Friday, July 4, 2014


6 Russell Pl Melbourne, 
VIC 3000

When dining out and having a great experience, the question is, will lightning strike twice? After a great night out at Sarti a few weeks ago, I was keen to return and now I can confirm, yes it does.

Sarti could be described as a sleeper restaurant. It is not really the first name that comes to mind when reeling off a list of must-dine restaurants in Melbourne, but yet it delivers well above a lot of the fashionable darlings.

For this visit we decided to pass the responsibility for the meal over to the kitchen to choose a menu for us. What was to follow was a magnificent lunch of modern unpretentious Italian food. The fritto misto of lightly battered and fried crab, zuchini, calamari & whitebait is perhaps the best deep fried food in Melbourne outside of Tempura Hajime.

Equally enjoyable is the salumi platter which lead to the highlight dish of the meal of perfectly cooked squid ink pasta garnished with blue swimmer crab, tomato and chilli. This type of cooking highlights italian done well and makes memories of Lygon strip a thing of the past.

Secondi and contorni of perfect medium rare beef with mash and kale accompanied by broccoli and roast potatoes finished the meal off magnificently. Nothing flashy, nothing overcomplicated, just perfectly executed cooking at its best.

Sadly the savoury courses left little room for desert, we did enjoy a couple of donuts with a homemade nutella. For those that have room to spare, the tiramasu is also highly recommended. The layered desert of textures and flavours puts the old school masrcapone monstrosities to shame. Well worth a trip for this alone.

By now I think it is pretty clear, Sarti is an excellent restaurant and not too extravagant. Food was approximately $90 which for the quality, quantity and service is good value in Melbourne.

Simply magnifico
Sarti on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 13, 2014


121b Main St 
Rutherglen VIC 3685

I think at times my biggest challenge when dining out is to be surprised, especially if the word to precede surprised is pleasantly. However, pleasantly surprised is how I would sum up my experience at Taste@Rutherglen.

Heading up to Rutherglen for the weekend, research indicated Taste@Rutherglen was the new shining star. The unassuming street frontage which looks more cafe than fine dining is where executive chef Gavin Swalwell operates a small but excellent restaurant.

Taste offers both an a la carte menu and a tasting menu. Feeling indulgent, the tasting menu it was and possibly the best value degustation menu followed.


After a complimentary oyster amuse bouche, the first course kicked off with Lobster & scampi. Even though Rutherglen is not exactly seaside, it was a great start. Perfectly cooked with a cauliflower cream and butter was a great show of restraint and showed off the ingredients in all their glory. Similarly the scallops with leeks and champagne cream were delicious.


Following the first two seafood courses, the uber rich gnocchi and mushrooms changed pace. There was a lot of earthiness in this dish and was a very generous portion. Some could argue a bit too generous, but it was hard not to finish them off, light, fluffy and tasty.

The final savoury course of eye fillet paired with a Warrabilla shiraz was a carnivores delight and the only negative was the fondant potato which was cooked ok, but wasn't really crispy.

Creme brulee for dessert with a Stanton and Killeen topaque finished the meal, my enthusiasm got the better of me and i dove in before taking a photo. Crunchy topping and creamy custard was a great way to finish a very nice dinner indeed.

At $80 for the 5 courses and generously poured matched wines at $50, Taste@Rutherglen is exceptional value for exceptional food.  Service was also attentive and friendly, Gavin walked the floor at the end of the meal and chatted which was also a nice touch.

If only it were not 4 hours drive away.....

Epic Value & Flavour
Taste @ Rutherglen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Gun Barrel steak & gamehouse

862 W Broadway Ave Jackson, 
WY 83001

Often Australian's are accused of bluntness to the point of being outright. Those accusers have never been to the state of Wyoming where restaurants such as The Gun Barrel steak and gamehouse exist. There is absolutely nothing subtle here, the large wooden restaurant is adorned with a mural of a native American spearing a Bison sums it up.

Upon entering, there is a stuffed bison that may or may not be the one from the outside mural, but it does give one an appreciation of the size of the beast that is an option featuring several times on the menu.

If you haven't figured it out by now, The Gun Barrel is about one thing and one thing only. Serving up the best of America's game with a few non game options for those "bleeding heart liberals". Options for trout, salmon and chicken all sound reasonable, the reality is the speciality here is the mixed game grill - AKA beasts on a plate.

Since this was my first and possibly only visit to the Gun Barrel, the Mixed Game Grill it was and what a superb plate of meat it was. A plate of venison sausage, elk steak and rare bison rib eye delivers to expectations.

The venison sausage was rather tasty, the elk steak was a tad over medium which was a shame, but the rare bison was pure carnivore nirvana. Tender and succulent, I can see why the natives prized such a beast. The accompaniments of beans and mash were nice, but this was all about the bison.

The dessert of apple pie with whipped cream that may have been from a can was OK, but after such a great piece of meat with a few nice reds, this was not judged too harshly. If I were to return though, I would forsake this for more of that succulent bison.

Most huntingest and shootingest win daggnammit
The Gun Barrel Steak & Game House on Urbanspoon