Two by Two – Chic Breakfast Style

panda 4 rating

G and I decided to head to Two by Two located in High Street, Northcote for our much anticipated catch up. Two by Two is owned by Jessica Fitzgerald and Ben Sanders and Jono Mackie is in charge of the meals. The result is welcoming and roomy restaurant which delivers high quality and seasonally produced food that is presented in a beautiful manner.

When you walk into Two by Two you are greeted by the main dining area which houses a communal table in the middle surrounded by tables. At the very back is where the bar/barista is located as well as the kitchen area. The feature of Two by Two is the glossy wooden wall that has a series of wooden dimples arranged randomly along the wall – which is really quite different to anything I have seen at a restaurant. There are wide windows located at the front where patrons can sit and enjoy the view of bustling traffic or people watching. Colourful and dainty flowers are placed in vases on tables to add further colour and vibrancy.

The brunch menu consists of simple favorites such as Bircher Museli, Avocado smash, pancakes and bacon and eggs as well some interesting combinations such as Poached Ocean Trout, Watermelon & Rhubarb with Chia seed granola as well as a Breakfast Charcuterie that includes Jamon Serrano and Black Pudding.

I ordered the Poached Ocean Trout, Pickled Avocado, Citrus Salad, Caper & Dill Creme Fraiche, Rye Toast and added a Poached Egg as well. This dish came out like as you would expect a dinner dish to come out – perfectly presented. On the backdrop of a white plate, the individual ingredients were colourful and every care seemed to have been taken in placement. The Rye Toast was the base of the dish with all the elements being placed on top. My only qualm was that I was interested in finding out what pickled avocado tasted like, but when I tasted it, it simply tasted the same as any other avocado would. This could be due to the mixture of other flavours tainting the taste but I am not sure. The dish not only looked great, but tasted fantastic. Each element mixed together in one bite-full was a great mix of flavours in your mouth – I love the burst of citrus from the orange segments. The poached trout was perfect and the mix of the salad with the dill flavoured crème fraiche was delightful. The egg was poached to perfection and was gooey and runny – just like how you would want it to be. A must try dish for anyone!

G ordered the Mushroom – Sauteed Selection, Creme Fraiche, Pecorino, Truffle Oil on Sourdough. Once again the dish was presented well and G did say she enjoyed the dish, however said that the serving size could have been a tad more generous.

Whilst we continued to chat, both G and I ordered the fresh mix juice was available as we were both intrigued by the combination. The combination was Apple, Ginger, Celery and Carrot.It was a great tasting combination and was quite refreshing. Coffee here was nutty and creamy and quite nice as well. The staff were friendly and inviting and always seem to have a smile on their face. They are very patient as well – our waitress had to come back four times before we were ready to order as we were too busy chatting rather than looking at the menu – oops!

Two by Two serves breakfast and lunch from Tuesday to Sunday, and dinner from Thursday to Saturday. The prices are very reasonable for the high quality and seasonal produce they provide. Seeing as I enjoyed the breakfast dishes served, I am intrigued to what dishes are served for dinner – so I have to make time and revisit Two by Two.

Whichever meal you prefer definitely go and check out Two by Two for yourself.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to http://www.twobytwonorthcote.com.au/?page_id=15 – there is a Brunch, Dinner and Wine Menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable, Modern and Relaxing. There is lots of sunlight and the venue is bright and inviting.
Standout Dish: Poached Ocean Trout, Pickled Avocado, Citrus Salad, Caper & Dill Creme Fraiche, Rye Toast
Service: Friendly and Warm
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.twobytwonorthcote.com.au/?page_id=19 – there is a DIMMI online reservation at the bottom of the page
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.twobytwonorthcote.com.au/
235 High Street, Northcote
Tel No: 9486 5885

Opening Hours:
Monday & Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday to Saturday: 08:30 – 11pm
Sunday: 08:30 – 3pm

Two By Two on Urbanspoon

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Short Round – Shiny, New & Delicious – A MUST TRY!

panda 4.5 rating

N and I were in the area of Thornbury after a wedding ceremony and Short Round had been on my list of Breakkie/Brunch places to try so we decided to check it out on a Saturday. We arrived literally just before 3pm (which was when the kitchen closed) and the waitress was nice enough to allow us to quickly order our food – and boy am I glad she did because the food was amazing!

Short Round comes to us from Libby and Claire Cains who converted this former butcher store and pet store into the beautiful, open and light filled venue. They had the help of their dad together with Libby’s partner to rejuvenate this building which was built in 1880. The end result is spacious venue with lots of light plywood and tiles, but keeping the buildings original character.

What makes Short Round unique as well is that they are committed to keep things local – the stools and benches were made by Northcote’s Pop & Scott, the collective and vintage chairs from the High Street retro store – Model 143. It doesn’t just stop at the furniture for the venue, but continues with the ingredients for the menu as well as the drinks list. The chefs are Kate Pratt and Jo Baring – with the menu being seasonal. This means that the menu changes with the season and will have the freshest of ingredients, however there will be staple dishes as well such as Bacon and Cheese Scramble.

Short Round is light, airy and bright and is a great place to start your morning, or even  late morning for that matter. The venue is fitted out with light timber tables and chairs and has a real modern but comfortable feel to it, accented with colourful wild flowers. As said previously the menu is seasonal – so when we went there were things like Breakfast Pizza, Bloody Mary Breakfast and Labourer’s lunch. You also get toast, oat porridge, muesli and waffles which I definitely have to head back to try. As avocado is in season there is a seasonal avocado dish on the menu that comes with corn salsa, chilli, lime and coriander all served atop toast. Coffee comes from Proud Mary and there are “Spring Drink Specials” as well such as a Single Origin Coffee, and a variety of different teas.

For my meal I ordered the Cauliflower Fritters, Snow Pea Shoots, Pomegranate Molasses and Minted Yoghurt and I asked for a Poached Egg to be added. People who read my blog will know how much I enjoy my fritters – this dish was right up there with the best of them. I have never had fritters with Cauliflower in them before. The presentation of the dish was superb as well – the fritters were the centre of the plate atop the minted yoghurt with shoots and pomegranate surrounding them. The fritters were dense yet soft and it really did feel like you were eating a cauliflower cloud – together with the sweetness of the pomegranate and the tang of the minted yoghurt it really did have a flavour party in your mouth. The addition of the Snow Pea Shoots was interesting and provided another layer of texture to this dish. The Poached Egg was perfectly cooked as well and oozed gooeyness.

N ordered the Potato, Chorizo and Manchego Omelette, Fresh Spring Onions and Harissa Yoghurt. The presentation was simple and had the omelette which took up most of the plate with olive oil and the Harissa Yoghurt underneath, finished with a sprinkling of Harissa. N thoroughly enjoyed this dish and I think this dish is very unique – I haven’t seen the combination of potato, chorizo, spring onions before. And the portion sizes of these dishes are very decent too.

At the bench top where the coffees are made and the register is there is a little case of cakes and cupcakes and I couldn’t look past one of the cupcakes that caught my eye. It was  Hazelnut Honey Meringue . It had shiny honey pieces atop of luscious looking cream that sat on the meringue cupcake. The cupcake was nice but was quite different to anything that I have had before. The meringue was not too sweet and the cream I thought needed a bit more sweetness to it, however once you bite into the honey pieces there was just the right amount of sweetness. The coffee here which is source from Proud Mary is quite good too but nothing overly fantastic.

The service of the staff is impeccable and staff are super friendly and as stated in my opening happy to help out where they can. This further adds to the atmosphere and general likening toward this new venue. For now Short Round is only open during the day time, but the sisters are considering the option of opening the venue up for night time dining and if they do – I cannot wait to see what special things they bring to their menu then.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.shortround.com.au/goods.html
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Light, Airy and Fun
Standout Dish: Cauliflower Fritters, Snow Pea Shoots, Pomegranate Molasses and Minted Yoghurt
Service: Friendly, Helpful and accomodating
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
shortround.com.au
731 High St, Thornbury
Tel No: 9484 3904

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

Short Round on Urbanspoon

Mister Bianco – Sicilian Great

panda-4-rating1

It was a combined dinner for myself and V and the place that we decided on was Mister Bianco. Mister Bianco, which is named after a municipality in Sicily, is located on High Street in Kew and is amongst other restaurants such as Estivo and St Katherine’s in that strip. This great Sicilian restaurant is a stylish and romantic restaurant brought to you by Joseph Vargetto (Mezzo Bar & Grill) and serves food and flavours from Southern Italy.

When you walk into Mister Bianco there is warm and welcoming feel to it – there is soft lighting and classy touches. There are two adjoining dining rooms – one at the front-  where the wooden bar is housed with tables surrounding it – as well and one further behind which houses more tables. There is also extra space upstairs which includes a private dining room. It really is like a typical Italian Bistro Style restaurant, which further adds to the comfort and feel. The tables are decked out in crisp white linen, topped with monogrammed wine glasses and completed with a variety of salts and olive oil for the bread to come. There is abstract art work in bright tones that stick out on the white walled background, which is further emphasized from the soft glow of lighting.

The menu comes from Vargetto’s extensive experience coupled with his traditional Sicilian roots and brings it together to form a modern take on Sicilian food – flavours, ingredients and cooking methods. The menu is divided into different sections –  stuzzichini (little starters), entrees and mains and a separate heading for shucked shells, steaks as well as pasta and risotto, and finally sides. On the main menu there is also a box which is titled – “Save some room for dessert” which I think is quite a good idea. I mean who doesn’t have room for dessert?

There was 6 of us at dinner so we decided to share a combination of stuzzichini and entrees and then get a main meal each. Yes, we were all really hungry on this day! First we recieved the Our Meatballs ‘Messinese’, Cous Cous + Tomato Sugo. The others really enjoyed these meatballs which also had a hint of chilli and paprika which enhanced the tomato and meat flavours. The Cous Cous comes with pine nuts, sultanas and saffron and was cooked perfectly and was the great addition to the meatballs.

We also ordered the Arancini of Blue Swimmer Crab + Stinging Nettle with Romesco Sauce. The Arancini was perfectly crumbed and was crunchy and tasty with a soft gooey centre of crab. The Romesco Sauce was a strong flavour but with the addition of the lemon gave a great tang and lessened the flavour. A tasty dish all in all.

Next up was the Burrata Mozzarella (money bag style), Roasted and Raw Heirloom Beetroots, Candied Walnuts, Grissini and Balsamic Reduction. I was intrigued by this dish as the Mozzarella on the menu stated that it was money bag style and indeed when it came out it did resemble a money bag and was the centre piece of the dish. It was surrounded with the other ingredients, with the Grissini topping the dish off in criss cross style. The combination of the mozzarella, beetroot with its sweet taste coupled with the tang of balsamic reduction and the walnuts was delicious. It was a really interesting dish and a great light entree.

The last share dish we had was the Tuna Carpaccio ‘Alla Zingara’, Avocado Puree + Cucumber, Fennel Bread. This was a spectacularly presented dish – the tuna is seared on the outside and comes in the form of three mini hamburgers. There are three tuna pieces which make up the hamburger and are sandwiched between tomato, cucumber and avocado. The tuna “burgers” are topped with sesame seeds just like a real burger would be. Its little details like this that make a difference. Surrounding the “burgers” are shaved bottarga, pistachios, fried capers and greens, together with fennel bread. This is really a fantastic dish and a must try!

For mains there was a variety of dishes chosen but the clear favourite was the Hand Cut Cavalo Nero flavoured Tagliatelle, Poached Spanner Crab and Grilled Scampi, Chilli, Garlic with three of us selecting this dish. And this dish certainly didn’t disappoint – the pasta (all hand made) was fresh, tasty and green as it was flavoured with cavalo nero. The flavours were rich and full of flavour and just yum – my one comment would be that there wasn’t much poached spanner crab in the dish and there was heaps of oil around the dish. I love how the dish was topped with grilled scampi and it certainly was the highlight of the dish – it was once again cooked perfectly and flavoured nicely.

Another dish around the table was the Potato Gnocchi with Slow Braised Organic Chicken, Farmed Rabbit, Corn Ragu and Crispy Parsnips – the pasta once again was soft and fresh and literally melted in your mouth. What caught V to pick this dish was the corn ragu – it was an interesting concept to the dish. She enjoyed the dish and as gnocchi dishes usually are was quite a heavy dish – the addition of both the chicken and the rabbit intensified this. C ordered the Slow Braised Organic Beef Cheek in Red Wine, Creamed Spatzle and Pickled Raddichio – which was another impressive dish. The Beef Cheek was glossy and cooked so the point where it literally fell off the “bone” and coupled with the creamed spatzle and tanginess of the raddichio was delicious. H ordered the Slow Cooked Otway Ranges Pork Belly with Peppers, Capers + Raisins, Sauce ‘Agrodolce’ – which he enjoyed quite a lot as well.

Next up was dessert – and since there was 6 of us we decided to order 4 different desserts and share them all. This way we got to sample and try a variety of what they had to offer. Desserts are done by pastry chef Maria Lantelme. The first of the four desserts was the Sicilian Style Donuts with Chocolate Gelato + Strawberry Jam. This has to be one of my favourite dishes as of late – the most interesting part of the dish was that it came with a syringe of jam which you use to inject the jam into the donuts yourself. I love this concept – its a bit different and allows you to interact with the food in a different sense, rather than just putting it in your mouth and eating it. The donuts itself were warm, delicious and had the right amount of sweetness topped with icing sugar. My only qualm would be that more jam was needed – perhaps two jam-filled syringes? =p The next dessert we tried was the Our Pineapple “Sundae” – Pineapple Carpaccio, Prosecco Jelly, Roasted and Glazed Pineapple, Pineapple Sorbet – it was all about the Pineapple. It came out in a martini glass that was covered with pineapple pieces on the outer edge and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The different ways that the pineapple had been encapsulated was interesting and it was quite a sweet tasting dessert. The other two desserts were the Strawberries + Cream Soufflé, White Chocolate Chips + Strawberry Sorbet + Raspberry Crisps and the dessert special of Orange Almond Sponge Cake with Creme Fraiche. Both of these desserts were exceptionally tasty as well. The souffle was warm and gooey and the sorbet oozed with the tangy and sweet strawberry flavour. The Orange Almond sponge cake was moist and full of the orange flavour, with the creme fraiche helping to smooth out the strong orange flavour.

Overall, the staff are friendly and always helpful – just a pity on the night it seemed quite hard to get their attention when we wanted to order a drink or something off the menu. The place is soothing, calming and generally all round cozy and serves up great Sicilian food with a modern twist.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Main Menu – http://www.misterbianco.com.au/images/PDF/mister_bianco_menu.pdf. Dessert Menu – http://www.misterbianco.com.au/images/PDF/mister_bianco_desserts_drinks_menu.pdf
The generic link for the menu can be found at http://www.misterbianco.com.au/index.php/menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable, Cosy, Romantic – great for date night or celebrating that special occasion.
Standout Dish: Roasted Marron, Tarragon Butter
Service: Friendly, Welcoming and Knowledgeable. Just a note on the night that we went – there were about 3 waitresses – but it just seemed hard to get anyone’s attention at times if we did need something – but having said that they were really great in ensuring that our glasses were always topped up.
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.misterbianco.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.misterbianco.com.au/
285 High Street, Kew
Tel No:  9853 6929

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Wednesday – Friday: From 12:00pm
Dinner
Monday – Saturday:  From 6:00pm

Mister Bianco on Urbanspoon