Black By Ezard Time For A Champagne Lunch Thursday, Aug 27 2015 

In a lucky roster rotation, I got another Sunday off. Making the most of it, we decided to head in to the city and stay at the Hilton again. After checking in and visiting a few shops it was definitely time for lunch. After a quick discussion, we decided to cross the Pyrmont Bridge and head to Black by Ezard at The Star.

Black By Ezard, exterior

Black By Ezard, exterior

Sunday at Black by Ezard is Champagne lunch day, with three courses and free flowing Moet and Chandon Champagne for $125. There are a couple of options that attract an extra charge but that is to be expected when you get such a great offer. Sunday lunch crowd is always buzzy and makes  good people watching.

Black By Ezard, exterior menu

Black By Ezard, exterior menu

There is nothing like a view of the city, water and luxury yachts while you dine. A sunny but partly cloudy day also helps.

Skyline and yachts

Skyline and yachts

After being seated, ordering and having our first glass of champagne poured a delicious mini loaf of house made brioche was bought to the table with Pepe Saya butter and Hawaian black sea salt. Hawaian black sea salt seems to be making an appearance everywhere as we also had it when we dined at Il Ristorante Luca Fantin in Tokyo.

Menu

Menu

House made brioch,Hawaiian black salt, Pepe Saya butter

House made brioche, Hawaiian black salt, Pepe Saya butter

Mr. CA4G ordered the open ravioli of ox tail, smoked potato, walnut gremolata, bone marrow and watercress salad. A huge but tasty entrée that  got Mr. CA4G asking if it was his imagination or had food in Sydney improved a lot?

Oxtail open ravioli

Oxtail open ravioli

For my entree I ordered the sautéed Spencer Gulf prawns, sweetcorn puree, watermelon, red onion, tomato, coriander, jalapeno peppers and crispy pancetta. Really tasty, with a nice melding of flavours, textures and eye appeal.

Sauteed Spencer Gulf prawns

Sauteed Spencer Gulf prawns

For his main Mr. CA4G ordered the grass fed Angus fillet, roasted cauliflower and pearl onion salad with gremolata. A selection of mustards, sauces along with café de paris butter accompanied the steak. Of course we had to order some chips with garlic, parmesan and rosemary salt.

Angus fillet, roasted cauliflower and pearl onion salad

Angus fillet, roasted cauliflower and pearl onion salad

Sauces and chips

Sauces and chips

I ordered the roasted duck breast, Dutch carrots, spiced fennel chutney, Sichuan pepper sauce. I enjoyed this immensely. The fennel chutney was amazing with the duck, and the Dutch carrots done two ways was very tasty. The fennel salad went well against the fattiness of the duck skin. Lovely to see nasturtium leaves being used in a meal.

Duck breast, Dutch carrots,fennel

Duck breast, Dutch carrots,fennel

When the desserts came out we were really happy with our choices. Mr. CA4G chose the cheesecake, lavender honey, blueberry sorbet and sable crumble. The colour of the sorbet was astounding!! Deep and dark it looked like a jewel sitting on the cheesecake.

Cheesecake, lavender honey, blueberry sorbet, sable crumble

Cheesecake, lavender honey, blueberry sorbet, sable crumble

I chose the coffee parfait, mascarpone mousse, orange crumble and spiced caramel. The flavours were amazing and the dried orange pieces, a real textural and flavor loaded sensation when you popped one in your mouth.

Coffee parfait, mascarpone mousse, orange crumble, spiced caramel

Coffee parfait, mascarpone mousse, orange crumble, spiced caramel

I know Sydney has some great restaurants and many have had a long reputation of greatness, but somehow the past year things seem to have really stepped up a notch or three.

We really enjoyed visiting Black By Ezard again, and look forward to returning for another visit in the future.

Thanks for stopping by!!

Il Ristorante Luca Fantin, Bulgari Ginza Tower, Ginza, Tokyo Monday, Jul 27 2015 

For our past few visits to Tokyo we have been wanting to have a meal at Il Ristorante Luca Fantin. This restaurant is part of the ever diversifying Bulgari brand, and is located on the 9th floor of the Bulgari Ginza Tower. We have previously enjoyed champagne and chocolate in the bar and can finally say we have eaten at Bulgari.

Bulgari Tower, Ginza

Bulgari Tower, Ginza

This year, on a miserably wet day, we managed to have lunch at Il Ristorante. There are three options for lunch, each with a set number of courses (3, 5 or 7) all with an amuse bouche (or three) first and for dinner, two meus with either 5 or 7 courses plus amuse bouche.

Menu

Menu

After ascending to the 9th floor you are greeted and taken through to the dining room. Floor to ceiling windows line three sides of the room, giving views of Ginza. Tables are all substantial wood, covered with a delightful golden coloured  tablecloth. Our seasonal flower on the table was a magnificent purple hydrangea. Silverware was  all Bulgari designed and made.

interior Il Ristorante Luca Fantin

interior Il Ristorante Luca Fantin

Looking out the window

Looking out the window

First to the table was an amazing selection of breads and rolls. Accompanied by some sensational Italian extra virgin olive oil and Hawaiian black salt and sea salt flakes. They are really generous with the bread as they refilled another two times.

bread selection

bread selection

Our first amuse was two types of “crackers”. Corn chip with an aioli, and fish skin cracker with a piquant sauce.

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Our second amuse bouche was finely sliced snow pea topped with salmon roe.

Snow pea topped with salmon roe

Snow pea topped with salmon roe

And our final amuse was corn crisp with smoke mascarpone cheese and corn chowder.

smoked mascarpone with corn chowder and corn crisps

smoked mascarpone with corn chowder and corn crisps

Insalata di verdure cotte e crude con crema di parmigiano (Raw and cooked vegetables with parmesan cream). This dish consisted of 20 types of vegetables either cooked or raw served with a very tasty parmesan cream sauce. This was an absolutely tasty and delicious dish. Some of the vegetables used were baby crrots, asparagus, baby turnips, 8 types of lettuce, flowers and more.

20 vegetables with parmesan cream

20 vegetables with parmesan cream

Spaghetti di Gragnano con gamberi rossi e lattuga (Gragnano spaghetti with red shrimp and lettuce). Thick spaghetti from Gragnano near Naples, served with red prawns and a creamy shellfish sauce with iceberg lettuce tossed through it. A nice big piece of dried lettuce was used for the garnish.

Gragnano spaghetti with red shrimp

Gragnano spaghetti with red shrimp

Baba’ bagnato al rhum con flan di pompelmo (Baba’ marinated with rum and grapefruit flan). I live a Rum baba and feel they are under rated as a dessert. This was a wedge of baba sitting atop grapefruit flan (like creme brulee), pistachio crumbles, pink grapefruit segment, vanilla ice cream and a sugar wafer ontop. So pretty it looked like a landscape in a terrarium.

Rum baba

Rum baba

Rum baba

Rum baba

We thought we were finished but no. A box of sweet “jewels” was bought out for us, along with some chocolate and coffee lollipops.

Petit fours

Petit fours

I have to say lunch was well worth the wait, and we will definitely be dining at Il Ristorante Luca Fantin when we next return to Tokyo.

Bulgari Ginza Tower

2-7-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo

http://www.bulgarihotels.com

Bench Wine Bar and Celestial Chinese Restaurant Monday, Jul 27 2015 

After getting the all clear from the dental surgeon that there was no problem, Mr. CA4G was in the mood for going out. With no real destination in mind, we headed in to Newtown for a walk.  Our feet however knew where to head and we found ourselves at Bench Wine Bar.

We haven’t been for some time and were pleasantly surprised with the few changes that Robyn has made. The most welcome change was the addition of an eco fire. Feeling the winter chill we got the closest table to the heat.

We couldn’t really make up our minds as to what we felt like drinking so trusted Robyn to make a selection for us. I think she knows we like our Californian wines and suggested we try the Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel from the 2012 vintage. Zinfandel is not a wine we have had a lot of experience with, but as the evening progressed the flavours and aromas really opened up.

Seghesio Zinfandel

Seghesio Zinfandel

The menu is still tapas style so we decided to start with four items and then see if we felt like more. Sadly we only took a photo of two of the dishes we ordered, arancini balls and prawn dumplings. All items ordered were fantastic as usual.

Dumplings and arancini

Dumplings and arancini

If you are in need of a beverage and something to eat while escaping the winter chill, head in to Bench Winebar in Newtown.

To round the weekend out we headed into the city for a bit of window shopping and catch up with some of our favourite boutique managers. One we have known for many years is Simon at Paspaley Pearls. It is always good to have a chat with someone you have known for some time, is passionate about their job and are willing to help you learn something new.

Our experience and knowledge of pearls is increasing thanks to Simon and the team at Paspaley Pearls in Martin Place. While looking and learning we also got to see (touch and try on) some fabulous pearls. The highlight was a strand of humungous pearls named ‘The Vivienne’ and worth over $1,400,000. This strand took many years to assemble. I never realized how heavy a strand of this size would be, probably 400gr or more.

IMG_4487

We also held what is considered one of the most perfect pearls in the world. It has also been exhibited at The Smithsonian Institution along with other famous pearls. 20.4mm of pearly goodness.

The Paspaley Pearl

The Paspaley Pearl

The Paspaley Pearl

The Paspaley Pearl

Of course there is a culinary relationship with pearls as the Pinctada Maxima oysters are also used for pearl meat. The shells are also used for mother of pearl items including caviar spoons. Mother of pearl is the best for eating caviar as metal tends to react with caviar altering the flavour.

So after a wonderous afternoon of looking at pearls it was time for dinner. Our choice, Celestial Chinese Restaurant in Bligh Street in the city. You enter down a flight of stairs to a room with a very large Koi pond, bridge and pavilion. Tables are well spaced and the room a bit dated with an ‘80’s vibe.

IMG_4492

Celestial is popular with the business brigade at lunch time and in the evenings some bus groups and locals in the know. The menu consists of Cantonese cuisine and the wine list has some very good vintage Australian wines.

We are creatures of habit when we dine at Celestial and always order the same things. Steamed scallops with black bean sauce, king prawns with house special chilli sauce, Mongolian lamb andfried rice with prawns and Chinese sausage. Sadly only one photo as we were distracted by the koi, scallops in black bean.

IMG_4493

We also sit in the same spot everytime, in the pavilion overlooking the koi as they swim by and occasionally get excited and make a splash. A very relaxing way to enjoy dinner.

Thanks for dropping by!

Kazahana, Conrad Hotel, Shiodome, Tokyo Thursday, Jul 23 2015 

While we were staying at the Conrad Hotel, we made a return visit to Kazahana for lunch. This year we were a little earlier in the summer season which meant there should be a something different on the menu.

Interior Kazahana

Interior Kazahana

We decided to have the lunch course “MAI”, one of the 6 set course options available for lunch. Lunch set “MAI” consists of: Appetizer, Soup, Seasonal Delicacies, Main Dish, Rice, Miso soup and Japanese pickles, Dessert. I love the mystery aspect of the sets and the fact they ask if you have intolerances or things you don’t like. And while I am not a big fan of cooked fish I will eat it when it is part of a set meal.

After an unfortunate incident last year, we have tended to avoid uni (sea urchin) this trip, the appetizer had uni but they were happy to swap it out and it was replaced with abalone (my first time to try it). Braised white Taro stems with abalone was our appetizer. Love the plates!!

Taro stem with abalone

Taro stem with abalone

Second course was soup with tofu, a very interesting seaweed and fish cake. The seaweed was a new one to us and very slippery. It reminded me of the stamens in a lily but with a gelatinous bubble around the ‘stamen’ part.

Clear soup

Clear soup

Our third course was the seasonal delicacies. A selection of cold and hot dishes. Left to right tempura conger eel with braised eggplant, braised octopus and daikon radish, sashimi of squid and seabass, chilled soba noodles with accompanying sauce.

Seasonal delicacies

Seasonal delicacies

For mains we were able to choose which meal we wanted Mr. CA4G had grilled scallops and salmon which was accompanied by roasted vegetables with a Japanese pepper sauce. The sauce was quite mild but went really well with the seafood. The scallop was huuuge!

Grilled scallop and salmon

Grilled scallop and salmon

I opted for the pork stew dish which included a softly poached egg topped with truffles, rice with perilla seasoning, Japanese pickles and Miso soup.

Pork Kakuni

Pork Kakuni

For dessert Mr. CA4G had the brown sugar cake with caramelized banana served with ice cream.

Brown sugar cake with carmelized banana

Brown sugar cake with carmelized banana

I tried a delicious pumpkin pudding with ice cream and a white cherry. Not a cakey pudding, this was more of a custard style. Quite dense yet creamy.

Pumpkin pudding withice cream

Pumpkin pudding withice cream

Got to love a view while you are dining and in our case the view for lunch was Hama-rikyu Onshi Teien and Tokyo Bay.

Hama Rikyu Tien

Hama Rikyu Tien

Thanks for dropping by!

Kazahana

Level 28

Conrad Hotel Tokyo

105-7337, Tokyo, 1-9-1 Higashi-Shinbashi, Minato-ku

http://conradhotels3.hilton.com/en/hotels/japan/conrad-tokyo-TYOCICI/amenities/restaurants-kazahana.html

Hanasanshou, Park Hotel, Shiodome, Tokyo Tuesday, Jul 21 2015 

Over the past couple of visits to Tokyo we have eaten in the Tateru Yoshino run restaurant at the Park Hotel and the casual Atrium dining area, but had not tried Hanasanshou, the Japanese restaurant.

We did not realise how popular Hanasanshou is. Several of the days we were there it was fully booked and not just with hotel guests. Thankfully, as we were going out one morning, we managed to make a reservation.

Located on the east facing side of the hotel, the room has a main dining area along the window and then to each side of the bar, a curtained area for a more private dining experience. Lots of dark woods are utilized throughout the room with trendy lighting around the bar.

Interior Hanasanshou

Interior Hanasanshou

Hanasanshou offered a menu for house guests so we chose to have that. A Kaiseki menu of 8 courses  for around A$50. The other menus were also Kaiseki style with the difference between each being the number of courses and price.

Menu for House Guests

Menu for House Guests

First course out was a bowl of boiled taro stem from Kyoto served simply with a bonito and soy sauce. Very light and refreshing.

Boiled Taro stem with soy and bonito

Boiled Taro stem with soy and bonito

The appetizer was a plate of seasonal specialties. Fresh thin wheat noodles, sushi of conger eel, Chinese lantern fruit, fruit fed sweet fish salted and dried overnight with boiled octopus, young corn, grilled eggplant with sweet miso sauce.

Appetiser plate

Appetiser plate

A clear soup with a steamed pike conger eel dumpling was our third course. Very tasty, even though I am not in to cooked fish that much. Those little bits floating in the soup are seaweed that we have not encountered before.

Love the bowl for the soup

Love the bowl for the soup

Clear soup with pike conger eel dumpling

Clear soup with pike conger eel dumpling

Tuna sashimi was next, it was meant to be yellowtail but they had run out so they gave us tuna. Any kind of sashimi is alright by me. The wasabi was super fresh and grated just before serving, a taste revelation! The tuna was also super fresh, which isn’t surprising as Tsukiji Market is less than 5 minute drive away.

Tuna sashimi

Tuna sashimi

Next up was our grilled dish of black cod baked in magnolia leaf, accompanied by edamame and ginger shoot. Again super fresh fish, highlighted with the zingy ginger stem. The magnolia leaf was mostly protection during cooking and a garnish as it didn’t flavour the fish in any way.

Black cod in magnolia leaf

Black cod in magnolia leaf

A simmered pork belly with a thick, almost gelatinous sauce, potato and beans was next. This was delicious and the pork melted in your mouth and was not too fatty. A little dot of Japanese style mustard really went well with the pork.

Simmered pork belly

Simmered pork belly

Second last dish was rice cooked with barracuda and burdock along with miso soup. One of the best miso soups I have had.

Our tray of rice, miso soup and pickles

Our tray of rice, miso soup and pickles

Rice cooked with Barracuda and Burdock

Rice cooked with Barracuda and Burdock

Miso soup

Miso soup

Finally seasonal fruit and green tea. Simple but refreshing end to a very flavoursome meal. Bright green Maple leaves seemed to be the garnish of the season. I remember when I went to Tsukiji Market in autumn 2013 that they were selling punnets of maple leaves ranging from red to orange. Seasonal garnishing at its best.

Refreshin grockmelon to finish

Refreshing rockmelon to finish

We have now sampled all the food offerings available at the Park Hotel and they are all fantastic. Sometimes hotel dining can be a bit ho hum, but we have enjoyed each meal we have had during our stays at The Park Hotel.

Sydney Sojourn, Day Three, La Rosa Friday, Jul 3 2015 

Day three of our stay at the Hilton, we headed out into the rain for some more window shopping. Lunch was to be at La Rosa in The Strand Arcade for some of the best pizzas in Sydney.

La Rossa is the sister restaurant to Pendolino and is also on the second floor but at the Pitt Street end of The Strand.

The Strand Arcade

The Strand Arcade

We arrived just after 12 and the restaurant was fairly quiet, but that changed by 1230 when the suit brigade and the ladies who lunch started arriving.

Mr. CA4G has been to La Rosa several times before, so he knew what the best pizzas were to order. He selected the Funghi and the Calabrese. The Funghi has porcini puree, Portobello mushrooms and mozzarella. The Calabrese was topped with tomato, mozzarella, roasted Capsicum, spicy Nduja, La Rosa Salame.

Calabrese on the left, Funghi on the right

Calabrese on the left, Funghi on the right

My goodness!! So tasty, but we really could have split these three ways.  A doggy bag might have been a good idea too. Beats Domino’s and Pizza Hut any day.

ARIA And The Celestial Dance Thursday, Jul 2 2015 

After a quick shopping expedition in the city we decided to have dinner at ARIA. The evening was crisp and clear, with a stunning full moon lighting the night. We were also lucky to look up and see Venus and Jupiter doing their dance and appearing close together even though they are hundreds of millions of miles apart. At first Mr. CA4G  thought one was a plane until I remembered it was the celestial rarity that I had read about on FaceBook. A rarity because most of the conjunctions between the two planets happen during daylight hours.

Enough of the stars, and on to dinner. We decided to have the pre-theatre menu, which offers great value. But first things first, we had to choose a wine. After perusing the wine list we decided to try a 2009  Rhizotomi Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. We like our Napa Valley Cabernets and this did not disappoint. Great flavour without being too heavy and a fabulous aroma which opened more during the evening.

Linnaea Rhizotomi Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Linnaea Rhizotomi Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

A concise menu of 5 items per course, plus an entree extra, made choosing easy. After ordering, an amuse bouche of house made lavosh, with broad bean and ricotta purée topped with a little dot of lemon curd was presented to us. Along with amuse we both selected a sourdough roll (From Iggy’s Bread) which was accompanied by salted butter and a black garlic and porcini butter (both from Pepe Saya).

I ordered the Yamba Prawns with smoked eggplant, pickled radish and finger lime (the entree extra).The prawns had been roasted with the little bubbles of finger lime and then stacked on the smoked eggplant which had been pureed. Slices of pickled radish were sparingly placed around the stack.

Yamba prawns, smoked eggplant

Yamba prawns, smoked eggplant

Mr. CA4G ordered Southern calamari with iberico jamon, dashi custard, and shiitake mushroom tea. The dish was topped with an intriguing squid ink and tapioca crisp.

Southern calamari, Iberico Jamon

Southern calamari, Iberico Jamon

For mains, I chose the lamb rump with globe artichoke barigoule, green olives. Beautifully cooked medium rare, with the small amount of fat on top salted just the way I like it. An eggplant and capsicum ajvar sauce was a nice mellow compliment to the lamb. Nice combination of flavours. We also ordered our favourite side truffle mash, (mash potato finished with truffle oil) so creamy and delicious.

 

Lamb rump, Artichoke barigoule, Truffle mash

Lamb rump, Artichoke barigoule, Truffle mash

Mr. CA4G ordered the Cervena venison loin and sausage, farro, parsnip and rosemary. The parsnip came as a puree and a delicious finely shaved crisp. This was our first experience with farro on a menu and it is an ingredient we look forward to having again. The venison was served with jus for the sauce.

Cervena venison loin

Cervena venison loin

We were only going to have two courses, but decided to go for broke and order dessert. Possibly not a good judgement call as we realised later, when waddled out the door. An interesting sounding tart caught my eye and Mr. CA4G chose the cheese selection.

The tart was caramel and cep accompanied with mandarin wedges and espresso ice cream. The tart had a nice depth (about 2cm of luscious filling) and was quite light. The flavour of the cep mushrooms was delicate but was not overpowered by the caramel. The mandarin gave a refreshing burst, and the espresso ice cream was enhanced with the addition of ground coffee, which gave it a bit of grittiness. Cracked hazelnut kernels and hazelnut ‘soil’ finished the plate.

Caramel and cep tart

Caramel and cep tart

The cheese selection consisted of Munster and St Agur from France, La Luna from Holy Goat in Victoria and Manchego from Spain. The cheese was accompanied by crackers and fresh grapes.

Cheese selection

Cheese selection

A plate of varied petit fours was delivered to the table which we enjoyed immensely.

Petit fours

Petit fours

We practically rolled out the door, into the chill night air and headed home under the bright moon and the celestial dance.

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Sydney sojourn, day 2, Lunch at Rockpool Friday, Jun 26 2015 

After a good night sleep and breakfast, we decided to look at our dining options for the day. After some careful and in depth consideration and discussion, we decided to visit Rockpool for the two course prix fixe lunch offer. We love a good lunch offer.

Interior Rockpool

Interior Rockpool

Interior Rockpool

Interior Rockpool

We have been trying to get back to Rockpool since we had our snack of caviar last year.  The prix fixe menu for lunch is a great option, and you are able to choose from entree/main or main/dessert.

Rockpool Prix Fixe Menu

Rockpool Prix Fixe Menu

First to come out was a beautiful loaf of spelt and honey bread, baked ricotta topped with roasted kale, and a compound butter made with rice mould and kombu. The bread was amazing and the butter, a total taste sensation. It was so good we had two lots of bread.

Spelt and honey bread with compound butter

Spelt and honey bread with compound butter

On our visit, the entree was an oxtail chong fun noodle, shiitake and black fungus. I have never had oxtail before and was going to choose the dessert rather than entree, but I am so glad Mr. CA4G talked me into the entree. The flavours in the dish were spectacular. Bit of spice, bit of sweet, so much going on but all worked so well together, Heaven!!   Even the bowl was amazing.

Entree

Entree

Main was a ‘chou farci’ Chicken and prawn mousse wrapped in iceberg lettuce, with umami broth served with a little pile of fresh edamame. I quite enjoyed this dish as well, flavoursome, elegant and delicious. I did find the shellfish flavour in the  broth a little too overpowering for my taste, but then I am not really a fan of soups, bisques and veloutes made from any seafood. But everything worked together and I would definitely recommend the dish. We also decided to have the matched wine which was a 2013 Te Whare Ra, pinot noir from Marlborough in New Zealand which was a great match for this course.

Main course

Main course

Main course

Main course

I look forward to a return visit to Rockpool to another of their prix fixe lunches .

Sydney Sojourn, Day 1, Felix Bistro Friday, Jun 26 2015 

Due to some dental issues we had to cancel a planned holiday to Tokyo, but decided to book some time in Surfers Paradise. But before then we decided to have a few days in our own city, staying at our favourite Sydney hotel, The Hilton, in a relaxation suite with spa.

Our suite looking to the lounge area

Our suite looking to the lounge area

Our suite lokking to the bedroom

Our suite lokking to the bedroom

The spa was rather large and shaped so that two people could sit facing each other. The citrus scented bath salts were quite lovely and refreshing. Of course when having a romantic spa, a good bottle of wine is handy. For us it was a bottle of Rockford Basket Press 2009. Love the bottle the Basketpress comes in and the wine is a great example of Barossa Shiraz.

Purely medicinal purposes, Rockford Basketpress and spa

Purely medicinal purposes, Rockford Basketpress and spa

Our suite faced west with a view over the Queen Victoria Building. Sadly the weather was quite inclement so the view was limited. Despite the weather we did a bit of shopping and window shopping.

View from the spa bath

View from the spa bath

For lunch we went French with two courses at Felix Bistro in the Ivy complex. A great start to our holiday dining! Mr. CA4G had SteakFrites with red wine jus and cafe de Paris butter, while I ordered my favourite, confit duck which was served with braised cabbage, cubes of celeriac and apple with a thyme jus. We also ordered a bottle of Chateau Val de Roc, Bourdeaux Superieur 2012, a cabernet blend, quite enjoyable without being too over powering.

Steak Frites cafe de Paris butter and jus

Steak Frites cafe de Paris butter and jus

Confit duck

Confit duck

Salad

Salad

While the desserts sounded lovely we decided to go for a selection of 3 cheeses. There were five cheese to choose from and we opted for Milchzapfen (Zurich, Switzerland), St Maure de Tourraine (loire Valley, France) and Epoisses (Burgundy, France). These were served with a selection of breads, quince paste and fruit.

Cheese selection

Cheese selection

After lunch we wore ourselves out with more window shopping before returning to the Hilton for a siesta. As we were quite full from lunch dinner was a light affair of snacky bits in the Executive lounge.

Stay tuned for where we lunched next!

Melbourne Getaway Part 2 Wednesday, May 13 2015 

Our second day in Melbourne found us wandering the streets looking around and window shopping before we went to The Flower Drum for lunch.

Over the years I have seen The Flower Drum mentioned many times in foodie magazines. It was finally time to try it. Set in a laneway between Little Bourke and Bourke Streets, an elegant foyer/reception area lies behind the door before you are escorted up to the dining room.

Lane way entrance to the Flower Drum

Lane way entrance to the Flower Drum

Red carpet anchors the room with cream walls decorated with paintings depicting the Chinese dance “Flower Drum” and also hung with beautiful wood carvings. Dark woods are in abundance with the dining room divided in half by a mini “pavilion”.

Interior lower Drum

Interior lower Drum

Interior lower Drum

Interior lower Drum

After a look through the extensive wine list we ordered a half bottle of Rockford Basket Press Shiraz.

Service was a standout. While we are used to the excellent service in Chinese restaurants in Sydney and Hong Kong, the service at Flower Drum really kicked it up a notch or three. Where you would normally just get the dish placed in front of you ready to eat, most of our dishes were plated tableside by the wait staff. The Peking duck rolls were rolled one at a time as you finished one. Vegetables and rice were served table side from a large bowl.

For entrees, Mr.CA4G ordered the Peking duck rolls while I went with the Quail sang choi bao. Both were fantastic. While we have had duck, chicken and pork in sang choi bao before the use of quail was a nice change.

Peking duck pancakes

Peking duck pancakes

Quail sang choi bow

Quail sang choi bao

For main course Mr. CA4G ordered the simply prepared but tasty wok fried barramundi with seasoned soy.

Steamed barramundi

Steamed barramundi

I ordered the crispy skin chicken with lemon and spicy salt. Our meals were accompanied by wok tossed greens and special fried rice.

Crispy skin chiken

Crispy skin chiken

Desserts were fantastic with my apples being finished at the table. Mr. CA4G ordered the Banana Fritters (lightly battered banana with maple syrup and Rickett’s Point
organic vanilla ice-cream).

Banana fritters

Banana fritters

Peking Toffee Apple (lightly battered apple covered in molten toffee served with Rickett’s Point organic cinnamon ice-cream). Each piece of battered apple was dipped and coated in the toffee and then plunged in to a bowl of iced water to harden the toffee and then plated. The waiters then “pulled” the remaining toffee in to threads for garnish.

Peking style toffee apple

Peking style toffee apple

After a fantastic lunch it was time wander around a little more and then head back to the hotel and relax. Again lunch was so filling we skipped dinner and had a glass of wine and snacks in the lounge of the hotel.

It was great to have a little break away from Sydney.

 
  

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