Rue & Co. – Great Addition to Melbourne

panda 3.5 rating

Menu:

St Ali Breakkie Menu St Ali Burger and Dessert Menu Kong Menu

It was after the footy game (Go the Hawks!!) and N and I were feeling a tad bit peckish – so we decided to check out the newly opened Rue & Co. Located off the main hustle and bustle of Collins Street, near Exhibition street is Melbourne’s version of street style food. It is an outdoor pop-up venue – around for 6 months – and has the following venues – Church of Secular Coffee (St Ali), Jimmy Grants and Kong BBQ – a joint venture between Salvatore Malatesta, George Calombaris and Chris Lucas.

Salvatore Malatesta’s

Salvatore Malatesta’s
George Calombaris,

A joint effort between George Calombaris’s Jimmy Grants, Salvatore Malatesta’s St Ali and Chris Lucas’s soon-to-be-opened Kong, – See more at: http://www.theurbanlist.com/melbourne/a-list/rue-co-verdict#sthash.nS8gESUo.dpuf

A joint effort between George Calombaris’s Jimmy Grants, Salvatore Malatesta’s St Ali and Chris Lucas’s soon-to-be-opened Kong, – See more at: http://www.theurbanlist.com/melbourne/a-list/rue-co-verdict#sthash.nS8gESUo.dpuf
A joint effort between George Calombaris’s Jimmy Grants, Salvatore Malatesta’s St Ali and Chris Lucas’s soon-to-be-opened Kong, – See more at: http://www.theurbanlist.com/melbourne/a-list/rue-co-verdict#sthash.nS8gESUo.dpuf
A joint effort between George Calombaris’s Jimmy Grants, Salvatore Malatesta’s St Ali and Chris Lucas’s soon-to-be-opened Kong, – See more at: http://www.theurbanlist.com/melbourne/a-list/rue-co-verdict#sthash.nS8gESUo.dpuf
A joint effort between George Calombaris’s Jimmy Grants, Salvatore Malatesta’s St Ali and Chris Lucas’s soon-to-be-opened Kong, – See more at: http://www.theurbanlist.com/melbourne/a-list/rue-co-verdict#sthash.nS8gESUo.dpuf

The “fit-out” is very Melbourne – there is astro turf laid on the grounds, and the venues are located in a row under neath the massive wall artwork. On the opposite side to where the food is – is a stylish yet simple seating area decked out with minimal black stools, seats and tables. There is a combination of low seated stools as well as higher bar chairs. There are two areas – one area being covered complete with heating to keep customers warm (especially in the unpredictable Melbourne weather) – as well an open air area under trees with fairy lights.

We decided to try out Kong BBQ (opened by Chris Lucas – who brought us Chin Chin) as I had heard a lot about this place and wanted to see what we could expect once it opens its more permanent doors in Richmond.

I love the use of the Japanese characters to spell out BBQ in the name as well as the addition of the PANDA and the tag line HAPPY LIFE. As you all probably know I LOVE PANDAS! (haha hence the blog – Grazing Panda) – so I cannot wait to visit their permanent venue and see the use of the pandas. =)

The menu here at Rue & Co. is split up into 6 sections – Soup, Wings (6 pieces), Steam Buns (2 pieces), Kong Bo Ssam, Ssam Roti Roll and Salads. There are vegetarian and pescatarian options available under most of these headings.

I ordered the Peanut Butter Crusted Tofu, Pickled Cucumber and Spring Onion Kon Bo Ssam which comes served with Kimchi, Ssam Jang and Butter Lettuce. N ordered the Roast Gochujang and Chipotle Hot Wings.

The food comes out served in cardboard boxes with KONG BBQ stamped on the front of it. I loved my dish – I didn’t really get the Peanut Butter flavour on the tofu – but I like the crust and crispness that was present on the tofu. The kimchi was spicy and fresh – just how you want it to be. The whole combination of wrapping each element in the butter lettuce was tasty and the textures worked well together. I really liked the Ssam Jang – spicy and smooth!

N enjoyed his chicken wings – there were 4 pieces in his little boxed package – with the flavour combination working well together. Each of the dishes also come with a “Cools and Dries” towelette so you can feel free to get your fingers dirty.

I also decided to try out some dessert from St Ali – so got myself the remaining flavours of profiteroles for the day – Choc Hazelnut and a Vanilla Raspberry. Both of them were scrumptious! The Choc Hazelnut had a whole hazelnut in the middle combined with gooey rich chocolate. The Vanilla Raspoberry was my favourite out of the two however, with the creamy vanilla and sweet (but not too sweet) raspberry jam. The pastry itself was textured and crunchy to combine the smooth goodness inside. Pity they were so small!

The St Ali menu consists of a Breakfast menu which is served until 11:30m from 7am daily. Breakfast includes a Toast Bar from which you can choose from a number (five to be precise) of toppings, as well Crispy Potato Hash with the addition of either salmon, pork or mushroom and feta. There are also two bigger dishes – The Daddy – Breakfast bun with sausages and bacon and Mexican Cousin – Corn Fritters.

After 11:30am there is a Burger menu which is served until Late. There are four burgers to choose from – A Shrimp Burger (Seoul Searching), A Wagyu Burger (Royale with Cheese), Pork Burger (Pork Me) and a Vegetarian Burger (Cheech and Chong) all for $12.

And of course – the usual St Ali coffee is available, as well as the St Ali bottled Ice Coffee.

Jimmy Grants pop-up presents the “best of the menu” that could be found at its main venue in Fitzory – such as the delicious Souvas, slow roasted lamb shoulder, salads, snacks and dips. There is a vegetarian option – Homer – Falafels, Greek Yoghurt and Slaw.

Next is Jimmy Grants, the all-conquering Fitzroy-based souvlaki joint. The Rue & Co pop-up version presents a ‘best of’ menu, including slow roasted lamb shoulder, salads, snacks & dips, and of course JIMMY GRANTS’ AMAZING SOUVAS! Before you ask, YES CAPITALS ARE REQUIRED – THEY’RE THAT GOOD! Our pick of the two is the Mr Papadopoulos souva with its mix of lamb, mustard aioli, chips and onion, however the Homer (falafels, Greek yogurt and slaw) is also flippin’ delicious. Your Jimmy Grants experience at Rue & Co also won’t be complete without a steamed Jimmy Dimmy or two, along with some Hellenic Slaw, dips and pita bread. – See more at: http://www.theurbanlist.com/melbourne/a-list/rue-co-verdict#sthash.nS8gESUo.dpuf

Rue & Co. gives an almost picnic like vibe and is a great addition to the streets of Melbourne and is great if you want to grab a quick sneaky bite before heading off to a movie, footy game or even as a pre-dinner snack!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Picnic-like, Funky and Chilled out. Great for a morning coffee or after work drinks even! Versatile!
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/RueandCo
80 Collins St, Melbourne

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 7am to Late

Jimmy Grants on Urbanspoon

St Ali on Urbanspoon

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Chuckle Park – Caravan and Simple, Great Food!

panda 4 rating

ChucklePark is funky little eatery / bar which is located in a hidden alleyway off Little Collins Street, near Elizabeth street. It is located under the New Guernica’s entrance and is cosy outdoor space complete with its very own caravan style serving kitchen. Inspired from their holiday experiences in Phillip Island it is the brainchild of Dominic Lococo, Kyle Bush, Marcus Motteram, Steve Costa and Jaff Tzaferis.

As you enter, there is a lot to take in – from the hanging plants, the lights in jars that look like stars up high, to the main feature – the caravan with a colourful Jesus statue and surrounding flowers. There is also synthetic grass, high wooden tables as well as low tables – all made to resemble a park – hence the name ChucklePark. There is also gas heaters and awnings to protect the customers from the unpredictability that is Melbourne weather.

There is a simple menu with something on it to eat for everyone. The highlight of the menu – and there are many testaments for this is the Chuckle Park Pulled Pork Roll. Some of the other dishes included are the Albondigas  – which are Spanish meatballs – which comes served in the hot stoneware pan itself, as well as paella, Spanish Lentil Salad and Elote (think char grilled to perfection Corn on the Cob). For drinks there are canned beverages (Coke, Sprite etc) as well jugs of Sangria, aperitifs, beers, ciders and the usual hot drinks – coffee, tea etc.

We went to ChucklePark on a Friday at lunchtime – and we made sure that we got there by 12pm – lucky we did as it soon started to fill up after this time. Most of the boys ordered the Pulled Pork Roll and one guy ordered the Albondigas – the Spanish meatballs served in a hearty vegetable broth. I ordered the Frittata Roll – which was Spanish Style Vegetable Tortila Sandwich with Cheese, Spinach, Mayo and Eggplant Relish. I couldn’t have loved my Frittata Roll more! The patty made of veggies was delicious and flavoursome – you could almost even just eat it on its own. I loved the addition of the eggplant relish – it was the perfect complement to all the other ingredients. For any vegetarians out there you really must try this.

Suffice to say everyone loved their Pulled Pork Rolls – and the size of these “burgers” was HUGE! Its hard to imagine where one would start to eat this. The Albondigas was tasty as well and W who ordered the dish was quietly enjoying his dish.

ChucklePark is great for home-style dishes sourced from local produce that has superb flavourings. It is great for lunch and especially great for afternoon or late night drinks. The staff are hospitable and friendly and the place intimate, casual and cosy. Head down there now!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Food menu can be found at http://media.wix.com/ugd/190d00_a321c5f811c34bb0ad19147e87d561c3.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and Funky! How many places have a caravan located with astro turf and lights in jars strung up !
Standout Dish: Fritatta Roll – DELICIOUS!
Service: Friendly, Welcoming and Accommodating! Always happy to help and turn on the heaters if you get cold.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.chucklepark.com.au/
322 Little Collins St, Melbourne CBD
Tel No: 8654 9954

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 12:00pm – 1:00am

Chuckle Park Bar and Cafe on Urbanspoon

Taco Truck – Delicious Mexican Food Truck

panda-4-rating1Taco Truck

20121207_200738The Potato Taco, The Fish Taco and two Chicken Tacos

20121207_200753Fish and Potato Tacos

Food trucks have been all the rage in America, and it has taken over Melbourne. Ever since I heard about the Taco Truck I wanted to try it. The Taco Truck is the mastermind of Raph Rashid (who also owns the Beatbox Kitchen – check out https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/trucks-and-burgers-good-mix/for my review). I finally got my chance to try out the Taco Truck when it was at the Big Designers Market at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. In order to track down the Taco Truck you need to decipher clues that are given out or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. The Taco Truck’s usual haunt is generally the inner city suburbs such as Carlton, Northcote, Brunswick.

The Taco Trucks sells ..you guessed it TACOS! You can individual tacos for $6 each or you can get a Taco Plate which comes with 2 Tacos  (of any combination) and a serving of house made corn chips for $12. There are three different types of Tacos – Fish, Potato or Chicken.

I ordered a Taco Plate with a fish and potato taco and N had a Taco plate with 2 chicken tacos. The potato taco comes with jalapeno, ‘slaw with salsa verde in a crispy tortilla topped with ricotta. This was the most interesting out of all the tacos, due to its crispy tortilla. The salsa verde and ricotta complimented the potato and the crunch perfectly. The fish taco is lightly battered and fried Rockling fillets, with rough ‘slaw, a squeeze of lemon and poppyseed aioli. The poppyseed aioli was fresh and had the right amount of tang and worked perfectly with the fish. These are cooked to order in the van, and have a glorious crunch when they come out. The chicken taco came with grilled chicken, fresh corn, baby spinach and a smoky chipotle mayo. I love how the corn in this taco just oozed out – it is one of the first times I have seen corn in a taco.

All the tacos are cooked to order and therefore have that fresh, unpretentious air about them and boy are they packed with flavour. If you love mexican food and love tacos, definitely hunt this truck down and try it out.

Taco Truck Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Taco-truck-melbourne/187938917910211

Twitter: @tacotruckmelb

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – 3 different types of Tacos – Chicken, Potato and Fish as well as House made Corn Chips
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun !!
Standout Dish: ALL THE TACOS!
Service: Friendly, inviting and fun!
Online Booking: No…you will need to track them down!!
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://tacotruck.com.au/
15 Keele St
Collingwood
(this is where they were intially based, but they go around to the inner suburbs, check their Facebook and Twitter for locations)
Tel No: 8060 6664

Taco Truck on Urbanspoon

Gumbo Kitchen – A Must Try Food Truck!

panda-3-5-rating2gumbo kitchen

Gumbo Kitchen is another food truck in the streets of Melbourne. Gumbo Kitchen is the brainchild of Michael Cotter and Patricia Stanton who were inspired on their visit to New Orleans. The focus of food from this truck is on the Cajun food of New Orleans such as the traditional and spicy stews served with rice – aka GUMBO.

I got to try out this specialty truck one lunchtime, when the food truck was parked out side of Ethihad Stadium down at Docklands. Just like many of the other trucks, you will need to follow them on Facebook or Twitter in order to find out their location.I had no idea what type of food was sold at the Gumbo Kitchen and even looking at the Menu and seeing words like Po Boys, The Dom and Gumbo thrown at me I still had no idea =p
There are three main varieties on the menu – a Po Boy is a fresh roll stuffed with a meat/seafood of your choice and topped with a chilli sauce if desired. Gumbo is a soup/stew with meat and a small amount of rice. The Dom is Beef served with Fries and Remoulade.

Before ordering I had to ask what each of them were. I settled with ordering a Shrimp Po Boy and I certainly am glad I made that choice. The Shrimp Po Boy was crunchy bread on outside filled with small deep fried battered prawns with hints of lemon juice, spicy cajun sauce and finished with slices of tomato and pickles. I am not a huge pickle fan but in this mix it was delicious and complimented the other flavours. The prawns were coated in delicious batter with a tinge of spice and the flavours literally popped in your mouth!The crunch of bread on the outside mixed with the softness of the filling on the inside was pure heaven and it seriously is one of the best bread / sandwiches I have ever come across! They are quite large, but they were that good that I wanted a second serving.

My friends who had the Gumbo and The Dom said that the dishes were good, but not as flavoursome as they thought it would be. Both the chicken and the beef were cooked well and were the heroes of each of the dishes. The dishes were filling and quite decently sized.

Overall, I had a great experience with the Gumbo Kitchen and would definitely try them again – especially the Shrimp Po Boy!!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gumbo-Kitchen/113192782105826?fref=ts

Twitter: @gumbokitchen

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – You can choose from Gumbo,Po Boys, The Dom and for dessert there is an Lemon Ice Box Pie – can be found at http://gumbokitchen.com/2012/09/14/gumbo-kitchen-menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun !!
Standout Dish: Fried Shrimp Po Boy
Service: Friendly, inviting and fun!
Online Booking: No…you will need to track them down!!
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://gumbokitchen.com/
164 High St
Northcote
(this is where they were intially based, but they go around to the inner suburbs, check their Facebook and Twitter for locations)
Tel No: 0411 037 652

Gumbo Kitchen on Urbanspoon