Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Bastoni Pizzeria | Myrtleford

Bastoni Pizzeria
Looking at our dwindling options for eating a decent meal in Bright on a Wednesday night in June, we were scared of making another bad choice. After being maligned by Indian Tandoori the night before, we nearly froze at the decision of where to eat this particular night; we only had two nights left on our holidays and were desperate to not get rolled again.

Don't get me wrong here, Bright is usually an amazing little foodie town (haven); but if you go in June, it morphs from abundant delectable options to only a handful. Why? Well, it seems most Bright restaurant owners take a week or two off that month. You've been warned now. If you love food, don't go in June!

So what's there to eat on a Wednesday night in Bright? Not much.

We ended up searching Urbanspoon and saw the "Flying Dutchman" left a good review of Bastoni Pizzeria in Myrtleford. Myrtleford? Okay, that's only 20-minutes away! Sweet! Sold! It's off to Myrtleford we go!

The lonely road into Myrtleford was dark. Not only dark, but pitch black dark, lightened only by thick white fog. Bastoni stuck out like headlights, like high beams actually, as we drove down the main street of Myrtleford. As we parked, we stretched our necks to see that the place was aglow as a result of the bright interior lights escaping their big expanse of bare windows. As we approached the restaurant, we could see beyond all the symptoms of a newly established eatery - perfectly clean everything, zero clutter, bare walls - to find a single large wood fire oven blazing in the back left corner, stacks of wood neatly placed in shelves next to it, and two pizza chefs busying themselves at the counter.

As we walked in, a lovely American lady appeared and zipped out from behind the counter to greet us with a smile.  So, where character lacked from all the newness of the joint, it was quickly made up with by the great hospitality and enjoyable personalities of this sweet husband-wife partnership. Once my American accent was picked up on, we quickly exchanged Australia-America stories, giggled and laughed at the wonderful differences between the two countries...then hubby and I looked down to the menus for the serious part of the evening.


Rocket Salad

We shared a Rocket Insalata ($11) which was abundant with rocket leaves bursting out from underneath a pile of shaved parmesan, prosciutto, and balsamic vinaigrette. (Side note: hubby got all the prosciutto immediately since I'm a vegetarian.).  The salad on its own was very nice, but it tasted particularly yummers when you got a mouthful of it with the Margherita Bufalina ($20) pizza.

Margherita Pizza

The Margherita was smothered in San Marzano tomato, and oozed with buffalo mozzarella and parmesan, then topped with basil and a drizzle extra virgin olive oil.  Well, okay, it was a bit skimpy on the basil side, would have been nice to have a few extra fresh basil leaves tossed on top for good measure. But nonetheless, it was a good, solid basic pizza which became particularly tasty once married with the salad! PS. The crust was as good as any decent pizzeria we've been to in Melbourne!

But the star of the show was the Patata Bianca ($17) pizza. A white pizza layered with fior di latte, slices of roasted potato, pockets of melted gorgonzola and mascarpone, then scatterings of sweetly carmelized onions. Delicious - nothing additional needed, perfect just as it was! Two thumbs up on this one!!

Patata Bianca Pizza

Add to the yummy hand made, wood fired pizzas, the passion, personality and charm of its owners and you get perfection!  And we trust that over time, the 'new car' feeling of the restaurant will wear off, and it will develop just as wonderful personality as its owners :-)

Myrtleford just picked up its game in the food department thanks to Bastoni! Bright, watch out!

Flavour:  ★★
Quality:   ★★
Service:  ★★
Value:    ★★
Atmosphere: ★★

Bastoni Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Indian Tandoori | Bright

Indian Tandoori
It is a sad, sad day when we come across an Indian restaurant we really don't like. To make the matter worse, we stumbled upon this anomaly when we were on holiday in Bright; so happy holiday smiles were quickly turned upside-down :(

Dear Indian Tandoori, why did you do it?

Why did our "Traditional Indian Cuisine" hit the table in less than 10 minutes from when we ordered?  Why did the Alu Mutter ($14.95) and Navaratan Korma ($15.95) taste exactly the same, when one's meant to taste of potato, peas, tomato and fenugreek (a very distinct and pronounced herb) while the other was supposed to be seasonal vegetables in a creamy nutty sauce? And why was that taste a little odd?

Oh, Indian Tandoori....why did all the vegetables in both curries go to mush the moment they were touched? And how come the potatoes were the same colour all the way in the inside as they were on the outside? How come no vegetable flavour could be discerned while actually eating the vegetable? Lastly, although edible, why did the Garlic Naans ($3.95/serve) have blue speckles on them?

Bowl of mush masquerading as Alu Mutter
Your hostess was nice enough, and we would have voiced some concerns to her, if we knew where she was for most of the evening. Since no answers were forthcoming, as we stared at each other in disbelief of what we were trying to eat, we could only surmise...

Garlic Naan with mysterious blue specks
(not sure you can see them, but they're there!)
Based on the void of flavour, poor visuals and texture of the food - that you, Indian Tandoori, must have cooked our food a couple of weeks prior to us ever coming to Bright. And that it was defrosted in the microwave, then tossed around in the pan for sound effects, before being presented to us at the table.

This was supposed to be Navaratan Korma
By the time we got up to leave and pay the bill, we were in shell-shock and quite speechless.

We're so sorry, we wanted to love you. But we just can't recommend you to anyone.  I really hope you pick up your game; actually, you're not even in the game, so let me re-phrase: I really hope you start playing the game and cook your food fresh for your customers. They deserve that at the very least.

Atmosphere: ★★☆☆

Indian Tandoori on Urbanspoon

Food Wine Friends | Bright

For many months, Food Wine Friends was written down on our list of "try for breakfast or lunch" while in Bright (Victoria). While holidaying in the adorable little down, and on a particularly gorgeous & sunny afternoon, we decided to trek into the a cafe-wine-bar-hangout for a light lunch.

A quick glance around showed a quirky "put a bunch of mismatched stuff together" sort of setting. And although we could see a dozen or so bottles of wine hanging on the wall, it just didn't feel like a wine bar. And I don't mean that in a bad way, because the surroundings were quite comfortable, but in our opinion - it's more a place to go for a coffee than a wine. Enough about that though, we weren't going to have a glass or bottle anyway, let's talk lunch!

Winter Mushroom Soup
On the path to our table, Hubby Bear saw another patron eating the special Winter Soup. With the lure of abundant mushrooms calling his name, he ended up ordering one for himself. It's not enough to say he enjoyed the soup, he loved this soup!! For such a humble looking bowl of liquid and mushroom, it was completely packed with flavour.  High-fives FWF!

Autumn Salad

I ordered the Autumn Salad ($12.50), which was brilliant! Fried haloumi, sliced avocado, cranberries, fennel and cashew dukkah sprinkled on top. Delicious! Ate every single bit of it with a smile on my face! Even took a photo of the menu so I could replicate it at home - thanking you FWF!

Service was upbeat and prompt, food was fantastic, will definitely go again the next time we're in Bright!

Flavour:  ★★
Quality:   ★★
Service:  ★★
Value:    ★★
Atmosphere: ★★☆☆

Food Wine Friends on Urbanspoon

Monday, 16 June 2014

Thirteen Steps | Bright

On a dark cold night, we were drawn to the glow of a red light perched atop a thick, heavy wooden door. We trekked down thirteen steps into a cozy basement, fitted out with comfy booths, wine bottles, candles and two vinyl record players in the far corner. Both the atmosphere and staff were warm and welcoming - like you had come home for dinner, as opposed to out for it.

Behind the wooden door under the red light...
Firstly, I'd like to thank Bright. Thank you soooo much for being so beautiful that you lured Roy Merrington and David Danks to your small town boundaries to settle in for a while. And next, thank you Thirteen Steps for creating a tight little wine bar that had us both smiling from ear to ear from the moment we sat down to the moment we shook hands to say our goodbyes. Okay, onto that tight little menu, too.

Haloumi Salad
We started off by ordering a bottle of Feathertop Pinot Gris ($43/bottle); which was a nice local wine produced at Boynton's Winery (which you pass on your way into Bright).  After an appropriately chilled-out amount of time passed for us to get warm and comfy, our entrees arrived.  I had the Haloumi Salad ($16) which was divine. Thinly seared haloumi sat atop soused onion, baby carrots, green beans, and walnuts, all tarted up with a lovely pomegranate dressing.  I must have this salad again (and trust me, I did! You'll read that later down the page).

Tea Smoked Salmon
Hubby Bear could not resist the temptation to try the Smoked Salmon ($27). Hot tea smoked salmon was settled atop cauliflower puree, crunchy green apple, tomato vinaigrette. The smoked flavour permeated through the cauliflower and the crunch of the apple was a great contrast to the softer elements.  A definite thumbs up!

Scotch Fillet
Our empty plates were courteously swept away, our glasses topped up, and we then sat back to relax to the blues and jazz tunes alternatively spinning out of those beautiful 12-inch vinyl records. We were quite contented by the time our mains arrived...

Hubby had the Scotch Fillet ($34), grilled to medium perfection, the grass fed scotch fillet was topped with a light cafe' de Paris sauce and complimented with a gorgeous green cabbage & parmesan salad. Gorgeous I say because I was commanded to try it myself, and gorgeous it was.  What a clever way to get a fresh, light & tasty crunch (the parmesan throughout it was delicious!) to a dish that can oftentimes be overly heavy because everyone always serves it with some form of potato. Bravo on this guys, two thumbs up!

Zucchini Fritters
There actually isn't a vegetarian main on the menu (wink, nod, nudge to Roy and David...) so I had the Zucchini Fritters ($16.50) come out as my main. I was surprised when the plate was slid in front of me because they looked like Indian spinach pakoras! Despite their undercover appearance, they were moist, tasty and nicely accented with spiced yoghurt and cucumber feta.  They were definitely more of an entree to share than a dish to have all to yourself. Having four of these suckers was a bit overwhelming, but I ate them. Happily.

Beer Battered Chips
Because Hubby Bear was a little afraid I wouldn't get enough sustenance with only two entrees for my dinner, we ordered one of the generous sides: Beer Battered Chips ($9.50) which were yummy - cooked just right! We then finished our meal with a suggestion from our accommodating server Kieran, the Creme Caramel ($18) that was a naughty little cup of cream, sweet jellies, and a whole lotta caramel. Ahhhh.....

Creme Caramel
Yes, we loved all the elements of Thirteen Steps so much (it was that Holy Trio of Foodie Heaven I've mentioned before in my other blogs - great atmosphere, food and hosts) that we went back a second night a few days later! For the sake of brevity, I'll just quickly re-cap the dishes from the second night:

Wifey Bear - Glass of Benjella Shiraz ($12.50/glass) - full and beautiful. Entree of Baby Beatroot Salad ($19) that sat atop goat's curd, with playful twists fennel, and surprise olive & caramelised walnuts throughout. Delicious. Main was a double-serve of the Haloumi Salad.

Hubby Bear - Glass of Quattro ($14/glass), so good he had a second. He had the Haloumi Salad as his entree, then couldn't skip the Scotch Fillet again, but this time with the harissa sauce.

We loved the Beer Battered Chips so much the first night we got them again.Then finished off the evening with the Donuts with Hot Chocolate Sauce ($13) which were light & cinnamon-y and well balanced with dark chocolate sauce.

Donuts with Hot Chocolate Sauce
Oh! Thirthreen Steps, why aren't you in Melbourne? Oh yeah, that's right. Because you're in beautiful Bright. Stay put, we'll be back. Thanks for two yummy & fun nights Roy, David, Kieran, Ezra and Tilly.  Until next time, cheers!

Flavour:  ★★
Quality:   ★★
Service:  ★★
Value:    ★★
Atmosphere: ★★

Thirteen Steps on Urbanspoon

Cafe Fez | Myrtleford

On the main street that takes you through Myrtleford to Bright (our destination), sits the enormously large Turkish-Lebanese-Asian warehouse (think that part of the business is called Red Ramia) of stuff and Cafe Fez. We had a wander around the large space looking at jacket, pictures, shoes, cups, plates, doors, flying carpets (hee hee! just kidding - couldn't help myself!) then casually made our way into the cafe for lunch before continuing the last little leg of our journey to Bright....

Cafe Fez lighting
Hubby Bear got the Traditional Lebanese Wrap - Falafel ($10) which was delicious and a bargain for a ten-er! The falafels were actually huge and moist!!! Yes, were were both surprised because those are two characteristics often lacking whenever either one of us orders a falafel dish. There was plenty of tzatziki, hommus and tabouli slapped in there, too! The portion size was perfect (big) and HB highly recommends you try one if you're ever on your way through Myrtleford!

Lebanese Falafel Wrap
I got the Winter Soup Special (about $12, can't exactly remember), which consisted of lentils, chickpeas and a few cut veggies. The flavour was pretty good, but nothing special...and after I took a bite of hubby's wrap, it made me even more sad because the falafels in his wrap were delicious! and my soup was lacking deliciousness!. BUT, a soup is always a good option when it's cold outside. :)

Winter Soup Special
We also tried their Froo-Froo Fruit Dinks ($4/ea): Passionfruit & Lemongrass as well as the Granny Smith & Ginger.  They were okay and not quite what we expected (not that we actually knew what to expect). They sounded a lot better than what came out - the advertisement for them made us think they'd be more like a fruit juice with added bubbles, but it seemed more like the other way around. But, we drank them though, albeit without much notice.

Froo-Froo Drinks
All in all though, Cafe Fez is a definitely a fun place to stop and waste some time (in Red Ramia) meandering through colourful and exotic items. And if your tummy's grumbling - go the wrap!!

Flavour:  ★★★
Quality:   ★★★
Value:    ★★

Cafe Fez on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Cafe de Beaumarchais | Sassafras

I have no idea how to pronounce the last part of Cafe de Beaumarchais's name, but it's sure fun trying while sitting over two lovely coffees and one of the best apple cakes we've ever had: Bo-mar-chase. Bo-march-ayys. Bo-mark-ay.

Perched on the upper end of Sassafras, this lil French cafe has lots of character with its black walls, antique-looking plates & cups, chandeliers, and big portraits of movie stars. But it takes more than character to attract a buzzing atmosphere; so the edible stuff must be pretty good too, right? Yup.

Firstly, nearly every person was hovering over their own cup of coffee, including us. Two flat whites which held their strength, went perfectly with the apple cake we shared. Moist cake, big pieces of cooked apple, crunchy walnut pieces, and cinnamon all came together for just right sweetness, uber-tasty but not too sweet.

Two Flat Whites & Apple Cake

Sassafras is a fun little town to visit, whether you're from Victoria or not. So if you find yourself in the vicinity, grab a coffee and cake at Caf-fay-day-Bo-mar-chase! haha!

Flavour:  ★★★ ✔
Quality:   ★★★ ✔
Value:    ★★
Atmosphere:  ✔

Cafe de Beaumarchais on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Paladarr Thai | Alphington

Aside from the fact the wine corkage jumped from $9.50 to $12.50 since our first 2014 visit to Paladarr Thai in January, our last 2 visits there (both in June 2014) have been brilliant! You can read about our January dining experience at Paladarr here :)

On this visit, we were lured out on a very cold, rainy, wintry Melbourne night with an email from the restaurant offering 40% off the meal if we dined that evening.  Since you're reading this blog, it's obvious what happened ;P

I started off with the Salad of Cashews & Macadamia Nuts ($15), which was full of crunchiness from the nuts, cucumber, ginger, and pineapple - a slivers of red chillis for good measure - all tossed in a sweet & salty light sauce. Yum-bo. The only drawback to this salad is that it gets pretty salty when you're licking the bottom of the bowl trying to get all the little scragglers that run away from your cutlery....

Salad of Cashews & Macadamia Nuts

Hubby bear began his meal with the Salad of Finely Sliced Beef ($15), which was tossed in a zesty Issan marinade, chopped up spring onions, red onions, mint and coriander. Just as delicious as last time...

Salad of Finely Sliced Beef
Now, I can't quite remember with Hubby Bear ordered for his main, and I think that's because it may have been one of the specials, and given I don't know what it was, I don't know what the price was either! ha! From this photo, looks like he got scallops and fish pieces with a drizzle of curry-style sauce over top. He ate it all, so I think that's a good sign it was yummy!

Scallop & Fish Special

Because there aren't a whole lot of vegetarian options to choose from, I went with the Tumeric Curry ($29) again. And although that might sound bad at first, it's an absolutely gorgeous curry to get stuck with! ha! The yellow curry is full of broccoli, zucchini, green beans, tofu, sweet potato and pumpkin. Love it each time I get it and it's officially my favourite Thai curry now!

Vegetarian Tumeric Curry
Of course, we had Jasmine Rice ($3pp) and 2 serves of Roti Bread ($5 per serve) to accompany our mains: the perfect partners for mixing, dipping, and inhaling this sort of food with! 

Jasmine Rice & Roti Bread (2 serves)

All in all, Paladarr ticks nearly all boxes for us; and we're looking forward to heading there again...soon!!

Flavour:  ★★★ ✔
Quality:   ★★★ ✔
Service:   ✔
Value:    ★★

Paladarr Thai on Urbanspoon