Mediterranean in Mornington

Manhattan in Mornington
55 Barkly Street Mornington

(Visited October ’16)

Lucky Duck. This was our first restaurant birthday celebration in our Sea change location, and it was going to be for Hubbie’s birthday, just a few weeks after moving in.

We had booked ahead, and arrived to a small table awaiting us just opposite their front door.

Opulent, classy, yet warm and inviting. That is the upper-class yet traditional Italian vibe I got as we sat down. There was seating on the ground level, and I could see the stairs beside me spiralling up onto another higher seating level. Elvis watched us from one wall. Waiters and waitresses were in professional uniform. It was a perfect place to celebrate something special.

We soon ordered some drinks – for myself the Di Giorgio’s Cab Sav from Coonawarra – an old fave from a certain questionable restaurant that will not be named in this review for fear of unfairly negatively influencing this review in a bad light – and a beer for Hubbie, along with some Chefs Dips – tuna, pesto and beetroot with house-made bread

I enjoyed all the dips, and interestingly the tuna was good as well, which I didn’t think I would like. The waiter took great care to explain to us which dip was which, which showed the much-appreciated attention to detail.

Baby girl received her ‘no delay’ order soon after the dips arrived: Chicken tenderloins and chips.

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I was really impressed with the quality of chicken. I am always happy when they offer a softer piece of chicken meat for the kids meals, as I think it says a lot about food care and consideration, especially for our most fussiest of eaters.

By this stage the restaurant was quickly filling up, and suddenly I was grateful that we hadn’t just fluked it and walked on in because it was a Wednesday night – because for a Wednesday, this place was packed! It certainly seemed like the place to be in Mornington.

After much talking, drinking, and pecking at baby girl’s yummy chicken and chips, our meals finally arrived.

Birthday boy had ordered the Pancetta Di Maiale – Twice cooked pork belly resting on sweet potato mash served with an apple crackle salad

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While I had ordered the Mare e Monti – Linguini pasta, fresh prawns, scallops, calamari, pan seared Moreton Bay bug, chilli infused virgin olive oil, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes

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Hubbie really enjoyed his meal. Like, so much so, that he has continued to order it on repeat visits to the restaurant, a clear good sign of a winner dish. Crunchy crackling with super-soft falling-away-at-the-fork pork underneath it, make him a very Happy Birthday Boy.

I enjoyed mine too, however it wasn’t as perfect as I would have expected a restaurant of that calibre to produce… I loved the Moreton bay bug, that was delicious and fresh. However at the same time, I found the scallops too undercooked for my liking, so I couldn’t eat those unfortunately. The rest of the seafood infused with the extremely spicy chilli olive oil was delicious, but also, that was part of its undoing when it came to enjoying the meal, because it became too much by the end of it, so much so that I actually felt a bit sickly from the overuse of oil and chilli. If the seasoning and oil had been scaled back a little, I think I would have preferred it a lot more.

I let my stomach settle and took baby girl to the change room, to come back and get some coffee and dessert. I mean, what the hell. It was a birthday celebration after all. We decided to share the Profiteroles because we were really stuffed with food, and get some coffees, a latte, cap, and a babycino.

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We got two big profiteroles which were light and creamy, so that was easily enjoyed. My cap was smooth, not so strong, but that I didn’t mind as it was past 9pm. We received some cute bikkies on the side which I’ve noticed a lot of Italian places tend to offer with coffee, and I do like this tradition… so does baby girl, taking it upon herself to eat ours as well as her own. We were happy, we were full, and we were full of birthday festivity… and when baby girl shoved her hand into the lolly jar beside the counter, we knew it was time to go.

Food: 7.5/10.

I have to explain, the food, the presentation, and the quality of all we received was of the highest standards, but after repeat visits here, I’ve come to realize that all the food I receive here is extra oily and especially-seasoned, something my stomach complains about after every visit. It is the rich Italian style of cooking, something I can’t really fault, even though my tummy does…

It’s an Italian thing.

Coffee: 7/10. Smooth.

Ambience: Classy yet comforting. Warm polished wood undertones are displayed throughout with that coastal mediterranean-style that makes you feel like you’re holidaying away in a little secluded and exclusive town in Boot-country.

Staff: The friendly but professional Italian-speaking types, if you get my drift. I’ve seen them sooo many times before, and if you’ve eaten at the expensive side of Lygon street, you’ll know what I mean. They did their job well, and our lovely main waitress was kind enough to wave at baby girl every time she walked by, because baby girl just couldn’t stop trying to get her attention!

People: Those with $$$ come out to play here, and the menu prices are indicative of that. Lots of families, young and old, and big groups of people… like I said earlier, this is the place to be when you have something to celebrate.

Price: $151. On the ‘up’ side, for 3 mains, an appetiser, a dessert, 3 alcoholic drinks, and 3 coffees. But the quality of the food and the service were also on the ‘up’ side, despite my extra-rich linguine…

Advice: Definitely book! Everyone goes here! If your stomach tends to get affected by very strong and heavy flavours, best you avoid the linguine… or most things for that matter…

In a nutshell: Despite my meal on this occasion, we have come here on several many other occasions. Their menu is diverse and interesting, and the ambience is spot on, making you want to keep coming back. The service is especially caring and attentive, as it should be. I was also impressed with the baby change room, it was new and impeccably clean. I am really excited about this find, and I think the rest of the Peninsula is too… I think they should have stayed true to their style though, and instead of their existing name, gone with ‘Florence in Mornington’ or something along those lines… it would be truer to their restaurant character. Anywho…

Potat-oe, Potat-o….

Tomat-oe, Tomat-o…

Messina, Manhattan…

Manhattan in Mornington Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Café Bugia

Café Trevi
294 Lygon Street Carlton

We were tired and hot after a long day at a birthday up in the North. We were fairly undecided about where to go on that Saturday night in February, but still being summer, warm, and the party season, we decided to give Lygon street another shot despite our last disappointing attempt. I mean, it was our old food-stomping ground. Surely we wouldn’t have another bad experience, would we?

???

We decided very quickly to go to Café Trevi. In fact, Hubbie decided it for all of us with the free pizza being handed out at the front of the establishment, tempting him in. If this were the old Trevi, I wouldn’t have bothered. We have had bad experiences there with food in the past, which is why we hadn’t gone there in years. But I could see that there were new owners, and it was newly renovated, and along with needing to get food into baby girl and myself, I just went along with it.

Free food tempting foodies in? Clever.

Hubbie asked for a table for us all, outside, while I asked the real question: was there a baby change facility in their premises? The girl holding the pan of pizza nodded yes, but I vaguely didn’t trust her, not knowing if she was just nodding above the noise, or just used to saying ‘yes’ all the time. So I turned to the door man, a friendly-looking man with an accent. I asked him pointedly if they had a baby change facility. He answered yes.

Let’s just store that in the memory bank for later.

Content with TWO YES’S, we moved to a table outside.

Hubbie and I got some drinks, a white for me, beer for him

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while we struggled to keep a hungry and under-slept baby girl happy. Fortunately for us, our entrée of arancini and her main of a chicken and chip pizza, arrived very quickly.

Arancini classici – rice ball made with cheese, peas and quality mince served with bologna sauce.

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Chicken and chips pizza – mozzarella, fried chips, chicken

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The arancini starter was not bad, I think it was a tad dry but the sauce on the side saved it. The chicken and chips pizza was moorish, an interesting combination and one that I think was great. We all enjoyed eating that one.

After a while, we received our mains:

Hubbie’s Eye Fillet Steak with potatoes

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And my linguine ai frutti di mare – spaghetti pomodori and fresh seafood, chilli

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My pasta was ok. I was initially worried it may have a strong chilli taste, thinking baby girl might want to taste-test, but I soon found out I had nothing to worry about – no strong discerning chilli taste here. Which actually was a bit disappointing. I wanted some flavour, and this was actually quite plain as far as seafood pastas go. I enjoyed the prawns and the one scallop on my plate, but the mussels were tough.

Hubbie’s experience left little to be desired. Firstly, he had an item off of the specials, so it wasn’t a usual menu item. He didn’t like the smell or taste of it, saying it smelt fishy and just didn’t taste right. It was turning him off, so he spoke to the door man who said he would take it to the kitchen and ask the chef. It was returned to him, with the explanation  “that’s the taste.” He was given the option of having another cooked for him, but hubbie didn’t bother. I mean, if that’s the ‘taste,’ won’t every other one taste and smell the same?

Hubbie butchered the steak, trying to find any reasonable meat to eat, leaving most of it in tatters on his plate. We’ll get back to that story soon.

I wanted to change baby girl, now being at the tail end of our dining experience at Trevi. We weren’t overly rapt, especially Hubbie, but I wanted to end the night on a good note by getting dessert or ice cream somewhere else before we headed home. So of course, I wanted her fresh, and I wanted to change her. I went over with her to the doorman who had been lovely all night, and very friendly with baby girl, and asked him where the change facilities were. He mumbled something about something not being there, but pointed to upstairs. So we walked up the stairs, change bag in one hand, holding baby girl’s hand in the other. I entered another seating area, probably reserved for private parties, that was empty. Here were the toilets: men’s and women’s. I entered the women’s, and did a double take. I went in, and then out. Looked around. Back in. Looked in toilet cubicles. Even sussed out the back of the toilet door entrance. I could see no change table or pull down table anywhere.

I walked out of the women’s toilet with baby girl, and stared at the men’s toilets. Surely they wouldn’t have the only change table in the men’s toilets, would they? I seriously contemplated going in there, but luckily I didn’t as a man came up minutes later to use the loo. I looked around the room racking my brain. It didn’t make sense. I was told at the beginning by two separate people who worked there that they had a baby change facility!
I walked back down with baby girl. Bag in one hand, holding her hand in the other. I saw the door man walk past near the foot of the stairs. “Excuse me,” I asked. “I can’t see a baby change table anywhere.”

He proceeded to tell me, very apologetically, like a dog with his tail between his legs and his head lowered after the owner’s have come home to find their laundry trashed all over the floor, that there was no change table. They didn’t have one.

I sighed, and nodded. I didn’t say a word. In my head I screamed ‘but you told me there was one! Both of you!’ Although he had been lovely to us all night, and to baby girl, he had deliberately lied. I went to the table and told Hubbie we were getting out of there. As Hubbie was paying and I was standing outside the café with baby girl, I saw a zomato sign stuck beside the front entrance. ‘Review us on Zomato,’ it read.

Oh I will, I thought.

Food: 3/10. Points obviously taken away for Hubbie’s steak, my bland pasta, and the uninspired arancini.

Coffee: N/A, and now, never.

Ambience: It was chilled at the beginning, and surprisingly when we were there it wasn’t too busy, but having said that it was 7-8pm on Lygon street on a hot summers night, meaning everywhere it was fairly bustling. We just wished more of the experience had been up to scratch to match that vibe.

Staff: They were friendly, especially the door man. But he, and the girl holding the pan for free tasting of pizzas, LIED.

People: Near us were an older couple at the beginning, then as we were finishing up a larger group sat near us, and a couple about our age, 30s, arrived with their motorcycle helmets. It was a quiet night for them, but it was gearing up a notch as we paid and left.

Price: I think the total was about $120-$130 – that consisted of several alcoholic drinks, an entrée, and three mains. However upon paying, Hubbie’s steak, or a portion of the price, came off the total, so it ended up being more like just over $100. They had seen his butchered steak, what was left of it anyway, and the chef had said to him at the register, “we could have given you another one!” Hubbie responded as he had to me – “but wouldn’t it have tasted the same?”

Advice: My personal advice would be to not go here. I was disappointed that Hubbie’s steak wasn’t to scratch, sure… but the fact that I was lied to about the baby change table? That left me really sour. And I saved him some verbal abuse due to it too. I chose to walk off. We didn’t end up going anywhere for dessert after, because I couldn’t change baby girl. We just went home. His lie had shortened our night out, and we don’t get many of those. Not happy.

In a nutshell: Feeling pretty damn shitty about Lygon street now. Both Hubbie and I were in agreeance over the fact that Lygon street, ain’t what it used to be. I think the good old-fashioned Italian fare and sincere service has gone out the window. Serve as many as you can with the cheapest quality cuts. Just get them in – then get them out. Don’t worry about change tables. Yeah we’ve got them. Oh no, that’s right we don’t. Sorry.

Too late. We won’t be coming back. I don’t take kindly to lying. Copperwood insulted us with ‘we are not a kindergarten.’ Buzz. Wrong answer. Parents read that, they said ‘we are not a kindergarten.’ What century are we in? And now, for Trevi to say they had one, but lie about it just so we could sit down and fork out over $100 for sub-standard food? That money needs to be worked for, it doesn’t fall off our money tree at home!

If we ever get over this slight (and we still haven’t) and we decide to head out Carlton-way again, I think we will definitely be avoiding Lygon street, and opting for the parallel and intersecting side streets instead…

R.I.P. Lygon street. Trevi and many of its neighbours aren’t doing you any favours in upholding the Italian-food tradition in your parts.

 

Update!

Ha, well what do you know. Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies… and this isn’t one, they are Permanently Closed. Or so Google tells me as I try to place my zomato spoonback for this post. So there you go peeps, KARMA.

That tells me to quickly update my blog posts from the start of this year (in case they have closed), but from memory I don’t think we ate anywhere where their noses grow long, so…

But I should update them. Because you know. Posting about last summer, when it’s almost new summer? Uh uh.