Bella Vedere, Coldstream

We've been wanting to visit Bella Vedere ever since we've read reviews as far back as 2005. For one reason or another, we've never made it there. This time on the way back from Mt Buller, we made a slight detour and we were pleasantly rewarded with a rustic farmhouse filled with glasses clinking and diners chatting and customers walking in as late as 3:30pm having lunch!


The Grill - Grossi Florentino

We have heard many reviews on the famous Grossi Florentino so we decided to give the modern Italian “The Grill” a try when mum visited us.

Both Harry and I went for the pre-theatre $35 menu with 2 courses, a glass of wine and coffee/tea. Harry got the calamari ragu, which was a dish of smooth al dente pasta with a rich ragu. It did have a bit of a fishy whiff to it, but not overly so. Perhaps a touch more garlic would have made it a more rounded dish.


Bun Rieu - Thanh Tam

Bun Rieu - Thanh Tam AUD8

After having an eye-opening Bún riêu in Hanoi, I was eager to try the Melbourne versions. After a long search, I was rewarded with a bowl of light fish soup with slices of tender pork leg, tofu puffs, a slab of silky egg custard with dried shrimp, meatballs and cubes of pig blood. The light fish broth wasn't as interesting as the Bun Rieu Cua Kho dry Hanoi version with it's shrimp and chilli paste topping moistened with a little pork broth, but it was more fragrant and more complex compared to the Bun Rieu Cua Nuoc soup version.
I was initially tossing up between the Bún riêu and Bún Mắm, so I asked the waitress which one was better. Without hesitating, she replied "Bún riêu". Bún riêu it was, as I was very satisfied with this dish.

Banh Cuon Thanh Tam Restaurant (previously 青霞 Banh Cuon Thanh Ha Restaurant)
(03) 9429 8130
Shp 1/ 172 Victoria St
Richmond VIC 3121

More photos: Banh Cuon Thanh Tam Restaurant - avlxyz/Flickr


Cottage Pie with Cheese-crusted Leeks

A delicious cottage pie with beef mince topped gratinéed cheesy leeks! Delicious, even if I do say so myself!

I added a good splash of port, used diced fennel bulb instead of swedes in the filling, left out the thyme because I didn't have any, and made a sofrito of tomatoes because I couldn't be bothered using tomato purée. The resulting fragrance of port and cinnamon was quite heavenly and rich, without being heavy. The slightly burnt cheesy leeks gave the pie a nice lift too.

Recipe adapted from Delia Smith online:


Ladro Greville Street, Prahran

Gamberi e Piselli AUD20.50
tomato, prawns, peas, chilli basil

We have heard a lot about Ladro Gertrude Street in Fitzroy ever since it was voted one of the best pizza spots in Melbourne. So when I read the favourable review on Ladro Greville Street in The Age a few weeks ago, it was almost wrong not to visit it's newer sibling.

Having heard how hard it is to secure a table, we arrived at their doorstep at 12 noon. It was a slight anticlimax to see only 2 table occupied, but it also meant I could have my pick of seating. I chose a spot next to the window to the courtyard to ensure good lighting for my photos :)

With so many interesting pizzas and small sharing antipasto-style dishes (primi piatti in their parlance), we finally settled on the the Margherita and Gamberi e Piselli pizzas, a a dish of the cannellini bean salad with bottarga.

The spartan looking Margherita pizza was quite delicious, especially the buffalo mozzarella. While we would have preferred more mozzarella, I suspect that it would have made the pizza too rich. The first few mouthfuls was a little disappointing though, but I discovered that with a sprinkle of sea salt, the tomato base came to life!

Margherita AUD16.50
tomato, bufala, basil

Loaded with prawns and peas, the Gamberi e Piselli pizza was much "juicier". Both the prawns and peas were succulent and really popped in your mouth. I was glad that the chilli was quite mild and didn't overpower the rest of the pizza.

Having seen bottarga selling for quite ridiculously exorbitant prices, I decided to try it. In this case, the bottarga was shaved over a refreshing cannellini bean salad piled on top of thinly shaved fennel and a drizzle of good olive oil and lemon. Julia avoided the bottarga with it's strong fishy taste, but the umami-packed crumbles were hard for me to resist! I thought was had a flavour similar to belacan shrimp paste, but less fermented.

Cannellini bean salad with bottarga AUD12.50

While we couldn't finish the pizzas, I wanted something sweet. It was lucky that the Brutta ma buono were just the right size. Small, light meringues studded with chopped almonds made a nice end to the meal, especially with a cup of good black coffee.

Brutta ma buono (ugly but good) AUD3

The kitchen staff had no issues with me taking photos either. I'm sure the fairly open kitchen beside the corridor to the courtyard and toilets is part of the show. It's always nice to see a kitchen humming along.

So, was Ladro as good as the hype? Yes, I think so, but you definitely pay for the privelege. And there was definitely no issues with me taking photos of the food, decor and even the kitchen!

Ladro Greville Street
(03) 9510 2233
162 Greville St
Prahran VIC 3181

More photos: Ladro Greville Street - Flickr

- Ladro Prahran, by Larissa Dubecki, Epicure, The Age, August 3, 2010 15/20 Tried, tested, trustworthy ... Ladro Prahan.
- Ladro Opens on Greville Street, by Hilary McNevin, Broadsheet Melbourne 16th June 2010
- Ladro in Prahran - I'm so hungreeeeeeeeee, Wednesday, June 23, 2010
- Ladro Gertrude Street - by Veda Wickens, CitySearch Melbourne, January 2006 Pizzas are definitely the top pick of the menu here but there are other options on offer in fitting with the Italian theme.
Getting a table in Ladro is easy if you're prepared to sell your first-born. Expect to be served very good pizza (such as the Verde, with green-olive paste, mozzarella, capers and rocket) and have a waiter breathing down your neck if it looks like you'll spend more than 45min eating. It's a tad overrated, but a quintessential Melbourne pizza experience.

Lonely Planet Publications, July 2007.


Tonkotsu Ramen - Satsuki

Who would have thought our love for proper Kyushu Tonkotsu Ramen would be satisfied so close to home. We would never would have guessed that our local Japanese cafe was run by a lady from Kyushu! Once a month, she makes big pot of tonkotsu pork bone broth and her little cafe turns into an endless stream of Japanese speakers in the off-peak hours between lunch and dinner, all of them coming for a comforting bowl of Kyushu Tonkotsu Ramen.


Paper-Wrapped Sponge Cakes

Julia made a light and fluffy Asian-style sponge cake typically made in baking
paper cups, which is where the name 紙包蛋糕 Paper-Wrapped Sponge Cake is from.

Instead of cake flour, Julia used all-purpose flour, but reduced it to suit.


Baclava French Toast - Demitri's Feast AUD11

The Baclava French Toast was quite good, even if it was a slightly unglamourous pile of brown stuff. The fluffy brioche like tsoureki Greek bread had a wonderfully caramelised crust of egg, topped with more caramel walnut that tasted good, but was a bit hard, perhaps better as a praline. Flooded in the orange honey syrup and a splodge of thick Greek yoghurt, the French toast was very good!


Fateh - Oasis Bakery AUD10

A jumble of chickpeas smothered in smooth, cool, creamy mix of tahini and yoghurt, studded with toasted pinenuts and almonds, drizzled with olive oil, piled atop crisp pita chips. The soggy pita underneath was a bit of a treat soaked in the goodness of tahini and yoghurt.

Mexican Taro Bun

Having tackled plenty of bread loaves, Julia decided to make a fancy Japanese/Chinese-style 墨西哥芋容包 Mexican Taro Bun. She used the bread machine to knead and proof the dough, but filling and shaping by hand.
The sweet Japanese-style bun was soft and fluffy, but retaining a semblance to real bread, unlike some from Asian bakeries. The crunchy butter cream topping became a golden crust and provide even more richness to the bun.
Inside was a smooth taro puree filling that was sublime!
Despite being so yummy, you wouldn't want to stuff your face with too many or else, the richness would get to you!
As for the name, I have no idea why it is called a "Mexican Bun", but that is what a buttercream topped sweet bun is called, with out without filling.

Eggplant Gratin with Tofu and Miso Sauce - Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking

Deliciously creamy sauce with a nice miso flavour and silky chunks of grilled eggplant!
The recipe is a basically a bechamel sauce with butter, flour, milk and pureed silken tofu instead of cream. There's only a small amount of butter and cream for a bit of flavour, but it probably doesn't need it.
- Eggplant Gratin with Tofu and Miso Sauce - Foodista adapted from Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking


Cha Ca La Vong, Hanoi, Vietnam

Fish and dill for 2 - Cha Ca La Vong VND120000 each

Chả cá Lã Vọng is a legendary, but over-priced shop selling only one dish, Turmeric Grilled Fish. So famous, they named the street after it!

Service is gruff, and everyone is directed up steep stairs where people are huddled around a clay brazier topped with a pan sizzling with turmeric-stained fillets of fish.

We are shown a table and given a sign that says "Only one dish in our restauran Grilled Fish price: 120.000VND/person (Not included drink)". Slightly taken aback at the price, we decide to press on and order 2 serves.