In Melbourne, a city full of food and obsessed by coffee, I cook, I eat, I share the good news and the bad. essjay eats

Saturday Night Schemozzle 31th May 2009

A lovely Saturday night had been planned, a laid back dinner with some new friends at Black Ruby and on to Geralds for scotch and dessert (not necessarily in that order).

It was a pretty frosty when we headed out, and arrived in Rathdowne street to see our dinner guests standing out on the street…ah why?

Turned out that Black Ruby’s didn’t have our booking due to an answering machine malfunction. Darn it! No room at the inn but the obliging Kate sent us away with a bottle of red to keep us company. It was a nice touch, unnecessary as I realise these things just happen, not much you can do about it but accept it in good grace. So we walked the street for a bit looking for a cancellation – what GFC? Every restaurant except the Rathdown street food store and La Porchetta’s was packed.

We rang around a few places and ended up with a spot in 45mins time at Little Zephyr Kitchen 563 Nicholson Street.

We headed up the road for a drink and Gerald’s while we waited, and ran into some old friends. I like Geralds’s, I just wish it was walking distance from my house. (Or perhaps not!)

We’ve eaten at Little Zephyr Kitchen before, one night when we wanted to go to Bistro Flor, and found it an adequate substitute, some nice flavours, a bit clumsy with some offerings but definitely one with potential.

I think I’m striking a few stars off that potential after last night. It’s not that it was bad, it just didn’t feel very “right”.

We shared three entrees, some tasty borek cigars filled with feta and some nice warming spices, a small Aubergine, split in half and grilled, topped with spice lamb mince, and the standout dish of the night some pan seared calimari with house made chorizo. The chorizo really did stand out as delicious and moreish, crunchy and spicy and a good counterfoil to the calamari.

On to the mains then. We were told that the gnocchi was the ‘best in town” and that the chef had learnt it from Guy Grossi (Did we know who Guy is?), and then warned that it was soft and fluffy, “because we’ve had some comments from people who have been surprised that the gnocchi was soft and fluffy…” like … huh? Too much chatty waitstaff, too much useless information. The Gnocchi was OK.

The seafood hotpot looked better than it tasted …

the lamb pizza – salty and, well, meh, not very interesting fill-er-up stodge.

Atlantic Salmon on fat chips with Hollandaise .. meh.

We had dessert as well, but nothing really stood out there either.

Portions were large, service was OK, but $5 EACH corkage….that was a bit rich. You surely “don’t want to encourage it” as we were informed. I think they could have been a bit more generous about the corkage, I’d explained to them that our booking had been lost when I called, and we did turn over a table for them that wouldn’t have turned over otherwise, and once they offered us a discount to $4 each per person I was determined to drink the 2003 Lethbridge Pinot Noir we had brought with us (for our other planned meal, where BYO is welcome) and then they brought it back to the table on ice!!!!!

So I wasn’t all that impressed this time around, and was actually a bit annoyed about the wine – why don’t you just say no? And your website has annoying music on it that you can’t turn off…one of my pet peeves.

So we left fed, but underwhelmed, but not feeling like we’d paid too much. you know, a bit …meh.


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