Arbory Bar & Eatery – Melbourne’s Longest Outdoor Bar!

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Menu: Arbory – Melbourne’s longest outdoor bar and eatery – is conveniently located right across from where I work so is very easily accessible to me. However its location makes it easily accessible to just about anyone that catches a … Continue reading

Addict Food + Coffee – Mushroom Delight!

panda 3.5 rating

Menu:
Breakfast Menu Lunch Menu

Addict Food and Coffee had been on my list since they opened earlier this year. Located in Fitzroy on Johnston Street, between Brunswick Street and Smith Street and right on the corner of Gore Street, Addict is owned by two couples – Greg and Brooke Brassil (who used to own a coffee roastery back in Shepparton) together with Joe and Brooke Ventura (who run the floor here at Addict). Ex-St Ali chef runs the kitchen –  Steve Hogan – with barista Greg Brassil pumping out Clement and Market Lane coffee in both espresso and filter.

Addict is medium in size is light filled and airy thanks to the windows that wrap around the corner positioning of the store. The décor is minimalist complemented with wooden tables that have black top, black chairs which can seat parties of two or four. There is also a communal table at the front for larger parties. Colourful flowers in jars together with pot plants hung up with macramé nets together with a sneeky picture that seems to have taken inspiration from the Gorillaz further add style and charisma to the venue.

The menu created by Boyd not only includes regular breakfast dishes you would expect to see but also some intriguingly created dish combinations. The breakfast menu runs all day together with a six dish lunch menu. Crumpets are supplied from Dr Marty, butter from Pepe Saya with Little Bertha supplying the delicious cakes, slices located at the front counter. The breakfast menu consists of dishes such as Wholemeal Buttermilk Pancakes served with a dollop of mascarpone and poached quince, Cumberland Sausage + Black Pudding, Northern Beans (with tarragon parsley, confit tomatoes, poached eggs, garlic croutons), House Cured Smoked Salmon and your usual breakkie dishes with a difference such as Eggs Benedict served with smoked Ham Hock + Tarragon Hollandaise, Porridge with Bananas, Walnuts + Butterscotch Sauce.

The lunch menu covers all dietary bases with offerings of a Pulled Pork Burger, Chicken Breast with Kipfler Potatoes, Confit Duck, Salad of Quinoa & Roasted Root Vegetables and Olive Bread with Avocado, Baby Tomatoes, Basil Pesto, Haloumi Crumbs & a Poached Egg.

Aside from coffee you can find Mork Hot Chocolate, Prana Chai as well as a great selection of Teas and juices. Bonsoy and Almond Milk are also available.

We arrived on a Saturday around 11am and the place was buzzing and quite packed – we were asked to put our name down for a table for two with a 10 -15 minute wait, however within 5 minutes we had a table.

I ordered a latte to start whilst I decided what to order for breakfast and N ordered a long black. N’s long black came served with sparkling water – and he said it was perfectly flavoured and crisp. My latte was full bodied, rich and whilst no particular flavours stood out it was a well-rounded and balanced coffee.
During my meal I also ordered a Prana Chai which comes served on a wooden board; with the chai in a silver pot to allow it to brew longer. You can then pour cup fulls yourself when you are satisfied with the length of time that it has been brewed. The chai was delicious – warm with just the right hint of spice added.

Deciding on a breakfast dish was hard – I was tossing up between the Buttermilk Pancakes, Corn Fritters or the Potato Hash + Mushroom Duxelles. I decided to go with the Potato Hash + Mushroom Duxelles (with roasted field mushroom, poached egg + caramelized onion) due to my hankering for mushrooms that won over my sweet cravings. N ordered the Black Beans, Chorizo + Otway Pork served with garlic crumbs + a poached egg.

My only complaint for the day would be that the wait time for food was a tad over the top – we waited around 50 minutes for our meals to arrive – and I had to ask twice how long our meals would be. I am not quite sure why it took so long for two dishes to come out, I mean there seemed to be turnover of patrons quite regularly and other dishes seemed to come out with a much shorter period of time – lost order perhaps? We weren’t really offered an explanation – but just an apology for the long wait.

My dish was perfectly plated – the finely chopped and mixed garlic flavoured mushroom mash which provided a stable base for the crisp and deep fried deliciousness that was the potato hash on top, followed by a whole roasted field mushroom and finished off with a perfectly poached egg. It was not only art perfection but flavour perfection. The mix of earthiness and butteriness paired with the crunchy-on-the-outside-yet-soft-on –the-inside potatoes was divine. The caramelised onions added an element of richness and sweetness which rounded the dish brilliantly. A winner of a dish and a must try!

N’s dish was presented well as well – with the stewed black beans and chorizo mix taking up most of the plate with a thick slice of Otway pork sitting on top and finished with a poached egg – garlic crumbs added an element of flavour and crunchy surprise. N said that his dish was luke warm and bordering on cold and that there wasn’t that many pieces of chorizo. Maybe it was their off day but this dish has the opportunity to be better.

The staff here are quite friendly and really know their dishes when you ask them to explain a component you hadn’t heard of before. Dishes are beautifully presented with appealing dishes and the coffee is great on the palate. The place is warm, inviting and makes you relax. A pity about the wait time for our food – but hopefully many don’t encounter this – some would say the wait could be forgotten once you taste the dishes. Try it out for yourself.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed, Welcoming and Chilled out. Great light filled space, which is great to meet friends for a catch up
Standout Dish: Potato Hash + Mushrom Duxelles with roasted field mushroom, poached egg + caramelised onion
Service: Friendly and Knowledgeable
Online Booking: NoRestaurant Details and Location:
http://www.addictmelbourne.com/
240-242 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
Tel No: 9415 6420

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Addict Food and Coffee on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/addictmelbourne
Twitter: @addictfitzroy
Instagram: addictfoodandcoffee

Göz City – Gözleme Charm

panda 4 rating

Menu:
The Menu Gözleme menu halal (1)

One of Grazing Panda’s readers emailed me about Goz City to let me know that it was a restaurant that I should add to my Halal Restaurant tab – and from that time onwards I was keen to check it out. Having visited Turkey earlier in the year I was looking forward to eating one of Turkey’s famous age-old foods.

Goz City is the first of its kind – the first standalone speciality gözleme store in the Melbourne CBD, well just Melbourne even – and was opened in January by Taylan Aksoy. Aksoy together with his dad Alan also owns Koy in South Melbourne – where you can purchase gözlemes as well; and on a busy day they can sell upwards of 300!

Goz City is a smallish store located near the corner of Little Collins and Williams Street in the Melbourne CBD, complete with a cosy, homely and relaxed vibe. What I love is that you can stand out the front and watch through the front window as the gözleme are made. You can watch their swift, efficient process as they churn out these traditional flatbreads. The process involves the yufka pastry being rolled, flattened, filled with your choice of topping and cooked to order.
The menu consists of four different varieties – Cheese & Spinach, Herbed Chicken & Mushroom, Minced Meat (Beef) or Mushroom & Vegetables – which are $10 each (or if you want to purchase it with a drink $12). These are complemented weekly, with unique and seasonally-driven gözleme flavours.
There are also Boreks ($4 each or if you order it with a coffee for $6) available in the same flavours, as well as Pides (such as Tomato & Egg or Sucuk Sausage & Egg for $5 each or $7 with a coffee). There is also the option of House Made Soup served with a toasted Turkish Bagel (when I visited the soup of the day was Mushroom). There is also a great selection of Turkish, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern inspired salads such as Cypriot Cauliflower or Quinoa Tabouli.
Coffee served is from Tobys Estate and comes in a House Blend as well as a Single Origin.

Their main focus is on takeaway – but if you get in early and beat the rush there are around 14 seats available – both inside and outside – there is a high bench for seating as well as some lower wooden tables. Lines are out the door especially if you arrive after 12pm with the wait time not too long (you are getting fresh, made to order gözlemes after all!).
Earthy, rustic and warm tones are used throughout the venue coupled with black and white pictures. Gözlemes are presented on a wooden board – with the gözleme cut into convenient mixed sized rectangles and served with sour cream. The serving size is very generous (I struggled to finish the entire serving!) – and the dish is very very filling. I ordered the Herbed Chicken & Mushroom gözleme – which had been seasoned perfectly and tasted great. The bread was cooked just right as well – crispy on the outside and soft on the lower layers. My only critique would be that instead of the gözleme being served with sour cream I would have preferred it to be garlic sauce.
I also had a minced lamb borek – which was a tad bit on the oily side – but was succulent and delicious. The pastry used for the borek is thin, light and crunchy.

There are also Homemade Turkish sweets such as Baklava and Turkish Delight available for sale as well as Turkish Coffee.

Goz City combines the age-old gözleme tradition with a distinct modern twist – offering a unique Turkish food experience. Gözleme is fast becoming the latest street food craze to hit town and if the queues are anything to go by – it will be one to stick around for a while to come!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the pictures above or go to http://www.gozcity.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Homely and Relaxed
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.gozcity.com.au/
502 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9041 5667

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

Goz City on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gozcitycbd
Twitter: @GozCity
Instagram: Goz City

Good Food & Wine Show – Thanks Rachel’s Gourmet Yoghurt

I was invited to check out the Good Food & Wine Show in Melbourne by Rachel’s Gourmet Yoghurt. I must say this year’s show was the best show put on than any of the other previous years I have attended. There were lots of interesting food and drink stalls, and in keeping with the times lots of products that were tailored to the growing need for Gluten-Free, Dairy Free, Lactose Free etc.

Rachel's Stand

Rachel’s Stand

Rachel's Stand

Rachel’s Stand

rachels

Rachel’s was launched in the early 90s and has grown onto becoming one of the UK’s favourite yoghurts. With that market secured they have transitioned to Australia to make the same indentation in the market. Rachel’s yoghurt is a low fat product that combines fresh Australian Milk together with a unique fusion of fruits resulting in creamy, delicious yoghurt. They use a traditional recipe and quality ingredients. There are currently 4 different flavours:
Mango & Madagascan Vanilla
Black Plum & Roasted Fig
Wild Strawberry & Rhubarb
Peaches & Vine Ripened Passionfruit
They can be purchased at Woolworths, Coles or favourite independent supermarket. And another fantastic fact to note is that they are Gluten Free! For more information check out their website at http://www.rachelsyoghurts.com.au/

It was quite ironic that I received this invite from Rachel’s as it was only the previous couple of weeks that I felt like yoghurt and went to Woolworths and ended up purchasing Rachel’s yoghurts as the flavour combination really interested me. I tried the Mango & Madagascan Vanilla, as well as the Black Plum & Roasted Fig. I loved and enjoyed both the flavours – they both had a smooth and creamy texture paired together with nice big fresh chunks of fruit! Perfect! What is even handier is that under the lid, there is a foldable spoon that you can use! Briiliant! They do really follow their tag line – Combining passion and care with premium ingredients.

I am just going to point of some of my highlights and stalls that I thought were pretty amazing. We started off with trying out some nuts (I don’t have any pictures, as I think I was too busy trying out the samples) – I ended up buying Chilli Macadamias and Chilli & Lime Cashews – both of which were delicious! They also had some sweet flavoured nuts – such as honey and caramel macadamias and cashews.

The Ginger People
Ginger People Product

The Ginger People were another stall that was exciting – we tried some lollies that contained ginger as well trying the ginger sweets – in the form of chewies and candies, as well trying out some of the beverages on offer. We found the crystallised ginger a bit too overpowering but enjoyed the ginger sweets and the beverages. One of their products that caught my eye was the Organic Ginger Syrup – their version of the honey maple syrup – unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to try this out.

The Ginger People have been around for around 30 years and source premier quality ginger to create innovative ginger products that are healthy for you. They are Australian owned and operate dand the most award winning ginger brand. The Ginger People’s products can be purchased at Go Vita, Healthy Life, Natural & Organic Supermarket, Great Earth Super Discount Health Shop and select IGA stores. You can also order online from their e0tail partners – Kombu Wholefoods and Aussie Health Products. For more information check out their website at http://gingerpeople.com.au/. For Australia stockists you can visit http://www.aulifeproducts.com.au/stockists1.html

Bruce Cost Ginger Ale

One of my favourite stalls of the day would have to be the Bruce Cost Ginger Ale – where we got to sample ginger ale with a difference. I am the first to admit that I am not a huge fan of ginger beer or ginger ale, but I had a look at the flavours and they really tweaked my interest. The Jasmine Tea and Pomegranate with Hibiscus that caught my eye. There is also a Passionfruit with Yellow Ginger (Tumeric) flavour as well as the Original and ^66”. I tried the Jasmine Tea flavour first and loved the jasmine notes mixed together with the refreshing ginger. Next up I sampled the Pomegranate with Hisbiscus – the pomegranate was subtle and once again it was a refreshing drink. I did prefer the Jasmine Tea flavour so I decided to purchase some.

This ginger ale is sparkling and refreshing is made with only fresh ginger and pure cane sugar. To that they add the full leaf of jasmine or fruit pulp to get the flavouring just right. The end result is unfiltered, which has tiny ginger particles through it that need to be shaken before drinking and enjoying. It also provides a source of iron, calcium, vitamin A and C. For more information about their products and to find out where you can purchase their products from refer to their website at www.brucecostgingerale.com

Walker Foods
Carribean Sauces

Walkerswood Carribean Foods was another stall that caught my eye – as I LOVEE SPICY foods and sauces! I am always on the lookout for the next spiciest sauce that I can add to my food for that extra oomph! The Jamaican Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce was my favourite and rather spicy! A clear runner up in terms of both flavouring and spice was the Jaimaican Jonkanoo Pepper Sauce.

Walkerswood Carribean Foods is named after a rural village in Jamaica hidden in the green hills of St Ann – there a factory produces these wonderful spicy tasting sauces, seasoning and condiments from the freshly harvested produce from the area. For more information about their beginning, their products and where you can purchase their products – visit their website at www.walkerswood.com

Boss Man Jamaican Jerk Boss Man Jamaican Jerk Cassowara Chips

 There was also the Jamaincan Boss Jerk Food stand and this is where we decided to get some food for lunch. There was corn on the cob for sale, as well as their famous Jerk Chicken, but we both decided to get the Cassava chips. They were so popular that we had to wait in line a good 10 minutes to get them. Cassava is a woody shrub and is a major source of carbohydrates and is also called manioc, yucca, mogo or tapioca root. The chips came in a cone shaped banana leave style paper with seasoning. I added some of the spicy sauces. The chips tasted great and were worth the wait – they had a sweetness to them and were soft on the inside.

Noshu Donuts Noshu Donuts
Noshu Donuts Close up of Noshu Donuts

Noshu (which literally means No Sugar) is an Australian owned company and strive to achieve their philosophy “All Love, No Sugar” – and I think they do this really well. When chatting to the girl working at the stall she mentioned that just because there are people out there with allergies, intolerances or even diabetes – they shouldn’t have to give up on proper tasting food and eat products that taste like cardboard – this is where Noshu steps in. Noshu is 100% sugar free and the sweetness that they do have in their products come from ingredients such as pumpkin, coconut and gluten free flours. What really caught my attention was when the girl mentioned that their baked donuts have less sugar, less carbs and more fibre than a medium apple! Amazing! Currently their products consist of donuts – there are three different flavours to choose from – however in the near future they are looking to extend these to include chocolate brownies and ANZAC biscuits.

The three flavours of donuts are – Dark Chocolate and Raspberry, Caramel Spice and Banana and Coconut. My favourite would have to be the Dark chocolate and raspberry and caramel spice. They have denseness to them, yet it feels and tastes really smooth. They really do taste good and you don’t have to feel guilty eating them! Double win!

You can store these donuts in the fridge for up to 4 weeks and up to 5 months in the freezer. You can purchase these products via their website www.noshu.com.au and they offer next day deliver to most post codes (no PO Boxes).

Coconut Essence Coconut Essence Product List Coconut Chips and Nutella

JT’s Coconut Essence was another stall that had some great products – their coconut chips in a variety of flavours as well as their version of nutella – cocotella were a hit. Their cocotella is sugar, gluten and nut free! The girl at the stall recommended eating the cocotella with banana – apparently they made for a great mix.

I really enjoyed their coconut chips – there is original, chocolate and salt & vinegar – especially the chocolate flavour. The Salt & Vinegar flavour I wasn’t a huge fan of, and the original was quite tasty as well. The coconut chips are baked not fried, and have the perfect crispness to them. They are high in antioxidants, minerals, caprylic and beneficial lauric acids, all whilst being vegan, dairy and gluten free together with having no cholesterol and trans fat. They are really addictive (in fact I am snacking on some whilst I write this post!)

JT’s Coconut Essence is an Austrlaian owned company and produce products that are pure, natural and healthy from fresh green coconuts that are harvested and canned on the same day. Other products they have are coconut water, coconut oil, coconut oil gel capsules and coconut sorbet! For more information on where to purchase these products and for recipes and other products refer to their website at http://www.coconutessence.com.au

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As well as visiting a number of other stalls, we also took a break from walking around carrying all the things we bought to watch Jacques Reymond Live at the Good Food Theatre. He was making a lamb dish, a pork belly dish and a dessert dish of balsamic strawberries and cream. It was great to watch a chef of his experience and talent in action, as well as listening to his helpful tips and secrets. He has a great character and exudes enthusiasm about cooking and food – and he is quite funny too!

Chorizo on a Stick Chorizo on a Stick Chorizo on a Stick

Another interesting find was seeing people eat this – Chorizo on a stick proudly supplied by Salumi Australia! They were a sure hit with many people at the show! Great idea! Check out their website for more information on their products and stockists at http://www.salumi.com.au/

Live Honey Bees

Live Bees were on show as well – this was wine made using honey!

Cheese from Boosey
Boosey Creek Cheese was one of the cheese we got to sample in a very busy and crowded Cheese Alley. Quite tasty I must say!

Great Offer for Cured Meats
This show-bag of Cured Meats from Barossa Fine Foods was fantastic – it came with 5 different types of cured meats as well as small cleaver which was not only a handy size but had a very sharp blade.

Overall A and I had a great time at the Good Food and Wine Show and walked away with many heavy bags of our purchases! So much so that we had to tram it to meet the boys to carry the heavy weights to the car!

Zaatar – Cheap and Delicious

panda 4 rating

Menu:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zaatar on Urbanspoon

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

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

Bowery to Williamsburg – A Piece of NYC in Melbourne

panda-5-rating6

Bowery to Williamsburg is new to the cobblestone laneway of Melbourne namely Oliver Lane (which also houses the famous Coda) – is known for its fantastic bagels and out of this world sandwiches.

Bowery to Williamsburg is a New-York inspired deli style venue brought to you by the team behind the ever popular Hardware Societe (Will and Di). It is aptly named after the Bowery Station of New York and comes complete with an underground style area to sit. At cobblestone street level there are communal tables where you can sit outside as well as having its own Slayer coffee machine, step through the doors (which are cleverly held open by a brass shoe) and down the stairs and you are greeted by a massive Slayer coffee machine (which sources local espresso coffee- Padre coffee beans from Brunswick) and copper trimmed sandwich counter, completed with a large sign that tells you how to order. Its simple really – 1) Choose your sandwich, 2) Select your Side and 3)Add some pretzels & pickle and Pay – $16.50 for the lot or $12.50 for the sandwich only – which would mean you only complete step 1 =)

In this downstairs area there is also a large marble communal table with interesting chairs that you need to come early during the lunch hour to secure a seat. There are also other single tables around the place. The menu (as you can see from the above picture) comes on little cards and outlines exactly what is in each sandwich and the different sides that you can choose from. There is also a wooden wall with chalk boards that have the menu on it as well.  There are 10 different sandwiches to choose from – covering all bases from – mushrooms to salmon, to corned beef to pork and almond meatballs. The combinations are fresh and ingenious! Here they also cater for people that would require gluten-free bread – this will cost $1 extra.

Breakfast time is when the bagels are available – there are several varieties of bagel on offer – both savory and sweet – all made by 5 and Dime. Options include the sour cherry bagel with a smear of lemon curd, or perhaps a beetroot and rye bagel with cream cheese. There are cooked breakfasts too, like poached eggs with maple baked beans and a bacon slab. To add to this there is your something sweet which sits in the cabinet and the counter such as Key Lime Pie and Maple Pecan Pie.

Our waitress comes over and explains the special sides that we can order and takes our drinks order. I have to say now I am not a fan of peanut butter at all, but the sound of a peanut butter hot chocolate is tempting as does the Mofo Deluxe Hot Chocolate. I decide to give the Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate a go and I am so so so glad I did! It is one of the best hot chocolates that I have had and what makes it better is that it comes with a mini Reece’s Peanut Butter cup on the side! It comes served in a faux crumpled plastic cup and is so rich and chocolately and just simply delicious. If you are game you can add your mini Reece’s Butter Cup into the hot chocolate for more gooey yumness. Another point to note – coffees come out with a Hersheys’ Treat.

For lunch I decided to go with sandwich combo and get the pretzels, dill gherkin and a side – I mean why wouldn’t you – it just sounds and looks oh so good! I go for the Field Mushroom sandwich with pomegranate tabouli and minted yoghurt – and as my side I choose the Mac ‘n’ Cheese. I came with A and she ordered the Meatballs Sandwich on its own which comes with Pork & Almond balls, Harissa Tomato Sugo and Mozzarella. My sandwich was delicious – the mushroom was juicy and fresh and the addition of the tabouli and minted yoghurt with the bursts of pomegranate provided the tanginess and the acidity. Having a bite of the pickle added another depth to the meal. The Mac ‘n’ Cheese was warm and tasty and served off to the side in its own little jar with the cheese melted messily around it. I loved this concept. The whole meal came plated out on a wooden board.

The staff are friendly, welcoming and chirpy and are always willing to help you decide on menu. I will definitely be frequenting this place even though there might be lines – I think it’s worth the wait! The food brings together interesting combination of ingredients and is fresh and tasty. I really want to come back during breakfast time and try out the bagels and check out the breakkie menu as well. Bowery to Williamsburg is a homage to the underground station that is New York and really does bring that part of the world to what is typically a Melbourne laneway and is a great cafe / takeaway place.

NOTE: Bowery to Williamsburg is a CASH ONLY venue

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to the photos above for the menu – there are 10 different sandwiches to choose from. Breakfast consists of bagel, eggs etc
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: A piece of NYC in Melbourne – fresh, gritty and fun
Standout Dish: Any of the sandwiches really! Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate!
Service: Friendly, chirpy and always happy to help
Online Booking: No – seating is first in, first served. I suggest getting there at 12pm in order to get a seat during lunch hour.
Restaurant Details and Location:
16 Oliver Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9077 0162

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 3:30pm

Bowery to Williamsburg on Urbanspoon

Epocha – Tasty & Wholesome Food!

panda-4-5-rating4

halal (1)(ONLY THE CHICKEN IS HALAL)

Epocha which means ‘a new or distinctive era’ in a variety of European languages is a newly opened restaurant in Rathdowne Street, Carlton. It is located in the stunning heritage listed Victorian terrace which overlooks Carlton Gardens. And as owner Angie Giannakodakis, researched and discovered that it was commissioned by gentlewoman Hannah Mabel in 1884 – and the upstairs bar pays homage to her and is aptly called Hannah’s Bar.

Epocha is European inspired restaurant and bar brought to you by Angie Giannakodakis (former front-of-house manager The Press Club) together with business partner Guy Holder. The head chef is Mick Bolam who is the former head chef of Restaurant Sanctuary at Peppers in the Hunter Valley. The main focus of Epocha is around its main philosophy – sharing tasty and wholesome food. It is home style food that pays tribute to its European traditions with touches of Greek, English and French influences (such as the charcuterie and cheeses).

As you walk up the stairs to the terrace house entrance you know that you are about to expect something that you will be awe of – and you wont be disappointed. A elegant and rustic dining room welcomes you complete with wooden floors (that are creaky for authenticity), low hanging lights, dark wooden furniture with a colourful tiled table top, a huge old school style clock on the wall and homely olive green chairs. It really has a homely feel to it and you know you are in good hands as the service is impeccable, warm and welcoming – you just fit right in.

In addition to the main downstairs dining area, there is an upstairs area / function room with a balcony – this is Hannah’s Bar. You can come here for casual drinks as well as play games of backgammon.

We were seating in the downstairs dining area and the first thing that caught my idea was a wooden trolley which had a variety of cheeses as well as desserts on offer. What also caught my eye on the trolley was the wooden frame which housed honeycomb and honey. Such a great idea which once again makes it feel more homely. The menu is split into different sections such as snacks, small shares, large shares, accompaniments, dessert & cheese. There is also a sharing menu which is $68 per person where the Chef will pick what dishes your table gets. We decided to pick some dishes from each of the snacks, small shares, large shares and accompaniments. The waitress was helpful in letting us know if she thought we had ordered too many dishes, and assisted us in choosing our dishes as well.

Whilst we waited for our food we were given warm bread which comes in a knotted cloth bag which is something different. The bread (rye and caraway seed) was freshly made, soft and delicious. I got an oyster to start off with – fresh and tasty. We also got Mushroom Aranchini and Jamon, Fior Di Latte Croquettes to start off with. The Mushroom Aranchini was crumbed and crunchy on the outside and the filling on the inside was perfectly seasoned, and the mushrooms were moist and tasty. My friends did enjoy the Jamon Croquettes as well, and they were on the large side so that was an added bonus. We also got the Spiced Chickpea and Bread Crisps. The spiced chickpea was quite tasty and had a great balance of tanginess and spice. I loved the addition of the bread crisps – I enjoyed the crunchiness against the chickpea dip.

Some of the smaller share dishes that we selected were – Spring Asparagus with Slow Cooked Hens Egg, Tarragon and the Baby Carrots, Honey, Goat’s Curd, Sesame, Beetroot and Skate, Caper, Lemon, Parsley, Fava and lastly the Confit Duck Leg, Peas, Lettuce. The asparagus dish was a very different and interesting dish  – the asparagus was simply sautéed and absorbed the flavours of the tarragon, the hens egg was perfectly cooked and once you cracked it open the yolk oozed out and served as an additional sauce for the asparagus. The flavour combination was a mash of flavours that worked.

The Beetroot and Honey dish was my favourite dish and to this day I talk about it. I LOVED IT. The honey together with the goats curd was a great mix and was delicious – add in the sweetness and softness of the beetroot and carrots and you truly have a memorable dish. Highly recommended.

Skate is a type of large marine fish and this dish came with capers, lemon and fava – which is a type of bean. The sauce was tangy and creamy all at the same time. The skate was cooked fantastically and was still moist and mild in flavour. You really did need the addition of the capers and the sauce to really make the dish and make them it did. Another really tasty dish.

Once we had finished our snacks and smaller share dishes, it time for the larger shares. First up we got the Bird – which consisted of the breast, wing, thigh and leg. Crispy and crackly on the outside, moist and simply seasoned on the inside. This dish was served with a swig of rosemary. The whole fish that we got was Flounder – this came with Fruit Rub, Dill, Lemon and Salsa Verde. The dish comes out to the table as a whole fish and then we get to watch our waitress de-bone the entire fish for us. It’s a great process to watch as they seem to glide through the process – I could never do it with such ease. The fish is buttery and cooked amazingly, the salsa verde and fruit rub give it a mix of tangy and sweetness – you could add lemon if you needed an additional tang. We did order another larger dish but it was never brought out – and we were actually alright with that anyway as we were all so full and still had dessert to go.

Dessert time meant that the trolley was wheeled over to us for us to decide – they all cost $12. We settled on getting one of each dessert – Crème brulee, Chocolate Gateau, Tiramasu and Lemon & Ricotta Cannoli. The Crème brulee was smooth, sweet and small with a delicious crackling on top. The Lemon & Ricotta Cannoli was crunchy and the pastry was delicious – the lemon filling was buttery, sharp and strong all at the same time. The tiramisu ( I couldn’t have this as it had lots of alcohol in it) was quite alcohol filled as my friends told me but delicious nonetheless. The Chocolate Gateau was a clear winner – from the brownie bass to the centre chocolate mousse filling and topped off with a ganache chocolate topping. It looked as rich as it sounds but was such a great way to finish a fantastic meal.

Epocha is a fantastic place that everyone should definitely check it out – be it for a casual drink upstairs or if its a meal at the dining room downstairs. The atmosphere is homely, welcoming and quaint and the service is one of the best that I have experienced in Melbourne. There is antique silverware, vintage cutlery and crockery, colorful table tops, wooden creaky floors all which add to its uniqueness. There is also an international wine selection and the staff are happy to assist in getting you the right selection. If there is one place that should be on your list of places to try out it should be EPOCHA.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Dinner Menu – can be found at http://epocha.com.au/pdf/Epocha-Menu.pdf
On Sundays there is a four course menu available for a Family Sunday priced at $45 pp
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience:
Standout Dish: Baby Carrots, Honey, Goats Curd, Seasame, Beetroot (this is my new fave salad – IT’S THAT GOOD!!)
Service: Fantastic and Attentive and Friendly. We asked our waitress quite a bit of questions and she answered all of them and if she didn’t know the answer, she found out. They are also very inviting and hospitable. All round great service!
Online Booking: They are currently updating their website so it is best to call or email at eat@epocha.com.au
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://epocha.com.au/
49 Rathdowne St, Carlton
Tel No: 9036 4949

Opening Hours:
Closed Mondays
Lunch
Tuesday to Saturday: From 12pm
Dinner
Tuesday to Saturday: 5:30pm to Late
Sunday Roast Lunch: 12pm to 4pm

Hannah’s Bar
Tuesday to Saturday: 12pm to Late

Epocha on Urbanspoon