Posts Tagged Shared Dining

Almost regulars @ Charlie’s Bar

“Welcome to Charlie’s and the Mill. You know the drill. Drinks are flowing, crowd is growing, food is tasty, Barman’s not hasty. Drinks are divine, you’re feeling fine. Faces smiling, mobiles dialing. Sit back and relax, enjoy to the max. Time races past, it’s all gone too fast. Feet are fading, friends are waving. Memories of Fun, the nights all done” – Miche 2011

These are not my words, but the words that you read on the first page of the Charlie’s Bar menu. Any bar that has a knack for words is ok by me.

Charlie’s Bar has always been a favourite CDB bar of mine, but I have recently been venturing there more and more.

During Melbourne Food and Wine festival, I was lucky enough to get media tickets to the Snakes and Ladders event. This event saw us attend four bars all in close proximity to each other. Each bar prepared a signature cocktail and signature bar snack to go with it. After attending this event, I was reminded of my love of Charlie’s Bar.

So for those of you who have never been to Charlie’s, it is located beneath The Mill in Hardware lane.

For me it is such a stark contrast to the bustling, loud and often overwhelming atmosphere of Hardware lane. There are dark steps that take you down into a sleek, sexy cocktail lounge. There is a main area near the bar, then a number of private alcoves to find refuge while you enjoy the delicious drinks prepared by the knowledgeable and might I add handsome staff.

Each night has a different special at Charlie’s Bar and Thursday nights are two for one cocktails. This is of course inviting for those of us who are still students.

With a newfound love for gin, this particular evening, I took a liking to the Bramble. This cocktail is a delicious mix of gin, lemon juice, gomme and a touch of crème de mure. I do have to thank one of the bartenders for this recommendation. I told him I liked gin, and a few other flavours and he made me this.

While the two-for-one deal only includes a handful of cocktails, their list is very extensive and you are sure to find something to your liking.

Charlie’s Bar also offer a number of bar snacks made upstairs at The Mill. These include house made bread and dips, Oysters, olives, mini burgers and more similar items.

If you like cocktails and you like cocktail bars, I highly recommend you pay Charlie’s Bar a visit. If you do, kindly pass on that Amy says hi…

*Images Courtesy of Charlie’s Bar

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Birthday Dinner @ Hellenic Republic, Brunswick East

One of my best friends birthday fell on a Tuesday night this year. Not a great night to hit the dance floor, but perfect to hit up a great restaurant.

To my delight, this particular friend chose to celebrate her birthday at Hellenic Republic, yet another venture from George Colombaris. After amazing experiences at both Maha and The Press Club, I had wanted to visit Hellenic Republic for a while.

The surroundings of the restaurant are not all that inviting, so when the doors open and your taken inside into a large loud welcoming dining room, you can’t help but smile.

After settling in with a bottle of white wine we began to discuss our menu choices. The waitress told us everything should be shared.

Feeling a little overwhelmed by delicious choices and the large amount of Greek on the menu we asked for assistance. We told the waitress that we wanted dips and cheeses and breads to start as well as some meats and fish for mains. We also had a few sides in mind and she was kind enough to offer a small serve of these so we could try everything!

Our entrée arrived…

It was a beautiful array of dips of all flavours with endless grilled flatbread. We also received the grilled saganaki with preserved figs.

The dips were chickpea, eggplant, white bean and Tzatziki. While this is somewhat of a standard entree at a Greek restaurant, it was extra ordinary. The dips were so flavoursome and fresh. The bread was char grilled and brought that unique flavour to the meal. The figs on the Saganaki added sweetness and punch, which you usually don’t find.

The staff

I would like to point out here the staff. They were fantastic! Professional, friendly, chatty, educated and helpful. Like all of George Colombaris’ restaurants that I have dined at, there is an element of familiarity that instantly occurs with the wait staff. How this happens, I do not know! Maybe I should ask George…

On to the main…

The first meal that arrived was the crispy skinned salmon, with the portions changed to cater for our table of four. This dish was simple. Skin on salmon, cooked to perfection with nothing else getting in the way. It was beautiful.

Next was the chicken. This is one of the best dishes I have had in a while, and by far the best chicken dish I have ever had. The chicken was succulent and juicy and packed with that signature-grilled flavour. I was struggling to remember to eat the other dishes.

We chose two sides to accompany our meat and seafood. The first was the salad of grains, currents, seeds, nuts and labne on top. This was the perfect combination to the grilled meats. It was crunchy and packed with flavour. I am a huge fan of nuts and seeds and this was showcasing them brilliantly.

Finally, we had a serve of the potatoes. Big fat perfectly crispy skin on chips were happily devoured along with the rest of the meal.

What really blew me away here was the fact that on paper the menu items read very simply, yet when you eat them they literally explode with flavour, texture, and flavour combinations that are expertly thought out. I find myself coming back to Greek family hospitality. The food is simple, delicious, full of the best ingredients and you feel comfortable enjoying it!

To top this off, the birthday girl was presented a birthday dessert as a surprise at the end of the meal.

I am heading back next week for an Up Close and Personal Lunch to meet George Colombaris and head chef Travis McAuley…I’m going to have to try to find out their secrets!

 

For more information:

Hellenic Republic

434 Lygon Street

Brunswick East 3057

(03) 9381 1222

 

 

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Sharing Everything @ MoVida Aqui, Melbourne

With Friday night looming, I took a chance and called MoVida to see if they had any reservations available for any of their venues. To my surprise they had a late seating free at MoVida Aqui, I jumped at the opportunity!

We climbed the metal stairs and entered the huge open restaurant with excitement.

The waitress kindly explained how the menu worked, never having eaten there before, and we were off deciding!

Tapas Classics – bites!

We both chose one of the Bomba (Catalan Potato bomb filed with Chorizo).

This was yummy, rich from the mashed potato, flavour from the chorizo in the centre and crunchy from the crisp outer layer. The sauce that was drizzled over the top was a little spicy and added a bit of punch. I have to say; I would have like a little more sauce to potato ratio, but not a huge complaint.

We both also chose the Bocadillo de Calamares (calamari sandwich with Basque quindilla and mayonnaise).

I ordered this upon recommendation and my goodness I was not disappointed! This was by far the standout for me. The calamari was lightly floured and fried and was the perfect texture. It was then sandwiched between crunchy fresh rolls and lathered with beautifully fresh flavoured mayonnaise. I would have been happy with 10 more of these for the night!

We moved on however…

Raciones – shared dishes

 

We chose two of these dishes to share.

The first was the Vieira (Live half shell Western Australian Scallops with jamon and potato foam).

Again, it was great. The jamon was crisp and salty offering contrast to the juicy fresh scallops. They were so fresh, there was sand in a few of the shells which did detract from the experience a little, but again a minor complaint.

Our second choice was the Carillera de Buey (slowly braised beef cheek in Pedro Ximenez on cauliflower puree).

Just beautiful! The beef was so tender that when we went to cut it in half it almost melted underneath the fork. It melted in your mouth and the sauce was rich and thick and mixed with the puree perfectly. The puree was creamy, yet didn’t over power the dish and was not too rich either. Delicious!

Poste – Dessert

We again decided to share.

We ordered one Ganacha (Hot Chocolate ganache with turron and almond praline ice cream), which was my choice!

This was heavenly. The inside was perfectly moist and runny and the flavour was rich and chocolatey. The ice cream complimented the richness nicely, while the nougat was an exciting crunchy chewy extra.

We also ordered the special of the day, which was the caramelized lemon tart, my boyfriends all time favourite dessert. Saying that he was not disappointed is a big thing! Crisp top, tart creamy texture and firm pastry…really what more does one need from a lemon tart!

We sipped our Pedro Ximenez feeling very full and happy.

For more information:

Movida Aqui

Level 1, 500 Bourke St, Melbourne

http://www.movida.com.au/aqui.html

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