San Paolo Solarino – Sicilian in the City

panda 4 rating

I stumbled across San Paolo Solarino one day whilst out shopping in the lane ways of Melbourne in my lunch break. P and I were looking for a place to have lunch with another friend and I suggested Solarino.

Solarino is a contemporary Italian restaurant / bar that is located in Howey Place – a laneway off Little Collins Street – and nestled between stores such as Oroton, FCUK and the recently opened Phillipa’s. Solarino is brought to us by chefs Grant Phelan (Il Solito Posto, Ca De Vin) and Jade Amenta. It offers authentic and stays true to the Nonna style of cooking in presenting a modern twist on your traditional Sicilian food – and is open seven days a week for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

From the moment you walk inside – Solarino has a real sophisticated and elegant feel to it coupled with a air of casualness and comes complete with wooden tables and a swanky front bar. A highlight is the white washed walls with the name Solarino written in lights. The front counter hosts a silver coffee machine which pumps out delicious tasting coffee as well as cakes and a variety of desserts.

Their breakfast menu consists of the usual suspects such as Eggs any way you like it including Benedict, Florentine, Poached, Scrambled and Omelette. There is also Toast, French toast, Muesli and Crumpets available. Their lunch menu consists of Antipasti followed by Primi, Insalata and finishes with Speciali. There are around 7 different pasta dishes to choose from under the Primi heading – including Spaghetti, Fettuccine and Linguine. Insalata dishes include Calamari fritti and a variety of salads to choose from. Specials include Soft Shell Chilli Crab Salad, Sizzling Prawns, Veal as well as a Claypot Lamb.

I ordered the Penne with Garlic, Mushroom, Chilli, Onion and Fetta. The pasta was fresh and cooked to perfection. The flavour combination of the earthy tones from the mushroom paired with the garlic, and the caramelisation of the onion was simply divine. This was one fantastic mouth watering dish!

P ordered the Gnocchi Napoli Oven Baked and Topped with Grilled Mozzarella which came served out in a mini hot plate pan. P let me try some of her gnocchi and it was literally a melt in your mouth experience – heaven! The flavour combination of the Napoli and mozzarella worked together well. If you are a fan of gnocchi you have to try this dish out!

T ordered the Rigatoni with Aurora Style Pork Bolognese and Ricotta and said that he quite enjoyed the dish and the flavours. The dish looked fresh, vibrant and delicious.

Solarino is a fantastic venue that makes you feel comfortable and welcomed. It serves traditional Italian food with a modern twist – the dishes are a tad pricier that you would normally expect – but once you experience the flavours and freshness the price is simply an afterthought.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu:
Refer to the following for Breakfast: http://www.solarino.com.au/public/menus/solarino_breakfast.pdf
Refer to the following for Lunch: http://www.solarino.com.au/public/menus/solarino_lunch-dinner.pdf
Refer to the following for the wine list: http://www.solarino.com.au/public/menus/solarino_wine.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Stylish, Elegant, Classy and Comfortable
Standout Dish: Any of the Pasta dishes!
Service: Friendly and Warm
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.solarino.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.solarino.com.au/
Howey Place
279 Little Collins St, Melbourne
Tel No: 9663 2636

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 6:30am – 10:30pm

San Paolo Solarino - Pasta and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

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Common Galaxia – Out of this World

panda 3.5 rating

I had heard a lot about Common Galaxia and had been wanting to check it out for a while – so when a catchup needed to be organised and J lived nearby – it was the perfect opportunity! Common Galaxia is owned initially by Luke Mutton and Kylie Mackinlay who also own Deadman Espresso in South Melbourne, but now bought by Paul Fox. Common Galaxia is located in Seddon and its main focus is on coffee – with coffee from Seven Seeds and Market Lane. The food though is not just an after thought – there is a huge variety and the dishes we had were scrumptious.

Common Galaxia has a fantastic vibe from the moment you step foot inside – the look is modern, classy and stylish. The furniture and fittings are all custom-made with functionality at the forefront. The interior was built by Fido Projects. One of the stand outs are the cutlery and menu caddies that hang individually from the tables (so that you can help yourself if you need more cutlery or happen to drop your cutlery) as well as the leather and timber chairs – both of which are made my locals LifeSpaceJourney. The coffee machine is Synesso and is the centre piece of the bench which also houses quick take away options such as smorrebrod (Scandinavian open sandwiches). To the right of the main counter is a window which allows you insight to the kitchen and is where all the food comes from. The running theme of the venue is wood with copper pots, terraniums, dark bottles with colourful flowers and funky black light fittings with filament lightbulbs dotted along the way together with the light coming in from the large windows which surround the venue.

There is usually a line to get a table and this morning was no different – but our wait was quite short – about 10 minutes to get a table for four. We started off by ordering coffees whilst we pondered over the menu. My latte was delicious and had a combination of a fruity and nutty taste – a taste that you kept going back more for.

The menu is broken up into Breakfast, Brunch which you can order all day, Lunch as well as options for the kids called “For the littles”. There are also options for Vegetarian and Gluten Free. Drinks compromise of Coffee, Tea, Fresh Juices, Smoothies, Cold Drinks and Milkshakes. The smoothie combinations are intriguing – combinations such as Kale, Parsley, Lemon Zest, Mango, Banana and Coconut Water as well as a Mixed Berry, Coconut water and Honey combination. Fresh juices consist of pre made mixes or you can create your own. There is also an option of having a peanut butter hot chocolate as well as a chocolate brownie milkshake.

Breakfast dishes are what you would usually expect – but with a Common Galaxia twist – adding interesting ingredients to the basics. There are scones, crossiants, toast, fruit toast and Bircher muesli – as well an interesting concept called the Breakkie Board (more on this later). The all day brunch menu consists of scrambled eggs, their version of Egg’s Benedict, Common Galaxia Big Breakfast as well as smoked salmon dish.

It was food decision time and I was tossing up between the French toast and the avocado dish, but J decided to get the French toast so I went with ordering the Avocado with Blood Orange, Marinated Goat’s Cheese, Basil, Almonds and Radish on Toast with a Poached Egg. The dish was plated up well with the toast being at the base of the dish and the avocado mix placed on top and finished with parsley and a poached egg and a wedge of lemon on the side. The avocado combined with the blood orange and goat’s cheese together with the crunchiness of the almonds was tasty. The serving was generous and the poached egg was cooked perfectly. All in all it was a great dish.

G ordered the Smoked Salmon on Sourdough with Spicy Avocado Puree, 2 Poached Eggs with Tomato and Herb Salad. This dish was quite the colourful dish, especially against the black backdrop of the plate. The spicy avocado puree was buttered on the toast with the smoked salmon and tomato and herb salad on top, and the two poached eggs as the final layer. G did enjoy the dish but thought the spicy avocado was an acquired taste, but overall the combination was interesting and worked well together.

B ordered the Breakkie Board – Museli, Poached Egg with Avocado on Whole Wheat and Honey Toast, Small Fresh Orange Juice. I really do like the concepts of Breakkie boards as it comes with a small selection of things that you would want for breakfast such as toast, eggs and muesli. The bonus of freshly squeezed orange juice completes the dish.

As mentioned before J ordered the Salted Caramel French Toast with Blood Orange Curd, Oreo Crumble and Blueberry Compote. When this dish came out it was really impressive – the berry compote was drizzled at the bottom and acted like a soup, with the French Toast on top drizzled with Salted Caramel and finished with the Oreo Crumble. The dish was overly sweet, but the berry compote was a great addition to cut some of this sweetness and add tanginess to it. There was a generous amount of blueberries and salted caramel on the side as well. For anyone that loves French toast this is a dish to try.

Common Galaxia is a fresh, lively and vibrant addition to this area of Seddon that serves great coffee and good food! The interior with its wooden and black tones and accents of plants and flowers is fantastic. The staff are friendly and look like they are enjoying themselves at work which always a great attitude to have. I would highly recommend the trek down to this suburb and whilst you are at it visit nearby Cobb Lane.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://commongalaxia.com.au/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Chilled out, Modern and Inviting. Such a great place to be on a sunny day especially with the sunlight streaming in through the windows.
Standout Dish: Salted Caramel French Toast with Blood Orange Curd, Oreo Crumble and Blueberry Compote
Service: Friendly and Inviting. The staff look like they really enjoy what they do and are always chirpy and happy.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
commongalaxia.com.au
Shop 3, 130 Victoria Street, Seddon
Tel No: 9691 3888

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Friday: 7:30 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Common Galaxia on Urbanspoon

Mixed Business – Relaxed & Delicious

panda 4.5 rating

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mixed Business on Urbanspoon