Review: Novotel Forest Resort Creswick

by duncan on September 27, 2010

in Modern Australian

Novotel Forest Resort Creswick

1500 Midland Highway Creswick 3363
(03) 5345 9600‎

A resort primarily geared towards conferences delivers decent resort food


The Novotel Forest Resort Creswick bills itself as a great getaway location, based in timber country, complete with 18 hole golf course. But if there’s one thing that strikes you is that it’s really rather remote in terms of amenities, so eating on site is a must.

The resort offers a restaurant with set dinning at $56 for two courses, which is great if you like a big feed, but we didn’t. The alternative is room service or the bar (both of which are presumably served from the same kitchen as the restaurant) so we tried both of those.

The bar menu offers a page of options, including a small tapas menu. The use of the term tapas is used lightly: don’t expect a proper tapas feed, it’s more a way of describing a small number of…well…small dishes.

First ordered was the Tempura fish of the day with garden salad and chips: pretty much standard fare. The tempura batter was light and the fish enjoyable. The salad was a reasonable side.

Garlic prawns off the tapas menu was up next, and although tasty, the prawns were ridiculously small: no, not in the number served but actual size. Some prawns were so small as to be not worth trying to peel and eat.

Last (we were still hungry) were the fries, which are served with a garlic aoli sauce. Pleasant and reasonably priced.

For breakfast, the bacon and eggs plate was standard fare, be it a little expensive for what was served, but only by a small margin.

Resorts are resorts, and you’d eat here because you’re staying here and there aren’t really any alternatives nereby. It was standard 4 star hotel fare, edible, a little pricey, but no major complaints.

2.5 stars from 5

For: reliable food you will eat
Against: well, if you’re dining here, you’re stuck here, so no major against


Review: Cocoa Chy Creswick

by duncan on September 27, 2010

in Cafe

Cocoa Chy

84 Vincent Street Creswick 3363
(03) 5345 1150

Apparently the highlight of the sleepy country town of Creswick, Cocoa Chy is a case of great marketing meets nothing all that exciting


Having never been to Creswick before and yet staying in a hotel on the outskirts of town, we naturally hit reception for places to visit and eat. Among the most impressive looking pamphlets for local eating establishments was Cocoa Chy.

We hit town Friday afternoon, and although this isn’t a review of Creswick itself, there is some irony in the town being pitched as a tourist destination: although recently hit by severe flooding, there’s still not a lot to see.

The first thing that strikes you when visiting Cocoa Chy is that more time has been spent designing the marketing materials vs fitting out the cafe: the interior is unexciting and dowdy: not ugly and a turn off, but likewise very uninspiring.

There was a limited variety of cakes and chocolates on offer: if you’ve ever been to a chocolatier in Melbourne, you’re immediately going to be surprised by the limited choice.

The staff member, while reasonably pleasant, was unable to tell us how much the blocks of chocolates were worth, and needed to defer to the owner to pricing.

The food and chocolates themselves weren’t bad. The cupcake above was white chocolate and raspberry, and was rather nice, be it somewhat small for the money. The lemon cheesecake (second pic) again was enjoyable, if not over the top. Tea was standard and thankfully was leaf tea.

Perhaps being spoiled for choice in Melbourne I’m being a little harsh on Cocoa Chy: if you’re stuck in Creswick, it’s probably the best cafe in town, but it wouldn’t last very long if it was located anywhere in Melbourne. If you are going: start with low expectations (so ignore the marketing material) and you might have a nice experience.

2 stars out of 5

For: reasonable chocolate/ cakes, best in a small town
Against: limited range, unexciting location


Review: Penang Coffee House Hawthorn

by duncan on September 22, 2010

in Malaysian/ Indonesian

Note to self: take pics before eating

Penang Coffee House

549 Burwood Road Hawthorn 3122
(03) 9819 2092

An old Hawthorn favourite that does a decent meal and takeaway. Doesn’t take booking or EFTPOS, so be prepared.


One of the older establishments in Hawthorn, Penang Coffee House remains a local favourite for affordability and service.

A Friday night at Penang Coffee House does pump, and without the ability to make a reservation, it’s pot luck with seating. On our last trip we were lucky, one table vacant in the place.

The decor is borderline tacky and not suitable for a romantic date, but you don’t go for the food.

Service was prompt and the prices always reasonable: for a party of three the bill came to $42 with entree and soft drinks.

We ordered the Satay Chicken sticks, a rice dish, and combination Char Kway Teow. Yes, as Malaysian food goes, they’re probably not what springs to mind when it comes to Malaysian food, but who cares.

The Char Kway Teow was done properly (unlike a lot of places): it was friend until golden brown, and the mix of seafood and meat good to great. Other meals were solid quality: again, this isn’t city fine dining, but you really can’t go wrong with the food here: it’s full of flavour, fresh ingredients, and you rarely if ever get a bad meal.

3.5 Stars Out Of 5

For: cheap, good food, quick service
Against: tacky interior, not suitable for a romantic night out

Penang Coffee House on Urbanspoon


A nice quick and easy tasty meal in one of my old favourites: chicken schnitzel in mushroom sauce.

You can go as far as making your own schnitzel, but with plenty of choices out there, you can buy premade schnitzel that tastes as good as anything you can make at home.


Chicken Schnitzels
– in my case, Camberwell Market schnitzels. The key here is free range, hormone free chicken. Markets usually have the freshest pre-made snitzels on offer, although you can buy from a supermarket.
– Mushrooms
– Light Cream
– Salt and Pepper (optional.)
– Extra virgin olive oil

To cook

– Add oil to pan and bring up to heat without it being too hot
– fry both sides of the schnitzel, being sure to seal both sides before more regular flipping. Being flat chicken, these don’t take long to cook, maybe 10mins max
– As the schnitzel is getting close, add the mushrooms to the pan and fry until they change colour
– and the cream (and salt and pepper) and toss the schnitzel and mushrooms in the sauce. Simmer down until the sauce is thick enough for your liking.

You can serve these with salad, potatoes, chips, vegetables…what ever you like. The sauce itself goes nicely over sides.


Review: Wa Fu Japanese Restaurant Camberwell

by duncan on September 20, 2010

in Japanese

Wa Fu

927 Burke Road Hawthorn East 3123
(03) 9882 9818

Ideally located on Burke Road Camberwell near the railway station (technically the west side of Burke Road is Hawthorn East) Wa Fu offers a reasonably priced mix of Japanese food and a decent house Sake.


This use to be my closest Japanese Restaurant, so I’ve been here a few times and continue to go back. It’s not the greatest Japanese Restaurant in Melbourne, indeed it’s far from it, but it’s an affordable, quick eat.

The food is enjoyable without being great: the tempura dishes are light and care is shown. Dishes such as the Teriyaki chicken though lack authenticity: you could be eating Chinese in a Teriyaki sauce for its legitimacy as a Japanese dish, but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it.

My favorite treat at Wa Fu is the house sake: it’s cheap ($6 for a small ceramic jug), it’s served hot, and the staff readily refill your glass as you go.

The rest of the menu is middle range standard fare: you can’t really muck up Sushi after all. There’s a small range of Japanese deserts, and the wine list is reasonable if not exciting.

3 stars out of 5

For: affordable, usually fairly quiet (book on a Fri/ Sat), quick and good service
Against: not very authentic

Wa Fu on Urbanspoon