Bonnie Coffee Brewers – Calling all Coffee Lovers!

panda 4 rating

I noticed a new funky looking café as I was quickly rushing between meetings one day and made a mental note of where it was located and to come and check it out the next time I was in the area. I was looking to meet J somewhere for coffee and suggested we should try out this place, however as there wasn’t a name on the outside so I couldn’t even tell her – all I knew was that it was along Collins street between Williams St and King St (near the Rhodes and Beckett store and Intercontinental Hotel).

J and I managed to find the place and it was once you step inside that you learn the name of this cool café – Bonnie – also known as Bonnie Coffee Brewers. There is no kitchen or menu here, but there are some sweet treats such as cookies (from Butterbing), cakes and artisan donuts (from Essendon’s Wilfred Smith) available. Bonnie specialises in a variety of coffee brews – think All Press blends, filter coffee from Clement as well as cold drip options.

Who brings us this wonderfully cool and stylish café you ask – Alex Zielke (Snow Pony, Porgie + Mr Jones) and Lloyd Smith (Oli & Levi). I love the fit out of the café – one wall is completely tiled in the most exquisite hexagon shape – with a dark moody brown bench that houses the huge, sleek La Marzocco coffee machine. Accents of copper are littered through the venue as well in the form of light fittings and sugar bowls. The use of the mirror elongates the small space even more. There isn’t much seating available – a mixture of high and low tables.

If you choose to have your coffee in store – there is sparkling water available on tap! How great is that! I chose to have a Chai Latte on this day –which was really scrumptious and creamy. I have heard great things about the coffee and will definitely head back there the next chance I get to try it out. The vibe is fantastic and the staff are super friendly!

My advice – if you love great tasting coffee – then Bonnie is definitely a place to check out!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – COFFEE!!! And some great tasting sweet treats to match!
Atmosphere / Ambience: Welcoming, Comfortable and Funky!
Service: Super super friendly!
Restaurant Details and Location:
bonniecoffeebrewers.com.au
http://bonniecoffeeco.com.au/
Shop 5 (near the Intercontinental Hotel)
495 Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9620 0519

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00am – 4:00pm

Bonnie Coffee Brewers on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bonnie-Coffee-Brewers/312959172233182?fref=ts&ref=br_tf
Instagram: bonniecoffeeco

 

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Shortstop – Doughnuts with a Difference

panda 3.5 rating

Glorious Doughnuts
Clockwise from Left Top:  Banana & Chocolate Hazelnut, Australian Honey & Sea Salt, Earl Grey & Rose, Red Velvet, Rhubarb & Ginger

Menu:
Doughnut Menu

Shortstop Donuts is the newly opened US-inspired doughnut shops in Melbourne – that has a huge amount of hype surrounding it and been in the planning stages for over a year. Anthony Ivey (ex-Market Lane) together with business partner Sinye Ooi has been traveling around the US and Canada to research various sugar-fuelled places in order to perfect the recipe for the opening. Even before the opening, they had a large following (18000 followers!!) on Instagram – especially around the Earl Grey doughnut.

Shortstop Donut is located in Sutherland Street in the heart of the Melbourne CBD – off Little Lonsdale or Latrobe Street (near Melbourne Central). The fit-out is clean and simple – headed by Adele Winteridge and the team at Foolscap Studio using white tiles and blondwood for its counters and tables. The space is open, light and airy thanks to the use of glass. There is limited seating (3 small round tables with a window bench) and a huge a kitchen where you can watch as the doughnuts are made.

They serve both espresso and filter coffee from Market Lane (with a potential move to Small Batch and Seven Seeds) alongside nine different flavours of doughnuts – Rhubarb & Ginger, Cinnamon, Cardamom & Sugar, Apple, Bacon, Honey & Thyme, Peanut Butter & Jam, Bourbon Crème Brulee, Australian Honey & Sea Salt, Banana & Chocolate Hazelnut, Earl Grey & Rose, Red Velvet.

The difference about Shortstop doughnuts is that they specialise in cake rather than the usual tried and test yeast doughnuts. There is a wet, milk-based batter that allows for the creative and interesting flavours that you see in store.

As expected there are long queues with the shop selling out by early afternoon – they sell over 600 doughnuts are day. You can order online – and if you order before 1pm – they will be available for pick-up the next day.

I decided to take a box of these heavenly doughnuts for my team at work – I selected 5 different flavours – Rhubarb & Ginger, Red Velvet, Earl Grey & Rose, Australian Honey & Sea Salt and Banana & Chocolate Hazelnut.

The Earl Grey Doughnut was my favourite – made with Earl Grey Tea, injected with Lemon Myrtle and dipped into a Rose-Water and Rose Petal Icing. It tastes even better than it sounds.

The Rhubarb & Ginger was great tasting – with the ginger flavour being based in the pink icing – the cake dough was sticky, soft and flavorsome.

The Red Velvet Doughnut is divine – the redness is thanks to the use of beetroot (rather than food dye) – and has been piped with cream cheese and finished by being dipped in dark chocolate.

The Australian Honey & Sea Salt cruller was quite interesting – the mixture of honey and salted brought a new meaning to salted caramel. The texture was crunchy with a gooey inside – yum!

The Banana & Chocolate Hazelnut – is made with banana cake as its base and then dipped with chocolate and hazelnuts. I would have liked the intensity of the banana flavour to be increased a bit – but the softness of the doughnut was perfect coupled with the crunch on the outside.

Shortstop Donuts is a one stop shop where you get both your coffee hit as well as a sugar fix. Get in early to avoid disappointment! It is also recommended that you consume the doughnuts within 3 hours of purchase for eating pleasure.

NOTE: You can place an order online by visiting http://www.short-stop.com.au/

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu –A selection of 9 different flavours (NOTE: Not all flavours are available every day)
Atmosphere / Ambience: Light, Airy and Relaxed
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.short-stop.com.au/
12 Sutherland Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9642 0807

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shortstopmelb
Twitter: @shortstopmelb
Instagram: ShortstopMelb

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts on Urbanspoon

The Kettle Black – Next Level Cafe

panda 3.5 rating

Menu:
Drinks Menu Food Menu Drinks Menu

Leading up to and in the just the few days that The Kettle Black had opened there been a lot of hype surrounding it – from the visual spectacle of the venue to the highly anticipated crayfish roll and of course, the delicious coffee. So of course I had to go and check it out for myself.

I decided to go during lunchtime (a late lunch around 2pm) as it is a short 10 minute tram ride from work. The Kettle Black is located on Albert Road in South Melbourne – a short walk from Domain Interchange. As you make your approach to The Kettle Black you are greeted by the white visual spectacle – a combination of a grand old Victorian building together with the ground floor of an Elenberg Fraser designed residential complex – 21 storeys in fact (!) – called Fifty Albert.

This magnificent -must try place – is brought to you by the team who are responsible for places like Top Paddock, Two Birds One Stone! Jesse McTavish (chef from Top Paddock) together with Top Paddock owner Nathan Coleman, along with business partners Ben Clark and Diamond Rozakeas, as well as Tim James (Two Birds One Stone) and Sam King (ex De Clieu). What a team! Coleman is in charge of the running the floor with King in charge of the coffee side of things.

The fit out is designed by the awesome twosome Kestie Lane and Hana Hakim from the quirky cool design company Studio You Me. They have brought two very different worlds seamlessly together using white walls, green Italian tiles as well a marble and brass detailing. The breathtakingly beautiful building begins with an outside eatery area located in front of the Victorian terrace. As you enter the venue there is a coffee cart where you can purchase takeaway coffees whilst you wait. Once you step inside you are greeted by a hotel like reception / cashier desk / sweet counter – there are a selection of sweet treats on display for you to choose from including the melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts from Doughboy Donuts.
From here the interior splits into two halves – the left side sits in the converted apartment block and is complete with a modern vibe, high ceilings (which is simply stunning and has a great effect thanks to a method of layering of white tiles against each other), fresh sunlight streaming in – thanks to the floor to ceiling windows – as well as an emerald green tiled and marble barista station. There is also the striking porthole-like wall which is a highlight in this room. The right side sits in the Victorian terrace side has a more homely feel complete with gold and brass trimmings (a very interesting looking light fitting that is reminiscent of two gold earrings), flowers and arched windows.
Another highlight that I saw whilst waiting for my table was the unique watering station – which consisted of a stone base with a gold sink and finished black tap ware with small square tiles in the background. Tables are wooden and there are mixtures of low tables, as well as one tall communal table. You can sit at the barista marble bar as well – with the look finished with green stools. What is also great is the addition of flowers in bottles throughout the venue – adds colour and class to the already classy venue.

The menu by McTavish is focussed on using mainly Victorian produce – or Australian when Victorian isn’t possible. The relishes and butter are made in house with bread supplied from Burnham Beeches, Wallaby from Flinders Island, Steak from Robbins Island, Seafood from King Island and house-fermented yoghurt. Coffee (espresso) is a custom blend from 5 Senses, as well as a rotating single origin. Filter coffee is sourced from specialists such as Small Batch and Market Lane. Another interesting fact to note is that The Kettle Black makes their own compost which they then use to grow their own leaves, herbs and flowers in their greenhouses and gardens.
Drinks include Cold Press Juices (there are two to choose from) as well as Fresh Juices (Orange or Ruby Grapefruit). There are also a selection of bottled drinks as well as Ice Chocolate and Iced Coffee available, as well as Tea.

The food menu comprises of a unique take on your normal breakfast dishes – there are a variety of combinations that are served with eggs that you wouldn’t usually see such as Chilli Scrambled Eggs with Air Dried Flinders Island Wallaby or Tataki Ocean Trout with Raw Kale, Seaweed Salad and Poached Eggs. The famous hotcakes – that are served in Top Paddock – have made their place here on The Kettle Black menu. There is also Polenta Porridge, Fruit Toast, Muesli and House-Made Coconut Yoghurt. More food is available that strikes me as a lunch offering, however this isn’t stated – items like Kingfish with Potato Crisps, Robbins Island Wagyu Skirt Steak served on the Kettle Black Bun, Mixed Beans, Burrata and the famously known King Island Crayfish Roll.

Even during a late lunch hour – there was still a list of people wanting a table. I had a wait time of about 10-12 minutes. You don’t really feel the wait time as there is a lot that too look at and observe or even order a takeaway coffee from the coffee cart. I was seated at the marble bar, perched on a stool that allowed me to observe the coffees as they were cranked out. I ordered a latte whilst deciding on what I should eat.

The latte arrived shortly after and was delicious! It is definitely one of the best coffees I have had this year (refer to my Coffee page for their rating at https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/coffee-worlds-best-pick-me-up/). The coffee was strong with notes of caramel mixed together with floral and a hint of citrus at the end. The after taste was creamy and memorable. I would happily make the trek from work on the tram just to have this coffee.

After much consideration I decided to order the King Island Crayfish in an Ash Roll with Native Coastal Spinach, Lime & Yuzu Mayonnaise. The Crayfish Roll comes served on a heavy stone curved square plate, with a lime wedge placed next to it. It is visually stunning especially against the grey backdrop of the stone. The ash roll is clearly evident together with the fresh smell of crayfish emanating through preparing your taste-buds. The green and purple of the native coastal spinach as well as the addition of the yellow flowers brings the whole dish together.
The bun was soft, warm and delicious. The crayfish was oozing freshness and flavour and was perfectly poached. The mayonnaise was tangy and full of all the right flavours, which brought the whole dish together, however I would have liked more mayonnaise in my bun. Overall, the dish was good but I wasn’t blown away as I had expected to be from all the rave reviews of the crayfish bun – it almost felt like an extra ingredient was needed to add more depth and flavour.

I also decided I needed to end on something sweet – so I ordered the House-made Coconut Yoghurt with Gluten-Free Grains, Seeds & Nuts, Toorak Station Prickly Pear, Rhubarb, Citrus Powders, Fruits and Flowers. The presentation of this dish was beautiful – too beautiful to the point that a part of me didn’t want to touch it – and reminded me of a flower garden bed. Served on a glossy black plate which allowed the white coconut yoghurt to really shine through and topped with the spectacular bright colours of the watermelon, strawberry, blueberries and assorted flowers, finished with citrus powders. The yoghurt was smooth, creamy and the perfect balance of the coconut flavours flowing through. I loved that the grains were hidden under the fruit – it made for a great surprise with every mouthful. The components of the dish worked extremely well together and the mix of flavours were tasty. My only criticism would be that the watermelon didn’t have the crunch and freshness I expected.

The staff are super friendly and accommodating in any way they can. The Kettle Black is one of those places that you will find yourself coming back to and when people ask me for a brunch place that I would recommend – this is the first place I tell them.

The Kettle Black exudes class, style and swank all without the attitude and pretense. The venue is delightful and a visual spectacle that is must see yet the atmosphere remains relaxed, lively and fun. The menu has been carefully designed and the dishes will get your taste buds pumping. The presentation is excellent and the coffee top notch. Come and see for yourself.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Breathtaking and Spectacular Venue – with a relaxed, carefree, lively and fun atmosphere. Definitely one to bring people from overseas or interstate – anyone really!
Service: Fantastic – Friendly, accommodating and welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://thekettleblack.com.au/
50 Albert Road, South Melbourne
Tel No: 9088 0721

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Kettle-Black/707633809303415
Twitter: @kettleblackcafe
Instagram:
kettleblackcafe

The Kettle Black 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

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

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Filter by Small Batch – Coffee Perfection

panda 5 rating

Menu:

Breakfast  Lunch  Lunch  Coffee  Made to Order Coffee  Espresso  Tea and Cold Drinks

Where can you get great tasting coffee, as well as getting to try out an interestingly named “sandwich” called smørrebrød? The answer is the newly opened Filter by Small Batch Coffee – opened by Andrew Kelly (founder of Small Batch Coffee and its flagship Auction Rooms) – in the Melbourne CBD at the corner of Collins and King Street.

Filter came about after Broadsheet announced a competition called The Keys – giving a change to one of Melbourne’s reknowned and established coffee owners the change to pursue a new venture with the help of them and Bank of Melbourne. To perfect the process of getting Filter perfect – Kelly had the mentorship from some friends including Kate Bartholomew (Coda, Tonka), Nathan Toleman (Top Paddock, Two Birds One Stone), Chris Lucas (Chin Chin, Kong, Baby) and Bank of Melbourne’s Vanessa Hastie. The journey that was experienced in opening this venue can be found at Broadsheet at http://bankofmelbourne.com.au/thekeys

Filter is a spacious, light filled, warehouse like space at the bottom of the Denmark House building. The fit out is minimalist and simple – complete with light wooden tones and colourful yellow sunflowers dotted throughout the venue. There are two main counter areas – the one on the right displays the smørrebrød, desserts on offer as well housing the coffee machine and sparkling water – the one on the left is where people can sit down at, as well as having another area where you can view the filter coffee making process. Thru the centre of the area where you can sit are displays of all things related to coffee – such as a weighing scale, coffee cup and other coffee paraphernalia. I really do like the layout of Filter.

Filter is all about the coffee – and as the name suggests – the main focus is on filter coffee – which is coffee that is strained through paper. It does however serve espresso as well. Filter coffee is generally less intense than espresso and has a much “cleaner experience.” Filter also serves smørrebrød which Kelly believes is the perfect accompaniment to the perfect coffee. A smørrebrød is an open sandwich served on a thin slice of eye and commonly eaten by people from Denmark and Sweden. Smørrebrød consists of a piece of dark rye (a dense, dark brown bread. Pålæg) topped with anything really – from pickled fish and remoulade to cold cuts, pieces of meat, cheese or spreads. The smørrebrød here at Filter have been designed by Auction Rooms head chef Boris Portnoy.

I order a latte and from the very first sips I could tell that this would be my new favourite coffee joint. The flavour is brilliant – soft caramel tones with a note of creaminess and nuttiness through it. I usually have some sugar in my coffees, but with this coffee I didn’t need any at all. I really could have had multiple cups of coffee. There are coffees that are ready to go, as well as coffees that are made to order and range from coming from counties such as Colombia, Ethiopia, and Burundi.

Filter has 10 in house made smørrebrød to choose from – refer to the menu above for the different types. I ordered the Vegan smørrebrød – which consisted of Pine Mushroom Spread, Kale & Choke Chips, Carrot & Pasta Salad and has the Swedish name Dofta. This was my first time eating a smørrebrød and it was delicious! The rye was fresh and the saltiness of the mushroom spread worked well with the creaminess of the pasta and the crunch of the kale and choke chips. Smørrebrød’s are filling without giving you that heavy feeling of being full. I definitely want to head back and try some of the other toppings.

There are also tea’ from Storm in a Teacup (Collingwood) as well as cold drinks in the form of house made refreshing soda pops of which there are two flavours to choose from – Old fashioned lemonade called Citron and Fresh peppermint and vanilla called Mynte. These are next on my list to try out.

For coffee lovers, people who are still not quite sure about coffee or for anyone really – do yourself a favour and check out Filter. You really won’t regret it! If you want more information about Filter and The Keys story you can refer to the following link bankofmelbourne.com.au/broadsheetthekey

During Filter’s first month of trade, Bank of Melbourne customers who show their bank card between 7 and 11am will receive a free filter coffee.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to menu above – Breakfast, Lunch, Coffee, Tea and Cold Drinks menu
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Relaxed, Warehouse feel
Service: Friendly and they sure do know all about coffee
Restaurant Details and Location:
filterbysmallbatch.com.au
555 Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9620 1211

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 7am–4pm
Saturday: 8am–2pm