Tag Archives: tapas

Basque Tapas and Wine

159 Chapel St, Windsor

Spanish

http://www.basque.com.au/

Basque Tapas has been serving up Spanish food since 2003 but I haven’t eaten there before other than for a quick lunchtime burger with their $10 deal. On Friday night I popped in for a late dinner. The restaurant was reasonably quiet for 9:30pm so we took a seat in the street side outdoor alcove. The menus were delivered quickly although it took quite some time for our orders to be taken.

The menu is mainly tapas but there were also a few full meals and paella to share. There were also set menus available. The tapas seemed pricey to make a meal of, so we decided to share a wild rabbit and chicken paella, and start with the black pudding pan seared with apple and sage on bread, and patatas bravas picante, which are crispy potatoes served with aioli and spicy tomato sauce.

paella

We also ordered a bottle of the house merlot from a wine menu that seemed over-priced. On the way home I noticed the house wine was selling at $8 a bottle at the store a few shops down so the $35 they were charging seemed a bit rich, even with restaurant mark up.

Points for authenticity go to the waitress taking our order. Her Spanish accent was strong enough to make her a little difficult to understand. The staff in general were friendly and helpful.

blackpudding

The potatoes were nice enough and a good sized helping. Perhaps it was a stretch to describe them as crispy on the menu though. The black pudding was excellent and I’d definitely have that again (excuse it being half eaten the photo). The paella was very good although the rabbit on the bone made eating a little difficult. It was a good helping and we were too full at the end of it to consider the desserts menu. I’m sure the staff appreciated this as we were the last people in the restaurant.

Everything about Basque was satisfactory without being standout. Still, it’s probably your best option for authentic Spanish in Prahran/Windsor if that’s what you’re looking for. It’s also your only option.

Basque Tapas & Wine on Urbanspoon

Montrose 1887

34 Chapel St, Windsor

Cafe/Tapas

To be honest we only walked in here by accident, but when we got in there and realised we were the only potential customers in the place I felt too bad to leave.  Montrose 1887, has only been open a couple of months, not 127 years as the name might suggest, so now seemed like as good a time as any to review it.

restaurant

The reno since it was Dino’s Cafe has been done tastefully although I had to hold myself back from going on a light bulb smashing rampage as yet another restaurant has gone down the naked Edison bulb path of lighting.  Is there no creative lighting left?  I can’t remember the last time I reviewed a place that didn’t have these lights.

lights

Given we were the only customers in there, we took our pick of the many tables available and took one near the entrance.  The staff were very attentive, as you would hope given the situation.  The menus we were given were broken up into tapas, mains and a couple of desserts and we decided to try a couple of the tapas items each.  We ordered the saffron chilli chicken pinchos with lime tomatillo salsa, the butterflied local prawns in a sizzling jerk sauce, the tostaditas with pulled pork, guacamole, enoki mushrooms, pickled carrots and salsa, and the yucca croquettes with mojo.

The food was presented very nicely – and I’d love to show you nice photos of it, but even though we were sitting directly under 3 light bulbs, they failed to give off enough light to get a decent photo.  The croquettes were served in a mini deep-frying basket and cut to look like fat chips.  They were crispy and delicious.  The chicken skewers were okay but being cut from breast they were a little dry.  The prawns were very nice as was the jerk sauce.  I think I actually finished them without making any jerk sauce jokes too which was a pretty good effort.  The tostaditas looked a picture and were a great flavour combination.

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A couple of tapas each was not particularly filling but it’d be an expensive exercise to try to satisfy a big hunger here.  Luckily there is a pizza joint over the road so I got a large Windsor Classico on the way home.

Special mention must go to the bathroom decor though.  Although the restaurant lighting may be passé, it’s the first time I’ve seen a massive bouy in a bathroom (except for that incident at Summadayze 2006).  I was very tempted to climb up on it Miley Cyrus – Wrecking Ball style.  And who doesn’t love a talking penis poster?

toilet1 toilet2

All in all though, it’s definitely worth sticking your head into this cafe located directly over the road from Windsor Station.  Hopefully it’ll be a bit busier when you visit.

Montrose 1887 on Urbanspoon

Ruby Tuesdays

217 Chapel St , Prahran

Pub Food/Tapas/European

I’ve wandered past here many times but never gone in before.  This time the drinks specials including $5 beers all day every day sold me on trying it for dinner.  As it turns out this is a bit of a false pretense.  After seeing patrons outside imbibing large glasses of Budvar, I was under the impression that this would be the beer in question, not the 300ml pot of dark lager of unknown origin that was presented.  $5 a pot is not a bargain by any stretch.

Ruby Tuesdays has a street facing bar to sit at, as well as street furniture, and couches and tables inside.  The decor is fairly random to say the least.  Ochre coloured paint on the walls out the front, animal print panels on the roof, a blue upholstered bar, and dark tiles and mirrors on the other wall.

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I grabbed a couple of the hand drawn and colourful menus from the bar.  Somebody obviously likes their arts and crafts.  One side listed a number of tapas style meals such as pan-fried haloumi, chili mussels, and carpaccio.  The other side listed meals in four sections; pasta and risotto; mains; char-grilled beef; and salads.  I went for the North Indian Chicken Curry and my friend went for the Penne Salmon and Avocado.

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After we ordered, a table out on the street became available so we grabbed it.  The couch style seating at the table inside was not really conducive to eating at.  When the food arrived it was nicely presented.  The helping of penne was large and it tasted good, although it had a slightly odd smokey taste to it.  The curry however, was not a particularly large helping.  On the menu it said it was served with rice, yoghurt and pappadams.  When it arrived there was a small serve of rice and two unidentified globules, one orange and one grey.  Possibly the orange one had some yoghurt in it but the grey one definitely wasn’t pappadams.  That said, they were both quite tasty and accompanied the curry well.  The curry was mild but very flavourful, and the chicken fell off the bone, however there wasn’t enough rice to go with it and I was still hungry at the end of it.

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The meal and general experience was pretty good – however there was nothing special about it would have me running back here soon.

One tip, the bar/restaurant doesn’t have a toilet but instead uses the common toilet in the basement of the arcade next door.  If you have to use it, be prepared to be reminded of a New York subway toilet in the mid-80s.  And girls, it’s unisex so there are urinals in there that may be being used by guys.  And it’s probably best not to go down there alone with the owner.  He was acquitted of raping a patron in 2010 but you can’t be too careful.

Ruby Tuesdays on Urbanspoon

Ten Lost Tribes

38a Chapel St, Windsor

Mediterranean/Middle Eastern/Tapas

Ten Lost Tribes is a new cafe/restaurant opposite Windsor Station in the old Charlie Weaver building.  The biblical story of the ten lost tribes refers to 10 of the 12 tribes of ancient Israel that were deported from the Kingdom of Israel after it was conquered by Assyria in about 722 BCE.  This hints at the style of cuisine available which is mainly Middle Eastern and Mediterranean.

There is a Middle Eastern feeling to the decor with earthy tones, exposed brick, archways and elaborate chandeliers.  A coffee machine and pastry cabinet greet you as you enter, and then there are two sections of tables split by an archway and bar.  There are a couple of couches for those just having a coffee, and a small inner courtyard.  I watched one fairly rotund gentleman take about six goes at getting out of the couch after downing his Coke Zero, so maybe avoid that if you have back problems.

I had a Groupon deal (love a deal!) for two which included a couple of entrées, mains, desserts and drinks, although I really should have read the voucher before I turned up as I didn’t realise dessert was included, and it wasn’t mentioned by the staff, so I ended up not having it.   Bugger – I missed out on ice cream on a 30 degree evening!  The waiter came and took our drink orders, and seemed pretty nervous in doing so.  When I suggested we were ready with our food order as well he ummed and ahhhed, and turned back between the kitchen and us a few times before carefully writing down our order.  It turns out it was his first night on the job so we afforded him some leeway and tried to keep things simple.

From the list of ten tapas/entrées, named after each of the lost tribes, we ordered some prawn and scallops wrapped in a cone of spring roll type pastry, and a saganaki of fried halloumi cheese.  They were both beautifully presented on a single piece of slate.  The prawn and scallop rolls were crispy and delicious, even if they resembled parsnips.  The halloumi, served with lemon and apple slices on rocket, was okay but not the best I’ve had.  Maybe it was a little thick.

ttt1

The house white wine was a nice sauvignon blanc, I’m guessing from New Zealand, but the waiter couldn’t tell us what it was and never appeared again with an answer when we inquired about it.  We’ll have another glass of whatever that was please!

The selection of mains was fairly limited to say the least.  There were three options available, and one of those, the lamb cutlets, had a surcharge for our Groupon deal.  We ordered the lamb cutlets and the Marrakesh tagine, the third option was a felafel burger .  We also ordered a side of chubby chips.  The presentation of the dishes was very nice.  The lamb cutlets were placed on a neat pile of smashed potato which was delicious and unusual.  The plate was drizzled with a red wine reduction and finished with cherry tomatoes and rosemary mushrooms.  The lamb was tasty but very slightly over done.

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The tagine wasn’t served in a tagine since the owner had apparently accidentally thrown them across the restaurant one evening and was yet to replace them.  It was served in a bowl on a plate, with another bowl containing a mountain of tabbouleh, and a serve of saffron rice and some tortilla bread.  Cooked for six hours, the beef was delicious and tender but you’d have to be a much bigger fan of parsley than me to get through the amount of tabbouleh that accompanied it.   I asked my dinner companion what is the difference between a lentil and a chickpea?  She started to answer with a credible response but I interjected with, “Nobody pays $250 to have a lentil on their chest!”.  I’m not sure it went down that well :-/

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The side of chips was served in a cute mini version of a deep fryer basket.  They were served with a unusual but tasty minty sauce and some aioli.  They were nice and chunky and quite tasty but lacked crispiness.

tlt3

A couple of times the flamboyant owner checked to make sure things were going ok.  His flowing locks hinted at his past life as a hair dresser before RSI brought about new direction in life, and his enthusiasm for the place was infectious.  He has obviously put a lot of work into the place and you wanted it to succeed for him and his chef partner however I got the feeling that operation wasn’t quite up to speed yet.   The restaurant advertises itself as open 7 days, and the voucher said open for dinner Wed-Sun but when I tried to book for a Wednesday night I was told it wouldn’t be open.  The website URL gives a ‘403 Forbidden’ message.  The open hours seem to be quite fluid at the moment, and the service is a little awkward, which I’m sure will improve as the staff get more experience.

Ten Lost Tribes on Urbanspoon

My Little Gogo

56 Chapel Street, Windsor

Japanese Tapas Bar

mylittlegogo.com

Located at the dodgy end of the dodgy end of Chapel St this place seems to have hit the spot décor wise. A large graffiti mural on one wall depicts skulls, eagles, and some amply breasted girls who might look a little Japanese if either you or they squinted their eyes. They almost gave the recently refurbished chest of my dinner companion a run for its money. Hanging from the roof are some large model WWI era planes. Sopwith Camels if I’m not mistaken. The other wall was decorated with magazine images of manga style large breasted dangerous looking women and a vertical garden.

We got a seat at the bar in the large open window facing the street which turned out to be an ideal viewing spot to watch some tool in his T Bucket do burnouts up the street. Ah Chaps, gotta love it. Possibly the most un-Japanese looking waitress ever delivered some menus and some wasabi peas. It consisted of Japanese tapas, main meals, and rice burgers. Craft beers and wine were also on offer. A guy who I’m going to call the owner, since that’s my best guess, suggested at least one of us should try the Happy Ending beer since it was his and he was pretty chuffed with his efforts. Two Happy Endings thanks! Cue a night of hilariously unfunny hand shandy innuendo every time a new beer was ordered.

The un-Japanese looking waitress with a fetish for refilling water glasses took our order. I’m going to guess she was Scandinavian judging by the accent and the hotness, but I’ve been wrong before… it was a balmy spring night in 1988 but we don’t talk about that any more. We ordered some fresh kingfish and tuna sashimi mini tacos to share, my friend ordered a seafood bento box and I ordered a Japanese style pork belly curry. I almost couldn’t due to the criminal levels of apostrophe abuse and random capitalisation on the menu but I battled through. What a trouper. The waitress also seemed to battle with remembering the order and repeated it back a number of times but what the hell, I could listen to that accent all night.

Let’s start with the Happy Ending. Actually a very nice draught beer brewed in Geelong. Another Happy Ending thanks! The bottle has an image of a sumo wrestler, or possibly a very chubby Japanese kid wrestling (or quite possibly fucking) a large fish in some sort of Yin Yang battle. My money was on the fish. The ‘owner’ regaled us with a story about how the image had come from the back tattoo of a patron in a Yakuza sauna in Japan that he quite possibly shouldn’t have been in.

The mini tacos were certainly that. In fact, the tacos were quite possibly Sakata crackers, but the fish was delicious, particularly the tuna. The kingfish could have done without the sprouts on it… but then again I think that’s a rule for life, not just for uncooked Piscean morsels on crackers. Fish tacos with a Happy Ending was a good combo.

Our Scandinavian waitress then delivered the miso soup to my friend and then seemed to have a mild panic attack about how to put the plate on the table. She was able to calm her nerves though by refilling our water glasses. It seemed to be quite cathartic for her so I had a sip of water every now and again just to keep her from heading for her meds. The miso soup was heartier than your average brew as it was filled with what, after some initial incorrect guesses, turned out to be slices of lotus root and daikon. The ‘owner’ brought out some lotus root fried slices which were delicious too. Lotus root and a Happy Ending… also a good combo.

The bento box arrived consisting of some crumbed oysters topped with tomato and cucumber presented in the shell, a couple of gyoza, rice and some other nibbles which I couldn’t guess what they were. It all looked very nice and it tasted how it looked.

Curiously, my pork belly curry arrived in a dish shaped like a fish. Well actually it came in two dishes. The pork belly, rice and salad were served in the fish, and the curry sauce was delivered in a separate bowl. I’m pretty sure I saw one of the waitresses eyes start to twitch as she tried to work out how to place the bowls on the table and who needed a spoon, but in the end it went off without a hitch.

Despite the unusual treatment of adding the curry to the dish as a sauce post serving, which for all I know is the Japanese style, it was very tasty. The pork belly was succulent and the curry sauce was very nice despite the somewhat cold gravy consistency.

We finished the meal with another Happy Ending and the last of the dangerously inconsistent wasabi peas. Happy ending indeed. Instead of struggling to grab a staff members attention to get the bill I simply took a sip of water knowing that our Aquarian super waitress would be onto it quick smart.

I might well be back to try their unique breadless rice burgers and more of that 60s, 70s and 80s rock soundtrack.

My Little Gogo on Urbanspoon