Sorry for being MIA….

Hi Everyone!!

It has been quite a while since I have done a post – sorry everyone! It has been a busy year indeed – planning a wedding, getting married together with work being crazy busy! But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been out and about trying out new places – I have – I mean a girl has got to eat right! So in the coming weeks leading up to Christmas I will post a few blogs…. PROMISE!!

Leading up to Christmas is a time when people are wanting to get together with family and friends and of course enjoy a good meal. So I will just name a few places that I have been to lately that I would highly recommend.

Enjoy and have a great Christmas and an awesome New Year!!

xx

Grazing Panda

Breakfast and Brunch

Denis the Menace – Cremorne
A cool coverted space that serves Breakkie with a difference. Sugar bowls are Mr and Miss Cups. This was my dish Something Fishy Is Going On Here – Garden Pea Puree, Asparagus, Avocado, Steamed Spinach, Crispy Red Kale and Hot Smoked Trout with a Poached Egg

Website: https://www.facebook.com/denisthemenacecafe

Denis The Menace Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Denis The Menace - Something Fishy Is Going On Here - Garden Pea Puree, Asparagus, Avocado, Steamed Spinach, Crispy Red Kale and Hot Smoked Trout with a Poached Egg_

Two Birds – Collingwood
They have an amazing looking and delicious Chai Pudding. Looks like a mini garden sitting on top of the chia pudding.
They also do a Kaffir Lime Crumbed Poached Egg which is DIVINE!!

Website: http://www.twobirdscafe.com.au/
Menu: http://www.twobirdscafe.com.au/#!menu/e0wqw

Two Birds Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Two Birds

Ascot Food Store – Moonee Ponds
A really great menu which leaves you second guessing what you want to order – from a big breakkie to a crab burger they have it all. They also do these really amazing desserts such as Raspberry and White Chocolate Filled Cronut. Their coffee is delicious and their Tea Selection is fantastic!

Website: www.facebook.com/ascotfoodstore.com.au
Menu: https://www.zomato.com/melbourne/ascot-food-store-moonee-ponds/menu

Ascot Food Store Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Ascot Food Store - Raspberry and White Chocolate Filled Cronut

The Reverend Cafe – Ascot Vale
These were their special – Rocky Road Waffles – Fresh Berries, Toasted Marshmallows, Raspberry Curd, Lemon Curd, Vanilla Mascarpone, Fruit Jelly & Chocolate Almond Crumble. YUMMMM!

Website: http://thereverendcafe.com.au/
The Reverend Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
The Reverend Cafe - Rocky Road Waffles - Fresh Berries, Toasted Marshmallows, Raspberry Curd, Lemon Curd, Vanilla Mascarpone, Fruit Jelly & Chocolate Almond Crumble

Rustica Canteen – Melbourne CBD
Rustica Canteen is newly opened in the Melbourne CBD and has this delicious Nutella and Banana finished with Hazelnuts on toast. They also serve other delicious meals for breakfast and lunch such as this Quinoa Salad. Another highlight of Rustica Canteen is the delectable selection of cakes, dounts and crossiants like the Ispahan Rose Crossiant. A must try!

Website: http://www.rusticacanteen.com/
Menu on website

Rustica Canteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rustica - Brioche Toast - Nutella, Sliced Banana, Smashed Hazelnuts
Rustica Canteen - Freekah, Wild Rice, Kale, Rocket, Chai Soaked Raisins, Toasted Almonds, Minted Yoghurt, Fried Egg Rustica Canteen

Long Story Short Cafe – Richmond
A cute cafe with a great range of dishes for breakfast and lunch.

Website: http://www.longstoryshortcafe.com.au/
Menu: http://www.longstoryshortcafe.com.au/wp-content/uploads/bsk-pdf-manager/long_story_short_menu_5.pdf

Long Story Short Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Long Story Short Cafe

Bawa – Hawthorn
A newly opened cafe this year – named after Geoffrey Bawa who was Sri Lanka’s most prominent architect and a driver of the 20th century style known as “tropical modernism”, known for bringing the outdoors in, mixing elements from different times and places, and making use of lots of greenery – which is exactly the philosophy that Bawa follows. The menu is versatile and covers a range of dishes – trust me there will be something for everyone. Below is a picture of the delicious Ricotta Hot Cakes with Lavender Custard.

Website: http://bawacafe.com/
Menu: http://bawacafe.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Bawa_Menu1.pdf

Bawa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bawa Cafe - Ricotta Hot Cakes with Lavendar Custard

Mastic – Kew
Mastic has a very healthy but delicious take on breakfast. The larger tables are table tennis tables so if the cafe is really quiet you can even enjoy a game of table tennis! Love the decor and the service is great.
We had the French toast, blueberries, strawberries, crème fraiche, buckinis and the Roasted mushrooms, poached eggs, avocado mousse, carob croutons, feta

Website: www.mastic.com.au
Menu:
http://hellenicrepublic.com.au/menu/mastic-takeaway

Mastic Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mastic

The Premises – Flemington
The Premises is one of my fave places for breakfast. Always impressed by their dishes – be it a bread pudding special to these delicious dishes we had which came on the best tasting Turkish bread I have ever tasted. Delicious!

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Premises/170466319637539

The Premises Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Premises

Trei Cafe – Glen Waverly
I love the fitout of this cafe – lovely pastel shades line the back walls and the chairs – super cute. They also do a really great Matcha Latte and the food not only looks but tastes great. I still have to go back and try the coconut pancakes – there are a limited amount each day so if you want to try these awesome looking dish – get in early!
Check out the colourful pics on their Instagram Page : https://www.instagram.com/treicafe/?hl=en

Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Trei-Cafe/454227061427297

Trei Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Trei Cafe Trei Cafe - Matcha Latte

Naughty Boy Cafe – Carlton
A cute little cafe located on Lygon Street. I had the Red Velvet Pancakes – Fresh Berries, Vanilla Mascarpone, Chocolate Soil, Freeze Dried Mandarin, Citrus Powder, Burnt Meringue.

Website: http://www.naughtyboycafe.com.au/
Menu: http://www.naughtyboycafe.com.au/food/

Naughty Boy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Naughty Boy - Red Velvet Pancakes - Fresh Berries, Vanilla Mascarpone, Chocolate Soil, Freeze Dried Mandarin, Citrus Powder, Burnt Meringue

Let Me Be Frank – South Melbourne
This cafe is hidden in the streets of South Melbourne and was such a gem of a find. As you step inside you feel as if you have stepped into your grandmorther’s living area. There are bookshelves filled with books for the lil ones as well as toys. There is a huge communal table as well as individual tables. The menu is extensive and have such gems as the picture below – French Toast with Berries, Plums and Maple Syrup.
Let Me Be Frank - French Toast with a difference

Square and Compass – East Melbourne
There is a wealth of experience behind the creation of Square and Compass – located on Clarendon Street in East Melbourne. The menu has changed since I have been – they now have a variation of the waffle dish that I had below. Great selection of dishes!

Website: http://squareandcompass.com.au/
Menu: http://squareandcompass.com.au/_pdfs/menu.pdf

Square and Compass Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Square and Compass - Waffles

Baba Sus – Glen Iris
Baba Sus serves all day breakfast which includes the delicious Hong Kong Egg Waffles –  Vanilla Custard, Berry Compote, Green Tea Ice Cream, Pistachio Praline. However they do sell out of these babies so get in early to try it out – well worth the early wake up call. They also do great combination milk shakes – COOKIES AND CREAM FTW!

Website: http://babasus.com.au/
Menu: http://babasus.com.au/images/BS_Menu_12.08.15%20-%20WINTER.pdf

Baba Sus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Baba Sus - Hong Kong Waffles with Green Tea Ice Cream

5 Lire – North Melbourne
Serving an all day breakfast consisting of Savoury Bites and Sweet Dishes as well as daily specials. I had the special which was a Breakkie Board which came with Toast, Poached Egg, Avacado, Orange Juice and Muesli with Fresh Fruit – sooo damn good!

Website: http://www.5lire.com.au/
Menu: http://www.5lire.com.au/menu/
5 Lire Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

5 Lires - Breakkie Tasting Board

The Black Trestle – Balwyn
A newly opened cafe in Balwyn that serves up great tasting coffee and delicious breakfast dishes to match. There are donuts from The Dessert Parlour that are also available. Food that looks and tastes great. Check out their Instagram page – https://www.instagram.com/theblacktrestlecoffee/

Website: https://www.facebook.com/The-Black-Trestle

The Black Trestle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lennox Coffee + Kitchen – Richmond
A cool cafe located in the streets of Richmond. There is an outdoor sitting area as well. I had “The Mushroom Dish” – Brioche, Mushroom, Parmesan Cheese, Egg. It certainly was a dish with a different with the egg located in the centre of the Brioche Bread!
Website:
http://www.lennoxcoffeeandkitchen.com/
Menu: http://www.lennoxcoffeeandkitchen.com/menu/

Lennox Coffee & Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lennox Coffee + Kitchen - The Mushroom Dish

Giddyup Mule – Yarraville
Giddyup Mule is attached to the state-of-the-art workout space, Art of Cycling. It is a great warehouse filled space – complete with a fireplace in the main room for those wintry days! Great selection of food on the menu with a healthy spin on classics. An all round place to just chill out at.

Website: http://www.giddyupmule.com.au/

Giddyup Mule Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Percy’s Aeroplane – Kew
They are trialing a new dish – Cacao Pikelets served with Matcha Panna Cotta. A cute space filled with a yellow aeroplane out the front and finished with a combinatino of delicious tasting food and coffee. Not to mention great service. Check out my review at https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2014/06/26/percys-aeroplane-yellow-model-plane-tasty-food-all-in-one/

Website: www.percysaeroplane.com.au
Percy's Aeroplane Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Percys Aeroplane - Cacao Pikelets with Green Tea PannaCotta

Le Miel et la Lune – Carlton
I love the cute little bear logo that greets you at the entrance and braces all the coffee cups – it is super cute. The food menu has hidden suprises with bursts of excitement in the form of squid sausage for example. Coffee is from Proud Marys.

Website: http://www.lemiel.com.au/
Percy's Aeroplane Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lunch / Dinner

Benjamin’s Kitchen – Alphington
I absolutely love the illuminated paper clouds that sit in the centre of the restaurant, and pays homage to Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, the walls are painted in white and grey tones. The menu is a fusion of Thai, Japanese and Chinese and simply wonderful. The menu is designed to share so grab a bunch of friends and try as much as you can from the menu.

Website: http://benjaminskitchen.com.au/
Menu: http://benjaminskitchen.com.au/menus/
Benjamin's Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Inside Benjamins Kitchen

Zero95 Pizza – Doncaster
If you are after some delicious and fresh tasting wood fire pizza, pasta coupled with entertainment for all then this is the place for you. The boys who run this restaurant hail from Italy and if you are lucky enough to score a dinner booking – there will be a time when the lights turn off and out comes the twirling pizza dough show which is mighty impressive. If this isn’t enough to WOW about then you should try their Nutella calzone. It is to die for!

Website: http://www.zero95.com.au/
Menu: http://www.zero95.com.au/menus/
Zero95 Wood Fire Pizza Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Zero 95 Pizza

Belles Hot Chicken – Fitzroy
Calling all chicken lovers! This is the place for you.You can the meat you want, then pick the Heat – Southern, Medium, Hot, Really Hot and Really F**kin Hot. I love my spice and can usually handle my spiciness but I got the HOT and this was pretty damn hot really – I cannot imagine what the Really F**kin Hot would taste like! All Meats come with a selectino of 1 side – be it Old Bay Fries, Broccoli & Almond Salad, Coleslaw, Mixed Pickles or 3 Bean Salad, Red Peppers and Dill. And you have a selection of sauces to choose from – Mississippi Comeback, Belles Ranch Dressing, Belles Blue Cheese, House Made Ketchup, House Made Hot Sauce.

Website: http://belleshotchicken.com/
Menu located on website
Belle's Hot Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Belles Hot Chicken

L’Altro Mondo – Albert Park
I am actually not sure how I stumbled on this restaurant – but I am sure glad I did. The cuisine is Italian and the main meals were wholesome and really tasty. Then you come to dessert and they were certainly different. The Tiramasu is what appears inside of the sphere and the Poached Pear dessert had a mix of flavours that worked really well together. A degustation menu is also available.

Website: http://laltromondo.com.au/
Menu: http://laltromondo.com.au/menu/

L'Altro Mondo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

L'Altro Mondo - Formaggio con le pere - Poached Pear, Mascarpone Foam, Polenta Lavosh L'Altro Mondo - Tiramasu in a Sphere 0 L'Altro Mondo - Tiramasu in a Sphere 3

Johnny Pump – Essendon
Dessert Shakes are all the rage in 2015 and Johnny Pump are the king (IMO). There are 6 different flavours to choose from with a daily special. They taste pretty damn good too but once again this could depend on the flavour that you pick. They also do a great breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Servings are very generous and there is a large variety of food to choose from.

Website: http://www.johnnypump.com.au/
Johnny Pump - Shakes

Son in Law – Collingwood
Son in law takes it’s name from a famous Thai street food favourite, a dish with a humorous back-story. Newly opened mid 2015 – it comes to us from Tony and Oh Rungpradit who used to own Ayatana on Chapel Street (and who was my very first blog invite 2 years ago when I started my blog – https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/ayatana-authentic-thai-with-a-modern-twist/ -THANK YOU!)
The venue is bright, colourful and inviting. The service is warm and friendly. The food is really tasty and has all the right notes of spice. The stand out dessert is definitely the Marshmallow and Nutella Puffs (pictured below) and are a genius of an idea.

Website: www.soninlaw.com.au
Menu located on website

Son In Law Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Son In Law - Marshmallow & Nutella Puff - Berries, Crushed Cashew Nuts, French Vanilla Ice Cream

Emilia – Melbourne CBD
Emilia has taken over the old Gills Diner premises and brought a sweet charm to it thanks to great service, delicious food and exquisite artwork. Emilia showcases Italian dishes at its best with the dishes reflecting the diverse Italian flavours all whilst keeping the traditional techniques in check. You wont be disappointed.

Website: http://www.emiliamelbourne.com.au/
Menu: http://www.emiliamelbourne.com.au/

Trattoria Emilia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Emilia - Pasta Galore

Botherambo – Richmond
Botherambo is a newly opened Vietnamese and Thai restaurant open in Richmond. The food menu consists of dishes to share as well your larger dishes and one signature dish. Their Saigon Slushie mocktail is right up there with the best mocktails I have had – a combination of pineapple, coconut and mint – just divine! The food was tasty – some hits, some misses – but overall delicious. The dessert of Mango Sticky Rice with Coconut Ice Cream was the best way to finish off the meal. I really wanted to try the Banana Spring Rolls – however they had sold out by the time it was dessert time for us. Need to go back to try them out.

Website: http://www.botherambo.com.au/
Menu on website

Botherambo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Botherambo - Dinner
Botherambo - Mango Sticky Rice with Coconut Ice Cream

Belleville – Melbourne CBD
Belleville is a fusion of bar, cafe, restaurant and live entertainment venue, housed in a historic multi-storey building off Chinatown that captures the pure essence of Melbourne. The point of attraction is definitely the enormous Brazilian rotisserie (located in prime position in the kitchen), rotating up to 90 chickens at any one time. The chicken comes in quarter, half or whole serves, smothered in sauces from the mild house chicken gravy, to the “hot as F#@k – and the best part is that it comes to your table and the waiter cuts it up for you (refer to pic below). The chicken is cooked to perfection and the other food on the menu is just as good! Check it out for a quirky, uniquely Melbourne night out!

Website: http://belleville-melbourne.com/
Menu: http://belleville-melbourne.com/#Menu

Belleville Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Belleville - WHOLE CHICKEN

The Noble Experiment – Collingwood
The Noble Experiment is all about reliving the 1920s – Prohibition Era – and bringing a sense of theatre to every drink and dish they create. I don’t drink but the most interesting drink would have to be their Bathtub Gin which comes served in a miniature bathtub complete with a floating rubby ducky! How awesome is that. There is a wealth of different spaces to choose from when you come and visit – think pop up basement bars, cocktails on tap or a vintage Absinthe fountain surrounded by the comfiest chesterfield lounges. This three-tiered bar has been designed to explore. Great place for drinks and delicious tasting food – not sure why we waited so long to check it out!

Website: http://www.thenobleexperiment.com.au
Menu:
http://www.thenobleexperiment.com.au/menu/

The Noble Experiment Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Noble Experiment - Desserts

Longhorn Saloon – Carlton

Longhorn Saloon is a type of place that transports you into another time and place – where you could lose track of all your time and stay all night long. Named in honour of a shady bar where the underage Balleaus tasted their first beers – it has a great fit out to match thanks to naked bricks and wrought iron. I love the old chesterfield couches by a mini fireplace that you can just sit back and enjoy some drinks. The food servings are generous and taste amazing. They are known for their burgers – but I must admit their other dishes are just as good.

Website: http://www.longhornsaloon.com.au/
Menu: http://www.longhornsaloon.com.au/menus.html

Longhorn Saloon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

NOTE: If you are looking for a restaurant simliar to this – check out Le Bon Ton – Collingwoodwww.lebontonmelb.com
I really loved my time at this place too – a New Orleans-inspired oyster saloon, smokehouse, cocktail bar and absinthe den. The food takes inspiration from American South – their smokehouse brisket is done Texas-style, their blackened fish and crab cakes come from the Louisiana Gulf Coast – with inspiration coming from as far west as New Mexico and as far east as Alabama.

Le Bon Ton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Longhorn Saloon

The Press Club – Melbourne CBD
The Press Club really needs no introduction – one of many of George Colombaris’ restaurants which has recently undergone a refurbishment. It is spectacular – filled with mirrors to make it look bigger than it actually is (especially when you look in from the outside).  Certain tables have a vantage point looking into the kitchen so you can watch as the chefs create your unique dishes. The Press Club is all about the attention to detail and great customer service – from the friendliness to the in-sync placed dishes on your table – there is nothing to fault. This dish pictured was given to us at the end of our meal – petit fours – their very own housemade chocolate and caramel cubes displayed on a mini clothesline. Adorable! The food is full of theatrics with a flavour to match. A must try!

Website: http://www.thepressclub.com.au/
Menus can be found on the website
The Press Club Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Press Club - Petit 4

Lounge – Melbourne CBD
Lounge has been around for years – located on Swanston Street – being quite  a popular night spot and bar for uni students. Most recently they have revamped their kitchen menu – to target a wider clientele. You can now find sliders, patatas bravas  and even a salted caramel panna cotta!

Website:  www.loungekitchen.com.au
Menu can be found on website

Lounge Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Lounge Kitchen + Bar - Sliders and Patatas Bravas

Port of Call – Melbourne CBD
Port of Call Salon Bar & Grill is a bar inspired by the eats, treats and beats of the Caribbean. My hubby is from the Carribean and has been telling me all about the foods that you can get there – such as Doubles and Bake and Shark – so I was really excited to try them out right here in Melbourne (until I actually get to visit the Carribean). I love that in Melbourne you can try out various types of cuisines from all around the world. Amazing. This place is a definite must try. And eventhough the dish sizes look small – they are deceivingly filling!

Website: http://www.theportofcall.com.au/
Menu can be found on website

Port of Call Saloon Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Port of Call

Sabas Ethiopian – Fitzroy
Speaking of being able to try out almost every cuisine right here in Melbourne – Ethiopian is yet another cuisine you can try out. This was always on my list to try and I was really excited to check out Sabas. Saba herself (who runs the restaurant) is lovely – she helped me out when I asked if the meat was halal (which it is btw). Hailing from the far northern region of Tigray, the beautiful meat, vegetarian and vegan dishes are served on the famous Injera bread. You get to experience the way that the Ethiopians eat as well – on a shared place with the curries you choose all placed in the middle of the injera – with extra injera surrounding it. Such a special thing to try out different customs and ways that different cultures embrace food-time.
The menu is completely gluten-free and vegans and vegetarians are well catered for. Ethiopia is a country with serious coffee-growing credibility, and Saba’s performs the coffee ceremony, which starts with roasting green beans, moves through grinding and brewing (in a jebena, which is like a clay moka pot) to serving in little cups.
Additionally you can purchase teff (gluten-free flour used to make injera​ flatbread) – which has been awarded a superfood status – and how Saba first started her business venture. A must visit.

Website: http://sabashealthfoods.com.au/pages/sabas-ethiopian-restaurant
Saba's Ethiopian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Sabas Ethiopian Dinner

Mr Hive Kitchen + Bar – Crown Entertainment Complex
The many times that I have visited Mr Hive Kitchen and Bar – I have never been disappointed. Located at the Crown Metropol end of the Crown Entertainment complex – Mr Hive is a great place for a relaxed dinner date or catchup with friends.There is lively bar area at the front serving cocktails, snacks and shared platters. Move inside further where you will find tables spaciously laid out to devour your perfect meals. Service is great.

Website: https://www.crownmelbourne.com.au/restaurants/premium/mr-hive
Menu can be found on wesbite
Mr. Hive Kitchen & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar - Coconut Pannacotta (2)

Tip00 – Melbourne CBD
If you are in a pasta mood – then this is the place to be. Handmade in-house, fresh and super delicious! Tip00 is a name to reference the flour used in what they specialize in ‘pasta’. They also do a really great Panna Cotta! A point to note is that there are limited amount of seats available – so booking a table is highly recommended. Tip00 is really popular with the city folk and usually gets packed out at all times of the day! Yep it really is that good!

Website: http://www.tipo00.com.au/
Menu: http://www.tipo00.com.au/food/
Tipo 00 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Tip 00 - Pannacotta - Honey, Almond & Berries

Sugar Prawn – Collingwood
Sugar Prawn replicates the feel of a hawker market in Malaysia – complete with the plastic chairs and colourful decor. There is also fresh juice is available from Jasmine Jus Bar and their own in house radio station located across from this. Malaysian breakfasts are also served – think kaya (coconut jam) toast and coconut sago pudding with sliced fruit. You can also find Everyday Coffee which delivers quality filter coffee. At dinner time you can devour the most delicious chilli crab served with fried buns here along with other great tasting Malaysian inspired dishes!

Website: http://www.sugarprawn.com/
Menu: http://www.sugarprawn.com/menu/
Sugar Prawn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Sugar Prawn - Chilli Crab with Fried Buns

Dutchess – Melbourne CBD
Located on the third level of The Duke of Wellington with a New York vibe is a standing-room bar and 110-seat restaurant. There are two dinner settings with the later group (around 8:30pm) encouraged to stay around till lights out (around 1am). Resident DJs will play a mix of soul, funk, punk and anything you can’t find in the top 100, plus the DJ sets will be available on Dutchess’ own Spotify channel each week. The look and feel is luxurious which further encourages customers to want to stay. The food focus is on dry-aged steak with meals designed to be shared. There is also a raw bar focusing on seafood located next to the bar, for those looking for lighter snacks with a beverage, as opposed to a full meal. They also serve a King Crab Mac and Cheese which is the bomb!!

Website: http://www.dutchess.com.au/
Menu can be found on the website
Dutchess Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Duchess - King Lobster Mac and Cheese

Mr Huang Jin – Melbourne CBD
Mr Huang Jin used to be located within the Rialto building but has now moved and taken up shop in The Archway. The menu includes an array of traditional Taiwanese foods – think noodle soups, rice dishes and stir fries together with the signature handmade (on site) xiao long bao (soup dumplings). The dumplings here are really quite delicious and rival those made at the famous Hutong. I love the interior – complete with pale timbers which is reminiscent of bamboo steamers – and rather interesting chairs (when you visit you will see what I mean). The space is quite small (seats about 40) so perhaps you would want to book just in case. You don’t want to miss out these dumplings.

Mr Huang Jin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mr Huang Jin - Dumplings & Banana Fritters

The Millhouse – Melbourne CBD
The Millhouse is located in the heart of the city and resides in the basement of Tomasetti House (which was built in 1851 to house a steam flour mill). The original bluestone walls remain with additional features such as brass finishes and recycled beechwood accents to created a relaxed bar and eatery. There is a subtle South American influence over the menu thanks to Peruvian chef Augustin Ortega. The menu is designed to share – and the portions are generous indeed! I love the picture themed words that you will find on the menu as well as the coasters (not to mention their website) – enjoy deciphering these! Great chilled out space with fantastic bar tenders who can whip up great mocktails / cocktails!

Website: http://themillhouse.com.au/
Menu: http://themillhouse.com.au/pdf/TheMillHouse_Menu.pdf

The Mill House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
The Millhouse

MJR Tom – Collingwood
MJR Tom is the newest venue to grace Smith Street in Collingwood – there are two main areas to it – a cosy front cafe dominated by tables and benches and a big standing-room bar out back, with a bluestone pool table den downstairs. I love the fitout – complete with plywood – it creates light and an inside-outside vibe. During the day you will find a breakfast menu which includes blue swimmer crab omelette with papaya and Vietnamese mint, patatas bravas and pa amb tomàquet. The lunch and dinner menu has a somewhat Asian / Latin feel to it. Also a great place to have drinks and hang with friends. The night we went – there were a lot of parties happening.

Website: http://www.mjrtomcollingwood.com.au/
MJR TOM Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dinner by Heston – Crown Entertainment Complex
Dont think this place even really needs a spiel about it – Heston Blumenthal – that is all!
Your best bet at getting a table here is booking online and looking out for available tables. Bookings also open two months out from a date.

Website: http://dinnerbyheston.com.au/
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

OTHER

Dex2Rose – Melbourne CBD
Love Hot Chocolates? Dex2Rose does one with a difference – it comes with our very own mini fire to toast marshmallows one.And the best bit – aside from the taste – is that there an unlimited amount of fire and marshmallows!
Dex2rose Nitrogen Gelato Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dextrose - Hot Chocolate

Hash Specialty Coffee – Melbourne CBD
Want another type of Hot Chocolate with a difference – check out Hash Specialty. This comes served with pure melted chocolate served with Fairy Floss to lend some extra sweetness.

Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Hash Specialty - Hot Chocolate

Bibelot – South Melbourne
Love cakes, macaroons or chocolate? Then this is the place for you. Has great tasting coffee to match as well. They also do cakes for any special occasions that you need to pre-order. I ordered one for my sisters 21st – and it was soo good! Highly Recommended.
Bibelot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bibelot - Coffee & Pistachio Macaron

Kwak Scrolls
I got this from Code Black Coffee Roasters (Southgate, Docklands)
Cookies and Cream FTW!! SOOO DELISH! Check out @kwakscrolls for current locations.
Kwak Scrolls - Cookies and Cream

Code Black Coffee Roasters – Southbank, Docklands, Brunswick
MY ALL TIME FAVOURITE COFFEE PLACE! Really great tasting coffee and great service. Not to mention the special sweet and savoury treats that you can get to go with our coffee such as Kwak Scrolls (see above) and these addictive Butter Bing Cookies! Enough said!
Website: http://codeblackcoffee.com.au/
Code Black Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Code Black Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Code Black Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Butter Bing Stockists: https://butterbing.neto.com.au/stockists-list
Code Black Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Code Black Coffee + Butter Bing Cookie

 

Woody P – When In Rome…

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Menu Pizza Menu

It was a Friday night date night and we decided to eat in the city. I remembered hearing about a new restaurant that had opened up called Woody P. It was earlyish – around 6:30pm so we decided to see if we could get a table without a booking. We were able to score some high seats by the window with a view looking into the kitchen area and were told that when a table becomes available they would move us. Perfect!

Woody P is located on Flinders lane in the heart of the Melbourne CBD – with neighboring restaurants such as Chin Chin, Coda and Cumulus Inc. Woody P is brought to us by Pierre Semaan and Robert Rae who previously owned Fashion Lounge – the nightclub – which is the very place that Woody P has taken over.

Woody P has such an interesting space which has been designed by Eades and Bergman (who have also designed Kong and The Meatball and Wine Bar). As you are about to enter the restaurant – you know you are at the right place when you see a neon blue W sign out the front – and if you look down – the WOODY P name made out of small tiles.
The venue spans over two floors complete with a combination of exposed brick walls, wooden floors, blond wood and marble – what a combination! The restaurant is artfully sectioned off into distinct areas – separated by exposed brick beams on one side and indoor suspended greenery (planter boxes) on the other side. The front section is for casual walk-ins, with a semi private area just behind it, followed by a marble bar with mosaic tiles for cocktails and towards the back overlooking the kitchen – high table seating. I love the brightly lit blue neon sign “When in Rome” which works beautifully against the exposed brick wall which catches your eye as you walk towards the bar. There is also a terrace for outdoor seating to dine al fresco once the sun comes out in Melbourne!

The menu has both Italian and Mediterranean influences and has been created by head chef Clinton Camilleri (Eleonore’s, The Lake House, The Royal George Hotel). The menu pretty much has something for everyone – from White Anchovy, Caramelised Onion, Puff Pastry starters to 48-hour Slow Cooked Beef Rib, Roast Onion, Gremolata to a selection of Pizzas and Pastas. The menu is split into 8 sections – Piccolo (Entrees), Salumi, Pizza, Grande (Mains), Pasta, Sides, Formaggi and Dolce (Dessert). You can select the “Time to Feast” menu for $55 per person for groups of four or more.
The Pizza menu can either be Eat In or Take-Away and to view the list available to choose from you simple flip over the menu given to you. There are 7 pizzas to select from including Margherita, San Daniele, Gamberi, Funghi, Patatina, Zucca and Porchetta.

N and I were seated at the high tables and were given the menus in case we wanted to have some snacks whilst we waited for our table. We were also asked if we wanted sparkling water which we said yes to. The sparkling water was from Bolle Stille and was better than any of the sparkling waters I have tasted around. Before deciding on what snacks/entrees we wanted we decided to order a drink. I asked what mocktails they had available and the friendly waitress informed me that there were two options – I ended up going with the Peaches & Cream. I have never come across a place that does a Peach mocktail so I was very interested to see what this was all about. The mocktail came out and just like the drink had peachy tones completed with a wedge of lemon – and tasted spectacular – exactly as you would imagine peaches and cream to taste like – slightly sour with a great creamy after taste! Delicious and definitely highly recommended!

It was time to decide what food to eat – we ordered the Panisse Chips, Truffle, Taleggio, Cauliflower to start while we thought about what we wanted for our mains. I had never heard of Panisse before so was intrigued to see what it was like – essentially it is reminiscent of polenta and comes served in fingers which resemble fries. The exterior was crumbed perfection with the inside reminding me of custard – I would have liked a bit more seasoning to the flavour such as salt and pepper but overall it was an interesting dish.

For mains I decided to go with the Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi, Tomato Sugo, Ricotta Salata and N went with Chargrilled Grass-Fed T-Bone (500gm), Salsa Verde. We also decided to get the Broccolini, Grilled Onion, Honey Mustard as a side – we absolutely love Broccolini and were interested to try the honey mustard flavouring.

My Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi, Tomato Sugo, Ricotta Salata was a beautifully presented dish – the Tomato Sugo oozed brightness at the base of the dish where the Spinach & Ricotta Gnudi were placed upon and finished with Ricotta Salata and Basil leaves. Gnudi is essentially a type of round gnocchi and Woody Ps take on it was smashingly delicious. The Gnudi balls were generous in size and quite dense in texture with the taste perfect. The Tomato Sugo was rich and complemented the ricotta and spinach fantastically. Overall a good tasting dish.
N’s T Bone was styled simply – the steak pieces cut up into bite sized pieces with the salsa verde dressed on top and finished with half a lemon. N thoroughly enjoyed his dish so much so that he didn’t even realise he was eating 500grams of meat!
The Broccolini was such a simple dish with bursting flavours that I loved. The Honey Mustard combined with the grilled onions meshed really well with the Brocollini. I think we will definitely be trying to replicate this dish at home!

As you all know I cannot leave a place without sampling the dessert menu. It was a tough choice to make but in the end I went with the Chocolate & Giandujua Budino, Crème Fraiche, Sour Cherry Ice Cream – and boy am I glad I did. I was raving about this dessert weeks later! This dessert isn’t just for all Chocolate lovers – but for anyone! Giandujua for those of you who don’t know is a sweet chocolate hazelnut spread and a Giandujua Budino is an Italian pudding made with this spread. This was served with quenelles of chocolate ganache as well as Sour Cherry Ice Cream. The combination of the rich chocolatey goodness combined with the sourness of the ice cream was brilliant. I could actually eat a bowl full of Sour Cherry Ice Cream on its own as well – it was simply divine!

On a different occasion (when I went to Woody P for lunch) – I ordered the Roast Potato, Truffle & Persian Fetta Tortellini, Cauliflower, Cavolo Nero. This would have to be my favourite dish from Woody P so far (aside from the delicious Chocolate dessert of course). The dish is immaculately presented – with the cauliflower puree at the base of the dish with the three tortellini placed in a triangle on top – finished with sultanas and Cavolo Nero. It was almost too pretty to eat…almost! From the first bite I was in Tortellini heaven – the combination of potato, fetta and perfectly made pasta was delicious – there was the right amount of seasoning and combined with the smooth creamy cauliflower puree. I am not usually a sultana fan but it really worked in this dish and added a sweetness to the dish which complemented all the other flavours. My only gripe would be that it too small – I would have like maybe 1 or 2 more tortellini – but I guess that’s only because the dish was DELICIOUS! On the same occasion C ordered the Gamberi Pizza – Tiger Prawns, San Marzano Tomato, Chilli, Garlic, Salsa Verde. I was lucky enough to sample a piece and it was quite good as well! When the pizza came out it came served with a little dish that had extra salt, herbs and chilli which I thought was a great idea as usually I have to ask for extra chilli on the side. The base of the pizza was thin, fresh and crispy on the edges with the ingredients all working well together.

Woody P is up there with one of my favourite restaurants of 2015 and one that I recommend to people when they ask me for a place to eat in the city! Service is brilliantly friendly and the vibe is welcoming and homely – it is a great place for Friday night drinks or just to have a quiet date night. The music is great and really allows you to let your hair down!
Also something to note the Woody P team are still deciding what their downstairs basement space will be transformed into. So stay tuned for something like a relaxed cocktail and wine / cheese bar come next summer.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to https://thegrazingpanda.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/bd409-woody-pmenujune2015.pdf or refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Vibrant, Relaxed and Welcoming. Great for Friday Night drinks or Date Night. Alternatively it is also a great place to grab lunch during the week.
Standout Dish: Roast Potato, Truffle & Persian Fetta Tortellini, Cauliflower, Cavolo Nero
Service: Friendly, Attentive and Helpful
Online Booking: Yes via this link
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.woodyp.com.au/
121 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 5000

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 12:00pm to 12:00am

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/woodypmelb

Instagram: woodypmelb

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Hero Subs – Not Your Ordinary Sandwich

panda 3.5 rating

Hero Subs is brought to us by Michael and Eleena Tan who are responsible for The Grain Store. Hero Subs was inspired by Michael’s travels around New York City together with his fond childhood memories of being looked after by a traditional Nonna – eating food such as parmagianas – and putting what he finds special into food.

Hero Subs specialises in oversized gourmet Brooklyn inspired subs – with a distinct Melbourne twist – that come in an array of fillings and flavours. The subs come in both half and full sizes and you can choose from a Brioche bun or a Baguette style (Seeded, White or Gluten Free). If bread subs aren’t your thing – you can have a wrap style (Chia Seed, White or Gluten Free).
There are 11 different flavours to choose from – including #Sonny In Law (Sticky Fried Chicken, Kim Chi Slaw, Sriracha Mayo), #Kanye’s Revenge (150gm Beer-Battered Fish Fillet, Apple Slaw, Lemon Dill Aioli) and #KidRoyale (Hickory Slow Cooked Beef, Onion Jam, Baby Spinach, Honey Dijon Mustard and Crispy Onion Rings) just to name a few.
Naked Salads, Potato Kris Cross Chips, Sweet Potato Kris Cross Chips, Onion Rings, Corn Fritters and Sweet Treats (Hot Ball Donuts – in Berry Jam and Salted Caramel) are also available.
Hero Subs has funky quotations on its wrapping – sayings like “Stack Mad Chips Spread Love With My Peeps”, “Spread Love, It’s The Brooklyn Way” – and tissues – like “Oh You Missed A Spot.”

I ordered the #Cypress Chill – Corn Fritters, Green Goodess Spread, Baby Spinach – Diced Tomato and Herb Fetta Sub in the Wrap Style (Chia Seed) with a side of Potato Kris Cross Chips. The Kris Cross Chips were crunchy on the outside, flavoured well and soft like clouds on the inside. There is just something about eating chips in the shape of a kris cross that makes it more appealingly delicious. I really enjoyed the #7Grand Wrap – the corn fritters was perfectly cooked with the right level of crunch and consistency. I loved the combination of the spinach, fetta and the Green Goodess Spread – it was tanginess exemplified but not over the top. A really great tasting sub!

One thing I would love to see on the menu would be some seafood subs – prawns or soft shell crab would taste delicious! Hopefully they start making them soon!

Hero Subs are not just about the subs – they want to become a Lifestyle Brand – to run and organise music festivals, create a swanky clothing line, support fresh Street Art as well as to engage charities and organizations. They also have something called the Hero Social Programme – where every franchisees that joins the Hero family will commit to 10 hours of community service. What a brilliant idea – if only more companies were this encouraging.

Not only do they have a great vision and mission, but they have great tasting subs that are out of this world – but with a Melbournian twist. Check them out – there are 3 different Melbourne CBD locations. They also do catering for Private Gigs and Functions – you can check out their packages here – http://herosubs.com.au/catering

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://herosubs.com.au/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky and has a street-vibe to it!
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details, Location and Opening Hours:
http://herosubs.com.au/

357 Collins St, Melbourne
(Opposite Huxtaburger, Food Court
Tel No: 9629 6067
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: Closed

28 Hardware Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9642 8891
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday: 11:00am – 3:00pm
Sunday: Closed

1 Steward St, Melbourne
(Back of RMIT SAB Building 80)
Tel No: 9995 4655
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 10:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: Closed

Hero Subs on Urbanspoon

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

Sogni d’Oro ‘Aperitivo Danzante’ – ACT 1 – Two Italian Boys, Brunetti & White Rabbit Entertainment

Two Italian Boys, Brunetti and White Rabbit Enterntainment were behind the brilliant idea to create a series of events with the main aim of bringing people together to experience the real Italian Dream. The nights will run as a series of Acts (3 in total) beginning with Act 1 – Sogni d’Oro ‘Aperitivo Danzante’.

Unfortunately I wasn’t in Melbourne for Act 1 – which took place on Friday October 17, 2014 and was complemented with Italian food, drinks and dancing. However, I have seen many pictures, read the official media releases and heard a lot about the night from people lucky enough to have attended so thought it would be a great idea to mention it here at Grazing Panda – after all there are another 2 more Acts for everyone to experience and enjoy!

The name Aperitivio Danzante comes from the tradition of pre-dinner drinks which are accompanied by appetizers (Aperitivio) and ‘to dance’ (Danzante) – essentially translated to mean come for the appetizers but stay for the dancing fiesta! In Italy this generally means between the hours of 7pm – 9pm, followed by dinner …. and dancing!

On the night Two Italian Boys (Michael Pillon and Nick Guglielmino) launched a 2013 vintage Prosecco DOC which was produced in Valdobbiadene,Treviso- Italy’s best Prosecco making region. This new Prosecco wonderfully complemented the array of food on offer from the new and delicious Brunetti menu designed by Michele Circhirillo and Alessandro Violi. Some of dishes included pasta, wood-fire pizza and beautifully prepared tasting plates or stuzzichini – all of which were served throughout the night, so no guest was ever hungry or looking for food.

A live demonstration of mozzarella making by Australia’s best maker of Italian cheese, the ‘Maestro of Mozzarella’, Giorgio Linguanti (That’s Amore Cheese) gathered large crowds. The chef showcased his talent, experience and artisian skills whilst making round balls of mozzarella which had a taste to match the look.

Another highlight was the introduction by Burnetti of a specially developed range of alcohol infused Apertif gelato by by Chef Gelatiere Alessio Tavella, including Aperol and Campari Spritz, Prosecco – which is a first in Australia.

Brunetti is a Melbourne institution that has been around for years – since 1985 when the original store first opened up in Faraday Street – and is well known for its Italian style coffee as well as intriguing and huge variety of cakes. Brunetti is bringing a bit of Rome to Melbourne in an authentic fashion, and events like this clearly showcase its capability to do so.

The venue was divided into three sections and was recreating the timeless style of Federico Fellini’s film ‘La Dolce Vita.’ The rear section housing the DJ (where some funky Italian tunes were played) and a small bar, the middle section consisted of the Trevi Fountain (one of my absolute favourite places to visit in Rome) which aided to recreate the famous scene in the film, as well as a large wall painting and comfy seats. For added fun guests were invited to make a wish while tossing a coin into the fountain (just as you would if you went to visit the real Trevi Fountain), with all the proceeds going to Make –A-Wish Foundation. Such a brilliant idea and for such a great cause! The front section consisted of another bar as well as the gelato display and shelves which stocked traditional Italian good to welcome the guests.

From the pictures you can tell that everyone there had an extremely fun night that represented the true Italian way of celebrating. Both food and drinks were in abundance thanks to the waiters/waitresses walking around ensuring guests were always being looked after. The mix of the crowd – both of the younger and older generations – was clearly seen with mingling happening throughout the night.

Act 1 was clearly a hit amongst everyone that attended – especially after reading some glowing reviews – I cannot wait to see what the team has in store for Acts 2 and 3. Act 2 is set to take place on December 4th at Brunetti Carlton, with Act 3 to following on January 23rd at Brunetti City Square. Stay tuned for more information!

Brunetti on Urbanspoon

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

San Paolo Solarino – Sicilian in the City

panda 4 rating

I stumbled across San Paolo Solarino one day whilst out shopping in the lane ways of Melbourne in my lunch break. P and I were looking for a place to have lunch with another friend and I suggested Solarino.

Solarino is a contemporary Italian restaurant / bar that is located in Howey Place – a laneway off Little Collins Street – and nestled between stores such as Oroton, FCUK and the recently opened Phillipa’s. Solarino is brought to us by chefs Grant Phelan (Il Solito Posto, Ca De Vin) and Jade Amenta. It offers authentic and stays true to the Nonna style of cooking in presenting a modern twist on your traditional Sicilian food – and is open seven days a week for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

From the moment you walk inside – Solarino has a real sophisticated and elegant feel to it coupled with a air of casualness and comes complete with wooden tables and a swanky front bar. A highlight is the white washed walls with the name Solarino written in lights. The front counter hosts a silver coffee machine which pumps out delicious tasting coffee as well as cakes and a variety of desserts.

Their breakfast menu consists of the usual suspects such as Eggs any way you like it including Benedict, Florentine, Poached, Scrambled and Omelette. There is also Toast, French toast, Muesli and Crumpets available. Their lunch menu consists of Antipasti followed by Primi, Insalata and finishes with Speciali. There are around 7 different pasta dishes to choose from under the Primi heading – including Spaghetti, Fettuccine and Linguine. Insalata dishes include Calamari fritti and a variety of salads to choose from. Specials include Soft Shell Chilli Crab Salad, Sizzling Prawns, Veal as well as a Claypot Lamb.

I ordered the Penne with Garlic, Mushroom, Chilli, Onion and Fetta. The pasta was fresh and cooked to perfection. The flavour combination of the earthy tones from the mushroom paired with the garlic, and the caramelisation of the onion was simply divine. This was one fantastic mouth watering dish!

P ordered the Gnocchi Napoli Oven Baked and Topped with Grilled Mozzarella which came served out in a mini hot plate pan. P let me try some of her gnocchi and it was literally a melt in your mouth experience – heaven! The flavour combination of the Napoli and mozzarella worked together well. If you are a fan of gnocchi you have to try this dish out!

T ordered the Rigatoni with Aurora Style Pork Bolognese and Ricotta and said that he quite enjoyed the dish and the flavours. The dish looked fresh, vibrant and delicious.

Solarino is a fantastic venue that makes you feel comfortable and welcomed. It serves traditional Italian food with a modern twist – the dishes are a tad pricier that you would normally expect – but once you experience the flavours and freshness the price is simply an afterthought.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu:
Refer to the following for Breakfast: http://www.solarino.com.au/public/menus/solarino_breakfast.pdf
Refer to the following for Lunch: http://www.solarino.com.au/public/menus/solarino_lunch-dinner.pdf
Refer to the following for the wine list: http://www.solarino.com.au/public/menus/solarino_wine.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Stylish, Elegant, Classy and Comfortable
Standout Dish: Any of the Pasta dishes!
Service: Friendly and Warm
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.solarino.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.solarino.com.au/
Howey Place
279 Little Collins St, Melbourne
Tel No: 9663 2636

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 6:30am – 10:30pm

San Paolo Solarino - Pasta and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Rosa’s Kitchen – Sicilian Homely Treat

panda 3.5 rating

It was time for another one of our regular catch ups for A and I and this time our destination was Rosa’s Kitchen. As we were going to watch King Kong after dinner at the time of booking I told the restaurant that we needed to be out by a certain time which worked well with their sitting times.

Rosa’s Kitchen is located in Punch Lane – a wonderful side street in the heart of the Melbourne CBD – and is a venture by Rosa Mitchell (ex-Journal Canteen), David Mackintosh and Peter Bartholomew (Coda, Movida Group, Pei Modern). The venue itself is quite dark yet warm thanks to the soft glow of the lanterns, cosy and playful at the same time – this is evident with the mismatched and colourful chairs at the mix of timber and black plywood tables. There are polished concrete floors together with a whitewashed brick wall to match and there is a red glow through the whole venue.

What is strikingly different from any other place is that there is no menu given to you to decide what you want to eat – you have to look at the blackboard along the sides of the walls as well as above the bar/kitchen area and decide what you want there. Specials are spoken out to you by the friendly staff. The way the menu works is that it rotates fortnightly – all depending on the ingredients which come from Mitchell’s 140 acre farm near Yandoit – keeping with the fresh produce theme that Mitchell wants to achieve. The cuisine is Sicilian influenced in the form of homely and comforting dishes by Lucy David (ex-Coda, Pei Modern) and consists of four pastas and five mains generally, such as Orecchiette alla Trapanese which has a Sicilian-style pesto with almonds sauce or Meatballs with fresh tomato sugo. There is also a great drinks list which has been put together by sommelier Lazlo Evenhuis (ex-The Crimean), as well as snacks menu to go with the drinks.

We ordered the Calamari with potatoes and herbs for “entrée” but really this dish could have been a main on its own. There was a tangy taste combined with the soft and crunchy in parts potato which served as a wonderful combination. I ordered the Bugspasta which was cooked beautifully with the combination of oil, garlic and parsley and topped with toasted breadcrumbs which added texture, flavour and crunch. The Bugs were cooked perfectly and really complemented the other flavours of the dish. My friend A ordered the lamb special which she enjoyed but couldn’t finish due to the generous serving size. The lamb she said was soft, tender and full of flavour.

We were running out of time and were both quite full so decided to share the Canoli as I had heard that this was a must try. And I can see why. The Canoli had crispy pastry casing which was filled with whipped ricotta and combined with honey, sugar and lemon zest and finished with toasted and crushed pistachios on the outside.

The food at Rosa’s Kitchen is rustic and really does feel like you are in a Sicilian town eating food that has been created with a feeling of love and happiness. They don’t try to make the dishes overly complex – just simple home style cooking at its best. Try it out for yourselves.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – The food menu – http://www.rosas-kitchen.com/Rosas%20Kitchen%20Full%20Menu.pdf
The drinks menu – http://www.rosas-kitchen.com/Rosas%20Kitchen%20Drinks%20Menu.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Warm, Homely and Cosy
Standout Dish: Spaghetti with Breadcrumbs, Parsley and Garlic
Service: Friendly and Accomadating
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.rosas-kitchen.com/
22 Punch Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9662 2883

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Saturday: 12:00pm – 11:00pm

Rosa's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Gelato Messina – A Bit of Italy in Fitzroy

panda 4.5 rating

Gelato Messina has come to Melbourne and taken everyone by storm. Newly opened in Smith Street, Fitzroy it has received a warm welcome with lines snaking out of the door and along Smith Street. Gelato has been a long love affair for many Melbournians especially people that frequent Lygon Street in Carlton. There are many different Gelato stores which serve up the classic traditional Italian style of ice cream but none quite like Gelato Messina. The main difference is that Gelato Messina pushes the boundaries when it comes to the rules of Gelato in the sense of being more inventive with flavours and combinations, combined with old-school techniques to maintain the integrity of the original gelato recipe. The Gelato Artisians or Gelartisans as they are fondly referred to as, have created flavours that have your mouth drooling just from reading what’s contained in each flavour.

Gelato Messina began in 2002 by by Nick Palumbo and is now co-owned by Donato Toce, Declan Lee, Danny Palumbo and John Stephens. Nick Palumbo comes from an Italian Messina background and it was visiting his grandparents in Messina that brought on his connection and love for gelato. Gelato Messina has many different locations around Sydney and even has one opening up in Hangzhou, China! It is no wonder that they have won many awards for their amazing Gelato. Just recently at the Melbourne Gelato World Tour they won first prize for a flavour called Cremino – salted caramel, gianduia (hazelnut chocolate), fresh meringue and amaretti.

What makes Gelato Messina different to other traditional Gelato stores is that they use real ingredients to make the gelato and it is hand churned on site. Everything is made fresh on the day without the artificial colours. The chocolate mint flavour uses actual mint leaves, the apple pie flavour consists of baked apple pies – and the list goes on. There is a list of about 40 permanent flavours and weekly specials. New daily flavours appear and they are constantly inventing bigger and better combinations to keep things intriguing. There are also fruity sorbets and dairy-free options for people who are in need of these. How great is it that they cater for one and all! Additionally, Gelato Messina makes ice cream cakes which are displayed in store as well – the infamous toadstool cake is present!

What is great about Gelato Messina is the connection that they have with the consumers – they have a huge online following and allow for people to submit and suggest different flavours. Allowing this personal interaction makes people wanting to keep coming back and trying out the different flavours and best of all bringing friends along to share in the experience.
Another great fact is that all the Gelartisans have a wealth of experience and knowledge in the world of Gelato making – like Simone Panetta (who is a partner in the Melbourne store) who has been making Gelato since he was 11 and was chosen to be a “Gelato Pioneer” at Carpigiani University in Bologna. They have recently put out a cookbook called Gelato Messina which can teach you how to make Gelato!

When you walk into the Melbourne store, the fit out has been done to keep in with the Fitzroy theme – there are exposed brick walls to give it a somewhat warehousey feel, together with colourful graffiti style wall mural by Jeremy Neale and a somewhat modern pressed metal enclosure which encases the gelatos. There is also a window where you can view the Gelartisans creating the many flavours on sale. You get to get a brief glimpse of the colourful and fresh gelato amongst the masses of the crowds. The staff are friendly and always have a smile on their face despite having to face an overwhelmingly large crowd throughout the day. Whilst waiting to order we are handed menus which was a good idea as after reading each flavour you are confused as to which one you want as they all sound sooo great. There is a list of special flavours on the wall (the same flavours get released in Sydney and Melbourne on the same day) – where as they get sold out a sign is placed to let people know until a new batch is made up. After much deliberation I decided to go with the Salted caramel and white chocolate as it was their biggest seller. N got the Mango Sorbet and Mint Chocolate Chip and M got the Twixed flavour.

You can either select if you want the gelato to come in a cup or a cone – I went with the signature green and orange cup for my scoop of gelato. The result was smooth and creamy consistency with accents of salted caramel and textured bits of white chocolate. The mix of the saltiness and the sweetness of the chocolate combined beautifully and this is the reason why it is their best selling flavour. I did get to try N’s mango sorbet which was tasted just like a mango in creamy smooth form and the chocolate chip mint gelato had a minty hint that I have never tasted before – in a great way! You can tell that fresh ingredients were used. The Twixed flavour was phenomenal – it was wholesome chocolaty goodness all in one scoop – rich and mouth watering! It also had shortbread and caramel mixed through it. I want to go back and try out the Cremino, Pistachio and Coconut & Lychee flavours – just to start..and eventually work my way through all the flavours! =p

Gelato Messina has so many flavours (in fact about a 900 flavour catalogue) to try out and with summer just around the corner there is no better time to try. I think Melbourne is lucky as it is currently their largest store to date which means more flavours to try out! Bring on summer and the year of Gelato!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the attachment above. Also look at http://www.gelatomessina.com/flavours/ and http://www.gelatomessina.com/flavours/our_top_10_flavour_combos/

Also refer to http://www.gelatomessina.com/ for the different Gelato Cakes which are made to order
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Chilled Out and Fun
Standout Flavours:
● Salted caramel and white chocolate (their biggest seller)
● Chocolate fondant
● Pandan and coconut
Service: Despite the long lines and queues, the staff are friendly and always have a smile on their face
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.gelatomessina.com/
237 Smith St, Fitzroy

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 12pm – 11pm
Friday to Saturday: 12pm – 11.30pm
Sunday: 12pm – 11pm

Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon

90 Secondi – BEST PIZZA in Melbourne!

panda 5 rating

I work around the Docklands area and sometimes with the guys at work we head to Ethihad Stadium at lunchtime. It was on one of these lunchtime trips that I saw a new food place opening at the bottom of the new NAB building at Ethihad Stadium near Gate 3 and mentioned to the guys at work that we need to come check it out once it opened – and we did!

The brand new food place in question is 90 Secondi. This is the latest venture by Johnny Di Francesco, who is also responsible for the acclaimed 400 Gradi pizzeria in Brunswick East. 90 Secondi, is named after the traditional time needed to cook a true Neapolitan-style pizza and it certainly in my opinion is the tastiest and bestest (even if that isn’t a real word) pizza in Melbourne.

Pizza here is made from a custom made wood-fire pizza open which has been shipped directly from Napoli. In fact even mozzarella di bufala (another name for buffalo mozzarella) is air freighted fresh from Caserta in Italy. If that is not authentic in terms of ingredients then I do not know what is! The basis for creation of such great tasting pizza is the oven set at 400 degrees (hence the name 400 Gradi for Di Francesco’s other restaurant) at 90 seconds (ala 90 secondi!) – if pizza is in the oven for longer than 90 seconds than it isn’t a true Neapolitan-style pizza – together with quality dough and use of fresh ingredients.

We went to lunch on a Friday and lucky we made a booking, as the place quickly filled up. The place is open and modern and perfectly lit with filament light bulbs. To add to this there are timber tables, high ceilings (giving it a roomy feel) and accents of red in the form of funky chairs and cris-crossed large light fittings. There is seating both downstairs and upstairs – with a bar / coffee counter station in the middle of the downstairs section. As you walk to your table you get sight of the open kitchen and large wood fire oven where all the magic is created.

When I first walked in – the first thing I saw was one of the chefs twirling the dough around to get it to that thin base – so that’s how they get the base just right! =) We were seated at our table and given the menu. The menu consists of Pizza’s mainly (duh!) but there are also dishes like zucchini flowers and meatballs under the heading Stuzzichini, Pasta dishes, Char grilled lamb ribs and a Mussel dish under the Secondi Menu, fresh salads under the Contorni e Insalate heading and of course finshing with Desserts such as Panna Cotta, Tiramasu and Nutella Calzone under Dolci.

There was a unanimous decision around the table to order pizza’s as they all sounded delicious. I decided to get the Toscana pizza which came with Mushrooms, Goats Cheese, Fior di Latte and Rocket. The pizzas didnt take long to come out and when it did they looked just as good as they sounded. We all couldn’t wait to have the first bite. The crusts were thin – exactly the way that I like my pizza – lightly charred, with a light puffiness to them. The Goats Cheese and Mushroom combination with the Blanco base was oozing with flavour and deliciousness. Loved it. I also got to try the Margherita Verace – San Marzano Tomato, Mozzarella di Bufala, Basil and Parmesan. The Mozzarella di Bufala worked well with the tomato and the basil – such a simple pizza but done fantastically. They say you can tell a good pizza place if their Margherita pizza is great – so going on that – this place is the best. Other pizzas that people got was the Guancia – San Marzana Tomato, Fior di Late, Pancetta, Mushrooms, Olive and Zingara – San Marzano Tomato, Fior di Latte, Hot Salame, Rocket. Both of these pizzas as well had the same response when asked how the pizza was – they all loved it.

The pizzas are quite large in size but you never see a plate that isn’t empty because why would you want to waste such great tasting pizza. The pizzas are quite filling, that you are almost left no room to try out the dessert. On another (of the many occasions that I have already been there)  – I tried out the Nutella Calzone – which you can get in both Mini and Grande size. I ordered the Mini size and was surprised when it came out to see how big the Mini size was – if this was the mini size just how big is the Grande size. The dough was soft and tasty – just like the pizza dough – and was filled with warm, oozy nutella and is one to try for all the chocolate lovers. One thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the ice-cream that came with the Calzone – but then again that could be just me.

90 Secondi is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it set up to be more of a casual dining venue which is different to 400 Gradi. The idea behind the location is to target some of the footy traffic before a game, as well as the corporate people around the area. It certainly is a welcome addition to the area and really does brighten up the food scene out at Docklands. 90 Secondi is authentically Italian and serves delicious food – the staff are friendly and welcoming which is an added benefit. The coffee here is pretty damn good as well – I walked all the way around from my seat during half time at a footy game to get coffee – strong nutty and creamy flavours. Their Chai Lattes are just as tasty as well.

If you love Italian and love pizzas – you definitely have to try this place out. You don’t know what you are missing.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and Fun – A little piece of Italy in Docklands
Standout Dish: Any of the Pizzas! You wont be disappointed
Service: Fantastic, Friendly and Attentive
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
90secondi.com.au
1/700 Bourke Street, Docklands
(Opposite Gate 3, Ethihad Stadium)
Tel No: 9600 2841

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 7am – 11pm
Saturday & Sunday: 12pm – 11pm

90 Secondi on Urbanspoon

The Mess Hall – Favourite Seafood Pasta!

panda 4 rating
Black & White Tagliatellewith Mussels, Prawns, Clams and Salmon @ The Mess Hall

I had been to The Mess Hall years ago – prior to me ever starting this blog and remembered that the food here was pretty good. So on the night of the Stereophonics concert, I needed a place for food and The Mess Hall happened to be near where they were playing. The Mess Hall is quirky and funky looking place complete with wooden tables and interesting accents in the form of decor around the place. The staff are friendly and welcoming. The food served is Italian style and they are open for breakfast, lunch, dinner as well as for snacks.

The Mess Hall is a rustic and intimate menu and despite being simple is a great place to visit for a romantic occasion with its soft lighting. The menu is short and simple, with many dishes catching my eye but I settled on the Black & White Tagliatelle with Mussels, Prawns, Clams and Salmon. I have to say this has been on my favourite seafood pasta dishes ever! The pasta was perfectly cooked and the flavours were simple yet delicious. The Seafood was fresh and all cooked to perfection with each separate component complimenting each other. The serving size of the dishes are just as great as the actual food and are quite generous.

I did also get to try out their coffee which was nutty and creamy. As we had to rush off to the concert, I didn’t get a chance to check out their dessert menu but from the sounds of it – it sounds delicious! I definitely do want to come back and try out some of their other dishes for dinner – but high on my list is to come here and try out their breakfast menu – the corn fritters sound great.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu: http://www.themesshallmelbourne.com/ – you can find all the Menus under the Menu heading
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable, Casual and Cosy. Really great for a dinner date with that special someone.
Service: Friendly and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.themesshallmelbourne.com/
51 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 6800

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 10pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am -10pm

The Mess Hall on Urbanspoon