Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Libertine French Dining Room

500 Victoria St
North Melbourne VIC 3051

Have you ever been to France? Have you ever eaten at paper covered French tables, candlelight and rich saucy foods? Degustation, verily? So too, you will find gourmet dining in the old tradition at the Libertine, with flock gold wallpaper upstairs under black chandeliers and a simple bar style atmosphere downstairs, it's a hard statement to beat. But be warned; degustation is the next door neighbour of disgustation... from too much food! I've read that death rates rise during boom times from access to excess, and after this visit I can believe it!!

Our visit to the Libertine was certainly a splendid affair. Jane and I were catching up with friends for a birthday (hello Fiona!) and I was pleasantly surprised to be going to a fancy place I'd never heard of yet again. Our wires got a little crossed, and we arrived half an hour before everyone else but the staff plied us liberally with the complimentary bubbles (not brut, qu'elle damage) so by the time the rest of the party arrived we were brimming over. Fantastic.

The menu was set (with four or so choices a course, by four courses) and the champers ran as long as the hors d'oeuvres lasted: duck liver pate, a single tortellini with a crab (?) filling in a purree de bonne femme, a savoury puff pastry with creme fraiche, maybe more?

Roll on the entree. It's a set price four courser, so I guess we'd best gird our loins and lay on. From onion soups with baked tops, rustic terrines to artistic piles of fish and ornamental works, lovely. White wine anyone?

Who's going with me on the game bird for two? She would be a game bird taking on Lachy and I, but I'm always up for a threesome. Oh my, it is rich! A partridge you say? And where is the pear accompaniement? Just the rich sauce, baked beetroot, et al? How's the steak? More red wine???

Oh, my godfather, that's done it. No more. What? There's dessert, fixed price? What did I order. The fruit. Phew... ah, baked apple pastries with cream and pastry. Coffee? No, I urp...

Oh, it's the birthday girl's night of nights, and there's follow up birthday cake! I...I can't eat another mouthful.
Oh, go on monsieur, it is only wafer thin!
Fuck off. I've had enough. Jeez, I'm going to have to take a stroll around the traffic lights. It's cold out here - freezing - but at least I'm upright and gravity is pulling the food down.

Take my advice. Order food as you need it if you get the rather impressive pleasure of dining at the Libertine. "Viva le France! Pass the Mylanta!!" I rate it six and a half tentacles out of eight.. no seven! Check them out at:


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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Gingerboy Restaurant

27-29 Crossley Street
Melbourne 3000

Down the alleyway beside Pelligrini's - right next door to Becco (my favourite restaurant) -stands the Asian black laquered disco that is the restaurant Gingerboy.

I'd heard so much about it. "It's a smash, it's a tidal wave, it's the biggest thing on Broadway!" (or was that in the Producers?). Whatever, like Max Bialystock I found myself (inwardly) shouting at home after the meal "You lousy fruit, you've ruined me!".

My review may also be jaded by having gone immediately beforehand to the best bar I've been to in about two years (see Seamstress Review this blog). Still, Gingerboy was groovy (especially their font use, and web site) and specialises in "hawker style food" - South East Asian food with a twist.

The decor is based very much on the busy trattoria style. We were are crammed in together with the other customers (a full restaurant, alweays a good sign) and there was a definite buzz in the room. The walls and roof are decorated with black bamboo intersperesed with fairy ights and the decor is, as suggested above, an oppulent Asian disco. Meanwhile, the staff are trendy and friendly; the two "y" words you'd prefer in waiting staff (as opposed to filthy, bitchy or stuffy).

The food is delivered as a shared dish experience, and we started with a few entries and moved on to only a couple of mains. I made a point of ordering the much vaunted "Son In Law eggs" a whole egg cooked in coconut milk (or something), and served with chili jam. I understand it's their signature dish and we were encouraged to pop the whole eggs into our mouths to enjoy "the taste explosion". But, quel horreur! Our female companions baulked at this, and when the waiting staff saw that the yolks weren't runny, they ran (unsolicited) and fetched us complementary replacements and removed the charge from the bill. But still, after eating two hard boiled eggs in one meal, I was slightly over egged by the finish and could taste them at 3 o'clock in the morning.

The oysters were nice, but I wouldn't bother with double orders on them, and the salt and pepper chicken spare ribs were a definite winner. For mains we enjoyed the red duck curry and caramelised ox cheeks, attended by more of the chili jam.

An honest and groovy affair, we escaped drinking two bottles of wine and dinner for four for under $100 per head. Still, it left me little jaded and certainly groaning with food and rich food indigestion. I rate it six tentacles out of eight!

I'd highly recommend that you check out their website. It won last year's Age Good Food Guide restaurant website of the year, which was plainly created by the same studio that knocked up ezards website (I suspect the people behind Gingerboy are the same as those who are responsible for ezards as well, but this has a new theme). Anyway, the address is:


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Seamstress Bar and Restaurant

113 Lonsdale Street

On going out for dinner the other night with friends, they suggested we meet at a bar beforehand. Little did I realise that the experience would overshadow the main restaurant we were to later attend. Hip, upstairs, great decor and music and an extremely expensive/impressive cocktail bar, Seamstress is the perfect place to pop in for a vodka martini or two before dancing the night away.

I'm guessing that the building is an old sweatshop. There's a bar downstairs with that name (Sweatshop) and then the flights of stairs lead up past cotton reels/spools hanging from the walls. The ceiling of the upstairs cocktail lounge is decorated with hanging lengths of fabrics and those little Asian pyjama jackets hanging from coat hangers. The bar has a distinctly 1930's / art deco look. Suited bartenders taste the cocktails they mix from straw samplers one of whom had a convincing English accent.

I enjoyed a three olive martini (not on the cocktail menu) which I was disappointed to see was stirred with a glass rod (did he think it was gin?) - but was made with Russian grain based vodka and was simply delicious ($18). This I followed up with suggestions from their cocktail menu:

Quicksilver fizz ($15)
A gin, absinthe, lemon, passionfruit syrup and egg white number - a simple twist on the silver fizz

Followed by something the bar staff recommended made with rum and a foam egg white head featuring raspberry dots on top ($17).

Snacks included peanuts heated through with spices (delicious) and prawn crackers.

The music also left me mightily impressed. A mix of acid jazz, lounge, soul and funk. I even heard James Brown while there.

An alcoholics delight, I rate it seven wobbly tentacles out of eight!!

Visit them online at:

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