Thursday, 28 June 2012

bramble & vine, carlton north

On a recent weekend I met up with my friend Joanne for a long-overdue catch-up dinner at Bramble & Vine (749 Nicholson St, Carlton North).

I was looking forward to this dinner for some very good reasons.

1) Quality girl time with Joanne! It's just so cosy, chatting and musing about lifestuff with someone you've known for over a decade.
2) The enticing menu on Bramble & Vine's website, their attention to fresh, locally sourced products, and the magnificently positive ratings on Urbanspoon.
3) The hospitality I experienced in a mere phone call. It's almost impossible to not warm to a place when you call to make a booking and the response is an effeverscent exclamation of "Oh, that's wonderful!", as if you'd just informed your favourite aunt that you were coming to dinner.

I can say that the evening satisfied me on all counts. The conversation flowed, the food was delicious, and our hostess (whom I believe is co-owner Leila) was welcoming and enthusiastic.

This is what we had...

Chicken & pistachio sausage with barberries, pomegranate, rose petals & cous cous. A gorgeous dish with inspiration from the Middle East. Tangy, savoury, nutty... it was an artfully conducted orchestra of both bold and subtle flavours.

Chicken & pistachio sausage with barberries, pomegranate, rose petals & cous cous. $26.

Fish of the day served on red rice, quinoa & a seafood bouillabaisse. The first thing we noticed was the non-existent red rice - it turned out that they forgot to tell us beforehand that it wasn't available that day. Fortunately, taste-wise, we didn't really miss it. The rockling was decently cooked, and the fried ginger on top was a nice touch. The bouillabaisse was light, yet flavourful, and I mopped it all up with the quinoa.

Fish of the day served on red rice, quinoa & a seafood bouillabaisse. $26.

Kipfler potatoes with thyme, rosemary & bush lime aioli. Done the rustic way with thinly sliced, different-sized pieces, the textures vary, mostly crunchy, some just tender. There were a few pieces that were a tad greasy, but I enjoyed more than my fair share. They were quite dangerously moreish with their herb-infused goodness, and a fabulous alternative to regular chips/fries. The aioli was creamy, silky, and had a very sharp tang of bush lime.

Kipfler potatoes with thyme, rosemary & bush lime aioli. $8.

Apple & rosewater sorbet with vanilla geranium crumble. So very pretty; I can only imagine all the effort that went into it. The apple chips on top were light as a feather, sensationally crisp, and concentrated with a glorious natural sweetness. Beneath them, gentle apple sorbet is balanced gracefully on rosewater gel and shortbread. Scattered across the plate, the vanilla geranium crumble was intriguing and I wished there was more. I wasn't too keen on the shortbread (it had a distracting milk-powder quality to it), but other than that, this dessert was pure elegance.

Apple & rosewater sorbet with vanilla geranium crumble. $12.

As you may have noted, there were some little quibbles here and there; however, they hardly detracted from what was, overall, a truly sensuous and delightful meal. Joanne said, "I'm very impressed with the food here," and I have to agree. If you're looking for a north side restaurant that serves up harmonious flavours without the hipsters and the hype (for now, anyway), this is a good one to add to your list.

Bramble and Vine on Urbanspoon

24 comments:

  1. That's twice in a few days that I'm seeing mentions of barberries. Had I known they were edible, I would have been mowing down on them in peoples' yards around here - it's not too late to start!

    The sorbet concoction sounds really amazing to me. I'd love to recreate something like that at home, but I'm sure you're right, and it would be loads of work:)

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    1. Not too late at all! Dried barberries seem to be more commonly sold and used, but if you can forage fresh ones, why not. :D

      Seeing as I can't even be bothered icing my cakes, this dessert is definitely out of my league. ;)

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  2. This place looks incredible, such perfect food for this time of year :)

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    1. Pretty good for any time of the year, really! :D

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  3. Point 3 makes my heart soar! And rose petals, rose everywhere! Hurrah!

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    1. It was nice to be so warmly welcomed. And there certainly seems to be a rose petal theme running around here...

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  4. I love meeting up with old friends (who doesn't!) but it must have been even more exceptional with this incredible fare!

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  5. Ooooh this place sounds really delicious. Have never heard of it before until now! And I think the price seems very reasonable compared to most places! I think I need to be cultured in more Mediterranean cuisine so definitely keen to try. And again, just happy to know it won't bust my wallet hehe. Bouillabaisse sounds beautiful, I love seafood so much. Sounds like you had a great time with your girlfriend. I think girls enjoy their girly catch up times as much as guys enjoy hanging out with their mates... Win-WIN =D

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    1. Yeah, it doesn't seem to be heavily marketed... I'm glad I came across it. And the prices really are decent for the sophistication of the food there. It's not all Mediterranean, it's a global mix of influences really. But yeah, had a great time with my girlfriend, and enjoyed the food and everything. :D

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  6. Quality girly time is hard to come by so what better way to pair it up than with good food! Haven't heard of this place before but given that it looks like it is reachable from uni, I think I may have found the place where I'd like to celebrate after my graduation ceremony at the end of the year hehe :D

    Btw leaf, I have awarded you the much deserved Lovely Blog Award :D
    Check it out here: http://www.amelbournegirlatheart.com/2012/06/colourful-quinoa-salad-awards-and-giveaway/

    Thanks for being a foodie inspiration!

    Cheers :)

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    1. Quality girly time + good food = full of win. And thank you so much for the award! x

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  7. Where can I get these barberries?

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    1. I've seen them at Middle Eastern shops. Good luck! :)

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  8. Quality girl time is hard to beat especially when it involves scrumptious food! That apple rosewater sorbet (with vanilla geranium crumble - are you kidding me?) just about sent me off my chair... wow!

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    1. Oh yes. And that dessert really was quite the work of art.

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  9. Everything looks really lovely.. especially that first of that sausage.. I love anything with pistachios!

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    1. Yes, the sausage was delicious! Definitely the kind of dish I'd order again.

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  10. I can't believe I havent heard of this place - on the list it goes!

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    1. Hope you get to try it out soon (if you haven't already).

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  11. Great review! You can get dried barberries at Sonsa on Smith St.

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    1. Thanks! Good to see you enjoyed your meal there too.

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