Rose Diner & Bar

309 Bay Street
Port Melbourne, VIC 3207
03 9681 8550

Did you use to have heroes that you looked up to when you were a child? You know… kids whom you admired and aspired to be friends with? Well, this post will revolve around my very own blog ‘hero’!

Some of you may have noticed that my photos have improved by quite a few leaps this year. I’d like to attribute this jump in quality to Dee, author of ‘food in hand‘, a newish but extraordinary Sydney-based food blog. Dee’s blog was only 4 months old when I read her post on Wilbur’s Place, but the juxtaposition of her photos was so captivating that I’d actually eMailed her to ask for tips on how to make collages.

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To my surprise, Dee replied with big friendliness and was happy to walk me through the steps. It turned out I did not need that much help, she just led me in the right direction and I quickly played around with what I could do. The rest of the time, I used her posts as inspiration. I learnt about alignment, layout and juxtaposition just from browsing her blog, and then started to develop my own style of collaging.

In a way, those exciting new discoveries was what compelled me to migrate from Blogger to WordPress, so that I had better control over the template. You could say that part of my blog’s current interface and ‘look’ was partly influenced by what Dee’s blog had taught me.

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A few months later, Dee dropped an eMail saying she’s in Melbourne over the Grand Prix weekend, where’s good to eat? My mind screamed “OMG! My blog HERO is in Melbourne!!”. I would’ve done cartwheels if I weren’t in a car when I received her message. I quickly replied and offered to catch up in person and she was happy to. My mind screamed again “ZOMG! My Hero wants to meet meee!!”

We met up in Port Melbourne that evening. Let’s not talk about how stressed and flustered I was about where to take her to, but we eventually settled on a recently opened modern British bar/diner on Bay St. Her friend Mel came along, and that’s how this post came about.

Rose Diner 02Scottish Tea Party $9
Aperol, Chartreuse, fresh lemon & Laphroig Mist with a cherry on top

Dee turned out to be a lovely, sensible and down-to-earth girl. I warmed to her personality very quickly. We spoke at length about blogging, photography and food. And now that we’re dining out together, I was very interested in seeing Dee in action, watch how she worked her magic!

I must’ve been quite annoying, because each time she composed a shot, I’d ask silly questions like “What do you see? Why are you angling it this way? Why are you taking that scene?”… ha ha! Thank goodness I asked for permission to take photos at Rose Diner when I made our booking, that way we did not have to worry about upsetting the staff.

This cocktail-in-a-teacup intrigued Dee. I can’t remember what she thought of it, but it sure made for a very cute picture. I stole a sip and remember it was quite sweet.

Rose Diner 01Cat’s Meow $9
Makers Mark, peach sorbet, mint and sugar

I did a groupie thing and ordered a teacup cocktail too, even though I’m not a cocktail person. Yes, yes… because I’m lame… but also because the name ‘cat’s meow’ was too cute to not order! :p

Let me tell you, this drink was knock-my-socks-off strong. It was more or less pure whiskey and I could not finish. A bit scary for a lightweight like myself. Definitely not a cat’s meow, it’s more of a Cat’s ROWRR!!

Rose Diner 03Pan-roasted snapper with clams, braised lettuce, bacon & white ale 29

Our friendly, homely waitress was very helpful with our menu choices and we ordered many of her recommendations. She also organised the pace of the meal nicely, sensibly divided into two waves of dishes that went well with each other.

The snapper was a surprisingly delicious offering. Surprising in that this was the first time I’ve ever had fish with the smokiness of bacon, what a delightful combination! It was accompanied with a sweetish, moreish clam-infused white ale sauce. Mmmmm…

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Part of the reason why I warmed to Dee was because of her inherently polite and patient nature. When a dish arrived, she’d calmly wait for me to finish photographing it before she started with her camera. And look! After she’s taken her pictures, she’d proceed to cut and portion out the dish neatly for all diners on the table!

Mah Hero is so Uh-Maaa-Ziiiing!!

(Oh, and in case you think I got a crush on said ‘hero’, let me set the record straight by revealing that I’m gay as a goose. Hah!)

Rose Diner 04Broccolini, basil, mint, parsley, shallots, lemon & quinoa 15

Our waitress chose to match this little broccolini salad with the fish dish. Perfect light dressing and good fresh ingredients. We liked it.

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I also liked the decoratively small and cute dinner plates that we ate out of.

Rose Diner 05Quail pie, mushroom duxelle, wood-smoked pork belly and muscatels 22

On to our second wave of dishes. This pie was very good. Once we cut into it, we discovered a deboned whole quail (with skin-on) inside. The pastry was marvellously unctuous, crisp and buttery. There were other delicious ingredients inside too, like mushrooms, spices, and pistachios.

Rose Diner 07Roasted pine mushrooms on toast with Bearnaise 14

Dee was impressed at how the kitchen had thoughtfully sectioned this dish into three pieces for us to share. Pine mushroom is a seasonal ingredient that marks the coming of Autumn, that’s why we chose this unfamiliar dish. I think the menu here follows the seasons closely.

I had no idea how earthy and meaty pine mushrooms could taste. Along with the Bearnaise sauce, it turned out to be a very rich and heavy dish.

Rose Diner 09Peach Melba 14
Poached white peaches, peach sorbet, peach ice-cream and raspberry sauce

To be honest, none of the desserts looked exciting on the menu, but we ended up sharing a peach melba. It was a bit meh to me, and I don’t remember my companions commenting much about it either. But to be fair, I’m not a fan of sorbets and also don’t like jammy raspberry sauces.

I know we did not order much, but I liked quite a number of the dishes that we had here. Service was warm and friendly, and the space was pleasant, although I suspect it can get incredibly noisy if it got busy. I’ll be back soon to try out their brunch offshoot located behind the diner, called “Little Rose”, entrance via the back alley. How cute!

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I think Dee and Mel thought the food at Rose Diner was good. But I could also sort of sense that Dee might’ve felt a little dislocated in Melbourne, and may be missing comfort dishes in familiar places along familiar streets back in Sydney. Having recently spent a week in Sydney by myself, I think I know how it feels. You could be eating somewhere rather nice in a new city, but still, you’re secretly missing food from the city you’re familiar with.

Either way, I am happy I got to meet my blog ‘hero’ and even dined out with her. It made me realise that food bloggers, in general, are pretty nice people. I hope we will meet again should we ever visit each other’s city. Writing up this post was quite funny, I almost wanted the photos to be ‘perfect’ because I wanted to do my ‘hero’ proud… ha ha!

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