Switchboard Cafe – The Cutest Retro Cafe Ever!

panda 4 rating

Switchboard Cafe

Switchboard Cafe

The Hole in the Wall Cafe

The Hole in the Wall Cafe

Latte at Switchboard Cafe

Latte at Switchboard Cafe

I was meeting C for a catch-up the other day and was looking for a coffee place located somewhere near City Square in the Melbourne CBD. C suggested Switchboard Café which I hadn’t heard of before and boy am I glad she introduced me to this quaint and cute little place.

Switchboard Café is located in a somewhat drafty arcade laneway on the ground floor of the Manchester Unity Building – located on the corner of Collins and Swanston street. It literally is what you would call a hole in the wall type of café – fitted out in a Retro style feel complete with green and white floral wallpaper and brass framed glass windows. There is the world’s smallest “living area” glass box where patrons can sit inside and avoid the cool drafts that flow through – that can seat about 7 to 8 people max (Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of this). Literally across from this hole is another hole in the wall – which used to be the building’s old switchboard cupboard (hence the name) where the coffees are made.

I ordered a latte to have in and took my seat in the tiniest living area while waiting for C. It almost felt like being down the rabbit hole on the set of an Alice in Wonderland movie! The latte was absolutely perfect – full bodied with a great nutty after taste. I would definitely recommend this place for a good hit of caffeine when you feel the need – or for anytime for that matter.

I didn’t get to try out their breakfast or lunch range – but C did tell me that it was really great tasting food. Think warm soup, toasties, baguettes (Smoked Salmon) and bagels – you can choose from melted Haloumi, Tomato and Avocado just to name a few. For breakfast there is also Bircher Muesli or Fruit Toast available.

Definitely go and check out Switchboard Café – especially if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of a busy day at work! Next on the list for me is to come and try out their food!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – A choice of soups, toasties, baguettes and bagels
Atmosphere / Ambience: Retro, Unique and Fun!
Service: Friendly!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
Ground Floor
Manchester Unity Building
220 Collins Street, Melbourne

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am – 3:00pm

Switchboard Cafe on Urbanspoon
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Switchboard-Cafe/158990604124405?ref=ts&fref=ts
Twitter: @switchboardcafe
Instagram: switchboardcafe

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Pop Up Scroll – Bringing Scrolls Back Into Fashion!

panda 5 rating

Menu:
Drinks Menu Menu at Pop Up Scroll Close up of Menu at Pop Up Scroll Close up of Menu at Pop Up Scroll.

Amongst the entire Doughnut, Cronut, Dossiant, Cruffin hype comes the latest craze – SCROLLS! Enter Melbourne’s first new scroll boutique – Pop Up Scroll – located in Smith Street, Collingwood. Serving up freshly baked swirls of goodness made each morning alongside some delicious, carefully prepared coffee – which has been supplied by Coffee Supreme. Coffee and scrolls – a perfect combination to kick off your early morning start or for an afternoon treat.

Pop Up Scroll was created by trained cook, baker and now full time pastry chef Julian Chew together with his wife Tammy Chew. They are both not new to the food industry, having previously owned the popular Lip Café in Ivanhoe. Julian has previously apprenticed under Matt Moran (of famed restaurant Aria) and done stints at Loafer Bread and Da Noi – firmly cementing his niche as a pastry chef.

Here, the focus is on coffee and scrolls only and they do it very well. The idea came about when Julian used to prepare Cinnamon and Cream Cheese scrolls for his former café and he was finding that he would be selling out of these delicious goodies on a regular basis. People would come from near and far to sample these tasty scrolls. Due to its increasing popularity both Julian and Tammy thought it would be a good idea to expand the concept and invest in this idea further – and Pop Up Scroll was born!

Pop Up Scroll has a philosophy to take customers back to their childhood by producing beautiful, fresh scrolls in unique flavour combination by utilising some of the lost arts of cooking. Each scroll is made using techniques that Julian has learnt throughout his impressive fine dining pastry training and is made free of any chemicals and additives, and with the use of organic ingredients.

Eat a Scroll bake two batches of scrolls daily – one in the morning for the pre-work rush and another in the afternoon for the afternoon tea & coffee crowd. Currently there are six different flavours on offer – Traditional Cinnamon Bun with Cream Cheese Frosting, a Malaysian inspired scroll of Shredded Coconut and White Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana, Chocolate and Caramel as well as a Chocolate and Custard flavour – all of which are on a brioche base. The brioche base scrolls come in two sizes – large and mini – with certain special flavours available as well – the day that I went there was the Cherry, Cream Cheese & Gingerbread. There are also flavours available that are baked using a croissant base (similar to an escargot) – these are Pistachio and Cherry or Apple and Frangipane, Traditional croissants and almond croissants are also available for your eating pleasure.
There are the traditional coffees available as well as Affogato, Ice Coffee and House Blend Chai (which can be served Hot or Iced) served with Bonsoy & Coconut Milk if needed.

The vibe is blissfully charming, complete with a retro fit-out. I love the pastel shades that are used along with cute retro style girl and boy doll decals on the main wall, together with the words EAT A SCROLL and DRINK COFFEE. Simple yet effective styling. There are two mint green cabinetry units – one which displays packets of Callebaut Chocolate and King Island Coconut Milk Creamer, along with coffee cups and the other displaying Parker’s bottled drinks – Ginger Beer, Cola etc along with an old school radio. There is minimal seating available (seats around 15 people)– in the form of small round tables, as well some seating along the window, overlooking the main street. The simplicity together with the playfulness works well together.

When it came to ordering I decided to order a mini original cinnamon and cream cheese scroll and was tempted into getting the Gingerbread, Cherry & Cream Cheese scroll as well. I mean just have a look at the picture – how can you say no?

I had the mini original scroll as well as a latte to eat in and decided to take the bigger scroll home for later. The coffee was delicious – creamy, nutty and strong all at the same and really did make my day. The scroll was absolutely divine – the dough is moist, light and fresh and is of the perfect sweetness. The cinnamon flavoured rolls are topped with cream cheese frosting and infused with cinnamon and brown sugar. It really does feel like you are biting into the softest pillow and are light and airy, allowing you to have more than 2 and still keep you wanting more. You really need to try one to understand the pure indulgent feeling you get.

Pop Up Scroll is a great addition to not only the Collingwood area but to Melbourne in general. They bring together the simple concept of sentimental baking together with great coffee and delicious, light fluffy scrolls. One visit here and you will definitely be coming back for more.

As the name suggests, Pop Up Scroll is only around for a short time (until May 2015) but there are already big plans in the pipeline for the next project due to open straight after the pop up closes its doors. EAT A SCROLL will be located just around the corner from the current location and will be a more permanent scroll house.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Charming, Classic, Retro and Welcoming.
Standout Dish: Seriously any of the scrolls!
Service: Friendly and Warm
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.eatascroll.com.au/
86 Smith Street, Collingwood
Tel No: 0433 849 281

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:00am–4:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am–4:00pm

Pop Up Scroll on Urbanspoon

Facebook: facebook.com/Pop-Up-Scroll
Instagram: popupscroll
Twitter: @EatAScroll

Lucy Liu – Red, Asian and Delicious

panda 4 rating

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The long awaited replacement for PM24 – Lucy Liu has arrived, and arrived with a vengeance. The entrance is located down the cobble stoned Oliver Lane – just follow the red neon lights that illuminate the short corridor (or tunnel – whichever you prefer to call it) where you are greeted with a large sign where its name appears – LUCY LIU.

From the moment you step inside you feel like you have been transported to another world – it almost feel like a movie set – complete with bamboo scaffolding, blonde timber, splashes of red (to keep the theme running from the entrance) and a buzz that further adds to the exciting and lively vibe. As you enter, to the right side are some tables if you wanted to just come in for a drink and to the left are tables located for dining and trying some of their delicious food dishes.

Lucy Liu is the brainchild of Michael Lambie (The Smith, Taxi, Circa), Scott Borg and Zac Cribbes. The fit out is done by March Studio (Gazi, Baker D Chirico, Young Bloods Diner and more ) and the result is spectacular. I love the aforementioned bamboo scaffolding which reminds you of building sites in Hong Kong and China mixed together with polished concrete floors and brickwork accents throughout the venue. There is a mix of communal tables, booth seating, low tables, high tables as well as seating at the bar. Tables are either wooden or Laminex topped paired with comfortable seats, with larger tables having a Lazy Susan for ease. There is also a private dining room available for larger parties.

The menu explores Lambie’s distinct fusing of Asian and western flavours to create a spectacular. Lucy Liu isn’t all about the one Asian cuisine, but a little bit of all of them – be it Chinese, Japanese, Thai.
The menu is split into six different sections – Small Bites & Tastes, Dumplings & Buns, Plates, Larger, Sides and Sweets. There is a lot of variety and you left confused with what to choose – there is a Let Lucy Choose option – where you let Lucy pick the dishes that come to your table. There is either a 5 Plate ($55 per person) or 7 Plate ($65 per person) option to choose from.

Small Bites & Tastes include Freshly Shucked Oysters with Red Nam Jim or Ponzu Dipping Suace, Tempura Soft-Shelled Crab, Korean Fried Chicken, Thai Fish Cakes and Organic Tofu just to name a few – there are 11 dishes to select from ranging from $4 to $22.

The Dumplings & Buns section has 4 different dumplings and 4 different “buns” to choose from. Interestingly vegetarian dumplings don’t make it to the list – Crystal Skin Prawn & Bamboo, Steamed Pork & Chestnut, Peking Duck and Barramundi & Scampi are on offer. BBQ Lap Chong ‘Hot Dog’, Crispy Pork Bun and Steamed Sticky Beef Bun are on offer together with a Soft Shelled Crab ‘Jianbing’ Pancake Roll.

Plates and Larger are your more substantially sized dishes and cover a good cross section of your Seafood and Meat dishes, however not very Vegetarian options are available. The Vegetarian options are more evident in the Sides section with Stir Fried Asian Greens, Lucy Liu Spiced Green Apple Coleslaw and Green Bean & Mizuna Salad are available.

Sweets showcase six different desserts, some having the Asian flair running through them. Chocolate lovers aren’t left out either with their delectable Chocolate Dulce de Leche.

I have been to Lucy Liu a few times now (yep it really is that great!) and mostly seem to stick to the dishes that I really love but have ventured into new territory and tried out other dishes as well. The first few times we were seated amongst where most of the tables are located with a view of the kitchen / bar, and the last time I went we sat at the bar and had a great view of the chef’s preparation of the dishes.

The table setting is quite unique with holographic placemats – each showcasing a different picture such as Koalas, Trees, Ducks – that you turnover to reveal the menu. Swanky!
You can’t help but order at least a dish from each of the sections – usually starting with the Small Bites & Tastes. My absolute favourite dish from this section is the Soft Shelled Crab Jianbing Pancake Roll with Spicy Hoi Sin Sauce. The pancake on the outsides is soft, thin and perfectly cooked and contrasts well with the crunch of the soft shell crab on the inside. The spicy hoi sin sauce really brings all the components of the dish together and the result will have your tastebuds dancing and craving more. The first time we ordered this dish, we were tempted to order another serving – a must try dish!

Another dish from the first section was the Crispy Fried Quail with Shichimi Pepper and Spicy Plum Dressing. The girls did enjoy this dish – the spices on the crispy coating on the outside paired well with the sweetness of the plum sauce, with the quail cooked well.

N also ordered the Korean Fried Chicken Ribs with Kewpie Mayo – a simple dish with a kick of spice and hint of garlic. Seeing how quickly the dish was demolished – another great tasting dish.

We all ordered a serving of the Fresh Betel Leaves with Kingfish and Chilli Peanut Sambal – which isto be eaten with the Betel Leaf. The Kingfish was fresh and succulent and the pairing of the Chilli Peanut Sambal worked well together – adding some spice and crunch.

A definite hit with everyone was the Crispy Pork Bun with Spicy Kimchi and Kewpie Mayo. There were many MMMs and YUMMMs mentioned throughout the consumption of this dish. Slightly larger than bite sized – the bun is soft and cloudlike paired together with the spicy kimchi, creamy kewpie mayo, pork and finished with coriander.

One of my favourite dishes is the Barramundi and Scampi Dumplings with Chilli, Ginger and Spring Onions. This was recommended to us the first time from our friendly waiter and boy am I glad he did. The combination when I first read it on the menu sounded intriguing as it is something you don’t usually see. The dish comes out with the dumplings hidden by the chilli, ginger, spring onions and coriander – the soft casing of the dumpling gives way to the exhilarating combination of barramundi and scampi on the inside, the topping of chilli and ginger are the perfect flavouring accompaniment. The sweet and sour hit paired with the freshness of the seafood is divine! Another must try dish!
The Yellow Fin Tuna Tataki, Wasabi Ginger Dressing and Sesame Crackers is an impressive looking dish – from the vibrant pink of the Yellow Fin Tuna to the snow white sesame crackers finishing with the orange tones of the salad. The textured coating of the tuna was delicious with the tuna itself being seared to perfection. The sesame crackers were reminiscent of the prawn crackers you would usually see at a Chinese restaurant and were an interesting addition. The Wasabi Ginger dressing provided some heat and spice which worked well with the sweetness of the carrot.

From the Plates section we ordered the Green Papaya Salad with Beans, Tomato, Peanuts, Hot Chilli. This was quite a colourful and vibrant dish – with the fresh green beans and red cherry tomatoes finished with crunchy peanuts. This dish had quite a lot of spice to it which I loved! Nothing works better than the addition of spice to balance out the tanginess of the papaya.

We also ordered the Tempura Organic Tofu and Seasonal Vegetables with Tomato Chilli Dipping Sauce dish from the Plates section. This was one dish that I didn’t enjoy quite so much. The flavouring of the Tempura itself was quite bland and lacked flavour. The Tomato Chilli Dipping sauce was definitely a needed component for this dish.

The Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Green Chilli Dhal and Cucumber Relish is yet another stand out dish. The Lamb Shoulder had been impeccably cooked – soft, tender and fell off the bone. The Green Chilli Dhal was absolutely divine – milky, wholesome with the right amount of spice to it. Together as a whole paired with the cucumber and yoghurt relish it was a truly great dish. One of those dishes that remind you of a typical lamb roast your mum used to make.

The Roast Barramundi Fillet with Black Bean & Chilli Sambal & Nouc Cham Dipping Sauce is a dish that you will find under the Larger menu. The Barramundi is served atop of the Black Bean & Chilli Samabl, with the Nuoc Cham Dipping sauce served separately in a cup. I am not a huge fan of Black Beans and try to avoid them whenever I can, however this Black Bean was simply delicious. The texture and flavouring worked extremely well with the perfectly roasted Barramundi Fillet – you almost didn’t even need the addition of the Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce. If you love your fish dishes – you should definitely try this dish out.

Despite being quite full, we had to try the desserts and since there was four of us – we decided to order three different desserts and share amongst ourselves.

The Ginger Crème Brulee – Palm Sugar Caramel and Sesame Tuile. The crème brulee was creamy, smooth and silky with the perfect level of crunchiness from the top coating of sugar caramel. The ginger flavouring was slight and not overpowering which is what you want in a dish like this. The sesame tuile was interesting in flavour and I am undecided about the pairing of this with the ginger crème brulee.

The Chocolate Dulce De Leche with Blood Orange Foam – the mousse was quite rich and heavy in flavour, however was light and fluffy in texture. The addition of the foam had a sherbet style tanginess to it which made your tastebuds pop and fizz. You couldn’t eat this foam on its own and the addition of the mousse worked well together – after all chocolate and orange really do seem to mesh.

The Lucy’s Knickerbocker Glory with Lychee Sorbet and Red Fruit Compote would have to be my favourite dessert out of the lot. The knickerbocker is a cross between a sundae and a trifle all rolled into one. There are layers of sweet tart fruit, topped with whipped cream, chocolate buttons, jelly squares and chunky bits of honeycomb. This really is a fun dessert to have as there are many textures and flavours to taste and enjoy. The surprise of every mouthful being different also adds to the deliciousness.

Lucy Liu is a great addition to Melbourne’s laneways bringing a vibrant, casual and funky eating and drink bar that serves up delicious tasting Asian cuisine coupled with brilliantly made drinks. The staff are fantastic – always helpful and offer great opinions on what dishes to order and the amount required for your party size. Another major advantage is that Lucy Liu takes bookings, but also reserves a part of the restaurant for walk-ins. I would highly recommend that you check this awesome place out!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to picture above or visit
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Chick, Unique, Vibrant and Funky. A great place for catch up drinks, celebration dinner or even date night – such a versatile venue!
Standout Dish: Barramundi and Scampi Dumplings with Chilli, Ginger and Spring Onions / Soft Shelled Crab Jianbing Pancake Roll with Spicy Hoi Sin Sauce
Service: Friendly and very helpful. If you can’t decide what to order the staff will go out of their way to let you know their favourite dishes and what dishes work well together.
Online Booking: No – only via phone
Restaurant Details and Location:
lucylius.com.au
23 Oliver Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9639 5777

Opening Hours
Monday to Sunday: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LucyLiuMelbourne
Twitter: @LucyLiu_Melb
Instagram: lucyliu_melbourne

Tomboy – Vintage Chic

panda 4 rating

Tomboy is the creation from co-owners Pia Hambour (ex Movida) and Georgina March (Box Brownies) whose initial dream was to create a shopfront to showcase the wholesale baking business Box Brownies – a business all about gluten-free and dairy free sweet treats! Currently these goodies are provided daily to cafes such as Seven Seeds, De Clieu and Brother Baba Budan.

Located in Smith Street, Collingwood, Tomboy has a rustic charm to it with a variety of pieces around the venue sourced from the Adelaide Hills (near where the girls grew up). There are many stylish one-of-a-kind pieces here at Tomboy – you will definitely find something that peaks your interest from any seat you sit at.

As you step inside you will see a vintage milk bar sign that hangs over the front counter which came from an old Collingwood business as well as an old school white scale. The counter itself is quite unique – there are 1970s speakers built into the counter and surrounded by brick. These speakers belong to March’s stepfather. The communal table located at the back of the venue against the brick wall is my favourite – it is reminiscent of a workman’s bench complete with dents, scratches and metal vise’s. The surrounding tables remind me of garden bench tables coupled with seating to match. There are little touches that bring the whole recycled, vintage, relaxed feel together such as jars filled with flowers, a ladder that houses magazines and newspapers, mint green light shades hanging from thick shades and wooden boxes that house vintage books. Most fittings and décor items come from ops shops, antique stores and friends. There is a small courtyard located at the back for those wonderful summer or spring days.
Both the owners are supportive of local artists and have one wall of the café dedicated to rotating exhibitions – the right wall has been plastered and painted white. The current feature comes from local street artist Drab and features a tattooed gangster “baby” with a mopey face and moustache, wearing a beanie – it is quite a feature and adds a great point of difference. I really love the décor and styling of Tomboy! This painting on the wall seems to tie into the front page of the menu and their takeaway coffee cups – which have portraits of the staff & friends illustrated. You then join in the fun of trying to find a portrait that resembles yourself- well at least I did anywhere.

The menu (which tends to have a vegetarian flair) changes seasonally but generally always has the main staples such as fruit toast, multigrain toast, a sweet dish (either brioche French toast or waffles), breakfast bun, Poached eggs with sides, bagels, selection of sandwiches and a Tomboy Tart of the Day served with a Salad, along with additionally dishes that vary with each season. These dishes could include Spicy Red Wine beans with Goats Fetta and a Poached Egg on Toast ( you could add a pork and fennel sausage if you wish), Roasted Swiss Mushroom with Meredith Goats Fetta, Sautéed Kale, Hazelnuts and a Poached Egg or Lentil and Wild Rice Salad with Pistachios, Almonds, Roast Capsicum, Currants and A Lemon Harissa Dressing (you can add Poached Chicken). You can either find the menu located on a giant reel of brown butcher’s paper attached to the wall, as well as a more detailed menu that will be given to you at your table.
The idea is to use vegetables that have been grown from the duos own vegetable patch as well as sourcing local suppliers. The meat dishes will be of the sustainable type which fits in with the healthy living ethos the duo follow.

I order a latte to start whilst deciding on what I want to eat. Coffee is from Seven Seeds pumped out through a Synesso Hydra espresso machine, with a single origin also being. My latte is strong yet smooth with both nutty and fruity hints and was brewed to perfection. A really great tasting coffee.

I was tossing up (once again) between a sweet or savoury dish – Elvis Waffles (Buttermilk Banana Waffles, Whipped Peanut Butter Mascarpone, Maple Syrup and a Peanut Brittle) and Crispy Potato Hash with Parsnip Puree, Grilled Asparagus, Kale Chips and a Poached Egg. In the end the savoury side won.

The dish was well presented with the Parsnip Puree spread as the base of the dish with the grilled Asparagus artfully placed on top with the Crispy Potato Hash in a rectangular shape placed to its side. The Poached Egg sat on top of the Potato Hash with the Kale Chips placed around all the components described. The egg was poached perfectly and the gooey golden yolk drizzled over the crunchy potato hash. The grilled asparagus was perfectly seasoned and flavoured with the creaminess of the parsnip puree adding the perfect complement. The Kale chips added some extra saltiness to the dish and were sublime. All the components on the dish worked well together and overall it was a truly superb dish that I would recommend anyone to try.

Looking for something sweet to eat then look no further than the front counter where the delectable delights from Box Brownie can be found – cakes, brownies and other bakes goods. All treats are gluten-free however you cannot tell by tasting them.

If you needed another reason to come and try out Tomboy – then you should check out the quarterly publication the duo have put together – The Tomboy Paper – which keeps diners up to date on all things to do with Tomboy, Box Brownie and Collingwood. They have enlisted the help of creative directors Emily Gillis and Camille Moir-Smith from Yolk Studio.

Tomboy exudes bucket loads of character and charm. The food displays uniqueness with its combinations of ingredients, the coffee is exceptionally brewed and the staff are friendly. Make Tomboy next on your list to visit.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above as well as at their website http://www.tomboymelbourne.com.au/#!food_menu/cl69
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Lively and Chilled Out
Standout Dish:
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.tomboymelbourne.com.au
356 Smith Street, Collingwood
Tel No: 9486 0162

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Saturday: 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sunday: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Tomboy on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tomboymelb?ref=ts&fref=ts
Instagram: tomboymelbourne
Twitter: @tomboymelbourne

Nora – Home of the Charcoal Tarts!

panda 4 rating

Nora is a newly opened Thai inspired bakery and café, located on Elgin Street in Carlton. Owned by couple Jean Thamthanakorn and Sari (Tong) Rojanametin who are each individually responsible for various elements here at Nora – Jean for her spectacular charcoal tarts and Sari for his magnificent homemade sourdough.

Tong is a former artist and photographer and has previously worked in the coffee industry for a few years with stints at St Ali, Seven Seeds and Traveller. Most recently he has pursued cooking and worked at The Commoner, Longrain and Mr Nice Guy. Jean is a tax accountant as well as a self-taught baker and has honed in on a skill of baking over the last few years by baking for family and friends. It was Jean’s love of baking and her inventiveness that brought above the creation of charcoal tarts.

These charcoal tarts are seriously better than cronuts and will certainly take not only Melbourne but the rest of Australia by storm – they are amazingly divine! The tarts have a distinctive black pastry shell which is achieved by the addition of small amounts of food-grade activated charcoal which is made from coconut husks. Food-grade activated charcoal is safe to ingest and has reported healthy benefits such as being a detoxifier.
The tarts are filled with a variety of flavour combinations that have taken inspiration from the couples South East Asian background. Flavours include Lemongrass & Ginger Brûlée, Coconut Pandan, Strawberries with Tamarind Cream Cheese and Kaffir-Lime Custard with Sour Cherries. Get in quick each day as Jean only makes a limited number (around 100 a day).

The menu at Nora is simple; but reads and shows the depth of experience and advanced techniques of an experienced chef. There are six dishes to choose from – Our Water + Salt, Egg, Salmon, Bacon, Rice and Nora Flakes. Don’t be fooled by the simplistic mostly one worded headings, as when you read the elements that go into making that entire dish you will be impressed. For example the Salmon has been lightly smoked and jasmine cured, and is served with coconut, nashi and nasturtium. The Our Water and Salt comes served on a cute wooden tray with house made sourdough, semi churned butter, chicken-liver parfait together with ricotta and jam. The Nora Flakes consist of puffed polenta, wild rice, quinoa and crystallised nuts – and if you have seen any pictures they have a great marketing tool which is a mini-box with NORA MORN FLAKES plastered on the front.
They also serve a great selection of teas with Small Batch coffee being pumped out of their La Marzocco machines.

The interior of Nora is light filled, airy and very modern. As you step inside you are greeted by an illuminated sign with the letters NORA lit up. The next thing that catches your eye is the shiny new La Marzocco coffee machine, together with coffee smells in the air. A point of difference at Nora is the white table topped wooden table that have ingredients displayed out in an artistic manner which entices you to go over. Over to one side is a bunch of lemongrass paired with lemons and ginger. Just above this is a whole coconut, paired together with charcoal and the coconut husk base. There are also other ingredients paired together such as eggs, chocolate and sesame. Their décor is simple and minimalistic yet captures ones attention.
Tables are wooden and low paired with stylish round stools – and can seat from two to four people – there is limited seating available outside. From most tables you can take a sneak peak into the preparation of your meals as it overlooks the main counter.

I ordered a latte to start which was full bodied, aromatic and delicious – with notes of citrus and nuttiness. The perfect pick me up and start to what would be a great meal!

I was tossing up between the SALMON and the EGG and decided to go with EGG dish. This dish comes with Egg cooked in Nora’s special way, House Chilli Dressing, Garlic, Salted Shrimps and Thai Greens. I was very interested in seeing what Eggs done Nora’s way would be like. The dish came out with the Asian Greens dominating the round, deep plate, with the Egg hidden underneath. The House Chilli Dressing, Salted Shrimps were placed sporadically around the Egg and Asian Greens. The Asian Greens were refreshing and a very distinct Thai flavour to them – I loved the variety of greens that were use, they all worked seamlessly together. The Egg itself was reminiscent of tofu – smooth and silky and easy to eat – paired with the house chilli dressing – which had the perfect level of spice – together with the saltiness of the shrimps – was really delicious. It is the type of dish that makes you keep going back for more.
A definite highlight of the dish was the freshly made sourdough bread that came served in its own cup off to the side. The bread was heavenly – soft and fluffy on the inside, crunchy and texture on the outside with just the right amount of saltiness. It was that that great that I later asked how they made this bread – if only I was that skilful!

 

You cannot leave Nora without trying their signature charcoal tarts. I was worried as I knew that only a certain number was made; and I had arrived about an hour and a half before closing time. However I was in luck, they still two flavours left and I opted for the Kaffir-Lime and Sour Cherry Charcoal tart.
When it comes out to you it is covered with the silver dish that it would have been baked in to create the element of suspense and surprise. The unveiling of the charcoal tart builds up anticipation and delight. Once uncovered, the brilliant blackness of the tart is revealed along with bits of crumble and pistachio that surrounds the main black beauty. Once you delve into the tart you are greeted with the distinct Thai flavours (Kaffir Lime in this case) paired perfectly with a western element (Sour Cherries). The tart filling is gooey, smooth and velvety all at the same time. What makes these tarts especially amazing is the charcoal casing itself – it is flaky, crisp and soft – it literally melts in your mouth and you really could find yourself eating tart after tart after tart. The perfect addition of pistachios and crumble added texture and depth to the tarts. I cannot wait to come back and sample all the other flavour varieties.

Nora is a great new addition to the Carlton area – especially bringing Thai inspired breakfasts into the mix. Their signature charcoal tarts are (in my opinion) better than cronuts and would recommend anyone and everyone to try them – after all the charcoal used does have some health benefits! Get down to Nora now!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Laid back and Relaxed
Standout Dish: Any of the charcoal tarts
Service: Very Friendly and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
noramelbourne.com
156 Elgin Street, Carlton
Tel No: 9041 8644

Opening Hours:
Monday, Wednesday & Thursday: CLOSED
Tuesday: 7:00am – 3:30pm
Friday to Sunday: 8:00am – 4:00pm

Nora on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noramelburn?fref=ts
Instagram: nora_melbourne
Twitter: @Nora_Melbourne

LadyBoy Dining – Cheeky Fun!

panda 4 rating

 

Menu:
Menu at LadyBoy Dining

With a name like Ladyboy Dining you are sure to strike up an interest – adding some curiosity, fun, spice and playfulness to the Richmond area. Ladyboy Dining is created by co-owners Fran Leaper and chef Mitch Townrow (Longrain) who are joined together with chef Pez Bowman (Melbourne Pub Group).

As you step inside you will feel like you have been transported to Bangkok, Thailand. The colourful, cheeky fit out has been done in collaboration with Ingrain Designs. A huge colourful sign with the word SAWASDEE (a greeting to mean welcome/hello) greets you together with a large striking street art ladyboy face. Next to it is a large bright yellow sign – LADYBOY – which hangs above the bar and overlooks the entire dining room. What I love is the installation of multi coloured wastepaper baskets that have been flipped to create light shades that drape loosely from the roof across the front dining area. At the end of the bar is a slightly smaller neon blue sign – ROCK OUT WITH YOUR WOK OUT – and below that is an open kitchen where you can watch as the chefs prepare your meals.

As you walk down the small walkway from the main dining area towards the back of the venue – more seating is available with a funky abstract artwork of an elephant. This leads to the back where there is a large area for the Buddha Bar complete with colourful umbrellas on the ceiling, awesome cane furniture (round, curved seating) and fake grass outside – to keep with the Thai relaxed theme. Here there is also fancy artwork of a large Buddha head on one and neon signage with the words BUDDHA BAR on the opposite side under which the wooden bar sits. The expansive courtyard will no doubt be a hit in the summer. Here you can enjoy the hawker style bar menu which includes oysters and green nahm jim, chicken wings and a selection of banh mi – all for $8, as well as salt & pepper tofu and pork hock with rum glaze. There are cheekily named drinks on their menu for offer such as Adam’s Apple and Trans-gin-der, as well as cocktail buckets and a good selection of beers and wine to try out.

The menu starts off with Smaller Bites such as Betel Leaf, Oysters + Nahm Jim and Son In Law Eggs – progressing to Smaller dishes where you will find Ceviche, Larb, Papaya Salad, Pork Hock and Salt & Pepper Tofu. This is then followed up with your larger dishes that include a selection of Curries (Red Duck or Tofu Curry, Green Fish Curry, Angus Brisket Penang Curry), Whole Fish, Pad Thai and Grilled Salad. There are a handful of sides to choose from which include Rice, Stir Fried Green, Chilli + Prawn + Smoked Coconut Samabl and Cucumber + Krachai + Mustard Green Relish. The menu ends with a selection of Sweet LadyBoy Treats – where coconut features mainly – with desserts such as Coconut Sorbet, Kaffir Lime Pie + Coconut Meringue, Sago + Palm Sugar + Coconut and White Sticky Rice + Ice Cream + Thai Fruits.

There is also an option to enjoy the LadyBoy’s Banquet ($45) which will give you the kitchen’s daily selection. This will require a minimum of 2 people, and if you have a table then the whole table must go on this banquet.

There were four of us at dinner and we ordered the Betel Leaf + Char Grilled Calamari + Green Mango + Peanut each to start. Served on a betel leaf – the dish comes out with striking colours thanks to the chilli, coriander and peanuts. You eat the entire dish as is – betel leaf and all – and as you crunch into the first bite your tastebuds will soar just like fireworks. A combination of spice, tang and the softness of the fresh grilled calamari is breathtaking. A great way to start off your food experience at LadyBoy.

From the smaller dishes we ordered Salt & Pepper Silken Tofu + Chilli Jam and Crispy Pork Hock + Rum Glaze. The Salt & Pepper Tofu was crispy and crunchy on the outside whilst being soft and billowy on the inside. The Chilli Jam that accompanied this dish was just the right consistency and had a great balance of flavours – spice and tang.
The two guys really enjoyed the Pork Hock + Rum Glaze – so much so that they wanted to order another serving of the dish. Clearly a mighty delicious tasting dish.

We also ordered the Green Papaya Salad + Snake Bean + Peanuts from the smaller dishes. Think slivers of green papaya mixed with freshly cut snake beans and tomatoes topped with peanuts and drizzled in spicy and tangy sauce. This dish is refreshing and sure does pack a punch; I also loved the mixture of textures that you get as you delve into it. The addition of coriander adds further depth and flavouring to the dish.

From the larger dishes we ordered three dishes – Green Fish Curry + Apple Eggplant + Pea Eggplant,Dry Red Duck Curry + Snake Beans + Baby Corn and Pad Thai + Salted Calamari + Peanut.
The Green Fish Curry + Apple Eggplant + Pea Eggplant. The dish comes with a generous amount of fish pieces and has just the right amount of coconut to flavour the curry. I have never eaten pea or apple eggplant before – pea eggplants is a very small eggplant and as the name suggests; resembles a pea. They were cooked whole and pop in your mouth when you bite them which release a burst of bitterness that combines nicely with the rich heat of the curry. A great dish.
The duck curry was served dry and looked delicious when it was placed on the table – the vibrant colours of the red duck against the bright yellow of the sweet corn and green from the basil and bean was breathtaking. This was another dish that the table enjoyed.
The Pad Thai was another well cooked and flavoured dish – served with a wedge of lime for extra tang if needed. The serving as with all the other dishes was quite generous.

Dessert was definitely on the cards – out of the four desserts to choose from – I decided to order the Sago + Palm Sugar + Coconut and N ordered the Kaffir Lime Pie + Coconut Meringue.
The Sago comes out served in a blue and white bowl – topped with star fruit and coconut flakes. I love anything with sago so thoroughly enjoyed this dessert. The coconut flakes added a crunch together with the star fruit adding citrusy and lime flavours.
I also had a chance to try out the Kaffir Lime Pie + Coconut Meringue. I am usually not a fan of lemon meringues or key lime pies, but this version was absolutely delicious and had to be my favourite dessert of the night. The coconut meringue was generously placed and flamed to perfection on top of the kaffir lime infused pie and topped with crunchy coconut flakes. The kaffir lime was the star of the dish and together with the combination of the coconut meringue was divine. A definite must try dish that I know anyone would enjoy.

The service at LadyBoy Dining is great – friendly and the staff are knowledgeable and well informed about each dish. LadyBoy is mostly for walk-ins but they do take banquet bookings in the dining area for a group of eight or more. On Sundays they serve Thai style roasts from 5pm onwards. LadyBoy Dining serves up delicious tasting Thai food with a difference – added cheek and fun! Summer days will definitely see this place packed out – especially at the Buddha Bar out the back. Get down and check out LadyBoy Dining now.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above or http://www.ladyboydining.com.au/#!dining/galleryPage
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun, Lively and Memorable. Such a colouful and fun-filled place to hang out and have a great night out with friends and family
Standout Dish: Salt & Pepper Silken Tofu + Chilli Jam AND Kaffir Lime Pie + Coconut Meringue
Service: Fantastic  – Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No, however you can book for 8 or more people.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.ladyboydining.com.au/
394 Bridge Road, Richmond
Tel No: 9421 3206

Opening Hours:
Monday & Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday & Thursday: 6:00pm to Late
Friday – Sunday: 5:00pm to Late

LadyBoy Dining + Bar on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ladyboydiningInstagram: ladyboydining
Twitter: @LadyBoyDining

Dig A Pony – Uniquely Delicious

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Dig A Pony Menu Dessert Menu    halal (1)** ONLY DUCK IS HALAL**

We (there were four of us) had just visited a friend in the Williamstown area and needed to find a place to have early dinner. After a bit of googling dinner places around the area, we stumbled on Dig A Pony. A quick phone call and we found out that they wouldn’t be open for another 30 minutes, but that would be about the time we would take to drive there.

We arrived about 15 minutes before their opening time however since they knew we were coming they saw us hovering around the outside and let us come in early – which was nice of them.

Dig A Pony was opened by owners Mike and Hannah Bacarella in 2009, to create a place that they would enjoy – a place that was welcoming and relaxed to enjoy good food, wine, music with great friends. The name Dig A Pony is inspired by the name of a classic song by The Beatles which was features on their final album “Let It Be” – and was known as a whimsical and eclectic song – which is the vibe that this restaurant and bar is going for.

From the outside Dig A Pony looks like your normal corner bluestone pub, but once you step inside you are greeted with wooden tables, creative lamps and lighting along with a variety of seating – from leather lounges to antique chairs as well as bar stools and armchairs – there is bound to be a seating arrangement that you enjoy. During daylight hours the natural light is let in through the many windows, however once night time hits the only lighting is from the light shades and few down lights around the venue – it can get a tad dark.

The menu initially was based around Mediterranean Tapas with authentic recipes hailing from Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco and France – keeping firm the concept of food designed to be shared and enjoyed by all at the table. Enter in Mark Briggs (Vue de Monde, Sharing House) who added his touch of elegance and fine dining background to create an exciting menu that consists of delicious snacks, enticing small dishes as well some spectacular combinations for its larger plates. The concept of sharing, enjoying and having a bit of fun still remains.

The menu starts off with eight “Small Bites” – consisting of Oysters, Croquettes (Mac and Cheese) – how awesome do these sound! – just to name a few. Next on the menu are “Small Plates” (you can select from a selection of nine dishes – these include the likes of Mushroom Cannelloni (with Parmesan Mousse & Mushroom Ketchup), Moules Mariniere (Mussels in White Wine, Garlic & Cream), Chicken Kiev (with Crispy Kale & Broccoli), Tartare (Classic Beef with Egg Yolk Puree & ‘Chips’). There is only a selection of three “Larger Plates” to choose from – Duck, Goat or Wagyu Brisket. There are “Vegetables and Salads” to choose from as well as a “Charcuterie” section. If you find yourself not wanting to decide dishes on your own there are two Chef’s Selection Menu’s available – Five Plates ($45 per person) or Eight Plates ($55 per person).

Their drinks menu is quite extensive – consisting of wines, international and local boutique craft beers, spirits as well as a selection of intriguing cocktails. They also have unique combinations such as beer and whisky for those wanting a drink with a difference. In fact I think if you ask – you can mix just about any drink! I ordered a mocktail – which had flavours of Apple, Mint and Tang – a combination that quite refreshing on the palate.

There were two of us who had dietary requirements in the form of Dairy Free and Gluten Free and out waiter was very helpful in identifying which dishes could be consumed to suit. I also thought I would try my luck and ask if any of the meat or chicken was Halal – he found out that the Duck was – so of course we had to order it.

There were four of us at dinner so we decided to order a few dishes from each section.
We ordered three dishes from the Small Bites section. The first dish was the Cornetto – Ocean Trout & Granny Smith Apple – which came out looking as the menu read – in a cone shape sitting upright on a wire rack. Inside the cornetto cone was the mix of fresh ocean trout mixed with granny smith apple, capers and lime. I loved the mix of the crunchy cone together with the softness of the trout. The trout itself mixed with the apple was a brilliant combination – a hit of flavours for your tastebuds and a must try dish.

The next dish we received was the Cauliflower Popcorn with Roast Garlic Aioli – which comes served in a jar with the aioli placed on top. The cauliflower was crumbed and fried to create the popcorn effect and was seasoned well. The roast garlic aioli complimented the cauliflower well and tied the whole dish together. My only comment about the dish is to have the aioli in a separate little dish to make it easier for dipping purposes. The way it was with the aioli on top, when you got towards the middle or near the bottom of the jar you had run out of the aioli.

The last dish from the Small Bites section was the Buffalo Wings with Ranch Dressing. I didn’t try this dish; however I did try the Ranch Dressing which was absolutely divine – tangy with a kick of heat of it. Everyone around the table thoroughly enjoyed this dish as well and especially enjoyed the hint of chilli at the end.

From the Small Plates menu section we ordered the Confit Salmon with Clams and Savoy Cabbage and Scallops with Caramelized Cauliflower Puree & Sour Raisins.
The Confit Salmon usually comes with Pancetta, however we ordered this dish sans Panchetta. The dish was plated beautifully with flavours to match. The salmon had great texture and colouring and was cooked perfectly. The clams for me were the hero of this dish – delectable. Each of the elements brought a different flavour and depth to the dish – from the savoy cabbage laced in dressing to the pumpkin puree and finally the fried onions. A great tasting dish.
The Scallop dish was another good dish – the scallops were seared perfectly, the cauliflower puree worked brilliantly with the other elements on the dish and the raisins provided sweetness.

After these Small Plates we were onto our Large Plates of which we ordered two. First up was the Goat Hot Pot – Shoulder of Goat with Fennel and Rosemary. I loved the way this dish was presented – in a clay pot with a ring of scalloped potatoes on top. This was a clear favourite around the table – with the goat being melt-in-your-mouth, with the flavours being infused in the right proportions.
The next Large Plate dish was the Duck A L’Orange – Roasted Breast, Confit Leg & Brussel Sprouts. The duck was a bit on the tough side when you went into cut into it but the crispy skin on the outside was perfect. The velvety citrus sauce was rich yet subtle and really complemented the duck. This was my first experience of Duck A L’Orange and I must say I did quite enjoy it.

We also ordered the Quinoa with Pomegranate, Pistachio & Dates from the Vegetables and Salads section. The elements of tang from the pomegranate and sweetness of the dates, together with the nutty flavours worked well – you really cannot go wrong with this combination.

We were all really full from our meals but everyone needed a coffee for the drive home and so we looked at the dessert menu as well. There are five desserts to choose from and I was stuck in choosing between the Violet Crumble and the Parfait. In the end I went with the Parfait of Honey with Chocolate Mousse & Popcorn Granola. This was a really memorable and divine dessert. The chocolate mousse was rich, the parfait was creamy, the popcorn granola was caramelized and if you take each of these components together in one mouthful you will be heaven! If this dessert was this good – I can imagine just how good the other desserts would be!

Dig A Pony is the type of place that I wish I had stumbled upon a lot earlier as it serves up some great tasting food using simple ideas and a mix of interesting ingredients. The vibe is relaxed and casual – it’s a great place for a catch-up dinner with friends, as well as for a celebration. Staff are friendly and go out of their way to help in any way they can. If I was you I would definitely make a trip to Yarraville.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to picture above or http://digapony.com.au/wintermenu.htm
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed, Casual and Welcoming. Great for any occasion.
Standout Dish: Cornetto – Ocean Trout & Granny Smith Apple
Service: Friendly, Knowledgeable and very helpful
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://digapony.com.au/bookings.htm
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://digapony.com.au
58 Ballarat Road, Yarraville
Tel No: 9689 0110

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Thursday: 5:00pm – 11:00pm
Friday to Sunday: 5:00pm – 12:00am

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dig-A-Pony/199011662736
Instagram: Dig_A_Pony_
Twitter: @dig_a_pony_

Dig A Pony on Urbanspoon

Five Plus Smoothie – Green, Healthy and Delicious!

panda 4.5 rating

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Menu:

The Menu_ The Smoothie Menu The Smoothie Menu 2 Extras Menu

I was invited to the launch of Five Plus Smoothie to enjoy breakfast with a difference. Five Plus Smoothie is located near the corner of Swanston and Little Lonsdale streets in the Melbourne CBD – next to Melbourne Central. Vivian Lam (Director) has worked with nutritionist Samantha Ward to create this wonderfully healthy place. The ideology and the main reason behind Five Plus Smoothie is to get the daily intake of five serves of fruit and vegetables (that nutritionists recommend) in one delicious tasting smoothie.

Lam is also one of the people behind Hot Star Chicken and Gong Cha (which has taken Melbourne by storm!!), Mekong and Rice Paper. Lam got inspired to create Five Plus as she wanted to look and feel young and healthy not only from the outside but from the inside and most importantly make it an easy way to achieve this even if you find yourself on the go.

The welcoming fit out and design is created by Brandworks and is complete with natural light, pale wood, white tiles and a beautiful display of terrariums. The highlight for me was the copper wall piping and lighting which brought warmth as well as the entire décor of the venue together. Most new venues are trending to this type of design – minimalistic yet funky at the same time. Five Plus does cater for people on the go – who are looking to get their healthy fix and head to work/school/uni – but there is seating available in the form of a communal table as well as some window seating. (Wi-Fi is also available for those who want spend even more time)

Five Plus features ten balanced, delicious smoothies made from fresh ingredients that are delivered daily with no additives what so ever! They are proud supporters of local farmers as well as caring for the environment by using BPA free cups that are biodegradable. The smoothies were designed together with the help of a nutritionist and can cover a range of benefits such as muscle development, weight management, energy & fatigue, brain function, hydration and anti-ageing just to name a few. The menu lists the unique and catchy names and is full of information. Each smoothie has the ingredients it contains as well as the main benefits of the drink. The staff are friendly and if you have trouble deciding which smoothie you are after – and trust me you will as they all sound delicious! – they are happy and knowledgeable to help you out by enquiring about the flavours you like as well as the benefits you want to achieve.

At the launch we were lucky enough to sample all of the flavours – served in small glass beakers which fitted right in with the overall theme of the venue. Guests and bloggers were also served healthy nutritious bites to eat – which was catered for by Healthy Byte. These included Small crumpets with cream, fresh blueberries and strawberries, muesli in a jar with rhubarb, chia seeds and pepitas, poached chicken sandwiches and rice paper rolls with broccoli, Enoki mushrooms and sprouts. My favourite would have to be the crumpets followed closely by the muesli a jar – fresh flavours and textures that worked well together with a tangy kick at the end.

You have a choice of the following smoothie flavours :

The Perfect Date – Oats, Almond Milk, Almond, Banana, Dates, Cinnamon and Ice. Benefits: Muscle, Brain, Skin, Energy and Weight Management.

Smooth Skin – Spinach, Almond Milk, Banana, Mango, Mint and Ice. Benefits: Skin.

The Good Life – Kale, Almond Milk, Bananas, Pineapple, Mint, Lime and Ice. Benefits: Energy and Fatigue, Nail, Skin, Hair and Immune System.

New Leaf – Spinach Leaves, Coconut Water, Cucumber, Celery, Parsley, Mint, Ginger, Lemon and Ice. Benefits: Immune System and Liver Detox.

Peanut Butter Cup – Oats, Almond Milk, Homemade Peanut Butter, Banana, Dates and Ice. Benefits: Muscle Development.

Choc Mint – Spinach, Almond Milk, Avocado, Dark Chocolate, Mint, Dates and Ice. Benefits: Brain

Fresh Focus – Spinach, Almond Milk, Green Apple, Chia Seed, Green Grapes. Benefit: Alkalizing

Sweet Heart – Beetroot, Coconut Water, Apple, Banana, Ginger and Ice. Benefits: Heart

Purple Patch – Almond Milk, Blueberries, Banana, Acai and Ice. Benefits: Anti-Ageing

My favourite from the menu is Smooth Skin – it was deliciously refreshing and what better way to give your skin some nutrients! For days after the launch I would go back every morning and start my day off with this smoothie – yum! My next favourite would have to be Purple Patch followed by The Perfect Date. The Perfect Date really fills you up due to the use of oats but it’s definitely one to try out.

Five Plus provides a refreshing, nutritious and healthy way in which you can achieve your fruit and veggie intake on the go. The staff are friendly and there are many different flavours to choose from – even for those who want a sweeter hit – you can try the Choc Mint or Peanut Butter Cup. Try it out now and I have no doubt it will become your regular morning pit stop!

Disclaimer: I was invited to the launch of Five Plus Smoothie on behalf of Harvey Publicity. All views and opinions are honest and my own.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – 10 different smoothies that have individual benefits – refer to the Menu picture above
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky and Welcoming
Standout Smoothie: The Smooth Skin, The Perfect Date
Service: Friendly, Knowledgeable and Helpful. If you tell the staff what you want to achieve from the smoothie – they will recommend which one you should have.
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.vuedemonde.com.au/reservation
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.fiveplussmoothie.com.au/
265 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fiveplussmoothie
Instagram: Five Plus Smoothie

Five Plus Smoothie on Urbanspoon

Roti Road – Roti Show and A Whole Lot More!

panda 3.5 rating

 

A friend told me about Roti Road and how the Roti Chef does a “Roti Performance” where he flips, twirls roti bread to a variety of musical tunes – this can include Michael Jackson! The food was tasty as well she said so I was intrigued and curious to try it out for myself.

Roti Road is Malaysian Chinese fusion restaurant located in Footscray – taking over what used to be Yummie – and is half owned by David Tran (son of Yummie’s Annie and John Tran). It has received a grand make over which sees the fit-out being completed with glossy wood, red banquettes, a fish tank and an open view into the kitchen. You are initially greeted by two large doors which lead you into the restaurant. Inside there are two main dining areas – one to the left and one to the right. If you are in the dining room to the right – you can be seated with a view looking into the kitchen where you can watch Awi – the master roti maker in action. If you are seated to the left – Awi will come to you and showcase his brilliant roti making skills. The times of his performance varies according to crowd levels but is generally around the 8pm mark each night – with some nights having two performances.

The menu is extensive and they serve Yumcha daily till 3pm (as per its previous life as Yummie). All food is made in-house from the roti to the laksa paste. There are Stir Fried Noodles, Noodles in Soup, Mains, Rice Dishes, Vegetable Dishes and Desserts to choose from. The menu is a mixture of words as well as pictures of certain dishes which can sway your decision of what to order. However ordering Roti is a must – after all the place is called Roti Road – trust me you won’t be disappointed. For Desserts – they serve Roti Tisu / Roti Pisang – which is a Roti that comes out looking like a teepee with a side serving of ice cream. The Roti is coated in sugar – this is yet another must try dish! Other dishes on their menu include Nasi Lemak, Char Kuay Teow, Maggie Mee Goreng, Malaysian Style Fish Head Curry, Hainanese Chicken Rice, Nasi Goreng just to name a few.

I am a huuggggeeee fan of bubble tea so when I got to the drinks menu and saw they had a number of flavours I hadn’t encountered before I had to order one. The one that caught my eye was the Oreo Bubble Tea – Oreos have always been my weak point in the biscuit range, so when it is combined with my other favourite bubble tea – I was really excited! And boy did it not disappoint! The bubble tea came out served in a large beer mug glass, with the pearls at the bottom and an oreo floating at the top. The flavour was absolute heaven – it was the creaminess of the milk together with crunchy pieces of Oreo throughout the milk tea with the pop of the pearls. You have to try it just to know how good it is!

N ordered the Chicken Satay which had hints of the smokiness thanks to the use of the charcoal grill. I tasted the accompanying satay sauce which was a lot spicier than most of the other peanut sauces I have tasted – a winner in my book!

I ordered the Seafood Cigars – which come served in a cocktail glass filled with shredded carrot. The Cigars are quite tall in size and are topped and tailed with black sesame seeds. The pasty on the outside is crunchy in texture and works well with the wholesome prawn filling.

N and I both ordered a serving of the Roti. The Roti comes served on a tin plate which has separate sections for the sambal, dhal and curry sauce. The sambal is spicy goodness, the dhal has subtle hints of earthy tones and the curry sauce is full of flavour with a hint of spice. The Roti is to-die-for – it is crisp, light and fluffy – and is good enough to eat on its own. You seriously could have a tonne of these Roti’s! The combination of the roti with its constituents is fantastic and I love the idea that you can mix and match the differing flavours. You can also add either chicken curry or beef rending curry to the mix as well if you want. We also ordered the Belachan KangKung – a fresh tasting dish which combined the crunch of the kangkung with the deep spicy flavours of the shrimp paste.

I was really hungry that day so I also ordered the Seafood Curry Laksa. The serving size is quite generous ( I struggled to finish the entire bowl). You are greeted by the enticing smell and the deep red hues as it is placed in front of you – with the inviting seafood, bean shoots and eggplant bopping up and down. The egg noodles are hidden away at the bottom and you need to dig deep to get to them. The Laksa is bursting with flavour – rich and spicy and it really hits the spot. It would be especially perfect on a freezing cold & rainy day. The tofu is divine and the seafood fresh.

We went to dinner on a Sunday and didn’t get a chance to stay for the show at 8pm, however as we were seated in the dining room to the right – we had a clear view of the kitchen window and got to enjoy Awi’s Roti magic. He starts off by spreading a ball of dough, then he lifts, flips and slaps it around to get it into a rectangular shape. This is when the show really begins – there is twirling, throwing and catching – all whilst not making so much as a tear or rip in the dough. Once he has completed this he then lays it back on the bench and folds it into the desired shape to be cooked. I will definitely be back bringing more people here to not only try the food out but to stay for the show performance that happens out in the dining area amongst the crowd to tunes.

Service is good – staff are friendly and happy to answer any questions – but it seems like once you get your food this lowers. It also took a long time to get someone’s attention to ask for the bill that in the end up we ended up going to the counter itself to pay.

Roti Road has great tasting authentic Malaysian food with the added bonus of a Flying Roti show. The menu has a huge variety that even the fussiest person will something that they want to eat – be it from soups, noodles to veggies. Check it out and DEFINITELY try the ROTI!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above of their Takeaway Menu or you can find a link here – http://www.urbanspoon.com/cities/71/restaurants/1835788/menu_photos/438713
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely and Casual. Great for a family dinner.
Standout Dish: Roti!!
Service: Not too bad – sometimes it can be hard to get the attention of staff. But when you do they are friendly and helpful.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.rotiroad.com.au
189-193 Barkly Street, Footscray
Tel No: 9078 8878

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday : 10.30am – 9.30pm
Friday & Saturday: 10:00am – 10:00pm
Sunday: 10.30am – 9.30pm

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rotiroad

Roti Road on Urbanspoon

Banoi – A Piece of Vietnam in Docklands

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Food Menu Drinks Menu

If you work around the Docklands vicinity you would have noticed the recent influx of Vietnamese food ventures opening up. Banoi is one of these Vietnamese venues that have opened up in this area and is located opposite the brightly coloured NAB building on Bourke Street.

Banoi is owned by a Vietnamese team and is all about offering a contemporary dining experience all whilst staying true to the Vietnamese heritage and culture, using quality local fresh Melbourne produce.

The fit out is fantastic – modern yet vintage with touches which are reminiscent of the Saigon markets back in Vietnam. There are timber feature walls, vibrant use of colours, detailed light fittings with filament light bulbs, hand painted works and imported tiles in the bar and coffee area. There are timber tables inside – both communal and individual tables – some with stools fixed with bicycle pedals (how awesome!) – as well as seating outside. The tables are set up like any other Vietnamese restaurant whereby there is easy access to cutlery and condiments.

The food menu is set out like a lunch order menu where you place the number in the box alongside the item that you want. The Menu is broken up into a number of sections – Rice Paper Rolls (there are 6 to select from), Snacks (consisting of spring rolls mostly and one skewer dish), Noodle Soup (Pho – either beef or chicken), Banoi’s Lunch Special – there are two that you can choose from A or B, Vermicelli Noodles (there are seven different flavours to choose from) and Salads (either a Wagyu Beef Salad or Chicken Salad). The menu also highlights which dishes are Vegetarian and Gluten-Free.
At just $15 the Banoi’s Lunch Special are a smashing deal and great value for money. Lunch Special A consists of a Beef Pho Cup, Banh Mi Half together with Imperial Spring Rolls of which you get 3. You can also select a drink of either a Vietnamese Iced Coffee or Kumquat Lemonade. Lunch Special B consists of Vietnamese Beef Curry Vermicelli with your selection of a drink as above.

The drinks menu is quite extensive and consists of a selection of drinks such as Kumquat Lemonade, Vietnamese Ice Coffee, Coconut Crush, Lychee Crush, Custard Apple Smoothies etc. There is also a selection of beers and wines, as well as the usual soft drinks and tea.

Banoi gets really busy during lunch times and I would suggest getting there at 12pm sharp in order to get yourself a table. They do take bookings but only if the booking is for 12pm, as they want to cater for walk-ins after that time. For those on the go there is a separate line / window where you can order rice paper rolls and drinks to take away.
The first time I tried Banoi I used this take away line and tried out two different types of rice paper rolls. I ordered the Fried Salt & Pepper Tofu with Kim Chi Sprouts as well as the Grilled Salmon with Avocado. Each serving comes with 2 rolls per serve. You also get your choice of sauces. The rolls were delicious and are fresh (as they are made fresh daily) and full of flavour and crunch thanks to the inclusion of traditional Asian herbs. My favourite out of the two was the Salt & Pepper tofu roll which had some added spice thanks to the use of Kim Chi sprouts. These rolls are quite generously sized and I had enough for dinner time as well!

The second time around we booked a table for 12pm and were seated inside. The atmosphere is buzzing and does make you feel like you are in downtown Vietnam in the markets. As I can only eat Halal meats the lunch special option was out for me so I decided to order the Silken Tofu Vermicelli Noodles – with wok tossed fried silken tofu and vegetarian spring rolls. I did ask the waitress if she could change these vegetarian spring rolls to the imperial spring rolls (which had crab & prawn inside them) however she said this couldn’t be done.

I ordered a Kumquat Lemonade drink which was refreshing. I really loved the flavour combination of kumquat and lemonade and had to stop myself from finishing the drink all in one go. A ordered the Coconut Crush which was just as good and had fresh pieces of coconut through the drink.

The Silken Tofu Vermicelli Noodles comes out presented beautifully – the salt and pepper crusted tofu sitting on top like soft pillows amongst the colourful greens, Kim Chi sprouts and spring rolls all served in a blue and white bowl, with the Vermicelli hidden underneath. There is sweet soy sauce on top in a separate dish as well. Just from the look of the dish I can barely contain myself to take picture of the dish without wanting to tuck into it. I pour the sauce throughout the dish and take my first mouthful and am not disappointed. It was fantastically delicious! The crunchy outside of the tofu together with the soft silkiness inside along with the coriander, herbs and spicy crunch of the sprouts was a match made in heaven. I literally devoured the entire dish. The vegetarian spring rolls were full of flavour and added depth to the dish as well.
Around the table everyone was talking about how good the food was. J got the Lunch Special A and said the Beef Pho was delicious – with the quality of the beef being top notch together with a tasty broth and quality noodles. He also commented on the Banh Mi being flavoursome with the bread being crunchy and fresh. I got a chance to sample the Imperial Rolls which have a delicate netting on the outside which I loved the look of. The rolls were superb – with a great texture of crunch on the outside and soft flavoursome prawn and crab meat on the inside. These rolls are a definite must order for anyone and everyone.

Service is great with staff friendly and always happy to assist if you need anything. Banoi also has a strong focus on good coffee – they work with Campos coffee – and use a La Marzocco machine to pump out smooth tasting and full flavoured cups.

Banoi is all about Vietnamese food and Vietnamese food done well – the ever growing queues and crowds at lunchtime and dinnertime are testament to this. The trek down to Docklands is definitely worth it.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above or the website – http://www.banoi.com.au/#menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Laid Back, Funky. Has a market like feel to it that reminds you of the Saigon Market in Vietnam. It is great for a casual meal and catch up drinks.
Standout Dish: Silken Tofu Vermicelli Noodles and Imperial Spring Rolls
Service: Friendly, Warm and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.banoi.com.au/
807 Bourke Street, Docklands
Tel No: 8080 9699

Opening Hours:
Monday: 11:00am-4:00pm
Tuesday to Saturday: 11:00am-9:30pm
Sunday: CLOSED

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/banoi.com.au
Twitter: @BanoiDocklands
Instagram: banoidocklands

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