Chuckle Park – Caravan and Simple, Great Food!

panda 4 rating

ChucklePark is funky little eatery / bar which is located in a hidden alleyway off Little Collins Street, near Elizabeth street. It is located under the New Guernica’s entrance and is cosy outdoor space complete with its very own caravan style serving kitchen. Inspired from their holiday experiences in Phillip Island it is the brainchild of Dominic Lococo, Kyle Bush, Marcus Motteram, Steve Costa and Jaff Tzaferis.

As you enter, there is a lot to take in – from the hanging plants, the lights in jars that look like stars up high, to the main feature – the caravan with a colourful Jesus statue and surrounding flowers. There is also synthetic grass, high wooden tables as well as low tables – all made to resemble a park – hence the name ChucklePark. There is also gas heaters and awnings to protect the customers from the unpredictability that is Melbourne weather.

There is a simple menu with something on it to eat for everyone. The highlight of the menu – and there are many testaments for this is the Chuckle Park Pulled Pork Roll. Some of the other dishes included are the Albondigas  – which are Spanish meatballs – which comes served in the hot stoneware pan itself, as well as paella, Spanish Lentil Salad and Elote (think char grilled to perfection Corn on the Cob). For drinks there are canned beverages (Coke, Sprite etc) as well jugs of Sangria, aperitifs, beers, ciders and the usual hot drinks – coffee, tea etc.

We went to ChucklePark on a Friday at lunchtime – and we made sure that we got there by 12pm – lucky we did as it soon started to fill up after this time. Most of the boys ordered the Pulled Pork Roll and one guy ordered the Albondigas – the Spanish meatballs served in a hearty vegetable broth. I ordered the Frittata Roll – which was Spanish Style Vegetable Tortila Sandwich with Cheese, Spinach, Mayo and Eggplant Relish. I couldn’t have loved my Frittata Roll more! The patty made of veggies was delicious and flavoursome – you could almost even just eat it on its own. I loved the addition of the eggplant relish – it was the perfect complement to all the other ingredients. For any vegetarians out there you really must try this.

Suffice to say everyone loved their Pulled Pork Rolls – and the size of these “burgers” was HUGE! Its hard to imagine where one would start to eat this. The Albondigas was tasty as well and W who ordered the dish was quietly enjoying his dish.

ChucklePark is great for home-style dishes sourced from local produce that has superb flavourings. It is great for lunch and especially great for afternoon or late night drinks. The staff are hospitable and friendly and the place intimate, casual and cosy. Head down there now!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Food menu can be found at http://media.wix.com/ugd/190d00_a321c5f811c34bb0ad19147e87d561c3.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and Funky! How many places have a caravan located with astro turf and lights in jars strung up !
Standout Dish: Fritatta Roll – DELICIOUS!
Service: Friendly, Welcoming and Accommodating! Always happy to help and turn on the heaters if you get cold.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.chucklepark.com.au/
322 Little Collins St, Melbourne CBD
Tel No: 8654 9954

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 12:00pm – 1:00am

Chuckle Park Bar and Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Burma Lane – Burmese Wonder

panda 4.5 rating

Burma Lane has newly opened in the venue that once used to be Mahjong Black – on Little Collins street – and serving up traditional Southeast Asian flavours from Burma. This new venue comes from the people who brought us Red Spice Road – Adam Trengove and Shaun Moorhouse.

The interior hasn’t changed too much from when it used to be Mahjong Black but there are accents of Burma all around the venue. The signature style of Red Spice Road with large paintings of women continues upstairs here at Burma Lane with four colourful portraits of women on the back wall. There are birdcage light fittings as well but the centrepiece is the iconic “Freedom to Lead” image of  Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi by Sherpard Fairey– which is  on the right hand side wall as you walk into the venue and go up the stairs. There is seating downstairs as well upstairs in this split level venue which consists of wooden table and chairs, finished with terracotta coloured plates that sit on top of the menu. There are also tea-stained posters which have been pasted onto one of the columns where the stairs are, and there is also a wall of holiday pictures from Burma.

The menu consists of several small bites, noodle dishes (there are four to choose from), salad dishes (five to select from), and then has bigger bites and finishes with desserts. The bigger bites consist of mostly curry dishes, and come with a bowl of rice and cover most meats – fish, goat, beef, egg, prawns and pork – take your pick. The drinks list is impressive and there is even a section for mocktails which I thought was great. There are drinks like Land of Milk & honey, Swami Delight and Thai Dai. I ordered the Thai Dai which had Lychee Juice, Pomegranate Juice, Kaffir Syrup. This drink is quite refreshing and came topped with a passionfruit piece which a nice way to finish the drink off. I also got to sample the Swami Delight – Apple, Indian Yoghurt Cardamom Syrup, Agave. This drink was very tasty and was a different take on the original Lassi as usually you have Mango lassi, but this consisted of Apple, Cardamom and Agave – the result was a fantastic tasting combination. I would definitely recommend trying out these mock tails.

As we had more than 8 people we had to do the 4 course set menu which I thought was quite reasonably priced at $30. For these 4 courses we received – 2 small bite dishes, 1 noodle dish and 1 bigger bite dish. There is also a Chef’s tasting menu called ‘Taste the Best of Burma’ which costs $65. These options are quite wise as you can get a bit overwhelmed with the menu selection as all the dishes and their combination of ingredients sounds so enticing. There are so many dishes that I want to come back and try especially the Potato Cake which is filled with Slow Roasted Lamb Belly, Cabbage and Minty Yoghurt – how amazing does that sound! And on another note what I also love about Burma Lane is that the meat is certified halal – so I can actually have a majority of the dishes!

The first dish that we were brought out was Kun Sar Thi – Betel leaf with chicken, shallot, green mango & Sichuan pepper. The dish came out beautifully presented – with the chicken, shallot, mango mix placed in a bowl in the centre with the betel leaves surrounding it. We were told by the waiter that we were to place the chicken on top of the betel leaf and eat them together. The result was a flavour hit in your mouth together with the crunch of the betel leaf. The flavour combinations were unique and delicious all at the same time.

Next up was the Chargrilled ginger, turmeric chicken chops with lime & chilli – these came out looking glossy and perfectly grilled in a terracotta bowl together with a piece of lime and topped with chilli. The chicken was pretty good but not fantastic. The outside flavouring and coating of the chicken was delicious however, the inside was quite bland to me. I should also mention before we were given our dishes, the waiter brought us out 3 different types of sauces and chutneys and explained what was in each of them as well as giving us the spiciness rating. I thought the idea of this was quite fantastic. What made this even better was as each dish was brought to our table and explained to us – he would tell us which one of the three sauces would match perfectly with each dish. Ingenious! Back to the chicken – it was a great snack dish and together with the desired sauce was overall a great dish.

Next we moved onto a dish from the noodle section and were given the Fat rice noodles with tofu puffs, spicy coconut broth, greens & bean sprouts. The first thing you notice about this dish when it comes out is that it is fresh looking and very colourful (especially against the black backdrop of the bow) and it draws you in immediately making every tastebud on your tongue water. And when you take that first mouth, it definitely doesn’t disappoint. This dish is semi wet dish thanks to the spicy coconut broth and the combination of flavours is fantastic. I really enjoyed this dish and especially loved the combination of the tofu puffs.

The last dish that we had was the Rockling cooked in turmeric, lemongrass & tomato with noodles, mustard greens & egg AKA Funky Mohingha, our take on a Burmese classic. From having read up on people who had previously been to Burma Lane – this is their signature dish – so I was so happy to know that they featured it on this 4 course menu. Once again fantastically presented – with egg halves bopping in the tangy and tantalizing looking gravy along with the pieces of rockling – it was a dish I couldn’t wait to try. You get the waft of the lemongrass and tumeric as it was placed on the table, and these flavours carry thru as you take your first bite. The rockling is soft and tender and is complimented with the flavours and literally melts in your mouth. This is definitely a dish to try and is a true testament to Burmese cooking.

Despite initially thinking that we wouldn’t be full from the meal we were quite satisfied and didn’t have any room for dessert. Desserts ranged from Sago and Coconut Pudding, Pandan and Coconut Jelly with Jasmine Rice Ice Cream, as well as Coconut Ice Cream on its own.

Burma Lane is a great new addition to the Melbourne CBD food scene and truly brings you flavoursome and authentic Burmese food – ranging from small offerings to their larger dishes of tantalizing and deliciously aromatic curries. Another thing to note about Burma lane is that they support a number of charities through Pomelo, which is an umbrella group that provides practical training and financial aid to disadvantaged communities in Burma. Great food and supporting charities back in Burma – what more could you ask for?

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Food Menu at http://burmalane.com.au/food-menu, Drink Menu at http://burmalane.com.au/wine and a little bit about Burmese food can be found here http://burmalane.com.au/about-the-food
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy, Elegant yet Relaxed and a great place for entertaining or even just catching up with people.
Standout Dish: Fat rice noodles with tofu puffs, spicy coconut broth, greens & bean sprouts OR Funky Mohingha
Service: Friendly, Helpful and very Knowledgeable. They are happy to help and really do the menu inside out.
Online Booking: Yes  – you can book online at http://burmalane.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
burmalane.com.au
118 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9615 8500

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Monday to Friday: 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Dinner
Monday to Friday: 6:00 pm – 12:00 am
Saturday: 6:00 pm – 12:00 am

Burma Lane on Urbanspoon

Boney – Where The Old Pony Was

panda 4.5 rating

I was initially struck by the interesting name of the place and wanted to check out both the food and the venue – hence my visit initially to Boney.

Boney is a new venue for music, dancing and dining and resides in the location of the bar that used to be named Pony. Boney comes to you from Camillo and Daniel Ippoliti who are also responsible for such places as Revolver Upstairs, Cookie and The Toff in Town. Boney is a welcoming and intriguing place and the food is quite delicious and the menu varied that after the first time there I had to come back and check out quite literally everything else on the menu!

The original structure has been retained – although downstairs there is now a kitchen and the old furnishings have been replaced. There is a glow of red neon lighting throughout the venue which matches perfectly with the solid black walls. This was done in order to keep a Rock’n’Roll vibe as said by the owners. Upstairs will be turned into the venue’s intimate band room where live independent artists and DJs can perform (7 nights a week). In keeping with Pony’s trend – there will still be the infamous 2am live performance slot.

As you approach the venue, on the outside walls you are greeted by a large menu where you can have a read about the food you can order. Just from reading the menu there are so many options and varieties that you often can spend a long period of time deciding what you want to order. I certainly had that issue. There are many dishes for vegetarians as well which I think is fantastic! The menu is designed and crafted by Karen Baston and there is food available for Lunch, Dinner or Take-Away. Together with the standard menu, there is a selection of daily specials – two per day – one for lunch and one for dinner. The Menu has some smaller snack like dishes to start with and then progresses on the menu to the larger dishes and ends with sides and of course finishing with the Boney Sweet Spot.

The first time around I ordered the funkily named Tofu & Mushroom Hot “Diggity” Dog – which is vegetarian version of a hot dog – and I was impressed! When it comes out the filling inside the hot dog is quite colourful against the white backdrop of the plate. The tofu and mushroom “hot-dog” is separate and is encased in like a filo pastry and is very tasty – I always love the combination of tofu & mushroom. The flavours work well with the colourful ingredients – being tomatoes, peppers and finished with a chilli sauce. Really quite delicious. We also ordered a side of Potato Skins which were amazing! They were seasoned to perfection and coupled with sour cream have to be one of my favourite potato skin places. This is a great dish to just snack on as a bar snack if you have just come here for drinks. (I did have dessert the first time I went here but I will come back to that =p)

The next time around I came I ordered the Snapper Fillet with Green Mango, Lemongrass and Peanuts. Once again this was a colourful dish with the glossy snapper fillet sitting atop of the Thai inspired salad which consisted of the peanuts, lemongrass, green mango and many other things such as bean shoots, cucumbers, carrots, red onions. The snapper was cooked superbly and was moist and had been flavoured well to match the Thai flavours of the salad. It really did feel like a healthy dish which packed a punch. G ordered the Snapper Burger which came with Bread & Butter Pickle. When the burger came out it did look impressive and she wasn’t sure how to eat it as it was quite huge. There was of course the snapper burger, and layers of tomato, pickle and salads encased in buns. G said the burger was tasty and the snapper burger different to anything she has had before.

Now onto the desserts – the menu for desserts had changed since the first time I had been there but sounded just as great. The first time around I had the Chocolate Brownie, Roasted Rhubarb & Walnut Crumble. The Chocolate Brownie was absolutely to die for and came served warm – it was filled with rich chocolate gooeyness! The Roasted Rhubarb complemented the bitterness of the chocolate and added a tang to add depth to the dish. It really was delicious. This wasn’t there unfortunately the next time I went back, so that time I ordered the Pistachio’d Pav, Stone Fruit Compote & Cardamon Cream. I must admit this dessert wasn’t as good as the Chocolate Brownie, however it was an interesting tasting dish. The Pav was crunchy and literally melted in your mouth and I really did love the cardamon cream – the spiciness of the cardamom really did complement the stone fruit compote. As a whole the dish worked really well and it is definitely a dish to try. G ordered the Jaffa Mousse & Vanilla Mascarpone which was just as delicious. I did get to try this dessert as well and it was quite rich tasting and definitely one for chocolate and jaffa lovers. The Vanilla Mascarpone was a great addition to cut through this richness. Next time I really do want to check out the Ginger & Lemongrass Creme Brulee. Boney has created three really great desserts.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Boney – both times that I went there – it is a shabby chic venue that really has a personality and fantastic food that really is up there with the best of them. All this whilst staying casual, cool and funky. Definitely check it out whether it be for some casual drinks and snacks or a catch-up / hang out with some easy to eat and tasty food.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://boney.net.au/menu/ – consists of Small and Larger dishes as well as Dessert. There is also a Special Menu with dishes depending on what time and day it is.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Chilled Out and Just FUN!
Standout Dish: Tofu & Mushroom Hot Diggity Dog….and their desserts!
Service: Fantastic and Attentive. They are super friendly and helpful as well when you have a tough time deciding what you want to eat and believe me you will!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://boney.net.au/
68 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9662 1026

Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday: 12:00 pm – 3:00 am
Thursday: 12:00 pm – 5:00 am
Friday to Saturday: 12:00 pm – 7:00 am
Sunday: 5:00 pm – 5:00 am

Boney on Urbanspoon

Little Hunter – A New Lair style restaurant with Fab Food

panda 4 rating
Little Hunter Little Hunter Menu Little Hunter 2 Cheese Bread with Chicken Salt Butter
Scrumptious Cheesy Bread with Chicken Fat & Chicken Skin Butter

Cured Kingfish - seasoned roe, roasted peppers, bay oil
Cured Kingfish – seasoned roe, roasted peppers, bay oil

Watermelon Salad -land cress, goats cheese, dandelion
Watermelon Salad -land cress, goats cheese, dandelion
Chatham Blue Island Cod - native sea grasses, leeks, remouladeChatham Blue Island Cod – native sea grasses, leeks, Remoulade

Frangipagne Meringue, Passionfruit Curd, Whole Peach SorbetFrangipane Meringue, Passionfruit Curd, Whole Peach Sorbet

Double Chocolate Mousse - Noble One Reduction, Cocoa Nib BrittleDouble Chocolate Mousse – Noble One Reduction, Cocoa Nib Brittle

I had heard about a new place that had opened up in Melbourne called Little Hunter and headed there with A for dinner. Little Hunter’s team is a collaboration between American chef Gavin Baker (who comes from the world renowned Fat Duck) and Pete Evans – chef and host/judge on My Kitchen Rules (MKR).

Little Hunter is located in Little Collins Street, in a downstairs location. There is a lift area which has the name on the door and you go down two sets of stairs which  are lined with caged lights and you are taken to an area which reminded me of lair. There are automatic doors that open (which freaked me out because I wasn’t expecting that) and lets you into the restaurant. The restaurant is large and has a homely and classy feel to it. There are two kitchens – one for the main preparations and serving area and the other which houses a Josper charcoal Oven. (There are only three of these ovens in Australia!!)

As the restaurant space is quite large, there are many different dining areas that consist of communal dining areas which range of tables sizes from 2 to more. There are also some private tables as well as a few cosy private booths. There is mood lighting and the place has just the right amount of light yet has a mysterious feel about the place.

This brings me onto the menu – “which draws inspiration from the land, the farmer and the finest breeds in Australia.” Everything is done in house from the curing and smoking of the meats to sourcing great local produce and supporting artisans and farmers. The menu is split into 5 different sections – Small, Sides, Large, Steaks and Desserts. The waiter informs us that Little Hunter is known for its meat and steaks, however there are a few vegetarian friendly items on offer.

Whilst we wait for our ordered food to arrive, we are given some house-made bread which resembles a mini loaf and have been cut into individual pull apart slices. The bread is nothing short of amazing!! The slices are soft and buttery, has herbs through the centre and encased with cheddar cheese. The best cheesy bread I have had. If this isn’t enough of the yuminess – the bread comes with a Chicken Fat and Chicken Skin Butter. I didn’t have any of the chicken skin butter, but A loved it and said the combination was fantastic. A definite winner!

A ordered two entrees for her meal – Cured Kingfish – seasoned Roe, Roasted Peppers, Bay Oil and the Watermelon Salad – Land Cress, Goats Cheese, Dandelion. For my main I ordered the Chatham Blue Cod with Native Grasses, Leeks and Remoulade.

The Watermelon Salad comes out looking like a dessert log with watermelon slices sandwiched with goats’ cheese in the middle top with a handful of land cress and dandelion greens. You need to get a cross section of the whole log to experience all the flavours – the sweetness of the watermelon with the sourness of the cheese and the crispness of the greens. A refreshing dish.

The Cured Kingfish was thin pieces of kingfish topped with roasted peppers on one half and salmon roe on the other half. The spiciness of the roasted peppers together with the salmon roe worked perfectly with the flavorsome kingfish.

My main dish was the Chatham Blue Cod and when it came out it was beautifully presented – the cod was centrally placed on the plate surrounded with little coils of braised leek and a cluster of small grapes with the native grasses. The Blue Cod fillet is grilled perfectly and has a golden brown colour on the outside and soft flesh on the inside. There is a rich brown butter sauce over the top and mixed with the woody native sea grasses (which is samphire) makes for a great tasting combination. The addition of the braised leek and grapes add for flavours that complement the fish and the sea grasses. One of the best fish dishes I have had.

For dessert I ordered the Frangipane Meringue with Passionfruit Curd and Whole Peach Sorbet. Once again this dish was beautifully plated up and the he Meringue and Passionfruit Curd came out reminiscent of a fried egg and the dish somewhat looked like a breakfast dish – bacon and eggs perhaps? A Frangipane cake was dense and complete with poppyseed and lime zest, topped with coconut was situated next to the peach sorbet. The combination of the meringue, cake, passionfruit curd and sorbet was a party of flavours in your mouth and definitely a must try dessert for all.

A ordered the Double Chocolate Mousse – Noble White Reduction, Cocoa Nib Brittle which looked like a tiramisu. It had layers of chocolate mousse (both white and dark chocolate) together with cocoa nib brittle which added the bitter flavouring, as well as the sweetness of the coffee cream and the Noble White Reduction. A dessert calling to all the chocolate lovers out there.

Overall Little Hunter is a great new addition the Melbourne food scene. The menu is ever evolving and the only downside would be is that the menu is limited for the vegetarians (there are only some starters and sides to choose from). For the meat and steak lovers you should definitely check this place out. Little Hunter is great for business lunches or any after work dinner or for a special occasion. I cannot wait to see what items will appear on their winter menu.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – A la carte – can be found at http://www.littlehunter.com.au/menus/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Classy and Comfortable. There are private booths which are nice for an intimate dinner.
Standout Dish: Chatham Blue Island Cod – native sea grasses, leeks, Remoulade
Service: Friendly and Eager
Online Booking: No, but bookings are recommended. There are two sittings one at 6:30pm and the other at 8:30pm
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.littlehunter.com.au/
Down the stairs
195 Lt. Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 0090

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Saturday: noon–11pm
Sunday: 11am–4pm

Little Hunter on Urbanspoon