Tag Archives: bar

not bad for second choice

Panic panic panic.

That was me trying to get a booking for my Sydneysider bestie L for a bunch of us Twitterers to dine at Cookie. For days, no one seemed to be answering their phone. When I finally got through, of course they were all booked up for the night we wanted to dine.

Panic panic panic more.

Tristan suggested The Deanery and I remember hearing some food blogger wanksters saying the food wasn’t half-bad. So I booked.


Not to betray my (old) age or anything, but didn’t The Deanery once used to be frequented by drunk, suited bogans? Perhaps so. It didn’t seem so upon my first visit: the bar area was crowded but the punters were polite. The dining area looked very fancy indeed and the venue’s wine storage is visible from almost every table. Woah. So this is a wine nerd joint, eh?

So of course I ordered a glass of Bridge Road’s Chevalier Saison. I later learnt on Twitter that the keg that just been tapped that same night we were there and more reassuring, The Deanery’s Twitter presence was conversing with Bridge Road’s. Good to see more good food places getting in on the craft beer love.

It gets better.

I didn’t actually order it at the time, but Tristan and Luke had a bottle each of the Weihenstephaner hefe weissbier. Remember guys, when life gives you lemons, get it the fuck away from your hefeweizen. One of my favourite pearls of wisdom from Twitter. Remember folks, this is the One Wheat Beer To Rule Them All.

Weihenstephaner hefeweissbier

I love how the menu is divided into small, medium and large dishes, allowing you to choose lots of small things to make up a meal. Of course, if you prefer the more traditional option of just getting one main, there’s that too. Luke opted to do this and had a humble old steak. He seemed pretty taken with it!

His partner Kim chose the Momofuku-inspired steamed pork buns as a starter, as did Tristan. Due to the absence of serious tech, you’ll have to suffer my ghetto mobile phone photos. I do apologise as it won’t do the morsels justice. I believe these appear in the Momofuku cookbook so you can try your hand at making them at home, like this blog has. The consensus seemed to be that The Deanery’s take on them were okay.

steamed pork buns 'inspired by Momofuku'

Kim then went with the duck pie, celeriac purée and preserved mushrooms on my erroneous advice that it came highly recommended. Turns out I had confused it with The Lincoln’s duck pie. She decided to order it anyway and declared it wonderful.

duck pie, celeriac puree, preserved mushrooms

Big sis L started off her culinary adventures with the quail with coconut, yoghurt and tamarind chutney. She really enjoyed it but as quails are a somewhat bony bird, that can dampen the nomming experience. Just the way the figurative cookie crumbles!

quail, coconut, yoghurt, tamarind chutney

After much indecision (with which the waiter was not very sympathetic, it has to be said), for mains she chose to have the pork belly. Greedily, I looked on!

pork belly, cabbage, apple, candied walnuts, mustard sauce

I had two starter-type dishes: first, a trio of freshly shucked oysters with the house made XO sauce – not only do they look visually stunning, but devouring them was a punchy, flavoured treat. The last time I’d had oysters previous to this occasion, they weren’t fresh so this restored my confidence in them! A trio wasn’t enough.

oysters, freshly shucked to order with house made XO sauce

My second gluttonous escapade was the rabbit rilette with prunes. I was curious as to what rilette was and discovered that it’s a meaty, finely shredded preparation that lends itself to spreading and snacking as if parfait or pâté.

rabbit rilettes and prunes

Consider this bouche much amused! Under the layer of fat, the meat hides making it easier to spread and enhancing each others’ flavour. I love these sorts of dishes because I really do find they whet the appetite but they’re also substantial if you’re not wanting an epic fatty meal.

rabbit rilette, detail

To bulk up my deliberately small meal, I ordered a side of the watercress and fennel salad. As a personal preference, I would have preferred more watercress rather than fennel and for the salad to be equally composed of both ingredients as fennel is rather astringent. Besides, I’m British and we love watercress, haha.

fennel and watercress salad

Tristan’s main was the slow braised goat, almond and currant couscous with yoghurt. High fives for goat meat! Surprisingly, I don’t think he was as gushy about it as I expected.

slow braised goat, almond and currant couscous & yoghurt

The fitout of the eating area is swanky and the service is mostly lovely – big sis L wasn’t impressed with the waiter that served her and to be honest neither was I, only because I sometimes got the impression that he’d much rather be doing something else than helping our table (as was in evidence when we asked for the bill). The rest of the staff were great and it’d be ace to try out more enticing menu items on a future visit! Was a shame there was no time for dessert as we had to nick off and pretend to be cool cats at yet another Melbourne hotspot…stay tuned!

The Deanery on Urbanspoon

it began in Transylvania

Thanks to that quartet of books by that lady who loves Muse, vampire literature has seen quite the resurgence in popularity. Indeed, according to a Paris Review interview with Stephen King conducted in 2006, vampires have never really gone out of fashion.

It was of course Irish writer Bram Stoker who showed us how this vampire stuff was done, initially (poor John Polidori!). Bleeding legend, historical persons and a good ol’ dash of Victorian sexual repression into each other (no pun intended), his novel Dracula continues to entertain and inspire supernatural media even today. But please don’t mention Keanu Reeves in Francis Ford Coppola’s film – it’s still a sore spot.

So basically, to get their kicks off, Victorian audiences were entertained by tales of aberrant sexuality…in Eastern Europe.

These were the things I was thinking about when I first learnt about the origins of the name Naked For Satan, a new pintxos bar in Fitzroy. Leon Satanovich, the man who partially lends his name to the venue, was actually from Russia. ‘Naked For Satan’ actually refers to getting near-naked to work on the stills, creating moonshine for Satan, as the Aussies christened him, given that Satanovich is apparently too much of a mouthful.

You lot probably want me to shut up now, so here is a fab pic of the interior.

naked for satan interior

By the time I took one of my closest friends L to Naked For Satan for lunch, I’d already been a few times (pretty rare for me!). I figured it would impress her, as she is from Sydney. I’d never heard of pintxos before this gorgeous bar opened up so numerous ‘research’ trips were imperative for educating: pintxos being the Basque version of tapas. Save your toothpicks and you pay $2 for each morsel you devour at the end of your session, and order drinks along the way. Be careful who you go out with as they will most likely repeat the word ‘pintxos’ in the most annoying manner possible (Tristan and Alex, I’m looking at you).

pintxos receptacle

Make sure you leave room (in your belly and on your plate!) for the hot ones that are served personally by the staff who make a round of the bar to bring them to you.

There is a good array of vegetarian ones, and even some desserty ones – miniature profiterole-type whatsits and *cue zomg here* prunes soaked in armagnac.

prunes soaked in armagnac & profiterole-type pastries

My only criticism is that some of the cream cheese-based ones are a little heavy on the cheese.

Here’s one of my favourite ones – Tom Cooper smoked salmon. Pretty simple combination but I love it so.

smoked salmon and preserved lemon

Another fave is the chilli mussels with capers.

chilli mussels and capers

If you’d like to see more photos of the delectable deliciousness, please go to Tristan’s Flickr set. I want to talk about the drinks now! For example, their Naked For Satan ale is brewed especially for the venue by Matilda Bay’s garage. It’s a wheat beer, and a pretty approachable one at that, which subtle banana esters (so you can get a whiff of banana) and hints of clove. These are pretty standard in wheat beers. It’s a very chuggable drop – should be more so in the extreme heat of summer. Word is it’s also modelled on Matilda Bay’s retired Redback.

naked for satan wheat beer (brewed by matilda bay garage)

Oh yes, then there’s the infused vodkas, that which they use in their cocktails. L and I shared an Opiumtini – their take on the vodka martini which has opium-infused vodka softened with rose. It’s like drinking liquid Turkish delight! Heavenly. On a toothpick, there are three teensy rosebuds floating in the cocktail.


Or a take on their Bloody Mary? Silly Tristan doesn’t like Bloody Marys (‘Maries’ sounds wrong!) because they remind him of V8 juice! Ha. I can understand that.

Bloody Mary

Each time I’ve been here, it’s never failed to impress me and I’ve tested the array of pintxos available quite extensively. Despite how swanky it is, I’m surprised by how wonderfully friendly and informative the staff are. And how beautiful the space is! Judging from the entrance, you wouldn’t think it to be as roomy as it is and every inch is decked out in style. I hope the visit impressed my Sydneysider bestie!

Naked For Satan on Urbanspoon

op shops and laneways

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, then you know that the part of Melbourne that I live in is not exactly brimming with culinary goodness. However, if you venture up to Eltham, in Melbourne’s north, there are a few noteworthy exceptions: Montsalvat, a beautiful medieval-style artists’ colony that also used to house a jazz festival but also has a small French restaurant (you can see some photos of a visit made to Montsalvat here). Then there’s Mercer’s which has made it into The Age Good Food Guide a fair few times (post on a visit coming soon!).

Then there’s a tiny former op shop that’s been converted to a cafe during the day and a bar by night called The Lane. It is opposite the fantastic Eltham Bookshop which is very supportive of its local poetry scene. The Lane had made it into The Age Cheap Eats and as T and I are fairly local to the area, we sought to check it out.

The breakfast-brunchy options are quite nice, and indeed quite cheap – the big breakfast being the only item over $15. The first time we went, T got sautéed spinach and poached eggs on toast with citrus mayonnaise. As you can see, it’s a fairly generous serve and T was more than sated.

Citrus poached eggs

I ordered the French toast with stewed apple and maple syrup. I asked for an additional side of bacon. How good is bacon, French toast and maple syrup, seriously?! I loved it. Sorry about the blurry photo – this is quite old and taken when I wasn’t so…careful (read: food blogger wankster)!

French toast with stewed apple

The next time we went there was to catch up with T’s mother who also lives in the area. I was very pleased to learn that The Lane participates in a programme run by the Australian Poetry Centre called ‘Cafe Poets’ – where a cafe ‘adopts’ a poet. When we arrived, T’s mother W was reading a book by the poet. You are also encouraged to write your own poems and drop them into a box there for the purpose. I want to go back and write something!

On this occasion, T got the big breakfast – it looks gorgeous, but T said that it’s really just as good as a big breakfast you can make at home yourself. That’s a bit disappointing.


Sadly, I slightly echoed T’s sentiments with my choice of the scrambled eggs and ham with seeded mustard. The scrambled eggs weren’t quite fluffy enough, though the dish was still yummy. I must remember to have to ham and eggs together more often. It feels less guilty than bacon!


W chose the homemade baked beans on toast and she really seemed to love it. Baked beans sometimes just hit the spot.


I probably won’t be suggesting inner-city types jump in their cars to head to The Lane (or worse still, grab a Hurstbridge line train…it’s not too far from Eltham station), but if you live in the area it is worth the visit. Sometimes you just want to head to a quiet local that hasn’t been hit up with ThreeThousand-reading hipsters or food bloggers hungry for that next breakfast fix. But as if you guys would head up to Eltham…

The Lane on Urbanspoon