I had wanted to go to Houndstooth ever since I read Michael's review on Where's The Beef. One other time that I tried to go fell through. Hence, this time when a group of us were going to watch Beowulf 3D at IMAX (the 3D is spectacular, movie is probably just worth watching to see that but otherwise movie storyline was terrible) on Rathdowne, I suggested that we go to Houndstooth for dinner. Michael had written how he had walked past it for months without going in. Well Houndstooth probably isn't such a secret anymore since they got reviewed in The Age.
We got there around quarter to eight and all the communal tables were already filled. There was one empty table, which had been booked. Luckily for us, the kind waitress said that we could squeeze in and might have to scoot together a bit when the other diners arrived. It turned out that by the time the booked patrons arrived, the couple at the end of our communal table left so we just stuck the booking note over there instead.
I like the look and feel of the place, small and cosy. The noise level is buzzing without being so loud that you can't hear your own friends. There is fairly low mood lighting but still retains enough lumination for you to see your food.
The menu is very simple, consisting of a few items written on the chalk board. These items change constantly so you never know what you will get. There are a few options for entrees, mains and desserts. There are also side dishes such as chorizos I saw. It costs a extremely cheap $10 for two courses, and $15 for three. You can choose between any two courses, entree and mains or mains and dessert. Everyone went for two courses, but being the ever diligent food reporter that I am, I went for three.
As Michael wrote in his post, the beer list is impressive indeed. They had heaps of ale, which I like. They even had the Leff Blonde beer that I just sample a week ago at Belgian Beer Cafe. I thought that beer was exclusive to that cafe, but I guess not. I choose the Pale Ale in the end. The other guys went for various ales as well. Kin went for a lemonade, which the waitress poured into a glass for him. There was a bit left in the bottle, but instead of giving it to him, she put it away. That was a bit strange, and probably the only small niggle I had.
Despite Kin's constant questioning of "Where's the food, I'm hungry", the food didn't take that long. It was a bit longer than I expected considering how few choices they had, but it looked like the whole place has that relaxed attitude.
I choose the Scallops on Spinach for entrees. Two scallops sat beautifully on their shells above a bed of spinach. The scallops were dressed with a lime type dressing, simple but delicious. I dipped the spinach in the tangy sauce of the scallops as well.
For mains, I got the Osso Bucco. The osso bucco was served with some potatoes. The large chunk of meat I got also included the bone, with the soft marrow being dug out by me quickly. The meat was very tender and feel apart when I went to eat it.
Finally for dessert, I wanted the Pecan Tart. However, they ran out of that, so instead I got the Lemon Cheesecake. I ate the cheesecake before remembering to take a photo, so use your imagination and picture a thin slice of cheesecake, lightly kissed in colour by the yellow of a lemon. It contains an outer shell of crumbed biscuit and is served cleanly on a white plate, with a small dollop of white cream waiting for the cheesecake to swim in. (Ok that's as best I can do with my description, do the rest with your own minds). The cheesecake was soft and fluffy and contained the tang of lemon, very nice.
The service was good. Things were served fairly timely, after each subsequent dish was finished. The waitress apologised for not having the pecan tart and was the one who seated us despite not having a reservation.
Overall Rating: 14/20, Food is simple but good and exceptional value.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.