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Showing posts from June, 2013

Ocha

Ocha (3 Church Street, Hawthorn) is something of a suburban legend. The Japanese restaurant built up a huge following at its original location in Pakington Street, Kew - so much so that it relocated to its current location in the revamped Beehive complex in 2010, effectively doubling its cover size from 35 to 70 plus. Comfortably settled in next door to schmancy gastro-pub Barkers Wine Bar (old-man-pub the Beehive Hotel in another life), Ocha is still notoriously difficult to get a booking at. I haven't tried their degustation ($120.00 per head), held on the last Monday of each month - but I imagine it, too, would be very popular. Ocha has even released its own ranges of dressings and sauces for home use. MERCH! My, that is confidence personified. Bottled. Whatever.

There to celebrate a milestone birthday, five of us rocked up on a Thursday evening, armed with lots of nice wine (of course). A delightful young chap was our waiter, most smiley and helpful, and he even remembered my …

West 48

My former housemate, a chef, knows a few people in the hospitality industry. From what I can see, they all hang out together, drink together when they finish service at two in the morning, and give each other silly nicknames like 'Fluffy'. So as soon as one of them branches out to open their own venue, or changes to a different role, the news spreads like wildfire. That's how the buzz surrounding a new venue starts. A coupla press releases and launch events gets the ball rolling, foodie mags and publications do their initial reviews, food bloggers get onto it, the locals flood in, and hospitality legends are born.



When it's a quality new venue in a suburban location, the buzz seems even bigger. Such was the case with West 48 (48 Essex Street, Footscray), a cafe based in a quiet suburban street in Melbourne's inner west. I heard about it through my housemate - who knew someone working there or opening it or something - after which I promptly forgot about it. Then a …

Rosa's Kitchen

Who is Rosa?

You know... Rosa! Rosa Mitchell. She's been on the Melbourne food scene for a while. Remember that Journal Canteen joint next to the library on Flinders Lane? Lotsa eggplant, meat, tomato... yummy, hearty Italian stuff, with Sicilian leanings? Yeah, that was her. She also wrote some cookbook, My Cousin Rosa, and did something-or-other foodie in Williamstown?? To the chagrin of her devotees, she kinda disappeared for a while. Turns out she's popped up again on Punch Lane, taking over the old Luccatini's bistro site with her trattoria, Rosa's Kitchen (22 Punch Lane, Melbourne). Saweet!



Head chef Lucy David hails from such esteemed kitchens as Coda and Pei Modern, and there seems to be a MoVida link in there, too. Tucked down clean and cobblestoned Punch Lane (off Lt Bourke Street, next to Longrain), the site has been revised from its '80s pastels to industrial chic - think polished cement floor, chalkboard menus, low lighting and clean lines. A bustling …

Rice Queen

Equal parts vague, kitsch and regal in name, Rice Queen has been a staple of the inner north for years. Previously, it operated chiefly as the fun, cheap food option on the way up to Panama Bar on Smith Street. In its new(ish) home at 389 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy (which used to house St Jude's Cellars), it has undergone both a facelift and a personality shift, and seems to have settled into its ruling role comfortably.



Spruiked as an "Oriental Diner & Bar", I must say I prefer Rice Queen as a bar. I remember enjoying the food more at its Smith Street site. It was tastier, better value and more soulful. Now, whilst still tasty, it seems overpriced and trying too hard.


Side note:  I do realise I use several phrases repeatedly (as well as far too many adverbs and extraneous information in general) - and "trying too hard" is undoubtedly one of them. How can FOOD try too hard, you ask? Isn't it inanimate, and therefore incapable of any kind of action? Well, …

Little Big Sugar Salt

A new kid on the Victoria Street block, Little Big Sugar Salt (385 Victoria Street, on the Abbotsford side) seems out of place. Hey, I'm not going to lament another cafe within walking distance of mine, and I'm all for diversity. I'm hoping its arrival heralds the start of a subconscious social upgrade to the notorious drug centre of Melbourne. I don't always feel safe walking around the area, and believe a few classier shops and restaurants could raise help the bar. Upgrades to the Hive shopping centre and The National pub are also steps in the right direction, IMHO. But more on that another day. Maybe a rainy one.



Fortunately, it seems LBSS has classy in the hand. Once you wrap your head around the name (c'mon guys, it may sound cool, but dayum, it's a mouthful), and associate the rather vague "LBSS" fluoro script on the corner of the building with the cafe you're actually trying to find, you can begin your transition into the hip new state of b…