Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Luke warm pies

Pie in the Sky
43 Olinda-Monbulk Rd, OlindaPh 9751 2128

I have been wanting to come here for a very long time. I love a good pie, and I love driving up the hill to Olinda and Sassafras on a weekend. This weekend my future mother in law (FMIL) and I went for a drive and a wander through some of Olinda’s overpriced knick knack shops as well as a late lunch.

Now maybe my expectations were too high. I had heard good things. And they had won awards (but which pie shop hasn’t?). We decided to eat in (though it is 2 dollars more a pie) to people watch the weekenders. I had the beef and burgundy and FMIL had the chicken korma. I also went with the spirit and ordered some mash on the side, though it wasn’t really necessary.

So, on to the pie. The filling, was very tasty, the wine flavour is strong and the beef has been slowly cooked till it breaks down into that lovely stringy but juicy consistency. Pastry, nice, holds together, not overly flaky. My pie was hot but not scalding.

FMIL’s chicken pie… was cold. Slightly warm on the outside, but cold. The filling was nice apparently though. She decided to eat it as she was too hungry to wait for a new one. This really is not good enough at 6 dollars a pie. Now maybe we should have got the waitresses attention straight away but they seemed to be having cash register issues and were not really attentive. After our meal, we brought it to the attention of two waitresses that the pie was cold, but were not offered an apology, just a ‘Oh, they should be hot’. Yes, yes it should but it wasn’t. At the very least, our drinks should have been free and an apology offered. I was going to get a takeaway pie (the Guinness beef sounded good) but after that I decided to not go there again. There pies were nice but not enough to have me go back.

There are enough good places to eat around town that we do not have to put up with bad service.

BTW, there is a great new… Pie Blog! That is worth checking out for all those pie fans. They still haven’t reviewed my favourite pie on Highett, but here’s hoping!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fish and Chips - please help me!

This is not a post, it is a question to all melbourne residents. I have lived in Melbourne for 5 years now and have NEVER had good fish and chips anywhere! Coming from Sydney where I would often skip uni to go to Coogee beach and eat fish and chips and other fried stuff (known to my friends as 'the trough') or even better fresh oysters and prawns, I often pine for the seaside fish experience.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to St kilda one night, with the sole purpose of getting fish and chips and eating it on the beach. Do you think we could find a fish and chip shop? This is a travesty for a bayside suburb! We ended up eating at Hewys Barney Allen which had some pretty nice fish cakes, ALMOST fish and chips but not quite!

SO, please help me and reccommend the best fish and chippy in Melbourne to a very fish deprived girl!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tempura Hajime

60 Park Street, South melburne

Last Tuesday night, I finally got a chance to go to Tempura Hajime. Tempura Hajime first made its appearance in the ‘press’ when reviewed by tummy rumbles, and was subsequently and elegantly reviewed by ed at Tomatom, Jack at Eating with Jack, and esoteric rabbit, and probably more. Then of course, the Age reviewed it, and within a day, the place was booked out for months. I am a very lazy booker of restaurants, I only think to book one week ahead and then when I am rejected, give up. It is usually Nathan who books us in to nice places to eat (usually at my suggestion!), and this was no exception – after I tried twice to get in last year I gave up and told Nathan to do it… and he delivered!

I am not going to go into the details of the food, as the photos and reviews of the above sites are beautiful and made me want to go in the first place. What I am going to say though, is that it is a lovely experience. We had the 6:30 booking – the restaurant only serves 12 people a night (hence the long waiting lists!) and they are staggered so the chef is not rushed (630, 7 and 730pm slots). I liked getting there first, as it gave us a chance to speak to the chef. There was American couple there also, who asked questions like ‘What is a sea urchin’ to which the chef replied by hunting down a book of seafood and showing them a picture! We asked him abut the oil he used (soy bean oil, sesame oil and tea oil) and where he got his supplies (Vic markets and Footscray markets), and he was happy enough to talk with us.

Nath later said that what he liked most about the place was the chef was just a normal guy and it wasn’t stuffy – a bit like being invited to someone’s house for dinner (albeit a Japanese guys house with lots of tempura). It could have gone that way though… there is almost a day spa feeling to the place when you first walk in – dark lighting, candles, a large bunch of flowers, and a ‘waiting room’. The 12 seats arranged around the main stage (the two tempura oil baths and the preparation table) made it feel a bit like a dinner party.

And the food really was magnificent. Simply prepared, the freshness of the ingredients were allowed to shine, and I forgot I had just eaten over 10 courses of tempura as it didn’t really feel as if I had eaten a lot of fried food – it is not overly oily and the tempura is not fried too long, leaving things crisp and fresh. Surprisingly good courses were the baby corn, left quite crispy, and the sweet potato, which upon frying became remarkably sweet. And the oyster. Oh yes the oyster. I am a bit of a purist with oysters, I think they should be eaten with lemon, salt and be freshly shucked. But these were not overcooked so though they were warm and crispy on the outside, the oyster still remained fresh and dipped in the lemon and salt was so good I had to eat it in. little. bites.

And the other good thing about this place? Set menu means I don’t have to go through the agonising process of choosing what to order, and the food comes straight away meaning I don’t have to wait for the food. If only all places were like that!