Category Archives: Melbourne

Melbourne – Langham Hotel

We’re in Melbourne for our friend Louise’s wedding.
We’re staying at the Langham Hotel famed for its discreet service and luxurious rooms. I’ve scored a discounted media room rate so I can share my experiences with Saucy readers.
The Langham is smack bang in the middle of Melbourne’s vibrant arts and dining precinct on the Southbank Promenade on the Yarra River.

It has a 5 star rating with room rates starting at around $295.
We’re staying in a spacious Club River Room King which comes with complimentary internet and access to the Langham Club on Level 24.
Our room has views stretching over the Yarra, Federation Square and the city centre
The king bed has very comfortable pillows (I’ve been known to travel overseas with my own pillow so a good one is essential! ) The featherey quilt is soft and enveloping.
Hotel carpets are usually non descript and not worth commenting about but I love this fun, organic, feminine print.
The bathrooms are a real winner – sold marble, spacious with a deep bath, large shower and wide vanity counter.
There’s also an impressive spa complex in the hotel on Level 9 – the Chuan Spa – if you need additional pampering.
The Langham takes its dining venues seriously – there’s the fine dining Melba Restaurant, and the ARIA bar and lounge which serves light meals including the signature afternoon tea or Langham Tiffin.
For club members the Langham Hotel Club offers complimentary breakfast, afternoon tea and pre-dinner drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

 Breakfasts trully cater for everyone….. fresh fruit, yoghurts and cereals…

cold meats and cheeses….
honey straight from the comb…
and of course a hot selection including roast tomatoes and mushrooms.
smokey bacon rashers and pork chipolatas
… it hits the spot
So if you want a little luxury during a weekend getaway, the Langham is certainly an ideal base to explore Melbourne from.

Melbourne – Movida Aqui

Of course I had to try the new jewel in the Movida Crown – Movida Aqui. In contrast to its other siblings, it’s a huge warehouse space set up on a not-so-easy-to-find-floating terrace at Level 1 500 Bourke St.
This is tapas bar meets Hollywood.
There seems to be dozens of staff buzzing around as the Friday night crowd thickens.
I’m here with two of the best palates in the country – a former food reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald and a former chef now food photographer who’s just finished shooting Movida Aqui’s first cookbook. 
We begin with a tapas staple – a mixed dish of olives
Then share some smoked salmon with blood orange segments and freshly grated horseradish

Next is straight-from-the-ocean sea urchin with thin strips of pork belly on crostadas

some of the best sea urchin I’ve tasted

spikey bronzed casing

The restaurant is now heaving with over 150 diners and the kitchen kicks up a notch

Next to arrive is a terrine of pork and chicken with pine nuts and mustard fruits

at $50 a plate the iberico jamon needed to be mind-blowing for that price. It was.

Fried egg atop marinated ribbons of zucchini and asparagus spears

Grilled Asparagus with a tomato almond sauce
And a trio of desserts for the boys. I couldn’t find anymore room!
Our meal (together with wines) was very pricey around $125 per head but we did splash out on all the high-end dishes on the menu and indulge in more wine and sherry than is responsible to do so. It’s very easy to get carried away here.
Next time will be a slightly more sober and cheaper affair.
But the food won’t be any less delicious.

Melbourne – Izakaya Den

Saucy Onion is in Melbourne for the Writers Festival. I’m hosting the In Conversation session with Matthew Evans about his brilliant new cookbook The Real Food Companion and taking part in a panel discussion (As Good As A Feast) on the proliferation of cooking books and cooking shows – not to mention food blogs – and whether this has brought us closer to our food or not.
I’m grabbing a quick lunch at the Izakaya Den near the corner of Russell and Collins St.
And it certainly is a den – a low-key entrance that’s easy to miss, concrete stairs that lead to a door, through a mysterious curtain and into this industrial basement space.

Izakaya Den is run by the same posse that owns one of my other favourite Melbourne haunts Verge

It’s loosely based on the traditional Japanese Izakaya eating house which serves sake with little nibbles.

The menu is cleverly projected onto the wall.
I choose the lunch set menu and start with some housemade tofu. Silky and clean nutty flavours.
Can’t resist an accompanying glass of Moorooduc Blanc (chardonnay/pinot gris) from Mornington Peninsula
Next come the pickled vegetables and green leaf salad

Exquisitely prepared

Bandana-wearing chefs prepare dishes with quiet efficiency. No ego here. 

The main course is a fresh meaty chunk of Blue-eye fillet baked with shitake mushrooms, and some rice and ginger miso soup.
With so many restaurants trying to out foam, air, soil and vaporise eash other it is such a breath of fresh air to eat real food.
The Izakya Den is a small understated refuge for those who want clean, fresh flavours served in a calming environment.
grab a number……