convenient for beach goers, but the service and lack of high-test food was disappointing. There are better Mexican eateries in and around Melbourne and I suggest branching out and trying them instead – there are more authentic experiences with higher quality food to be found.
11-13 CARLISLE STREET
ST KILDA, MELBOURNE
Food Quality 7/10
My wife and I recently dined at Seamstress located in Melbourne’s CBD. We had been given a gift certificate for Christmas from some close friends of ours who highly recommended the place. Seamstress is an Asian fusion restaurant famous for their brussels sprouts, of all things.
We decided to dine mid-week, which if you are a serious about eats, is the best time to eat out. Restaurants are less busy, cooks have time to focus on what their doing and restaurants generally want to impress. The mid-week diner is one who dines for the experience of dining and one who cares about their food, unlike the weekend diner who often goes out for social or other reasons. Weekday diners are adventurous and are willing to further than the meat and veg or seafood special.
When we arrived, we were the only people in the restaurant. It was nice to have our own private dining room. An enthusiastic server who seemed genuinely excited to help us through our selections seated us. He was friendly, professional and really quite good.
We decided to go for a banquette style meal and ordered an array of dishes to try. We ordered the grilled edamame, soft-shell crab with siracha mayonnaise, seared sea scallops and smoked trout on apple slaw, tom yum steamed muscles with house made naan, prawns with a side of dumplings, crispy skin salmon with black rice and the infamous brussels sprouts – based on our servers suggestion.
The edamame soon arrived at our table, and even though this was a simple appetiser, it was delicious. The seared grill marks on the edamame helped bring out their natural flavours and it was laden with a sharp and coarse sea-salt. Salty, savory goodness that I couldn’t get enough of. It was a great way to start our meal and had me watering at the mouth for the upcoming courses.
Each dish was brought out to share and our server did an excellent job of pacing our food. The kitchen staff timed each dish perfectly and the meal flowed flawlessly.
The subsequent dishes were all high test, quality plates presented to please the senses. The apple complimented our seared scallops, our soft-shell crab was hot and crispy and the crispy skinned salmon was moist on the inside and crispy on the out. Overall is was a very good meal and I left incredibly satisfied.
The only disappointment was their famous brussels sprouts. They were very salty, but not in a ‘can’t get enough’ fashion. Some salty things are craving worthy – these were not. They just tasted as if they had been cooked in soy sauce and that was the only flavour profile I could identify. I couldn’t even taste brussels sprout in the dish consisting primarily of brussels sprouts – strange. The flavour was overpowering and it was the only dish that we didn’t finish. Its a bit odd to hide the predominant ingredients flavour in a signature dish.
Overall Seamstress is a good restaurant that offers the option to try a lot of different dishes in one sitting. The food was mostly very enjoyable and the service was very professional. Our meal at Seamstress was very satisfying.
113 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Food Quality 7/10
While in Goa, India we decided to go to A Reverie, a highly recommended, French inspired, fine dining restaurant located close to the beach in Calangute. This restaurant has been ranked highly on Trip Advisor, mentioned as a place to eat in Lonely Planet, has been recommended by CNN Traveler in addition to being recommended in Vogue magazine. It was highly awarded and backed by reputable sources. It looked like one of the nicest restaurants in town.
The restaurant didn’t open until 7:00pm daily, so we made a reservation for 7:30 and planned on partaking in a 3-course meal with drinks. The restaurant itself was quite stunning. It featured an open area for outdoor dining, but also had covered dining options as well. It was very tropical and the location was very central.
We were greeted and shown to our seats. We immediately put in a drink order of Old Monk (Indian Rum) and looked over the menu. Seeing our proximity to the ocean, I felt it necessary to order seafood, so I went for the baked camembert and marinated olives to start, surf and turf consisting of grilled beef and prawns for my main and a trio of chocolate to finish up.
The appetisers were very pleasing. By this point I had been travelling India for almost a month and quality cheese and warm olives satisfied my craving. I do enjoy eating my way through any country I visit and experimenting with new foods and spices, but every now and then I crave western food when abroad. The olives were salty and warm and the cheese had been baked into a bowl of runny goodness. I had found happiness.
Our next course of mains was a little disappointing. My beef that had been grilled was low test at best, came in small portions and was a bit tough. The prawns that accompanied the dish had been overcooked and were dry. Both portions of the dish were not properly prepared and a bit of a challenge to get through. This did not live up to my expectations. Based on their accolades and reviews, I did expect a higher quality main, prepared right.
Lastly our desserts came out and had hot chocolate aspects contrasted by cold vanilla ice cream. The conflicting temperatures made for a pleasant mouth sensation. It was an enjoyable way to finish our meal.
I was relatively happy with our meal and the service provided. The bill was a bit steep in comparison to other restaurants in the area, but A Riverie was targeting a more upscale clientele, not necessarily warranted, but such was the case. The appetisers and dessert was what made the meal, but the main fell flat considering the reputation of the restaurant.
Holiday Street, Gaura Vaddo, Calangute, Bardez
Goa, GA, India
+91 98 23 174927
Food Quality 6/10