Tag Archives: late-night dining

European-influenced dining for the night owls

I am fast burning bridges to my former life as a pseudo-anorexic. The good thing about this is I eat out and enjoy eating out immensely. The bad thing about this is there seems to be so many wonderful culinary stalwarts around Melbourne that I’ve never dined at before. The European Restaurant on Spring Street in the CBD was till recently one such place.

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Dinner was at the rather late hour of 9pm. After a quiet, leisurely stroll through the Treasury Gardens and making friends with some possums there, I arrived to find I was first, and on time. A glass of manzanilla while I wait! Eventually a semi-apologetic T turns up having been wooed by the beer choice at Biero Bar over the other side of the CBD. Hello glass of amontillado! I am always reminded of Poe’s short story whenever I see the name ‘Amontillado’.

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We were still waiting on our chum Nat but she was running late. My tummy couldn’t wait much longer, so I ordered. I was in the mood for lots of small dishes, rather than one large main.

First up, sage and anchovy fritters. Beautiful, feathery-light batter coupled with the saltiness of anchovies. The accompanying sauce was zesty.

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Next up, some jamon Serrano with a generous amount of sourdough. If beer and cheese won’t be the death of me, then cured meats definitely will! I hadn’t had any cured meat for a while so this actually felt like a massive treat.

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But no, wait! I haven’t finished clogging my arteries with fatty, meaty goodness. Thus the duck terrine with house condiments and grilled baguette came to the rescue! T wasn’t too impressed with the stingy serving of the terrine. Haters gonna hate, as all you hip kids say. I loved the small side salad, it was so tart and set off the gamey flavour of the duck well.

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That was good! Yea, Nat arrived! She chose the Tom Cooper smoked salmon celeriac remoulade and horseradish cream.

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She twisted my arm and we both finished off with vanilla bean-flecked crème brûlée. Personally, I prefer mine with a thicker crust of burnt sugar. This one was politely singed.

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Still, quite a blissful late night meal. The main menu is available till 10pm and after that they change to a reduced supper menu which still has lots of substantial items to constitute a damned fine meal. Given my insomniac tendencies, I know I’ll be back.

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no love affair with Ling Nam

I was famished after the Amanda Palmer gig, and having had an ace visit the night before at Danny’s Burgers, didn’t think I could justify going there again, two nights in a row. While walking to the car, myself and Bit O’ Meat decided to hit Chinatown as dumplings seemed to be an acceptable late-night fast food. Previously disappointed by a visit to the Supper Inn, which no longer seems to be as good as it once was, we tried a place called Ling Nam. Not Ling Nan as their own business card and menu state. I wasn’t bursting-at-the-seams eager, but not much else was available approaching midnight so this modest place had to do. How bad could Chinese food be, really.

Ling Nam seems pretty small and the service is curt, but that was okay – it seems to be the modus operandi of many a Chinatown eatery to serve and turf you. That’s cool – most of us know this. We decided upon the boneless duckling with yam, and the pork belly hotpot with pickled vegetables. Bit O’ Meat was asked if he was sure he wanted to proceed with his dish as it was generally considered very oily by Westerners. He looked a bit shocked, but insisted politely that he wouldn’t like to change his order. The waiter then proceeded to rob us of our chopsticks and we had to inform him quite forcefully that we were okay with the current eating implements.

The servings were absolutely huge, and wonderfully hearty. The pork belly was so tender and the slices barely held together. I would have liked more vegetables underneath though. Admittedly, yes, the duck with yam was an acquired taste – I wasn’t so fond of the actual batter itself (I am sorry to be frank, but much later after we were well away from the dining table, I felt it reeked of a particular male emission…). I do in fact love yam.

pork belly hotpot with pickled vegetables

boneless duckling with yam

 

Initially, Bit O’ Meat found a small hair in the duck and yam dish but seemed okay to keep eating. He then found a much larger hair in the pork belly, at which point I said I couldn’t continue eating the food. I have to admit, I was really unsure how to handle the situation and my dining partner seemed to have less initiative. I eventually summoned up the courage to tell a waitress what the problem was. Not once did she apologise for the situation and said that we could either get fresh dishes, or get fresh dishes to takeaway. I said to be honest, I’d just prefer to leave – and did not say this with malice. At this point, she became furious and insisted that we had to pay regardless because we’d eaten some of the food despite me pointing out that we’d eaten up to the point at which we’d found hair in the food. Not wanting to cause a further scene, we let ourselves be bullied into taking away fresh versions of our dishes.

We returned home feeling pretty downtrodden and a couple of days later, the takeaway is still sitting in my fridge. Although my recent experience with Supper Inn was rather lacklustre, I would easily recommend it over Ling Nam and it genuinely pains me to have to give such a negative review. Another food blogging colleague has enjoyed dining there so while the service is appalling and highly unprofessional, it cannot be ignored that the food is good, and it also shuts earlier in the morning than even Supper Inn (2am and 3.30am comparatively).

For future reference, if you want late-night nosh, I would instead recommend Supper Inn in Chinatown (open to 2am), Stalactites (open 24 hours) on the corners of Russell and Lonsdale Streets (don’t pretend you haven’t done the trashy nightclub drunken stagger for one of their kebabs – I won’t believe you!), or a little further north to Danny’s Burgers in North Fitzroy (open to 2am). No, it’s top-notch, but they will all do at a pinch and you’ll leave fortified.

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drive-by Mexican

At the very last minute last week, I was invited out to Mamasita which has newly opened in the Paris end of Collins St in the city. Thanks very much fellow foodie @praxxis for thinking of me. If I recall correctly, it only opened last week, on Tuesday. Melbourne Gastronome has posted comprehensively about it, and I’d heard tidbits about it from fellow foodie @jeroxie, and @nedwin.

You’ll have to excuse my photos as the place was pretty dark and these are courtesy of my mobile phone. Real professional-like, eh?

I’ll keep my report brief, and please do note that because of the time I dined there, choices were largely restricted to tapas offerings – they do have a larger lunch and dinner menu that I hope to investigate later on.

My supreme favourite for the evening, the octopus and prawn ceviche.

ceviche 'leche de tigre'

Tart, refreshing, and wonderfully fresh seafood make this fairly simple dish a gustatory treat! Definite pick-me-up for the palate. My mouth waters just to recall it. I like to think of it as an extremely sophisticated seafood salad of sorts.

Next up, mushroom and truffle quesadillas.

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A much more subtle dish, palate-wise. It’s great that it’s shareable too. It will take all your politeness to make sure you don’t sneak an extra slice that wasn’t really meant for you…ooh yeah.

The next photo shows what was actually on the table just as I arrived a tostada share plate. I also witnessed poor @coliwilso and @tristankenney somewhat overcome by chilli sauce overload. T bore it better than C who at one stage looked like he was going to hurl. Poor lad looked far too unwell for the episode to be funny. @praxxis, who sat there with his arms crossed somewhat smugly, implored that this chilli misdemeanour make it into this post, and I have happily obliged. I did remark on the evening that I had never seen either fellow so quiet in a social situation. I entered to practically no greeting!

Moral of the story is, the red chilli sauce is much hotter than the green one – so folks, no matter how hard-arse you are, please use them sparingly!

tostada serving plate of four

My favourites out of this lot are the: the one on the very left – “de Pescado” with market fish with lime, guacamole, nasturtiums & serrano chilli, and then “de Pulpo”: pickled octopus with green chilli, lime and coriander.

Of course, while there, I tried two of the Mexican beers on offer – the Tecate, and the Dos Equis. I much preferred the Tecate, as the Dos Equis is a little too light and watery for my tastes. I don’t really know much about Mexican beer, but I’m always game to try ones I’ve never had. Thankfully, not a Corona in sight! Yes, you did just witness some beer snobbery from me: on a more serious note, if you enjoy Corona, then by all means, drink it!

I wish there were more places that served late-night nibbles of such a high calibre – Melbourne is pretty food-obsessed, so why aren’t there more such places? I know once I start drinking at bars I get insanely peckish. In any case, I’m glad Mamasita has popped up and can’t wait to go again and order some of the lunch/dinner items. Barring the tostada, everything I had when I was there was actually off the tapas menu.

You bet I’ll be going again.

Mamasita on Urbanspoon

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