Lune Croissanterie – Worth the Early Start

panda 4 rating

My Order of Pastries

My Order of Pastries

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Menu:
Lune Info Lune Menu (2) Lune Menu

Lune Patisserie is one of those places in Melbourne that you just have to experience to understand the hype. It is all about bringing the taste of France (Paris) to Melbourne in the form of delicious tasting pastries and croissants.

Lune wants you to have that unmistakable Parisian experience of catching the scent of butter wafting down the sheet and following your nose only to find an unassuming hole-in-the wall bakery, where you will be served by the baker and you will experience what it is like to eat a croissant that was pulled from the oven no longer than one hour ago.

Located in Elwood (near the intersection of Scott and Tennyson Streets), Lune resides in a quaint double storey house, where owner and baker connoisseur Kate Reid – a former aeronautical engineer who worked as an Aerodynamicist for Formula One – resides as well, together with her business partner / brother Cam. Reid was inspired by a visit to Paris where she visited the famous Du Pain et des Idess and their delectable pastries and was inspired to pursue her love and passion for baking. Reid’s journey is wildly interesting – she began as a sales assistant at Phillipa’s Bakery before moving onto Three Bags Full where she was a pastry chef. As great as these jobs were, Reid had a longing for Paris and took a chance in emailing Du Pain et des Idess and asking them to take her on as an apprentice – which they agreed on. And the rest as they say was history! Reid worked under some of the best pastry chefs in Paris, including Christophe Vasseur who was awarded the Best Baker in Paris by Gourmet magazine in 2008 and Baker of the Year 2012 by respected restaurant guide Pudlo Guide – learning all there is to know about Parisian style patisserie. Reid then moved back to Melbourne where she is renowned for some of the best croissants in Melbourne with lines of people waiting to devour these goodies being a testament.

The croissant is understood to be one of the hardest pastries to master – requiring three days of preparation and four different types of machinery. The key factor is the butter used to make the croissant – you should be able to smell the butter before you bite into – creating a rich buttery goodness. The freshness is yet another key factor – and should generally be eaten within two to three hours of being baked. Another important aspect is that a croissant should be light and flaky – Reid says that after eating a croissant you should have a lap full of flakes!

Croissants take three days to make, with resting between each process to help the dough develop complexity of the flavouring. Reid follows a recipe she learnt from Du Pain et des Idess, which she adapts for Australian flour and milk, and to suit herself. On day one, the dough is mixed and rested for an hour before an 18-hour period of slow fermentation at a cool temperature.
On day two, she flattens the dough and laminates the butter into it, a process called beurrage, which takes up to five hours each day. The butter is folded through the dough and rolled out to create up to 27 layers. Between each fold and roll the dough must be allowed to rest or the gluten will overdevelop and ruin the flavour.
On day three, for the final rollout, the pastry is pressed to a thickness of about four millimetres, cut, and shaped. Once it’s at this stage, you must work quickly to get the croissants into the prover. Then, they are egg-washed and baked at 4am, and so the day begins again.

“Cruffins” is basically a croissant made in a muffin tin—often filled and topped with seasonal ingredients. Past cruffins flavours have included Pavlova, Tiramisu, Lemon & Kaya, Apple crumble, Lime & Yuzu, and “Cherry Ripe”.

On this Saturday morning – my friend and I decided to meet at Lune at 6:30am (which meant I had to be up by 5:45am!!). We both however overslept and I ended up getting there around 10 to 7. As I drove past Lune in search of a car park – I could see the line was at least 20 deep already! Once you arrive at Lune, the process is to line up for a ticket number (they only give out 60 tickets per day), and order a coffee; if you wish – and at that time of the day my guess is that you would definitely be in need for one.
The staff are super friendly, perky and chatty (especially since they would have been up even earlier than me!). I receive ticket number #29 along with the menu, and am asked which pastries I would be interested in. Reid’s brother – Cam – explains that the special flavoured pastries such as the Snickers Croissant (there were 10 available), Coconut Pandan Croissant, Tiramisu Cruffin (only 18 were made) have limited quantities. Whilst you receive your ticket number, you also have the opportunity to order a coffee (much needed especially given the time that some people arrive here!) and head on down to line up in the queue.

Lune officially opens its doors at 8am which gives you quite some time (depending on how early you arrive) to peruse the menu and decide which six pastries you want to take home – if you want to take home six (the average amount that people usually buy is four).

Once the blinds come up and Lune is open for business – you can hear the anticipation from people towards the back of the line as they wonder if they will get their first choice selections.

My order was as follows:

1 x Croissant – Traditional French Crossiant, prepared over 3 days

1 x Choc-Almond: Pain au Chocolate style, with almond & orange frangipane

1 x Kouign Amann – Traditional pastry from the Bretagne region of France – laminated with sugar and baked in a buttered, sugared mould until caramelized

1 x Cinnamon Kouign Amann – as above, with cinnamon added to the laminated pastry

1 x Cruffin – A Lune original Croissant pastry baked in a muffin tin and filled with weekly changing flavours – Jam & Cream and Tiramisu

1 x Twice Baked – Available weekends only – Traditionally in France left over croissants are sold the following day, filled with an almond frangipane and baked for a second time. At Lune we offer the traditional Almond Croissant, as well as special twice baked Croissants.
Almond: The original Croissant aux Amande, prepared with almond frangipane & garnished with a healthy amount of almonds. Coconut Pandan & Snickers were the two other flavours available.

The plain croissants are just divine – flaky, crunchy, soft and buttery – everything that you want out of a croissant that makes you come back for more. The Choc-Almond croissant has a crunchier texture in comparison to the plain croissant and I love the almond flavour that comes through, together with the hint of orange. I am not usually a fan of the orange flavouring in pastries or cakes, however I took quite a liking to how it is infused here at Lune.

The Kouign Amann is not as soft and flaky as a croissant, and it reminded me of something that I used to eat when I was younger – Butterfly Pastry. The sugar coating on the outside gives it the strong crunch, together with the buttery pastry layers that follow in a swirl shape that creates the interior of the pastry which gives a simple yet delicious flavouring. I got both the original and the cinnamon flavour – with the cinnamon Kouign Amann have a delicately strong cinnamon flavour to it. Yum!

The Cruffin would have to be my favourite out of all the pastries – if I had to pick. I had the Jam & Cream Cruffin and I swear this is something that you would get in heaven! The Cruffin comes looking like a muffin (of course!) but has the make-up of a croissant – the soft buttery layers – and topped with cream (in the case of the Jam & Cream flavour). The Jam had been carefully distributed in all the right places in the cruffin and together with the buttery soft layers and cream was delightful. If I was you I would definitely try out a cruffin – in whatever flavour is on offer as I am sure they would be all as good as each other!

People are constantly asking both Cam and Kate why they don’t just make more of the product – and their answer is always the same – they do not want to compromise on quality. Quality is always the key – and it really is a testament to the lines that are always present on the three days that they are open.
However, recently a window of opportunity has opened, and they are have a new partner in the form of Nathan Toleman, who owns The Kettle Black and Top Paddock and co-founded a string of cafes including Liar Liar, Three Bags Full and Two Birds One Stone. The Lune team are looking at sites on the north side of the city that will allow them to expand their production without sacrificing quality. So stay tuned – but in the meantime I would highly recommend you go down to Elwood and try these delicious pastries – trust me they are well worth the early wake up call!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu –Refer to picture above
Standout Dish: Cruffins!!
Service: Really friendly!!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://lunecroissanterie.com/
29 Scott Street, Elwood
Tel No: 9077 6463
Opening Hours:
Friday: 7:30am until Sold Out
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am until Sold Out

Lune Croissanterie on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LuneCroissanterie
Instagram: lunecroissant
Twitter: @LuneCroissant

Advertisements

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

Om Nom Dessert Bar – Creations of Art

panda 4 rating

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

Epocha – Tasty & Wholesome Food!

panda-4-5-rating4

halal (1)(ONLY THE CHICKEN IS HALAL)

Epocha which means ‘a new or distinctive era’ in a variety of European languages is a newly opened restaurant in Rathdowne Street, Carlton. It is located in the stunning heritage listed Victorian terrace which overlooks Carlton Gardens. And as owner Angie Giannakodakis, researched and discovered that it was commissioned by gentlewoman Hannah Mabel in 1884 – and the upstairs bar pays homage to her and is aptly called Hannah’s Bar.

Epocha is European inspired restaurant and bar brought to you by Angie Giannakodakis (former front-of-house manager The Press Club) together with business partner Guy Holder. The head chef is Mick Bolam who is the former head chef of Restaurant Sanctuary at Peppers in the Hunter Valley. The main focus of Epocha is around its main philosophy – sharing tasty and wholesome food. It is home style food that pays tribute to its European traditions with touches of Greek, English and French influences (such as the charcuterie and cheeses).

As you walk up the stairs to the terrace house entrance you know that you are about to expect something that you will be awe of – and you wont be disappointed. A elegant and rustic dining room welcomes you complete with wooden floors (that are creaky for authenticity), low hanging lights, dark wooden furniture with a colourful tiled table top, a huge old school style clock on the wall and homely olive green chairs. It really has a homely feel to it and you know you are in good hands as the service is impeccable, warm and welcoming – you just fit right in.

In addition to the main downstairs dining area, there is an upstairs area / function room with a balcony – this is Hannah’s Bar. You can come here for casual drinks as well as play games of backgammon.

We were seating in the downstairs dining area and the first thing that caught my idea was a wooden trolley which had a variety of cheeses as well as desserts on offer. What also caught my eye on the trolley was the wooden frame which housed honeycomb and honey. Such a great idea which once again makes it feel more homely. The menu is split into different sections such as snacks, small shares, large shares, accompaniments, dessert & cheese. There is also a sharing menu which is $68 per person where the Chef will pick what dishes your table gets. We decided to pick some dishes from each of the snacks, small shares, large shares and accompaniments. The waitress was helpful in letting us know if she thought we had ordered too many dishes, and assisted us in choosing our dishes as well.

Whilst we waited for our food we were given warm bread which comes in a knotted cloth bag which is something different. The bread (rye and caraway seed) was freshly made, soft and delicious. I got an oyster to start off with – fresh and tasty. We also got Mushroom Aranchini and Jamon, Fior Di Latte Croquettes to start off with. The Mushroom Aranchini was crumbed and crunchy on the outside and the filling on the inside was perfectly seasoned, and the mushrooms were moist and tasty. My friends did enjoy the Jamon Croquettes as well, and they were on the large side so that was an added bonus. We also got the Spiced Chickpea and Bread Crisps. The spiced chickpea was quite tasty and had a great balance of tanginess and spice. I loved the addition of the bread crisps – I enjoyed the crunchiness against the chickpea dip.

Some of the smaller share dishes that we selected were – Spring Asparagus with Slow Cooked Hens Egg, Tarragon and the Baby Carrots, Honey, Goat’s Curd, Sesame, Beetroot and Skate, Caper, Lemon, Parsley, Fava and lastly the Confit Duck Leg, Peas, Lettuce. The asparagus dish was a very different and interesting dish  – the asparagus was simply sautéed and absorbed the flavours of the tarragon, the hens egg was perfectly cooked and once you cracked it open the yolk oozed out and served as an additional sauce for the asparagus. The flavour combination was a mash of flavours that worked.

The Beetroot and Honey dish was my favourite dish and to this day I talk about it. I LOVED IT. The honey together with the goats curd was a great mix and was delicious – add in the sweetness and softness of the beetroot and carrots and you truly have a memorable dish. Highly recommended.

Skate is a type of large marine fish and this dish came with capers, lemon and fava – which is a type of bean. The sauce was tangy and creamy all at the same time. The skate was cooked fantastically and was still moist and mild in flavour. You really did need the addition of the capers and the sauce to really make the dish and make them it did. Another really tasty dish.

Once we had finished our snacks and smaller share dishes, it time for the larger shares. First up we got the Bird – which consisted of the breast, wing, thigh and leg. Crispy and crackly on the outside, moist and simply seasoned on the inside. This dish was served with a swig of rosemary. The whole fish that we got was Flounder – this came with Fruit Rub, Dill, Lemon and Salsa Verde. The dish comes out to the table as a whole fish and then we get to watch our waitress de-bone the entire fish for us. It’s a great process to watch as they seem to glide through the process – I could never do it with such ease. The fish is buttery and cooked amazingly, the salsa verde and fruit rub give it a mix of tangy and sweetness – you could add lemon if you needed an additional tang. We did order another larger dish but it was never brought out – and we were actually alright with that anyway as we were all so full and still had dessert to go.

Dessert time meant that the trolley was wheeled over to us for us to decide – they all cost $12. We settled on getting one of each dessert – Crème brulee, Chocolate Gateau, Tiramasu and Lemon & Ricotta Cannoli. The Crème brulee was smooth, sweet and small with a delicious crackling on top. The Lemon & Ricotta Cannoli was crunchy and the pastry was delicious – the lemon filling was buttery, sharp and strong all at the same time. The tiramisu ( I couldn’t have this as it had lots of alcohol in it) was quite alcohol filled as my friends told me but delicious nonetheless. The Chocolate Gateau was a clear winner – from the brownie bass to the centre chocolate mousse filling and topped off with a ganache chocolate topping. It looked as rich as it sounds but was such a great way to finish a fantastic meal.

Epocha is a fantastic place that everyone should definitely check it out – be it for a casual drink upstairs or if its a meal at the dining room downstairs. The atmosphere is homely, welcoming and quaint and the service is one of the best that I have experienced in Melbourne. There is antique silverware, vintage cutlery and crockery, colorful table tops, wooden creaky floors all which add to its uniqueness. There is also an international wine selection and the staff are happy to assist in getting you the right selection. If there is one place that should be on your list of places to try out it should be EPOCHA.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Dinner Menu – can be found at http://epocha.com.au/pdf/Epocha-Menu.pdf
On Sundays there is a four course menu available for a Family Sunday priced at $45 pp
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience:
Standout Dish: Baby Carrots, Honey, Goats Curd, Seasame, Beetroot (this is my new fave salad – IT’S THAT GOOD!!)
Service: Fantastic and Attentive and Friendly. We asked our waitress quite a bit of questions and she answered all of them and if she didn’t know the answer, she found out. They are also very inviting and hospitable. All round great service!
Online Booking: They are currently updating their website so it is best to call or email at eat@epocha.com.au
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://epocha.com.au/
49 Rathdowne St, Carlton
Tel No: 9036 4949

Opening Hours:
Closed Mondays
Lunch
Tuesday to Saturday: From 12pm
Dinner
Tuesday to Saturday: 5:30pm to Late
Sunday Roast Lunch: 12pm to 4pm

Hannah’s Bar
Tuesday to Saturday: 12pm to Late

Epocha on Urbanspoon

Annie Smithers Bistrot – Warm, Stylish Country Bistro

panda-4-rating1

N and I headed into Kyneton for lunch on a cold and rainy Sunday for lunch. Kyneton is located about an hour from Melbourne and is a quaint little country town. It is known for being a country town with good food with many establishments being recognised in the Age Good Food Guide, as well as having many cafes that have been listed in the Cheap Eats Guide. Kyneton has many bluestone buildings that are the main feature of the town that date back to the Gold Rush era, where Kyneton was a major supply town for diggings. For lunch we were going to Annie Smithers Bistrot and I was thoroughly looking forward to it.

Annie Smithers Bistrot is located in a historic bluestone building on Piper Street which now known as one of the most popular eating precincts in the state. Annie Smithers Bistro was recently bought by Tim Foster and his wife Michelle. Tim was the head chef at the Healesville Hotel in Yarra Valley. Annie Smithers herself will instead be focussing on her other restaurant – Du Fermier (located in Trentham, and a place I really want to try – it is next on my list!), her gardens as well as putting out a second book.

Annie Smithers instilled a farm to plate philosophy (which is also instilled at her Du Fermier restaurant) – which means that almost 90% of the produce supplied to the bistro is from the properties gardens and adjacent farmhouse. You can be sure that you are getting a fantastic meal with that type of philosophy. The venue itself is quite stunning – set in an old bluestone building with exposed brick on the inside coupled with high ceilings in both of its rooms and fitted out with modern wooden comfortable furniture. There are also beige leather cushion like seats along the walls. A huge arch shaped window in the main dining area allows lighting to stream in from the outside, further adding to the warmth and charm.

We were given our menus once seated at our table. On this Sunday the restaurant was not quite at full-house and there were three wait staff. One small glitch for the whole day was that it took me twice to gesture to someone for them to come over to give us water and take our orders. This tainted our experience a tad bit, however from then onwards it was smooth sailing. We placed our orders (we got an entree and a main each  – yep we were a bit hungry) and were given a choice between two house made breads – olive sourdough and normal sourdough. We both picked Olive Sourdough and it was delicious, fresh and warm! It also had the perfect crunch on the outside -yum!

For entrees there was Grilled Par Boned Quail, Braised Organic French Style Lentils, Istra Chorizo, Cauliflower Fitter, Holy Goat Fromage Frais, Chervil and the Twice Baked Mushroom and Taleggio Souffle, Mizuna, Nashi Pear & Walnut Salad, Walnut Oil. The Mushroom Souffle was beautifully presented and looked like a little nest amongst the leaves – which was made out of salad. The Mushroom Souffle with Taleggio was scumptious – from the mushrooms to the cheese paired together with the sweetness of the Nashi Pear and the texture and nuttiness of the walnuts – it was all fantastic. I haven’t eaten anything like this before, and feedback from other patrons was to the same tune – they all loved this dish. N enjoyed his quail dish as well, and said the mix of the cauliflower fritter and lentils together brought together some great flavours and textures to the perfectly cooked tender quail. The cheese added a smooth texture together with a tangy yoghurt taste.

Next up was mains – Ricotta & Herb Gnocchi, Australian Heirloom Pumpkin, Cavolo Nero, Truffled Pecorino, Crumbed Hen’s Egg, Herb & Fennel Salad and Brined and Grilled Loin, Baked Spartan Apple, Jerusalem Artichoke, Braised Cabbage, Fennel & Seeds, Cider Jus. With the mains you are given a side of vegetables which is the choice of the kitchen, we got Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Butter and Salt. Can I just start off by saying I am not a fan of Brussels Sprouts, but these were delicious – the flavours were simple and easy but tasted fantastic! I might just become a Brussels Sprouts convert. Both the main dishes once again came out beautifully presented as expected. The Ricotta & Herb Gnocchi was freshly made and was soft and squishy, with a semi-hardness to it on the outside – just what you would want in a gnocchi. They were off-shaped but that’s what added to the homeliness of the dish and had the perfect amount of herb seasoning. The Crumbed Hen’s Egg was in the middle of the dish and was a crumbed and crunchy. This is something of what you would expect on a brunch menu, but together with the gnocchi and the veggies it worked. The egg was gooey and runny on the inside and when you mixed it with the a piece of gnocchi, pumpkin, some fennel and cavolo nero and some gratings of truffled pecorino it was a delicious mix for your tastebuds. It should also be noted that is quite a filling dish!

Eventhough I was pretty full from the entrée and the main meals – of course I had to get something from the dessert menu (besides it was pouring with rain outside and it was cosy and warm at the bistro =p). I decided to get the Soft Centered Dark Chocolate Pudding, Honey Cream, Praline, Honeycomb & Hazelnut Ice Cream. The dish came out with the Chocolate Pudding, Ice Cream and Honey Cream in a glass to pour over the pudding. I knew from just looking at how good it would be! Before I could do anything I cut the Chocolate Pudding and let the warm chocolate ooze out, and ooze out it did! Perfect. The combination of the honey cream and the chocolate was delicious. Another highlight was the Honeycomb and Hazelnut Ice Cream. The Honeycomb was sugary, rich and crispy and together with the walnut and ice cream was so yum! Even N who doesn’t like sweet things much – ate most of the ice cream. You really do have to try it!

Another little sweetener is that you are offered a selection of their home made petit fours. On this day we had a selection of a Rose Meringue, White Chocolate Fudge and an Almond Biscoti (we got to sample all of them =p). They were bite sized portions of sweet heaven!

Annie Smithers Bistrot is a charming little place with some of the freshest and tastiest food I have had. The service is friendly and staff always have a smile on their face and will happily have a long conversation with you and answer any question. Annie Smithers is definitely worth the drive up to check the place out. The town itself is quite cute and you can definitely spend a whole day here.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – The menu tends to change daily – refer to http://www.anniesmithers.com.au/uploads/files/ASA%20Menu%20main%2023%20May%202013.pdf for the Lunch / Dinner Menu and http://www.anniesmithers.com.au/uploads/files/ASA%20Menu%20Dessert%2023%20May%202013.pdf for the Dessert Menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Warm and Welcoming. Great for a day trip and for great food.
Standout Dish: Twice Baked Mushroom and Taleggio Souffle, Mizuna, Nashi Pear & Walnut Salad, Walnut Oil
Service: Fantastic, Friendly and Warm – always helpful and interactive
Online Booking: No, only phone reservations are taken – NOTE: To avoid disappointment, try to allow at least 3-4 weeks in advance as weekend services book out well in advance.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.anniesmithers.com.au/home
72 Piper St, Kyneton
Tel No: 03 5422 2039

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Friday to Sunday: 12pm – 4:00pm
Dinner
Thursday to Sunday: 6pm – 11pm

Annie Smithers Bistrot & Produce on Urbanspoon

La Petite Crêperie – French Crepe Goodness in the Heart of Melbourne

panda-4-rating1
Le Triskel

La Petite Crêperie is located on the corner of Little Collins and Swanston Street in a cylindrical newspaper stand that you see peppered around the Melbourne CBD. It is such a cute little store – if you could call it that. It is Melbourne’s smallest authetically French take away crêperie. It really does bring a little bit of Paris into the streets of Melbourne complete with its French workers (and ooh la la the French accents =p) and Parisian music and decor. La Petite Crêperie uses imported French crêpe equipment and tools and the spectacle is just part of the theatre – you can watch as they make your crêpe in front of you!

The menu is extensive and authentic. There are toppings such as nutella with almonds, home-made salted caramel, apricot jam, figs and ginger jam, maple syrup and many more. As well as the basic butter and sugar, butter and lemon. My favourite is the simple butter and sugar. The crêpes are made perfectly and have just the right amount of crispness, teamed with butter and sugar it really does make a good dessert after lunch or a good snack on the way home. The location of this Crêperie is fantastic as many people walk along Swanston St to get home after work or even during their lunch hour. Takeaway crêpes come in a cone shaped packaging and your crêpe sits inside it, just like ice-cream would sit on top of a cone. Genius!

Crêperie Le Triskel is the bigger sister store of La Petite Crêperie (as you can tell by the name), and is located in Hardware Lane, also in the Melbourne CBD. This store has both savoury and sweet crêpes – with savoury fillings being Frecnch Bechamel Sauce, Salmon, Vegetables and lots more. There are also vegetarian and gluten free options. As with La Petite Crêperie, all crepes are made on the spot and are fresh! They are even open for dinner on a Friday night only. There is also a special menu including imported french cheese platters and more on a Friday night. To go with the crêpes, there are hot and cold beverages to match – such as 5 senses coffee, ciders, tea and wine.

Both of these places – Crêperie Le Triskel and La Petite Crêperie – offer a great atmosphere and fantastic tasting food complete with friendly French accented staff. There are also books and music from France. The decor and design really does make you feel like you are away in Paris here in the heart of Melbourne.

Crêperie Le Triskel
lapetitecreperie.com.au/le-triskel
32 Hardware Lane, Melbourne

Tel No: 0466 406 404

Opening Hours
Monday to Thursday: 7:00 am – 6:00 pm
Friday: 7:00 am – 9:30 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Public Holidays: 8:30 – 5:30 pm

Creperie le Triskel on Urbanspoon


La Petite Crêperie
http://lapetitecreperie.com.au/
City Pillar Opposite
129 Swanston Street, Melbourne
(Cnr Little Collins and Swanston St)
Tel No: 0404 002 341

Opening Hours
Monday: 8am – 10pm
Tuesday: 8am – 10pm
Wednesday: 8am – 10pm
Thursday: 8am – 10pm
Friday: 8am – 11pm
Saturday: 8am – 11pm
Sunday: 8am – 10pm
Public Holiday: 8am – 10pm

Menu Link
http://lapetitecreperie.com.au/menu/

La Petite Creperie on Urbanspoon

Coda – European inspired food with Asian Influences

panda-4-5-rating4

I have previously been to Coda when it first opened and loved it. I remember the delicious crab dish which was quite decently sized and packed with flavour. This time around I was meeting a friend for lunch on a Friday just before the Christmas break. We were quite late in wanting a booking and was told that the place was booked out, however there would still be seating at the bar area available where you can order from their full menu. My friend J got there before 12pm to secure us a spot at the bar.

Coda is part owned by chef Adam D’Sylva alongside Kate Calder (ex-Taxi) and Mykal Bartholomew (ex-MoVida). Pastry chef Rebecca Creighton, (ex Pearl and Taxi), takes over for “The Sweet Stuff” and for the expertise in Wine it is the responsibility of Sommelier Travis Howe (ex-Taxi).

Coda was once a underground warehouse space, and has been renovated to fit into Melbourne laneways perfectly. The place has been renovated in tones of black and aluminium and is lit up by the massive bare windows and has a relaxing and chic atmosphere. The restaurant is split into two sections, the formal seating area and the seating at the bar. From the bar, you can look through to the kitchen as the chefs prepare your meals thru a mesh screen. An interesting feature are the light fittings ( I do seem to love interesting light decor) – at Coda they are metal meshing in the shape of a birdcage around a simple exposed lightbulb. It adds to the underground, quirky feel of the place.

The menu is split into 4 sections – Smaller Dishes (of which there are 19 different dishes to select from!), Larger Dishes (5 to choose from), Sides and of course The Sweet Stuff (Dessert!!) and encompasses mainly Asian style dishes, with a dash of European dishes strewn around the menu. J and I decided to order a couple of the smaller dishes and share these between us. We ordered  the following:
Fremantle Octopus, Green Mango and Cucumber Salad with Nahm Jim, Peanuts and Crispy Anchovies,
Spanner Crab, Galangal, Roasted Chilli and Lime Betel Leaf,
Sugar Cane Prawn with Sweet Chilli Sauce
Yellow Fin Tuna, Daikon, Green Apple Salad with Pinenuts, Ponzu and Fresh Wasabi.

We started off with the Spanner Crab in Betel Leaf which we were told to use our hands to eat – simply wrap the Betel leaf around the contents and eat away. There was also additional grapefruit pieces which added for an extra zang and burst of flavour (literally), together with the crab and chilli it was a memorable dish. We then had the Yellow Fin Tuna salad – the Tuna was cooked beautifully and had a really nice texture and mixed with the apple made for a really fresh tasting salad. Next we got the Sugar Cane Prawns and we were told to bite on the sugar cane to get the sugary goodness. This was a good looking and fun,but messy dish to eat. Inside the white squiggly noodle casing was prawn covered in ginger, coriander and lemongrass – it was flavoursome central! Definitely one of my favourite dishes. We ended the savoury part of the meal with the Octopus Salad (which I actually preferred over the other salad. J however liked the Yellow Fin Tuna Salad). I loved the freshness and sweetness that the green mango brought to the dish along with the crunch of peanuts and anchovies.

To end the meal we had to try “The Sweet Stuff”. We settled on the Toasted Meringue, Vanilla Chiffon Cake, Passionfruit Curd, Coconut and Mango Sorbet. We asked our friendly waitress what this dessert was about and when it came out it looked like exactly what she had described. Have a look for the pic of this dessert above – it was a spectacular looking dish! You almost weren’t sure where to start eating. The Sorbet was beautifully made and was fresh and packed with flavour and very smooth! The Chiffon Cake was not as soft as I thought it would have been, but this somewhat added texture together with the smoothness of the sorbet and the passionfruit curd. Eating all the different parts together was like a sweet heaven party in your mouth. It sure is one not only good looking dish but great tasting as well.

Coda is a funky restaurant that is good for any occasion – be it casual or formal. The staff are experienced and enthusiastic and if you ask them anything about the menu they go that extra mile to explain things to you. You can tell why this place is popular and books out quite fast. In short the food is great and there is a huge variety of dishes to choose one – it would be quite hard to not find at least one dish you wouldn’t enjoy, the venue is enticing and has a sense of fun and the staff welcoming. Be sure to try this place out!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Selection of dishes from Smaller, Larger, Sides and Desserts – http://www.codarestaurant.com.au/pdf/coda_menu.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Urban, Chic, Funky and Fun – Great for all occasions!
Standout Dish: Sugar Cane Prawns and any of their Desserts
Service: Fantastic, Enthusiastic and Knowledgeable. Very friendly as well!
Online Booking: No, Call them to make a reservation or for no bookings there is seating around the Bar
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.codarestaurant.com.au/
Basement
141 Flinders Lane (Cnr Oliver Lane)
Melbourne
Tel No: 9650 3155

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday
Lunch: 12pm to 3pm
Dinner: 6pm to 10:30pm

Coda on Urbanspoon

Union Dining – True Melbourne Style

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Union Dining is a joint venture between Adam Cash (Cutler and Co) and Nicky Riemer (ex-Melbourne Wine Room) and provides an European feel similiar to that of a trattoria or bistro. It is located in the old heritage-listed Union in Richmond, which used to be a Greek Restaurant, and has been re-styled and fitted to slot perfectly into the true Melbournian style.

The restaurant has a contemporary feel to it, and is divided in two different sections – a small front bar and a larger dining room. There are lots of timber finishes from the tables to the surrounding furnishings as well as low lighting and the warm brown and caramels tones laced with green and white to create a rustic ambience, with an European bistro vibe. There is also an upstairs dining area which opens out into a terrace area – which is for casual drinks or can also be booked for private functions. Refer to their website for more details – http://www.uniondining.com.au/terrace/

My friend and I went to Union Dining for dinner, and were seated in the front part of the dining area. From the streets, you don’t expect this restaurant to be quite so big. We are seated at our table and promptly given our menus and water for the table, followed by bread. The menu is described as provincial European and features some Italian dishes with some French influences or vice versa. The menu is structured around starters, entrees, mains, cheeses and desserts  – most of these dishes can be shared. Looking at the menu, its hard to decide what you want – you want to try it all! I decided to go for all three courses (the glutton that I am =p). To start with we ordered the Oysters Rockefeller which come covered with spinach, chives, watercress and baked golden brown with breadcrumbs. My friends oysters had the addition of pancetta, mine didn’t. These oysters were simply divine and a definite must try when you come to eat here.

My first dish was the Risotto of spanner crab, asparagus & red chilli in an entree size. Eventhough, this dish was an entree size it was a very generous serving and almost looked like what would be classified as a main in other restaurants. The risotto had a generous amount of spanner crab and the flavours I found surprisingly worked well together. The hint of chilli added finished the dish perfectly. My friend had the Roasted zucchini & black quinoa salad, whipped goat curd, raisins in verjuice, red witlof in a main size serving. The added figs were a welcome addition and added that little bit of sweetness to go with the other flavours and elements. My main was a fish dish which was covered in the same golden brown breadcrumbs and surrounded by a thick green herb flavoured sauce. This dish was refreshing and the fish was delicious and once again, it was a very generous serving. For dessert I had a white chocolate cake with cream and topped with strawberries. This wasn’t my favourite dish of the night, and I was a little disappointed. The combination of white chocolate, cream and strawberries sounded fantastic and it fell a bit short of that. I think I have to come back and try out the chocolate tart or the trifle.

Overall, I enjoyed dining at Union Dining and would definitely come back to try out the rest of the tempting menu. The staff were friendly, informed and cheery and the atmosphere was vibrant yet homely. I am very interested to see what the terrace would be like on a nice summers’ day.

Rating : 3 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – A la Carte Menu – can be found at http://www.uniondining.com.au/site/wp-content/uploads/Spring-Mains-Dessert-11.10.12.pdf and Sunday Menu – can be found at http://www.uniondining.com.au/site/wp-content/uploads/Sunday-11.11.12.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy – a room with a view of Melbourne from 55 floors up
Standout Dish: Roasted zucchini & black quinoa salad, whipped goat curd, raisins in verjuice, red witlof
Service: Friendly, informative and cheery
Online Booking: No. Bookings are highly recommended.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.uniondining.com.au/
270 Swan St, Richmond
Tel No: 9428 2988

Opening Hours:
Lunch:
Friday to Sunday: 12pm onwards
Dinner:
Tuesday to Sunday: 6pm onwards
CLOSED MONDAYS

Union Dining on Urbanspoon

Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar – A Fantastic Experience!

Mr Hive Kitchen and Bar is located where the old Gordon Ramsay MAZE was – inside the Crown Entertainment Complex, in the new Crown Metropol section. As you walk in the interior is quite a feast for the eyes – there are high ceilings, with wooden light fittings that resemble bird cages, as well as modern wall art which consists of birds and branches, keeping with the similar theme. The tables are dark, wooden and sturdy and are fitted with comfortable and elegant chairs. There are also communal tables and a lively bar area which serves world class cocktails (and mocktails). The restaurant’s executive chef is John Lawson, and with his experience and expertise has created a menu that is formal yet homely, and brings together fresh and innovative dishes, some from the British background that Lawson shares.

From the moment we entered to the moment we left, the staff were friendly and attentive. We were shown to our table and given our menus. We were told that when it came around to Dessert time that we could go over to the Dessert bar area and watch as the chefs create our dishes in front of us. For entree I had Roasted Scallops with Wild Rice and Spice with Cauliflower Puree and Caramelised Kelp. The Scallops were perfectly roasted and together with the element of the toasted rice it gave an added crunch. The Caramelised Kelp was an additional nice touch. When we ordered our mains, our waiter suggested that we try out beetroot that were cooked in a casing of salted dough (it was a special side for the night). You can have a look at the photo above. When it came out it was just a rough shell of dough, and this was how it was cooked in an oven. Once it is cut open you can see the vibrant colours of the beetroot, and it had been cooked perfectly. The Beetroot were not too soft and not too hard, although as salt needed to be added to the dough to aid in the cooking, the beetroot was a bit on the salty side, but hand-able. It was great to this way of cooking as it was something different and something that I had never seen before.

For my main I ordered Marlborough King Salmon served with Crab and Sweet Corn and my friend ordered the Gippsland Duck Breast, Sweet Corn, Cherries and Foie Gras. The Salmon was the perfect shade of pink and moist, the added crab and sweet corn was creamy and meshed well with the salmon. Both the dishes were well presented, and the colours and tones of the dishes, matched that of the elements of the dish. The Duck Breast came with Cherries which I thought was an interesting addition.

Next we were taken to Mrs Hives Dessert Bar which is styled like an old school lolly store with different shaped bottles and lollies and candies filling them. Here you can see sou chefs make up the dessert in front of you. You can see them placing each element on the plate to create a wonderfully elegant dessert. It was a tough decision picking which dessert we wanted but I settled on the White Chocolate with Mango, Basil and Coconut and my friend had the Summer Berry Eton Mess. The White Chocolate dessert was superb – the Coconut mousse at the base of the dish was light and fluffy and the Basil Sorbet added a refreshing element and together with the Mango really tied the dish together.  The white chocolate underneath the Coconut Mousse was an additional surprise  It was a fresh, yet not too sweet dessert.  The Summer Berry Eton Mess was also fantastic. The berries were fresh and the meringue had the right amount of crunch and softness. To end the dessert extravaganza, we were given complimentary Chocolate Milkshakes in cute little milk bottles (together with a stripey red and white straw) with Salted Caramel Truffles. We were told that we had to eat the Truffle in one go and then follow it up with the deliciously smooth milkshake. The combination was awesome!

The experience that you receive at Mr Hive is fantastic and highly recommended, right from the waiter suggesting the sides that would match your main dishes to Mrs Hives Dessert Bar. The ambience is warm and inviting and John Lawson has created a menu filled with mouth watering dishes.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Roasted Scallops with Wild Rice and Spice with Cauliflower Puree and Caremlised Kelp and White Chocolate with Mango, Basil and Coconut
Lunch: A la Carte Menu – http://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/Assets/Files/Mr%20Hive%20Lunch%20Menu%202012.pdf  OR 2 course meal for $45 OR a 3 course meal for $55
Dinner: A la Carte Menu – http://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/Assets/Files/Mr%20Hive%20Dinner%20Menu%202012.pdf OR 3 course meal for $70 ORa 4 course meal for $90
Signature Menu : http://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/Assets/Files/Mr%20Hive%20Signature%20Menu.pdf
Bar Menu (Available from 6pm – 11pm)http://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/Assets/Files/Mr%20Hive%20Evening%20Bar%20Menu%202012.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Stylish yet homely, comfortable and warm. Great for a special occasion for groups or even a date night.
Standout Dish:
Service: Fantastic, Attentive and Accomodating. Also as they were recently opened, they kept asking us what we would change in the dish if there needed any and were very open to ideas. Friendly and Vibrant as well.
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/mr-hive-kitchen-and-bar
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/mr-hive-kitchen-and-bar
Crown Entertainment Complex
Level 1 Crown Metropol
8 Whiteman Street, Southbank
Tel No: 9292 8300

Opening Hours:
Breakfast: 6:30am – 10:30am
All Day Dining: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Dinner: 6.00pm – 10:30pm

Mr. Hive Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon