Lune Croissanterie – Worth the Early Start

panda 4 rating

My Order of Pastries

My Order of Pastries

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Menu:
Lune Info Lune Menu (2) Lune Menu

Lune Patisserie is one of those places in Melbourne that you just have to experience to understand the hype. It is all about bringing the taste of France (Paris) to Melbourne in the form of delicious tasting pastries and croissants.

Lune wants you to have that unmistakable Parisian experience of catching the scent of butter wafting down the sheet and following your nose only to find an unassuming hole-in-the wall bakery, where you will be served by the baker and you will experience what it is like to eat a croissant that was pulled from the oven no longer than one hour ago.

Located in Elwood (near the intersection of Scott and Tennyson Streets), Lune resides in a quaint double storey house, where owner and baker connoisseur Kate Reid – a former aeronautical engineer who worked as an Aerodynamicist for Formula One – resides as well, together with her business partner / brother Cam. Reid was inspired by a visit to Paris where she visited the famous Du Pain et des Idess and their delectable pastries and was inspired to pursue her love and passion for baking. Reid’s journey is wildly interesting – she began as a sales assistant at Phillipa’s Bakery before moving onto Three Bags Full where she was a pastry chef. As great as these jobs were, Reid had a longing for Paris and took a chance in emailing Du Pain et des Idess and asking them to take her on as an apprentice – which they agreed on. And the rest as they say was history! Reid worked under some of the best pastry chefs in Paris, including Christophe Vasseur who was awarded the Best Baker in Paris by Gourmet magazine in 2008 and Baker of the Year 2012 by respected restaurant guide Pudlo Guide – learning all there is to know about Parisian style patisserie. Reid then moved back to Melbourne where she is renowned for some of the best croissants in Melbourne with lines of people waiting to devour these goodies being a testament.

The croissant is understood to be one of the hardest pastries to master – requiring three days of preparation and four different types of machinery. The key factor is the butter used to make the croissant – you should be able to smell the butter before you bite into – creating a rich buttery goodness. The freshness is yet another key factor – and should generally be eaten within two to three hours of being baked. Another important aspect is that a croissant should be light and flaky – Reid says that after eating a croissant you should have a lap full of flakes!

Croissants take three days to make, with resting between each process to help the dough develop complexity of the flavouring. Reid follows a recipe she learnt from Du Pain et des Idess, which she adapts for Australian flour and milk, and to suit herself. On day one, the dough is mixed and rested for an hour before an 18-hour period of slow fermentation at a cool temperature.
On day two, she flattens the dough and laminates the butter into it, a process called beurrage, which takes up to five hours each day. The butter is folded through the dough and rolled out to create up to 27 layers. Between each fold and roll the dough must be allowed to rest or the gluten will overdevelop and ruin the flavour.
On day three, for the final rollout, the pastry is pressed to a thickness of about four millimetres, cut, and shaped. Once it’s at this stage, you must work quickly to get the croissants into the prover. Then, they are egg-washed and baked at 4am, and so the day begins again.

“Cruffins” is basically a croissant made in a muffin tin—often filled and topped with seasonal ingredients. Past cruffins flavours have included Pavlova, Tiramisu, Lemon & Kaya, Apple crumble, Lime & Yuzu, and “Cherry Ripe”.

On this Saturday morning – my friend and I decided to meet at Lune at 6:30am (which meant I had to be up by 5:45am!!). We both however overslept and I ended up getting there around 10 to 7. As I drove past Lune in search of a car park – I could see the line was at least 20 deep already! Once you arrive at Lune, the process is to line up for a ticket number (they only give out 60 tickets per day), and order a coffee; if you wish – and at that time of the day my guess is that you would definitely be in need for one.
The staff are super friendly, perky and chatty (especially since they would have been up even earlier than me!). I receive ticket number #29 along with the menu, and am asked which pastries I would be interested in. Reid’s brother – Cam – explains that the special flavoured pastries such as the Snickers Croissant (there were 10 available), Coconut Pandan Croissant, Tiramisu Cruffin (only 18 were made) have limited quantities. Whilst you receive your ticket number, you also have the opportunity to order a coffee (much needed especially given the time that some people arrive here!) and head on down to line up in the queue.

Lune officially opens its doors at 8am which gives you quite some time (depending on how early you arrive) to peruse the menu and decide which six pastries you want to take home – if you want to take home six (the average amount that people usually buy is four).

Once the blinds come up and Lune is open for business – you can hear the anticipation from people towards the back of the line as they wonder if they will get their first choice selections.

My order was as follows:

1 x Croissant – Traditional French Crossiant, prepared over 3 days

1 x Choc-Almond: Pain au Chocolate style, with almond & orange frangipane

1 x Kouign Amann – Traditional pastry from the Bretagne region of France – laminated with sugar and baked in a buttered, sugared mould until caramelized

1 x Cinnamon Kouign Amann – as above, with cinnamon added to the laminated pastry

1 x Cruffin – A Lune original Croissant pastry baked in a muffin tin and filled with weekly changing flavours – Jam & Cream and Tiramisu

1 x Twice Baked – Available weekends only – Traditionally in France left over croissants are sold the following day, filled with an almond frangipane and baked for a second time. At Lune we offer the traditional Almond Croissant, as well as special twice baked Croissants.
Almond: The original Croissant aux Amande, prepared with almond frangipane & garnished with a healthy amount of almonds. Coconut Pandan & Snickers were the two other flavours available.

The plain croissants are just divine – flaky, crunchy, soft and buttery – everything that you want out of a croissant that makes you come back for more. The Choc-Almond croissant has a crunchier texture in comparison to the plain croissant and I love the almond flavour that comes through, together with the hint of orange. I am not usually a fan of the orange flavouring in pastries or cakes, however I took quite a liking to how it is infused here at Lune.

The Kouign Amann is not as soft and flaky as a croissant, and it reminded me of something that I used to eat when I was younger – Butterfly Pastry. The sugar coating on the outside gives it the strong crunch, together with the buttery pastry layers that follow in a swirl shape that creates the interior of the pastry which gives a simple yet delicious flavouring. I got both the original and the cinnamon flavour – with the cinnamon Kouign Amann have a delicately strong cinnamon flavour to it. Yum!

The Cruffin would have to be my favourite out of all the pastries – if I had to pick. I had the Jam & Cream Cruffin and I swear this is something that you would get in heaven! The Cruffin comes looking like a muffin (of course!) but has the make-up of a croissant – the soft buttery layers – and topped with cream (in the case of the Jam & Cream flavour). The Jam had been carefully distributed in all the right places in the cruffin and together with the buttery soft layers and cream was delightful. If I was you I would definitely try out a cruffin – in whatever flavour is on offer as I am sure they would be all as good as each other!

People are constantly asking both Cam and Kate why they don’t just make more of the product – and their answer is always the same – they do not want to compromise on quality. Quality is always the key – and it really is a testament to the lines that are always present on the three days that they are open.
However, recently a window of opportunity has opened, and they are have a new partner in the form of Nathan Toleman, who owns The Kettle Black and Top Paddock and co-founded a string of cafes including Liar Liar, Three Bags Full and Two Birds One Stone. The Lune team are looking at sites on the north side of the city that will allow them to expand their production without sacrificing quality. So stay tuned – but in the meantime I would highly recommend you go down to Elwood and try these delicious pastries – trust me they are well worth the early wake up call!

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu –Refer to picture above
Standout Dish: Cruffins!!
Service: Really friendly!!
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://lunecroissanterie.com/
29 Scott Street, Elwood
Tel No: 9077 6463
Opening Hours:
Friday: 7:30am until Sold Out
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am until Sold Out

Lune Croissanterie on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LuneCroissanterie
Instagram: lunecroissant
Twitter: @LuneCroissant

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The Raw Trader – Guilt Free Joy!

panda 3.5 rating

Menu:
Menu

Raw Trader is a newly opened café and specialty dessert that whose main focus is on healthy eating! They offer organic, raw, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free and Paleo healthy desserts and treats. They make the dream of eating desserts guilt-free come true! It also brings the dreams of people who have food allergies or reactions to particular foods come true as now they too can enjoy and experience the joys of delicious tasting desserts without any reaction.

Raw Trader is located off Latrobe Street in Melbourne CBD on Sutherland St, conveniently located near Melbourne Central and Emporium. It is run by Emily Samyue who is a former food technologist who left the corporate world to start this great idea!

The fit-out is brilliantly designed by Studio Y – there is a combination of raw wood together with a slick modern warehouse vibe. There are baby blue table tops which contrast well with the feature wooden wall panelling. The metal baby blue stools topped with resin sack covered cushions complete the look. There are also high light wooden tables located towards the back, with baby blue poles running thru the middle to the high ceilinged venue. The space is light and airy. The main attraction of course is the polished concrete counter (brown with touches of baby blue), which houses the La Marzocco coffee machine as well the star of the counter – the desserts display. Each variety of dessert has its own name board and is displayed upon a wooden board.

Raw Trader makes ALL their products on site (even the nut milks), using the best selection of ingredients with bucket loads of love and care used to create the delectable treats. Along with desserts, they also offer organic coffee – Red Star coffee – tea and hot chocolate. There are also a selection of home-made organic whole fruit and vegetables juices and smoothies available such as Immunity (Orange, Carrot, Kale, Spinach, Acai, Ginger) and Calming (Almond, Raw Cacao, Blueberries) – just to name a few.

There is a vast array of desserts to choose from – raw cheesecakes, slices, bliss balls, chocolate bark, muesli bars, chia puddings just to name a few. There are flavours such as Cherry Ripe Slice, Apricot & Mandarin Slice, Chocolate Pudding, Carrot Cake, Tiramisu, Deconstructed Lemon-Mousse Tart, Apple Crumble, White Chocolate and Berry Layer Cake, Chocolate Banana Slice, Black Forest Cake, Kiwi Layer Cheesecake, Choc Orange Bliss Ball. As you can see there are a variety of options available, with the menu changing daily – you never know what you will get when you arrive at Raw Trader – it all adds to the fun!

You can see from the pictures above the selection that was on offer to me when I visited Raw Trader. I decided to order the Deconstructed Orange Mousse Tart. I am not usually a huge fan of orange flavoured desserts – but I really enjoyed this version! The Orange taste was light and airy as was the mousse. The chocolate crumble that was added around the mousse – added a soft texture and further enhanced the orange flavour. Overall, it was a scrumptious treat that I would recommend you try out. The deconstructed lemon mousse will be next on my list to try! I also had a latte – which was strong, intense and full bodied – just what I needed for the perfect pick me up! I didn’t try their almond like but I think I will give it a try next time around.

You can also buy products from Raw Trader – they offer a range of house-made retail products, such as organic raw granolas, organic teas, organic activated and raw fruit and nuts mixes as well as home-made organic raw almond and hazelnut milks. They also make specialty cakes to order so if you are looking for your next celebration cake then look no further than Raw Trader.

Raw Trader is a great addition to the city for what is a growing raw movement and health-conscious trend. It might be a tad on the pricey side however for what it caters for and the quality of ingredients they use it is quite reasonable. What is great as well is that they are open till late from Wednesday to Saturday which allows you to enjoy these sweet treats and great tasting coffee late into the evening. You can either dine in or takeaway – whichever you prefer!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to Picture above for list of smoothies and juices. Desserts vary on a daily basis
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Fun, Modern and Relaxed
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://rawtrader.com.au/
10 Sutherland Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 0478 692 008

Opening Hours:
Closed Monday and Tuesday
Wednesday to Thursday: 7:30am – 8:30pm
Friday: 7:30am – 10:00pm
Saturday & Sunday – 10:00am – 10:00pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rawtrader14
Instagram: rawtrader
Twitter: @rawtrader14

Raw Trader on Urbanspoon

Saigon Sally – Out of this World Vietnamese

panda 4.5 rating

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Menu:
Menu at Saigon Sally

E was sadly bidding Melbourne adieu and we organized a dinner at Saigon Sally. Saigon Sally is the proud bigger sister of Hanoi Hannah – both located in the Prahran area. Hannoi Hannah is more of a Vietnamese hawker style eatery – a place where you can grab a quick bite to eat, whereas Saigon Sally has a great selection of Vietnamese favourites as well as a variety of wines, cocktails, mocktails and offers a great dining experience. Another plus point is that they take bookings!

Saigon Sally is opened by Simon Blacher, Paul Nguyen, Nick Coulter and Will Newton, together with Adrian Li (ex Donovan) as Head Chef and Tom Stonnill (ex Transit Bar) as Bartender.

From the moment you step into Saigon Sally – you need a minute to take it all in – there is loads of colour and atmosphere present. There is grand bar that is central to the entire venue – wooden and back lit and finished with colourful offerings on top (be it flowers, straws, cups or their colourful menus). What grabs your eye next is the lavish mural artwork of an Asian woman smoking by Michelle Lee, with the smoke from her cigarette swirling onto the concrete ceilings. The back wall is complete with various pictures of Vietnamese ladies in an array of poses. As you walk in to the left is a real life rickshaw filled with various paraphernalia, adding to the funky vibe and feel. What has been done with the space is fantastic and you feel as if you have been transported to another part of the world where you want to spend hours in.

There are a number of seating options available – a large communal table located under the stairs, banquet seating located one at the front of the venue and the second being at the back of the venue, as well as seating around the bar and there are a few tables for 2 located along the mural wall. Tables are wooden with a dash of colour thanks to Saigon Sally’s colourful menu that sits on top. Plates and cutlery – which includes chopsticks of course – is already set out as well. There was 6 of us on this night and we were seated in the back banquet – which suited the size of our group well as we could all comfortably talk and see each other.

We started off by ordering a mix of cocktails and mocktails. I ordered a mocktail which had lychee and passionfruit flavours finished with a purple orchid – I loved the colour contrast between the yellow of the drink and the purple of the flower. Due to the drink being simply delicious I don’t have a picture of it. M ordered the Boom Boom Mojito (Flor de caña white rum chili, viet-mint, kaffir lime leaf, lemon­grass, lime ginger syrup & soda) which came served with a fan of apple pieces, a circular slice of lemon and mint leaves to the side. The other cocktail L ordered had the main ingredient of Pandan – hence its strong green colour which she seemed to enjoy as well.

The menu created by Adrian Li is all about the home-style food which is made for sharing. Each dish takes the traditional Vietnamese dish pieces it together with modern techniques to produce a memorable tasting end product, each balancing the five elements of Vietnamese cuisine – sour, bitter, sweet, spicy and salty. The menu is split into Small, Medium, Large, Sides and Desserts. There is also a “Feed Me” option for $59 per person (minimum 2 people required) which allows you to sample the chef’s favourites. There are around 6 to 9 dishes under each category to choose from.

Even though the menu is made for sharing – we decided to get our own dishes as we were quite hungry. We did however order the Prawn Pandanus – Smoked Prawn, Kaffir Lime, Tamarind & Sesame Caramel – to share. These come out in a serving size of 4 and are wrapped in a crisp pandan leaf – which we told by the waiter that you aren’t meant to eat, but to unwrap this pandan leaf and enjoy the prawn fritter and then eat it. The prawn fritter itself was delicious – semi crunchy on the outside – light and fluffy and flavour filled on the inside with the lovely tones of kaffir lime and tamarind. The sauce that came with the dish provided a sweet element to the whole dish which exemplified the prawn flavour. A great dish.

T ordered the Vietnamese Chicken Coleslaw – Black Bean Poached Chicken, Crisp Vermicelli and Peanuts. This dish comes out with the colourful mix of the tender poached chicken, bean shoots, carrot, Asian basil, peanuts and pickles sitting atop of the crisp white vermicelli. There are a multitude of textures and flavours that intrigue your senses. The flavours of the black bean sauce together with the subtle hint of spice and sweetness from the carrots work well together.

E and I both order the Saigon Chilli Crabs – Soft Shell Crabs, Tomato, Black Bean, Lime, Chilli & Basil. I absolutely loved this dish and it has to be one of the best crab dishes I have eaten. The crab was cooked to perfection – providing a soft and delicate crunch that was filled with delightful crab on the inside. The creamy mayo sauce was another highlight – it had a mixture of saltiness, spice and freshness to it. Together with the other elements of coriander, chilli, basil and cucumber the dish worked well together, with the flavouring spot on. I would highly recommend this dish to anyone.

V ordered the Grilled Quail – Stuffed with Sticky Rice, Spring Onion, Shitake and Lup Cheung. This was a pretty looking dish with the Quail being the centre piece of the dish with Chilli, sprigs of flowers and Onions placed around it. The Qauil looked amazing in all its glazed glory – with a touch of barbequing to provide a crisp skin. The stuffing mix of rice, spring onion, mushroom and Chinese sausage worked well with the flavours of the quail.

M ordered the Grilled Ocean Trout – Tumeric, Dill, Mustard Leaf, Ginger, Jalapeno and Banh Hoi. The trout had been wrapped and cooked in a pandan leaf which enhanced the flavours of the trout. The trout itself was cooked well and remained soft and tender, topped with tumeric, cubes of ginger and jalapeno – which added extra flavour and spice. Banh Hoi which is a Vietnamese dish consisting of rice vermicelli that has been woven into intricate bundles and topped with onions was to the side of the side along with a mixed salads consisting of mustard leaves and other mixed greens.

L asked me what she should order from the menu and I picked out the Shaking Beef Rib – Pho Glazed Short Rib, Crispy Onions, Watercress and Lemon. I was interested in the name of the dish – just what did they mean by “Shaking” beef rib? Later I understood that in Vietnamese the term “luc lac” translates to the word “shaking” and it represents the tossing of the beef back and forth in the wok after it has been seared. There are various ways in which to represent the traditional Bo Luc Lac dish and Saigon Sally does a great interpretation. The beef comes out along with the huge rib bone and sits on top of the watercress, onion, cucumber and coriander salad and is topped with sesame and chilli with a wedge of lemon. The beef was tender and had punchy flavours.

Despite being quite full from each of our dishes we did opt to try out some desserts – reading the dessert list gave us enough temptation and incentive. “Happy Endings” are made at the bar and if you score a spot at the bar you can watch as pastry chef Felix Goodwin prepares desserts.

We order the Banh Bo Nut – Vietnamese Doughnut, Salted Galangal, Caramel & Toasted Coconut Sorbet. These come served a dish which is reminiscent of an off-shaped boat, with 5 doughnut balls in place served with coconut sorbet and finished with a colourful cocktail umbrella. The doughnuts themselves are melt in your mouth delicious! They are served warm, with sugar crusting on the outside providing a crisp texture which works well against the fluffy insides. The salted galangal and caramel sauce adds a sticky texture and provides some extra sweetness, with the coconut sorbet provided a cool hit with a creamy flavour. A delicious dessert!

Next up we ordered the Tira-Ma-Sally -Macaron, Vietnamese Coffee Parfait, Condensed Milk & Peanut Brittle which is the house specialty. These come out looking like your normal everyday sandwich that you would expect to see in your lunch boxes – cut into triangles – but you could not be more wrong. They are far from just normal – they are out of this world amazing! What it is – two triangles of almond Macaron “bread” that is layered with strong, vibrant coffee parfait, condensed milk and peanut brittle. I am not a huge fan of peanut butter – but there was only a slight hint of the peanut taste. The ice cream layer had hints of caramel amongst it which served as a pleasant surprise. This is a definite must try – it’s a pity they don’t give you four pieces instead of two!

From the red glow as you step inside to the colorfulness on the inside Saigon Sally is a must visit place. The food stays true to the Vietnamese basics whilst adding a modern twist which produces great tasting and looking dishes. The concepts – from the unique and interestingly named drinks menu down to the “Happy Ending” desserts is fantastic. The staff are friendly, helpful and the vibe is trendy, inviting, vibrant and fun. As you step outside, don’t forget to check out the laneway filled with colourful street art, hanging lanterns and pairs of shoes. It serves as a great backdrop for photos or just to stare at awe in.

NOTE: Saigon Sally does cater for functions – refer to their website for further information about packages.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$S
Menu – Refer to picture above or look at http://www.saigonsally.com.au/SaigonSally_Menu_001.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Vibrant, Funky, Fun and Welcoming. A place where you could have a lot of fun! If you are looking to host your next function there is information available on their website – http://www.saigonsally.com.au/Saigon_Sally_Function_Menu001.pdf
Standout Dish: Roasted Marron, Tarragon Butter
Service: Friendly, Helpful and Fun
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.saigonsally.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.saigonsally.com.au/
2 Duek Street ,Windsor
Tel No: 9939 5181

Opening Hours:
Mon to Thu 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Fri to Sat 6:00 pm – 1:00 am
Sun 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Saigon Sally on Urbanspoon

90 Secondi – BEST PIZZA in Melbourne!

panda 5 rating

I work around the Docklands area and sometimes with the guys at work we head to Ethihad Stadium at lunchtime. It was on one of these lunchtime trips that I saw a new food place opening at the bottom of the new NAB building at Ethihad Stadium near Gate 3 and mentioned to the guys at work that we need to come check it out once it opened – and we did!

The brand new food place in question is 90 Secondi. This is the latest venture by Johnny Di Francesco, who is also responsible for the acclaimed 400 Gradi pizzeria in Brunswick East. 90 Secondi, is named after the traditional time needed to cook a true Neapolitan-style pizza and it certainly in my opinion is the tastiest and bestest (even if that isn’t a real word) pizza in Melbourne.

Pizza here is made from a custom made wood-fire pizza open which has been shipped directly from Napoli. In fact even mozzarella di bufala (another name for buffalo mozzarella) is air freighted fresh from Caserta in Italy. If that is not authentic in terms of ingredients then I do not know what is! The basis for creation of such great tasting pizza is the oven set at 400 degrees (hence the name 400 Gradi for Di Francesco’s other restaurant) at 90 seconds (ala 90 secondi!) – if pizza is in the oven for longer than 90 seconds than it isn’t a true Neapolitan-style pizza – together with quality dough and use of fresh ingredients.

We went to lunch on a Friday and lucky we made a booking, as the place quickly filled up. The place is open and modern and perfectly lit with filament light bulbs. To add to this there are timber tables, high ceilings (giving it a roomy feel) and accents of red in the form of funky chairs and cris-crossed large light fittings. There is seating both downstairs and upstairs – with a bar / coffee counter station in the middle of the downstairs section. As you walk to your table you get sight of the open kitchen and large wood fire oven where all the magic is created.

When I first walked in – the first thing I saw was one of the chefs twirling the dough around to get it to that thin base – so that’s how they get the base just right! =) We were seated at our table and given the menu. The menu consists of Pizza’s mainly (duh!) but there are also dishes like zucchini flowers and meatballs under the heading Stuzzichini, Pasta dishes, Char grilled lamb ribs and a Mussel dish under the Secondi Menu, fresh salads under the Contorni e Insalate heading and of course finshing with Desserts such as Panna Cotta, Tiramasu and Nutella Calzone under Dolci.

There was a unanimous decision around the table to order pizza’s as they all sounded delicious. I decided to get the Toscana pizza which came with Mushrooms, Goats Cheese, Fior di Latte and Rocket. The pizzas didnt take long to come out and when it did they looked just as good as they sounded. We all couldn’t wait to have the first bite. The crusts were thin – exactly the way that I like my pizza – lightly charred, with a light puffiness to them. The Goats Cheese and Mushroom combination with the Blanco base was oozing with flavour and deliciousness. Loved it. I also got to try the Margherita Verace – San Marzano Tomato, Mozzarella di Bufala, Basil and Parmesan. The Mozzarella di Bufala worked well with the tomato and the basil – such a simple pizza but done fantastically. They say you can tell a good pizza place if their Margherita pizza is great – so going on that – this place is the best. Other pizzas that people got was the Guancia – San Marzana Tomato, Fior di Late, Pancetta, Mushrooms, Olive and Zingara – San Marzano Tomato, Fior di Latte, Hot Salame, Rocket. Both of these pizzas as well had the same response when asked how the pizza was – they all loved it.

The pizzas are quite large in size but you never see a plate that isn’t empty because why would you want to waste such great tasting pizza. The pizzas are quite filling, that you are almost left no room to try out the dessert. On another (of the many occasions that I have already been there)  – I tried out the Nutella Calzone – which you can get in both Mini and Grande size. I ordered the Mini size and was surprised when it came out to see how big the Mini size was – if this was the mini size just how big is the Grande size. The dough was soft and tasty – just like the pizza dough – and was filled with warm, oozy nutella and is one to try for all the chocolate lovers. One thing I wasn’t a huge fan of was the ice-cream that came with the Calzone – but then again that could be just me.

90 Secondi is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and it set up to be more of a casual dining venue which is different to 400 Gradi. The idea behind the location is to target some of the footy traffic before a game, as well as the corporate people around the area. It certainly is a welcome addition to the area and really does brighten up the food scene out at Docklands. 90 Secondi is authentically Italian and serves delicious food – the staff are friendly and welcoming which is an added benefit. The coffee here is pretty damn good as well – I walked all the way around from my seat during half time at a footy game to get coffee – strong nutty and creamy flavours. Their Chai Lattes are just as tasty as well.

If you love Italian and love pizzas – you definitely have to try this place out. You don’t know what you are missing.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and Fun – A little piece of Italy in Docklands
Standout Dish: Any of the Pizzas! You wont be disappointed
Service: Fantastic, Friendly and Attentive
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
90secondi.com.au
1/700 Bourke Street, Docklands
(Opposite Gate 3, Ethihad Stadium)
Tel No: 9600 2841

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 7am – 11pm
Saturday & Sunday: 12pm – 11pm

90 Secondi on Urbanspoon

Gorksi and Jones – Melbourne Style, Simple Tasty Food

panda-3-5-rating2

For my birthday dinner with my group of friends I picked Gorski & Jones. This great restaurant is located in Smith Street in Collingwood and is brought to you by Paul and Linda Jones – who also head up Brunswick Street’s popular Alimnetari together with Meaghan Gorski (ex-Jacques Reymond, St Peter’s) and voila you get the name Gorski & Jones. It was Gorski herself who drew up the initial sketches to overhaul what used to be The Last Record Store (which had been here for the last 18 years) and gave the ideas over to artist David Murray.

The result is a welcoming and warm room despite its high wooden ceilings – it is complete with bare brick walls, industrial lightshades which create mood lighting, plant boxes, an open kitchen with white tiles and the highlight of the kitchen – the wood-fire oven. The other main highlight of the room is the long marble bar with dark wooden pannelling. Atop of the bar is ever changing daily selection of antipasti which is displayed in a glass cabinet.You can walk through the main room through to the well constructed outside inside courtyard, so it’s a great place for all types of weather. The courtyard is long, homely and warm complete with its wooden floors and over-sized lights.

The wait staff are just as warm as the venue is and are super-friendly and happy to help in any way. They knew it was a birthday dinner and offered the table a free glass of wine for everyone which I thought was a nice touch. The menu is split into 5 different sections – antipasto, entree, main, sides and desserts. We are all quite hungry so it doesn’t take too long to decide on what we want. There were some specials that were available as well – with the highlight amongst the table being the crackling pork. The fish of the day was a Snapper cooked whole. I was deciding between the fish of the day, the risotto and the gnocchi pasta. I decided to go with the gnocchi in the end.

Whilst our food arrived we were given warm house made bread together with ricotta which was placed along with the olive oil. Something so simple yet tasted so good and everyone around the table enjoyed this addition of ricotta. Gorski and Jones was already off to a great start in terms of food.

For starters we got a serving of the Zucchini Flowers – Stuffed Zucchini Flowers, Mozzarella and Peperonata. The Zucchini Flowers come in a tempura style covering and are stuffed with delicious creamy ricotta which comes atop of the peperonata. The dish is fresh and flavoursome and one of the better zucchini flowers I have tasted.

There was a variety of different dishes around the table for mains. This ranged from lamb to chicken livers! There was Chicken Cacciatore, Pancetta, Kiplers, Olives as well as Pappardelle, Guanciale, Chicken Livers, Caramelised Onions & Radicchio. N had the pasta with chicken livers and thought it was quite a tasty dish, however couldn’t finish the entire dish as it was quite filling. S had the Roasted Lamb Rump with White Beans, Rosemary and Olive Tapenade – which was quite a generous serving and the white beans complimented the perfectly cooked lamb. M had the Saffron Risotto with Scallops, Peas, Dill and Lemon – of which I got to taste a portion of. The risotto was cooked well and had all the seafoody flavours from the scallops – the only feedback that both M and I would have was that there could have been more scallops added. L had the Fish of the Day which was the Snapper on this night ( I got to try a bit of this dish as well) – the snapper came with the bones attached and was flavoured with a lemon sauce with capers. The dish that I got for my main was the Ricotta Gnocchi, Broccolini, Pangratata. The gnocchi was quite tasty and perfectly sized – some pieces were tougher than others. I enjoyed the combination of the Broccolini and Pangratata (which is breadcrumbs), together with the tangyness of the tomato. The portion sizing might look small – but it definitely fills you right up. L&P both ordered the special of the Crackling Pig Pie with Potatoes and both loved the dish! If you have a look at the pictures of these dishes – the serving sizes were massive! It was safe to say that everyone around the table were quite satisfyingly full after each of their mans. The food was homely and delicious thanks to the fresh produce and the interesting combination of flavours.

Some of us around the table decided to get dessert dishes and share them – we got the Squacquerone Panna cotta, Spiced Pear and the Hot Chocolate Pudding, Chestnut Ice Cream. We all wondered what squacquerone was – turns out it is a type of cheese – quite mild in taste and reminds me of a tangy version of mascarpone. I have never had a cheesy flavoured panna cotta before so was intrigued to see what it tasted like. This panna cotta was different to any other panna cotta I have tasted before – it had sour tang flavour to it that blended well with the vanilla bean taste of the panna cotta – put together with the spiced pear it worked effortlessly. This flavour combination is something that I am quite sure most people would never have tried – but definitely try this dish when you come to Gorski and Jones. The Hot Chocolate Pudding was another great dessert dish – warm and with a gooey chocolatey centre paired with the chestnut ice cream. A must for chocolate lovers.

Gorski and Jones is a great venue for any occasion – be it a casual or more formal affair. It presents affordable dining in typical Melbourne surrounds that is warm and refreshing. The menu has an Italian influence with modern touches and is all round delicious. Next time you are in the area – come into Gorski and Jones – you really wont regret it!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.gorskiandjones.com/ for Breakfast (http://gorskiandjones.com/assets/pdf/breakfast.pdf), Lunch (http://gorskiandjones.com/assets/pdf/lunch.pdf), Dinner (http://gorskiandjones.com/assets/pdf/dinner.pdf), Drinks (http://gorskiandjones.com/assets/pdf/drinks.pdf), Wines (http://gorskiandjones.com/assets/pdf/winelist.pdf) and Dessert (http://gorskiandjones.com/assets/pdf/dessert.pdf) menus
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Funky, Fun and Casual. Great place to just chill out and enjoy some great food amongst friends.
Standout Dish: Squacquerone Pannacota, Spiced Pear
Service: Friendly, Warm and Receptive.
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://gorskiandjones.com/wordpress/
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.gorskiandjones.com
304 Smith Street, Collingwood
Tel No: 9417 7779

Opening Hours
Mondays Closed
Tuesday: 5pm to 11pm
Wednesday to Sunday: 8am to 11pm

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Epocha – Tasty & Wholesome Food!

panda-4-5-rating4

halal (1)(ONLY THE CHICKEN IS HALAL)

Epocha which means ‘a new or distinctive era’ in a variety of European languages is a newly opened restaurant in Rathdowne Street, Carlton. It is located in the stunning heritage listed Victorian terrace which overlooks Carlton Gardens. And as owner Angie Giannakodakis, researched and discovered that it was commissioned by gentlewoman Hannah Mabel in 1884 – and the upstairs bar pays homage to her and is aptly called Hannah’s Bar.

Epocha is European inspired restaurant and bar brought to you by Angie Giannakodakis (former front-of-house manager The Press Club) together with business partner Guy Holder. The head chef is Mick Bolam who is the former head chef of Restaurant Sanctuary at Peppers in the Hunter Valley. The main focus of Epocha is around its main philosophy – sharing tasty and wholesome food. It is home style food that pays tribute to its European traditions with touches of Greek, English and French influences (such as the charcuterie and cheeses).

As you walk up the stairs to the terrace house entrance you know that you are about to expect something that you will be awe of – and you wont be disappointed. A elegant and rustic dining room welcomes you complete with wooden floors (that are creaky for authenticity), low hanging lights, dark wooden furniture with a colourful tiled table top, a huge old school style clock on the wall and homely olive green chairs. It really has a homely feel to it and you know you are in good hands as the service is impeccable, warm and welcoming – you just fit right in.

In addition to the main downstairs dining area, there is an upstairs area / function room with a balcony – this is Hannah’s Bar. You can come here for casual drinks as well as play games of backgammon.

We were seating in the downstairs dining area and the first thing that caught my idea was a wooden trolley which had a variety of cheeses as well as desserts on offer. What also caught my eye on the trolley was the wooden frame which housed honeycomb and honey. Such a great idea which once again makes it feel more homely. The menu is split into different sections such as snacks, small shares, large shares, accompaniments, dessert & cheese. There is also a sharing menu which is $68 per person where the Chef will pick what dishes your table gets. We decided to pick some dishes from each of the snacks, small shares, large shares and accompaniments. The waitress was helpful in letting us know if she thought we had ordered too many dishes, and assisted us in choosing our dishes as well.

Whilst we waited for our food we were given warm bread which comes in a knotted cloth bag which is something different. The bread (rye and caraway seed) was freshly made, soft and delicious. I got an oyster to start off with – fresh and tasty. We also got Mushroom Aranchini and Jamon, Fior Di Latte Croquettes to start off with. The Mushroom Aranchini was crumbed and crunchy on the outside and the filling on the inside was perfectly seasoned, and the mushrooms were moist and tasty. My friends did enjoy the Jamon Croquettes as well, and they were on the large side so that was an added bonus. We also got the Spiced Chickpea and Bread Crisps. The spiced chickpea was quite tasty and had a great balance of tanginess and spice. I loved the addition of the bread crisps – I enjoyed the crunchiness against the chickpea dip.

Some of the smaller share dishes that we selected were – Spring Asparagus with Slow Cooked Hens Egg, Tarragon and the Baby Carrots, Honey, Goat’s Curd, Sesame, Beetroot and Skate, Caper, Lemon, Parsley, Fava and lastly the Confit Duck Leg, Peas, Lettuce. The asparagus dish was a very different and interesting dish  – the asparagus was simply sautéed and absorbed the flavours of the tarragon, the hens egg was perfectly cooked and once you cracked it open the yolk oozed out and served as an additional sauce for the asparagus. The flavour combination was a mash of flavours that worked.

The Beetroot and Honey dish was my favourite dish and to this day I talk about it. I LOVED IT. The honey together with the goats curd was a great mix and was delicious – add in the sweetness and softness of the beetroot and carrots and you truly have a memorable dish. Highly recommended.

Skate is a type of large marine fish and this dish came with capers, lemon and fava – which is a type of bean. The sauce was tangy and creamy all at the same time. The skate was cooked fantastically and was still moist and mild in flavour. You really did need the addition of the capers and the sauce to really make the dish and make them it did. Another really tasty dish.

Once we had finished our snacks and smaller share dishes, it time for the larger shares. First up we got the Bird – which consisted of the breast, wing, thigh and leg. Crispy and crackly on the outside, moist and simply seasoned on the inside. This dish was served with a swig of rosemary. The whole fish that we got was Flounder – this came with Fruit Rub, Dill, Lemon and Salsa Verde. The dish comes out to the table as a whole fish and then we get to watch our waitress de-bone the entire fish for us. It’s a great process to watch as they seem to glide through the process – I could never do it with such ease. The fish is buttery and cooked amazingly, the salsa verde and fruit rub give it a mix of tangy and sweetness – you could add lemon if you needed an additional tang. We did order another larger dish but it was never brought out – and we were actually alright with that anyway as we were all so full and still had dessert to go.

Dessert time meant that the trolley was wheeled over to us for us to decide – they all cost $12. We settled on getting one of each dessert – Crème brulee, Chocolate Gateau, Tiramasu and Lemon & Ricotta Cannoli. The Crème brulee was smooth, sweet and small with a delicious crackling on top. The Lemon & Ricotta Cannoli was crunchy and the pastry was delicious – the lemon filling was buttery, sharp and strong all at the same time. The tiramisu ( I couldn’t have this as it had lots of alcohol in it) was quite alcohol filled as my friends told me but delicious nonetheless. The Chocolate Gateau was a clear winner – from the brownie bass to the centre chocolate mousse filling and topped off with a ganache chocolate topping. It looked as rich as it sounds but was such a great way to finish a fantastic meal.

Epocha is a fantastic place that everyone should definitely check it out – be it for a casual drink upstairs or if its a meal at the dining room downstairs. The atmosphere is homely, welcoming and quaint and the service is one of the best that I have experienced in Melbourne. There is antique silverware, vintage cutlery and crockery, colorful table tops, wooden creaky floors all which add to its uniqueness. There is also an international wine selection and the staff are happy to assist in getting you the right selection. If there is one place that should be on your list of places to try out it should be EPOCHA.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Dinner Menu – can be found at http://epocha.com.au/pdf/Epocha-Menu.pdf
On Sundays there is a four course menu available for a Family Sunday priced at $45 pp
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience:
Standout Dish: Baby Carrots, Honey, Goats Curd, Seasame, Beetroot (this is my new fave salad – IT’S THAT GOOD!!)
Service: Fantastic and Attentive and Friendly. We asked our waitress quite a bit of questions and she answered all of them and if she didn’t know the answer, she found out. They are also very inviting and hospitable. All round great service!
Online Booking: They are currently updating their website so it is best to call or email at eat@epocha.com.au
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://epocha.com.au/
49 Rathdowne St, Carlton
Tel No: 9036 4949

Opening Hours:
Closed Mondays
Lunch
Tuesday to Saturday: From 12pm
Dinner
Tuesday to Saturday: 5:30pm to Late
Sunday Roast Lunch: 12pm to 4pm

Hannah’s Bar
Tuesday to Saturday: 12pm to Late

Epocha on Urbanspoon