Serotonin Eatery – All About Happiness, Sunshine & Smiles =D

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Serotonin Menu Serotonin Menu 2 Serotonin Menu - Lunch & Kids Menu Serotonin Menu - Breakfast & Sides Serotnin Menu Drinks About Serotonin

I was looking at Instagram one night and came across a picture of a café that had swing seats – when I clicked through I was surprised to see that the cafe was located right here in Melbourne – Richmond to be specific. The place was called Serotonin Eatery.

With such an interesting name I was intrigued and clicked through to the website. I was greeted with a large banner that said The Science of Making you Happy! This was a café that was all about making you feel happy, being positive and sharing happiness with a smile. Their main vision is to be the world’s leading Happiness Educational Institution – what an awesome vision to have! I couldn’t wait to check out this place (and between you and me – the swing seats too!!) – so much so that I went there during my lunch break at work!

Serotonin is the brain child of Emily Hazell – and integrates both a nourishing Eatery together with an Exercise centre (located right next door). The idea is based around eating a plant-based diet to ensure the body, mind and earth all function at their best. Basically you can achieve health and happiness with little effort. Simple!

So what exactly is Serotonin? Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a large part in regulating your mood – it is also the chemical that is linked to a healthy appetite, digestion and sleep. Here at Serotonin Eatery – the idea is to deliver a high Serotonin menu that will improve people’s moods and literally put a smile on their dial – as well as providing a sanctuary to escape from our fast-paced lives!

Emily has enlisted the help of nutritionists, naturopaths, dieticians, food scientists and psychologists to get not only the menu just right but the feel, look and vibe of the venue. Serotonin sources produce locally from quality farmers and select organic where possible. The entire menu is created by in-house chef – Sean Muir – with each dish featuring produce in its most natural state and assisting in increasing the daily intake of fruits and vegetables of its customers. If the great tasting and healthy food wasn’t enough (Serotonin Eatery), you can get healthy in the form of exercise with an on-site personal trainer in the form of Hazell’s brother – Gus Arundel (Serotonin Exercise) as well as wellness education talks (Serotonin Education – you can book these sessions via the website) and regular events like cricket matches, hula classes, acro-yoga…and laughing classes!

Serotonin is located in Burnley – right across the road from Bicentennial Park and serves as the perfect location for a café like this!
The venue is decked out with wide windows allowing tonnes of natural light to filter through paired together with blonde wooden furniture and bright yellow cushions dotted across the yoga mat style seats and finished with hexagonal tiles – this is the link to serotonin’s chemical structure – smart right? This theme continues with the tableware – hexagonal etched plates, beakers and gold (how cool!!) cutlery.
There are three main seating areas (with seven different styles of seating!!) – the day bed style seating that greets you as you enter together with standalone tables and chairs in the front area together with some swing seating by the window, another seating area as you walk past the kitchen towards the back and finally the outdoor seating area – which has a combination of marble topped low tables and swing seats for the high tables which allows you to look into Bicentennial Park. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE SWING SEATS (sorry for the Caps – I just really love the idea!!).
Customers can also take their meals to the adjacent park – with their food being packed into a picnic basket.

There are seven dishes to choose from the Breakfast Menu which include the Burnley Big Breakfast, Twiced Baked Beans, Super Smash Avo, Nutrition Bomb (a rainbow bowl with poached egg, broccoli, wilted greens, house made hummus, cold roast veggies sprouts, nuts, powerkraut and pickles) and Positive Pancakes just to name a few. The Lunch menu has eight dishes to choose from including the Smiling Pizza, Hearty Lasagna and Blissful Open Burger. There is also a kids menu with 3 different variations – Pancake, Super Smash Avo and Vegemite Toast. There are a variety of drinks available – organic teas (which are locally made), specialty coffee (Coffee is from 5 Senses and Timboon Milk from The Schulz Organic Farm) and specialty lattes – my favourite! Specialty lattes include – Chai Latte, Matcha Latte, Cocoa Latte and Golden Latte (house made turmeric, ginger, cinnamon + black pepper on almond milk).

I couldn’t decide where I wanted to sit – and in the end decided to sit outside in the back where the sun was shining and I had a clear view of the swings. I couldn’t actually sit on the swing seat as I had my laptop with me and needed to do some work. The tables were marble and a cactus in a stone hexagonal shaped vase – simple yet beautiful. Water is served in a conical flask – further adding to the sciency theme of the venue, whilst staying cool and classy.
Whilst perusing the menu I ordered myself a Matcha Latte – Fine Organic Green Tea Powder spun with Timboon Milk. The Matcha Latte came out in a beautiful black ceramic cup with honey on the side. The Matcha was strong, rich and perfectly creamy thanks to the wonderful tasting milk. It was my first time drinking a Matcha Latte and I loved it!
It took me quite a while to decide which dish I wanted – I was tossing up between the Positive Pancakes, Happy Zucchini Linguine and Protein Pasta. I ended up going with the Happy Zucchini Linguine – Raw Zucchini Spirals, Red Pesto, Cherry Tomatoes, topped with Fresh Herbs.
The Happy Zucchini Linguine came out beautifully plated with cheery red sauce and fresh green herbs surrounding the zucchini linguine and topped with a bright yellow lemon wedge. I love that the linguine was actually made out of zucchini – such a brilliant idea to replicate linguine. The flavours worked well together and the additional of the lemon really enhanced these flavours. I loved the slight crunch that came from the linguine which added texture to the dish.

There are also Organic Desserts available such as Raw Balls (Coconut, Bee Pollen or Raw Cheesecake with Berry and MAtcha Layers), Fruit Slice, Cookies and a selection of difference cakes daily. On this day they didn’t have any of the Raw Cheesecake so I opted for the Carrot Cake. The Carrot Cake came out presented really well – the main cake in the middle with a scattering of nuts surrounding the cake. The cake itself was soft, moist and filled with plenty of nuts. The flavouring was good – but there was something missing – the cheesecake icing on top was delectable.

I went to Serotonin Eatery on a working break and it really did work for me – I got a lot of work done! And it really did make me feel a lot better – happier in fact! The staff are really friendly and willing to help in any way they can. Serotonin Eatery is all great food, improving your mood and creating a great experience for you. Check it out !

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to Menu above – Breakfast (All Day) and Lunch with a great selection of drinks – Specialty Lattes, Coffee, Tea, Bluice (Blended Juice), Juices
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun, Vibrant, Welcoming and Relaxed
Standout Dish: Happy Linguini –
Service: Fantastic, Friendly and Helpful.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.serotonindealer.com/
52 Madden Grove, Burnley
Tel No: 0421 233 150

Opening Hours:
Wednesday to Friday: 7am‒4pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am‒4pm
(Kitchen closes at 3pm)

Click to add a blog post for Serotonin Eatery on Zomato

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/serotonindealer
Instagram: serotonindealer
Twitter: @serotonindealer

Shizuku – Ramen & Ramen Burger Extravaganza!

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Page 1 Menu  Page 2 Menu  Page 3 Menu
Shizuku is located at the Abbotsford end of Victoria Street, and is a recently opened Japanese restaurant, nestled amongst a street that is known for its Vietnamese cuisine. Their main focus is on Ramen – which sits up there as one of my favourite foods – and I cannot wait to try out their offerings.

L & I arrived on a weekday night and were greeted by large heavy wooden doors – as you step inside you are greeted with a simple yet snazzy set up. There are lanterns hanging from the ceiling that remind you of flower blossoms that provide lighting for the whole restaurant. Your eyes are also drawn to the colourful bar counter which houses their variety of drink offerings as well as a tree branch that has been decked out with hanging clear baubles – I love this display, adds a touch of vintage chic to this otherwise modern looking venue. The tables are black and wooden; with seating able to cater mostly two’s and fours, however you have the option to join tables together for larger groups.

David Chen is the owner of Shizuku who was inspired to open his own Japanese restaurant after working as an assistant manager at Shoya Japanese Restaurant. Together with partner, Shinako Suzuki, his dreams were made into reality, with doors opening for Shizuku in July 2013.

We are shown to our table and handed a book of a menu – there is so much variety to choose from! Another touch I like are the water bottles at the table, which are re-used colourful alcohol bottles that have been finished – adding a pop of colour to the otherwise black surroundings.

The menu begins with ‘Zensai to Share’ which are Entrees – there is a HUGE (an I am not exaggerating when I bold and capitilise this) selection – think double columns of an A4 page! Reading down the list you will find yourself saying ‘yep I want to try this and I want to try that’ for every dish. Some Zensai include Lobster or Pork Sliders, Uni Sake Shots, Octopus Sashimi, Unagi Salad, Croquettes (Vegetarian or Crab Meat), Octopus Balls, Salt & Pepper Squid, Wasabi Prawns, Pickles, Kimchi, Spicy Bamboo and Edamame. Following the Zensai menu is the Gyoza section where you can choose from six different gyoza’s. Unfortunately for me none of the gyoza’s only had seafood or vegetables, but were pork filled and therefore I couldn’t try any

Next on the menu is the star of Shizuku – authentic Ramen. Head chef Ken Yoshida who has a wealth of experience and has worked in some of Japan’s renowned ramen shops is the man behind this traditional ramen – which has been prepared over 15 to 18 hours. There are thirteen different types of Ramen to choose – from the Tan Tan Men to the Spicy Miso Ramen to the Kimchi Ramen, and they even have a Vegetarian Ramen. All Ramen is made with no MSG and they try to locally source ingredients – even the miso soup is made by the chefs onsite.

What is definitely a game changer and what has critics raving is the Ramen Burger – created by chef Hiromi Hanzawa (previously Aka Siro and Pabu). The bun is made of tightly packed ramen noodles, that have been bound together with eggs and cooked on a flat top, with a lightly crunchy texture on the outside. The Ramen Burger comes in two different flavours – Candied Pork Belly with homemade plum and prune sauce, kewpie mayonnaise OR Miso Glazed Eggplant with sweet miso jam. These culinary creations hail from New York – where Ramen burgers are all the rage, but here at Shizuku they are the first and only Australian restaurant to replicate these delicious burgers. More on these later.

Whilst we were waiting for our dishes to be served we were given a White Radish, Wombok and Wombok with Carrot dish to prepare the palate. They were all unique in flavouring with a consistent vinegary taste through all of them. Quite tasty.

The first entrée we ordered was the Uni Spoon – Sea Urchin Sashimi, Cucumber, Wasabi Soy. Both L and I hadn’t had Sea Urchin before so were keen to see what type of flavour it had. The Uni Spoon (as the name specifies) comes served on a spoon, with a base of cucumber, topped with the sea urchin and drizzled with wasabi soy to finish.

I ordered the Lobster Slider – Lobster kewpie salad, pickled carrot and daikon, corn brioche bun – as I wanted to see their take on a Lobster slider. The serving of lobster was quite generous, but I think there was a bit too much of kewpie mayonnaise added which drowned out the natural lobster flavour. I did enjoy the combination of the pickled carrot and daikon with the sweetness of the lobster and kewpie.

My favourite dish of the day was the Shizuku Spring Rolls – Spring rolls stuffed with melted cheddar and edamame young soy beans. Just reading this dish on the menu set my creative juices flowing trying to envision what this dish would look like. The spring rolls were angularly cut to showcase the rich inside filling – which was the edamame soy beans enveloped in melted cheese. The combination was absolutely divine! The crunch of the outside combined with the soft billowy pea puffs and warm melted cheese was happiness in your mouth. Definitely one to try!

We also couldn’t leave Shizuku without trying their signature Ramen Burger – Ramen noodle patty “buns”,miso glazed eggplant. The bun is made with ramen noodles bound together with eggs and cooked with a slight crunch on the top exterior layer – leading into a softer noodle layers for the rest of the “bun.” The filling was made of soft, delicious eggplant that was beautifully complimented by the miso jam. There were also salad leaves, coriander and onions added. Every bite you take of the ramen burger was delightfully filled with an explosion of juicy flavours – the burger was not greasy at all which further added to the ramen burger love. Yet another dish to try out – you have to experience it to understand the feeling!

It was time for our main dishes – Ramen! L ordered the Tan Tan Men – Free range pork mince, egg, chilli oil, preserved vegetables, rich sesame flavoured broth – which is the Chef’s Signature Ramen as well as their best seller. L really enjoyed her ramen and almost finished her entire generous serving!

I initially wanted the Spicy Miso Ramen – however as that was made with a pork and miso based broth I couldn’t, instead the helpful waiter told me to order the Vegetarian Ramen – Mix vegetables with miso sauce flavoured broth – with an added spicy chilli spoon to give it that spice and kick. The Ramen was quite tasty – the broth was thick, flavoursome and quite wholesome yet light at the same time – just the way that I like it. The vegetables added were fresh and still had a bit of crunch to it, which I think makes a dish better. The noodles were cooked perfectly which further added to the great quality of the ramen produced.

We were both really full, however we did need something sweet to complete our palate sensations. There are five desserts to choose from which include Almond Tofu, Espresso Pudding, Green Tea ice Cream, Black Sesame Ice Cream and Miso Caramel Ice Cream.

L ordered the Green Tea Ice Cream and I ordered the Pannacotta (which was a special for the day) which came served with Blueberries. Both desserts rated quite highly on our palates and were just the ending we needed to a great meal.

Shizuku offers delicious food at an affordable price in a relaxed, welcoming ambiance together with friendly service. Next time you are considering suitable dining options with a homely touch check out Shizuku – it really is a welcome addition to Victoria Street.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above or have a look at the Takeaway menu at http://shizuku.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed, Warm and Welcoming
Standout Dish: Shizuku Spring Rolls – Spring rolls stuffed with melted cheddar and edamame young soy beans and Ramen Burger
Service: Friendly, Warm and Happy to help out with any queries or questions
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://shizuku.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://shizuku.com.au/
309 Victoria St, Abbotsford
Tel No: 9995 8180

Opening Hours:
Lunch
Monday to Sunday: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Dinner
Monday to Sunday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Shizuku Ramen on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shizukujapanese
Instagram: shizukuramen
Twitter: @ShizukuJapanese

Pana Chocolate – Raw, Healthy, Handmade & Guilt-free!

panda 5 rating

Pana Chocolate was founded by Pana Barbounis – who is passionate about raw and slow-cooked food – and following on from the success of his 45 gram raw, vegan chocolate bars has opened his first standalone raw-dessert shop.

Pana Chocolate is a wonderful addition to the Church Street, Richmond area and serves up healthy handmade raw, delicious tasting and looking desserts, as well interestingly flavoured chocolate bars. Pana Chocolate uses natural, vegan and organic ingredients like cacao, nuts, coconut and 100% pure essential oils to create wonderful and unique flavour combinations – which include Fig + Wild Orange, Sour Cherry + Vanilla, Rose and Mint just to name a few.

Prepare to be overwhelmed with the number of selections here which leaves you wanting to try out one of each. As mentioned before no desserts are made or sweetened with sugar but are all natural and made from plant-based, organic ingredients sourced from all around the world. Cacao beans come from the Amazon, Coconut Oil has been cold pressed in the Philippines,  Dark Agave Nectar comes from Mexico, Cinnamon is organic and certified from Sri Lanka (where I am from!!), Cacao Butter is organic, cold pressed and fair trade from Peru and organic carob comes from Spain.

The space is simple and clean – with most of its offerings for takeaway patrons – however if you did want to eat in there is a row of seats available by the window looking out onto Church street. I love the décor of Pana Chocolate – there is an entire wall that is covered with clipboards that have cute, inspirational quotes and sayings on them. This adds color, brightness and wow factor in such an easy and simple manner. Such an awesome idea – Love it!

There are 10 different types of chocolate bars to choose from– Eighty (80 % Cacao), Raw Cacao, Orange, Coconut + Goji, Fig + Wild Orange, Rose, Sour Cherry +Vanilla, Cinnamon, Nuts and Mint. All chocolates are low in GI, have no dairy or soy, are Gluten Free and are handmade. In fact they are all handmade in a small scale kitchen located at the back of the shop. A major difference with these chocolates is that you can envision and see the love and care that has been placed into each bar of chocolate or dessert for that matter – down to the packaging and wrapping of each individual piece – it has been done by hand and provides a human connection.

I have tried the Sour Cherry + Vanilla, as well as the Fig + Wild Orange flavours. Between those two the Sour Cherry + Vanilla would have to be my favourite – the chocolate is smooth, silky and not overly rich and literally melts in your mouth – with the sour cherry adding a great tangy sensation that glides over your tastebuds. The Fig + Wild Orange was also great – the combination works brilliantly together and if you are into the citrus flavours this would be one for you to try.

The piece of resistance at Pana Chocolate is the cabinet of goodies. The first row is full of their raw cheesecake / desserts of the day which are in a slice format, that can range from Raspberry Ripe (their version of a Cherry Ripe), Chocolate Strawberry & Rose, Spiced Apple, Blueberry & Ganache, Banana & Chocolate – these range from $6.50 to $8.50.
Their second row has smaller bite sized treats such as Lamingtons, Lemon Slice (this is new!), Pana Pop (more on this later), Brownie, Vespa Wheel (their version of a Wagon Wheel – complete with a buckwheat wafer biscuit and a soft coconut marshmallow centre encased in a gooey raspberry chia jam and dipped in cacao) and Fudge just to name a few – these range from $3.50 to $5.50.
The third row is full of individual raw chocolates like hazelnut mousse, coconut barrels and truffles – in flavours such as Coconut & Mint Cream, Rose & Pistachio, Hazelnut Praline, Sneakers (yep spelt like this), Lavender & Macqui, Mango & Salted Caramel and Coconut Barrel – there are more flavours in store!
At the very bottom of the cabinet are their chocolate bars in all the 10 flavours mentioned above for sale ($6.50).
There are also other healthy goodies for sale – from coconut water, coconut + cacao balls to their very own hot chocolate sealed with the pana heart of approval.

After marvelling at the cabinet of goodies and spending a good 5 minutes oohing and aahing I decided to ask the friendly staff member of what she thought would be good try out and settled on the Pana Pop as well as the Fresh Mint & Raspberry slice.

The Pana Pop – was a white chocolate cheesecake with a berry centre coated in delicious cacao – represented a mini Magnum. From the very first bite you could tell this would be a memorable treat – the soft textured coating coupled with the creamy white chocolate cheesecake and zing from the berries worked perfectly together. You could almost eat the entire Pana Pop in one mouthful – but I would advise against this and instead treasure every mouthful; or you could just order another Pana Pop!

The Fresh Mint & Raspberry slice was another winner. There were three distinct layers – the bottom layer being a combination of cashew and brazil nuts, the centre layer being the mint and the top layer representing raspberry. The consistency of all layers was dense yet smooth – with the perfect level of sweetness across all three layers. I couldn’t really taste the mint flavour that strongly – although the strip of green at the very top held quite the minty flavour. I love the use of the fresh raspberries through the raspberry layer which not only added texture but extra flavour. The base was wholesome and added further texture and flavour bringing the whole slice together.

I enjoyed my time thoroughly at Pana Chocolate – I actually perched myself in a corner seat by the window and enjoyed these treats whilst working away on my laptop. On my way out I ordered a lamington to take away (as I had been told by a friend that these were simply superb!) which was packed away in a takeaway bag and sealed with a massive heart sticker – the Pana symbol – which I thought was really cute.

Whether you are into healthy eating, have certain dietary requirements or not – Pana Chocolate is definitely a place to check out. It produces great tasting chocolate that have been lovingly prepared using quality ingredients for anyone and everyone to enjoy.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – The dessert menu changes daily but no doubt whatever dessert treat you get it will be delicious!
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Simple, Cosy and Enticing
Standout Dish: Pana Pop
Service: Very very friendly and helpful (especially when you are overwhelmed with choice and don’t know what you want)
Restaurant Details and Location:
panachocolate.com
491 Church St, Richmond

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am – 4:00pm

Pana Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/panachocolate
Twitter: @pana_chocolate
Instgram:pana_chocolate

LadyBoy Dining – Cheeky Fun!

panda 4 rating

 

Menu:
Menu at LadyBoy Dining

With a name like Ladyboy Dining you are sure to strike up an interest – adding some curiosity, fun, spice and playfulness to the Richmond area. Ladyboy Dining is created by co-owners Fran Leaper and chef Mitch Townrow (Longrain) who are joined together with chef Pez Bowman (Melbourne Pub Group).

As you step inside you will feel like you have been transported to Bangkok, Thailand. The colourful, cheeky fit out has been done in collaboration with Ingrain Designs. A huge colourful sign with the word SAWASDEE (a greeting to mean welcome/hello) greets you together with a large striking street art ladyboy face. Next to it is a large bright yellow sign – LADYBOY – which hangs above the bar and overlooks the entire dining room. What I love is the installation of multi coloured wastepaper baskets that have been flipped to create light shades that drape loosely from the roof across the front dining area. At the end of the bar is a slightly smaller neon blue sign – ROCK OUT WITH YOUR WOK OUT – and below that is an open kitchen where you can watch as the chefs prepare your meals.

As you walk down the small walkway from the main dining area towards the back of the venue – more seating is available with a funky abstract artwork of an elephant. This leads to the back where there is a large area for the Buddha Bar complete with colourful umbrellas on the ceiling, awesome cane furniture (round, curved seating) and fake grass outside – to keep with the Thai relaxed theme. Here there is also fancy artwork of a large Buddha head on one and neon signage with the words BUDDHA BAR on the opposite side under which the wooden bar sits. The expansive courtyard will no doubt be a hit in the summer. Here you can enjoy the hawker style bar menu which includes oysters and green nahm jim, chicken wings and a selection of banh mi – all for $8, as well as salt & pepper tofu and pork hock with rum glaze. There are cheekily named drinks on their menu for offer such as Adam’s Apple and Trans-gin-der, as well as cocktail buckets and a good selection of beers and wine to try out.

The menu starts off with Smaller Bites such as Betel Leaf, Oysters + Nahm Jim and Son In Law Eggs – progressing to Smaller dishes where you will find Ceviche, Larb, Papaya Salad, Pork Hock and Salt & Pepper Tofu. This is then followed up with your larger dishes that include a selection of Curries (Red Duck or Tofu Curry, Green Fish Curry, Angus Brisket Penang Curry), Whole Fish, Pad Thai and Grilled Salad. There are a handful of sides to choose from which include Rice, Stir Fried Green, Chilli + Prawn + Smoked Coconut Samabl and Cucumber + Krachai + Mustard Green Relish. The menu ends with a selection of Sweet LadyBoy Treats – where coconut features mainly – with desserts such as Coconut Sorbet, Kaffir Lime Pie + Coconut Meringue, Sago + Palm Sugar + Coconut and White Sticky Rice + Ice Cream + Thai Fruits.

There is also an option to enjoy the LadyBoy’s Banquet ($45) which will give you the kitchen’s daily selection. This will require a minimum of 2 people, and if you have a table then the whole table must go on this banquet.

There were four of us at dinner and we ordered the Betel Leaf + Char Grilled Calamari + Green Mango + Peanut each to start. Served on a betel leaf – the dish comes out with striking colours thanks to the chilli, coriander and peanuts. You eat the entire dish as is – betel leaf and all – and as you crunch into the first bite your tastebuds will soar just like fireworks. A combination of spice, tang and the softness of the fresh grilled calamari is breathtaking. A great way to start off your food experience at LadyBoy.

From the smaller dishes we ordered Salt & Pepper Silken Tofu + Chilli Jam and Crispy Pork Hock + Rum Glaze. The Salt & Pepper Tofu was crispy and crunchy on the outside whilst being soft and billowy on the inside. The Chilli Jam that accompanied this dish was just the right consistency and had a great balance of flavours – spice and tang.
The two guys really enjoyed the Pork Hock + Rum Glaze – so much so that they wanted to order another serving of the dish. Clearly a mighty delicious tasting dish.

We also ordered the Green Papaya Salad + Snake Bean + Peanuts from the smaller dishes. Think slivers of green papaya mixed with freshly cut snake beans and tomatoes topped with peanuts and drizzled in spicy and tangy sauce. This dish is refreshing and sure does pack a punch; I also loved the mixture of textures that you get as you delve into it. The addition of coriander adds further depth and flavouring to the dish.

From the larger dishes we ordered three dishes – Green Fish Curry + Apple Eggplant + Pea Eggplant,Dry Red Duck Curry + Snake Beans + Baby Corn and Pad Thai + Salted Calamari + Peanut.
The Green Fish Curry + Apple Eggplant + Pea Eggplant. The dish comes with a generous amount of fish pieces and has just the right amount of coconut to flavour the curry. I have never eaten pea or apple eggplant before – pea eggplants is a very small eggplant and as the name suggests; resembles a pea. They were cooked whole and pop in your mouth when you bite them which release a burst of bitterness that combines nicely with the rich heat of the curry. A great dish.
The duck curry was served dry and looked delicious when it was placed on the table – the vibrant colours of the red duck against the bright yellow of the sweet corn and green from the basil and bean was breathtaking. This was another dish that the table enjoyed.
The Pad Thai was another well cooked and flavoured dish – served with a wedge of lime for extra tang if needed. The serving as with all the other dishes was quite generous.

Dessert was definitely on the cards – out of the four desserts to choose from – I decided to order the Sago + Palm Sugar + Coconut and N ordered the Kaffir Lime Pie + Coconut Meringue.
The Sago comes out served in a blue and white bowl – topped with star fruit and coconut flakes. I love anything with sago so thoroughly enjoyed this dessert. The coconut flakes added a crunch together with the star fruit adding citrusy and lime flavours.
I also had a chance to try out the Kaffir Lime Pie + Coconut Meringue. I am usually not a fan of lemon meringues or key lime pies, but this version was absolutely delicious and had to be my favourite dessert of the night. The coconut meringue was generously placed and flamed to perfection on top of the kaffir lime infused pie and topped with crunchy coconut flakes. The kaffir lime was the star of the dish and together with the combination of the coconut meringue was divine. A definite must try dish that I know anyone would enjoy.

The service at LadyBoy Dining is great – friendly and the staff are knowledgeable and well informed about each dish. LadyBoy is mostly for walk-ins but they do take banquet bookings in the dining area for a group of eight or more. On Sundays they serve Thai style roasts from 5pm onwards. LadyBoy Dining serves up delicious tasting Thai food with a difference – added cheek and fun! Summer days will definitely see this place packed out – especially at the Buddha Bar out the back. Get down and check out LadyBoy Dining now.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above or http://www.ladyboydining.com.au/#!dining/galleryPage
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Fun, Lively and Memorable. Such a colouful and fun-filled place to hang out and have a great night out with friends and family
Standout Dish: Salt & Pepper Silken Tofu + Chilli Jam AND Kaffir Lime Pie + Coconut Meringue
Service: Fantastic  – Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No, however you can book for 8 or more people.
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.ladyboydining.com.au/
394 Bridge Road, Richmond
Tel No: 9421 3206

Opening Hours:
Monday & Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday & Thursday: 6:00pm to Late
Friday – Sunday: 5:00pm to Late

LadyBoy Dining + Bar on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ladyboydiningInstagram: ladyboydining
Twitter: @LadyBoyDining

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

Kong BBQ – Worth All The Hype!

panda 4 rating

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There was so much hype surrounding the opening of Kong in Richmond, especially after the trial run of some of the food you could eat at the Rue & Co branch. The branding is all about the Pandas – and as per my blog name – anything to do with Pandas and I am in! A bunch of us (there were 6 of us) decided to try it out on a Tuesday night and aimed to get there around 6pm. I had heard about the long queues – with the wait time being over an hour! Kong doesn’t take bookings, however if you arrive at the restaurant you can put your name down for a table and they will contact you when a table comes up.

Kong is the latest addition to The Lucas Group. Chris Lucas has brought us the likes of Chin Chin (Melbourne CBD) and Baby (Richmond – and just up the road from where Kong is located). Kong is located on the site of what was once Pearl, and Eades & Bergman have been brought in to help with this transformation. Kong seats 60 people – with a mixture of single low tables, long communal tables and seating all around the bar / kitchen, as well as in the corridor as you walk into the restaurant. These seats give you a vantage point to see your dishes being prepared. The tables are blonde wood, the look industrial mixed together with an anime vibe thanks to the array of pandas around the venue. There are the signature neon signs (these can be found in all their other venues) as well as a film being projected. During the day you can imagine fresh sunlight streaming in from its floor to ceiling windows which surround the restaurant this corner site restaurant.

The Executive Chef here is Benjamin Cooper together with Dan Briggs and all the chefs here at Kong wear red baseball caps which have three letter slogans on them – either KIM, CHI or BBQ – a nice touch that further adds character to Kong.
The idea behind Kong is to combine barbeque pit cooking techniques with Japanese and Korean flavours. The focus is on seafood and meat being cooked on either an open-flamed charcoal grill or in a smoke oven. If you get seating around the kitchen you can experience the smoke rising from the pit ovens which is a visual spectacle that will have your taste buds dancing being tantalized in anticipation of the meats/seafood to come. It is also good to note that Kong uses only chemical free charcoal and sustainable Australian Hard-Wood.

The menu is split into 8 different sections – Small, Ssam Roti-Roll, Buns, Wings, Natural Fire, Ribs, Rice & Green and Desserts. Small dishes include Wood Grilled Scallops, Trio of Kimchi & Pickles, Beef Tartare and Nasu Miso just to name a few. The Ssam Roti-Roll have fillings such as Teriyaki Roast Ora King Salmon, BBQ Chicken, Grilled Miso Marinated Tofu and Pulled Pork. Smoked Brisket, Spicy Pork Belly, Soft Shell Crab and Peanut Butter Salt & Pepper Tofu are the options you have to choose from in the Bun Section. There are four variations of Wings that you can order from – Honey, Garlic & Sesame Korean Wings, Hot Wings with Gochujang and Chipotle, Soy Wings or Peanut Butter Wings.
Natural Fire are from the BBQ Pit and cover most seafood and meat options. There is also a Kong Bossam BBQ Tray – Chicken, Pork, Pork Belly and Beef Brisket served with Lettuce, Pickles, Kimchi and Walnut Ssamjang – at a bargain price of $28 a tray. Rice & Greens include two different types of Fried Rice, Dukkbokki Rice Cakes, Spicy Cabbage Slaw, Wood Roasted Pumpkin etc. Desserts have a smaller selection – only 4 to choose from but they all sound quite delicious so the number doesn’t really matter.

I arrived before the other girls around 6:15pm and as there were going to be six of us (as everyone had to be there before we could have a table), I put my name down on the list and the wait even at that time was going to be around 45mins. Since I had been fasting all day I wanted to order something small whilst I was waiting for the others to arrive. I was seated along the wall on the high benches and decided on the BBQ Corn with Chilli Salt and Miso Butter. It wans’t just because I was really hungry but this corn was deliciously amazing! The corn had been bbq’d perfectly and emit just the right amount of smoky flavours. The corn itself was juicy and “crunchy” and the combination of the miso butter and chilli salt was the icing on the corn so to speak – it added an additional salty and spicy hit to combine with the sweetness of the corn.

Whilst waiting for the girls to arrive and for our table to be ready we were able to order drinks – I ordered the Lychee & Grapefruit Crush with Coconut Water. This drink came out in a glass jar topped with ice and pieces of fresh grapefruit and was not only thirst quenching but refreshing as well. I had to stop myself from drinking it all in one sip!

Once we were seated we had the mammoth task of deciding what dishes we wanted to order. We had a mix of vegetarians and a pescatarian (me!), as well as people that could eat everything. We picked dishes that we would work to cater to everyones needs and asked our friendly waiter if the amount of food we ordered was enough. He was happy to assist and told us that if we wanted anymore dishes we could just order as we went.

We started off with the Wood Grilled Edamame with Chilli and Sea Salt. The Edamame was fresh and had somewhat of a smoky flavour coming from the wood grill with a hint of spice. A tasty dish.

Next up we ordered the famous Ssam Roti Rolls – we got a serving each to suit the three categories of requirements – Ssam Roti Roll – BBQ Chicken with Lemon, Gochujang and KimChi, Ssam Roti Roll – Grilled Miso Marinated Tofu with Pickled Cabbage and Kewpie Mayo and Ssam Roti Roll – Teriyaki Roast Ora King Salmon, Wok Fried Broccoli and Tomato.
I tasted the Ssam Roti Roll with the Roast Ora King Salmon which was superb! The roti on the outside was divine – thin, crispy and buttery – the perfect casing. The filling was rich and full of flavours with the broccoli, tomato and the spicy, creamy sauce working seamlessly with the perfectly cooked salmon. I would definitely recommend this dish. I did also sample the Ssam Roti Toll with Tofu which was another flavoursome dish, but my pick would definitely be for the King Salmon.

Some of the other girls ordered the Wings – Korean Fried Wings with Honey, Garlic and Sesame, however upon eating this they found the chicken overly sweet and couldn’t eat the dish. They knew the dish would have a sweet tone to it – after all it did contain honey; however they weren’t expecting the sweetness to be so overpowering. They mentioned this to our waiter who was happy to replace the wings with another serving in a different flavour. They then ordered the Wings – Hot Wings with Gochujang and Chipotle. They really enjoyed this dish which had a real kick of spice and a peppery taste.

I also ordered a serving of the Soft Shell Crab with Salted Duck Egg Relish and Coriander. The bao bun was soft and as you bit into it felt like you were eating clouds. This combined with the crunch of the crab paired with the amazing creamy duck egg relish was a match made in heaven! The coriander added freshness to the whole dish. You could just keep eating these buns and not get sick of them.

A few of the girls ordered the Wood Grilled Scallops with Tobanjan and Mirin Pickled Radish – which comes served in a shell and topped with micro herbs and radish. They loved the flavours and really enjoyed the scallops – which were cooked to the right consistency.

We ordered the Dukkbokki Rice Cakes with Red Chilli, Gochujang and Roasted Parsnip which was quite the colourful dish when it came out. Amid a dark blue backdrop of the dish – the rice cakes were a vibrant burnt orange colour peppered with greens and reds. I have never seen rice cakes in this form before and was intrigued to see how it tasted. The cakes were rectangular in shape and were soft to eat – with the dish having a sweet and sour flavour to it. I loved the addition of the veggies and the chilli which worked well with the texture and flavouring of the dish as a whole.

We couldn’t leave Kong without trying something from the Natural Fire section and ordered the Wood Roasted Salmon with Crispy Skin, Seaweed Salad and KimChi. The dish was beautifully presented with the Crispy Skin standing tall next to the Roasted Salmon. Instead of the seaweed salad we had a broccoli salad mix – which I found to be quite fresh and tasty. The wood roasted Salmon was another good dish – the smoky flavours immersed with the natural flavours of the salmon.

We were all keen to try the Kimchi at Kong – after all Kimchi is a signature Korean dish! And the fact that Kong has signs relating to this dish – “It’s not ordinary cabbage, it’s fermented cabbage” almost egged us on to try the dish out. The Kimchi was spicy, tangy and flavoursome and went above and beyond all of our expectations. Yum!

The last dish that we ordered was the Fried Rice with Spicy Enoki Mushroom and Soy Charred Tofu. I was surprised to see pumpkin seeds on top when it came out. The dish was fresh, spicy and delicious. I loved the combination of tofu and mushrooms in the rice.

The dessert offerings when compared with the rest of the menu are minimal but the quality and taste that they come in make up for this fact. We ordered the Coconut Sago with Passionfruit and Pineapple Trifle and the Apple and Walnut Tart with Miso Butterscotch and Japanese Whisky Ice Cream. Both dishes are impeccably presented with flavours to match.

The Trifle comes served in a clear glass – showcasing the many layers of the trifle. The trick with these desserts is to get a taste of each layer in one mouthful. The finely cut pieces of pineapple makes up the base layer, with the passionfruit compote with passionfruit seeds being the next layer, and finished with the coconut sago. This dessert was a light and refreshing dessert packed with fruity flavours and textures. A definite fave of mine.

The girls enjoyed the apple and walnut tart – which came out presented with a large ball of Japanese Whisky Ice Cream on placed on top amidst the array of walnuts. They said there was only a slight taste to the whisky ice cream but was delicious nonetheless. The pastry that encased the tender apples was buttery and soft, with the added crunch of the walnut crumble. There was a sweet caramel taste mixed with the creaminess of the ice cream.

What needs to be mentioned is the staffing – they are friendly and helpful and despite the lines going out the door they do not come across as flustered at all. They keep an calm demeanour and go above and beyond expectations to make you feel at home even if you are waiting upwards of an hour. Another reason why this place is doing so well.

Kong is brilliant addition to the wonderful world of dining that exists in Melbourne – with offerings of an interesting menu complete with fresh flavours, smoky excitement and spiciness. Meat lovers will adore this place (especially the BBQ Tray) but really anyone will love it. What’s not to love about a friendly and warm welcome, together with cute pandas, a great fit-out and an enthusiastic vibe?

NOTE: Kong now offers Takeaway – which can be ordered online for pickup.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to Picture above. You can find the Takeaway menu at http://www.kongbbq.com.au/takeaway which will give you an idea of what the main menu has to offer.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Vibrant and Fun-Filled. Great for a catchup with friends and family.
Standout Dish: Bun – Soft Shell Crab with Salted Duck Egg Relish and Coriander, Ssam Roti Roll – Teriyaki Roast Ora King Salmon, Wok Fried Broccoli and Tomato
Service: Fantastic – really friendly and helpful! They really do well for a place that is packed to brim majority of the time.
Online Booking: No – Kong is a walk-in only restaurant.
Restaurant Details and Location:
kongbbq.com.au
599 Church St, Richmond
Tel No: 9427 1307

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 11am – Late

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kongbbq
Twitter: @kongbbq
Instagram: kongbbq

Kong BBQ on Urbanspoon

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

Touchwood – Great Place for Good Food and Relaxation

panda 3.5 rating



Touchwood is collaborative effort from the partners – Matt Vero and Steve Rowley  – behind Coin Laundry (Armadale), Station Street Trading Co (Port Melbourne), Tall Timber (Prahran), Pillar of Salt (Richmond) and Barry (Northcote).  They have enlisted Tristan White (ex-Ladro and Red Door) to look after the food side of things. Touchwood serves coffee from 5 Senses and is served from the custom made Synesso Hydra coffee machine.

Touchwood is located at Bridge road in Richmond (quite close to its sister café Pillar of Salt). It is located in an old recycled timber furniture store and takes on a MASSIVE SPACE – it can seat 120 people. There are large glass windows at the front which let lots of light and air into the venue, this entrance opens out into the main dining area. As you keep walking through the brick archway there is a back room with more seating and then finally outside at the back, there is a bright, sunny and open courtyard which seats 40.

The whole look and feel of the place – which kind of pays tribute to its former life – is wooden yet clean, casual and warm. There are concrete floors with white washed brick walls, planter boxes and hanging plants and finished with wooden tables and chairs. There are short tables as well as higher tables – take your pick of where you want to sit. The feature is of course a crate styled counter-top which houses the coffee machine as well as the sweet bites and takeaway savoury bites.

The menu consists of the breakfast favourites with the addition of components to creatively change the dish. There is a morning grain salad, as well as a tequila and citrus cured salmon dish, as well as the breakkie board which is featured from Tall Timber. If you are really hungry there is always the Touchwood Massive – which features just about everything including a lamb chop! A highlight on the menu is the much talked about peanut butter and jelly wholemeal waffles complete with peanut butter ricotta and brittle.
The lunch menu is just as enticing with things like Brioche Wagyu burgers, pulled pork tacos and toasted Po’ boys as well as a Mexican inspired salad. There are also two fresh juice combos to choose from – one with kale, celery, cucumber, apple, lime and parsley and the other with watermelon and mint.

I order a latte while I wait for L to arrive. The latte was smooth and creamy and a great start to this rainy day. There are many coffee options available such as cold drip and pour over. I wasn’t quite sure what to order to eat – I was tossing up between the Avocado toast, the omelette with shaved asparagus and goats cheese or the morning grain salad. I ended up getting the Avocado toast – with Beetroot Relish, Burnt Lime, Pickled Red Onion, Coriander, Mixed Seeds, Sumac Salt and I added a poached egg.

The dish came out and was quite colourful thanks to the black background of the plate, together with the bright pink/purples of the onion and beetroot, the green colouring from the avocado and coriander and the yellow from the burnt lime. I really enjoyed the addition of the beetroot relish together with the coriander as additional components to a normal avocado dish – I thought that they worked really well together. Even though I am not a fan of pickled onions, I did try some with all the other elements and it went quite well with the dish, you almost don’t realise that it was once an onion. The dish overall was a really well thought out dish and was quite filling as well.

The atmosphere at Touchwood is quite relaxed and chilled, and you can see yourself losing track of time. There is warm and inviting feel to the place thanks to the openness and the lighting. Add to this great coffee and some really delicious food combinations and you really do have a winner. Have to come back and try the peanut butter waffles!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – View the menu at http://touchwoodcafe.com/Touchwood_Menu_06.pdf – Breakfast, Lunch and Drinks
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Elegant and Chic. Has a relaxed feel thanks to vast openess, lighting and feel of the venue. The courtyard out the back is perfect on a sunny day!
Standout Dish: Avacado Toast with Beetroot Relish, Burnt Lime, Pickled Onions, Mixed Seeds, Sumac Salt with a Poached Egg (extra)
Service: Friendly and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://touchwoodcafe.com/
480 Bridge Road, Richmond
Tel No: 9429 9347

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saurdayt to Sunday: 7:30 am – 4:30 pm

Touchwood on Urbanspoon

Little Big Sugar Salt – Best Menu!

panda 4 rating

Menu:
LBSS Menu   LBSS Menu2

Little Big Sugar Salt (or LBSS) is the first venture from Charl Laubscher, Erika Geraerts, Morgan Green and Adam Houston and is a cute and cosy café located in the hustle and bustle of Victoria Street in Richmond. Only one of the five people have hospitality experience with the others being a copywriter, designer, builder and carpenter but what they have created here at LBSS is fantastic. The idea behind LBSS is to do a few items but to do them really well and this is premise behind their well thought out menu.

LBSS is located in the heart of Vietnamese town yet brings an entirely different vibe to the area. The old façade remains untouched and the inside reminds you of your own house with a cosy feel to it. As you walk into the front room area where the coffee machine and kitchen hidden neatly behind the counter are situated, you then walk through the hallway of unpolished floorboards to 2 separate dining rooms – the first with a tall communal table and the second with low tables and seating. The feel is rustic and hipster with timber and steel tables fitted out with some funky art work and blue neon splashes.

The menu is created by Clint Gresham and is very interestingly delivered. The menu is split into 4 quadrants – little, big, sweet (sugar) or savoury (salt) – as per the name of the place. There are also interesting little quotes placed all around the menu such as “Our kitchen is small, but our chef is clever.” The menu is very clever indeed – as it makes it easier yet almost confusing for the diner to decide what they want to order. In essence they need to decide if they want sweet or savoury, and then whether they want a little or big dish. It really is different and a real talking point of LBSS by taking the choices that is usually found in most cafes.  Even thought there are only 10 main dishes – the flavours, ingredients are combined together to create dishes that will appeal to anyone. In addition to the menu dishes there are delicious sandwiches to choose from as well as a breakfast board called “All the Things” – which consists of terrine, smoked salmon, egg, beetroot and dukkah.

The coffee is from En Zed  coffee house from Wellington and has Angus Gibbs at the helm. I ordered a latte and it was creamy, nutty and smooth – just what you need as your first hit for the morning. The tea menu or HomieT as they call it here at LBSS has interestingly named teas – such as C Lo Green (Green Tea), Wulong (Oolong Tea), Lemonem (Lemon Tea), Minty J Blige (Peppermint) – you get the idea. Have a look at the menu above for the other rapper turned tea names. There are also sodas that can be made freshly just for you with 7 flavours to choose from – such as Cherry and Pomegranate, Saspirilla, Vanilla Cream and Raspberry – all of which come from Six Barrel Soda and are all handmade and natural.

When it came to deciding what food I wanted – I knew that I wanted something Big so that immediately got rid of two quadrants. Then I was left with the Sugar or Salt quadrants – it was a tough decision to make as I was open to either and reading the dishes they all sounded tempting! I settled for the Salt dish – French River Pig.  The River Pig consisted of Hot Smoked Salmon, Pea pesto, Soft boiled Egg, asparagus and Holli on a baguette. The dish comes out beautifully presented on a Japanese style plate with the baguette at the base and the rest of the ingredients placed around. The smoked salmon  was smoked to perfection and there was a generous serving of it. The combination of the pea and asparagus with the soft boiled egg was the perfect addition. The asparagus was cut up into pieces instead of placed whole which I also liked.

LBSS is a great addition to Richmond – great food in a cosy place, and the menu concept is both tongue in cheek and such a great concept. The very back room is great to just chill – even on your own – and there are funky tunes playing as well. I’m excited to see what other dishes they put up in their quadrants and will definitely be back to try out more of their dishes!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Select your food from 4 quadrants – Little, Big, Sugar or Salt – refer to the menu picture above or look at http://www.lbsscafe.com/#menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy and Relaxing – Great for a casual catch-up or even to hang out and do work on your own
Standout Dish: French River Pig – Le hot-smoked salmon, pea pesto, asparagus, fresh chives, scram and lemon holli
Service: Friendly and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.lbsscafe.com
Corner Victoria & Lithgow Streets, Richmond
Tel No: 9427 8818

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 6:30 am – 3:00 pm
Saturday to Sunday: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

Little Big Sugar Salt - LBSS Cafe on Urbanspoon

Giddiup – Jump on for the Ride

panda-3-5-rating2

Menu:
Giddiup Menu 1 Giddiup Menu 2 Giddiup Menu 3 Giddiup Menu 4

Giddiup is the latest venture from the crew behind Richmond’s Amsterdam Street cafe. It is located in hustle and bustle around South Melbourne Market, on Coventry Street. It located on the corner of Francis Street and takes up a rectangular space which has floor to ceiling windows. Inside the look is sleek, minimalistic and modern completed with black coffee bar and wooden benches. Further inside, there is the ingenious idea of tables made of two crates being piled on each other and a wooden top placed on it. There is seating available outside as well along Coventry street, where you can sit and enjoy the sunshine underneath the umbrellas and watch passers by.

Giddiup offers a selection of ready-made sandwiches and pastries which can be bought at the counter, as well as having a sit down menu.

There were four of us on this busy Saturday morning – it was around 11am and we had to wait about 5-10 mintues for a table. We were seated outside and whilst deciding on what we wanted to eat we ordered our coffees. The coffees did take some time to arrive and when they came out G actually ordered a flat white but got a latte instead. I ordered a latte as well and aside from that stuff up – the coffee was delicious and creamy and enjoyable. Coffee at Giddiup is from Single Origin Roasters in Sydney.

I ordered from the Specials menu – there were 5 different specials to choose from – and got the Mushies & Salsa Verde. G got the Baked eggs – Sausage & eggs, B got the Croque Giddiup (Monsieur) and J got Fruit Toast. The dishes all came out together, however one of the waitresses wasn’t sure what dish she had in her hand and called the Croque Monsieur the Croqumebouche which was slightly confusing. All the dishes came out and were presented nicely. My dish had butter roasted mushrooms with salsa verde, feta and two poached eggs on toasted cape seed loaf.The eggs were poached perfectly and the mushrooms were fresh and flavoursome. I would have liked a bit more salsa verde on my dish but overall it was a super yummy dish. The others enjoyed their meals as well. The Baked Eggs I must say looked the best out of all the dishes we got. The chorizo looked vibrant and seemed to be cooked just right. G did enjoy them.

As we were hanging around for a while longer, once I had topped up my parking I decided to have something sweet – I was tossing up between the Choc Macademia Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and the Diplomat Pudding (which is a sort of bread and butter pudding but better) with Vanilla Mascarpone. I settled on the Diplomat Pudding – it sounded good and I cant really go past mascarpone. Mascarpone is one of my favourite ingredients and if I see it as part of a dessert dish chances are I will order that. The pudding came out and had mixed berries amongst the soft and warm bread and butteryness and was absolutely delicious! Coupled with the vanilla bean mascarpone it was delicious and it really did complete the good foodie meal here at Giddiup.

Giddiup is great small café, and has a relaxing and chilled out atmosphere to it. Their main emphasis is on sourcing local and fresh ingredients and at the front of the menu is a spiel on where all their ingredients come from. And additionally everything is made in house in the Giddup kitchen. Service is good and the staff are friendly. Giddiup takes simple meals and makes them delicious.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$$$
Menu – Refer to pics above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable, Relaxed and Chilled out. Great for a weekend brunch.
Standout Dish: Diplomat Pudding
Service: Friendly and Enthusiastic
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://giddiupcafe.com/
269 Coventry Street, South Melbourne
Tel No: 9682 8820

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 8am – 4pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am – 3pm

Giddiup on Urbanspoon