Little King Cafe – Cute Inner City Cafe

panda 4 rating
Latte at Little King Smashed Avocado and Fetta on Sourdough

G told me about this little café located near her workplace that I should try out called Little King so at lunchtime I thought I would go and check it out.

Little King is set up by Ellie King together with her mum Jessie – and named after her nickname at high school – and is located under the archways of St Paul’s Cathedral (just off Flinders Lane). Their main aim is to serve the best seasonal, local and organic produce to create tasty food options, catering for vegetarians and vegans in the process.

Little King is tiny but has a homely feel to it where you can see yourself spending hours just enjoying the ambience and the smell of delicious coffee and home cooking. It is quaint, cute and bursting with energy and life complete with low ceilings, wooden furniture and lace curtains. It reminds you of your grandma’s living room really. There are a few seats located inside as well as a number of seats outside on the pavement just at the front of Little King.

The menu changes daily and is based on whatever King feels like cooking each morning – from soups, salads to yummy homemade baked treats such as cakes and muffins. The coffee is from Padre and all the bread and pastries are from Dench Bakery.

The day that I go there is a Quinoa Supersalad available as well as Smashed Avocado with Fetta on Sourdough, along with sandwiches ( lots of vegan options available). I opt for the Smashed Avocado and order a Latte to match. The latte is strong with a nutty caramel hit all in one with notes of creaminess to finish. The Smashed Avocado is fresh, creamy and with the tang of the Feta was just what I needed.

Little King is brilliant and is a great addition to Melbourne. It allows you sit, enjoy and watch the hustle and bustle that happens around the Flinders Street area all whilst enjoying delicious coffee and some great locally produced, home cooked food.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Homemade Baked Treats
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cute, Cosy and Homely
Service: Friendly
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.littlekingcafe.com
Shop 4/209 Flinders Lane
Melbourne
Tel No: 9654 0030

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 3:30pm

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

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Mr Hendricks – Great addition to Balwyn

panda 4 rating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bowery to Williamsburg – A Piece of NYC in Melbourne

panda-5-rating6

Bowery to Williamsburg is new to the cobblestone laneway of Melbourne namely Oliver Lane (which also houses the famous Coda) – is known for its fantastic bagels and out of this world sandwiches.

Bowery to Williamsburg is a New-York inspired deli style venue brought to you by the team behind the ever popular Hardware Societe (Will and Di). It is aptly named after the Bowery Station of New York and comes complete with an underground style area to sit. At cobblestone street level there are communal tables where you can sit outside as well as having its own Slayer coffee machine, step through the doors (which are cleverly held open by a brass shoe) and down the stairs and you are greeted by a massive Slayer coffee machine (which sources local espresso coffee- Padre coffee beans from Brunswick) and copper trimmed sandwich counter, completed with a large sign that tells you how to order. Its simple really – 1) Choose your sandwich, 2) Select your Side and 3)Add some pretzels & pickle and Pay – $16.50 for the lot or $12.50 for the sandwich only – which would mean you only complete step 1 =)

In this downstairs area there is also a large marble communal table with interesting chairs that you need to come early during the lunch hour to secure a seat. There are also other single tables around the place. The menu (as you can see from the above picture) comes on little cards and outlines exactly what is in each sandwich and the different sides that you can choose from. There is also a wooden wall with chalk boards that have the menu on it as well.  There are 10 different sandwiches to choose from – covering all bases from – mushrooms to salmon, to corned beef to pork and almond meatballs. The combinations are fresh and ingenious! Here they also cater for people that would require gluten-free bread – this will cost $1 extra.

Breakfast time is when the bagels are available – there are several varieties of bagel on offer – both savory and sweet – all made by 5 and Dime. Options include the sour cherry bagel with a smear of lemon curd, or perhaps a beetroot and rye bagel with cream cheese. There are cooked breakfasts too, like poached eggs with maple baked beans and a bacon slab. To add to this there is your something sweet which sits in the cabinet and the counter such as Key Lime Pie and Maple Pecan Pie.

Our waitress comes over and explains the special sides that we can order and takes our drinks order. I have to say now I am not a fan of peanut butter at all, but the sound of a peanut butter hot chocolate is tempting as does the Mofo Deluxe Hot Chocolate. I decide to give the Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate a go and I am so so so glad I did! It is one of the best hot chocolates that I have had and what makes it better is that it comes with a mini Reece’s Peanut Butter cup on the side! It comes served in a faux crumpled plastic cup and is so rich and chocolately and just simply delicious. If you are game you can add your mini Reece’s Butter Cup into the hot chocolate for more gooey yumness. Another point to note – coffees come out with a Hersheys’ Treat.

For lunch I decided to go with sandwich combo and get the pretzels, dill gherkin and a side – I mean why wouldn’t you – it just sounds and looks oh so good! I go for the Field Mushroom sandwich with pomegranate tabouli and minted yoghurt – and as my side I choose the Mac ‘n’ Cheese. I came with A and she ordered the Meatballs Sandwich on its own which comes with Pork & Almond balls, Harissa Tomato Sugo and Mozzarella. My sandwich was delicious – the mushroom was juicy and fresh and the addition of the tabouli and minted yoghurt with the bursts of pomegranate provided the tanginess and the acidity. Having a bite of the pickle added another depth to the meal. The Mac ‘n’ Cheese was warm and tasty and served off to the side in its own little jar with the cheese melted messily around it. I loved this concept. The whole meal came plated out on a wooden board.

The staff are friendly, welcoming and chirpy and are always willing to help you decide on menu. I will definitely be frequenting this place even though there might be lines – I think it’s worth the wait! The food brings together interesting combination of ingredients and is fresh and tasty. I really want to come back during breakfast time and try out the bagels and check out the breakkie menu as well. Bowery to Williamsburg is a homage to the underground station that is New York and really does bring that part of the world to what is typically a Melbourne laneway and is a great cafe / takeaway place.

NOTE: Bowery to Williamsburg is a CASH ONLY venue

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to the photos above for the menu – there are 10 different sandwiches to choose from. Breakfast consists of bagel, eggs etc
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: A piece of NYC in Melbourne – fresh, gritty and fun
Standout Dish: Any of the sandwiches really! Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate!
Service: Friendly, chirpy and always happy to help
Online Booking: No – seating is first in, first served. I suggest getting there at 12pm in order to get a seat during lunch hour.
Restaurant Details and Location:
16 Oliver Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9077 0162

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 3:30pm

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B’Stilla – Moroccan Talk of the Town

panda-4-rating1

halal symbol* NOTE THE GOAT, BEEF and LAMB are all Halal Certified.

It was birthday dinner time and I picked B’Stilla to try out. B’Stilla is a newly opened Moroccan restaurant tucked away behind Chapel Street in South Yarra. When I was making the booking I enquired if the meat was halal and co-owner Leon Kennedy was fantastic in responding and letting me know that the beef, goat and chicken are all Halal Accredited. Great service already!

B’Stilla is a modern and spacious restaurant with an open kitchen and an outside seating area in the form of a long terrace which has overhead industrial heaters and plastic screens to keep the cold out. It is named after Morocco’s most famous pastry dish – the sweet-savoury B’stilla. This is the latest project from Jason Jones who co-founded Mamasita and remains a co-owner, and Leon Kennedy (Padre, Proud Mary). Both took a trip to Morocco and fell in love with the cuisine and enrolled in cooking courses to learn more, and then forged ahead with this venture. The aim is to deliver authentic and approachable Moroccan food, celebrating essential balance of flavours and fresh local produce and it safe to say that B’Stilla ticks all of these boxes.

There is a real Moroccan feel to the place with its lattice of the 8 point star that is reminiscent with any Moroccan theme. This continues in ochre colours under the bar in the form of tessellated tiles. The open kitchen is lined with tagines and colourful preserved fruits and overlooks into a red painted dining area. This is where we were seated on this Friday night. There are simple wooden tables and chairs to further enhance the casual yet classy feel.

The menu is designed to share and is split up into smaller entrée size dishes, followed by larger dishes which consist of three different tagines and dishes like lamb shoulder and beef ribs. There there are seven different salads to choose from and of course dessert to finish off the meal. There are Banquet options available as well (refer to the Menu section below for options and pricing). There are plenty of vegetarian dishes available as well which makes the menu robust to all. In addition to this, if you flip the menu over there is a handy glossary on the back that run you through some of the elements mentioned in the dishes. I think this is a great idea – saves the customer from whipping out their smart phone and googling what each thing is or asking the wait staff.

After perusing the menu for a while we settled on a couple of the smaller dishes, two of the larger dishes with a salad – leaving room for dessert. I also ordered a mocktail – which had pineapple, passionfruit and mint flavours which was quite tasty as well. They ask you what flavours you want and make one up to suit that. Whilst we were waiting for our meals, we were brought out complimentary tea for each of us together with a small piece of date shortbread. This was a nice touch I thought and typically Moroccan. The mint tea was full of flavour and was a great way to start a meal.

The first dish we got was the Lamb Ribs, Apricot and Cardamom. This was a super tasty dish – the lamb was cooked delicately and just fell off the bone – the apricot sauce added a sweetness to this dish. Having sweet flavours mixed with lamb was a great combination. Next of the entrée dishes was the Chargrilled Whole Prawn, Pil Pil and the Rgahaif – we got the spinach, eggplant, almond and yoghurt option ( there is also an oxtail option). The Rgaghaif was one of my favourite dishes of the night – it reminded me of a samosa in a sense – it was pastry wrapped with spinach, eggplant, almond and yoghurt. The pasty was homemade and delicious – I could eat loads of the pastry all on its own. The mix of flavours with the mentioned ingredients was tasty and the spices added to it was a great hit, with the almond finishing the flavour palate. The prawn dish was good but not great – the prawns were grilled perfectly and the addition of the Pil Pil (which is made of garlic, chilli, lemon and parsley) added to the flavour of the prawn – there was just something lacking. The last of the dishes we got was the Medfouna – Beef Cheek, Cashews, Potato, Labne – this dish was yet another winner. It resembled what looked like a meat pie but tasted so much better! The filling was moist and flavoursome and each element worked perfectly together.

After letting our entrees settle we were ready to take on the mains. We ordered the Cous Cous Marrakech with Seven Vegetables, Seven Spices, Smen (which is oregano infused butter that has been aged and fermented). We also ordered the Fish Kefta Tagine and the Lamb Shoulder with the side of the Cauliflower, Pine Nut Paste, Ras el Hanout and Herbs Salad. Both the Cous Cous and Fish came in tagine dishes and were filled to the brim – serving sizes here at B’Stilla are quite generous. The Cous Cous with Seven Vegetables was flavoursome and fresh – the cous cous was cooked to perfection as were the vegetables which were piled up high atop the cous cous. Some of the veggies included chickpeas, potato, sweet potato, cabbage and zucchini.

The Fish Kefta Tagine comes with black cabbage, saffron and potato and was delicious. The fish kefta’s were green in colour which I thought was really interesting but do not let that fool you as the flavour was great. The juice I did find to be a bit runny and not as flavoursome – I think I would have preferred it to be a bit thicker in consistency. The Lamb Shoulder was another favourite dish of mine – it came with Ginger, Cumquats, Parsnip and Sumac. The lamb was once again cooked beautifully and was soft and tender and coupled with the parsnip puree was delicious. The cumquats added a tang to the dish as well. The side of cauliflower was also outstanding – the cauliflower being lightly charred and coupled with the pine nut paste and the ras el hanout and herbs was a great addition and complement to all the other dishes had.

We were all so full from the entrees and the larger dishes, but decided to share some desserts amongst the five of us. We got the Persimmon, Mehalabeya, Amlou dessert and the Rosewater Flan with Dates and Walnut Nougatine. The winner and standout out of these two was definitely the Rosewater Flan. The flan was something between a crème caramel and a crème brulee and had the right amount of wobbliness. The dish was creamy and smooth and the addition of the crispy walnut nougatine added texture to the dish. The Mehalabeya dessert I thought were just different elements put together on a dish that didn’t really mesh together all that well for me – I would have liked to have had more of the Mehalabeya component.

B’stilla also has a strong focus on coffee and serves French Press and Cold Drip – both of which are African varieties from Proud Mary Coffee. The staff are friendly and well informed about the menu, and always are energetic and have a smile on their face and are happy to help out at anytime. We were lucky enough to have Leon serving us, and he gave us a good background about the restaurant.

B’Stilla is a great addition to South Yarra and the fact that it is embracing Morrocan cuisine is a big win. The food is delicious and encompasses great ingredients in imaginative and unique combinations and the presentation is fantastic as well. The focus on a shared dish menu I think is great and more restaurants should encourage this. For a taste of Moroccan in Melbourne definitely check this place out.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://bstilla.com/menu.pdf. There are also Banquet menus available – 5 dishes and sides (savoury only) at $45 pp or 8 dishes and sides (includes desserts) at $65 pp. For Lunch there is a 3 course lunch menu for $35 pp. A minimum of two people are required for the Banquet menus.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Modern and Classy. It is a chilled out place and is reminiscent of being a piece of Morocco in Melbourne.
Standout Dish: Rgahaif –spinach, eggplant, almonds, yoghurt AND Lamb shoulder, ginger, cumquats, parsnip, sumac
Service: Fantastic, Super Friendly and Helpful. Staff always have a smile on their face and make you feel welcomed.
Online Booking: No. Point to note – Half the restaurant is reserved for bookings and the rest available for walk ins
For bookings, there are two seating times available: 6:00pm to 8.15pm OR 8:30pm to late
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://bstilla.com/
30b Bray St, South Yarra
Tel No: 9826 2370

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Thursday – 5.30pm – Late
Friday & Saturday – 12.00pm – Late

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