Sunday, 6 December 2009

Eating, and shopping, in Melbourne

(Pictured above, from the top: Mic and Trevar (before eating), gado gado, red curry duck and Thai fish cakes.)

A fabulous two day stay in Melbourne finished last night with Rita’s return to the island, staggering off the Qantas flight with a few bags of Christmas presents and the obligatory (dozen) box of Krispy Kremes picked up at Tullamarine en route to the departure lounge!

The reason for being in Melbourne was work-related, but that didn’t stop Rita making the most of the moment and including a bit of Christmas shopping in the itinerary, not to mention eating what I can say quite honestly was one of the best Asian meals I have ever had out at an average Asian restaurant anywhere.

Let me clarify – there are Asian restaurants like Lee How Fook in Lindisfarne for instance, and Asian restaurants like Me Wah. I’m talking about the normal Asian restaurant like Lee How Fook. I was going to use the word ‘suburban’ in describing it but can’t as the restaurant we went to was smack bang in the heart of the city, that would be totally inaccurate.

We went to a place called Chillipadi. There were 12 of us farewelling each other in this final interstate get-together meal with RICA’s from 4 states, and let me tell you, those RICA’s know how to party!

Luckily Rita had bigger fish to fry, as well as a definite agenda, so, armed with the knowledge that Melbourne, unlike it’s quieter cousin Hobart, had most of the shops open in the city till god knows how late on Friday night, set off after dinner to leave the younger ones to finish off the bottle of bubbly, plus numerous bottles of whites and reds, and trundled off on the Christmas shopping expedition via the circuitous route back to the hotel. (The others pub-crawled the 2 blocks back to the hotel, arriving just in time next morning for the formal Saturday continuation of the two day event! Our guest speaker, noted media psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, took great delight in continually referring back to this evening of debauchery throughout his 90 minute talk, especially as one of the delegates had to literally run from the room, hand clamped firmly over mouth, at one stage!)

To revert to talking about the meal at Chillipadi – it was superb. The menu was ordinary, with nothing to either alert or alarm you. But when the food arrived and Rita gingerly (and surreptitiously) sampled a teaspoon full of each dish as they arrived, I was blown away by the full bodied flavour, and quality of all the dishes.

Our host (ie the lady paying the bill) had previously emailed me asking for recommendations on where she should book the meal for us, as she is based in Sydney and wanted somewhere near our hotel but good. I passed on recommendations based on Melbourne food bloggers previous reviews and comments, and she ended up with two finalists, of whom we voted Chillipadi as being the better option.

When it came to ordering time, she demurred to me, so, together with Rudi, a friend, work colleague and food lover from Canberra whom I have known for many years, we selected a good cross section of dishes which we thought should have something for everyone, and covered all taste preferences. We asked for two plates of everything to be put at either end of the long table too, which turned out to be an inspired decision, as by the time the mains came out, sign language was the only way of conversing, so it was easier to just eat what was in front of you and shut up! (I’m saying it was loud and noisy there!)

We had ordered just three items to start the meal with – Thai fish cakes (which contained 3 on each plate), gado gado (x 2 plates), roti bread and curry sauce. The curry sauce was the waiter’s suggestion, so I deferred to him at ordering time, and have never been more pleased to have done so – it was magnificent. You dipped your roti bread into the curry sauce and were transported into heaven! The Thai fish cakes were the best I’d had out (following my disappointing Thai fish cake experience at Stillwater a few months back), and the gado gado ditto.

For mains we ordered a Red Curry Duck, Green Chicken Curry, Beef Rendang and Salt and Pepper Squid, as well as rice and more roti bread to mop up the ten tons of curry sauce still left, as they gave us huge bowls of it!

I won’t go crazy with the descriptions but it was truly fantastic food, and I’m so glad we went there, passing literally 100’s of restaurants and cafes on the way.

I don’t know about global economic crisis as there didn’t seem to be too much evidence of it in Melbourne on Friday and yesterday as Rita hit the shops, however my taxi driver did say that it had been quieter lately in his business - a pretty good barometer I’d say. Rita did her best to support the economy anyway!

Posted on by Rita


Anonymous said...

ahhhh, Rita, i cant believe you brought back krispy kremes, have no idea why people rave about them, but the rest of your trip sounds great

Rita said...

I actually don't know why people rave about KK's either - they are just doughnuts after all - and as I have always loved iced doughnuts, naturally I love KK's, but they're not everyone's snack of choice, and why should they be?

Anonymous said...

Imagine if Krispy Kreme opened in Kingston! only joking... just trying to revert attention tho that blog :wink:

Anonymous said...


Something has happened at Tas Coffee Roasters in Sandy Bay.
Went there this morning for a coffee but empty-ish building and heaps of smashed glass???!!!???

Whats happening there? Surely they haven't shut down, thought it would be a successfull business.

Nuf Sed said...

Anon 1.54

I had the same problem as you today! TCR shut????

Ended up having to go to the Sandy Bay bakery instead, the coffee tastes like de-hydroginated dog shit. Pies have tough pastry.

sir grumpy said...

What the hell is a media psychologist, Rita? No wonder we're getting more like America (the stupid bits).

Rita said...

Don't know anything about TCR in Sandy Bay, but Sir G - what I meant when I said he was a media psychologist was that you see him every second day on TV getting wheeled out to comment on many and varied issues, or things that occur in the news, like, for instance if a crazy student shoots half his class at school in the classroom, Michael Carr-Gregg is interviewed to psychoanalyse why he thinks the student did this. He's a personable bloke who speaks well, looks good, and is confident about his 'stuff'!