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The Belvedere Club – Mykonos, Greece

I found out about this restaurant from the chef himself, George Calombaris, whose restaurant The Press Club I went to in Melbourne back in March.  Our first night in Mykonos we decided to stay at the hotel and try The Belvedere Club out.  What a great first dinner!  The setting was beautiful and serene with tables set out by the gorgeously illuminated pool.

We started with the truffle pita (I can never ignore a dish that involves truffles) as well as the saganaki, crispy calamari chips (too curious not to try them:)) and the traditional horiatiki Greek salad.  All were wonderful!  The calamari chips were especially interesting – they resembled thinly shaved and fried onion rings but were much lighter and were very pleasing.  Because we splurged on our appetizers, we ordered the fresh fish of the day to split which ended up being plenty of food.  And of course we saved room for dessert!  The warm chocolate pudding with hot white chocolate sauce didn’t disappoint.  Perfect ending to a delicious Greek meal!

Grilled pita bread with truffle oil & black salt

Crispy calamari chips, garlic mayonaise and lemon

Saganaki

“Horiatki” Greek salad

Fish of the day

Warm chocolate pudding with hot white chocolate sauce

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Vue de Monde – Melbourne, Australia

I am one lucky girl!  Vue de Monde is one of the hardest (if not THE hardest) reservations to get in Melbourne.  As fate would have it, two nights before I got into VDM I was sitting by myself at the bar at MoVida and happened to be sitting one seat away from the Executive Chef there Cory Campbell.  We got to talking and fast forward – he got me in!  I feel really lucky to have gotten such a well rounded eating tour of Melbourne considering I was only there for 3 days.

Vue de Monde is hard for me to describe.  It’s like no other place I’ve ever experienced before.  Shannon Bennett is the brains behind this restaurant and he’s done an excellence job creating a dark modern wonderland.  The tables are wrapped in kangaroo leather (it’s gorgeous) as well as the seat backs.  Mine (unlike my mom’s) was wrapped in the whole hide, fur and all, which I couldn’t stop touching because it was so soft.  For those of you that are squeamish about “fur”…sorry.  There were also a variety of rocks strewn about in the center of the table.  What we didn’t know then was that each had a purpose for dinner.  Two were for salt and pepper, another for your bread and butter plates (they split giving you a flat service).  And then there were two burley twigs which ended up being used to rest the cutlery on.  It’s almost like the underworld of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Back to the food.  Each dish was SO different from the one before in every way…presentation, taste, temperature, texture, you get the idea.  One of my favorite dishes of the night was the Marron which is an Australian crayfish.  It was served warm with a tarragon butter which was to die for.  You weren’t presented any flatware for this dish rather they encourage you to eat this course with your fingers:)  I could have just eaten a whole plate of these all night long.  I liked how playful the chefs are with the food here.  For instance, the wasabi that came with the tomato and watermelon salad was made from powder and then formed into frozen freeform balls by using nitrogen.  It’s the unexpected while at the same time still delivering the expected flavor.  The lemon meringue dessert was the same way, deconstructed but if you took a bite with all of the components on the plate, you got lemon meringue pie!

When you leave you’re escorted through their enormous wine cellar which is quite stunning and then to the elevator.  Before you go you’re given a bag of treat for “the morning after”.  Our had a cute little loaf of brioche, homemade muesli, honey and chocolate chip cookies.  Very unique and definitely something I will remember.

This is a place to go for a special occasion, if you’re visiting Melbourne and appreciate molecular gastronomy/modern food, and/or if your budget allows ($$$$ by far the most expensive dinner we had on the whole trip but SO worth it) and you just want to have fun with dinner.  Word of advice, don’t eat a large lunch:)

The Christofle cutlery and crystal drink ware were gorgeous

Smoked eel, white chocolate, caviar

Oyster

Salt cured venison

Celeriac, sunflower seed

Spanner crab, rockmelon, salmon roe

Tomato, fennel, watermelon, wasabi

Marron, kohlrabi, caviar, tarragon butter

Fried duck egg, lamb sweetbreads, pickled onion, truffle

Cucumber sorbet, crushed herbs

Barramundi, herb emulsion, prawn, smoked bone marrow

Pigeon, carrot, clove, orange

Blackmore wagyu beef, fig, pear

Lemon meringue ice cream, white chocolate, lemon cured, parsley

Pavlova

Tonka bean soufflé, smoke cocoa ice cream

A selection of coffee, teas, infusions & petit-fours

A photo with Chef Campbell:)

The Press Club – Melbourne, Australia

Something I didn’t know about Melbourne until I went there is that it has the third largest population of Greeks.  Works for me!  Chef George Calombaris opened The Press Club in 2006 and has since opened two other restaurants, one in Melbourne (Hellenic Republic) and the other at the uber-excluxive hotel The Belvedere Hotel on the island of Mykonos, Greece (The Belvedere Club).  *My husband and I are planning a trip to Greece this fall so hopefully we’ll be able to make a stop on Mykonos:)

I didn’t know what to expect with The Press Club but all I can say is that it was a fantastic night start to finish!  Chef Calombaris was in the house which I now know was a treat since he spends 7 months out of the year filming MasterChef Australia in Sydney…quite the commute!  We chose to do the Symposium degustation menu along with the paired wines.  In addition to the 8 courses, Chef Calombaris treated us to an extra 2 ensuring that we would leave STUFFED!  But in a good way:)  Everything was PERFECT!  The flavors were so clean and well presented.  Each bite was an explosion of flavor.  It was hard for me not to clean every plate but I knew there was a lot coming so I had to pace myself.  If I went back and could only order one thing off of the a la carte menu it would have to be the salmon but seriously, you can’t go wrong and you won’t be disappointed.  Sit at the chef’s table if you can…it makes for such an entertaining meal.  Thanks George!!!!

Amuse Bouche – Kasos “Tonos – Tuna”

Helleniko “Domata – Tomato”

Nemea “Kouneli – Rabbit”

Larissa “Kotopoulo – Chicken”

*Special extra dish from the chef – beef short rib

Kolonaki “Psari – Salmon”

Naoussa “Moschari – Beef”

Corfu “Refreshing”

Rethimno “Fraoules – Strawberry”

*Another extra dish from the chef – chocolate!

MoVida – Melbourne, Australia

Everywhere I searched and everyone I talked to recommended MoVida in Melbourne as a spot not to miss.  I had a night to myself and because it was too late in the game to get reservations I decided to just cozy up to the bar.  The wait was 45 minutes but it was well worth it.  Located in a funky alley right off of Flinders Street and across from Federation Square, the door and signage is discreet but it’s not that hard to find.

Because I was ordering for one I decided to stick mostly to the tapas side of the menu where you can order by the piece but I also decided to order a couple of the specials since they sounded so good.  The first were the Padron Peppers.  OMG I love those!  Whenever they’re on a menu I have to order them.  If you haven’t had them before they saying is “some are hot, some are not”.  The majority (I would say 9 out of 10) are sweet and mild, however there’s always one in the batch that is hot and spicy.  The order was large and the people next to me had befriended me so I offered to share.  Unfortunately the guy next to me got the hot one:)

Next I had the Gamba – prawn and romesco pincho.  The presentation wasn’t what I was expecting (beautiful, clean and simple) but the flavors were definitely there and I honestly could have eaten a lot of those.

The Cordero al Chilindron was also calling my name – Pyrenees wet roast lamb breast with fino and paprika sauce.  Delicious!  So tender and juicy, the meat pulled apart so easily.  This dish was great and the portion size was perfect for just one.

To finish I went with the special fish of the day.  I can’t remember what it was now but the fish distributor happened to be the guy I was sitting next to and I ordered it because I saw the dish come to him.  It was fantastic!  Pan fried perfectly, the fish sat in a lovely broth with chorizo and clams…my kind of dish!  I ate the entire thing and was very happy about it:)

Overall I have to say this place really reminds me of The Harvest Vine in Seattle.  Not so much the atmosphere but the food most definitely.  MoVida is a little more progressive but it’s nice to know I won’t have to go so far to get the same type of meal.  If you’re in Melbourne go!  It’s the spot everyone is talking about but be sure you go to the original MoVida…their new sister restaurant is next door but this is the one people keep going back to.

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