Mister Jennings – Come & Meet the Great New Guy in Richmond

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Mister Jennings Menu Mister Jennings Dessert Menu

Mister Jennings is a newly opened restaurant located in Bridge Road in Richmond by owner and head chef Ryan Flaherty. Flaherty has previously worked at The Fat Duck (UK) and El Bulli (Spain), returning home to build up institution The Estelle (Northcote) before leaving last November. Fast forward to 2014 and Mister Jennings is Flaherty is his first solo project and he has enlisted the help of sous chef Jack Ingram in the kitchen, Malcolm Singh (Pei Modern) as restaurant manager and sommelier Lincoln Riley to create the spectacular wine list.

Mister Jennings – named after his favourite childhood author: Paul Jennings as well as his favourite school teacher – can seat 36 guests and additionally has a private dining room that can seat 16.
The venue itself has a Swedish minimalist feel to it complete with ash blonde tables together with key blue feature items on display in the form of wooden posable artists’ drawing models that cling to various places around the restaurant in cheeky positions, navy plumbing pipes, shelving and light blue plates on top of the tables. You can tell that during the day the space will be drenched with lots of natural light and would create a light and airy feeling. Two things I love – the random addition of a blue chair amongst the ash blonde chairs and the wooden bar above the main strip of seating that creates a trapeze like effect for the wooden posable models. Another feature highlight is the spectacular artwork by Mike Pelletier which features a man that looks like he has been carved out of gold.

The bar is visual spectacle complete with hexagonal mirror panels set against a navy blue backdrop in a honeycomb pattern, finished with stunning looking stools that have an ash coloured wooden top with dark metal rods forming the base (which were designed by local designer Lauren Garner).

The menu reads like one of experience and ingenuity- dish after dish of interesting and clever combinations, surprises and innovations. Essentially split into four sections – Starters, Entrees, Mains and Desserts – Mister Jennings wants you to be able to pick and choose what type of meal you want to have – be it drinks and snacks or a hearty meal of steak and chips. There is also the option to order the 5 course tasting menu ($80) if you want the chef to pick for you.
The Starters include dishes such as Oysters (there are two varieties to choose from – Coffin Bay or Cloudy Bay), Fuet Anis (which I learnt was a type of Salami) as well as the highly popular and known dish Boudin Blanc/Dagwood Dog.
The Entrée section is where the star dish from Mister Jennings can be found – Frozen Kangaroo, Wasabi, Nashi. Other dishes include Smoked Eel Parfait, Bread & Beets, Ocean Trout, Barley & capers, Foie, Rhubarb & Caraway Streusel.
The Mains include a Pasta dish, a Pork dish, a Duck dish, two selections of Fish dishes (Whole Baby Barramundi or Whole Sand Flathead) as well as two options of Sirloin (250g or 350g).
Dessert presents five options including a Cheese option – all of which sound extremely enticing.

We had organised one of our usual work catch-up dinners and had a booking for 8pm. Unfortunately due to a crazy busy work period going on I only arrived around 9:45pm – so I missed out on the “entrees” that the table had ordered.
They had ordered the Boudin Blanc/Dagwood Dog – a battered and deep fried boudin blanc (a white sausage made of pork liver and heart meat with pork rice dressing) served with homemade tomato ketchup with smoked paprika.

The Frozen Kangaroo, Wasabi, Nashi was another dish they had ordered. This dish is all about the mastery and ingeniousness – thinly sliced peppery kangaroo carpaccio is served frozen and only defrosts in the warmth of your mouth. It is served with Nashi pear, pickled onions, red wine, veal jelly together with an avocado and wasabi puree – creating hot and cold accents around your palate. My friends were left a little underwhelmed with this dish but did enjoy certain aspects of it.

The Leeks, Brown Butter Bechamel dish was also ordered. The roasted leek is hidden amongst the béchamel sauce which has the extra added flavouring of brown butter and topped with olives, parmesan and breadcrumbs. V said she really enjoyed this dish and the flavour combinations.

The last dish they ordered was the Snapper, Warrigal Greens, Tendons – the pan-seared snapper fillet sits at the base of the dish, amongst a soup of jus and covered with warrigal greens and finished with beef tendons that are reminiscent of a prawn cracker – as it has the same crispy coating and texture.

When I arrived the waitress we had was very helpful and talked me through the menu as well as answering any questions that I had. She even gave me suggestions as to what dishes she would recommend. As I was starving I ordered both an entrée and a main – she was nice enough to get me the entrée in quick time to ensure that my main came out at the same time everyone else at the table did. Love the service!

For the Entrée I ordered the Crab, Salmorejo, Chilli, Black Pepper to start. When the dish appears you can’t help but utter “oohs” and “ahhs”. There is vibrant orange colour of the Salmorejo that your eyes are immediately drawn to with a fresh green leaf placed delicately on top. Under this leafy green is the hidden mound of crab goodness. The crab was fresh mixed with celery and a mayonnaise type sauce. The Salmorejo was a brilliant mix of pepper, tomato and creaminess and together with the crab was one delicious dish. A must try.
For my main I ordered the Cavatelli, Pumpkin, Goats Cheese on recommendation from our friendly waitress – and am I glad she did. I had asked her what Cavatelli was and she replied with the perfect description – “If gnocchi and a tortellini had a baby – cavatelli is what you would get” – and she was entirely correct. The flavours of this dish were simply divine – the creamy pumpkin sauce with a hint of spice coupled with the silky goats cheese and the crunchy texture of the pine nuts. The cavatelli was not entirely soft but added the perfect addition to the smoothness of the other ingredients. This was my first cavatelli experience and boy was it an enjoyable one!

C ordered the Pork, Lime Pickle, Silverbeet dish. When the dish arrives you are greeted with a shroud of fresh green silverbeet and the anticipation builds up of what is underneath. Once you peek under you are greeted first by the bright orange baby carrots which sit atop of the pork. The nettle puree acts as the base together with the lime pickle. C got thru his dish in a ridiculous amount of time – clearly enjoying the dish A LOT!

V ordered the Whole Baby Barramundi, Lemon Parsley and H the Whole Sand Flathead, Caper Beurre Noisette. Both dishes were simply presented – allowing the fish and their flavours to speak for themselves. The fish was placed on the plate alongside half a lemon and topped with parsley and capers respectively. They both enjoyed the freshness and simplicity of the flavours which allowed the natural fish flavours to shine.

L ordered the Duck, Satay, Turnips. Once again the element of surprise was used in the plating up of this dish – with thin slices of turnip topped with peanuts, providing cover for the duck that was shielded underneath, sitting in a satay flavoured sauce. L thought this dish was average – and found that the overall flavouring of the dish somewhat masked the flavours of the duck.

A few of us still had room for dessert. I ordered the Jaggery Cake, Apricots, Double Cream. The dish came out looking nothing like what I had imagined. My first thoughts was that it looked like something I would find at the beach – sea sponge with green dustings of seaweed. However once you start eating this dessert your mind will be blown –the jaggery cake is crunchy and fluffy billows of sponge made with prune sugar, topped with cream. But wait there’s more – semi dried apricots appear hidden underneath added additional sweetness and tang to the dish. A unique dessert that you definitely won’t find anywhere else.

C ordered the Chocolate, Cardamon, Crunch – which was described to us “Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate” – and that is exactly what it was. The dessert is presented to you and then followed by rich chocolate sauce being drizzled out of a copper pot. There are bursts of citrus through the chocolate biscuit and creamy yet light chocolate moussed with a mix of hot and cold sensations – pure awesomeness!

The staff are superb – friendly and very helpful – they make the running of a restaurant despite the crowds look easy. The menu is a mix of adventurous and simple dishes – both of which are simply done well. The look and feel of the place is cheeky whilst maintaining a welcoming and relaxed vibe. Mister Jennings is definitely a place that I would recommend to anyone looking for a great food and flavour journey – and one that I will be returning to!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to picture
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience:
Standout Dish: Cavatelli, Pumpkin, Goats Cheese
Service: Fantastic! Super friendly, helpful and knowledgeable as well as being relaxed, warm and welcoming.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.misterjennings.com.au
142 Bridge Road, Richmond
Tel No: 9078 0113

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Thursday: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Friday & Saturday: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Mister Jennings on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MisterJenningsRichmond
Twitter: @_MisterJennings
Instagram:_misterjennings

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Barry – Fantastic Variety of Breakkie Dishes

panda 4.5 rating

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Menu:

Barry Menu

Barry Menu

Barry Lunch Menu

Barry Lunch Menu

There is a wealth of experience behind the creators and owners of Barry in Northcote. Matt, Kael Sahely and Loren McBride are the geniuses behind Pillar of Salt and the Richmond café Touchwood. I must say that Barry has become one of my favourite café’s for brunch!

On this Saturday – as expected – Barry was bustling with activity and every table was full. We didn’t have to wait too long for a table for three though which was great. The venue is casual, light and airy – and you just feel like you want to be part of the action the moment you step inside. The interior fitout is done by Techne Architects – there are wall to wall custom shelving and crates that function as drawers located under the main coffee counter – which is great for storage! The wooden shelving along the wall have colourful potted plants amongst them for bits of colour amongst the wood and white washed brick walls.

There is a mix of high communal tables, low wooden tables for sets of 2, 3 and 4s as well as outside seating. I really loved the style of the communal table and kind of want one in my own place! =p I also loved the abstract lighting above the communal table – a bow and arrow shape if you will with filament lights on the end of each point.

The menu is designed by Stephen Svensen and serves Breakfast all day (WIN!). Breakfast dishes consist of your basics as well as the basics with a difference such as the scrambled red chilli eggs with bacon, spring onions, parmesan and toast (this comes from the sister café Pillar of Salt), as well as the Benedict poached eggs with potato rosti, slow braised ham hock, apple cider hollandaise and granny’s apples. See different! There is also a very interesting dish – inspired by Matt and Kael’s dad – which is Crunchy peanut butter, heirloom tomatoes, salt and pepper peanuts on toast – the menu says to trust them so it must really work. I am not a huge fan of peanuts so I didn’t venture into this dish – but would love to know people’s thoughts on it. The lunch menu which can be had from 11:30am onwards consists of a daily tart, a superfood salad and even a Korean sub and a beef wagyu burger just to name a few.

While trying to decide from the extensive menu of what we wanted to eat – we ordered some coffees. Coffee here at Barry is from 5 Senses and made on a schmick Synesso machine. There are akso Single Origin, Aeropress and Pour Overs available as well. My latte was great – it had a creamy, nutty almost smoky hit all in one with an end note of caramel.

I decided I needed something sweet instead of savoury so ordered the Brioche, Pistachio, Mascarpone, Rose Scented Raspberries, Halva dish. The dish came with two massive pieces of brioche – sitting on top of a rose scented raspberry coulis and topped with the halva and pistachios. The combination was quite good – although I wasn’t a huge fan of the halva – so I avoided eating that. I can see how the flavours of all the components could work well together though. The sweetness of the mascarpone and raspberry together with the softness of the brioche and the crunch of the pistachios was tasty. It is rather a filling dish – and I struggled to finish my dish.

N ordered the Cripsy Korean Chicken Sub, House made Wombok and Coriander Kimchi, Nori Mayo. The way this dish was plated up was impressive – it came out on a board with the Chicken Sub taking up half of the board and the house made wombok and coriander kimchi in a separate round side bowl, as well as the nori mayo in another separate bowl. N loved this dish! He is a massive fan of subs and this one did not disappoint – the chicken was crispy on the outside whilst being juicy and flavoursome on the inside. The kim chi had some of his favourite ingredients – coriander and wombok and had a great heat to it as well. Overall a huge and great tasting dish.

T ordered the Californian Superfood Salad – Tri Coloured Quinoa, Shredded Kale, Wild Organic Rice, Charred Corn, Salted Ricotta, Black Turtle Beans, Heirloom Tomatoes, Jalapeno, Gojis, Spicy Lime Vinaigrette. Just look at the number of elements in this dish! It sure is a superfood dish – and it was quite a generous serving as well! I did get to try some of this dish and if you had to describe this dish in just a few words it would be – packs a punch! All the elements worked really well together and you really didn’t feel as if you were eating a really healthy dish – it was fresh and tasty! And that charred corned was perfect!

You can tell by the crowds that seem constant that Barry is a sure winner, and after just one visit you can definitely tell why. The menu will suit just about everyone – there are gluten free options available and they do try and cater to any other requirements. The atmosphere is casual, loud (from all the chatter of the happy customers) and welcoming. I love the lightness to the place. Even if it not near you – make the effort to get down here!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://barrycoffeeandfood.com/ or refer to menu above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun, Light filled, Casual and a Great place to relax at
Standout Dish: Californian Superfood Salad
Service: Friendly and Warm
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://barrycoffeeandfood.com/
85 High Street, Northcote
Tel No: 9481 7623

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7.30am – 3.30pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am – 4pm

Barry on Urbanspoon

Mixed Business – Relaxed & Delicious

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Drinks at Mixed BusinessBreakfast at Mixed BusinessLunch at Mixed Business

N and I were heading out to breakkie on a Saturday morning and decided to try out Mixed Business. This cute café is located in Clifton Hill (neighbouring Northcote) and comes to you by Lauren Bieber and Tom Crowe. The look and feel of the place is casual and relaxed thanks to the light and airiness nature of the venue, complete with an outside sitting area amongst the back garden. There is a combination of vintage and retro touches throughout the venue which includes old tea towels used as curtains over cupboards, wooden tables with mismatched colourful chairs as well as the feature piece which is huge workbench which doubles as the coffee counter, cake serving area and payment station. There are also old school vintage signs which are attached to the walls. It really does pay homage to the venue’s former life of a second hand furniture store.

It was a typical Melbourne day – rain one minute, sunshine the next. When we walked in the place was quite busy so we were offered a table in the back garden and the friendly waitress told us that it was under cover if that Melbournian rain happened to come back. Sitting in the back amongst the pot plants, trees and herbs was really pleasant and I feel like this is one of the best tables at the venue. You get to enjoy the brightness and be surrounded like you are in your very own back garden – even on a rainy day! The centrepiece of the table would automatically brighten anyone spirits – it was a colourful duck shaper pot holder which house a striking cactus. Really cute and chirpy – I want one for my place!

Once we were seated we ordered our coffees and proceeded to look at the menu. I already had decided that I wanted something sweet so reading the description of the waffles had me sold. I like how they have a selection of combinations that can come with the free range poached eggs such as pork belly and sausage, potato and rosemary rosti or smoked salmon, pickled beetroot, dill and creme fraiche. Most places just pick one or two selections that come with poached eggs. The coffee by Seven Seeds was delicious and was a welcome necessity for this morning.

When my waffles came out they looked delicious and I could barely spend enough time photographing them as I wanted to devour them straight away. They looked fresh and the aroma was enticing. There were three pieces of waffles arranged at the bottom and topped with the apple, blueberries and pecan crumb with the ice cream off to the side. The pecan crumb was absolutely delicious and the coating literally melted in your mouth. The combination of the warm waffles coupled with the spiced apple and cold ice cream was fantastic. Definitely a dish I would recommend.

From the other dishes that were ordered I got to try out the potato and rosemary rosti and the picked cabbage. The potato and rosemary rosti tasted even better than it looked – when it came out it looked glossy, crispy and accented with the perfect amount of rosemary – it was delicious, crispy on the outside and soft and aromatic on the inside. The house made relish had a smoky and spicy hit to it as well and was quite nice. The pickled cabbage was another win – don’t let the bright pink colour put you off – the flavour is amazing.

It’s not always simply about the great food and customer service, but the little additional touches – like the colourful duck pot holder – and the simplicity of the back garden seating that truly do make the experience at a place not only memorable, but recommendable. Mixed Business is definitely one of these places.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the Menu above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and Welcoming – great chill out place!
Standout Dish: Applie Pie Waffles – Buttermilk Waffles with Maple Baked Apples, Pecan Crumb and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Free Ranged Poached Eggs on Sourdough with Potato and Rosemary Rosti, Avacado and House Relish
Service: Friendly and Helpful – although we never did get asked if we wanted another round of coffee after we had finished our first coffee’s.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
486 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill
Tel No: 9468 1606

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Saturday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Mixed Business 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

Penny Farthing Expresso – Great Great Coffee!

panda-4-rating1

Penny Farthing Expresso is located in the subrub of Northcote and is a cosy cafe and restaurant, and true to its name, has its very own Penny Farthing bicycle in the front window. Penny Farthing Expresso is from the same team that brought you Industry Beans – Trevor and Steve Simmons.

There is an all-day breakfast (http://pennyfarthingespresso.com/menu/breakfast/) , lunch (http://pennyfarthingespresso.com/menu/lunch/) and dinner menu available. There is also an impressive coffee menu from single-origin coffee blends, where they roast their beans on-site. Lunch menu consists of a variety of things like sandwiches, rostis and bruschetta to a whole lot more. The dinner menu is more of a sharing experience. There is a 7 seven course “Feed Me” menu. The dinner menu is split into Penny (larger dishes) and Farthing (smaller entree like size dishes). Check out the menu and prices here – http://pennyfarthingespresso.com/menu/dinner/

I ordered the Smash which is house marinated feta & avocado smashed together with fresh basil & mint, served on organic sourdough with a side of chilli oil. The chilli oil was a welcome addition as I like my dishes with that little bit of heat. I also loved the addition of the fresh basil and mint through the avocado – this is one of the first places that I have had my avocado this way and the flavours really mesh beautifully together. N ordered Two free range fried eggs (You can get the eggs cooked in the manner you prefer) served on sourdough toast with a side of housemade sweet harissa. The housemade harissa was delicious and had the right balance of flavours (I sneaked a taste of some off N’s breakkie =p).

What I also love about the menus here at Penny Farthing Expresso is the range of vegetarian options available. Not only do they sound amazing but to have that variety is fantastic. The staff here are friendly and always happy to answer any questions. They answered questions about the coffees that were available and which ones should be tried. Love having staff that know what they are talking about coffee-wise =)

Having tried out breakkie here I definitely want to go back and try out their dinner menu and see what their “Feed Me” menu is like. This place is a more than just once a visit kinda place!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Menu – http://pennyfarthingespresso.com/menu/
Dinner is from Tuesday to Sunday – You can do the 7 course chef selection called the “Feed Me” menu which costs $40 for the vegetarian option and $45 for the non-vegetarian option. Such value for money!
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable and Casual
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://pennyfarthingespresso.com/contact/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://pennyfarthingespresso.com/
206 High St
Northcote
Tel No: 9482 2246

Opening Hours:
Monday – 7.30am to 5.00pm
Tuesday – Friday – 7.30am to Late
Saturday & Sunday – 8.30am to Late

Penny Farthing Espresso on Urbanspoon

Taco Truck – Delicious Mexican Food Truck

panda-4-rating1Taco Truck

20121207_200738The Potato Taco, The Fish Taco and two Chicken Tacos

20121207_200753Fish and Potato Tacos

Food trucks have been all the rage in America, and it has taken over Melbourne. Ever since I heard about the Taco Truck I wanted to try it. The Taco Truck is the mastermind of Raph Rashid (who also owns the Beatbox Kitchen – check out https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/trucks-and-burgers-good-mix/for my review). I finally got my chance to try out the Taco Truck when it was at the Big Designers Market at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre. In order to track down the Taco Truck you need to decipher clues that are given out or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. The Taco Truck’s usual haunt is generally the inner city suburbs such as Carlton, Northcote, Brunswick.

The Taco Trucks sells ..you guessed it TACOS! You can individual tacos for $6 each or you can get a Taco Plate which comes with 2 Tacos  (of any combination) and a serving of house made corn chips for $12. There are three different types of Tacos – Fish, Potato or Chicken.

I ordered a Taco Plate with a fish and potato taco and N had a Taco plate with 2 chicken tacos. The potato taco comes with jalapeno, ‘slaw with salsa verde in a crispy tortilla topped with ricotta. This was the most interesting out of all the tacos, due to its crispy tortilla. The salsa verde and ricotta complimented the potato and the crunch perfectly. The fish taco is lightly battered and fried Rockling fillets, with rough ‘slaw, a squeeze of lemon and poppyseed aioli. The poppyseed aioli was fresh and had the right amount of tang and worked perfectly with the fish. These are cooked to order in the van, and have a glorious crunch when they come out. The chicken taco came with grilled chicken, fresh corn, baby spinach and a smoky chipotle mayo. I love how the corn in this taco just oozed out – it is one of the first times I have seen corn in a taco.

All the tacos are cooked to order and therefore have that fresh, unpretentious air about them and boy are they packed with flavour. If you love mexican food and love tacos, definitely hunt this truck down and try it out.

Taco Truck Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Taco-truck-melbourne/187938917910211

Twitter: @tacotruckmelb

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – 3 different types of Tacos – Chicken, Potato and Fish as well as House made Corn Chips
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun !!
Standout Dish: ALL THE TACOS!
Service: Friendly, inviting and fun!
Online Booking: No…you will need to track them down!!
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://tacotruck.com.au/
15 Keele St
Collingwood
(this is where they were intially based, but they go around to the inner suburbs, check their Facebook and Twitter for locations)
Tel No: 8060 6664

Taco Truck on Urbanspoon

Gypsy Hideout – A Hidden Gem


   

Menu:
  

Gypsy Hideout is located in High St, Northcote and is tucked away – if you drive past you really wouldn’t notice this place as a breakfast / brunch place. Gypsy Hideout is owned by Freddy Raftellis and is an airy and light-filled place with polished wood floors and white brick walls, and out the back is a courtyard for those warm summery days.

There is a breakfast and lunch menu written on blackboards from which you order from. The Gypsy Hideout drinks are quite innovative and interesting. I ordered the Gypsy Elixir – which is a combination of juices such as Blackcurrant and Berries – came in a flask with a straw to drink from. Their concoction tasted great – it was refreshing with just the right amount of sweetness. My friend ordered an Ice Coffee and it arrived with two separated layers which was unique. The menu covers a variety of combinations including some Middle Eastern touches. I can never go past mushrooms for breakkie so I had the Poached Eggs with Lemon + Thyme Field Mushrooms, Spinach and Truffle and my friend ordered one of the Sourdough Baguettes.
The food was fresh and tasted great. Some of the ingredients are taken right from the courtyard garden. In my dish, the truffle added an extra oomph to the dish and the poached eggs had just the right amount of runniness. When the baguette came out – it was MASSIVE!! My friend had no idea where to start to eat it. Value for money definitely.

The staff were friendly and the place was relaxed and cheery. The courtyard out the back was a definite winner to enjoy the sunshine.

Rating : 3 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Bright and Cheery
Standout Dish: Gypsy Elixir and Lemon + Thyme Field Mushrooms
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
68 High St, Northcote
Tel No: 0433 166 248

Opening Hours:
Sunday: 8am  to 4pm
Monday – CLOSED
Tuesday to Thursday: 7:30am to 4pm
Friday – 7:30am to 5pm
Saturday: 8am to 5pm

Gypsy Hideout on Urbanspoon

Estelle Kitchen & Bar – Retro Cool!

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The Estelle is located in Northcote and is a funky space which combines retro and classiness. This restaurant mixes vintage looks from the 50s with uber coolness. The walls are tiled with pink, black, grey and white tiles that reminds you of dance studio, mixed together with retro looking metal chairs (which are quite comfortable) and wooden floors. Seating consists of seats at the bar, at tables or the little courtyard out the back. The Estelle is owned by Scott Pickett and Ryan Flaherty – who are also the chefs, and can be seen in the kitchen or even delivering dishes to your table for a chat. I think more restaurants should be like this – allowing you to chat to the people that are creating the food you eat.

The Estelle starts off with appetisers which you can enjoy whilst deciding on the Degustation Menu. The Estelle only offers Degustation Menus which come in either 3, 5, 7 or 9 courses (Refer to the section below for prices). The appetisers is lovingly called “Fossils” and is compromised of mashed sardines and are tapioca fried to a white crispness to resemble a prawn cracker. The taste is interesting but a but was too fishy for me, however, the crunch is quite great. This comes with a whipped sour cream which together, helps to offset the fishiness. The presentation in a martini glass is fantastic (refer to picture above). With this “Fossils” dish, comes Chickpea Chips which are shaped into perfect rectangles and dusted with Black Olive Salt. Dipping these in the whipped sour cream also tastes great!

We chose to have the 3 course Degustation menu. My first dish was the Beetroot and Ashed Goats Cheese. This was a colourful dish, where the colours of the beetroot were enhanced by the black plate. The standout of the dish was the Ashed Goats Cheese – which was covered in “edible ash” which is made from crushed and dried black sesame lavosh. This gave an earthy taste to the cheese but combined with the beetroot and radish it tasted amazing, mixing the sweetness of the veggies and the tanginess of the cheese. The Smoked Eel, Carrot & Camomile was definitely a standout dish. There were so many different elements on this plate where you could tell were done with precision and care individually. There was a Carrot Reduction, a Pale gel which was made from Milk infused with Camomile and dusted with Black Salt, as well toasted Brioche Crumbs and to finish the dish off – Celery which has been compressed with apple juice. The combination with the Smoked Eel, which was cooked to perfection left a crunchy yet soft sweet peppery taste in your mouth.  The “main” I had was the King Fish, Peas and Shisho. The King Fish was warm and cooked perfectly so that it simply melted in your mouth. This was served with a Quail Egg and Asparagus in a Shisho Dressing. The dish was not just pretty looking, offset with a lavender flower, but had a taste to match just how good it looked.

The final course was dessert – Rhubarb, Rose & Musk – this was a special for the day. I must say I love dessert, but this didn’t leave any lasting impressions on me. The Rose flavoured custard like jelly was nicely flavoured, but the musk meringue I think didn’t do any favours to to dish. This might be because I am not a huge fan of Musk, but overall I think the mix was a bit strange.

Overall, I enjoyed seeing how what the menu had in words translated onto the plate. The dishes were not just plated up with care, but mixed a variety of interesting ingredients which worked most of the time. The atmosphere is laid back and casual, and the wait staff as well as the chefs are friendly and really do make you feel at home. I left wanting to come back and try out the larger Degustation menus.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Degustation Menus: Three / Five / Seven/ Nine Courses: $50 / $70 / $90 / $110
Fullness: 80%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cool , Funky, Retro and Relaxed. A good place to hang out with friends and chatter.
Standout Dish: Smoked Eel, Carrot & Camomile
Service: Fantastic and Friendly, and most time you will get the chefs themselves bringing the dishes out to the table and to have a chat.
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.estellebarkitchen.com.au/index.php#/index.php/contact
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.estellebarkitchen.com.au/index.php#/index.php/
243 High Street, Northcote
Tel No: 9489 4609

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Thursday: 6pm to Late
Friday to Sunday: 12pm to Late

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