Sorry for being MIA….

Hi Everyone!!

It has been quite a while since I have done a post – sorry everyone! It has been a busy year indeed – planning a wedding, getting married together with work being crazy busy! But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been out and about trying out new places – I have – I mean a girl has got to eat right! So in the coming weeks leading up to Christmas I will post a few blogs…. PROMISE!!

Leading up to Christmas is a time when people are wanting to get together with family and friends and of course enjoy a good meal. So I will just name a few places that I have been to lately that I would highly recommend.

Enjoy and have a great Christmas and an awesome New Year!!

xx

Grazing Panda

Breakfast and Brunch

Denis the Menace – Cremorne
A cool coverted space that serves Breakkie with a difference. Sugar bowls are Mr and Miss Cups. This was my dish Something Fishy Is Going On Here – Garden Pea Puree, Asparagus, Avocado, Steamed Spinach, Crispy Red Kale and Hot Smoked Trout with a Poached Egg

Website: https://www.facebook.com/denisthemenacecafe

Denis The Menace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Denis The Menace - Something Fishy Is Going On Here - Garden Pea Puree, Asparagus, Avocado, Steamed Spinach, Crispy Red Kale and Hot Smoked Trout with a Poached Egg_

Two Birds – Collingwood
They have an amazing looking and delicious Chai Pudding. Looks like a mini garden sitting on top of the chia pudding.
They also do a Kaffir Lime Crumbed Poached Egg which is DIVINE!!

Website: http://www.twobirdscafe.com.au/
Menu: http://www.twobirdscafe.com.au/#!menu/e0wqw

Two Birds Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Two Birds

Ascot Food Store – Moonee Ponds
A really great menu which leaves you second guessing what you want to order – from a big breakkie to a crab burger they have it all. They also do these really amazing desserts such as Raspberry and White Chocolate Filled Cronut. Their coffee is delicious and their Tea Selection is fantastic!

Website: www.facebook.com/ascotfoodstore.com.au
Menu: https://www.zomato.com/melbourne/ascot-food-store-moonee-ponds/menu

Ascot Food Store Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Ascot Food Store - Raspberry and White Chocolate Filled Cronut

The Reverend Cafe – Ascot Vale
These were their special – Rocky Road Waffles – Fresh Berries, Toasted Marshmallows, Raspberry Curd, Lemon Curd, Vanilla Mascarpone, Fruit Jelly & Chocolate Almond Crumble. YUMMMM!

Website: http://thereverendcafe.com.au/
The Reverend Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
The Reverend Cafe - Rocky Road Waffles - Fresh Berries, Toasted Marshmallows, Raspberry Curd, Lemon Curd, Vanilla Mascarpone, Fruit Jelly & Chocolate Almond Crumble

Rustica Canteen – Melbourne CBD
Rustica Canteen is newly opened in the Melbourne CBD and has this delicious Nutella and Banana finished with Hazelnuts on toast. They also serve other delicious meals for breakfast and lunch such as this Quinoa Salad. Another highlight of Rustica Canteen is the delectable selection of cakes, dounts and crossiants like the Ispahan Rose Crossiant. A must try!

Website: http://www.rusticacanteen.com/
Menu on website

Rustica Canteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rustica - Brioche Toast - Nutella, Sliced Banana, Smashed Hazelnuts
Rustica Canteen - Freekah, Wild Rice, Kale, Rocket, Chai Soaked Raisins, Toasted Almonds, Minted Yoghurt, Fried Egg Rustica Canteen

Long Story Short Cafe – Richmond
A cute cafe with a great range of dishes for breakfast and lunch.

Website: http://www.longstoryshortcafe.com.au/
Menu: http://www.longstoryshortcafe.com.au/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/long_story_short_menu_5.pdf

Long Story Short Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Long Story Short Cafe

Bawa – Hawthorn
A newly opened cafe this year – named after Geoffrey Bawa who was Sri Lanka’s most prominent architect and a driver of the 20th century style known as “tropical modernism”, known for bringing the outdoors in, mixing elements from different times and places, and making use of lots of greenery – which is exactly the philosophy that Bawa follows. The menu is versatile and covers a range of dishes – trust me there will be something for everyone. Below is a picture of the delicious Ricotta Hot Cakes with Lavender Custard.

Website: http://bawacafe.com/
Menu: http://bawacafe.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Bawa_Menu1.pdf

Bawa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bawa Cafe - Ricotta Hot Cakes with Lavendar Custard

Mastic – Kew
Mastic has a very healthy but delicious take on breakfast. The larger tables are table tennis tables so if the cafe is really quiet you can even enjoy a game of table tennis! Love the decor and the service is great.
We had the French toast, blueberries, strawberries, crème fraiche, buckinis and the Roasted mushrooms, poached eggs, avocado mousse, carob croutons, feta

Website: www.mastic.com.au
Menu:
http://hellenicrepublic.com.au/menu/mastic-takeaway

Mastic Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mastic

The Premises – Flemington
The Premises is one of my fave places for breakfast. Always impressed by their dishes – be it a bread pudding special to these delicious dishes we had which came on the best tasting Turkish bread I have ever tasted. Delicious!

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Premises/170466319637539

The Premises Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Premises

Trei Cafe – Glen Waverly
I love the fitout of this cafe – lovely pastel shades line the back walls and the chairs – super cute. They also do a really great Matcha Latte and the food not only looks but tastes great. I still have to go back and try the coconut pancakes – there are a limited amount each day so if you want to try these awesome looking dish – get in early!
Check out the colourful pics on their Instagram Page : https://www.instagram.com/treicafe/?hl=en

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Trei-Cafe/454227061427297

Trei Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Trei Cafe Trei Cafe - Matcha Latte

Naughty Boy Cafe – Carlton
A cute little cafe located on Lygon Street. I had the Red Velvet Pancakes – Fresh Berries, Vanilla Mascarpone, Chocolate Soil, Freeze Dried Mandarin, Citrus Powder, Burnt Meringue.

Website: http://www.naughtyboycafe.com.au/
Menu: http://www.naughtyboycafe.com.au/food/

Naughty Boy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Naughty Boy - Red Velvet Pancakes - Fresh Berries, Vanilla Mascarpone, Chocolate Soil, Freeze Dried Mandarin, Citrus Powder, Burnt Meringue

Let Me Be Frank – South Melbourne
This cafe is hidden in the streets of South Melbourne and was such a gem of a find. As you step inside you feel as if you have stepped into your grandmorther’s living area. There are bookshelves filled with books for the lil ones as well as toys. There is a huge communal table as well as individual tables. The menu is extensive and have such gems as the picture below – French Toast with Berries, Plums and Maple Syrup.
Let Me Be Frank - French Toast with a difference

Square and Compass – East Melbourne
There is a wealth of experience behind the creation of Square and Compass – located on Clarendon Street in East Melbourne. The menu has changed since I have been – they now have a variation of the waffle dish that I had below. Great selection of dishes!

Website: http://squareandcompass.com.au/
Menu: http://squareandcompass.com.au/_pdfs/menu.pdf

Square and Compass Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Square and Compass - Waffles

Baba Sus – Glen Iris
Baba Sus serves all day breakfast which includes the delicious Hong Kong Egg Waffles –  Vanilla Custard, Berry Compote, Green Tea Ice Cream, Pistachio Praline. However they do sell out of these babies so get in early to try it out – well worth the early wake up call. They also do great combination milk shakes – COOKIES AND CREAM FTW!

Website: http://babasus.com.au/
Menu: http://babasus.com.au/images/BS_Menu_12.08.15%20-%20WINTER.pdf

Baba Sus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Baba Sus - Hong Kong Waffles with Green Tea Ice Cream

5 Lire – North Melbourne
Serving an all day breakfast consisting of Savoury Bites and Sweet Dishes as well as daily specials. I had the special which was a Breakkie Board which came with Toast, Poached Egg, Avacado, Orange Juice and Muesli with Fresh Fruit – sooo damn good!

Website: http://www.5lire.com.au/
Menu: http://www.5lire.com.au/menu/
5 Lire Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

5 Lires - Breakkie Tasting Board

The Black Trestle – Balwyn
A newly opened cafe in Balwyn that serves up great tasting coffee and delicious breakfast dishes to match. There are donuts from The Dessert Parlour that are also available. Food that looks and tastes great. Check out their Instagram page – https://www.instagram.com/theblacktrestlecoffee/

Website: https://www.facebook.com/The-Black-Trestle

The Black Trestle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lennox Coffee + Kitchen – Richmond
A cool cafe located in the streets of Richmond. There is an outdoor sitting area as well. I had “The Mushroom Dish” – Brioche, Mushroom, Parmesan Cheese, Egg. It certainly was a dish with a different with the egg located in the centre of the Brioche Bread!
Website:
http://www.lennoxcoffeeandkitchen.com/
Menu: http://www.lennoxcoffeeandkitchen.com/menu/

Lennox Coffee & Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lennox Coffee + Kitchen - The Mushroom Dish

Giddyup Mule – Yarraville
Giddyup Mule is attached to the state-of-the-art workout space, Art of Cycling. It is a great warehouse filled space – complete with a fireplace in the main room for those wintry days! Great selection of food on the menu with a healthy spin on classics. An all round place to just chill out at.

Website: http://www.giddyupmule.com.au/

Giddyup Mule Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Percy’s Aeroplane – Kew
They are trialing a new dish – Cacao Pikelets served with Matcha Panna Cotta. A cute space filled with a yellow aeroplane out the front and finished with a combinatino of delicious tasting food and coffee. Not to mention great service. Check out my review at https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/percys-aeroplane-yellow-model-plane-tasty-food-all-in-one/

Website: www.percysaeroplane.com.au
Percy's Aeroplane Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Percys Aeroplane - Cacao Pikelets with Green Tea PannaCotta

Le Miel et la Lune – Carlton
I love the cute little bear logo that greets you at the entrance and braces all the coffee cups – it is super cute. The food menu has hidden suprises with bursts of excitement in the form of squid sausage for example. Coffee is from Proud Marys.

Website: http://www.lemiel.com.au/
Percy's Aeroplane Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lunch / Dinner

Benjamin’s Kitchen – Alphington
I absolutely love the illuminated paper clouds that sit in the centre of the restaurant, and pays homage to Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, the walls are painted in white and grey tones. The menu is a fusion of Thai, Japanese and Chinese and simply wonderful. The menu is designed to share so grab a bunch of friends and try as much as you can from the menu.

Website: http://benjaminskitchen.com.au/
Menu: http://benjaminskitchen.com.au/menus/
Benjamin's Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Inside Benjamins Kitchen

Zero95 Pizza – Doncaster
If you are after some delicious and fresh tasting wood fire pizza, pasta coupled with entertainment for all then this is the place for you. The boys who run this restaurant hail from Italy and if you are lucky enough to score a dinner booking – there will be a time when the lights turn off and out comes the twirling pizza dough show which is mighty impressive. If this isn’t enough to WOW about then you should try their Nutella calzone. It is to die for!

Website: http://www.zero95.com.au/
Menu: http://www.zero95.com.au/menus/
Zero95 Wood Fire Pizza Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Zero 95 Pizza

Belles Hot Chicken – Fitzroy
Calling all chicken lovers! This is the place for you.You can the meat you want, then pick the Heat – Southern, Medium, Hot, Really Hot and Really F**kin Hot. I love my spice and can usually handle my spiciness but I got the HOT and this was pretty damn hot really – I cannot imagine what the Really F**kin Hot would taste like! All Meats come with a selectino of 1 side – be it Old Bay Fries, Broccoli & Almond Salad, Coleslaw, Mixed Pickles or 3 Bean Salad, Red Peppers and Dill. And you have a selection of sauces to choose from – Mississippi Comeback, Belles Ranch Dressing, Belles Blue Cheese, House Made Ketchup, House Made Hot Sauce.

Website: http://belleshotchicken.com/
Menu located on website
Belle's Hot Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Belles Hot Chicken

L’Altro Mondo – Albert Park
I am actually not sure how I stumbled on this restaurant – but I am sure glad I did. The cuisine is Italian and the main meals were wholesome and really tasty. Then you come to dessert and they were certainly different. The Tiramasu is what appears inside of the sphere and the Poached Pear dessert had a mix of flavours that worked really well together. A degustation menu is also available.

Website: http://laltromondo.com.au/
Menu: http://laltromondo.com.au/menu/

L'Altro Mondo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

L'Altro Mondo - Formaggio con le pere - Poached Pear, Mascarpone Foam, Polenta Lavosh L'Altro Mondo - Tiramasu in a Sphere 0 L'Altro Mondo - Tiramasu in a Sphere 3

Johnny Pump – Essendon
Dessert Shakes are all the rage in 2015 and Johnny Pump are the king (IMO). There are 6 different flavours to choose from with a daily special. They taste pretty damn good too but once again this could depend on the flavour that you pick. They also do a great breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Servings are very generous and there is a large variety of food to choose from.

Website: http://www.johnnypump.com.au/
Johnny Pump - Shakes

Son in Law – Collingwood
Son in law takes it’s name from a famous Thai street food favourite, a dish with a humorous back-story. Newly opened mid 2015 – it comes to us from Tony and Oh Rungpradit who used to own Ayatana on Chapel Street (and who was my very first blog invite 2 years ago when I started my blog – https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/ayatana-authentic-thai-with-a-modern-twist/ -THANK YOU!)
The venue is bright, colourful and inviting. The service is warm and friendly. The food is really tasty and has all the right notes of spice. The stand out dessert is definitely the Marshmallow and Nutella Puffs (pictured below) and are a genius of an idea.

Website: www.soninlaw.com.au
Menu located on website

Son In Law Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Son In Law - Marshmallow & Nutella Puff - Berries, Crushed Cashew Nuts, French Vanilla Ice Cream

Emilia – Melbourne CBD
Emilia has taken over the old Gills Diner premises and brought a sweet charm to it thanks to great service, delicious food and exquisite artwork. Emilia showcases Italian dishes at its best with the dishes reflecting the diverse Italian flavours all whilst keeping the traditional techniques in check. You wont be disappointed.

Website: http://www.emiliamelbourne.com.au/
Menu: http://www.emiliamelbourne.com.au/

Trattoria Emilia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Emilia - Pasta Galore

Botherambo – Richmond
Botherambo is a newly opened Vietnamese and Thai restaurant open in Richmond. The food menu consists of dishes to share as well your larger dishes and one signature dish. Their Saigon Slushie mocktail is right up there with the best mocktails I have had – a combination of pineapple, coconut and mint – just divine! The food was tasty – some hits, some misses – but overall delicious. The dessert of Mango Sticky Rice with Coconut Ice Cream was the best way to finish off the meal. I really wanted to try the Banana Spring Rolls – however they had sold out by the time it was dessert time for us. Need to go back to try them out.

Website: http://www.botherambo.com.au/
Menu on website

Botherambo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Botherambo - Dinner
Botherambo - Mango Sticky Rice with Coconut Ice Cream

Belleville – Melbourne CBD
Belleville is a fusion of bar, cafe, restaurant and live entertainment venue, housed in a historic multi-storey building off Chinatown that captures the pure essence of Melbourne. The point of attraction is definitely the enormous Brazilian rotisserie (located in prime position in the kitchen), rotating up to 90 chickens at any one time. The chicken comes in quarter, half or whole serves, smothered in sauces from the mild house chicken gravy, to the “hot as F#@k – and the best part is that it comes to your table and the waiter cuts it up for you (refer to pic below). The chicken is cooked to perfection and the other food on the menu is just as good! Check it out for a quirky, uniquely Melbourne night out!

Website: http://belleville-melbourne.com/
Menu: http://belleville-melbourne.com/#Menu

Belleville Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Belleville - WHOLE CHICKEN

The Noble Experiment – Collingwood
The Noble Experiment is all about reliving the 1920s – Prohibition Era – and bringing a sense of theatre to every drink and dish they create. I don’t drink but the most interesting drink would have to be their Bathtub Gin which comes served in a miniature bathtub complete with a floating rubby ducky! How awesome is that. There is a wealth of different spaces to choose from when you come and visit – think pop up basement bars, cocktails on tap or a vintage Absinthe fountain surrounded by the comfiest chesterfield lounges. This three-tiered bar has been designed to explore. Great place for drinks and delicious tasting food – not sure why we waited so long to check it out!

Website: http://www.thenobleexperiment.com.au
Menu:
http://www.thenobleexperiment.com.au/menu/

The Noble Experiment Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Noble Experiment - Desserts

Longhorn Saloon – Carlton

Longhorn Saloon is a type of place that transports you into another time and place – where you could lose track of all your time and stay all night long. Named in honour of a shady bar where the underage Balleaus tasted their first beers – it has a great fit out to match thanks to naked bricks and wrought iron. I love the old chesterfield couches by a mini fireplace that you can just sit back and enjoy some drinks. The food servings are generous and taste amazing. They are known for their burgers – but I must admit their other dishes are just as good.

Website: http://www.longhornsaloon.com.au/
Menu: http://www.longhornsaloon.com.au/menus.html

Longhorn Saloon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

NOTE: If you are looking for a restaurant simliar to this – check out Le Bon Ton – Collingwoodwww.lebontonmelb.com
I really loved my time at this place too – a New Orleans-inspired oyster saloon, smokehouse, cocktail bar and absinthe den. The food takes inspiration from American South – their smokehouse brisket is done Texas-style, their blackened fish and crab cakes come from the Louisiana Gulf Coast – with inspiration coming from as far west as New Mexico and as far east as Alabama.

Le Bon Ton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Longhorn Saloon

The Press Club – Melbourne CBD
The Press Club really needs no introduction – one of many of George Colombaris’ restaurants which has recently undergone a refurbishment. It is spectacular – filled with mirrors to make it look bigger than it actually is (especially when you look in from the outside).  Certain tables have a vantage point looking into the kitchen so you can watch as the chefs create your unique dishes. The Press Club is all about the attention to detail and great customer service – from the friendliness to the in-sync placed dishes on your table – there is nothing to fault. This dish pictured was given to us at the end of our meal – petit fours – their very own housemade chocolate and caramel cubes displayed on a mini clothesline. Adorable! The food is full of theatrics with a flavour to match. A must try!

Website: http://www.thepressclub.com.au/
Menus can be found on the website
The Press Club Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Press Club - Petit 4

Lounge – Melbourne CBD
Lounge has been around for years – located on Swanston Street – being quite  a popular night spot and bar for uni students. Most recently they have revamped their kitchen menu – to target a wider clientele. You can now find sliders, patatas bravas  and even a salted caramel panna cotta!

Website:  www.loungekitchen.com.au
Menu can be found on website

Lounge Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Lounge Kitchen + Bar - Sliders and Patatas Bravas

Port of Call – Melbourne CBD
Port of Call Salon Bar & Grill is a bar inspired by the eats, treats and beats of the Caribbean. My hubby is from the Carribean and has been telling me all about the foods that you can get there – such as Doubles and Bake and Shark – so I was really excited to try them out right here in Melbourne (until I actually get to visit the Carribean). I love that in Melbourne you can try out various types of cuisines from all around the world. Amazing. This place is a definite must try. And eventhough the dish sizes look small – they are deceivingly filling!

Website: http://www.theportofcall.com.au/
Menu can be found on website

Port of Call Saloon Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Port of Call

Sabas Ethiopian – Fitzroy
Speaking of being able to try out almost every cuisine right here in Melbourne – Ethiopian is yet another cuisine you can try out. This was always on my list to try and I was really excited to check out Sabas. Saba herself (who runs the restaurant) is lovely – she helped me out when I asked if the meat was halal (which it is btw). Hailing from the far northern region of Tigray, the beautiful meat, vegetarian and vegan dishes are served on the famous Injera bread. You get to experience the way that the Ethiopians eat as well – on a shared place with the curries you choose all placed in the middle of the injera – with extra injera surrounding it. Such a special thing to try out different customs and ways that different cultures embrace food-time.
The menu is completely gluten-free and vegans and vegetarians are well catered for. Ethiopia is a country with serious coffee-growing credibility, and Saba’s performs the coffee ceremony, which starts with roasting green beans, moves through grinding and brewing (in a jebena, which is like a clay moka pot) to serving in little cups.
Additionally you can purchase teff (gluten-free flour used to make injera​ flatbread) – which has been awarded a superfood status – and how Saba first started her business venture. A must visit.

Website: http://sabashealthfoods.com.au/pages/sabas-ethiopian-restaurant
Saba's Ethiopian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Sabas Ethiopian Dinner

Mr Hive Kitchen + Bar – Crown Entertainment Complex
The many times that I have visited Mr Hive Kitchen and Bar – I have never been disappointed. Located at the Crown Metropol end of the Crown Entertainment complex – Mr Hive is a great place for a relaxed dinner date or catchup with friends.There is lively bar area at the front serving cocktails, snacks and shared platters. Move inside further where you will find tables spaciously laid out to devour your perfect meals. Service is great.

Website: https://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/restaurants/premium/mr-hive
Menu can be found on wesbite
Mr. Hive Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar - Coconut Pannacotta (2)

Tip00 – Melbourne CBD
If you are in a pasta mood – then this is the place to be. Handmade in-house, fresh and super delicious! Tip00 is a name to reference the flour used in what they specialize in ‘pasta’. They also do a really great Panna Cotta! A point to note is that there are limited amount of seats available – so booking a table is highly recommended. Tip00 is really popular with the city folk and usually gets packed out at all times of the day! Yep it really is that good!

Website: http://www.tipo00.com.au/
Menu: http://www.tipo00.com.au/food/
Tipo 00 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Tip 00 - Pannacotta - Honey, Almond & Berries

Sugar Prawn – Collingwood
Sugar Prawn replicates the feel of a hawker market in Malaysia – complete with the plastic chairs and colourful decor. There is also fresh juice is available from Jasmine Jus Bar and their own in house radio station located across from this. Malaysian breakfasts are also served – think kaya (coconut jam) toast and coconut sago pudding with sliced fruit. You can also find Everyday Coffee which delivers quality filter coffee. At dinner time you can devour the most delicious chilli crab served with fried buns here along with other great tasting Malaysian inspired dishes!

Website: http://www.sugarprawn.com/
Menu: http://www.sugarprawn.com/menu/
Sugar Prawn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Sugar Prawn - Chilli Crab with Fried Buns

Dutchess – Melbourne CBD
Located on the third level of The Duke of Wellington with a New York vibe is a standing-room bar and 110-seat restaurant. There are two dinner settings with the later group (around 8:30pm) encouraged to stay around till lights out (around 1am). Resident DJs will play a mix of soul, funk, punk and anything you can’t find in the top 100, plus the DJ sets will be available on Dutchess’ own Spotify channel each week. The look and feel is luxurious which further encourages customers to want to stay. The food focus is on dry-aged steak with meals designed to be shared. There is also a raw bar focusing on seafood located next to the bar, for those looking for lighter snacks with a beverage, as opposed to a full meal. They also serve a King Crab Mac and Cheese which is the bomb!!

Website: http://www.dutchess.com.au/
Menu can be found on the website
Dutchess Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Duchess - King Lobster Mac and Cheese

Mr Huang Jin – Melbourne CBD
Mr Huang Jin used to be located within the Rialto building but has now moved and taken up shop in The Archway. The menu includes an array of traditional Taiwanese foods – think noodle soups, rice dishes and stir fries together with the signature handmade (on site) xiao long bao (soup dumplings). The dumplings here are really quite delicious and rival those made at the famous Hutong. I love the interior – complete with pale timbers which is reminiscent of bamboo steamers – and rather interesting chairs (when you visit you will see what I mean). The space is quite small (seats about 40) so perhaps you would want to book just in case. You don’t want to miss out these dumplings.

Mr Huang Jin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mr Huang Jin - Dumplings & Banana Fritters

The Millhouse – Melbourne CBD
The Millhouse is located in the heart of the city and resides in the basement of Tomasetti House (which was built in 1851 to house a steam flour mill). The original bluestone walls remain with additional features such as brass finishes and recycled beechwood accents to created a relaxed bar and eatery. There is a subtle South American influence over the menu thanks to Peruvian chef Augustin Ortega. The menu is designed to share – and the portions are generous indeed! I love the picture themed words that you will find on the menu as well as the coasters (not to mention their website) – enjoy deciphering these! Great chilled out space with fantastic bar tenders who can whip up great mocktails / cocktails!

Website: http://themillhouse.com.au/
Menu: http://themillhouse.com.au/pdf/TheMillHouse_Menu.pdf

The Mill House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
The Millhouse

MJR Tom – Collingwood
MJR Tom is the newest venue to grace Smith Street in Collingwood – there are two main areas to it – a cosy front cafe dominated by tables and benches and a big standing-room bar out back, with a bluestone pool table den downstairs. I love the fitout – complete with plywood – it creates light and an inside-outside vibe. During the day you will find a breakfast menu which includes blue swimmer crab omelette with papaya and Vietnamese mint, patatas bravas and pa amb tomàquet. The lunch and dinner menu has a somewhat Asian / Latin feel to it. Also a great place to have drinks and hang with friends. The night we went – there were a lot of parties happening.

Website: http://www.mjrtomcollingwood.com.au/
MJR TOM Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dinner by Heston – Crown Entertainment Complex
Dont think this place even really needs a spiel about it – Heston Blumenthal – that is all!
Your best bet at getting a table here is booking online and looking out for available tables. Bookings also open two months out from a date.

Website: http://dinnerbyheston.com.au/
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

OTHER

Dex2Rose – Melbourne CBD
Love Hot Chocolates? Dex2Rose does one with a difference – it comes with our very own mini fire to toast marshmallows one.And the best bit – aside from the taste – is that there an unlimited amount of fire and marshmallows!
Dex2rose Nitrogen Gelato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dextrose - Hot Chocolate

Hash Specialty Coffee – Melbourne CBD
Want another type of Hot Chocolate with a difference – check out Hash Specialty. This comes served with pure melted chocolate served with Fairy Floss to lend some extra sweetness.

Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Hash Specialty - Hot Chocolate

Bibelot – South Melbourne
Love cakes, macaroons or chocolate? Then this is the place for you. Has great tasting coffee to match as well. They also do cakes for any special occasions that you need to pre-order. I ordered one for my sisters 21st – and it was soo good! Highly Recommended.
Bibelot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bibelot - Coffee & Pistachio Macaron

Kwak Scrolls
I got this from Code Black Coffee Roasters (Southgate, Docklands)
Cookies and Cream FTW!! SOOO DELISH! Check out @kwakscrolls for current locations.
Kwak Scrolls - Cookies and Cream

Code Black Coffee Roasters – Southbank, Docklands, Brunswick
MY ALL TIME FAVOURITE COFFEE PLACE! Really great tasting coffee and great service. Not to mention the special sweet and savoury treats that you can get to go with our coffee such as Kwak Scrolls (see above) and these addictive Butter Bing Cookies! Enough said!
Website: http://codeblackcoffee.com.au/
Code Black Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Code Black Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Code Black Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Butter Bing Stockists: https://butterbing.neto.com.au/stockists-list
Code Black Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Code Black Coffee + Butter Bing Cookie

 

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EatNow – Taking Over Online Ordering

Eatnow-Logo-Stacked

Eatnow Logo - Octo
 2. EatNow Search Results
1. Once you select your suburb a list of restaurants in your area will appear for you to browse and choose from

3. EatNow Restaurant Menu
2. You then select a restaurant which shows you the Restaurant address, Customer Reviews, and any deals the restaurant offers

4. EatNow Menu of Restaurant
2a. If you select the “Skip To..” located on the top right corner – you can jump to particular sections on the Menu

5. Picking a Dish
3. When you select the dishes you wanted – a popup shows the options you can choose for the dish

6. Viewing Shopping Cart
4. Once yo have selected all your dishes – you select the Shopping Cart to view your order to proceed

7. Registering as New User
5. If you are a new customer to the App or Site – you will be asked to Register

8. Choosing the Deal
6. Once you have registered you will be taken back to the Shopping Cart page and the opportunity to select a deal (if the restaurant you select has offers available)

9. Completing the Order
7. At this stage you can still modify your order should you need to. If there are no changes – select Continue.

10. Paying for the Order
8. Next you will be prompted for a payment option – Credit Card, Paypal or Cash (either on delivery or if you go in-store to pick-up

11. Order Completion
9. Once you have made your payment – you will receive a pop-up message telling you the next steps
12. Email Confirmation
10. An email confirmation is sent to you with the details of the order, as well as giving you a tax invoice

12a SMS Confirmation
11. An SMS is sent as well stating the order number and the time of delivery, as well as contact details of the restaurant should you need to get in contact with them

1. EatNow App  13. Can view your order from home screen
12. When you return to the App – you can review your order and if you enjoyed this particular order you can re-order the exact same order

14. Can also write a review 14a. Email review
13. You can also leave a review for the restaurant

  Closeup of EatNow Order from Swan Thai EatNow Order from Swan Thai EatNow Order from SwanThai
The delicious food from Swan Thai Restaurant

I was invited by EatNow to try their online takeaway feature in order to show the ease and convenience of using this service. For those of you who haven’t heard of EatNow they are an Australian owned and operated business that was founded in 2010 by a few hungry Australians, that aims to provide excellent coverage for takeway food and home delivery Australia Wide. EatNow belong to Australia’s Number 1 Online Takeaway Group – Catch Group and have 4400+ restaurants listed and are continuously looking for new restaurants to add to their list – in fact if you can’t find your favourite restaurant you can suggest it via their website to let them know.

There are also special offers and discounts that are offered to you when you make an order – for example the restaurant that you are ordering from could have a special deal. There is no sign up fee at all and the site is free to use – and you receive an instant SMS confirmation once your order has been placed.

I decided to test out the app version of EatNow as these days almost everyone is constantly on their phone and use apps regularly to get things done. I downloaded the EatNow app from the Google Play Store and proceeded to start the app up. If you have your location services on your phone – the suburb of the area you are located in will come up, if not you simply enter either your suburb name or the postcode – then select your suburb.

Next a list of restaurants will come up relating to your suburb. There are also two tabs that you can choose from – PICK UP or DELIVERY. I wanted to see the list of restaurants under DELIVERY. You can view at a high level the rating that fellow EatNowers have given the restaurants, as well as the cuisine (e.g. Italian, Pizza, BBQ & Grill, Dessert etc.) and dietary requirements – such as Gluten Free, Halal etc. Here you can also see which restaurants you can PRE-ORDER (this means that you can place an order with them before the actual restaurant is open or even for the next day) at as well as restaurants that have special DEALS associated with them.

We felt like Thai food for dinner on Sunday night so we picked Swan Thai. Once you click into the restaurant you can browse their menu. If you are a regular and know what you want already there is a button located at the top right hand corner which says “Skip To..” – this allows you to go straight to the menu section you are after to choose your dish. From this page you can also view Customer Reviews and see any deals (if any) the restaurant has.
I am not a regular so therefore I decide to scroll thru the menu. I see a dish that sounds delicious – Fresh Thai Basil Stir Fried – there is a description of the dish as well. I click on this and a pop up appears allowing me to choose if I want Prawns, Beef, Vegetable or Chicken. One modification that I would suggest here would be a comments section if you wanted to make any modifications to the dish such as making the dish less spicy or spicier, or if you wanted to have both chicken and prawns in your dish. I did have a look at other restaurants and you get the option to modify dishes – such as with pizza’s – you can select which toppings you want to add and at an Indian restaurant it allows you at this stage to choose the spiciness.
I pick Vegetable and then click the Add to Cart button. You can view your cart at any time by clicking the icon located in the top right hand corner. Once inside your cart you can easily use the + and – buttons to add extra quantity. The Cart also gives you a sub total.

Once you have finished picking out what you want to order you click on the Shopping Cart Icon and scroll down to select which Deal (if the restaurant you have selected offers one) you want, followed by the delivery time. Something cool to note is that if the restaurant is already open – there is a delivery time set as default to “ASAP.”
For first time users you will be required to click “Continue” – once you do this you will be taken to “Sign In” page – where you can register as a New User or login with your Facebook Account. I register myself as a new user. You receive an email confirmation about signing up to EatNow.

You then are taken back to the Shopping Cart page and this is where you fill in your Delivery Address, Mobile Number and enter your payment details. At this stage there is a Comments section where you can add any comments you want to make for your order. As I mentioned earlier I think it would be handy to do it at the dish level. Once you have entered all these details in and press Place Order you will receive a pop up that tells you that once the order has been accepted by the restaurant you will receive an SMS and an email will follow.

About 1 minute later I receive an SMS telling me my order number as well as a delivery time (in my case it was 45 minutes). It also has the phone number of the restaurant in case we need to make any changes. I check my email and there is an email confirmation with the same details as well as giving you a tax invoice.

The home page of the app has the list of orders that you have put in so that you can view what you have ordered. There is also an option to re-order the same order that you have placed another time, as well as to leave a review for the restaurant. There is also a list that starts to populate with “My Recent Restaurants” which I think is handy to have if you generally are ordering from home and want to have it as your regular.

The order arrives 15 minutes before its mentioned arrival time – so the order gets to me in 30 minutes. The food comes packaged well and was still very warm. The fried rice and curries came in a plastic container with the roti in a brown paper bag.

The Fresh Thai Basil Stir Fried Vegetable was delicious and spicy – just how we like it! The vegetables were fresh and crunchy. The Thai Style Fried Rice Vegetable and Black Pepper and Garlic Stir Fried Chicken were just as delicious – fresh, wholesome and all round tastiness. The Roti Bread was crunchy, crispy and came served with a satay sauce – perfect!

The experience with the EatNow app was brilliant – simple, intuitive and easy to use. I would definitely be using the app again to order in and would recommend it to everyone to try it out – especially for those lazy nights when you don’t feel like cooking or just want a late night snack.
You can also subscribe with EatNow to save your details which greatly increases the speed and ease of ordering your takeaway next time and important updates – or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Definitely 5 Pandas for service!

So just to recap, the general order process is simple:

– Search for restaurants in your suburb
– Browse by restaurants or cuisine
– Filter results by user reviews, distance, latest deals/offers, minimum delivery
– Order using the interactive menus – want extra spicy or hate mushrooms? No problem with our customisable options
– Get real-time notifications and a confirmation of your order, letting you know how long your order will be
– Secure and safe payment options, PayPal, Visa, Cash
– With EatNow you can order food from your mobile, tablet or PC
– Download the award winning EatNow App – 2013 Winner of the Oria Best App, Online Retail Industry Awards

Check out EatNow

Twitter: www.twitter.com/EatNowAu
@EatNowAu

Instagram: www.instagram.com/eatnowau
eatnowau

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eatnow.com.au/timeline?ref=page_internal

Swan Thai
25-27 Lake Street, Caroline Springs
Tel No: 8358 5555

Opening Hours
Lunch:
Wednesday to Sunday: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Dinner:
Monday to Sunday: 5:30pm – Late

Click to add a blog post for Swan Thai Restaurant on Zomato

Shizuku – Ramen & Ramen Burger Extravaganza!

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Page 1 Menu  Page 2 Menu  Page 3 Menu
Shizuku is located at the Abbotsford end of Victoria Street, and is a recently opened Japanese restaurant, nestled amongst a street that is known for its Vietnamese cuisine. Their main focus is on Ramen – which sits up there as one of my favourite foods – and I cannot wait to try out their offerings.

L & I arrived on a weekday night and were greeted by large heavy wooden doors – as you step inside you are greeted with a simple yet snazzy set up. There are lanterns hanging from the ceiling that remind you of flower blossoms that provide lighting for the whole restaurant. Your eyes are also drawn to the colourful bar counter which houses their variety of drink offerings as well as a tree branch that has been decked out with hanging clear baubles – I love this display, adds a touch of vintage chic to this otherwise modern looking venue. The tables are black and wooden; with seating able to cater mostly two’s and fours, however you have the option to join tables together for larger groups.

David Chen is the owner of Shizuku who was inspired to open his own Japanese restaurant after working as an assistant manager at Shoya Japanese Restaurant. Together with partner, Shinako Suzuki, his dreams were made into reality, with doors opening for Shizuku in July 2013.

We are shown to our table and handed a book of a menu – there is so much variety to choose from! Another touch I like are the water bottles at the table, which are re-used colourful alcohol bottles that have been finished – adding a pop of colour to the otherwise black surroundings.

The menu begins with ‘Zensai to Share’ which are Entrees – there is a HUGE (an I am not exaggerating when I bold and capitilise this) selection – think double columns of an A4 page! Reading down the list you will find yourself saying ‘yep I want to try this and I want to try that’ for every dish. Some Zensai include Lobster or Pork Sliders, Uni Sake Shots, Octopus Sashimi, Unagi Salad, Croquettes (Vegetarian or Crab Meat), Octopus Balls, Salt & Pepper Squid, Wasabi Prawns, Pickles, Kimchi, Spicy Bamboo and Edamame. Following the Zensai menu is the Gyoza section where you can choose from six different gyoza’s. Unfortunately for me none of the gyoza’s only had seafood or vegetables, but were pork filled and therefore I couldn’t try any

Next on the menu is the star of Shizuku – authentic Ramen. Head chef Ken Yoshida who has a wealth of experience and has worked in some of Japan’s renowned ramen shops is the man behind this traditional ramen – which has been prepared over 15 to 18 hours. There are thirteen different types of Ramen to choose – from the Tan Tan Men to the Spicy Miso Ramen to the Kimchi Ramen, and they even have a Vegetarian Ramen. All Ramen is made with no MSG and they try to locally source ingredients – even the miso soup is made by the chefs onsite.

What is definitely a game changer and what has critics raving is the Ramen Burger – created by chef Hiromi Hanzawa (previously Aka Siro and Pabu). The bun is made of tightly packed ramen noodles, that have been bound together with eggs and cooked on a flat top, with a lightly crunchy texture on the outside. The Ramen Burger comes in two different flavours – Candied Pork Belly with homemade plum and prune sauce, kewpie mayonnaise OR Miso Glazed Eggplant with sweet miso jam. These culinary creations hail from New York – where Ramen burgers are all the rage, but here at Shizuku they are the first and only Australian restaurant to replicate these delicious burgers. More on these later.

Whilst we were waiting for our dishes to be served we were given a White Radish, Wombok and Wombok with Carrot dish to prepare the palate. They were all unique in flavouring with a consistent vinegary taste through all of them. Quite tasty.

The first entrée we ordered was the Uni Spoon – Sea Urchin Sashimi, Cucumber, Wasabi Soy. Both L and I hadn’t had Sea Urchin before so were keen to see what type of flavour it had. The Uni Spoon (as the name specifies) comes served on a spoon, with a base of cucumber, topped with the sea urchin and drizzled with wasabi soy to finish.

I ordered the Lobster Slider – Lobster kewpie salad, pickled carrot and daikon, corn brioche bun – as I wanted to see their take on a Lobster slider. The serving of lobster was quite generous, but I think there was a bit too much of kewpie mayonnaise added which drowned out the natural lobster flavour. I did enjoy the combination of the pickled carrot and daikon with the sweetness of the lobster and kewpie.

My favourite dish of the day was the Shizuku Spring Rolls – Spring rolls stuffed with melted cheddar and edamame young soy beans. Just reading this dish on the menu set my creative juices flowing trying to envision what this dish would look like. The spring rolls were angularly cut to showcase the rich inside filling – which was the edamame soy beans enveloped in melted cheese. The combination was absolutely divine! The crunch of the outside combined with the soft billowy pea puffs and warm melted cheese was happiness in your mouth. Definitely one to try!

We also couldn’t leave Shizuku without trying their signature Ramen Burger – Ramen noodle patty “buns”,miso glazed eggplant. The bun is made with ramen noodles bound together with eggs and cooked with a slight crunch on the top exterior layer – leading into a softer noodle layers for the rest of the “bun.” The filling was made of soft, delicious eggplant that was beautifully complimented by the miso jam. There were also salad leaves, coriander and onions added. Every bite you take of the ramen burger was delightfully filled with an explosion of juicy flavours – the burger was not greasy at all which further added to the ramen burger love. Yet another dish to try out – you have to experience it to understand the feeling!

It was time for our main dishes – Ramen! L ordered the Tan Tan Men – Free range pork mince, egg, chilli oil, preserved vegetables, rich sesame flavoured broth – which is the Chef’s Signature Ramen as well as their best seller. L really enjoyed her ramen and almost finished her entire generous serving!

I initially wanted the Spicy Miso Ramen – however as that was made with a pork and miso based broth I couldn’t, instead the helpful waiter told me to order the Vegetarian Ramen – Mix vegetables with miso sauce flavoured broth – with an added spicy chilli spoon to give it that spice and kick. The Ramen was quite tasty – the broth was thick, flavoursome and quite wholesome yet light at the same time – just the way that I like it. The vegetables added were fresh and still had a bit of crunch to it, which I think makes a dish better. The noodles were cooked perfectly which further added to the great quality of the ramen produced.

We were both really full, however we did need something sweet to complete our palate sensations. There are five desserts to choose from which include Almond Tofu, Espresso Pudding, Green Tea ice Cream, Black Sesame Ice Cream and Miso Caramel Ice Cream.

L ordered the Green Tea Ice Cream and I ordered the Pannacotta (which was a special for the day) which came served with Blueberries. Both desserts rated quite highly on our palates and were just the ending we needed to a great meal.

Shizuku offers delicious food at an affordable price in a relaxed, welcoming ambiance together with friendly service. Next time you are considering suitable dining options with a homely touch check out Shizuku – it really is a welcome addition to Victoria Street.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above or have a look at the Takeaway menu at http://shizuku.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed, Warm and Welcoming
Standout Dish: Shizuku Spring Rolls – Spring rolls stuffed with melted cheddar and edamame young soy beans and Ramen Burger
Service: Friendly, Warm and Happy to help out with any queries or questions
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://shizuku.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://shizuku.com.au/
309 Victoria St, Abbotsford
Tel No: 9995 8180

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Monday to Sunday: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner
Monday to Sunday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Shizuku Ramen on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shizukujapanese
Instagram: shizukuramen
Twitter: @ShizukuJapanese

Ruyi – A Different Kind of Chinese

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Lunch Menu Dinner Menu

P & I decided to check out Ruyi for lunch on a Friday as I had heard a lot of good things about the place. Ruyi which translates to – “as you wish” is a spiritual object or talisman which symbolises good fortune – and is owned by Sheng Fang in collaboration with this wife Qian Qian Luo-Fang.

Ruyi serves modern Chinese cuisine but looking in from the outside, as well as once you are well inside – you wouldn’t think this is your typical Chinese restaurant. There is no sight of the typical bright red and yellow colours, coupled with strong, thick wooden furniture. Instead you are greeted with the cooling green and light wooden tones.
The fit out was carried out by Paul Hecker of Hecker Guthrie with most fittings and stylings sourced from around the world. The lights are wooden ash colored handmade lights from France, with the wooden chairs and stools imported from Milan. All the plates, bowls, water glasses and pitchers are made exclusively for Ruyi from local ceramic artist Andrei Davidoff and they are beautiful and fit right in with the Ruyi theme. The feel is warm – thanks to the olive, beige tones – modern and sophisticated – which is somewhat of a cultural shift to the norm of a Chinese restaurant.

There is a lot to read in the menu which means there is plenty of selection to choose from. The two chefs behind the wonderfully created menu have come from Michelin starred Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club – it’s no wonder the result is magnificent. The menu begins with a selection of 3 different homemade soups to choose from (Duck and Tofu, Seafood & Egg White, Hot Sour), then proceeds with Dumplings (there are 4 different types to choose from – Pork and Crab Shao Long Bao, Streamed Vegetarian, Wonton in Chilli Sauce, Pan fried Pork and Chive), followed by Chinese Tapas ( there are 12 different dishes to try and include things like Prawn Cakes, Soft Shell Crab, Peking Duck Cone, Bao Bao, Chicken Wings, Eggplant Strips) and finishes up with the Bigger Dishes (there are 7 choices including Asian Mushrooms, Kong Bao Chicken, Oyster Beef Steak, Wagyu Beef and Duck Braised in home made stock) and Dessert – there is the usual Banana Fritters and Ice cream, but something different they have is the Hazelnut Paste Roll with Ice Cream as well as Sticky Rice Pudding. There is also a selection of sides that you can choose from – think mixed veggies, light chilli green beans, fried rice.

If the menu overwhelms you – you can select a Banquet menu – either a 5 course for $45 or an 8 course for $65. The menu also points out the Recommended dishes to help you select if you are stuck. As P & I went at lunch time – they had a separate Autumn / Winter Lunch Menu where all the Chinese Tapas were priced cheaper. There was also an option of two different set menus available – One for $18 and another for $35. Refer to the pictures above in the menu section to see what each set includes.

After much contemplation of the menu we decided to share some dishes. And since I simply couldn’t look pass ordering the Flaming King Prawn – I needed to know what this dish was about, as the menu states that the King Prawn sits on the fire – how cool!

Our first dish was the Fried Tofu with Szechuan Mayo – this is 3 pieces of lightly tempura battered tofu topped with Szechuan mayo and sprinkled with spring onions. The tofu was delicious – crispy and crunchy on the outside – whilst staying smooth and creamy on the inside. The Szechuan Mayo was light, tangy and refreshing and everything coupled together made for a really great dish.

We also ordered the Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings which come out in a serving of 5 green perfectly moon shaped pieces in a bamboo steamer. Each dumpling is made to order and you can really tell – the filling was fresh, had subtle flavours yet was tasty. I also liked the fact that Ruyi has chilli paste, and not only the chilli oil that is found in most other restaurants.

The last dish to arrive was the Flaming King Prawn – and indeed the prawns were sitting on the fire. I asked our waitress what creates the flame and she said it was the bed of salt coupled with lemon. The waitress also informed us that the prawns had already been cooked – so were ready to eat once we blew out the flame. The prawns were simply scrumptious and they are some of the best king prawns I have ever tasted! The prawns had a hint of spice and were barbequed perfectly – firm in texture yet soft to eat – and were topped with spring onion and capsicum.

We didn’t have enough time to check out the dessert menu – but I will definitely be back to try out more dishes from their menu and will definitely leave some room for dessert! The Hazelnut Paste Roll sounds tantalizing!

The staff are very friendly and quite knowledgeable of the dishes on the menu. Ruyi is a great modern addition to the Chinese cuisine and provides a elegant yet warm homely feel to it. There is an extensive wine list as well serving cocktails, beer and spirits. They also have a separate happy hour section (which is Monday to Friday, 5pm – 7pm).

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to http://ruyi.com.au/Dining%20Menu.pdf for the Dining Menu
Happy hour menu – http://ruyi.com.au/Happy%20Hour.pdf
Lunch Menu – http://ruyi.com.au/Lunch%20Menu.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern, Sophisticated, Elegant and Welcoming
Standout Dish: The Flaming King Prawn
Service: Friendly and very helpful – always very polite and always with a smile!
Online Booking: Yes via website – www.ruyi.com.au
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.ruyi.com.au
16 Liverpool Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9090 7778

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Mon to Fri 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Dinner
Mon to Wed 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Thu to Fri 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Sat 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm

RuYi Modern Chinese on Urbanspoon

Charlie Dumplings – Dumplings with a Twist

panda 4.5 rating

We had to organise a catch-up dinner in an area that was inner city with food that catered for vegetarians on a Monday night and ended up deciding on Charlie Dumpling. I had heard a lot of good things about this newly opened place located in High St, Windsor.

As you assume by the name – Charlie Dumpling – this venue by Dylan Roberts (ex Claremont Tonic, Ezard, Cutler & Co.) and restaurant manager Jamie Munro-Lynch (Anada, Cutler & Co, Circa) is all about the dumplings – but with a twist – and also serves up other delicious and interestingly flavoured bites to eat. Do not expect to see dumplings coming out in bamboo steamers here – instead you get beautiful rustic plates to match the vibe and feel of the venue. The fit-out is intriguing – complete with a feature wall of multi coloured window shutters (which is reminiscent of Potatohead in Bali) and rather funky – as well exposed brick walls, fishing nets – which have been turned into light shades (a very smart idea) and funky lights that hang over the bar. The design is by renowned architects DC Group & Newline Design and the result is a simple yet cosy and chilled vibe.

There is a selection of dining possibilities from tables in the front main dining area, stools at the bar, along the outside footpath or the courtyard area out the back – in total Charlie Dumpling can seat 60 people. There is also a private dining room located upstairs for 14-16 people which can be booked for functions as well. Another option is takeaway – you can order in advance via a handy app to save time.

The menu is split into 4 main sections – Small Bites, Salads & Noodles, Savoury Dumplings and Sweet Dumplings. The drinks menu has Dessert Cocktails, Cocktails, Beer (Tap – there is only one tap beer – Orion & Bottled) and Wines (Red & White). Small Bites include things like Edamame, two different types of Bao, Duck Leg, Grilled Skewers, Chicken Ribs, Sashimi – just to name a few. The menu also lets you know which of the dishes are Gluten Free and which are Vegetarian which avoids having to ask the wait staff to tell you which dishes are of these category.

Whilst deciding on what we wanted to eat – we ordered drinks. On this night however the beer on tap wasn’t available. I ordered myself a mocktail – I left the flavouring up to the bar tender and was pleasantly surprised when it came out to be lychee based – my favourite! The mocktail was refreshing and delicious – and quite large in size as well – double bonus!

There are 6 of us for dinner tonight, and we are seating by the window – so we get the best of both worlds – looking into the restaurant as well as out onto the street. The seating is a tad bit squishy I must admit, however this is a small negative. We decide to order a couple of dishes to share to start off with and decide later to order more if we need. We have a vegetarian on the table, as well as a Pescatarian so we had a selection of dumplings that cover these dietary requirements. Also something to note is that dumplings come in servings of 4 pieces per serving. There are sauces on the table which include Black Vinegar & Chilli, Soy, Shallot & Ginger and Red Nam Jin.

To start with we ordered the Charlies Fried Chicken Ribs, Five Spice Honey, Kewpie from the Small Bites section. The ribs came out piled on top of each other in a pyramid form looking glossy and exuding deliciousness. There was a resounding “mmm” and “yumm” around the table as each person took their first bite, followed by S saying she wanted another serving straight away. They were that good – a mix of sweet and savoury with chicken that was cooked to perfection.

We then got the succession of dumplings that we ordered. The Crispy Salmon, Tobbiko, Leek and Tumeric were the first dumplings I got to try. These dumplings were fried and had a crunchy coating of crumbs on the outside with the inside mixture providing a flavour hit for your taste-buds – the salmon flavour ringing true whilst staying fresh. The Leak and Tumeric puree together with the Tobbiko was what the dumplings were sitting on – this added a creamy aspect to the dish and worked well with the crumbed texture.

The Snapper, Chilli, Lime and Blackbean – these were steamed dumplings. These reminded me of a Thai Fishcake – juicy, full of flavour with a hint of spice – and finished with a spicy soy sauce and chilli combo. A really great tasting dumpling overall – I have never had a snapper dumpling before and wasn’t sure that this mixture would work – but it really does!

P ordered the Ricotta dumplings, Cauliflower, Anise, Gai Lan as she was vegetarian and I was lucky enough to sample some. My first thought when I looked at the dish was that it was reminiscent of a gnocchi or pasta dish. There were about 8-9 dumplings, as they were not your regular dumpling. This was quite a heavy dish but really tasty – the combination of ricotta and cauliflower worked well together, added with the crunch and texture of the slivered almonds as well as the freshness of the gai lan.

The Chicken, Ginger, Cabbage and Crispy Skin was a really interesting dumpling dish. They each came wearing a “hat” in the form of the crispy skin. The filling was once again juicy, light, flavoured with ginger and wrapped in the cabbage leaf – providing a mix of textures. This was a dish that everyone around the table enjoyed.

The last of the dumplings to arrive was the Steam Prawn and Bamboo Shoot, Har Gow, Sweet Corn, XO. These came out as glossy morsels complete with a tender filling which was simple and what you would expect from a steam prawn dumpling, but the twist of the sweet corn puree which it sat on was a brilliant addition . The sweetness combined with the chilli and prawn flavours was divine!

We also ordered the Spicy Dandan Noodles, Sesame, Szechuan, Peanuts and Pickled Chilli from the Salad & Noodle section to share with the table. The dish comes out un mixed – with the noodles forming the base of the dish, and each of the components placed separately on top – just like what you see at a ramen restaurant. There were peanuts, poppy seeds, chilli, spring onions, sesame seeds, fried onions and coriander. I like this concept where you get to mix the ingredients into the dish yourself – kind of a do-it-yourself – makes you feel as if you made the dish yourself – almost! And another plus is that if you don’t like any one component you can avoid mixing it in.
The dish was spicier than I was expecting – and the addition of the poppy seeds left a tingling sensation on your lips. I quite enjoyed the dish and the different flavours that were mixed together – I wasn’t a huge fan of the addition of peanuts though. There was a resounding thumbs up for this dish from the entire table.

As I always do – I had looked at the dessert section before even looking at what was available for the main meals – I couldn’t wait to order dessert. I had heard great things about the Milk Chocolate dumplings. We ordered the Milk Chocolate Dumplings with Raspberry-Chilli Sorbet AND the Hot Apple and Sesame Mochi, Gingernut Ice Cream.

The Milk Chocolate dumplings were delicious – warm balls that have been batter dipped then deep fried, filled with gooey milk chocolate, topped with sugar and finished with a raspberry chilli sorbet. The sorbet was refreshing and bursting with flavour and tang, with the chilli hint at the end. This combination of creamy sweet chocolate mixed with the refreshing tang was impeccable.

The Hot Apple dumplings were entirely different to the milk chocolate dumplings. The apple filling was encased with the chewy mochi skins which were also topped with sesame seeds. The apple filling was warm, subtle and sweet, but I found the mochi skin was a bit too chewy. I loved the gingernut ice cream – there were pieces of gingernut throughout the ice cream which added both texture and extra flavour. The dish needed both the ice cream and the hot apple dumpling together – I think one without the other wouldn’t work.

The service at Charlie Dumpling was fantastic – everyone we had was really friendly and helpful and always had a smile on their face. I liked the fact that the staff had their own favourites and when we selected a dish they would add a comment of what they really liked about the dish. To end the meal when you get your bill – you get a bowl of fortune cookies as well – the fortunes inside might not be so great – but it is a great novelty idea.

Overall Charlie Dumpling is modern, sophisticated restaurant with a unique twist on the regular Asian Dumpling venue – a combination of street food meets fine dining. The vibe is funky, fun and lively and you can really find yourself getting lost in the world of dumplings. Charlie Dumpling really does stay true to its values and seems to always have a fun with a great attitude!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://charliedumpling.com.au/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2014/05/Charlie-Dumpling-Dine-In-Menu_12MAY14.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Chilled and Funky. Great for a dinner catchup with friends. You can also book a function in their private dining room too.
Standout Dish: Snapper, Chilli, Lime and Blackbean AND Milk Chocolate Dumplings with Raspberry-Chilli Sorbet
Service: Fantastic – Friendly and always with a smile. They are happy to provide recommendations as well!
Online Booking: No – they don’t take bookings
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://charliedumpling.com.au/
184 High Street, Windsor
Tel No: 9510 4213

Opening Hours:
Monday: 6pm – Late
Tuesday to Sunday: 12pm – 3pm then 5:30pm – Late

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