The Town Mouse – Great Addition to Carlton

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L and I headed to dinner to The Town Mouse on a Wednesday night. The Town Mouse has replaced the former fine dining restaurant Embrasse on Drummond Street in Carlton. The team behind this creation is the brother and sisters team of Christian McCabe (Honky Tonks and one of New Zealand’s best restaurants The Matterhorn) and Amber McCabe (Longrain), as well as Jay Comeskey (Amber’s husband).

The Town Mouse feels welcoming from the moment you walk in to the massive COME IN for GOOD TIMES welcome mat style etched into the entrance doorway. As you step in you are greeted by the glistening black tiles which are on all four walls, the centrepiece is the black bar which is lit up in all the right places and has a gunmetal grey lattice work, and is surrounded with high raw wooden stools and vintage lampshades which are dropped from the ceiling. The atmosphere is comfortable yet sophisticated. I love the use of wood against the backdrop of black – the only drawback being that there is only high stool seating.

The menu developed together with chef Dave Verheul has a strong emphasis on sharing plates and sits perfectly between the fine dining and casual categories. The menu  has been inspired by a Modern European style with flavours of Asia along the way, and is split into 6 different sections – To Start, Raw,  To Share, Vegetables (there are 5 different dishes to choose from), Meat & Fish and lastly Dessert. Looking at the dishes and the combinations of ingredients, there was a lot there that caught my attention – it was hard to just settle on a select few dishes to share between the two of us. The wine list consists of a wide selection and has been devised with the help of Lachlan Barber.

Once we had decided what we wanted and were waiting for our dishes to arrive – we were given bread along with seaweed butter. I am always a bit apprehensive about dishes that contain seaweed, but the seaweed flavour was subtle and added to the normal butter taste.

L and I started with something from the To Start section (how fitting =p) – we got the Goat’s Cheese Profiterole, Caraway, Thyme & Our Honey. They came out in tiny round morsels with a crisp crunchy outside casing and the Goat’s Cheese filling together with the spice & herbs was delicious. What made the dish interesting was the addition of the honey. I really do like the combination of the tangy cheese and the sweetness of the honey. This is a definite must try dish – a mix of savoury and sweet flavours!

Next up we got the Crab & Gurnard Terrine, Salted Lemon Curd, Nori, Pea Leaves and Crab Essence. This dish comes out beautifully presented and resembled a garden with the Crab & Gurnard Terrine being the flowers. Gurnard for those of you who don’t know is a type of sea fish. This was a dish full of flavour and textures – the terrine was soft and dense and the nori was crisp and salty. The combination of this was great and the salted lemon curd further enhanced this.

We followed up both these dishes with the Steamed Diamond Shell Clams, Black Mussels, Clam Bisque, Fennel & Rosemary and also got the Kipflers cooked in Toasted Hay, Buttermilk, Crisp Sage & Almond Brown Butter. We were also given extra bread to go with the Clam and Mussel dish to soak up the Clam Bisque – thoughtful! This dish was tasty and the seafood was fresh. The Clam Bisque was flavorsome and delicious (and there was heaps of this so the bread was definitely needed). When reading the Kipflers dish I loved the sound of all the components – especially the combination of the sage and almond brown butter – and it certainly wasn’t a let down when it came out. Once again the dish was beautifully presented with a fantastic taste to match. The almond brown butter and the buttermilk were delicious and the potatoes were cooked perfectly with the skin having a nice crunch to it in certain areas.

Next up was time for dessert and there were two dishes that caught my eye, so we asked our waiter which one we should try. He won us over with the description of the Chocolate Tart with Thai Flavors. Once again presentation of this dish was immaculate. The Chocolate tart was a rich deep dark brown colour that had a shiny glaze and was surrounded with the “Thai Flavours” – there was cucumber, mint, kaffir lime leaves, powders and crumbs. This was one of the most interesting dessert dishes I have tasted – the mix of chocolate and veggies in a sense was thrilling and actually tasted really good! The chocolate was rich and divine. A must try for all chocolate lovers.

The staff at The Town Mouse were friendly, attentive, helpful and accommodating which all added to the experience. By the time we had gotten our meals the place was buzzing and the atmosphere was warm, cool and suave all at the same time. I have already recommended this place to some of my friends and would definitely be heading back to try out the other dishes (really want to try out the Smoked Barramundi!). The Town Mouse is an awesome addition to the Melbourne food scene and the food is simply amazing – it really has surpassed its predecessors that used to accompany this venue. CHECK IT OUT for GREAT times =)

Rating : 4.5 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu – Have a look at http://www.thetownmouse.com.au/downloads/Hungry.pdf  Wine List at http://www.thetownmouse.com.au/downloads/Thirsty.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Cool, Sophisticated, Welcoming and Warm. Fantastic place for a catchup with friends, celebration – you really could spend a lot of time here.
Standout Dish: Goat’s Cheese Profiterole, Caraway, Thyme & Our Honey
Service: Fantastic and Attentive – Very Friendly as well.
Online Booking: No – But it would be best to call them up and make a reservation, as they do get quite full. There are two dinner sitting times as well.
Restaurant Details and Location:
www.thetownmouse.com.au
312 Drummond Street, Carlton
Tel No: 9347 3312

Opening Hours:
Wednesday: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Thursday to Sunday: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm

The Town Mouse on Urbanspoon

Cru – Yummiest Breakkie Stack

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Cru in located in the leafy streets of Glenferrie Road in the suburb of Kew. Cru in Kew=p is brought to you from Peter Rose and his wife Annie, along with business partners Robyn Blake and Andrew Pickering. Cru has been on my breakkie lists for a while and on this Saturday I needed to be around the area, so N and I decided to check it out.
We got there at around 10:30am and the place was buzzing and the front dining area was packed. We decided to sit out side in the plank / courtyard area (we were told that it was enclosed and had heaters – win! – as this morning was a tad bit nippy), and it was lovely. By the way the plank area is just before the courtyard and has a series of high and low tables amongst hanging pot plants. I think even if there had been room in the dining area – I would have gone for the courtyard / plank option. It has hanging pot plants and mini ferns that create a great atmosphere. As you go further to the back is an area (where if you wish you can bring your puppies) where there is a communal table and charming little shed (when the weather is warmer – this converts into a wine bar). This is not to say the dining area is any less great – in fact it is with its marble bar that runs the length of the room, complete with green and white tiles to finish the chic look.

The Cru Menu is extensive and covers everything that you would normally find on a breakfast menu from Bircher to Angus Burgers and covers a range of flavours such as Moroccan. There are interestingly named dishes such as Stop 80 and The 109 – which refers to the nearby tramstops, as well as Cocobanana which is Cru’s Banana Bread. Cru sources the best local ingredients, with their gluten-free bread delivered daily from Jane’s Bread (artisian baker in Hawthorn), the eggs are from South Gippsland, bacon from Otway Pork and Peter B Bouchier and the lamb from Paddy’s Meats. The drink menu is also another spectacle – there is the usual coffees, teas but also Berocca, smoothies, shakes and mixed juices to pick from such as Phlavours of Pho – blend of Thai basil, cucumber, fennel and aniseed sugar syrup.

It was a hard decision to pick what I wanted but I couldn’t look past the Roesti – which comprises of avocado, smoked salmon, red onion, crispy capers, poached egg. N got what he usually gets – Fried eggs with additonal sides. The puff pastry looked interesting as well, and when I come back I would definitely want to try that out, as well as the Cocobanana for something sweet. The Roesti comes out as a breakfast stack with the crunchy potato base, layered with the smoked salmon, red onion, avocado mix and topped with the poached egg and surrounded by the capers. This dish is one of the yummiest breakfast stacks I have tasted. The potato fritter was crunchy and crispy and tasted delicious. The dressing that the salmon, avocado and red onions were covered in was what made the entire dish pop and was awesome. My one complaint would be that the poached egg had been overcooked and the yolk wasn’t runny. The addition of the crispy capers were a nice touch and added a dose of tang.

The coffee here is from Five Senses and comes through the Synesso from Gus Hean who is the barista here. N had an expresso which came with a little glass of soda water to go with it. The staff are friendly and energetic. Whether you are in the area or not, Cru should definitely be on your list of places to try out.

Cru is also now open in the evenings Wednesday to Saturday as a Wine Bar  – the owners attempt to bring a little bit of Carlton and Fitzroy to suburbia. There is an extensive list of local and imported wines, as well as grower champagnes and a variety of boutique and craft beers. There are also apertifs and spirits. There is a bar menu which can be found at http://www.crukew.com.au/bar_menu.html which consists of dishes like mexicorn, lamb kofte, octopus just to name a few.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – Breakkie Menu (www.crukew.com.au/cafe_menu.html) Bar Menu (http://www.crukew.com.au/bar_menu.html)
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Homely, Elegant and has an awesome courtyard out the back that is fantastic. The area they refer to as the Sunny Plank is great too!
Standout Dish: Roesti
Service: Fantastic, Attentive and Energetic
Online Booking: No – Refer to http://www.crukew.com.au/functions.html for more info on how you can book and the booking restrictions
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.crukew.com.au/index.html
916 Glenferrie Road, Kew
Tel No: 9818 4366

Opening Hours:
Modnday to Tuesday 7:00 am – 4:00 pm
Wednesday 7:00 am – 11:00 pm
Saturdau 7:30 am – 11:00 pm
Sunday 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

Cru on Urbanspoon