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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Arbory Bar & Eatery – Melbourne’s Longest Outdoor Bar!

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Menu: Arbory – Melbourne’s longest outdoor bar and eatery – is conveniently located right across from where I work so is very easily accessible to me. However its location makes it easily accessible to just about anyone that catches a … Continue reading

Addict Food + Coffee – Mushroom Delight!

panda 3.5 rating

Menu:
Breakfast Menu Lunch Menu

Addict Food and Coffee had been on my list since they opened earlier this year. Located in Fitzroy on Johnston Street, between Brunswick Street and Smith Street and right on the corner of Gore Street, Addict is owned by two couples – Greg and Brooke Brassil (who used to own a coffee roastery back in Shepparton) together with Joe and Brooke Ventura (who run the floor here at Addict). Ex-St Ali chef runs the kitchen –  Steve Hogan – with barista Greg Brassil pumping out Clement and Market Lane coffee in both espresso and filter.

Addict is medium in size is light filled and airy thanks to the windows that wrap around the corner positioning of the store. The décor is minimalist complemented with wooden tables that have black top, black chairs which can seat parties of two or four. There is also a communal table at the front for larger parties. Colourful flowers in jars together with pot plants hung up with macramé nets together with a sneeky picture that seems to have taken inspiration from the Gorillaz further add style and charisma to the venue.

The menu created by Boyd not only includes regular breakfast dishes you would expect to see but also some intriguingly created dish combinations. The breakfast menu runs all day together with a six dish lunch menu. Crumpets are supplied from Dr Marty, butter from Pepe Saya with Little Bertha supplying the delicious cakes, slices located at the front counter. The breakfast menu consists of dishes such as Wholemeal Buttermilk Pancakes served with a dollop of mascarpone and poached quince, Cumberland Sausage + Black Pudding, Northern Beans (with tarragon parsley, confit tomatoes, poached eggs, garlic croutons), House Cured Smoked Salmon and your usual breakkie dishes with a difference such as Eggs Benedict served with smoked Ham Hock + Tarragon Hollandaise, Porridge with Bananas, Walnuts + Butterscotch Sauce.

The lunch menu covers all dietary bases with offerings of a Pulled Pork Burger, Chicken Breast with Kipfler Potatoes, Confit Duck, Salad of Quinoa & Roasted Root Vegetables and Olive Bread with Avocado, Baby Tomatoes, Basil Pesto, Haloumi Crumbs & a Poached Egg.

Aside from coffee you can find Mork Hot Chocolate, Prana Chai as well as a great selection of Teas and juices. Bonsoy and Almond Milk are also available.

We arrived on a Saturday around 11am and the place was buzzing and quite packed – we were asked to put our name down for a table for two with a 10 -15 minute wait, however within 5 minutes we had a table.

I ordered a latte to start whilst I decided what to order for breakfast and N ordered a long black. N’s long black came served with sparkling water – and he said it was perfectly flavoured and crisp. My latte was full bodied, rich and whilst no particular flavours stood out it was a well-rounded and balanced coffee.
During my meal I also ordered a Prana Chai which comes served on a wooden board; with the chai in a silver pot to allow it to brew longer. You can then pour cup fulls yourself when you are satisfied with the length of time that it has been brewed. The chai was delicious – warm with just the right hint of spice added.

Deciding on a breakfast dish was hard – I was tossing up between the Buttermilk Pancakes, Corn Fritters or the Potato Hash + Mushroom Duxelles. I decided to go with the Potato Hash + Mushroom Duxelles (with roasted field mushroom, poached egg + caramelized onion) due to my hankering for mushrooms that won over my sweet cravings. N ordered the Black Beans, Chorizo + Otway Pork served with garlic crumbs + a poached egg.

My only complaint for the day would be that the wait time for food was a tad over the top – we waited around 50 minutes for our meals to arrive – and I had to ask twice how long our meals would be. I am not quite sure why it took so long for two dishes to come out, I mean there seemed to be turnover of patrons quite regularly and other dishes seemed to come out with a much shorter period of time – lost order perhaps? We weren’t really offered an explanation – but just an apology for the long wait.

My dish was perfectly plated – the finely chopped and mixed garlic flavoured mushroom mash which provided a stable base for the crisp and deep fried deliciousness that was the potato hash on top, followed by a whole roasted field mushroom and finished off with a perfectly poached egg. It was not only art perfection but flavour perfection. The mix of earthiness and butteriness paired with the crunchy-on-the-outside-yet-soft-on –the-inside potatoes was divine. The caramelised onions added an element of richness and sweetness which rounded the dish brilliantly. A winner of a dish and a must try!

N’s dish was presented well as well – with the stewed black beans and chorizo mix taking up most of the plate with a thick slice of Otway pork sitting on top and finished with a poached egg – garlic crumbs added an element of flavour and crunchy surprise. N said that his dish was luke warm and bordering on cold and that there wasn’t that many pieces of chorizo. Maybe it was their off day but this dish has the opportunity to be better.

The staff here are quite friendly and really know their dishes when you ask them to explain a component you hadn’t heard of before. Dishes are beautifully presented with appealing dishes and the coffee is great on the palate. The place is warm, inviting and makes you relax. A pity about the wait time for our food – but hopefully many don’t encounter this – some would say the wait could be forgotten once you taste the dishes. Try it out for yourself.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed, Welcoming and Chilled out. Great light filled space, which is great to meet friends for a catch up
Standout Dish: Potato Hash + Mushrom Duxelles with roasted field mushroom, poached egg + caramelised onion
Service: Friendly and Knowledgeable
Online Booking: NoRestaurant Details and Location:
http://www.addictmelbourne.com/
240-242 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
Tel No: 9415 6420

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

Addict Food and Coffee on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/addictmelbourne
Twitter: @addictfitzroy
Instagram: addictfoodandcoffee

Zaatar – Cheap and Delicious

panda 4 rating

Menu:

Sweet and Coffee Menu at Zaatar Pizza and Pide Menu at Zaatar Menu at Zaatar

Zaatar is located on Sydney Road in Brunswick and is a Lebanese bakery and café – run by brothers George, Ameen and Wadi Choueiri. Their dad Chafic Choueiri was the founder of Coburg’s A1 Lebanese Bakery which was open for almost 20 years, and was only sold as a result of him getting ill.

Zaatar is buzzing from the moment you walk in through the doors and are greeted with the fresh smell of baked bread together with the open and light filled room thanks to the windows all around the venue. There are tables of all different sizes, you can move them around as well to allow many people to sit and there are communal tables which come complete with Moroccan style tiles. Colourful wallpaper located on the back wall, which shows a mural of different doors from all around the Middle East brings a colour pop to the venue.

Zaatar is a Middle Eastern spice blend as well as being a type of herb pizza. Here at Zaatar you can get one of these Zaatar pizzas for just one dollar – definitely bang for your buck! And the taste is fantastic – you get the great blend of spices, salt and oil all cooked to perfection. You can eat it using a fork and knife or simply just fold it over and chew it down using one hand!

There are pies, pizzas, salads as well as small bites available to purchase. Also available are Zoccacias – which is basically a foccacia but done Lebanese style using the Zaatar bread – they include fillings such as Bastouram and Haloumi. Have a look at the pictures for more of the flavours. The favourites such as spinach and Bulgarian feta triangles, and haloumi pies are staple and made with love. There are around 6 – 7 different pizzas to choose from and they even have a Cheese and Vegemite option available. Another feature on the menu is the KAAK – which is the Lebanese bagel – for only $2 and you add any topping you like from 50c to $1. Cheap!

There is also a Lunch Mezza Menu – where you can pick from 3 to 6 different mezza with a dip and a salad for a very reasonable price as well. What caught my eye was the Big Breakfast – which came with eggs, Soujok, Labne Dip, Mint, Olives, Tomato, Cucumber, Lebanese Bread and Classic Lebanese Breakfast Spread.

There are the usual drink such as Coffees, Teas, Ice Chocolate, Hot Chocolate as well as interesting drinks in the fridge such as Vimto – a sparkling grape juice – which made me re-live my childhood. There is also ice-cream available to be bought in very interesting flavours. There are sweets available as well such as Namoura (Semolina Cake) and Mammoul, as well as Muffins and Baklawa.

The Big Breakfast comes with the components all separated out on a wooden board. There is a stone pan which houses the soujok, another one that houses the scrambled eggs and the Salads and Lebanese bread and dip are on a plate. The size is quite over whelming. The soujok was delicious and not dry and combined with the egg and the fresh Lebanese bread was delightful. I did really enjoy everything in this dish – although I must admit – I did leave quite a bit of the “healthy” stuff – like the tomato and olives.

The Meat Pizza – which came with Minced Lamb, Onion, Tomato and Spices was also really delicious. The slices were thin and fresh, combined with the spiciness of the lamb. You really could see yourself eating more than one of these. They were that good that I had to order some take away for later.

Zaatar is comfortable, family friendly venue that has tasty, high quality products and are very reasonably priced. I would love it if they were open for dinner and see what types of dishes they could produce. Catering is also available here at Zaatar. If you haven’t done so already – definitely check this place out.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://www.zaatar.com.au/zaatar/menu.html  or look at the Menu pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Family friendly, Modern and Relaxed
Standout Dish: Lamb Pizza
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.zaatar.com.au/zaatar/
365 Sydney Road, Coburg
Tel No: 9939 9494

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 7am – 8pm

Zaatar on Urbanspoon

Mama Baba – A Combination of Greek and Italian

          
      

Left to Right (clockwise) : Haloumi Fried Cheese with Beetroot Relish, Cured Salmon with Yoghurt and Greens, Chorizo Sausage with Peppers, Penne Pasta with Pesto, Peas’ and Almonds, Gnudi- Ricotta, burnt butter, honey, walnuts, sage, capers, Beef Cheek with 2 cheese Wet Polenta, Snapper Fillet with Fish Broth and Lettuce, Capers,Polenta Chips with Sour Cream, Chilli Soffritto

Left to Right (clockwise) : Mama Baba decor, “Our Ferrero Rocher” dessert, the Hanging cheese and meats looking into the kitchen, The bicycle and fruits at the Entrance, The dining area with the bar and the projector wall in the background, The other desserts – The Italian Mess – Caramel mascarpone, meringue, fruits  and Bomboloni – Cinnamon, Nutella
___________________________________________________________________

Our fortnightly work dinner catchup had come around again and this time the place that was chosen was George Colmabaris’ restaurant Mama Baba. I have previously been to his other restaurants (Maha, Press Club, St Katherines to name a few) and have usually enjoyed the food. Mama Baba has a combination of Greek and Italian dishes as the name pertains to – his Mama is Greek and his Baba is Italian (there are decorations around the venue that state this). I think the naming of this restaurant is unique and really shows how much focus he has on family and food which I think is fantastic.

This is not your typical restaurant venue like his other places. It is located in back streets of South Yarra and in what used to be an old warehouse.  It is a wide open spacious restaurant and has a vintage feel to it. You are greeted when you first walk in with a bicycle and some fruits which then follows around to the open and see through kitchen, where you can see the chefs busily preparing food. Cheeses and meats hang from the ceiling. There is a long bar which almost spans the length of the restaurant and has highlighted lighting and is colourful  Something a bit different is the curved wall where a projector plays visual items – on this occasion we had the ballet and then it later changed to the movie – TRON.

In most of George’s Restaurants like Hellenic Republic and St Katherines’, the food has a very homey feeling. Mama Baba is the same. It has a rustic and home cooked feeling to it. The Menu is split into two sections – the Mama which are the Greek dishes, and the Baba section which are the Italian dishes. You can either go A la Carte or choose from the Mama Menu. We decided to go with the Mama Menu – which is a selection of dishes over 4 courses – we were told this was the best way to try out the menu.

The dishes that we got served are pictured above. We started off with 3 entrees plus a vegetarian option for me (Polenta Chips with Sour Cream). The Fried Haloumi with Beetroot Relish was the standout amongst the entrees as was the Cured Salmon with Yoghurt and Greens. Next we got a selection of pasta and this is where I had one gripe – some of my pasta pieces weren’t cooked fully and were hard. The flavour however was nice – pesto and peas and this dish was the greenest dish I have ever seen! The standout dish here and in fact for the night was the Gnudi (Gnocchi). There is just something about the combination of Gnocchi and Burnt butter that makes me drool!  The gnocchi itself were huge and if you were to order just that and have all 5 gnocchis you will definitely need to be rolled out of the restaurant.
The mains were nothing to write home about, they were OK. I could actually taste the fishiness of the fish that came out, and I am never a fan of that. As a vegetarian substitute because I couldn’t eat the Beef Cheek – I was given a wheat grain rice mixed with vegetables which was packed full of flavour and was actually quite nice and very filling, however a bit on the salty side.

Onto dessert (the most important part of the meal I say) – we were given a selection of the Italian Mess and the Bomboloni. Prior to coming to the restaurant, as I do, I checked out the menu and really wanted to try out “Our Ferrero Rocher” – so we ordered that as well. For $13 I was expecting a lot more than a tiny little dessert and was also let down by the flavour. There were no nuts as a normal ferrero rocher has or the wafer biscuit bits. This dessert is one that was talked about so I was expecting something special.

Overall, the place and the decor was fantastic. The food is not up to the normal standard that I would expect from a George Colombaris restaurant. The food was good but not great. Might give it a few months before I go back and try some of the other menu items.

Rating : 3 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – A la Carte Menu, Mama Menu (4 Courses for $55) and Group Menus – http://mamababa.com.au/menus/
Fullness: 85%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Vintage and Open – a massive fan!
Standout Dish: Gnudi
Service: Great Service and very friendly. Sometimes though it was a bit hard to get the waiters attention if we needed something. Also when I called up to make a reservation I had a query about if the food was halal and the lady said she would find out and call me back – and she did. Impressed by that.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://mamababa.com.au/
21 Daly St, South Yarra
Tel No: 9207 7421

Opening Hours:
Lunch: Friday & Sunday: 12pm – 3pm
DINNER:
Monday-Thursday & Saturday:  6pm – LATE
Friday & Sunday: 5pm – LATE

Mama Baba on Urbanspoon