Stagger Lee’s – Vintage Cool

panda 4 rating

stagger lee

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Menu:
Stagger Lee's Menu
Stagger Lees Drinks

It was a long awaited catch-up for the four of us – G, J, M and myself – and we decided to stick to something that was central between the four of us. This place happened to be Stagger Lee’s – located on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy.  I have heard many good things about this place ever since it opened up and was keen to check it out for myself.

Stagger Lee’s is brought to you by the people of Proud Mary – it is a collaboration between Proud Mary owner Nolan Hirte, former Proud Mary general Manager Monica Chhay, Head Chef Chris Hamburger (ex The Aylesbury, St Ali North) and Mun Soon of MGS Architects and owner of Krimper Cafe (refer to https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/krimper-cafe-hidden-warehouse-style-treasure/ for my blog review of Krimper Cafe).

Stagger Lee’s is named after a pimp / bad-ass from St Louis – he infamously shot a cell mate in the 1900s for stealing his red Stetson hat and since this time over 400 musicians have retold the story of Stagger Lee. Here at Stagger Lee – this story reinforces the fact to “stick to your guns” and to “stand up for yourself” and most importantly are being the “bad-ass” of Ftizroy when it comes to great coffee and ingenious food.

The vibe is typical of what you would expect of the Brunswick / Fitzroy area – but with a whole lot more fun and excitement. There are exposed brick walls, concrete floors and huge glass windows which let the morning sunlight stream in. It’s a bit industrial, a bit indie – but rest assured feels welcoming and warm. There are wooden slatted tables for parties of varying sizes, as well as two large communal tables at the front – paired with metal chairs. There is both inside and Outside Street seating as well – they utilise their space well in terms of catering as many seats as possible without being too squishy. There are splashes of green thanks to the weatherboard effect around the kitchen window at the back of the venue, as well as the salt and pepper grinders placed on the tables and the coffee cups by the coffee machine. There are the usual filament lights that hang for lighting that I love as well.

The coffee here is a little bit different – they do not serve blends – only single origin espresso and filter coffees are being offered – and are pumped out of the stark white Synesso machine. They also use a EK 43 grinder which means they are getting the best extractions possible for the customers – allowing them to deliver some of the best coffee in town. I ordered a latte which was full bodied, strong and nutty and was perfect to wake me up first thing in the morning. The creamy after taste thanks to the fresh milk was also great. The decision not to blend comes from the work Proud Mary has been doing with the farms in Brazil and the quality of the single origin beans that work well with the milk without needing to be blended – and from my experience with their coffees this is working fantastically.

Another difference from Proud Mary is that they have a liquor license and look to open a few nights a week down the track.  They serve up wine, local and international beers and specially made cocktails – there is even one that contains cold drip coffee! Aside from specialising in coffee – they do also have an interesting list of juices, smoothies and milkshakes – with interesting names to match. Juices include Lance Armstrong (Carrot, Beetroot, Lemon, Ginger) and The Regulate (Apples, Strawberries, Coconut Water), there is a milkshake called Gangsta Milkshake, Crooks ‘n’ Creams – which is of course based on cookies and cream.

The food menu designed by Chris Hamburger (what a cool name!) is described as simple and sexy comfort food – and it really does comply.  The menu is split into a breakfast and lunch menu – both of which are available all day and there are gltuten-free, vegan and vegetarian options. There are dishes that covers all the main protein dishes that you would want to eat including lamb, bacon, beef, quail, chorizo and ham hock. From reading the menu you might not think these dishes really cut it – but trust me they do! There are your usual suspects such as Toast, Fruit Toast, Bircher Muesli, Granola and Porridge – but what makes it unique is the offerings that come with these basics. For example the porridge is buckwheat porridge together with chia, banana and honey. The first dish that caught my eye was the Coco Pop and Salted Caramel French Toast – I mean they had me at Coco Pop! The four of us quickly decided to share this amongst ourselves, thereby reserving some space for a proper savoury breakfast (and trying out more of the menu – win!). There are also dishes such as Shrooms ‘n’ Truffles which comes with Truffled Polenta, Poached Egg and Pepito, a Roasted Cauliflower and Quail dish, a Roasted Lamb dish that comes with Humms, Raisins and Toast as well as a Stacked Burger that comes with croquettes and greens.

When we arrived on this Sunday morning (around 10:30am) Stagger Lee’s was packed out already and we had to wait about 10 minutes for a table for the four of us. Initially we were given an area on the communal table all in a row – which would have made it hard for us to chat. However the staff had miscounted the number of seats and promptly moved us to a table which suited us better – making it easier for us to chat. Most of us ordered coffees to start and G ordered a juice whilst we decided what we wanted to eat. G ordered the Nice Pear – Apple, Pear, Mint, Lime. Juices come served in a generous size jar, with two big fresh mint leaves for more flavour- the juice was refreshing, tangy and produced a great flavour combination. M ordered the Frank ‘n’ Beans – Saffron Baked Beans, Smoked Ham Hock, Chorizo, Soft Poached Egg, Herb and Garlic Crumb Toast. The dish comes out presented well – the saffron baked beans together with the ham hock are at the base of the dish, with the poached egg and chorizo placed on top and finished with the garlic crumb toast. The Garlic Crumb Toast smelt and looked delicious – crispy on the outside and soft and filled with flavour on the inside. M seemed to enjoy her dish and the flavours – the poached egg was cooked to perfection with golden gooey goodness.

G originally ordered The Mexican – Soft Shell Corn Tortillas, Charred Corn, Lime and Tomatillo Salsa, Avocado, Fried Eggs, Creme Fraiche, Herbs. However, she has an allergic reaction to sesame seeds and some nuts, and although I don’t think that this dish had any of that, she started to get a reaction and therefore had to order something else. The dish came plated out with two tortillas, with the fried egg placed in side and topped with the charred corn, lime and tomatillo salsa and avocado, and finished with crème fraiche. The flavours were typically Mexican and the addition of the fried egg with its gooey runny yolk gave it the breakfast element.

J ordered the Smoked Trout Salad – House Smoked Ocean Trout, Grilled Asparagus, Soft Poached Egg, Butter Poached Potatoes, Shaved Fennel, Preserved Lemon Aioli and Green Goddess – which was quite the colourful dish thanks to the salmon colour of the ocean trout, purple colour of the radicchio, green colour of the salad and the white colour of the poached egg and lemon aioli. J did enjoy this dish and rated it better than The Mexican – the smokiness of the trout, together with the grilled asparagus and brilliance of the poached egg was a winner.

I ordered the The Fitz Royale – Grilled Asparagus, Cashew Cheese, Avocado, Fresh Herbs, Pea Tendrils and Citrus with a Poached Egg. The dish comes out with the fresh herbs being the centre of attention on the plate – the other components – toast, cashew cheese, avocado, grilled asparagus hidden underneath. The poached egg and the lemon slice are placed to the side. My favourite part of this dish was the cashew cheese which was placed like a spread on the toast – it was tangy and creamy all at the same time. Together with the subtle flavours of the asparagus and the softness of the avocado the flavours worked in perfect harmony. A great dish for asparagus lovers.

The last dish that we all got to sample was the Coco Pop and Salted Caramel French Toast – Coco Pop Cream Pat, Vanilla Ice Cream, Honeycomb and Raspberry Crumb. I don’t think much explaining needs to be done to understand how good a dish it really was. The plating wasn’t as clean as I had expected, as the Coco Pop Cream Pat resembled a messy blob, but I guess the consistency and texture of it didn’t help. I loved the mix of textures from the softness of the toast, cream pat and ice cream mixed together with the harder and grittier textures in the form of the tangy raspberry crumb, sweetness of the honeycomb and the pop of the cocoa pops sprinkled around. Overall I thought the flavours worked well together (I would have liked more raspberry crumb) – and was a great colourful dish that was the perfect way to end our meal at Stagger Lee’s.

The staff are quite accommodating and helpful, but are hard to get a hold of due to the sheer number of people they have to cater for. However, the wait to get their attention wasn’t too long. If you get a seat near the back of the venue – you can peer into the kitchen window and watch the chefs busily keeping up with the incoming orders. Even with the volume of orders –they keep a cool, calm and collected exterior and get on with the job.

There are also sweet treats that you can purchase from the counter – lamingtons, cupcakes, tarts and friands just to name a few.

Stagger Lee’s is a great addition to the grungy Fitzroy area and brings a somewhat homely and funky venue here. The vibe is buzzing, the place is warm, the menu is simple and unique and the staff friendly and always with a smile. Get down this weekend and check it out for yourself. The next time I come back – I am definitely trying the Shrooms ‘n’ Mushrooms.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – There is an all day breakfast and lunch menu – refer above to the pictures or look at http://staggerlees.com.au/food/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Casual and Welcoming – a great place that you can spend of your day in.
Standout Dish:
Service: Friendly, sometimes it can be hard to their attention.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://staggerlees.com.au/
276 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Tel No: 9419 5564

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

Stagger Lee's on Urbanspoon

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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

Two by Two – Chic Breakfast Style

panda 4 rating

G and I decided to head to Two by Two located in High Street, Northcote for our much anticipated catch up. Two by Two is owned by Jessica Fitzgerald and Ben Sanders and Jono Mackie is in charge of the meals. The result is welcoming and roomy restaurant which delivers high quality and seasonally produced food that is presented in a beautiful manner.

When you walk into Two by Two you are greeted by the main dining area which houses a communal table in the middle surrounded by tables. At the very back is where the bar/barista is located as well as the kitchen area. The feature of Two by Two is the glossy wooden wall that has a series of wooden dimples arranged randomly along the wall – which is really quite different to anything I have seen at a restaurant. There are wide windows located at the front where patrons can sit and enjoy the view of bustling traffic or people watching. Colourful and dainty flowers are placed in vases on tables to add further colour and vibrancy.

The brunch menu consists of simple favorites such as Bircher Museli, Avocado smash, pancakes and bacon and eggs as well some interesting combinations such as Poached Ocean Trout, Watermelon & Rhubarb with Chia seed granola as well as a Breakfast Charcuterie that includes Jamon Serrano and Black Pudding.

I ordered the Poached Ocean Trout, Pickled Avocado, Citrus Salad, Caper & Dill Creme Fraiche, Rye Toast and added a Poached Egg as well. This dish came out like as you would expect a dinner dish to come out – perfectly presented. On the backdrop of a white plate, the individual ingredients were colourful and every care seemed to have been taken in placement. The Rye Toast was the base of the dish with all the elements being placed on top. My only qualm was that I was interested in finding out what pickled avocado tasted like, but when I tasted it, it simply tasted the same as any other avocado would. This could be due to the mixture of other flavours tainting the taste but I am not sure. The dish not only looked great, but tasted fantastic. Each element mixed together in one bite-full was a great mix of flavours in your mouth – I love the burst of citrus from the orange segments. The poached trout was perfect and the mix of the salad with the dill flavoured crème fraiche was delightful. The egg was poached to perfection and was gooey and runny – just like how you would want it to be. A must try dish for anyone!

G ordered the Mushroom – Sauteed Selection, Creme Fraiche, Pecorino, Truffle Oil on Sourdough. Once again the dish was presented well and G did say she enjoyed the dish, however said that the serving size could have been a tad more generous.

Whilst we continued to chat, both G and I ordered the fresh mix juice was available as we were both intrigued by the combination. The combination was Apple, Ginger, Celery and Carrot.It was a great tasting combination and was quite refreshing. Coffee here was nutty and creamy and quite nice as well. The staff were friendly and inviting and always seem to have a smile on their face. They are very patient as well – our waitress had to come back four times before we were ready to order as we were too busy chatting rather than looking at the menu – oops!

Two by Two serves breakfast and lunch from Tuesday to Sunday, and dinner from Thursday to Saturday. The prices are very reasonable for the high quality and seasonal produce they provide. Seeing as I enjoyed the breakfast dishes served, I am intrigued to what dishes are served for dinner – so I have to make time and revisit Two by Two.

Whichever meal you prefer definitely go and check out Two by Two for yourself.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to http://www.twobytwonorthcote.com.au/?page_id=15 – there is a Brunch, Dinner and Wine Menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable, Modern and Relaxing. There is lots of sunlight and the venue is bright and inviting.
Standout Dish: Poached Ocean Trout, Pickled Avocado, Citrus Salad, Caper & Dill Creme Fraiche, Rye Toast
Service: Friendly and Warm
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.twobytwonorthcote.com.au/?page_id=19 – there is a DIMMI online reservation at the bottom of the page
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.twobytwonorthcote.com.au/
235 High Street, Northcote
Tel No: 9486 5885

Opening Hours:
Monday & Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday to Saturday: 08:30 – 11pm
Sunday: 08:30 – 3pm

Two By Two on Urbanspoon

Cru – Yummiest Breakkie Stack

panda-4-rating1

Cru in located in the leafy streets of Glenferrie Road in the suburb of Kew. Cru in Kew=p is brought to you from Peter Rose and his wife Annie, along with business partners Robyn Blake and Andrew Pickering. Cru has been on my breakkie lists for a while and on this Saturday I needed to be around the area, so N and I decided to check it out.
We got there at around 10:30am and the place was buzzing and the front dining area was packed. We decided to sit out side in the plank / courtyard area (we were told that it was enclosed and had heaters – win! – as this morning was a tad bit nippy), and it was lovely. By the way the plank area is just before the courtyard and has a series of high and low tables amongst hanging pot plants. I think even if there had been room in the dining area – I would have gone for the courtyard / plank option. It has hanging pot plants and mini ferns that create a great atmosphere. As you go further to the back is an area (where if you wish you can bring your puppies) where there is a communal table and charming little shed (when the weather is warmer – this converts into a wine bar). This is not to say the dining area is any less great – in fact it is with its marble bar that runs the length of the room, complete with green and white tiles to finish the chic look.

The Cru Menu is extensive and covers everything that you would normally find on a breakfast menu from Bircher to Angus Burgers and covers a range of flavours such as Moroccan. There are interestingly named dishes such as Stop 80 and The 109 – which refers to the nearby tramstops, as well as Cocobanana which is Cru’s Banana Bread. Cru sources the best local ingredients, with their gluten-free bread delivered daily from Jane’s Bread (artisian baker in Hawthorn), the eggs are from South Gippsland, bacon from Otway Pork and Peter B Bouchier and the lamb from Paddy’s Meats. The drink menu is also another spectacle – there is the usual coffees, teas but also Berocca, smoothies, shakes and mixed juices to pick from such as Phlavours of Pho – blend of Thai basil, cucumber, fennel and aniseed sugar syrup.

It was a hard decision to pick what I wanted but I couldn’t look past the Roesti – which comprises of avocado, smoked salmon, red onion, crispy capers, poached egg. N got what he usually gets – Fried eggs with additonal sides. The puff pastry looked interesting as well, and when I come back I would definitely want to try that out, as well as the Cocobanana for something sweet. The Roesti comes out as a breakfast stack with the crunchy potato base, layered with the smoked salmon, red onion, avocado mix and topped with the poached egg and surrounded by the capers. This dish is one of the yummiest breakfast stacks I have tasted. The potato fritter was crunchy and crispy and tasted delicious. The dressing that the salmon, avocado and red onions were covered in was what made the entire dish pop and was awesome. My one complaint would be that the poached egg had been overcooked and the yolk wasn’t runny. The addition of the crispy capers were a nice touch and added a dose of tang.

The coffee here is from Five Senses and comes through the Synesso from Gus Hean who is the barista here. N had an expresso which came with a little glass of soda water to go with it. The staff are friendly and energetic. Whether you are in the area or not, Cru should definitely be on your list of places to try out.

Cru is also now open in the evenings Wednesday to Saturday as a Wine Bar  – the owners attempt to bring a little bit of Carlton and Fitzroy to suburbia. There is an extensive list of local and imported wines, as well as grower champagnes and a variety of boutique and craft beers. There are also apertifs and spirits. There is a bar menu which can be found at http://www.crukew.com.au/bar_menu.html which consists of dishes like mexicorn, lamb kofte, octopus just to name a few.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Breakkie Menu (www.crukew.com.au/cafe_menu.html) Bar Menu (http://www.crukew.com.au/bar_menu.html)
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely, Elegant and has an awesome courtyard out the back that is fantastic. The area they refer to as the Sunny Plank is great too!
Standout Dish: Roesti
Service: Fantastic, Attentive and Energetic
Online Booking: No – Refer to http://www.crukew.com.au/functions.html for more info on how you can book and the booking restrictions
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.crukew.com.au/index.html
916 Glenferrie Road, Kew
Tel No: 9818 4366

Opening Hours:
Modnday to Tuesday 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Wednesday 7:00 am – 11:00 pm
Saturdau 7:30 am – 11:00 pm
Sunday 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

Cru on Urbanspoon