Cucina Bar

We were invited to dine at Cucina Bar and Cucina & Co, and as a bonus we got to dine with @bearabbit & the mischievous +1! They were already at Cucina Bar when we arrived, I don’t think there’s ever been a time which they’ve been late. We were seated by the window ledge looking out to New St in the beautiful coastal suburb of Brighton.

After a quick and warm welcome from Enzo, we were on our way to sampling some great food! To say that the portions were decent was an understatement. We initially thought that we were going to be sharing all the dishes between us 4, until we realised that we were getting our own portions. We started off with the Sardine Beccafino. I’m a huge fan of restaurants using underappreciated fishes, and this dish is a reminder of how great sardines are. As I bit into it, I could hear a crunch followed by an explosion of flavours in my mouth! There was the sea flavour from the sardine, rounded up by the sweetness of the sultanas and orange. It was fantastic, I couldn’t fault it.

Having eaten rice my whole life, you wouldn’t think that rice could excite me anymore. Oh it can, it definitely can! These Arancini balls were some of the best I’ve ever had. Crispy on the outside and the rice inside was not dense at all. The cheese coated each grain of rice beautifully, I was in rice heaven! This is the carb I need in my life, I wouldn’t mind waking up to this every day.

 

When the platters of Tagliere Salumi (cured meats) and Tagliere Formaggi (Italian cheeses) came out, I started to get worried because we were supposed to go across the road to eat at Cucina & Co. Never ones to back down from a challenge we persevered. The best way to tell if an Italian cheese platter is good is to cut into the buffalo mozzarella! If the texture is smooth and creamy then you’d know you’re onto something good. This mozzarella ticked all the boxes and it had a prominent milky taste. The other hard cheeses were equally as good. I also enjoyed the cured meat platter especially the salami. The fat to meat ratio was perfect, if I was to consume saturated fat, this would be my go to meat!

We came, we conquered, and then we were ushered across the road to eat some more. It was a great start to our night at Cucina Bar.

Cucina Bar
Approx $45 AUD per person
Address: 312 New St, Brighton VIC 3186
Phone: +61 3 9592 1592
Website: cucinabar.com.au

Cucina Bar & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Quan Lua

Being Vietnamese, I’ve grown up eating Vietnamese food at home and at the restaurants in Springvale where I’ve had the pleasure of being served authentic dishes. Don’t ever expect any customer service and a clean environment when you’re eating in these restaurants. You’re there for the food and that is it! However over the past few years I have noticed a lot more modern looking Vietnamese restaurants popping up in Springvale.

We recently discovered a fairly new restaurant called Quan Lua that opened up with apparently really good Bun bo Hue. Now for those that don’t know, Bun bo Hue is a spicy Vietnamese noodle soup from Hue, a city in central Vietnam. Davin and I have both had our fair share of this dish in our lifetime and so when a friend of ours told us how good it was there, it certainly piqued our interest.

Located on Buckingham Avenue along a strip of other restaurants and shops, Quan Lua is a smallish no nonsense restaurant. When you enter, you know it’s the real deal when there are only true blue Vietnamese customers dining inside.

For drinks I ordered the iced kumquat drink which was delicious. Davin has never been a fan of kumquat in general but I love it. He stuck to just hot tea.

But we were there of course for their famous Bun bo Hue so we ordered 2 bowls of it and excitedly waited with much anticipation. They came out in large generous bowls piping hot with the usual sides of lime wedges, mint, bean sprouts and other greens to mix in with your Bun bo Hue. The first thing we noticed was that it was packed full of goodies to devour! They definitely didn’t cheapen out as the bowls had lots of beef and pork slices, cubes of pig blood and large pork knuckles.

The first thing I always do when eating a soupy dish is to take a sip of the broth to get a sense of the flavours. The broth was so beautifully flavoured. It had the perfect amount of spiciness combined with the lovely sour and salty flavours to make it a killer broth. The noodles were also perfectly bouncy and not too soft. Coated in the flavoured broth, I enjoyed slurping up every bit of noodle. The beef and pork portions were generous with the right amounts of fat attached to it, however it was the pig blood that was really special. These cubes of blood was so delicate like jelly, and so fresh! I don’t think I’ve ever had pig blood that fresh before.

Verdict? Probably the best Bun bo Hue I’ve had in a long time! Highly recommend! However if you do feel like another soup noodle dish there, I also recommend their country style chicken noodle soup which is also amazing. The broth is herbal based and also really flavoured. The chicken literally just falls off the bone too!

Quan Lua
Approx $15 AUD
Address: 23A Buckingham Ave, Springvale VIC 3171
Phone: +61 (0)401 211 888

Quan Lua Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Belleville

We were recently invited to Belleville, a restaurant and bar located in a rustic warehouse type building near Chinatown. Think dim lights, chandeliers, scuffed walls and floors, loud music and a DJ to create a casual vibe.

Davin and I started off with a couple of drinks and I ordered a dry martini with olives, and Davin ordered a glass of the Champagne Collette.

For starters we ordered the duck ham with taleggio cream, pickled black berry and sour dough crips. We’ve never had duck ham before but the texture and flavours were nice. Davin thought it was probably on the salty side. We also got the chargrilled calamari with ‘ndjuda, cavalo nero and mussels. This was a really nice dish and the seafood was fresh.

With mains we decided to order the Tasmanian salmon with cauliflower, golden raisins and citrus beurre blanc, and their famous rotisserie free range chicken with jus and miso butter. The salmon was nice and cooked well. The rotisserie free range chicken however was a bit of a let down. The chicken skin was on the salty side and tasted more like one of those charcoal chickens you could get from a takeaway shop. It didn’t stand out for us.

We also ordered sides with our mains and got the rotisserie sweet potato with creme fraiche, aged gouda and chives. This was delicious! It came out piping hot and we loved it. We also loved the chargrilled greens with citrus butter and pecorino. It was so flavoured and the greens had a lovely crunch to it.

Overall, Belleville has a great vibe for if you want to have a couple of drinks and food with a bunch of friends in a casual setting.

Belleville
Approx $45 AUD per person
Address: 1 Globe Alley, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: +61 3 9663 4041
Website: belleville-melbourne.com

Belleville Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato