Norma Loves Joe – You Will Love It Too!

panda 4.5 rating

I happened to stumble across the newly opened Norma Loves Joe on my Instagram and was happy to note that it was only a short drive from home. Norma Loves Joe is located on Whitehorse Road in Balwyn, just down from the iconic Balwyn Cinema, and is opened by Courtney Ludlow and Kristie O’Donoghue who have been friends since kindergarten.

Norma Loves Joe is named after the passionate and addictive affair between Norma Jean and Joe DiMaggio, that remained everlasting and honest – which is the formula that this newly opened café will follow. The aim of this café is to create a relaxed space with an all day brunch menu for the surrounding residents of Balwyn – and further.

I love the interior of Norma Loves Joe – a combination of wood, tiles and metal brought together in perfect harmony. The tiling on the main back wall reciprocates that of a brick wall in angular formation, with the tilling around the bench and kitchen area being a patterned contrast. Minimalist light bulbs light up one wall with lighting for the kitchen and coffee areas being provided by under beam lighting. Seating is available both inside – on low wooden tables in front of the coffee & kitchen benches as well as along the window; and outside – both at the front of the venue as well as in the courtyard out the back.

Coffee here is served by Axil Coffee Roasters – one of my favourite roasters! I ordered a latte which was crisp, nutty with caramel tones and made to perfection. Tea here is by The Slow Tea Co. with 8 different flavours to try including Booze Hound (which is meant to aid with cleansing), Spicy Vanilla Chai, Chamomile & Mint. Other drinks include Karma Cola and Lemmy Lemonade both of which are fair trade & organic, as well as drinks and smoothies from the Emma & Tom’s range.

The breakfast menu consists of all your favourites together with showcasing some flair in some different dishes – I’m talking about you Red Velvet Waffles! These aforementioned waffles are at the top of the breakfast list – and how could you not order them when you see this combination? Other savoury dishes include a Big Love Breakfast, a Brunch Salad (Kale, cauliflowers, avocado, ruby grapefruit, poached egg, bacon) as well as a Super Salad (Brown rice ,red quinoa, roasted sweet potato & beetroot, broccoli, toasted seeds & lemon hummus), a Yankee Burger (lean beef, Swiss cheese, pickled red cabbage, tomato & caramelized onion) and a toastie (Double Smoked Ham & Swiss Cheese) and pide (Pulled Chicken & Red Slaw) available too. Norma loves Joe caters for the little ones as well – with two dishes aptly named Little Joe and Little Norma – both served with chocolate milk.

There were four of us on this Saturday morning and we scored a table in the main dining area. We all couldn’t go past the waffles so decided to get that as our sweet dish at the end to share. I was deciding between the Mixed Mushrooms and the Breakfast Quesadillas and in the end ended up going with for the latter.
The Breakfast Quesadillas came with scrambled eggs, cheese, spinach and black eyed beans – however I am not a fan of black eyed beans so I asked to have the dish without these and asked for mushrooms instead. This dish coves in a very generous serving – you get four triangular pieces stuffed with the filling together with a little serving of sweet chilli sauce. I really enjoyed this dish – NLJ has taken a simple idea and turned it into something special. The scrambled eggs form the base later with the spinach, cheese and mushrooms placed above it – this is encased in a quesadilla. The flavours were simple but the overall flavouring was delicious – the juice from the succulent mushrooms worked well with the crunch of the quesadilla finished with a hint of hotness with the sweet chilli sauce. Yum!

S ordered the Mixed Mushrooms – on grilled sourdough with parsley puree and she asked for a side of salmon. This was quite a cute dish and despite looking smaller when compared to the other dishes everyone had ordered; was quite filling. The parsley puree was unique and something that I haven’t seen anywhere else and was quite tasty and really did complement the flavour of the mushrooms.

T & S (another S) both ordered the Shakshuka – two eggs baked in tomato sugo, capsicum, basil & feta served with grilled sourdough. The Shakshuka itself was served in a terracotta dish and placed on a wooden board where the grilled sourdough was also placed. The Shakshuk was perfectly made and tasted fantastic – the combination of the sweet tangy tomatos with the basil and feta together with a hint of chilli was scrumptious! If you are a fan of tomato and Shakshuka in general – NMJ does a really great version!

Once we had finished our savoury dishes – it was onto the sweet part of the day in the form of waffles! Norma’s Red Velvet Waffles – with cream cheese dressing and seasonal berries was visually stunning dish – individual red heart shaped waffles – topped with cream cheese and finished with berries and icing sugar – DIVINE! The flavour was exactly what you would expect – the rich velvety taste with the not too sweet cream cheese dressing – it really was like eating a cupcake but in a waffle version. This is one dish I would definitely recommend anyone to try!

The service here at NLJ is exceptional – staff are friendly and always with a smile and you can tell that they genuinely love everything that they do and every dish that they put out. Norma Loves Joe is the type of place that you can find yourself spending a whole day at without even realising – it is just that comfortable and chilled out. I am so glad that it is close to home – will definitely be back!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to pictures above or visit http://www.normalovesjoe.com/menu.html
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Comfortable, welcoming and laid back – great for a relaxed weekend catchup
Standout Dish: Norma’s Red Velvet Waffles – with cream cheese dressing and seasonal berries
Service: Fantastic – very friendly and helpful
Online Booking: No
http://www.normalovesjoe.com/
239 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn
Tel No: 9817 2576

Opening Hours:
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: 7:00am – 4:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8:00am – 4:00pm
Tuesday: CLOSED

Norma loves Joe on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/normalovesjoe
Twitter: @NormaLovesJoe
Instagram: norma_loves_joe

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Waffee – Waffles & Coffee – The Perfect Combination!

panda 4 ratingRaspberry White Chocolate Waffle

Who doesn’t love a good waffle? I have walked passed Waffee many times to and from work and finally I had the time to stop and enjoy the waffles (excuse the pun!).

Waffee – aptly named as they sell both Waffles and Coffee – is located on Swanston Street (near the corner of Collins Street – and right where the Tram stop is located). Waffee is the creation of two brothers who share a passion and dream of creating the perfect Waffle. Their quest took them on an adventure to Belgium where they perfected a secret recipe to create these wonderful fluffy pillows of greatness.

As you walk past the store – you almost do a double take as you can watch the Waffles being created right in front of your eyes – not to mention the delicious smell that is wafting in the air. The fit out is minimal but chic at the same time, designed by Hecker Guthrie – wooden combined with modern marble accents. There are a few high tables that you can enjoy your parcels of goodness. I especially love the Waffee logo – created by A Friend of Mine – the Waffee name incorporated into the waffle griddle iron pattern along with a cute raccoon character that features on their packaging and coffee cups.

As you walk in you are greeted with the smell of freshly baked waffles and you almost float over to the counter to order your waffle. There are different flavours including The Original, Chocolate Glazed, White Chocolate Glazed, Cinnamon, Blueberry, Chocolate Stick and Raspberry White Chocolate to choose from. The waffles are handcrafted and are baked freshly in store every day. The waffles golden crispy coating comes from caramelized pearl sugar (which is derived from beetroot) which has been added to the dough

Initially I was just going to sample the original waffle, but then I kept looking at the Premium Waffle of Raspberry White Chocolate and decided I had to try that one. I love raspberries (well any berries really) and white chocolate is my fave out of the chocolate range.

I love the packaging that the Waffee has – simple yet effective – a little white pocket that allows you not only easy access to take that first mouthful, but where you can see the shimmery deliciousness.
The waffle comes served warm and was crunchy on the outside with soft pillowy textures on the inside. The raspberries were laced through the dough and were fresh and tangy – this complemented the sweetness of the white chocolate that had been drizzled on the outside. I really enjoyed this pocket sized sweet delight and definitely will be back to check out their other flavours.

The Emporium Melbourne store creates both Savoury and Sweet waffles, with a view in the future to revolutionising how waffles are to be eaten. Think fresh berries placed on topped of waffles served with a dollop of cream or scoop of ice cream – Yum! Their savoury waffles include waffles with crunchy chicken and slaw, smoked salmon salad and BLT just to name a few. They have even expanded to create unique breakfasts such as Eggs Benedict on Waffles!I didn’t get a chance to try out their coffee; however Waffee uses Proud Mary coffee and serve a range of specialty brews that are sure to be delicious!

For a quick, tasty and delicious sweet hit in the form of authentic Belgian waffles – check out Waffee.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Original, Chocolate Glazed, White Chocolate Glazed, Cinnamon, Blueberry, Chocolate Stick and Raspberry White Chocolate. You can also refer to the pictures above.
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Modern, Warm and Enticing
Standout Dish: Any of the waflles!
Service: Friendly and Welcoming
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:

MELBOURNE CBD
Shop 1, 77 Swanston Street, Melbourne
(Cnr Collins St & Swanston St)
Tel No: 9041 4594

Opening Hours
Monday to Thursday: 7.30am – 7.00pm
Friday: 7.30am – 11.00pm
Saturday: 10.00am – 9.00pm
Sunday: 10.00am – 6.00pm

Waffee Waffles+Coffee on Urbanspoon

ALTONA
Shop 25: Harrington Square, Altona
Tel No: 9398 1689

Opening Hours
Monday to Friday: 7.30am – 4.00pm
Saturday: 9.00am – 12 noon
Sunday & Public Holidays: CLOSED

Waffee Waffles+Coffee (Altona) on Urbanspoon

EMPORIUM MELBOURNE
Savoury & Dessert Waffles
LG-32, 287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Tel No: 8609 8185

Opening Hours
Monday to Wednesday: 10:00am – 7:00pm
Thursday & Friday: 10:00am – 9:00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 10:00am – 7:00pm

Waffee Waffles+Coffee on Urbanspoon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WaffeeWafflesCoffee
Twitter:
@waffeewaffles
Instagram:
waffeewafflescoffee

 

 

Mixed Business – Relaxed & Delicious

panda 4.5 rating

Menu:
Drinks at Mixed BusinessBreakfast at Mixed BusinessLunch at Mixed Business

N and I were heading out to breakkie on a Saturday morning and decided to try out Mixed Business. This cute café is located in Clifton Hill (neighbouring Northcote) and comes to you by Lauren Bieber and Tom Crowe. The look and feel of the place is casual and relaxed thanks to the light and airiness nature of the venue, complete with an outside sitting area amongst the back garden. There is a combination of vintage and retro touches throughout the venue which includes old tea towels used as curtains over cupboards, wooden tables with mismatched colourful chairs as well as the feature piece which is huge workbench which doubles as the coffee counter, cake serving area and payment station. There are also old school vintage signs which are attached to the walls. It really does pay homage to the venue’s former life of a second hand furniture store.

It was a typical Melbourne day – rain one minute, sunshine the next. When we walked in the place was quite busy so we were offered a table in the back garden and the friendly waitress told us that it was under cover if that Melbournian rain happened to come back. Sitting in the back amongst the pot plants, trees and herbs was really pleasant and I feel like this is one of the best tables at the venue. You get to enjoy the brightness and be surrounded like you are in your very own back garden – even on a rainy day! The centrepiece of the table would automatically brighten anyone spirits – it was a colourful duck shaper pot holder which house a striking cactus. Really cute and chirpy – I want one for my place!

Once we were seated we ordered our coffees and proceeded to look at the menu. I already had decided that I wanted something sweet so reading the description of the waffles had me sold. I like how they have a selection of combinations that can come with the free range poached eggs such as pork belly and sausage, potato and rosemary rosti or smoked salmon, pickled beetroot, dill and creme fraiche. Most places just pick one or two selections that come with poached eggs. The coffee by Seven Seeds was delicious and was a welcome necessity for this morning.

When my waffles came out they looked delicious and I could barely spend enough time photographing them as I wanted to devour them straight away. They looked fresh and the aroma was enticing. There were three pieces of waffles arranged at the bottom and topped with the apple, blueberries and pecan crumb with the ice cream off to the side. The pecan crumb was absolutely delicious and the coating literally melted in your mouth. The combination of the warm waffles coupled with the spiced apple and cold ice cream was fantastic. Definitely a dish I would recommend.

From the other dishes that were ordered I got to try out the potato and rosemary rosti and the picked cabbage. The potato and rosemary rosti tasted even better than it looked – when it came out it looked glossy, crispy and accented with the perfect amount of rosemary – it was delicious, crispy on the outside and soft and aromatic on the inside. The house made relish had a smoky and spicy hit to it as well and was quite nice. The pickled cabbage was another win – don’t let the bright pink colour put you off – the flavour is amazing.

It’s not always simply about the great food and customer service, but the little additional touches – like the colourful duck pot holder – and the simplicity of the back garden seating that truly do make the experience at a place not only memorable, but recommendable. Mixed Business is definitely one of these places.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $
Menu – Refer to the Menu above
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and Welcoming – great chill out place!
Standout Dish: Applie Pie Waffles – Buttermilk Waffles with Maple Baked Apples, Pecan Crumb and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and Free Ranged Poached Eggs on Sourdough with Potato and Rosemary Rosti, Avacado and House Relish
Service: Friendly and Helpful – although we never did get asked if we wanted another round of coffee after we had finished our first coffee’s.
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
486 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill
Tel No: 9468 1606

Opening Hours:
Tuesday to Saturday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Mixed Business on Urbanspoon

Short Round – Shiny, New & Delicious – A MUST TRY!

panda 4.5 rating

N and I were in the area of Thornbury after a wedding ceremony and Short Round had been on my list of Breakkie/Brunch places to try so we decided to check it out on a Saturday. We arrived literally just before 3pm (which was when the kitchen closed) and the waitress was nice enough to allow us to quickly order our food – and boy am I glad she did because the food was amazing!

Short Round comes to us from Libby and Claire Cains who converted this former butcher store and pet store into the beautiful, open and light filled venue. They had the help of their dad together with Libby’s partner to rejuvenate this building which was built in 1880. The end result is spacious venue with lots of light plywood and tiles, but keeping the buildings original character.

What makes Short Round unique as well is that they are committed to keep things local – the stools and benches were made by Northcote’s Pop & Scott, the collective and vintage chairs from the High Street retro store – Model 143. It doesn’t just stop at the furniture for the venue, but continues with the ingredients for the menu as well as the drinks list. The chefs are Kate Pratt and Jo Baring – with the menu being seasonal. This means that the menu changes with the season and will have the freshest of ingredients, however there will be staple dishes as well such as Bacon and Cheese Scramble.

Short Round is light, airy and bright and is a great place to start your morning, or even  late morning for that matter. The venue is fitted out with light timber tables and chairs and has a real modern but comfortable feel to it, accented with colourful wild flowers. As said previously the menu is seasonal – so when we went there were things like Breakfast Pizza, Bloody Mary Breakfast and Labourer’s lunch. You also get toast, oat porridge, muesli and waffles which I definitely have to head back to try. As avocado is in season there is a seasonal avocado dish on the menu that comes with corn salsa, chilli, lime and coriander all served atop toast. Coffee comes from Proud Mary and there are “Spring Drink Specials” as well such as a Single Origin Coffee, and a variety of different teas.

For my meal I ordered the Cauliflower Fritters, Snow Pea Shoots, Pomegranate Molasses and Minted Yoghurt and I asked for a Poached Egg to be added. People who read my blog will know how much I enjoy my fritters – this dish was right up there with the best of them. I have never had fritters with Cauliflower in them before. The presentation of the dish was superb as well – the fritters were the centre of the plate atop the minted yoghurt with shoots and pomegranate surrounding them. The fritters were dense yet soft and it really did feel like you were eating a cauliflower cloud – together with the sweetness of the pomegranate and the tang of the minted yoghurt it really did have a flavour party in your mouth. The addition of the Snow Pea Shoots was interesting and provided another layer of texture to this dish. The Poached Egg was perfectly cooked as well and oozed gooeyness.

N ordered the Potato, Chorizo and Manchego Omelette, Fresh Spring Onions and Harissa Yoghurt. The presentation was simple and had the omelette which took up most of the plate with olive oil and the Harissa Yoghurt underneath, finished with a sprinkling of Harissa. N thoroughly enjoyed this dish and I think this dish is very unique – I haven’t seen the combination of potato, chorizo, spring onions before. And the portion sizes of these dishes are very decent too.

At the bench top where the coffees are made and the register is there is a little case of cakes and cupcakes and I couldn’t look past one of the cupcakes that caught my eye. It was  Hazelnut Honey Meringue . It had shiny honey pieces atop of luscious looking cream that sat on the meringue cupcake. The cupcake was nice but was quite different to anything that I have had before. The meringue was not too sweet and the cream I thought needed a bit more sweetness to it, however once you bite into the honey pieces there was just the right amount of sweetness. The coffee here which is source from Proud Mary is quite good too but nothing overly fantastic.

The service of the staff is impeccable and staff are super friendly and as stated in my opening happy to help out where they can. This further adds to the atmosphere and general likening toward this new venue. For now Short Round is only open during the day time, but the sisters are considering the option of opening the venue up for night time dining and if they do – I cannot wait to see what special things they bring to their menu then.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://www.shortround.com.au/goods.html
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Light, Airy and Fun
Standout Dish: Cauliflower Fritters, Snow Pea Shoots, Pomegranate Molasses and Minted Yoghurt
Service: Friendly, Helpful and accomodating
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
shortround.com.au
731 High St, Thornbury
Tel No: 9484 3904

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

Short Round on Urbanspoon