The Bell Jar – Vintage Style Cafe

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Food Menu Lunch and Drinks Menu

The Bell Jar café is located on the Clifton Hill side of Smith Street (almost near Queens Parade), almost hidden between a battery shop and few garages. I actually drove past it and had to do a u-turn and come back around.

The Bell Jar is a very vintage, unique and welcoming café – from the moment you step in you are greeted with a cheery hello from the staff. There are tables located out front that you could sit at – inside there are wooden box seats that line the window, as well as mismatched and vintage tables and chairs in the main dining area. Out the back there is another room which has a communal table perhaps for a larger party as well as a courtyard. Styling is minimalist but it works with the look and the feel of the place – the main highlight is definitely the shiny coffee machine which is placed front and centre of the counter. This counter in itself is quite intriguing – made of wooden floorboards, there is a selection of cakes and muffins that you can buy placed on top here too.

Coffee is by Five Senses – ‘Dark Horse’ and includes blends of Ethiopian, Guatemalan and Sumatran beans. There is also Calmer Sutra Chai, Larsen & Thompson Teas, as well as juices from Emma & Tom’s and Sunzest Fresh OJ. While I mull over the menu I order a latte – which is strong, fragrant complete with the nutty flavours – it was a real pick me up!

The Bell Jar has an interesting menu which starts of with dishes under the ‘x’ section, followed by ‘xx’ and ends with ‘xxEXTRAxx’ – which is a really unique and great concept. The starting dishes include Toast, Breakfast Bruschetta, Porridge and Muesli dishes. Some of the larger dishes include Baked Beans, as well as an interesting dish consisting of Spiced Pumpkin and Avocado – there is also a fritters dish, as well as a Bell Jar Breakfast – their take on the Big Breakfast. There are a list of specials which are located on the blackboard as well – when I visited there was a Parmesan toast with roast tomato and basil dish, an eggs Benedict dish as well as ricotta hotcakes. There is also a separate lunch menu which consists of six different sandwiches to select from – a combination of vegetarian and meat options available. Refer to the menu pictures above for more detail.

I was tossing up between getting the fritters or the hotcakes and in the end decided I felt like something sweet. So I ordered the Ricotta Hotcakes with Banana, Mixed Berries and Maple Syrup – sans the bacon and I asked for some cream on the side. The dish did take quite some time to come out (and the waiter did apologise for the wait) – but I think the wait was well worth it.

The dish was well plated and against the stark white of the plate – the pancakes and the colourful shades of reds of the berries was delightful. The banana was layered in between the pancakes – so it created a wedding cake like appearance. This was topped with strawberries – with a mix of blueberries and raspberries off to the side, enveloped with maple syrup. The pancakes were delicious and fluffy and I loved the thickness of them – perfect! The combination of bananas, tangy berries and the pancakes together with the sweetness of the maple syrup and the cream was fantastic. You felt as if you wanted to savor every mouthful. If these are on the special board again – try them out! Hopefully they move it onto the main menu so it’s there all the time!

I had a great time at The Bell Jar – the vibe is fantastic and the coffee and food are delicious! Check out this hidden little vintage and quaint gem!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Breakfast and Lunch menu – refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Chilled out, relaxed. Has a very vintage feel. You can sit outside or by the window. There is also a communal table in the back room as well as a courtyard area to sit in.
Service: Friendly and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.thebelljar.com.au/
656 Smith Street, Clifton Hill
Tel No: 9482 7980

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7am – 4pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am – 4pm

The Bell Jar on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

East Elevation – A Definite Favourite!

panda 4.5 rating

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My sister and I headed over to East Elevation for brunch on a Sunday after playing a round of tennis. We got there around 12ish and were told it would be about a 10-15minute wait. We were told we could put our number down and they would give us a call. We wondered around looking at the funky shops around the area – and ended up only having to wait only about 5 minutes!

The moment you step into East Elevation from its large unmarked red doors, you are wowed by the space and lightness of the area, as well as the scent of chocolate. There are still a lot of tables and seating available yet it feels so roomy and not squashed at all. The coffee counter which also houses more of the important things such as the muffins and cakes is situated at the back of the venue, with the centre piece of the venue being the second hand machinery which sits behind a glass wall. If you are seated in this area you can watch as the machine does it work. It also doubles as a workshop to allow you to peer into going ons. There is also a shop area near the counter where you buy a variety of chocolates, which are also made on the premises.

East Elevation is the second venture of Jade Bentley of Monsieur Truffe. Here there still is a focus on the amazing chocolate produced – after all there are not many brands in Australia where the chocolate is made completely on site from the bean. Even if you aren’t a chocolate lover, you simply must try their hot chocolate. There are several varieties available with a special offered daily. Here there is no powder involved – solid pieces of rich chocolate is melted down and mixed with steaming milk for the perfect creation. The percentages range from 69-85% cocoa and they can be identified by country of origin. They come in cute little Japanese style cups – and are a warm, rich, gooey, heaven filled liquid. It really is a must-try!

There are also chocolate appreciation classes that you can sign up for if you want to learn more about the world of chocolate.

The tables are untreated wood and complement the concrete floors and exposed brickwork – to create a relaxed and laid back feel. The exposed brick and concrete floors add the warehouse feel – but the bright colourful yellow sunflowers at the main counter and other plants around together with the sunlight streaming in creates an alluring and welcoming space.

The menu is created by Brian Edwards and covers such a vast variety that there is definitely something for everyone. There are lots of Gluten Free, Vegan and Vegetarian options available as well. Double win! There are your usual dishes like a Veggie Breakfast, The Full Breakfast, Fruit and Sourdough Toast as well as Organic Granola. Dishes with a difference include the Fresh Mango & Coconut Tapioca and Ricotta and Rose Stuffed Crepes – for the sweet dishes – and Black Pudding with egg, Corned beef hash with a fried egg or Heirloom Tomatoes with Grilled Olive Bread – for the savoury dishes just to name a few. At their lunch type of menu there are dishes that include Slat Beef Brisket Toasted Bagel, A savoury Crepe with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraiche. There is also Smoked Ocean Trout, Chicken, Smoke Sardine Fillets and of course Croque Monsieur. As you can see the menu utilises interesting elements put together to create a dish that sounds delicious – the problem is that you will take quite a while to decide what you want to eat. I absolutely love the variety of choice available and would love to be able to try a little bit of each dish. There is also a Kid’s menu as well as a whole array of extras to choose from.

What is also great to note – especially for the chocolate lovers – is that there is a Monsieur Truffe Chocolate fondue for two people that comes with dark or milk chocolate together with fruit, brioche and a brownie to share – all for just $16.

After looking at the many mouth watering dishes on the menu I settled on the King & Swiss Brown Mushrooms with Baby Spinach, Goats Cheese on Grilled Rye AND the Fresh Mango & Coconut Tapioca with Lime, Strawberries, Pistachio & Passionfruit. What did I tell you about wanting to try a bit of everything =p I ordered a coffee which came with a piece of their signature chocolate on the side. The coffee was delicious – strong, creamy and nutty all at the same time. The coffee comes from Padre and there is also a Cold Drip available.  My sister ordered Freshly squeezed OJ.

My sister ordered the Organic Granola with hazelnuts, Dried Fruit, Honey, Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Nibs, Fresh Nectarine and Natural Yoghurt. I love how this dish was presented. The granola mix was in one large sized bowl, with the nectarine and natural yoghurt in a separate ramekin – and the best part of the presentation – the milk came in a cow shaped pourer (!!) – and all the components sat on a wooden tray/board. Loved it! My sister did enjoy the dish and usually isn’t a fan of yoghurt but really liked the flavouring and the taste of this one.

The King & Swiss Brown Mushrooms with Baby Spinach, Goats Cheese on Grilled Rye – came on a rectangular plate with the rye bread at the base and the mushroom, baby spinach, goat’s cheese all placed on top and around. I added a poached egg which was at the very top of the dish. The poached egg was perfectly cooked and the runny yolk worked well with the flavouring of the mushrooms and the tangy saltiness of the cheese. Overall a really tasty and filling dish!

The Fresh Mango & Coconut Tapioca with Lime, Strawberries, Pistachio & Passionfruit came served in a glass and was a mighty colourful dish. The glass allowed you to view the layers of coconut, mango and then coconut again topped with strawberries, pistachio and peach. The dish was refreshing and delicious – the flavours worked well together as well. The milkiness of the tapioca with the burst of lime and strawberries completed with the crunch of the nuts. My only negative comment would be that the tapioca in some places were a bit “hard” and not as smooth in certain areas. It also came with an extra serving of coconut milk in a little jug on the side if you wanted extra moistness.

I really enjoyed my time at East Elevation – from the food, to the vibe to the friendliness of the staff – it is a fantastic place to just chill out and enjoy the weekends. There is also a cute wheelbarrow out the front where herbs are planted as well as in a planter box at the entrance. East Elevation is on the list of my highly recommended brunch / breakkie places to go – check it out! I will definitely be back to sample some of their other dishes.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://eastelevation.com.au/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Light, Airy, Welcoming and Casual
Standout Dish: Hot Chocolate and King & Swiss Brown Mushrooms with Baby Spinach, Goats Cheese on Grilled Rye
Service: Fantastic and Friendly.
Online Booking: No. They accept bookings Mon-Fri 8am-3pm. Strictly no bookings on weekends.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://eastelevation.com.au/
351 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Tel No: 9381 5575

Opening Hours:
Breakfast & Lunch
Monday tpFriday: 8am-4pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8.30am-5pm

Dinner 
Thursday & Friday: 7pm -10pm

Space is also available for Event Hire

East Elevation on Urbanspoon

Zaatar – Cheap and Delicious

panda 4 rating

Menu:

Sweet and Coffee Menu at Zaatar Pizza and Pide Menu at Zaatar Menu at Zaatar

Zaatar is located on Sydney Road in Brunswick and is a Lebanese bakery and café – run by brothers George, Ameen and Wadi Choueiri. Their dad Chafic Choueiri was the founder of Coburg’s A1 Lebanese Bakery which was open for almost 20 years, and was only sold as a result of him getting ill.

Zaatar is buzzing from the moment you walk in through the doors and are greeted with the fresh smell of baked bread together with the open and light filled room thanks to the windows all around the venue. There are tables of all different sizes, you can move them around as well to allow many people to sit and there are communal tables which come complete with Moroccan style tiles. Colourful wallpaper located on the back wall, which shows a mural of different doors from all around the Middle East brings a colour pop to the venue.

Zaatar is a Middle Eastern spice blend as well as being a type of herb pizza. Here at Zaatar you can get one of these Zaatar pizzas for just one dollar – definitely bang for your buck! And the taste is fantastic – you get the great blend of spices, salt and oil all cooked to perfection. You can eat it using a fork and knife or simply just fold it over and chew it down using one hand!

There are pies, pizzas, salads as well as small bites available to purchase. Also available are Zoccacias – which is basically a foccacia but done Lebanese style using the Zaatar bread – they include fillings such as Bastouram and Haloumi. Have a look at the pictures for more of the flavours. The favourites such as spinach and Bulgarian feta triangles, and haloumi pies are staple and made with love. There are around 6 – 7 different pizzas to choose from and they even have a Cheese and Vegemite option available. Another feature on the menu is the KAAK – which is the Lebanese bagel – for only $2 and you add any topping you like from 50c to $1. Cheap!

There is also a Lunch Mezza Menu – where you can pick from 3 to 6 different mezza with a dip and a salad for a very reasonable price as well. What caught my eye was the Big Breakfast – which came with eggs, Soujok, Labne Dip, Mint, Olives, Tomato, Cucumber, Lebanese Bread and Classic Lebanese Breakfast Spread.

There are the usual drink such as Coffees, Teas, Ice Chocolate, Hot Chocolate as well as interesting drinks in the fridge such as Vimto – a sparkling grape juice – which made me re-live my childhood. There is also ice-cream available to be bought in very interesting flavours. There are sweets available as well such as Namoura (Semolina Cake) and Mammoul, as well as Muffins and Baklawa.

The Big Breakfast comes with the components all separated out on a wooden board. There is a stone pan which houses the soujok, another one that houses the scrambled eggs and the Salads and Lebanese bread and dip are on a plate. The size is quite over whelming. The soujok was delicious and not dry and combined with the egg and the fresh Lebanese bread was delightful. I did really enjoy everything in this dish – although I must admit – I did leave quite a bit of the “healthy” stuff – like the tomato and olives.

The Meat Pizza – which came with Minced Lamb, Onion, Tomato and Spices was also really delicious. The slices were thin and fresh, combined with the spiciness of the lamb. You really could see yourself eating more than one of these. They were that good that I had to order some take away for later.

Zaatar is comfortable, family friendly venue that has tasty, high quality products and are very reasonably priced. I would love it if they were open for dinner and see what types of dishes they could produce. Catering is also available here at Zaatar. If you haven’t done so already – definitely check this place out.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://www.zaatar.com.au/zaatar/menu.html  or look at the Menu pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Family friendly, Modern and Relaxed
Standout Dish: Lamb Pizza
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.zaatar.com.au/zaatar/
365 Sydney Road, Coburg
Tel No: 9939 9494

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 7am – 8pm

Zaatar on Urbanspoon