Sliders and…Grange.

It was the toast that got me…

We had my brother Franco over for dinner and I asked what we were toasting when my dad cracked a bottle of Henriot Brut Sovereign from the fridge.. The reply from my mother was that we were celebrating life in general. Truer words were not have said. Too many times bottles are saved for that special occasion, but in hindsight looking back at the recent disaster to hit the East Coast of USA and how many innocent lives were cut short, what if that special occasion never occurs? So.. We needed a food pairing to go with mum’s bacon cheese brioche sliders. Apparently, according to my dad, the answer is ’82 Grange. But of course.

Sliders and Grange

So, here’s to those special bottles in your cellar. Why wait?



Joe’s Bar and Dining Hall

It was with great glee…

That J and I decieded to descend on  Joe’s – or, more correctly – rebirthed Greasy Joe’s, serving Melbourne’s finest with food akin to the name for the better part of 30 years. The weather was balmy, so with the sunroof down we trekked out to lively Acland St. What a mission that was. The drive was superb, but trying to find a park on a 27 degree Melbourne night when it appeared half the population had the same idea proved incredibly difficult. I timed our journey including trying to park at 1 hour 12 minutes. For a burger. That there folks is dedication. So you will forgive me for crossing over Carlisle St and into Acland’s more timid end. Admittedly, we did do a lap first of Acland St on the journey over and were stunned at just how many people were out and about. We even crossed a herd of bikies on a way through. Many a joke about what-if scenarios were had about consequences of knocking a bike over. So we tip-toed.

The first thing that will strike you on arrival, is not the faint quiff of amazingly fried patties, but rather the open sewerage from nearby footpath constructions. Hey, it might not transfer you to a Brooklyn burger joint, but at least you will feel like you are having a slice of America in downtown Phuket.

Sitting down to a rather empty restaurant we decided on Joe’s Classic; an amalgam of juicy patties, bacon, tomato, onion, double cheese and a mild mustard aioli. At 30 minutes lead time, (plus the travel time) expectations peaked and frustration set in. In an empty restaurant with presumably a full kitchen it was a little lousy to wait so long just for a burger and fries. Nevertheless, here they were.

Deconstructed Joe’s Classic at Joe’s Bar and Dining Hall

A deconstructed plate of assorted meats and veg. I jettisoned the majority of the raw tomato to one side and tucked in. The burgers themselves were tender and appropriately cooked (Perhaps, if i’m nitpicking, they could have been a touch more pink). They were good (I wouldn’t say mind-blowing), slightly too over-peppered but the bacon was the saving grace, crisp, salty and married harmoniously to the cheese. $18 for the burger and fries represented pretty good value.

I will add as a footnote my bun did quasi-crumble 1/3 of the way in, but overall Joe’s was OK. The fries won’t steal your heart, and the burger probably won’t either in truth – But if you find yourself down this end of Acland and Radio Mexico turns you away, consider laying down at Joe’s.

Joe’s Bar and Dining Hall
64-66 Acland St. Kilda
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Cantina Centrale

I’ve had the privilege

Of knowing Patrick Ciccaldo, of Cafe Bedda fame, for a number of years. It was there Patrick was one of the pioneers of single origin Italian food, which in this case was homestyle Sicilian fare. The food there has always been of such high and above all consistent quality, and prices were kept very reasonable. Wanting to branch out and diversify a little more, Cantina Centrale is the latest venture from Ciccaldo and business partner Hugo Diaz and sees the adoption of a more broader Italian offering. Here you might see the Sicilian based taccozzette one week replaced by orecchiette from Puglia the next.. Pizze aside (Although plans for pizza specials are in the pipeline), the food menu will change weekly, and the possibilities will be endless.

So what of the pizza? Well, it’s the cornerstone of the eatery and the reason you will be going there. The 400 degree wood oven churns out pies that are decadent, delicate and perfectly charred. Where these vary from your average are in the quality of the baking, ensuring a consistent cook that  dries the base evenly. Too many times I have had pizza that is soggy in the middle, but by holding the pizzas momentarily over the flames they are able to achieve the charring and remove the moisture which I have come to loathe.

Ciccio Pizza at Cantina Centrale

The Ciccio pizza was one of many that I tried on the night and was my favourite of the evening. The locally sourced smoked pancetta, olives, caramelised onions, fiery (and how original) cayenne, and parmigiano worked flawlessly.

Signor Hugo pizza at Cantina Centrale

Elsewhere, the Signor Hugo offers porcini mushrooms shipped over in their entirety (frozen, not dehydrated like most you’re used to) and married to gorgonzola and mozzarella finished with a lashing of extra virgin olive oil.

Cantina Centrale has only been open a week or so but is already hitting all the marks of another fine Pizza establishment in Melbourne. There are only a handful of true pizzeria that I would bother to recommend to my friends, and C.C. is definitely one of them. Book the table by the window.

Cantina Centrale
11 Hamilton St Mont Albert VIC 3127
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