Monday, June 20, 2011

Universal Restaurant on Lygon Street

Having lived in Melbourne over the past 4 years with a tight student budget, my brother and I were always on the look out for nice, affordable food. Universal Restaurant was one of the few restaurants we used to frequent back then in those early uni days.

So, when Ashley from FOOD so generously extended Alfie's (the owner of Universal Restaurant) invitation for a couple of us food bloggers to sample several of Universal Restaurant dishes, I gladly said yes.

Bruschetta Roma - homemade pesto, tomatoes & feta cooked on pizza base
Our meal kicked off with the fragrant Bruschetta Roma, which I sadly did not appreciate. I have this thing with cheese, I only eat a certain type so no, it's not the pizza, it's me. 

Garlic Pizza - cheese & garlic pizza
The garlic pizza smelt so good just as it arrived on the table, but the strong garlicky taste was slightly overpowering. Don't get me wrong, it was tasty nevertheless. 

Oysters Kilpatrick - baked oysters with bacon & Worcestershire sauce
Unlike others who do not eat raw oysters, I'm not too big a fan of cooked/baked oysters. Thankfully though, we were also served with some fresh oysters (not pictured) - they were fresh and succulent. 

Buffalo Wings - marinated & grilled BBQ chicken wing
Can someone enlighten me on why they're called Buffalo Wings when they look nothing at all like buffalo? Regardless of its name, I really enjoyed the chicken wings - well-marinated and juicy.

I Am Angus - tomato, cheese, Grilled beef strips, roasted red capsicum,onion, jalapeƱos & a drizzle of garlic mayo
I have never tasted beef strips on pizza before, but here they are, tender meat on a good pizza base, with some drizzle of garlic mayo, and voila - well done.

Chicken Avocado - tomato, cheese, mushroom, grilled chicken & fresh avocado
I like how generous they are with toppings - and may I add that chicken, mushroom and avocado make the best combination? This could very well be my favourite dish of the day. 

270g Porter-House - certified Australian Angus, 150 day grain fed 
The steak was slightly on the overcooked side, and for someone like me who enjoys only medium-rare steaks, this chewy porter house did not stand out at all. Although I have to say though, those chips were some crispy goodness!

Slow Roasted Pork Ribs - slow roasted tender marinated pork ribs served also with roasted butternut pumpkin & corn on the cob which are not in the picture
The pork ribs were full of flavour but could have been better if the meat was slightly more tender. This dish was served also with a corn on the cob which Thanh absolutely loved, although I'd say as juicy as they can get, corns will always be just corns. :P

Salmon Fillet - grilled fresh Atlantic salmon fillet served with vegetable ratatouille & roasted garlic aioli
The salmon fillet was well cooked and matches well with a good squeeze of the lemon and a good dip of that aioli. 

Tuscan Chicken - Tuscan marinated chicken breast fillet grilled &served with wild mushroom risotto
The risotto was cooked perfectly, and like I said before, chicken and mushroom makes a good combo.

This dish is something that I would likely return for. Although having said that, I'd prefer the Chicken Avacado pizza better.

Risotto Poseidon - creamy risotto with pan seared tiger prawns, mussels, spinach & roasted capsicum, with a touch of spicy olio & napolitana sauce
Risotto Poseidon is an interesting name indeed. The seafood were all very well cooked, but being the failed Malaysian that I am who doesn't do very well with spicy food, this dish didn't quite appeal to me although I have to say that the flavours were great.

Panna Cotta - vanilla bean & honey flavored panna cotta, with wild berry soup, caramel toffee shard & Persian fairy floss
I was blown away at how pretty it looks. Although having said that, the panna cotta was not only very well presented, it was also smooth and creamy just the way a panna cotta should very well be - easily my favourite dessert of the night. :)

Tiramisu - coffee & liqueur soaked savoiardi biscuits, smothered in mascarpone cream & chocolate shavings
Being in an Italian restaurant, I expect good tiramisu but this one here unfortunately did not make it. In fact, I'd say I make better ones. *thick-faced takes every opportunity to blow own trumpet* But no really, there are loads of room of improvements.

Blueberry Cheesecake - New York cheesecake mixed with fresh blueberries on a biscuit crust
I don't quite remember how this cheesecake tasted, except that it was slightly too sweet for my liking. Then again, I ain't no big fan of cheesecakes, so that could very well be the reason.

Chocolate Mud Pudding - dense & moist mud pudding served with chocolate fudge,corinthian wafer & macadamia nut ice cream
It was dense, yes, but not as moist as I'd expect it to be though. But paired up with a good scoop of that macadamia nut ice cream, it was good. Yeah, the ice cream was the key.

Gelato Tasting Plate for Two - variety of Italian gelato & premium ice cream
I took a small bite of the gelati, but neither stood out. In fact, the obvious aside, sad to say, I don't even remember what flavours they were. Overall, I was very surprised at how well-presented the desserts were. Taste-wise though, I wasn't blow away. 

I have to say that I am rather impressed and would love to see more improvements especially on the desserts. I have nothing much to say about the savoury except the fact that I particularly liked the Chicken and Avocado pizza a lot (as if you can't already tell).

Universal Restaurant has always been on my "yeah, it's okay, not too bad" list, but I'd say they have improved tremendously since my last visit ages ago.

Following the taste-testing, I have recently returned again for the, Chicken and Avocado pizza (yes I am boring!) and my brother had to order his all time favourite Paul's Special.

Paul's Special - bacon, garlic, chilli & rose sauce
Sad to say though, the Paul's Special wasn't as good as it used to be. Some chunks of the fettuccine were not al dente, and were actually hard - a big mistake for an Italian restaurant. 

I'd like to believe that it was a one-day thing because their Paul's Special has always been pretty good. But regardless, I would definitely return again some day. 

Once again, thank you Alfie for the hospitality and generous lunch, also to Ashley for organising this FOOD trail. :)

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