December 3, 2015 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | FOOD, Restaurants, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

When we  of TVC arrived at an almost full  Kenji at 8 pm on a Saturday night without a reservation, we were found a table with smiles and alacrity.  The space is a rather uninspiring box on Hutt Street but the décor (modern, clean lines, olive green and black, traditional Japanese ornaments) is pleasing, although L did have a view of the toilet door. L’s entrée size sashimi of 10 pieces was generous and succulent.  P’s lamb chops were a surprising inclusion on a Japanese menu but then, the menu at Kenji is surprising and innovative.   P’s chops were also succulent (although overcooked for medium rare)….

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Vue de Monde

August 9, 2015 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | FOOD, Restaurants, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

July, 2015 The Vanished Culture had previously enjoyed the street level, race trim sister, Bistro Vue.   But nothing had prepared us for Vue de Monde –  55 levels steeper and taller than its sister in every way. Degustation is a horrible word but, since Vue de Monde, it is one of The Varnished Culture‘s favourites.  We took our phlegmatic Melbourne relative N (a chicken-and-chips man) there mid week and even he was impressed – although you wouldn’t know.  Don’t go there if you don’t like culinary experimentation and weirdness.  Strange and magical little courses were served (and explained) by enthusiastic staff, the youngest one so new that he shook…

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Mercato @ Daylesford

August 1, 2015 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Restaurants, TRAVEL |

Winter, 2015 We drove into Spa World (Daylesford, country Victoria) and immediately re-visited this terrific establishment for lunch, which we had last been to in 2010. We liked the place so much that we returned a few days later for dinner. It’s a non-descript wooden edifice on Raglan Street, the main drag that leads into Daylesford proper, but its big windows display the glow of fires and mood lighting.  Tables are small and close but expertly configured for privacy.  The art is inherently horrendous but suitable as part of the décor.  For example, there are two plain black and white pieces…

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Peppers Springs Retreat

July 30, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | LIFE, Restaurants, TRAVEL |

Winter, 2015 For The Varnished Culture, it was a week of cancellations, most of which, surprisingly, suited us mightily. 1. We were groaning in the early cold and imagined damp, having packed late the previous evening, when the airline rang and said our morning flight to Melbourne was cancelled due to fog.  So we got to fly at a more genteel time. 2. Above the clouds, we were warned that turbulence was expected, so hot drinks were not available.  This meant free booze in economy – such a shame the flight was a shorty! 3. Our hire car’s handbrake had been…

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The Witchery

July 18, 2015 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Restaurants, TRAVEL |

Edinburgh, summer, 2013 If you are staying in Edinburgh, book dinner here.  Ensure that you book ahead.  You may need to be content with a late booking. We wended along the Royal Mile, ascending towards the Castle. L negotiated the cobbles expertly in her high heels.  By 9.30pm we were past Boswell’s walk and ready to descend to the secret garden, our way lit by candles on each step (ladies with long gowns, beware). The day had been dry and sunny, with a bone chilling wind.  From our cosy vantage, the sky was an arctic blue and pink and you could…

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