Donovan's in St Kilda is a restaurant that has excellent recommendations (Awarded 2 Chefs Hats by The Age Good Food Guide 2008), with the food generally getting good reviews. but unfortunately tempered by some complaints of bad service.
Ambience-wise, Donovan's is truly excellent.
You get a view of the beach and the sea, and I loved the quirkily designed interior which gives it a very cozy and comfortable feel.
As you can see, they use different chairs, the walls have plenty of things on them, everything looking very nice and comfy.
They started us off with some bread with butter and a fava bean dip, something I haven't tried before. I have a tendency to overdose on bread before a meal, and that's because I'm usually hungry while waiting for the food to arrive. The bread was excellent, and the dip was good as well.
I don't quite know how to describe this starter. It was called a 'parfait' on the menu, but as far as I know, a parfait is some form of dessert. If anything, it resembled pate more than anything. Maybe foie gras, but I haven't had that before, so I cannot say. Loved the quail, enjoyed the two chunks of pate-like meat, don't really know what the cherries were doing on the plate.
Oh yes, it came with some toast as well. More bread.
And then, we had some scallops. Seared. The only scallops I've ever before had were the preserved ones used in chinese cooking, and since I've heard a lot about 'seared scallops' from Top Chef, I thought it'd be good to try it. And the verdict? Not too bad, but nothing spectacular. Nice to look at though.
To the mains!
Unfortunately, this is where it fell short.
This fish, tasted a lot like chinese style steamed fish with soy sauce. And because we're used to that, this tasted weird, with the creamy mashed potatoes and the oxtail stew around it. There was also too much sauce.
And the pork chop. Its supposed to be one of their top recommendations, but, tsk tsk. I don't know why it is so, but western cooking seems to favour certain meats with the fat on them. Like duck. And this pork chop. I'm usually one who loves the fat on the pork, but this was too much for me. And you add to that the two chunks of garlic butter on top.
Just look at the butter dripping off the thing. And the cotechino (that's the sausage slice), I took a bite onto that, and it was SO oily. Oil, oil, and more oil. I had to remove a chunk of the garlic butter, and then remove the fat from the pork, and the cotechino was just inedible. The only saving grace was the lettuce in a bowl that came together with the dish.
Because of the disappointing mains, we did not proceed to dessert, and left soon thereafter.