Posts Categorized: Restaurants

Acland St Cantina’s Mexican food in 30 minutes


Me: Where’s the rosé come from? Waiter: Australia. Me: Where in Australia? Waiter: Somewhere in the south west I think. The staff are young, friendly and helpful at the Acland St Cantina, the latest outpost of the Melbourne Pub Group in the basement of what was once the Prince Wine Store and Mink cocktail bar. There’s no complaints there. Some of them even speak a second language – English – and as noted by @winebybrad on Twitter can even narrow a wine region down to the nearest 2 million sq km. Pretty much everything has been shifted in the basement. The Prince Wine Store and the front end of Mink have become a diner-style tacoteria, sorry tacqueria, and bar. In the backend two of the famous private booths remain (but without curtains) in a room given a rustic feel and a complete makeover. For now the group’s kitchen overlord Paul Wilson is assembling the food and it’s good. Very good for casual Mexican. And based on a December visit to its sibling, it is much better than at the Newmarket where standards appear to have slipped. I dived into the Magarita ($16 each) of the day while my girlfriend tried a disappointingly sweet and bland summer spritz ($16) of Aperol, watermelon liquor, lemon juice and moscato. The wine list is mainly Spanish and South American with some terrific value (unlike the Newmarket where bottles start at around $70) starting at $35 and mostly costing under $60. Wines by the glass are either from a generic tap – bianco, rosso, rose, NV sparkling – with two available from the bottle. Unfortunately my headline is an exaggeration. Our first order was ceviche which arrived promptly and comprised tiny discs of protein. The remainder all arrived at the same time meaning we’d pretty much eaten everything 20 minutes after arriving. The Baja fried fish tacos (below) with slaw and chipotle mayo we hoovered down, hungry for more. And the authentic Al pastor tacos of spit roasted pork with a pineapple salsa were way more-ish. The red mole (that’s a thick Mexican sauce made with over 30 ingredients rather than a blind burrowing animal) with the current vogue brand of goat from Tallarook (below) was too heavy for a summers night and is perhaps worth a revisit come winter. 20 minutes in my current ex wife arrived at another table and we advised her… Read more »

George Orwell’s Moon Under Water versus the real thing


Moon Under Water, George Orwell, Evening Standard, February 1946 George Orwell: My favourite public-house, the Moon Under Water, is only two minutes from a bus stop, but it is on a side-street, and drunks and rowdies never seem to find their way there, even on Saturday nights. Moon Under Water, Andrew McConnell, Gertrude St, July 2012 Tomatom: First, the public house is called the Builders Arms and it is also close to the tram stop on Gertrude St. The entrance to the casualy dumbed down fine dining restaurant The Moon Under Water is just around the corner, barely off Gertrude St, on Gore Street. With a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre up the street opposite Andrew McConnell’s other restaurant Cutler & Co, you are guaranteed a bit of edge on the street, if not a few metres around the corner. Its clientele, though fairly large, consists mostly of “regulars” who occupy the same chair every evening and go there for conversation as much as for the beer. Its regular clientele has swapped from the impoverished and the grungy to cashed-up and smart. The Builders’ Arms restaurant is booked out weeks ahead. At $75 a head for four courses, a regular chair (for the Wednesday to Sunday that it is open) is a dream for most. And with the frequency that the menu changes, gourgeous though the food is, one visit a week is adequate. If you are asked why you favour a particular public-house, it would seem natural to put the beer first, but the thing that most appeals to me about the Moon Under Water is what people call its “atmosphere.” You wouldn’t describe the beer coming first at The Moon Under Water. It’s the delightfully light yet flavoursome food of Andrew McConnell, followed by wine. The atmospehere is white. The interior is starkly white, another design from Projects of The Imagination. The clientelle is white apart from, one black, two Indians and four Asians the night we visited. Can I mention the food again? To begin with, its whole architecture and fittings are uncompromisingly Victorian. It has no glass-topped tables or other modern miseries, and, on the other hand, no sham roof-beams, ingle-nooks or plastic panels masquerading as oak. The grained woodwork, the ornamental mirrors behind the bar, the cast-iron fireplaces, the florid ceiling stained dark yellow by tobacco-smoke, the stuffed bull’s head over the mantelpiece —everything has… Read more »