Form Cafe – Suburban Treat

panda 4 rating

Menu:
Form Cafe Menu 1 Form Cafe Menu 3 Form Cafe 2

Form Café is located in the suburban streets of Essendon and has been on my list of cafes to try for a while. I found myself in and around that area on a Saturday so decided to pop by for something to eat before running more errands.

Form Café resides on Albion Street in what used to be a milk bar, then a house, then an artists’ studio and finally a café. Owned by Rob Cecchinelli and Jason Currie (both from Ray) – this café has a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere where you can see yourself spending lots of time without even realising how much time you have spent. I especially love the wheelbarrow garden located at the front of the restaurant coupled with a chalkboard sign with its name on it.

The interior is mostly white with splashes of wood throughout. I love the island bench that houses the terracotta jugs where you can self-serve your own water – it actually makes self service cool! Carrying on the self-service theme are the cutlery and serviettes that are clustered in the middle of each table held in a tomato soup tin – how vintage! Carrying on the vintage vibe is the menu that is written on brown butcher’ paper. There are three main sitting areas – one as you walk in, another as you go up the stairs (almost like a raised living area) and then outside in the courtyard.

The menu begins with the classics that you expect to find on a breakkie / brunch menu such as Fruit Toast, Pet (Poached Eggs on Toast), The Good Stuff (Bircher Muesli with Poached Fruit, Cream, Pistachios & Honey) and then moves onto the more unique dishes such as Shane’s Sardines (Tinned Sardines on Toast with Pickled Fennel and Salsa Verde), Cheese & Onion Square (Leek & Onion braised in White Wine on Toast, sat under Grilled Messy Valley Cheese) and Smash (Avo, Tomatoes, Danish Feta on Multi-Grain Toast with Grilled Corn) – just to name a few. There is also Gluten Free bread available.

I order a latte while I decide on what food I want. The Latte is perfection in a cup – strong with nutty flavours and just the right amount of milk and foam. I decide to order the Trout – Petuna Smoked Trout, Potato Cake and Lemon Scented Zucchini and Poached Eggs. I was surprised at how quickly the dish appeared at my table not long after I had ordered. A few tables down – the patrons made the same comment as well – the quick delivery of food once their orders had been placed. Efficiency at its best!

Food is served on recycled plates (they really are looking out for the environment) – which I don’t mind at all! The Potato Cake sits on the bottom with the beautifully smoked trout layered on top followed by the lemon scented zucchini and finished with rocket leaves. It looks like a Christmas tree that I can’t wait to devour. The poached egg is placed to the side surrounded by peas, pepitas and dukkah. The Potato cake is soft on the inside with a crisp and delicious tasting crunch on the outside – it is not what you would expect normally when you think potato cake – but is fantastic nonetheless. The combination of the fresh cool trout with the warm potato and hint of tang from the lemon scented zucchini is a divine combination. The egg was poached nicely and the addition of the peas and pepitas added extra texture. The dish was consumed just about as fast as it arrived.

The service is a bit varied but overall friendly – especially the barista as you leave – which makes your experience a whole lot better and makes you want to come back. Form Café is a great addition to the area and I will definitely be back to try out Shane’s Sardines!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable and Casual
Service: Friendlyish…
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Form-Cafe/184897851654353
32 Albion Street, Essendon
Tel No: 9375 3232

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 6.30am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am – 4:00pm

Form Cafe on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Form-Cafe/184897851654353
Twitter: @ForMCafeMelb
Instagram: @formcafe

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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 Black Toro – Hispanic Delight

panda 3.5 rating

It was a Tuesday night and my friend E and I were in the Glen Waverley area and wanted to grab some dinner – I have been wanting to try out The Black Toro for a while so we thought we would give it a shot. It was about 7pm on a Tuesday and we hadn’t made a booking and when we arrived were told that all the tables were taken but that something should come up in about 15-20 minutes time and that they would call us the moment a table came available. We thought this wasn’t too long a wait and decided to go have a coffee in a nearby restaurant whilst we waited. Although we didn’t get a phone call (hmm??), we decided to go and see if anything was available about 30 minutes later and a table had happened to be free – so we were seated.

The Black Toro is the venture from former Ezard chef, Garen Maskal and has a Hispanic theme to it offering a Mexican and Peruvian inspired menu which includes innovative and interesting tapas style dishes. It is located in the always bustling Kingsway strip in Glen Waverley (like I said we went on a Tuesday night and parking was a nightmare! And the restaurant was at full capacity). As the name suggest, there is a lot of black happening at the venue – from the signage to the wrought iron screens as you walk in the door and completed with dark timber tables and chairs. The lighting is dimly lit but enough to create a cosy and welcoming atmosphere. As you walk in you are greeted with the lengthy bar which is followed at the end by the kitchen. The main feature however, is the huge mural of a charging bull with smoking, angry eyes which helps to create the Latino vibe.

The menu is separated into 4 different sections – Poco Plates (which are your smaller dishes), Grande Plates (which as the name suggests are your larger dishes), Sides and Salsas and finishing with Desserts. The Poco Plates consists of dishes from Cured Salmon to Wagyu Beef Sliders (which from looking around at what people were ordering was one the popular dishes) to Crab. There are also quite a few vegetarian options as well. I also like how the Pico Plates section tells you how many pieces will come in a serving – saves you the trouble from having to ask the wait staff. Grande Plates include Lamb, Beef, Whole Chicken, Fish and two Veggie dishes. At the bottom of the menu is a glossary for some ingredients or foods that you might not know about which is handy.

The friendly waitress informed us that for the two of if we had about 2-3 poco plates and maybe 1 Grande plate that should be enough for us. We decided to go with 4 of the Poco Plates and also we got one side dish. You would think ordering 4 of the smaller sized dishes wouldn’t be enough but the serving size at The Black Toro is quite generous and even with these 4 “smaller” dishes we couldn’t finish all of our meals.

The first dish we ordered was the Mushroom Taco with Corn Truffle, Ricotta and Chive – which comes in a serving of two – which was perfect for the two of us. The mushroom and Corn Truffle filling is dense with a garlicky flavour added to the mushroom, coupled together with the salty smooth flavour of the cheese – it was a great combination. The overall juiciness of the mushroom combining with the semi crisp taco bread was divine.

The next dish – which I would have to say was one of my favourites for the night – was the Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Buttermilk Dressing & Sriracha. Sriracha for those of you who do not know is a Thai Hot sauce made from sun-ripened chilli peppers together with vinegar and garlic – and tastes spicy and delicious. The Crispy Soft Shell Crab came beautifully presented with the crab being the centre of the dish with the sriracha around the crab. The outer coating of the crab was perfectly crisp with just the right amount of saltiness, and the crab on the inside was fresh and flavoured perfectly. The buttermilk dressing was smooth and flavoured correctly and combining it with the spiciness of the sriracha and the saltiness of the crab was a great flavour hit in your mouth.

The next dish we ordered was the Kingfish Sashimi with Orange Pressed Apple, Jicama and Burnt Agave Nectar. Once again the dish was beautifully presented on a long black dish which made the pinkness of the Kingfish and the Orange strand out. I was a tad bit disappointed with this dish, even though the Kingfish was fresh and had a great texture, the flavours just didn’t do it for me. The sweet and sourness of the orange and the apple paired with the Kingfish was nice but there was something missing in the flavour palate – it needed a bit of saltiness.

The side dish that we ordered (as it came recommended by our waiter) was the Zucchini & Corn Fritters – which were fluffy parcels of yumness! As a side dish once again the quantity was huge as there were about 10-12 pieces! These serving sizes are really quite generous! We also got some house made chilli sauce to go with this dish which further exemplified the dish.

E ordered the Sticky Chicken Wings with Cripsy Jalapeno and Coriander – which she was perfectly cooked and was crispy, glazed and salty on the outside whilst being juicy and soft on the inside.

Even though we were both quite full, we couldn’t leave this place without at least trying out a dessert so we decided to share the Frozen Nutella Parfait, Broken Tres Leches Cake, Toasted Meringue & Banana. This was a rather interesting dessert – with each part being deconstructed. Tres Leches Cake is a ‘three milk cake’ which resembles a dense sponge cake and is quite delicious in its own right. It is made by soaking butter cake in three different types of milk – evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream. The Frozen Nutella Parfait was the centre of the dish and the key to this dish and was filled with hazelnuts yet kept its chocolatey flavour. The other elements surrounded this centrepiece and put together it was a welcome sweetness.

There is also an extensive drinks lists which covers wines, beers, cocktails as well as having 3 different mocktails. They really do cater for everyone =)

The Black Toro is a fantastic place for dinner – be it a catch up with friends or even a romantic dinner with your partner. It was established to bring something different to the Glen Waverley area – where the surrounding restaurants and cafes are of the Asian Cuisine – and the locals and non-locals sure do appreciate it. The dishes are quite different to what you would normally experience and show a range of skill and technique in its preparation. Having only sampled a few dishes I will definitely be visiting again to try out all the other delicious sounding dishes.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Poco Plates at http://theblacktoro.com.au/?page_id=832
Grande Plates and Sides/Salsas at http://theblacktoro.com.au/?page_id=953
Desserts at http://theblacktoro.com.au/?page_id=959
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Comfortable and bit Classy – the lighting is dimly lit and makes you feel at home. Check out the Raging Bull mural on the wall – this is the centre piece of the restaurant.
Standout Dish: Crispy Soft Shell Crab with Buttermilk Dressing & Sriracha
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking:  Yes – via http://www.bookarestaurant.com/widget/details/The-Black-Toro/4242
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://test.theblacktoro.com.au/
79 Kingsway, Glen Waverley
Tel No: 9561 9696

Opening Hours:
Lunch:
Monday to Sunday: 12:00pm – 3:00pm
Dinner:
Monday to Sunday: 6:00pm – Late

The Black Toro on Urbanspoon

Penny Farthing Expresso – Great Great Coffee!

panda-4-rating1

Penny Farthing Expresso is located in the subrub of Northcote and is a cosy cafe and restaurant, and true to its name, has its very own Penny Farthing bicycle in the front window. Penny Farthing Expresso is from the same team that brought you Industry Beans – Trevor and Steve Simmons.

There is an all-day breakfast (http://pennyfarthingespresso.com/menu/breakfast/) , lunch (http://pennyfarthingespresso.com/menu/lunch/) and dinner menu available. There is also an impressive coffee menu from single-origin coffee blends, where they roast their beans on-site. Lunch menu consists of a variety of things like sandwiches, rostis and bruschetta to a whole lot more. The dinner menu is more of a sharing experience. There is a 7 seven course “Feed Me” menu. The dinner menu is split into Penny (larger dishes) and Farthing (smaller entree like size dishes). Check out the menu and prices here – http://pennyfarthingespresso.com/menu/dinner/

I ordered the Smash which is house marinated feta & avocado smashed together with fresh basil & mint, served on organic sourdough with a side of chilli oil. The chilli oil was a welcome addition as I like my dishes with that little bit of heat. I also loved the addition of the fresh basil and mint through the avocado – this is one of the first places that I have had my avocado this way and the flavours really mesh beautifully together. N ordered Two free range fried eggs (You can get the eggs cooked in the manner you prefer) served on sourdough toast with a side of housemade sweet harissa. The housemade harissa was delicious and had the right balance of flavours (I sneaked a taste of some off N’s breakkie =p).

What I also love about the menus here at Penny Farthing Expresso is the range of vegetarian options available. Not only do they sound amazing but to have that variety is fantastic. The staff here are friendly and always happy to answer any questions. They answered questions about the coffees that were available and which ones should be tried. Love having staff that know what they are talking about coffee-wise =)

Having tried out breakkie here I definitely want to go back and try out their dinner menu and see what their “Feed Me” menu is like. This place is a more than just once a visit kinda place!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Menu – http://pennyfarthingespresso.com/menu/
Dinner is from Tuesday to Sunday – You can do the 7 course chef selection called the “Feed Me” menu which costs $40 for the vegetarian option and $45 for the non-vegetarian option. Such value for money!
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable and Casual
Service: Friendly and Helpful
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://pennyfarthingespresso.com/contact/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://pennyfarthingespresso.com/
206 High St
Northcote
Tel No: 9482 2246

Opening Hours:
Monday – 7.30am to 5.00pm
Tuesday – Friday – 7.30am to Late
Saturday & Sunday – 8.30am to Late

Penny Farthing Espresso on Urbanspoon