Polēpolē Bar – A Taste of Africa

panda 3.5 rating

Menu:
Pole Pole Menu

I had heard about Polēpolē – a new East African inspired bar and kitchen – opening up in the Melbourne CBD and four of us decided to check it out on a Friday night.

Polēpolē (which translates to “go easy” or “take it easy” in Swahili) is the creation by Dean and Jeanelle Mariani (former co-owner of award-winning café The Petty Officer and Deans brother), who quit their jobs and went travelling. Polēpolē is a result of their love and admiration for the culture, food and people of East Africa and wanting to share their experiences with Melburnians.

I arrived much later than the rest of us on a Friday night and the place was buzzing – it was really loud! N had told me prior to me arriving there that the place was packed and that it would be about 20 minutes to get a table for food (Polēpolē don’t take bookings for dinner). The venue was designed by Votre Monde and has resulted in an earthy and rustic vibe to it. As you ascend the stairs from Little Collins Street you are greeted by a painting of an African woman seated in black and white, against the red of the wall background. To the right is where the kitchen is located as well as booth seating for dinner – which is paired with a wall of zebra stripes. To the right is the bar which takes most of the length of the venue has tones of burnt orange, coupled with untreated woods and funky filament lighting. Next to the bar is a wall with a single golden acacia tree painted on it with high tables and more seating available. The building has a second level, which they expect to open in the coming months.

Food at Polēpolē is based around sharing plates which are broken into three main sections – “Not Ribs”, “Ribs” and “Dessert”. The menu was designed by consulting chef Andy Mac (Axil Coffee). There are 9 dishes to select from in the “Not Ribs” section which include Spiced Chickpeas and Pepitas, House cured Biltong, Lentil and cauliflower fritters with whipped Tahini and Lemon Zest. The “Ribs” section consists of 4 dishes including Braised Beef Short Rib, Sticky Chicken Ribs, Smoked Pork Ribs and Harissa Lamb Ribs. There are only 2 choices for dessert – Rum and Raisin Mousse Cake with Crème Brulee or Banana and Date Bread with Salted Caramel, Banana Crumble and Cashew Parfait.

Drinks include a showcase of brands such as Tusker (Kenya), Dashen (Ethiopia) and Windhoek (Namibia) as well as German and Dutch style lagers. It is also great to note that a proportion of all beer sales go to YGAP who support social entrepreneurs in Africa, as well as Women for Women in Africa who support Kibera (Africa’s largest slum). There are a range of cocktails which have taken inspiration from their travels as well and consist of combinations such as ginger, honey, coconut and banana.

To begin the night I ordered a mocktail – which had minty and lime flavours laced through it and was quite tasty. As the other 3 had already been there for a while before I had gotten there – there were some leftovers from the “Not Ribs” section that they had ordered – Mount Zero Olives marinated in Lemon and Chilli as well as the Spiced Chickpeas and Pepitas. I loved the Spiced Chickpeas and Pepitas – the flavours and the combination of textures from the soft chickpea and the crunch of the pepitas was great.

We decided to order a selection of dishes from the Not Ribs section to share; and then the other 3 ordered a dish each from the Rib section (as their mains). As the meat wasn’t Halal I couldn’t eat any of the dishes under the Rib section.

We ordered the Chickpea and Corn Cakes with Okra and Kusandi (which came in a serving of 4) – with each cake being topped with the okra and kusandi. The chickpea and corn cakes on its own didn’t have much of a flavour to them and really needed the strong and vibrant flavours of the kusandi to liven up the dish. An addition of some spices or even salt to the chickpea and corn cake would have made a difference.

Next up was the House-made Flat Bread and Three Dips – the dips were beetroot, eggplant and hummus. The serving of the house-made flat bread was very generous and I really enjoyed this dish. The bread had been cut into triangles, and had a crunch to them and had a flavouring of wholemeal without tasting overly healthy. I couldn’t pick a favourite out of all the dips – they were all just as good as each other. I loved the vibrancy of the pink that came through with the use of beetroot. The smokiness in the eggplant dip worked well with the flavouring in the bread.

We also ordered the Eggplant Chips with Yoghurt and Zataar. I am usually not a huge fan of eggplant chips but the difference with these was the crumbed coating which made all the difference. The hint of spice and herbs (zataar) worked well with the flavouring of the eggplant and the tangy yoghurt. I also liked the fact that they left the chips the same length as the eggplant itself rather than cutting up the pieces into bite size pieces. My only criticism would be the oiliness of the dish.

The last of the “Not Ribs” dishes we ordered was the Apple, Cabbage, Fennel and Mint Salad. This salad was good but not great – for me it was missing a proper dressing to coat the salad. However I think dish is a great dish to have amongst all the meatiness of the ribs – acts as a palate cleanser.

N ordered the Harissa Lamb Ribs, Red Pepper Salsa, Tahini Yoghurt and Mint – which were simply yet beautifully presented on a rectangular plate with the lamb ribs criss-crossing each other and topped with the red pepper salsa and tahini capped with a mint leaf. The lamb delicately fell off the bone and had smoky barbeque and spicy flavouring to them.

We were all quite full at this stage so decided to skip on having dessert. As it was a Friday night it was getting quite loud in there, and even though we were sitting quite close to one another we were finding ourselves having to yell to hear each other talk.

Polēpolē has a great vibe and feel to it and is clearly a popular choice to have a drink especially with its variety of drink options available. The service is brilliant – with the wait staff going above and beyond what is expected of them. The food is tasty and is set out to work well with drink options. Want to trial a Taste of Africa – then head to Polēpolē.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Rustic and Earthy. Great for a catch-up celebration.
Standout Dish: Spiced Chickpeas and Pepitas
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.polepolebar.com.au/
1 / 267 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9650 2811

Opening Hours:
Sunday to Thursday: 4:00pm–11:00pm
Friday & Saturday: 4:00pm–1:00am

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/polepole.bar.melb
Instagram: polepole_bar
Twitter: @polepole_bar

Polēpolē Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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BBQ Rib Eating Competition at Third Wave Café

thirdwavecafe

competition-banner

Hi everyone!

Just letting you know about a BBQ Rib Eating competition that has just launched at Third Wave Café. If you love all things BBQ and Ribs then this is for you!

The competition starts on the 24th of February 2014 and will go for 6 weeks. The contests will be held once each week, with the 6 finalists battling it out for the $1000 cash prize on the 7th of April 2014.

The competition is simple, eat as many American BBQ Ribs as you can in 35 minutes plus a side of coleslaw (coleslaw must be fully consumed to qualify).

Entry fee is $99 and the winner on each night will get their money fully refunded. Entry into the final is also free.

The ultimate winner will receive $1000 in prize money, an obligatory T-Shirt and their picture on the Wall of Fame.

There is a choice of two venues for your convenience – either Port Melbourne or Prahran, with the final being held at Port Melbourne. Dates and times are posted on their website at the link below.

So if you are interested registrations Registrations to the event are made online at www.thirdwavecafe.com.au/competition.php

The Meat and Wine Co – Steak Goodness!

              

There aren’t many places that I can eat at steak at due to the Halal factor. So when I heard that at The Meat Wine and Co they used Halal meat I was excited to try it out. I went there in July for my Birthday with my family (who by the way love their meat dishes). I have previously been to The Meat and Wine Co and had seafood dish, which I thought was pretty good. The serving sizes are quite generous as well.

We ordered two different types of Steak, the Lamb Ribs and my sister (who isn’t a massive meat fan) ordered the Grilled Chicken. Additionally we ordered a Prawn and Beef skewer. When I think of a skewer – I think pieces of meat/seafood on a wooden stick of a normal size. The skewer from The Meat and Wine Co is MASSIVE. It comes out on a huge aluminium skewer that hangs above a big bowl of their Super Crunchy Chips.

The steaks were juicy and the in-house basting that they use was delicious. Their different types of mash – spinach mash and mushroom mash – isn’t the best mash out there, but the added veggie does taste pretty good and put together with the steak makes for a winning combination. With steak the key is cooking it to how the customer ordered and in our case – they were cooked to perfection. The Super Crunchy Chips were indeed super crunchy, which is just the way that I like them. The Mushroom Pie was a special menu they had on the day and I loved the pastry that encased the mushrooms. As for the mushroom filling – I thought there could have been a bit more flavour.

When it came around to dessert time – we couldn’t look past The Grand Finale which consisted of : A Chocolate and Pistachio Fondant with vanilla bean ice cream, Caramel and Chocolate Tart, Vanilla Creme Brulee and White Chocolate Pannacotta with Berry Coulis. For the price of $29 and getting 4 desserts, as a pose to paying $10-$15 per dessert – The Grand Finale was well worth it! The dessert came out on a impressively long platter with the 4 desserts across it (as you can see in the picture above) and after a very filling meal of meat, meat and more meat – the size of these individual desserts were perfect. You don’t expect a restaurant that specialises in Steak to have desserts that are fantastic – but this is where The Meat and Wine Co impresses even more. I think you can judge a good dessert restaurant by its Brulee and this Brulee was really really good, as was the Pannacotta!

Overall, I would definitely be coming back here for more Steak and Meat, as well as for the yummy desserts! It is a little on the pricey side, however once you get your meals I am sure you will be impressed. The service we had was great as well and the staff were attentive and answered all my parents questions in a friendly and kind manner.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – A la carte Menu – can be found at http://themeatandwineco.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/a-la-carte-May-2012.pdf
Dietary Requirement / Allergy Menu – can be found at http://themeatandwineco.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Dietary-Requirement-Menu-May-2012.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual and Stylish – the upstairs area has a nice view overlooking the Yarra River and overlooks part of the city.
Standout Dish: Any of the Steaks and The Grand Finale
Service: Fantastic – Attentive and Friendly and willing to help out if you did want to modify the menu. If they couldn’t change things around they suggested other things.
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://themeatandwineco.com/locations/australia/victoria/southbank
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://themeatandwineco.com/locations/australia/victoria/southbank
3 Freshwater Place
Queensbridge Square,
Queensbridge Street, Southbank
Tel No: 9696 5333

Opening Hours:
Sunday to Thursday: 12 pm – 10pm
(Lunch and Dinner)

Friday and Saturday: 12pm – Late
(Lunch and Dinner)

Meat & Wine Co. on Urbanspoon