Posts Tagged ‘albert park’

The Death of a Local Hero – Randall’s Albert Park

It’s a sad day when a local small retailer closes and even sadder when it’s rolled by one of the big guys – that’s the story of Randall’s wine store in Albert Park. I’ve known for a month or so that the shop had been done, but it was only the other day when the realisation actually happened. It now doesn’t exist, it’s just another Vintage Cellars. A quick peek in looks like they’ve held much of the same stock (which is a relief cause the selection rocks) but it’s got some new shelving and a new sign and lot less clutter.

I’ve heard rumours that they soldout because it wasn’t making enough money but who knows. One thing is for certain, Coles offered enough money that they sold and now the shop is a Vintage Cellars.

Adam FosterI suppose what makes me the saddest is how great a member of the wine loving community of Albert Park Randall’s was. The master classes they hosted were not only awesome but affordable. I’ve learnt a lot and experienced some awesome wines that I probably would never have even considered through them. All Saints, By Farr, Teusner and Adam Foster to name the more memorable. They were hosted in the little Japanese restaurant next door by the friendly and knowledgeable staff and always had ample cheese and generous pours.

To make matters worse another locally owned wine shop has recently closed down, though I don’t believe it was sold – just the lease was not continued. That was the Prince Wine Store in the Clarendon Centre and it was replaced by the soulless institution that is Liquorland, complete with it’s shitty selection of wine and cheap beer. Thankfully, there still remains a Prince Wine Store around the corner in Bank St, but it closes far too early for my liking and isn’t open on Sundays.

To get my local wine retail fix, I’m going to have to start shopping at the Richardson St Cellars again. I feel bad, since moving closer to Randalls I haven’t been to Richardsons and I’m going to feel like a traitor. Better to support them with than the behemoth that is Coles I suppose.

Provincia, Albert Park – Honest, Unpretentious Italian

ProvinciaAfter being disappointed with the cheap italian feel that was Basilico in Albert Park I was certainly expecting something good from the unpretentious restaurant serving local style italian dishes that Provincia advertisers itself as. The food lived up to this expectation, it was good, honest, well presented and represented the flavours of provincial italy with class.

The space isn’t big, it is dominated by the bar and it’s ceiling-high wine rack and spirits shelves. The room is dark, with most of the light provided by tea lights set on each table and a few muted hanging and wall lights. There isn’t many tables, all set out around the perimeter of the space with settings for 2 or 4. The dining room is intimate and almost unwelcoming for a group of 4, but perfect for a dinner of 2. Unfortunately our table was in front of the door and each time the door we felt an unwelcome gust of cold Melbourne night.

Inside Provincia, Albert Park The service is as you would expect, perhaps a little too keen as I struggled to finish my whole glass of water before our waiter topped it up. I was disappointed with their wine service though. After we had ordered our meals we asked for a wine recommendation and the waiter told us that a particular wine was a nice italian variety. This has happened a couple of times recently and perhaps I’m not asking right, but I want to know what $60-100 bottle of wine will go nicely with our meals.

The menu consists of a variety of italian dishes under the premise of being each from provincial Italy. Beside most of the dishes is noted the area the dishes are from. The prices around the $30 mark and the quality of the food is easily worth it. The wine list is mostly international and as you would expect the majority are Italian. The bottles start at around $50 which seems a little excessive, perhaps they could provide a cheaper entry-level.

Negroni, Provincia

The Negroni was on the money. Personally I prefer a slightly more vermouth heavy Negroni but nonetheless it was a great start to the proceedings.

Pear, Gorgonzola and Walnut Bruschetta

The pear, gorgonzola and walnut bruschetta was an ordering afterthought but was amazing. Mild flavours accentuating each other all capped off with the texture and flavour of walnut. Brilliant.

Grilled Porterhouse and Mushrooms, Provincia

This great sized piece of porterhouse was cooked perfectly and served with grilled field mushrooms. It was a great piece of meat, cooked well, what more is there to say?

Bork Belly, Provincia This roasted pork belly with a coriander salad reminded me more of a chinese-style pork belly, yet further research suggests it is just as italian as chinese. Fatty, crisp, tasty, perfect.

Pasta at Provincia

I didn’t taste this pasta, but it certainly looked great.

Lamb at Provincia

This slow-braised lamb shoulder was exquisite, melt-in-your-mouth lamb with root vegetables. This was always going to be a winner for me as it’s one of my favourite dishes. It didn’t last long on the plate.

Pannacotta, Provincia

The pannacotta was lovely and rich yet not overly sweet with the Campari reduction adding the necessary sweetness and orange flavour.

Self Saucing Pudding, Provincia

While the meals across the board were exceptional, this stole the show. The chocolate self saucing pudding with vanilla-bean icecream was heavenly. The chocolate sauce was thick and rich. The texture of the icecream was subtly granular and the vanilla flavour prominent. The dark and light flavours work so well next to each other.

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Andrew’s Hamburgers, Albert Park

Andrew's Hamburgers All this talk of burgers got me thinking that I hadn’t actually eaten at Andrew’s Hamburgers in Albert Park. and if McDonald’s has done one thing right this week it is getting me to head down the road and give it a go. One thing is for certain, I’ll be back probably tomorrow, and the next day.

If you go expecting “gourmet” then you will be sorely mistaken. These burgers are greasy, meaty and hold absolutely no surprises, but that’s the beauty of them. It is the fish and chip shop’s burger of your childhood, the sort of burger that you can make so easily yourself, but you don’t. You can go and grab one down the road.

You won’t find panini, aioli, pesto, swiss, brie or relish. It’s a simple recipe, a lightly seasoned hamburger patty; a slice of cheese; a fresh, toasted bun; tomato; some onion; and a splash of barbecue sauce. Add some bacon, an egg, or “the works” and what you have is a perfect greasy burger that isn’t good for anything but the soul. Wrap that up in a piece of wax paper, serve it with some salty chips and put a $9 price tag on it and it’s the perfect hangover cure. The recipe hasn’t changed in 50 years and I wouldn’t expect it to change for another 50.

This is the sort of place that Grilld and McDonalds will never be. There is no fancy ingredients or marketing gimicks. Who knows where the mince was sourced and it certainly isn’t “lean beef,” but who cares? People will keep coming back for these simple, genuine burgers that they can trust.

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