Friday, 5 June 2015

Ciccio's Pizza Kitchen | Reservoir

If you've read my previous blogs, you know we love the delectible yummies from D.O.C. and Noi Pizzeria - their pizzas are made & eaten like there's no tomorrow! So I know you won't believe me when I say they have a serious  contender to look out Reservoir! Yes, of all places, a lonely awkward shaped building braving a corner of one of the many dingy, forgotten and quiet stretches of Plenty Road, Reservoir!! So without further ado, let me introduce you to Ciccio's Pizza Kitchen!

Let's be real here: the location, meh!  The restaurant decor & fit-out, double-meh! As a matter of fact, we could forget the insane 'snugness' of the front dining room if we didn't have to sit in the most horrendous chairs ever! But my ass was quickly forgotten the moment the pizzas hit the table, the pizzas....O.M.G. the pizzas.

Let's dive right in.  Hubby got the Capricciosa ($16.50), but without anchovies and added salami. I had the Buffalo Margherita ($18.50).  Verdict: Absolutely freaking insanely delicious.  The dough kicked serious #!@$^%*(! Never ever have we had pizza dough that good! I'm so sorry to our dearly beloved life-long faves, D.O.C. and Noi - not even the pizza world champ at 400 Gradi could touch this man's dough! Sidenote: yes, I have eaten the 'world winning pizza' from 400 Gradi and it was amazing...until now.

Capricciosa without anchovies and added salami

Apparently, the chef rests his dough "the Italian way" where it rises for at least 72 - 96 hours before it's shaped into my dinner. Well, I don't know (or care, really) if that process was what made the true difference here, but whatever it was - he needs to keep doing it! The ingredients were fresh and flavoursome, and the pizza dough was (clearly) brilliant. Yes, dough that's worth driving out of you way for - light, tasty, and crunchy in just the right places!

Buffalo Margherita
Customer service just covered the basics, smiling and friendly with a healthy dose of broken English! ;)

So, if you give it a try and you don't live nearby, I recommend you eat it there - despite the shiiiiite-ness of the seating, I just can't see that dough lasting a long journey in its true delicious state.

Oh, dear Santa. Please bring Ciccio's an interior designer who can make the place just as comfortable to sit in as the pizzas are easy to eat! Please!

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

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Farm Burger | Decatur, GA USA

Devoid of true local knowledge, a travelling foodie must seek out the suggestions of the locals when away from their safe haven (AKA Melbourne, Australia).  And you must trust them and give their recommendations a shot. Hence how we ended up in Farm Burger, Decatur Georgia.

When we arrived, it had all the appearance of greatness, but it quickly wafted away like mist in a dream. But before I get to the nightmare, I have to give it to these guys though, the place was packed, it looked cool - like pappa southern bar and mama burger joint got jiggy with each other and popped out bubby Farm burger. Plus the orders were rolling in, ding-a-linging left-right-and-center.

We were excited when we finally got to the counter, hubby bear ordered The Farm Burger (USD$8). When it arrived, it looked so good, and it tasted good. But just good - definitely not the amazing burger he was expecting, especially given we were in the Homeland of Fast Food & Hamburgers: America. Verdict? Given the price, he was happy.

Farm Burger on the left, Veggie burger on the right.
Taste? Left the building ages ago.
I got the The Veggie Quinoa Burger with fries and a drink (USD$10 combo price) and was thrilled at how good it looked! I was thinking, "Oh my goodness, this is going to be the most  amazing burger experience ever! I'm gonna just die and go to veg burger heaven..." But alas, I took that first bite and I'm quite sure I shed a tear of sadness. Then a second, then a third, and my hopes and dreams were smashed.  My burger literally tasted like nothing.  HOW CAN THAT HAPPEN? How can you get caramelized onions to taste of nothing? Why is it all I could taste was the bun and a slight hint of marinated beets? Oh! For shame Farm Burger for removing my burger's flavour before I got to taste itMy verdict? Not having that again! I'd rather have a bowl of cereal then be let down like that again!

Buuuuuut, maybe I just got a bad batch? Or perhaps our taste buds weren't adjusted to our new foreign surroundings? Or maybe the burgers here are all about the look and not the taste? Oh, who knows!!! All I can say is that this place looks the deal, it just didn't taste it!

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

Friday, 17 April 2015

Chew Burgers | Preston

Whenever hubby's got a hankering to search out and try a new burger place, I never get excited. Why? Because most burger joints forget that vegetarians have taste buds too, and that not all vegetarians want a mushroom burger. 

Burger Traditionalists, I know you don't feel my pain and I get that. A burger is traditionally meat.  But, we live not in a traditional world anymore! And trust you me, I'm tired of having a dried-out mutated veg patty in every veg burger I get dished up - it's gettin' really old!!  Let me share the pain now, you beef patty lovers: It would be like you getting dished up the same insipid, pre-manufactured frozen patty over and over again regardless of where you went...wouldn't you sing out.... What about me? It isn't fair...I've had enough, now I want my share...!!!! :) ha! Yeah, me too!

Thank you kindly, oh great Burger Gods, for plonking Chew Burgers down onto, uh, Plenty Road Preston? Okay, whatever. Who am I to judge the location?! Thank you for creating a place that will at least try to make a veg burger a bit different!

So a little back story, on hubby's first visit, he tried the The Chew ($12), 190 grams of juicy wagyu, lettuce, tomato, amazing tomato sauce, pickle, mustard, aioli and cheddar.  It was so good he wanted another one, but propriety held him back, but not for long!

So, on this visit, his grumbling tummy provoked him into The Plenty ($16), and boy, he was beside himself when it arrived on the table.  Yup, Plenty it was with two fat 190g wagyu patties, bacon, pepper cheddar, lettuce, tomato, mustard onions. My heart went out to him though, watching him struggle to eat it; it seemed a great effort, and the battle to consume it was starting to outweigh its yumminess.  The verdict?  It was good, but The Chew was so much better in terms of ease of eating (something a friend of ours calls "Eatability"), and it was overall more tasty because the flavours were less overwhelming than The Plenty.

L-R:  Vego, Onion Rings, The Plenty

What about me (heh, heh), the veg? Appropriately named, I tried The Vego ($13) which was cute with its little pumpkin seeds, looking a fair bit weaker than hubby's monster. The Vego was stuffed with a black bean and quinoa patty, lettuce, cilantro, guacamole and salsa. How was it? I'll have to say, it was one of the better veg burgers I've eaten out, and I'll give them big props for making a black bean patty and not the other anomalous mushed-veg disc I usually get from other places. Verdict: nearly perfect, if they were more generous with the guac and salsa - I would've been smitten.  I suppose I could always ask to go heavy with the Mex condiments next time, eh?

Oh yeah! And we got a side of Onion rings ($6.50) that were sprinkled with smokey paprika and came with a spicy dipping sauce - they were awesome! Not a lot in the bowl though, so if you're gonna share, don't be shy, get your eat-on fast! Small but worth ordering for sure!!

The fit-out? Classic Melbourne urban   minimalist, slightly industrial cool - nothing exciting, but nothing you wouldn't mind being spotted in. That's if you can spot it yourself!

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

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

Bright Brewery | Bright

It's nearly impossible to properly rate a brewery midweek at 2pm with only a pot of beer and a bowl of chips. But I will try my friend, I will try. Why such a small order at such a strange time? Because we had a limited number of days in Bright, therefore a limited number of meals to account for - and this was the best we could do to fit the Bright Brewery into our trip!

French Fries
There was a particularly glowing review on Urbanspoon of the French Fries ($9/bowl). So we ordered them and hubby got a pot of the Bright Lager ($4.50/pot).

The very generous bowl of fries were "dusted with malt salt" and came with a chili mayo. Yes, the fries were good, but in all honesty, they weren't anything I'd go out of my way for to try again. Perhaps we should have consumed more beer first, then these chips would've tasted superior to all others? Who knows!

Findings of the pot of lager: "Okay, nothing special" as well.

The actual brewery itself was nice: next to the river, spacious indoor/outdoor areas, high ceilings and lots of seating - seemed like it would be an energetic place if a band was playing and the joint full of people - but neither of those possibilities were forthcoming at the close of lunch time on a Wednesday.

Overall our experience was okay. Yes, we'd go back and try them again, but based on what we ate and drank - we're not in any super hurry to do so.

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

Bright Brewery on Urbanspoon

Bridge Road Brewers | Beechworth

Whenever we visit Bright, we always find the time to squeeze in a little love for Beechworth; especially when a visit to Bridge Road Brewers is on the To-Do list! :-)

We didn't eat anything, but hey - it's a brewery! There was beer to be had! But alas, we didn't have a lot of time in Beechworth this visit, as we were headed back to Bright in a couple of hours, so hubby got the Beer Paddle ($15.80) of eight to quickly test drive the brewery's wares.

Can either of us remember what those eight beers were?
No, but we have put our two furry heads together and think this is what hubby had:
8 x Beer Paddle

Bridge Road Golden Ale
Beechworth Pale Ale
Bling - India Pale Ale
Celtic Red Ale
Plus 3 other darker brews....of which, we cannot remember their names. But that's probably because hubby doesn't fancy dark ales ;)  Suffice to say the pale and lighter beers were among the favourites.

All in all, Bridge Road Brewers is a quirky little spot, tucked away off the main street of Beechworth - with a good atmosphere and lots of ale to drink - a definite must-visit if you're head to that part of the world!

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

Bridge Road Brewers on Urbanspoon

Coral Lee | Bright

Did I ever mention that my hubby is a keen investigator when we go on holidays? He loves to search out interesting things to do and more particularly, places to eat!

I think that's one-part because I'm vegetarian and he wants to ensure I can get a good meal no matter where we go; while the second-part is hereditary - his father isn't known as "Scoop" for nothing! ha!

Anyway, on this particular morning of our holidays, I noted a scribble called Coral Lee on hubby's checklist of places to eat in Bright. Coral Lee, sounds interesting... jewelry store? Aquarium? What is it?

Upon further inquiry, he advised me that this 'Coral Lee' was a funky little breakfast spot that's getting rave reviews on Urbanspoon. And they have really nice vegetarian options to boot.  Hoorah! Off to Coral Lee we go!

When we entered, we noticed big chunky wooden tables, mix-matched china, plastic sugar bowls from the 60s or 70s, weathered books books from the same era, pretty little flowers pushed into small milk bottles - it all added up to cute, quirky and fun.

We sat down and promptly ordered two flat white coffees, which were creamy and delicious - what a way to start a morning on holidays! We put our orders in and proceed to smile at each other as we listened to one of the lovely ladies from the kitchen (the proprietor, I suppose?) singing out and laughing while cooking our breakfast!
Flat white
Big Bear was totally roped int by the Herb Omelette ($16), which was smothered in bacon jam, then topped with a rocket salad, with a couple of pieces of toast sitting offside. He said the omelette itself didn't have much flavour, but attributed that to the fact you're meant to eat it with a bite-full of the bacon jam to boost it up, and rocket to add some crunch.  The plate was wiped (licked) clean, so all good in the Big-B hood!

Herb Omelette
My little breakfast bundle was delicious!  I got the Pesto Toast ($16), which comprised of two poached eggs snuggled in between a thick slice of toast and a mountain of beetroot - and a sprinkling of feta. Yes, yes, I think there was a teeny-weeny bit too much beetroot for the average person; but thankfully, I love beetroot so it was fine for my taste. The tangy pesto, the crunch of the toast, the warm eggs, the saltiness of the feta and sweetness of the beetroot - a great combination! Oh yum. I'd like some now thanks!

Pesto Toast
When you add comfy & funky decor, a good coffee, yummy food, and an upvibe atmosphere - you can only conclude one thing: a desire to return again!

Thumbs up Coral Lee, we'll be back when we're next in Bright!

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

Coral Lee on Urbanspoon