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Progressive dinners are always a lot of fun, and I’m sure most of us would be quite familiar with the concept of progressive dinners organized with friends (especially friends who all live within minutes from each other) – whereby we go from house to house for a complete dinner party so each host only needs to prepare one or two dishes instead of putting up the entire spread for the night. This way, everyone gets a chance to entertain as hosts and be entertained as guests.
In the restaurant world, progressive dinners are a great way to sample multiple restaurants and their specialties all in one night. It is also a fun experience best shared with a group of friends, the more people the more food you can sample!
A couple of weeks ago, myself and five other food bloggers were given the opportunity to go on a Progressive Dinner at WTC Wharf in Melbourne. WTC Wharf is located conveniently across the river from Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, and is Melbourne’s first absolute wharf edge dining precinct. It is easily accessible, especially via the new footbridge linkage from Spencer St around Crowne Plaza. WTC Wharf is also accessible by water – the WTC Water Taxi service has been integrated for an unprecedented true waterfront dining experience.
Our first stop for our Progressive Dinner was Byblos Bar & Restaurant
. Byblos is renowned for its audacious take on traditional Lebanese cuisine. Known for its unique offering of imaginative Mediterranean cuisine, combined with lavish hospitality, luxurious surroundings, and a world-class drink selection, Byblos is the perfect destination for celebratory cocktails, special events as well as regular dining.
Dishes called “Mezat”, we were treated to an amazing spread – a selection of Byblos’ best scrumptious shared plates – and we were supposed to be here just for Entrees!
Firstly, the Batata Harra – a delicious serving of hand cut potatoes sautéed in lemon, olive oil, chopped coriander, garlic and a hint of chilli. This was one of the more popular dishes amongst our group, we all loved these little potatoes and just how flavoursome they were. It was fried to a point of slight crispiness on the outside and the potatoes remained soft and fluffy on the inside. Personally, it tasted just that little bit too salty for my liking, but it was still delicious nevertheless.
The Grilled Halloumi – lightly grilled Cyprian halloumi (semi-soft cheese) served golden brown and accompanied by fresh lemon. A clever food blogger told us all that we should really start eating these first while it’s still warm and the cheese is still deliciously melting. What a clever cookie! I have always said cheese just seems to taste better melted / warm… and this was no exception. It is actually quite a common dish, and technically nothing is really special about it, but it is a great dish and serves as a fantastic appetizer.
I haven’t had Quail in ages, so when they brought out roasted quail marinated in pomegranate molasses and served with eggplant and yoghurt, I let out a little squeal (hopefully no one else heard it, haha). The quail was cooked just right, the meat was still a little bit pink on the inside, and melts in your mouth, and the delicious smoky flavours from the grill just complimented the more refreshing accompaniments of the yoghurt. Not a big fan of eggplant so I skipped tasting that bit, hehe. LOTS to eat! Why waste stomach space on food I don’t really like anyway.
Off this platter, I first tasted the Rekakat – lightly fried filo pastry filled with feta and mozzarella cheese, freshly chopped onion and fresh herbs. I didn’t mind it – like I said, I’m a big fan of cooked / warm / melted cheese so it was really nice to bite into a crispy crumbly pastry to find soft warm cheese on the inside. Then I tried the Kebbi – hand rolled roasted ground lamb and ground beef with pine nuts, chili and traditional spices. Really not a big fan, it was just way too dry although it did have really dominant flavours from the spices. This just goes to show texture is everything when it comes to food! The meat really needed to be moist, but it wasn’t. Oh well.
The Trio of Dips arrived with some delicious pita breads, but of course we had to pace ourselves so skipped most of the carbs. I used the dips on the Grilled Lamb Skewers instead, and they were so yummy. The trio of dips comes with hommus, baba ghanouj and labneh, and the Mixed Grill Platter arrived with Chicken Skewers and Lamb Skewers, and an outstanding sauce just made out of yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. I was a huge fan of the Lamb Skewers, they were so tender and I have to admit I ate lots of lamb, but the Chicken Skewers paled in comparison. Firstly, they used chicken breast and I really don’t like chicken breast (unless it has been cooked perfectly to still retain its moisture)but those chicken skewers were just way too dry. What a shame.
This review seems to go on forever and we are still at Byblos enjoying our entrée! The last dish was the ever amazing Fattoush – a light mixed green salad with radish, tomato and cucumber, finished with toasted Lebanese bread and a bold lemon and olive oil dressing. This salad was so refreshing in the midst of all the other foods we had. I especially love the crispy toasted Lebanese bread on top; I ended up nibbling on those things after we were finished eating and dipping them in leftover dips. Yummo!
After sitting down to let our food rest in our tummies and a short walk to our next restaurant next door, we were ready for our mains @ Kobe Jones Riverside Teppanyaki
. Kobe Jones combines modern Japanese cuisine with a Californian twist – apparently “Japanese like you’ve never had before”.
Riverside Teppanyaki has the newest and largest teppanyaki table in Australia, featuring 19 cooking stations and seating for up to 44 people. Riverside Teppanyaki cook in a traditional Japanese teppanyaki style, and part of the allure is to watch the chef’s knife and cooking skills while your meal is being expertly prepared. Riverside Teppanyaki offers Chef’s Specials, various teppanyaki set options as well as a la carte option, to ensure you get the very best of teppanyaki dining.
Unfortunately when we arrived at Kobe Jones, there was a minor complication with regards to our booking so we had to wait around for a little bit. While we were waiting for things to be sorted out, we were treated with some tea and fresh oysters with spring onion and Ponzu sauce. Now that’s what I call customer service!!
Not long after, we were back in business and seated promptly. We were served with a Hot Mushroom salad while ordering our drinks and deciding our mains.
For our mains, we had the choice of Beef or Salmon, or both. I of course opted for both! When our mains arrived, I tucked into the salmon first and oh my goodness it was amazing! The salmon was cooked just so perfectly that it is still so deliciously soft and tender and full of its natural flavours. That is exactly how salmon should be cooked at all times (and I have to admit I don’t always accomplish that perfection when I cook salmon at home) but to me, it was perfection.
The poor beef fillets will have to cop my intense criticism now, especially when compared to those amazing salmon fillets. The beef cuts I felt wasn’t the right cut, and it was really tough and dry and slightly chewy, and there was just nothing great about the beef. So disappointing. The plate would’ve been perfect if the beef was deliciously tender as well, preferably medium rare, more towards rare. But it was cooked Medium Well Done, and there was barely any pink left, and we thought even if it was cooked Medium Rare it probably wouldn’t have been tender anyway because they used the wrong cut of beef. Bring me some Wagyu and I will love you forever Kobe Jones!!
Now, writing this post, I really wish I had some more of that salmon dipped in the delicious Miso Citrus sauce… would so make my day right now!!
Moving on, our dessert destination was The Wharf Hotel
– a unique combination of a friendly local pub with stunning river views, waterfront ambience, indoor and outdoor areas and an elegant dining area which offers quality dishes available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
We were served with two choices of dessert, which most of us ended up sharing so we can taste a bit of each. I had the Sticky Date Pudding first of course, as it has always been a classic favorite dessert of mine. It was not bad, although I have always preferred my sticky date pudding a lot “stickier” and the cake a lot denser and rich. The other bloggers disagreed with me and loved the fact that the cake was “light and fluffy”. If I wanted light and fluffy I would eat a sponge cake, haha. It was still a pretty good dessert though, and the sauce was delicious, and the ice cream that came with it was creamy and had great cinnamon-ish flavours.
Then I had a bit of Apple Pie, again it wasn’t bad. The pie was nice and warm and the apples were at the right ripeness and tasted sweet and I really like the pastry and creamy sauce that came with it. The ice cream was the same as the one served with the Sticky Date Pudding so that was good.
Basically, the desserts served at The Wharf Hotel were homey and familiar. We weren’t expecting anything spectacular, after all it was a pub, but the portions were definitely generous and the desserts were of good restaurant quality.
The Wharf Hotel was also the perfect place to end the Progressive Dinner, it was already happening with some great music pumping in the next room and a decent crowd having drinks at the bar getting ready to party the night away. It would’ve been cool to end the dinner with a few more drinks and maybe a dance or two, hehe.
To find out more or to book your Progressive Dinner at WTC Wharf
, go to this page
. Progressive Dinners are available for booking every Thursday nights and Monday nights are now available too in November and December.
GIVEAWAY:No sponsored blog post seems complete these days without a giveaway, so I have a giveaway yet again for all you wonderful readers!! Thanks to the folks at WTC Wharf, I have a $100 WTC precinct voucher for any restaurant. To win this voucher, simply leave a comment on this post and answer this question:
“If you were to go to the WTC Wharf which restaurant would you go to?”
Please submit your entries by the 16 November 2012
. Don’t forget to leave a contact detail e.g. email address or Twitter name. The winner will be contacted and announced on the 17 November 2012. Terms and Conditions
World Trade Centre (Riverside)