Tall Timber – Great Courtyard to Enjoy the Sunshine

panda 4 rating

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Menu:
Tall Timber Menu

The guys behind Armadale’s Coin Laundry and Port Melbourne’s Station Street Trading Co. have recently opened Tall Timbers, serving a versatile breakfast and lunch menu sourced with local produce.

As I walked into Tall Timber on this Saturday arvo I was greeted by the sweet smell of coffee together with the sounds of many conversations and laughter – it really seemed like the place to be! The main room is filled with sunlight thanks to the massive windows on two of the walls and the main feature is the back wall which houses timber planter like boxes and shelves which stores things like glasses, jars and teapots– a real rustic feel. The front counter has an array of sweets to choose from as well housing one of the most important pieces of equipment in a café – the coffee machine. The tables are wooden and there is one communal table to the right. The front room was quite full so I was told to venture to the outside sheltered courtyard. The courtyard was a real winner for me – it was a HUGE communal table with umbrellas over the top for protection – from rain or sun. What was the real difference of this table was that in the centre there was a herb garden accentuated with little spades – almost inviting you to pick your own herbs to add to your dishes – not that you need to as the food is delicious all on its own – but more on that later.  This courtyard area is great on a summer’s day – you get to enjoy the sunshine in the surrounds away from the main road – and would suit anyone from mothers with bubs to catch-up’s with friends or even a brunch date.

Breakfast is served all day and there is a lunch menu from 12pm. There are also options available for people who need gluten free or vegetarian options. What caught my eye on the menu was the Breaky Board – which comes with a poached egg on pumpkin loaf with beeroot relish & goat’s chese, muesli with natural yoghurt and fresh berries as well as a small OJ – all for just $14.50. Bargain! Little sets like these I think are a great idea and allow you to experience a bit of variety of what the café has to offer. The Breakfast menu consists of the usual favourites such as selection of toast with jams, bircher muesli, eggs and toast and smashed avocado. There are also other diverse combinations such as smashed peas served with pumpkin loaf as well as sautéed kale, asparagus, beans on a quinoa loaf.

As good as the Breaky Board sounded I couldn’t resist trying the pumpkin fritters (followers will know I do love my corn fritters – so trying a different type of fritters was highly appealing). I also love anything to do with or has pomegranate – it is one of my favourites fruits so when I saw that the fritters came with pomegranate labneh I was sold. Whilst deciding on my food order I ordered a freshly squeezed OJ – which comes with a stripey straw.

The pumpkin fritters formed the base of the dish, avocado on the next layer and lastly the poached egg finished with a dusting of fetta and herbs. The poached egg was cooked perfectly (refer to pick) and had oozing running yellow yolk. The fritters were cooked perfectly showing off the orangey colour of the pumpkin and was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside – and flavoured just right. The combination of the four elements – the fritters, egg, avocado and fetta was great – with the fetta adding a texture and sour element to the dish which complemented the sweetness of the pumpkin fritters. Another winner was the pomegranate labneh which was found under the fritters – a hidden treasure almost – which acted like a dressing to the fritters. It was an overall really great dish.

The staff are friendly and helpful and always not without a smile, wearing navy blue and canvas aprons. Despite being really busy they do remember all their customers from the front room to the courtyard. When we were initially seated we were told to take a seat in the courtyard and someone would be us and I was a bit sceptical as they were really busy but low and behold within 5 mins someone was out there.

The coffee is from NIccolo and will be roasted on site. I was tempted by the sweet selection at the counter as I went to pay but resisted – they really do look good and the staff are quite knowledgeable in what everything is.

I love the use of wooden timber furniture and the brightness of Tall Timber – the outside courtyard is fantastic for the summer to bask in the sun and enjoy some really great wholesome and tasty food. Try it out for yourself!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – There is an all day breakfast menu as well as a lunch menu from 12pm. Refer to picture above for breakfast menu.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and Fun! The courtyard out the back is an awesome place to hang out and chat the afternoon away!
Standout Dish: Roast Pumpkin Fritters with Avocado, Pinenut and Cranberry Salsa, Pomegranate Labneh & Poached Egg
Service: Friendly, Funny and Welcoming –  but sometime it is hard to get the attention of staff.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
60 Commercial Road, Prahran
Tel No: 9676 9333

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00 am – 4:30 pm
Saturday to Sunday: 7:30 am – 4:30 pm

Tall Timber on Urbanspoon

Mixed Business – Relaxed & Delicious

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Drinks at Mixed BusinessBreakfast at Mixed BusinessLunch at Mixed Business

N and I were heading out to breakkie on a Saturday morning and decided to try out Mixed Business. This cute café is located in Clifton Hill (neighbouring Northcote) and comes to you by Lauren Bieber and Tom Crowe. The look and feel of the place is casual and relaxed thanks to the light and airiness nature of the venue, complete with an outside sitting area amongst the back garden. There is a combination of vintage and retro touches throughout the venue which includes old tea towels used as curtains over cupboards, wooden tables with mismatched colourful chairs as well as the feature piece which is huge workbench which doubles as the coffee counter, cake serving area and payment station. There are also old school vintage signs which are attached to the walls. It really does pay homage to the venue’s former life of a second hand furniture store.

It was a typical Melbourne day – rain one minute, sunshine the next. When we walked in the place was quite busy so we were offered a table in the back garden and the friendly waitress told us that it was under cover if that Melbournian rain happened to come back. Sitting in the back amongst the pot plants, trees and herbs was really pleasant and I feel like this is one of the best tables at the venue. You get to enjoy the brightness and be surrounded like you are in your very own back garden – even on a rainy day! The centrepiece of the table would automatically brighten anyone spirits – it was a colourful duck shaper pot holder which house a striking cactus. Really cute and chirpy – I want one for my place!

Once we were seated we ordered our coffees and proceeded to look at the menu. I already had decided that I wanted something sweet so reading the description of the waffles had me sold. I like how they have a selection of combinations that can come with the free range poached eggs such as pork belly and sausage, potato and rosemary rosti or smoked salmon, pickled beetroot, dill and creme fraiche. Most places just pick one or two selections that come with poached eggs. The coffee by Seven Seeds was delicious and was a welcome necessity for this morning.

When my waffles came out they looked delicious and I could barely spend enough time photographing them as I wanted to devour them straight away. They looked fresh and the aroma was enticing. There were three pieces of waffles arranged at the bottom and topped with the apple, blueberries and pecan crumb with the ice cream off to the side. The pecan crumb was absolutely delicious and the coating literally melted in your mouth. The combination of the warm waffles coupled with the spiced apple and cold ice cream was fantastic. Definitely a dish I would recommend.

From the other dishes that were ordered I got to try out the potato and rosemary rosti and the picked cabbage. The potato and rosemary rosti tasted even better than it looked – when it came out it looked glossy, crispy and accented with the perfect amount of rosemary – it was delicious, crispy on the outside and soft and aromatic on the inside. The house made relish had a smoky and spicy hit to it as well and was quite nice. The pickled cabbage was another win – don’t let the bright pink colour put you off – the flavour is amazing.

It’s not always simply about the great food and customer service, but the little additional touches – like the colourful duck pot holder – and the simplicity of the back garden seating that truly do make the experience at a place not only memorable, but recommendable. Mixed Business is definitely one of these places.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the Menu above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and Welcoming – great chill out place!
Standout Dish: Applie Pie Waffles – Buttermilk Waffles with Maple Baked Apples, Pecan Crumb and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Free Ranged Poached Eggs on Sourdough with Potato and Rosemary Rosti, Avacado and House Relish
Service: Friendly and Helpful – although we never did get asked if we wanted another round of coffee after we had finished our first coffee’s.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
486 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill
Tel No: 9468 1606

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Saturday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Mixed Business on Urbanspoon

South of Johnston – Relaxed and Enchanting

panda 4 rating

My first impression of South of Johnston or SoJo as it is affectionately known as was that it had a really vibrant yet relaxed country feel to it. It was a place that you could literally spend hours and hours and feel like you are away on a day trip, yet you are located in the inner city suburb of Collingwood. Stuart McKenzie (from Mart 130) spent a lot of time finding the perfect venue to open his café and wonderfully transformed the once old valve-repackaging factory into the venue that it is today with some help from Carver Design.

SoJo is quite a large venue, in Oxford Street, and is made of multiple spaces that you can pick to choose from to sit. There is an outside covered quadrangle located at the front, which looks out onto the street and lets the bright sunshine in. What is super cool as well is the “urban orchard” that is located at the front of this area – with herb and fruit trees located in planter boxes. What was also great was that there were blankets placed on each chair – perhaps if you got a bit cold – such a novel idea. There is a covered courtyard area located at the back as well as the main area where the bar / coffee bar is located that is quite large (and where bookings can be made as well). This main area also consists of a fireplace with comfortable looking lounges located around it. If you think its hard deciding on where you want to sit, wait till you get to the food menu – there is a huge variety to select from!

I love the combination of the wooden tables and chairs with the simple, modern and pastel pieces of artwork. As well as the colourful cushions that are tossed across the comfy looking couches. At the entrance there is a table with knick knacks and various elegant artifacts which adds a classy touch.

South of Johnston has an all day dining menu to offer and consists of classic breakfast dishes with a contemporary twist, and they can cater for all dietary requirements as well. There really is a little of everything on the menu and like I said you will spend even longer than you did deciding where to sit. There are egg breakfasts: scrambled and folded with goats’ cheese and truffle oil; fried eggs and kaiserfleisch; or soft-poached and saucy with sugo, black olives and spicy chorizo. The usuals such as Bircher muesli with poached seasonal fruit, crunchy granola and vanilla bean infused yogurt can also be found. Two dishes that most people seem to talk about is the French Toast served with Brioche and the Corn fritters – where the corn cobs have been oven roasted to get that smoky flavour – mm yuum!

It was quite a warm day and I felt like fresh juice and the waitress informed me that they had a special for that day which was a grapefruit juice – so I thought I would try it out. It was quite refreshing albeit a bit bitter. Towards the end I did have to add some sugar in it to cut some of the bitter taste. After much deliberation I decided to have the Pancakes served with Mixed Berries and Vanilla Infused Mascarpone with Pistachio Nuts as I felt like something sweet. The pancakes come with a maple syrup bottle that you have all to yourself – so you can put as much or as little as you want around the pancakes. There hasn’t been a place yet that I have been to that does this. The dish was quite sizeable and it seemed like there was a mountain of pancakes to get through (I couldn’t finish the whole dish) – the pancakes themselves were delicious – soft and flavoursome.  The combination of the tangy berries with the vanilla mascarpone and crunch of the nuts against the fluffy pillows was fantastic. The addition of the maple added more sweetness to the dish.

SoJo is a relaxed and inviting café (in fact they almost encourage you to sit and stay the whole day), that has a great selection of tasty dishes coupled with a variety of drinks. The menu is for All Day Dining and the multitude of options of where you can sit add to the homely feel of this space. I will definitely be back and this time I will sit in a different section of the café =)

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://southofjohnston.com.au/spring-summer-menu-13.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed, Comfortable, Warm and Inviting. Great place to just chill and hang out and spent most of your day. (There is free WiFi as well)
Standout Dish: Didn’t try it but the French Toast Brioche and the Corn Fritters seem to be a hit
Service: Friendly, Helpful and Warm
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
southofjohnston.com.au
46 Oxford Street, Collingwood
Tel No: 9417 2741

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm

South of Johnston on Urbanspoon

Overdosa – Pop-Up Food Restaurant Awesomeness!

panda 4.5 rating

Overdosa is a mobile Dosa stand located in Rose Street in Fitzroy and the brain child of Kunal Khanna and Tyson Savanahl. These two best friends came up with the idea after travelling through Asia and Latin America and encountering amazing street food provided by street vendors, and realising that this type of food culture scene was missing in Melbourne.

Overdosa is currently located at Monttani Vintage Cycle Warehouse on Rose Street and is only available on weekends from 11am until sunset (until mid December). When N and I went on a Saturday evening there was people working on bicycles and it great to watch whilst we waited for our Dosa’s. There is also a table tennis table available which further adds to the chilled out and funky factor. There was quite a crowd which was seated in front of the marquee style pop-up restaurant – this is where you order the Dosa’s and can watch them cook them right in front of you. The seats are cute little rattan chairs with colourful sequin cushions that are typically Indian and were quite comfortable. There are also crates and colourful ottomans that can be used as tables.

Going with the simple and chilled out theme – the menu is based in the same fashion. On the menu there are three different types of Dosa’s to choose from – Classic Potato Masala, Smoky Eggplant with Peas, and Spicy Tamarind Pumpkin – all for a price of $9. You do not only get the dosa but a tangy and zesty salad together with your choice of chutney – there are four different types – Hot Chilli, Classic Coconut, Mint & Coriander and Curd & Dill. Additional there are little snacks which are called Poppers that are made of Lentil and come with your serving of Chutney. There are 8 pieces and is a bargain for $5. There is a different selection of drinks which you select from an esky (further adding to the vintage vibe) – flavours include Mango and Lime. The boys really do meet the bill of serving cheap, authentic, accessible and delicious street food.

A Dosa is an Indian savoury crepe which is made from fermented rice and lentil batter and made on a custom made hot place until they are golden and crispy. They are then stuffed with the selection that you choose, before being served on a Thali – a circular metal plate which has segments for the salad, chutney and Dosa.

I ordered the Spicy Tamarind Pumpkin and N got the Classic Potato Masala, and we both got the Hot Chilli Chutney. Let’s start with the Hot Chilli Chutney which was actually quite hot and tasted like a spicier Tabasco sauce and was really delicious. Now onto the Dosa’s – The Spicy Tamarind Pumpkin was really yummy! The combination of the tamarind and pumpkin mixture worked so well together and paired with the crispy and perfectly cooked Dosa really was great. N’s Potato Masala was also really delicious and the potato’s were soft and perfect flavoured. The Zesty Salad was Carrots and Coriander together with a tangy dressing and was refreshing.

We also ordered the Lentil Poppers and paired this up with the Mint & Coriander Chutney. The Mint & Coriander Chutney is really delicious and it’s a pity that I didn’t get to try out the other chutneys, but if the two that I tried is anything to go by, they will be just as tasty! The Poppers are little chunks of deliciousness and you find yourself being able to down them really quickly. They are served fresh and hot straight from the frying pan.

I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent at Overdosa and the guys who run the place are really cool and friendly to chat to. Definitely check this place out – it really does have the yummiest Dosa in Melbourne. They will be at this Fitzroy location till Mid December. You can find them on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/OVERDOSA), Instagram (dosaloving) and Twitter (dosaloving) as well.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – 3 different types of Dosa’s – Classic Potato Masala, Smoky Eggplant with Peas, Spicy Tamarind Pumpkin as well as Lentil Poppers
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Chilled Out, Relaxed and Fun!
Service: Friendly, Welcoming and Fun
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/OVERDOSA

50 Rose Street, Fitzroy
Tel No: 0413 102 914

Opening Hours:
Saturday & Sunday: 11am to Sunset
(until Mid December after which you can find them at Summer Festivals)

Overdosa on Urbanspoon

Boney – Where The Old Pony Was

panda 4.5 rating

I was initially struck by the interesting name of the place and wanted to check out both the food and the venue – hence my visit initially to Boney.

Boney is a new venue for music, dancing and dining and resides in the location of the bar that used to be named Pony. Boney comes to you from Camillo and Daniel Ippoliti who are also responsible for such places as Revolver Upstairs, Cookie and The Toff in Town. Boney is a welcoming and intriguing place and the food is quite delicious and the menu varied that after the first time there I had to come back and check out quite literally everything else on the menu!

The original structure has been retained – although downstairs there is now a kitchen and the old furnishings have been replaced. There is a glow of red neon lighting throughout the venue which matches perfectly with the solid black walls. This was done in order to keep a Rock’n’Roll vibe as said by the owners. Upstairs will be turned into the venue’s intimate band room where live independent artists and DJs can perform (7 nights a week). In keeping with Pony’s trend – there will still be the infamous 2am live performance slot.

As you approach the venue, on the outside walls you are greeted by a large menu where you can have a read about the food you can order. Just from reading the menu there are so many options and varieties that you often can spend a long period of time deciding what you want to order. I certainly had that issue. There are many dishes for vegetarians as well which I think is fantastic! The menu is designed and crafted by Karen Baston and there is food available for Lunch, Dinner or Take-Away. Together with the standard menu, there is a selection of daily specials – two per day – one for lunch and one for dinner. The Menu has some smaller snack like dishes to start with and then progresses on the menu to the larger dishes and ends with sides and of course finishing with the Boney Sweet Spot.

The first time around I ordered the funkily named Tofu & Mushroom Hot “Diggity” Dog – which is vegetarian version of a hot dog – and I was impressed! When it comes out the filling inside the hot dog is quite colourful against the white backdrop of the plate. The tofu and mushroom “hot-dog” is separate and is encased in like a filo pastry and is very tasty – I always love the combination of tofu & mushroom. The flavours work well with the colourful ingredients – being tomatoes, peppers and finished with a chilli sauce. Really quite delicious. We also ordered a side of Potato Skins which were amazing! They were seasoned to perfection and coupled with sour cream have to be one of my favourite potato skin places. This is a great dish to just snack on as a bar snack if you have just come here for drinks. (I did have dessert the first time I went here but I will come back to that =p)

The next time around I came I ordered the Snapper Fillet with Green Mango, Lemongrass and Peanuts. Once again this was a colourful dish with the glossy snapper fillet sitting atop of the Thai inspired salad which consisted of the peanuts, lemongrass, green mango and many other things such as bean shoots, cucumbers, carrots, red onions. The snapper was cooked superbly and was moist and had been flavoured well to match the Thai flavours of the salad. It really did feel like a healthy dish which packed a punch. G ordered the Snapper Burger which came with Bread & Butter Pickle. When the burger came out it did look impressive and she wasn’t sure how to eat it as it was quite huge. There was of course the snapper burger, and layers of tomato, pickle and salads encased in buns. G said the burger was tasty and the snapper burger different to anything she has had before.

Now onto the desserts – the menu for desserts had changed since the first time I had been there but sounded just as great. The first time around I had the Chocolate Brownie, Roasted Rhubarb & Walnut Crumble. The Chocolate Brownie was absolutely to die for and came served warm – it was filled with rich chocolate gooeyness! The Roasted Rhubarb complemented the bitterness of the chocolate and added a tang to add depth to the dish. It really was delicious. This wasn’t there unfortunately the next time I went back, so that time I ordered the Pistachio’d Pav, Stone Fruit Compote & Cardamon Cream. I must admit this dessert wasn’t as good as the Chocolate Brownie, however it was an interesting tasting dish. The Pav was crunchy and literally melted in your mouth and I really did love the cardamon cream – the spiciness of the cardamom really did complement the stone fruit compote. As a whole the dish worked really well and it is definitely a dish to try. G ordered the Jaffa Mousse & Vanilla Mascarpone which was just as delicious. I did get to try this dessert as well and it was quite rich tasting and definitely one for chocolate and jaffa lovers. The Vanilla Mascarpone was a great addition to cut through this richness. Next time I really do want to check out the Ginger & Lemongrass Creme Brulee. Boney has created three really great desserts.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Boney – both times that I went there – it is a shabby chic venue that really has a personality and fantastic food that really is up there with the best of them. All this whilst staying casual, cool and funky. Definitely check it out whether it be for some casual drinks and snacks or a catch-up / hang out with some easy to eat and tasty food.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://boney.net.au/menu/ – consists of Small and Larger dishes as well as Dessert. There is also a Special Menu with dishes depending on what time and day it is.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Chilled Out and Just FUN!
Standout Dish: Tofu & Mushroom Hot Diggity Dog….and their desserts!
Service: Fantastic and Attentive. They are super friendly and helpful as well when you have a tough time deciding what you want to eat and believe me you will!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://boney.net.au/
68 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9662 1026

Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday: 12:00 pm – 3:00 am
Thursday: 12:00 pm – 5:00 am
Friday to Saturday: 12:00 pm – 7:00 am
Sunday: 5:00 pm – 5:00 am

Boney on Urbanspoon

Madras Banyan Tree – Tasty Indian!

panda 3.5 rating

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halal (1)
Madras Banyan Tree has relocated from Brighton right into the city – located on King St. It serves Southern Indian cuisine and serves authentic Andhra, Kerala,Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Chettinadu in the eloborate menu.

The owner Suresh Chakravarthi, who was previously a Tamil comedian and TV game show host, also explains that you will find no pork or beef on the menu, and they also use only halal meat. Goat is only available on certain days and can also cook up Paya which is the south’s famous goat trotter curry.

There are also many vegetarian dishes available such as deep-fried marinated cauliflower, firm doughnut-like vadai or plump little idli rice-flour cakes. And there’s seafood such as scallops, calamari or prawns deep-fried and spiced.

Desserts include the favourites such as gulab jamoon, kulfi ice cream and payasam rice pudding.

On this lunchtime – I ordered the Roti Thali which comes with 3 pieces of roti with a selection of two meat curries – I chose Lamb Curry and Butter Chicken. Both the curries had their plus points. The Lamb Curry was cooked with the addition of chilli and the gravy was thick and delicious. The Butter Chicken had the creaminess and thick texture that you would expect from that type of curry. The Roti was made really well and tasted just as good. There was butteryness to it yet it was quite light to eat – you just wanted to keep eating more & more.

Check out Madras Banyan Tree for great tasting Indian food that doesn’t really cost that much!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – A huge selection of Southern Indian cuisine – including Andhra, Kerala,Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Chettinadu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Relaxed
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
169 King Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9670 1551

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: Open for Lunch
Thursday to Saturday: Open for Dinner

Madras Banyan Tree on Urbanspoon

Short Round – Shiny, New & Delicious – A MUST TRY!

panda 4.5 rating

N and I were in the area of Thornbury after a wedding ceremony and Short Round had been on my list of Breakkie/Brunch places to try so we decided to check it out on a Saturday. We arrived literally just before 3pm (which was when the kitchen closed) and the waitress was nice enough to allow us to quickly order our food – and boy am I glad she did because the food was amazing!

Short Round comes to us from Libby and Claire Cains who converted this former butcher store and pet store into the beautiful, open and light filled venue. They had the help of their dad together with Libby’s partner to rejuvenate this building which was built in 1880. The end result is spacious venue with lots of light plywood and tiles, but keeping the buildings original character.

What makes Short Round unique as well is that they are committed to keep things local – the stools and benches were made by Northcote’s Pop & Scott, the collective and vintage chairs from the High Street retro store – Model 143. It doesn’t just stop at the furniture for the venue, but continues with the ingredients for the menu as well as the drinks list. The chefs are Kate Pratt and Jo Baring – with the menu being seasonal. This means that the menu changes with the season and will have the freshest of ingredients, however there will be staple dishes as well such as Bacon and Cheese Scramble.

Short Round is light, airy and bright and is a great place to start your morning, or even  late morning for that matter. The venue is fitted out with light timber tables and chairs and has a real modern but comfortable feel to it, accented with colourful wild flowers. As said previously the menu is seasonal – so when we went there were things like Breakfast Pizza, Bloody Mary Breakfast and Labourer’s lunch. You also get toast, oat porridge, muesli and waffles which I definitely have to head back to try. As avocado is in season there is a seasonal avocado dish on the menu that comes with corn salsa, chilli, lime and coriander all served atop toast. Coffee comes from Proud Mary and there are “Spring Drink Specials” as well such as a Single Origin Coffee, and a variety of different teas.

For my meal I ordered the Cauliflower Fritters, Snow Pea Shoots, Pomegranate Molasses and Minted Yoghurt and I asked for a Poached Egg to be added. People who read my blog will know how much I enjoy my fritters – this dish was right up there with the best of them. I have never had fritters with Cauliflower in them before. The presentation of the dish was superb as well – the fritters were the centre of the plate atop the minted yoghurt with shoots and pomegranate surrounding them. The fritters were dense yet soft and it really did feel like you were eating a cauliflower cloud – together with the sweetness of the pomegranate and the tang of the minted yoghurt it really did have a flavour party in your mouth. The addition of the Snow Pea Shoots was interesting and provided another layer of texture to this dish. The Poached Egg was perfectly cooked as well and oozed gooeyness.

N ordered the Potato, Chorizo and Manchego Omelette, Fresh Spring Onions and Harissa Yoghurt. The presentation was simple and had the omelette which took up most of the plate with olive oil and the Harissa Yoghurt underneath, finished with a sprinkling of Harissa. N thoroughly enjoyed this dish and I think this dish is very unique – I haven’t seen the combination of potato, chorizo, spring onions before. And the portion sizes of these dishes are very decent too.

At the bench top where the coffees are made and the register is there is a little case of cakes and cupcakes and I couldn’t look past one of the cupcakes that caught my eye. It was  Hazelnut Honey Meringue . It had shiny honey pieces atop of luscious looking cream that sat on the meringue cupcake. The cupcake was nice but was quite different to anything that I have had before. The meringue was not too sweet and the cream I thought needed a bit more sweetness to it, however once you bite into the honey pieces there was just the right amount of sweetness. The coffee here which is source from Proud Mary is quite good too but nothing overly fantastic.

The service of the staff is impeccable and staff are super friendly and as stated in my opening happy to help out where they can. This further adds to the atmosphere and general likening toward this new venue. For now Short Round is only open during the day time, but the sisters are considering the option of opening the venue up for night time dining and if they do – I cannot wait to see what special things they bring to their menu then.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.shortround.com.au/goods.html
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Light, Airy and Fun
Standout Dish: Cauliflower Fritters, Snow Pea Shoots, Pomegranate Molasses and Minted Yoghurt
Service: Friendly, Helpful and accomodating
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
shortround.com.au
731 High St, Thornbury
Tel No: 9484 3904

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

Short Round on Urbanspoon

Mesa Verde – Bar with Great Mexican Food

panda 4 rating

It was time for another regular catch up dinner with A, and I decided we should try out Mesa Verde – a new Mexican restaurant that has opened up in the last vacancy in the city’s Curtin House, on Swanston Street. It is located one floor below the Rooftop.

Mesa Verde translates to Green Table, and is a new South American bar – that serves Mexican inspired food. Established by Tim Peach (who owns Curtin House and Rooftop) and headed up by Andy Griffiths (Cookie) with Josh Crawford and Sarah Miller.

After travelling all the way up, you are greeted by a dimly lit room where the bar is the first and main focus. The bar is the masterpiece of the room – and is super long – long enough to house the 240 different tequilas! There is a projector near where we sit, that projects a old school movie and we are surrounded by timber tables which are lit up by bottles of alcohol that have a candle atop of them. There is also a DJ set area which pumps out interesting flavours of music. Even though the place is dark; it has a sense of warmth and belonging, partly due to the friendly wait staff and bartenders.

We were seated at our table with clear view of the bar and were handed our menus – which as you opened it are quotes relating to Tequila – after all there are over 240 different tequilas that you can try out here! The Food menu is split into 6 different sections – starting off with Snacks, followed by Smaller dishes, then Tacos (there are 5 different tacos to choose from including an Ox Tongue, Pulled Pork or Prawn Taco), then Larger dishes, Salads & Sides (there are two salads and one side of chips) and finishing with Desserts of course. The menu is short and concise but covers what you would expect at a Mexican Restaurant and then some. There are also specials available that the friendly wait staff will inform you about.

The drinks menu as you can tell is quite extensive but what caught my eye were the Non-Alcoholic Sodas – I decided to order the Jalapeno, Damiana and Horny Goat Weed Lemonade. The combination not only sounded intriguing but the ingredients were something that I hadn’t heard of before and had me google what exactly this Horny Goat Weed was – FYI it is indeed an aphrodisiac but also has some medicinal uses, and has other names such as Rowdy Lamb Herd, Fairy Wings and Bishops Hat. The drink is great! It has a sweet flavouring with chilli hit combined with the fizziness of the lemonade. The chilli from the jalapeno leaves a slight after taste – the first time you take a sip it just tastes funny but the drink grows on you and is quite nice. I enjoyed it!

We decided to get a taco each, and A got one of the specials which was a lamb filled pastry and I got the Smoked Trout Tostada. To share we decided to get the Watermelon Salad as well as chips. We were quite hungry so asked for all the food to be brought out at the same time and the food did come without a lot of waiting. First up was the Tacos – I had the Mushrooms, Spinach, Cheese, Crema, Espelette Pepper on a Blue Corn Tortilla. The Tacos are of a generous size and the mushroom mixed with all the other ingredients mentioned was moist, juicy and tasty. The espelette pepper added a hint of hotness to already flavoursome dish. A enjoyed her taco as well which was the Pulled Pork, Pink Onion Chipotle BBQ Sauce, Radish.

Next up for me was the Tostada with Smoked Trout, Granny Smith Apple, Avocado, Pickled Cucumber. This was a fantastic dish that I thoroughly enjoyed – from the crispness of the tostada to the tanginess of the apple paired together with the fresh smoked trout finished with the smooth creaminess of the avocado – simply delicious!

The Watermelon salad came with Beets, Pomegranate, Mint, Seeds was a colourful and bright looking dish with a flavour to match. The flavours were fresh and really did work well together. Following all our main dishes we were quite full despite it not looking like we had ordered that much but decided to share a dessert – I mean how could you look past the churros? The Churros (there are 5 per serving) comes with a Chocolate Sauce and is sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and is super tasty. The Churros were crunchy on the outside and soft and delightful on the inside.

Overall, Mesa Verde is another restaurant in Melbourne that serves great Mexican food with the added incentive of a huge variety of drinks (especially drinks – did I mention over 240 types of tequila?). The place has a funky and vibe to it from the great music playing down to the cutlery which has been repurposed courtesy of local jeweller Marcos Davidson – and is shaped and marked with the MV trademark – funky! Get yourself along and check out Mesa Verde – trust me the 6 levels you need to pass to get there is definitely worth it!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu
The different menus can be found at http://mesaverde.net.au/mesa-verde-menus/
This includes the drinks menus, food menus as well as dessert menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Super Cool, Vibrant and Fun! Great to meet up with some friends and just hang out and catch up.
Standout Dish: Tostada, smoked trout, granny smith apple, avocado, pickled cucumber
Service: Friendly, Helpful and Fun
Online Booking: No
Note: Refer to http://mesaverde.net.au/bookings/Bookings
Bookings are encouraged to reserve a table in our main dining area. This area can accommodate groups of up to 10. We have a private dining space that can accommodate groups of 10-20. We offer set menu options for groups of 8 or more. A credit card deposit is required to confirm all larger group bookings.
For Events: Mesa Verde is available to accommodate bookings for daytime events for up to 175 guests. Please contact us to tailor an event to your needs.
Restaurant Details and Location:
mesaverde.net.au
Level 6 (Curtin House)
252 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 4417

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Sunday
Bar:
5:00 pm – 1:00 am
Kitchen:
Tuesday to Thursday: 6pm to Late
Friday: 5pm to Late
Saturday: 6pm to Late

Mesa Verde on Urbanspoon

Krimper Cafe – Hidden Warehouse Style Treasure

panda 4 rating

Krimper Café is located in a laneway off Queen Street – in Guildford lane – in a converted warehouse space. When you walk down the laneway to get to Krimper Cafe, there are a bunch of wooden panels at the entrance, one of which is a door – took me a second to register how to enter the premises. Once you walk in you are transported into another world – you are greeted by a large welcoming venue that has exposed brick walls and wooden beams, together with the wooden tables – lots of wood!! as well as three hanging road bikes. This space was previously a sawmill, then a cabinet making factory and then the Guildford Lane Gallery. The centre piece of the venue is an old elevator which has been somewhat restored – there is a table located inside this elevator that a group of up to 6 people can sit at. Another key piece of the venue is the “flying saucer” lights which were sourced from op shops – which are peppered throughout the venue.

The café name itself comes from furniture maker Schulim Krimper – who owner Min Soon admires as Soon is a designer and architect himself. There is a piece of Krimper’s work which is located at the café as well. Additionally each of the tables are made from an old spiral staircase that used to be located on the premises as well.

Coffee here is from Proud Mary and Krimper Cafe offers house blend or single origin.  The latte that I order is fantastic as expected – nutty, creamy and crisp all at the same time. Coffee perfection. The menu is short, simple but unique and has Japanese, French and American-style cooking involved. There are daily specials available as well. I was looking forward to trying the Almond Crusted French Toast but didn’t see this on the menu so decided to stick with the sweet them and ordered the Orange blossom spelt waffles, with blueberries, banana, ricotta and maple syrup. And this dish sure didn’t disappoint! The dish came out not only looking amazing but tasted even better. The dish was bursting with colours and flavours. I am generally not a fan of orange flavours but the orange blossom in the waffles was yummmm and was further complemented with the maple syrup and flavoursome fruits. Another winning component of the dish was the Ricotta which didn’t taste like ricotta at all – it tasted like a smooth vanilla tasting mascarpone – which I could eat table spoons of. I had to make sure that I didn’t gobble it down all at once. Overall it was a really great dish and made my morning!

Krimper Cafe is a very welcoming, relaxing and casual cafe that is going to do great things not only for the Melbourne breakfast and brunch scene but hopefully in the nighttime as well. Currently Krimper Cafe is not opened on the weekends, but hopefully that will change soon. Eventhough Krimper Cafe is no where near my work – I will definitely be coming back.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxing, Laid-Back, Funky, Warehouse Style
Service: Friendly and Attentive
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.krimper.com.au/
20-24 Guildford Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9043 8844

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7am – 5pm
Friday night drinks:  5pm- 7pm

Krimper on Urbanspoon

Mercy Bar + Eatery – A Great Change

panda-4-rating1

NOTE: THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED

G and I headed for dinner to Mercy Bar + Eatery on a Friday night. I had been there when this place was Virginia Plain, so was keen to see what the changes were. I did enjoy the food at Virginia Plain but thought the Degustation menu we did could have been a bit better. Check out my review here – https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/virginia-plain-contemporary-european-cuisine/

Mercy Bar + Eatery is located at the top end of Flinders Lane (near Spring Street) where the old Virginia Plain used to be. Marco Santucci is still the owner, Andy Hammer is still the chef and Mat Beyer is still front-of house – but what has changed is the interior and the menu. Artist Steve Cross has redecorated the interior with graffiti art and it’s funky to say the least! The artwork is colourful, bright, intriguing and can be talked about for quite some time. There are pictures of contorted faces and objects with varying shapes and colours.

The venue is fit out with wooden tables and chairs in the dining area of the restaurant, with the front section having communal tables and high tables for drinks and gatherings. The lighting is quite dim, with not many light shades fitted out through the venue, although it creates a great ambience. Near the table we are at there is one light to the left of us, together with artwork of a woman’s face in green and pink tones (have a look at the picture above). The kitchen is open plan and located in the back of the dining area so you can see the chefs preparing your meals.

I got there a tad bit earlier than G so ordered a mocktail – they asked what kind of flavours I wanted and would make one to match that. The result was a fruity, orangey and lime concoction which was quite refreshing.

Once G arrived we decided on what food we would want. The menu is new and has an emphasis on bar snacks with 12 to choose from. There is a variety of entrees – there are about 7 to choose from which include eel, quail, wagyu and kingfish – together with a selection of 4 different salads. Mains are also available ( you can choose from 5) and these include Fish, Beef Cheek, Wagyu and Pork Belly and finished with Desserts – there are also 5 to choose from. The waitress informs us that there are also specials available – one from the entrée section and one from the main section.

To start with we decided to get the Eel & Roasted Beetroot Salad with Horse Radish Cream and the Hand Cut Chips to share. I love that there was Eel on the menu – there aren’t many places that serve eel so I was definitely keen to try this dish. The dish was presented beautifully and was such a colorful dish against a black dish. The horse radish cream served as a base, where pieces of eel, beetroot, swirls of onion and crisps were daintily placed around. The eel was seasoned perfectly and was cooked just as well. They were bite sized pieces of eel and together with the horse radish cream and sweetness of the beetroot was a delicious dish. The Hand Cut Chips were also just as amazing. They chips were all different shapes and had some bits of potato skin left but this is what made them so good – they were authentic and fantastic. The potato was fresh and the chips seasoned with a perfect amount of salt.
Next up was the mains – G ordered one of the specials on offer and got the Lamb Special Sauteed served with Beetroot, Carrot and Potato Mash and I ordered the Hapuka Fillet, Du Puy Lentils, Caramelised Endive. Once again presentation of both these dishes was great. My dish came with the Du Puy Lentils and the two pieces of Hapuka Fillet placed on top with the endive and salad leaves around it. There was also a smearing of mash. The Du Puy Lentils was my favourite component of this dish – the sauce in which it was cooked in was really delicious. It had a sweet and nutty taste to it and really brought the whole dish together. Couple with the perfectly cooked fish – the skin was crackled and crunchy – and the mash it really was a great fish dish. I am not an endive fan so didn’t eat too much of this component. G enjoyed her dish as well, however she said that the Lamb had too many fatty bits to it and she found her mash a tad bit too salty.
We were both really quite full from the meals but decided to share a dessert dish – we went with the Hot baby Madeleines with Selection of Custards. The Custards that came out was a lime custard. The Madeleines were warm and crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside with the sweetness just right. The Madeleines came in the same bag style that the bread was served and it felt like they were never-ending – which was really great because you could just keep eating them. The custards were great as well, and added some tang to go with the sweetness. It really was a great way to bring together a pretty good meal.
Mercy Bar + Eatery is a great place to come for a dinner or even a quick snack and drinks – a place for casual, relaxed dining. On this Friday night by the time it got to 7pm the place was buzzing with people mostly around the bar area having drinks. The dining area too was quite filled up. The team behind this new venture have stepped it up from Virginia Plain days and it really is a great transition. I definitely want to come back and try things from the Bar Snacks menu.

NOTE: Mercy Bar + Eatery will still take bookings for its dining section down the back, and anyone who was a previous customer at Virginia Plain will always be able to book – a thank you for being there from the start.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Menu can be found at http://mercybareatery.com.au/Menu.html Drinks Menu can be found at http://mercybareatery.com.au/Drinks.html You can also do a 5 Course Tasting Menu for $65 ($40pp extra with matched wines). There is also an Express Lunch Menu – 2 courses + wine for $25
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Vibrant and Fun – has a great drinks culture
Standout Dish: Eel & Roasted Beetroot Salad with Horse Radish Cream
Service: Friendly, Keen and Helpful
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://mercybareatery.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://mercybareatery.com.au/
31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9290 0400

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 12pm – Late

Mercy bar + eatery on Urbanspoon