Duke of Wellington

Having had a recent facelift the Duke of Wellington is a rather clean cut pub at the top end of Flinders Street.

On a Friday evening despite appalling rain the place was packed, and I mean PACKED with suits. It’s a slightly older demographic but everyone seemed in good spirits, although you could hardly squeeze in. (The crowd had mostly thinned out by 11pm, so it’s not the place for a big one).

Whilst nursing drinks in hand we caught the tantalising aroma of hot chips (and in winter on a rainy dark evening? yes please!) drifting from… somewhere. It was the worst kind of tease as we couldn’t see anyone eating, but eventually we did get our hands on a bar menu and ordered hot chips and pork sliders.

The chips are served quaintly in a paper bag (though still on a plate) and this does indeed help to keep them crispy. I’d rank them among the better chips I’ve had, though a little on the salty side. The pulled pork sliders were quite tasty, although maybe a tad on the dry side (seems to be a common problem with the bread ratio in sliders), but it’s always awkward when there’s two of you and things get served in 3’s.

It’s a little haphazard as the waiters don’t give you a number, they just ask you roughly where you’re sitting and then walk around looking confused and trying to work out who to give the food too.

The pub also has quite a history, according to their website and menus.

http://dukeofwellington.com.au/

Hofbrauhaus

There are a number of words that I never thought I could possibly ever utter and among those is this phrase:

That was too much crackling.

Wow.

Yet a trip to Hofbrauhaus did make me speak this.. this blasphemy.

Hidden down Market Lane off Chinatown (isn’t that where anyone would expect to find a German restaurant?) just opposite the Flower Drum (which requires several posts of its own) is this German institution of (so I’ve heard) polka music, slap dancing and (as experienced) vast quantities of pork, sauerkraut and schnitzel.

When you order a meat platter for 2, you expect it to serve 2, but this monstrosity could have likely fed 4 if you didn’t eat to stuffed and wanted to save room for dessert. Admittedly, we did almost finish it, but it was a stretch. From memory we were treated to:

  • 2 Sausages (cheese kransky and weisswurst)
  • mashed potato
  • potato dumplings
  • bread dumplings
  • onion rings
  • an entire roasted pork shank
  • 2 schnitzels
  • sauerkraut
  • red cabbage
  • pork belly

I think that was ‘all’… When the waitress came out with the big silver tray and propped it on the stand in front of us I think my eyes nearly popped out of my head. “Platter for 2” ?!?

It was all delicious. I couldn’t stop. Fluffy melty bread dumplings with fresh apple sauce… crispy onion rings… pork, pork and more pork, and oh, so much crackling. The remarkable thing about a pork shank is the high crackling to meat ratio. Oh the gluttony! By the end of it I was sick and happy and disgusted and satiated all at the same time. And no, we didn’t have dessert.

(The waitresses in traditional dresses are also pretty cute, and the entire restaurant looks like a hunting lodge. Service was also friendly, helpful and efficient, and they quickly made space despite not having a booking.)

Highly recommended. Make sure you’re super hungry.

http://www.hofbrauhaus.com.au/

+39 Pizzeria

Yeah yeah, I know, everyone already knows how awesome this place is. The first time I went there I ordered a takeaway margherita and ate it out of the box while I was walking back to the office. And only got a little amazing tomato paste dripping onto my clothing… ok, I admit it, I’m a pig.

But this time… this time I sat, and savoured my food, and enjoyed myself. What did I order? This magnificent mutant.

Pizza + Calzone = Pizzone?

Pizza + Calzone = Pizzone?

That’s right, its a pizza which has had one side folded into a calzone. It’s custom made for those who look at a menu and think “God I want everything, how can I possibly decide?”. As a standard, there is ham and cheese – oh, so, so much cheese – inside the calzone side, and margherita on the pizza side.

Personally, ham is not my favourite deli meat, so I asked if they could amend the order to have salami instead of ham. They got a bit confused and put salami on the margherita side, and I still got the ham, which was ok. Importantly, I got oodles of melty mozzarella, ham, salami, tomato sauce…

now +39 has BY FAR the best pizza base tomato sauce I have EVER tasted. It’s got that fresh tomato flavour, subtle hints of basil, and a kind of sweetness that comes from quality fresh produce, not from adding excessive sugar. It’s the kind of sauce that when it runs down your fingers you lick it off and don’t care in the slightest if it gets on your face and people look at you kinda funny. The kind of sauce that makes you want to lick the plate, lick it off your clothes if you spill it, hell, maybe even off the table or other peoples plates and clothes. You can definitely get carried away (but hopefully you know better). It’s fresh, it’s simple, it’s probably a closely guarded secret, and it makes you feel happy and contented from top to toe.

The crust isn’t half bad either.

For dessert I had apple and rhubarb crumble with vanilla bean ice cream and toasted caramelized almonds scattered on the top like little crunchy pieces of sugar heaven… I was way too full but I didn’t care.

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http://plus39.com.au/

Hanoi Hannah

Welcome to LiveLoveLick. I apologise for the lack of photos on a food blog (which is practically blasphemy) however this was a spontaneous project and I’m back dating some of my first few posts in order to share some of the places I’ve been to recently. I promise to be better in the future.

This is one of my favorite haunts, although parking in the area can be a bit of a bitch. But a few unique and tasty cocktails, some vietnamese rice paper rolls, and a big delicious bowl of hot pho with friends can cure all ails.

Served with all the essentials – chilli, soy, a dark oysterlike sauce (yes, I should really know what it is but I don’t), mint, lemon, and my personal favourite, a big pile of fresh bean shoots. I love to chuck a pile on top of the pho and press them just under the surface of the broth with my spoon so they cook only slightly, but remain crispy. Yum.

Why do I not have a photo of a big delicious bowl of hot pho to accompany this post? Because I am clearly letting you down. However I do have a photo of a tasty cinnamon and mint infused cocktail that is served in what looked to me like a miniature version of a double handed vase.

I don't know but it's served in a tiny vase.

I don’t know but it’s served in a tiny vase.

You can’t really book here, but if you can’t get in early simply put your name down and leave your number and they’ll give you a call back when a table is free, meanwhile a few minutes walk will put you on chapel street with an abundance of drink serving establishments to entertain you while you wait. I favor Lucky Coq, as it’s the closest, but it can be hard to resist filling yourself up on pizza while you wait to be called to your pho, bro. But more on that another time.

http://www.hanoihannah.com.au/HH/

Charcoal Grill on the Hill, Kew

Wow. Well. What can I say about Charcoal Grill on the Hill that hasn’t already been said by someone else in some glowing review.

If you love steak – and I mean LOVE steak – this is one of two places (the other being Steer Bar and Grill) in Melbourne that I (so far) insist you MUST go to. It’s not cheap, but if it takes you a little while to save up to go here, you still won’t regret it.

This is an up market but minimalist restaurant. There is not fluff and decoration, it is all about the steak. The menu is short, and covers the essentials. When you order your steak (I had the scotch fillet) don’t be afraid to order at least one degree rarer than you usually get (e.g. rare if you normally get medium-rare). When you’re eating meat of this quality, all you’ll notice is the flavour and the melt-in-your-mouth magic of perfectly cooked steak.

While the steaks are served on a plain white plate, there is a minimalist salad and some fries brought out to the table to share. No, there isn’t a large variety of sides available, however if that’s what you are after there are plenty of other places you can go to, particularly the abundance of creative modern Australian restaurants.

Grill on the Hill is for when you want to focus all your attention on steak. That slightly charred, flavourful outside and the meltingly tender, juicy meat on the inside. The restaurant itself is quite intimate with a simple white and (reddish) color scheme, it’s quite small. Recommend for groups of 2 to 4 people.

The wine list is also astounding, and there are some great cheeses on the dessert menu here too. On both counts be prepared to spend a bit, but the staff are incredibly helpful and happy to discuss the (constantly changing) wine and cheese list, and make recommendations if need be.

If you are a regular, they will remember you and go out of their way to cater to your preferences.

http://grillonthehill.com.au/

Kanpai Japanese

Kanpai Japanese is one of those places I’ve walked past a dozen times and never really noticed, however a failed attempt to eat at Miss Chus (it was too busy and we were too hungry to wait) led us to wander in here.

Kanpai Japanese is something between a cafe and a restaurant, but what I can say is it was great value. Tempura vegetables were light and crispy, as was the batter on the Tonkatsu, and both had good flavour. Yakiniku Beef stir fry had a lovely rich sauce without being overbearing, and I’m sure we had something else but I can’t remember. With 2 bottles of sake and a glass of wine, and enough food for 4 people, it cost a little over $100.

The service was quick, friendly, and helpful.

http://www.kanpai.com.au/

Nama Nama

Welcome to LiveLoveLick. I apologise for the lack of photos on a food blog (which is practically blasphemy) however this was a spontaneous project and I’m back dating some of my first few posts in order to share some of the places I’ve been to recently. I promise to be better in the future.

At the top end of Melbourne in the Suits district there is an unremarkable looking restaurant/cafe on Spring Street called Nama Nama.

At lunch times they offer a gourmet bento box from 11:30am to 4:00pm, for $18. The box has 5 compartments (you can also join the bento club if you want to take away a reusable, environmentally friendly container, they ask that you return the box within 24 hours) and there is a selection of dishes to choose from each day for each compartment.

Choices include salads, meat dishes, usually some kind of rice or noodle dish, and other sides. The range includes some interesting but decidedly tasty things you aren’t likely to find in the every day bento offering; on the day I went I chose edamame, soba noodles, and a marinated pork dish… you know what, I’m really sorry but this was nearly 2 months ago and I can’t remember, all I can tell you was it was delicious.

The price is at the higher end for a lunch box (in my opinion anyway – I struggle to accept buying lunch in the same price range as dinner) but it’s a nice treat for once in a while, if you want something different, tasty, and not too heavy – although I wouldn’t recommend going here if you’re super hungry, I certainly could have eaten more.

The fact that I can’t remember everything I had to tell you about it only¬† means one thing: I’ll have to go back again and document it properly. You might hear that a few times from these first few reviews.

http://www.namanama.com.au/