EARL Canteen – 500 Bourke St, Melbourne

If you’re going to part with sixteen of your hard earned dollars for a sandwich… and we’re talking some protein, a few salad leaves and a some scant condiments between two bits of bread, it should live up to its price tag

Unfortunately, the confit duck ciabatta missed the mark. Not enough for me to leaving a flaming brown paper bag of today’s sandwich tomorrow on their doorstep, but it was a little disappointing.

‘Confit Duck’ read as delicious: confit duck (obviously), caramelised figs, walnuts, onion jam, radicchio and watercress on ciabatta. Unfortunately, my conjured vision versus what I received was a little like the hamburger ads on TV where the product on the screen differs greatly from what is handed to you from the drive-thru window.

Visually, it wasn’t at all pretty. As for taste, the duck was a little too salty, which would have been OK if the other ingredients had worked as the intended foil to the duck; the sweetness of the figs and onion jam was too liitle and the bitterness and pepperiness of the salad leaves just wasn’t there. I think the walnuts had an RDO.

So, the jury’s out. Nowhere near enough for me to rave on and drag a dozen of my work colleagues down there tomorrow for another (it’s busy enough already), but probably enough for me to eventually go back and try what seems to be the flagship sandwich, pork belly.

EARL Canteen
500 Bourke St, Melbourne 3000
(03) 9600 1995
www.earlcanteen.com.au

Good for: sandwiches… that may or may not live up to the hype, tasty macarons 
Not good for: people that are disappointed in spending $16 on a sandwich… “ya could have uh… got two fucken footlong subways for that, y’c*nt

EARL Canteen on Urbanspoon

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Bistro Flor – 555 Nicholson St, Carlton North

It’s been at least three years since we last popped into Flor. Back then it was Flor Winebar and a couple of years ago, Flor changed hands, hit puberty or something and blossomed into a beautiful swan bistro.
 
We had a spare Saturday night on our hands, sans-child, so we decided it was time to reacquaint ourselves.
 
And we’re glad we did.
 
We eventually decided that for the sake of making it to the dessert menu, we’d go light on the entrée front.
 
We selected a couple of dishes from the ‘To Share’ options: Porcini and Swiss brown mushroom croquettes ($9) and the Brie baked with verjus and thyme ($12), although I could have gladly ordered the chicken liver parfait, sherry jelly and brioche ($12) or totally reneged on our pact and ordered the sardines baked with currants, pine nuts, chilli and herbs with roast cherry tomatoes ($17) from the entrée selection.
 
The four croquettes that arrived were just as a brilliant croquette should be, well seasoned with a crunchy exterior (thanks to the addition of some polenta in the crumb) encasing a hot, rich mushroomy centre. A squeeze of lemon brought them to a new level and I was so glad I’d ordered a beer first. Perfect beer food.
 
The baked brie arrived in its own small bake ware, accompanied by some thin, toasted sourdough. There was just enough thyme present, but the verjuice was lost amongst the strong brie. A very good dish to share for 2-3 people and anyone that decides to order this for themselves only would do so at their own peril. It’s very rich.
 
For mains, K predicably ordered the grilled eye fillet with house cut chips, red wine jus and marrow butter ($36) and I, equally as predictable went for the confit duck leg with coleslaw and seared duck breast on green olive tapenade crouton ($35).
 
The fillet was cooked to the requested ‘doneness’ medium and was pretty much spot on in terms of expectation. A great steak that was ever so tender; it’s a shame (and still puzzling) that the knife provided for the steak struggled to cut through such a tender cut of meat.
 
The duck itself was perfect; the confit leg was meltingly tender with a crisp, crunchy skin. So bad for you and so, so good. The breast meat was as equally tender and pink… cooked perfectly. The juices under the meat were heavenly and it was a shame that the chef wasn’t a little more heavy-handed. What let the dish down was the choice of accompaniments. The coleslaw was too rich, raggedy and just didn’t work and the tapenade was overpowering and would not have been missed.
 
Sides are reasonably priced ($7-$8). We ordered the broccoli sautéed with almond, chilli and garlic and it was just that.
 
The wine list is a good mix of European and Australian (predominantly Victorian and South Australian) wines and offers a number of whites and reds by the glass ($7-$9). Wines by the bottle only cater for a small range of mid priced wines ($35-$45) with the bulk of the wines being in the $50-$75 range. We drank a Balnaves 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Coonawarra ($62).
 
We made it to the dessert menu and I was gob smacked to learn that K, my partner of five years and soon to be having our second child, was about to do something that I think I’ve never seen before – order dessert! She has a savoury-tooth and there isn’t much that takes her fancy at the end of the meal, unless it’s a crumble, cheese-related or in this case, lemon-related.
 
The lemon sponge pudding with lemon curd ice cream ($14) was right up her alley. Lemony goodness. I ordered the layered coffee tart with Amaretto ice cream ($14) with a Pedro Ximenez sherry to round out my evening. Coffee and dessert rolled into one; a great way to finish the evening.
 
Ahhh, residents of Carlton North and Fitzroy North. We are truly blessed and spoilt for choice when it comes to quality neighbourhood eateries. This is definitely one of them and we promise it won’t be another three years before we make a return journey.
 
Bistro Flor
555 Nicholson St, Carlton North 3054
(03) 9381 4443
 
Good for: dates with your partner and no chance of a favourable outcome, dinner with your parents or someone from out of town
Not good for: bad steak knives, coleslaw
 

Bistro Flor on Urbanspoon