139-141 Lygon Street
Carlton, VIC 3053
03 9347 4393
Thanks to Ashley from Food Pampering and Alfie from Universal Restaurant, a handful us were invited to have the pleasure of sampling the dishes on offer at Universal. I can’t remember the last time I ventured down Lygon Street for Italian, which probably says something about my thoughts on Lygon St. But, then again I’m always open to trying new or old places that have been given a facelift. =P
To save me blabbering on, here’s a wonderful summary from Iron Chef Shellie –“Alfie explains the aim of Universal is to provide affordable, delicious meals for under $20, to keep people coming back regularly, but also a place to go for a special occasion. With the function room upstairs, complete with private balcony, it would be a lovely place to hold a function. The upstairs also has its own kitchen, so no lengthy waits for food. There are also plans of renovation with the shop next door to expand the restaurant.” (*Cough* – such plagiarism & laziness*)
Fitted with spherical shapes and muted shades of colour, the space upstairs provides a nice fine dining element to reflect the new menu at Universal, but it is not so much as to throw it out of line with the affordable and relaxed feel that Alfie intended.
Food bloggers hard at work.
Before I begin on the food, I apologise for the missing and/or atrocious photos to follow – settings were off grrr!!! I’ve tried to salvage what I can though, *ahem notice how most of the photos are smaller? =P
Oysters Naturale & Oysters Kilpatrick (baked with bacon + Worcestershire sauce) – were a definitely a fresh appetiser!
Garlic pizza – the aroma of baked garlic is generally far more mouth watering than the overpowering taste itself. Though quite delicious, it is quite moreishly cheesy and garlic’y, as one would expect. Feel free to have it at the cost of garlic breath for the rest of the day =P.
Buffalo wings – juicy little golden wings of chicken grilled with a sweet, sticky marinade.
Bruschetta Roma (not pictured) – made with homemade pesto, fresh tomatoes and feta was simple appetiser which was much lighter on the breath.
Chicken avocado (Tomato, cheese, mushroom, grilled chicken tenders and fresh avocado)
I am Angus (Tomato, cheese, grilled beef strips, roasted red capsicum, onion, jalapenos & drizzle of garlic mayo)
The pizzas are simple with plenty of toppings. I initially anticipated the steak on the pizza would’ve been overcooked and chewy, but fortunately I was proven wrong on that point.
Tuscan Chicken risotto (Tuscan marinated chicken breast fillet grilled and served with a mild mushroom risotto)
Risotto Poseidon (Creamy risotto with pan seared tiger prawns, mussels, spinach and roasted capsicum, with a touch of spicy olio and napolitana sauce) – not pictured
The Tuscan and Poseidon risottos were cooked nicely – although a tad soft of al dente – with a creamy sauce that reflected the aromas of mushroom and seafood quite well. A hit of spicy olio gave the Poseidon a little complex edginess on the tongue.
Porter-House Steak – though aged for 21 days and grain fed for 100, the Australian Angus was a little too tough and overcooked for my liking. I should however, give credit for the well fried fat chips that were crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside.
Salmon fillet – Alongside the porterhouse, the grilled Atlantic salmon would probably be my least favorite mains. Sitting upside down, the skin was a little soggy without that crackle everyone loves. The flesh is fresh and falls apart easily but fails to mesh well with the ratatouille element.
Slow roasted pork ribs – well roasted pork ribs that is both tender to bite and moreish to eat (though a tad on the leaner side for my liking). This was served with roasted butternut pumpkin and corn on the cob – slathered in what looked like a block of butter. According to Thanh, the corn cobs was quite the winner, but Michelle detested that point, insisting it was just corn. Go try it yourself, and tell me what you think!
…At this point we were all pretty full, and very much ready for dessert. We were expecting a couple of desserts to share between us, but turns out Alfie’s generosity far exceeded our expectation…
Tiramisu – had a nice oomph of liqueur and espresso soaked in the savoiardi biscuits, but personally I thought they lacked an overall balance – somewhat smothered by the chocolate and mascarpone.
Gelato tasting plate – decent flavours that put them in the ‘ok’ category, but not enough individual character to have them compete with the best in town.
Panna Cotta – was an incredibly beautiful creation with a smooth texture and delicious aroma of vanilla bean. The acidity of the wild-berry-soup contrasted well with the golden shards of caramel toffee and fluffy Persian fairy floss.
Chocolate mud pudding– looked spectacular with the melted chocolate flowing off the pudding, but the flesh of the pudding itself was a tad too dense. Like Thanh, I quite liked the macadamia nut ice cream, albeit a little sweet.
Blueberry Cheesecake – a sweet crunchy compression of New York cheesecake with fresh blueberries and biscuit crust. I’m generally not a big cheesecake fan, given I’m slightly lactose intolerant, but I quite enjoyed it.
Rating: Yummy – very affordable Italian food on Lygon Street with good flavours and presentation.
[Thanks again to Universal café & Food Pampering for this satisfying lunch]