Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bis Cucina

Foster Street, Sale, Victoria

There are two restaurants in Sale listed int he Good Food Guide - no, make it one. Marlay's closed down recently.

We are left with Bis Cucina, in the modern Arts Centre building. From the outside it looks more like a casual cafe, but in the evening the ambience is inviting as you drive past the floor-to-ceiling windows.

I have eaten there twice, once alone and once with a colleague. On both occasions the service was outstanding: friendly, attentive, knowledgeable and discreet. Their home-made ravioli with a carrot, corn and parmesan sauce is to die for, but I bet you'll never finish a full portion. No matter: the maitre d' will happily package your leftovers for you to take home.

A lovely wine list full of local options too.

Almost worth a trip to Sale just to visit!

Walter's Wine Bar

Southgate, Southbank, Melbourne

A reunion with old friends back from Blighty saw us convene at Walter's, the venerable old reliable on Southbank. A bottle of red on the balcony bathed in the heat of the heat lamps was a great start to the evening, as was the gossip and reminiscing with Robyn and Chris.

Dinner was warm and comforting - starting with a big bowl of onion soup. A beetroot prawn and chorizo risotto was divine, as was Orlando's seafood pie. An amusing mistake was the jug of pepper sauce (as in what you put on your steak) that Orlando got when he looked for pepper (chilli) sauce. It didn't stop him using it on the seafood pie...

Service unobtrusive and excellent. Food about the same. What a lovely night.

Cafe Barcelona

Another rainy night, another stupid decision. We were looking for somewhere cosy out of the chilly night air. Despite my previous assertion that I would not eat there again, we found ourselves back at Cafe Barcelona.

Sadly it was pretty empty (well it was a Monday night); despite this the waiter tried to place three of us at a table which was patently designed for two, and appeared a little put out when we asked to move. The front door would not close properly so we spent the evening shivering with our coats around us. They couldn't get the door to stay shut for more than a few minutes.

The food was mostly good, I'll grant you that. The tortilla was a bit ordinary, but the garlic mushrooms, meatballs, chilli prawns and everything else was lovely. Service (as before) was hit and miss. It took a few tries before we successfully scored more bread to mop up the delicious juices, and we had to defend the dishes stoutly in the meantime. I felt we were in the way to be honest.

The Spanish tempranillo (Vina Albali, one of my favourites) went down well, but we had to spike Shanna's sangria with a slug from the bottle. It was mostly fruit juice.

Again, a disappointing evening all told. This time I will tattoo it on my forehead: don't go back. The thing that annoys me is that Lola's Tapas is only down the road. Why can I never remember to go there?