The Bell Jar – Vintage Style Cafe

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Food Menu Lunch and Drinks Menu

The Bell Jar café is located on the Clifton Hill side of Smith Street (almost near Queens Parade), almost hidden between a battery shop and few garages. I actually drove past it and had to do a u-turn and come back around.

The Bell Jar is a very vintage, unique and welcoming café – from the moment you step in you are greeted with a cheery hello from the staff. There are tables located out front that you could sit at – inside there are wooden box seats that line the window, as well as mismatched and vintage tables and chairs in the main dining area. Out the back there is another room which has a communal table perhaps for a larger party as well as a courtyard. Styling is minimalist but it works with the look and the feel of the place – the main highlight is definitely the shiny coffee machine which is placed front and centre of the counter. This counter in itself is quite intriguing – made of wooden floorboards, there is a selection of cakes and muffins that you can buy placed on top here too.

Coffee is by Five Senses – ‘Dark Horse’ and includes blends of Ethiopian, Guatemalan and Sumatran beans. There is also Calmer Sutra Chai, Larsen & Thompson Teas, as well as juices from Emma & Tom’s and Sunzest Fresh OJ. While I mull over the menu I order a latte – which is strong, fragrant complete with the nutty flavours – it was a real pick me up!

The Bell Jar has an interesting menu which starts of with dishes under the ‘x’ section, followed by ‘xx’ and ends with ‘xxEXTRAxx’ – which is a really unique and great concept. The starting dishes include Toast, Breakfast Bruschetta, Porridge and Muesli dishes. Some of the larger dishes include Baked Beans, as well as an interesting dish consisting of Spiced Pumpkin and Avocado – there is also a fritters dish, as well as a Bell Jar Breakfast – their take on the Big Breakfast. There are a list of specials which are located on the blackboard as well – when I visited there was a Parmesan toast with roast tomato and basil dish, an eggs Benedict dish as well as ricotta hotcakes. There is also a separate lunch menu which consists of six different sandwiches to select from – a combination of vegetarian and meat options available. Refer to the menu pictures above for more detail.

I was tossing up between getting the fritters or the hotcakes and in the end decided I felt like something sweet. So I ordered the Ricotta Hotcakes with Banana, Mixed Berries and Maple Syrup – sans the bacon and I asked for some cream on the side. The dish did take quite some time to come out (and the waiter did apologise for the wait) – but I think the wait was well worth it.

The dish was well plated and against the stark white of the plate – the pancakes and the colourful shades of reds of the berries was delightful. The banana was layered in between the pancakes – so it created a wedding cake like appearance. This was topped with strawberries – with a mix of blueberries and raspberries off to the side, enveloped with maple syrup. The pancakes were delicious and fluffy and I loved the thickness of them – perfect! The combination of bananas, tangy berries and the pancakes together with the sweetness of the maple syrup and the cream was fantastic. You felt as if you wanted to savor every mouthful. If these are on the special board again – try them out! Hopefully they move it onto the main menu so it’s there all the time!

I had a great time at The Bell Jar – the vibe is fantastic and the coffee and food are delicious! Check out this hidden little vintage and quaint gem!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Breakfast and Lunch menu – refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Chilled out, relaxed. Has a very vintage feel. You can sit outside or by the window. There is also a communal table in the back room as well as a courtyard area to sit in.
Service: Friendly and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.thebelljar.com.au/
656 Smith Street, Clifton Hill
Tel No: 9482 7980

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

The Bell Jar on Urbanspoon

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Touchwood – Great Place for Good Food and Relaxation

panda 3.5 rating



Touchwood is collaborative effort from the partners – Matt Vero and Steve Rowley  – behind Coin Laundry (Armadale), Station Street Trading Co (Port Melbourne), Tall Timber (Prahran), Pillar of Salt (Richmond) and Barry (Northcote).  They have enlisted Tristan White (ex-Ladro and Red Door) to look after the food side of things. Touchwood serves coffee from 5 Senses and is served from the custom made Synesso Hydra coffee machine.

Touchwood is located at Bridge road in Richmond (quite close to its sister café Pillar of Salt). It is located in an old recycled timber furniture store and takes on a MASSIVE SPACE – it can seat 120 people. There are large glass windows at the front which let lots of light and air into the venue, this entrance opens out into the main dining area. As you keep walking through the brick archway there is a back room with more seating and then finally outside at the back, there is a bright, sunny and open courtyard which seats 40.

The whole look and feel of the place – which kind of pays tribute to its former life – is wooden yet clean, casual and warm. There are concrete floors with white washed brick walls, planter boxes and hanging plants and finished with wooden tables and chairs. There are short tables as well as higher tables – take your pick of where you want to sit. The feature is of course a crate styled counter-top which houses the coffee machine as well as the sweet bites and takeaway savoury bites.

The menu consists of the breakfast favourites with the addition of components to creatively change the dish. There is a morning grain salad, as well as a tequila and citrus cured salmon dish, as well as the breakkie board which is featured from Tall Timber. If you are really hungry there is always the Touchwood Massive – which features just about everything including a lamb chop! A highlight on the menu is the much talked about peanut butter and jelly wholemeal waffles complete with peanut butter ricotta and brittle.
The lunch menu is just as enticing with things like Brioche Wagyu burgers, pulled pork tacos and toasted Po’ boys as well as a Mexican inspired salad. There are also two fresh juice combos to choose from – one with kale, celery, cucumber, apple, lime and parsley and the other with watermelon and mint.

I order a latte while I wait for L to arrive. The latte was smooth and creamy and a great start to this rainy day. There are many coffee options available such as cold drip and pour over. I wasn’t quite sure what to order to eat – I was tossing up between the Avocado toast, the omelette with shaved asparagus and goats cheese or the morning grain salad. I ended up getting the Avocado toast – with Beetroot Relish, Burnt Lime, Pickled Red Onion, Coriander, Mixed Seeds, Sumac Salt and I added a poached egg.

The dish came out and was quite colourful thanks to the black background of the plate, together with the bright pink/purples of the onion and beetroot, the green colouring from the avocado and coriander and the yellow from the burnt lime. I really enjoyed the addition of the beetroot relish together with the coriander as additional components to a normal avocado dish – I thought that they worked really well together. Even though I am not a fan of pickled onions, I did try some with all the other elements and it went quite well with the dish, you almost don’t realise that it was once an onion. The dish overall was a really well thought out dish and was quite filling as well.

The atmosphere at Touchwood is quite relaxed and chilled, and you can see yourself losing track of time. There is warm and inviting feel to the place thanks to the openness and the lighting. Add to this great coffee and some really delicious food combinations and you really do have a winner. Have to come back and try the peanut butter waffles!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – View the menu at http://touchwoodcafe.com/Touchwood_Menu_06.pdf – Breakfast, Lunch and Drinks
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Elegant and Chic. Has a relaxed feel thanks to vast openess, lighting and feel of the venue. The courtyard out the back is perfect on a sunny day!
Standout Dish: Avacado Toast with Beetroot Relish, Burnt Lime, Pickled Onions, Mixed Seeds, Sumac Salt with a Poached Egg (extra)
Service: Friendly and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://touchwoodcafe.com/
480 Bridge Road, Richmond
Tel No: 9429 9347

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saurdayt to Sunday: 7:30 am – 4:30 pm

Touchwood on Urbanspoon