Mörk Chocolate Brewhouse – Calling All Chocolate Lovers!

panda 5 rating

Menu:
Mork Menu Mork Menu

I have always loved Hot Chocolates so was excited to learn that one of my favourite brands of Hot Chocolate – Mörk – had opened a café / brew house / specialty store – solely dedicated to hot chocolates; yep that’s right no coffee in sight! This has been a long awaited move for co-founders and partners Josefin Zernall and Kiril Shaginov – who come from a speciality coffee background – and wanted their customers to be reminded of their childhood. Both used to work in Sweden at a coffee roaster together and started up Mörk in 2012 and have been supplying a number of Melbourne cafes with their Chocolate for over three years now.

Mörk Brewhouse is located in Errol Street in North Melbourne in a space that used to be a 1950s bakery warehouse. It has a very modern, light filled and welcoming air about it – from the friendly staff at the counter who take the time to welcome you personally whilst preparing hot chocolate for other guests to brilliant aroma that fills the air.
The space is intimate yet doesn’t feel crowded – seating just 18 people at a time – featuring bleached wood, angled grey tiles with brass accents.
The warehouse attached to the café will make chocolate on site. There are also shelves which stock product for you to take home to enjoy the blissful Mörk products for yourself. I absolutely love the crockery they use as well – imported Japanese Arita porcelain – custom made beakers to house the delicious and rich chocolate when it is presented to you.

Chocolate is similar to coffee – it has different classifications, varieties and single origins – all of which has a focus here at Mörk. You can find a range of drinking chocolate blends (starting from 50% cacao (Junior Dark) and going up to 85% cacao (Even Darker)) as well as new ingenious chocolate combination delights which include the Breakfast Chocolate (House-made Oat Milk, Dark Chocolate and Cinnamon), A Chocolate Bar (Hot Chocolate, Hazelnut and Caramel). The little ones aren’t forgotten here with a specially designed menu for the them – Chocolate Foam (Milk Foam with Chocolate Sparkle) and Mini Chocolate (Junior Dark Chocolate with Marshmallow).

There are also small sweet treats available which are either made in house or off-site using Mörk’s specially crafted recipes such as – Hazelnut Financier, Lemon Financier, Brioche and Hazelnut Spread (all $5.00) and Canele ($4.00). There are also small sized pieces of chocolate on offer for you to enjoy – Smoked Vanilla Water Based Truffle and Pure Alba Cinnamon (both $3.50) and Marshmallows ($1.50).

We arrived around 3:30pm on a Sunday to a line of people – both waiting for a seat inside or for takeaway. We needed a table for three and were told by the friendly staff that it would be around a 15 minute wait. We were happy to wait and enjoyed the aroma of the fresh chocolate being prepared for the other patrons, as well as looking at what products were available to buy.

Once we were seated we were served sparkling mineral water that had been infused with Vanilla Bean which was to cleanse our palate. The Vanilla Bean flavour was subtle yet strong at the same and was super delicious! You could really see yourself having a bottle full of this mineral water. Even Dad loved it so much so he wanted to try and infuse his own mineral water at home!

We ordered our drinks and eagerly waited for them to arrive. Dad ordered the Layered Chocolate – Chilled Dark Chocolate with Warm Custard. The combination of the rich warm chocolate together with the cool vanilla bean infused custard was delicious. The custard added an extra depth of flavouring to the already brilliant tasting chocolate.

Mum ordered the House Hot Chocolate in Original Dark (70% Cacao) which she enjoyed. The delicate note of the Cacao Venezuelan chocolate was rich, smooth and delicious.

I ordered the Campfire Chocolate (Hot Chocolate, Smoke and Marshmallow). I love how this “dish” comes served – on a wooden board. The hot chocolate is served in a porcelain beaker with a caged glass that is smoked with the wood of the day – on this day it was Beechwood, a house made marshmallow and finished with a pinch of smoked salt. The staff explains that you lift the glass and inhale the aroma from the wood smoked fumes and then pour the chocolate in. You have the option of stirring it through using the marshmallow and adding a sprinkle of salt to taste if you want.
The hot chocolate tastes divine – as it has the combination of the cacao together with the smokiness from the infusion of the wood. The marshmallow is like a cloud in your mouth that melts away and keeps you wanting that next bite. I did add a pinch of salt as well – but couldn’t’ really taste the saltiness come through. This really is a must try!

I love the concept of the Mörk Chocolate Brew House and the way the place has been fitted out. The service is friendly, warm and welcoming – I really wish it was located closer to the city so that I could go here during work hours!

Mörk Chocolate Brew House is currently only open during the day but is looking at introducing early evening Hot Chocolate tasting classes for those who want to further their Chocolate education – frankly who wouldn’t! Keep a lookout on their website and Facebook page for more information about when these will be launching.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above. A selection of hot chocolates, water based chocolates, signature chocolates as well as a menu for Little Ones. There is also a sweet and Savory section.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy, Welcoming, Modern and Relaxed
Service: Fantastic! Really friendly and inviting
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
morkchocolate.com.au
150 Errol Street, North Melbourne
Tel No: 9328 1386

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Saturday: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Sunday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Mork Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MorkChocolate
Instagram: morkchocolate
Twitter: @morkchocolate

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Banoi – A Piece of Vietnam in Docklands

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Food Menu Drinks Menu

If you work around the Docklands vicinity you would have noticed the recent influx of Vietnamese food ventures opening up. Banoi is one of these Vietnamese venues that have opened up in this area and is located opposite the brightly coloured NAB building on Bourke Street.

Banoi is owned by a Vietnamese team and is all about offering a contemporary dining experience all whilst staying true to the Vietnamese heritage and culture, using quality local fresh Melbourne produce.

The fit out is fantastic – modern yet vintage with touches which are reminiscent of the Saigon markets back in Vietnam. There are timber feature walls, vibrant use of colours, detailed light fittings with filament light bulbs, hand painted works and imported tiles in the bar and coffee area. There are timber tables inside – both communal and individual tables – some with stools fixed with bicycle pedals (how awesome!) – as well as seating outside. The tables are set up like any other Vietnamese restaurant whereby there is easy access to cutlery and condiments.

The food menu is set out like a lunch order menu where you place the number in the box alongside the item that you want. The Menu is broken up into a number of sections – Rice Paper Rolls (there are 6 to select from), Snacks (consisting of spring rolls mostly and one skewer dish), Noodle Soup (Pho – either beef or chicken), Banoi’s Lunch Special – there are two that you can choose from A or B, Vermicelli Noodles (there are seven different flavours to choose from) and Salads (either a Wagyu Beef Salad or Chicken Salad). The menu also highlights which dishes are Vegetarian and Gluten-Free.
At just $15 the Banoi’s Lunch Special are a smashing deal and great value for money. Lunch Special A consists of a Beef Pho Cup, Banh Mi Half together with Imperial Spring Rolls of which you get 3. You can also select a drink of either a Vietnamese Iced Coffee or Kumquat Lemonade. Lunch Special B consists of Vietnamese Beef Curry Vermicelli with your selection of a drink as above.

The drinks menu is quite extensive and consists of a selection of drinks such as Kumquat Lemonade, Vietnamese Ice Coffee, Coconut Crush, Lychee Crush, Custard Apple Smoothies etc. There is also a selection of beers and wines, as well as the usual soft drinks and tea.

Banoi gets really busy during lunch times and I would suggest getting there at 12pm sharp in order to get yourself a table. They do take bookings but only if the booking is for 12pm, as they want to cater for walk-ins after that time. For those on the go there is a separate line / window where you can order rice paper rolls and drinks to take away.
The first time I tried Banoi I used this take away line and tried out two different types of rice paper rolls. I ordered the Fried Salt & Pepper Tofu with Kim Chi Sprouts as well as the Grilled Salmon with Avocado. Each serving comes with 2 rolls per serve. You also get your choice of sauces. The rolls were delicious and are fresh (as they are made fresh daily) and full of flavour and crunch thanks to the inclusion of traditional Asian herbs. My favourite out of the two was the Salt & Pepper tofu roll which had some added spice thanks to the use of Kim Chi sprouts. These rolls are quite generously sized and I had enough for dinner time as well!

The second time around we booked a table for 12pm and were seated inside. The atmosphere is buzzing and does make you feel like you are in downtown Vietnam in the markets. As I can only eat Halal meats the lunch special option was out for me so I decided to order the Silken Tofu Vermicelli Noodles – with wok tossed fried silken tofu and vegetarian spring rolls. I did ask the waitress if she could change these vegetarian spring rolls to the imperial spring rolls (which had crab & prawn inside them) however she said this couldn’t be done.

I ordered a Kumquat Lemonade drink which was refreshing. I really loved the flavour combination of kumquat and lemonade and had to stop myself from finishing the drink all in one go. A ordered the Coconut Crush which was just as good and had fresh pieces of coconut through the drink.

The Silken Tofu Vermicelli Noodles comes out presented beautifully – the salt and pepper crusted tofu sitting on top like soft pillows amongst the colourful greens, Kim Chi sprouts and spring rolls all served in a blue and white bowl, with the Vermicelli hidden underneath. There is sweet soy sauce on top in a separate dish as well. Just from the look of the dish I can barely contain myself to take picture of the dish without wanting to tuck into it. I pour the sauce throughout the dish and take my first mouthful and am not disappointed. It was fantastically delicious! The crunchy outside of the tofu together with the soft silkiness inside along with the coriander, herbs and spicy crunch of the sprouts was a match made in heaven. I literally devoured the entire dish. The vegetarian spring rolls were full of flavour and added depth to the dish as well.
Around the table everyone was talking about how good the food was. J got the Lunch Special A and said the Beef Pho was delicious – with the quality of the beef being top notch together with a tasty broth and quality noodles. He also commented on the Banh Mi being flavoursome with the bread being crunchy and fresh. I got a chance to sample the Imperial Rolls which have a delicate netting on the outside which I loved the look of. The rolls were superb – with a great texture of crunch on the outside and soft flavoursome prawn and crab meat on the inside. These rolls are a definite must order for anyone and everyone.

Service is great with staff friendly and always happy to assist if you need anything. Banoi also has a strong focus on good coffee – they work with Campos coffee – and use a La Marzocco machine to pump out smooth tasting and full flavoured cups.

Banoi is all about Vietnamese food and Vietnamese food done well – the ever growing queues and crowds at lunchtime and dinnertime are testament to this. The trek down to Docklands is definitely worth it.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above or the website – http://www.banoi.com.au/#menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Laid Back, Funky. Has a market like feel to it that reminds you of the Saigon Market in Vietnam. It is great for a casual meal and catch up drinks.
Standout Dish: Silken Tofu Vermicelli Noodles and Imperial Spring Rolls
Service: Friendly, Warm and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.banoi.com.au/
807 Bourke Street, Docklands
Tel No: 8080 9699

Opening Hours:
Monday: 11:00am-4:00pm
Tuesday to Saturday: 11:00am-9:30pm
Sunday: CLOSED

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/banoi.com.au
Twitter: @BanoiDocklands
Instagram: banoidocklands

Banoi on Urbanspoon

Tadka Boom! – Indian with a Modern Twist!

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Idli Breakfast Kerala Ice Cream Delhi Masala Chai Lunch Menu Salad and Snacks Menu Drinks and Desserts Menu

I heard about Tadka Boom! – a new restaurant that with a catchy name and delivers a modern take on traditional Indian street food – and couldn’t wait to try it out.

Tadka Boom! is located in Goldsbrough Lane in the heart of the Melbourne CBD (near the corner of Bourke and William streets). Tadka means seasoning in Hindi which relates to the diverse flavours and taste they bring to each dish. The new restaurant was opened by Lalitha Rajan together with her son Ashwin. Rajan quit her high flying executive job at HP to found Tadka Boom! She uses her well-loved family recipes from her very own kitchen (and inspired from her hometown of Delhi) here to Tadka Boom! to share with the people of Melbourne.

The venue is quite big in size – seats 45 inside and 12 outside – and centres around the colours of yellow and aqua mixed in with white, grey and black. The colours really work well together and brighten up the space adding to its fun and lively atmosphere. There are a selection of tables – both round and square – as well as a high communal table and high bench seating. As you walk in you are drawn to the kitchen / main counter as you watch meals being prepared in a methodical manner of efficiency. The way Tadka Boom! works is that you place your order at the counter and you are handed a receipt – you then wait off to the side to receive your food. You can sit in and enjoy your meal or take it away with you.

Tadka Boom! serves both breakfast (Nashta) and lunch (Bhojan) – at the moment – dinner could be on the horizon – with the main focus is on a wide range of grab to go meals and snacks which allow the busy worker on their quick lunchtime break to experience and taste the modern and punchy flavours of India. There are also Snacks (Tiffin) and Salads (Hara Bara) available on their menu and of course a selection of Desserts (Mitha Boom!) and Drinks. Before coming here for the first time I had no idea they served breakfast meals – I only assumed it was lunch.

Breakfast or Nashta as they call it back in India presents interesting combinations of eggs that you wouldn’t have experienced before. There are 3 main breakfast dishes and the one that got me excited to come back and try was the Idli Over Easy. Idli is steamed rice cakes and comes served with coconut chutney, spicy tomato chutney & gun powder served with fried eggs and spinach. Also available is the Bada Breakkie – which is a mixed lentil and rice pikelets served with chutney and mushrooms – the Bujia Roll and Grandma Jau’s Porridge.

Lunch consists of roti wraps (which you can get in either wholemeal or spinach) filled with a variety of fillings such as Lamb with Kaboom! Masala, Ginger Chilli Prawns, Grilled Chicken or the vegetarian option of ricotta, broccoli and carom seed patty. The Snacks menu consists of Bombay Bites, Sliders and Paratha (Flaky Roti) served with chutneys. There are 4 different chutneys to choose from, all with varying spiciness. There are 3 salads to choose from – all of which have a vegetarian base and if you choose you can add chicken, lamb or prawn.

Desserts include a selection of two ice creams – a Rose and Pistachio Ice Cream as well as a Kerala Spice Ice Cream. Drinks add another interesting twist to the menu – in house made cold drinks – the Nimbu Pani (Homemade lemonade) and the R.O.C Tea (Raspberry, Orange and Cinnamon infused tea). There is also Garma Garam Chai as well as Chennai Kaapi (South Indian filter coffee) for hot options.

P and I both decided to order roti wraps – she went for the Veggie option (Varanasi Veg) and I went for the Grilled Ginger Prawn option (Mr Parker’s Prawns). When we went they had a special on where you could order a cold drink for an extra $2 (which out well for me as I wanted to try the R.O.C Tea anyway!).

I opted for a wholemeal roti wrap for my choice of Mr Parker’s Prawns – Grilled ginger-chilli prawns with Dahlia Salad & Date Tamarind Chutney. The roti itself was thin and flavoursome – to the point where you didn’t really feel like you were eating a wrap that was made of wholemeal. The flavours from the grilled ginger chilli prawns were delicious – it had a smoky spicy flavour to it – coupled with the sweet, tangy chutney made for a well-rounded dish.

P did enjoy her Varanasi Veg – a light Ricotta, Broccoli & Carom Seed Patty with Green Salad, Kasundi & Date Tamarind Chutney. She said she enjoyed the overall taste, but struggled to finish the whole wrap as it was quite filling.

The R.O.C Tea was refreshing and tasty – I love anything with Cinnamon right now so this was a double bonus. The drink didn’t taste anything like a tea but instead like a fresh juice. I also sampled some of P’s Nimbu Pani which was just as good. My only comment was that I expected to get the drinks in the jars as they were in the pictures – that looked impressive! However we received them in a takeaway clear cup – which makes sense if people wanted to take away.

The staff at Tadka Boom! are very friendly and customer service is first class. This is evident from the time you place your order to when you receive your meals. You can tell they are really passionate about what they do and the enthusiasm really shines through.

Tadka Boom! aims to bring the hustle and bustle from India’s markets and street food “wallas” to the streets of Melbourne, fusing this with a modern twist all whilst keeping its exotic flavours and spices. They definitely do succeed! If you are looking for a flavour hit (BOOM!) be it first thing in the morning for breakfast or in your lunch break check out Tadka Boom!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above or check it out at http://static.squarespace.com/static/533cc8f4e4b025688de41377/t/537d878ee4b0eb4ddd2ba5fb/1400735630812/TadkaBoom_Menu%20TV_Website.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Fun and Light Filled
Service: Fantastic! Very friendly and welcoming!
Online Booking: They only take bookings for Breakfast
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.tadkaboom.com.au/
TG22 Goldsbrough Lane
550 Bourke Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9600 1633

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 4:30pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TadkaBoom
Twitter: @TadkaBoom
Instagram
: Tadka Boom

Tadka Boom! on Urbanspoon

Hooked – Delicious Tasting Healthy Seafood

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Menu at Hooked Lunch Menu at Hooked Specials Menu at Hooked

Hooked is the brainchild of Ray Good and has been around for a while now serving healthy seafood – in three different branches – Fitzroy, Windsor and its newest branch in Hawthorn. I was lucky enough to be invited to try out their latest branch.

The fit-out is exactly what you would expect to find beach-side with a modern twist – white rustic wooden panels combined with white washed exposed brick walls. There is a large communal table at the centre of the venue, surrounded by wooden tables which largely seat parties of two. To the right along the wall are sailor striped booth style seats and a lifebuoy with the inscription – Hooked – In Cod we Trust – further adding to the seaside vibe. Painted on the brick wall as you walk in is a mural of a blue grenadier, further on the wall is a painting of a diver complete with a diving suit – something for you to admire whilst you await your food. These extra touches, together with the friendly smiles of the staff behind the counter complete the warm and welcoming feel.

The menu is located on top the counter which you order from – which is reminiscent of a your local fish and chip store. There are a plethora of selections to decide from. There is a Seafood section from which you can order House Fish (either Grilled or Lightly Tempura Battered) or Calamari (Grilled or Salt & Pepper Battered) both served with either Hand Cut Chips OR Rice & Asian Greens OR Salad. There are Boxes available – Box for One (1 House Fish, 6 Calamari), Box for Two (2 House Fish, 8 Calamari, 2 King Prawns) and a Kids Box (Fish Bites or Calamari with Rice or Mini Chips and Juice Box or Water – with a side salad). The two Boxes also come with the same option of Hand Cut Chips, Rice & Asian Greens or Salad.

There are also 3 different burgers to choose from – Hooked Fish Burger, Seared Tuna Burger and a Veggie Burger. If you are feeling like something different maybe you can try out their Taco and Burrito Menu (Fish Burrito) – with two selections of tacos – Baja Fish and Grilled Prawn. If Salads is more your thing – there are three delicious sounding salads to choose from – The Hooked Salad, Superfood Salad – think quinoa, broccoli, spinach, sunflower seeds etc and an Asian Slaw.

There are also specials that you can have during Lunch hours, as well as a Fisherman’s Soup all for $10.95. You can also buy Extras if you want to add to your meal – such as Chips, Prawns, Scallops. In addition to this are their Home Made Sauces – Dill & Caper Tartare, Sambal, Salsa Verde or Sweet Chili. What’s great is that they give you a recommendation as to which sauce works well with a particular dish. For example the Sambal is delicious with grilled fish with rice or salad. There are also Gluten Free options available. Drinks include the usual soft drinks, Charlies range of fresh juices as well as Phoenix New Zealand Organic drinks.

I decided to order the Box for One – and chose Grilled Fish and Salt & Pepper Calamari, as well as Rice & Asian Greens, with Sambal sauce on the side (I went with the recommended salsa – but was keen also to try the sauce). The dish comes out served on a large white round plate, with the seafood on the one side and the rice and Asian greens on the other with the salsa and a slice of lemon in the middle of the two. The house fish they serve is blue grenadier – the fish was fresh, white, fleshy and cooked to perfection and tasted absolutely delicious – you really don’t need the addition of anything else. The fish remained succulent and juicy which was another win. The rice has a mix of sweet and savory flavours – thanks to the combination of soy, kecap manis together with a dash of sesame oil. The grains are separate – just the way I like my rice. The Asian Greens are blanched and lightly sautéed – keeping in theme of being healthy whilst being the perfect accompaniment to the rest of the dish. The Calamari was another standout – I loved the lightly battered salt and pepper tempura flavouring. There wasn’t a thick layer of batter rather a light covering, which allowed you to enjoy the freshness of the calamari and also made for a less greasy dish overall.

S ordered the Superfood Salad (Quinoa, Broccoli, Rocket, Spinach, Semi Dried Tomatoes, Peas, Mint, Toasted Pumpkin, Sunflower Seeds & Sesame Seeds finished with a drizzle of Yoghurt Lemon Dressing) with a side of House Fish together with the Salsa Verde sauce. We shared our dish with each other so I got to sample some of her Superfood salad. Once again the salad had a combination of refreshing flavours and crunchy textures which was finished off well thanks to the yoghurt lemon dressing. S liked the salad so much that since then she has tried to replicate this at home. The Salsa Verde sauced packed a punch of flavours with coriander being the main character and was quite delicious.

Hooked prides itself on producing healthy food with the key factors being highlighted – low in fat and cholesterol, high in protein and rich in Omega 3. This is thanks to the use of cholesterol free cottonseed oil in all their cooking. Their chips are freshly hand cut from Gippsland potatoes each and every day, and cooked from scratch using cottonseed oil. A fun fact to note is that Hooked will not serve any flake – after all it isn’t a fish!

Hooked has created a modern day healthier version of your local fish and chip shop – which includes an inviting ambiance and vibe that makes you feel like you have just spent a day at the beach. Together with friendly and warm service, delicious tasting food and funky décor – it should be next on your list to visit!

Note: Students can receive a 10% discount (Monday to Thursday 11:30am – 5pm)
Another thing to note is that the Fitzroy and Windsor branches are fully licensed, with the Hawthorn Alcohol License coming soon!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to above pictures or check out http://www.hooked.net.au/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Warm, Inviting and Beach-like
Standout Dish: House fish & Calamari, Superfood Salad
Service: Friendly and Welcoming as well as prompt – we were surprised at how quickly our food came out, despite being quite full.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.hooked.net.au/contact/hawthorn/
669 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn
Tel No: 9939 4412

Opening Hours:
Sunday to Wednesday: 11.30am-9.00pm
Thursday to Saturday: 11.30am-9.30pm

Hooked on Urbanspoon

Other Branches
http://www.hooked.net.au/contact/fitzroy/                                                               http://www.hooked.net.au/contact/windsor/
384 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy                                                                                         172 Chapel Street, Windsor
Tel No: 9417 7740                                                                                                               Tel No: 9529 1075

Opening Hours:                                                                                                              Opening Hours:
Sunday to Wednesday: 11.30am-9.00pm                                                                      Sunday to Wednesday: 11.30am-9.00pm
Thursday to Saturday: 11.30am-9.30pm                                                                       Thursday to Saturday: 11.30am-9.30pm

Hooked on Urbanspoon                                                                                                      Hooked on Urbanspoon

 

8Bit – Burgers, Gaming & Milkshakes!

panda 4 rating

Burgers are still very much the rage in Melbourne town – in fact I think all around the world. 8Bit is the new kid in town and the brainchild of chef Shayne McCallum and Alan Sam (both of Captain Melville) and Sam’s high-school mate, Long Tran.  It is located in Droop Street in Footscray – known for its usual crowds of Vietnamese people.

With the restaurant named after the 8bit video games – the theme follows inside from the décor to the names on the menu – they are named after video game characters – and is completed by the arcade games (which you can play for free) located out the back. What I love as well is the table numbers which are constructed with video game characters – from PacMan to Donkey Kong to Super Mario.

The outside is very different to what you would normally find in that area  -a very modern, new age looking building. There are signs of what used to be with the Vietnamese lettering peeling away and new 8bit patterned black and white burger logo pasted all over the front façade. The modern bi fold doors create the entrance – and you walk in feeling like you are stepping into a  modern day cave – complete with white plaster that peels away to reveal exposed brick work – almost giving it an aged look and yet another reminder of what used to be. I love it.

There are seats available at the main front counter which allows you to look right into the kitchen – where there is a whole barrage of staff (I haven’t seen so many staffing working at the one time in a kitchen ever! You can also sit along the window where you can sit on high coloured stools. As you go further inside the venue towards the back there are a few lower wooden tables, and the back room is once again filled with high seating complete with a wooden  bench tops. The kitchen is stainless steel and has a backdrop of tiles that have a Tetris effect with colourful tiles splattered amongst the white tiles. There are filament lights to complete this modern day look.

The menu consists of Burgers, Hot Dogs, Sides, Desserts and Milkshakes. There are six different burgers to choose from — Beef, Chicken , Beef & Bacon and Portobello Mushrooms burgers. There are four hot dogs to choose from – 8bit Dog (Smoked Frank with onions and pickles), Wonder Boy (Smoked Frank with Bacon and Onions), Fatal Fury (Jalapeno and Cheddar Sausage with Chilli Beef) and 1942 (Grilled Bratwurst with Pickle and Slaw). There are six different sides to choose from – each coming in two different sizes – small and large. Sides include Beer Battered Fries, Onion Rings, Potato Gems, Cheese & Bacon Fries, Chilli Cheese Fries and Loaded ( which is a choice of Fries or Potato gems, Chilli beef, Cheese sauce, Bacon, Pickle relish, Grilled onions,, Jalapeños). Desserts include various flavours of Soft Serves. Milkshake flavours include Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter, Strawberry Cheese Cake Shake and Chocolate Bar Shake – with a different chocolate bar flavour each day.

The only burger that I could get was the 1 Up Mushroom Burger – Crumbed Portobello Mushroom, Cheese, Tomato, Red Onion, Green Tomato Relish, Lettuce, 8BIT Sauce. The burgers are perfectly sized – not as small as a slider but not as large as a oversized burger that you would find at the likes of Grilled. My burger is filled with the crumbed Portobello mushroom along with all the other ingredients that is put between two buttered and toasted organic Lievito brioche buns. You would expect the brioche buns to be sweet of nature, however these ones did not have much sweetness to them which I quite liked. I loved that the mushroom was crumbed – it added more flavour, texture and crunch to the whole burger. The combination of all the elements was fresh and delicious – the 8BIT Sauce was scrumptious as well, however I would have liked a bit more sauce in my burger. Overall – it is one of the best veggie burgers that I have had in Melbourne.

N ordered the After Burner – Beef, Tomato, Red Onion, Lettuce, Cheese, Chilli Sauce, Jalapenos, Chipotle Mayo. N enjoyed his burner but said that the burger could have been a tad bit spicier. The beef burger was crusty on the outside but stayed juicy on the inside – just how you would want your burger to be.

We also ordered two different sides – onion rings and fries. The onion rings I found were mostly batter and not much filling, so I didn’t enjoy them as much. The battering, crunchiness and texture was tasty.

I also ordered a chocolate bar milkshake – the chocolate bar for the day was mars bar. I loved the milkshake – it was literally like a “chocolate milkshake only crunchy”. There were bits of the chocolate bar mixed in with the milk and ice cream and it was beyond delicious. I would definitely recommend trying the milkshake – next time I want to try out the different flavours. I’m sure they are all just as delicious. There is also a range of canned beers and soft drinks such as Dr. Pepper, Mountain Goat and American craft producer Sierra Nevada.

8Bit is a great addition to the Footscray area – and sells some great tasting burgers!  The staff are friendly, helpful and look like they enjoy what they do.  We were lucky when we went and managed to beat the crowds and get a seat by the window – so one thing to be mindful of is that dependent on the time you go you might have to wait a while for your burgers. There is no better place than a place where you can play some old school video games, sip on some delicious crunchy milkshakes and smash down a tasty burger!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://www.eat8bit.com.au/ for the list of burgers, hot dogs, milkshakes, sides etc
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun, Casual and Welcoming
Service:
Friendly and Enthusiastic
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.eat8bit.com.au/
8 Droop Street, Footscray
Tel No: 9687 8838

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 11am – 11pm

8bit. on Urbanspoon

Mr Hendricks – Great addition to Balwyn

panda 4 rating

Brioche French Toast with Vanilla Poached Pears, Caramel Sauce, Double Cream

Brioche French Toast with Vanilla Poached Pears, Caramel Sauce, Double Cream

Menu:
Breakfast Menu Lunch Menu
I had stumbled upon Mr Hendricks whilst perusing my Instagram feed one day and was pleasantly surprised to find that it is 7 minutes away from home. Mr Hendricks is located in Whitehorse Road in Balwyn and is open for all day breakfast and lunch. The café is named after the owners Enligh Staffy dog called Hendrick. It is owned by three brothers – all of who have taken hands on presence in the café – two of them are chefs in the kitchen and the other is in charge of front of house.

The fit-out is modern, welcoming and casual thanks to the wooden tables, funky lamps, use of white square tiles and wooden shelving. There is a back covered courtyard area which compromises of a 3 levelled sun deck. There is also a herb garden and they also have a “green room” which can seat up to 10 people that can be booked if you wanted a private dining experience. Simply call them to make a reservation.

The coffee counter houses the magnificient matte black La Marzocco coffee machine which pumps out Padre coffee. At the counter as well are some sweet treats that you can try like muffins and slices.

I had initially stopped by for a quick coffee but once seeing the menu decided on ordering the Brioche French Toast. It just sounded too good to pass up and I was feeling like something sweet.

The menu is intriguing – serving up most of the normal dishes that you would find in other cafes but with a great twist. They have toast and fruit bread as well as coconut rice porridge. Some of the dishes that caught my eye were the crispy eggs, the Croque Madame and the Breakfast Cassoulet which comes with Confit duck, Toulouse sausage and eggs. Their lunch menu includes a grain salad, a soft shell crab burger, beef burger, crumbed chicken sandwich and a serving of rosemary fries. In the form of drinks – they serve up 4 different milkshakes (chocolate, vanilla, caramel, strawberry), as well as Noah’s Creative Juices – there are three different combinations and I definitely have to try one next time. There are the usual teas, coffees and iced chocolate, mocha and coffee as well as coconut water from Cocobella and the usual soft drinks.

I loved the coffee “glass” my latte came out in – it was literally like receiving a warm hug in a glass. What made it even better was the delicious taste of the coffee – it was smooth, creamy and nutty all at the same time and I devoured it in record time. I do rate it up there with my top coffee’s at the moment.

The Brioche French Toast with Vanilla Poached Pears, Caramel Sauce, Double Cream was a beautifully plated dish. Served on a white dish, the golden caramel oozed out from under the thick brioche French toast which was topped with 2 halves of the vanilla poached pears. The double cream placed elegantly over the caramel sauce. If I had to describe this dish in one word it would be MEMORABLE. When you hear all the components of this dish you would assume it would a massive sugar hit for your taste buds – however it isn’t an overly sweet dish. The brioche French toast – had these layers of creaminess with a crisp sweet crust and was simply divine. The vanilla poached pears were perfectly soft and the caramel had a smokiness to it that tied the entire dish together. Add the smooth texture of the double cream with the other elements and you have a fantastic dish. I will definitely be raving about this dish for a long time to come.

Mr Hendricks is a great addition to the Balwyn area and is definitely going to be my local coffee hang out. The staff are friendly and inviting – albeit the barista at the coffee machine who tainted my almost perfect time at the venue. He was a bit rude and a bit of a grump and I guess just needs to learn a proper way of talking to customers. That was the only downfall, otherwise definitely give it try.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to menu above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Light filled, Welcoming – great courtyard area that is undercover at the back – great especially on a warm sunny day!
Standout Dish: Brioche French Toast with Vanilla Poached Pears, Caramel Sauce, Double Cream
Service: Friendly – albeit the bad encounter with the Barista when paying for the meal
Online Booking: No – but they do take bookings – just call them up
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/mrhendrickscafe
469 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn
Tel No:9830 7579

Opening Hours:
Closed Mondays
Tuesday – Friday: 7.30am- 4:30pm
Saturday: 8am- 4pm
Sunday: 8am- 4pm

Mr Hendricks Cafe on Urbanspoon

Common Galaxia – Out of this World

panda 3.5 rating

I had heard a lot about Common Galaxia and had been wanting to check it out for a while – so when a catchup needed to be organised and J lived nearby – it was the perfect opportunity! Common Galaxia is owned initially by Luke Mutton and Kylie Mackinlay who also own Deadman Espresso in South Melbourne, but now bought by Paul Fox. Common Galaxia is located in Seddon and its main focus is on coffee – with coffee from Seven Seeds and Market Lane. The food though is not just an after thought – there is a huge variety and the dishes we had were scrumptious.

Common Galaxia has a fantastic vibe from the moment you step foot inside – the look is modern, classy and stylish. The furniture and fittings are all custom-made with functionality at the forefront. The interior was built by Fido Projects. One of the stand outs are the cutlery and menu caddies that hang individually from the tables (so that you can help yourself if you need more cutlery or happen to drop your cutlery) as well as the leather and timber chairs – both of which are made my locals LifeSpaceJourney. The coffee machine is Synesso and is the centre piece of the bench which also houses quick take away options such as smorrebrod (Scandinavian open sandwiches). To the right of the main counter is a window which allows you insight to the kitchen and is where all the food comes from. The running theme of the venue is wood with copper pots, terraniums, dark bottles with colourful flowers and funky black light fittings with filament lightbulbs dotted along the way together with the light coming in from the large windows which surround the venue.

There is usually a line to get a table and this morning was no different – but our wait was quite short – about 10 minutes to get a table for four. We started off by ordering coffees whilst we pondered over the menu. My latte was delicious and had a combination of a fruity and nutty taste – a taste that you kept going back more for.

The menu is broken up into Breakfast, Brunch which you can order all day, Lunch as well as options for the kids called “For the littles”. There are also options for Vegetarian and Gluten Free. Drinks compromise of Coffee, Tea, Fresh Juices, Smoothies, Cold Drinks and Milkshakes. The smoothie combinations are intriguing – combinations such as Kale, Parsley, Lemon Zest, Mango, Banana and Coconut Water as well as a Mixed Berry, Coconut water and Honey combination. Fresh juices consist of pre made mixes or you can create your own. There is also an option of having a peanut butter hot chocolate as well as a chocolate brownie milkshake.

Breakfast dishes are what you would usually expect – but with a Common Galaxia twist – adding interesting ingredients to the basics. There are scones, crossiants, toast, fruit toast and Bircher muesli – as well an interesting concept called the Breakkie Board (more on this later). The all day brunch menu consists of scrambled eggs, their version of Egg’s Benedict, Common Galaxia Big Breakfast as well as smoked salmon dish.

It was food decision time and I was tossing up between the French toast and the avocado dish, but J decided to get the French toast so I went with ordering the Avocado with Blood Orange, Marinated Goat’s Cheese, Basil, Almonds and Radish on Toast with a Poached Egg. The dish was plated up well with the toast being at the base of the dish and the avocado mix placed on top and finished with parsley and a poached egg and a wedge of lemon on the side. The avocado combined with the blood orange and goat’s cheese together with the crunchiness of the almonds was tasty. The serving was generous and the poached egg was cooked perfectly. All in all it was a great dish.

G ordered the Smoked Salmon on Sourdough with Spicy Avocado Puree, 2 Poached Eggs with Tomato and Herb Salad. This dish was quite the colourful dish, especially against the black backdrop of the plate. The spicy avocado puree was buttered on the toast with the smoked salmon and tomato and herb salad on top, and the two poached eggs as the final layer. G did enjoy the dish but thought the spicy avocado was an acquired taste, but overall the combination was interesting and worked well together.

B ordered the Breakkie Board – Museli, Poached Egg with Avocado on Whole Wheat and Honey Toast, Small Fresh Orange Juice. I really do like the concepts of Breakkie boards as it comes with a small selection of things that you would want for breakfast such as toast, eggs and muesli. The bonus of freshly squeezed orange juice completes the dish.

As mentioned before J ordered the Salted Caramel French Toast with Blood Orange Curd, Oreo Crumble and Blueberry Compote. When this dish came out it was really impressive – the berry compote was drizzled at the bottom and acted like a soup, with the French Toast on top drizzled with Salted Caramel and finished with the Oreo Crumble. The dish was overly sweet, but the berry compote was a great addition to cut some of this sweetness and add tanginess to it. There was a generous amount of blueberries and salted caramel on the side as well. For anyone that loves French toast this is a dish to try.

Common Galaxia is a fresh, lively and vibrant addition to this area of Seddon that serves great coffee and good food! The interior with its wooden and black tones and accents of plants and flowers is fantastic. The staff are friendly and look like they are enjoying themselves at work which always a great attitude to have. I would highly recommend the trek down to this suburb and whilst you are at it visit nearby Cobb Lane.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://commongalaxia.com.au/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Chilled out, Modern and Inviting. Such a great place to be on a sunny day especially with the sunlight streaming in through the windows.
Standout Dish: Salted Caramel French Toast with Blood Orange Curd, Oreo Crumble and Blueberry Compote
Service: Friendly and Inviting. The staff look like they really enjoy what they do and are always chirpy and happy.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
commongalaxia.com.au
Shop 3, 130 Victoria Street, Seddon
Tel No: 9691 3888

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Friday: 7:30 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Common Galaxia on Urbanspoon

NSHRY – Japanese Inspired Dishes

panda 4 rating

I have been wanting to try out NSHRY for a while and finally made it down on a Sunday morning. NSHRY – pronounced “Noshery” is located along the beach at Albert Park on Beaconsfield Parade. In keeping with their name – the theme of this place is to focus on a variety of Noshes that not only look great but taste great. They change and evolve their menu every few weeks.
NSHRY is a classy glass box on the beach in a sense and has its very on outside area. The outside area is fantastic on beautiful summer’s day as it the best views of the beach. On this day the sun was out but the sea breeze together with the wind from time to time made it a bit chilly – we did still opt to sit outside though. It was around 11:30am and the place was packed with people who had ventured here after their morning run as well as young families and friends catching up. The inside is all about strong lines and modernity – with the ceiling being their major feature – consisting of wooden shards and reminiscent of stalactites.

We ordered coffees to start and then decided on what food we wanted. I went for the NSHRY Breakfast – Asparagus, Spinach & Mushroom on Goats Cheese and Toasted Sourdough topped with an Egg and a Tomato and Shiso Vinagerette  and N ordered the Unami Burger. The waiter was friendly and attentive, and when I was ordering my breakkie dish I just pointed at what I wanted instead saying it even though I knew it was pronounced Noshery and told me I had to say the dish name or he wouldn’t put it through which I thought was funny =)

The coffee was delicious – it was smooth and rich and had a great creamy caramel flavour. NSHRY has a Synesso Espresso machine and there are other options of how you can have your coffee. You could try the single-origin coffee which is brewed with a Siphon or Cold-Drip as well.

Our meals came out shortly after and the presentation of each of the dishes was really good, as you can see from the pictures above. Both the dishes had their version of a Japanese influence. My dish had poached crumbed eggs, which were crumbed nicely and the crumb was fresh, tasty and crunchy. Just what you want in a crumb! I haven’t had the combination of peas, spinach and asparagus before and eventhough sometimes there was a bit too much of a “green” overkill, the sauces made all the difference in putting these elements together. It was an interesting dish. N enjoyed his burger and the three different sauces the burger came with was fantastic. There was aioli, tomato and a spicy chilli sauce. N said the patty (which is handmade) was juicy & tasty and the bread was soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. The burger also came with Parmesan crisps, chips and coleslaw on the side. The Parmesan crisps is something you don’t usually see coming with a burger, but it was a great addition.

NSHRY is a great place for a beachside brunch and would be fantastic during those lovely summery days – but having said that even in the cooler days it is just as good! The mesh of Japanese elements into a Western meal is done impeccably and the menu has variety. Put this place on your list to check out.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Can be viewed at http://www.nshry.com.au/NSHRY_SAMPLE_MENU.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun, Vibrant and has an amazing view of the beach. Great start to the day – you can hang out at the beach afterwards.
Standout Dish: NSHRY Breakfast
Service: Fantastic, Attentive and Friendly. The staff always seem willing to help in any way they can.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.nshry.com.au
129A Beaconsfield Pde, Albert Park
Tel No: 9682 1077

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Sunday: 8am – 4pm

Nshry on Urbanspoon

Trocadero – Stunning Views and Food to Match

trocadero

Trocadero Kingfish Tartare, Pomelo, Lemongrass, Samphire Pot Roasted Lamb Shoulder, Grain Salad, Smoked Leek Squid Ink Taglioni, Crab, Chilli, Tomato Mains are served! Toasted Coconut Bavorois, Mango, Pineapple, Raspberry Sorbet Tiramasu, Mascarpone Ice Cream, Blackcurrant Jelly

In order from Left to Right:
Trocadero Menu
Kingfish Tartare, Swordfish, Pomelo, Lemongrass, Samphire
Pot Roasted Lamb Shoulder, Grain Salad, Smoked Leek
Squid Ink Tagliolini, Crab, Chilli, Tomato
Main Dishes together
Toasted Coconut Bavorois, Mango, Pineapple, Raspberry Sorbet
Tiramasu, Mascarpone Ice Cream, Blackcurrant Jelly

A and I headed to Trocadero for dinner one evening after work for one of our many catchups. I hadn’t heard too much about this newly opened restaurant and initially wasn’t sure where to find it. Trocadero is located along the Yarra River within Melbourne’s iconic Arts Centra at Hamer Hall, and has stunning view of the Melbourne City Skyline and river.
It is a brasserie style restaurant that is modern, sophisticated and has a very vibrant and energetic feel about the place. The staff are inviting and welcoming as is the decor such as the specially commissioned wall mural by Japanese Graffiti artist Jun Inoue. It is a great addition to the Arts Centre precinct and adds class to the Southbank area.

The modern European menu is created by Head Chef Nick Bennett and comprises of Appetisers, Entrees, Pasta & Risottos, Mains and Desserts & Cheeses. There are also four different sides to choose from. There is a Brassiere menu, a Prixe Fix Lunch Menu , Pre-Theatre, Snacks, Dinner and even a Supper Menu. Refer to Menu section below and check out the link for the Menu’s on their website.

We ordered the Kingfish Tartare to share as a starter and I ordered the Squid Ink Tagliolini, Crab, Chilli, Tomato and A ordered Pot Roasted Lamb Shoulder, Grain Salad, Smoked Leek. The Kingish Tartare was one of the best tartare’s that both A and I had tried. The dish was fresh and flavoursome and the combination of Pomelo and Samphire really made the dish. My main dish was the Tagliolini with Crab and Chilli. The dish might sound simple but sure does pack a punch and is delicious. There was the right amount of lemon and salt, but I could have used a bit more Chilli – but that’s just me..I LOVE my chilli. A did enjoy her Pot Roasted Lamb Shoulder but wasn’t a huge fan of the smoked leek, but enjoyed the texture and flavours of the grain salad (which compromised of lentils mostly). The lamb was soft and fell off easily when it was cut.

Dessert time was next up and I ordered the Toasted Coconut Bavorois, Mango, Pineapple, Raspberry Sorbet and A who loves her Tiramasu’s couldnt look past the Tiramasu, Mascarpone Ice Cream, Blackcurrant Jelly. I asked the waitress about my dessert before I ordered it, and to be honest she described it a lot better than it actually was. There was some popping candy on the top which was a nice addition and the flavours were fresh and nice but I wasn’t a huge fan of the texture of the casing of the bavorois. A was looking forward to the Mascarpone Ice Cream the most in the Tiramasu but said that the mixture of that (it wasn’t very flavoursome) together with the Blackcurrant Jelly didn’t work and the whole dessert was ruined. She said she would have preferred the dessert without the Blackcurrant Jelly. This was an interesting take on the Tiramasu and good on them for trying to put a spin on a traditional dessert.

Trocadeo is run by the Van Haandel group ( they are the team behind places such as Comme and Stokehouse) and is a great addition to the Melbourne dining scene. It allows you to enjoy great food together with having one of the best seats in the house to take in some of Melbourne’s icons such as Flinders St, St Pauls Cathedral, Yarra River and Southbank. Trocadero is definitely a place that I would recommend to friends, not just for its locality but for its food. Since I have been there, the dessert menu has changed and I am keen to go back and  try some different ones.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Brasserie Menu (http://trocadero.co/menu/brasserie/), Prixe Fix Lunch Menu (Monday to Friday only)- 2 courses and a glass of wine $29 – 2 courses and a glass of wine $39 (http://trocadero.co/menu/lunch/) and Bar Menu (http://trocadero.co/menu/bar/)
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy and Comfortable – overlooks the Melbourne City Skyline and Yarra River. Good for a celebration dinner or on date night.
Standout Dish: Kingfish Tartare, Swordfish, Pomelo, Lemongrass, Samphire
Service: Fantastic, Attentive and Friendly
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://trocadero.co/reservations/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://trocadero.co/
Upper Riverside Terrace
Hammer Hall
100 St Kilda Rd
Tel No: 8698 8888

Opening Hours:
Seven Days & Nights: 11am till Late

Trocadero on Urbanspoon

Ayatana – Authentic Thai with a Modern Twist

panda-4-rating1

I was invited to try out the food at Ayatana – a restaurant and wine bar located at Chapel Street in Windsor. The restaurant is a small, modern and stylish Thai restaurant which offers a very authentic menu with fragrant flavours. Ayatana is owned by the chef himself Piyawut Rungpradit, nicknamed Tony.

We visited the restaurant on a Wednesday night around 7:30pm and the place filled up quite quickly after this time – both inside and outside the restaurant. There are about 12-15 tables inside and  a couple of tables which look out onto Chapel Street itself. Having the restaurant almost filled up on a Wednesday says something about the place and about the taste and quality of food.

The décor is modern and inviting – the theme colours are white and grey, with dark wooden tables. Around the walls framed pictures of Thailand proudly hang and showcase a little bit of the Thai culture. There are rows of wine bottles in wooden shelves above the main wall as well as behind the main counter, which showcase their extensive wine list – which is a nice touch to the restaurant.

The menu is in a book style and the opening page gives you a background about Ayatana and what they aim to achieve in terms of your experience at the restaurant which I think is a nice touch. Hot, Sweet, Sour and Salty they say are the main 4 points of Thai cuisine and that is what they bring to all their dishes. The menu comprises of starters, entrée, mains, followed by a section for the vegetarians which compromises of entrees and mains. There are also a list of sides and desserts, coffee and tea which follow.

The menu is unique and doesn’t contain the usual dishes of pad thai and skewers with peanut sauce, but a large variety with dishes you don’t find in other Thai restaurants. This is what sets aside Ayatana from any of the other Thai Restaurants. There are items like Crispy Sardines, Barramundi cooked in different ways as well your choice of meat with Roasted Macadamia and Cashew Nuts.

For starters I ordered the Japanese Scallop which came with Bean Shoots, Basil, Mint, Corriander, Onion and Hot Homemade sauce which was topped with Yarra Valley Caviar. The caviar was a nice addition and touch – I have never had combination of caviar and scallop before. The flavours were creative and punchy. You could tell the ingredients were fresh and cooked to perfection. The scallop was well presented in a shell and sat atop the other components of the dish beautifully.

Next was the entrée course and the Crispy Tamarind Rice caught my eye as I wasn’t sure what to expect with this dish. The dish came out once again and was visually appealing.. It was in a triangular stack and consisted of Cashew Nuts, Green Apple, Bean Shoots, Mint, Coriander, Red Onion, Mixed Salad and topped with Crispy Noodles. The dish was tangy and sweet all at the same time and the texture of the nuts and the crispy noodles completed the dish.

It was so hard to pick what dish to order for the mains as they all looked really great. In the end we settled for Blue Swimmer Crab, Steamed Fresh Tofu & Mushroom and a Pork Belly dish. The Blue Swimmer Crab was the stand out dish of the night for me. The dish came with Tiger Prawns & NZ Calamari which was stir fried with Tom Yum sauce and had asparagus, mushroom, vegetables and kaffir lime leaves. The dish once again looked spectacular when it came out and looked like a lot of care went into how it was being presented. The crab was sitting on top and the other seafood and vegetables underneath. For any lovers of the Tom Yum flavour this is one dish to definitely check out. The flavours mixed together with the kaffir lime leaves are perfect and the crab and seafood were cooked perfectly.

The Steamed Fresh Tofu and Mushrooms was also a great dish with wild ginger and a light soy sauce. Having being used such bags of flavour from the other dishes, this dish didn’t have as much flavour. But in having said that, it did allow your taste buds a rest and showed that even simple flavours can taste just as good.

For dessert the menu consisted of Black Sticky Rice Pudding, Steamed Banana or Warm Coconut Tapioca Pearl. There is also a tasting platter which gives you a selection of each of the above together with mango sorbet. I was so full from my meal but couldn’t pass up on dessert so I ordered the Warm Coconut Tapioca Pearl. What interested me most in this dish was that I have never seen this dessert in any other Thai restaurant before, as well as the fact that there was sweet corn in the dish as well. The warm coconut tapioca pearl with sweet corn, palm sugar and fresh pieces of coconut came out in a glass in liquid form – which reminded me of bubble tea – with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side. The dessert was a very dish to anything I have had and was very sweet. I asked Tony about this dish and he said it was a traditional Thai dessert and they did a modern take on it.

The staff at Ayatana are very welcoming, attentive and friendly, they are happy to answer any of your questions and always have a smile on their faces. The restaurant itself is a very modern fit out with mood lighting and is great for any occasion – from a group gathering to a romantic dinner for two. The music sets the mood as well and the vibe is very relaxed and funky – a setting with a great ambience.

The dishes are wonderfully presented and have flavours which will make you feel like you are in Thailand. For me the Blue Swimmer Crab and the Japanese Scallop are winning dishes. The menu is vast and boasts so many dishes that I definitely have to come back and try out the other interesting dishes!

Thanks for the invite to try out your food Tony – it is one of the top rating restaurants in Melbourne.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A la carte. You can view a sample of the Takeway Menu at http://www.ayatana.com.au/TAKE%20AWAY%20MENU.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Romantic, Cosy and Stylish. Modern interior mixed with a comfortable setting
Standout Dish: Blue Swimmer Crab, Tiger Prawns & NZ Calamari – Stir Fried with Tom Yum Sauce, Mushroom, Asparagus, Onion, Vegetables, Kaffir Lime Leaves
Service: Fantastic, Attentive and Friendly
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.ayatana.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.ayatana.com.au/
97 Chapel St, Windsor
Tel No: 9533 8813

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Thursday to Saturday: 12pm to 4L30pm
Dinner
Monday to Sunday: 5pm till late

Ayatana on Urbanspoon