Göz City – Gözleme Charm

panda 4 rating

Menu:
The Menu Gözleme menu halal (1)

One of Grazing Panda’s readers emailed me about Goz City to let me know that it was a restaurant that I should add to my Halal Restaurant tab – and from that time onwards I was keen to check it out. Having visited Turkey earlier in the year I was looking forward to eating one of Turkey’s famous age-old foods.

Goz City is the first of its kind – the first standalone speciality gözleme store in the Melbourne CBD, well just Melbourne even – and was opened in January by Taylan Aksoy. Aksoy together with his dad Alan also owns Koy in South Melbourne – where you can purchase gözlemes as well; and on a busy day they can sell upwards of 300!

Goz City is a smallish store located near the corner of Little Collins and Williams Street in the Melbourne CBD, complete with a cosy, homely and relaxed vibe. What I love is that you can stand out the front and watch through the front window as the gözleme are made. You can watch their swift, efficient process as they churn out these traditional flatbreads. The process involves the yufka pastry being rolled, flattened, filled with your choice of topping and cooked to order.
The menu consists of four different varieties – Cheese & Spinach, Herbed Chicken & Mushroom, Minced Meat (Beef) or Mushroom & Vegetables – which are $10 each (or if you want to purchase it with a drink $12). These are complemented weekly, with unique and seasonally-driven gözleme flavours.
There are also Boreks ($4 each or if you order it with a coffee for $6) available in the same flavours, as well as Pides (such as Tomato & Egg or Sucuk Sausage & Egg for $5 each or $7 with a coffee). There is also the option of House Made Soup served with a toasted Turkish Bagel (when I visited the soup of the day was Mushroom). There is also a great selection of Turkish, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern inspired salads such as Cypriot Cauliflower or Quinoa Tabouli.
Coffee served is from Tobys Estate and comes in a House Blend as well as a Single Origin.

Their main focus is on takeaway – but if you get in early and beat the rush there are around 14 seats available – both inside and outside – there is a high bench for seating as well as some lower wooden tables. Lines are out the door especially if you arrive after 12pm with the wait time not too long (you are getting fresh, made to order gözlemes after all!).
Earthy, rustic and warm tones are used throughout the venue coupled with black and white pictures. Gözlemes are presented on a wooden board – with the gözleme cut into convenient mixed sized rectangles and served with sour cream. The serving size is very generous (I struggled to finish the entire serving!) – and the dish is very very filling. I ordered the Herbed Chicken & Mushroom gözleme – which had been seasoned perfectly and tasted great. The bread was cooked just right as well – crispy on the outside and soft on the lower layers. My only critique would be that instead of the gözleme being served with sour cream I would have preferred it to be garlic sauce.
I also had a minced lamb borek – which was a tad bit on the oily side – but was succulent and delicious. The pastry used for the borek is thin, light and crunchy.

There are also Homemade Turkish sweets such as Baklava and Turkish Delight available for sale as well as Turkish Coffee.

Goz City combines the age-old gözleme tradition with a distinct modern twist – offering a unique Turkish food experience. Gözleme is fast becoming the latest street food craze to hit town and if the queues are anything to go by – it will be one to stick around for a while to come!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the pictures above or go to http://www.gozcity.com.au/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Homely and Relaxed
Service: Friendly
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.gozcity.com.au/
502 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 9041 5667

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 4:-00pm
Saturday & Sunday: CLOSED

Goz City on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gozcitycbd
Twitter: @GozCity
Instagram: Goz City

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Scarvelli Cafe – Homely Balwyn Local

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Food Menu Food Menu

I love finding breakfast / brunch options around my local area and Scarvelli Café was one these. Scarvelli Café is located along Whitehouse Road in Balwyn (only a few blocks away from the popular Snow Pony).

Scarvelli Café has a very homely and welcoming feel to it, probably owing to the fact that it’s layout is reminiscent to that old house. There is seating in the front room and then you walk towards the back of the venue (which reminds you of a dining room) where there is more seating and is completed with a big mirror and a moose head that wears a colourful scarf. There is also a courtyard available to enjoy those glorious sunny days. The moose head against the brick wall backdrop is definitely the star of the venue, although the large vintage mirror in the front room is another stunner. The moose theming continues on the menu with the antlers featuring as a design feature.

The food menu is broken up into two main sections – Breakfast (available all day) and Lunch (available from 11am). Breakfast dishes contain the usual breakkie dishes such as Toast (there are 4 varieties to choose from including gluten-free), Fruit Toast, Muesli, Croissants and Coconut Porridge along with dishes with a difference – such as Banana Bread served with warm espresso mascarpone and candied hazelnuts, The Good Life – Eye fillet with Avocado, Wilted Spinach, Poached Eggs & Toast or Omelette Au Saumon – French style omelette with wood-fire smoked salmon, chives and crème fraiche.
The lunch menu consists of a soup of the day, three different salads (Chicken and Ocean Trout, and a vegetarian option featuring butternut pumpkin), as well as a Confit Lamb dish, Braised Pork and a Wagyu Beef Burger – using some interesting names for each of the dishes.

Coffee is from Industry Beans and uses the Fitzroy Street Blend as their signature blend. There are also a range of single origin coffees available for espresso and cold drip as well as chocolate – all sourced from Industry Beans. I order a latte as I decide between the Banana Bread and the Dukkah Eggs. The latte is deliciously smooth with a combination of honey tones initially, followed by the slight tang of blackberries and a finish of chocolate and caramel. It really does hit the spot in terms of coffee goodness.

I decided on the Dukkah Eggs – Spiced Crumbed Eggs, Pomegranate, Pinenuts & Cauliflower Puree. When I ordered the dish the waitress asked if I wanted a side of bread as some customers needed it to mop up the cauliflower puree. I opted for no bread. The dish came out beautifully presented with the spiced dukkah eggs located at the centre and being the star of the dish. The eggs sat on top of the cauliflower puree with the pomegranate, peanuts and herbed greens all around forming a nest formation. The dish was colourful and looked highly enticing – you find yourself marvelling at the splendour of the dish.

The poached eggs were cooked to perfection – oozing golden yellow goodness. The dukkah coated on the outside added the perfect crunch and texture worked brilliantly with the silky, creamy cauliflower puree – which added just the right amount of sweetness to the dish. The pomegranate added a burst of tang and additional sweetness and the pinenuts brought the right amount of depth to the dish as a whole. A really tasty and mind blowing dish. The combination of the spice from the dukkah and the sweetness of the cauliflower puree and tang of pomegranate was mind blowing! Loved it!

There are also Ciabattas and Sweets available at the front counter for purchase as well. Staff are friendly and helpful if you are confused on what you want to eat. It’s great to see a place like this out in the suburbs: a great warm atmosphere, delicious interesting dishes and great tasting coffee!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely, Cosy. They have a courtyard which is great for Mums with Bubs, as well as enjoying a great sunny day!
Standout Dish: Dukkah Eggs
Service: Friendly and Welcoming, as well as Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/ScarvelliCafe
143 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn
Tel No: 9816 8887

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00am – 4:30pm
Saturday: 8:00am – 3:30pm
Sunday: 8:00am – 3:00pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ScarvelliCafe
Instagram: scarvellicafe
Twitter: @scarvellicafe

Scarvelli Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Kettle Black – Next Level Cafe

panda 3.5 rating

Menu:
Drinks Menu Food Menu Drinks Menu

Leading up to and in the just the few days that The Kettle Black had opened there been a lot of hype surrounding it – from the visual spectacle of the venue to the highly anticipated crayfish roll and of course, the delicious coffee. So of course I had to go and check it out for myself.

I decided to go during lunchtime (a late lunch around 2pm) as it is a short 10 minute tram ride from work. The Kettle Black is located on Albert Road in South Melbourne – a short walk from Domain Interchange. As you make your approach to The Kettle Black you are greeted by the white visual spectacle – a combination of a grand old Victorian building together with the ground floor of an Elenberg Fraser designed residential complex – 21 storeys in fact (!) – called Fifty Albert.

This magnificent -must try place – is brought to you by the team who are responsible for places like Top Paddock, Two Birds One Stone! Jesse McTavish (chef from Top Paddock) together with Top Paddock owner Nathan Coleman, along with business partners Ben Clark and Diamond Rozakeas, as well as Tim James (Two Birds One Stone) and Sam King (ex De Clieu). What a team! Coleman is in charge of the running the floor with King in charge of the coffee side of things.

The fit out is designed by the awesome twosome Kestie Lane and Hana Hakim from the quirky cool design company Studio You Me. They have brought two very different worlds seamlessly together using white walls, green Italian tiles as well a marble and brass detailing. The breathtakingly beautiful building begins with an outside eatery area located in front of the Victorian terrace. As you enter the venue there is a coffee cart where you can purchase takeaway coffees whilst you wait. Once you step inside you are greeted by a hotel like reception / cashier desk / sweet counter – there are a selection of sweet treats on display for you to choose from including the melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts from Doughboy Donuts.
From here the interior splits into two halves – the left side sits in the converted apartment block and is complete with a modern vibe, high ceilings (which is simply stunning and has a great effect thanks to a method of layering of white tiles against each other), fresh sunlight streaming in – thanks to the floor to ceiling windows – as well as an emerald green tiled and marble barista station. There is also the striking porthole-like wall which is a highlight in this room. The right side sits in the Victorian terrace side has a more homely feel complete with gold and brass trimmings (a very interesting looking light fitting that is reminiscent of two gold earrings), flowers and arched windows.
Another highlight that I saw whilst waiting for my table was the unique watering station – which consisted of a stone base with a gold sink and finished black tap ware with small square tiles in the background. Tables are wooden and there are mixtures of low tables, as well as one tall communal table. You can sit at the barista marble bar as well – with the look finished with green stools. What is also great is the addition of flowers in bottles throughout the venue – adds colour and class to the already classy venue.

The menu by McTavish is focussed on using mainly Victorian produce – or Australian when Victorian isn’t possible. The relishes and butter are made in house with bread supplied from Burnham Beeches, Wallaby from Flinders Island, Steak from Robbins Island, Seafood from King Island and house-fermented yoghurt. Coffee (espresso) is a custom blend from 5 Senses, as well as a rotating single origin. Filter coffee is sourced from specialists such as Small Batch and Market Lane. Another interesting fact to note is that The Kettle Black makes their own compost which they then use to grow their own leaves, herbs and flowers in their greenhouses and gardens.
Drinks include Cold Press Juices (there are two to choose from) as well as Fresh Juices (Orange or Ruby Grapefruit). There are also a selection of bottled drinks as well as Ice Chocolate and Iced Coffee available, as well as Tea.

The food menu comprises of a unique take on your normal breakfast dishes – there are a variety of combinations that are served with eggs that you wouldn’t usually see such as Chilli Scrambled Eggs with Air Dried Flinders Island Wallaby or Tataki Ocean Trout with Raw Kale, Seaweed Salad and Poached Eggs. The famous hotcakes – that are served in Top Paddock – have made their place here on The Kettle Black menu. There is also Polenta Porridge, Fruit Toast, Muesli and House-Made Coconut Yoghurt. More food is available that strikes me as a lunch offering, however this isn’t stated – items like Kingfish with Potato Crisps, Robbins Island Wagyu Skirt Steak served on the Kettle Black Bun, Mixed Beans, Burrata and the famously known King Island Crayfish Roll.

Even during a late lunch hour – there was still a list of people wanting a table. I had a wait time of about 10-12 minutes. You don’t really feel the wait time as there is a lot that too look at and observe or even order a takeaway coffee from the coffee cart. I was seated at the marble bar, perched on a stool that allowed me to observe the coffees as they were cranked out. I ordered a latte whilst deciding on what I should eat.

The latte arrived shortly after and was delicious! It is definitely one of the best coffees I have had this year (refer to my Coffee page for their rating at https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/coffee-worlds-best-pick-me-up/). The coffee was strong with notes of caramel mixed together with floral and a hint of citrus at the end. The after taste was creamy and memorable. I would happily make the trek from work on the tram just to have this coffee.

After much consideration I decided to order the King Island Crayfish in an Ash Roll with Native Coastal Spinach, Lime & Yuzu Mayonnaise. The Crayfish Roll comes served on a heavy stone curved square plate, with a lime wedge placed next to it. It is visually stunning especially against the grey backdrop of the stone. The ash roll is clearly evident together with the fresh smell of crayfish emanating through preparing your taste-buds. The green and purple of the native coastal spinach as well as the addition of the yellow flowers brings the whole dish together.
The bun was soft, warm and delicious. The crayfish was oozing freshness and flavour and was perfectly poached. The mayonnaise was tangy and full of all the right flavours, which brought the whole dish together, however I would have liked more mayonnaise in my bun. Overall, the dish was good but I wasn’t blown away as I had expected to be from all the rave reviews of the crayfish bun – it almost felt like an extra ingredient was needed to add more depth and flavour.

I also decided I needed to end on something sweet – so I ordered the House-made Coconut Yoghurt with Gluten-Free Grains, Seeds & Nuts, Toorak Station Prickly Pear, Rhubarb, Citrus Powders, Fruits and Flowers. The presentation of this dish was beautiful – too beautiful to the point that a part of me didn’t want to touch it – and reminded me of a flower garden bed. Served on a glossy black plate which allowed the white coconut yoghurt to really shine through and topped with the spectacular bright colours of the watermelon, strawberry, blueberries and assorted flowers, finished with citrus powders. The yoghurt was smooth, creamy and the perfect balance of the coconut flavours flowing through. I loved that the grains were hidden under the fruit – it made for a great surprise with every mouthful. The components of the dish worked extremely well together and the mix of flavours were tasty. My only criticism would be that the watermelon didn’t have the crunch and freshness I expected.

The staff are super friendly and accommodating in any way they can. The Kettle Black is one of those places that you will find yourself coming back to and when people ask me for a brunch place that I would recommend – this is the first place I tell them.

The Kettle Black exudes class, style and swank all without the attitude and pretense. The venue is delightful and a visual spectacle that is must see yet the atmosphere remains relaxed, lively and fun. The menu has been carefully designed and the dishes will get your taste buds pumping. The presentation is excellent and the coffee top notch. Come and see for yourself.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Breathtaking and Spectacular Venue – with a relaxed, carefree, lively and fun atmosphere. Definitely one to bring people from overseas or interstate – anyone really!
Service: Fantastic – Friendly, accommodating and welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://thekettleblack.com.au/
50 Albert Road, South Melbourne
Tel No: 9088 0721

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Kettle-Black/707633809303415
Twitter: @kettleblackcafe
Instagram:
kettleblackcafe

The Kettle Black on Urbanspoon

STREAT – Doing It For The Young Kids – Great Cause!

panda 4 rating

Information & Menu:
About STREAT More About STREAT Food Menu Coffee & Drinks

G and I were meeting up for brunch on the weekend and we decided to check out STREAT in Flemington. STREAT is a place with a story – they are a non-profit social enterprise that provides homeless youth with life-skills, work experience and training that they require to start a career in the hospitality industry. STREAT literally translates to Street youth + Street Food + Street Culture.

STREAT is founded by Rebecca Scott and Kate Barrelle. They got the idea after being inspired by KOTO – a training program in Vietnam that provides street youth with job opportunities. STREAT has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 2010 from two small food carts located in Federation Square in Melbourne to now having three stores – Flemington, Melbourne Central and McKillop St in the Melbourne CBD. They have grown rapidly have sold around 500,000 meals and coffees and provided almost 5,000 days of training and work experience to over 100 local street youth. Two of their trainees from the very first class are now fully qualified Chefs in Melbourne. They have also recently won an award for being Australia’s Most Innovative Social Enterprise.

The vibe at STREAT when you walk in in buzzing and it really does have a homely and welcoming charm about it. As you walk in there is communal table directly to your right, with wooden tables and mismatched chairs along the left hand side. There is the main counter area where you can order takeaway coffee or grab a sweet treat to go. The vibrant electric blue Marzocco coffee machine sits proudly on top at the front counter, adding a burst of colour amongst the black chalkboard and brown tiled walls. The kitchen is located at the very back of the venue. We are seated at the communal table – and the way in which we are facing allows us to read the menu off the chalkboard wall. The menu is displayed both on the wall of the venue as well as in booklet form which the friendly staff hand to you as you sit down and place your coffee order.

Coffee here is roasted on site in their vintage Probat coffee roasted, and you can have a choice between Single Origins – Colombia, Primavera, Tolima as well as Cold Brews – Honduras, Santa Marta, Pacamara. These of course change week by week and give the customers a chance to try coffees from different countries and regions.
STREAT also offers two blends – their Signature Social Blend as well as a darker Deluxe Blend. The blends are seasonal and change as new crops come through, altering the flavour ever so slightly.
I ordered a latte from their Signature Social Blend – which has notes of nuts and caramel with a creamy end note (thanks to the milk being frothed to perfection). It was a delicious and tasty coffee that exuded warmness.

What also caught my attention (as the couple next to us had ordered it) was the Hot Yuzu Tea (Hot Citrus). When it comes out all it is – is boiling hot water with the citrus kernels at the bottom of the glass. Once you stir it is when all the magic happens – the liquid is no longer clear but a warm yellow colour and the flavour is reminiscent of lemon, orange and grapefruit all mixed together. It was brilliant and perfect for my sore throat.

The menu is in booklet form and I love that it has a whole section dedicated to everything about STREAT as well as information such as what type of support they offer, who their major targets are, some facts and how you can get involved if you want to help out. What I also think is great is their Pay It Forward scheme – usually when you buy coffees and have a coffee card, the 9th or 10th coffee is free, instead at STREAT this 9th coffee or meal (if you have had 8 previous meals then a meal will be given instead) is given to a homeless person. What a fantastic idea!

The food menu has a great variety and changes seasonally. When G & I went it was all about their autumn menu. You can find the usual suspects such as Eggs on toast where you can have added extras such as grilled tomato, bacon, avocado etc. There are also two different types of Baked Eggs, a French Toast dish (think cinnamon ganache, poached pear – yum!), Cauliflower cheese croquettes as well as a dish they called “The Hunter” (Poached eggs, bacon, chorizo, tomato relish) and “The Gatherer” (the vegetarian alternative – Poached eggs, Spinach, Mushrooms, Hash Brown). For the dishes that ebb ore on the lunch side – Salt Beef Bagel, Lamb in filo pastry, Beef Burger, Chorizo and Egg Roll, BLT and Seoul Sanga just to name a few.
Their food is handmade fresh every day and tries to use local produce from local suppliers where they can. They are also very happy to cater for whatever dietary requirement you have – G can’t have sesame seeds or nuts and they were happy to change the bread on her dish to avoid this.

I ordered the Kasundi Eggs – House made Eggplant Kasundi, Avocado, Dukkah Paneer, Fresh Herb Salad and Poached Egg on Sourdough – which was a special for the day. The dish came out looking like a breakfast tower – the bread at the base of the dis with the avocado, poached eggs piled on top with the eggplant kasundi drizzled on top and finished with coriander. The Dukkah Paneer was placed sporadically around the dish. The poached eggs were cooked perfectly and oozed rich golden yolk which worked well with the smooth avocado. The eggplant kasundi was delicious with a hint of spice – I would have liked more of it on my dish. Overall the dish was well flavoured and I loved the added texture combination thanks to the dukkah and the seeded sourdough.

G ordered the Baked Eggs with Hash Brown, Cherry Tomatoes, Olives, Spanish Onion and Basil with Toasted Pide with Chorizo – which came out looking rather impressive. The baked eggs came out in a black pan which was placed on top of a wooden board. The dish looked bright and colourful thanks to the yellow yolk, redness of the tomatoes and green herbs. The dish is quite filling and a very decent serving size which G enjoyed and said tasted good.

The service at STREAT is fantastic – we had an awesome waiter who was chatty, warm and welcoming (you can see him in one of the pics I took with his thumbs up). The vibe is buzzing and it really is a great place to come, sit and enjoy great tasting food and drinks – and what makes it even more worthwhile is the great cause they are supporting!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to Menu pics above. Flemington Cafe Menu – http://www.streat.com.au/food/flemington/flemington-menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Funky and Relaxed.
Service: Friendly, Welcoming and Inviting
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.streat.com.au/

Flemington Cafe
307 Racecourse Road, Flemington
Tel No:9372 3288
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am – 4:00pm

STREAT on Urbanspoon

McKillop Cafe
5 McKillop Street, Melbourne
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:30am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: CLOSED

STREAT McKillop St on Urbanspoon

Melbourne Central Cafe
Ground floor of Melbourne Central next to the escalators to the trains
Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday : 7:30am – 7:00pm
Thursday & Friday : 7:30am – 9:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 9:30am – 7:00pm

STREAT Melbourne Central on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/streat.melbourne
Twitter: STREATmelbourne, Streatcafe, StreatMcKillop, Bec_Scott

Stagger Lee’s – Vintage Cool

panda 4 rating

stagger lee

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Menu:
Stagger Lee's Menu
Stagger Lees Drinks

It was a long awaited catch-up for the four of us – G, J, M and myself – and we decided to stick to something that was central between the four of us. This place happened to be Stagger Lee’s – located on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy.  I have heard many good things about this place ever since it opened up and was keen to check it out for myself.

Stagger Lee’s is brought to you by the people of Proud Mary – it is a collaboration between Proud Mary owner Nolan Hirte, former Proud Mary general Manager Monica Chhay, Head Chef Chris Hamburger (ex The Aylesbury, St Ali North) and Mun Soon of MGS Architects and owner of Krimper Cafe (refer to https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/krimper-cafe-hidden-warehouse-style-treasure/ for my blog review of Krimper Cafe).

Stagger Lee’s is named after a pimp / bad-ass from St Louis – he infamously shot a cell mate in the 1900s for stealing his red Stetson hat and since this time over 400 musicians have retold the story of Stagger Lee. Here at Stagger Lee – this story reinforces the fact to “stick to your guns” and to “stand up for yourself” and most importantly are being the “bad-ass” of Ftizroy when it comes to great coffee and ingenious food.

The vibe is typical of what you would expect of the Brunswick / Fitzroy area – but with a whole lot more fun and excitement. There are exposed brick walls, concrete floors and huge glass windows which let the morning sunlight stream in. It’s a bit industrial, a bit indie – but rest assured feels welcoming and warm. There are wooden slatted tables for parties of varying sizes, as well as two large communal tables at the front – paired with metal chairs. There is both inside and Outside Street seating as well – they utilise their space well in terms of catering as many seats as possible without being too squishy. There are splashes of green thanks to the weatherboard effect around the kitchen window at the back of the venue, as well as the salt and pepper grinders placed on the tables and the coffee cups by the coffee machine. There are the usual filament lights that hang for lighting that I love as well.

The coffee here is a little bit different – they do not serve blends – only single origin espresso and filter coffees are being offered – and are pumped out of the stark white Synesso machine. They also use a EK 43 grinder which means they are getting the best extractions possible for the customers – allowing them to deliver some of the best coffee in town. I ordered a latte which was full bodied, strong and nutty and was perfect to wake me up first thing in the morning. The creamy after taste thanks to the fresh milk was also great. The decision not to blend comes from the work Proud Mary has been doing with the farms in Brazil and the quality of the single origin beans that work well with the milk without needing to be blended – and from my experience with their coffees this is working fantastically.

Another difference from Proud Mary is that they have a liquor license and look to open a few nights a week down the track.  They serve up wine, local and international beers and specially made cocktails – there is even one that contains cold drip coffee! Aside from specialising in coffee – they do also have an interesting list of juices, smoothies and milkshakes – with interesting names to match. Juices include Lance Armstrong (Carrot, Beetroot, Lemon, Ginger) and The Regulate (Apples, Strawberries, Coconut Water), there is a milkshake called Gangsta Milkshake, Crooks ‘n’ Creams – which is of course based on cookies and cream.

The food menu designed by Chris Hamburger (what a cool name!) is described as simple and sexy comfort food – and it really does comply.  The menu is split into a breakfast and lunch menu – both of which are available all day and there are gltuten-free, vegan and vegetarian options. There are dishes that covers all the main protein dishes that you would want to eat including lamb, bacon, beef, quail, chorizo and ham hock. From reading the menu you might not think these dishes really cut it – but trust me they do! There are your usual suspects such as Toast, Fruit Toast, Bircher Muesli, Granola and Porridge – but what makes it unique is the offerings that come with these basics. For example the porridge is buckwheat porridge together with chia, banana and honey. The first dish that caught my eye was the Coco Pop and Salted Caramel French Toast – I mean they had me at Coco Pop! The four of us quickly decided to share this amongst ourselves, thereby reserving some space for a proper savoury breakfast (and trying out more of the menu – win!). There are also dishes such as Shrooms ‘n’ Truffles which comes with Truffled Polenta, Poached Egg and Pepito, a Roasted Cauliflower and Quail dish, a Roasted Lamb dish that comes with Humms, Raisins and Toast as well as a Stacked Burger that comes with croquettes and greens.

When we arrived on this Sunday morning (around 10:30am) Stagger Lee’s was packed out already and we had to wait about 10 minutes for a table for the four of us. Initially we were given an area on the communal table all in a row – which would have made it hard for us to chat. However the staff had miscounted the number of seats and promptly moved us to a table which suited us better – making it easier for us to chat. Most of us ordered coffees to start and G ordered a juice whilst we decided what we wanted to eat. G ordered the Nice Pear – Apple, Pear, Mint, Lime. Juices come served in a generous size jar, with two big fresh mint leaves for more flavour- the juice was refreshing, tangy and produced a great flavour combination. M ordered the Frank ‘n’ Beans – Saffron Baked Beans, Smoked Ham Hock, Chorizo, Soft Poached Egg, Herb and Garlic Crumb Toast. The dish comes out presented well – the saffron baked beans together with the ham hock are at the base of the dish, with the poached egg and chorizo placed on top and finished with the garlic crumb toast. The Garlic Crumb Toast smelt and looked delicious – crispy on the outside and soft and filled with flavour on the inside. M seemed to enjoy her dish and the flavours – the poached egg was cooked to perfection with golden gooey goodness.

G originally ordered The Mexican – Soft Shell Corn Tortillas, Charred Corn, Lime and Tomatillo Salsa, Avocado, Fried Eggs, Creme Fraiche, Herbs. However, she has an allergic reaction to sesame seeds and some nuts, and although I don’t think that this dish had any of that, she started to get a reaction and therefore had to order something else. The dish came plated out with two tortillas, with the fried egg placed in side and topped with the charred corn, lime and tomatillo salsa and avocado, and finished with crème fraiche. The flavours were typically Mexican and the addition of the fried egg with its gooey runny yolk gave it the breakfast element.

J ordered the Smoked Trout Salad – House Smoked Ocean Trout, Grilled Asparagus, Soft Poached Egg, Butter Poached Potatoes, Shaved Fennel, Preserved Lemon Aioli and Green Goddess – which was quite the colourful dish thanks to the salmon colour of the ocean trout, purple colour of the radicchio, green colour of the salad and the white colour of the poached egg and lemon aioli. J did enjoy this dish and rated it better than The Mexican – the smokiness of the trout, together with the grilled asparagus and brilliance of the poached egg was a winner.

I ordered the The Fitz Royale – Grilled Asparagus, Cashew Cheese, Avocado, Fresh Herbs, Pea Tendrils and Citrus with a Poached Egg. The dish comes out with the fresh herbs being the centre of attention on the plate – the other components – toast, cashew cheese, avocado, grilled asparagus hidden underneath. The poached egg and the lemon slice are placed to the side. My favourite part of this dish was the cashew cheese which was placed like a spread on the toast – it was tangy and creamy all at the same time. Together with the subtle flavours of the asparagus and the softness of the avocado the flavours worked in perfect harmony. A great dish for asparagus lovers.

The last dish that we all got to sample was the Coco Pop and Salted Caramel French Toast – Coco Pop Cream Pat, Vanilla Ice Cream, Honeycomb and Raspberry Crumb. I don’t think much explaining needs to be done to understand how good a dish it really was. The plating wasn’t as clean as I had expected, as the Coco Pop Cream Pat resembled a messy blob, but I guess the consistency and texture of it didn’t help. I loved the mix of textures from the softness of the toast, cream pat and ice cream mixed together with the harder and grittier textures in the form of the tangy raspberry crumb, sweetness of the honeycomb and the pop of the cocoa pops sprinkled around. Overall I thought the flavours worked well together (I would have liked more raspberry crumb) – and was a great colourful dish that was the perfect way to end our meal at Stagger Lee’s.

The staff are quite accommodating and helpful, but are hard to get a hold of due to the sheer number of people they have to cater for. However, the wait to get their attention wasn’t too long. If you get a seat near the back of the venue – you can peer into the kitchen window and watch the chefs busily keeping up with the incoming orders. Even with the volume of orders –they keep a cool, calm and collected exterior and get on with the job.

There are also sweet treats that you can purchase from the counter – lamingtons, cupcakes, tarts and friands just to name a few.

Stagger Lee’s is a great addition to the grungy Fitzroy area and brings a somewhat homely and funky venue here. The vibe is buzzing, the place is warm, the menu is simple and unique and the staff friendly and always with a smile. Get down this weekend and check it out for yourself. The next time I come back – I am definitely trying the Shrooms ‘n’ Mushrooms.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – There is an all day breakfast and lunch menu – refer above to the pictures or look at http://staggerlees.com.au/food/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Casual and Welcoming – a great place that you can spend of your day in.
Standout Dish:
Service: Friendly, sometimes it can be hard to their attention.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://staggerlees.com.au/
276 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Tel No: 9419 5564

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7am – 4pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am – 4pm

Stagger Lee's on Urbanspoon

Collective Espresso – Breakkie with a Difference

panda 3.5 rating

Menu:
Menu at Collective Espresso Specials at Collective Espresso

P and I decided to catch up at a place that was central to both of us and that happened to be Collective Espresso located in Camberwell – right opposite the train station. Collective Espresso was opened by a group of friends with business partners Mark Jacobson, Graham Babbs and Duncan McCrane.

Where Collective Espresso resides now used to be a boutique store and the group has done the fitout themselves and the results are impeccable. The space is light, airy, open, inviting and welcoming – the centre piece is the large high wooden communal table which takes up most of the venue space together with quirky art work adding vibrancy and colour. . There are bars seats along the window and near the kitchen. The look is simple yet charming and comfortable.

Collective Espresso is named as such as it was the “collective” experience and knowledge they gained from working at Las Chickas and Galleon café that allowed them to create this café. The menu consists of Breakfast, Lunch as well Rolls and Subs and there are daily specials available as well. The breakfast menu has some really interesting combinations such as grilled zucchini and squash omelette; sesame fried eggs as well as the usuals such as Bircher Muesli and Baked beans and sausages. Their cold drinks menu is varied and interesting – they have slushies as well as white chocolate Tim Tam shakes.

Collective Espresso offers a house espresso blend and a changing daily single-origin coffee. The coffee is from Five Senses and the latte that I ordered was really quite delicious. The flavour was rich and had noes of caramel and paired with the perfectly frothed milk. They really do some of the best coffee.

We were seated at the end of the communal high table – I really do like the high tables at cafes – especially when the space is smaller. It gives a great sense of space and allows you to peer behind the counter if you wish. There was a bit of a mishap with our coffee orders – even though the coffee orders were taken before we ordered food – we only received the coffees after our food.

I ordered the Beetroot and Basil Cured Kingfish, Potato Rosti, Kim Chi and Sesame Fried Eggs. This dish came out on a wooden board, with the components of the dish being centred on the board. I quite liked the fact that normal plates weren’t used – it tied into the surroundings of the place as well as being different. The dish looked like a piece of artwork – with each component displayed artfully. The Sesame Fried Eggs were delicious and the sesame coating on the outside was an interesting addition. The egg was really a poached egg which had been fried and coated in sesame – the poaching was done perfectly and had the gooey yolk. The Beetroot Cured Kingfish was another difference that I haven’t had before and together with the other components really did work well together. The potato rosti was crispy and crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside. The kim chi added an extra tang and spice for flavour and brought the whole dish together.

P ordered the Collective Sigh of Relief – Poached eggs, Spinach and Kale, Thyme and Garlic Mushrooms, Spiced Beans and Toast minus the Kaiser Fleisch. Her dish came out on a board as well with each ingredient placed in an expressive manner. One thing missing though was the spiced beans from the dish. There was many different parts to this dish and as a result it was quite a large size dish. P did enjoy her food and especially liked the mushrooms.

Collective Espresso serves delicious and simple food with a twist and has great coffee in a convenient and easy to access location especially for people going to the train station. It is welcoming and cosy and you can really spend half your day soaking up the atmosphere.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Welcoming and Light/Airy – great for a weekend catchup!
Standout Dish:
Service: Overall service was friendly – just a few stuff ups with the coffee coming with our food and missing some ingredients as part of the dish.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
3 Cookson St, Camberwell
Tel No: 9882 8995

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7:00am to 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am to 4:00pm

Collective Espresso on Urbanspoon

Prospect Espresso – Small Space But Packs a Punch

panda 4 rating
prospect expressoTruffled Brioche – Sauteed mushrooms, Asparagus, Poached Eggs and Truffled Hollandaise and a Latte

J and I were catching up after ages and decided to check out Prospect Espresso located in Camberwell. Prospect Espresso is owned by Matt Ward and Mitch Haworth. The setup is a mix of modern and vintage – with exposed light bulbs and exposed brick walls as well as large front window letting loads of light in while you are sipping on that perfect coffee and savouring the delicious but simple food. There are bursts of yellow which add to the fun and relaxed vibe Prospect Espresso has.

There is a large communal wooden table at the centre of the small space which is where J and I managed to nab a seat on this busy Saturday morning. To the right of us was where the coffee magic from the Mistral machine is created, along with showcasing some tasty treats from Red Door cakes. Coffee is from Rosso and there are also a number of single origin varieties. I ordered a latte and J ordered a cappuccino.

The latte was exactly what I needed after having being stuck in traffic and being late to meet J – it was refreshing and had a strong kick to it but with a good balance of smoothness and creaminess – topped off with a bit of latte art. They also serve tea from Somage Organic tea and even have a Vietnamese Iced Coffee – talk about versatile.

There is a breakfast and lunch menu – created by head chef Will Manning – which consists of your favourites such as  Fruit Toast, A Breakfsat Roll and a choice of three different omelettes and of course eggs which you can build on your own. There are also some interesting dishes such as Chorizo Croquettes, Buttermilk Pannacotta and Warm Coconut Rice. Their Lunch Menu consists of solid favourites – there is a S oup of the Day, as well as the Prospect Beeft Burger.

I ordered the Truffled Brioche – which had Sauteed mushrooms, Asparagus, Poached Eggs and Truffled Hollandaise. It was a simple and small dish but tasted truly amazing. I loved the addition of the truffle to the hollandaise and combined with the mushrooms on top of the sweet tasting brioche – the dish really pulled together well. The eggs were poached as you would expect as well.

Prospect Espresso was consistently busy in the time that we were there and there is a good reason for that. The service is friendly and inviting, the coffee is delicious and the food is simple yet tasty and will leave you wanting to come back. The location is fantastic and the vibe fun. Check it out for yourself.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu : Can be found at http://prospectespresso.com.au/?page_id=10
Breakfast Menu : http://prospectespresso.com.au/?page_id=12
Lunch Menu: http://prospectespresso.com.au/?page_id=16
Drink Menu: http://prospectespresso.com.au/?page_id=14
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Busy, Inviting and Friendly
Standout Dish: Truffled Brioche – Sauteed mushrooms, Asparagus, Poached Eggs and Truffled Hollandaise
Service: Friendly Service and always happy to help
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://prospectespresso.com.au/
2a Prospect Hill Road, Camberwell
Tel No: 9882 7359

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

Prospect Espresso on Urbanspoon

Code Black Coffee – Black Elegance

panda 4.5 rating

N & I headed to Code Black Coffee on a Saturday for brunch. Code Black Coffee is one of the latest cafes to open up in the Brunswick area and is located off Sydney Road, behind Barkly Square shopping centre. Code Black Coffee is not only a cafe but a roasting house as well – with roasting equipment present on site.

Code Black Coffee comes to you thanks to Joseph Haddad who is the man behind the Cafenatics stores that can be found all around the Melbourne CBD.  The chef behind the deliciously flavoured menu is Laura Neville and makes you want to try out all of the dishes.

Code Black Coffee exudes elegance and class yet staying casual and welcoming from the moment you step inside. As the name suggests, the main colour theme is black together with an industrial metallic and stone feel.  When you walk inside the main feature you are greeted with is the large counter and barista station which in the centre of the room, which creates a division of the rooms. To the left of the counter there are tables for groups and to the right are smaller tables enough for couples or singles. As you keep walking past the kitchen – which has a glass window that allows you to peek in and see the chefs creating food magic – there are booths for a more private catch up.

As the name suggests there is a main focus on coffee and it sure doesn’t disappoint. There is a variety of coffees available – both black and milk. Code Black Coffee roasts high grade beans from international farms and growers, and there is a Code Black seasonal blend, as well as a rotating single origin which is roasted in house, signature blends and decaffeinated coffee. These different varieties of coffee can also be bought over the counter as well and staff are willing to assist to so that you walk away with the perfect coffee.

N got a house-blend expresso and I got the house-blend latte. I thoroughly enjoyed my latte with its nutty and velvety smooth flavours. The expresso comes with additional water which I think is thoughtful in order to modify the coffee if need be. Later on we also got a flat white which was just as delicious and creamy. Definitely one of the better coffees that I have tasted – and I do want to go back and try out some of their other types of beans.

Moving onto the food options – where do I start. There are plenty of dishes for people who are vegetarian, gluten free or require vegan food – which I think is really fantastic. The menu covers a variety of flavours and dishes – there is a baked egg dish that comes with polenta fingers, belgian waffles and even two different burgers – one veggie one and one meaty one. There are also a selection of Baker goods – such as breads, crossiants, toasties, Salads and Sandwiches. There is also a menu for the little peeps (as the menu states) – consisting of smaller sized dishes. I was struggling to pick a dish to have and in the end decided to try out the fritters (after all I do have a thing for fritters =p)

The fritters at Code Black Coffee had ingredients that I haven’t usually seen in a fritter dish – Broccoli, Almond & Chia Fritters with Grilled Corn Salsa, Coriander, Avocado & a Poached Egg. When the dish came out it was beautifully presented on Japanese style plates – with the fritters as a base, topped with the avocado and poached egg, with the corn salsa and coriander surrounding the elements. The fritters were absolutely delicious! They were full of broccoli, almond and chia and were flavoursome. You don’t usually think of this combination but it really did work – and coupled with the avovado and corn – there really was a party of flavours that happen in your mouth. I loved this dish!

There is also a selection of cakes and pastries which look fresh and tasty which are displayed at the front counter. Code Black Coffee is wonderful place that exudes class and style and the menu is one of my favourite cafe menu’s that I have come across – there are so many dishes that I want to come back and try – its a shame you can only do one dish a visit =p I will definitely be back to visit and try out as many dishes as I can.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to http://codeblackcoffee.com.au/wp-content/themes/codeblackcoffee/inc/CODE%20BLACK_MENU_18_05_13_1_0.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Elegant, Classy and Stylish yet welcoming and engaging.
Standout Dish: Broccoli, Almond & Chia Fritters with Grilled Corn Salsa, Coriander, Avocado & a Poached Egg
Service: Friendly and Knowledgable – they really do know their stuff about coffee and are always ready to help.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
codeblackcoffee.com.au
15-17 Weston Street, Brunswick
Tel No: 9388 0005

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 7:00am – 5:00pm

Code Black Coffee on Urbanspoon