Little Bertha – Sweet Treat Heaven!

panda 4.5 rating

Little Bertha Delivery

Little Bertha Delivery

BOX OF GOODIES!

BOX OF GOODIES!

 

Lil Bertha Cakes

BOX OF GOODIES!

Little Bertha is a cake and boutique catering service that bakes fresh every day to order for a multitude of customers, that vary from a large number of cafes around Melbourne, corporate catering as well directly to you at home.

Little Bertha was established in 2005 and is all about the local produce – using free range eggs from country Victoria (Healesville) mixed together with locally sources sugars, flours and premium quality ingredients. They also use real butter instead of margarine as well as no premixes or preservatives in all of their products. Another major plus point is that they offer products that are gluten-free.

There is a huge variety of sweet treats to choose from – cakes, cupcakes, biscuits, slices, muffins – which can be delivered as individual portions, slabs or petit fours. If you refer to the Little Bertha website there is a convenient shop for both wholesalers and online shoppers with orders being delivered anywhere in and around Melbourne – be it to your front door at home, at your office workplace or even for corporate purposes. You have the option of also collecting your order directly from Little Berthas wholesale bakery kitchen in Abbotsford.

Across the road from where I used to work was a restaurant called Non Solo Posto (NSP for short) and whenever I was craving something sweet, I would make my way there and order the Pistachio & Raspberry Teacake – this became my favourite and most craved dessert. This heavenly cupcake was a combination of almond meal together with a rich pistachio flavour and laced with raspberries through the soft and cloud-like cake – topped with a very generous offering of white chocolate cream-cheese icing finished a single vibrant red raspberry. It is the most divine thing you will taste right up until the last bite. I try to eat half at a time – and save some for later in the day but that never worked as it just tastes too damn good! This was my introduction to Little Bertha cakes and I was hooked.

It was to my great pleasure that I received an email from Little Bertha regarding a mention of their products on Grazing Panda and asking if I wouldn’t mind if they sent me a box of their sweet treats to try out some of their other products – who would say no to sampling of cute and delicious looking treats? Of course I didn’t mind!

I was expecting a few of their sweet treats being delivered home but never expected a whole entire boxful to arrive – with over 20 treats to sample! It was a great colourful surprise. Below is a picture and a description of each of the cakes that I received. Along with the box of cakes that I received there were cute picture cards with the name of each item on them so I knew what each cake/slice/biscuit was – such a brilliant idea. The pictures on the cards done in a watercolour style – which I loved – represented and looked exactly like the real life item.

Beetroot cake
Beetroot Cake
A small sized cupcake made of shaved beetroot, cardamom and topped with icing and finished with toasted salted beetroot chips and pepitas. The cake was quite dense (as a result of being butterless) yet moist and had an interesting flavour – you wouldn’t have been able to tell that this was a beetroot cake unless you read that it was – it was subtle. I love the combination with the cream cheese icing and the combination of the crunch of the pepitas and the toasted salted beetroot chips – the saltiness was a great addition to the sweetness of the cake and icing.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Chocolate & Zucchini Cake
A larger sized cupcake that you would definitely mistake for a chocolate only cupcake – complete with chocolate icing and a golden almond praline. The cake is made with a combination of almond meal, freshly grated zucchini, cocoa and cinnamon. The combination of chocolate icing, cake and the crunch of the almond praline is magnificent. The standout is the almond praline – gooey, crunchy golden goodness!

Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake

This was another of the smaller sized cupcakes which was topped with cream cheese icing and finished with pistachios and candied carrot. The cake had a mix of nuts which included walnuts and was soft, light and bursting with flavours. A really tasty version of a carrot cake.

Hazelnut & Cranberry Meringue
Hazelnut & Cranberry Meringue Cake

This is an impressive cupcake made of meringue and hazelnut meal topped with white chocolate cream cheese icing and finished with a beautiful glazed glistening hazelnut praline. I have never experienced a cupcake made of meringue and loved the idea of this – from the moment you bite into this cupcake you are in heaven – there is the initial crunch followed by the soft gentle taste of the meringue together with the burst of tang from the cranberries. Yum! The smoothness of the icing works well with this combination.

Fig & Ginger Cake
Fig & Ginger Cake

This cake looks very pretty from the onset – it has pistachios and dried flowers on top of the yoghurt cream cheese icing. This cake is in a rectangular shape and is a soft flourless cake made with almond meal and flavoured with fig and ginger – a perfect combination. Such a tasty cake capped off with the tang and sweetness of the icing. One to try!

Lamington
Lamingtons

Everyone knows about lamingtons – buttery sponge filled with strawberry jam and coated in dark chocolate icing and finished by being rolled in toasted coconut. The Little Bertha lamington was cloud soft and literally disappeared in your mouth almost like fairy floss – divine!

Lime Yoghurt Syrup Cake Lime Yoghurt Syrup CakeLime Yogurt Syrup Cake
Another stand out cake with an exhilarating combination – lime and yoghurt! The tangy butter cake has had yoghurt folded through together with blueberries and finally dropped in lime syrup. The end result was a full on tangy flavour (people that enjoy the lime flavour to things would love this cake) however still made for quite a refreshing cake – the addition of the raspberry did compensate for the tang.

Mandarin Polenta Cake Mandarin Polenta Cake
Mandarin & Polenta Cake

This cake would have to be one of my favourites (*drool*) – a round golden, moist and overly delicious flourless cake made with fresh mandarins. I love the little texture bits that you get to bite through once you bite into this cake – thanks to the polenta and almond. I am usually not a fan of citrus in my desserts or sweets but was pleasantly surprised when I tried this cake. Really great!

Passionfruit and Poppy Seed Cake
Passion Fruit & Poppy Seed Cake

This rectangular cake is made of poppy seeds and top with a zingy passionfruit icing and finished with two Mimosa sugared pearls. I found this cake to be a tad on the dry side with the poppy seeds providing an added crunch, however the flavours worked well together – the tang of the passionfruit was refreshing – which was needed to liven the poppy seed cake.

Pistachio & Raspberry Teacake
Pistachio & Raspberry Teacake

My absolute favourite!! (Refer above to my description)

Berry Crumble Cheesecake (2) Berry Crumble CheesecakeBerry Crumble Cheesecake
This cheesecake slice was highly intriguing and had a lot of flavours running through it – so it was a fun cake to try and decipher. Made of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries together with cream cheese and sour cream on a biscuit base and garnished with a crumble top. Everything about this cake was delicious but my favourite would have to be the biscuit crumble on top – I could eat an entire bowl of this! The combination of the berry tang and the crunch and smooth flavours of the biscuit was delicious.

Louise Cake Louise Cake
Louise Cake

To me this isn’t really a cake but more so a slice – complete with a coconut shortbread base, followed by layers of a fruity berry filling with a crusty coconut meringue top and finished with icing sugar and freeze dried berries. When you take one bite and get a cross section of all the layers the combination of flavours do work well together – from the coconut, meringue, berries and punchy lemon hit. A great textured dessert.

Strawberry Brunch BarStrawberry Brunch Bar
Strawberry Brunch Bar

This strawberry brunch bar is another one of my favourites. There is a biscuit base with a cream cheese centre layer that is topped with a strawberry filling and finished with a brown sugar and puffed cereal grain topping. When looking at this beauty – you would expect the top part to be crunchy, however it is soft and melts in your mouth. The strawberry is the hero of this slice as it adds a tanginess to the overall sweet taste.

Granola Bar (2) Granola BarGranola Bar
This is one of your healthier options complete with fresh nuts, seeds, dried fruits and puffed grains. Even though this looks mighty healthy it still has a very tasty and delicious flavour to it thanks to the combination of cranberries, coconut, apricot, pistachio, golden syrup, almonds, macadamias, hazelnuts and vanilla paste used. The bar was chewy and the textures altogether made for an enjoyable experience.

Monte Carlo
Monte Carlos
The Monte Carlos had a strawberry centre in between two soft and delicious short bread circles, which had been dusted with icing sugar. The combination of the buttery short bread that literally crumbled in your mouth with the not-too-sweet vibrant strawberry filling was brilliant!

Salted Caramel Cookie
Salted Caramel Chocolate Snap
This Salted Caramel Chocolate Snap was another one of my favourites – the caramel centre was soft, sweet and gooey with rock salt placed on top to create the salted caramel effect. The biscuit itself made with brown sugar, dark chocolate, Dutch cocoa, pistachios, white chocolate and all spice was soft and malleable – which made it so easy to eat (more like gobble down!). It almost tasted like a spiced walnut biscuit. Try it for yourself!

Litte Bear-Tha Gingerbread
Little Bear-tha Gingerbread
These gingerbread men / women biccies were adorable – almost too cute to eat! As they were gingerbread – you would almost expect a bit ginger flavour hit – however the ginger flavour was quite subtle which I liked. The biscuit itself was quite soft and overall it was an enjoyable bear treat to eat.

Mexican Chocolate Chilli Cookie
Mexican Choc-Chilli Cookie
The Mexcican Choc-Chilli Cookie had a surprise in the centre – soft chocolate ganache – which would make anyone’s day. The biscuit reminded me of marzipan in a way and the chilli flavour hits you at the end of your mouthful which creates a fiery zing. The cookie is not overly sweet thanks to the addition of cinnamon and had some crunch due to the almonds. A fun tasting cookie.

Pumpkin Sandwich Cookie
Pumpkin Sandwich Cookie
The Pumpkin Sandwich cookie is made with a combination of the pumpkin, brown sugar, cardamom, nutmeg, salt and vanilla paste and comes with a cream cheese centre topped with pumpkin seeds. From the first bite the flavours reminded me a lot of the gingerbread cookie. The cookie was soft with the added crunch from the pumpkin seed. I was a little disappointed as I was expecting more of the pumpkin flavour to shine through.

I would highly recommend anyone who enjoys a great tasting sweet treat or for that matter even people who aren’t big fans of sweet treats to check out Little Bertha for themselves – there really are options for everyone. They even cater for gluten free and vegan requirements.

If you check out their website you can have a look at the very long list of cafes in and around Melbourne that stock their beautifully handcrafted products. Or even better – order a box delivered fresh straight to your front door!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://www.littlebertha.com.au/ for a great selection of cakes, tarts, slices, tarts, muffins, slabs, roulades and petit fours
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.littlebertha.com.au
44 Duke Street, Abbotsford
Tel No: 9421 6663
More contact details can be found at http://www.littlebertha.com.au/contact

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littlebertha1
Twitter: @littlebertha1

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Fiesta Mexican – Spicy, Lively & Fun

panda 4.5 rating

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Menu:
Dessert Menu                       halal symbol
There is an increasing amount of halal restaurants that are opening up all around Melbourne, in fact all around the country! When we first came to Australia many years ago, halal restaurants were quite scarce – and to see them growing at an exponential rate is fantastic! And what I love is that it is not only restricted to the cuisines that you would normally associate with “halal” food such as middle eastern cuisine – but the cuisines itself have quite a variety as well – from Italian to Steakhouses!

When Bill Bilwani from Fiesta Mexican contacted me about coming to try out his restaurant and that the meat was entirely Halal I was wrapped! I am a huge fan of Mexican food and usually have to always stick to the seafood and vegetarian versions of the enchiladas, tacos etc – but with this restaurant being Halal I could experience what every other person gets to – the meat enchiladas, tacos etc! I headed down with my parents to experience this wonderful Mexican place for myself.

Fiesta Mexican has been around for just over 30 years and is located in Toorak Road in South Yarra. It is a family run business owned by Bill Bilwani with his son Shaheen helping out. The venue has had a makeover in the recent months and the result is a vibrant, colourful, mini-Mexico in Melbourne theme complete with psychedelic artwork which includes a hawk to the right when you enter as well as a woman with an eagle as her hair near the bar and counter area. There is mood lighting thanks to the Mexican Steer Bull shaped light shades – these look really cool lined up on the wall and further adding to the Mexican feel. There are wooden tables – each which have engraving on the table top – ours had a dancing Mexican lady – that can seat from 2 right up to 8 people depending on how large your group size is. We were seated at the front of the restaurant by the window – which allowed us to take in the whole length of the restaurant. There are stairs at the back which lead to a function area upstairs that can be booked out for celebrations. An interesting fact to note is that they have had celebrities like Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi and even the Williams sisters come to dine here and there are some menu items named after them – the Agassi or Hewitt Burrito.

We were given our menus and I was overwhelmed by the choice and varieties before me – there were pages and pages of food to choose from and from reading the description of each I almost wanted a little taste of everything. There is an extensive range of tacos, burritos, fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas as well as a good selection of desserts. There is also a separate Gluten Free menu, and they also cater for vegetarians, coeliac guests and vegans too. The Dine in Menu is split into different sections – Apertivos, Soft Tacos , Entremese (Entrees), Ensaladas (Salads), Comidas (Main Courses) as well as Paellas. The Paellas however need to be ordered 2 days in advance and there are two different options – Chicken or Seafood. There is also a banquette menu – one for $35 and one $45 – the latter has a more seafood feel to it and includes 2 desserts, whereas the other has only one dessert and more of a beef and chicken feel to it. There is also a section that lists out the Vegetarian Main courses. Fiesta Mexican also has a takeaway menu and provides a delivery service as well – further extending out their clientele.

Whilst trying to decide what to order I ordered a drink from the list of Mocktails they had to offer – Mango Margarita. This came out in a larger than normal cocktail glass with a green stem – which contrasted really well with the yellow drink – there was salt around the rim of the glass in true margarita style. The drink was refreshingly sour and I quite enjoyed it.

We decided to order the Wingettes – fiery red hot marinaded chicken wingettes with chipotle and adobe mix, as well as the Carne Enchilada de Cheddar – Oven baked 6” corn tortilla rolled with slow cooked shredded topside beef, Monterey Jack cheese, white onion and mild smoked cayenne sauce to share. The chicken wingettes were delicious and tasted – they had a smoky, spicy yet sweet taste to them with the chicken cooked perfectly. The chipotle added a refreshing hit to those who would find the wingettes spicy.

The Carne Enchilada was soft and really easy to cut into – almost like butter. The beef inside was just as soft and tender – and flavoured deliciously. The combination of the beef, onion and smoky sauce on top was like a flavour hit in your mouth. A great way to start the meal. Each of these dishes came with a side salad consisting of salad leaves, red onions, cucumber and tomato.

For mains we ordered three dishes to share. The first dish was the Fiesta Autentica – the house specialty, a combination of beef, chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, serrano chilli & fresh cilantro, delicious with flour tortillas, arroz verde & leaf salad. This was my favourite dish out of the three mains. The combination of both the beef, chicken and potatoes was fantastic and it had a great addition of spice. It actually reminded me of a dish that my mum used to make when I was younger so the memories it brought back were special too! The flour tortillas added the perfect addition to envelope this spicy tender mix and savor the flavours. Both the chicken and beef were tender and soft. If you love spicy dishes this is definitely one to try out.

The second of the mains we had was the Pollo Cajun – chicken breast coated in a blend of paprika, red pepper & garlic, served with, arroz verde & mango salsa. The coating on the chicken was delicious and really worked well with the texture of the chicken. The chicken wasn’t as tender as in the other dishes, however was still brilliant. The mango salsa was amazing as well – the spiciness mixed in with the sweetness of the mango worked well together. The rice – arroz verde -that came with these dishes were also really tasty – the rice grains were easily separated and was cooked pilaf style – my fave style of rice.

The last of the mains we ordered was the Carne En Tiras – two beef enchiladas with mild cayenne chilli sauce, served with brown rice & pico de gallo. This was similar to the entree that we had and was just as delicious – soft, spicy with a touch of smokines. The addition of the brown rice and pico de gallo was a great addition, and together with the enchiladas was tasty mouthful.

For dessert there was an interesting combination on the menu titled ‘Sensation is Mother of Invention’ – which had jalapeno, Rose Petal with Crunchy Candy Ice Cream – served with White chocolate and raisin sauce – however I wasn’t brave enough to see what that was about. We decided to order the ‘Crazy for Chocolate’ – chocolate mousse, chocolate dipped strawberries, chocolate heart and vanilla ice cream with chocolate flakes. This dish was plated out differently to most other desserts I have come across. The chocolate mousse was in a square glass cup, the vanilla ice cream was in a black espresso cup topped with a strawberry, the chocolate dipped strawberries were placed around with the chocolate heart in the centre of the plate – which served as the “tray” for the dessert. I really liked the presentation and thought it was unique. The chocolate mousse was to die for – creamy, smooth and full of chocolatey goodness. The dipped strawberries had dark chocolate used and the bitterness of the chocolate worked well against the sweetness of the strawberry.

The staff are really friendly and lively which really does add to the complete the atmosphere of the place. From the moment you step in, you are greeted with a happy hello and shown to your table. They seem to really enjoy what they do. We also got to chat to Shaheen for a bit and learnt more about of his passion and drive for being in the food industry despite completing a law degree. He is very engaging and full of smiles, and goes from table to table ensuring all the guests are looked after. Great customer service! Despite being a Wednesday night – the place got really full – with the crowd ranging from couples to larger groups out for dinner.

There were other really interesting dishes around the room that other diners had ordered – such as the sizzling hot plates, and a drink that was flamed. The food was great and stayed true to the authentic Mexican flavours, the atmosphere was fun and lively and the staff friendly. There really is nothing more you can ask for when you go to dine out. The fact that the meat was all halal was a massive bonus for me. If you love Mexican food and want a huge variety to choose from, either way Fiesta Mexican is definitely a place for you!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.fiestamexican.com.au/food_menu.php. If you want to order online you can do so on this link – http://www.menulog.com.au/order/fiesta-mexican-restaurant Refer above for the dessert menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Lively, Fun and Welcoming. You can definitely experience the Mexican vibe be it in the main dining rom or even in the function room located upstairs
Standout Dish:Fiesta Autentica – the house specialty, a combination of beef, chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, serrano chilli & fresh cilantro, delicious with flour tortillas, arroz verde & leaf salad
Service: Fantastic –  Friendly and Welcoming. They also are great if you need any recommendations on what to order
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.fiestamexican.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.fiestamexican.com.au/
175 Toorak Rd, South Yarra
Tel No: 9827 4593

Opening Hours:

Fiesta Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The Smith – Knickerbocker Glory

panda 4 rating

A and I were looking for a place where we could have some dessert after dinner and I stumbled across The Smith and its renowned dessert – The Knickerbocker. It was a Friday night and I knew that they would be busy so I called up to see if they would have space for the two of us to have dessert – they were very helpful and said to come and they would find a space for us. How nice of them! So we headed down and literally had the best seats in the house – at the bar counter overlooking the kitchen –we could actually watch as our desserts were being made.

The Smith is located in High Street, Prahran – one of the trendier suburbs in Melbourne and the venue matches. The owner is Scott Borg (former director of Taxi and Circa), and he has created this swanky, sophisticated and fun venue that offers all day dining.

From the outside it looks like a pub, but once you are inside you are welcomed by a fun and casual vibe. To the right is the bar and courtyard and to the right is the main dining area, which travels all along to the back room which is another dining area. Here is where the fantastic open kitchen resides, with the opportunity to sit at the bar overlooking the kitchen – best view in the house! The back dining room has high ceilings together with a combination of round, square and communal wooden tables. The fit out is classy, elegant all whilst staying casual and welcoming.

We were just there for desserts so we were given the dessert menu to peruse. Whilst tossing up what we wanted to have for dessert – we could see the other meals being prepared in the kitchen and being sent out to the diners. They looked amazingly delicious! It made us wish that we had come here for dinner as well! The menu is prepared by Michael Lambie (also ex Taxi and Circa). The Smith offers six-course and eight-course tasting menus at $70 and $85.

The menu is split into six sections – starting off with “Oysters” (there are three to choose from), moving onto “Mouthful”, then “Tastes”, followed by “Fish & Meat”, then “Sides” and ending on dessert dubbed “To End.” Mouthful includes morsels of food that ranges from pork croquettes, to tempura king prawns, soft shell crab, tofu and salmon tartare. There are a number of “Tastes” and “Fish & Meat” dishes to select from as well – the variety ensures that there really is a dish for everyone and every dietary requirement. The menu is a combination of many cuisines – from Mexican to Thai to Japanese and even Modern Australian Country.

There were four different desserts to choose from which included The Smith Carrot Cake with citrus cream cheese, Chocolate dulce de elce with blood orange foam and the two desserts we chose to have. What is great about the desserts here are not only do they sound good, but most of them are Gluten-Free, Nut-Free etc. The menu marks down what each dessert is, as well as suggesting what drink it would go well with. There is also a cheese selection if you are a cheese fan.

I ordered the The Smith Knickerbocker Glory (GF, EF, NF) – which was essentially like a trifle – it had layers and layers of sweet goodness. There are layers of macerated sweet tart fruit including pomegranate molasses, berries, strawberries topped with whipped cream, chocolate buttons, jelly squares and chunky bits of honeycomb. There were so many textures and flavours going on and it really was a fun dessert to have. I loved the combination of cream and berries any day so this dessert worked really well for me and was just what I craved and wanted.

A ordered the Raspberry Souffle with White Chocolate Ice Cream (GF) which was mighty impressive when it was placed in front of us. The overflow of the soufflé looked delightful and was topped with icing sugar; to the side was the white chocolate ice cream. The soufflé was literally melt in your mouth and the tanginess worked extremely well in contrast to the sweetness of the white chocolate ice cream. A winner!

Whilst we were eating our desserts we watched as The Smith Carrot cake was being made and boy did it look impressive! There were so many elements that were added – as you watch you think that it would be the last ingredient placed – but wait there’s more – more and more elements added – and the end result: spectacular. The dish was finished with petals, flowers and reminded me of a swan. Definitely wanting to try this out next time!

We also ordered tea to go with our dessert – and I tried the Russian Caravan tea for the first time! I have previously not heard of this flavour and was intrigued to try it out. This tea is a blended oolong, keemun and lapsang souchong tea and has a vibrant and strong aroma to match a nutty, malty and smoky flavouring. I might actually consider purchasing some of my own Russian Caravan tea!

The staff were really helpful and our waiter especially was really friendly! Customer service was really good and the staff looked like they were having a good time.

The Smith is great place be it for a casual catch up dinner or a celebration. The atmosphere is lively, fun and very friendly. The Smith also has two function rooms upstairs, with a separate bar and kitchen. One of the rooms is called “Mr Smith” which is the more masculine version complete with leather seats and can seat up to 40 people. The other room is aptly named “Mrs Smith” – complete with white walls and can seat up to 24 people. There is a wall between the two that can be opened up to create one larger space if needed.

The Smith serves a large variety of food in a venue that is stylish, elegant yet casual and relaxed – the staff are friendly and helpful and the food dishes not only look spectacular but taste great too! What more could you ask for really?

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to http://www.thesmithprahran.com.au/the-food/ The drinks menu can be found here – http://www.thesmithprahran.com.au/the-drinks/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Elegant, Stylish, Casual and Fun. There is an area for dining and an area for drinks, as well as a courtyard. There are also function rooms.
Service: Fantastic – very friendly and helpful!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.thesmithprahran.com.au
213 High St, Prahran
Tel No: 9514 2444

Opening Hours
Monday to Sunday: 12:00 pm – 11:30 pm

The Smith on Urbanspoon

The Spotted Mallard – Quirky and Chilled

panda 3.5 rating

Menu:
The Food Menu   The Menu   Poutine Menu   The Smaller Dishes   The Burgers and Sandwiches   The Larger Dishes   The Sides and Salads

We needed to find a venue in the Brunswick area for a catch-up and I picked The Spotted Mallard. It was a Tuesday night – which meant it was Trivia night also at the venue. It was free to enter if we wished. The Spotted Mallard is located where the old Metropolis Eating house used to live.

The Spotted Mallard is quite different to any other venue I have been to. It was a former reception centre and ballroom which has now been turned into a 300 seater bar/restaurant/live music venue/trivia night space. As you walk up the stairs to the main area, you are greeted by the long bar and the vast expanse of space. You are immediately drawn to the colourful stain glass ceiling which allows fresh sunlight through. But then there is so much going on in the space that you want to look at everything at the same time. There are accents of the spotted mallard ( a duck) all around the venue especially at the bar where the beer labels are in the shape of the mallard. They also make an appearance on the menus. The furniture is mismatched and quite eclectic and unique in style but it really does come together really well. The vibe is funky, vintage and chilled out.

There are also themed nights such as Middle Eastern or BBQ Sundays.

The Spotted Mallard is the idea from Sam Grose, Max Meshers and Samanda Black, who met working at Greasy Joe’s in St Kilda. Together they set about reinventing this space by rebuilding the kitchen, creating the bar and stage and buying the perfectly mismatched furniture. The menu is put together by Grose (ex Mamasita) and Dan O’Donoghue (ex Chester White) – and is a classier version of pub food with Mexican influences. There is a great drinks selection as well – from spirits to craft beers on tap. All of the food is main in house and they use local and environmentally friendly produce when they can. Even the fish (barramundi at the moment) is ethically caught! Their bread is organic and is sourced from Lievito Bakery.
The menu is split into the smaller dishes, the Poutines, the bigger dishes, Burgers and Sandwiches and finishes with Sides and Salads. For the desserts – as they change daily – you need to refer to the specials board.

Most of us around the table ordered burgers and we also ordered a poutine to share. All the burgers come served with hand cut chips and slaw complete with a Dijon-Caper dressing.

We ordered the Poutine to share at our table –  Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Poutine – Topped with Porcini, Swiss Brown and Field Mushrooms, Parmesan Cheese, Gravy and Caramelised Onions. The dish was very rich and full of flavour. The potatoes were crispy on the outside and soft and cloud-like on the inside. The combination of the sauteed mushroom and caramelized onion was a perfect compliment.

The burger I ordered was the Chickpea and Sweet Potato Burger – House made Chickpea and Sweet Potato Patty with Harissa Yoghurt, Pico de Gallo, Pickled Jalapenos and Roquette. I absolutely loved the chickpea and sweet potato patty – the sweetness of the potato together with the nutty flavour of the chickpea was sensational. The addition of the harissa yoghurt was a great “sauce” for the burger. I also liked the bun that came with this burger – complete with seasame and pumpkin seeds.

Most other people around the table ordered the Wagyu Beef and Bacon Burger – 150gm Wagyu Beef Patty with Bacon, Molten Gruyere Cheese, Caramelised Onion, PIckles and Chipotle Mayo. They all enjoyed the burger and thought that the Wagyu Beef was cooked quite well.

D ordered the 12 Hour Roasted Lamb and Black Bean – Hunks of Lamb marinated for 2 days in a mix of Dried Chilies, Cumin, Cinnamon, Vinegar then Slow Roasted served with Braised Black Beans. He wasn’t too thrilled with the flavours and as a result didn’t really enjoy his dish.

Overall, I thought the food was pretty good here at The Spotted Mallard. I love places that make their food in house and the burger I had was up there with my top veggie burgers. Check it out for a casual and laid back dinner out – or even some Trivia if you head there on Tuesdays!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.spottedmallard.com/menu/ – There are Small Dishes, Poutines, Bigger Dishes, Burgers and Sandwiches, Sides and Salads
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Eclectic, Vintage and Funky
Standout Dish:
Service:
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.spottedmallard.com/contact/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.spottedmallard.com/
314 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Tel No: 9380 8818

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Friday: 4:00pm – 1:00am
Saturday: 2:00pm – 1:00am
Sunday: 2:00pm to 11:00pm

The Spotted Mallard on Urbanspoon

Mesa Verde – Bar with Great Mexican Food

panda 4 rating

It was time for another regular catch up dinner with A, and I decided we should try out Mesa Verde – a new Mexican restaurant that has opened up in the last vacancy in the city’s Curtin House, on Swanston Street. It is located one floor below the Rooftop.

Mesa Verde translates to Green Table, and is a new South American bar – that serves Mexican inspired food. Established by Tim Peach (who owns Curtin House and Rooftop) and headed up by Andy Griffiths (Cookie) with Josh Crawford and Sarah Miller.

After travelling all the way up, you are greeted by a dimly lit room where the bar is the first and main focus. The bar is the masterpiece of the room – and is super long – long enough to house the 240 different tequilas! There is a projector near where we sit, that projects a old school movie and we are surrounded by timber tables which are lit up by bottles of alcohol that have a candle atop of them. There is also a DJ set area which pumps out interesting flavours of music. Even though the place is dark; it has a sense of warmth and belonging, partly due to the friendly wait staff and bartenders.

We were seated at our table with clear view of the bar and were handed our menus – which as you opened it are quotes relating to Tequila – after all there are over 240 different tequilas that you can try out here! The Food menu is split into 6 different sections – starting off with Snacks, followed by Smaller dishes, then Tacos (there are 5 different tacos to choose from including an Ox Tongue, Pulled Pork or Prawn Taco), then Larger dishes, Salads & Sides (there are two salads and one side of chips) and finishing with Desserts of course. The menu is short and concise but covers what you would expect at a Mexican Restaurant and then some. There are also specials available that the friendly wait staff will inform you about.

The drinks menu as you can tell is quite extensive but what caught my eye were the Non-Alcoholic Sodas – I decided to order the Jalapeno, Damiana and Horny Goat Weed Lemonade. The combination not only sounded intriguing but the ingredients were something that I hadn’t heard of before and had me google what exactly this Horny Goat Weed was – FYI it is indeed an aphrodisiac but also has some medicinal uses, and has other names such as Rowdy Lamb Herd, Fairy Wings and Bishops Hat. The drink is great! It has a sweet flavouring with chilli hit combined with the fizziness of the lemonade. The chilli from the jalapeno leaves a slight after taste – the first time you take a sip it just tastes funny but the drink grows on you and is quite nice. I enjoyed it!

We decided to get a taco each, and A got one of the specials which was a lamb filled pastry and I got the Smoked Trout Tostada. To share we decided to get the Watermelon Salad as well as chips. We were quite hungry so asked for all the food to be brought out at the same time and the food did come without a lot of waiting. First up was the Tacos – I had the Mushrooms, Spinach, Cheese, Crema, Espelette Pepper on a Blue Corn Tortilla. The Tacos are of a generous size and the mushroom mixed with all the other ingredients mentioned was moist, juicy and tasty. The espelette pepper added a hint of hotness to already flavoursome dish. A enjoyed her taco as well which was the Pulled Pork, Pink Onion Chipotle BBQ Sauce, Radish.

Next up for me was the Tostada with Smoked Trout, Granny Smith Apple, Avocado, Pickled Cucumber. This was a fantastic dish that I thoroughly enjoyed – from the crispness of the tostada to the tanginess of the apple paired together with the fresh smoked trout finished with the smooth creaminess of the avocado – simply delicious!

The Watermelon salad came with Beets, Pomegranate, Mint, Seeds was a colourful and bright looking dish with a flavour to match. The flavours were fresh and really did work well together. Following all our main dishes we were quite full despite it not looking like we had ordered that much but decided to share a dessert – I mean how could you look past the churros? The Churros (there are 5 per serving) comes with a Chocolate Sauce and is sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and is super tasty. The Churros were crunchy on the outside and soft and delightful on the inside.

Overall, Mesa Verde is another restaurant in Melbourne that serves great Mexican food with the added incentive of a huge variety of drinks (especially drinks – did I mention over 240 types of tequila?). The place has a funky and vibe to it from the great music playing down to the cutlery which has been repurposed courtesy of local jeweller Marcos Davidson – and is shaped and marked with the MV trademark – funky! Get yourself along and check out Mesa Verde – trust me the 6 levels you need to pass to get there is definitely worth it!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu
The different menus can be found at http://mesaverde.net.au/mesa-verde-menus/
This includes the drinks menus, food menus as well as dessert menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Super Cool, Vibrant and Fun! Great to meet up with some friends and just hang out and catch up.
Standout Dish: Tostada, smoked trout, granny smith apple, avocado, pickled cucumber
Service: Friendly, Helpful and Fun
Online Booking: No
Note: Refer to http://mesaverde.net.au/bookings/Bookings
Bookings are encouraged to reserve a table in our main dining area. This area can accommodate groups of up to 10. We have a private dining space that can accommodate groups of 10-20. We offer set menu options for groups of 8 or more. A credit card deposit is required to confirm all larger group bookings.
For Events: Mesa Verde is available to accommodate bookings for daytime events for up to 175 guests. Please contact us to tailor an event to your needs.
Restaurant Details and Location:
mesaverde.net.au
Level 6 (Curtin House)
252 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 4417

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Sunday
Bar:
5:00 pm – 1:00 am
Kitchen:
Tuesday to Thursday: 6pm to Late
Friday: 5pm to Late
Saturday: 6pm to Late

Mesa Verde on Urbanspoon

Touche Hombre – New Menu a Must Try!

panda-4-rating1

I have previously been to Touche Hombre – you can check out my full review at https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/42/

This wont be really be a full review but just an update. I recently went back to Touche Hombre and learnt that they had changed their menu 6 weeks ago. Now there is a lot more dishes to choose from and the food is even more tastier and spicier! There are dishes such as Fatty Lamb Ribs and Shrimp Balls (Spicy Shrimp Balls, Arbol Chilli, Charred Brea) that have been added a well as Quesadillas with Wild Mushrooms, Ricotta, Pecorino, Mint, Salsa Verde and Creme Fraiche. The fatty lamb ribs just melts off the bone and is full of flavour. The Shrimp balls are spicy and have just the right amount of heat to it and the shrimp is fresh. The Quesadilla was delicious and crunchy and the addition of mint and creme fraiche was great. The Grilled Corn (Elotes Callejeros – Grilled Corn, Alba Pecorino, Chilli Pequin) is just as good as I remember it to be on my first couple of visits – juicy, sweet and grilled to perfection.

There is also a change to the dessert menu and they don’t seem to have the ice cream sandwich flavours that I loved so much anymore (see the  older review for a pic of these) – they do still have one flavour of these left Choc-Chilli, Peanut Ice Cream Sanga – Peanut Ice Cream Sanga, Choc-Chilli Cookie.  However they do have a Crema Cocida – Creme Fraiche, Panna Cotta, Spice Pineapple- which is absolutely delicious! One of the better pannacotta’s I have tried – and you can tell as well because there was no picture of it taken..it was eaten way too quickly =p

As I’ve said in my previous review – if you haven’t made your way down to Touche Hombre and really love Mexican food – definitely check it out!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A Selection of starters and a variety of tacos too! Menu can be found at http://www.touchehombre.com.au/ and click on the FOOD tab
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Very friendly staff who are interesting to chat to. An in-house DJ plays and the place is buzzing. There are old school pinball machines to play as well. A great night out with a friends or for a laid back date night.
Standout Dish: Albondigas De Camaron – Spicy Shrimp Balls, Arbol, Chilli, Charred Brea
Service: Fantastic and super friendly!
Online Booking: This place doesn’t take bookings. You have to go to the place and put your name and number on a list and they will call you. If you have a group of 10+ then you can make a Group Booking.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.touchehombre.com.au/
Cnr Tattersalls Lane and Lonsdale St
Melbourne
Tel No: 9663 0811

Opening Hours:
Lunch:
Tuesday to Saturday from 12pm
Dinner:
Monday to Saturday (Thursday to Saturday open 5pm – till late)

Touché Hombre on Urbanspoon