Little Creatures Dining Hall – Simple Food – Simply Delicious!

panda 4.5 rating

I have been to Little Creatures many a time before and have always enjoyed it – both the food and the atmosphere. It is definitely a place that you find yourself coming back to because it is just that great. There is a chilled, relaxed and welcoming vibe attached to it and the food is simple yet memorable and tasty.

Little Creatures Dining Hall is located in Brunswick on Johnston Street and is a large venue – and I don’t lie when I say large – it can seat up to 200 people! The way in which this open, expansive space has been sectioned off is quite smart. There is a somewhat cosier room located at the front which overlooks the street, another casual drinking area with tables and high bar stools and the main large dining area (located at the rear of the space) together with the open kitchen located at the back this area.
There are booth styles seats as well as wooden tables in this area – these can seat from two people right up to larger numbers depending on your party size. The look and feel is warehouse industrial chic complete with exposed brick walls and steel roof beams. There is a lengthy bar stocking Little Creatures on tap (as you would expect from the name). There are nice vintage touches on tables in the form of grouped brown bottles with a twig of flowers and finished with a candle for the light aspect of things. There are other splotches of colour laced through the venue as well which further add warmth and cosiness.
There is also a loft area which holds bikes which you can hire to ride around the area if you wish. Pretty cool I must say.

The menu is designed to go well with beers and consists of some snacks “to start” off with such as chorizo, peanuts, fries and breads with dips, followed by a “to share” section – which include dishes such as mussels, spiced lentil dip with bread, jamon and salaami board. Then there is a “side”s section, followed by a “pizza” section, a “fly solo” section (if you aren’t in the mood to share) and ends with a sweets section. There are 10 pizzas to choose from which consist of toppings such as kipfler potato, spiced meatball, salami just to name a few.

There were three of us on this night and we decided to share some snacks and order pizzas for our mains.

The first dish to arrive was the Fresh Cut Chips, Garlic Aioli. These were seriously the best chips I have EVER TASTED! They were absolutely amazing and writing about them now is making me wish I had some in front of me right now. These chips were literally potato pieces that had been cut up directly from the farm – there were bits of skin still left on which added a rustic edge to them – and lightly fried. Add the garlic aioli with a dusting of salt and you have a dish made in heaven.

We also ordered the Glazed Carrots, Silverbeet and Sesame Seeds – another dish that blew my mind. When you are reading this dish on the menu it sounds very simple but the taste is mind blowingly delicious. The dish had a sweet element to it in the form of honey in which it was laced with. This worked well with the crunch and juiciness of the carrots. Another really great dish!

The three of us ordered a pizza each for our mains. N ordered the Spiced Lamb, Sweet Potato, Tzatziki, Mozzarella, T ordered the Pumpkin, Spinach, Dukkah, Goats Cheese and I ordered the Prawn, Salsa Verde, Mozzarella. The pizzas are very generous in size and after seeing them come out – I knew I wouldn’t’ be able to finish the entire pizza (especially since I ate most of the chips *drool*). The pizza crust was thin and somewhat crispy on the outside – which is the way I like my pizza.

My pizza had a generous serving of prawns which had been flavoured well. I would have liked a bit more of the salsa verde on the pizza but overall it was a great tasting pizza – the coriander in the salsa verde worked well with the cheese and the prawn combination. I would have also liked a hint of chilli added.

The pumpkin pizza had large soft chunks of pumpkin which dominated the pizza amongst the spinach and cheese. The mix of the dukkah and the pumpkin were well suited to each other. The lamb pizza which had lamb in the form of mince was generously placed, with thin slices of sweet potato and tzatziki around the lamb. N said the lamb needed a bit more flavour – perhaps more salt – but overall it was quite tasty.

The staff is fantastic – and despite the many different areas to service and the large space they need to cover  – it isn’t a hassle to get their attention. They are friendly and helpful in anywhere possible.

Little Creatures is a great place with equally delicious food and is great for any celebration – small or big! There are other locations – Fremantle (where it all started) and Geelong (only the brewery) as well. Get down to Little Creatures and if you had to eat just one thing – get their Fresh Hand Cut Chips or the Carrot Side. You cannot go wrong!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer here for the Food Menu https://littlecreatures.com.au/system/venue/food_menu/0000/0002/Melbourne_menu.pdf
Refer here for the Drinks Menu
https://littlecreatures.com.au/system/venue/drink_menu/0000/0002/stash_list_august13.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cosy, Chilled and Funky. Great for any function or celebration, also great for drinks or food or both!
Standout Dish: Fresh Cut Chips, Garlic Aioli AND Glazed Carrots, Silverbeet and Sesame Seeds
Service: Fantastic – Friendly and always with a smile
Online Booking: No – they don’t take bookings
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.littlecreatures.com.au
222 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Tel No: 9417 5500

Opening Hours:
Monday to Thursday: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm
Friday: 10:00 am – 12:00 am
Saturday: 8:00 am – 12:00 am
Sunday: 8:00 am – 11:00 pm

Little Creatures Melbourne Dining Hall on Urbanspoon

Gasolina – Motorcycles, Pizza and Good Food

Menu:

Custom Bar Snacks Custom Bar Snacks2 Grills and Mains One Drop Lunch Pasta Pizzas Salads and Starters Sandwiches, Sliders Sweets

I was in charge or organising a team lunch around our work area and I had previously been to Gasolina and really liked the space and thought they did pretty good pizzas – so decided on trying this place again. Right from the start the staff were very helping as I needed for them to send through a menu and needed to pre-order food as well. I think I must have called them at least 5 times, and yet they were still so patient and helpful in answering my questions with regards to various dietary requirements. A big tick for customer service.

Gasolina is located in Docklands and is part restaurant, part bar and part motorcycle garage and workshop – all located conveniently in a shed at South Wharf. The cuisine is traditional Italian complete with wood fire pizzas, grilled meats and the variety of the homemade pasta’s. The space is vast and has kept its warehouse/shed feel with the bar splitting up the dining area to the right and a lounge area with lounges, tables and Robot art. You also have direct access to the garage next to Gasolina which houses customer motorcycles and a few automobiles. To keep with the theme – there are motorcycles scattered around the restaurant / bar area too. What is also very unique and a huge point of difference is that there are Transformer robot replicas around the place – there was a mini one located on the bar and a HUGE robot located in the loungey area. I loved it!

Gasolina serves traditional Italian food such as wood fire pizzas, daily made pasta as well as grilled meats. The menu’s are rather funky as well and resembles a block of wood with a bolt to tie back to the workshop. Something new that they are trailing is a menu called a One Drop Lunch – which costs $25 and comes with a house wine, beer or a soft drink. What it is, is essentially 3 courses all served in “one drop” in a tray that resembles a Thali that some Indian restaurants use. You get an entrée, main and dessert as well as bread with olive oil and whipped butter and the best part – a tablet that looks like a refresher mint – but is actually a wet towel once you have completed your meal. You simply drop this table into water and voila it becomes a towelette. Very cool hey!

You get to choose out of three options for each of the courses and there are also vegetarian and gluten free options available. Refer to the menu above to see the options.

For my One Drop lunch – I got the Insalata, The Mushroom Risotto and the Chocolate Mousse. The Insalata caprese came with vine tomato, pesto, buffalo mozzarella, ligurian olive, balsamic, and was quite refreshing. The ingredients were fresh and juicy. The Mushroom risotto was served with marscapone and truffle oil and was quite filling and really tasty. The risotto rice was cooked perfectly. The Dark Chocolate mousse came with poached pear and cookie crumbs – and had a rich taste which paired well with the sweetness of the poached pears.

I really like this concept and think it’s a great and novel idea!

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to the thumbnails above – there is a Pizza, Pasta, Sides, Salads, Starter, Dessert and One Drop Lunch Menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Warehouse feel and inviting
Service: Great and very friendly!
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://gasolina.com.au/gasolina-restaurant-bar/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://gasolina.com.au/gasolina-restaurant-bar/
25 Dukes Walk, South Wharf Promenade
Ph: 03 9696 1169

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 11am – Late
Kitchen open from 12PM Daily

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South of Johnston – Relaxed and Enchanting

panda 4 rating

My first impression of South of Johnston or SoJo as it is affectionately known as was that it had a really vibrant yet relaxed country feel to it. It was a place that you could literally spend hours and hours and feel like you are away on a day trip, yet you are located in the inner city suburb of Collingwood. Stuart McKenzie (from Mart 130) spent a lot of time finding the perfect venue to open his café and wonderfully transformed the once old valve-repackaging factory into the venue that it is today with some help from Carver Design.

SoJo is quite a large venue, in Oxford Street, and is made of multiple spaces that you can pick to choose from to sit. There is an outside covered quadrangle located at the front, which looks out onto the street and lets the bright sunshine in. What is super cool as well is the “urban orchard” that is located at the front of this area – with herb and fruit trees located in planter boxes. What was also great was that there were blankets placed on each chair – perhaps if you got a bit cold – such a novel idea. There is a covered courtyard area located at the back as well as the main area where the bar / coffee bar is located that is quite large (and where bookings can be made as well). This main area also consists of a fireplace with comfortable looking lounges located around it. If you think its hard deciding on where you want to sit, wait till you get to the food menu – there is a huge variety to select from!

I love the combination of the wooden tables and chairs with the simple, modern and pastel pieces of artwork. As well as the colourful cushions that are tossed across the comfy looking couches. At the entrance there is a table with knick knacks and various elegant artifacts which adds a classy touch.

South of Johnston has an all day dining menu to offer and consists of classic breakfast dishes with a contemporary twist, and they can cater for all dietary requirements as well. There really is a little of everything on the menu and like I said you will spend even longer than you did deciding where to sit. There are egg breakfasts: scrambled and folded with goats’ cheese and truffle oil; fried eggs and kaiserfleisch; or soft-poached and saucy with sugo, black olives and spicy chorizo. The usuals such as Bircher muesli with poached seasonal fruit, crunchy granola and vanilla bean infused yogurt can also be found. Two dishes that most people seem to talk about is the French Toast served with Brioche and the Corn fritters – where the corn cobs have been oven roasted to get that smoky flavour – mm yuum!

It was quite a warm day and I felt like fresh juice and the waitress informed me that they had a special for that day which was a grapefruit juice – so I thought I would try it out. It was quite refreshing albeit a bit bitter. Towards the end I did have to add some sugar in it to cut some of the bitter taste. After much deliberation I decided to have the Pancakes served with Mixed Berries and Vanilla Infused Mascarpone with Pistachio Nuts as I felt like something sweet. The pancakes come with a maple syrup bottle that you have all to yourself – so you can put as much or as little as you want around the pancakes. There hasn’t been a place yet that I have been to that does this. The dish was quite sizeable and it seemed like there was a mountain of pancakes to get through (I couldn’t finish the whole dish) – the pancakes themselves were delicious – soft and flavoursome.  The combination of the tangy berries with the vanilla mascarpone and crunch of the nuts against the fluffy pillows was fantastic. The addition of the maple added more sweetness to the dish.

SoJo is a relaxed and inviting café (in fact they almost encourage you to sit and stay the whole day), that has a great selection of tasty dishes coupled with a variety of drinks. The menu is for All Day Dining and the multitude of options of where you can sit add to the homely feel of this space. I will definitely be back and this time I will sit in a different section of the café =)

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Refer to http://southofjohnston.com.au/spring-summer-menu-13.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Relaxed, Comfortable, Warm and Inviting. Great place to just chill and hang out and spent most of your day. (There is free WiFi as well)
Standout Dish: Didn’t try it but the French Toast Brioche and the Corn Fritters seem to be a hit
Service: Friendly, Helpful and Warm
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
southofjohnston.com.au
46 Oxford Street, Collingwood
Tel No: 9417 2741

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm

South of Johnston on Urbanspoon

30Kerr65 – Dimattina Espresso Bar

panda 4 rating

30Kerr65 is a newly opened Coffee Expresso Bar brought to you by the Dimmatina family – John and Robert Dimmatina (Robert founded 30Kerr65 and John manages it). Dimmatina coffee has been around Melbourne for a very long time and supplies many different coffee houses and cafes all around Melbourne, including regional Victoria. It all started in the 1950s with their father roasting coffee – they now have a plant located in Reservoir, as well as a training school and café in South Melbourne and now the newly opened 30Kerr65 which also has coffee courses and is a wholesaler.

The name 30Kerr65 is a play on two different things as John explained to me – 1) the address is 30 Kerr St and the postcode in the Fitzroy area ends with 65, 2) the ideal coffee is made with 30ml shot of coffee and the ideal milk temperate is 65 degrees. From speaking to both John and Robert you can tell– they are proud and have a true love for coffee and the coffee industry. They speak fondly of the history, to their different outlets and how they came to finding this perfect venue and location in the side streets of Fitzroy.

The venue is warm, open and inviting and from the time you step inside you get the wonderful coffee aroma in the air. The centrepiece of the venue – a hut style enclosure which houses the coffee bar and coffee machines, together with the friendly and always smiling baristas. There are communal long timber tables to sit and enjoy your coffee as the wide windows in the front let the sunshine in. On the wall to the right is a large picture which shows you the coffee process. There are chalkboards present, which displays their gold medal award at The Golden Bean for 2011/12 as well as showing the days coffee blends and speciality single origins on offer. Underneath this, is a selection of coffee machines, grinders and accessories that are for sale, together with interesting magazine and books to flick through.

30Kerr65 has several different blends on offer which include the house blend Prima Tazza (which is a combination of five origins) , a Hyper Hyper blend – a strong Italian blend, as well as an Utopia blend – which is both strong and smooth and a Decaf blend – all produced from a new Kees van der Westen Mirage Duette espresso machine – Mirage coffee machine in short. The main focus here John tells me is on coffee and small little sweets for the moment and creating just the perfect cup of coffee, but he is not ruling out having food in the near future. He tells me about their South Melbourne branch which does food as well as the delicious coffee – another café to add to the list to try out!

I ordered a House Blend latte which was smooth and creamy yet strong and delicious. It really does go down a treat and you can drink it really easily which leaves you with wanting more. It comes out to you by the friendly baristas. Whilst I was at 30Kerr65 there were many locals and people working around the area that came in that had already established a relationship with the place and were on first name basis and had the baristas knowing their order without them having to say anything. This was ideally the premise of having an inner suburban unique Espresso bar.

You can also purchase coffee at 30Kerr65 by the kilogram and can select from the different varieties. Additionally, each bag comes with a personalized touch – your name handwritten on the front of the bag.  As well the coffee beans you can buy top quality coffee machines, grinders and coffee making equipment in a variety of brands. You can even purchase the famous Giotto machine for your home from here.

Both Robert and John are passionate about coffee and know that having a great coffee is having great coffee beans – and this can be seen when you try out the Dimattina coffee. They also explained to me how they sourced the perfect milk to complement the coffee – by trailing a whole range till they found just the right one.

At 30Kerr65 you can learn about coffee as well – there are two different coffee courses which run on Thursdays or Saturday mornings and are by appointment only. The Barista Basics course ($120, 2 hours) covers use of commercial coffee machines and grinders, as well as texturing milk and coffee menu selection. The second courses offered is the Introduzione Al Caffe ($150, 2 hours) which teaches you about the history and origins of coffee, as well getting to practice making different styles of coffee and milk texturing.  Contact 30Kerr65 if you want to make a booking or you can email them at 30kerr65@dimattinacoffee.com.au.

30Kerr65 is a great addition to the bustling Fitzroy area, but somewhat hidden away in its location it has managed to find clientele who keep coming back. And just from speaking to both the Dimattina brother’s and staff working there – it is not only the delicious tasting coffee that makes people return but the friendly and impeccable service. Definitely check it out and experience some great coffee and service for yourself.

30Kerr65 is currently only open Monday to Friday but who knows what the future could hold.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual Relaxed place with great sunshine coming in through the front windows. Great way to start the morning!
Service: Super Friendly, Welcoming and Fantastic
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.30kerr65.com.au/
30 Kerr St, Fitzroy
Tel No: 9416 2077

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 8am – 4pm

30Kerr65 on Urbanspoon

Krimper Cafe – Hidden Warehouse Style Treasure

panda 4 rating

Krimper Café is located in a laneway off Queen Street – in Guildford lane – in a converted warehouse space. When you walk down the laneway to get to Krimper Cafe, there are a bunch of wooden panels at the entrance, one of which is a door – took me a second to register how to enter the premises. Once you walk in you are transported into another world – you are greeted by a large welcoming venue that has exposed brick walls and wooden beams, together with the wooden tables – lots of wood!! as well as three hanging road bikes. This space was previously a sawmill, then a cabinet making factory and then the Guildford Lane Gallery. The centre piece of the venue is an old elevator which has been somewhat restored – there is a table located inside this elevator that a group of up to 6 people can sit at. Another key piece of the venue is the “flying saucer” lights which were sourced from op shops – which are peppered throughout the venue.

The café name itself comes from furniture maker Schulim Krimper – who owner Min Soon admires as Soon is a designer and architect himself. There is a piece of Krimper’s work which is located at the café as well. Additionally each of the tables are made from an old spiral staircase that used to be located on the premises as well.

Coffee here is from Proud Mary and Krimper Cafe offers house blend or single origin.  The latte that I order is fantastic as expected – nutty, creamy and crisp all at the same time. Coffee perfection. The menu is short, simple but unique and has Japanese, French and American-style cooking involved. There are daily specials available as well. I was looking forward to trying the Almond Crusted French Toast but didn’t see this on the menu so decided to stick with the sweet them and ordered the Orange blossom spelt waffles, with blueberries, banana, ricotta and maple syrup. And this dish sure didn’t disappoint! The dish came out not only looking amazing but tasted even better. The dish was bursting with colours and flavours. I am generally not a fan of orange flavours but the orange blossom in the waffles was yummmm and was further complemented with the maple syrup and flavoursome fruits. Another winning component of the dish was the Ricotta which didn’t taste like ricotta at all – it tasted like a smooth vanilla tasting mascarpone – which I could eat table spoons of. I had to make sure that I didn’t gobble it down all at once. Overall it was a really great dish and made my morning!

Krimper Cafe is a very welcoming, relaxing and casual cafe that is going to do great things not only for the Melbourne breakfast and brunch scene but hopefully in the nighttime as well. Currently Krimper Cafe is not opened on the weekends, but hopefully that will change soon. Eventhough Krimper Cafe is no where near my work – I will definitely be coming back.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxing, Laid-Back, Funky, Warehouse Style
Service: Friendly and Attentive
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.krimper.com.au/
20-24 Guildford Lane, Melbourne
Tel No: 9043 8844

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7am – 5pm
Friday night drinks:  5pm- 7pm

Krimper on Urbanspoon

Industry Beans – Great Coffee, Great Looking Dishes & A Great Place!

panda-5-rating6
Cappuccino at Industry Beans
Cappuccino at Industry Beans

Poached eggs crumbed in panko, served with charred asparagus, raisins, capsicum curls & a parsnip & jeruselum artichoke puree
Poached Eggs crumbed in Panko, served with Charred Asparagus, Raisins, Capsicum Curls & a Parsnip & Jeruselum Artichoke Puree

Brioche French Toast - Served with cold drip coffee maple pearls, pure maple syrup, blueberry molasses & double whipped cream
Brioche French Toast – Served with Cold-Drip Coffee Maple Pearls, Pure Maple Syrup, Blueberry Molasses & Double Whipped Cream

Industry Beans is a new coffee roaster / cafe opened up by the owners of Penny Farthing Expresso – Trevor and Steve Simmons. The most talked about aspect – aside from the delicious and variety filled coffee and great tasting food of course – is the location and the space of this place. The brothers have transformed a former warehouse space into a bright, chic, high ceiling-ed, lively and enjoyable cafe. Industry Beans has a funky, friendly and energetic vibe as soon as you set foot into the place.

C and I arrive at around 10am on a Sunday morning for breakfast and are seated immediately and are given the menus. One of the menus is a coffee bible – a 15 page coffee menu!!! – which features single origins from literally all over the world – places like El Salvador, Honduras, the Sumatran Hills and the plantations of Panama. You can select from various techniques such as Expresso, Blends, Pour-Over, AeroPress and Cold Drip. C needed to have decaf coffee and the waitress was very informative and telling her that here they prepare decaf by running it through water, whereas most other coffee places use harsh chemicals. She also gave her some other advice about decaf coffee too – so informative!

The food menu, from the Penny Farthing chef Shaun Landman, is just as good as the coffee menu – one side is the lunch menu and the other side is the breakfast menu. There are the normal dishes such as Bircher Muesli and Smashed Avocado Eggs, but there are some creative dishes. There were many dishes on the list that I wanted to try but I just had to select one (I chose the Poached Crumbed Eggs in Panko). C and I then shared the Brioche French Toast as well. There are dishes like Beetroot Rosti topped with Smoked Eel to Cold Drip Cured Salmon and Cornbread (yes, the Salmon is actually cooked with their quality coffee!).

When my dish – Poached Eggs crumbed in Panko, served with Charred Asparagus, Raisins, Capsicum Curls & a Parsnip & Jeruselum Artichoke Puree – came out I was super impressed! The dish was colorful and presented beautifully. If you have seen my previous posts I have a little obsession with crumbed poached eggs so was really keen on trying what the ones here were like. These poached eggs – which were perfectly poached and just had the right amount of gooey-ness – were crumbed with Panko and tasted fantastic! The combination of the asparagus and the sweetness of the raisins together with the crunch of the almonds was delicious! A definite must try dish! The Brioche French Toast was another hit of a dish! However I would have liked a bit more cream and more strawberries. The Cold-Drip Coffee Maple Pearls were ingenious and the additional coffee flavour mixed with other elements really made the dish! I want to go back and try out items from the Coffee Chemistry list.

Industry Beans has a strong philosophy of keeping everything in-house and serve homemade bread, butter and even chocolate! They aren’t just specialists in coffee but with food as well. There is a Coffee Chemistry list as well where you can sample things from their “Coffee-Lab” – such as Cold Drop Caviar, Latte Pearls, Aeropress Jelly and Coffee Toffee!

There is also a viewing platform at the back where you watch the baristas loading the beans in and out of the roaster. There is also a coffee cupping area upstairs. There are muffins and other sweet selections at the front counter – all of which are made in house as well.

Industry Beans is just one of those places that everyone has to visit at least once, and once they do they will keep coming back. This place is a definite must try for all the coffee lovers out there – you WILL NOT be disappointed. The staff are friendly without being over the top, the venue is fresh and refreshing and makes you feel really comfortable. All I have to say is CHECK OUT THIS PLACE! GO GO GO! =p

Rating : 5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Breakfast and Lunch Menu with a twist! Check on the menu at http://industrybeans.com/cafe/menu/
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and Friendly – great for a weekend catch up!
Standout Dish: Brioche French Toast
Service: Super Friendly and attentive! Happy to give out suggestions and always have a smile on their face =)
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://industrybeans.com/
Warehouse 3
Cnr Fitzroy & Rose St
Fitzroy
Tel No: 9417 1037

Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday: 7am to 5pm
Saturday & Sunday: 8am to 5pm

Industry Beans on Urbanspoon

Hobba: Eatery & Bar – Beautiful Fresh Dishes

panda-4-5-rating3Hobba Breakfast

Hobba Dinner Menu Latte at Hobba Breakfast Bubble & Squeak with Hollandaise, Roast Tomato, Fried Egg & Slab Bacon Grilled Asparagus, Hazelnut Crumbs, Horseradish Panna Cotta, Poached Egg French Toast with Blueberries, Banana Creme Fraice and Macadamia Crumble

Hobba: Eatery & Bar is located in Prahran and is housed in a once old tire factory, owned by Gerrick Numan, and joined by Simon McNamara and chef Josh Powell. Hobba has so much light and maintains its warehouse style and creates a relaxed atmosphere for its guests. I later also discovered that there is a giant tree which grows in the middle of the space through a table. Very interesting indeed! The restaurant space is open with high ceilings and exposed brick walls, and booths are made out of timber and have comfortable cushion seats.

I arrived before the rest of the group (there was going to be four of us) and was told that there would be a 15 minute wait for a table. (This was on Christmas Eve day by the way). However, there was a table much sooner and after about 5-7 minutes I was seated at a table. I was asked immediately if I wanted a coffee and was given water and the menu. As my friends hadn’t arrived yet I had plenty of time to have a look at their menu, and discovered that they Hobba now did dinner service – only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. They had a sample menu on the back of the Breakfast and Lunch menu (refer to the first thumbnail above) – and the food looked and sounded delicious. I made a mental note to definitely come back at dinner time.

The menu has a breakfast and lunch menu. The Breakfast menu is available all day, and there are a selection of sandwiches available from 10:30am. The menu consists of the general loved classic dishes such as toast with jam, muesli, eggs and omelettes, but what stands out about this place is the dishes that won’t find anywhere else – such as the Grilled asparagus, hazelnut crumbs, horseradish panna cotta & poached egg and the bubble and squeak dish.

I ordered the Grilled Asparagus dish and when the dish came out it was plated so beautifully. It is one of the best presented breakfast dishes I have had. The horseradish panna cotta made the dish look like a dessert dish. The asparagus was blanched and flavoured just perfectly. The poached egg…oh the poached egg – cooked to absolute perfection at 62.5 degrees and was runny and gooey and had such a light casing of the white. This mixed together with the hazelnut crumb added texture to the dish, and made for a winning combination. An addition I would have liked is a piece of sour dough bread to soak up that delicious runny egg.

A ordered the Bubble and Squeak dish and that too was presented in a great fashion – with the hollandaise sauce on the bottom and then the bubble and squeak placed on top with another layer atop of fried egg and bacon. V ordered the French Toast with banana creme fraiche which she thoroughly enjoyed. Banana Creme Fraiche is something that you wouldn’t find in many places and the macadamia crumble is another exotic addition. L had the Hobba breakfast which was quite decently sized and comes with tomato, bacon, sausage and eggs. The coffees here are pretty spot on as well and taste creamy and rich and are from Five Senses.

The atmosphere is laid back and relaxing and its a great place for a casual catchup. Hobba is great for all types of people and great for families as well. There are mini board games for the kiddies. I wonder what the atmosphere would be like for the dinner service. The space is really funky and trendy. Definitely will be back for more of the breakfast meals as well as for the dinner. It is on my highly recommended list when people ask me where they should go for brunch.

Open to the street and with a whacking great tree thrown in the middle of the lofty ex-tyre fitting garage, it almost feels like you’re eating al fresco – and who doesn’t love the feel of the morning breeze through their cereal? The atmosphere is pretty laid back, which is exactly what owner Gerrick Numan, and Powell were aiming for with their amusing pledge to under-promise, and over-deliver. They wanted the sort of place where they themselves would go to relax – which of course meant having the kind of food that they would want to eat.

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Breakfast / Lunch Menu – http://www.hobba.com.au/Hobba/BreakfastLunch.html, Dinner Menu – http://www.hobba.com.au/Hobba/Dinner.html
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Casual, Relaxed and great for a Sunday afternoon.
Standout Dish:
Service: Friendly and Attentive
Online Booking: No
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.hobba.com.au/Hobba/Home.html
428 Malvern Road, Prahran
Tel No: 9510 8336

Opening Hours:
Monday to Wednesday: 7am to 5pm
Thursday to Saturday: 7am to 11pm (Dinner on Thursday to Saturday nights)
Sunday: 8am to 5pm

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Coda – European inspired food with Asian Influences

panda-4-5-rating4

I have previously been to Coda when it first opened and loved it. I remember the delicious crab dish which was quite decently sized and packed with flavour. This time around I was meeting a friend for lunch on a Friday just before the Christmas break. We were quite late in wanting a booking and was told that the place was booked out, however there would still be seating at the bar area available where you can order from their full menu. My friend J got there before 12pm to secure us a spot at the bar.

Coda is part owned by chef Adam D’Sylva alongside Kate Calder (ex-Taxi) and Mykal Bartholomew (ex-MoVida). Pastry chef Rebecca Creighton, (ex Pearl and Taxi), takes over for “The Sweet Stuff” and for the expertise in Wine it is the responsibility of Sommelier Travis Howe (ex-Taxi).

Coda was once a underground warehouse space, and has been renovated to fit into Melbourne laneways perfectly. The place has been renovated in tones of black and aluminium and is lit up by the massive bare windows and has a relaxing and chic atmosphere. The restaurant is split into two sections, the formal seating area and the seating at the bar. From the bar, you can look through to the kitchen as the chefs prepare your meals thru a mesh screen. An interesting feature are the light fittings ( I do seem to love interesting light decor) – at Coda they are metal meshing in the shape of a birdcage around a simple exposed lightbulb. It adds to the underground, quirky feel of the place.

The menu is split into 4 sections – Smaller Dishes (of which there are 19 different dishes to select from!), Larger Dishes (5 to choose from), Sides and of course The Sweet Stuff (Dessert!!) and encompasses mainly Asian style dishes, with a dash of European dishes strewn around the menu. J and I decided to order a couple of the smaller dishes and share these between us. We ordered  the following:
Fremantle Octopus, Green Mango and Cucumber Salad with Nahm Jim, Peanuts and Crispy Anchovies,
Spanner Crab, Galangal, Roasted Chilli and Lime Betel Leaf,
Sugar Cane Prawn with Sweet Chilli Sauce
Yellow Fin Tuna, Daikon, Green Apple Salad with Pinenuts, Ponzu and Fresh Wasabi.

We started off with the Spanner Crab in Betel Leaf which we were told to use our hands to eat – simply wrap the Betel leaf around the contents and eat away. There was also additional grapefruit pieces which added for an extra zang and burst of flavour (literally), together with the crab and chilli it was a memorable dish. We then had the Yellow Fin Tuna salad – the Tuna was cooked beautifully and had a really nice texture and mixed with the apple made for a really fresh tasting salad. Next we got the Sugar Cane Prawns and we were told to bite on the sugar cane to get the sugary goodness. This was a good looking and fun,but messy dish to eat. Inside the white squiggly noodle casing was prawn covered in ginger, coriander and lemongrass – it was flavoursome central! Definitely one of my favourite dishes. We ended the savoury part of the meal with the Octopus Salad (which I actually preferred over the other salad. J however liked the Yellow Fin Tuna Salad). I loved the freshness and sweetness that the green mango brought to the dish along with the crunch of peanuts and anchovies.

To end the meal we had to try “The Sweet Stuff”. We settled on the Toasted Meringue, Vanilla Chiffon Cake, Passionfruit Curd, Coconut and Mango Sorbet. We asked our friendly waitress what this dessert was about and when it came out it looked like exactly what she had described. Have a look for the pic of this dessert above – it was a spectacular looking dish! You almost weren’t sure where to start eating. The Sorbet was beautifully made and was fresh and packed with flavour and very smooth! The Chiffon Cake was not as soft as I thought it would have been, but this somewhat added texture together with the smoothness of the sorbet and the passionfruit curd. Eating all the different parts together was like a sweet heaven party in your mouth. It sure is one not only good looking dish but great tasting as well.

Coda is a funky restaurant that is good for any occasion – be it casual or formal. The staff are experienced and enthusiastic and if you ask them anything about the menu they go that extra mile to explain things to you. You can tell why this place is popular and books out quite fast. In short the food is great and there is a huge variety of dishes to choose one – it would be quite hard to not find at least one dish you wouldn’t enjoy, the venue is enticing and has a sense of fun and the staff welcoming. Be sure to try this place out!

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Selection of dishes from Smaller, Larger, Sides and Desserts – http://www.codarestaurant.com.au/pdf/coda_menu.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Urban, Chic, Funky and Fun – Great for all occasions!
Standout Dish: Sugar Cane Prawns and any of their Desserts
Service: Fantastic, Enthusiastic and Knowledgeable. Very friendly as well!
Online Booking: No, Call them to make a reservation or for no bookings there is seating around the Bar
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.codarestaurant.com.au/
Basement
141 Flinders Lane (Cnr Oliver Lane)
Melbourne
Tel No: 9650 3155

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday
Lunch: 12pm to 3pm
Dinner: 6pm to 10:30pm

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The Moor’s Head – Pide and Pizza with Variety!


The Golden Terrace Pide – Minced Beef, Fresh Tomato, Chilli, Almond, Lemon

The Moor’s head is the latest venture of Joseph Abboud and John Farha and is the sister restaurant to the well known and delicious Rumi (check out my review here – https://thegrazingpanda.wordpress.com/2012/10/16/rumi/). The Moor’s head specialises in Lebanese – Turkish pizza’s and has the tag line “inauthentic pizza” – combines their love of Italian pizza’s with their Lebanese heritage.

 The restaurant was previously an old warehouse and has high ceilings with black interior and wooden tables together with Arabic styled posters around the place. This all adds to the casual and comfortable atmosphere that makes you want to return.

The menu consists of starters, pizzas (manoushe and pides), salads and sweets. Manoushe are your standard type of pizzas – round and flat, and Pides are canoe shaped with raised crusts. When you look at the menu, you are greeted with wonderful and quirky names staying true to their Lebanese heritage such as The Golden Terrace, Omar Sharif, The Bosphorus and Sultan Mehmet.

I ordered the Golden Terrace which comes with minced beef, topped with fresh slices of tomato, the perfect amount of spiciness in the form of fresh chilli, coriander  lemon and almonds. The dough is perfection – soft and crunchy all at the same time. The mince beef was perfectly seasoned with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, and the lemon and almonds added an extra tang and texture. It is a pity I didn’t get to stay for dessert – I definitely want to come back and try the dessert menu and dessert pizzas.

There are also many vegetarian options available using various combinations of interesting ingredients.

The Moor’s Head uses simple and well put together flavours, with greatly made dough for a very reasonable price. Together with the friendly service, this is a place I will be coming back to.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Consists of Pizza’s and Pides – can be found at http://www.themoorshead.com/?page_id=87
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Vibrant, Lively and Casual
Standout Dish: The Golden Terrace, Omar Sharif
Service: Friendly and Informative
Online Booking: No, but they do accept bookings via phone
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.themoorshead.com/
Rear 774 High St, Thornbury (Enter via Collins St)
Tel No: 9484 0173

Opening Hours:
Dinner only
Monday to Sunday: 5:30pm – 10:00pm

Takeaway also available.

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Mama Baba – A Combination of Greek and Italian

          
      

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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