Midweek (whoops - and weekend!) gem
Flor is one of those restaurant/bars that got it right - it's hard to strike the right balance between casual bar and restaurant food, but when a place gets it right, it's fantastic. Flor used to be a bit more relaxed, a winebar that also served tapas. It changed hands recently and has cranked up the food side of things to serve more serious meals. We were big fans of Flor before the change, and are still big fans now - they've managed to keep the feel of the winebar, but improve the food to a new level.
They're only open for dinner between Wednesday and Friday, but we're hoping they'll expand those hours soon. (See edit below)
We started with Tuna carpaccio with ruby grapefruit and capers and a house cured duck with goats curd cream and quince paste. I preferred the tuna, but Alicia thought it a little too acidic for her tastes. The house cured duck took on a lovely smokey gamey flavour that was enhanced by the goats curd cream.
We enjoyed these with wines by the glass: A Yarra Valley Chardonnay and an interesting Sancerre-style Sauvignon Blanc from Sabotage Wines in Mornington. The wine list is not extensive, but more creative than the average Carlton - there's plenty to keep you entertained here, and it's all reasonably priced.
Mains were Rigatoni with oxtail and porcini mushroom ragu and Double lamb cutlet with lamb galette and peas. The lamb gallete (a french inspired 'cube' of meat, spiced and deep fried) is a favourite of ours, with a rich flavour and crispy texture. The rigatoni with ragu had good depth of flavour, although Alicia would liked to have seen a little more meat (just for a change!)
Dessert was another special of the day: A blood orange and lemon trifle with Italian donuts. If you're a fan of trifle, you'll be a fan of this. Particularly with the donuts, as they complemented the sweetness of the trifle.
Flor is a mid-week, mid-priced gem - the only problem is its restricted opening times, but we're hoping those will extend with time.
Edit (Oct 29 2008): We've just been corrected (see the forums): In fact Flor is open Wed-Sun for dinner, and from 10am on weekends for brunch. Apologies for any confusion.
Tuna carpaccio with ruby grapefruit and capers
House cured duck with goats curd cream and quince paste
Rigatoni with oxtail and porcini mushroom ragu
Double lamb cutlet with lamb galette and peas
Blood orange and lemon trifle with Italian donuts
Sabotage Sauvignon Blanc
Gentle Annie Cabernet Sauvignon