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.

Want to know more about me? Friend me on facebook, follow me on twitter, or even look up my New Yorker cartoons on instagram! NB; different platforms not all food related)

A big thank you, as always, to my sponsors at Blue Vapours (use them for all your design and advertising needs - we are waiting for your call!).

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

Monday, March 21, 2011

No 35.

Inside Sofitel Hotel
35th Floor, 25 Collins St Melbourne
Over Collins Place

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me! So we'll all go out and indulge in gluttony.

Momo? Tuesday after the long weekend, closed! Rockpool? You want too big a table! And then my thoughts turned to the first "fancy" restaurant I ever went to.

Formerly the Wentworth Hotel (I'm sticking to this name, Ange, even if it's not true) I was dazzled as an eight year old... more of that later. Internet surfing revealed their new restaurant is called No. 35, to match the floor number, and has a hat from the Age Good Food Guide. A couple of "bonjours" and deposit of $20 a head later (!!!) I was able to secure our seats.

What is it about eating, drinking and going to the toilet so many metres over everybody's heads that makes it instantly a special occassion?

So first, my childhood recollections. An open kitchen, flames of brandy burning, visions of the Towering Inferno, me looking for the most expensive thing on the menu, ordering lobster thermador and then being told I was having the chicken. Going for a wee (the absolute highlight) with floor to ceiling glass over people's heads! And the coup de grace? My Dad (bless him), complaining about the bill. "A hundred dollars for dinner for six? I've never paid a hundred dollars for a meal in my life!"

Well, how things have changed... and curiously stayed the same.

I mean the view is spectacular. Just look at it! Though somehow, the toilets weren't the same. Through the lobby of a huge atrium... which smelt like a hotel (you know that chloriney smell? How do they do that - I felt like I was in Asia). The tüt had shrunk, and I could see the MCG. Had it swapped sides, or was I bigger and the landmarks now recognisable?

The food was excellent. My gosh it was good. Five types of oysters to choose from. Roast peppers, heirloom tomatoes, dehydrated olive and frozen goat's curd (Jane didn't trust it all as the lighting was a bit low). Other guests were in raptures about the roast pork belly with scallop. Mains? I had the barramundi, keeping to a pescatorian theme, Jane had the lamb (same problem! Couldn't see it well enough so refused to eat it like a frightened horse at a jump - she'd be hopeless at the blind restaurant scenario). Dessert? Yes please! A triumph, high art! I had the brunt orange with pistachio ice cream washed down with black coffee and a Grand Marnier. Lovely.

But? I can feel a but coming on Christopher, and you're not even sitting on me. Well, the service was a bit weird. Strange northern Europeans, gaunt and humourless, like going to a performance of Waiting for Godot. We had a dose of the cheerful Canadian maitre d, a somnalier, bearded and entertaining. But the rest? Meh. Plus, I had the $160 deposit constantly ticking in the back of my mind.

So, in conclusion? View? Eight tentacles - full marks! Food? Seven and a half tentacles out of eight. Service; six tentacles. The deposit? Zero tentacles. My recommendation? Go without a booking for lunch or early supper and watch the sun sink in the west and the lights come out to play. Six tentacles.

ADDENDUM: Text altered after reassurances the deposit was accounted for in the bill.