Panda Wedding Fun!

Hey Guys!

So relating to my previous post of being MIA – one of the main reasons was because I was busy planning a wedding and got married back in June 2015. We have been lucky enough to be nominated for Wedding of Year 2015 and would greatly appreciate your support. If you could click on the link below and Vote for Shazrina & Nik – that would be awesome.

I had a really fun time organising and planning all the details of the wedding – from the quote on the bottom of my shoe to the personalised thank you tags for guests, the photo collage in the shape of our initials – I really did love it all. Of course my favourite aspect was the food tasting and selecting of dishes for my guests on the two different nights.

For our Indian reception we had catering done from Topaz Catering – a delicious Sri Lankan banquet.
For the reception at Encore in St Kilda – we had the lovely staff provide our guests with a 3 course meal of dishes we selected.
Entree:
Spanner Crab with Avocado, Apple Puree, Daikon and Puffed Wild Rice
Slow cooked Buttermilk Chicken with Crisp Jerusalem Artichoke, Goats Curd and Figs

Main:
Truffled Chicken Breast with Boudin Blanc, Sweet Corn Polenta and Popcorn
Slow Cooked Salmon with Prawn Colcannon and Pea Puree

Dessert:
Caramel Ice Cream Paddles with Chocolate and Praline Hazelnuts
Passionfruit Tarts with Soft and Crispy Meringue
Wedding Cake

What I also enjoyed was cake tasting – and picking the different flavours for our – not one but TWO wedding cakes. My choices were White Chocolate Raspberry (which was my all time favourite), Caramel, White Chocolate and Chocolate Fudge.
We had the lovely Vinu from Vindya Boutique Cake Studio – https://www.facebook.com/Vindya-102326746613223/ (for the Indian Reception) and Jo from Splendid Servings – http://splendidservings.com.au/ (for the Encore Reception) creating our beautiful cakes.

If that wasn’t enough sweetness – we also had a beautiful blue themed dessert table created by ever talented Ngoc from The Dessert Parlour – http://thedessertparlour.com.au/. Our table was filled with homemade and personalized cookies, marble heart shaped chocolates and meringues – along with a variety of lollies and candies.

Shazrina_Nik_Cultural-Wedding_005
Our Wedding Cake by Vindya Boutique Cake Studio (https://www.facebook.com/Vindya-102326746613223/)
Shazrina_Nik_Cultural-Wedding_SBS_013-600x900
Our Wedding Cake by Splendid Servings (http://splendidservings.com.au/)
Shazrina_Nik_Cultural-Wedding_016-900x600  Shazrina_Nik_Cultural-Wedding_SBS_014-600x900
Our beautiful Dessert Table from The Dessert Parlour (http://thedessertparlour.com.au/)

If you could head to the following link(s) and Vote for Shazrina & Nik – that would be great!

http://www.easyweddings.com.au/real-weddings/competition/december-2015-nominees/

http://www.easyweddings.com.au/real-weddings/traditions-combine-shazrina-niks-three-day-cultural-wedding/

Thank you all so much for the support

Much Love

Grazing Panda xx

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Mörk Chocolate Brewhouse – Calling All Chocolate Lovers!

panda 5 rating

Menu:
Mork Menu Mork Menu

I have always loved Hot Chocolates so was excited to learn that one of my favourite brands of Hot Chocolate – Mörk – had opened a café / brew house / specialty store – solely dedicated to hot chocolates; yep that’s right no coffee in sight! This has been a long awaited move for co-founders and partners Josefin Zernall and Kiril Shaginov – who come from a speciality coffee background – and wanted their customers to be reminded of their childhood. Both used to work in Sweden at a coffee roaster together and started up Mörk in 2012 and have been supplying a number of Melbourne cafes with their Chocolate for over three years now.

Mörk Brewhouse is located in Errol Street in North Melbourne in a space that used to be a 1950s bakery warehouse. It has a very modern, light filled and welcoming air about it – from the friendly staff at the counter who take the time to welcome you personally whilst preparing hot chocolate for other guests to brilliant aroma that fills the air.
The space is intimate yet doesn’t feel crowded – seating just 18 people at a time – featuring bleached wood, angled grey tiles with brass accents.
The warehouse attached to the café will make chocolate on site. There are also shelves which stock product for you to take home to enjoy the blissful Mörk products for yourself. I absolutely love the crockery they use as well – imported Japanese Arita porcelain – custom made beakers to house the delicious and rich chocolate when it is presented to you.

Chocolate is similar to coffee – it has different classifications, varieties and single origins – all of which has a focus here at Mörk. You can find a range of drinking chocolate blends (starting from 50% cacao (Junior Dark) and going up to 85% cacao (Even Darker)) as well as new ingenious chocolate combination delights which include the Breakfast Chocolate (House-made Oat Milk, Dark Chocolate and Cinnamon), A Chocolate Bar (Hot Chocolate, Hazelnut and Caramel). The little ones aren’t forgotten here with a specially designed menu for the them – Chocolate Foam (Milk Foam with Chocolate Sparkle) and Mini Chocolate (Junior Dark Chocolate with Marshmallow).

There are also small sweet treats available which are either made in house or off-site using Mörk’s specially crafted recipes such as – Hazelnut Financier, Lemon Financier, Brioche and Hazelnut Spread (all $5.00) and Canele ($4.00). There are also small sized pieces of chocolate on offer for you to enjoy – Smoked Vanilla Water Based Truffle and Pure Alba Cinnamon (both $3.50) and Marshmallows ($1.50).

We arrived around 3:30pm on a Sunday to a line of people – both waiting for a seat inside or for takeaway. We needed a table for three and were told by the friendly staff that it would be around a 15 minute wait. We were happy to wait and enjoyed the aroma of the fresh chocolate being prepared for the other patrons, as well as looking at what products were available to buy.

Once we were seated we were served sparkling mineral water that had been infused with Vanilla Bean which was to cleanse our palate. The Vanilla Bean flavour was subtle yet strong at the same and was super delicious! You could really see yourself having a bottle full of this mineral water. Even Dad loved it so much so he wanted to try and infuse his own mineral water at home!

We ordered our drinks and eagerly waited for them to arrive. Dad ordered the Layered Chocolate – Chilled Dark Chocolate with Warm Custard. The combination of the rich warm chocolate together with the cool vanilla bean infused custard was delicious. The custard added an extra depth of flavouring to the already brilliant tasting chocolate.

Mum ordered the House Hot Chocolate in Original Dark (70% Cacao) which she enjoyed. The delicate note of the Cacao Venezuelan chocolate was rich, smooth and delicious.

I ordered the Campfire Chocolate (Hot Chocolate, Smoke and Marshmallow). I love how this “dish” comes served – on a wooden board. The hot chocolate is served in a porcelain beaker with a caged glass that is smoked with the wood of the day – on this day it was Beechwood, a house made marshmallow and finished with a pinch of smoked salt. The staff explains that you lift the glass and inhale the aroma from the wood smoked fumes and then pour the chocolate in. You have the option of stirring it through using the marshmallow and adding a sprinkle of salt to taste if you want.
The hot chocolate tastes divine – as it has the combination of the cacao together with the smokiness from the infusion of the wood. The marshmallow is like a cloud in your mouth that melts away and keeps you wanting that next bite. I did add a pinch of salt as well – but couldn’t’ really taste the saltiness come through. This really is a must try!

I love the concept of the Mörk Chocolate Brew House and the way the place has been fitted out. The service is friendly, warm and welcoming – I really wish it was located closer to the city so that I could go here during work hours!

Mörk Chocolate Brew House is currently only open during the day but is looking at introducing early evening Hot Chocolate tasting classes for those who want to further their Chocolate education – frankly who wouldn’t! Keep a lookout on their website and Facebook page for more information about when these will be launching.

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to picture above. A selection of hot chocolates, water based chocolates, signature chocolates as well as a menu for Little Ones. There is also a sweet and Savory section.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Classy, Welcoming, Modern and Relaxed
Service: Fantastic! Really friendly and inviting
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
morkchocolate.com.au
150 Errol Street, North Melbourne
Tel No: 9328 1386

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Saturday: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Sunday: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Mork Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MorkChocolate
Instagram: morkchocolate
Twitter: @morkchocolate

St Ali Masterclass – Madame Truffles, Pasta Classica & Pepe Saya

st ali

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I follow St Ali North on Instagram and saw a post about a Truffle Masterclass being held– it was to be hosted in collaboration with Pasta Classica, Pepe Saya and Madame Truffles. Pasta making, Butter making and learning all about truffles were to be covered and Entry was Free – so I decided to RSVP and check it out.

I arrived at St Ali – this was my first time to St Ali North, I have previously been to St Ali in Carlton – and there were quite a few people already present. The fit out was very modern – complete with an array of windows and wooden ledge seating. I can just envision what it would look like during the day – for breakfast and lunch – with the light streaming into the venue and enveloping the entire venue in a positive and relaxed vibe. The masterclass was carried out in the main dining area – situated past the main counter/bar. Chairs were set up in order to sit and enjoy the show.

Before the show you got the chance to enjoy some free canapés – which included a Stuffed mushroom and Sourdough as well as Bread with Truffled butter – both of which were delicious! You also got the chance to chat to “Madame Brussels” and learn as well as ask questions about the wonderful world of truffles. She showed us different truffles from around the country and explained the difference in smell between the truffles that come from the varying states. She also gave out ideas of how you could use truffles in everyday cooking such as topping your breakkie eggs, using them over a linguini mushroom pasta or even mixing it with butter and serving it with some lovely sourdough. Madame Truffles also informed us that they were experimenting with the use of truffles in the sweet world. They had white chocolate and truffle macaroons for sale on this night to purchase and sample. Since the Masterclass , more experiementing has been done and I have seen that they have created Monte Carlos using truffles as well (via their Instagram) – I cannot wait to see what else they experiment and create. You can follow their updates by following their Instagram at madametruffles.

The Masterclass started off with a talk from Madame Truffles enthusiastically telling everyone about the wonderful world of Truffles as well as interesting facts about them – such as it can take up to 10 years to grow truffles and in order to track down and find Truffles they use dogs! Another thing to note about truffles is that the bigger the aroma, the better the truffle and the more expensive the truffle will be. She then passed around different types of truffles for us to smell. Later I learnt that the price of truffles (on that day) was upward of $3.50 per gram! Expensive indeed, but when you taste the unique flavouring you start to understand why. Madame Truffles’ are freshly harvested each weekend and sourced from the very best truffleres in New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania and around Victoria. SHOP?

Following on from Madame Truffles – was a hands-on demonstration by Pasta Classica’s Daniel Tonin on the art of making pasta. Tonight the star of the show was the Tortelloni (Tortellini are the smaller size pasta parcels, whilst Tortelloni are the larger variety).
Tonin informs the class that in order to make pasta all you need is two ingredients – 400g Italian “00” flour (or plain flour) and 13 egg yolks (no whites!) – you may also want to add a pinch of salt as your liking for taste. I never knew that making pasta could be so easy! The egg yolks are what give the pasta its colour and flavour.
The technique to create the pasta is to place the flour on a clean bench and make a hole in the centre – here you place the 13 egg yolks. Then using muscle power, knead the mix through. If you rather you can use a Kenwood mixer instead.
Tonin then showed us how the correct way to pass the pasta through a pasta machine in order to get the right thickness of pasta. After this he then shows the class how to make the tortellini shape once we have rolled out our pasta. After each stage in the pasta making process, Tonin passes around the pasta to allow us to touch and feel the texture that it is meant to be – I find this to be very useful as you get a better understanding for when you try and make it at home.
Tonin also gives us a recipe for the filling inside the tortelloni – this filling consists of Potatoes, Pepes’ Butter, Parmesan Cheese, Tallegio Cheese, Thyme, Garlic with Pepper and Salt for taste. We are told that we will be sampling some of Tonin’s handmade pasta later on. Yum!

Next up in the Masterclass is Pepe Saya who takes us through a butter-making demonstration. Saya starts off with giving us back ground into the butter making process. The butter making process commences with the use of sour milk, to this you add the bacteria Lacto Bacilis and let it ferment. The result of this is crème fraiche. If you keep crème fraiche for around 3 weeks and then scrape the mould – the end result will be Buttermilk. Buttermilk is mostly commonly used in pancakes – and it is what gives the pancakes its fluffiness as a result of its reaction with the yeast.

I never realised that it was it was quite an easy process to make butter at home if you wanted to. You can start off by using bought Crème Fraiche from the supermarkets, mixing this in a Kenwood mixer. You will start to see butter forming after a few minutes – this is what is called butter in the popcorn state – as it resembles kernels of popcorn. You will find that Buttermilk is also produced – and this is what the Popcorn State butter will be sitting in. You will need to wash the Buttermilk out with Filtered Cold Water. Once you have the popcorn state butter on its own – you can knead it together and serve it up. You may also want to put some salt in for taste, unless of course you are after unsalted butter.
We then got to taste the butter that Saya had just made – it was creamy and very fresh!

After the formal part was over, we got a chance to mingle and listen to the great voice of Natasha. You can check out her website at www.natashamusic.com.au or follow her on Twitter @natashamusic_, Instagram – natashamusic_
This girl can sing and her voice is amazing! On the night she had only the backing of guitarist Mat Fagan – which allowed her true vocal skills to shine. Definitely go and check out where she will be performing next.

I met some really fun and food loving people and learnt a lot from this Masterclass. Pasta Classica had their products for sale and I bought the Ravioli with Feta, Parsley and Lemon Myrtle. Danny told me a simple way to cook with this pasta is to toss it in some oil and grate zucchini over the top and you have a really great dish. This is what I did and true to his word – it was delicious! The combination of the lemon myrtle was a real highlight and worked fantastically with the sourness of the feta and flavours of parsley. I will definitely be checking out their store to see what other unique and interesting flavours they have. It’s really great to know of a place that makes pasta fresh daily – in a variety of flavours that cater for any dietary requirements.

I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more Masterclasses organised by St Ali in the future and would recommend everyone try this one!

Madame Truffles
Madame Truffles winter shop opens for six week during the peak of the Australian truffle season.

Dates: Thursday 3rd July to Saturday 9th August, 2014.
Days:
Thursday, Friday and Saturday
Time:
9am to 5pm

Location: 17 Yarra Place, South Melbourne
Tel No:
0430 017 480

Website: http://madametruffles.com.au/
Email:
truffles@madametruffles.com.au
Twitter:

Instagram:
madametruffles
______________________________________________________________

Pasta Classica – Retail Store
Location: 352 Smith St, Collingwood VIC 3066
Tel No:9419 2366

Pasta Classica – Factory
Location: Factory 9/ 25 Hocking St, Coburg, VIC
Tel No: 9350 6736

Website: http://www.pastaclassica.com.au/
Email: sales@pastaclassica.com.au
Twitter: pastaclassica
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pasta.Classica
Instagram: dannypasta

Pasta Classica on Urbanspoon

_____________________________________________________________

Pepe Saya

Location: Factory, Unit 4, 3 Wood Street, Tempe, NSW
Tel No: 9559 1113

Phone: 02 9559 1113 (leave Message)
Mobile: 0401 191 896 (Speak to Pepe)
Website: http://www.pepesaya.com.au/
Email: info@pepesaya.com.au
Twitter: pepesaya
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Pepesaya
Instagram: pepesaya

_____________________________________________________________

St Ali North
Location: 815 Nicholson St, Carlton North
Tel No: 9380 5455

Website: http://www.stali.com.au/
Twitter: @ST_ALI
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stali
Instagram: stalinorth

St Ali North on Urbanspoon

Saint Crispin – Heavenly Dishes

panda 3.5 rating

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Menu:
Menu at Saint Crispin

It was time for our regular work catchup dinners and Saint Crispin was the venue of choice. We had to see what the recently awarded “Best New Restaurant” by The Age Good Food Guide 2014 was all about. Saint Crispin is located on Smith Street in Collingwood and has taken over where Cavallero used to reside. Saint Crispin is named after the patron saint of cobblers, tanners and leather workers and also ties in with the buildings original use as a cobbler’s workshop.

Scott Pickett (The Estelle) and Joe Grbac (ex-The Press Club) form a partnership to create this one hatted restaurant. As you walk in through the strong wooden doors which are flanked by cast iron black lattice you enter a classy yet casual venue. There is an exposed brick wall on one side and the long marble bar on the other side. Towards the back is the open kitchen, where you can see chefs creating each of the dishes that go out. The tables are strong wooden non polished tables and I like this – adding to the rustic feel which links it to the surrounding area – paired with leather comfortable seating on one and wooden chairs on the other with cushioning. There is seating at the bar as well on high stools which allows you view the kitchen from a better vantage point. The interior was designed by Leah Hart.

The menu is centred around using seasonal and fresh local produce and covers a variety of types – there are seafood, food, chicken, pork and vegetarian dishes on offer. There is also Alba White Truffle available for an extra $40 a serving which we were told was flown in that morning. The way the menu is designed is that there is a selection of three a la carte combinations. There is the two course ($50), three course ($60) and the chef’s tasting menu ($120) – which comprises of seven courses – five savoury courses and two desserts. There is also the option to order Little Bites and Sides. The Little Bites consist of charcuterie. Crudites, Oysters, Eel Croquettes and an interesting named dish called Snap, Crackle and Pop (which I learnt was the Pork Crackling in a Prawn Cracker format).

There for four of us and three of us decided to go for the three course menu and one person did the two courses.  Before deciding to order – we were given small starters that arrived on a wooden circle piece of wood. On this day we had Chickpea squares with Marshmallows. The squares were really delicious bite sized morsels and the marshmallow provided a sweet palate and was very soft and cloudlike. Once we had ordered our food we were served bread which came with a serving of butter and the yummiest Caramelised Onion and Cream Cheese spread. It really is a spread that makes you go ‘WOW’ and my only qualm would be that we received too little of the spread.

What I do like about Saint Crispin is when each dish is placed down they explain what each dish is and what is in it. I like this personal touch. For entrée I ordered the Sand Flathead, Mussels, Sea Vegetables and Crème Fraiche. I was interested to know what Sea Vegetables were and when I asked the waiter – he didn’t offer much of an explanation other than “things that you find by the sea shore.” The fish is the centrepiece of the dish, with the sea vegetables around and on top of the fish with the mussels on the side. The Crème Fraiche comes in a separate little jug which the waiter then pours on top of the fish for you. The fish was cooked just right and came in two pieces – however I felt that it could have been seasoned a bit more as I couldn’t eat the fish on its own – it needed the addition of the Crème Fraiche. As a whole the dish with all its elements especially the mussels, worked well together and the Crème Fraiche was delicious and perfectly seasoned. The sea vegetables were interesting and I am still not quite sure what each of them were called.

The others ordered the Atlantic Salmon, Shaved Calamari, Oyster, Squid Ink and Saffron for their entrées. I was lucky enough to try some of their dish. The dish was an extremely colourful dish set against the backdrop of a large black plate. The Salmon was cured and poached and as a result was tender and flavoured very well. There was shaved calamari and an oyster which was hidden underneath the salmon, together with a crisp tapioca coloured with black squid ink placed on top of the salmon which gave an added crunch. The combination of all the elements together with the saffron sauce and squid ink sauce created a truly magical dish.

After our entrees we were asked if we wanted more bread and how could you resist more of the Caramelised Onion and Cream Cheese spread – sadly however this never came.

For mains I ordered the Swordfish, Maloolabah Prawn, Nicola Potatoes and Kohlrabi. The swordfish came out beautifully presented. The piece of swordfish was thick and juicy and wasn’t dry at all – which is a sure good sign of a fish being cooked well! The addition of the balsamic sauce really made the dish and paired really well with the fish. The potatoes were creamy and smooth and added further compliments.

The others ordered the Bannockburn Chicken, Kalamata Olive, Cos and Spring Garlic. This was essentially chicken done in three ways – a popcorn chicken style – with crumbed and fried chicken which they all enjoyed, a coiled piece of chicken and a large thick seasoned piece of chicken with crispy skin. They seemed to like the dish but not love the dish and said elements needed to be worked on  or a different combination of ingredients added.

With our mains we ordered Sebago Potato Crisp, Seaweed Mayonnaise which was as expected really delicious. I did love their take on the seaweed mayonnaise – and it worked well with the crispy and crunchy potatoes.

Next up was dessert – which is the part of the meal that I look forward too. There were really great options to choose from but I opted for the Mango, Coconut, Vanilla and Verbena on recommendation from the waiter. He informed me that it was a pannacotta – and that was all he had to say to have me order this dish. I LOVE PANNACOTTAS. This dessert came out in a bowl and had a wafer like biscuit on the edge which looked like a spoon which I thought was quite funky. The Mango, foamy Coconut and other elements which included pretty pink and purple verbena flowers sat on top of the pannacotta. There were additional white chocolate balls which added crunch and texture. As a whole the dish worked really well together – I love the combination of mango and the creaminess of the pannacotta – it really is a great summery dessert. My one gripe though was for me there were too many white chocolate balls – and it made the dish too sweet for me, so towards the end I had to avoid eating them and just enjoy the other parts of the dish.

V ordered the Blood Orange Parfait, White Lemon, Yoghurt and Mandarin which I must say was the best dessert of the night. The dish when it came out looked fantastic – the presentation was amazing. – the rectangular parfait was topped with a colourful array of ingredients all placed on top of a white lemon smear. The parfait was creamy and smooth and had a really tasty cake crumb at the bottom and together with the acidity of the blood orange and the mandarin was the perfect balance of flavours. It was one of these desserts that you could eat a lot of and still not get sick of.

C ordered the Chocolate, Earl Grey, Milk and Ginger – which once again was nicely presented. This dessert was a chocolate mousse slice which was rich but light and airy just as a mousse should be. The Earl Grey ice cream was a great combination and worked well the rich and creaminess of the chocolate and really was the perfect addition. As a whole a really great dish for any one that loves chocolate.

As we were seated near the kitchen area, for most of the night we heard the head chef yelling out for the orders and telling the staff when the dishes were ready, which made it harder to keep a conversation going with people on the table. However, it did showcase the efficiency of the kitchen. To finish as we were waiting for the bill a wooden box made to replicate The Bible was placed on our table with a set of sweets inside – on this night we had a nougat – which had the perfect amount of stickiness and tasted delightful. It was a great way to finish off a good meal.

Saint Crispin delivers good food, presented exceptionally and provides great atmosphere. They provide interesting combination of ingredients together with some hidden surprises and familiar flavours. Desserts are definitely their strong point, as well as entrees following suit. I would like to see what dishes they serve up in the next menu change.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to the menu in the link above. You can also look at http://www.saintcrispin.com.au/menu.pdf. There is a choice of a Two Course ($50), Three Course ($60) and a Chef’s Tasting Menu – 7 courses ($120)
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed yet classy and very enjoyable. Great place for a catch-up dinner with friends or family.
Standout Dish: Atlantic Salmon, Shaved Calamari, Oyster, Squid Ink and Saffron and  Blood Orange Parfait, White Lemon, Yoghurt and Mandarin
Service: Friendly and Attentive although sometimes forgetful?
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.saintcrispin.com.au/
300 Smith Street, Collingwood
Tel No: 9419 2202

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Thursday: 6pm – Late
Friday to Sunday: 12pm -3pm and 6pm – Late

Saint Crispin on Urbanspoon

Two by Two – Chic Breakfast Style

panda 4 rating

G and I decided to head to Two by Two located in High Street, Northcote for our much anticipated catch up. Two by Two is owned by Jessica Fitzgerald and Ben Sanders and Jono Mackie is in charge of the meals. The result is welcoming and roomy restaurant which delivers high quality and seasonally produced food that is presented in a beautiful manner.

When you walk into Two by Two you are greeted by the main dining area which houses a communal table in the middle surrounded by tables. At the very back is where the bar/barista is located as well as the kitchen area. The feature of Two by Two is the glossy wooden wall that has a series of wooden dimples arranged randomly along the wall – which is really quite different to anything I have seen at a restaurant. There are wide windows located at the front where patrons can sit and enjoy the view of bustling traffic or people watching. Colourful and dainty flowers are placed in vases on tables to add further colour and vibrancy.

The brunch menu consists of simple favorites such as Bircher Museli, Avocado smash, pancakes and bacon and eggs as well some interesting combinations such as Poached Ocean Trout, Watermelon & Rhubarb with Chia seed granola as well as a Breakfast Charcuterie that includes Jamon Serrano and Black Pudding.

I ordered the Poached Ocean Trout, Pickled Avocado, Citrus Salad, Caper & Dill Creme Fraiche, Rye Toast and added a Poached Egg as well. This dish came out like as you would expect a dinner dish to come out – perfectly presented. On the backdrop of a white plate, the individual ingredients were colourful and every care seemed to have been taken in placement. The Rye Toast was the base of the dish with all the elements being placed on top. My only qualm was that I was interested in finding out what pickled avocado tasted like, but when I tasted it, it simply tasted the same as any other avocado would. This could be due to the mixture of other flavours tainting the taste but I am not sure. The dish not only looked great, but tasted fantastic. Each element mixed together in one bite-full was a great mix of flavours in your mouth – I love the burst of citrus from the orange segments. The poached trout was perfect and the mix of the salad with the dill flavoured crème fraiche was delightful. The egg was poached to perfection and was gooey and runny – just like how you would want it to be. A must try dish for anyone!

G ordered the Mushroom – Sauteed Selection, Creme Fraiche, Pecorino, Truffle Oil on Sourdough. Once again the dish was presented well and G did say she enjoyed the dish, however said that the serving size could have been a tad more generous.

Whilst we continued to chat, both G and I ordered the fresh mix juice was available as we were both intrigued by the combination. The combination was Apple, Ginger, Celery and Carrot.It was a great tasting combination and was quite refreshing. Coffee here was nutty and creamy and quite nice as well. The staff were friendly and inviting and always seem to have a smile on their face. They are very patient as well – our waitress had to come back four times before we were ready to order as we were too busy chatting rather than looking at the menu – oops!

Two by Two serves breakfast and lunch from Tuesday to Sunday, and dinner from Thursday to Saturday. The prices are very reasonable for the high quality and seasonal produce they provide. Seeing as I enjoyed the breakfast dishes served, I am intrigued to what dishes are served for dinner – so I have to make time and revisit Two by Two.

Whichever meal you prefer definitely go and check out Two by Two for yourself.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Refer to http://www.twobytwonorthcote.com.au/?page_id=15 – there is a Brunch, Dinner and Wine Menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable, Modern and Relaxing. There is lots of sunlight and the venue is bright and inviting.
Standout Dish: Poached Ocean Trout, Pickled Avocado, Citrus Salad, Caper & Dill Creme Fraiche, Rye Toast
Service: Friendly and Warm
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.twobytwonorthcote.com.au/?page_id=19 – there is a DIMMI online reservation at the bottom of the page
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.twobytwonorthcote.com.au/
235 High Street, Northcote
Tel No: 9486 5885

Opening Hours:
Monday & Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday to Saturday: 08:30 – 11pm
Sunday: 08:30 – 3pm

Two By Two 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