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)

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


The National Gallery of Victoria
+61 3 8620 2434

This article is about going out for something to eat when you’re at the NGVi… you know, the international one, which is the old one on St Kilda Rd? Grey cinder blocks with the big arch window? The window with the waterfall on it that you used to stick your tongue on when you used to go there for excursions as a kid?

Look, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, move along, I don’t want to know you anymore. Oh go on, come back then, there’s hope for you yet. At least you’re keen!

Jane and I went there relatively recently for the Vienna exhibition. It’s pretty good, BTW (that means “by the way” – I’m one of these hipsters*). You should go while it’s still on:


But it is loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong (the exhibition, that is). You’ll probably find when you’re half way through the tour that you need to go and get something to eat. But I had absolutely no desire to go to one of the obvious caf type nosheries on show around the gallery.

Never one to shirk talking to complete strangers, I asked one of the security guards where the best place was to go for a meal. Who better to ask than “the man on the ground” (though you’d think he could at least have sat on a seat as a matter of decorum).

‘What kind of lunch are you looking for? A sandwich?’ he asked, blinking up at me from the floor through milk bottle glasses.

I used to drive trucks for Peter Rowland catering, so can tell you a thing or two about their chicken sandwiches, but they just didn't seem to fit the bill.

‘Nah. Something with a couple of courses, sit down, with a glass of wine.’
He nodded affirmatively, cracking his head lightly on the cement floor. ‘In that case go to Persimmon. You can walk to it through the sculpture garden.’

Great advice!

The day was sunny, the garden looking tip-top with bits of sculpture (hence the name), and we walked in to be seated by a waitress in a corner in the sun looking out at the Concert Hall. Our waitress was studying opera and was extremely theatrical, so I felt right in my element.

The clientele, much like the gallery as a whole, is predominantly female and well turned out. Jane suggested that going to the NGV is a great place to research what you might like to look like in your autumn years and pick up a few fashion tips. Well, if the men are anything to go by, it’s either a biliously large gay theatrical producer with a comb over, or a skinny Asian guy in a tight t-shirt for me.

The food was great! They had a bunch of themed dishes to go with the exhibition, so you could tuck into schweinfleisch and knock it back with a chilled glass of Osterreich riesling. Ist gut, ja?

We got steered toward the lunch special by our charming waitress, two courses with a glass of Saloman Gruner Veltiner each for $40. We shared the chacuterie of Austrian cured meats which I followed up with the fish – I think it was Rainbow Trout with mash – while Jane enjoyed the Otway pork chop. Can I just say, what an absolute surprise the quality of the food was, and ultimately not bad value for money.

So next time that you’re feeling arty,
Spoil all your senses and add a food party
(thank goodness I didn’t have to resort to using the rhyme farty).

“So, what will be tentacle score?” I hear you ask with baited breath (you do know it’s supposed to be bated breath, don’t you?... and please remove those worms from your tongue – you’re putting me right off). I’m going to give it six and a half tentacles for the restaurant, view and service, with an extra half a tentacle because it’s located in a top cultural institution. Seven tentacles!

(*No you're not - Ed)