Form Cafe – Suburban Treat

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Form Cafe Menu 1 Form Cafe Menu 3 Form Cafe 2

Form Café is located in the suburban streets of Essendon and has been on my list of cafes to try for a while. I found myself in and around that area on a Saturday so decided to pop by for something to eat before running more errands.

Form Café resides on Albion Street in what used to be a milk bar, then a house, then an artists’ studio and finally a café. Owned by Rob Cecchinelli and Jason Currie (both from Ray) – this café has a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere where you can see yourself spending lots of time without even realising how much time you have spent. I especially love the wheelbarrow garden located at the front of the restaurant coupled with a chalkboard sign with its name on it.

The interior is mostly white with splashes of wood throughout. I love the island bench that houses the terracotta jugs where you can self-serve your own water – it actually makes self service cool! Carrying on the self-service theme are the cutlery and serviettes that are clustered in the middle of each table held in a tomato soup tin – how vintage! Carrying on the vintage vibe is the menu that is written on brown butcher’ paper. There are three main sitting areas – one as you walk in, another as you go up the stairs (almost like a raised living area) and then outside in the courtyard.

The menu begins with the classics that you expect to find on a breakkie / brunch menu such as Fruit Toast, Pet (Poached Eggs on Toast), The Good Stuff (Bircher Muesli with Poached Fruit, Cream, Pistachios & Honey) and then moves onto the more unique dishes such as Shane’s Sardines (Tinned Sardines on Toast with Pickled Fennel and Salsa Verde), Cheese & Onion Square (Leek & Onion braised in White Wine on Toast, sat under Grilled Messy Valley Cheese) and Smash (Avo, Tomatoes, Danish Feta on Multi-Grain Toast with Grilled Corn) – just to name a few. There is also Gluten Free bread available.

I order a latte while I decide on what food I want. The Latte is perfection in a cup – strong with nutty flavours and just the right amount of milk and foam. I decide to order the Trout – Petuna Smoked Trout, Potato Cake and Lemon Scented Zucchini and Poached Eggs. I was surprised at how quickly the dish appeared at my table not long after I had ordered. A few tables down – the patrons made the same comment as well – the quick delivery of food once their orders had been placed. Efficiency at its best!

Food is served on recycled plates (they really are looking out for the environment) – which I don’t mind at all! The Potato Cake sits on the bottom with the beautifully smoked trout layered on top followed by the lemon scented zucchini and finished with rocket leaves. It looks like a Christmas tree that I can’t wait to devour. The poached egg is placed to the side surrounded by peas, pepitas and dukkah. The Potato cake is soft on the inside with a crisp and delicious tasting crunch on the outside – it is not what you would expect normally when you think potato cake – but is fantastic nonetheless. The combination of the fresh cool trout with the warm potato and hint of tang from the lemon scented zucchini is a divine combination. The egg was poached nicely and the addition of the peas and pepitas added extra texture. The dish was consumed just about as fast as it arrived.

The service is a bit varied but overall friendly – especially the barista as you leave – which makes your experience a whole lot better and makes you want to come back. Form Café is a great addition to the area and I will definitely be back to try out Shane’s Sardines!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable and Casual
Service: Friendlyish…
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Form-Cafe/184897851654353
32 Albion Street, Essendon
Tel No: 9375 3232

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 6.30am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am – 4:00pm

Form Cafe on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Form-Cafe/184897851654353
Twitter: @ForMCafeMelb
Instagram: @formcafe

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Scarvelli Cafe – Homely Balwyn Local

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Food Menu Food Menu

I love finding breakfast / brunch options around my local area and Scarvelli Café was one these. Scarvelli Café is located along Whitehouse Road in Balwyn (only a few blocks away from the popular Snow Pony).

Scarvelli Café has a very homely and welcoming feel to it, probably owing to the fact that it’s layout is reminiscent to that old house. There is seating in the front room and then you walk towards the back of the venue (which reminds you of a dining room) where there is more seating and is completed with a big mirror and a moose head that wears a colourful scarf. There is also a courtyard available to enjoy those glorious sunny days. The moose head against the brick wall backdrop is definitely the star of the venue, although the large vintage mirror in the front room is another stunner. The moose theming continues on the menu with the antlers featuring as a design feature.

The food menu is broken up into two main sections – Breakfast (available all day) and Lunch (available from 11am). Breakfast dishes contain the usual breakkie dishes such as Toast (there are 4 varieties to choose from including gluten-free), Fruit Toast, Muesli, Croissants and Coconut Porridge along with dishes with a difference – such as Banana Bread served with warm espresso mascarpone and candied hazelnuts, The Good Life – Eye fillet with Avocado, Wilted Spinach, Poached Eggs & Toast or Omelette Au Saumon – French style omelette with wood-fire smoked salmon, chives and crème fraiche.
The lunch menu consists of a soup of the day, three different salads (Chicken and Ocean Trout, and a vegetarian option featuring butternut pumpkin), as well as a Confit Lamb dish, Braised Pork and a Wagyu Beef Burger – using some interesting names for each of the dishes.

Coffee is from Industry Beans and uses the Fitzroy Street Blend as their signature blend. There are also a range of single origin coffees available for espresso and cold drip as well as chocolate – all sourced from Industry Beans. I order a latte as I decide between the Banana Bread and the Dukkah Eggs. The latte is deliciously smooth with a combination of honey tones initially, followed by the slight tang of blackberries and a finish of chocolate and caramel. It really does hit the spot in terms of coffee goodness.

I decided on the Dukkah Eggs – Spiced Crumbed Eggs, Pomegranate, Pinenuts & Cauliflower Puree. When I ordered the dish the waitress asked if I wanted a side of bread as some customers needed it to mop up the cauliflower puree. I opted for no bread. The dish came out beautifully presented with the spiced dukkah eggs located at the centre and being the star of the dish. The eggs sat on top of the cauliflower puree with the pomegranate, peanuts and herbed greens all around forming a nest formation. The dish was colourful and looked highly enticing – you find yourself marvelling at the splendour of the dish.

The poached eggs were cooked to perfection – oozing golden yellow goodness. The dukkah coated on the outside added the perfect crunch and texture worked brilliantly with the silky, creamy cauliflower puree – which added just the right amount of sweetness to the dish. The pomegranate added a burst of tang and additional sweetness and the pinenuts brought the right amount of depth to the dish as a whole. A really tasty and mind blowing dish. The combination of the spice from the dukkah and the sweetness of the cauliflower puree and tang of pomegranate was mind blowing! Loved it!

There are also Ciabattas and Sweets available at the front counter for purchase as well. Staff are friendly and helpful if you are confused on what you want to eat. It’s great to see a place like this out in the suburbs: a great warm atmosphere, delicious interesting dishes and great tasting coffee!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely, Cosy. They have a courtyard which is great for Mums with Bubs, as well as enjoying a great sunny day!
Standout Dish: Dukkah Eggs
Service: Friendly and Welcoming, as well as Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/ScarvelliCafe
143 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn
Tel No: 9816 8887

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00am – 4:30pm
Saturday: 8:00am – 3:30pm
Sunday: 8:00am – 3:00pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ScarvelliCafe
Instagram: scarvellicafe
Twitter: @scarvellicafe

Scarvelli Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tadka Boom! – Indian with a Modern Twist!

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Idli Breakfast Kerala Ice Cream Delhi Masala Chai Lunch Menu Salad and Snacks Menu Drinks and Desserts Menu

I heard about Tadka Boom! – a new restaurant that with a catchy name and delivers a modern take on traditional Indian street food – and couldn’t wait to try it out.

Tadka Boom! is located in Goldsbrough Lane in the heart of the Melbourne CBD (near the corner of Bourke and William streets). Tadka means seasoning in Hindi which relates to the diverse flavours and taste they bring to each dish. The new restaurant was opened by Lalitha Rajan together with her son Ashwin. Rajan quit her high flying executive job at HP to found Tadka Boom! She uses her well-loved family recipes from her very own kitchen (and inspired from her hometown of Delhi) here to Tadka Boom! to share with the people of Melbourne.

The venue is quite big in size – seats 45 inside and 12 outside – and centres around the colours of yellow and aqua mixed in with white, grey and black. The colours really work well together and brighten up the space adding to its fun and lively atmosphere. There are a selection of tables – both round and square – as well as a high communal table and high bench seating. As you walk in you are drawn to the kitchen / main counter as you watch meals being prepared in a methodical manner of efficiency. The way Tadka Boom! works is that you place your order at the counter and you are handed a receipt – you then wait off to the side to receive your food. You can sit in and enjoy your meal or take it away with you.

Tadka Boom! serves both breakfast (Nashta) and lunch (Bhojan) – at the moment – dinner could be on the horizon – with the main focus is on a wide range of grab to go meals and snacks which allow the busy worker on their quick lunchtime break to experience and taste the modern and punchy flavours of India. There are also Snacks (Tiffin) and Salads (Hara Bara) available on their menu and of course a selection of Desserts (Mitha Boom!) and Drinks. Before coming here for the first time I had no idea they served breakfast meals – I only assumed it was lunch.

Breakfast or Nashta as they call it back in India presents interesting combinations of eggs that you wouldn’t have experienced before. There are 3 main breakfast dishes and the one that got me excited to come back and try was the Idli Over Easy. Idli is steamed rice cakes and comes served with coconut chutney, spicy tomato chutney & gun powder served with fried eggs and spinach. Also available is the Bada Breakkie – which is a mixed lentil and rice pikelets served with chutney and mushrooms – the Bujia Roll and Grandma Jau’s Porridge.

Lunch consists of roti wraps (which you can get in either wholemeal or spinach) filled with a variety of fillings such as Lamb with Kaboom! Masala, Ginger Chilli Prawns, Grilled Chicken or the vegetarian option of ricotta, broccoli and carom seed patty. The Snacks menu consists of Bombay Bites, Sliders and Paratha (Flaky Roti) served with chutneys. There are 4 different chutneys to choose from, all with varying spiciness. There are 3 salads to choose from – all of which have a vegetarian base and if you choose you can add chicken, lamb or prawn.

Desserts include a selection of two ice creams – a Rose and Pistachio Ice Cream as well as a Kerala Spice Ice Cream. Drinks add another interesting twist to the menu – in house made cold drinks – the Nimbu Pani (Homemade lemonade) and the R.O.C Tea (Raspberry, Orange and Cinnamon infused tea). There is also Garma Garam Chai as well as Chennai Kaapi (South Indian filter coffee) for hot options.

P and I both decided to order roti wraps – she went for the Veggie option (Varanasi Veg) and I went for the Grilled Ginger Prawn option (Mr Parker’s Prawns). When we went they had a special on where you could order a cold drink for an extra $2 (which out well for me as I wanted to try the R.O.C Tea anyway!).

I opted for a wholemeal roti wrap for my choice of Mr Parker’s Prawns – Grilled ginger-chilli prawns with Dahlia Salad & Date Tamarind Chutney. The roti itself was thin and flavoursome – to the point where you didn’t really feel like you were eating a wrap that was made of wholemeal. The flavours from the grilled ginger chilli prawns were delicious – it had a smoky spicy flavour to it – coupled with the sweet, tangy chutney made for a well-rounded dish.

P did enjoy her Varanasi Veg – a light Ricotta, Broccoli & Carom Seed Patty with Green Salad, Kasundi & Date Tamarind Chutney. She said she enjoyed the overall taste, but struggled to finish the whole wrap as it was quite filling.

The R.O.C Tea was refreshing and tasty – I love anything with Cinnamon right now so this was a double bonus. The drink didn’t taste anything like a tea but instead like a fresh juice. I also sampled some of P’s Nimbu Pani which was just as good. My only comment was that I expected to get the drinks in the jars as they were in the pictures – that looked impressive! However we received them in a takeaway clear cup – which makes sense if people wanted to take away.

The staff at Tadka Boom! are very friendly and customer service is first class. This is evident from the time you place your order to when you receive your meals. You can tell they are really passionate about what they do and the enthusiasm really shines through.

Tadka Boom! aims to bring the hustle and bustle from India’s markets and street food “wallas” to the streets of Melbourne, fusing this with a modern twist all whilst keeping its exotic flavours and spices. They definitely do succeed! If you are looking for a flavour hit (BOOM!) be it first thing in the morning for breakfast or in your lunch break check out Tadka Boom!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above or check it out at http://static.squarespace.com/static/533cc8f4e4b025688de41377/t/537d878ee4b0eb4ddd2ba5fb/1400735630812/TadkaBoom_Menu%20TV_Website.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Fun and Light Filled
Service: Fantastic! Very friendly and welcoming!
Online Booking: They only take bookings for Breakfast
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.tadkaboom.com.au/
TG22 Goldsbrough Lane
550 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9600 1633

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 4:30pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TadkaBoom
Twitter: @TadkaBoom
Instagram
: Tadka Boom

Tadka Boom! on Urbanspoon

San Paolo Solarino – Sicilian in the City

panda 4 rating

I stumbled across San Paolo Solarino one day whilst out shopping in the lane ways of Melbourne in my lunch break. P and I were looking for a place to have lunch with another friend and I suggested Solarino.

Solarino is a contemporary Italian restaurant / bar that is located in Howey Place – a laneway off Little Collins Street – and nestled between stores such as Oroton, FCUK and the recently opened Phillipa’s. Solarino is brought to us by chefs Grant Phelan (Il Solito Posto, Ca De Vin) and Jade Amenta. It offers authentic and stays true to the Nonna style of cooking in presenting a modern twist on your traditional Sicilian food – and is open seven days a week for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

From the moment you walk inside – Solarino has a real sophisticated and elegant feel to it coupled with a air of casualness and comes complete with wooden tables and a swanky front bar. A highlight is the white washed walls with the name Solarino written in lights. The front counter hosts a silver coffee machine which pumps out delicious tasting coffee as well as cakes and a variety of desserts.

Their breakfast menu consists of the usual suspects such as Eggs any way you like it including Benedict, Florentine, Poached, Scrambled and Omelette. There is also Toast, French toast, Muesli and Crumpets available. Their lunch menu consists of Antipasti followed by Primi, Insalata and finishes with Speciali. There are around 7 different pasta dishes to choose from under the Primi heading – including Spaghetti, Fettuccine and Linguine. Insalata dishes include Calamari fritti and a variety of salads to choose from. Specials include Soft Shell Chilli Crab Salad, Sizzling Prawns, Veal as well as a Claypot Lamb.

I ordered the Penne with Garlic, Mushroom, Chilli, Onion and Fetta. The pasta was fresh and cooked to perfection. The flavour combination of the earthy tones from the mushroom paired with the garlic, and the caramelisation of the onion was simply divine. This was one fantastic mouth watering dish!

P ordered the Gnocchi Napoli Oven Baked and Topped with Grilled Mozzarella which came served out in a mini hot plate pan. P let me try some of her gnocchi and it was literally a melt in your mouth experience – heaven! The flavour combination of the Napoli and mozzarella worked together well. If you are a fan of gnocchi you have to try this dish out!

T ordered the Rigatoni with Aurora Style Pork Bolognese and Ricotta and said that he quite enjoyed the dish and the flavours. The dish looked fresh, vibrant and delicious.

Solarino is a fantastic venue that makes you feel comfortable and welcomed. It serves traditional Italian food with a modern twist – the dishes are a tad pricier that you would normally expect – but once you experience the flavours and freshness the price is simply an afterthought.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu:
Refer to the following for Breakfast: http://www.solarino.com.au/public/menus/solarino_breakfast.pdf
Refer to the following for Lunch: http://www.solarino.com.au/public/menus/solarino_lunch-dinner.pdf
Refer to the following for the wine list: http://www.solarino.com.au/public/menus/solarino_wine.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Stylish, Elegant, Classy and Comfortable
Standout Dish: Any of the Pasta dishes!
Service: Friendly and Warm
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.solarino.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.solarino.com.au/
Howey Place
279 Little Collins St, Melbourne
Tel No: 9663 2636

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 6:30am – 10:30pm

San Paolo Solarino - Pasta and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

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

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

Hawk and Hunter – Ripponlea Gem!

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Menu

A and I were heading out on our usual brunch catch-ups and this time we were checking out Hawk and Hunter. We trekked down to the south east part of Melbourne – Ripponlea to be more specific – and after ordering enough for all three meals in a day, were happy with our decision to make the trek down.

Hawk and Hunter comes courtesy of owners Ben Avramides, Tommy McIntosh, Luke Holt and Simon Winfield – who are also responsible for The Little Ox (located in Brighton and is on the list of places that I have yet to try), as well as catering company Tommy Collins.

From the moment you step into Hawk and Hunter – you feel like you have been transported into another land – the interior is beautifully quirky and mismatched. There is a combination of wood, steel, neon mesh sculptures, artwork of old newspaper clippings, birdcages, ducks and a large cut up tree – but it all works amazingly well together. There are a plethora of tables at this large venue – with tables for groups, singles and couples.

A and I had to wait about 5-10 minutes for our table (you will need to queue up on the weekends – this place is highly popular with the locals) – but this meant that we got to take in the atmosphere and also peruse the counter with its baked cookies. We already made a mental note that we wanted one of each on display – there was a cookies and cream brownie, two different varieties of pops, granola and white choc truffles, orange blossom meringues and macaroons just to name a few. What also caught my eye was their fridge filled with home made ice-cream with flavors such as Ferro Rocher and Mango.

We were seated at the end of the communal table – which gave us a view into the kitchen and the dishes being prepared. We ordered coffees to start from our super friendly waiter – who was very keen to have chit chat. Always love great customer service! Coffee is from Red Star Coffee. I ordered a latte and it was quite tasty – smooth with plenty of fruity flavours and resulting in a crisp taste. A ordered a hot chocolate. We also saw the fresh juices and decided to order them. It came in a jar and was a mix of orange, passion fruit and watermelon – a really refreshing and tasty combination.

The menu consists of an all day breakfast menu which comprises a mix of sweet (there is banana bread, waffles) and savory dishes (scrambled eggs done in different ways, fritters, smoked salmon tartare) to choose from. There is also a lunch menu which is served from 11:30am onwards and includes a wagyu burger, chicken burger and a variety of salads. There are also daily specials for each category to choose from as well as a soup of the day.

After much deliberation I decided on the Corn and Zucchini Fritters, Avocado, Fetta and a Poached Egg. I was tossing up between this dish, the Salmon Tartare, the waffles and the special French toast. A and I decided to share the French Toast so that made the decision a little easier. My corn and zucchini fritters were plated up well – the fritters at the base, with the avocado and poached egg placed on top, with the fetta, pomegranate molasses and chilli sprinkled around. The fritters were smooth and soft and filled with flavour. Paired with the fetta, avocado and a hint of chilli worked well.

A ordered the Big Ed’s Scrambled Eggs, bacon, Chilli, Basil, Garlic Toast and Salsa Verde. The Scrambled eggs sure was a large and generous serving and A couldn’t finish it all. I did try some of the Garlic Toast – which wasn’t overpowering with garlic and was crunchy and buttery. The salsa verde was fresh and worked well I thought with the garlic toast.

We ordered the French Toast with Apple and Pear Compote, Pecans and Salted Caramel to share and boy am I glad we decided to order this dish. The dish was quite generous in serving once again and was plated up on a long white oblong dish. It had an Eaton Mess style of plating up – with the taste just divine. The Apple and Pear had been poached perfectly and had the right amount of softness. The addition of the salted caramel together with the other sweet elements and the crunch and texture of the pecans worked well together. This dish was a special the day we went, but if it does appear when you visit – definitely try it out.

Hawk and Hunter is a great place to try out for brunch – from the friendly staff to the very cool fit-out to the amazing array of sweets to try out, as well some home made ice cream to take home to remember the visit by. Well worth the travel I say!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pic above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Quirky, Fun, Relaxed – great to spend hours chatting and enjoy the weekend! Light-filled and great for people with kiddies.
Standout Dish: French Toast with Apple and Pear Compote, Pecans and Salted Caramel
Service: Fantastic – Friendly and Fun!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.hawkandhunter.com.au/
8-10 Glen Eira Avenue, Ripponlea
Tel No: 9528 2719

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 6:30 am – 5:00 pm

Hawk & Hunter Small Batch on Urbanspoon

Natvia and Cupcake Central Workshop – 100% Natural Sweetner

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Natvia was founded after the realisation there was a gap in the market for a 100% natural sweetener. Founded in 2008 by Mark and Sam, and having gone through over 600 trials and 10 months of work they finally reached the perfect blend and taste combination.

Natvia uses the very best parts of the Stevia plant, combined with naturally occurring nectar known as Erythritol. Stevia is a sweet leafed plant which is part of the Chrysanthemum family.

Both Mark and Sam are passionate about the product and you can tell they really do care not only about the product but about the people as well. Some of their core values include educating people about the food and bringing love back to cooking, as well as trying to spark bit of a health revolution. Natvia has 97% fewer calories, contains no Aspartame or saccharin and has nothing artificial – it is all natural with no bitter aftertaste.

The Natvia Icing sugar we were told took around 2 years to make and is a world first! The idea was that the sugar was milled down further which makes it easier to pipe with. Tasty and making life easier – what a great combination!

Another plus point of Natvia is that it can be easily substituted in a 1:1 ratio with sugar. So there is no need for complicated calculations to try and convert measurements.

Natvia can be currently be found in drinking mixes, tomato sauces and in the future thanks to their product innovation could be found in many more products to meet the growing market needs – so keep a lookout for their products. Natvia is available at Coles, Woolworths and Independent Groceries – IGA, Foodworks, Aussie Health, as well in many countries around the world!

If you want copies of the Natvia Sugar Free Baking Recipe Book – feel free to contact me via email (thegrazingpanda@gmail.com) and I can email you a copy. I have PDF versions.

Visit their website for more information – www.natvia.com.au
_________________________________________________________________________________

I had the pleasure of being invited to a Cupcake Workshop by Natvia who worked in conjunction with Cupcake Central (stores in Melbourne Central, Hawthorn and Highpoint). Cupcake Central now stocks sugar-free cupcakes as part of their range which of course has been sweetened by Natvia.

I was greeted by a Natvia representative who welcomed me to the event, and handed me my very own Natvia apron, Natvia Sugar Free Baking Recipe Book and name tag. There were nibbles and drinks provided, as well Bar-Narnie cupcakes from Cupcake Central. These cupcakes were protein packed and gluten free as well as being sugar-free and actually tasted really good! Healthy and tasty what more could you ask for!

After some time to mingle with fellow bloggers of the world we gathered around the bench for an official welcome from the founders of Natvia – Mark and Sam – and then Sheryl (owner of Cupcake Central) showed us how to create a Not-So-Devilish-Chocolate Cupcake. For the recipe of this cupcake please refer to the bottom of the page.

Sheryl walked us through the process of how they would create their cupcakes in store – they bake over 1000 cupcakes fresh every morning – as well as handing out some handy and useful tips throughout the whole process. Sheryl was really excited to be working with Natvia and the use of this sweetener at Cupcake Central – as she had many customers asking her if there were sugar free cupcakes available.

Each of us also learnt how to put in the cupcake mixture into a cupcake papers in an easier manner – the trick is to use an ice-cream scoop (preferably a size 16). She also showed us a trick on an easy way to separate the cupcake papers when they come all bundled together – you have to slightly wet your index finger with a Chux towel, and using your thumb and your index finger separate the cupcake papers into the tray. Easy!

Once we were through the making of the mixture and putting the mixture into cupcake papers – it was time to get them baked and learn how to use a piping bag and decorate our cupcakes! There were three different piping nozzles – Star Nozzle, French Tip Nozzle and the Wilton 1M Nozzle – to use, and fresh fruit (Strawberries, Banana, Bluberries and Raspberries) as well. It was a lot of fun to get to pipe out our own designs and top them however we wanted.

Before leaving the event, we were given Natvia Goodie bags – which came with a box of Icing Mix, a box of Baking Pack, Cinnamon Splash Cluster Bars, as well as a premix from Cupcake Central for their Not-So-Devilish-Chocolate Cupcakes.

Thanks Natvia for the invite to try out your new products and also to Cupcake Central for teaching us some tricks and tips about baking, icing and piping! I look forward to seeing what other great products Natvia produces as well as the different flavours of cupcakes that Cupcake Central can produce in the Sugar Free range.

Cupcakes I decorated =)

Not-So-Devilish-Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 12 cupcakes)

1 ½ cups Plain Flour

½ cup Cocoa (Cupcake Central uses Callebaut Cocoa) 1 cup Natvia Baking Pack

1 tsp Bicarbonate Soda

¼ tsp Salt

2 Large Free Range Eggs (59 grams)

½ cup Regular Oil

1 cup Cold Water

2 tsp White Vinegar

1 tsp Vanilla Extract (Cupcake Central uses Neillson Massey Madagascan Vanilla)

  1. Pre heat oven to 165 degrees for a fan forced oven, or 170 degrees for a Gas Oven
  2. Sift all dry ingredients directly into mixing bowl
  3. Add to dry mixture, the free range eggs (TIP: Add one egg yolk at a time to create a smoother mixture as you are allowing for the enzymes to break down in order to aerate the mixture) Oil, Water, Vinegar (TIP: When mixed together with the bicarbonate soda will help the cupcake rise) and Vanilla Extract. Beat by hand until smooth (If you are using a automatic hand beater – start off on low speed and then blitz for 30 seconds on medium to high speed)
  4. Fill cupcake papers with batter TIP: Use an ice cream scoop (size 16) to fill the cupcake papers
  5. Bake for 18-21 minutes (or until a cake skewer comes out clean)
  6. Decorate with Icing and ENJOY!

VANILLA FROSTING (for 12 cupcakes)

125 grams Unsalted NZ Butter

225grams of Natvia Icing Mix

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Salt

  1. Add Icing Mix to Butter and mix for 3 – 5 mins until light and fluffy
  2. Add the Vanilla Extract and a Pinch of salt and mix again
  3. Put into piping and you are ready to ice your cupcakes!

 

Other TIPS and FACTS: 

–           If you are using an automatic mixer – use the paddle attachment

–           Using oil will keep the moisture in the cupcake

–          Mixing and adding all your dry ingredients first will help you to avoid over mixing the product, and therefore will result in less dense cupcakes

–          Whenever you use Bicarbonate Soda – you always need to mix it with something acidic – i.e. cocoa or vinegar

–          If your resulting cupcake mixture is runnier than a normal cupcake batter they will come out fluffier

–          Occasionally when mixing, scrape down the mixture to ensure all the ingredients are being mixed evenly

Stables of Como – Historical Country Style Cafe

panda 3.5 rating

The ICKE and IGBY group – who are behind the popular Friends of Mine (Richmond), the great Snow Pony (Balwyn) and one of my favourites Porgie and Mr Jones (Hawthorn) – have opened up a café in the former stables building in the heritage listed and historic Como House – called Stables of Como, located in Toorak.

The Stables of Como café is located at the rear of the main Como House building and is situated in a secluded courtyard area and reminds you of visiting a farmhouse. The aim was a country house style chic with a rustic charm and from the moment you step foot inside you realise this brief has definitely been met. Stables is very popular and usually there is a wait for a table, the atmosphere inside is lively and fun – you can tell people just genuinely enjoy being here.

The theme is white, green and wooden – from the 6 metre long rustic counter which houses sweets, cakes and slices of almost every type and variety – to the tables, lights and coffee machine! Back to the counter of sweetness – there are things such as Raspberry and Pistachio Tea Cakes, Christmas Mince Pies, Honey Joys, Lamingtons, Giant Freckles, Choco Crackles and soooo much more!! They provide not only a colourful but enticing look complete with flowers and greenery, that you are almost tempted to skip eating a proper meal and just ask for one of each. There is also an option of high tea available as well as picnic baskets to take out into the gardens and enjoys. There are even rugs and Frisbees included! How awesome is that!

There is a homely feel attached to the Stables, it looks like a cross between a country kitchen and an olden day tearoom, with modern accents along the way.

The menu is from Jason Flygenring and covers the basics such as Toasted English Muffins, Bircher Muesli, Granola, Toast and Egg anyway you like it. There are also Crumpets available however they aren’t made in house and seem to be store bought. Most of the produce comes from the venues very own garden – there are chickens that lay the eggs that are used in the egg dishes! There are Stables Staples such as Smashed avocado, Toasted banana bread, Three egg omelette and Gardeners Breakfast which their take on the Big Breakfast.

The Lunch menu consists of Toasted Piadini – Honey roasted pumpkin and Prroscuitto, Baguettes – Ham as well as roasted veggies and Sourdough Sandwiches – Poached chicken and rare porterhouse beef are options. There are also smaller dishes such as Bruschetta, Soup, Smoked Salmon and Quiches as well as Main plates which include Lamb Loin, Tuna Nicoise and a CapeGrim fillet minute steak.

As mentioned before there is High tea (Devonshire Tea) available and the cost is $15 per person – and you get the famous Aggie’s lemonade scones, tea or coffee and you get to select one Jill Cross chocolate truffles to finish.

To start off with I order a vanilla bean milkshake and A orders an OJ. The milk shake comes out in a metal cup with extra milk on the side if you want to dilute the milkshake. The syrups are made in house and the milkshake was delicious and you could taste the freshness of the vanilla bean. Just what was needed on this warm morning. A’s OJ came served in a brown glass bottle with a straw and was fresj;u squeezed.

For food I decided to go with the Smashed Avocado with thyme buttered mushrooms, marinated feta and torn basil on wholegrain toast.  The dish came out with the toast acting as the base, with the avocado placed on top, followed by the thyme buttered mushrooms and topped with a poached egg (this was an addition I made) and finished with the feta and basil sprinkled around. The combination of all these ingredients was really good – the flavours were perfectly balanced and the mushrooms were fresh. My only gripe was that the toast was a tad bit hard. The feta was creamy and tangy and worked well with the basil and avocado.

A had the eggs from happy chickens folded with herbs and served on toasted, buttered ciabatta.  I loved who the omelette looked when it came out – the way in which it was cooked it resembled a rose or flower, with the herbs sprinkled on top. A dish that not only looked great but tasted the same.

The staff are generally friendly and knowledgeable, although the first waitress we had seemed kind of lost and had to take our order twice as she didn’t get it the first time.

I do have one gripe though – the very first time I went to eat at Stables was with my family for my sister’s birthday, and we arrived on a Sunday at 9:30am only to find that it was opened at 10am. My sister had to go to work by 1pm, so we would need to have left by 12pm at the latest. We were located at the main entrance which required us to walk thru the gardens to get to to the cafe, and this entrance was opened at 10:10am and by the time we got to putting our names down for a table of 4, the list was quite long, as the side entrance to where the cafe is situated had been opened at 10am. I do understand that there is a list that people put their names down for, and I explained to the girl at the front that we would need to be out by 12pm at the latest and she said she would wait and see the best that they could do. I also explained that we were here at 9:30am and we were at the main entrance which was clearly opened much later than the side entrance, but she really wasn’t listening. There were many tables of 2 going at a rapid pace, but after an hour of waiting and seeing lots of sets of 2’s we had to leave. It was really disappointing and I guess that is why it has taken me so long to actually come back and give this place a try. I get that busy café’s have a process that they follow, but I have seen other café’s be accommodating in circumstances like this, and Stables just wasn’t.

So just to note my rating that I have given is to do with the food, venue and atmosphere of the place, and not really for service.

Overall, Stables is a great addition to the historic Como House Building and I do love that they allowed people to have access to this beautiful site. The Picnic Basket idea is a wonderful idea and I think I will come back to try it out – along with more of the sweets!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – There is a Breakfast menu served all day, a Lunch Menu and an Afternoon Tea Menu as well as a High Tea Menu which can be found at http://www.thestablesofcomo.com.au/#!menu/ckiy
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely, Cosy and makes you feel at home. Great for a summery day to sit outside.
Standout Dish: Any of the sweets that are located on the 6 metre long rustic counter!
Service: Friendly and Knowledgeable in general, but had a pretty bad experience the first time I went there.
Online Booking: No. There are generally queues on most days. 
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.thestablesofcomo.com.au/#!home/mainPage
Corner Williams Road & Lechlade Avenue, South Yarra
Tel No: 9827 6886

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

The Stables of Como on Urbanspoon