Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Attica (Tuesday Night Chef's Table) - Ripponlea, Victoria

74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea, Victoria, Australia (03) 9530 0111
Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday, 6:30pm to late

When I was younger I really enjoyed writing.  I would write short stories and scripts for no other purpose than to amuse myself.  These stories were mostly terrible but they were also practise and occasionally I would be able to see that there was a glimmer of something good within a particular set of badly formed far too long sentences. Ahem.  With further editing and honing the themes and ideas that were supposed to be present in the first draft would start to become coherently formed by the fourth or fifth.  I enjoyed the act of writing but it was all accomplished without any greater purpose.  Just for its own sake.  Also due to a lack of friends.

This was all pre-internet and the idea of sharing these stories with anyone else seemed completely horrifying. So these stories just got saved and forgotten about and then eventually lost along with the particular hard drive or floppy disk they were stored on.  Looking back I wonder what would have happened if I had shared those stories with someone?  I don’t even mean finding an audience – just a collaborator or a simple impartial voice who could give feedback.  It’s so easy now – to just publish online.  Not that there are many people who would bother to read entire stories published on a website by some unknown author - but merely knowing that something you have agonised over creating is now publicly available online is going to build your courage to produce more stories and make you work harder to produce better prose next time.  The mere idea of someone reading these words has made me re-draft the previous paragraph four times and this is a tiny food blog with three subscribers.  The fear of public condemnation is a powerful motivator.

So with the public engaging with your output you are forced to develop.  The eventual end result being a product.  As a writer you develop a style (be that good or bad).  You are known for your awesome schlock horror or depressing sonnets or these really amazing tri-fold brochures (I was into the tri-fold format way before it became commercial) and then if you find success, the easy thing to do is to start churning out the same thing over and over.  You find a formula and you stick with it.  This happens in a host of creative endeavours.  Film, TV, design – all can quickly become formulaic.  The impetus for change is stalled by their found success.

Restaurants are often something different.  The concept of sticking with a successful menu works for some facets of the food industry – but for any restaurant claiming seasonality or locally sourced produce, a constantly evolving menu is as inevitable as me burning my mouth on my first cup of Chinese tea.   For the past five years Attica has remained dedicated to developing new ideas but also to feeding people these new ideas as they are still occurring to them.  They are forcing themselves to create new dishes and then to test them as part of a complete, servable menu on the Tuesday of every week.

Akin to posting Mal Reynolds fan-fic on a Firefly forum, Attica are appealing to fans of fine food to come and consume their culinary creations, trying test versions of possible menu items.  However this would be Jane-Espenson-under-a-pseudonym quality fan-fic.  This food may be what the 63rd best restaurant in the world considers test creations but as they say themselves, it has taken 50 man/woman hours to prepare the dishes they will serve.  The ingredients may still be played with, taken apart, reassembled but you are presented with a finalised iteration of an inspired dish.   

Below are pictures of the dishes we were served when we went.  I’m not sure what the point would be in describing them as they may never again be served – or at least not in the same form.  I’ll mention the highlights. 

Housemade sourdough, housemade butter and emulsified olive oil with black salt.

Beefeater Botanical.

Leeks, Onion Weed, Ginger Juice.

Shiitake Broth, Spencer Gulf Prawn, Nasturtium.

The prawn in shitake broth made me regret every over-cooked prawn in noodle soup I had ever ingested.  The shitake broth itself must surely become part of their menu – it’s too good to just be an experiment.  

Cauliflower Cheese.

Beef Cheek and Mulled Wine (and Pine Mushrooms).

Milk Jam with 100 Year Old Chocolate.

The dessert was a mix of sweet ‘milk jam’ (they were like soft, sweet mini dumplings) and bitter chocolate shavings made from a 100 year old recipe.  The combination was quite intense for a dessert and I guess could turn some people off.  The chocolate moves from deeply bitter to darkly cocoa whilst combining with the sweetness from the milk jam.  I ate the lot and scowled at the people next to us – one of whom didn’t even try it. 

Attica’s Chef Table nights are feasts under-construction, to clumsily co-opt a Hemingway quote.   If the concept appeals to you then it is definitely an enjoyable way to while away a Tuesday evening. 

- words by pisso | images by überjoi.

Meal style: Tuesday Night Chef's Table (5 course degustation)
Cost: $95.00 per person (not including drinks)
Time and date of visit: 7:00pm Tuesday 12 June 2012

Attica on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sapa Hills - Footscray, Victoria

112 Hopkins Street, Footscray, Victoria, Australia (03) 9687 5729
Open 7 days, 10am - 10pm.

Grilled Beef in Vine Leaves.

Sapa Hills Special Quail with Spicy Salt.

Beef with Lemongrass and Chilli.

Fried Egg Noodles with Vegetables.

Pork Ribs with Soy Sauce and Pepper in Clay Pot.

Meal style: Dinner of shared plates (2 entrees, 3 mains)
Cost: $77.50 total (between 4 people, not including drinks)
Time and date of visit: 8:00pm Saturday 28 July 2012

Sapa Hills on Urbanspoon

Gold Leaf (Yum Cha) - Sunshine, Victoria

Gold Leaf
491 Ballarat Road, Sunshine, Victoria, Australia (03) 9311 1863
Open for yum cha Mon - Fri, 11:30am - 3:00pm and Sat-Sun, 11am - 3pm.

Turnip cake.

Mixed organs.

Pork roll in bean curd skin and mushroom, veges and tofu.

Shark fin dumplings and prawn dumplings.

BBQ pork bun.

Mango pudding.
Tofu flower pudding.

Meal style: Yum cha
Cost: $56.80 total (9 dishes between 2 people)
Time and date of visit: 1:00pm Saturday 28 July 2012
Verdict? Our favourite yum cha spot in the West.

Gold Leaf on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Weekly Menu, 28 July - 3 August 2012

Saturday 28 July: Sapa Hills
Sunday 29 JulySteamed egg with greens
Monday 30 JulyMassaman curry with duck and lychees
Tuesday 31 JulyPesto pasta salad
Wednesday 1 August: Vegetable biryani
Thursday 2 August: Los Amates Pumpkin and corn chowder
Friday 3 August: TBA

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

West 48 - Footscray, Victoria

48 Essex Street, Footscray, Victoria, Australia (03) 9362 7960
Open 6.30am - 4pm, Mon to Fri and 8am - 4pm, Sat and Sun.

Soy latte with honey (no extra cost for Bonsoy) and fresh mandarin juice.

Special: baked eggs with spinach, garlic, pinenuts, fresh pecorino and crusty ciabatta.

Special: baked eggs with spinach, garlic, pinenuts, fresh pecorino and crusty ciabatta.

Meal style: Cafe brunch
Cost: $22.50 total (1 x special of the day, 1 x coffee, 1 x juice)
Time and date of visit: 1:00pm Tuesday 24 July 2012
Verdict: Thumbs up (for locality, yummy special, fresh juice and no extra charge for Bonsoy).

West 48 on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 23, 2012

Miss Chu - Melbourne, Victoria

297 Exhibition Street, Melbourne,Victoria, Australia (03) 9077 1097
Open 11am - 10pm, Mon to Sat for lunch and dinner and snacks in between.

Tiger Prawn & green mango rice paper rolls.

Roast Duck & banana flower rice paper rolls.

Shanghai pork dumplings.

BBQ pork buns.

Wagyu beef pho.

Steamed vege buns.

Coconut, lychee and cucumber slushie.

Meal style: Dinner (6 shared plates)
Cost: $56.00 total (between 2 people)
Time and date of visit: 5:30pm Friday 20 July 2012
Verdict: Undecided but thumbs up for bao bun.

MissChu on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Weekly Menu, 21 July - 27 July 2012

Saturday 21 July: Clam pasta
Sunday 22 JulyMassaman curry with duck and lychees Auntie's Dumplings
Monday 23 July: Beef stir fry Hong Kong BBQ
Tuesday 24 JulySteamed egg with greens Leftovers
Wednesday 25 JulySpicy beef noodle Beef stir fry
Thursday 26 July: Casa Beauville
Friday 27 July: Rose Garden BBQ

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tempura Hajime - South Melbourne, Victoria

60 Park Street, South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (03) 9696 0051
Open for lunch Tue - Fri, 12pm - 2.30pm and dinner Tue - Sat, 6pm - late

Meal style: Tempura set (dinner)
Cost: $75.00 per person (not including drinks)
Time and date of visit: 7.00pm Thursday 3 November 2011
Verdict: Oishi desu kara Tempura Hajime ikimashou! (Let's go to Tempura Hajime because it's delicious!)

Tempura Hajime on Urbanspoon

La Rochelle - Shibuya, Japan

Shibuya 2-15-1 32F Shibuya Cross Tower, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan

On the 32nd floor in central Tokyo... Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai's La Rochelle restaurant.

Nine Kinds Appetizer on Pallet.

Tomato farci stuffed Lobster with Yoghurt and Mango Sauce.

Seasonal Seafood and Vegetable.

Seasonal Vegetable Soup.

Grilled Veal Tenderloin, Sauteed Foie gras with Truffle sauce.

Ezo-Awabi (Two kinds taste of Hakkaido Abalone).

Cheese Wagon.

Super oozy cheese and a potato wedge.

Happy Birthday dessert!

Elephant candles make me happy.

Dessert with tea and coffee.

Courtesy of the dessert wagon.
The view from La Rochelle on the 32nd floor of the Shibuya Cross Tower.

Meal style: Menu Maestro (7 course lunch)
Time and date of visit: 12:00pm Thursday 3 November 2010