Eleni’s Kitchen – Family Owned & Authentically Greek!

Menu:

I hadn’t heard anything about Eleni’s Kitchen prior to visiting Yarraville – but boy am I glad I did find this gem of a restaurant! Eleni’s Kitchen is a family owned restaurant and not only has so much cultural richness and history attached to it, but an plenty of love and passion.

Eleni’s Kitchen pays homage to the owner, Thierry’s grandmother – affectionately termed YiaYia in Greek – who owned Yarraville lounge all the way back in 1971 – literally down the road from where Eleni’s Kitchen is located.  Opening Eleni’s Kitchen literally down the road was Thierry’s inspiration to keep the family history alive and continue the legacy her grandmother started.

The venue itself is fantastic – lined with pictures of the past – they can run you through what each of the pictures represent – it is cosy and homely – complete with a huge upstairs area; that is big enough to host functions!

The menu is made up of smaller dishes “Mezethes” followed by some Home Favourites, From the Sea, “Chef Hristos” Signature dishes, From the Field, From the Garden and Desserts. There is also the options of Eleni’s Banquet or Dimitris’ Banquet (which is the smaller banquet option out of the two). So there is a lot to select from – from smaller bites to larger mains and the menu is flexible enough to be enjoyed as a sharing style dinner or an ordering your own dish – either way you will find it hard to decide what you want – trust me!

We started with traditional Greek coffee which is brewed via the Briki. I have never had this type of coffee before and it was actually really delicious! The taste was strong and vibrant with a hint of sweetness at the end – I devoured the cup! It is similar to an espresso for those who love this type of coffee. For food we started with a few Mezethes which included the Fig Saganaki and Pontian Pipperies followed by the Prawn Saganaki and Lamb Gyros.

The Fig Saganaki – Grilled Greek Kefalograviera cheese served with house-made Fig Jam. The Saganaki was amazingly cooked – the saltiness of the cheese was balanced perfectly by the house made fig jam. I could have this dish throughout the whole day – it was that good! Next up was the Pontian Pipperies – Marinated mild peppers in a feta tomato based sauce. I am usually not a fan of peppers AT ALL – however this dish definitely changed my mind. The combination of the fresh tomato and the saltiness of the feta really brought out the smokiness of the peppers. A really great tasting dish!

For “mains” I had the Prawn Saganaki : King prawns in a feta tomato based sauce  – which comes cooked in an oven baked pan. The prawns were perfectly cooked and coupled with the tomato base brought out the richness of the seafoody taste. A dish I would recommend. The other dish we ordered was the Lamb Gyros – Lamb from the spit served with lemon potato, salad, tzatziki and pita bread. This dish is quite substantial as it comes with many accompaniments all of which added to the experience of the dish. The lamb itself was tender and succulently cooked!

Both quality and quantity here isn’t compromised here with meat being locally sourced (just down the road in fact – ensuring the best cuts are selected). If you want to experience an authentic Greek experience with service that truly feels like you are part of the family – you should definitely check out Eleni’s Kitchen. There are so many dishes to try out that this is one place that you will definitely be coming back again and again!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Homely, Great for functions!
Standout Dish: Fig Saganaki
Service: Friendly, Welcoming and Helpful!
Online Booking: Yes via 
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.eleniskitchen.com.au/
28 Anderson St, Yarraville

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Sunday: 12:00pm to 10:00pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eleniskitchenbar/

Instagram: @eleniskitchenandbar

Eleni’s Kitchen and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Pad Thai Restaurant – There’s More to Pad Thai

panda 4 rating Green Curry Fried RiceGreen Curry Friend Rice

Close up of Green Curry Fried Rice

Menu:
Pad Thai Menu Pad Thai Menu

I am a huge fan of Thai food – from the spiciness to the distinct Thai flavours – with Pad Thai being one of my all time favourite dishes. When I discovered that there was a restaurant conveniently located in the Melbourne CBD called Pad Thai Restaurant I simply had to try it out.

Pad Thai Restaurant was name simply because most Australians are familiar with the popular Thai dish as well wanting to showcase variations to the traditional Pad Thai that people are used to. Instead of focussing on a large range of dishes, their main focus is on to deliver other popular Thai dishes and do them really well, all whilst bringing you the real authentic taste of Thai food.

There are three different types of Pad Thai to choose from – Sen Jan (Rice Stick Noodle), Kiew Krob (Fried Wonton) and Voon Sen (Glass Noodle). The rest of the menu compromises of other noodle dishes, Thai Noodle Soup, Rice and Fried Rice, Curries, Small Bites and a Large Variety of Salads as well as Thai’s All Time Favourites – which include Suki Dry/Wet, Pla Too Nam Prik Krapi and Khao Pad Nahm.
The menu has pictures which show some of the dishes that you can order, along with a chilli indicator to notify patrons of how hot a dish is.

I wanted to order something other than a Pad Thai and therefore ordered the Green Curry Fried Rice – Fried Rice with Green Curry Paste, Green Beans and Sweet Basil Leaves – Extra Spicy. The serving sizes are quite generous and I struggled to finish my one serve. The dish was visually pleasing and had the perfect amount of vegetables to rice combination. The flavour was just what I was expecting – the green curry paste laced through the rice with the vegetables cooked just how I liked it and the basil leaves finishing off the Thai flavours.

A perfect lunch venue in my opinion – great service and the food is brought out in a quick timeframe for those who want a quick lunch break. The place itself is located in the food court area and has many different seating options available, both inside the venue and just outside.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Laid back and Relaxed
Service: Friendly and Quick
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://padthairestaurant.com.au/
246 Bourke St, Melbourne
Tel No: 9639 6868

Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday: 11:00 am – 7:00pm
Saturday: 11:00am – 6.30pm
Sunday: 11:00am – 6:00pm

Pad Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pad-Thai-Restaurant-Melbourne/372153372522
Instagram: padthaieatery

Waffee – Waffles & Coffee – The Perfect Combination!

panda 4 ratingRaspberry White Chocolate Waffle

Who doesn’t love a good waffle? I have walked passed Waffee many times to and from work and finally I had the time to stop and enjoy the waffles (excuse the pun!).

Waffee – aptly named as they sell both Waffles and Coffee – is located on Swanston Street (near the corner of Collins Street – and right where the Tram stop is located). Waffee is the creation of two brothers who share a passion and dream of creating the perfect Waffle. Their quest took them on an adventure to Belgium where they perfected a secret recipe to create these wonderful fluffy pillows of greatness.

As you walk past the store – you almost do a double take as you can watch the Waffles being created right in front of your eyes – not to mention the delicious smell that is wafting in the air. The fit out is minimal but chic at the same time, designed by Hecker Guthrie – wooden combined with modern marble accents. There are a few high tables that you can enjoy your parcels of goodness. I especially love the Waffee logo – created by A Friend of Mine – the Waffee name incorporated into the waffle griddle iron pattern along with a cute raccoon character that features on their packaging and coffee cups.

As you walk in you are greeted with the smell of freshly baked waffles and you almost float over to the counter to order your waffle. There are different flavours including The Original, Chocolate Glazed, White Chocolate Glazed, Cinnamon, Blueberry, Chocolate Stick and Raspberry White Chocolate to choose from. The waffles are handcrafted and are baked freshly in store every day. The waffles golden crispy coating comes from caramelized pearl sugar (which is derived from beetroot) which has been added to the dough

Initially I was just going to sample the original waffle, but then I kept looking at the Premium Waffle of Raspberry White Chocolate and decided I had to try that one. I love raspberries (well any berries really) and white chocolate is my fave out of the chocolate range.

I love the packaging that the Waffee has – simple yet effective – a little white pocket that allows you not only easy access to take that first mouthful, but where you can see the shimmery deliciousness.
The waffle comes served warm and was crunchy on the outside with soft pillowy textures on the inside. The raspberries were laced through the dough and were fresh and tangy – this complemented the sweetness of the white chocolate that had been drizzled on the outside. I really enjoyed this pocket sized sweet delight and definitely will be back to check out their other flavours.

The Emporium Melbourne store creates both Savoury and Sweet waffles, with a view in the future to revolutionising how waffles are to be eaten. Think fresh berries placed on topped of waffles served with a dollop of cream or scoop of ice cream – Yum! Their savoury waffles include waffles with crunchy chicken and slaw, smoked salmon salad and BLT just to name a few. They have even expanded to create unique breakfasts such as Eggs Benedict on Waffles!I didn’t get a chance to try out their coffee; however Waffee uses Proud Mary coffee and serve a range of specialty brews that are sure to be delicious!

For a quick, tasty and delicious sweet hit in the form of authentic Belgian waffles – check out Waffee.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Original, Chocolate Glazed, White Chocolate Glazed, Cinnamon, Blueberry, Chocolate Stick and Raspberry White Chocolate. You can also refer to the pictures above.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern, Warm and Enticing
Standout Dish: Any of the waflles!
Service: Friendly and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:

MELBOURNE CBD
Shop 1, 77 Swanston Street, Melbourne
(Cnr Collins St & Swanston St)
Tel No: 9041 4594

Opening Hours
Monday to Thursday: 7.30am – 7.00pm
Friday: 7.30am – 11.00pm
Saturday: 10.00am – 9.00pm
Sunday: 10.00am – 6.00pm

Waffee Waffles+Coffee on Urbanspoon

ALTONA
Shop 25: Harrington Square, Altona
Tel No: 9398 1689

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 7.30am – 4.00pm
Saturday: 9.00am – 12 noon
Sunday & Public Holidays: CLOSED

Waffee Waffles+Coffee (Altona) on Urbanspoon

EMPORIUM MELBOURNE
Savoury & Dessert Waffles
LG-32, 287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 8609 8185

Opening Hours
Monday to Wednesday: 10:00am – 7:00pm
Thursday & Friday: 10:00am – 9:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10:00am – 7:00pm

Waffee Waffles+Coffee on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaffeeWafflesCoffee
Twitter:
@waffeewaffles
Instagram:
waffeewafflescoffee

 

 

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

90 Secondi – BEST PIZZA in Melbourne!

panda 5 rating

I work around the Docklands area and sometimes with the guys at work we head to Ethihad Stadium at lunchtime. It was on one of these lunchtime trips that I saw a new food place opening at the bottom of the new NAB building at Ethihad Stadium near Gate 3 and mentioned to the guys at work that we need to come check it out once it opened – and we did!

The brand new food place in question is 90 Secondi. This is the latest venture by Johnny Di Francesco, who is also responsible for the acclaimed 400 Gradi pizzeria in Brunswick East. 90 Secondi, is named after the traditional time needed to cook a true Neapolitan-style pizza and it certainly in my opinion is the tastiest and bestest (even if that isn’t a real word) pizza in Melbourne.

Pizza here is made from a custom made wood-fire pizza open which has been shipped directly from Napoli. In fact even mozzarella di bufala (another name for buffalo mozzarella) is air freighted fresh from Caserta in Italy. If that is not authentic in terms of ingredients then I do not know what is! The basis for creation of such great tasting pizza is the oven set at 400 degrees (hence the name 400 Gradi for Di Francesco’s other restaurant) at 90 seconds (ala 90 secondi!) – if pizza is in the oven for longer than 90 seconds than it isn’t a true Neapolitan-style pizza – together with quality dough and use of fresh ingredients.

We went to lunch on a Friday and lucky we made a booking, as the place quickly filled up. The place is open and modern and perfectly lit with filament light bulbs. To add to this there are timber tables, high ceilings (giving it a roomy feel) and accents of red in the form of funky chairs and cris-crossed large light fittings. There is seating both downstairs and upstairs – with a bar / coffee counter station in the middle of the downstairs section. As you walk to your table you get sight of the open kitchen and large wood fire oven where all the magic is created.

When I first walked in – the first thing I saw was one of the chefs twirling the dough around to get it to that thin base – so that’s how they get the base just right! =) We were seated at our table and given the menu. The menu consists of Pizza’s mainly (duh!) but there are also dishes like zucchini flowers and meatballs under the heading Stuzzichini, Pasta dishes, Char grilled lamb ribs and a Mussel dish under the Secondi Menu, fresh salads under the Contorni e Insalate heading and of course finshing with Desserts such as Panna Cotta, Tiramasu and Nutella Calzone under Dolci.

There was a unanimous decision around the table to order pizza’s as they all sounded delicious. I decided to get the Toscana pizza which came with Mushrooms, Goats Cheese, Fior di Latte and Rocket. The pizzas didnt take long to come out and when it did they looked just as good as they sounded. We all couldn’t wait to have the first bite. The crusts were thin – exactly the way that I like my pizza – lightly charred, with a light puffiness to them. The Goats Cheese and Mushroom combination with the Blanco base was oozing with flavour and deliciousness. Loved it. I also got to try the Margherita Verace – San Marzano Tomato, Mozzarella di Bufala, Basil and Parmesan. The Mozzarella di Bufala worked well with the tomato and the basil – such a simple pizza but done fantastically. They say you can tell a good pizza place if their Margherita pizza is great – so going on that – this place is the best. Other pizzas that people got was the Guancia – San Marzana Tomato, Fior di Late, Pancetta, Mushrooms, Olive and Zingara – San Marzano Tomato, Fior di Latte, Hot Salame, Rocket. Both of these pizzas as well had the same response when asked how the pizza was – they all loved it.

The pizzas are quite large in size but you never see a plate that isn’t empty because why would you want to waste such great tasting pizza. The pizzas are quite filling, that you are almost left no room to try out the dessert. On another (of the many occasions that I have already been there)  – I tried out the Nutella Calzone – which you can get in both Mini and Grande size. I ordered the Mini size and was surprised when it came out to see how big the Mini size was – if this was the mini size just how big is the Grande size. The dough was soft and tasty – just like the pizza dough – and was filled with warm, oozy nutella and is one to try for all the chocolate lovers. One thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the ice-cream that came with the Calzone – but then again that could be just me.

90 Secondi is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it set up to be more of a casual dining venue which is different to 400 Gradi. The idea behind the location is to target some of the footy traffic before a game, as well as the corporate people around the area. It certainly is a welcome addition to the area and really does brighten up the food scene out at Docklands. 90 Secondi is authentically Italian and serves delicious food – the staff are friendly and welcoming which is an added benefit. The coffee here is pretty damn good as well – I walked all the way around from my seat during half time at a footy game to get coffee – strong nutty and creamy flavours. Their Chai Lattes are just as tasty as well.

If you love Italian and love pizzas – you definitely have to try this place out. You don’t know what you are missing.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and Fun – A little piece of Italy in Docklands
Standout Dish: Any of the Pizzas! You wont be disappointed
Service: Fantastic, Friendly and Attentive
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
90secondi.com.au
1/700 Bourke Street, Docklands
(Opposite Gate 3, Ethihad Stadium)
Tel No: 9600 2841

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 7am – 11pm
Saturday & Sunday: 12pm – 11pm

90 Secondi on Urbanspoon

Epocha – Tasty & Wholesome Food!

panda-4-5-rating4

halal (1)(ONLY THE CHICKEN IS HALAL)

Epocha which means ‘a new or distinctive era’ in a variety of European languages is a newly opened restaurant in Rathdowne Street, Carlton. It is located in the stunning heritage listed Victorian terrace which overlooks Carlton Gardens. And as owner Angie Giannakodakis, researched and discovered that it was commissioned by gentlewoman Hannah Mabel in 1884 – and the upstairs bar pays homage to her and is aptly called Hannah’s Bar.

Epocha is European inspired restaurant and bar brought to you by Angie Giannakodakis (former front-of-house manager The Press Club) together with business partner Guy Holder. The head chef is Mick Bolam who is the former head chef of Restaurant Sanctuary at Peppers in the Hunter Valley. The main focus of Epocha is around its main philosophy – sharing tasty and wholesome food. It is home style food that pays tribute to its European traditions with touches of Greek, English and French influences (such as the charcuterie and cheeses).

As you walk up the stairs to the terrace house entrance you know that you are about to expect something that you will be awe of – and you wont be disappointed. A elegant and rustic dining room welcomes you complete with wooden floors (that are creaky for authenticity), low hanging lights, dark wooden furniture with a colourful tiled table top, a huge old school style clock on the wall and homely olive green chairs. It really has a homely feel to it and you know you are in good hands as the service is impeccable, warm and welcoming – you just fit right in.

In addition to the main downstairs dining area, there is an upstairs area / function room with a balcony – this is Hannah’s Bar. You can come here for casual drinks as well as play games of backgammon.

We were seating in the downstairs dining area and the first thing that caught my idea was a wooden trolley which had a variety of cheeses as well as desserts on offer. What also caught my eye on the trolley was the wooden frame which housed honeycomb and honey. Such a great idea which once again makes it feel more homely. The menu is split into different sections such as snacks, small shares, large shares, accompaniments, dessert & cheese. There is also a sharing menu which is $68 per person where the Chef will pick what dishes your table gets. We decided to pick some dishes from each of the snacks, small shares, large shares and accompaniments. The waitress was helpful in letting us know if she thought we had ordered too many dishes, and assisted us in choosing our dishes as well.

Whilst we waited for our food we were given warm bread which comes in a knotted cloth bag which is something different. The bread (rye and caraway seed) was freshly made, soft and delicious. I got an oyster to start off with – fresh and tasty. We also got Mushroom Aranchini and Jamon, Fior Di Latte Croquettes to start off with. The Mushroom Aranchini was crumbed and crunchy on the outside and the filling on the inside was perfectly seasoned, and the mushrooms were moist and tasty. My friends did enjoy the Jamon Croquettes as well, and they were on the large side so that was an added bonus. We also got the Spiced Chickpea and Bread Crisps. The spiced chickpea was quite tasty and had a great balance of tanginess and spice. I loved the addition of the bread crisps – I enjoyed the crunchiness against the chickpea dip.

Some of the smaller share dishes that we selected were – Spring Asparagus with Slow Cooked Hens Egg, Tarragon and the Baby Carrots, Honey, Goat’s Curd, Sesame, Beetroot and Skate, Caper, Lemon, Parsley, Fava and lastly the Confit Duck Leg, Peas, Lettuce. The asparagus dish was a very different and interesting dish  – the asparagus was simply sautéed and absorbed the flavours of the tarragon, the hens egg was perfectly cooked and once you cracked it open the yolk oozed out and served as an additional sauce for the asparagus. The flavour combination was a mash of flavours that worked.

The Beetroot and Honey dish was my favourite dish and to this day I talk about it. I LOVED IT. The honey together with the goats curd was a great mix and was delicious – add in the sweetness and softness of the beetroot and carrots and you truly have a memorable dish. Highly recommended.

Skate is a type of large marine fish and this dish came with capers, lemon and fava – which is a type of bean. The sauce was tangy and creamy all at the same time. The skate was cooked fantastically and was still moist and mild in flavour. You really did need the addition of the capers and the sauce to really make the dish and make them it did. Another really tasty dish.

Once we had finished our snacks and smaller share dishes, it time for the larger shares. First up we got the Bird – which consisted of the breast, wing, thigh and leg. Crispy and crackly on the outside, moist and simply seasoned on the inside. This dish was served with a swig of rosemary. The whole fish that we got was Flounder – this came with Fruit Rub, Dill, Lemon and Salsa Verde. The dish comes out to the table as a whole fish and then we get to watch our waitress de-bone the entire fish for us. It’s a great process to watch as they seem to glide through the process – I could never do it with such ease. The fish is buttery and cooked amazingly, the salsa verde and fruit rub give it a mix of tangy and sweetness – you could add lemon if you needed an additional tang. We did order another larger dish but it was never brought out – and we were actually alright with that anyway as we were all so full and still had dessert to go.

Dessert time meant that the trolley was wheeled over to us for us to decide – they all cost $12. We settled on getting one of each dessert – Crème brulee, Chocolate Gateau, Tiramasu and Lemon & Ricotta Cannoli. The Crème brulee was smooth, sweet and small with a delicious crackling on top. The Lemon & Ricotta Cannoli was crunchy and the pastry was delicious – the lemon filling was buttery, sharp and strong all at the same time. The tiramisu ( I couldn’t have this as it had lots of alcohol in it) was quite alcohol filled as my friends told me but delicious nonetheless. The Chocolate Gateau was a clear winner – from the brownie bass to the centre chocolate mousse filling and topped off with a ganache chocolate topping. It looked as rich as it sounds but was such a great way to finish a fantastic meal.

Epocha is a fantastic place that everyone should definitely check it out – be it for a casual drink upstairs or if its a meal at the dining room downstairs. The atmosphere is homely, welcoming and quaint and the service is one of the best that I have experienced in Melbourne. There is antique silverware, vintage cutlery and crockery, colorful table tops, wooden creaky floors all which add to its uniqueness. There is also an international wine selection and the staff are happy to assist in getting you the right selection. If there is one place that should be on your list of places to try out it should be EPOCHA.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Dinner Menu – can be found at http://epocha.com.au/pdf/Epocha-Menu.pdf
On Sundays there is a four course menu available for a Family Sunday priced at $45 pp
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience:
Standout Dish: Baby Carrots, Honey, Goats Curd, Seasame, Beetroot (this is my new fave salad – IT’S THAT GOOD!!)
Service: Fantastic and Attentive and Friendly. We asked our waitress quite a bit of questions and she answered all of them and if she didn’t know the answer, she found out. They are also very inviting and hospitable. All round great service!
Online Booking: They are currently updating their website so it is best to call or email at eat@epocha.com.au
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://epocha.com.au/
49 Rathdowne St, Carlton
Tel No: 9036 4949

Opening Hours:
Closed Mondays
Lunch
Tuesday to Saturday: From 12pm
Dinner
Tuesday to Saturday: 5:30pm to Late
Sunday Roast Lunch: 12pm to 4pm

Hannah’s Bar
Tuesday to Saturday: 12pm to Late

Epocha on Urbanspoon

Ayatana – Authentic Thai with a Modern Twist

panda-4-rating1

I was invited to try out the food at Ayatana – a restaurant and wine bar located at Chapel Street in Windsor. The restaurant is a small, modern and stylish Thai restaurant which offers a very authentic menu with fragrant flavours. Ayatana is owned by the chef himself Piyawut Rungpradit, nicknamed Tony.

We visited the restaurant on a Wednesday night around 7:30pm and the place filled up quite quickly after this time – both inside and outside the restaurant. There are about 12-15 tables inside and  a couple of tables which look out onto Chapel Street itself. Having the restaurant almost filled up on a Wednesday says something about the place and about the taste and quality of food.

The décor is modern and inviting – the theme colours are white and grey, with dark wooden tables. Around the walls framed pictures of Thailand proudly hang and showcase a little bit of the Thai culture. There are rows of wine bottles in wooden shelves above the main wall as well as behind the main counter, which showcase their extensive wine list – which is a nice touch to the restaurant.

The menu is in a book style and the opening page gives you a background about Ayatana and what they aim to achieve in terms of your experience at the restaurant which I think is a nice touch. Hot, Sweet, Sour and Salty they say are the main 4 points of Thai cuisine and that is what they bring to all their dishes. The menu comprises of starters, entrée, mains, followed by a section for the vegetarians which compromises of entrees and mains. There are also a list of sides and desserts, coffee and tea which follow.

The menu is unique and doesn’t contain the usual dishes of pad thai and skewers with peanut sauce, but a large variety with dishes you don’t find in other Thai restaurants. This is what sets aside Ayatana from any of the other Thai Restaurants. There are items like Crispy Sardines, Barramundi cooked in different ways as well your choice of meat with Roasted Macadamia and Cashew Nuts.

For starters I ordered the Japanese Scallop which came with Bean Shoots, Basil, Mint, Corriander, Onion and Hot Homemade sauce which was topped with Yarra Valley Caviar. The caviar was a nice addition and touch – I have never had combination of caviar and scallop before. The flavours were creative and punchy. You could tell the ingredients were fresh and cooked to perfection. The scallop was well presented in a shell and sat atop the other components of the dish beautifully.

Next was the entrée course and the Crispy Tamarind Rice caught my eye as I wasn’t sure what to expect with this dish. The dish came out once again and was visually appealing.. It was in a triangular stack and consisted of Cashew Nuts, Green Apple, Bean Shoots, Mint, Coriander, Red Onion, Mixed Salad and topped with Crispy Noodles. The dish was tangy and sweet all at the same time and the texture of the nuts and the crispy noodles completed the dish.

It was so hard to pick what dish to order for the mains as they all looked really great. In the end we settled for Blue Swimmer Crab, Steamed Fresh Tofu & Mushroom and a Pork Belly dish. The Blue Swimmer Crab was the stand out dish of the night for me. The dish came with Tiger Prawns & NZ Calamari which was stir fried with Tom Yum sauce and had asparagus, mushroom, vegetables and kaffir lime leaves. The dish once again looked spectacular when it came out and looked like a lot of care went into how it was being presented. The crab was sitting on top and the other seafood and vegetables underneath. For any lovers of the Tom Yum flavour this is one dish to definitely check out. The flavours mixed together with the kaffir lime leaves are perfect and the crab and seafood were cooked perfectly.

The Steamed Fresh Tofu and Mushrooms was also a great dish with wild ginger and a light soy sauce. Having being used such bags of flavour from the other dishes, this dish didn’t have as much flavour. But in having said that, it did allow your taste buds a rest and showed that even simple flavours can taste just as good.

For dessert the menu consisted of Black Sticky Rice Pudding, Steamed Banana or Warm Coconut Tapioca Pearl. There is also a tasting platter which gives you a selection of each of the above together with mango sorbet. I was so full from my meal but couldn’t pass up on dessert so I ordered the Warm Coconut Tapioca Pearl. What interested me most in this dish was that I have never seen this dessert in any other Thai restaurant before, as well as the fact that there was sweet corn in the dish as well. The warm coconut tapioca pearl with sweet corn, palm sugar and fresh pieces of coconut came out in a glass in liquid form – which reminded me of bubble tea – with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side. The dessert was a very dish to anything I have had and was very sweet. I asked Tony about this dish and he said it was a traditional Thai dessert and they did a modern take on it.

The staff at Ayatana are very welcoming, attentive and friendly, they are happy to answer any of your questions and always have a smile on their faces. The restaurant itself is a very modern fit out with mood lighting and is great for any occasion – from a group gathering to a romantic dinner for two. The music sets the mood as well and the vibe is very relaxed and funky – a setting with a great ambience.

The dishes are wonderfully presented and have flavours which will make you feel like you are in Thailand. For me the Blue Swimmer Crab and the Japanese Scallop are winning dishes. The menu is vast and boasts so many dishes that I definitely have to come back and try out the other interesting dishes!

Thanks for the invite to try out your food Tony – it is one of the top rating restaurants in Melbourne.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A la carte. You can view a sample of the Takeway Menu at http://www.ayatana.com.au/TAKE%20AWAY%20MENU.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Romantic, Cosy and Stylish. Modern interior mixed with a comfortable setting
Standout Dish: Blue Swimmer Crab, Tiger Prawns & NZ Calamari – Stir Fried with Tom Yum Sauce, Mushroom, Asparagus, Onion, Vegetables, Kaffir Lime Leaves
Service: Fantastic, Attentive and Friendly
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.ayatana.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.ayatana.com.au/
97 Chapel St, Windsor
Tel No: 9533 8813

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Thursday to Saturday: 12pm to 4L30pm
Dinner
Monday to Sunday: 5pm till late

Ayatana on Urbanspoon

Merchant – One of the Best Italiano Restaurants!

Merchant – One of the Best Italiano Restaurants!

Dishes pictured: – Oysters – Fried Calamari, Spiced Mayonnaise – Polenta with Gorgonzola – Bigoli de Bassan, Crab, Raddichio, Chilli – Pumpkin Tortellini – Squid Ink Risotto with Calamari – Risotto, Prawn and Saffron – Ricotta Mousse and Berries – … Continue reading