Cavallero, Birdman Eating, Lentil as Anything reviewed; Beer haiku

Reviewing is a difficult art. There are certain constrained forms I particularly like. The obituary. The chess column. The restaurant review. All so constrained by the necessaries, requiring clever use of what little room there is for the decorations. The English tend to do them best. Zia Mahmoud does the most with the least with The Guardian‘s bridge column. Haiku fascinates me. The very word puts me on edge. I hate haiku about as much as shakuhachi music, but at the same time I love it about as much as a good egg breakfast, a short speech, photos of Japanese taking photos of cherry blossoms with unbelievably expensive cameras (snap thanks to a great photographer, Mark Alberding), and the way sacred cows get in the way of traffic in New Delhi. Short is good. Less is more. Small is beautiful. Metre is a useful discipline for the poet’s natural tendency to ungrammatical excess. Some of the most elegant writing going around today is to be found on this website. I particularly like: Continue reading “Cavallero, Birdman Eating, Lentil as Anything reviewed; Beer haiku”

Dante’s Maria buys Glasshouse

Gertrude St is my preferred east-west bike artery into the heart of the city, but from time to time I find myself wandering along Gipps St, one block north. It boasts the Laird O’Cockpen Hotel which in my imagination might conceivably be the place that erotic poet and Liberal parliamentarian Bruce Atkinson visited out of professional obligation, as well as Nicholas Dattner‘s emporium of super expensive wooden tables (did you know his old man was a British spy on whom Trevor Howard’s character was based in the 1949 zither music-rich The Third Man, one of the most famous films of all time?). It also sports the Glasshouse Hotel. I thought it was standing vacant, but I found out a year or so ago it was doing a roaring lesbian trade on certain evenings, and always had done. Now I find Maria from Dante’s in Gertrude St has bought the place. A little online pamphlet named Same Same says of the development: Continue reading “Dante’s Maria buys Glasshouse”

The Age gagas about local establishments

The Age‘s John Lethlean gave Lentil as Anything the thumbs up the other day. Now that same journal’s Michael Herden has given Cavallero on Smith St a decent plug. I’m dying to try the place: the assiduous Breakfast Blogger got there almost a month ago, and he’s got the whole of Melbourne to cover. He wasn’t totally convinced, but I’m calling it teething problems: I want to like the place. Mr Herdern calls Smith St a “psychotically eclectic strip”. Too many interior decor shops already I reckon, but there’s room for a few more Cavalleros (snap). According to the folk who supply their coffee, the Cavalleros have “a shiny new chrome 85 series two group”. That’s a cofee machine.

Terminus Hotel, Alison Whyte, Fred Whitlock

Today’s Good Weekend has a “2 of Us” profile by Bernadette Clohesy of the pair who own the Terminus Hotel, 39 year old Alison Whyte, and 41 year old Fred Whitlock. It’s certainly changing. Upstairs is the now mandatory fine dining restaurant, but there’s also a big party room giving out onto a large deck. Haven’t tried the restaurant, but the pub grub is superb. In fact, it’s a great pub. The place has a website which I have just discovered. Its history of the pub, which the pair purchased in 1996 — 11 years ago — is entertaining. It reveals that the original third partner is the bloke who bought and presumably did up the Healesville Hotel, another great pub, though mainly for the well heeled, unlike the egalitarian Terminus. I signed up for the mailing list so as not to miss out on events such as the 7 Culinary Disasters from the 70s for $70 dinner just gone.

Since the profile of the Whyte-Whitlock combo doesn’t seem to be available online, here are the bare bones, the bits at least not already covered by this newspaper (here and here). Whyte’s from Tasmania, Whitlock from New Zealand. They met at the Victorian College of the Arts. The class of people who transferred from Duntroon to the VCA might conceivably number one: just Whitlock. They have three children under 6: Rose, Milly and Atticus, and live in the Yarra Valley. That seems to have something to do with Whitlock getting stabbed in the head by a local: Continue reading “Terminus Hotel, Alison Whyte, Fred Whitlock”

Victoria St this is not: Hanoi’s famed Cha Ca La Vong Restaurant

My father is this blog’s first foreign correspondent. On assignment in Hanoi just the other day, his camera phone snapped these images of how I wish Victoria St could be. I tell you, if you went to many places in old South East Asia and bought the entire fitout — well, perhaps not this restaurant’s — and installed it into some shell in Melbourne, you’d make a killing. This is the yellow fish restaurant. That’s all they sell, but it’s packed out. They don’t waste this stuff on the tourists, but very expensive and increasingly-difficult-to-come-by sauce made out of the eyes of particular insects is the traditional accompaniment. You just can’t buy this stuff in Victoria St, along with so much else of Vietnam’s glorious cuisine. More photos here.

Two for one loaf deal on Smith St

Pastry Art Design, at 280 Smith St, next to Gluttony, is a strange old bakery I’ve never quite been able to categorise. It has a two for one loaf deal on Saturdays and Sundays, so I picked up a white sourdough cobb and a fruit loaf for $3.50. They do very good pastries, good cold pizza squares and focaccias, as well as bread which is good without ever being outstanding. Certainly, it is a cut above Baker’s Delight. But the exception to this goodness was an inviting but dreadful loaf of olive bread: the olives were those tasteless unripe green olives dyed black by being soaked in lye and pumped with oxygen (a revelation to be found in Stephanie’s Cook’s Companion) found on poor quality pizzas. As indication of how olivy it wasn’t, consider that I took a piece of the stuff and ate it happily with lemon buter on top. I think there are too many laws already, but there should nevertheless be a law against such fraud.

3 of best 10 cheap eats within this blog’sosphere

The Age has helpfully identified “10 of the best” — I like the modesty of these words in a best of list — inventive cheap eats. Southern Richmond’s Pearl gets an honourable mention for $16 eggs on toast (keep it real, Cheap Eats), but I have to admit it’s one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to, and you can go there for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a drink. Then the Builder’s Arms on Gertrude Street Fitzroy comes in at number 3 for a $14 “3 mint pea soup with smoked paprika butter with steamed prawns” which sounds rather good. And Replete just down from MLC in Hawthorn, but metres away from being Kew, gets another gong at #6 for $12.50 ricotta hotcakes with lemon curd and strawberries. Thanks to Flickr’s Spin Spin for the photo of an uncommonly unpopulated image of the Builder’s Arms.