Customs House Restaurant and Wine Bar

If I could review this restaurant in one word it would be ‘wow’.

I had dinner at Customs House recently and loved everything about the evening. This restaurant has a menu that has been well-thought through, friendly and well-trained staff and amazing drinks. I recommend flicking to the back of the menu for a look at the cocktail list; there’s definitely something for everybody, including a list of ‘innocents’ or mocktails.

Our table ordered several entrees, mains and desserts and every meal that came to our table was well presented and really tasty. The tasting plate of the sea had four components to it that were all very different but made sense and worked well together. The pork belly with large seared scallops also went down a treat, with both cooked to perfection. Entrees served here are a great size – not too big and not too small, but just right.

Vegetarian and gluten free options are clearly marked on the menu. There were a large number of gluten free options, but only a risotto for the vegetarians on the main menu. There did appear to be some vegetarian options for sides though, such as roasted kipfler potatoes with garlic and green beans with feta. Items ‘from the grill’ come with your choice of sauce and two sides (from a selection of four). I’m told the sides were tasty and the meat was cooked well.

I enjoyed the harpuka fillet with pickled fennel and orange salad. I had been thinking about something sweet all night, so finished my evening off with dessert. I was very tempted by the souffle that came out to the table next to us, but ended up ordering chocolate fondant served with icecream and peanut praline. Good choice, but the souffle will be devoured next visit.

The Customs House Restaurant has another menu advertised on their website for all day dining. We ordered from the restaurant dining menu. I’m not sure if the all day dining menu is for lunch only or if it can be ordered from during dinner service in a different part of the restaurant. Maybe someone else who has been to this restaurant can comment?

Great food, great service and great drinks!

Details:

Customs House Restaurant and Wine Bar

57-59 Brougham St, Geelong (Restaurant faces the waterfront. Enter from waterfront side of Customs House.)

Open: 7 days
Monday – Friday 9am – midnight
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays 8am – midnight

Customs House Restaurant & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Waterfront Seafood

After walking past Waterfront Seafood earlier in the week I decided I had to revisit the waterfront to see what this place was like. Described by one journalist as ‘casual’, this eatery is has managed to go casual while still providing quality food at a reasonable price.

The menu is divided into sections depending on the style of meal you’re after. Seafood options include Tasmanian salmon served on salad nicoise, cured kingfish and pickled octopus served with a watermelon salad, mussels steamed in chilli and tomato and served with fries, seafood stew in a tomato based broth with vongole clams, mussels, fish and vegetables. There are a number of non-seafood mains for those who wish to go in another direction with options such as slow braised lamb shoulder ragout, corned silverside served with steamed potatoes and a creamy sauce, rib eye steak served with fries and greens and spatchcock with creamy mashed potato and asparagus. This is definitely only a small sample of the menu, but if you’re left wanting to find out more then head down to the restaurant and check out the menu on display in the window.

There is one vegetarian main – house rolled spaghetti tossed in pesto sauce, roasted pumpkin and caramalised onion. There are a couple of vegetarian entree options but they don’t go much further than offering a few different types of bread and fries served with aioli and tomato sauce.

After much deliberation we decided on the fish stew and fisherman’s basket which almost scared me off due to the amount of fried food. The basket comes with fries, a small fillet of battered barrumundi, battered tiger prawns, crumbed scallops, salt and pepper calamari and some salad and a couple of sauces on the side. The kitchen had no problems with me choosing to get the prawns grilled, rather than battered when ordering. This dish cost $28, but you can also get a seafood platter for two for $95 that comes with a few more things, such as steamed mussels, but we’re really testing my memory now.

The food was tasty, the fish stew is something that I’d really enjoy on a cold day. It was full of flavour, looked great and didn’t skip on the seafood. The fisherman’s basket went down a treat, and as a whole was presented nicely with a small bowl of salad and dipping sauce on the side, but the dish is dwarfed by the huge basket it’s served in.

I realised just today that I rarely mention dessert, so now’s the time for me to mix things up a little by mentioning all the options for dessert! The classic sticky date pudding with caramel sauce and double cream is offered, as is pavlova. You’ll need to check with your waiter for the day’s pavlova topping. French crepes with icecream are offered, as is a muscat creme brulee with candied pears. We shared a chocolate and cardamom panna cotta with chocolate honeycomb icecream. The icecream was delicious, with plenty of sweet honeycomb, but the panna cotta was very solid, a bit grainy and didn’t have the wobble that a pannacotta should have.

I’d go back to Waterfront Seafood, the food was okay for the price and the service wasn’t too bad. In terms of service, our waitress was very attentive, the only complaint I have is that we had to wait too long for the bill. There was someone who looked like a supervisor standing around most of the night with nothing to do, which I don’t think is a good look for a restaurant. Find something to do! Where we were seated the tables were so close together that you could hear other people’s conversations clearly and the only reason I’m mentioning it is because I realise this may bother some people.

I know it might look like I just had a huge whinge, but they were only small things that made up our evening. The food is good, the service is good and you have great views if you can see outside from where you’re sitting.

Details:

Waterfront Seafood

Shop 3, 6 Eastern Beach Rd, Geelong

Open: Monday-Sunday lunch and dinner.

Darriwill Farm

After spending most of my morning at the gym I decided to head down to Darriwill Farm for a bite to eat. It had been a while since I’d been to Darriwill Farm for a meal, but I occasionally head in to check out the grocery that’s attached.¬† They have some delicious looking biscuits and chocolates, as well as fresh La Madre bread and have recently started stocking Irrewarra Natural Icecream.¬†They also stock a range of other gourmet food and ingredients, as well as a range of kitchen utensils and gadgets. If you’re ever stuck for a gift for someone who loves to cook (or eat) it’s a good store to check out.

The cafe has a big selection of drinks on offer. I’m keen to try out the home made lemonade next time I stop by.

Non-alcoholic options available

Alcoholic options on offer

I decided on a pear Flying Brick cider that’s brewed locally on the Bellarine. I personally prefer my cider a little sweeter than this one.

I was a little unsure of how the service would be, as when we ordered drinks we had to wait longer than usual for them to arrive. In the end I was very happy with the friendly service and staff that didn’t mind having a quick chat.

The menu is quite extensive and has marked vegetarian and gluten free options. The breakfast menu is available all day and the lunch menu is available from 11.30am. In addition to the menu there is a board on the wall displaying the day’s specials. Today there was a Thai pumpkin soup with coriander yoghurt ($10.90) and a tart with chorizo, artichoke, roast tomato, pumpkin, baby spinach and red onion ($16.90). Other specials included a tasting plate, a pasta dish and terrine. We saw a number of tasting plates leaving the kitchen during our visit.

Breakfast menu

Lunch menu

We ordered from the lunch menu and I decided on a Tuscan salad, with others choosing the tasting plate and open chicken burger.

Tuscan salad with vegetables, croutons and Meredith goat's cheese

Tasting plate

The tasting plate today came with Asian coleslaw, quesadillas, risotto cake, beetroot dip and sourdough bread. I’m not sure how often the tasting plate changes; it may be different on your visit.

Open chicken burger with Asian coleslaw and potato salad

The Tuscan salad had a balanced dressing that didn’t overpower the ingredients. I found the salad very tasty and would definitely recommend it. The tasting plate had a good selection of items that were all seasoned well. Definitely an item for those who are having trouble selecting just one item from the menu. The chicken burger was impressive with salad stacked on top of the bread and grilled chicken. Definitely no complaints about this one.

We were hoping to have enough room for cake after lunch, but it turns out we were so full from lunch that we decided to give it a miss. However, I liked the look of the caramel slice so much that I took a piece home with me for later. For macaron lovers, head into the grocery on your way out to have a look at the macarons.

Details:

Darriwill Farm

Shop 10-11, 65-71 Barrabool Rd, Highton

Open: Monday-Sundaybreakfast and lunch.

Darriwill Farm on Urbanspoon

Jokers on Ryrie

Jokers on Ryrie is one of those places that’s been a constant in Geelong over the years. In saying that, this was the first time I’d ventured in, after walking past countless times.

I was expecting the place to be packed, however there was only one table taken when we walked in at about 7pm. As we were there on a Friday night there was some discussion as to whether the Night Market had been a more attractive proposition on a warm Friday night. Usually the restaurant is a lot busier during the evenings.

The staff will come to collect your order, but head to the bar to order and collect your drinks. Expect a lot of the usual bar food on the menu, with a few extras thrown in. There is also a page of offers for those who are heading to a movie after eating. Check it out if you’re planning on heading across the road to the cinemas, as it could save you some money.

Prawn and scallop curry

The prawn and scallop curry comes served with rice. A few of us tried this one and all agreed the dish was tasty. I really liked the flavours of this dish.

Chicken parma

No complaints about the chicken parma or chips tonight, but I’m told the salad dressing was a little too acidic.

Red duck curry

I’m told the red duck curry was a good choice and I liked the presentation of this dish. Simple yet effective.

Calamari salad

The calamari in this dish was cooked well, and was soft to eat and not chewy at all. It definitely needed the lemon and I had to add some salt to the dish.

We were all fairly happy with our meals, they were a decent size and decent price. Don’t be put off by the plain exterior of Jokers, the quality and presentation of food surprised me. Definitely worth a visit if you’re after pub food in the city or if your group can’t decide on what to eat, as the menu has pretty much all bases covered.

Details:

Jokers on Ryrie

211 Ryrie St, Geelong
(Corner of Yarra and Moorabool Streets, opposite Mc Donalds/Village Cinemas)

Open: Monday-Sunday lunch and dinner.

Beside the Point

Although there are a number of cafes to eat at in Geelong, many of them are not open on Sundays. After searching high and low, we stumbled across Beside the Point and decided to give it a go. There were actually quite a few places along the waterfront open and serving food, so if you’re ever stuck for somewhere to eat on a Sunday then head down in that direction, as there are a few things on offer.

The cafe is open for breakfast and lunch, with a simple menu on offer. I have no problems with simple food, as long as it’s done well. In saying that, I think the menu could be expanded a little, to set it apart from so many other cafes that serve the same or similar options. There were some vegetarian and gluten free options available. Check out the lunch menu below.

The smoked salmon sandwich and roasted vegetable toasted panini were both tasty, with just the right amount of seasoning. I’m keen to try the caesar salad with smoked salmon next time, which is something I haven’t come across before.

Roasted vegetable panini

Staff were friendly and apologised for the short wait between ordering and receiving our meals. The mural on the wall and Singapore orchids in vases added a nice touch to the small space.

I can see this cafe becoming popular once word of mouth gets around.

Details:

Beside the Point

5 Cunningham St, Geelong
(This street is opposite Cunningham Pier and is one way only)

Open: Monday-Sunday breakfast and lunch

Beside the Point on Urbanspoon

Moriac Makers and Growers Market

Last Sunday, Newling Reserve was host to the second Moriac Makers and Growers Market, which was located on Hendy Main Rd and easy to spot, due to the number of cars parked on the street. If you’re coming from Geelong, picture the Market across the train tracks and almost behind the general store. It is approximately a 25 minute drive to Moriac from the city of Geelong.

Arriving at about 11am, the market was already in full swing. We were greeted by a range of food stalls selling baked potatoes, pizzas, cevapi and pasta. Further in was a stage with live music to enjoy while browsing the stalls. There was also plenty of space to sit on the grass in front of the stage to enjoy the music while relaxing or perhaps enjoying a bite to eat.

Spring Creek Organics had an amazing vegetable stall selling top quality produce at a good price and friendly service.

This stall had some interesting beetroot for sale, including a variety that is bright yellow inside. There was no yellow beetroot left for sale by the time I got to the market, however, I was able to taste some raw. To me it seemed a little sweeter than the normal variety. Among other items, I ended up picking up some beetroot that had red skin with alternating pink and white circles inside.

Products being sold by other stalls included: jewellery, heat packs, cards, notepads, hair pins, headbands, children’s colouring books, children’s clothing, artwork, plants, macarons, traditional lemonade, cordial, honey, cheese and icecream.

Plant Stall

This market is definitely one to visit for top quality home made and home grown products. The market is only on three times a year, so be sure to keep your eyes out for the next one!

Details:

Moriac Makers and Growers Market

Newling Reserve, Hendy Main Rd, Moriac

Check their website here for dates or keep an eye out for local advertisements.

Welcome Thai Asian Groceries

A friend of mine had spotted a Thai grocer from the window of a train and since finding out about it I’d been keen to check it out. It’s in a bit of a strange location (25 Melbourne Rd), which is just before the Telegraph Bridge. You’ll need to enter via the service lane.

The shop seemed somewhat similar to your usual Asian grocer, with a bit of a lean towards Thai flavours. I had a look through a couple of recipe books before leaving home and had quite a list going, hoping to get everything I needed for a green curry from here. As it turned out, I couldn’t get everything I needed, so I had to make a couple of detours on the way home. Unfortunately the store doesn’t seem to carry fresh herbs or vegetables, although I did manage to get some lemongrass that was stored in the fridge. There was also some sliced lemongrass in the freezer section. The freezer section had dumplings of varying flavours and seafood that is commonly used in Thai cooking, including prawns, squid, different types of fish and balls of beef.

Looking down the middle aisle

The picture below shows some of the items I picked up, which seem to be priced reasonably well. The grocer is definitely good to visit if you are in need of Thai curry pastes, sauces or stocks. I’m looking forward to trying out the Roi Thai Tom Yum Soup, which you heat up and simply add meat and vegetables to.

Some of the items purchased

A common ingredient in one of my cookbooks is coconut cream in block form. I’ve never come across it before, so if anyone knows where I can buy some please let me know. I’ve been modifying recipes to include coconut cream from a can and decreasing or removing the added water completely.

There is free parking for 30 minutes at the front of the store and for large orders free delivery is available.

Details:

Welcome Thai Asian Groceries

25 Melbourne Rd, North Geelong

Open: Monday-Saturday 9am-5.30pm
Sunday 10am-5.30pm