Mr Hendricks – Great addition to Balwyn

panda 4 rating

Brioche French Toast with Vanilla Poached Pears, Caramel Sauce, Double Cream

Brioche French Toast with Vanilla Poached Pears, Caramel Sauce, Double Cream

Menu:
Breakfast Menu Lunch Menu
I had stumbled upon Mr Hendricks whilst perusing my Instagram feed one day and was pleasantly surprised to find that it is 7 minutes away from home. Mr Hendricks is located in Whitehorse Road in Balwyn and is open for all day breakfast and lunch. The café is named after the owners Enligh Staffy dog called Hendrick. It is owned by three brothers – all of who have taken hands on presence in the café – two of them are chefs in the kitchen and the other is in charge of front of house.

The fit-out is modern, welcoming and casual thanks to the wooden tables, funky lamps, use of white square tiles and wooden shelving. There is a back covered courtyard area which compromises of a 3 levelled sun deck. There is also a herb garden and they also have a “green room” which can seat up to 10 people that can be booked if you wanted a private dining experience. Simply call them to make a reservation.

The coffee counter houses the magnificient matte black La Marzocco coffee machine which pumps out Padre coffee. At the counter as well are some sweet treats that you can try like muffins and slices.

I had initially stopped by for a quick coffee but once seeing the menu decided on ordering the Brioche French Toast. It just sounded too good to pass up and I was feeling like something sweet.

The menu is intriguing – serving up most of the normal dishes that you would find in other cafes but with a great twist. They have toast and fruit bread as well as coconut rice porridge. Some of the dishes that caught my eye were the crispy eggs, the Croque Madame and the Breakfast Cassoulet which comes with Confit duck, Toulouse sausage and eggs. Their lunch menu includes a grain salad, a soft shell crab burger, beef burger, crumbed chicken sandwich and a serving of rosemary fries. In the form of drinks – they serve up 4 different milkshakes (chocolate, vanilla, caramel, strawberry), as well as Noah’s Creative Juices – there are three different combinations and I definitely have to try one next time. There are the usual teas, coffees and iced chocolate, mocha and coffee as well as coconut water from Cocobella and the usual soft drinks.

I loved the coffee “glass” my latte came out in – it was literally like receiving a warm hug in a glass. What made it even better was the delicious taste of the coffee – it was smooth, creamy and nutty all at the same time and I devoured it in record time. I do rate it up there with my top coffee’s at the moment.

The Brioche French Toast with Vanilla Poached Pears, Caramel Sauce, Double Cream was a beautifully plated dish. Served on a white dish, the golden caramel oozed out from under the thick brioche French toast which was topped with 2 halves of the vanilla poached pears. The double cream placed elegantly over the caramel sauce. If I had to describe this dish in one word it would be MEMORABLE. When you hear all the components of this dish you would assume it would a massive sugar hit for your taste buds – however it isn’t an overly sweet dish. The brioche French toast – had these layers of creaminess with a crisp sweet crust and was simply divine. The vanilla poached pears were perfectly soft and the caramel had a smokiness to it that tied the entire dish together. Add the smooth texture of the double cream with the other elements and you have a fantastic dish. I will definitely be raving about this dish for a long time to come.

Mr Hendricks is a great addition to the Balwyn area and is definitely going to be my local coffee hang out. The staff are friendly and inviting – albeit the barista at the coffee machine who tainted my almost perfect time at the venue. He was a bit rude and a bit of a grump and I guess just needs to learn a proper way of talking to customers. That was the only downfall, otherwise definitely give it try.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to menu above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Light filled, Welcoming – great courtyard area that is undercover at the back – great especially on a warm sunny day!
Standout Dish: Brioche French Toast with Vanilla Poached Pears, Caramel Sauce, Double Cream
Service: Friendly – albeit the bad encounter with the Barista when paying for the meal
Online Booking: No – but they do take bookings – just call them up
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/mrhendrickscafe
469 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn
Tel No:9830 7579

Opening Hours:
Closed Mondays
Tuesday – Friday: 7.30am- 4:30pm
Saturday: 8am- 4pm
Sunday: 8am- 4pm

Mr Hendricks Cafe on Urbanspoon

Rice Paper Scissors – Laneway Funk

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Specials

L and I were meeting up for dinner and we decided to try out Rice Paper Scissors located in a funky laneway in the centre of the Melbourne CBD – Liverpool street to be precise. Rice Paper Scissor uses a Vietnamese and Thai fusion of flavours through its menu to create a hawker style menu. The place itself is quite funky – there is a bike on the wall behind the bar, as well as painting of a woman which catches your eye as you step inside. There is a mixture of seating – high tables near the bar together with seating along the length of the bar all the way up to the kitchen. There are also tables out the front when the weather is nice.

We were seated at the bar and whilst chatting and deciding what to eat we ordered drinks. The drink menu has a combination of Asian beers, as well as a great selection of cocktails, wines and spirits. There are also “Get a Crush” non-alcoholic drinks available as well as a whole fresh organic coconut, homemade ice tea and freshly brewed Vietnamese Ice Coffee.

I ordered a ‘Get a Crush’ drink of lychee, coconut and kaffir lime. These drinks come in a glass jar and was a very refreshing drink! Anything with lychee for me is a winner! The unique flavouring of the kaffir lime with the coconut and lychee worked really well together.

The menu consists of dishes that progressively get larger as the menu moves on – and are essentially sharing style dishes. There are also 3 different salads to choose from, with the option of gluten free available throughout the menu. Another option is to select any 5 dishes from the menu for a very reasonable $49. There are dishes like Lotus Root, Betel Leaf, Thai Fried Chicken, Steamed Buns, Mini Banh Mi (Vietnamese Baguette) and even BBQ Ribs. What I also love about this menu is that they give you the traditional name for each dish as well as the English translation.

We decided to order the Thai Ceviche, Tempura Prawn and the Som Otam Salad with Tiger Prawns.

The Thai Ceviche (Koi Pla) – lime cured kingfish salad with mint, chilli and shallots was the first dish we received and I loved the presentation of this dish. The Ceviche came out in a silver container which resembles a tuna tin almost, which had to opened up. The waiter opens up this up for you to reveal a colourful and fragrant dish. It comes served with rice crackers on the side. The kingfish was fresh and the combination of ingredients gave it a punch of flavours in your mouth. The addition of the rice crackers was great as well – I enjoyed the addition of the sesame seeds.

Next up we got the Tempura Prawn (Boor Thawt Goog) – minced prawns, lemongrass and kaffir lime wrapped in perila leaf. These come served with 3 pieces. They resembled curry puffs almost on the plate and came with a dipping sauce. The prawn meat mixed with the lemongrass and kaffir lime was reminiscent of a dumpling filling but more delicious. A really good dish overall.

Lastly we got the Som Dtam – green papaya salad with peanuts, long beans and chilli – to which we added tiger prawns (you can add pork belly as well if you want). This dish was quite large and is plenty for two people. The flavours in this dish were amazing – fresh, tangy and super tasty! The king prawns were also cooked to perfection and as a whole the combination was great.

We were both quite full from these dishes that we tried out but the desserts, when reading them on the dessert board sounded really interesting and different so we decided to share one.
There was a selection of :
Homemade Ice Cream Sandwich – Mango and Sticky Rice in a Sweet Toasted Bun
Black caviar – Sago Pudding with Peanut and Garam
Terranium – Vietamese Coffee Mousse with Peanut Soil

We ordered the Homemade Ice Cream Sandwich – Mango and Sticky Rice in a Toasted Sweet Bun. The bun was just the right size for a dessert dish and came out a dollop of Mango Ice Cream on the top with the bun having the sweet sticky rice on the inside. It was a great interpretation of an ice cream sandwich and I loved the combination of flavours. The bun came out warm and the mix of hot and cold added to yumness and enjoyability factor.

The staff are really friendly and very helpful, and it really does make you feel like you can sit and hang around for hours. The street food theme along with reasonable prices and great selection of drinks at this funky venue with a great vibe, will be sure to have people flocking down. Having been open only for a few months, on the night we went – it was a full house! If you are or are not a fan of Thai / Viet hawker style food – either way – you should check it out.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Tapas, Sharing Menu – can be found at http://www.ricepaperscissors.com.au/ There is a picture above for the list of specials that were on offer when I visited.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience:
Standout Dish:
Service:
Online Booking: No. There is availability to book a function here – Just contact them.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.ricepaperscissors.com.au/
19 Liverpool Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9663 9890

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Monday to Friday: 12pm – 3pm

Dinner
Monday to Friday: 6pm – Late
Saturday: 5pm – Late

Rice Paper Scissors on Urbanspoon

Gelato Messina – A Bit of Italy in Fitzroy

panda 4.5 rating

Gelato Messina has come to Melbourne and taken everyone by storm. Newly opened in Smith Street, Fitzroy it has received a warm welcome with lines snaking out of the door and along Smith Street. Gelato has been a long love affair for many Melbournians especially people that frequent Lygon Street in Carlton. There are many different Gelato stores which serve up the classic traditional Italian style of ice cream but none quite like Gelato Messina. The main difference is that Gelato Messina pushes the boundaries when it comes to the rules of Gelato in the sense of being more inventive with flavours and combinations, combined with old-school techniques to maintain the integrity of the original gelato recipe. The Gelato Artisians or Gelartisans as they are fondly referred to as, have created flavours that have your mouth drooling just from reading what’s contained in each flavour.

Gelato Messina began in 2002 by by Nick Palumbo and is now co-owned by Donato Toce, Declan Lee, Danny Palumbo and John Stephens. Nick Palumbo comes from an Italian Messina background and it was visiting his grandparents in Messina that brought on his connection and love for gelato. Gelato Messina has many different locations around Sydney and even has one opening up in Hangzhou, China! It is no wonder that they have won many awards for their amazing Gelato. Just recently at the Melbourne Gelato World Tour they won first prize for a flavour called Cremino – salted caramel, gianduia (hazelnut chocolate), fresh meringue and amaretti.

What makes Gelato Messina different to other traditional Gelato stores is that they use real ingredients to make the gelato and it is hand churned on site. Everything is made fresh on the day without the artificial colours. The chocolate mint flavour uses actual mint leaves, the apple pie flavour consists of baked apple pies – and the list goes on. There is a list of about 40 permanent flavours and weekly specials. New daily flavours appear and they are constantly inventing bigger and better combinations to keep things intriguing. There are also fruity sorbets and dairy-free options for people who are in need of these. How great is it that they cater for one and all! Additionally, Gelato Messina makes ice cream cakes which are displayed in store as well – the infamous toadstool cake is present!

What is great about Gelato Messina is the connection that they have with the consumers – they have a huge online following and allow for people to submit and suggest different flavours. Allowing this personal interaction makes people wanting to keep coming back and trying out the different flavours and best of all bringing friends along to share in the experience.
Another great fact is that all the Gelartisans have a wealth of experience and knowledge in the world of Gelato making – like Simone Panetta (who is a partner in the Melbourne store) who has been making Gelato since he was 11 and was chosen to be a “Gelato Pioneer” at Carpigiani University in Bologna. They have recently put out a cookbook called Gelato Messina which can teach you how to make Gelato!

When you walk into the Melbourne store, the fit out has been done to keep in with the Fitzroy theme – there are exposed brick walls to give it a somewhat warehousey feel, together with colourful graffiti style wall mural by Jeremy Neale and a somewhat modern pressed metal enclosure which encases the gelatos. There is also a window where you can view the Gelartisans creating the many flavours on sale. You get to get a brief glimpse of the colourful and fresh gelato amongst the masses of the crowds. The staff are friendly and always have a smile on their face despite having to face an overwhelmingly large crowd throughout the day. Whilst waiting to order we are handed menus which was a good idea as after reading each flavour you are confused as to which one you want as they all sound sooo great. There is a list of special flavours on the wall (the same flavours get released in Sydney and Melbourne on the same day) – where as they get sold out a sign is placed to let people know until a new batch is made up. After much deliberation I decided to go with the Salted caramel and white chocolate as it was their biggest seller. N got the Mango Sorbet and Mint Chocolate Chip and M got the Twixed flavour.

You can either select if you want the gelato to come in a cup or a cone – I went with the signature green and orange cup for my scoop of gelato. The result was smooth and creamy consistency with accents of salted caramel and textured bits of white chocolate. The mix of the saltiness and the sweetness of the chocolate combined beautifully and this is the reason why it is their best selling flavour. I did get to try N’s mango sorbet which was tasted just like a mango in creamy smooth form and the chocolate chip mint gelato had a minty hint that I have never tasted before – in a great way! You can tell that fresh ingredients were used. The Twixed flavour was phenomenal – it was wholesome chocolaty goodness all in one scoop – rich and mouth watering! It also had shortbread and caramel mixed through it. I want to go back and try out the Cremino, Pistachio and Coconut & Lychee flavours – just to start..and eventually work my way through all the flavours! =p

Gelato Messina has so many flavours (in fact about a 900 flavour catalogue) to try out and with summer just around the corner there is no better time to try. I think Melbourne is lucky as it is currently their largest store to date which means more flavours to try out! Bring on summer and the year of Gelato!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the attachment above. Also look at http://www.gelatomessina.com/flavours/ and http://www.gelatomessina.com/flavours/our_top_10_flavour_combos/

Also refer to http://www.gelatomessina.com/ for the different Gelato Cakes which are made to order
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Chilled Out and Fun
Standout Flavours:
● Salted caramel and white chocolate (their biggest seller)
● Chocolate fondant
● Pandan and coconut
Service: Despite the long lines and queues, the staff are friendly and always have a smile on their face
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.gelatomessina.com/
237 Smith St, Fitzroy

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 12pm – 11pm
Friday to Saturday: 12pm – 11.30pm
Sunday: 12pm – 11pm

Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon

Pok Pok – A Lunch Favourite in Docklands

Pok Pok is a Thai restaurant newly opened in July this year and is located in Docklands and is soon becoming a fast lunch favourite. Pok Pok is styled in tones of pink and blue, and has both communal tables for large groups or the smaller tables for more personal dining. Fresh flowers provide the centrepiece on the tables which add a nice homely touch.

Pok Pok  gets its names from the Thai term to describe the sounds of a pestle hitting spices in a granite mortar, which is reminiscent of the background noises in the streets of eateries in the streets of Bangkok. Pok Pok’s aim is to bring authentic and fresh Thai street food to streets of Melbourne, using the freshest of ingredients – and this they do achieve.

My first trip to Pok Pok was a Friday lunchtime and we had our work team head over. We sat on the communal tables and were promptly given our menus. The menu is filled with a variety of dishes – ranging from something to small, quick and light to something to warm the belly and ending with the finishing touches. There are curries, things from the Wok as well as rice and noodle dishes. I had the Spicy Stir Fried Rockling with “Pad Cha” Chilli. The rockling was fresh and cooked perfectly and came mixed with Pad Cha which consisted of garlic paste, basil and of course chilli. Most of the table had the Massaman Lamb Curry with Crisp Roti Bread, which everyone that had it raved about. The Lamb was soft and tender and literally melted off the bone and the Roti Bread crispy and buttery. I also had the Cabbage, Chives and Shitake Mushroom Pan Fried Dumplings. This is a very different combination of flavours in a dumpling, but they not only looked good,but tasted great. The combination of those ingredients had a somewhat nutty flavour. The dumplings were juicy and flavoursome. There are two other combinations to try as well – Taro and water chestnut and Chicken and sweet corn.

Another Thai touch, is that water is given out to you in tiny little silver cups that you cup in your hands to drink out of. The only thing is that they are quite small that you could almost run out of water in one gulp.

The next time I went to Pok Pok was again at lunchtime and this time around I ordered the Grilled King Fish and King Prawn Curry – Grilled in a Red Coconut Curry and Wrapped in Banana Leaf flavoured with Kaffir Leaves and Basil. When I ordered this dish, the waiter asked me if I didn’t mind that some of the dish is a bit raw. I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by this but when the dish came out, both the fish and the prawn were cooked and tasted delicious. The fish did have towards the end have an overly fishy taste and I guess this is where the “rawness” came into it – afterall it had been wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. The mixture of the red coconut, basil and kaffir leaves was authentic, spicy and provided a burstful of flavour in your mouth.

The dishes are decently sized and you are left with a warm feeling in your tummy that comes not only from the spiciness but the fullness. The ingredients are fresh and the flavours authentic. Service is quite good as well, but the wait staff are kept quite busy and are bustling about to service all the tables. Check it out.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – A la Carte Menu – refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Lunchtimes are very busy and you do feel like you are in the busy streets of Bangkok
Standout Dish: Massaman Lamb Curry with Crisp Roti Bread and Spicy Stir Fried Rockling with “Pad Cha” Chilli
Service:
Online Booking: No, but if you are to go during lunch time and have a large group it is best advised to book.
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/POKPOKMELB
801-803 Bouke St, Docklands
Tel No: 9620 4580

Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday: 7am to 4pm
Thursday to Friday: 7am to 10pm
Saturday: 6pm t0 10pm

Pok Pok on Urbanspoon

Nine Elephants – Taking Spicy to an all new level!


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Nine Elephants is an authentic Thai restaurant that is tucked away in the streets of Docklands. As I work around the area, I found this restaurant when I was looking up places around the area for a Team lunch. We made a booking for a table and as they have been known to be busy, so we asked them if we could put in a pre-order so that it wouldn’t take a long time (due to our lunch break time restrictions). They were more than happy to do.

The restaurant is small (seats only 60 people) with high ceilings and completed with wooden tables and a theme of blue and gold. Despite the surrounding area being somewhat quiet, the atmosphere inside the restaurant is lively and vibrant you almost forget where you are. The wait staff are friendly and welcoming and it somewhat does feel like you are in a little town in the heart of Thailand.

The menu has a huge variety and when you look at it, you are left wanting to try everything. There are traditional curries, stir fries and rice / noodle dishes. There are many vegetarian and seafood options, as well some gluten free dishes. Nine Elephants offers 4 different levels of spiciness, from Medium right up to Very spicy (which is really really spicy!).

The dishes came out with meticulous timing and were so vibrantly coloured on the white plates. All the ingredients used were fresh and full of flavour. I ordered the Green Curry with Seafood Extra Spicy. The moment it was placed on the table, the strong flavoursome aroma just hits you, and you cant wait to dig into the dish. The seafood was perfectly cooked and consisted of calamari, prawns and mussels. The extra spicy level at Nine Elephants, is exactly that! It is one of the spiciest food I have tasted and it does really get taste buds tingling. The spiciness however, didn’t detract from the authentic flavours of the dish, just gave you a warmth all over. We also ordered the Roti Bread which was crispy and delicious served with a thickened satay sauce – one of the best Roti’s I have tasted.

Nine Elephants is a definite stand out for authentic Thai cuisine, not only in the Docklands area but in Melbourne I would say! They have won an award for being Restaurant in the area of Docklands already. Nine Elephant definitely produce high quality dishes that are bursting with flavour. A definite top Thai Restaurant in Melbourne.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A la Carte – can be found at http://nineelephants.com.au/?page_id=23
You can also order online at http://nineelephants.com.au/?page_id=110
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Lively and Vibrant
Standout Dish: Green Curry
Service: Fantastic, Friendly and Attentive, as well as being Warm and Cosy at the same time.
Online Booking: Yes via http://nineelephants.com.au/?page_id=38
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://nineelephants.com.au/?page_id=46
67 Village Street, Docklands
Tel No: 9670 9909

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Monday to Saturday: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner
Monday to Saturday: 5:30pm -10pm
Sunday: CLOSED

Nine Elephants on Urbanspoon