T by Luxbite – All About the Tarts!

panda 4 rating

Menu:
T By Luxbite Store T By LuxBite Menu T By LuxBite Menu (2) Slices from T By Luxbite

I am a huge sweet lover and when LuxBite first opened, I made the effort to get from the Melbourne CBD on a train to check out the beautifully presented desserts they had to offer. So when I heard about their new venture – T by Luxbite (the T stands for Tarts) – I couldn’t wait to check it out.

The creators of South Yarra patisserie – LuxBite – Bernard Chu and partner Yen Yee opened their latest venture last year – T by LuxBite – located in the Melbourne CBD at the new CBD development – The Archway (near the Spencer Street end of Flinders Lane) making them neighbours with Altius Coffee Brewes and 5 & Dime Bagels. Unlike at LuxBite where you can experience macarons and cakes, T by Luxbites main focus is on tarts, emulating their classic French technique and quirky Asian influence – hence the name.

The store itself is small, modern and cosy – with only take away available. Each day there will be 10 different tarts available on offer. The main showcase is the tarts on display along with signage stating the name and the ingredients of each tart – which allow you to understand the Asian flavour combinations which are certainly interesting. Macarons are also available to be purchased and the larger macaron cakes can be ordered. Some tarts are shaped to look like a common character – such as Gingy from Shrek, Rilakkuma and most recently a Panda to support Earth Hour.

The Kuma Tart – Cookie, Mork Hot Chocolate, Strawberry, Banana, White Chocolate Milkshake Mousse, Caramel, Chocolate Tart (and is Nut Free). This tart is way too cute to eat but after one mouthful you will soon get over that and want to keep eating more and more of this tart. The Banana flavour wasn’t too strong, which was what I was worried about and the other ingredients really did work well together. The Caramel was the hero of this tart along with the mousse and chocolate base.

The Wang Wang Tart – Sour Cherry Jelly, White Sesame Caramel, Black Sesame Panna Cotta filled Chocolate Tart, Coffee and Hazelnut Praliné Mousse, White Chocolate Glaze. I love the fact that they made this tart to support Earth Hour – such a great cause to support! Once again I was a bit apprehensive of the Black Sesame flavouring being too overpowering – but it wasn’t. The sourness from the jelly together with the sweetness of the panna cotta and the mousse worked really well together.

The tarts are colourful, vibrant and bursting with Asian flavours. Tarts are only sold in takeaway boxes. Dessert lovers will definitely enjoy this store – check it out now!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to Picture above or at http://tbyluxbite.com.au/ and select Tart Collection
Atmosphere / Ambience:
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
tbyluxbite.com.au
Shop 2, 517 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9629 9662

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 8:00am – 6:00pm

T By LuxBite on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TbyLuxBite
Twitter: @TbyLuxBite
Instagram: tbyluxbite

A La Folie – Magnifique Macarons & More

panda 4.5 rating
a la folie

Our Order with the Valrhona Hot Chocolate

Our Order with the Valrhona Hot Chocolate

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I have previously been in the South Yarra area and walked past the colourful and breathtaking A La Folie. You will find that people taking a glance at the window and then double back and stop and take a detailed look, and most of the time walking into the store to observe the delectable sweets up close and personal.

A La Folie which can loosely be translated to mean ‘madness’(in the context of love to mean that a person is madly in love) showcases Mercédé Coubard passion and love for baking and creating unique small French treats. Located in Chapel Street, South Yarra, A La Folie is a store that creates wonderful tasting Macaron, Petits Choux, slices and delicate French pastries. Coubard was trained at the Alain Ducasse culinary school and uses A La Folie to showcase her brilliant talent – even catering for special events such as weddings, engagements and birthdays – creating Petit Choux towers.

A La Folie is a type of place that makes you feel like you are in a cute little café right on the streets of Paris – complete with a backdrop of the Eiffel Tower coupled with cute little tables and chairs to match; dotted with red accents of color. Magnifique!

You cannot help by ooh and aah whilst looking through the glass display cases of the colourful macarons, slices and Petit Choux. All products are made in on offsite location and brought to A La Folie.
There are around 17 different macaron flavours to choose from which can include – Valrhona Caraibe Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Vanilla / Soft Caramel, Dulce Chocolate, Pistachio, Matcha / Red Currant, Guanaja / Orange Juice, Passionfruit Ganache, Coconut (Malibu), Grapefruit, Lemon Ganache, Fairy Floss, Blueberry Ganache, Strawberry Mint, Raspberry Ganache, Rose Delight and Champagne.
There are also a number of dainty looking Petit Choux to choose from – Chocolate Coconut, P125 Chocolate, Coffee, Madagascan Vanilla, Pistachio, Raspberry, Mango & Passionfruit, Salted Caramel and Praline – as well as daily special flavours for you to try out in combinations like Lime & Coconut.
A La Folie’s latest creations are the introduction of impressive looking Tarts – which can range from Mixed Fruit, Berry, Lemon Meringue just to name a few. There also is a combination of giant sized macarons and normal sized macarons; which come laced with extra buttercream/ganache in the centre and topped with a delicate decoration on top to match.

It really was a tough decision that A and I had to make to select which flavour macaron and petit choux we wanted to try – after much deliberation I decided on the Vanilla / Soft Caramel Macaron and the Pistachio Petit Choux. A picked the Soft Caramel Macaron and chose the flavour of the day special for her Petit Choux – Lime & Coconut. We also both chose to have the Valrhona Hot Chocolate which sounded amazing when Mercédé described it to us.

We were there on a Saturday around lunch time and thanks to the striking and colourful front window it really does draw in a crowd. Whilst we were there a tour group came in which was great as we got learn a bit about Mercédé and how she got into her love for baking. We even got to meet her daughter (who was working in store).

The macarons were perfect any way you looked at it – from the crispy thin egg-shell like meringue crust complete with chewy almond biscuit to the soft, smooth and flavoursome filling. My Vanilla / Soft Caramel macaron was divine – the perfect level of sweetness and the flavours of vanilla and caramel in perfect balance of each other.

The Petit Choux was decadent. The choux pastry was somewhat crunchy on the outside but light, soft, airy and tantalising on the inside giving way to the silky crème patissière. The crème patissière adds the vibrant burst of flavour once you take your first bite. My pistachio Petit Choux was blissfully delicious; the pistachio flavour delicate and vibrant all at the same time – topped with pistachio fondant and finished with a pistachio nut.

The Valrhona Hot Chocolate is definitely one for Chocoalate lovers – rich, silky and thick, finished with shavings of Valrhona chocolate. Both A and I needed some extra milk to dilute the richness – which allowed us to enjoy and appreciate the drink.

A La Folie also works together with Anthony Hart (Don’t Lose Your Temper – check out his website at http://dontloseyourtemper.com) – who has previously worked at Vue de Monde and The Press Club creating delightful, unique looking desserts – to create Premium Chocolate made specifically for A La Folie. Flavours include Poppin’ Bubble Gum Raspberry and Choc Riso Pops, as well as their very own version of a Wagon Wheel – made of marshmallow, raspberry jam, Turkish delight, rice shortbread and coated with white chocolate and popping candy.

A La Folie is a cute café that oozes French sophistication – the staff here are friendly and Mercédé herself is delightful to talk to. She really does love what she does and the fruition of her ideas that emanated into the standalone A La Folie store is magnificent. The sweet treats are delicious and made with natural and fresh ingredients wherever possible. Put some joy, fun and France into your life and visit A La Folie.

Disclaimer: Grazing Panda (& a guest) were invited to dine at A La Folie as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A great variety and selection of sweet treats – including Macarons, Petit Choux and Tarts
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Feels like you are in a cafe on the streets of Paris
Service: Friendly, Warm and Welcoming
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.alafolie.com.au/
589 Chapel St, South Yarra
Tel No: 9827 3337

Opening Hours:
Sunday to Thursday : 10:00 am – 5:30 pm
Friday & Saturday : 10:00 am – 7:00 pm

A La Folie Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-La-Folie-Macarons-Petits-Choux/217631421649508
Instagram: macaronsandpetitschoux

Two Lost Boys – Brilliant Food & Coffee

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Breakfast Menu Lunch Menu

G and I headed to Two Lost Boys for brunch one Sunday and despite being quite busy didn’t have to wait long at all for a table. Two Lost Boys is café located in a small street, overlooking Windsor station – in Windsor (duh!) – by Justin Kony and Michael Almagor (ex Hobba and Dukes Coffee Roasters).

Despite being almost hidden away on Maddock street, the size of this café is impressive – from walking in from its ceiling to floor glass doors you are greeted by the central counter, which is located just to the left of the kitchen window – it almost deceives you with how big it actually is. This counter is definitely the star attraction – it uses recycled parts of vintage stained-glass doors (from Gumtree!) as its frame and is completed by the impressive Synesso coffee machine pumping out coffees for the patrons.

The feel of the place is fun, lively yet relaxed and happy. Thanks to the surrounding glass windows of the place – the place feel light, airy and welcoming. In terms of seating there is a communal table located directly right of the kitchen, with other seating located past the main counter to the left of the kitchen. There are wooden benches that you can perch yourself on along the wall of windows which overlooks the small street and Windsor station, with tables that seat from 2 to 4 people in the main dining area. There are also some tables located outside – great for a nice sunny day!

Coffee – both filter and espresso – comes from Monk Bodhi Dharma 0 an East St Kilda boutique roster, and they use Schulz Organic Farm milk, which is located in Timboon. You can choose from a house blend as well as two ever-changing single origin blends. There is also a good selection teas and juices.  I order a latte to start which was the pick me I needed – full bodied and had a mixture of a fruity and nutty taste, ending on a creamy note. Perfect!

The idea behind Two Lost boys is to create the perfect balance between great tasting coffees with emphasis on organic locally farmed produce, with the aim to create an environment where quality produce is of the upmost importance. That is such a great value to uphold to and I think the menu here at Two Lost Boys is a real testament to this. The menu has an All Day Breakfast, as well as a Lunch menu which can be served from 11:30am onwards. The chef is Moshe Ittah, and touches of his middle-eastern background can be seen in the menu.

The All Day Breakfast menu consists of the usual’s that you would expect to find but with a Two Lost Boys touch such as Toast, Fruit Bread, Porridge (Coconut Quinoa porridge served with fruit compote, mixed nuts and cinnamon spice), Avo Smash which is served with Labneh and topped with zaatar. There is also a choice of Stuffed Mushrooms, Two Lost Boy Fritters or Baked Eggs – with an option to change it up by adding a Mediterranean Sausage or extra chilli – love this option of adding extra chilli!

The Lunch menu consists of a soup of the day, as well as a selection of salads – salmon, cauliflower or chicken. There is the necessary burger dish which here is served on a brioche bun, as well as a selection of tasty sandwiches.

After much contemplation (I was deciding between the fritters, baked eggs and stuffed mushrooms) I settled for the Two Lost Boy Fritters – Sweet Potato and Beetroot Fritters with House-Cured Salmon Carpaccio, Spinach, Horseradish & Walnut Cream served with Two Poached Eggs. I love the fact that this dish comes with not one but TWO poached eggs. I loveee poached eggs and to have two with my fritters was brilliant. The dish comes out plated up beautifully – the square shaped corn fritter at the base, topped with poached eggs, spinach, salmon in the shape of a rose and a quinelle of horseradish & walnut cream. To start both the eggs were perfectly poached with the silky golden yolk in just the right consistency. I think this was a great interpretation of the usual fritters you find – the combination of sweet potato and beetroot worked well together especially combined with the tang and zestiness of the horseradish and walnut cream. A must try dish!

G ordered the Stuffed Mushroom – Ricotta Stuffed Mushroom with a Poached Egg, Spinach, Spiced Bread Crumbs, Prosciutto and Peperonata Served on Brioche Bread. G did enjoy her dish – the combination of the spice bread crumbs together with the saltiness and creaminess of the ricotta against the smooth mushroom was delicious. The textures and flavours were great – G did let me try some.

We also ordered the Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes – Pancakes with Berry Mascarpone, Fresh Blueberries, Topped with Berry Coulis to share. This was actually a generous sized dish and I am not sure how one could eat all this on their own – I am glad we decided to share this dish! There were 3 Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes piled up on top of each other in a pool of berry coulis, topped with fresh blueberries and mascarpone. The pancakes were light, fluffy and a dream to eat – the tanginess of the lemon worked well with the sweetness of the berries and the mascarpone.

 

The staff are friendly and vibrant, with the service being professional. I love their focus on building relationships with farmers and sourcing organic produce to prepare meals. The food is fresh, delicious and you can tell it is made with care. There are also house made sweet treats which are located at the main counter that can be purchased such as Alfajoes, Mixed Brownies, Mini Date and Oates Crumble just to name a few that were available on the day I visited.
Two Lost Boys is a hidden away gem off the hustle and bustle of Chapel Street, that is well worth your time and effort for a visit. The fit out is simple and welcoming and it really is a place that you could lose track of time in.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Breakfast and Lunch menu – refer to Menu above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Funky and Relaxed
Standout Dish:
Service: Fantastic – Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.twolostboys.com.au/
20/2 Maddock Street , Windsor
Tel No: 9939 9313

Opening Hours:
Monday to  Friday: 6:30am – 4pm
Saturday & Sunday – 8am – 4pm

Two Lost Boys on Urbanspoon

Fiesta Mexican – Spicy, Lively & Fun

panda 4.5 rating

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Menu:
Dessert Menu                       halal symbol
There is an increasing amount of halal restaurants that are opening up all around Melbourne, in fact all around the country! When we first came to Australia many years ago, halal restaurants were quite scarce – and to see them growing at an exponential rate is fantastic! And what I love is that it is not only restricted to the cuisines that you would normally associate with “halal” food such as middle eastern cuisine – but the cuisines itself have quite a variety as well – from Italian to Steakhouses!

When Bill Bilwani from Fiesta Mexican contacted me about coming to try out his restaurant and that the meat was entirely Halal I was wrapped! I am a huge fan of Mexican food and usually have to always stick to the seafood and vegetarian versions of the enchiladas, tacos etc – but with this restaurant being Halal I could experience what every other person gets to – the meat enchiladas, tacos etc! I headed down with my parents to experience this wonderful Mexican place for myself.

Fiesta Mexican has been around for just over 30 years and is located in Toorak Road in South Yarra. It is a family run business owned by Bill Bilwani with his son Shaheen helping out. The venue has had a makeover in the recent months and the result is a vibrant, colourful, mini-Mexico in Melbourne theme complete with psychedelic artwork which includes a hawk to the right when you enter as well as a woman with an eagle as her hair near the bar and counter area. There is mood lighting thanks to the Mexican Steer Bull shaped light shades – these look really cool lined up on the wall and further adding to the Mexican feel. There are wooden tables – each which have engraving on the table top – ours had a dancing Mexican lady – that can seat from 2 right up to 8 people depending on how large your group size is. We were seated at the front of the restaurant by the window – which allowed us to take in the whole length of the restaurant. There are stairs at the back which lead to a function area upstairs that can be booked out for celebrations. An interesting fact to note is that they have had celebrities like Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi and even the Williams sisters come to dine here and there are some menu items named after them – the Agassi or Hewitt Burrito.

We were given our menus and I was overwhelmed by the choice and varieties before me – there were pages and pages of food to choose from and from reading the description of each I almost wanted a little taste of everything. There is an extensive range of tacos, burritos, fajitas, quesadillas, enchiladas as well as a good selection of desserts. There is also a separate Gluten Free menu, and they also cater for vegetarians, coeliac guests and vegans too. The Dine in Menu is split into different sections – Apertivos, Soft Tacos , Entremese (Entrees), Ensaladas (Salads), Comidas (Main Courses) as well as Paellas. The Paellas however need to be ordered 2 days in advance and there are two different options – Chicken or Seafood. There is also a banquette menu – one for $35 and one $45 – the latter has a more seafood feel to it and includes 2 desserts, whereas the other has only one dessert and more of a beef and chicken feel to it. There is also a section that lists out the Vegetarian Main courses. Fiesta Mexican also has a takeaway menu and provides a delivery service as well – further extending out their clientele.

Whilst trying to decide what to order I ordered a drink from the list of Mocktails they had to offer – Mango Margarita. This came out in a larger than normal cocktail glass with a green stem – which contrasted really well with the yellow drink – there was salt around the rim of the glass in true margarita style. The drink was refreshingly sour and I quite enjoyed it.

We decided to order the Wingettes – fiery red hot marinaded chicken wingettes with chipotle and adobe mix, as well as the Carne Enchilada de Cheddar – Oven baked 6” corn tortilla rolled with slow cooked shredded topside beef, Monterey Jack cheese, white onion and mild smoked cayenne sauce to share. The chicken wingettes were delicious and tasted – they had a smoky, spicy yet sweet taste to them with the chicken cooked perfectly. The chipotle added a refreshing hit to those who would find the wingettes spicy.

The Carne Enchilada was soft and really easy to cut into – almost like butter. The beef inside was just as soft and tender – and flavoured deliciously. The combination of the beef, onion and smoky sauce on top was like a flavour hit in your mouth. A great way to start the meal. Each of these dishes came with a side salad consisting of salad leaves, red onions, cucumber and tomato.

For mains we ordered three dishes to share. The first dish was the Fiesta Autentica – the house specialty, a combination of beef, chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, serrano chilli & fresh cilantro, delicious with flour tortillas, arroz verde & leaf salad. This was my favourite dish out of the three mains. The combination of both the beef, chicken and potatoes was fantastic and it had a great addition of spice. It actually reminded me of a dish that my mum used to make when I was younger so the memories it brought back were special too! The flour tortillas added the perfect addition to envelope this spicy tender mix and savor the flavours. Both the chicken and beef were tender and soft. If you love spicy dishes this is definitely one to try out.

The second of the mains we had was the Pollo Cajun – chicken breast coated in a blend of paprika, red pepper & garlic, served with, arroz verde & mango salsa. The coating on the chicken was delicious and really worked well with the texture of the chicken. The chicken wasn’t as tender as in the other dishes, however was still brilliant. The mango salsa was amazing as well – the spiciness mixed in with the sweetness of the mango worked well together. The rice – arroz verde -that came with these dishes were also really tasty – the rice grains were easily separated and was cooked pilaf style – my fave style of rice.

The last of the mains we ordered was the Carne En Tiras – two beef enchiladas with mild cayenne chilli sauce, served with brown rice & pico de gallo. This was similar to the entree that we had and was just as delicious – soft, spicy with a touch of smokines. The addition of the brown rice and pico de gallo was a great addition, and together with the enchiladas was tasty mouthful.

For dessert there was an interesting combination on the menu titled ‘Sensation is Mother of Invention’ – which had jalapeno, Rose Petal with Crunchy Candy Ice Cream – served with White chocolate and raisin sauce – however I wasn’t brave enough to see what that was about. We decided to order the ‘Crazy for Chocolate’ – chocolate mousse, chocolate dipped strawberries, chocolate heart and vanilla ice cream with chocolate flakes. This dish was plated out differently to most other desserts I have come across. The chocolate mousse was in a square glass cup, the vanilla ice cream was in a black espresso cup topped with a strawberry, the chocolate dipped strawberries were placed around with the chocolate heart in the centre of the plate – which served as the “tray” for the dessert. I really liked the presentation and thought it was unique. The chocolate mousse was to die for – creamy, smooth and full of chocolatey goodness. The dipped strawberries had dark chocolate used and the bitterness of the chocolate worked well against the sweetness of the strawberry.

The staff are really friendly and lively which really does add to the complete the atmosphere of the place. From the moment you step in, you are greeted with a happy hello and shown to your table. They seem to really enjoy what they do. We also got to chat to Shaheen for a bit and learnt more about of his passion and drive for being in the food industry despite completing a law degree. He is very engaging and full of smiles, and goes from table to table ensuring all the guests are looked after. Great customer service! Despite being a Wednesday night – the place got really full – with the crowd ranging from couples to larger groups out for dinner.

There were other really interesting dishes around the room that other diners had ordered – such as the sizzling hot plates, and a drink that was flamed. The food was great and stayed true to the authentic Mexican flavours, the atmosphere was fun and lively and the staff friendly. There really is nothing more you can ask for when you go to dine out. The fact that the meat was all halal was a massive bonus for me. If you love Mexican food and want a huge variety to choose from, either way Fiesta Mexican is definitely a place for you!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.fiestamexican.com.au/food_menu.php. If you want to order online you can do so on this link – http://www.menulog.com.au/order/fiesta-mexican-restaurant Refer above for the dessert menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Lively, Fun and Welcoming. You can definitely experience the Mexican vibe be it in the main dining rom or even in the function room located upstairs
Standout Dish:Fiesta Autentica – the house specialty, a combination of beef, chicken, potatoes, tomatoes, serrano chilli & fresh cilantro, delicious with flour tortillas, arroz verde & leaf salad
Service: Fantastic –  Friendly and Welcoming. They also are great if you need any recommendations on what to order
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.fiestamexican.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.fiestamexican.com.au/
175 Toorak Rd, South Yarra
Tel No: 9827 4593

Opening Hours:

Fiesta Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Teppankai – Contemporary Japanese

panda 4 rating

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Teppankai is the idea from Malaysian born Richard Tan to create a Japanese fine-dining experience in Melbourne. Located just behind the bustling Chapel Street in South Yarra – Teppankai is both an a la carte and teppenyaki Japanese restaurant.  I was invited to a Blogger’s night to trial the new menu that was being put into place and was excited to see what the night had in store.

Richard and his childhood friend (from New Zealand) are the creators behind this venue and he explained the meaning of Teppankai – the first two characters of the Japanese logo mean open-grill and the third character “Kai” – translates to ocean in Japanese but also means food in Maori. The name needed to reflect the blending of the Japanese and New Zealand cultures and as a result means “seafood grilled on a plate. “

Teppankai was designed by the award winning retail and hospitality architect, Wayne Finschi. The entrance has an alfresco outdoor dining area complete with heaters and clear “curtains” to aid out the weather elements if it is raining or windy. It is also a great option on a sunny summery day – letting the natural sunlight in as you dine or even have drinks. As you walk into the restaurant thru the timber posts you are greeted with tones of red and black.  There is a private dining area to the right which has tables for a more intimate dinner. The main feature is located past the bar to the left of the entrance – which is the Teppanyaki grill which takes up the length of the restaurant – surrounded by chairs and tables just behind the main grill so you can watch as the chef prepares your meals in front of you.

The focus of Teppankai isn’t all the fun, tricks and throwing of food that comes with the association of Teppanyaki but there is more focus on creating beautiful dishes with great technique and skill together with the importance of being attentive to customers and providing great service.

The chef is Nooei Martens who has 25 years hospitality knowledge specialised in Japanese Cuisine, Teppanyaki and Asian Cuisine. He has used his experience in the food industry to create traditional Japanese meals but in a contemporary style.

The night starts off with a Starter dish of Horenso Ohistahi – Chilled Blanched Spinach & Shitake Mushroom in Light Soy. This comes served in a small stone dish with the brightness of the green spinach standing out against the black dish. The dish was a great starter to get the palate working thanks to the light soy sauce.

The next four dishes were classified as entrée dishes and are part of their new tapas style menu. The first entrée dish served up was Salmon Carpaccio – Salmon Sashimi with Tosazu & Micro Shisho. The salmon was of great quality and literally melted in your mouth. Each individual slice of salmon came with a wedge to add extra acidity and tang.  The tosazu sauce was another great flavour addition to complete a mouth-watering dish.

The second entrée dish was the Spicy Fish Tempura Roll – Lightly tempura battered spicy Salmon Sushi Roll with our special sauce and shredded Dried Chilli. The tempura batter was light yet crispy and had the perfect amount of coating on the fish roll as well as on the vegetables that came with the dish. The salmon in the sushi roll was an added contrast to the crispness of the tempura and was soft, tender and delicious. I loved the addition of the special sauce – it was creamy and spicy at the same – it added another dimension to the dish. All the components together worked really well and it was a great dish – you must try it out.

The third entrée was the Kai Kani Maki – Teppan seared Crab Salad wrapped in Nori Sheets & Barramundi, smothered in our Secret Aioli, flamed and topped with Tabiko and drizzled with a Sweet Soy Reduction. This has to be my favourite dish of the night – both in terms of taste as well as watching how it was made. This dish is crab meat sushi which have been wrapped in both barramundi fish and nori, covered with the secret aioli sauce and blow torched to create the most amazing dish. To finish it is topped with Tabiko (fish rose) and sweet soy sauce. The crab meat is soft, tender and flavoursome – paired with the crunchiness of the fish and seaweed and completed with the creaminess of the aioli and tang of the soy. It is a definite must try – even if it is the only thing you eat!

The last entrée was the Braised Japanese Hamburger – Braised beef ball in Japanese teriyaki glazed with Poached Egg and Lotus Root Chips with Matcha Salt. I didn’t try this dish as I couldn’t eat the meat, but I did see the dish on the tables around me and it was perfectly presented – a mini hamburger stye.

There were two main dishes that were served, the first being the Kaisen Teppanyaki – Chef’s selection of assorted seasonal Seafood cooked at the Hot Plate with Soy Ponzu Dipping Sauce and the second being the Kobe style Eye Fillet – Grain-Fed Eye Fillet seared on the Hot Plate with a splash of Sake, Assorted Mushroom and Miso Dipping Sauce.

The Kaisen Teppanyaki consisted of prawns, scallops, mussels, salmon and scampi – all of which were grilled on the hot plate and presented impeccably on an oval plate. Each piece was cooked perfectly and the addition of the dipping sauces complemented the dish. Overall it was a great dish to showcase the great taste of seafood.

To finish dessert was a Black Sesame Tiramisu –Ladyfinger with black sesame syrup and mascarpone. I am usually not a fan of black sesame and have definitely never seen it being used in a tiramisu so was very interested to see how this dish would work. The flavours actually did work really well together and it was an enjoyable dish. The ladyfingers soaked in the black sesame when combined with the creaminess of the mascarpone was tasty and removes the black sesame flavour for people who are not big fans of the taste.  It certainly did reinvent the traditional tiramisu dish.

The night at Teppankai was very enjoyable and the atmosphere was buzzing. Being able to talk to fellow bloggers as well as the owner of the restaurant was a great opportunity. With fellow bloggers you get to share your foodie experiences and swap notes on which places should be tried out and speaking to the owner of the restaurant allows you to understand their vision and plans.

The food is exquisite and really does showcase delicious Japanese dishes in a contemporary style. It really has had be wanting to visit Japan even more. For a truly authentic take on Japanese dishes, located away from the hustle and bustle of chapel street, check out Teppankai – whether it be for a great Teppanyaki experience or simply enjoying the tapas style dishes.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.teppankai.com.au/#!food/c1jo3 – You can find the Restaurant menu, Banquet Menu, Lunch/Special Menu, Sake Menu and Drinks menu here.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Elegant and Welcoming. The front alfresco area is great for after work drinks or even drinks on a great sunny day! Also great for celebration dinners.
Standout Dish: Kai Kani Maki – Teppan seared Crab Salad wrapped in Nori Sheets & Barramundi, smothered in our Secret Aioli, flamed and topped with Tabiko and drizzled with a Sweet Soy Reduction
Service: Friendly and always full of smiles even when they get really busy! Welcoming and warm.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.teppankai.com.au/
34 Bray St, South Yarra
Tel No: 9827 8822

Opening Hours:
LUNCH
Monday to Saturday: 12:00pm – 2:30pm

DINNER
Monday to Saturday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Teppankai on Urbanspoon

Tivoli Road Bakery – Doissant Heaven

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
The Menu

Tivoli Road Bakery has re-opened in the same location as what was once MoVida Bakery – with Michael James and his wife Pippa running the show. James has been the head baker with the MoVida group since the creation of Movida Aqui so this transition to owning what is now Tivoli Road Bakery was perfect.

The question on every ones lips (including mine) was regarding the famous Doissants that MoVida Bakery has been come to be known for – and indeed it is still for sale. As part of the change, the original products – and more – are definitely here to stay. This was my main reason for visiting Tivoli Road Bakery on a very rainy Melbourne day. I even called up beforehand to make sure they had some in stock, as I know they generally sell out by lunchtime.

As well as being known for these Doissants and Donuts, their main priority (as is for any Bakery) is Bread. There is a huge variety to choose from – sourdough, brioche, olive, rye, spelt, soy and linseed and multigrain being amongst the selection. There are also delicious pies, sandwiches, sausage as well as coffee from Small Batch. And of course for all the sweet tooths out there – croissants (plain, almond or chocolate, with the option of serving with jam), fruit Danishes in both pear and apple varieties, fat slabs of chocolate brownie and chunky as well as the famous donuts – with flavours such as the famous salted caramel, lemon custard, rhubarb and others. For lunch there are also additional specials such as soups and sandwiches.

Customers can also buy Myrtleford Butter and MountZero olives, as well as Small Batch Coffee that they use in store.

Back to the Doissants. What are they you ask? In New York, Ansel Bakery discovered the perfect balance between a crossiant and a donut and named it a “Cronut” – and had it trademarked. Here in Melbourne we have dubbed it the Doissant – how smart! – switching around the order of the two products. Here at Tivoli Road Bakery there are changing flavours and on this day that I went they had the Vanilla Bean Custard and Raspberry flavour as well as the Chocolate Custard. I was very tempted to order one of each but settled with ordering just one of the Vanilla Bean Custard topped with a freeze dried raspberry. The Doissant consisted of multiple layers of flaky pastry which had been fried (as a donut would) and filled with the delicious creamy vanilla bean custard. It really was like biting into heaven. They are quite rich and filling and as good as they were I definitely would have struggled at eating two in one sitting – but definitely take one home for later.

Tivoli Road Bakery is a warm, cosy and welcoming bakery and there is seating inside as well outside overlooking Tivoli Road where you can watch passer byers. There is a communal table with a fresh bunch of flowers where you can sit and overlook the kitchen and see where all the magic is made, or sit by the window – whichever you choose you are sure to enjoy your time here.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed and Welcoming
Standout Dish: THE DOISSANT!
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
tivoliroad.com.au
3 Tivoli Road, South Yarra
Tel No: 9041 4345

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Sunday: 7:30 am – 6:00 pm

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B’Stilla – Moroccan Talk of the Town

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mosq – A little piece of Morroco in the Heart of Chapel Street


                      
Mosq is an alluring restaurant / function space – it combines plush and comfortable day beds together with golden lanterns and lamps, woven rugs which makes it feel like you have stepped onto the set of Aladdin amidst a Moroccan palace. The venue also consists of intimate little alcove areas which are cosy and serve for great photo opportunities. One of my favourite areas is the day bed which is covered in woven rugs and you can just chill out and eat your tapas style food and sip on the yummy cocktails/mocktails.

We went to Mosq for my Mum’s birthday with some of her friends too – altogether there were 6 of us. We ordered some starters as well as three Tagines for the mains. The starters consisted of Chicken Kofte cooked with Pomegranate, Pistachios, Apricots and Mild Spices, Kataifi Wrapped Prawns with Cumin Yoghurt, Sucuk Beef Sausage Skewers grilled with Zucchini and Haloumi and lastly Mushrooms stuffed with Feta, Parmesan and Herbs. My favourite out of these dishes as the stuffed Mushrooms. They were tasty bite sized morsels complete with flavour, but not the usual overwhelming taste that parmesan gives. My mum and her friend started to discuss how to re-create these at home – they were that good! You seriously could eat a plate full of these and be content. The Kataifi prawns were crispy and the cumin yoghurt was a great combination. The Kofte had a mix of both sweet and spice – and the mix actually worked and was quite tasty.

The mains that came out – Lamb Tagine Tender Lamb, Slow Cooked in Mild Moroccan Spices with Winter Vegetables, Garnished with Dates and Almonds, Seafood Tagine Baramundi, Salmon, Mussels and Tiger Prawns Slow Cooked with Preserved Lemon and Olives, Seared Lamb with Moroccan Crust Pan Seared Lamb Crusted in Moroccan Spices served medium Rare on a Sweet Potato, Eggplant and Pistachio Cous Cous and Almond Rice Pilaf. The meats in each of these Tagines, true to their style were soft and tender and literally just melted in your mouth. I wasn’t overly impressed with the Seafood Tagine, but they were generous with the varieties of seafood. I am a huge fan of Rice Pilaf and the Mosq Pilaf was sublime. The pieces of almond together with the individually separated rice, which wasn’t too oily, was simply divine. The Cous Cous was aromatic and tasty, and the Moroccan Spices on the lamb mixed well with the Sweet Potato and Eggplant.

Overall the experience at Mosq was fantastic. The food was flavoursome and the decor made it feel like you had been transported to a little restaurant in Morocco. There is also entertainment from belly dancers to Thursday live flamenco and jazz guitarists. There is also an outdoor terrace area if you wanted to enjoy your food in the summer. There are also Shisha pipes available with or without tobacco in a range of flavours (including apple, strawberry and mint), which can be a great way to finish a meal, together with some mint tea (served in cute little glasses). The menu is authentic and full of Moroccan and Middle Eastern flavours and is affordable, although I sometimes did find the dishes a tad bit on the small side. They have a range of cocktail and mocktails which are delicious and creative.

Just a note for bookings – on Friday and Saturday nights Mosq is only available as a function venue. For functions there are flexible food and drinks menus available with the choice of adding in extras such as the belly dancers, Shisha pipes etc.

Rating : 3 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A La Carte – refer to http://mosq.com.au/
Fullness: 65%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy – it feels like you are in a classy Morrocan restaurant with the rugs, lanterns and lights, as well as the little intimate nooks and a makeshift daybed where you can just chill in a group.
Standout Dish: Roasted Marron, Tarragon Butter
Service: So-So. Maybe they were just having an off night – the service was good and quite friendly, however the dishes took ages to come out and we asked the waiter many times what was happening but they weren’t quite sure.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://mosq.com.au/
Shop 2
60 Bray Street, South Yarra
Tel No:  9804 7770

Opening Hours:
Monday -Thursday: 6pm-11pm
Friday – Sunday: 6pm – 1am

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Mama Baba – A Combination of Greek and Italian

          
      

Left to Right (clockwise) : Haloumi Fried Cheese with Beetroot Relish, Cured Salmon with Yoghurt and Greens, Chorizo Sausage with Peppers, Penne Pasta with Pesto, Peas’ and Almonds, Gnudi- Ricotta, burnt butter, honey, walnuts, sage, capers, Beef Cheek with 2 cheese Wet Polenta, Snapper Fillet with Fish Broth and Lettuce, Capers,Polenta Chips with Sour Cream, Chilli Soffritto

Left to Right (clockwise) : Mama Baba decor, “Our Ferrero Rocher” dessert, the Hanging cheese and meats looking into the kitchen, The bicycle and fruits at the Entrance, The dining area with the bar and the projector wall in the background, The other desserts – The Italian Mess – Caramel mascarpone, meringue, fruits  and Bomboloni – Cinnamon, Nutella
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Our fortnightly work dinner catchup had come around again and this time the place that was chosen was George Colmabaris’ restaurant Mama Baba. I have previously been to his other restaurants (Maha, Press Club, St Katherines to name a few) and have usually enjoyed the food. Mama Baba has a combination of Greek and Italian dishes as the name pertains to – his Mama is Greek and his Baba is Italian (there are decorations around the venue that state this). I think the naming of this restaurant is unique and really shows how much focus he has on family and food which I think is fantastic.

This is not your typical restaurant venue like his other places. It is located in back streets of South Yarra and in what used to be an old warehouse.  It is a wide open spacious restaurant and has a vintage feel to it. You are greeted when you first walk in with a bicycle and some fruits which then follows around to the open and see through kitchen, where you can see the chefs busily preparing food. Cheeses and meats hang from the ceiling. There is a long bar which almost spans the length of the restaurant and has highlighted lighting and is colourful  Something a bit different is the curved wall where a projector plays visual items – on this occasion we had the ballet and then it later changed to the movie – TRON.

In most of George’s Restaurants like Hellenic Republic and St Katherines’, the food has a very homey feeling. Mama Baba is the same. It has a rustic and home cooked feeling to it. The Menu is split into two sections – the Mama which are the Greek dishes, and the Baba section which are the Italian dishes. You can either go A la Carte or choose from the Mama Menu. We decided to go with the Mama Menu – which is a selection of dishes over 4 courses – we were told this was the best way to try out the menu.

The dishes that we got served are pictured above. We started off with 3 entrees plus a vegetarian option for me (Polenta Chips with Sour Cream). The Fried Haloumi with Beetroot Relish was the standout amongst the entrees as was the Cured Salmon with Yoghurt and Greens. Next we got a selection of pasta and this is where I had one gripe – some of my pasta pieces weren’t cooked fully and were hard. The flavour however was nice – pesto and peas and this dish was the greenest dish I have ever seen! The standout dish here and in fact for the night was the Gnudi (Gnocchi). There is just something about the combination of Gnocchi and Burnt butter that makes me drool!  The gnocchi itself were huge and if you were to order just that and have all 5 gnocchis you will definitely need to be rolled out of the restaurant.
The mains were nothing to write home about, they were OK. I could actually taste the fishiness of the fish that came out, and I am never a fan of that. As a vegetarian substitute because I couldn’t eat the Beef Cheek – I was given a wheat grain rice mixed with vegetables which was packed full of flavour and was actually quite nice and very filling, however a bit on the salty side.

Onto dessert (the most important part of the meal I say) – we were given a selection of the Italian Mess and the Bomboloni. Prior to coming to the restaurant, as I do, I checked out the menu and really wanted to try out “Our Ferrero Rocher” – so we ordered that as well. For $13 I was expecting a lot more than a tiny little dessert and was also let down by the flavour. There were no nuts as a normal ferrero rocher has or the wafer biscuit bits. This dessert is one that was talked about so I was expecting something special.

Overall, the place and the decor was fantastic. The food is not up to the normal standard that I would expect from a George Colombaris restaurant. The food was good but not great. Might give it a few months before I go back and try some of the other menu items.

Rating : 3 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – A la Carte Menu, Mama Menu (4 Courses for $55) and Group Menus – http://mamababa.com.au/menus/
Fullness: 85%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Vintage and Open – a massive fan!
Standout Dish: Gnudi
Service: Great Service and very friendly. Sometimes though it was a bit hard to get the waiters attention if we needed something. Also when I called up to make a reservation I had a query about if the food was halal and the lady said she would find out and call me back – and she did. Impressed by that.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://mamababa.com.au/
21 Daly St, South Yarra
Tel No: 9207 7421

Opening Hours:
Lunch: Friday & Sunday: 12pm – 3pm
DINNER:
Monday-Thursday & Saturday:  6pm – LATE
Friday & Sunday: 5pm – LATE

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