Independant Foodie reviews from Melbourne

Warung Agus – A Balinese paradise in West Melbourne July 19, 2010

Filed under: Places to Visit,Restaurant Reviews — foodiefile @ 8:36 pm
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I have long been a fan of Warung Agus in West Melbourne from a school trip in Year 10 where we all went to this gorgeous little restaurant as part of our Indonesian class. Although I have been back many time, I decided that I would go and have a banquet as part of my Birthday celebrations.

Warung Agus is a family owned and operated restaurant that has been open since 1989 and is traditional Balinese cuisine – and some of the best I have ever tasted, and that includes the “warungs”  I have personally visited in Bali!

The Banquet comes under 3 options – vegetarian, with meat or with seafood. Starting at a very reasonable $40 a head, this six course meal really captures the smells, flavours and textures of the island of Bali.

Now a forewarning… Warung Agus is a low light environment, so the photo’s, unfortunately, are not up to my usual standards.

Dish 1 – Krupuk Sinkong and Krupuk Udang – Shrimp and Cassava crackers served with peanut sauce. These were so yummy – not over oily, but crisp, fresh and very good with the satay sauce. Served also with a yummy lemongrass and shallot sambal, and a very firey chilli sauce! Both house made!

Dish 2 – Apokat Mebasa Santen – Avocado with a Mushroom and Coconut sauce.
I have never tried anything like this in my life. Raw Avocado (the best way to ruin avocado is to cook it) with a delicious, rich crème over the top = this dish was amazing!

Dish 3 – Sate Ayam – Chicken Satay
Everyone must have tried satay at some time.. My favourite has always been BlokM in Commercial Road –  however  these satays were to die for!! I could have eaten 2 plates myself – but alas I had to share and also had more food coming…

Dish 4 – Mie Goreng – Vegetarian Noodles
A lovely tart/sour  version of a classic Mie Goreng… Went very well with Dish 5 – and they were served together

Dish 5 – Be Pasih Asem Manis – Pan fried Flathead
The tables favourite dish of the night, a yummy curry like sauce over firm, perfectly cooked flathead fillets… none of this dish was left by anyone… it was amazing

Dish 6 – Babi Guling – Roast Pork
My hands down favourite of Warung Agus (see my review of the Hawkers Market)  and it as usual didn’t disapoint except that I was too full and had to leave some on the dish! Served with a lemongrass sauce, this crispy skinned pork is the bomb… with a small salad of green vegetables and coconut.. Next time – I just want a plate of this!!!

What did we drink? Bintang of course – just to take me back to swimming pools in bad resorts in Seminyak and Kuta – but the food took my mind to the hills, to memories of lunches in village homes or eggs and sambal, to kopi susu – strong mud like coffee served with sweetened condensed milk, that is strangely so yummy.

I would recommend Warung Agus anytime… They are only open Thursday to Sunday nights, but make sure you book as they get busy!

Also – in August they are also offering cooking classes on a Tuesday – I am unsure of the cost, but if you have a love for spicy but not hot food – this may be the class for you! Call them quick to enquire, as I am sure they will be a sellout!!! Or at least get a good Indonesian Book like Sri Owens “Indonesian Food” here

Warung Agus
305 Victoria Street
West Melbourne
Phone 03 9329 1737


What would possess someone reared vegetarian to open the most meaty restaurant in Melbourne. February 17, 2010

Filed under: Restaurant Reviews — foodiefile @ 8:35 pm
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A couple of weeks ago a group of us visited La Luna Bistro in Carlton, and it has taken me 2 weeks to get down off foodie high. I’ll be clear – this place is my favourite restaurant in Melbourne right now and it will take a lot for me to find a new favourite.

To start – we arrived early… I like to relax before a big meal, have a glass of wine and wait for my other diners to arrive… But we arrived 45 minutes early to a restaurant without a bar… All i can say we were welcomed with very welcome arms by Adrian’s team and this was the opening to a beautiful evening.

We started with a bottle of a French white called Ormarine Sur Lies from Langedoc– A grape varietal call Picpoul de Pinet which, from my understanding, is not grown in Australia – a kind of mix between a Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, it was perfect for the meal that followed, and we didn’t change to anything else until coffee after dessert! (If you want to hunt some down, Randall’s in Albert Park and Hawthorn stock it, as well as the non-Sur Lies version.

Well entrees … Even though the menu at La Luna doesn’t have a multitude of choices for each course, I found it a little difficult to choose. My partner and I eventually decided to share an entree of the House made cured meats. A lovely mix of textures and flavours with the usual bits and pieces – Cornichons, olives and some lovely pickled pears. A great size for a sharing plate.

My friends…. well… Julie had a little middle eastern spiced lamb pie (a recipe featured in Adrian’s book – Meat) and it was delicious, lots of pine nuts, with spicy and sweet flavours…

Pip had the Pickled Octopus, which was small and dainty, but apparently a perfect size, and Amanda and Julia had the Soufflé – which was one of the most amazing soft cheesy lumps of goodness I have tried for a VERY long time… you can always tell a true foodie table by the number of time each fork is passed across the table!


Before arriving i had decided that although there was duck on the menu – a firm favourite, i was going to have the crackling wrapped loin of pork… Well… Although it is another featured recipe in Adrian’s cookbook Meat, it was an amazing dish, and I was so pleased I had ordered it – the crackling was perfect and crisp, the mash was perfect, and the slaw – light and green…

I just wish I could have fitted in 2 main courses and also had the duck. Perfectly cooked duck breast and leg (so much duck! There was plenty to share) and other dishes on the table included Bull Boar sausages, Porterhouse steak cooked perfectly and a slow braised beef ragu gnocchi.




I was however, severely disappointed with the sides we ordered with our main. The spinach we ordered, whilst it was good spinach – it was just spinach and the sweet beets – i was expecting heirloom beets in rainbow colours, and we received normal beetroot that tasted far too much like tinned beetroot that had been heated up. I didn’t even photograph them.

The service was exemplary through the entire meal; the wait staff who looked after us had personality, which I appreciate as I cannot stand distant staff – from working too long in restaurants myself.
Well, dessert time came… Since Kendall and I had shared the entree, we decided to share the small dessert tasting plate – a lovely brulee, rum and raisin and berry ice creams and the richest most moist brownie ever – an awesome choice!

Other desserts included pannacotta with fresh figs, that was so cute and an amazing Portuguese custard pudding, that tasted like a not-so sweet bread pudding and it was a beautiful dish to finish – I highly recommend it!



All in all, a lovely evening with amazing service that didn’t cost the earth, and we were all so full! The portions were a fantastic size and we are going back to try them for the “Restaurant Express” at the food festival (we are also trying Taxi)
Adrian’s cookbook “MEAT” can also be bought at Books for Cooks and all good bookstores. He has another one in the making a little birdie told me, and I cannot wait to own it!

La Luna Bistro
320 Rathdowne Street
Carlton VIC
03 9349 4888

p.s. apologies that some of the photo’s are not as good as they should be – we had some trouble with light on the night…


Hellenic Republic February 7, 2010

Filed under: Restaurant Reviews — foodiefile @ 4:39 pm
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One thing you all must understand is that a short, balding Greek man gets my waters moving, and George Colombaris is no exception.

2 weeks ago a group of us attended Hellenic republic to enjoy a group menu (The Trapezi) on the wings of Mr Colombaris and Masterchef… First I bought his new cookbook, which is marvellous and from what I have been told by Real Greeks, is authentic, and a worthwhile purchase..

Hellenic republic feels like a juxtaposition of sorts, with graffiti down one wall that whilst feels historical and representative of Hellenic with warriors yet strangely modern and “cool”.  I actually disliked the wall of work, which is unusual for me, it felt misplaced and try hard.

We arrived, and were rushed through to our table, a FANTASTIC table right down the back of the restaurant, near the kitchen, however not in a sot we felt “shoved down the back” it was a great table, with a great view.

Water’s arrived (Still and Sparkling) as did some marvellous wines from Greece, a phenomenal rose for a start…The Trapezi menu is a 4 to 5 course menu starting with a meze menu. Our meze included orgasmic olives, cold meats, fish croquette’s, taramasolata (the most amazing white roe dip whose recipe is included in his latest book) and due to my allergy to eggplant they even delivered an amazing “moussaka” cheese dip that really hit the spot!

The olives… oily and wonderful

The Kitchen

The Mousakka “Dip”

Other Meze including the house wine – sold by the kilogram!

Last of the meze to arrive was Saganaki with peppered figs.. The most amazing flavour, bitter sweetness from the figs broke the richness of the cheese perfectly… I could eat plate after plate of it!

Saganaki with Peppered Figs

The fish course arrived with grilled barramundi slabs that were lemony, Smokey and delicious. Next was slow braised cuttlefish with chickpeas. This dish reminded me a little of poorly cooked calamari with a can of soup poured over it, it was far from a perfect dish for me, or any of the other diners. It even looked like a tin of soup. In comparison to the barramundi, it was a bitter disappointment.

Braised Cuttlefish with Chickpeas

Grilled, amazing Barramundi

The meats followed with grilled chicken and lamb. While the meat was delicious, it wasn’t the best I have had… It felt a little pedestrian in comparison to other dishes we had that evening.

Deserts included Greek Donuts (another recipe from Georges new cookbook and worth every second required to prepare), date cookies and Watermelon with Feta and Mint – i never thought feta would fit with watermelon, and unfortunately I was so full from the earlier courses that it really didn’t work for me, but I could imagine it was wonderful.

Hmmmm donuts!!!

The service was some of the best I have had ever at a Greek restaurant with amazing food, I would rush back in a second and would love to enjoy a long brunch here at anytime. The large communal table at the front tiled within an edge of its life was magnificent, and I highly recommend…

Hellenic Republic
434 Lygon Street
Brunswick East
Phone 03 9381 1222