A World of Lattes

There was a time when meeting up with a friend for coffee gave you the obvious choices – Cappuccino, Latte, Flat White, Espresso etc. But those days are long gone – with the introduction of a number of different varieties. The list of options is growing from strength to strength especially with the increase of the healthier way of living life; together with the increase of dietary requirements such as Gluten Free, Dairy Free etc.

Most recently, some people of Melbourne were outraged by the posting from Jamila Rizvi of her deconstructed coffee.

Deconstructed Coffee

The Deconstructed Coffee

What is deconstructed coffee you ask – it comes served on a paddle, in three separate cups, or test tubes, beakers in some cases — one with espresso, one with milk and one with water. Having the same ideal as a DIY coffee you can put exactly how much water and milk you want – essentially creating your perfect cup of coffee. It is thought that this trend hails from London; with this trend having both its haters and lovers. I myself haven’t tried a deconstructed coffee but seeing as I can just make myself one at home; I am on the not-a-fan bandwagon.

Variety of Lattes

An Array of Lattes [Picture: Courtesy Eugene Hyland]

There are many forms of different lattes and it almost seems like a new version of the latte is being developed every day! Here is a list of the lattes going around Melbourne so far:

Matcha Latte
Beetroot Latte
Tumeric Latte
Mushroom Latte
Rainbow Latte
Blue Algae / Smurf Latte
Red Velvet Latte
Pink Tea Latte
Yellow Tea Latte
Yep there are that many! Let’s delve into a bit of detail about each of these lattes.

Ground Whole-Leaf Matcha Tea

Ground Whole – Leaf Matcha Tea

Matcha Latte from White Mojo

Matcha Latte from White Mojo, Melbourne CBD

 

Matcha Latte and Original Latte from Fourth Chapter

Matcha Latte & Original Latte from Fourth Chapter, Prahran

The Matcha Latte – these have been around for a few years at select cafes; but you are starting to see more and more cafes embracing them.

Matcha tea is the finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea. Unlike traditional green tea leaves, which are steeped in water and then discarded, matcha powder contains the whole ground tea leaf, which is ingested whole. The taste and nutritional benefits are vastly different to standard green tea; matcha has a softer, creamier flavour and contains up to 10 times the antioxidant content of standard green tea brews.

Green tea leaves contain high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols. These help to protect against heart disease and cancer, and are known to have anti-ageing properties. Because matcha tea contains whole leaves it has a significantly higher concentration of antioxidants compared to steeped green tea. It also contains good amounts of healthy compounds such as chlorophyll, which gives it the bright green colour.

Matcha Lattes are an acquired taste – but I personally love them! I am also a huge fan of anything green tea related so that maybe why. It has a very robust taste but coupled with the milkiness of a latte has a creamy undertone. I would highly recommend you try one for yourself.

Matcha Lattes are appearing in quite a few cafes – too many to name – but here are a few that do – White Mojo (Melbourne CBD & Balwyn), Fourth Chapter (Prahran), Serotonin Eatery (Burnley), Too Many Chiefs (Brighton), Eden’s Backyard (Carlton), Street Organic (Malvern), Matcha Mylkbar (St Kilda).

Beetroot Latte from Happy Place

Beetroot Latte from Happy Place, South Melbourne

The Beetroot Latte is something that is quite new – it is created to balance the power of a superfood together with a hit of coffee. Some cafes use organic Beetroot powder mixed with Almond Milk ( Real Food Organic in South Yarra) whereas others use freshly pressed beetroot juice, fresh ginger, original almond mylk (Matcha Mylkbar in St Kilda). Meanwhile at Happy Place in South Melbourne; they do a caffeine-free Beetroot Latte infused with Hibiscus.

The Happy Place Beetroot & Hibiscus Latte was the one I tried – it reminded me of a smoothie but warm – it literally was a nice warm hug on a cold and breezy Melbourne day.
Happy Place is a holistic lifestyle cafe; located at South Melbourne Market- recently opened by Melbourne coffee pioneer Salvatore Malatesta and celebrity nutritionist Lola Berry. The basis of the cafe is it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free and FODMAP friendly. The cafe is targeted mostly at take away (there are about 8 window seats) – with a mix of Chia Puddings; Mix and Match Salads together with Bone Broth (which is Paleo). Additionally there are Cold Pressed Juices and Smoothies (which are mostly fructose free) as well as the hot drinks (they do Tumeric, Carob and Mushroom Lattes too – all caffeine free). Oh they also have Crystal Infused Water! And if you are looking for something sweet – they do have raw cakes with flavours such as Mint Slice, Key Lime Pie, Cherry Ripe and Snickers Bar to name a few. I am usually not a fan of Cherry Ripes – however I did try Happy Places’ Raw Cherry Ripe which was scrumptious!

Back to the Beetroot Latte – I am interested to try another one – this time one which has the caffeine mixed in with it to see if it does taste any different. It has officially been put on the to-do list!

Tumeric Latte from Matcha Mylkbar

Tumeric Latte from Matcha Mylkbar, St Kilda

Turmeric lattes sounded rather interesting to me. I have always known Tumeric is great for you and has an abundance of health benefits such as incredible anti-inflammatory properties, and has been used medicinally in South Asia for over 4000 years! Tumeric Lattes are also affectionately referred to as Golden Lattes.

There are many different ways to make  Tumeric Latte – most consist of Tumeric, Cinnamon, Ginger and a variety of other spices which could include pepper and even cayenne pepper as the base mixture. This is then combined with either cow’s milk, coconut milk or nut milk. It is believed that some spices such as black pepper, help to absorb the essential nutrients of the tumeric; further enhancing the anti-inflammatory and immune system aiding properties. Coconut Milk is suggested as the best alternative for Tumeric Lattes as it doesnt separate out and enhances the spice flavour.

“Tumeric Lattes” have been around for centuries especially in the Indian culture – it is called haldi doodh in Hindi, which translates to Tumeric Milk. This version of the blend has cardamom, clove, ginger, nutmeg, turmeric, pepper, cinnamon, brahmi and ashwagandha (Indian spices) made together with a coconut-and-almond-milk blend. If you wanted to make it for yourself at home you can buy different Tumeric blends available around Melbourne and Sydney.

I had my first Tumeric Latte at Matcha Mylkbar, located in St Kilda. Matcha Mylkbar is a vegan cafe by Nic Davidson, Sarah Holloway and brothers Mark and Attil Filippelli. They are renowned for selling bright-green burger buns, vegan eggs and of course their different types of lattes including Matcha, Tumeric, Mushroom and the newest addition Blue Algae lattes (I will go onto talk about these too!). They also have great Pun-Fully named smoothies which come served in a skull glass – epic!

My first sip of the Tumeric Latte was intense to say the least – it was a massive kick to the back of your throat with spicy richness. It almost felt like I was eating a face mask I have used before (=p ); however as you take more and more sips it really does grow on you. I really enjoyed it after a few more sips and even welcomed the spiciness. A definite must try.

Mushroom Latte

Mushroom Latte

Mushrooms are one of my favourite veggies! However I am a bit apprehensive about how they would go in a latte form. I have yet to try a Mushroom Latte but definitely do want to try one out. What is a Mushroom Latte you ask – it is made with almond milk and sweetened with vanilla spice and agave mixed together with a Chaga Mushroom Blend. Going from the reviews – it apparently doesn’t taste like mushrooms.
Stay tuned – I will update this post once I have tried one!

Rainbow Latte from Too Many Chiefs

Rainbow Latte from Too Many Chiefs, Brighton

Rainbow Flat White from Too Many Chiefs

Rainbow Latte from Too Many Chiefs, Brighton

Moving onto the Rainbow Lattes and Rainbow Coffees – both of these can be found at Too Many Chiefs in Brighton. Rainbow Latte / Flat White / Hot Chocolate is essentially your standard coffee fix with the use of food dye in the milk used to form Latte art.

Rainbow Coffee

Rainbow Coffee from Too Many Chiefs, Brighton [Picture by Eugene Hyland]

Rainbow Coffees however are the healthier alternative and created by the owners of Too Many Chiefs; is free from caffeine and is made out of turmeric, beetroot and matcha. This gives you your Vitamin C fix, fights the flu, boosts immunity and acts as an anti-inflammatory all in one. Wow!
To be quite honest it wasn’t until deciding to write this post did I know there was a difference between a Rainbow Coffee and a Rainbow Latte. When I am in the area I do want to try out what a Rainbow Coffee tastes like!

Blue Algae Latte

Blue Algae Latte from Matcha Mylkbar, St Kilda

Now onto the latest hipster trend taking Melbourne by storm – the Blue Algae Latte / Blue Latte or Smurf Latte. Yep that’s right it is actually Blue in colour. My favourite colour is blue – but having a “latte” that is in that colour I am not so sure about. That and the fact that it has algae in it – what the?

So just what is the Blue Algae Latte made of – it is a concoction of lemon, ginger, coconut, agave and E3 Live Blue Majik – a powdered and super expensive blue algae. It does cost $8 to try – and has no recorded health benefits.

Since I haven’t tried it myself I took to the reviews to find out just what it tastes likes. According to people who have tried it – the first mouthful was prominently sweet, gingery taste before changing to a funky sourness that lingered. Of course this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (pun intended); but just like with anything you will have your lovers and haters. I am still on the fence if I want to try out the Smurf Latte – but never say never!

Red Velvet Latte

Red Velvet Latte from Local Mbassy, NSW

Another coffee morning brew is the red velvet creation that I found a lot in Sydney cafes – The Locak Mbassy is one such cafe. The Red Velvet Latte tastes exactly like a Red Velvet Pancake along with the cream-cheese-esque butter cream and hints of popcorn. It really is quite rich and delicious all at once. I am yet to see the presence of the Red Velvet Latte in any Melbourne cafe.

Pink Latte

Pink Tea Latte from St Rose, Essendon

Another latte made famous via Instagram is the Pink Tea Latte and Yellow Tea Latte. This craze started all the way from Geelong at a place called Cha Cha Tea (You can find this available at King of the Castle Cafe – Pakington Street, Geelong) – with Sam Manning the girl behind the coloured tea lattes.
Cha Cha Tea mixers is essentially tea without the hassle of boiling or infusing with no added preservatives and unnecessary sugar; and are easy to make by adding sparkling water (or normal water), champagne or even an espresso martini – your choice really!
There are currently two flavours – Strawberry Swoon (Pink!) and Peeling Fantastic (Yellow!) tea lattes available – with more flavours to come.

The Strawberry Swoon Tea Latte aka Pink Tea Latte is a blend of Rosehip, Hibiscus, Strawberry, Beetroot and Apple and is sugar-free, Caffeine-free, Packed with Vitamin A and C and is also vegan friendly. You can purchase one from St Rose Cafe in Essendon or as mentioned above King of the Castle Cafe.
And thus concludes my visibility into the world of lattes – please do comment below if you have tried or know of any different “latte” available in Melbourne. Would love to hear your experiences.
Also follow @simtiaz_grazingpanda on Insta for daily foodie updates, stories and travels!

Addict Food + Coffee – Mushroom Delight!

panda 3.5 rating

Menu:
Breakfast Menu Lunch Menu

Addict Food and Coffee had been on my list since they opened earlier this year. Located in Fitzroy on Johnston Street, between Brunswick Street and Smith Street and right on the corner of Gore Street, Addict is owned by two couples – Greg and Brooke Brassil (who used to own a coffee roastery back in Shepparton) together with Joe and Brooke Ventura (who run the floor here at Addict). Ex-St Ali chef runs the kitchen –  Steve Hogan – with barista Greg Brassil pumping out Clement and Market Lane coffee in both espresso and filter.

Addict is medium in size is light filled and airy thanks to the windows that wrap around the corner positioning of the store. The décor is minimalist complemented with wooden tables that have black top, black chairs which can seat parties of two or four. There is also a communal table at the front for larger parties. Colourful flowers in jars together with pot plants hung up with macramé nets together with a sneeky picture that seems to have taken inspiration from the Gorillaz further add style and charisma to the venue.

The menu created by Boyd not only includes regular breakfast dishes you would expect to see but also some intriguingly created dish combinations. The breakfast menu runs all day together with a six dish lunch menu. Crumpets are supplied from Dr Marty, butter from Pepe Saya with Little Bertha supplying the delicious cakes, slices located at the front counter. The breakfast menu consists of dishes such as Wholemeal Buttermilk Pancakes served with a dollop of mascarpone and poached quince, Cumberland Sausage + Black Pudding, Northern Beans (with tarragon parsley, confit tomatoes, poached eggs, garlic croutons), House Cured Smoked Salmon and your usual breakkie dishes with a difference such as Eggs Benedict served with smoked Ham Hock + Tarragon Hollandaise, Porridge with Bananas, Walnuts + Butterscotch Sauce.

The lunch menu covers all dietary bases with offerings of a Pulled Pork Burger, Chicken Breast with Kipfler Potatoes, Confit Duck, Salad of Quinoa & Roasted Root Vegetables and Olive Bread with Avocado, Baby Tomatoes, Basil Pesto, Haloumi Crumbs & a Poached Egg.

Aside from coffee you can find Mork Hot Chocolate, Prana Chai as well as a great selection of Teas and juices. Bonsoy and Almond Milk are also available.

We arrived on a Saturday around 11am and the place was buzzing and quite packed – we were asked to put our name down for a table for two with a 10 -15 minute wait, however within 5 minutes we had a table.

I ordered a latte to start whilst I decided what to order for breakfast and N ordered a long black. N’s long black came served with sparkling water – and he said it was perfectly flavoured and crisp. My latte was full bodied, rich and whilst no particular flavours stood out it was a well-rounded and balanced coffee.
During my meal I also ordered a Prana Chai which comes served on a wooden board; with the chai in a silver pot to allow it to brew longer. You can then pour cup fulls yourself when you are satisfied with the length of time that it has been brewed. The chai was delicious – warm with just the right hint of spice added.

Deciding on a breakfast dish was hard – I was tossing up between the Buttermilk Pancakes, Corn Fritters or the Potato Hash + Mushroom Duxelles. I decided to go with the Potato Hash + Mushroom Duxelles (with roasted field mushroom, poached egg + caramelized onion) due to my hankering for mushrooms that won over my sweet cravings. N ordered the Black Beans, Chorizo + Otway Pork served with garlic crumbs + a poached egg.

My only complaint for the day would be that the wait time for food was a tad over the top – we waited around 50 minutes for our meals to arrive – and I had to ask twice how long our meals would be. I am not quite sure why it took so long for two dishes to come out, I mean there seemed to be turnover of patrons quite regularly and other dishes seemed to come out with a much shorter period of time – lost order perhaps? We weren’t really offered an explanation – but just an apology for the long wait.

My dish was perfectly plated – the finely chopped and mixed garlic flavoured mushroom mash which provided a stable base for the crisp and deep fried deliciousness that was the potato hash on top, followed by a whole roasted field mushroom and finished off with a perfectly poached egg. It was not only art perfection but flavour perfection. The mix of earthiness and butteriness paired with the crunchy-on-the-outside-yet-soft-on –the-inside potatoes was divine. The caramelised onions added an element of richness and sweetness which rounded the dish brilliantly. A winner of a dish and a must try!

N’s dish was presented well as well – with the stewed black beans and chorizo mix taking up most of the plate with a thick slice of Otway pork sitting on top and finished with a poached egg – garlic crumbs added an element of flavour and crunchy surprise. N said that his dish was luke warm and bordering on cold and that there wasn’t that many pieces of chorizo. Maybe it was their off day but this dish has the opportunity to be better.

The staff here are quite friendly and really know their dishes when you ask them to explain a component you hadn’t heard of before. Dishes are beautifully presented with appealing dishes and the coffee is great on the palate. The place is warm, inviting and makes you relax. A pity about the wait time for our food – but hopefully many don’t encounter this – some would say the wait could be forgotten once you taste the dishes. Try it out for yourself.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed, Welcoming and Chilled out. Great light filled space, which is great to meet friends for a catch up
Standout Dish: Potato Hash + Mushrom Duxelles with roasted field mushroom, poached egg + caramelised onion
Service: Friendly and Knowledgeable
Online Booking: NoRestaurant Details and Location:
http://www.addictmelbourne.com/
240-242 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
Tel No: 9415 6420

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

Addict Food and Coffee on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/addictmelbourne
Twitter: @addictfitzroy
Instagram: addictfoodandcoffee

Göz City – Gözleme Charm

panda 4 rating

Menu:
The Menu Gözleme menu halal (1)

One of Grazing Panda’s readers emailed me about Goz City to let me know that it was a restaurant that I should add to my Halal Restaurant tab – and from that time onwards I was keen to check it out. Having visited Turkey earlier in the year I was looking forward to eating one of Turkey’s famous age-old foods.

Goz City is the first of its kind – the first standalone speciality gözleme store in the Melbourne CBD, well just Melbourne even – and was opened in January by Taylan Aksoy. Aksoy together with his dad Alan also owns Koy in South Melbourne – where you can purchase gözlemes as well; and on a busy day they can sell upwards of 300!

Goz City is a smallish store located near the corner of Little Collins and Williams Street in the Melbourne CBD, complete with a cosy, homely and relaxed vibe. What I love is that you can stand out the front and watch through the front window as the gözleme are made. You can watch their swift, efficient process as they churn out these traditional flatbreads. The process involves the yufka pastry being rolled, flattened, filled with your choice of topping and cooked to order.
The menu consists of four different varieties – Cheese & Spinach, Herbed Chicken & Mushroom, Minced Meat (Beef) or Mushroom & Vegetables – which are $10 each (or if you want to purchase it with a drink $12). These are complemented weekly, with unique and seasonally-driven gözleme flavours.
There are also Boreks ($4 each or if you order it with a coffee for $6) available in the same flavours, as well as Pides (such as Tomato & Egg or Sucuk Sausage & Egg for $5 each or $7 with a coffee). There is also the option of House Made Soup served with a toasted Turkish Bagel (when I visited the soup of the day was Mushroom). There is also a great selection of Turkish, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern inspired salads such as Cypriot Cauliflower or Quinoa Tabouli.
Coffee served is from Tobys Estate and comes in a House Blend as well as a Single Origin.

Their main focus is on takeaway – but if you get in early and beat the rush there are around 14 seats available – both inside and outside – there is a high bench for seating as well as some lower wooden tables. Lines are out the door especially if you arrive after 12pm with the wait time not too long (you are getting fresh, made to order gözlemes after all!).
Earthy, rustic and warm tones are used throughout the venue coupled with black and white pictures. Gözlemes are presented on a wooden board – with the gözleme cut into convenient mixed sized rectangles and served with sour cream. The serving size is very generous (I struggled to finish the entire serving!) – and the dish is very very filling. I ordered the Herbed Chicken & Mushroom gözleme – which had been seasoned perfectly and tasted great. The bread was cooked just right as well – crispy on the outside and soft on the lower layers. My only critique would be that instead of the gözleme being served with sour cream I would have preferred it to be garlic sauce.
I also had a minced lamb borek – which was a tad bit on the oily side – but was succulent and delicious. The pastry used for the borek is thin, light and crunchy.

There are also Homemade Turkish sweets such as Baklava and Turkish Delight available for sale as well as Turkish Coffee.

Goz City combines the age-old gözleme tradition with a distinct modern twist – offering a unique Turkish food experience. Gözleme is fast becoming the latest street food craze to hit town and if the queues are anything to go by – it will be one to stick around for a while to come!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the pictures above or go to http://www.gozcity.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Homely and Relaxed
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.gozcity.com.au/
502 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9041 5667

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 4:-00pm
Saturday & Sunday: CLOSED

Goz City on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gozcitycbd
Twitter: @GozCity
Instagram: Goz City

Thaiger – Burgers with a Thai Twist

panda 4 rating

Having recently been to Fomo Thai and following them on Instagram – I learnt that the same owners were opening another place in the city. This time their focus would be simple and different – it would be all about burgers.

Thaiger Burger is the newly opened burger joint – located at The Walk Arcade in Causeway Lane in the heart of the Melbourne CBD. The point of difference with these burgers is their distinct Thai influence and flavourings. The shop itself is located next door to the ever busy Sushi Monger and does well with its small space. There aren’t many seating options available – four orange stools are available but during busy periods you will get interrupted by waiting customers. There is also a cosy little cubby hole that you can sit in whilst you wait for your burger to be made.

The space albeit being small is utilized well – as you walk up the stairs you are greeted buy an orange neon tiger symbol which works brilliantly against the backdrop of diamond shaped, shades of grey tiles. You have full view into the kitchen and can watch as each burger is carefully handcrafted – right from the base of the bun, to watching as each layer of ingredient is added as your bun grows in size to the packaging up of your burger.

Just past the cosy cubbyhole on your left hand side is the menu wall – which boasts their current menu of 14 different burgers – ranging from Crying Thaiger (Grilled Medium Rare Beef Rump Steak, Mixed Leaves, Nam Jim Joew dressing, Chik Chik Bang Bang (Crispy Chicken Thigh Fillet, Thai Sweet Chilli Mayo, Tomato, Lettuce, Sliced Boiled Egg) to the Pow Nim Black Burger (Crispy Soft Shell Crab, Granny Smith Asian Slaw, Sweet and Tangy Dressing). There is one vegetarian option at the moment – Green Thaiger – Pan-fried tofu, Enoki Mushrooms, Corn Fritter, Seasame Soy Mayo, as well as 3 Seafood Options. There are also your classic cheese burgers on offer, as well as a double cheese double beef burger.

For those who don’t feel like burgers, there are 5 salads on offer as well. For fries/chip lovers – there is also a serving of sweet potato fries available – a somewhat healthier option.

I was tossing up between the Pow Nim Black Burger and the Tom Yum Goong burger and decided to go with the latter in the end. The Tom Yum Goong – Grilled Spicy Prawns, Fresh Herbs, Coriander, Crispy Lettuce, Tom Yum Mayo. It was exactly what I was hoping for in terms of taste and flavour combinations. The Tom Yum flavour was vibrant and the main flavouring of the burger – it was like having the soup but in a burger form – it was simply delicious. The prawns were cooked perfectly, and the bun was soft which made it easier to bite into. The burger did fall apart towards the end with the filling remaining at the bottom.
The packaging is both cute and smart – a half-box with the Thaiger branding on it – with your burger sitting upright all set for the prime position for you to put your hands on and delve right into it. It’s smart as when the filling of your burger does fall through it just ends up in the box so you can still eat it (instead of ending up on the floor!

The friends that I went with were all impressed with their respective burgers – P got the Green Thaiger, T got the Chik Chik Bang Bang and K got the Crying Tiger (Grilled medium rare beef rump steak, mixed leaves,”Nam Jim Jaew” dressing). K did however comment that the beef in his burger was a tad bit chewy. T wanted to come back and try the whole range out and I definitely wanted to come and try the Black Burger.

The service can be a tad bit slow, however once you get your burger you forget the waiting time.

Thaiger is a great addition to the world of burgers – especially since my favourite cuisine is Thai! Not only do the burgers have interesting names but have an interesting mix of flavours and combinations which I am sure most people will enjoy. Check them out!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://www.thaiger.com.au/home.html
Service: Can be a tad bit slow especially during peak times, but it is well worth the wait
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.thaiger.com.au/home.html
Shop 16 The Walk Arcade
309-325 Bourke St
Tel No: 9329 9446

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 11:00am – 4:00pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Thaiger/738112479587198?fref=ts
Instagram: thaiger_burger
Thaiger on Urbanspoon

St Ali Masterclass – Madame Truffles, Pasta Classica & Pepe Saya

st ali

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I follow St Ali North on Instagram and saw a post about a Truffle Masterclass being held– it was to be hosted in collaboration with Pasta Classica, Pepe Saya and Madame Truffles. Pasta making, Butter making and learning all about truffles were to be covered and Entry was Free – so I decided to RSVP and check it out.

I arrived at St Ali – this was my first time to St Ali North, I have previously been to St Ali in Carlton – and there were quite a few people already present. The fit out was very modern – complete with an array of windows and wooden ledge seating. I can just envision what it would look like during the day – for breakfast and lunch – with the light streaming into the venue and enveloping the entire venue in a positive and relaxed vibe. The masterclass was carried out in the main dining area – situated past the main counter/bar. Chairs were set up in order to sit and enjoy the show.

Before the show you got the chance to enjoy some free canapés – which included a Stuffed mushroom and Sourdough as well as Bread with Truffled butter – both of which were delicious! You also got the chance to chat to “Madame Brussels” and learn as well as ask questions about the wonderful world of truffles. She showed us different truffles from around the country and explained the difference in smell between the truffles that come from the varying states. She also gave out ideas of how you could use truffles in everyday cooking such as topping your breakkie eggs, using them over a linguini mushroom pasta or even mixing it with butter and serving it with some lovely sourdough. Madame Truffles also informed us that they were experimenting with the use of truffles in the sweet world. They had white chocolate and truffle macaroons for sale on this night to purchase and sample. Since the Masterclass , more experiementing has been done and I have seen that they have created Monte Carlos using truffles as well (via their Instagram) – I cannot wait to see what else they experiment and create. You can follow their updates by following their Instagram at madametruffles.

The Masterclass started off with a talk from Madame Truffles enthusiastically telling everyone about the wonderful world of Truffles as well as interesting facts about them – such as it can take up to 10 years to grow truffles and in order to track down and find Truffles they use dogs! Another thing to note about truffles is that the bigger the aroma, the better the truffle and the more expensive the truffle will be. She then passed around different types of truffles for us to smell. Later I learnt that the price of truffles (on that day) was upward of $3.50 per gram! Expensive indeed, but when you taste the unique flavouring you start to understand why. Madame Truffles’ are freshly harvested each weekend and sourced from the very best truffleres in New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania and around Victoria. SHOP?

Following on from Madame Truffles – was a hands-on demonstration by Pasta Classica’s Daniel Tonin on the art of making pasta. Tonight the star of the show was the Tortelloni (Tortellini are the smaller size pasta parcels, whilst Tortelloni are the larger variety).
Tonin informs the class that in order to make pasta all you need is two ingredients – 400g Italian “00” flour (or plain flour) and 13 egg yolks (no whites!) – you may also want to add a pinch of salt as your liking for taste. I never knew that making pasta could be so easy! The egg yolks are what give the pasta its colour and flavour.
The technique to create the pasta is to place the flour on a clean bench and make a hole in the centre – here you place the 13 egg yolks. Then using muscle power, knead the mix through. If you rather you can use a Kenwood mixer instead.
Tonin then showed us how the correct way to pass the pasta through a pasta machine in order to get the right thickness of pasta. After this he then shows the class how to make the tortellini shape once we have rolled out our pasta. After each stage in the pasta making process, Tonin passes around the pasta to allow us to touch and feel the texture that it is meant to be – I find this to be very useful as you get a better understanding for when you try and make it at home.
Tonin also gives us a recipe for the filling inside the tortelloni – this filling consists of Potatoes, Pepes’ Butter, Parmesan Cheese, Tallegio Cheese, Thyme, Garlic with Pepper and Salt for taste. We are told that we will be sampling some of Tonin’s handmade pasta later on. Yum!

Next up in the Masterclass is Pepe Saya who takes us through a butter-making demonstration. Saya starts off with giving us back ground into the butter making process. The butter making process commences with the use of sour milk, to this you add the bacteria Lacto Bacilis and let it ferment. The result of this is crème fraiche. If you keep crème fraiche for around 3 weeks and then scrape the mould – the end result will be Buttermilk. Buttermilk is mostly commonly used in pancakes – and it is what gives the pancakes its fluffiness as a result of its reaction with the yeast.

I never realised that it was it was quite an easy process to make butter at home if you wanted to. You can start off by using bought Crème Fraiche from the supermarkets, mixing this in a Kenwood mixer. You will start to see butter forming after a few minutes – this is what is called butter in the popcorn state – as it resembles kernels of popcorn. You will find that Buttermilk is also produced – and this is what the Popcorn State butter will be sitting in. You will need to wash the Buttermilk out with Filtered Cold Water. Once you have the popcorn state butter on its own – you can knead it together and serve it up. You may also want to put some salt in for taste, unless of course you are after unsalted butter.
We then got to taste the butter that Saya had just made – it was creamy and very fresh!

After the formal part was over, we got a chance to mingle and listen to the great voice of Natasha. You can check out her website at www.natashamusic.com.au or follow her on Twitter @natashamusic_, Instagram – natashamusic_
This girl can sing and her voice is amazing! On the night she had only the backing of guitarist Mat Fagan – which allowed her true vocal skills to shine. Definitely go and check out where she will be performing next.

I met some really fun and food loving people and learnt a lot from this Masterclass. Pasta Classica had their products for sale and I bought the Ravioli with Feta, Parsley and Lemon Myrtle. Danny told me a simple way to cook with this pasta is to toss it in some oil and grate zucchini over the top and you have a really great dish. This is what I did and true to his word – it was delicious! The combination of the lemon myrtle was a real highlight and worked fantastically with the sourness of the feta and flavours of parsley. I will definitely be checking out their store to see what other unique and interesting flavours they have. It’s really great to know of a place that makes pasta fresh daily – in a variety of flavours that cater for any dietary requirements.

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more Masterclasses organised by St Ali in the future and would recommend everyone try this one!

Madame Truffles
Madame Truffles winter shop opens for six week during the peak of the Australian truffle season.

Dates: Thursday 3rd July to Saturday 9th August, 2014.
Days:
Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Time:
9am to 5pm

Location: 17 Yarra Place, South Melbourne
Tel No:
0430 017 480

Website: http://madametruffles.com.au/
Email:
truffles@madametruffles.com.au
Twitter:

Instagram:
madametruffles
______________________________________________________________

Pasta Classica – Retail Store
Location: 352 Smith St, Collingwood VIC 3066
Tel No:9419 2366

Pasta Classica – Factory
Location: Factory 9/ 25 Hocking St, Coburg, VIC
Tel No: 9350 6736

Website: http://www.pastaclassica.com.au/
Email: sales@pastaclassica.com.au
Twitter: pastaclassica
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pasta.Classica
Instagram: dannypasta

Pasta Classica on Urbanspoon

_____________________________________________________________

Pepe Saya

Location: Factory, Unit 4, 3 Wood Street, Tempe, NSW
Tel No: 9559 1113

Phone: 02 9559 1113 (leave Message)
Mobile: 0401 191 896 (Speak to Pepe)
Website: http://www.pepesaya.com.au/
Email: info@pepesaya.com.au
Twitter: pepesaya
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pepesaya
Instagram: pepesaya

_____________________________________________________________

St Ali North
Location: 815 Nicholson St, Carlton North
Tel No: 9380 5455

Website: http://www.stali.com.au/
Twitter: @ST_ALI
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stali
Instagram: stalinorth

St Ali North on Urbanspoon

Ruyi – A Different Kind of Chinese

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Lunch Menu Dinner Menu

P & I decided to check out Ruyi for lunch on a Friday as I had heard a lot of good things about the place. Ruyi which translates to – “as you wish” is a spiritual object or talisman which symbolises good fortune – and is owned by Sheng Fang in collaboration with this wife Qian Qian Luo-Fang.

Ruyi serves modern Chinese cuisine but looking in from the outside, as well as once you are well inside – you wouldn’t think this is your typical Chinese restaurant. There is no sight of the typical bright red and yellow colours, coupled with strong, thick wooden furniture. Instead you are greeted with the cooling green and light wooden tones.
The fit out was carried out by Paul Hecker of Hecker Guthrie with most fittings and stylings sourced from around the world. The lights are wooden ash colored handmade lights from France, with the wooden chairs and stools imported from Milan. All the plates, bowls, water glasses and pitchers are made exclusively for Ruyi from local ceramic artist Andrei Davidoff and they are beautiful and fit right in with the Ruyi theme. The feel is warm – thanks to the olive, beige tones – modern and sophisticated – which is somewhat of a cultural shift to the norm of a Chinese restaurant.

There is a lot to read in the menu which means there is plenty of selection to choose from. The two chefs behind the wonderfully created menu have come from Michelin starred Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club – it’s no wonder the result is magnificent. The menu begins with a selection of 3 different homemade soups to choose from (Duck and Tofu, Seafood & Egg White, Hot Sour), then proceeds with Dumplings (there are 4 different types to choose from – Pork and Crab Shao Long Bao, Streamed Vegetarian, Wonton in Chilli Sauce, Pan fried Pork and Chive), followed by Chinese Tapas ( there are 12 different dishes to try and include things like Prawn Cakes, Soft Shell Crab, Peking Duck Cone, Bao Bao, Chicken Wings, Eggplant Strips) and finishes up with the Bigger Dishes (there are 7 choices including Asian Mushrooms, Kong Bao Chicken, Oyster Beef Steak, Wagyu Beef and Duck Braised in home made stock) and Dessert – there is the usual Banana Fritters and Ice cream, but something different they have is the Hazelnut Paste Roll with Ice Cream as well as Sticky Rice Pudding. There is also a selection of sides that you can choose from – think mixed veggies, light chilli green beans, fried rice.

If the menu overwhelms you – you can select a Banquet menu – either a 5 course for $45 or an 8 course for $65. The menu also points out the Recommended dishes to help you select if you are stuck. As P & I went at lunch time – they had a separate Autumn / Winter Lunch Menu where all the Chinese Tapas were priced cheaper. There was also an option of two different set menus available – One for $18 and another for $35. Refer to the pictures above in the menu section to see what each set includes.

After much contemplation of the menu we decided to share some dishes. And since I simply couldn’t look pass ordering the Flaming King Prawn – I needed to know what this dish was about, as the menu states that the King Prawn sits on the fire – how cool!

Our first dish was the Fried Tofu with Szechuan Mayo – this is 3 pieces of lightly tempura battered tofu topped with Szechuan mayo and sprinkled with spring onions. The tofu was delicious – crispy and crunchy on the outside – whilst staying smooth and creamy on the inside. The Szechuan Mayo was light, tangy and refreshing and everything coupled together made for a really great dish.

We also ordered the Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings which come out in a serving of 5 green perfectly moon shaped pieces in a bamboo steamer. Each dumpling is made to order and you can really tell – the filling was fresh, had subtle flavours yet was tasty. I also liked the fact that Ruyi has chilli paste, and not only the chilli oil that is found in most other restaurants.

The last dish to arrive was the Flaming King Prawn – and indeed the prawns were sitting on the fire. I asked our waitress what creates the flame and she said it was the bed of salt coupled with lemon. The waitress also informed us that the prawns had already been cooked – so were ready to eat once we blew out the flame. The prawns were simply scrumptious and they are some of the best king prawns I have ever tasted! The prawns had a hint of spice and were barbequed perfectly – firm in texture yet soft to eat – and were topped with spring onion and capsicum.

We didn’t have enough time to check out the dessert menu – but I will definitely be back to try out more dishes from their menu and will definitely leave some room for dessert! The Hazelnut Paste Roll sounds tantalizing!

The staff are very friendly and quite knowledgeable of the dishes on the menu. Ruyi is a great modern addition to the Chinese cuisine and provides a elegant yet warm homely feel to it. There is an extensive wine list as well serving cocktails, beer and spirits. They also have a separate happy hour section (which is Monday to Friday, 5pm – 7pm).

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to http://ruyi.com.au/Dining%20Menu.pdf for the Dining Menu
Happy hour menu – http://ruyi.com.au/Happy%20Hour.pdf
Lunch Menu – http://ruyi.com.au/Lunch%20Menu.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern, Sophisticated, Elegant and Welcoming
Standout Dish: The Flaming King Prawn
Service: Friendly and very helpful – always very polite and always with a smile!
Online Booking: Yes via website – www.ruyi.com.au
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.ruyi.com.au
16 Liverpool Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9090 7778

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Mon to Fri 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Dinner
Mon to Wed 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Thu to Fri 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Sat 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm

RuYi Modern Chinese 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

East Elevation – A Definite Favourite!

panda 4.5 rating

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My sister and I headed over to East Elevation for brunch on a Sunday after playing a round of tennis. We got there around 12ish and were told it would be about a 10-15minute wait. We were told we could put our number down and they would give us a call. We wondered around looking at the funky shops around the area – and ended up only having to wait only about 5 minutes!

The moment you step into East Elevation from its large unmarked red doors, you are wowed by the space and lightness of the area, as well as the scent of chocolate. There are still a lot of tables and seating available yet it feels so roomy and not squashed at all. The coffee counter which also houses more of the important things such as the muffins and cakes is situated at the back of the venue, with the centre piece of the venue being the second hand machinery which sits behind a glass wall. If you are seated in this area you can watch as the machine does it work. It also doubles as a workshop to allow you to peer into going ons. There is also a shop area near the counter where you buy a variety of chocolates, which are also made on the premises.

East Elevation is the second venture of Jade Bentley of Monsieur Truffe. Here there still is a focus on the amazing chocolate produced – after all there are not many brands in Australia where the chocolate is made completely on site from the bean. Even if you aren’t a chocolate lover, you simply must try their hot chocolate. There are several varieties available with a special offered daily. Here there is no powder involved – solid pieces of rich chocolate is melted down and mixed with steaming milk for the perfect creation. The percentages range from 69-85% cocoa and they can be identified by country of origin. They come in cute little Japanese style cups – and are a warm, rich, gooey, heaven filled liquid. It really is a must-try!

There are also chocolate appreciation classes that you can sign up for if you want to learn more about the world of chocolate.

The tables are untreated wood and complement the concrete floors and exposed brickwork – to create a relaxed and laid back feel. The exposed brick and concrete floors add the warehouse feel – but the bright colourful yellow sunflowers at the main counter and other plants around together with the sunlight streaming in creates an alluring and welcoming space.

The menu is created by Brian Edwards and covers such a vast variety that there is definitely something for everyone. There are lots of Gluten Free, Vegan and Vegetarian options available as well. Double win! There are your usual dishes like a Veggie Breakfast, The Full Breakfast, Fruit and Sourdough Toast as well as Organic Granola. Dishes with a difference include the Fresh Mango & Coconut Tapioca and Ricotta and Rose Stuffed Crepes – for the sweet dishes – and Black Pudding with egg, Corned beef hash with a fried egg or Heirloom Tomatoes with Grilled Olive Bread – for the savoury dishes just to name a few. At their lunch type of menu there are dishes that include Slat Beef Brisket Toasted Bagel, A savoury Crepe with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraiche. There is also Smoked Ocean Trout, Chicken, Smoke Sardine Fillets and of course Croque Monsieur. As you can see the menu utilises interesting elements put together to create a dish that sounds delicious – the problem is that you will take quite a while to decide what you want to eat. I absolutely love the variety of choice available and would love to be able to try a little bit of each dish. There is also a Kid’s menu as well as a whole array of extras to choose from.

What is also great to note – especially for the chocolate lovers – is that there is a Monsieur Truffe Chocolate fondue for two people that comes with dark or milk chocolate together with fruit, brioche and a brownie to share – all for just $16.

After looking at the many mouth watering dishes on the menu I settled on the King & Swiss Brown Mushrooms with Baby Spinach, Goats Cheese on Grilled Rye AND the Fresh Mango & Coconut Tapioca with Lime, Strawberries, Pistachio & Passionfruit. What did I tell you about wanting to try a bit of everything =p I ordered a coffee which came with a piece of their signature chocolate on the side. The coffee was delicious – strong, creamy and nutty all at the same time. The coffee comes from Padre and there is also a Cold Drip available.  My sister ordered Freshly squeezed OJ.

My sister ordered the Organic Granola with hazelnuts, Dried Fruit, Honey, Dark Chocolate, Cocoa Nibs, Fresh Nectarine and Natural Yoghurt. I love how this dish was presented. The granola mix was in one large sized bowl, with the nectarine and natural yoghurt in a separate ramekin – and the best part of the presentation – the milk came in a cow shaped pourer (!!) – and all the components sat on a wooden tray/board. Loved it! My sister did enjoy the dish and usually isn’t a fan of yoghurt but really liked the flavouring and the taste of this one.

The King & Swiss Brown Mushrooms with Baby Spinach, Goats Cheese on Grilled Rye – came on a rectangular plate with the rye bread at the base and the mushroom, baby spinach, goat’s cheese all placed on top and around. I added a poached egg which was at the very top of the dish. The poached egg was perfectly cooked and the runny yolk worked well with the flavouring of the mushrooms and the tangy saltiness of the cheese. Overall a really tasty and filling dish!

The Fresh Mango & Coconut Tapioca with Lime, Strawberries, Pistachio & Passionfruit came served in a glass and was a mighty colourful dish. The glass allowed you to view the layers of coconut, mango and then coconut again topped with strawberries, pistachio and peach. The dish was refreshing and delicious – the flavours worked well together as well. The milkiness of the tapioca with the burst of lime and strawberries completed with the crunch of the nuts. My only negative comment would be that the tapioca in some places were a bit “hard” and not as smooth in certain areas. It also came with an extra serving of coconut milk in a little jug on the side if you wanted extra moistness.

I really enjoyed my time at East Elevation – from the food, to the vibe to the friendliness of the staff – it is a fantastic place to just chill out and enjoy the weekends. There is also a cute wheelbarrow out the front where herbs are planted as well as in a planter box at the entrance. East Elevation is on the list of my highly recommended brunch / breakkie places to go – check it out! I will definitely be back to sample some of their other dishes.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://eastelevation.com.au/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Light, Airy, Welcoming and Casual
Standout Dish: Hot Chocolate and King & Swiss Brown Mushrooms with Baby Spinach, Goats Cheese on Grilled Rye
Service: Fantastic and Friendly.
Online Booking: No. They accept bookings Mon-Fri 8am-3pm. Strictly no bookings on weekends.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://eastelevation.com.au/
351 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Tel No: 9381 5575

Opening Hours:
Breakfast & Lunch
Monday tpFriday: 8am-4pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8.30am-5pm

Dinner 
Thursday & Friday: 7pm -10pm

Space is also available for Event Hire

East Elevation on Urbanspoon

Two by Two – Chic Breakfast Style

panda 4 rating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two By Two on Urbanspoon

Boney – Where The Old Pony Was

panda 4.5 rating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boney on Urbanspoon