Polēpolē Bar – A Taste of Africa

panda 3.5 rating

Menu:
Pole Pole Menu

I had heard about Polēpolē – a new East African inspired bar and kitchen – opening up in the Melbourne CBD and four of us decided to check it out on a Friday night.

Polēpolē (which translates to “go easy” or “take it easy” in Swahili) is the creation by Dean and Jeanelle Mariani (former co-owner of award-winning café The Petty Officer and Deans brother), who quit their jobs and went travelling. Polēpolē is a result of their love and admiration for the culture, food and people of East Africa and wanting to share their experiences with Melburnians.

I arrived much later than the rest of us on a Friday night and the place was buzzing – it was really loud! N had told me prior to me arriving there that the place was packed and that it would be about 20 minutes to get a table for food (Polēpolē don’t take bookings for dinner). The venue was designed by Votre Monde and has resulted in an earthy and rustic vibe to it. As you ascend the stairs from Little Collins Street you are greeted by a painting of an African woman seated in black and white, against the red of the wall background. To the right is where the kitchen is located as well as booth seating for dinner – which is paired with a wall of zebra stripes. To the right is the bar which takes most of the length of the venue has tones of burnt orange, coupled with untreated woods and funky filament lighting. Next to the bar is a wall with a single golden acacia tree painted on it with high tables and more seating available. The building has a second level, which they expect to open in the coming months.

Food at Polēpolē is based around sharing plates which are broken into three main sections – “Not Ribs”, “Ribs” and “Dessert”. The menu was designed by consulting chef Andy Mac (Axil Coffee). There are 9 dishes to select from in the “Not Ribs” section which include Spiced Chickpeas and Pepitas, House cured Biltong, Lentil and cauliflower fritters with whipped Tahini and Lemon Zest. The “Ribs” section consists of 4 dishes including Braised Beef Short Rib, Sticky Chicken Ribs, Smoked Pork Ribs and Harissa Lamb Ribs. There are only 2 choices for dessert – Rum and Raisin Mousse Cake with Crème Brulee or Banana and Date Bread with Salted Caramel, Banana Crumble and Cashew Parfait.

Drinks include a showcase of brands such as Tusker (Kenya), Dashen (Ethiopia) and Windhoek (Namibia) as well as German and Dutch style lagers. It is also great to note that a proportion of all beer sales go to YGAP who support social entrepreneurs in Africa, as well as Women for Women in Africa who support Kibera (Africa’s largest slum). There are a range of cocktails which have taken inspiration from their travels as well and consist of combinations such as ginger, honey, coconut and banana.

To begin the night I ordered a mocktail – which had minty and lime flavours laced through it and was quite tasty. As the other 3 had already been there for a while before I had gotten there – there were some leftovers from the “Not Ribs” section that they had ordered – Mount Zero Olives marinated in Lemon and Chilli as well as the Spiced Chickpeas and Pepitas. I loved the Spiced Chickpeas and Pepitas – the flavours and the combination of textures from the soft chickpea and the crunch of the pepitas was great.

We decided to order a selection of dishes from the Not Ribs section to share; and then the other 3 ordered a dish each from the Rib section (as their mains). As the meat wasn’t Halal I couldn’t eat any of the dishes under the Rib section.

We ordered the Chickpea and Corn Cakes with Okra and Kusandi (which came in a serving of 4) – with each cake being topped with the okra and kusandi. The chickpea and corn cakes on its own didn’t have much of a flavour to them and really needed the strong and vibrant flavours of the kusandi to liven up the dish. An addition of some spices or even salt to the chickpea and corn cake would have made a difference.

Next up was the House-made Flat Bread and Three Dips – the dips were beetroot, eggplant and hummus. The serving of the house-made flat bread was very generous and I really enjoyed this dish. The bread had been cut into triangles, and had a crunch to them and had a flavouring of wholemeal without tasting overly healthy. I couldn’t pick a favourite out of all the dips – they were all just as good as each other. I loved the vibrancy of the pink that came through with the use of beetroot. The smokiness in the eggplant dip worked well with the flavouring in the bread.

We also ordered the Eggplant Chips with Yoghurt and Zataar. I am usually not a huge fan of eggplant chips but the difference with these was the crumbed coating which made all the difference. The hint of spice and herbs (zataar) worked well with the flavouring of the eggplant and the tangy yoghurt. I also liked the fact that they left the chips the same length as the eggplant itself rather than cutting up the pieces into bite size pieces. My only criticism would be the oiliness of the dish.

The last of the “Not Ribs” dishes we ordered was the Apple, Cabbage, Fennel and Mint Salad. This salad was good but not great – for me it was missing a proper dressing to coat the salad. However I think dish is a great dish to have amongst all the meatiness of the ribs – acts as a palate cleanser.

N ordered the Harissa Lamb Ribs, Red Pepper Salsa, Tahini Yoghurt and Mint – which were simply yet beautifully presented on a rectangular plate with the lamb ribs criss-crossing each other and topped with the red pepper salsa and tahini capped with a mint leaf. The lamb delicately fell off the bone and had smoky barbeque and spicy flavouring to them.

We were all quite full at this stage so decided to skip on having dessert. As it was a Friday night it was getting quite loud in there, and even though we were sitting quite close to one another we were finding ourselves having to yell to hear each other talk.

Polēpolē has a great vibe and feel to it and is clearly a popular choice to have a drink especially with its variety of drink options available. The service is brilliant – with the wait staff going above and beyond what is expected of them. The food is tasty and is set out to work well with drink options. Want to trial a Taste of Africa – then head to Polēpolē.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Rustic and Earthy. Great for a catch-up celebration.
Standout Dish: Spiced Chickpeas and Pepitas
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.polepolebar.com.au/
1 / 267 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9650 2811

Opening Hours:
Sunday to Thursday: 4:00pm–11:00pm
Friday & Saturday: 4:00pm–1:00am

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/polepole.bar.melb
Instagram: polepole_bar
Twitter: @polepole_bar

Polēpolē Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Third Wave – American Smoked BBQ

panda 3.5 rating

I have previously heard about Third Wave café and their strong focus on American BBQ flavours on both meats and fish, so I was delighted when owner Greg invited me to come and experience this first hand at the Prahran Third Wave. One small hiccup when we arrived was that our reservation hadn’t been placed – luckily a table was available and we were shown our seats.

Third Wave is owned by husband and wife team – Greg and Inga and there are currently two locations – Port Melbourne and Prahran. The café in Prahran is the sister café to their first café / restaurant in Port Melbourne. Both venues hold true to their tag lines – “Café by day, American BBQ restaurant by night” – with the Prahran venue also having a specialised Paleo Menu. The Third Wave at Prahran focuses mainly on breakfast/brunch/lunch but from Wednesday to Saturday they open their doors at dinner time for patrons to enjoy the American BBQ experience.

The fit-out is simple – softly lit with a dark wooden decked ceiling pairs well with the dark wooden tables with curved white chairs – there is also some banquet seating available. The main attraction is the big marble topped bar / coffee counter – with the kitchen located behind. Their homemade sauces and fresh flowers line this bar for added colour and pop. The vibe is welcoming, bright and has a homely feel to it. Another thing to note is that Third Wave is not just about the American BBQ flavours – they are serious about their coffee as well. They use 5 Senses coffee and even have syphon coffee available.

Third Wave has revamped its menu after working tirelessly for many months – on “secret recipes”, as well experimenting with different cuts and cooking times. The idea is also to source some of the best hickory, maple and apple wood in order to impart distinctive flavours into the respective meat and fish dishes as well as using traditional dry rubs and barbecue sauces. The team has now perfected the art of barbequeing. The new menu has a strong focus on a range of slow cooked meats and fish that can be accompanied with homemade sauces and a selection of side dishes.

The menu is split into different sections – starting off with the Slow Smoked BBQ, “More”, Sides, Paleo Menu and ending with Sweets menu. The Drinks menu includes Beers, Ciders, Spirits, and Cocktails such as an Espresso Martini, Uptown Apple Cider and Pomegranate Cosmo. Sangrias are also available and served in a 500ml carafe. Other cold drinks that are available include the usual soft drinks, as well as juices (Pomegranate Juice, Blueberry Juice), Smoothies (Spirulina Smoothie, Mango Smoothie), Iced Drinks – such as Ice Coffee, Ice Chocolate and Ice Mocha.
The Slow Smoked BBQ includes the 6 main meats and fish (Salmon) such as Beef, Chicken, Lamb Shoulder, Pork and Beef Brisket which come in medium/half rack (recommended for 1 person) and large/full rack servings (to be shared by 2). All the meats and fish have been marinated for over 8 hours and the smoked using either apple, hickory or maple wood. They all come served with BBQ Sauces which are made in-house.
The “More” menu consists of dishes that are big enough to be considered mains if a Slow Smoked BBQ isn’t what you are up for and include dishes such as Gourmet Burger, two different Salads, Lamb Quesadilla, Crusty Salmon. There are around 8 dishes to select from the Paleo Menu which include Almond Crusted Chicken, Zucchini Fritters, Lamb Shakshuka just to name a few.
There are a number of Sides that can be ordered as well and most of these can be made into either Vegan/Vegetarian options. These include the Smoked Mac Cheese, Crispy Coleslaw, Glazed Mushrooms, Confit Kipfler Potatoes and a variety of salads.

N and I decide to dive straight into the Slow Smoked BBQ Section – N opting for the Beef Ribs and I went for the Salmon. We also ordered a side of Confit Kipfler Potatoes, Smoked Mac & Cheese and a Georgian Salad. For drinks I ordered a Pomegranate Juice – which came bottled and was actually 100% Pomegranate juice which I was impressed about. I am a huge fan of Pomegranates, so whenever I see it available on a menu I always order it – this was a massive tick in the box for me.

The Beef Ribs have been smoked using a special 9 spice dry rub and smoked with hickory wood. You can select either a half rack or a full rack – N opted for the half rack. The Beef Ribs come served with their homemade Spicy IQ BBQ sauce as well as a Horseradish sauce. N enjoyed thoroughly enjoyed his dish – the beef he said was tender, succulent and slid off the bone so easily. Further, the sauces were a great addition to the smoky flavours – with the IQ BBQ adding some spice and the horseradish bringing some creamy tang.

I ordered the Salmon which has been brined in salt, sugar and spices for 8 hours followed by being smoked over Apple wood to elicit a beautiful smoky spicy flavour combination. This flavouring really does complement the rich flavour of the salmon. The salmon itself was soft, moist and perfectly cooked and comes served with a homemade dill sauce. A wedge of lemon was also provided for extra flavouring which I didn’t think was needed. The addition of the dill sauce added a creamy, somewhat spicy tang which meshed well with the salmon. Overall a really great tasting dish.

We also ordered the Confit Kipfler potatoes which were dusted in rosemary. The potatoes were well cooked and had a beautiful crunchy casing with a soft, pillow like centre. They served as a great accompaniment for the Smoked BBQ dishes.

The Smoked Mac & Cheese is their take on the classic Mac & Cheese – with an added twist. Third Wave’s version is smoked with Hickory wood. The result is brilliant smoky flavours intertwined with the cheesy flavour. Anyone who is a fan of the traditional Mac & Cheese will definitely want to try out this version.

The Georgian Salad was a mixture of 5 herbs – parsley, coriander, dill, mint and basil – together with tomatoes, cucumber and red onions and dressed with red wine vinegar and olive oil. The flavours were refreshing and punchy and worked well with the combination of the other dishes we ordered. This dish came recommended by our friendly waiter.

No meal is complete without dessert (even if you are really full!) so after much deliberation and some help from our waiter we ordered the Pecan Pie. I was tossing up between the Creamy Orange French Toast – which was concoction between a fluffy bread and butter pudding and a moist French Toast – will have to come back and get that next time around.
The Pecan Pie is served warm with Espresso Cream and Vanilla Ice Cream. I love the combination of a warm pie that literally melted in your mouth together with the coldness of the espresso cream and ice cream. The added texture thanks to the crunch of the pecans was an added bonus. The highlight for me was the espresso cream – with just the right flavouring of coffee.

Third Wave has an extensive menu complete with Russian inspired dishes and the hugely popular and great tasting American BBQ. I have also heard and read great reviews about their breakfast offerings (I must come back and try!). They also make homemade sauces such as Hot Bar-B-Que Nectar and Sweet Apple Bourbon sauce which you can in store. If you are looking for delicious food that you can’t find anywhere else in Melbourne – check out Third Wave!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to the pictures above. You can also find a menu at: http://thirdwavecafe.com.au/prahran/menu.php
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Homely and Welcoming. Great for a catchup dinner with friends.
Standout Dish: Any of the Smoked BBQ Dishes
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: Yes via website – For Prahran: http://thirdwavecafe.com.au/prahran/index.php For Port Melbourne: http://thirdwavecafe.com.au/index.php
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://thirdwavecafe.com.au/prahran/index.php
30 Cato St, Prahran
Tel No: 9510 2991

Opening Hours:
Monday to Tuesday: 8:00am to 4:00pm
Wednesday to Sunday: 8:00am to 10:00pm

Third Wave on Urbanspoon

Third Wave – Port Melbourne
http://thirdwavecafe.com.au/index.php
189 Rouse St, Port Melbourne
Tel No:

Opening Hours:
Monday, Wednesday to Friday: 7:00am to 10:00pm
Tuesday: 7:00am – 3:30pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am – 10:00pm

Third Wave Cafe on Urbanspoon