The Kettle Black – Next Level Cafe

panda 3.5 rating

Menu:
Drinks Menu Food Menu Drinks Menu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Kettle Black on Urbanspoon

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Spice Temple – Asian Fusion with Spice

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– Chinese Year Themed Drinks Menu
– Jasmine and Green Tea
– Ox – Buttermilk Yoghurt with Fresh Mango and Rose Petal
– Rat – Lavender Tea Soda with Hand Picked Mint
– Fried Salt and Pepper Silken Tofu with Spicy Coriander Salad
– Kung Pao Chicken – Sichuan peppercorn, heaven facing chillies and cashews
– Fish Drowned in Heaven Facing Chillies and Sichuan Peppercorns, Leatherjacket Sichuan Style
– Fish drowned in Heaven Facing Chillies and Sichuan Peppercorns, Leatherjacket Sichuan Style without the Chillies
– Hot and Numbing Crispy Duck
– Hot Pot of Fresh Shitake, Oyster, Enoki and wild Chinese Mushrooms, Yunna style
– Hunan Style Crisp Pork Belly with Fresh and Dried Chillies and Mushroom Soy
-Stir Fried Grass Fed Beef Fillet with Wok Blistered Peppers and Black Bean
– Stir Fried Spinach Sichuan Style
– Rose Granita with Fresh Lychees and Strawberries and Almond Milk Jelly
– Almond Milk infused Rice Pudding with Candied Fruit
– Caramel Chocolate and Peanut Parfait

SpiceTemple is Neil Perry’s foray into Asian cuisine. SpiceTemple has two branches – the first of which was opened in Sydney and later in Melbourne. The Melbourne venue resides at the Crown Entertainment Complex and has taken over from where Bistro Guillaume used to be. The look and feel of the restaurant is very dark, exotic and has hues of red and gold. Together with this there are solid dark wooden tables and low lantern like lights hanging over the tables. It gives a somewhat classy underground den like feel.

I went here for a group dinner with some friends and we got a variety of dishes to share – this is how the menu is designed – to share. We were impressed initially by the drinks menu – there was a100 wine menu list and they explain in 100 words why they have this many wines – innovative! There are also drinks created for each animal in the Chinese Year (refer to picture above). Being born in the year of the Rat – I had to try out the Year of the Rat drink of course. The drinks consisted of Lavender Tea Soda with Hand Picked Mint which was fresh and flowery. Another drink I tried was the Ox – Buttermilk yoghurt with Fresh Mango and Rose Petal. The Ox drink was absolutely amazing especially because I love mangoes – the creaminess of the buttermilk mixed with the mango definitely works! The only negative is the glass is half full and you want so much more. I guess this is their trick to keep you ordering more.

Prior to coming to eat at Spice Temple, I had read a review where the Fish drowned in Heaven Facing Chillies was mentioned as a must try and wanted to try it out. When the dish came out, all you could see was the heaven facing chilli’s just covering the whole dish (as you can see from the picture above). The waitress then removed these chillis, of which the fish had been “drowned” in to reveal the fish. The fish was spicy and the added peppercorns added the extra zing that you are made to feel on your tongue and your lips. It was a flavoursome dish and we all quite enjoyed it.

In fact, most dishes here at SpiceTemple include these peppercorns which give you that feeling. The initial reaction is “wow – this is quite an interesting experience,” however, once you get over that, to keep having that tingling sensation is a bit over whelming and annoying. You sometimes simply just want to eat your food and enjoy the flavours.
The Hot pot of Fresh Shitake, Oyster, Enoki and Wild Chinese Mushrooms, Yunna style was delicious. The mushrooms come out on a plate pre-cooked and you are shown by your waitress the different types of mushrooms, before they put it into the hot pot to cook in front of you. The broth had an added spice which meshed well with the mushrooms.

Dessert time consisted of Rose Granita with Fresh Lychees and Strawberries and Almond Milk Jelly, Almond Milk infused Rice Pudding with Candied Fruit and Caramel Chocolate and Peanut Parfait. The Rose Granita I had was fantastic. It had just the right amount of Granita to fruits and jelly. The combination of lychees and strawberries was unique and mixed well with the almond milk jelly. The flavours of rose and almond together gave you a creamy dreamy after-taste  The Caramel Chocolate and Peanut Parfait was like a circular snickers bar, and the parfait had the right amount of sweetness and consistency.

Overall, the atmosphere and environment were fantastic, although it could use a little bit more light. The dishes were good but not great and for the pricing is a bit on the high side. If you are a spice lover this would be the restaurant for you, however like I said before the tingling sensation of the peppercorns was a bit overwhelming . The drinks and the desserts were the winners here, but being a Neil Perry restaurant you would expect a bit more.

Rating : 2.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – A la carte – http://www.spicetemplemelbourne.com/wp-content/uploads/Main-Menu.pdf and Yumcha Menu – http://www.spicetemplemelbourne.com/wp-content/uploads/Yum-Cha-Menu1.pdf
Fullness: 80%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Dark, cosy and intimate.
Standout Dish: The Hot pot of Fresh Shitake, Oyster, Enoki and Wild Chinese Mushrooms, Yunna style
Service: Good Service and the wait staff were happy to assist with any questions we had. They also can recommend which dishes work well together according to the spice tolerance of people.
Online Booking:
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.spicetemplemelbourne.com/
Crown Complex,
Ground Floor, Shop 7
8 Whiteman Street, Southbank
Tel No: 8679 1888

Opening Hours:
Lunch (Yumcha)
Monday to Sunday:  12pm to 3pm

Dinner:
Monday to Sunday:  6pm to 11pm

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