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

STREAT – Doing It For The Young Kids – Great Cause!

panda 4 rating

Information & Menu:
About STREAT More About STREAT Food Menu Coffee & Drinks

G and I were meeting up for brunch on the weekend and we decided to check out STREAT in Flemington. STREAT is a place with a story – they are a non-profit social enterprise that provides homeless youth with life-skills, work experience and training that they require to start a career in the hospitality industry. STREAT literally translates to Street youth + Street Food + Street Culture.

STREAT is founded by Rebecca Scott and Kate Barrelle. They got the idea after being inspired by KOTO – a training program in Vietnam that provides street youth with job opportunities. STREAT has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 2010 from two small food carts located in Federation Square in Melbourne to now having three stores – Flemington, Melbourne Central and McKillop St in the Melbourne CBD. They have grown rapidly have sold around 500,000 meals and coffees and provided almost 5,000 days of training and work experience to over 100 local street youth. Two of their trainees from the very first class are now fully qualified Chefs in Melbourne. They have also recently won an award for being Australia’s Most Innovative Social Enterprise.

The vibe at STREAT when you walk in in buzzing and it really does have a homely and welcoming charm about it. As you walk in there is communal table directly to your right, with wooden tables and mismatched chairs along the left hand side. There is the main counter area where you can order takeaway coffee or grab a sweet treat to go. The vibrant electric blue Marzocco coffee machine sits proudly on top at the front counter, adding a burst of colour amongst the black chalkboard and brown tiled walls. The kitchen is located at the very back of the venue. We are seated at the communal table – and the way in which we are facing allows us to read the menu off the chalkboard wall. The menu is displayed both on the wall of the venue as well as in booklet form which the friendly staff hand to you as you sit down and place your coffee order.

Coffee here is roasted on site in their vintage Probat coffee roasted, and you can have a choice between Single Origins – Colombia, Primavera, Tolima as well as Cold Brews – Honduras, Santa Marta, Pacamara. These of course change week by week and give the customers a chance to try coffees from different countries and regions.
STREAT also offers two blends – their Signature Social Blend as well as a darker Deluxe Blend. The blends are seasonal and change as new crops come through, altering the flavour ever so slightly.
I ordered a latte from their Signature Social Blend – which has notes of nuts and caramel with a creamy end note (thanks to the milk being frothed to perfection). It was a delicious and tasty coffee that exuded warmness.

What also caught my attention (as the couple next to us had ordered it) was the Hot Yuzu Tea (Hot Citrus). When it comes out all it is – is boiling hot water with the citrus kernels at the bottom of the glass. Once you stir it is when all the magic happens – the liquid is no longer clear but a warm yellow colour and the flavour is reminiscent of lemon, orange and grapefruit all mixed together. It was brilliant and perfect for my sore throat.

The menu is in booklet form and I love that it has a whole section dedicated to everything about STREAT as well as information such as what type of support they offer, who their major targets are, some facts and how you can get involved if you want to help out. What I also think is great is their Pay It Forward scheme – usually when you buy coffees and have a coffee card, the 9th or 10th coffee is free, instead at STREAT this 9th coffee or meal (if you have had 8 previous meals then a meal will be given instead) is given to a homeless person. What a fantastic idea!

The food menu has a great variety and changes seasonally. When G & I went it was all about their autumn menu. You can find the usual suspects such as Eggs on toast where you can have added extras such as grilled tomato, bacon, avocado etc. There are also two different types of Baked Eggs, a French Toast dish (think cinnamon ganache, poached pear – yum!), Cauliflower cheese croquettes as well as a dish they called “The Hunter” (Poached eggs, bacon, chorizo, tomato relish) and “The Gatherer” (the vegetarian alternative – Poached eggs, Spinach, Mushrooms, Hash Brown). For the dishes that ebb ore on the lunch side – Salt Beef Bagel, Lamb in filo pastry, Beef Burger, Chorizo and Egg Roll, BLT and Seoul Sanga just to name a few.
Their food is handmade fresh every day and tries to use local produce from local suppliers where they can. They are also very happy to cater for whatever dietary requirement you have – G can’t have sesame seeds or nuts and they were happy to change the bread on her dish to avoid this.

I ordered the Kasundi Eggs – House made Eggplant Kasundi, Avocado, Dukkah Paneer, Fresh Herb Salad and Poached Egg on Sourdough – which was a special for the day. The dish came out looking like a breakfast tower – the bread at the base of the dis with the avocado, poached eggs piled on top with the eggplant kasundi drizzled on top and finished with coriander. The Dukkah Paneer was placed sporadically around the dish. The poached eggs were cooked perfectly and oozed rich golden yolk which worked well with the smooth avocado. The eggplant kasundi was delicious with a hint of spice – I would have liked more of it on my dish. Overall the dish was well flavoured and I loved the added texture combination thanks to the dukkah and the seeded sourdough.

G ordered the Baked Eggs with Hash Brown, Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, Spanish Onion and Basil with Toasted Pide with Chorizo – which came out looking rather impressive. The baked eggs came out in a black pan which was placed on top of a wooden board. The dish looked bright and colourful thanks to the yellow yolk, redness of the tomatoes and green herbs. The dish is quite filling and a very decent serving size which G enjoyed and said tasted good.

The service at STREAT is fantastic – we had an awesome waiter who was chatty, warm and welcoming (you can see him in one of the pics I took with his thumbs up). The vibe is buzzing and it really is a great place to come, sit and enjoy great tasting food and drinks – and what makes it even more worthwhile is the great cause they are supporting!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to Menu pics above. Flemington Cafe Menu – http://www.streat.com.au/food/flemington/flemington-menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Funky and Relaxed.
Service: Friendly, Welcoming and Inviting
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.streat.com.au/

Flemington Cafe
307 Racecourse Road, Flemington
Tel No:9372 3288
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am – 4:00pm

STREAT on Urbanspoon

McKillop Cafe
5 McKillop Street, Melbourne
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: CLOSED

STREAT McKillop St on Urbanspoon

Melbourne Central Cafe
Ground floor of Melbourne Central next to the escalators to the trains
Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday : 7:30am – 7:00pm
Thursday & Friday : 7:30am – 9:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 9:30am – 7:00pm

STREAT Melbourne Central on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/streat.melbourne
Twitter: STREATmelbourne, Streatcafe, StreatMcKillop, Bec_Scott

Stagger Lee’s – Vintage Cool

panda 4 rating

stagger lee

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Menu:
Stagger Lee's Menu
Stagger Lees Drinks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stagger Lee's on Urbanspoon

Popol Nah – Latin American in Carlton

panda 3.5 rating

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After the footy one evening N & I needed a place for dinner and decided to venture to the Carlton area. We used to frequent this area quite a bit back in the uni days, but as of late this hasn’t been the case. Carlton (Lygon Street in particular) is best known for its abundance of Italian restaurants filled with pizzas, pastas and gelatos – and lesser known for other cuisines such as Thai, Latin American or even Modern Australian. I had come across Popol Nah a Latin American fusion restaurant located at the city end of Lygon Street and decided to try it out on this night.

Popol Nah – which can be roughly translated to “The Peoples House” occupies a medium sized space – set amongst the Italian competition of course – and has an interesting design element to it. There are wooden planks running along one wall, overlapping each other in a haphazard style that oozes creativeness along with a modern version of a moose head. On the other is a textured crinkled white wall, together with two antlers hanging. There are large sticks placed in a vase of water which is located at the bar. Quirky, fun and a tad bit strange but it works. There is a communal table at the front of the main dining area, along with wooden tables that seat from two to larger parties. There is also seating at the front on Lygon street itself, as well as small courtyard at the back. Popol Nah can seat around 80 people. The interior is created by Peter Strateas and Mario Luca Carlucci of Strateas (a Brunswick based label). Popol Nah is open 7 days a week for both brunch and dinner.

The menu is created by New York based, Honduran born Cali Rivera and constitutes of South American and Latin fusion cuisine. The dinner menu is split into three sections – Chicos (Small dishes), Intermedio (In Between dishes) and ends with Carnes (Meats). There is also a Desserts menu with a selection of 5 different dishes such as Dulce de Leche, Rice Pudding, Chocolate Cake and Poached Quince just to name a few. There is also a Brunch Menu available which is split into 7 sections – Licuados (Smoothies), Huevos (Eggs) – you can choose from Baked Eggs or Scrambled Eggs, Ensaladas (Salads) – you can choose from two different vegetarian salads such as Mixed Seasonal Fruit with Mint and Ginger or Zucchini, Kale, Cucumber and Pickled Veggies, Bocadillos (Sandwiches), Empanadas (Baked Pasties) – there is a vegetarian option – chickpea, sweet potato, silver beet with crème fresca or one with chorizo and potato with coriander mayo, Anafres (Hot Plates) – which constitute of cheese fondue and lastly Mas Comida (More Food) – which have dishes such as Lamb & Beef Meatballs, Patatas Bravas and Prawn skewers.

There is also an extensive drinks menu – from Sangrias, Cocktails to a variety of Wines – from countries like Spain, Chile, Argentina and Australia – to an interesting selection of non-alcoholic drinks. Carolyn Brown the sommelier has a great understanding and knowledge of drinks and has put together a great selection. I decided to try the Chicha Morada – a non-alcoholic drink which had Purple Corn, Pineapple, Cinnamon and Cloves. The drink was purple in colour – due to the use of purple corn of course. I have never had purple corn before – but I think that it essentially tastes the same as yellow corn but has better health benefits and a higher amount of antioxidants. The combination of pineapple, cinnamon and cloves made for an interesting taste – not too sweet with spicy hints. It was a non-alcoholic version of a sangria and I really enjoyed it.

The first dish we ordered was the Empanada De Chorizo Y Papa – Chorizo and Potato in Baked Pastry with Coriander Mayo. N really enjoyed this – the pastry was crisp, crunchy and tasty on the outside with the chorizo and potato filling on the inside flavoursome and light. The mayo was creamy and a delicious addition.

I ordered the Ceviche De Camaron – Carribean Style Ceviche – Shrimp, Red Onion, Lime, Coriander, Tomato and Chips. The combination of ingredients was refreshing – I especially liked the addition of the coriander and lime. My favourite part of this dish was the chips – they were crispy, crunchy and tasted delicious. They had just the right amount of seasoning and worked well with the ceviche. I also liked the presentation of the dish – it came out in a stone mortar and pestle and the way in which the ceviche and chips were positioned reminded me of a bouquet of flowers.

The last dish we ordered was the Cordero Ranchero – Slow Cooked Lamb Shank in Spicy Tomato, Fresh And Dried Peppers with Quinoa, Kale and Cucumber Salad. The lamb was cooked beautifully and fell off the bone – just what you want from a dish like this. The sauce looked spicy and N said it did have a hint of spice to it. I tried the Quinoa, Kale and Cucumber Salad – which was fresh, flavoured with a tang as well as a hint of chilli – the perfect combination. The dish was presented well again – the contrast of the blue background of the rectangular plate against the bright browny red sauce was magnificent.

The service of the staff is great – everyone that served us was really friendly and happy to offer us suggestions and ensure we had everything we needed.

The brunch menu looks really interesting and I will definitely be back to try out some of their dishes. The décor is interesting and very different to anything you would normally find on Lygon Street. Head down and check out some great tasting South American fusion food.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – For the Brunch, Dinner and Drinks menu refer to http://popolnah.com.au/?cat=2
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Interesting, Unique and Funky. Great relaxed feel.
Standout Dish: Empanada De Chorizo Y Papa
Service: Friendly, Helpful and Warm
Online Booking: No, but Popol Nah takes bookings.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://popolnah.com.au/
171 Lygon Street, Carlton
Tel No: 9347 3293

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 11:30am – 10:00pm
Friday & Saturday: 11:30am – 11:00pm
Sunday: 11:30am – 10:00pm

Popol Nah on Urbanspoon

Little Creatures Dining Hall – Simple Food – Simply Delicious!

panda 4.5 rating

I have been to Little Creatures many a time before and have always enjoyed it – both the food and the atmosphere. It is definitely a place that you find yourself coming back to because it is just that great. There is a chilled, relaxed and welcoming vibe attached to it and the food is simple yet memorable and tasty.

Little Creatures Dining Hall is located in Brunswick on Johnston Street and is a large venue – and I don’t lie when I say large – it can seat up to 200 people! The way in which this open, expansive space has been sectioned off is quite smart. There is a somewhat cosier room located at the front which overlooks the street, another casual drinking area with tables and high bar stools and the main large dining area (located at the rear of the space) together with the open kitchen located at the back this area.
There are booth styles seats as well as wooden tables in this area – these can seat from two people right up to larger numbers depending on your party size. The look and feel is warehouse industrial chic complete with exposed brick walls and steel roof beams. There is a lengthy bar stocking Little Creatures on tap (as you would expect from the name). There are nice vintage touches on tables in the form of grouped brown bottles with a twig of flowers and finished with a candle for the light aspect of things. There are other splotches of colour laced through the venue as well which further add warmth and cosiness.
There is also a loft area which holds bikes which you can hire to ride around the area if you wish. Pretty cool I must say.

The menu is designed to go well with beers and consists of some snacks “to start” off with such as chorizo, peanuts, fries and breads with dips, followed by a “to share” section – which include dishes such as mussels, spiced lentil dip with bread, jamon and salaami board. Then there is a “side”s section, followed by a “pizza” section, a “fly solo” section (if you aren’t in the mood to share) and ends with a sweets section. There are 10 pizzas to choose from which consist of toppings such as kipfler potato, spiced meatball, salami just to name a few.

There were three of us on this night and we decided to share some snacks and order pizzas for our mains.

The first dish to arrive was the Fresh Cut Chips, Garlic Aioli. These were seriously the best chips I have EVER TASTED! They were absolutely amazing and writing about them now is making me wish I had some in front of me right now. These chips were literally potato pieces that had been cut up directly from the farm – there were bits of skin still left on which added a rustic edge to them – and lightly fried. Add the garlic aioli with a dusting of salt and you have a dish made in heaven.

We also ordered the Glazed Carrots, Silverbeet and Sesame Seeds – another dish that blew my mind. When you are reading this dish on the menu it sounds very simple but the taste is mind blowingly delicious. The dish had a sweet element to it in the form of honey in which it was laced with. This worked well with the crunch and juiciness of the carrots. Another really great dish!

The three of us ordered a pizza each for our mains. N ordered the Spiced Lamb, Sweet Potato, Tzatziki, Mozzarella, T ordered the Pumpkin, Spinach, Dukkah, Goats Cheese and I ordered the Prawn, Salsa Verde, Mozzarella. The pizzas are very generous in size and after seeing them come out – I knew I wouldn’t’ be able to finish the entire pizza (especially since I ate most of the chips *drool*). The pizza crust was thin and somewhat crispy on the outside – which is the way I like my pizza.

My pizza had a generous serving of prawns which had been flavoured well. I would have liked a bit more of the salsa verde on the pizza but overall it was a great tasting pizza – the coriander in the salsa verde worked well with the cheese and the prawn combination. I would have also liked a hint of chilli added.

The pumpkin pizza had large soft chunks of pumpkin which dominated the pizza amongst the spinach and cheese. The mix of the dukkah and the pumpkin were well suited to each other. The lamb pizza which had lamb in the form of mince was generously placed, with thin slices of sweet potato and tzatziki around the lamb. N said the lamb needed a bit more flavour – perhaps more salt – but overall it was quite tasty.

The staff is fantastic – and despite the many different areas to service and the large space they need to cover  – it isn’t a hassle to get their attention. They are friendly and helpful in anywhere possible.

Little Creatures is a great place with equally delicious food and is great for any celebration – small or big! There are other locations – Fremantle (where it all started) and Geelong (only the brewery) as well. Get down to Little Creatures and if you had to eat just one thing – get their Fresh Hand Cut Chips or the Carrot Side. You cannot go wrong!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer here for the Food Menu https://littlecreatures.com.au/system/venue/food_menu/0000/0002/Melbourne_menu.pdf
Refer here for the Drinks Menu
https://littlecreatures.com.au/system/venue/drink_menu/0000/0002/stash_list_august13.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Chilled and Funky. Great for any function or celebration, also great for drinks or food or both!
Standout Dish: Fresh Cut Chips, Garlic Aioli AND Glazed Carrots, Silverbeet and Sesame Seeds
Service: Fantastic – Friendly and always with a smile
Online Booking: No – they don’t take bookings
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.littlecreatures.com.au
222 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Tel No: 9417 5500

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm
Friday: 10:00 am – 12:00 am
Saturday: 8:00 am – 12:00 am
Sunday: 8:00 am – 11:00 pm

Little Creatures Melbourne Dining Hall on Urbanspoon

De Mad Hatter – Breakkie Invite with Alice

panda 4 rating

halal symbol
I had the privilege along with a host of other bloggers such as Brunch Addict, The World Loves Melbourne and Forksake to attend a breakfast at De Mad Hatter. Having worked in the Docklands area for the last couple of years I had previously been to De Mad Hatter for many our team lunches, as well as for coffee and ice coffees.

You can refer to my previous blog post for De Mad Hatter at https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/de-mad-hatter-alice-in-wonderland-style/

De Mad Hatter is located at the bottom of the recently opened Collins Square and is owned by the same people as Beanstalk Café – located just up the road from De Mad Hatter. De Mad Hatter’s low ceilings were the inspiration behind the Alice in Wonderland theme carried out throughout the venue and the menu. They change their menu twice a year according to the varying seasons.

As we were seated at our tables – the menu was laid out as well as the first dish for our breakfast which was the House Made Bircher Muesli topped with Yoghurt and Fresh Fruit. The muesli was presented in a glass- so you could see the layers of the different ingredients. The flavour was refreshing and the textures worked well together

Coffee is sourced from Degani and De Mad Hatter uses a flavour that is only exclusive to them – I ordered a Latte – which was full bodied, nutty and strong.

For the main dish selection of our breakfast – we got a choice of Homemade Pancakes topped with Fruit Compote and Ice Cream, Alice’s Brunch (Corn Fritters, Tomato, Grilled Bacon, Avocado & House made Tomato Chutney), Prosciutto and Asparagus Bruschetta (with Rocket, Olive Oil, Poached Egg and Parmesan Flakes) or the DMH Signature (which was Fried Egg, Chorizo, Oven Baked Cheesy Tortilla and toped with fresh Tomato and Bean Salsa).

Having a love of fritters – I of course selected the Fritters dish sans the grilled bacon. The dish came out with the fritters – there were around 4-5 fritters – on the base topped with the tomato, rocket and finally the avocado. The fritters were deep fried and as a result were crunchy on the outside. The inside was soft and cushion like, with the addition of the corn to create the juiciness. As a whole the dish was good but not great – I felt that the fritters could have been a bit bigger in size, therefore having a bit more of a filling to them. The house made tomato chutney was quite tasty and had a mix of sweetness and smokiness to it.

It was a great opportunity to not only meet my fellow food bloggers, but a chance to try out their breakfast menu, as a pose to their lunch menu which I have done many times. De Mad Hatter has a great vibe and serves good tasting coffee and food – if you are in the area check them out. Who knows maybe you will find stumble upon Alice herself or even the White Rabbit.

Also a point for all my Muslim readers – their Chicken is Halal. Their Chicken Parmigiana’s are ridiculously large and taste amazing. There are around 6 different types to choose from.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A la Carte as well as food served in Bain Marie’s, as well as a selection of salads, foccacias, baguettes etc.
Fullness: 90%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Quirky and fun
Online Booking: No – you are best to book a table for lunch if you have more than 4 people
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/d3madhatt3r
797 Collins St, Docklands
Tel No: 9620 2226

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 6am – 5pm

De Mad Hatter on Urbanspoon

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!

Bar Nacional – Bringing Spain to Collins Street

panda 5 rating

Menu:
Raciones and Postres Bar Nacional Menu Comida Menu
D was down from Singapore visiting Melbourne and we needed a place to lunch in the Docklands area – what a perfect occasion to check out Bar Nacional. Bar Nacional is a partnership between Gavin Baker and Pete Evans who bring a bit of their time, memories and experience of San Sebastian to fruition.

Bar Nacional is a warm, inviting venue that is bustling with energy from the moment you step inside – be it at lunchtime, dinnertime, anytime. There is a central bar, with seats and tables surrounding it – the tables range from high to lower tables – and also ottomans and low chairs to sit comfortably. There are earthy tones together with bursts of orange. At the bar there are hanging cured meats to further complement the Spanish vibe.

The menu is created by head chef Alex Drobvsz (Daniel Boulud’s Bistro Moderne, Gordon Ramsay’s Maze) with desserts designed and perfected by Shaun Quade (The Royal Mail, Quay, Biota). Jo Barrett (MoVida Bakery) and Tom Beaumont (coffee director at St Ali) round up the rest of the team. The menu has a selection of tapas (small bites), Raciones (larger dishes – designed to share), and of course ending with Postres (desserts). There is also a Comida Menu which is available for lunch, which allows you try out some of the larger dishes and add some tapas dishes at a cheaper price, as well as adding a half glass of wine for $5. Many of the dishes display the wealth of experience that comes from the Chefs – and has an interesting array of unique ingredients, flavour combinations whilst staying true to the Spanish theme.

There is also a great drinks menu which encompasses wines from Spain and Australia, as well as house-made Sangria, Australian craft beers, ciders – all which when put together with the food are complementary.

For all the cured meat lovers – this is your heaven. There are three types of jamón, including the magnificently rich and sweet 36-month-cured jamón bellota puro, the deep-flavoured lomo (cured and seasoned pork tenderloin), the dry-cured bull negro sausage and a very good chorizo. These are all cured and sliced to order – either in 30 grams or 60 gram lots, but you can just order a charcuteria to get a selection to try them all out!

We ordered a mix of tapas and Raciones dishes for the 4 of us to share. We started off with the Charred Broccoli Croquette. Each croquette was securely placed on the plate with lemon aioli under each croquette. The Croquettes were delicious – golden perfection the outside, a great crunch combined with the rich, creamy and nutty flavouring on the inside. It was refreshing to see broccoli (one of my fave vegetables) to be inside, instead of the usual mushroom / rice combination you find.

We then received the Prawn Salad, Avocado, Lemon Puree, Saffron and Rooftop Greens and the Patatas Bravas. However, V realised that when the Prawn salad came out, there was still a plastic film left on top of the flat solid puree. We notified the waitress and she apologised and brought us a fresh dish sans plastic film. (They didn’t charge us for this dish). The Prawn salad was an interesting dish – it was refreshing and the combination of the elements and textures worked well together. It was a fancy interpretation of a salad that worked well.

The Patatas Bravas was delicious – crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside and finished with a smoky tomato sauce. You cannot go wrong by ordering this dish.

We also ordered the Grilled Bread, Marinated Yoghurt dish. The bread was soft, fluffy and beautifully made and I absolutely loved the seasoning on the crust of the bread – a combination of seasame, poppy seeds, dukkah and spices. The marinated yoghurt got lots of interesting mm’s and sounds around the table – with the result of enjoyment. The tanginess of the yoghurt worked well with the spices in the bread.

Next up was the very, very and by very I mean very impressive Racione dish of the Baked Flathead, Smoked Eggplant and Salad Greens. This has been cooked on a cherry-wood plate in a wood-fired Josper at 400 degrees. For the preparation of this dish Drobysz gets the firewood supplier to cut various fruit woods – varying from peach, cherry, olive and almond – into disc sized pieces and puts the whole fish on the board. The fish is then brushed with garlic oil, salt and pepper and put into the oven. Here the oils from the wood are released and mixed into the fish. The result is a smouldering (literally) dish that comes out to the table together with the brilliant smell of the smoky char. The plating of the dish is fantastic – the fish is casually draped on top of the wood that it was cooked in – to the side is a dollop of the smoky eggplant. The fish was perfectly cooked and was soft with a smoky flavour – the only issue was the abundance of the little bones – however all is forgiven when you eat the fish. The smoky eggplant was the perfect accompaniment to the fish.

The others also ordered the Braised Beef Empanada – which look like mini pocket samousas. They all enjoyed this and loved how soft and flavoured the beef was on the inside.

I couldn’t leave without trying one of Shane Quade’s desserts. I couldn’t decide which of his desserts I wanted but in the end went with the Baked Sweetcorn, Popcorn Ice Cream, Toasted Maize and Brown Butter. And am I glad I did. The dish came out plated beautifully – and is up there with the best in terms of presentation. There was a smooth, ice cream like consistency mousse that resembled that of a corn cob, together with a perfect quenelle of Popcorn Ice cream – I MEAN ITS POPCORN ICE CREAM! How awesome is that!! Finished with Toasted Maize sprinkled on top together with milk powder and fried polenta. It was a mix of savoury and sweet and it really worked! This dessert is quite a heavy dish, but you simply cannot leave any of it behind – its just too good! You find yourself going back for more even after you tell yourself you cannot put anymore down. Definitely try this dessert out! IT’S A MUST!

I had a great time at Bar Nacional – the staff are friendly and really know their dishes – you can ask them to describe a dish of what exactly it is and they are do so with a smile. The dishes are of great quality with a taste to match – aside from the one hiccup with the plastic film (all is forgiven as the food overall was just delicious). Bar Nacional is definitely bringing a bit of Spain / San Sebastian to Docklands – and a result will increase foot traffic to this part of town. Try it out for yourself and see what I am talking about.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$$$
Menu – Refer to pics above or check it out at http://www.barnacional.com.au/menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern, Funky and Chilled out
Standout Dish: Baked Flathead, Smoked Eggplant and Salad Greens and for Dessert – Baked Sweetcorn, Popcorn Ice Cream, Toasted Maize and Brown Butter
Service: Fantastic, Friendly, Knowledgeable
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.barnacional.com.au
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.barnacional.com.au/
727 Collins Street, Docklands
Tel No: 9252 7999

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm

Bar Nacional on Urbanspoon

The Petty Officer – Close Stroll to the Beach

panda 4 rating

After lining up for almost 5 hrs to get into The Block, N and I needed to grab something to eat. We decided to walk around the Albert Park area – where The Block was located – and stumbled on The Petty Officer. I had previously wanted to come here, but had momentarily forgotten about it.

The Petty Officer is located in Bridport Street in Albert Park and is owned by Dave and Zoe Makin, Adam Mariani and Matthew Lewin – who are also behind Axil Coffee (Hawthorn). Located in what used to be a former fine dining restaurant in its former life in a restored Victorian building. The fit out is brilliant – it has huge windows allowing the natural sunlight to stream through and is very spacey and roomy – thanks to the high ceilings, as well as the layout. As you walk in you are drawn to the massive bird motif behind the coffee station – which stands out in black & white against the white backdrop of the wall. The tables are all wooden – a mix of high and low tables – and paired nicely with black chairs and stools. Another stand out are the hour glass shaped light shades that dot the ceiling throughout the space. Near the back of the venue is a communal table complete with cherry blossom art work on the walls. Chic and classy, yet relaxed.

It was quite a nice Melbourne day – so we decided to sit outside. Being the owners of Axil – coffee is a strong point here at The Petty Officer. I order a latte whilst mulling over the menu. Espresso coffee is the main focus, however there are filter options as well. My latte is crisp, nutty and left a clean finish on the palate at the end. Delicious!

The head chef is Dan Woollard (ex-Il Solito Posto) and there is a breakfast menu that is served all day together with a lunch menu. Everything is made in-house except the bread. There are the favourites such as Avocado Smash with Feta, Buttermilk Pancakes, Baked Eggs, Bircher Museli with a yoghurt Pannacotta as well as a Fritter dish. For lunch you will find dishes such as a Lamb Wrap, Cauliflower Salad, a Pulled Pork burger as well as some Chicken Dishes. Refer to the menu above for more info.

I decide to order the Beetroot, zucchini and haloumi fritter, avocado, spinach, poached egg, tomato relish in the end. I was tossing up between this dish and the Spicy Baked Eggs. The dish was different to any other fritter dish I have seen – instead of smaller individual fritters on the plate – this fritter was one large round and flat fritter – with the avocado, spinach, poached egg and tomato relish all placed cleverly on top and finished with flowers. The fritter had an interesting combination of flavours and was not dry at all. The combination of beetroot, zucchini and haloumi was very refreshing and combined with the other whole elements was great. The fritter itself is quite dense and overall the dish is very filling. The poached egg was gooey and runny just like how it is meant to be.

N ordered the Local chorizo, potato croquettes, sautéed spinach, poached eggs, parsnip relish. The chorizo was in the centre of the dish, and is flanked by the potato croquettes and the poached eggs on top. N is a huge fan of chorizo and said that the quality and flavour of this chorizo was top notch. I tried some of his potato croquettes – which were crispy on the outside and soft and cloud-like on the inside – really delicious.

The Petty Officer is a licensed café and offers a selection of red and white wines, along with ciders and beers. There are sweet goodies in the form of cookies, cupcakes and muffins located at the counter inside that look scrumptious as well.

The Petty Officer (which takes its name from a navy rank) – is located a short stroll from the beach – is a great place to spend a weekend having a casual breakfast with dishes that bring you quality and taste.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to  http://www.thepettyofficer.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Classy, Relaxed. Great place to spend on the weekend just to chill out and enjoy some great coffee and food!
Service: Friendly staff
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
 http://www.thepettyofficer.com.au/
113 Victoria Avenue, Albert Park
Tel No: 9686 3000

Opening Hours:
Mon to Sun 7:00 am – 4:00 pm

The Petty Officer on Urbanspoon

Prospect Espresso – Small Space But Packs a Punch

panda 4 rating
prospect expressoTruffled Brioche – Sauteed mushrooms, Asparagus, Poached Eggs and Truffled Hollandaise and a Latte

J and I were catching up after ages and decided to check out Prospect Espresso located in Camberwell. Prospect Espresso is owned by Matt Ward and Mitch Haworth. The setup is a mix of modern and vintage – with exposed light bulbs and exposed brick walls as well as large front window letting loads of light in while you are sipping on that perfect coffee and savouring the delicious but simple food. There are bursts of yellow which add to the fun and relaxed vibe Prospect Espresso has.

There is a large communal wooden table at the centre of the small space which is where J and I managed to nab a seat on this busy Saturday morning. To the right of us was where the coffee magic from the Mistral machine is created, along with showcasing some tasty treats from Red Door cakes. Coffee is from Rosso and there are also a number of single origin varieties. I ordered a latte and J ordered a cappuccino.

The latte was exactly what I needed after having being stuck in traffic and being late to meet J – it was refreshing and had a strong kick to it but with a good balance of smoothness and creaminess – topped off with a bit of latte art. They also serve tea from Somage Organic tea and even have a Vietnamese Iced Coffee – talk about versatile.

There is a breakfast and lunch menu – created by head chef Will Manning – which consists of your favourites such as  Fruit Toast, A Breakfsat Roll and a choice of three different omelettes and of course eggs which you can build on your own. There are also some interesting dishes such as Chorizo Croquettes, Buttermilk Pannacotta and Warm Coconut Rice. Their Lunch Menu consists of solid favourites – there is a S oup of the Day, as well as the Prospect Beeft Burger.

I ordered the Truffled Brioche – which had Sauteed mushrooms, Asparagus, Poached Eggs and Truffled Hollandaise. It was a simple and small dish but tasted truly amazing. I loved the addition of the truffle to the hollandaise and combined with the mushrooms on top of the sweet tasting brioche – the dish really pulled together well. The eggs were poached as you would expect as well.

Prospect Espresso was consistently busy in the time that we were there and there is a good reason for that. The service is friendly and inviting, the coffee is delicious and the food is simple yet tasty and will leave you wanting to come back. The location is fantastic and the vibe fun. Check it out for yourself.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu : Can be found at http://prospectespresso.com.au/?page_id=10
Breakfast Menu : http://prospectespresso.com.au/?page_id=12
Lunch Menu: http://prospectespresso.com.au/?page_id=16
Drink Menu: http://prospectespresso.com.au/?page_id=14
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Busy, Inviting and Friendly
Standout Dish: Truffled Brioche – Sauteed mushrooms, Asparagus, Poached Eggs and Truffled Hollandaise
Service: Friendly Service and always happy to help
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://prospectespresso.com.au/
2a Prospect Hill Road, Camberwell
Tel No: 9882 7359

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7am – 4pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am – 4:30pm

Prospect Espresso on Urbanspoon