Oscar Cooper – Pet Friendly & Tasty Food

Oscar Cooper – Pet Friendly & Tasty Food

N and I were heading to breakfast on the weekend and decided to try out Oscar Cooper in Prahran. I love places that have all day breakfasts – Oscar Cooper serves breakkie till 3pm – close enough! Oscar Cooper is … Continue reading

Code Black Coffee – Black Elegance

panda 4.5 rating

N & I headed to Code Black Coffee on a Saturday for brunch. Code Black Coffee is one of the latest cafes to open up in the Brunswick area and is located off Sydney Road, behind Barkly Square shopping centre. Code Black Coffee is not only a cafe but a roasting house as well – with roasting equipment present on site.

Code Black Coffee comes to you thanks to Joseph Haddad who is the man behind the Cafenatics stores that can be found all around the Melbourne CBD.  The chef behind the deliciously flavoured menu is Laura Neville and makes you want to try out all of the dishes.

Code Black Coffee exudes elegance and class yet staying casual and welcoming from the moment you step inside. As the name suggests, the main colour theme is black together with an industrial metallic and stone feel.  When you walk inside the main feature you are greeted with is the large counter and barista station which in the centre of the room, which creates a division of the rooms. To the left of the counter there are tables for groups and to the right are smaller tables enough for couples or singles. As you keep walking past the kitchen – which has a glass window that allows you to peek in and see the chefs creating food magic – there are booths for a more private catch up.

As the name suggests there is a main focus on coffee and it sure doesn’t disappoint. There is a variety of coffees available – both black and milk. Code Black Coffee roasts high grade beans from international farms and growers, and there is a Code Black seasonal blend, as well as a rotating single origin which is roasted in house, signature blends and decaffeinated coffee. These different varieties of coffee can also be bought over the counter as well and staff are willing to assist to so that you walk away with the perfect coffee.

N got a house-blend expresso and I got the house-blend latte. I thoroughly enjoyed my latte with its nutty and velvety smooth flavours. The expresso comes with additional water which I think is thoughtful in order to modify the coffee if need be. Later on we also got a flat white which was just as delicious and creamy. Definitely one of the better coffees that I have tasted – and I do want to go back and try out some of their other types of beans.

Moving onto the food options – where do I start. There are plenty of dishes for people who are vegetarian, gluten free or require vegan food – which I think is really fantastic. The menu covers a variety of flavours and dishes – there is a baked egg dish that comes with polenta fingers, belgian waffles and even two different burgers – one veggie one and one meaty one. There are also a selection of Baker goods – such as breads, crossiants, toasties, Salads and Sandwiches. There is also a menu for the little peeps (as the menu states) – consisting of smaller sized dishes. I was struggling to pick a dish to have and in the end decided to try out the fritters (after all I do have a thing for fritters =p)

The fritters at Code Black Coffee had ingredients that I haven’t usually seen in a fritter dish – Broccoli, Almond & Chia Fritters with Grilled Corn Salsa, Coriander, Avocado & a Poached Egg. When the dish came out it was beautifully presented on Japanese style plates – with the fritters as a base, topped with the avocado and poached egg, with the corn salsa and coriander surrounding the elements. The fritters were absolutely delicious! They were full of broccoli, almond and chia and were flavoursome. You don’t usually think of this combination but it really did work – and coupled with the avovado and corn – there really was a party of flavours that happen in your mouth. I loved this dish!

There is also a selection of cakes and pastries which look fresh and tasty which are displayed at the front counter. Code Black Coffee is wonderful place that exudes class and style and the menu is one of my favourite cafe menu’s that I have come across – there are so many dishes that I want to come back and try – its a shame you can only do one dish a visit =p I will definitely be back to visit and try out as many dishes as I can.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://codeblackcoffee.com.au/wp-content/themes/codeblackcoffee/inc/CODE%20BLACK_MENU_18_05_13_1_0.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Elegant, Classy and Stylish yet welcoming and engaging.
Standout Dish: Broccoli, Almond & Chia Fritters with Grilled Corn Salsa, Coriander, Avocado & a Poached Egg
Service: Friendly and Knowledgable – they really do know their stuff about coffee and are always ready to help.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
codeblackcoffee.com.au
15-17 Weston Street, Brunswick
Tel No: 9388 0005

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 7:00am – 5:00pm

Code Black Coffee on Urbanspoon

Operator25 – Hidden Treasure

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House Cured Ocean Trout, Poached Egg, Crunchy Shaved Asparagus and Horseradish Cream on MuffinsHouse Cured Ocean Trout, Poached Egg, Crunchy Shaved Asparagus and Horseradish Cream on Muffins

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

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

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

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

Operator25 on Urbanspoon

The Burger Lounge – Massive Variety of Burgers!!

panda-5-rating5

halal symbolNOTE: Chicken here is HALAL as they use Lilydale Free Range Chicken.

The Burger Lounge is located in Eltham and specialises in gourmet burgers and homemade salads – all of which are made fresh daily! I happened to stumble on this place when I went to a nearby restaurant for a friends birthday dinner, and saw the mass crowds at this place. It being only about a 10 minute drive from me, we decided to check it out. N and I went there on a pleasant Saturday evening and the place was pretty packed, but we managed to score one of the last remaining tables.

The Burger Lounge is long and spacious and has outdoor seats at the front (all of which were taken on this pleasant day =p), there is a massive square shaped communal table at the front and the kitchen sits behind it. The theme is modern, black and wood, and the seats are comfortable. This adds to the lounge feel of the place. You are then greeted by a HUGEEEE menu of which you have to select from. I have never ever seen so much variety for burgers in my life! The venue is a chic joint and the atmosphere is fun and lively, and makes for one of the most stylish hamburgers places I have come across.

Now onto the food. There is a massive selection to pick from, so you need a while before deciding on which burger you want! Their buns are sugar-free sourdough made by La Madre Bakery and they are delivered fresh every day. There is an option for gluten-free buns, as well as fresh iceberg lettuce cup on which the burgers are served for people who are carb conscious. You can select burgers from a selection of  Victorian chemical and hormone free beef and lamb, free range chicken, fish and many vegetarian options.

N picked the Steak Classic Burger on Turkish Bread – 100% Prime Scotch Fillet, BBQ Sauce, Herb Aioli, Caramelised Onions, Lettuce, Sweet Chilli Jam and Tasty Cheese and I picked the Portobello Burger – Whole Portobello Mushroom, Chargrilled Red Capsicum, Crispy Zucchini, Haloumi Cheese, Caramelised Onion, Rocket, Semi Dried Tomato, Garlic & Basil Pesto & Relish.

The burgers come out on a wooden board and were HUGE! I had no idea how to tackle eating it. The thick chips come in a stainless steel cup and were seasoned with rosemary and the right amount of salt, and were crispy – just the way I like them. The bun you could tell was fresh and came out perfectly toasted and was crunchy on the outside yet not too dry on the inside. All of The Burger Lounges’ veggies are roasted in house and were fresh, flavoursome and so vibrant in colour. The mix of all the ingredients together in my burger were scrumptious and the addition of the garlic & basil pesto & relish tied the whole burger together for a very satisfying meal. N enjoyed his burger as well and did say it was one of the best burgers he has had. He said the beef burger was very well-flavoured and the accompanying ingredients of the BBQ sauce and sweet chilli jam enhanced these flavours. The turkish bread was also just as fresh as my bun. Both of these burgers were filling and I struggled to finish mine.

Not only do they have a variety of burgers, but they also do a variety of desserts! They have a selection of macaroons, ice-cream and Petoula’s (which are Albanian Donuts). I was way too full to try any of this out, but they did look (just like with everything else here) fresh and simply delicious! Also worth noting is that their selection of drinks from the fridge is once again massive! They have so many different types of drinks and flavours that I have never seen before (have a look at the top for the pic of the drinks) – that night I ordered a SOHO sparkling Grapefruit juice – and it turns out it was the first night they were selling it and didn’t even have them on their register, so they charged me a cheaper price for it.

I would highly recommend The Burger Lounge for their burgers even if it might not be located centrally – it is well worth the trek out to Eltham. The staff are friendly and the place is modern, funky yet a great place to catch up with friends in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – A massive variety of burgers, salads, chips, ice cream, macaroons and drinks! Check out the menu at http://www.theburgerlounge.com.au/menus.html
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Casual and Inviting.
Standout Dish: Any of the burgers!
Service: Friendly, Fun and Warm
Online Booking:  No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.theburgerlounge.com.au/index.html
902 Main Road, Eltham
Tel No: 9431 4500

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 10am to 9pm
Friday & Saturday: 10am to 10pm
Sunday: 10am to 9pm

The Burger Lounge on Urbanspoon

Gumbo Kitchen – A Must Try Food Truck!

panda-3-5-rating2gumbo kitchen

Gumbo Kitchen is another food truck in the streets of Melbourne. Gumbo Kitchen is the brainchild of Michael Cotter and Patricia Stanton who were inspired on their visit to New Orleans. The focus of food from this truck is on the Cajun food of New Orleans such as the traditional and spicy stews served with rice – aka GUMBO.

I got to try out this specialty truck one lunchtime, when the food truck was parked out side of Ethihad Stadium down at Docklands. Just like many of the other trucks, you will need to follow them on Facebook or Twitter in order to find out their location.I had no idea what type of food was sold at the Gumbo Kitchen and even looking at the Menu and seeing words like Po Boys, The Dom and Gumbo thrown at me I still had no idea =p
There are three main varieties on the menu – a Po Boy is a fresh roll stuffed with a meat/seafood of your choice and topped with a chilli sauce if desired. Gumbo is a soup/stew with meat and a small amount of rice. The Dom is Beef served with Fries and Remoulade.

Before ordering I had to ask what each of them were. I settled with ordering a Shrimp Po Boy and I certainly am glad I made that choice. The Shrimp Po Boy was crunchy bread on outside filled with small deep fried battered prawns with hints of lemon juice, spicy cajun sauce and finished with slices of tomato and pickles. I am not a huge pickle fan but in this mix it was delicious and complimented the other flavours. The prawns were coated in delicious batter with a tinge of spice and the flavours literally popped in your mouth!The crunch of bread on the outside mixed with the softness of the filling on the inside was pure heaven and it seriously is one of the best bread / sandwiches I have ever come across! They are quite large, but they were that good that I wanted a second serving.

My friends who had the Gumbo and The Dom said that the dishes were good, but not as flavoursome as they thought it would be. Both the chicken and the beef were cooked well and were the heroes of each of the dishes. The dishes were filling and quite decently sized.

Overall, I had a great experience with the Gumbo Kitchen and would definitely try them again – especially the Shrimp Po Boy!!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gumbo-Kitchen/113192782105826?fref=ts

Twitter: @gumbokitchen

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – You can choose from Gumbo,Po Boys, The Dom and for dessert there is an Lemon Ice Box Pie – can be found at http://gumbokitchen.com/2012/09/14/gumbo-kitchen-menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun !!
Standout Dish: Fried Shrimp Po Boy
Service: Friendly, inviting and fun!
Online Booking: No…you will need to track them down!!
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://gumbokitchen.com/
164 High St
Northcote
(this is where they were intially based, but they go around to the inner suburbs, check their Facebook and Twitter for locations)
Tel No: 0411 037 652

Gumbo Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Trucks and Burgers – Good Mix!

Trucks and Burgers - Good Mix!

There is always this argument in and around Melbourne of who has the best hamburgers. Since I don’t eat the traditional hamburger which consists of the meat pattie and all the extra lashings that come with it – I have to judge on the Veggie, Fish or Mushroom burgers.

Who said burgers out of trucks don’t taste that great? The burgers from the Beatbox Kitchen truck is one of the better Mushroom Burgers I have tasted. I’ve tried the mushroom burger at Strange Wolf (http://strangewolf.com.au/) and some cafes – but Beatbox Kitchen wins hands down. The only other burger that I would rate better is the Veggie burger from Andrew’s Hamburgers (http://www.andrewshamburgers.com.au/). The Grilld burgers I must say – Garden Goodness – is one of my fave veggie burgers as well, but they are my fave in a different way to the Andrews Burgers.

The Mushroom Hamburger from Beatbox Kitchen is juicy and has just the right amount of flavour in it. Added to this is the chippies that come with a selection of three different types of dipping sauces – depending on how hot or mild you want your sauces to be.

This whole food in trucks is all the rage and has been massive over in America. In order to find to find out where these trucks will be you need to follow them on Twitter or on Facebook as they post their locations of where they will be. Following these food trucks adds to the fun of eating.

Beatbox Kitchen can be followed on Facebook at
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Beatbox-Kitchen/108806049145877
or on Twitter at
https://twitter.com/beatboxkitchen

Beatbox Kitchen (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon