Mugen Ramen – City’s First Tsukemen Ramen

panda 4 rating

I love Ramen so when I heard about Mugen I had to check it out. Mugen speciaiises in Ramen and is owned by Yoshi Kurosawa – who is also the owner of Robot bar which is located directly opposite. Mugen is located in a laneway off Flinders lane in the heart of the Melbourne CBD.

Mugen (meaning infinite) is a schmick looking two-level venue which includes a basement izakaya which has seating and drinks available. At street level you can see into the kitchen as the chefs prepare your meals and there is two bench rows available to sit at. There is a black and blue theme running which adds a touch of elegance and warmth.

Mugen specialises in the Tsukemen style and is the first Tsukemen joints in the city. Tsukemen is a type of deconstructed ramen. It consists of the dipping house-made noodles which are plated separately and are served cold with warm charshu pork, sheet of nori and pickled bamboo shoots. To the side there is a small bowl of pork, chicken and fish sauce into which you put your ramen. The dish is available in two different sizes – 300g and 420g.  The menu has two types of Tsukemen – Wafu and Curry as well as two different types of normal Ramen – Miso and Wafu.

The menu is really interesting and has a comic – or manga as they would call it in Japan – on the back which pokes fun and tells you how to eat the Tsukemen, which I think is a innovative and great style of the menu. In addition to the Ramen, there are smaller dishes available such as Gyoza, Aburi Chasu, Potato Salad, Chips and more. When we went there was also a JAPAS (Japanese Tapas) menu that was coming soon. There were no desserts on the menu at this time – but I really do hope they expand into this as well. There are also a great selection of drinks – beers, sake and liquer– available. The beers include Codeo which is essentially a sweet potato lager – how interesting!

Unfortunately despite loving Ramen the fact that I can’t have any pork dishes, meant that I couldn’t try any of the ramen available. The waitress was very friendly and told me that I could get some Soba noodles with tofu made up – and this would the only vegetarian option available. I was happy to order that ( I do love tofu as well). N ordered the Tsukune and Tebasaki from the small dishes section.

The Tsukune – Japanese Grilled Chicken skewers made from tenderloin thigh and soft bones with Teriyaki sauce and egg yolk on the side to dip. There were four skewers that came out and N loved the flavours and softness to the chicken. The addition of the dipping egg yolk was different and further enhanced the flavour.

The Tebasaki – Japanese deep fried chicken wings. This came served in a stainless steel frying basket and was coated with a glaze of honey and sesame – they were crispy on the outside and juicy and delicious on the inside.

My vegetarian soba noodles with tofu, chilli and salad was a generous serving. The noodles were fresh and silky smooth and cooked perfectly. The dish overall was tasty and despite really wanting a dose of ramen hit the spot.

The vibe at Mugen is fantastic and it is a great place at the basement to enjoy drinks. The food smells delicious and I cannot wait to see what type of dishes will be on their Japas menu. The staff are friendly and really accommodating. Will definitely be back, even though I can’t eat their signature dish!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to above picture
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy, Elegant and Fun
Service: Friendly, Helpful and VERY accommodating
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://mugenramenbar.com/
11 Bligh Place, Melbourne
Tel No: 9620 3647

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday:
Lunch
11:30 am to 2:30pm
Dinner
6pm to 11pm
Sunday – Closed

Mensousai Mugen on Urbanspoon

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Boney – Where The Old Pony Was

panda 4.5 rating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boney on Urbanspoon

Code Black Coffee – Black Elegance

panda 4.5 rating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Code Black Coffee on Urbanspoon

Mister Bianco – Sicilian Great

panda-4-rating1

It was a combined dinner for myself and V and the place that we decided on was Mister Bianco. Mister Bianco, which is named after a municipality in Sicily, is located on High Street in Kew and is amongst other restaurants such as Estivo and St Katherine’s in that strip. This great Sicilian restaurant is a stylish and romantic restaurant brought to you by Joseph Vargetto (Mezzo Bar & Grill) and serves food and flavours from Southern Italy.

When you walk into Mister Bianco there is warm and welcoming feel to it – there is soft lighting and classy touches. There are two adjoining dining rooms – one at the front-  where the wooden bar is housed with tables surrounding it – as well and one further behind which houses more tables. There is also extra space upstairs which includes a private dining room. It really is like a typical Italian Bistro Style restaurant, which further adds to the comfort and feel. The tables are decked out in crisp white linen, topped with monogrammed wine glasses and completed with a variety of salts and olive oil for the bread to come. There is abstract art work in bright tones that stick out on the white walled background, which is further emphasized from the soft glow of lighting.

The menu comes from Vargetto’s extensive experience coupled with his traditional Sicilian roots and brings it together to form a modern take on Sicilian food – flavours, ingredients and cooking methods. The menu is divided into different sections –  stuzzichini (little starters), entrees and mains and a separate heading for shucked shells, steaks as well as pasta and risotto, and finally sides. On the main menu there is also a box which is titled – “Save some room for dessert” which I think is quite a good idea. I mean who doesn’t have room for dessert?

There was 6 of us at dinner so we decided to share a combination of stuzzichini and entrees and then get a main meal each. Yes, we were all really hungry on this day! First we recieved the Our Meatballs ‘Messinese’, Cous Cous + Tomato Sugo. The others really enjoyed these meatballs which also had a hint of chilli and paprika which enhanced the tomato and meat flavours. The Cous Cous comes with pine nuts, sultanas and saffron and was cooked perfectly and was the great addition to the meatballs.

We also ordered the Arancini of Blue Swimmer Crab + Stinging Nettle with Romesco Sauce. The Arancini was perfectly crumbed and was crunchy and tasty with a soft gooey centre of crab. The Romesco Sauce was a strong flavour but with the addition of the lemon gave a great tang and lessened the flavour. A tasty dish all in all.

Next up was the Burrata Mozzarella (money bag style), Roasted and Raw Heirloom Beetroots, Candied Walnuts, Grissini and Balsamic Reduction. I was intrigued by this dish as the Mozzarella on the menu stated that it was money bag style and indeed when it came out it did resemble a money bag and was the centre piece of the dish. It was surrounded with the other ingredients, with the Grissini topping the dish off in criss cross style. The combination of the mozzarella, beetroot with its sweet taste coupled with the tang of balsamic reduction and the walnuts was delicious. It was a really interesting dish and a great light entree.

The last share dish we had was the Tuna Carpaccio ‘Alla Zingara’, Avocado Puree + Cucumber, Fennel Bread. This was a spectacularly presented dish – the tuna is seared on the outside and comes in the form of three mini hamburgers. There are three tuna pieces which make up the hamburger and are sandwiched between tomato, cucumber and avocado. The tuna “burgers” are topped with sesame seeds just like a real burger would be. Its little details like this that make a difference. Surrounding the “burgers” are shaved bottarga, pistachios, fried capers and greens, together with fennel bread. This is really a fantastic dish and a must try!

For mains there was a variety of dishes chosen but the clear favourite was the Hand Cut Cavalo Nero flavoured Tagliatelle, Poached Spanner Crab and Grilled Scampi, Chilli, Garlic with three of us selecting this dish. And this dish certainly didn’t disappoint – the pasta (all hand made) was fresh, tasty and green as it was flavoured with cavalo nero. The flavours were rich and full of flavour and just yum – my one comment would be that there wasn’t much poached spanner crab in the dish and there was heaps of oil around the dish. I love how the dish was topped with grilled scampi and it certainly was the highlight of the dish – it was once again cooked perfectly and flavoured nicely.

Another dish around the table was the Potato Gnocchi with Slow Braised Organic Chicken, Farmed Rabbit, Corn Ragu and Crispy Parsnips – the pasta once again was soft and fresh and literally melted in your mouth. What caught V to pick this dish was the corn ragu – it was an interesting concept to the dish. She enjoyed the dish and as gnocchi dishes usually are was quite a heavy dish – the addition of both the chicken and the rabbit intensified this. C ordered the Slow Braised Organic Beef Cheek in Red Wine, Creamed Spatzle and Pickled Raddichio – which was another impressive dish. The Beef Cheek was glossy and cooked so the point where it literally fell off the “bone” and coupled with the creamed spatzle and tanginess of the raddichio was delicious. H ordered the Slow Cooked Otway Ranges Pork Belly with Peppers, Capers + Raisins, Sauce ‘Agrodolce’ – which he enjoyed quite a lot as well.

Next up was dessert – and since there was 6 of us we decided to order 4 different desserts and share them all. This way we got to sample and try a variety of what they had to offer. Desserts are done by pastry chef Maria Lantelme. The first of the four desserts was the Sicilian Style Donuts with Chocolate Gelato + Strawberry Jam. This has to be one of my favourite dishes as of late – the most interesting part of the dish was that it came with a syringe of jam which you use to inject the jam into the donuts yourself. I love this concept – its a bit different and allows you to interact with the food in a different sense, rather than just putting it in your mouth and eating it. The donuts itself were warm, delicious and had the right amount of sweetness topped with icing sugar. My only qualm would be that more jam was needed – perhaps two jam-filled syringes? =p The next dessert we tried was the Our Pineapple “Sundae” – Pineapple Carpaccio, Prosecco Jelly, Roasted and Glazed Pineapple, Pineapple Sorbet – it was all about the Pineapple. It came out in a martini glass that was covered with pineapple pieces on the outer edge and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The different ways that the pineapple had been encapsulated was interesting and it was quite a sweet tasting dessert. The other two desserts were the Strawberries + Cream Soufflé, White Chocolate Chips + Strawberry Sorbet + Raspberry Crisps and the dessert special of Orange Almond Sponge Cake with Creme Fraiche. Both of these desserts were exceptionally tasty as well. The souffle was warm and gooey and the sorbet oozed with the tangy and sweet strawberry flavour. The Orange Almond sponge cake was moist and full of the orange flavour, with the creme fraiche helping to smooth out the strong orange flavour.

Overall, the staff are friendly and always helpful – just a pity on the night it seemed quite hard to get their attention when we wanted to order a drink or something off the menu. The place is soothing, calming and generally all round cozy and serves up great Sicilian food with a modern twist.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Main Menu – http://www.misterbianco.com.au/images/PDF/mister_bianco_menu.pdf. Dessert Menu – http://www.misterbianco.com.au/images/PDF/mister_bianco_desserts_drinks_menu.pdf
The generic link for the menu can be found at http://www.misterbianco.com.au/index.php/menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable, Cosy, Romantic – great for date night or celebrating that special occasion.
Standout Dish: Roasted Marron, Tarragon Butter
Service: Friendly, Welcoming and Knowledgeable. Just a note on the night that we went – there were about 3 waitresses – but it just seemed hard to get anyone’s attention at times if we did need something – but having said that they were really great in ensuring that our glasses were always topped up.
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.misterbianco.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.misterbianco.com.au/
285 High Street, Kew
Tel No:  9853 6929

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Wednesday – Friday: From 12:00pm
Dinner
Monday – Saturday:  From 6:00pm

Mister Bianco on Urbanspoon

B’Stilla – Moroccan Talk of the Town

panda-4-rating1

halal symbol* NOTE THE GOAT, BEEF and LAMB are all Halal Certified.

It was birthday dinner time and I picked B’Stilla to try out. B’Stilla is a newly opened Moroccan restaurant tucked away behind Chapel Street in South Yarra. When I was making the booking I enquired if the meat was halal and co-owner Leon Kennedy was fantastic in responding and letting me know that the beef, goat and chicken are all Halal Accredited. Great service already!

B’Stilla is a modern and spacious restaurant with an open kitchen and an outside seating area in the form of a long terrace which has overhead industrial heaters and plastic screens to keep the cold out. It is named after Morocco’s most famous pastry dish – the sweet-savoury B’stilla. This is the latest project from Jason Jones who co-founded Mamasita and remains a co-owner, and Leon Kennedy (Padre, Proud Mary). Both took a trip to Morocco and fell in love with the cuisine and enrolled in cooking courses to learn more, and then forged ahead with this venture. The aim is to deliver authentic and approachable Moroccan food, celebrating essential balance of flavours and fresh local produce and it safe to say that B’Stilla ticks all of these boxes.

There is a real Moroccan feel to the place with its lattice of the 8 point star that is reminiscent with any Moroccan theme. This continues in ochre colours under the bar in the form of tessellated tiles. The open kitchen is lined with tagines and colourful preserved fruits and overlooks into a red painted dining area. This is where we were seated on this Friday night. There are simple wooden tables and chairs to further enhance the casual yet classy feel.

The menu is designed to share and is split up into smaller entrée size dishes, followed by larger dishes which consist of three different tagines and dishes like lamb shoulder and beef ribs. There there are seven different salads to choose from and of course dessert to finish off the meal. There are Banquet options available as well (refer to the Menu section below for options and pricing). There are plenty of vegetarian dishes available as well which makes the menu robust to all. In addition to this, if you flip the menu over there is a handy glossary on the back that run you through some of the elements mentioned in the dishes. I think this is a great idea – saves the customer from whipping out their smart phone and googling what each thing is or asking the wait staff.

After perusing the menu for a while we settled on a couple of the smaller dishes, two of the larger dishes with a salad – leaving room for dessert. I also ordered a mocktail – which had pineapple, passionfruit and mint flavours which was quite tasty as well. They ask you what flavours you want and make one up to suit that. Whilst we were waiting for our meals, we were brought out complimentary tea for each of us together with a small piece of date shortbread. This was a nice touch I thought and typically Moroccan. The mint tea was full of flavour and was a great way to start a meal.

The first dish we got was the Lamb Ribs, Apricot and Cardamom. This was a super tasty dish – the lamb was cooked delicately and just fell off the bone – the apricot sauce added a sweetness to this dish. Having sweet flavours mixed with lamb was a great combination. Next of the entrée dishes was the Chargrilled Whole Prawn, Pil Pil and the Rgahaif – we got the spinach, eggplant, almond and yoghurt option ( there is also an oxtail option). The Rgaghaif was one of my favourite dishes of the night – it reminded me of a samosa in a sense – it was pastry wrapped with spinach, eggplant, almond and yoghurt. The pasty was homemade and delicious – I could eat loads of the pastry all on its own. The mix of flavours with the mentioned ingredients was tasty and the spices added to it was a great hit, with the almond finishing the flavour palate. The prawn dish was good but not great – the prawns were grilled perfectly and the addition of the Pil Pil (which is made of garlic, chilli, lemon and parsley) added to the flavour of the prawn – there was just something lacking. The last of the dishes we got was the Medfouna – Beef Cheek, Cashews, Potato, Labne – this dish was yet another winner. It resembled what looked like a meat pie but tasted so much better! The filling was moist and flavoursome and each element worked perfectly together.

After letting our entrees settle we were ready to take on the mains. We ordered the Cous Cous Marrakech with Seven Vegetables, Seven Spices, Smen (which is oregano infused butter that has been aged and fermented). We also ordered the Fish Kefta Tagine and the Lamb Shoulder with the side of the Cauliflower, Pine Nut Paste, Ras el Hanout and Herbs Salad. Both the Cous Cous and Fish came in tagine dishes and were filled to the brim – serving sizes here at B’Stilla are quite generous. The Cous Cous with Seven Vegetables was flavoursome and fresh – the cous cous was cooked to perfection as were the vegetables which were piled up high atop the cous cous. Some of the veggies included chickpeas, potato, sweet potato, cabbage and zucchini.

The Fish Kefta Tagine comes with black cabbage, saffron and potato and was delicious. The fish kefta’s were green in colour which I thought was really interesting but do not let that fool you as the flavour was great. The juice I did find to be a bit runny and not as flavoursome – I think I would have preferred it to be a bit thicker in consistency. The Lamb Shoulder was another favourite dish of mine – it came with Ginger, Cumquats, Parsnip and Sumac. The lamb was once again cooked beautifully and was soft and tender and coupled with the parsnip puree was delicious. The cumquats added a tang to the dish as well. The side of cauliflower was also outstanding – the cauliflower being lightly charred and coupled with the pine nut paste and the ras el hanout and herbs was a great addition and complement to all the other dishes had.

We were all so full from the entrees and the larger dishes, but decided to share some desserts amongst the five of us. We got the Persimmon, Mehalabeya, Amlou dessert and the Rosewater Flan with Dates and Walnut Nougatine. The winner and standout out of these two was definitely the Rosewater Flan. The flan was something between a crème caramel and a crème brulee and had the right amount of wobbliness. The dish was creamy and smooth and the addition of the crispy walnut nougatine added texture to the dish. The Mehalabeya dessert I thought were just different elements put together on a dish that didn’t really mesh together all that well for me – I would have liked to have had more of the Mehalabeya component.

B’stilla also has a strong focus on coffee and serves French Press and Cold Drip – both of which are African varieties from Proud Mary Coffee. The staff are friendly and well informed about the menu, and always are energetic and have a smile on their face and are happy to help out at anytime. We were lucky enough to have Leon serving us, and he gave us a good background about the restaurant.

B’Stilla is a great addition to South Yarra and the fact that it is embracing Morrocan cuisine is a big win. The food is delicious and encompasses great ingredients in imaginative and unique combinations and the presentation is fantastic as well. The focus on a shared dish menu I think is great and more restaurants should encourage this. For a taste of Moroccan in Melbourne definitely check this place out.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://bstilla.com/menu.pdf. There are also Banquet menus available – 5 dishes and sides (savoury only) at $45 pp or 8 dishes and sides (includes desserts) at $65 pp. For Lunch there is a 3 course lunch menu for $35 pp. A minimum of two people are required for the Banquet menus.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Modern and Classy. It is a chilled out place and is reminiscent of being a piece of Morocco in Melbourne.
Standout Dish: Rgahaif –spinach, eggplant, almonds, yoghurt AND Lamb shoulder, ginger, cumquats, parsnip, sumac
Service: Fantastic, Super Friendly and Helpful. Staff always have a smile on their face and make you feel welcomed.
Online Booking: No. Point to note – Half the restaurant is reserved for bookings and the rest available for walk ins
For bookings, there are two seating times available: 6:00pm to 8.15pm OR 8:30pm to late
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://bstilla.com/
30b Bray St, South Yarra
Tel No: 9826 2370

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Thursday – 5.30pm – Late
Friday & Saturday – 12.00pm – Late

B'Stilla on Urbanspoon

Circa, The Prince – Perfect Sunday Lunch


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Circa, the Prince located in St Kilda is owned by John and Lisa van Haandel with Head Chef at Jake Nicolson the helm together with chef Paul Wilson. The dining space was cretaed not just to satisfy and delight the palate, but the eyes too with various artworks and design by Meme’s. There are multiple dining areas – all of which consist of modern table and chairs.
The dining space we were seated at was like an indoor / outdoor space. This space is both roomy and filled with light thanks to the glass ceiling. The room is filled with wooden tables and chairs in a mix of greys, yellows and ivories tones. The result is stylish, modern yet casual – definitely what was needed for a Sunday lunch. There is also a mix of industrial and greenery which gives the sense of homeliness. The greenery consists of big potted plants as well as a wall of various flowers and herbs.

We were given a set Sunday lunch menu – where we got a soup to start off with, followed by starters to share, then a choice out of four for main as well as for dessert. Can I just start off by saying that all the dishes that we were given tasted fantastic and it was resounding sentiment that was shared from the entire group ( there were six of us), hence the 5 Panda rating.

The  soup was a Fish soup, Saffron Aioli, Gruyere. The initial sound of Fish soup didn’t sound  very appetising, however once you tasted the dish it was creamy and wholesome. Initially the dish came out with the Gruyere and Saffron Aioli in the middle, and then the waiter poured the soup on top of these in front of you. There’s something about soup being poured in front of you that enhances the food eating experience. The starters were exceptional, especially the Salmon Rillettes. Grilled Baguette. The Salmon was fresh,  rich and creamy and had just the right amount of flavour.

The mains were all plated beautifully and were vibrant in colour and flavour. The fish, beef and lamb shoulder were all cooked to the right amount of tenderness. The John Dory, Creamed Leeks, Crosnes, Truffle Vinaigrette was my dish of choice. This was my first time eating Crosnes – which is a tuber vegetable  and can also be known as a Chinese Artichoke. The Crosne was crunchy and tasted a bit like potato and worked well with the creamy leek and fish. The Truffle Vinaigrette  was a wonderful addition of texture and flavour.

Desserts at Circa, The Prince were just as beautifully plated, however the combination of Rice Pudding, Rhubarb, Custard Apple Ice Cream was a little peculiar. The Custard Apple Ice cream, as well as the other ice cream’s that came out on other desserts like the Coconut Ice Cream and Strawberry Sorbet were creamy and light and tasted great! The deconstructed Vanilla Bean Cheescake, Strawberry Sorbet and Jelly was great. The base of the cheesecake was soft and crumby andd the jelly and sorbet were a great addition to the dish.

I said at the start of my post and I will say it again – all the dishes at Circa, The Prince, not only looked amazing on the plate but tasted fantastic! I enjoyed every minute here and would definitely recommend Circa, The Prince for any occasion.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – There is a Breakfast Menu, A la Carte menu, Lunch Menu, Bar Menu and a Chefs Menu as well – all can be found at http://www.circa.com.au/food
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Stylish, Modern and Light filled.
Standout Dish: Roasted Marron, Tarragon Butter
Service: Fantastic and Friendly
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.vuedemonde.com.au/reservation
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.circa.com.au/home
2 Acland St, St Kilda
Tel No: 9536 1122

Opening Hours:
Breakfast
Monday to SundayL 7am – 11am
Lunch
Friday: from 12pm
Sunday: from 12:30pm
Dinner
Monday to Sunday: from 6pm

Other Comments:
Circa will be extending its opening hours for the month of December, as of the 5th of December we will be open for lunch everyday excluding Saturday. Our Opening hours will be:

Monday-Friday lunch: 12-3pm
Sunday lunch: 12:30-3pm
Monday-Sunday Dinner: 6pm
Open on New Years Eve

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Vue De Monde – Melbourne Restaurant of the Year? – Definitely

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Dinner at Vue De Monde beckoned one Friday night (after a 3 month wait =p) and it was well worth the wait. I had already previously dined at the old Vue De Monde which was located at Little Collins Street … Continue reading