Ca de Vin.

Sometimes places just let you down. In the case of Ca De Vin, I had been there before and enjoyed it, but when I went again the other day, I was very disappointed.  I went there for lunch with Alice and her mother. Service was pretty bad. The waiters ignored you, were very cold, unsmiling and kind of out of it.

The menu however looked really nice. I’d tried the pizzas before and really loved them. Good value and delicious. This time I decided to try something small as I didn’t have much time to eat and wasn’t too hungry. I selected the “Saganaki,  traditional  Greek  hot  pan  of  kefalograviera  cheese drizzled  with  organic  honey  &  fig  jam” $ 17 which sounded amazing and sort of like the Saganaki at Hellenic Republic.
It looked lovely when it came out :

HOWEVER. It tasted pretty horrible. It was burnt all over. It tasted sour. I think what happened was that they cooked it with the honey and jam on it, which meant that the saganaki got too crispy – and also they left it in the pan, which meant that it kept on cooking, and therefore overcooked. It was such a shame because the idea was there, but the execution was way off.  Also, for $17 you kind of expect it to be perfect.

Alice and her mother ordered : “Paella,  our  version  of  the  classic  Spanish  rice  dish  with  prawns,  Port  Arlington  mussels,  free  range  chicken,  chorizo  &  Catalan  saffron” $52

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They said that it was a bit bland and needed more spice, though they still enjoyed it. Quite over priced is what they thought too.
I kind of thought that the menu was a bit over priced too, but that is to be expected considering where the restaurant is – right next to Myer in the middle of the most frequented part of the city.

The space itself is quite nice- middle of a lane-way, lots of pipes, quite dark, very European looking….

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Sadly, this visit put me off going to Ca de Vin ever again, however if you are going to go, I recommend sticking to the pizza.

 

 

Ca de Vin on Urbanspoon

Recent home food adventures.

Alas I have not been out to dine these past few days, I have been cooking (and occasionally ordering in)! Here are some of the lunches and brunches I have had recently. If you would like to see more then follow me on Instagram! @alergicinmelb

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Lots of salads and burgers. Made a roast- used the left over in a salad. Had a Nandos burger and a Grill’d burger.  Healthy mixed diet! ;p

Blog post coming up s0on – going out to lunch at Ca De Vin, right next to Myer and H&M.

 

-Karma

+39 pizzeria

I work in the CBD with a bunch of lovely people and they wanted an affordable easy dinner nearby so I recommended +39 Pizzeria on little Bourke street. I had been there before and it had been lovely. They take bookings so I made one for 6 and then off we went!

When we got there it was PACKED. Noisy, people making a line at the door…and the staff seemed to be ignoring us – not the best first impression. We finally got to speak to someone – we had to walk further into the restaurant and approach them!! Our table was still being set, but it didn’t take long and then we were seated.

We had the STRANGEST waiter who thought that his jokes were funny, even though they were offensive. He was trying to be charming, but there are only so many jokes you can make about my name until things start getting weird. And it’s always odd when someone with a strong accent makes jokes about New Zealand accents. He definitely added character to our experience.

After that, it was onto drinks. One of us ordered a pear drink for$ 4.50, it seemed nice but not worth the price as it was very small. The wine was also overpriced for what it was.

When we eventually ordered, we went for the Polenta chips to share, the Tartufata pizza, Bufala pizza and Crema di Zucca pizza.

The food came out quickly, which was good.

The Polenta chips came with THE MOST AMAZING CHEESE SAUCE – Gorgonzola fondue. The chips were fat, crispy, non-oily and really up there in my Polenta chip experiences.  I just wanted to eat the sauce out of the little bowl- it was that good. Rich, but not too rich and perfect for Polenta! They should just sell it in cups – I would certainly drink it.

 

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They brought out the pizzas just after the chips, they were an impressive sight all lined up on the table.

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The Bufala pizza (top pizza in photo) had basil, tomato salsa and Buffalo Mozzarella on it – it was simple but really lovely. The tomato salsa was rich and chunky and the mozzarella was the perfect amount of cheese. I really loved this one, but I think the others wanted something a bit more, especially for the price -$23.50

The Tartufata pizza (the one with the rocket on it) was mushroom and truffle oil and it was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. So truffley! Fragrant and delicious. It had cheese on it too, but some how that didn’t make it super rich- it just made it feel even more indulgent. It didn’t need all that rocket, but I love rocket so I was happy. This is a must order if you visit. It is $23.50 and worth it!

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The Crema di Zucca was one of the more interesting pizzas – it had green beans, caramelized onion and roasted pumpkin puree. I really would have preferred it though if they had used pumpkin pieces instead of the puree, because it lacked that pumpkin flavour. At the time we were wondering if they had made a mistake – could this actually be a pumpkin pizza, or did they screw up the order. Turns out they just screwed up the recipe. It was delicious, but not what we expected.

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All in all, we had a fun time and the food was delicious, but everything was overpriced and the service wasn’t great. They seem to be a busy restaurant – I would hire a greeter, somebody to attend to people as they enter the restaurant, so that they don’t feel ignored. They did score full points for allergy friendliness, but low marks for the waiter’s inappropriate attempt at friendliness.

+39 Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Le Grand Cirque

Tonight I had the pleasure of dining at Le Grand Cirque, Manu Feildel’s (of Ready Steady Cook and My Kitchen Rules fame) new restaurant in South Yarra. Right where Mama Baba used to be.  I was invited along side my fiancee to see Manu demonstrate some of his dishes, and to try the menu. The actual restaurant is really warm and interestingly decked out. You enter via a curtain which is exciting!

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The plates and glasses were gorgeous – a mixture of different coloured glass, reminiscent of 70’s European styles. But what are plates without food to put on them? This is the menu we were presented with when we arrived. As you can imagine, just reading it made us ready to storm the kitchens and bang our cutlery on the table! Luckily we have reasonable impulse control and managed to wait. There are a few nut and seafood dishes there which I had to avoid, but they weren’t the stars of the night so I ended up happy. Plus Alice, my aforementioned fiancee, loves seafood, so she happily ate the non-nutty bits I could not.

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Before the food was served, we started with a cooking demonstration with the chef himself. Manu cooked scallops with hazelnut butter, steak tartare and mussels right in front of us and it smelt AMAZING. Alice asked what to replace the nuts with in the scallops when making it at home, he joked – “don’t!” – But then said that just adding more panko breadcrumbs would be a good substitute. He continued to say that while allergies are frustrating to chefs, he is saddened by them and does what he can. If you’re wanting to try these recipes at home, they’re all featured in his beautiful cookbook French For Everyone. Sadly, the title doesn’t refer to everyone being given a French person to use as a cooking slave, but the recipes and pictures are quite good.

While we watched Manu do his thing, we nibbled on olives and lovely smooth eggplant dip with buttery toasted bread to start with. Waiting until we could dig into the heartier, fancier food. We ate all of it, which was a bit awkward as the people at the other tables barely touched their delicious olives. The bread was absolutely delicious – crunchy and had clearly been fried or baked in some sort of oil or butter. I will have dreams about this bread. The eggplant caviar dip was also nice. But, seriously, you guys, the bread.

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We were then presented with some aniseed cured salmon with avocado puree and caviar. I loved the avocado so much – worked perfectly with the salmon. It was hard to detect the aniseed flavour in the salmon, but the croutons were prepared in the same style of the bread from the dip, so everything was fine.

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Then, the dish we had been waiting for since we saw Manu make it, one of my fave dishes of the night – the steak tartare. It was seriously spectacular. The meat was tender, lean and delicate, well flavoured with mustard and ketchup (seriously) and thyme. The crispy artichoke chips were inspired! They should sell those along side potato chips in the supermarket, or really anywhere I can easily exchange money for them at any time.

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Behind it is the scallops which I could not eat, but hey, I GOT STEAK TARTARE. A very pretty baby beetroot salad followed. It had goats curd. I’m a sucker for goats’ curd. But look at how pretty that son of a bitch is! It tasted good, but not quite as good as it looked. Most of the ingredients were pickled and the flavours didn’t quite mesh. They all tasted both the same and grumpily different. The goats’ curd was the best part though, so let’s just have a huge plate of that next time with one piece of pickled baby carrot under it, k?

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Onwards to the ham hock and gruyere cheese croquettes (SO CHEESY) and a little pig trotter burger. The croquettes were delicious, but the kind of food where you can actively feel your arteries harden as you eat it. Totally worth the inevitable heart attack, though. The pig trotter burger was a good idea in theory, but just had the consistency of tiny bits of oily fat being held together by over cooked vegetables. Once again, though, the bread was really nice.

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I skipped the mussels (Alice ate the entire giant bowl), and finished with an excellent mushroom pearl barley risotto, with a special once only addition of shaved truffle on top (yay!) This was my second favorite dish. The barley added an interesting, soft texture alongside nearly 60% of our DRI of molybdenum, the health benefits of which were nicely offset by the metric ****tonne of butter and cream. The mushrooms had a rich, earthy flavour with a slightly rubbery texture.

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I did take photos of the dessert, but they sucked, so I’ll just paint you a word picture. Imagine a tall shot glass of pretty OK lemon meringue “pie” with a piece of shortbread sticking out of it. Then picture a very small caramel and vanilla bean creme brûlée with a disappointingly thin crust that didn’t crack when I tapped it, just…smooshed. Alice absolutely loved them and seriously contemplated licking her plate and working out how to insert her tongue far enough down the glass to get out the final bits of lemon meringue. I thought they were average. To sum up: there are not a lot of nut dishes on the menu- they are easily avoided as there are many other choices. There are seafood dishes, but again, lots of other choices. I got the impression that not many changes to the dishes were allowed. So – nut free scallops? Probably not going to happen. But hey, you can always ask! All in all, it was a lovely night. Food was delicious, and based on that I would recommend heading here to try some simple yet lovely french food. Plus the lift home in the fancy Renault Clio was really nice. Almost makes me want to get my license. Almost.

Le Grand Cirque on Urbanspoon