Nora – Home of the Charcoal Tarts!

panda 4 rating

Nora is a newly opened Thai inspired bakery and café, located on Elgin Street in Carlton. Owned by couple Jean Thamthanakorn and Sari (Tong) Rojanametin who are each individually responsible for various elements here at Nora – Jean for her spectacular charcoal tarts and Sari for his magnificent homemade sourdough.

Tong is a former artist and photographer and has previously worked in the coffee industry for a few years with stints at St Ali, Seven Seeds and Traveller. Most recently he has pursued cooking and worked at The Commoner, Longrain and Mr Nice Guy. Jean is a tax accountant as well as a self-taught baker and has honed in on a skill of baking over the last few years by baking for family and friends. It was Jean’s love of baking and her inventiveness that brought above the creation of charcoal tarts.

These charcoal tarts are seriously better than cronuts and will certainly take not only Melbourne but the rest of Australia by storm – they are amazingly divine! The tarts have a distinctive black pastry shell which is achieved by the addition of small amounts of food-grade activated charcoal which is made from coconut husks. Food-grade activated charcoal is safe to ingest and has reported healthy benefits such as being a detoxifier.
The tarts are filled with a variety of flavour combinations that have taken inspiration from the couples South East Asian background. Flavours include Lemongrass & Ginger Brûlée, Coconut Pandan, Strawberries with Tamarind Cream Cheese and Kaffir-Lime Custard with Sour Cherries. Get in quick each day as Jean only makes a limited number (around 100 a day).

The menu at Nora is simple; but reads and shows the depth of experience and advanced techniques of an experienced chef. There are six dishes to choose from – Our Water + Salt, Egg, Salmon, Bacon, Rice and Nora Flakes. Don’t be fooled by the simplistic mostly one worded headings, as when you read the elements that go into making that entire dish you will be impressed. For example the Salmon has been lightly smoked and jasmine cured, and is served with coconut, nashi and nasturtium. The Our Water and Salt comes served on a cute wooden tray with house made sourdough, semi churned butter, chicken-liver parfait together with ricotta and jam. The Nora Flakes consist of puffed polenta, wild rice, quinoa and crystallised nuts – and if you have seen any pictures they have a great marketing tool which is a mini-box with NORA MORN FLAKES plastered on the front.
They also serve a great selection of teas with Small Batch coffee being pumped out of their La Marzocco machines.

The interior of Nora is light filled, airy and very modern. As you step inside you are greeted by an illuminated sign with the letters NORA lit up. The next thing that catches your eye is the shiny new La Marzocco coffee machine, together with coffee smells in the air. A point of difference at Nora is the white table topped wooden table that have ingredients displayed out in an artistic manner which entices you to go over. Over to one side is a bunch of lemongrass paired with lemons and ginger. Just above this is a whole coconut, paired together with charcoal and the coconut husk base. There are also other ingredients paired together such as eggs, chocolate and sesame. Their décor is simple and minimalistic yet captures ones attention.
Tables are wooden and low paired with stylish round stools – and can seat from two to four people – there is limited seating available outside. From most tables you can take a sneak peak into the preparation of your meals as it overlooks the main counter.

I ordered a latte to start which was full bodied, aromatic and delicious – with notes of citrus and nuttiness. The perfect pick me up and start to what would be a great meal!

I was tossing up between the SALMON and the EGG and decided to go with EGG dish. This dish comes with Egg cooked in Nora’s special way, House Chilli Dressing, Garlic, Salted Shrimps and Thai Greens. I was very interested in seeing what Eggs done Nora’s way would be like. The dish came out with the Asian Greens dominating the round, deep plate, with the Egg hidden underneath. The House Chilli Dressing, Salted Shrimps were placed sporadically around the Egg and Asian Greens. The Asian Greens were refreshing and a very distinct Thai flavour to them – I loved the variety of greens that were use, they all worked seamlessly together. The Egg itself was reminiscent of tofu – smooth and silky and easy to eat – paired with the house chilli dressing – which had the perfect level of spice – together with the saltiness of the shrimps – was really delicious. It is the type of dish that makes you keep going back for more.
A definite highlight of the dish was the freshly made sourdough bread that came served in its own cup off to the side. The bread was heavenly – soft and fluffy on the inside, crunchy and texture on the outside with just the right amount of saltiness. It was that that great that I later asked how they made this bread – if only I was that skilful!

 

You cannot leave Nora without trying their signature charcoal tarts. I was worried as I knew that only a certain number was made; and I had arrived about an hour and a half before closing time. However I was in luck, they still two flavours left and I opted for the Kaffir-Lime and Sour Cherry Charcoal tart.
When it comes out to you it is covered with the silver dish that it would have been baked in to create the element of suspense and surprise. The unveiling of the charcoal tart builds up anticipation and delight. Once uncovered, the brilliant blackness of the tart is revealed along with bits of crumble and pistachio that surrounds the main black beauty. Once you delve into the tart you are greeted with the distinct Thai flavours (Kaffir Lime in this case) paired perfectly with a western element (Sour Cherries). The tart filling is gooey, smooth and velvety all at the same time. What makes these tarts especially amazing is the charcoal casing itself – it is flaky, crisp and soft – it literally melts in your mouth and you really could find yourself eating tart after tart after tart. The perfect addition of pistachios and crumble added texture and depth to the tarts. I cannot wait to come back and sample all the other flavour varieties.

Nora is a great new addition to the Carlton area – especially bringing Thai inspired breakfasts into the mix. Their signature charcoal tarts are (in my opinion) better than cronuts and would recommend anyone and everyone to try them – after all the charcoal used does have some health benefits! Get down to Nora now!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Laid back and Relaxed
Standout Dish: Any of the charcoal tarts
Service: Very Friendly and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
noramelbourne.com
156 Elgin Street, Carlton
Tel No: 9041 8644

Opening Hours:
Monday, Wednesday & Thursday: CLOSED
Tuesday: 7:00am – 3:30pm
Friday to Sunday: 8:00am – 4:00pm

Nora on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noramelburn?fref=ts
Instagram: nora_melbourne
Twitter: @Nora_Melbourne

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Percy’s Aeroplane – Yellow, Model Plane, Tasty Food All In One

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Menu at Percy's Aeroplane

Percy’s Aeroplane is located in Kew, and is named after a World War II pilot who resides in Kew as well. It is solely owned by Wesley Lim and is located in an old building– which has been further stripped back to bring out it’s best – complete with high ceilings and exposed brick walls.
The main feature of the venue is definitely the model plane (Lim visited various antique stores to find this piece) that hangs over the front door – in its striking and vibrant yellow colour. To match is the custom-coated Ferrari-yellow FB70 La Morzocco 2 Group Head machine.

The feel of this café is fun, lively and cosy. There are two main dining areas – the front room as well as the back room which also leads to a courtyard area for larger groups. There are interesting trinkets and ornaments scattered around the place to further adding character. From the front dining you can look into the kitchen to watch as your dishes are being prepared.

Coffee is from Retro Roast (based in Berwick), and there is a weekly single origin that is run. I ordered a latte which was quite robust and had flavourings of hazelnut and fruits. N’s espresso was similar tasting with a hint of dark chocolate.

There is an “All-Day” breakfast menu which is served until 2pm, when the Lunch menu picks up. There are also a list of specials which are listed just under the kitchen area. The breakfast menu consists of the usuals such as Bircher muesli, toast – you can select from rye, white, fruit or wholegrain, B.L.A.T, Wes’s favourite – bacon, poached egg, avocado on a herb potato rosti with capsicum, anchovy and garlic sauce – just to name a few. There is also a French Fruit Toast – which is twist on the usual French toast that you see in most places – you can also add bacon if you want to make it a more savoury dish. The Lunch menu consists mainly of the baguettes and sandwiches which are located at the counter display fridge, but there is also a Soup of the day, as well as a Bruschetta or Percy’s Scotch Fillet Steak Sandwich.

After much deliberation I decided to go for the Smoked Buxton Trout on Herb Potato Rosti, Baby Spinach, Poached Egg and Dill Dressing. The dish was presented on a purple rectangular plate with the rosti at the base, topped with the smoked trout, spinach and poached egg, with the dill dressing to the side. There was also a slice of lemon for extra flavour. The trout had been smoked well and together with the accompaniment of the lemon was delicious. The herb potato rosti was just what you would expect – crunchy on the outside, flavoursome and fluffy (almost melt in your mouth soft) on the inside. The poached egg was another component also done well – gooey and runny – just like how a poached egg is meant to be. As a whole the dish, with each individual element pieced together created a tasty, memorable dish.

N had the Pilot’s Breakfast – Fried Eggs, Bacon, Chorizo, Mushrooms, Spinach & Roasted Tomato on Toast which was quite large in size. N ordered his dish sans tomato, so was given a herb potato rosti instead – which I thought was a nice touch by Percy’s Aeroplane. You don’t find many places that substitute one item for another unless you specify it yourself.

T ordered the special which was the Poached Egg with Corn & Haloumi Fritters, Spinach, Tomato & Chilli Pesto. The combination of corn and haloumi was unique – I hadn’t previously seen these two elements in fritter form before. The fritters were tasty, however one down side was the consistency of them – they were a bit too chewy for my liking. The Tomato and Chilli Pesto was delicious – nutty flavours with a hint of chilli. Once again the poached egg was cooked well. As a whole the dish was nice, but the fritters were a bit of a let down.

There are also sweet goodies located at the counter for you to try.

Service here is friendly, with Lim himself always happy to have a chat. Percy’s Aeroplane is quaint and welcoming café that serves up some great tasting coffee with tasty food to match. Go in for yourself and check out Percy’ Aeroplane.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Breakfast and Lunch Menu – refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and Fun
Standout Dish:
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location: 
www.percysaeroplane.com.au

96 Denmark Street, Kew
Tel No: 9939 7642

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 7am-3.30pm

Percy's Aeroplane on Urbanspoon

Hawk and Hunter – Ripponlea Gem!

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Menu

A and I were heading out on our usual brunch catch-ups and this time we were checking out Hawk and Hunter. We trekked down to the south east part of Melbourne – Ripponlea to be more specific – and after ordering enough for all three meals in a day, were happy with our decision to make the trek down.

Hawk and Hunter comes courtesy of owners Ben Avramides, Tommy McIntosh, Luke Holt and Simon Winfield – who are also responsible for The Little Ox (located in Brighton and is on the list of places that I have yet to try), as well as catering company Tommy Collins.

From the moment you step into Hawk and Hunter – you feel like you have been transported into another land – the interior is beautifully quirky and mismatched. There is a combination of wood, steel, neon mesh sculptures, artwork of old newspaper clippings, birdcages, ducks and a large cut up tree – but it all works amazingly well together. There are a plethora of tables at this large venue – with tables for groups, singles and couples.

A and I had to wait about 5-10 minutes for our table (you will need to queue up on the weekends – this place is highly popular with the locals) – but this meant that we got to take in the atmosphere and also peruse the counter with its baked cookies. We already made a mental note that we wanted one of each on display – there was a cookies and cream brownie, two different varieties of pops, granola and white choc truffles, orange blossom meringues and macaroons just to name a few. What also caught my eye was their fridge filled with home made ice-cream with flavors such as Ferro Rocher and Mango.

We were seated at the end of the communal table – which gave us a view into the kitchen and the dishes being prepared. We ordered coffees to start from our super friendly waiter – who was very keen to have chit chat. Always love great customer service! Coffee is from Red Star Coffee. I ordered a latte and it was quite tasty – smooth with plenty of fruity flavours and resulting in a crisp taste. A ordered a hot chocolate. We also saw the fresh juices and decided to order them. It came in a jar and was a mix of orange, passion fruit and watermelon – a really refreshing and tasty combination.

The menu consists of an all day breakfast menu which comprises a mix of sweet (there is banana bread, waffles) and savory dishes (scrambled eggs done in different ways, fritters, smoked salmon tartare) to choose from. There is also a lunch menu which is served from 11:30am onwards and includes a wagyu burger, chicken burger and a variety of salads. There are also daily specials for each category to choose from as well as a soup of the day.

After much deliberation I decided on the Corn and Zucchini Fritters, Avocado, Fetta and a Poached Egg. I was tossing up between this dish, the Salmon Tartare, the waffles and the special French toast. A and I decided to share the French Toast so that made the decision a little easier. My corn and zucchini fritters were plated up well – the fritters at the base, with the avocado and poached egg placed on top, with the fetta, pomegranate molasses and chilli sprinkled around. The fritters were smooth and soft and filled with flavour. Paired with the fetta, avocado and a hint of chilli worked well.

A ordered the Big Ed’s Scrambled Eggs, bacon, Chilli, Basil, Garlic Toast and Salsa Verde. The Scrambled eggs sure was a large and generous serving and A couldn’t finish it all. I did try some of the Garlic Toast – which wasn’t overpowering with garlic and was crunchy and buttery. The salsa verde was fresh and worked well I thought with the garlic toast.

We ordered the French Toast with Apple and Pear Compote, Pecans and Salted Caramel to share and boy am I glad we decided to order this dish. The dish was quite generous in serving once again and was plated up on a long white oblong dish. It had an Eaton Mess style of plating up – with the taste just divine. The Apple and Pear had been poached perfectly and had the right amount of softness. The addition of the salted caramel together with the other sweet elements and the crunch and texture of the pecans worked well together. This dish was a special the day we went, but if it does appear when you visit – definitely try it out.

Hawk and Hunter is a great place to try out for brunch – from the friendly staff to the very cool fit-out to the amazing array of sweets to try out, as well some home made ice cream to take home to remember the visit by. Well worth the travel I say!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pic above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Quirky, Fun, Relaxed – great to spend hours chatting and enjoy the weekend! Light-filled and great for people with kiddies.
Standout Dish: French Toast with Apple and Pear Compote, Pecans and Salted Caramel
Service: Fantastic – Friendly and Fun!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.hawkandhunter.com.au/
8-10 Glen Eira Avenue, Ripponlea
Tel No: 9528 2719

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 6:30 am – 5:00 pm

Hawk & Hunter Small Batch on Urbanspoon

Lolo and Wren – Worth the Trek!

panda 4 rating

Menu:

Food Menu at Lolo and Wren   Croque and Roll Menu at Lolo and Wren  Food Menu at Lolo and Wren 2  Sides at Lolo and Wren  Drinks at Lolo and Wren  Drink Menu at Lolo and Wren

N and I made the trek down to Brunswick West to check out Lolo & Wren. Frank Caruso (ex- Richmond Hill Café & Larder) together with his wife Karen are to thank for this lovely café. The main focus behind this café is for it to become the people’s local – where they can come to get great food and coffee and most importantly to put a smile on people’s faces. I love this motto.

Lolo & Wren serves all day breakfast, as well as having a lunch menu and is located in Albion Street. The café sits under a newly built apartment building amongst a strip of shops. There is lots of parking available in the adjoining parking lot to the left of the café.

The décor is simple yet warm, with a strong focus on the use of recycled materials. The result is a light open and airy space to enjoy the perfect cup of coffee and some tasty morsels. The main feature is the counter and the communal table – both made out of wooden crates. I especially love the counter and really feel like it adds character and charm to Lolo and Wren. The high communal table is in the centre, and allows you to peer into the kitchen watching the chef’s pump out the meals. Frank used the help of his friend and cabinetmaker Craig Goodison to create this fantastic design and styling – even down to the painting of the venue! There are low tables situated around the main communal table, as well as outside under some shade.

The food comes from local and organic product from places like Fenton Farm, Jonsey’s Dairy Fresh, Flinders Island Meat, Melbourne Rooftop Honey, cheese from Savour and Grace and Coffee from 5 Senses. The menu has a focus on Spanish flavours and there really is something tempting for everyone to try.

Before trying to work out what we wanted to eat – N and I ordered coffee – he a long black and me a latte. Both our coffees came out and we were surprised to find a chocolate covered coffee bean on the side – a nice addition to the coffee. N’s long black came out with sparkling water on the side and he enjoyed the strong acidity. My latte was delicious – low acidity, nutty and creamy – just the perfect way to start out the morning.

The menu consists of dishes under the “Classic L & W” heading and includes dishes like Sweetcorn and Zucchini Fritters, Baked Beans, Roast Duck Breast Salad, ‘The Goodison’ Breakfast and two sweet dishes – the Peach Melba’ish’ Pancakes and Brioche French Toast ‘St Clements.’ There are also the usual Bircher Muesli, Banoffee Porridge and Organic Quinoa and Vanilla Soy Porridge available. There is also a selection of Toast and Eggs however you want it. There is a “Croque and Roll” menu – which consists of some rolls, a Cripsy Croque Monsiuer dish as well as Bruschetta. You can also alter most of their dishes to Gluten free or Dairy free options. Drinks include Juices from Market Juices as well as drinks from Hepburn and Daylesford Mineral Company. As Lolo and Wren have their liquor license – there is also a selection of beers available.

I decided to order the Sweetcorn and Zucchini Fritters – with peperonata ,Meredith Soft Goat Feta, pebre salsa, chilli jam and avocado. The dish came out presented very well – the fritters being the main component of the dish and all the other elements placed artistically around them. There was also a mix salad placed on top of the four fritters. The fritters were crispy on the outside and soft and textured on the inside. The addition of the stewed peppers and the chilli jam, salsa and avocado made for a very flavoursome dish. The Goat’s Feta was fresh and brought the tang element to this dish. It is quite a generous serving size and you can get quite full on this dish.

We also ordered the Peach melba’ish’ Pancakes – Caramelised peach and strawberry pancakes, macerated peaches, strawberry, fresh mint, almond praline, vanilla mascarpone and pure Canadian maple syrup. This was to be like my dessert dish at brunch time, and lets be honest was more for me than for N. This dish was a mighty colourful dish as well – the reds from the strawberries, mixed with the orange of the peach and speckles of green from the mint, against a white backdrop from the plate. There were two quite large sized pancakes together with a little yellow jug filled with the Canadian maple syrup. The pancakes were rich, sweet and delicious – the strawberry and peach were infused into the pancake itself yet the result was fluffy and soft. The hardness came in the form of the almond praline. This is a very sweet dish and the vanilla mascarpone helped to cut this sweetness a bit whilst adding a creamy and smooth flavour. This really is a dish for all sweet and pancake lover’s to try out.

‘The Goodison’ Breakfast – Potato and rosemary rosti, bacon, baked field mushrooms, sausage, homemade tomato relish, 2 free range eggs and organic sourdough. This is one huge breakfast dish and is great for anyone with an appetite. It has all your basic elements and cooked really well and comes with not 1 but 2 eggs!

Lolo and Wren is great café that sources local produce to create interesting dishes with a twist in generous portions. Lolo and Wren is also open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights, and have also created a tapas menu. Bookings can be taken before 10am or after 1pm. Have to head back and try out their tapas menu. Trust me – its worth the trek!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to the pics above. There is a Croque and Roll Menu, Class L&W menu – which has your breakkie dishes, Through the Mill and Toast Menu as well as a Drinks menu. There is a newly created Tapas menu as well (which I do not have a picture at the moment)
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Laid Back – very warm and inviting as well.
Standout Dish: Too hard to pick really but the Peach Melba ‘ish’ Pancakes were delicious!
Service: Friendly but sometimes when it is really busy it does take you a while to get their attention.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
facebook.com/LoloWren
484 Albion Street, Brunswick West
Tel No: 9383 3712

Opening Hours:
Monday – Thursday7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Friday7:00 am – 4:00 pm, 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Saturday8:00 am – 4:00 pm, 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Sunday8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Lolo and Wren on Urbanspoon

Operator25 – Hidden Treasure

panda-3-5-rating22
House Cured Ocean Trout, Poached Egg, Crunchy Shaved Asparagus and Horseradish Cream on MuffinsHouse Cured Ocean Trout, Poached Egg, Crunchy Shaved Asparagus and Horseradish Cream on Muffins

Pan Roasted Trout on a Bed of Cauliflower Cream and Beetroot CrispsPan Roasted Trout on a Bed of Cauliflower Cream and Beetroot Crisps
Operator25 is newly opened cafe that is located off the bustling LaTrobe St in the Melbourne CBD. It located between Flagstaff Gardens and Melbourne Central shopping centre. This cafe gets its name from the building that it is housed in – it was Melbourne’s very first switchboard back in the 19th century. This building is heritage listed.
The venue is modern with high ceilings and has differently sized tables – a higher table where you can still on stools or the normal height tables. The staff are friendly and welcoming and always have a smile on their face. They are courteous and warm as well – just what you want when you are hungry.
H and I went here for lunch during the working week on a really gloomy and rainy day in Melbourne. Operator25 serves all day breakfast and I was tempted by the breakfast menu however I decided to go with a pick from the Lunch menu and got Pan Roasted Trout on a Bed of Cauliflower Cream and Beetroot Crisps. H did order from the breakfast menu and got House Cured Ocean Trout, Poached Egg, Crunchy Shaved Asparagus and Horseradish Cream on Muffins. The menu is modern Australian with the usual favourites for breakfast with the additional changes to certain dishes and the lunch menu is similar too. Lunch menu selections includes two burgers to select from, as well as duck ragu or lemongrass chicken with quinoa just to name a few. There is a dish for everyone. Even the little kiddies – there is a Little Operator Menu for them.
The dishes are presented in an elegant and beautiful manner- with the two dishes we got being in layers. My fish was cooked perfectly and the cauliflower cream was smooth and creamy – just the right consistency. The beetroot crisps were interesting and were a bit too sour tasting for me,but it was an interesting addition. There is a wedge of lemon if you need it, however I think the dish was seasoned enough to not need it. The dish also came with two pieces of bread – I didn’t really think this was needed, and I didn’t end up finishing my bread off. H said his dish was good as well and the horseradish cream was especially good and fresh. The addition of the shaved asparagus is something you don’t usually see in many dishes.

Operator25 is great place for lunch and is somewhere I want to come to try breakkie out. The french toast sounds delicious!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Breakfast (all day) – Early Operator, Lunch – Noon Operator and a Children’s Menu – Little Operator
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Inviting
Service: Friendly, Welcoming and Warm
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
25 Wills St, Melbourne
Tel No: 9670 3278

Opening Hours
Mon – Fri: 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sat – Sun: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Operator25 on Urbanspoon