duNord – Swedish Splendour

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Menyu at duNord

G & I were catching up for dinner and decided to check out duNord which is located in Little Bourke St – right in the middle of the Melbourne CBD. duNord serves up Swedish flavours and Nordic inspired cocktails and is owned by Thomas Kiltorp (ex-Emerald Peacock, Red Hummingbird).

As you walk in you are greeted by the super long Beechwood bar which has solid bar stools that you can perch yourself up at. There are also higher tables near the bar. Following the bar is the kitchen and to the right of that there are lower blonde wooden tables for more seating. At the back of the venue is space called Back Pocket where you get fit between 30 to 70 people for a private function. There is exposed brick combined with the light wooden furniture combined with a neutral colour palette to create a warm, welcoming and inviting feel to the venue. The staff are ever so friendly and helpful.

duNord is known for its Nordic themed bar which includes Scandanavian beers, ciders but the main feature is their cocktails. This would be expected especially with Kiltorp at the helm. There is a daily “market cocktail” as well as a list of 12 different cocktails, which changes according to the produce available as well as the weather. Interestingly there is a mystery brown bagged beer – beer served in a brown bag to try out as well! There is also a snack menu – svenska bitar – which includes some Swedish meatballs or a smorgasbord platter of herring, gouda cheese, rye and pickles.

G & I arrived at duNord after work for dinner and were seated on the lower tables near the kitchen area. We actually didn’t order any of the cocktails and went straight to the food as we were starving. The menu is split into 5 sections beginning with the nibbles and followed by to start, vegetables, mains and finishing with something sweet. There are between 3 to 5 dishes to select under each of these menus. There is a great selection for vegetarians, and the meats range from venison to mutton and include pork loin, duck breast and smoked mackerel.

We decided to order two ‘nibbles’ dish to share, our own mains and a vegetable to share as well.For the two nibbles dishes we ordered the Smoked Eel and Acorn Croquettes in popcorn and the Pine Smoked Quails Nest.

I have never eaten Acorn before so was intrigued to find out what type of flavour it would be. It was a bit hard to differentiate as it was in a croquette style and mixed together with the smoked eel. However the result was delicious – the smokiness of the eel and the nuttiness of the acorn paired well together. It came in a serving of two so was perfect for the two of us. The outer layer was crumbed and crisped perfectly.

Before ordering the Pine Smoked Quail Nest – the waitress explained what the dish consisted of and it sounded really interesting. When the dish comes out it comes under a dome which houses the smokiness, and once it arrives at your table, this is removed and the vapours evaporate. The “nest” actually resembles a real life birds nest – with the “nest” made out of carrots and onions which are created to look like bark. Really cool! The quail egg sits in the centre of this nest. A really visually pleasing dish that makes you not want to eat it. However, we did eat the dish and the quail egg was really yum – the centre yolk was like liquid gold with the perfect texture to it. We had to ask if we could eat the “nest” and once told we could, we devoured every last bit. There was potato at the bottom which was my favourite tasting part.

For mains I ordered the Wild mushroom and Potato Ragout with Pearled Barley and Greens. This has to one of the prettiest dishes plated up that I have received this year. The Pearled Barley was in a heaped perfect circle, topped with the wild mushrooms and the green placed on top of the mushrooms – like a layered trifle. Beetroot jus was placed artistically around the plate along with a few of the wild mushrooms. I loved the combination of all the elements of the dish. The texture of the pearled barley with the mushrooms worked well together, and the flavours were all round delicious. A really great dish to try out.

G ordered the Duck breast, sautéed roasted vegetables, poached pears, blood and berry jus –w which was also beautifully presented. The sautéed roasted vegetables were colourfully placed in the centre of the black plate with the tender duck breast flanking each side. The poached pear was next to the duck breast and the dish was finished with a whole small red onion and berry jus. G did like her dish and said the duck was cooked really well, and overall the flavours combined together really well – she just wasn’t a fan of the beetroot (it just isn’t a veggie she likes).

We also ordered the Seasonal roasted vegetables on Goats curd with Ashed Goats Cheese to share which was actually quite a large dish. The dish was a variety of carrots char grilled and served with the fresh smoked cheese. The carrots were still juicy and sweet and combined with the smokiness and tang of the cheese was a great result. We were so full from our individual main dishes that we couldn’t finish this veggie dish – I guess in hindsight we ordered a bit too much.

When it came to dessert time we decided to share the Lavender Ice Cream, Lemon and Vanilla Sponge, White Chocolate Soil. The dish came plated up on a long dish with the lavender ice cream scoop on one side and the lemon and vanilla sponge on the other with the white chocolate soil diagonally placed around the two. The lavender ice cream was great- had the lavender flavouring mixed together in a creamy end result. The lemon and vanilla sponge was not as soft as I expected it to be but provided a different texture to the dish. The elements together worked quite well and the addition of the white chocolate soil I thought was a necessary component.

I really enjoyed the food, atmosphere and the helpfulness and friendliness of the staff at duNord. I loved the plating up of the food especially as well as the versatile and different flavours and elements used. If you visit on a Wednesday there is something called Lill Lördag (Little Saturday). This is a night of Swedish street food and drink specials on offer to celebrate the week’s halfway mark, along with some great music to match. Definitely check this place out and try out some delightful Scandinavian cuisine.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – You can find the menu here http://www.dunord.com.au/news/nordic-kitchen-here or look at the menu pic above.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Warm, Inviting, Relaxed and Welcoming
Standout Dish:Pine Smoked Quail Nest AND Wild mushroom and Potato Ragout with Pearled Barley and Greens (I had to pick two)
Service: Fantastic!! Really friendly and really know their information about each dish!
Online Booking: Yes via website – www.dunord.com.au – there is a DIMMI link
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.dunord.com.au
367 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9642 0052

Opening Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 12pm – Late
Friday: 12pm – 1am
Saturday: 6pm – 1am

duNord on Urbanspoon

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Gasolina – Motorcycles, Pizza and Good Food

Menu:

Custom Bar Snacks Custom Bar Snacks2 Grills and Mains One Drop Lunch Pasta Pizzas Salads and Starters Sandwiches, Sliders Sweets

I was in charge or organising a team lunch around our work area and I had previously been to Gasolina and really liked the space and thought they did pretty good pizzas – so decided on trying this place again. Right from the start the staff were very helping as I needed for them to send through a menu and needed to pre-order food as well. I think I must have called them at least 5 times, and yet they were still so patient and helpful in answering my questions with regards to various dietary requirements. A big tick for customer service.

Gasolina is located in Docklands and is part restaurant, part bar and part motorcycle garage and workshop – all located conveniently in a shed at South Wharf. The cuisine is traditional Italian complete with wood fire pizzas, grilled meats and the variety of the homemade pasta’s. The space is vast and has kept its warehouse/shed feel with the bar splitting up the dining area to the right and a lounge area with lounges, tables and Robot art. You also have direct access to the garage next to Gasolina which houses customer motorcycles and a few automobiles. To keep with the theme – there are motorcycles scattered around the restaurant / bar area too. What is also very unique and a huge point of difference is that there are Transformer robot replicas around the place – there was a mini one located on the bar and a HUGE robot located in the loungey area. I loved it!

Gasolina serves traditional Italian food such as wood fire pizzas, daily made pasta as well as grilled meats. The menu’s are rather funky as well and resembles a block of wood with a bolt to tie back to the workshop. Something new that they are trailing is a menu called a One Drop Lunch – which costs $25 and comes with a house wine, beer or a soft drink. What it is, is essentially 3 courses all served in “one drop” in a tray that resembles a Thali that some Indian restaurants use. You get an entrée, main and dessert as well as bread with olive oil and whipped butter and the best part – a tablet that looks like a refresher mint – but is actually a wet towel once you have completed your meal. You simply drop this table into water and voila it becomes a towelette. Very cool hey!

You get to choose out of three options for each of the courses and there are also vegetarian and gluten free options available. Refer to the menu above to see the options.

For my One Drop lunch – I got the Insalata, The Mushroom Risotto and the Chocolate Mousse. The Insalata caprese came with vine tomato, pesto, buffalo mozzarella, ligurian olive, balsamic, and was quite refreshing. The ingredients were fresh and juicy. The Mushroom risotto was served with marscapone and truffle oil and was quite filling and really tasty. The risotto rice was cooked perfectly. The Dark Chocolate mousse came with poached pear and cookie crumbs – and had a rich taste which paired well with the sweetness of the poached pears.

I really like this concept and think it’s a great and novel idea!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to the thumbnails above – there is a Pizza, Pasta, Sides, Salads, Starter, Dessert and One Drop Lunch Menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Warehouse feel and inviting
Service: Great and very friendly!
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://gasolina.com.au/gasolina-restaurant-bar/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://gasolina.com.au/gasolina-restaurant-bar/
25 Dukes Walk, South Wharf Promenade
Ph: 03 9696 1169

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 11am – Late
Kitchen open from 12PM Daily

Gasolina Melbourne on Urbanspoon

Barry – Fantastic Variety of Breakkie Dishes

panda 4.5 rating

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Menu:

Barry Menu

Barry Menu

Barry Lunch Menu

Barry Lunch Menu

There is a wealth of experience behind the creators and owners of Barry in Northcote. Matt, Kael Sahely and Loren McBride are the geniuses behind Pillar of Salt and the Richmond café Touchwood. I must say that Barry has become one of my favourite café’s for brunch!

On this Saturday – as expected – Barry was bustling with activity and every table was full. We didn’t have to wait too long for a table for three though which was great. The venue is casual, light and airy – and you just feel like you want to be part of the action the moment you step inside. The interior fitout is done by Techne Architects – there are wall to wall custom shelving and crates that function as drawers located under the main coffee counter – which is great for storage! The wooden shelving along the wall have colourful potted plants amongst them for bits of colour amongst the wood and white washed brick walls.

There is a mix of high communal tables, low wooden tables for sets of 2, 3 and 4s as well as outside seating. I really loved the style of the communal table and kind of want one in my own place! =p I also loved the abstract lighting above the communal table – a bow and arrow shape if you will with filament lights on the end of each point.

The menu is designed by Stephen Svensen and serves Breakfast all day (WIN!). Breakfast dishes consist of your basics as well as the basics with a difference such as the scrambled red chilli eggs with bacon, spring onions, parmesan and toast (this comes from the sister café Pillar of Salt), as well as the Benedict poached eggs with potato rosti, slow braised ham hock, apple cider hollandaise and granny’s apples. See different! There is also a very interesting dish – inspired by Matt and Kael’s dad – which is Crunchy peanut butter, heirloom tomatoes, salt and pepper peanuts on toast – the menu says to trust them so it must really work. I am not a huge fan of peanuts so I didn’t venture into this dish – but would love to know people’s thoughts on it. The lunch menu which can be had from 11:30am onwards consists of a daily tart, a superfood salad and even a Korean sub and a beef wagyu burger just to name a few.

While trying to decide from the extensive menu of what we wanted to eat – we ordered some coffees. Coffee here at Barry is from 5 Senses and made on a schmick Synesso machine. There are akso Single Origin, Aeropress and Pour Overs available as well. My latte was great – it had a creamy, nutty almost smoky hit all in one with an end note of caramel.

I decided I needed something sweet instead of savoury so ordered the Brioche, Pistachio, Mascarpone, Rose Scented Raspberries, Halva dish. The dish came with two massive pieces of brioche – sitting on top of a rose scented raspberry coulis and topped with the halva and pistachios. The combination was quite good – although I wasn’t a huge fan of the halva – so I avoided eating that. I can see how the flavours of all the components could work well together though. The sweetness of the mascarpone and raspberry together with the softness of the brioche and the crunch of the pistachios was tasty. It is rather a filling dish – and I struggled to finish my dish.

N ordered the Cripsy Korean Chicken Sub, House made Wombok and Coriander Kimchi, Nori Mayo. The way this dish was plated up was impressive – it came out on a board with the Chicken Sub taking up half of the board and the house made wombok and coriander kimchi in a separate round side bowl, as well as the nori mayo in another separate bowl. N loved this dish! He is a massive fan of subs and this one did not disappoint – the chicken was crispy on the outside whilst being juicy and flavoursome on the inside. The kim chi had some of his favourite ingredients – coriander and wombok and had a great heat to it as well. Overall a huge and great tasting dish.

T ordered the Californian Superfood Salad – Tri Coloured Quinoa, Shredded Kale, Wild Organic Rice, Charred Corn, Salted Ricotta, Black Turtle Beans, Heirloom Tomatoes, Jalapeno, Gojis, Spicy Lime Vinaigrette. Just look at the number of elements in this dish! It sure is a superfood dish – and it was quite a generous serving as well! I did get to try some of this dish and if you had to describe this dish in just a few words it would be – packs a punch! All the elements worked really well together and you really didn’t feel as if you were eating a really healthy dish – it was fresh and tasty! And that charred corned was perfect!

You can tell by the crowds that seem constant that Barry is a sure winner, and after just one visit you can definitely tell why. The menu will suit just about everyone – there are gluten free options available and they do try and cater to any other requirements. The atmosphere is casual, loud (from all the chatter of the happy customers) and welcoming. I love the lightness to the place. Even if it not near you – make the effort to get down here!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://barrycoffeeandfood.com/ or refer to menu above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun, Light filled, Casual and a Great place to relax at
Standout Dish: Californian Superfood Salad
Service: Friendly and Warm
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://barrycoffeeandfood.com/
85 High Street, Northcote
Tel No: 9481 7623

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7.30am – 3.30pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am – 4pm

Barry on Urbanspoon

Bomba – Spanish with a View

panda 4 rating

Menu:

Menu at Bomba

Menu at Bomba

Dessert Menu at Bomba

Dessert Menu at Bomba

After attending a Virgin Australia Fashion show – J, G and I decided to head over to Bomba to try out some food.

Bomba Tapas Bar and Rooftop is located on Lonsdale St in the Melbourne CBD and replaced the old Aylesbury (where G and I had previously dined at). Bomba is c0-owned by chefs Jesse Gerner and Andrew Fisk and they have returned to their Spanish roots when it comes to the menu. Downstairs is a funky, casual dimly light dining area and upstairs is a rooftop bar where you grab a cocktail, aperitif and enjoy the view. Here you can also grab some of the tapas that are on the menu.

When you walk in you are greeted by the centre piece of the room which is the bar followed by the open kitchen. There are a mix of high and low tables – the high tables being situated near the bar and kitchen – allowing you to be part of the cooking action. The aim was to create a Spanish worker style bar and they have succeeded – complete with low cane light shades, together with green and red tones – it does feel like a piece of Barcelona. The feel is relaxed, casual and simple with no fuss or frills, just simple great tasting authentic food – just what you want a tapas bar to be.

The rooftop bar is known for its Negroni as well for its vermouth component – which you can find on tap courtesy of Maidenii who have made them a special blend.

The menu by head chef Andrew Fisk is split into 7 sections and start off with an appetisers section, followed by a Charcuterie section and then Montadidos (which are literally bites on bread). Tapas, Paella, Raciones (your larger dishes), follow and the menu is finished with Verduras (Salads and Sides). We decided to order some tapas and montadido’s each and then share a Paella, main dish and the Patatas Bravas.

I ordered the Hervey Bay scallop with Lemon and Bread which came out served in a shell. The scallop was very fresh and the flavours refreshing. It was a great opener to the meal ahead. I also ordered the Crushed Pea & Goat’s Curd Toast. The combination of the pea and the goat’s curd worked quite well together and paired with the crunch of the toast was a good bite sized dish.

G ordered the Tomato, Burrata & Aged Sherry Vinegar Toast and quite enjoyed the dish as well.

J ordered the Quail with pistachio and buckwheat dish – which came out in the centre of the plate topped with the pistachio. J said the quail had great flavours and was quite tenderly cooked.

Both G & J ordered the Chicken, manchego and smoked paprika croqueta. They were crispy brown on the outside and the filling on the inside smooth, creamy with a hint of spice thanks to the paprika.

For mains we ordered the Catalan Arroz with Blue Grenadier, Prawns, Calamari, Mussels and Saffron Paella as well as the Crispy skin John Dory with Fennel Escabeche.

The Paella was served in a ceramic pot and was a really colourful dish – accents of black from the mussels, red from the sauce, yellow from the rice & lemon wedge and green from the coriander that was scattered on top. All the seafood components – from the fish to the prawns were fresh, succulent and juicy. The flavour was delicious – sour and smoky from the tomato and the flavourings from each seafood element – together with the perfectly cooked rice. Would definitely recommend this dish.

The Crispy Skin Dory came on a bed of Fennel topped with rosemary. The fish was seared really well to retain its moistness on the inside. The combination of the fennel with the vinegar and spices with the fish and the creamy sauce on the side resulted in a great dish overall. The fish was the clear winner of the whole dish.

The side dish that we ordered was the Patatas Bravas which was such an amazingly simple but fantastic dish! The potato was soft and fluffy on the side and came with a crisp outer that was covered in spices. They were placed on top of smoky tomato goodness and finished with creamy aioli. This is the type of dish that you find yourself going back for more and before you know it they are all gone.

We were all quite full at this stage but as the dessert menu was staring us right in the face (we were literally facing the dessert menu which his located just above the kitchen) – we decided to share the Chocolate Croquetas with Custard. The croquetas were warm and what made them even better was that they were filled with warm gooey chocolate on the inside. They were placed on the cool vanilla flavoured custard and this mix of hot and cold was fantastic. The outer shell was thin and perfectly crispy as well. It was like a Spanish donut!

The staff are super friendly, relaxed, warm and very helpful – not to mention knowledgeable –especially when we had a few questions about the menu.

Bomba is a great replacement to ‘The Aylesbury’ with its great simple Spanish food in the form of tapas as well as your larger raciones dishes. The atmosphere is warm and inviting and it really is place that you can spend a lot of time at. Even if you wanted to just come in for a snack and a drink the rooftop bar is a great place to do so – along with the great views across the Melbourne CBD. You can also grab a Sensory Lab coffee and a Portuguese tart from the window on Smythe Lane if you really want something super quick to drink and eat.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to  http://bombabar.com.au/menu/ or refer to the pic above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Funky and Welcoming. Dimly lit dining area downstairs and it’s great if you get the high tables near the kitchen/bar area if you want watch the chefs in action.
Standout Dish: PAELLA!!
Service: Fantastic and Attentive, also very friendly and helpful
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://bombabar.com.au/ – there is a DIMMI online reservation button
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://bombabar.com.au/
103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9077 0451

Opening Hours:

Downstairs –
Monday to Friday the coffee window is now open from 7am with pastries and snacks

Lunch

Monday to Friday: 12:00pm – 3:00pm

Dinner
Monday to Sunday : 5pm – Late

Rooftop
Monday to Sunday: 3pm – Late

Closed all public holidays

Bomba Downstairs on Urbanspoon

Bomba Rooftop on Urbanspoon

Hortus x Seven Seeds – Bringing Green to Docklands

panda 4 rating
Latte at Hortus Latte at Hortus

Melbournians are always on the lookout for great coffee and where I work at Docklands we are always on the look out for places serving up delicious coffee. Enter Hortus café brought especially to Docklands from Seven Seeds.  It is an initiative by The City of Melbourne and Places Victoria designed to give the residents and folk of Docklands a place to meet.

Hortus which means “garden” in Latin is a new temporary pop-up space complete with greenery and coffee, located near the famous “Cow in a tree” by the water at Docklands. The café is a collaboration between Carlton Seven Seeds and art/architecture studio Utopian Folk. This pop-up venue is in the form of a greenhouse which features a garden that showcases native and edible plants from local artist Lauren Berkowitz and can seat up to 50 people – both indoors and outdoors. The theme is light, airy and welcoming – thanks to the streaming of fresh light and the lightly coloured wood used.

Hortus is run by Jake Sullivan who is head barista at Seven Seeds, and is predominantly here for its great coffee. Coffee consists of Seven Seeds espresso blend, alongside rotating single origin coffees. There is also room to play around with different coffee varieties, extraction methods and machinery. There are some foodie treats such as sweets from Matt Forbes’ famous Yarraville Cobbs Lane and sandwiches etc from Fitzroy’s Rustica bakery.

I ordered a latte which was perfectly made and had a crisp and punchy flavour. The creaminess and softness of the milk made for a delicious combination. It is fantastic to be able to sit outside, enjoy a great cup of coffee whilst overlooking the waterfront. A great addition to the Docklands area.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Atmosphere / Ambience: Great view of Melbourne’s Waterfront and great to just chill out.
Restaurant Details and Location:
131 – 141 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 7am – 4pm


Place Holder – Pop-Up Coffee

panda 4 rating
Latte at Place Holder

There are many pop-up venues arising around Melbourne and the arrival of Place Holder – located in Smith Street – is another one to add to the list. Place Holder is all about coffee and great coffee at that. It has been brought to the lucky people of Melbourne by former baristas – Sam King (Seven Seeds) and Sonam Sherpa (Top Paddock).

Place Holder is located in the foyer of Neometro’s Number Nine Smith Street building – and will be around for about a year until construction on a new development begins. The end result for Place Holder will be a not for profit gallery out the back by Slopes as well as a community garden by 300Acres. Such a great idea and concept for this funky space.

Coffee is of course the main premise of Place Holder, but there are small bites on offer as well in the form of cookies, cakes, lamingtons as well as small pots of muesli from Silo by Joost (Refer to my blog post at https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/a-healthy-but-delicious-green-option-silo-by-joost/ ). Coffee is from Seven Seeds and Small Batch with single origin specials from Market Lane, Everyday Coffee and Top Paddock will be rotated seasonally.

The fit out is simple and they have made use of the space they have with little wooden tables and stools to sit an enjoy your coffee. There are also some higher stools overlooking the coffee machine to make you feel part of the creation process somewhat. It is a very intimate space with the fresh sunlight streaming in – nothing better than the combination of smell of fresh coffee and sunlight.

I ordered a latte – which to put simply was delicious – there was a balanced fruity acidity coupled with the creaminess of the milk which resulted in a great taste left on your palate. Really does make you want to have more than one coffee at a time. Check it out for yourself. Who knows they might even be popping up elsewhere after the year or so of being at Smith Street ends.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Relaxed. Especially gareat on a sunny day!
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.placeholdersmithstreet.com/

9 Smith Street, Fitzroy

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7am–3pm
Saturday and Sunday: 8am–3pm