Woody P – When In Rome…

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Menu Pizza Menu

It was a Friday night date night and we decided to eat in the city. I remembered hearing about a new restaurant that had opened up called Woody P. It was earlyish – around 6:30pm so we decided to see if we could get a table without a booking. We were able to score some high seats by the window with a view looking into the kitchen area and were told that when a table becomes available they would move us. Perfect!

Woody P is located on Flinders lane in the heart of the Melbourne CBD – with neighboring restaurants such as Chin Chin, Coda and Cumulus Inc. Woody P is brought to us by Pierre Semaan and Robert Rae who previously owned Fashion Lounge – the nightclub – which is the very place that Woody P has taken over.

Woody P has such an interesting space which has been designed by Eades and Bergman (who have also designed Kong and The Meatball and Wine Bar). As you are about to enter the restaurant – you know you are at the right place when you see a neon blue W sign out the front – and if you look down – the WOODY P name made out of small tiles.
The venue spans over two floors complete with a combination of exposed brick walls, wooden floors, blond wood and marble – what a combination! The restaurant is artfully sectioned off into distinct areas – separated by exposed brick beams on one side and indoor suspended greenery (planter boxes) on the other side. The front section is for casual walk-ins, with a semi private area just behind it, followed by a marble bar with mosaic tiles for cocktails and towards the back overlooking the kitchen – high table seating. I love the brightly lit blue neon sign “When in Rome” which works beautifully against the exposed brick wall which catches your eye as you walk towards the bar. There is also a terrace for outdoor seating to dine al fresco once the sun comes out in Melbourne!

The menu has both Italian and Mediterranean influences and has been created by head chef Clinton Camilleri (Eleonore’s, The Lake House, The Royal George Hotel). The menu pretty much has something for everyone – from White Anchovy, Caramelised Onion, Puff Pastry starters to 48-hour Slow Cooked Beef Rib, Roast Onion, Gremolata to a selection of Pizzas and Pastas. The menu is split into 8 sections – Piccolo (Entrees), Salumi, Pizza, Grande (Mains), Pasta, Sides, Formaggi and Dolce (Dessert). You can select the “Time to Feast” menu for $55 per person for groups of four or more.
The Pizza menu can either be Eat In or Take-Away and to view the list available to choose from you simple flip over the menu given to you. There are 7 pizzas to select from including Margherita, San Daniele, Gamberi, Funghi, Patatina, Zucca and Porchetta.

N and I were seated at the high tables and were given the menus in case we wanted to have some snacks whilst we waited for our table. We were also asked if we wanted sparkling water which we said yes to. The sparkling water was from Bolle Stille and was better than any of the sparkling waters I have tasted around. Before deciding on what snacks/entrees we wanted we decided to order a drink. I asked what mocktails they had available and the friendly waitress informed me that there were two options – I ended up going with the Peaches & Cream. I have never come across a place that does a Peach mocktail so I was very interested to see what this was all about. The mocktail came out and just like the drink had peachy tones completed with a wedge of lemon – and tasted spectacular – exactly as you would imagine peaches and cream to taste like – slightly sour with a great creamy after taste! Delicious and definitely highly recommended!

It was time to decide what food to eat – we ordered the Panisse Chips, Truffle, Taleggio, Cauliflower to start while we thought about what we wanted for our mains. I had never heard of Panisse before so was intrigued to see what it was like – essentially it is reminiscent of polenta and comes served in fingers which resemble fries. The exterior was crumbed perfection with the inside reminding me of custard – I would have liked a bit more seasoning to the flavour such as salt and pepper but overall it was an interesting dish.

For mains I decided to go with the Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi, Tomato Sugo, Ricotta Salata and N went with Chargrilled Grass-Fed T-Bone (500gm), Salsa Verde. We also decided to get the Broccolini, Grilled Onion, Honey Mustard as a side – we absolutely love Broccolini and were interested to try the honey mustard flavouring.

My Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi, Tomato Sugo, Ricotta Salata was a beautifully presented dish – the Tomato Sugo oozed brightness at the base of the dish where the Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi were placed upon and finished with Ricotta Salata and Basil leaves. Gnudi is essentially a type of round gnocchi and Woody Ps take on it was smashingly delicious. The Gnudi balls were generous in size and quite dense in texture with the taste perfect. The Tomato Sugo was rich and complemented the ricotta and spinach fantastically. Overall a good tasting dish.
N’s T Bone was styled simply – the steak pieces cut up into bite sized pieces with the salsa verde dressed on top and finished with half a lemon. N thoroughly enjoyed his dish so much so that he didn’t even realise he was eating 500grams of meat!
The Broccolini was such a simple dish with bursting flavours that I loved. The Honey Mustard combined with the grilled onions meshed really well with the Brocollini. I think we will definitely be trying to replicate this dish at home!

As you all know I cannot leave a place without sampling the dessert menu. It was a tough choice to make but in the end I went with the Chocolate & Giandujua Budino, Crème Fraiche, Sour Cherry Ice Cream – and boy am I glad I did. I was raving about this dessert weeks later! This dessert isn’t just for all Chocolate lovers – but for anyone! Giandujua for those of you who don’t know is a sweet chocolate hazelnut spread and a Giandujua Budino is an Italian pudding made with this spread. This was served with quenelles of chocolate ganache as well as Sour Cherry Ice Cream. The combination of the rich chocolatey goodness combined with the sourness of the ice cream was brilliant. I could actually eat a bowl full of Sour Cherry Ice Cream on its own as well – it was simply divine!

On a different occasion (when I went to Woody P for lunch) – I ordered the Roast Potato, Truffle & Persian Fetta Tortellini, Cauliflower, Cavolo Nero. This would have to be my favourite dish from Woody P so far (aside from the delicious Chocolate dessert of course). The dish is immaculately presented – with the cauliflower puree at the base of the dish with the three tortellini placed in a triangle on top – finished with sultanas and Cavolo Nero. It was almost too pretty to eat…almost! From the first bite I was in Tortellini heaven – the combination of potato, fetta and perfectly made pasta was delicious – there was the right amount of seasoning and combined with the smooth creamy cauliflower puree. I am not usually a sultana fan but it really worked in this dish and added a sweetness to the dish which complemented all the other flavours. My only gripe would be that it too small – I would have like maybe 1 or 2 more tortellini – but I guess that’s only because the dish was DELICIOUS! On the same occasion C ordered the Gamberi Pizza – Tiger Prawns, San Marzano Tomato, Chilli, Garlic, Salsa Verde. I was lucky enough to sample a piece and it was quite good as well! When the pizza came out it came served with a little dish that had extra salt, herbs and chilli which I thought was a great idea as usually I have to ask for extra chilli on the side. The base of the pizza was thin, fresh and crispy on the edges with the ingredients all working well together.

Woody P is up there with one of my favourite restaurants of 2015 and one that I recommend to people when they ask me for a place to eat in the city! Service is brilliantly friendly and the vibe is welcoming and homely – it is a great place for Friday night drinks or just to have a quiet date night. The music is great and really allows you to let your hair down!
Also something to note the Woody P team are still deciding what their downstairs basement space will be transformed into. So stay tuned for something like a relaxed cocktail and wine / cheese bar come next summer.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to https://thegrazingpanda.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/bd409-woody-pmenujune2015.pdf or refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Vibrant, Relaxed and Welcoming. Great for Friday Night drinks or Date Night. Alternatively it is also a great place to grab lunch during the week.
Standout Dish: Roast Potato, Truffle & Persian Fetta Tortellini, Cauliflower, Cavolo Nero
Service: Friendly, Attentive and Helpful
Online Booking: Yes via this link
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.woodyp.com.au/
121 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 5000

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 12:00pm to 12:00am

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/woodypmelb

Instagram: woodypmelb

Click to add a blog post for Woody P on Zomato

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Delhi Streets – Indian Street Food Galore!

panda 5 rating

Menu:
Menu at Delhi Streets Menu at Delhi Streets         halal symbol

The newly opened Flinders Lane food precinct – The Archway (located on Katherine Place) – is all the buzz right now. Already home to 5 & Dime Bagels, T by Luxbite and Altius Coffee Brewers, there are three more new food venues that have recently opened – Hunters Roots (which provides a clean-eating experience, serving cold-pressed juice, smoothies, and healthy breakfast and lunch options), Delhi Streets and Mr Huang Jin.

On this Friday lunchtime – a few friends and I decide to try out Delhi Streets. I had heard the night before at a blogger’s dinner that this Indian food was “next-level” so of course I had to check it out!

Delhi Streets is owned by Charan Singh who says that this isn’t your typical Indian restaurant; instead there is a main focus on Indian street food which most Melbournians are yet to experience.
Delhi Streets makes use of its small space really well – peppered with colourful street art posters featuring Bollywood Films and film stars. It seats 28 people at its wooden tables and has a modern street vibe to it – completed with a view into the kitchen where you can watch chefs preparing your food as well as table numbers that sit into Indian refreshment bottles such as Thums Up (Indian version of Coca Cola) and Limca (Indian version of Lemonade and Lime). I love that the chairs have different Indian brands printed on the seats – further adding to the nice personalised touch to the décor.

The menu consists of five sections – beginning with dishes titled Street Chaat which include dishes such as Bhel Puri (Puffed Rice Indian Salad), Aloo Tikki and Samosa Chaat. Next on the menu are a great selection of Wraps and Burgers – including a Paneer Pizza Naan and Aloo Tikki Wrap. I am not sure where the burgers are on this menu – maybe they are the to be items in a future upcoming menu? Classics are followed next on the menu which include dishes such as Chicken or Vegetarian Biriyani, Thalis (which are plates that can house a ix of curries (can either be vegetarian or meat filled depending on what you want – together with rice, raita, pappadum and salads) and Uttapum (Savoury crispy pancake filled with veggies). The menu ends with a choice of four Sweets – Chocolate Naan, Gulab Jamun (Small syrupy donuts), Carrot Halwa (Carrot Pudding garnished with Almonds and Pistachios) and Pistachio Kulfi (Ice Cream).

It was extremely busy on this Friday Lunchtime – and I needed a table for 3 – and was told it would be around a 10 minute wait. I spent this time to try and figure out what I wanted to order – which was really quite difficult as I wanted to try everything!
It was less than 10 minutes and we were shown our table – where we had a clear view into the kitchen. It was refreshing to see the chefs smiling and enjoying preparing food for the patrons.

I had heard great things about the Pani Puri – Hands on Street food! – Crispy Lentil Cracker Balls stuffed with Potatoes, Chickpeas, Onions, Tamarind Chutney and Spiced Water – so had to order the dish to start. The Pani Puri comes served with five pieces on a silver round tray together with a bottle housing the spiced water – a great presentation. The way you are meant to eat this dish is to pour the spiced water in through the hole in the top of the Pani Puri and then eat it all in one go – almost like a shot – but with food! The flavours are delicious and it provides an explosion of flavours in your mouth. The spice of the vegetables together with the sweetness of the tamarind chutney is complemented by the spiced water.

For my main meal I ordered the Chicken Frankie Wrap – Fusion Burrito – Tender Juicy Chicken Tikka wrapped in Indian Bread along with Salad and Mint Chutney. The serving size of these burritos is quite large and I could only finish one half of the wrap (and took the other half away!). I loved the Naan – it was fresh, hot and crispy around the edges – just the way I like my Naan. The Chicken was spicy, full of flavour, tender and worked well with the Mint Chutney.

T ordered the Dahi Vada – Skinny Girl Choice – Feather light Lentil Dumplings served with Yoghurt and Sweet & Tangy Tamarind and Mint Chutneys. Despite looking like a small dish it was quite filling. The Dumplings were semi cold and had a soft cake like consistency which worked well with the smoothness of the yoghurt. I love the combination of the sour tamarind and the distinct flavouring of mint.

L ordered the Tandoori Chicken Pizza Naan – Chicken Pizza – Open face Wrap with a secret Masala Sauce and Chicken Tikka, Baby Spinach, Cheese, Capsicum and Onions. L isn’t a fan of coriander so opted to have none on his pizza. The Pizza Naan is such a simple yet unique idea and L enjoyed his meal.

If you are a follower of this blog you will know that I always check out the dessert menu first and I couldn’t look past the Chocolate Naan – Chocolate Delight –Indian Naan Bread stuffed with Chocolate M&Ms. We decided to share this dish as we were all so full from our savoury dishes. It was simply delicious – crispy on the outside, soft, gooey and scrumptious on the inside with a touch of crunch from the M&Ms. It is one of these dishes that you have to try to believe how good it is.

The service is very friendly and even though they are still finding their feet in some aspects such as some orders being misplaced and forgetting to bring us the drinks we ordered – you will soon forget these minor issues once the food arrives.

Delhi Streets is definitely a place that I would recommend to all my friends and a place that I would go back to – especially to eat the Pani Puri’s again. The prices are very reasonably especially for the serving sizes of the dishes. Delhi Streets is a great way to experience and enjoy real Indian street food – “Chai pani” or “Let’s go out to eat”!!

Also something to note is that the do catering as well and can cater for functions – just get in contact with via their website or phone number.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the menu pictures above or visit their website delhistreets.com.au
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Vibrant, Lively and Happening
Standout Dish: Pani Puri’s!!!
Service: Super friendly and welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
delhistreets.com.au
The Archway
22 Katherine Place, Melbourne
Tel No: 9629 2620

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Monday to Friday: 11.30am – 2:30pm
Saturday: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner
Monday to Friday: 5:30pm to 9:30pm

Delhi Streets on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DelhiStreetsAU?ref=hl
Instagram: DelhiStreets
Twitter: @DelhiStreets

T by Luxbite – All About the Tarts!

panda 4 rating

Menu:
T By Luxbite Store T By LuxBite Menu T By LuxBite Menu (2) Slices from T By Luxbite

I am a huge sweet lover and when LuxBite first opened, I made the effort to get from the Melbourne CBD on a train to check out the beautifully presented desserts they had to offer. So when I heard about their new venture – T by Luxbite (the T stands for Tarts) – I couldn’t wait to check it out.

The creators of South Yarra patisserie – LuxBite – Bernard Chu and partner Yen Yee opened their latest venture last year – T by LuxBite – located in the Melbourne CBD at the new CBD development – The Archway (near the Spencer Street end of Flinders Lane) making them neighbours with Altius Coffee Brewes and 5 & Dime Bagels. Unlike at LuxBite where you can experience macarons and cakes, T by Luxbites main focus is on tarts, emulating their classic French technique and quirky Asian influence – hence the name.

The store itself is small, modern and cosy – with only take away available. Each day there will be 10 different tarts available on offer. The main showcase is the tarts on display along with signage stating the name and the ingredients of each tart – which allow you to understand the Asian flavour combinations which are certainly interesting. Macarons are also available to be purchased and the larger macaron cakes can be ordered. Some tarts are shaped to look like a common character – such as Gingy from Shrek, Rilakkuma and most recently a Panda to support Earth Hour.

The Kuma Tart – Cookie, Mork Hot Chocolate, Strawberry, Banana, White Chocolate Milkshake Mousse, Caramel, Chocolate Tart (and is Nut Free). This tart is way too cute to eat but after one mouthful you will soon get over that and want to keep eating more and more of this tart. The Banana flavour wasn’t too strong, which was what I was worried about and the other ingredients really did work well together. The Caramel was the hero of this tart along with the mousse and chocolate base.

The Wang Wang Tart – Sour Cherry Jelly, White Sesame Caramel, Black Sesame Panna Cotta filled Chocolate Tart, Coffee and Hazelnut Praliné Mousse, White Chocolate Glaze. I love the fact that they made this tart to support Earth Hour – such a great cause to support! Once again I was a bit apprehensive of the Black Sesame flavouring being too overpowering – but it wasn’t. The sourness from the jelly together with the sweetness of the panna cotta and the mousse worked really well together.

The tarts are colourful, vibrant and bursting with Asian flavours. Tarts are only sold in takeaway boxes. Dessert lovers will definitely enjoy this store – check it out now!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to Picture above or at http://tbyluxbite.com.au/ and select Tart Collection
Atmosphere / Ambience:
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
tbyluxbite.com.au
Shop 2, 517 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9629 9662

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 8:00am – 6:00pm

T By LuxBite on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TbyLuxBite
Twitter: @TbyLuxBite
Instagram: tbyluxbite

The Grain Store – European Dinner Flair

panda 4 rating

Menu:
The Grain Store Menu for the night

I have been a HUGE fan of The Grain Store ever since its inception (check out my previous blog here for them – https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/the-grain-store-honest-cooking/ )– initially starting off with trying their breakfast menu (a few times!) and then branching out to try their lunch menu. I loved all of their food, ingredients and plating up of dishes. So naturally I was excited when I received an invite from Zilla & Brook,  to try out their latest dinner offering at an intimate bloggers’ dinner.

On arrival we were all greeted and asked to select from a choice of drinks. I opted for Hepburn Mineral Springs Organic Lemonade which was refreshing and perfect after walking from Southgate to the venue.

As the rest of the bloggers started to arrive, we received small starters which were elegantly presented in clear egg shaped glass cups. You could see the distinction of two layers through the clear glass – a savoury mushroom jelly topped with a layer of pumpkin foam and finished with a crisp triangle of chickpea biscuit. The combination was delicious – the vibrant mushroom flavour paired with the sweetness of the pumpkin. The silky jelly combined with the smooth foam was a texture party for your senses.

Once we had all sampled the starter we were led into an intimate private dining room which had been set up especially for us. It was a cosy group of about 15 of us – which was the perfect size. When we were all seated, head chef Ingo Meissner came out to say hello and gave us some information about the Grain Store – its background, philosophy and ideologies. Meissner himself is from Europe and hence there are many Mediterranean and French influences throughout the menu – that utilise both traditional and new techniques.
The Grain Store sources local produce – for example the Burrata is from Carlton, the duck is from Daylesford. But their main point of difference is that they have their very own Rooftop Garden where they grow seasonal produce – as well as the pretty flowers, petals for that little bit of jazz when plating up – that ends up on your plate. What a great idea!

The night started off with Entrees which was a selection of three small dishes – all plated up on the one plate which I thought was a great idea to showcase a variety of their dishes succinctly. These dishes included:
Green asparagus, burrata, char-grilled orange, black barley, hazelnut, rosemary sablé
Poached veal fillet, avocado, tuna mayonnaise, charred shallots, white anchovies, caper berries
Pan seared scallops, smoked eggplant, butternut boudin noir sandwich, ricotta lemon curd, crisp leeks
As I couldn’t have the Poached Veal Fillet – I was substituted with a salad consisting of a variety of ingredients.

The plating up of this dish was done really well – with the standout definitely being the bright purple cauliflower; everyone was wondering what taste they would have when they took their first bit into it. The cauliflower had been beetroot cured and therefore had a bit of tang to it – really good! Each of the components worked well together and I especially loved the black barley – which not only added texture but a great earthy tone to the dish. I loved the addition of orange to this dish to add an element of sweet and citrus.

The scallop component was definite highlight amongst the other dishes on this Entrée plate – the scallop had been seared to perfection and flavoured well. The butternut boudin noir sandwich was a welcome component adding a sweet touch to combine with the ricotta and lemon curd. I enjoyed the finish of the crisp leek – adding depth to the dish.

Next up was the mains – we were served alternative dishes between a Fish dish and a Duck dish – Free range Aylesbury duck breast, fennel slaw, Nicola potato, crème fraiche, caramelised carrot and pine nuts. There was a resounding “delicious” for the guests in the room that had this dish – with the duck being succulently cooked and the flavours of the fennel furthur enhancing the duck flavour. The Nicola potato component that it came served was glistening and looked divine!

I had the Lakes Entrance Dory fillets, new season asparagus, soft herb spätzle, charred corn salsa. This dish was plated up simply, yet it was a colourful visual spectacle. The star attraction was the fish which front and centre and sat on a green bed of soft herb spätzle (I asked Ingo later how it was made and he told me that it was made much like that of pasta – with flour and eggs, with the addition of herbs to give it that vibrant green colour), and surrounded by the asparagus and the charred corn salsa. Each component added flavour and texture to the dish. The Dory fillets were lightly battered on the outside and cooked well – resulting in soft white kernels of delicious fish on the inside. I loved the look, feel and taste of the spätzle – it was the first time I was eating this and I was highly intrigued – it is the type of dish that you keep going back for more as it is easy to eat and tastes great. The charred corn salsa had the perfect level of smokiness that worked well with the simple flavours of the fish. I would definitely recommend this dish!

Whilst we were eating our mains we were also given polenta chips topped with herbs and salt – which came out stacked like a jenga game. They were really tasty as well – crispy on the outside with a dense softness on the inside. A really great side dish addition to enhance your food experience.

It had been a great night of conversation and simply designed tasty food so far but my favourite part of any meal was still to come. For dessert we lucky enough to be served a selection of desserts which included – Black forest gateau, chocolate ganache, cherries, vanilla kirsch panna cotta, coca nibs together with a Grain Store Soufflé (Strawberry with Goats Cheese sorbet and fresh strawberries).
It was a tough choice of deciding where to begin on this sweet delight. I started with the black forest gateau – dense, rich and with added flavour from the berry centre. The chocolate ganache was the bomb – smooth, silky and full of chocolate goodness – you could seriously eat bucket loads of this ganache. The vanilla panna cotta came in a pyramid bite size piece – it was creamy and yet another delicious component.
The Grain Store Soufflé was delightful – light, soft, melt in your mouth and filled with a strawberry flavour. A truly great dish! I wasn’t a huge fan of the goats cheese sorbet that was its accompaniment and felt soufflé on its own was all that was needed.

The night was a fantastic event to meet new people and exchange stories, compare notes – all in the name of food – and more! The Grain Store should be a place that should be added to your list of restaurants that you must try in Melbourne – be if for breakfast, lunch or dinner. All dishes that I have tried here are delicious and well worth the effort.

Disclaimer: Grazing Panda was invited to dine at The Grain Store as a guest by Zilla & Brook, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely, Elegant and Inviting
Standout Dish:
Service: Friendly and Attentive
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.grainstore.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.grainstore.com.au/
517 Flinders Lane
Tel No: 9972 6993

Opening Hours:
Breakfast & Lunch
Monday to Friday: 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday to Sunday: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Dinner
Wednesday to Saturday: 6:00 pm – 9:30 pm

The Grain Store on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grainstore517
Instagram: GrainStore517
Twitter:@GrainStore517

Cherry and Twigs – Hidden Delight

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Food Menu Drinks Menu
I had heard a lot about Cherry and Twigs and it had been on my list of places to try for a while – eventually I had a chance to actually take a lunch break at work and went to check it out. When you look up Cherry and Twigs it gives you a Flinders Lane address (towards the Spencer Street end), however upon arriving at this address I couldn’t find the café and wondered if it had been closed down. But the actual entrance for Cherry and Twigs is hidden in a laneway – called Downie Street (near Holiday Inn)– lookout for the glass to floor folding style doors.

Cherry and Twigs has a Scandinavian minimalist theme running through it – complete with blonde wood tables and two large wooden cut-out of a tree. Choose from individual tables, communal tables or a bar seat along the wall to sit. The café is small yet spacious and thanks to the bi-fold doors –quite light filled. I love the décor of terrariums on the communal table – it really suits the whole relaxed and chilled out vibe of the venue. Most of the seating in the venue allows you to view into the kitchen to watch

The menu compromises of an All Day Breakfast menu as well as a Lunch menu. The All Day Breakfast menu comprises of your usual favourites with a twist – these include Avocado Breakfast Pudding (with honey, homemade granola and fresh cut fruit), Oats Porridge (with banana, cinnamon and raisin served with panela sugar on the side) as well as B.L.T, Breakfast Roll and Eggs Benedict with an option to have it with bacon instead of smoked salmon – just to name a few.
The Lunch menu samples a few cuisines such as Moroccan and Thai – consisting of salads, wraps, sandwiches, burgers and a green curry. Coffee here is by Market Lane and The Mailing Room with options such as cold drips and pours overs available as well. Tea is by Tea Craft and there are milkshakes, iced coffee, iced chocolate and the usual soft drinks and juices available. They have their liquor license so beer and wine is also available.

I order a chai latte (which comes from Prana Chai) which was perfectly made – with just the right amount of foam on the top. From the very first time I read the menu I knew that I wanted to try out their French Toast – with berry compote, poached pear, mascarpone cheese and mint – so that is exactly what I ordered.

The dish comes out with each of the components beautifully plated up. The two pieces of French toast were artfully placed on top of each other with a layer of berries between them; topped with a dollop of mascarpone cream. The poached pear was delightfully fanned out to the right side of the French toast and topped with thin slices of apples and cut up strawberries. Maple syrup was criss-crossed over the whole dish together with shards of fresh mint. The dish as a whole worked really together and I really enjoyed the addition of fresh mint – the flavour enhanced the dish. My only one really tiny qualm would be that the poached pear could have been poached for a bit longer as it wasn’t as soft as I was expecting. Overall I was impressed with the flavours and it really was more than what I was expecting.

The staff here are super friendly and always have a smile on their face. Cherry and Twigs is a must visit place be it for good tasting coffee, great tasting dishes or even some delicious dessert treates which are displayed on the front counter. It definitely is worth the trouble finding it!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – An All Day Breakfast Menu as well as a Lunch Menu – refer to picture above.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Casual and Chilled out. Great for work meetings and catch-ups
Service: Fantastic, Attentive and Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
18/555 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9614 7096

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 6:30am – 5:00pm
Saturday: 7:30am – 2:00pm
Sunday: Closed

Cherry & Twigs on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cherryandtwigs
Twitter: @cherryandtwigs
Instagram: cherryandtwigs

 

Little King Cafe – Cute Inner City Cafe

panda 4 rating
Latte at Little King Smashed Avocado and Fetta on Sourdough

G told me about this little café located near her workplace that I should try out called Little King so at lunchtime I thought I would go and check it out.

Little King is set up by Ellie King together with her mum Jessie – and named after her nickname at high school – and is located under the archways of St Paul’s Cathedral (just off Flinders Lane). Their main aim is to serve the best seasonal, local and organic produce to create tasty food options, catering for vegetarians and vegans in the process.

Little King is tiny but has a homely feel to it where you can see yourself spending hours just enjoying the ambience and the smell of delicious coffee and home cooking. It is quaint, cute and bursting with energy and life complete with low ceilings, wooden furniture and lace curtains. It reminds you of your grandma’s living room really. There are a few seats located inside as well as a number of seats outside on the pavement just at the front of Little King.

The menu changes daily and is based on whatever King feels like cooking each morning – from soups, salads to yummy homemade baked treats such as cakes and muffins. The coffee is from Padre and all the bread and pastries are from Dench Bakery.

The day that I go there is a Quinoa Supersalad available as well as Smashed Avocado with Fetta on Sourdough, along with sandwiches ( lots of vegan options available). I opt for the Smashed Avocado and order a Latte to match. The latte is strong with a nutty caramel hit all in one with notes of creaminess to finish. The Smashed Avocado is fresh, creamy and with the tang of the Feta was just what I needed.

Little King is brilliant and is a great addition to Melbourne. It allows you sit, enjoy and watch the hustle and bustle that happens around the Flinders Street area all whilst enjoying delicious coffee and some great locally produced, home cooked food.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Homemade Baked Treats
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cute, Cosy and Homely
Service: Friendly
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.littlekingcafe.com
Shop 4/209 Flinders Lane
Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 0030

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 3:30pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LittleKingCafe
Twitter: @LittleKingCafe

Little King Cafe on Urbanspoon

Om Nom Dessert Bar – Creations of Art

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E was swapping Australia for Canada so four us decided to celebrate by checking out Om Nom Dessert Bar before she left.

Om Nom is located at the Adelphi Hotel (that also houses Ezard in its lower level) at Flinders Lane. For Om Nom you need to go up the stairs and head towards the back area of the main foyer / lift lobby area. From the moment you step in you are greeted by the modern, elegant, French themed fit out. From the life size mesh sculpture of a horse to the seating that is in shapes of hard lollies. As you make your way towards the main seating – there are little areas of seating complete with a black plush sofa swing and colourful cushions – and some cushions in the shape of a bowtie lolly. Abstract art in the shape of a face further adds colour to this mostly black and white colour scheme. Om Nom seats 40 and you will definitely need to book in advance to secure your spot.

There are two chefs behind Om Nom. They are head chef Christy Tania who arrived from France two years ago to work at Sake and has also worked at Vue de Monde and Jacques Reymond. How’s that for experience! As well as Pierrick Boyer who is currently behind the spectacular creations at Le Petit Gateau.
Tania used to previously work at IBM in Singapore and quit her job there, folded her business (she had a side business of baking wedding and birthday cakes) to fly to France to get trained in the world of pastry and more. She has worked under world renowed chefs such as Alain Ducasse, Michel Roth and Sebastien Serveau. Currently she has also launched an online cake business – C’est Bon.

I had already looked at the menu before coming here and had made sure that I didn’t have anything sweet all day as I knew I wanted to do the Dessert Degustation. The Dessert Degustation is $55 and allows you to try 3 different desserts. The desserts are mini version of the actual desserts – but it was nevertheless still great to sample and try. I think this is a great idea as it allows you to hone in what dessert you like the best and come back and have the full size version next time!

The first dessert that came out as part of the degustation was the Raspberry Field – raspberry, lychee, meringue, rosewater. I had already seen pictures and heard a lot about this dessert so I was really looking forward to seeing it in real life and seeing how the flavour combination worked. The presentation was fantastic and really adorable – so much so that you don’t really want to touch it or break anything to eat it. I think I took about 50 photos, in all sorts of angles of this dish. As my Raspberry Field was part of the degustation I only got one smaller toadstool, whereas the main dessert dish had two larger toadstools. As E was leaving and they knew this – they had sweetly written ‘Bon Voyage’ on her dessert – nice touch!

The main toadstool is made of a crunchy meringue base that acts as the stalk of the toadstool, and topped with a tangy and smooth raspberry sorbet that has white chocolate pieces dotted on it. Surrounding this toadstool is the “forest floor” of fresh lychees, rosewater bursts, fresh raspberries and finished with white chocolate sand. I really did love each element. Anything with lychees for me is heaven – in fact whenever I order a mocktail and they ask me what flavours I want, my first go to is always lychee. The sorbet was perfectly tangy and complemented the sweetness of the meringue. I loved the rosewater burst – added more texture and fun-ness to the dish!

The next dessert to arrive was the Basil Garden – dark chocolate, vanilla, olive oil, honey, basil, lime, white chocolate & meringue. Once again the presentation of this dish was magnificent. It literally looked like a little potted plant complete with chocolate soil. The “pot” is made out of chocolate and filled inside with vanilla, olive oil and honey ice cream and topped with lime, basil and white chocolate. The finishing touches were some vibrant purple flowers and green leaves. The result was quite a light dish, with plenty of refreshing flavour combinations and the added texture of the chocolate soil. It definitely looks too pretty to eat but once you start you won’t be able to stop.

The last dessert that I ordered was the Mango Alfonso – choux pastry, shiso, coconut, kalamanzi, lemongrass, ginger & caramelised white chocolate. This dessert consisted of mang0-cream filled profiteroles which has been topped with bright, glossy fondant icing as well as a chocolate disc. On top of this chocolate disc, there is a ball of shiso and mango. There was also kalamanzi (this is a citrus fruit –sometimes called the Phillipine lime) sorbet as well as coconut spheres that pop with fillings of coconut cream, as well as a coconut and lemongrass foam. As part of the degustation menu – you get one profiterole but the main sized dessert you get two profiteroles layered carefully on top of each other. The pastry is crunchy and together with the mango cream inside was delicious. Paired together with all the elements it made for a really interesting dish – the pairing of mango and coconut work really well together. There were some great textures and interesting flavours in this dish – especially the addition of lemongrass.

S is a massive chocolate lover and therefore settled on getting the Chocolate Souffle – Guayaquil 64% Chocolate, Mandarin Marmalade, Kalaminsi Sorbet, Milk Foam. We sampled the soufflé and it was indeed brilliant – complete with a gooey centre. The Milk Foam pairing worked well and made it reminiscent of drinking cocoa before bed – which further added to the “close your eyes and savour the moment” feeling.

C ordered the Banana Flambe – Rum, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Chocolate Sponge, Vanilla and Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream. This dish had the wow factor with the flambé being lit in front of us and gave the most amazing aroma of cinnamon. It really was brilliant to watch. C however thought the dish did look better than it tasted and was almost let down by this dish.

Each dessert is made with love, care and attention and is literally a piece of art. They are simply amazing to look at and a treat to the palate. There are interesting combinations of flavours, textures to create a truly memorable experience.

Om Nom doesn’t only do dessert – they do have quite a great sounding savoury menu as well – albeit the main focus being on dessert. There are dishes like caramelised foie gras with goat’s curd and fig, a summer pear salad, wagyu slides to pan seared duck breast just to name a few. S and E ordered some of the savoury dishes. First up was the Caramlised Scallops, Asparagus, Light Curried Coconut Broth & Lemongrass Oil – the scallops were seared perfectly and as a result had the right texture and softness to it. The thai flavours paired with the asparagus was a winner as well with the flavouring complementing the scallops. Next up was the Pan Seared Duck Breast, Duck Confit, Apple Cider Jelly, Galangal Honey Suace, Celeriac Puree and Celery Coulis. E loved the way the duck was cooked – literally melting in her mouth. There were many interesting components and flavours in this dish as well that the palate got to experience. The Celery Coulis was really interesting – very fresh and invigorating. Lastly C ordered the Wagyu Sliders with Caramelized Onion, Cornichons, Perigreux Sauce and Shoe String Fries – you get two sliders which were flavoured well and came with a side salad.

Om Nom also does High Tea on Sundays from 12pm till 4pm. The cost is $65 per person and there is a minimum of 2 guests required. You get a selection of savoury and sweet dishes that include vol au vents with asparagus and mushroom, vegetable tempura, two different gateux’s and the pineapple verrine. This comes with tea/coffee as well as a macaron. Just check their website for an updated menu.

The drink menu is quite extensive and there is a section called “Liquid Desserts” as well that have some great sounding drinks such as Cookies and Cream to Cherry Ripe. Their list of cocktails is also impressive and one labelled Earl’s Punch comes with a macaron – fancy! There are also the usual drinks of wine, beers and spirits as well as tea and coffee. The tea serving is quite generous – a whole pot which was enough for three of us to have two cups each!

Om Nom is a must try for everyone that loves desserts –it definitely has the “ooh and aah” factors involved in terms of presentation and taste. I can’t wait to see any new additions that will be added to the menu. The place is classy, elegant all the while staying comfortable and relaxed. The staff are friendly, knowledgeable and very helpful.When leaving you can grab a little take away lolly bag filled with mints if you wish as well!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – There is the breakfast, high-tea, dinner, dessert, drinks and function menus available here – http://www.adelphi.com.au/hm_features.pl?id=1
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy, Elegant and has a WOW factor. You almost feel like you are transported to another land for your time spent here.
Standout Dish:  Raspberry Field – raspberry, lychee, meringue, rosewater
Service: Knowledgeable and Helpful. If there is a special occasion and you let them know – they can customise your dessert!
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.adelphi.com.au/hm_features.pl?id=1
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.adelphi.com.au/index.shtml
Level 2,
Adelphi Hotel
187 Flinders Lane Melbourne
Tel No: 8080 8888

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday:
Breakfast from 7am to 12 midday
Dinner & Desserts
6pm until 12am

Monday to Saturday Snack menu is available in between those hours

 

Om Nom Dessert Bar on Urbanspoon

Supernormal Canteen – Another McConnell Gem!

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:

Menu at Supernormal Canteen

T and I were heading out to dinner and decided to check out Andrew McConnell’s latest venture and temporary pop-up in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. The name of his new place, which is located right next door to Cutler and Co. is called Supernormal Canteen – which is due to open in March next year at its permanent location in Flinders Lane in the heart of the Melbourne CBD.

As you walk in you are greeted with an open space filled with wooden communal and individual tables with Japanese characters saying “Suupaanoormaaru” (Supernormal) all along the table top. To the left is a white washed brick wall with its name – half in neon red lights. The centrepiece is the hundreds of lanterns complete with googly eyes that line the ceiling. Spectacular. The design gurus Projects of Imagination are to thank for the design here. The whole vibe of the place is relaxed and fun and has a food and drink menu to match. There are two main dining areas, as well as some seating out the front.

Supernormal Canteen was launched in November as part of The Age Good Food Month and was only meant to be open until December 21st, but due to its overwhelming popularity was extended till the beginning of March. Supernormal Canteen serves Japanese/Chinese food together with sake and Asahi beer, and gets packed by about 6:30pm – where you would then expect a wait for a table.

The menu consists of about 18 dishes to share which vary in size, as well as 4 different desserts. The dishes range from Wood Grilled Cabbage, Pepper Cured Blackmore Brisket, the famous Lobster Roll, Chicken & Prawn Dumplings and Szechuan Lamb just to name a few.

T & I decided to order some dishes to share. For drinks I ordered the Iced Coffee – which comes with a little aluminium cup with extra sugar syrup for you to add when you feel like it. The coffee was strong but delicious and I loved the addition of the extra sugar syrup for later. We were also given some roasted peanuts (in place of where most restaurants would give out bread) to nibble on whilst we waited for our dishes to arrive. They were deliciously flavoured – and you had to stop yourself from eating the whole bowl in one go.

The first dish we got was the Bonito Sashimi, Dashi, Radish & Seaweed. The dish comes with the Kingfish at the bottom of the plate with the radish on the next layer and finished with the seaweed on top. The Kingfish was fresh, thick and just perfect, paired with the dashi and the crunch of the radish and seaweed it really was quite delicious. A really great combination.

Our next sharing dish was the Fried Mussels, Egg Mayo, Lettuce. The sauce was interesting as on the bottom there was chilli and the egg mayo was placed on top – so when you dunked in the mussels you got a combination of both the sauces – really great! The Fried Mussels itself were delicious and the first time that I was eating mussels this way! The mussels were crisp on the outside and just still moist and juicy on the inside. The way you were meant to eat it was to wrap the mussels in the lettuce and dip it into the sauce. Any which way you eat it – this dish is just fantastic and I would highly recommend it.

Next up I ordered a Lobster Roll – I mean how could you not order one especially if you have tried one before (I had my last one at Golden Fields). The bun was sweet as was he lobster and combined with the tang of the mayo was just delicious. It definitely kept me wanting more. I would have loved a bit more lobster in my roll though.

We went with some of the larger dishes as well with T ordering Grilled Ox Tongue, Tomato, Yuzu & Potato for her and we also ordered the Steamed Snapper, Ginger, Coriander. T said the Ox tongue was cooked well and she did enjoy the flavours. The Steamed Snapper dish came out with the snapper being buried under the coriander and radish – you had to push that all aside to reveal the snapper. The snapper was perfectly cooked – not too soft, not too tough – and the flavours of ginger, spring onion together with the fresh coriander was quite good. It smelt great and tasted Just as it smelt – it was also a very generous serving.

Even though I was quite full I had to have dessert – and lucky I didn’t skip it as it turned out to be the yummiest and one of my most favourite desserts ever. I ordered the Yoghurt Cream, Lychee & White Chocolate. When it comes out it looks like berries and lychees have been buried in a powdery snow like substance – and it really doesn’t look like much. Just wait till you dig into the dish. The powder was an awesome texture and as you dig further you get the hit of the white chocolate. Combined with the freshness and tang of the berries and the “yoghurt”, sweetness of the lychees and the white chocolate – the result is absolutely divine! I really do hope they keep this dessert on the menu when they move to Flinders Lane.

I really enjoyed the vibe and the atmosphere at Supernormal Canteen. They serve really delicious, casual Asian inspired dishes and have a great drinks menu to go with it. The staff are super friendly and very knowledgeable about the food. There are rumours that when the new permanent venue opens up it will also house a karaoke bar – for extra added fun! I for one cannot wait to see the permanent venture opened.

 

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Menu consists of shared dishes and a great drink menu – refer to above section for Menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun and Relaxed
Standout Dish: Yoghurt Cream, Lychee & White Chocolate
Service: Friendly and very knowledgeable

http://supernormal.net.au/

Supernormal Canteen will be opening in Flinders Lane sometime around March 2015

Supernormal Canteen on Urbanspoon

Mercy Bar + Eatery – A Great Change

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NOTE: THIS RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED

G and I headed for dinner to Mercy Bar + Eatery on a Friday night. I had been there when this place was Virginia Plain, so was keen to see what the changes were. I did enjoy the food at Virginia Plain but thought the Degustation menu we did could have been a bit better. Check out my review here – https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2012/11/29/virginia-plain-contemporary-european-cuisine/

Mercy Bar + Eatery is located at the top end of Flinders Lane (near Spring Street) where the old Virginia Plain used to be. Marco Santucci is still the owner, Andy Hammer is still the chef and Mat Beyer is still front-of house – but what has changed is the interior and the menu. Artist Steve Cross has redecorated the interior with graffiti art and it’s funky to say the least! The artwork is colourful, bright, intriguing and can be talked about for quite some time. There are pictures of contorted faces and objects with varying shapes and colours.

The venue is fit out with wooden tables and chairs in the dining area of the restaurant, with the front section having communal tables and high tables for drinks and gatherings. The lighting is quite dim, with not many light shades fitted out through the venue, although it creates a great ambience. Near the table we are at there is one light to the left of us, together with artwork of a woman’s face in green and pink tones (have a look at the picture above). The kitchen is open plan and located in the back of the dining area so you can see the chefs preparing your meals.

I got there a tad bit earlier than G so ordered a mocktail – they asked what kind of flavours I wanted and would make one to match that. The result was a fruity, orangey and lime concoction which was quite refreshing.

Once G arrived we decided on what food we would want. The menu is new and has an emphasis on bar snacks with 12 to choose from. There is a variety of entrees – there are about 7 to choose from which include eel, quail, wagyu and kingfish – together with a selection of 4 different salads. Mains are also available ( you can choose from 5) and these include Fish, Beef Cheek, Wagyu and Pork Belly and finished with Desserts – there are also 5 to choose from. The waitress informs us that there are also specials available – one from the entrée section and one from the main section.

To start with we decided to get the Eel & Roasted Beetroot Salad with Horse Radish Cream and the Hand Cut Chips to share. I love that there was Eel on the menu – there aren’t many places that serve eel so I was definitely keen to try this dish. The dish was presented beautifully and was such a colorful dish against a black dish. The horse radish cream served as a base, where pieces of eel, beetroot, swirls of onion and crisps were daintily placed around. The eel was seasoned perfectly and was cooked just as well. They were bite sized pieces of eel and together with the horse radish cream and sweetness of the beetroot was a delicious dish. The Hand Cut Chips were also just as amazing. They chips were all different shapes and had some bits of potato skin left but this is what made them so good – they were authentic and fantastic. The potato was fresh and the chips seasoned with a perfect amount of salt.
Next up was the mains – G ordered one of the specials on offer and got the Lamb Special Sauteed served with Beetroot, Carrot and Potato Mash and I ordered the Hapuka Fillet, Du Puy Lentils, Caramelised Endive. Once again presentation of both these dishes was great. My dish came with the Du Puy Lentils and the two pieces of Hapuka Fillet placed on top with the endive and salad leaves around it. There was also a smearing of mash. The Du Puy Lentils was my favourite component of this dish – the sauce in which it was cooked in was really delicious. It had a sweet and nutty taste to it and really brought the whole dish together. Couple with the perfectly cooked fish – the skin was crackled and crunchy – and the mash it really was a great fish dish. I am not an endive fan so didn’t eat too much of this component. G enjoyed her dish as well, however she said that the Lamb had too many fatty bits to it and she found her mash a tad bit too salty.
We were both really quite full from the meals but decided to share a dessert dish – we went with the Hot baby Madeleines with Selection of Custards. The Custards that came out was a lime custard. The Madeleines were warm and crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside with the sweetness just right. The Madeleines came in the same bag style that the bread was served and it felt like they were never-ending – which was really great because you could just keep eating them. The custards were great as well, and added some tang to go with the sweetness. It really was a great way to bring together a pretty good meal.
Mercy Bar + Eatery is a great place to come for a dinner or even a quick snack and drinks – a place for casual, relaxed dining. On this Friday night by the time it got to 7pm the place was buzzing with people mostly around the bar area having drinks. The dining area too was quite filled up. The team behind this new venture have stepped it up from Virginia Plain days and it really is a great transition. I definitely want to come back and try things from the Bar Snacks menu.

NOTE: Mercy Bar + Eatery will still take bookings for its dining section down the back, and anyone who was a previous customer at Virginia Plain will always be able to book – a thank you for being there from the start.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Menu can be found at http://mercybareatery.com.au/Menu.html Drinks Menu can be found at http://mercybareatery.com.au/Drinks.html You can also do a 5 Course Tasting Menu for $65 ($40pp extra with matched wines). There is also an Express Lunch Menu – 2 courses + wine for $25
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Vibrant and Fun – has a great drinks culture
Standout Dish: Eel & Roasted Beetroot Salad with Horse Radish Cream
Service: Friendly, Keen and Helpful
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://mercybareatery.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://mercybareatery.com.au/
31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9290 0400

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 12pm – Late

Mercy bar + eatery on Urbanspoon

Tonka – Indian Malaysian Fusion Food

panda-3-5-rating2

For Dad’s birthday I decided to take my family out to a new restaurant called Tonka. Being of a Sri-Lankan background I was so excited to hear about a new restaurant that was specialising in Sri Lankan flavours. Tonka comes to you by the team behind the fantastic restaurant – Mykal and Kate Batholomew together with Adam D’Sylva. The location is in one of the iconic laneways of Melbourne and is where Honky Tonks used to reside. The team has transformed this space into an elegant and modern space (and the name even pays tribute to the former venue).

The venue itself is split into three separate areas – there is a bar – allows people to sit on high tables where you can order a drink from the extensive drink menu and have bar snacks., followed by the formal restaurant area (where you can make bookings) and then a more casual restaurant style bar area, with large windows which over look Flinders St – where restaurateurs don’t need to make a booking to enjoy the full menu. Despite these three different areas, they are all seamless and you really don’t feel the difference in any of the areas.

As you walk into the restaurant you are greeted by friendly staff that are very happy to assist you. We had a booking in the formal restaurant which was located in the middle section. We walked past the open kitchen which was lined with colourful jars of spices and other condiments. There is a real wow factor that you get as you step in the doors of Tonka. There are distressed walls and the definite wow factor is the art installation by Naomi Troski – which his featured on the ceiling – white twists of mesh that remind you of clouds in a dramatic sense.

The menu is inspired by the unique range and variety of flavours from southern India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. The executive chef is Adam D’Sylva and the Head Chef is Michael Smith together with Mumbai born sous chef Ved Navghare. The menu is accentuated by two tandoor ovens which definitely add and enhance the brilliant flavours of each dish – such as tandoori meats, fish and naan.

I arrived before the rest of my fam, so I ordered the Tonka take on the traditional Lassi drink (there are two options the alcoholic version which has Rum as well as a non-alcoholic version) – I opted for the non-alcoholic version which consisted of mango, rose and the addition of pistachio nuts. The lassi was one of the better lassi’s that I have tasted – a great starter drink!

Once the rest of the fam arrived we settled on our order – we ordered two entrée’s, two mains, a side, naans and rice.

The first entrée we had was the Pani Puri – crispy parcel filled with spiced potato and lentils, date and tamarind chutney served with mango infused aromatic water. For some reason the idea in my head of what a Pani Puri was, was different to what arrived at our table. These Pani Puri were cute (yes, I know it’s a weird way to describe food, but seriously that’s what they were). Our waiter presented this dish to us and then poured some of the aromatic water and said that was to enhance the flavours and not to leave it to get too soggy before you ate it. These were delicious and the only downside was that the dish was so small. The potato and lentils were perfectly flavoured and the data and tamarind chutney added the sourness. The aromatic water on its had a pleasant sourness taste to it as well. The next entrée we ordered was the Spanner Crab Salad with puffed rice, green mango, peanuts, coriander and green chilli. This was another stand out dish that all the fam enjoyed! It had a bit of a hint of what a Thai dish would represent and all the flavours were infused together really well. My only criticism was that the puffed rice to me didn’t have as much crunch as I would have liked it to have.

For mains we ordered the Goan Fish Curry and Hiramasa Kingish from the Tandoor. The Goan Fish Curry when it came out was this richly coloured curry that came not only with fish, but had additional seafood as well – King Prawns and Mussels, as well veggies (beans). This was a great surprise as we weren’t expecting this. The Kingfish from the tandoor was hands-down my favourite dish. The kingfish was perfectly cooked and had the smoky tandoori flavours with the right salt levels and spice added to it. It was served with another asian influenced salad that added to making the balance of flavours complete. This is a definite must try dish when you come to Tonka. We also had the Fried Cauliflower, Garam Masala Salt, Fenugreek and Yoghurt Dressing as a side – yet another winner of a dish. The mix of cauliflower, garam masala and fenugreek had a strong taste to it, yet it wasn’t overpowering and the addition of the yoghurt lightened these flavours.

When you get your mains, you are also given the Tonka version of a Raita (Yoghurt Sauce) where they have added pomegranate pieces. I loved this idea as one of my favourite yoghurts is pomegranate yoghurt =) You also get a chilli sauce if you need more spice added to your dish. I wasn’t a huge fan of this second sauce.

Next up was dessert – we orderd the Saffron baked meringue, strawberry, pistachio and rose water and orderd Tonka’s Gulab Jamun with saffron syrup and silver leaf. I must say that I wasn’t too impressed with either of these desserts. I have eaten Gulab Jamun’s better and say your local Indian takeaway restaurant and at $6 per ball, I expected much more. I didn’t like the texture or the flavour of the Gulab Jamun. The other dessert we ordered was the Saffron Baked Meringue and I was expecting the meringue to be crunchier on the outside than it was. The flavours however were quite nice – the mixture of the strawberry, pistachio ice cream and rose water together with the tang and sourness of the pomegranate seeds.

Tonka is a great addition to the Melbourne laneway culture, and the team have created a warm, welcoming and cosy area that overlooks some of the great tourist spots. The food is flavoursome and hold true to the authentic flavours together with a modern twist. The use of the tandoor ovens definitely needs to be tried out by one and all. If you are a fan of Coda (or even if you haven’t tried out Coda) you will definitely find a new favourite in this place.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A la Carte menu – can be viewed at http://www.tonkarestaurant.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Food-Menu-10-4-13.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Has a wow factor, and is a great place to catch up for a drink with friends or have a celebration dinner. The lighting and decor makes the place feel warm, cosy and comfortable.
Standout Dish: Hiramasa Kingfish from the Tandoor
Service: Friendly, Attentive and Helpful.
Online Booking: No, but you can call up the restaurant to make  a booking in their formal sit down area, or you can just walk-in
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://tonkarestaurant.com.au
20 Duckboard Place, Melbourne
Tel No: 9650 3155

Opening Hours:
Open for Lunch Monday to Friday
Open for Dinner Monday to Saturday

Tonka on Urbanspoon