The Grain Store – European Dinner Flair

panda 4 rating

Menu:
The Grain Store Menu for the night

I have been a HUGE fan of The Grain Store ever since its inception (check out my previous blog here for them – https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/the-grain-store-honest-cooking/ )– initially starting off with trying their breakfast menu (a few times!) and then branching out to try their lunch menu. I loved all of their food, ingredients and plating up of dishes. So naturally I was excited when I received an invite from Zilla & Brook,  to try out their latest dinner offering at an intimate bloggers’ dinner.

On arrival we were all greeted and asked to select from a choice of drinks. I opted for Hepburn Mineral Springs Organic Lemonade which was refreshing and perfect after walking from Southgate to the venue.

As the rest of the bloggers started to arrive, we received small starters which were elegantly presented in clear egg shaped glass cups. You could see the distinction of two layers through the clear glass – a savoury mushroom jelly topped with a layer of pumpkin foam and finished with a crisp triangle of chickpea biscuit. The combination was delicious – the vibrant mushroom flavour paired with the sweetness of the pumpkin. The silky jelly combined with the smooth foam was a texture party for your senses.

Once we had all sampled the starter we were led into an intimate private dining room which had been set up especially for us. It was a cosy group of about 15 of us – which was the perfect size. When we were all seated, head chef Ingo Meissner came out to say hello and gave us some information about the Grain Store – its background, philosophy and ideologies. Meissner himself is from Europe and hence there are many Mediterranean and French influences throughout the menu – that utilise both traditional and new techniques.
The Grain Store sources local produce – for example the Burrata is from Carlton, the duck is from Daylesford. But their main point of difference is that they have their very own Rooftop Garden where they grow seasonal produce – as well as the pretty flowers, petals for that little bit of jazz when plating up – that ends up on your plate. What a great idea!

The night started off with Entrees which was a selection of three small dishes – all plated up on the one plate which I thought was a great idea to showcase a variety of their dishes succinctly. These dishes included:
Green asparagus, burrata, char-grilled orange, black barley, hazelnut, rosemary sablé
Poached veal fillet, avocado, tuna mayonnaise, charred shallots, white anchovies, caper berries
Pan seared scallops, smoked eggplant, butternut boudin noir sandwich, ricotta lemon curd, crisp leeks
As I couldn’t have the Poached Veal Fillet – I was substituted with a salad consisting of a variety of ingredients.

The plating up of this dish was done really well – with the standout definitely being the bright purple cauliflower; everyone was wondering what taste they would have when they took their first bit into it. The cauliflower had been beetroot cured and therefore had a bit of tang to it – really good! Each of the components worked well together and I especially loved the black barley – which not only added texture but a great earthy tone to the dish. I loved the addition of orange to this dish to add an element of sweet and citrus.

The scallop component was definite highlight amongst the other dishes on this Entrée plate – the scallop had been seared to perfection and flavoured well. The butternut boudin noir sandwich was a welcome component adding a sweet touch to combine with the ricotta and lemon curd. I enjoyed the finish of the crisp leek – adding depth to the dish.

Next up was the mains – we were served alternative dishes between a Fish dish and a Duck dish – Free range Aylesbury duck breast, fennel slaw, Nicola potato, crème fraiche, caramelised carrot and pine nuts. There was a resounding “delicious” for the guests in the room that had this dish – with the duck being succulently cooked and the flavours of the fennel furthur enhancing the duck flavour. The Nicola potato component that it came served was glistening and looked divine!

I had the Lakes Entrance Dory fillets, new season asparagus, soft herb spätzle, charred corn salsa. This dish was plated up simply, yet it was a colourful visual spectacle. The star attraction was the fish which front and centre and sat on a green bed of soft herb spätzle (I asked Ingo later how it was made and he told me that it was made much like that of pasta – with flour and eggs, with the addition of herbs to give it that vibrant green colour), and surrounded by the asparagus and the charred corn salsa. Each component added flavour and texture to the dish. The Dory fillets were lightly battered on the outside and cooked well – resulting in soft white kernels of delicious fish on the inside. I loved the look, feel and taste of the spätzle – it was the first time I was eating this and I was highly intrigued – it is the type of dish that you keep going back for more as it is easy to eat and tastes great. The charred corn salsa had the perfect level of smokiness that worked well with the simple flavours of the fish. I would definitely recommend this dish!

Whilst we were eating our mains we were also given polenta chips topped with herbs and salt – which came out stacked like a jenga game. They were really tasty as well – crispy on the outside with a dense softness on the inside. A really great side dish addition to enhance your food experience.

It had been a great night of conversation and simply designed tasty food so far but my favourite part of any meal was still to come. For dessert we lucky enough to be served a selection of desserts which included – Black forest gateau, chocolate ganache, cherries, vanilla kirsch panna cotta, coca nibs together with a Grain Store Soufflé (Strawberry with Goats Cheese sorbet and fresh strawberries).
It was a tough choice of deciding where to begin on this sweet delight. I started with the black forest gateau – dense, rich and with added flavour from the berry centre. The chocolate ganache was the bomb – smooth, silky and full of chocolate goodness – you could seriously eat bucket loads of this ganache. The vanilla panna cotta came in a pyramid bite size piece – it was creamy and yet another delicious component.
The Grain Store Soufflé was delightful – light, soft, melt in your mouth and filled with a strawberry flavour. A truly great dish! I wasn’t a huge fan of the goats cheese sorbet that was its accompaniment and felt soufflé on its own was all that was needed.

The night was a fantastic event to meet new people and exchange stories, compare notes – all in the name of food – and more! The Grain Store should be a place that should be added to your list of restaurants that you must try in Melbourne – be if for breakfast, lunch or dinner. All dishes that I have tried here are delicious and well worth the effort.

Disclaimer: Grazing Panda was invited to dine at The Grain Store as a guest by Zilla & Brook, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely, Elegant and Inviting
Standout Dish:
Service: Friendly and Attentive
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.grainstore.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.grainstore.com.au/
517 Flinders Lane
Tel No: 9972 6993

Opening Hours:
Breakfast & Lunch
Monday to Friday: 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday to Sunday: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Dinner
Wednesday to Saturday: 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm

The Grain Store on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grainstore517
Instagram: GrainStore517
Twitter:@GrainStore517

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Hero Subs – Not Your Ordinary Sandwich

panda 3.5 rating

Hero Subs is brought to us by Michael and Eleena Tan who are responsible for The Grain Store. Hero Subs was inspired by Michael’s travels around New York City together with his fond childhood memories of being looked after by a traditional Nonna – eating food such as parmagianas – and putting what he finds special into food.

Hero Subs specialises in oversized gourmet Brooklyn inspired subs – with a distinct Melbourne twist – that come in an array of fillings and flavours. The subs come in both half and full sizes and you can choose from a Brioche bun or a Baguette style (Seeded, White or Gluten Free). If bread subs aren’t your thing – you can have a wrap style (Chia Seed, White or Gluten Free).
There are 11 different flavours to choose from – including #Sonny In Law (Sticky Fried Chicken, Kim Chi Slaw, Sriracha Mayo), #Kanye’s Revenge (150gm Beer-Battered Fish Fillet, Apple Slaw, Lemon Dill Aioli) and #KidRoyale (Hickory Slow Cooked Beef, Onion Jam, Baby Spinach, Honey Dijon Mustard and Crispy Onion Rings) just to name a few.
Naked Salads, Potato Kris Cross Chips, Sweet Potato Kris Cross Chips, Onion Rings, Corn Fritters and Sweet Treats (Hot Ball Donuts – in Berry Jam and Salted Caramel) are also available.
Hero Subs has funky quotations on its wrapping – sayings like “Stack Mad Chips Spread Love With My Peeps”, “Spread Love, It’s The Brooklyn Way” – and tissues – like “Oh You Missed A Spot.”

I ordered the #Cypress Chill – Corn Fritters, Green Goodess Spread, Baby Spinach – Diced Tomato and Herb Fetta Sub in the Wrap Style (Chia Seed) with a side of Potato Kris Cross Chips. The Kris Cross Chips were crunchy on the outside, flavoured well and soft like clouds on the inside. There is just something about eating chips in the shape of a kris cross that makes it more appealingly delicious. I really enjoyed the #7Grand Wrap – the corn fritters was perfectly cooked with the right level of crunch and consistency. I loved the combination of the spinach, fetta and the Green Goodess Spread – it was tanginess exemplified but not over the top. A really great tasting sub!

One thing I would love to see on the menu would be some seafood subs – prawns or soft shell crab would taste delicious! Hopefully they start making them soon!

Hero Subs are not just about the subs – they want to become a Lifestyle Brand – to run and organise music festivals, create a swanky clothing line, support fresh Street Art as well as to engage charities and organizations. They also have something called the Hero Social Programme – where every franchisees that joins the Hero family will commit to 10 hours of community service. What a brilliant idea – if only more companies were this encouraging.

Not only do they have a great vision and mission, but they have great tasting subs that are out of this world – but with a Melbournian twist. Check them out – there are 3 different Melbourne CBD locations. They also do catering for Private Gigs and Functions – you can check out their packages here – http://herosubs.com.au/catering

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://herosubs.com.au/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky and has a street-vibe to it!
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details, Location and Opening Hours:
http://herosubs.com.au/

357 Collins St, Melbourne
(Opposite Huxtaburger, Food Court
Tel No: 9629 6067
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: Closed

28 Hardware Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9642 8891
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday: 11:00am – 3:00pm
Sunday: Closed

1 Steward St, Melbourne
(Back of RMIT SAB Building 80)
Tel No: 9995 4655
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: Closed

Hero Subs on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/herosubsau?ref=ts&fref=ts
Instagram: herosubsau
Twitter:@HeroSubsAU

Cherry and Twigs – Hidden Delight

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Food Menu Drinks Menu
I had heard a lot about Cherry and Twigs and it had been on my list of places to try for a while – eventually I had a chance to actually take a lunch break at work and went to check it out. When you look up Cherry and Twigs it gives you a Flinders Lane address (towards the Spencer Street end), however upon arriving at this address I couldn’t find the café and wondered if it had been closed down. But the actual entrance for Cherry and Twigs is hidden in a laneway – called Downie Street (near Holiday Inn)– lookout for the glass to floor folding style doors.

Cherry and Twigs has a Scandinavian minimalist theme running through it – complete with blonde wood tables and two large wooden cut-out of a tree. Choose from individual tables, communal tables or a bar seat along the wall to sit. The café is small yet spacious and thanks to the bi-fold doors –quite light filled. I love the décor of terrariums on the communal table – it really suits the whole relaxed and chilled out vibe of the venue. Most of the seating in the venue allows you to view into the kitchen to watch

The menu compromises of an All Day Breakfast menu as well as a Lunch menu. The All Day Breakfast menu comprises of your usual favourites with a twist – these include Avocado Breakfast Pudding (with honey, homemade granola and fresh cut fruit), Oats Porridge (with banana, cinnamon and raisin served with panela sugar on the side) as well as B.L.T, Breakfast Roll and Eggs Benedict with an option to have it with bacon instead of smoked salmon – just to name a few.
The Lunch menu samples a few cuisines such as Moroccan and Thai – consisting of salads, wraps, sandwiches, burgers and a green curry. Coffee here is by Market Lane and The Mailing Room with options such as cold drips and pours overs available as well. Tea is by Tea Craft and there are milkshakes, iced coffee, iced chocolate and the usual soft drinks and juices available. They have their liquor license so beer and wine is also available.

I order a chai latte (which comes from Prana Chai) which was perfectly made – with just the right amount of foam on the top. From the very first time I read the menu I knew that I wanted to try out their French Toast – with berry compote, poached pear, mascarpone cheese and mint – so that is exactly what I ordered.

The dish comes out with each of the components beautifully plated up. The two pieces of French toast were artfully placed on top of each other with a layer of berries between them; topped with a dollop of mascarpone cream. The poached pear was delightfully fanned out to the right side of the French toast and topped with thin slices of apples and cut up strawberries. Maple syrup was criss-crossed over the whole dish together with shards of fresh mint. The dish as a whole worked really together and I really enjoyed the addition of fresh mint – the flavour enhanced the dish. My only one really tiny qualm would be that the poached pear could have been poached for a bit longer as it wasn’t as soft as I was expecting. Overall I was impressed with the flavours and it really was more than what I was expecting.

The staff here are super friendly and always have a smile on their face. Cherry and Twigs is a must visit place be it for good tasting coffee, great tasting dishes or even some delicious dessert treates which are displayed on the front counter. It definitely is worth the trouble finding it!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – An All Day Breakfast Menu as well as a Lunch Menu – refer to picture above.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Casual and Chilled out. Great for work meetings and catch-ups
Service: Fantastic, Attentive and Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
18/555 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9614 7096

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 6:30am – 5:00pm
Saturday: 7:30am – 2:00pm
Sunday: Closed

Cherry & Twigs on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cherryandtwigs
Twitter: @cherryandtwigs
Instagram: cherryandtwigs

 

A La Folie – Magnifique Macarons & More

panda 4.5 rating
a la folie

Our Order with the Valrhona Hot Chocolate

Our Order with the Valrhona Hot Chocolate

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I have previously been in the South Yarra area and walked past the colourful and breathtaking A La Folie. You will find that people taking a glance at the window and then double back and stop and take a detailed look, and most of the time walking into the store to observe the delectable sweets up close and personal.

A La Folie which can loosely be translated to mean ‘madness’(in the context of love to mean that a person is madly in love) showcases Mercédé Coubard passion and love for baking and creating unique small French treats. Located in Chapel Street, South Yarra, A La Folie is a store that creates wonderful tasting Macaron, Petits Choux, slices and delicate French pastries. Coubard was trained at the Alain Ducasse culinary school and uses A La Folie to showcase her brilliant talent – even catering for special events such as weddings, engagements and birthdays – creating Petit Choux towers.

A La Folie is a type of place that makes you feel like you are in a cute little café right on the streets of Paris – complete with a backdrop of the Eiffel Tower coupled with cute little tables and chairs to match; dotted with red accents of color. Magnifique!

You cannot help by ooh and aah whilst looking through the glass display cases of the colourful macarons, slices and Petit Choux. All products are made in on offsite location and brought to A La Folie.
There are around 17 different macaron flavours to choose from which can include – Valrhona Caraibe Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Vanilla / Soft Caramel, Dulce Chocolate, Pistachio, Matcha / Red Currant, Guanaja / Orange Juice, Passionfruit Ganache, Coconut (Malibu), Grapefruit, Lemon Ganache, Fairy Floss, Blueberry Ganache, Strawberry Mint, Raspberry Ganache, Rose Delight and Champagne.
There are also a number of dainty looking Petit Choux to choose from – Chocolate Coconut, P125 Chocolate, Coffee, Madagascan Vanilla, Pistachio, Raspberry, Mango & Passionfruit, Salted Caramel and Praline – as well as daily special flavours for you to try out in combinations like Lime & Coconut.
A La Folie’s latest creations are the introduction of impressive looking Tarts – which can range from Mixed Fruit, Berry, Lemon Meringue just to name a few. There also is a combination of giant sized macarons and normal sized macarons; which come laced with extra buttercream/ganache in the centre and topped with a delicate decoration on top to match.

It really was a tough decision that A and I had to make to select which flavour macaron and petit choux we wanted to try – after much deliberation I decided on the Vanilla / Soft Caramel Macaron and the Pistachio Petit Choux. A picked the Soft Caramel Macaron and chose the flavour of the day special for her Petit Choux – Lime & Coconut. We also both chose to have the Valrhona Hot Chocolate which sounded amazing when Mercédé described it to us.

We were there on a Saturday around lunch time and thanks to the striking and colourful front window it really does draw in a crowd. Whilst we were there a tour group came in which was great as we got learn a bit about Mercédé and how she got into her love for baking. We even got to meet her daughter (who was working in store).

The macarons were perfect any way you looked at it – from the crispy thin egg-shell like meringue crust complete with chewy almond biscuit to the soft, smooth and flavoursome filling. My Vanilla / Soft Caramel macaron was divine – the perfect level of sweetness and the flavours of vanilla and caramel in perfect balance of each other.

The Petit Choux was decadent. The choux pastry was somewhat crunchy on the outside but light, soft, airy and tantalising on the inside giving way to the silky crème patissière. The crème patissière adds the vibrant burst of flavour once you take your first bite. My pistachio Petit Choux was blissfully delicious; the pistachio flavour delicate and vibrant all at the same time – topped with pistachio fondant and finished with a pistachio nut.

The Valrhona Hot Chocolate is definitely one for Chocoalate lovers – rich, silky and thick, finished with shavings of Valrhona chocolate. Both A and I needed some extra milk to dilute the richness – which allowed us to enjoy and appreciate the drink.

A La Folie also works together with Anthony Hart (Don’t Lose Your Temper – check out his website at http://dontloseyourtemper.com) – who has previously worked at Vue de Monde and The Press Club creating delightful, unique looking desserts – to create Premium Chocolate made specifically for A La Folie. Flavours include Poppin’ Bubble Gum Raspberry and Choc Riso Pops, as well as their very own version of a Wagon Wheel – made of marshmallow, raspberry jam, Turkish delight, rice shortbread and coated with white chocolate and popping candy.

A La Folie is a cute café that oozes French sophistication – the staff here are friendly and Mercédé herself is delightful to talk to. She really does love what she does and the fruition of her ideas that emanated into the standalone A La Folie store is magnificent. The sweet treats are delicious and made with natural and fresh ingredients wherever possible. Put some joy, fun and France into your life and visit A La Folie.

Disclaimer: Grazing Panda (& a guest) were invited to dine at A La Folie as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A great variety and selection of sweet treats – including Macarons, Petit Choux and Tarts
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Feels like you are in a cafe on the streets of Paris
Service: Friendly, Warm and Welcoming
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.alafolie.com.au/
589 Chapel St, South Yarra
Tel No: 9827 3337

Opening Hours:
Sunday to Thursday : 10:00 am – 5:30 pm
Friday & Saturday : 10:00 am – 7:00 pm

A La Folie Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-La-Folie-Macarons-Petits-Choux/217631421649508
Instagram: macaronsandpetitschoux

Menulog Food Lover Blog Awards – Please Vote for Grazing Panda!

Hello Fellow Foodies!! =)

The wonderful people at Menulog (check out my blog post for Menulog at https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/menulog-making-ordering-simpler/) have put together their very first Food Blog Lover Awards to help celebrate what we all love: writing, talking, capturing and most importantly tasting food, and we wanted to shine light on anyone who makes the foodie journey a special one.

Dates
The competition will be open from: Tuesday 11th November 2014 and closes on Thursday 11th December 2014.
The category winner will be announced on: Thursday 18th December 2014.

There are three categories in which you can vote Grazing Panda for:

Categories

– The People’s Champ
Best blog about food awarded by the public with the highest number of votes

– The Foodie
Best overall food blog

– The Tastiest
Best blog for food pictures

If you love Grazing Panda and would like to Vote for me – please click on the button below and follow the instructions.

Thank You and Happy Eating!!

Grazing Panda
xx

Menulog Food Lover Blog Awards 2014 Badge