Switchboard Cafe – The Cutest Retro Cafe Ever!

panda 4 rating

Switchboard Cafe

Switchboard Cafe

The Hole in the Wall Cafe

The Hole in the Wall Cafe

Latte at Switchboard Cafe

Latte at Switchboard Cafe

I was meeting C for a catch-up the other day and was looking for a coffee place located somewhere near City Square in the Melbourne CBD. C suggested Switchboard Café which I hadn’t heard of before and boy am I glad she introduced me to this quaint and cute little place.

Switchboard Café is located in a somewhat drafty arcade laneway on the ground floor of the Manchester Unity Building – located on the corner of Collins and Swanston street. It literally is what you would call a hole in the wall type of café – fitted out in a Retro style feel complete with green and white floral wallpaper and brass framed glass windows. There is the world’s smallest “living area” glass box where patrons can sit inside and avoid the cool drafts that flow through – that can seat about 7 to 8 people max (Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of this). Literally across from this hole is another hole in the wall – which used to be the building’s old switchboard cupboard (hence the name) where the coffees are made.

I ordered a latte to have in and took my seat in the tiniest living area while waiting for C. It almost felt like being down the rabbit hole on the set of an Alice in Wonderland movie! The latte was absolutely perfect – full bodied with a great nutty after taste. I would definitely recommend this place for a good hit of caffeine when you feel the need – or for anytime for that matter.

I didn’t get to try out their breakfast or lunch range – but C did tell me that it was really great tasting food. Think warm soup, toasties, baguettes (Smoked Salmon) and bagels – you can choose from melted Haloumi, Tomato and Avocado just to name a few. For breakfast there is also Bircher Muesli or Fruit Toast available.

Definitely go and check out Switchboard Café – especially if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of a busy day at work! Next on the list for me is to come and try out their food!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – A choice of soups, toasties, baguettes and bagels
Atmosphere / Ambience: Retro, Unique and Fun!
Service: Friendly!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
Ground Floor
Manchester Unity Building
220 Collins Street, Melbourne

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am – 3:00pm

Switchboard Cafe on Urbanspoon
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Switchboard-Cafe/158990604124405?ref=ts&fref=ts
Twitter: @switchboardcafe
Instagram: switchboardcafe

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The Town Mouse – Great Addition to Carlton

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L and I headed to dinner to The Town Mouse on a Wednesday night. The Town Mouse has replaced the former fine dining restaurant Embrasse on Drummond Street in Carlton. The team behind this creation is the brother and sisters team of Christian McCabe (Honky Tonks and one of New Zealand’s best restaurants The Matterhorn) and Amber McCabe (Longrain), as well as Jay Comeskey (Amber’s husband).

The Town Mouse feels welcoming from the moment you walk in to the massive COME IN for GOOD TIMES welcome mat style etched into the entrance doorway. As you step in you are greeted by the glistening black tiles which are on all four walls, the centrepiece is the black bar which is lit up in all the right places and has a gunmetal grey lattice work, and is surrounded with high raw wooden stools and vintage lampshades which are dropped from the ceiling. The atmosphere is comfortable yet sophisticated. I love the use of wood against the backdrop of black – the only drawback being that there is only high stool seating.

The menu developed together with chef Dave Verheul has a strong emphasis on sharing plates and sits perfectly between the fine dining and casual categories. The menu  has been inspired by a Modern European style with flavours of Asia along the way, and is split into 6 different sections – To Start, Raw,  To Share, Vegetables (there are 5 different dishes to choose from), Meat & Fish and lastly Dessert. Looking at the dishes and the combinations of ingredients, there was a lot there that caught my attention – it was hard to just settle on a select few dishes to share between the two of us. The wine list consists of a wide selection and has been devised with the help of Lachlan Barber.

Once we had decided what we wanted and were waiting for our dishes to arrive – we were given bread along with seaweed butter. I am always a bit apprehensive about dishes that contain seaweed, but the seaweed flavour was subtle and added to the normal butter taste.

L and I started with something from the To Start section (how fitting =p) – we got the Goat’s Cheese Profiterole, Caraway, Thyme & Our Honey. They came out in tiny round morsels with a crisp crunchy outside casing and the Goat’s Cheese filling together with the spice & herbs was delicious. What made the dish interesting was the addition of the honey. I really do like the combination of the tangy cheese and the sweetness of the honey. This is a definite must try dish – a mix of savoury and sweet flavours!

Next up we got the Crab & Gurnard Terrine, Salted Lemon Curd, Nori, Pea Leaves and Crab Essence. This dish comes out beautifully presented and resembled a garden with the Crab & Gurnard Terrine being the flowers. Gurnard for those of you who don’t know is a type of sea fish. This was a dish full of flavour and textures – the terrine was soft and dense and the nori was crisp and salty. The combination of this was great and the salted lemon curd further enhanced this.

We followed up both these dishes with the Steamed Diamond Shell Clams, Black Mussels, Clam Bisque, Fennel & Rosemary and also got the Kipflers cooked in Toasted Hay, Buttermilk, Crisp Sage & Almond Brown Butter. We were also given extra bread to go with the Clam and Mussel dish to soak up the Clam Bisque – thoughtful! This dish was tasty and the seafood was fresh. The Clam Bisque was flavorsome and delicious (and there was heaps of this so the bread was definitely needed). When reading the Kipflers dish I loved the sound of all the components – especially the combination of the sage and almond brown butter – and it certainly wasn’t a let down when it came out. Once again the dish was beautifully presented with a fantastic taste to match. The almond brown butter and the buttermilk were delicious and the potatoes were cooked perfectly with the skin having a nice crunch to it in certain areas.

Next up was time for dessert and there were two dishes that caught my eye, so we asked our waiter which one we should try. He won us over with the description of the Chocolate Tart with Thai Flavors. Once again presentation of this dish was immaculate. The Chocolate tart was a rich deep dark brown colour that had a shiny glaze and was surrounded with the “Thai Flavours” – there was cucumber, mint, kaffir lime leaves, powders and crumbs. This was one of the most interesting dessert dishes I have tasted – the mix of chocolate and veggies in a sense was thrilling and actually tasted really good! The chocolate was rich and divine. A must try for all chocolate lovers.

The staff at The Town Mouse were friendly, attentive, helpful and accommodating which all added to the experience. By the time we had gotten our meals the place was buzzing and the atmosphere was warm, cool and suave all at the same time. I have already recommended this place to some of my friends and would definitely be heading back to try out the other dishes (really want to try out the Smoked Barramundi!). The Town Mouse is an awesome addition to the Melbourne food scene and the food is simply amazing – it really has surpassed its predecessors that used to accompany this venue. CHECK IT OUT for GREAT times =)

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Have a look at http://www.thetownmouse.com.au/downloads/Hungry.pdf  Wine List at http://www.thetownmouse.com.au/downloads/Thirsty.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cool, Sophisticated, Welcoming and Warm. Fantastic place for a catchup with friends, celebration – you really could spend a lot of time here.
Standout Dish: Goat’s Cheese Profiterole, Caraway, Thyme & Our Honey
Service: Fantastic and Attentive – Very Friendly as well.
Online Booking: No – But it would be best to call them up and make a reservation, as they do get quite full. There are two dinner sitting times as well.
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.thetownmouse.com.au
312 Drummond Street, Carlton
Tel No: 9347 3312

Opening Hours:
Wednesday: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Thursday to Sunday: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm

The Town Mouse on Urbanspoon

Lil Boy Blue – Great Combination of Ingredients

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My friends and I headed to Lil Boy Blue for breakkie/brunch on a Sunday. I had seen some of my other friends visiting this place for dinner and the food looked amazing, so decided to check it out.

Lil Boy Blue is a restaurant and bar in Kew by owner/chef Joshua Clarke and is located in a heritage listed buildling. The place has a modern yet rustic feel and is filled with wooden tables complete with blue water glasses (which I really want for my house by the way), a brass horn which is mounted on the wall and the look is completed with a sketch of a little boy (done by local artist Conrad Bizjak). It really does live up to its name!

There is the main dining area at the front of the restaurant, and you can walk through to where the kitchen is and there are higher tables where you can dine as well. There is an upstairs function area which is available for bookings as well as a private sunroom.

The menu is a mix of simple Modern Australian food, where an interesting mix of ingredients are put together in each dish and consists of Breakfast (served till 2pm on weekends), Nibbles, Lil Plates and Big Plates are also available on the menu which is available later on in the day and into the night. There is also a dessert menu, and sweets which are made in-house every morning by the chefs which are located in the front cabinet.

My friends and I were seated on the higher tables and were given the food menus to peruse. I had had a quick glance at the menu before coming here so had an idea of what I wanted to have already, but was still torn between certain dishes as to what to order. I was tossing up between the Salmon Gravlax with Polenta Chips, the Piklets and the Poached and Crumbed eggs (you know how much I love my crumbed poached eggs =p). I settled with the Poached and Crumbed eggs, as P was getting the Salmon Gravlax and I was going to try some of hers. We also agreed to share the Pikelets at the end – as our dessert for brunch =p
T also wanted to try out the Popcorn Pork Belly Popcorn (which is under the Nibbles section and was only available after 12, but the waitress asked the kitchen and we were available to get this dish). That’s a big tick for customer service! Our waitress also asked us if we wanted to wait until we finished our food before the pikelets were put thru so they would be fresh when they came out – thoughtful – another big tick!

We started off our meals by getting our coffees that we ordered. The coffee here comes from Allpress and was nutty and creamy and all round delicious.When our dishes came out, they were visually pleasing and this proceeded in all three of us taking many pictures of our food (yes we were those people =p). Once we were done, we tucked into the food. My dish was Poached & Crumbed Eggs with Trio of Mushrooms, Soldiers, Salsa Verde, Pickled Capsicum & Goat’s Curd. T had the same dish as me but added salmon and P had the Salmon Gravlax with Polenta Chips, Avocado Puree, Poached Egg & Creme Fraiche,  Dill & Mustard Dressing.

My dish was delicious – I loved the trio of mushrooms and they were juicy and flavoursome, this coupled with the pickled capsicum and the soft texture  and tanginess of the goat’s curd completed the dish. I liked the addition of  soldiers – pieces of buttered sourdough. The poached crumbed egg was perfectly cooked, and the yolk was runny just like how a poached egg should be. One addition that I would have liked would have been a sauce or some sort – to dip the soldiers into.

P had the Salmon Gravalax – this means that the salmon has been cured in salt, sugar and dill which adds to the flavour and yummyness of the salmon. The Polenta chips were fluffy and fresh, and were perfectly cooked – crunchy on the outside and soft and like clouds on the inside. The avacado puree was smooth and the creme fraiche had the perfect tanginess to it. As a whole the dish was cleverly put together and tasted fantastic. Definitely a dish try. T and P enjoyed the Popcorn Pork Belly that came with Apple Aioli. I thought the combination was quite interesting and as I dont eat pork, I only tried the apple aioli which was sweet and fresh.

The Pikelets came once we done with our savoury dishes. The Pikelets came with pear, apple, vanilla & spice compote, cinnamon ice cream & almond praline. The Pikelets were fluffy and lightly sweetened and the combination with the poached pear and apple was fantastic. The ice cream was my favourite component of the dish – I have never had cinnamon ice cream before. Eventhough I was really full from my savoury dish, I really couldn’t leave any of this dish behind – it was that yummy. I must say it is one of my favourite pancake / pikelet dishes to date.

Lil Boy Blue is a great find in Kew and the atmosphere is welcoming and the place is buzzing with conversation. The service is friendly, warm and attentive. I do want to come back and check out their dinner dishes and see if they are just as good as their breakkie ones. Lil Boy Blue is open seven days a week and goes right through to dinner and cocktails from Tuesday to Saturday.

Rating: 3.5 Pandas
Price:$$$
Menu: The menu can be found at http://www.lilboyblue.com.au/menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed, Buzzing with chatter and warm, great for a catchup with friends
Standout Dish: Pikelets with Pear, Apple, Vanilla & Spice Compote, Cinnamon Ice cream & Almond Praline
Service: Friendly, Warm and Attentive
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.lilboyblue.com.au
309 High Street, Kew
Tel No: 9853 5003

Opening Hours:
Monday: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Tuesday to Saturday 8:00 am – 11:00 pm
Sunday: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Lil Boy Blue on Urbanspoon