#Worlds50Best

What I wouldn’t give to be in Melbourne right now; snacking on cheese and prosciutto in Federation Square watching a live stream of the World’s 50 Best awards as they are happening. It is the second awards show to happen outside of London in its 15 year history and tonight is the first official public screening of the event.

Knowing I couldn’t be in Melbourne tonight, I did the next best thing. I attended the #worlds50best talk in Sydney last weekend. Like a true fan girl, I was on the Sydney Opera House website as soon as the tickets went for sale. For me the panel was star studded with Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana), Brett Graham (The Ledbury), Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn) and local chef Peter Gilmore (Quay and Bennelong) with Annabel Crabb as MC.

The hour talk went by so fast, covering how each chef started and talking about their experiences. I was the most excited to hear from Massimo but I ended up leaving as a true fan of Dominique Crenn, with her confidence and witty honest responses.

The Q&A segment saw an audience member ask ‘as a female, when did Dominique decide between career and family life?’ The room felt uncomfortable as he kept finishing almost every sentence with ‘no offence’, but her response was simple- he didn’t know anything about her life. In fact she does have kids, so do the other male chefs on stage. So why ask her specifically? She offered to have a drink with the man or go out dancing afterwards if he wanted to talk about it further in person but she invited him for now during a limited timed event about food to ask a different question. What a champion!

I’ll be closely watching the #worlds50best FB page and count my way down from #50-1 for 2017.

Cumulus Inc.

After getting TimmyC the Melbourne experience, which involved a trendy haircut complete with a manscaping shave, we were off to get brunch. I had my eyes set on Cumulus Inc. down the road just a tram ride away. Of course, every Melburnian and person who can google were also there waiting in line and we joined the end of it.We happily get to the front of the line to only be told that there were only 20 minutes left of breakfast time and they could not guarantee that we would get a table. Breakfast is only served between 8am – 11:30am, while lunch is not served until midday. What do they do in between 11:30-12? They can offer you a muffin or madeleines filled with lemon curd.Being the optimist that I am, I opt to wait by the window in hopes that someone leaves their table before 11:30. We were one of the last people to be let in, the line behind me dissipated. They were probably turned away or weren’t willing to satisfy their brunch cravings with a small baked treat.

I start staring down everyone happily talking, eating and sitting at their tables, unsuccessfully trying to control their minds to get them the hell off the table so I could catch breakfast.11:28am- no one looked like they were moving. They didn’t care that a girl looked hungry by the corner of the restaurant constantly looking at her watch wanting time to slow down (or someone to hurry up). I must have looked desperate as the maître d came over with a menu and said that he would take our order now and give us the next available table. We didn’t need to look at the menu, we had already decided before we got there, I wanted the LUNE croissant, burnt butter sauce and spanner crab ($16.00) and TimmyC had his eye on the crumpets.There are no LUNE products left and the strict ‘no variations’ rule on the breakfast menu meant that I had to choose something else. My heart sinks but I quickly decide on the Cumulous Inc. breakfast and as soon as we ordered, a couple finally left the bar.

Cumulus Inc. breakfast boiled egg, toast, preserves, yoghurt, organic orange juice and coffee or tea ($16.00). I have a short attention span so a breakfast with so many different things to eat really worked well for me. The egg was cooked perfectly, I liked the variety of spreads and the yoghurt was really tart which worked well with the rhubarb topping. There was a nice selection of bread served with only just enough butter (a little more couldn’t hurt). I had the orange juice while TimmyC had the coffee.A perfect egg to dip my toast into.Nothing special about their OJ, it’s organic and comes from a bottle but it is nice to have a beverage included in the breakfast and not pay $7 for it.House made crumpets, whipped ricotta and rooftop honey ($10.00). Towards the end, I stole the rest of TimmyC’s breakfast. It’s not like I didn’t enjoy mine, I just loved his. The not too dense texture of the crumpets made for the best vessel to get as much whipped ricotta and honey to my mouth as possible. It wasn’t overly sweet and I loved the flavour combination.Flat white ($4.00). TimmyC loved his coffee so much, he ordered a second.Despite being very busy, all the staff were very friendly and attentive. It was a simple breakfast done well, I would have liked to have something more complex but in my mind, I didn’t have a plan B when the crab dish was unavailable. It looks like I will have to arrive a lot earlier next time or stay around for lunch.

Venue: Cumulus inc.

Address45 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000

Phone(03) 9650 1445

Cumulus Inc. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hofbräuhaus

I was starting to sense a little self sabotage. Why is it after a day of feasting that I chose to eat German cuisine, which have such meaty substantial portions. I didn’t think that I was that full after our late lunch reservation at Dinner By Heston Blumenthal but after ordering all the bread/crumbed starters that I wanted to try at Hofbräuhaus, I was starting to test the limits of my stomach trying to fit in my main.

Like all good things in Melbourne, Hofbräuhaus is tucked down a little laneway near China town.Inside the Hofbrahaus is warm and inviting. Lots of large tables celebrating occasions or just indulging in the enormous sizes of beer that they serve, while a live band plays in the background which adds to the European tavern feel.

My friend ordered one litre of beer, that is possibly why he struggled to finish his main.Langosch Haus-made freshly baked and fried garlic bread, sprinkled with sea salt ($9.50). I would have loved some cheese sprinkled on top but they were still very moreish and were quickly devoured.Gebackener camembert crumbed baked Camembert cheese served with lingonberry compote ($14.50). You have to enjoy this while it is hot.Bretzel freshly baked Bavarian pretzel served with butter ($5.50).Kasekrainer traditional kranksy filled with cheese ($25.50). I love cheese kranksy and this was a good one! Even though I was very full, it didn’t stop me from finishing it with the help of TimmyC.Rindergoulasch traditional Hungarian-style beef stew on haus-made German egg noodles served in an iron pan ($29.50). My friend really enjoyed this, I think if you want a hearty meal without the huge chunks of meat, this is the meal for you.Knuspriger schweinbauch oven roasted crispy pork belly on braised red cabbage, served with bread dumpling, bier jus and apple compote ($39.50).Schweinshax’n huge Bavarian pickled roasted pork knuckle on a bed of sauerkraut and mashed potatoes with haus-made pork jus and German mustard ($43.50). A gigantic pork knuckle with all the trimmings. My friend didn’t finish this but he made a large dent.Bratwurst the classic world famous German pork sausage ($25.50).I really enjoyed the casual warm atmosphere of Hofbräuhaus and it was conveniently located in the city. There are a lot of places in eat in Melbourne but if you feel like German food, I would recommend coming here.

Venue: Hofbräuhaus

Address: 18-28 Market Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000

Phone(03) 9663 3361

Websitewww.hofbrauhaus.com.au

Hofbräuhaus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Grain Store re-run

I knew heading to Grain Store in Melbourne on a Sunday morning for brunch with 6 people without a reservation was going to be a bit of a stretch, but these Canberrans didn’t mind sitting outside because we were hungry and it wasn’t that cold comparatively. The only caveat was that we had to go inside to order and pay (no table service), which we were happy to oblige with.

Beverages~

Hot chocolate Mork 70% dark, handcrafted in Melbourne, sweetened only with coconut blossom sugar ($4.50). Being a 70% dark hot chocolate, it was on the intense bitter side. My friend had to sweeten it a little with raw sugar.Prana Chai hand-made and blended in Melbourne from all natural ingredients and 100% Australian quality honey blended with tea and whole spices ($4.50). I love how they have chosen locally based items, it really shows that they have given the same attention to their beverage menu as well as their food items. This was a beautiful chai steeped in soy milk, I would have preferred it a touch sweeter though.Large flat white ($4.50). TimmyC quickly ordered another after drinking the first one.Brunch Weekends 8:00am – 3:00pm~

Despite being really busy, beverages were served rather promptly, quickly followed by food.

Wild mushrooms and poached eggs polenta, smoked tomato emulsion, pecorino ($20.00).Two free range eggs cooked to your liking on sour dough ($11.00) with a side of dry cured bacon ($5.00). They also gave TimmyC some sort of chilli jam which I loved and I spread it all over his bread and then ate it all.Portobello mushroom and raclette potato rosti poached eggs, spinach leaves, hazelnut hollandaise ($18.00). The mushrooms were plump and juicy, I found the potato rosti had a strong thyme flavour but it was offset by the fluffy potato. I really enjoyed the hazelnut hollandaise which topped off the whole breakfast perfectly. I could eat this every day if someone made it for me.Coconut semolina porridge and brulee banana lemongrass apple coulis, vanilla rhubarb, pistachio ($15.00).Dry cured bacon and smoked mozzarella bagel egg sunny side up, chipotle aioli, house ketchup ($16.00). I loved how the yolk pooled in the hole of the bagel. Definitely more upmarket than your average bacon and egg roll.Desserts~

Chocolate chip cookies and milk baked to order, please allow 10 minutes ($12.00). I am so glad that my friend ordered this. The aroma was absolutely divine with the perfect combination of cookie crunch and gooey melted chocolate chips that you can only get when fresh out of the oven. I think more cafes should do this, YUM!Crunchy and gooey, just how all cookies should be.What I love about their menu is that they have good ol’ breakfast classics like pancakes and eggs on toast but if you’re a little more adventurous, there were plenty of options. I found it hard to decide what I wanted because there was so many good choices.

As we left (closer to midday), it was starting to get really busy with other people sitting outside and a long queue for people waiting for tables.

Venue: Grain Store

Address: 517 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000

Phone(03) 9972 6993

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

I was making fun of TimmyC that we were going to somewhere called ‘Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’ for lunch despite having booked months ahead. It wasn’t until I read the definition of the ‘dinner’ on the wall did I realise that maybe dinner didn’t mean what I thought it meant.Drinks~

Cider gimlet Calvados Domfrontais, acidulated butter, cider cordial ($24.00).Peter Pipe’s pickled lemon lemonade lemon juice, lemon brine, lemon sugar, soda ($14.00). My mouth is watering just thinking about this drink again. Man it was intensely lemony and tangy.Complimentary~

Bread and butter.Starters~

Meat Fruit mandarin, chicken liver parfait and grilled bread ($38.00). This was spectacular, visually and texturally. This seemed like the obvious choice for a photo but I really enjoyed tasting this even though I’m not a huge fan of pâté like objects. The mandarin gel covering was subtle and melted away almost at an instant when it hits the tongue. I was completely blown away by how creamy the pâté tasted and the airy light texture, which was a sharp contrast to the crunchy grilled bread.This is truly a work of art.Rice & Flesh saffron, curried kangaroo, red wine and amaranth ($38.00).Savoury Porridge garlic and parsley butter, grilled abalone, pickled beetroot and fennel ($36.00). The texture of the oats along with texture of the fennel reminded me of the snail porridge from Fat Duck. TimmyC said he thought that some of the elements of the dish seemed odd but when you put everything together, it all paired perfectly.Mains~

Slow Cooked Pork Belly Spelt, lardo, baby turnip & Robert sauce ($58.00). I have never had pork belly that was as white as the clouds that tasted like a Christmas ham. It was absolutely incredible. Even though I was thoroughly enjoying my main, I leant over and helped myself to the pork belly.Chicken cooked with lettuces grilled onion emulsuion, oyster leaves and spiced parsnip sauce ($58.00).Specials~

David Blackmore Waygu (marbling score 9+ 200g) served with mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips ($120.00 yes you read that right). I know what you’re thinking, if a ‘special’ is so special, why isn’t it on the menu? The only reason that it isn’t usually on the menu is because the steak isn’t always available so now that it was, I jumped at the chance!

I think there is nothing more sad than when a steak sits alone on a plate but seriously – this needed nothing else because it was perfect just the way it was. I didn’t even eat the mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips after tasting them (I hear you all gasping!). It was the nicest steak I’ve ever eaten; it was well seasoned but the meat itself was very flavoursome and it almost didn’t require chewing because it melted in your mouth. The only downside is that it has ruined me for other steak.That marbling- WOW!The triple cooked chips were really crunchy.Desserts~

Tipsy cake spit roast pineapple with a freshly baked brioche ($32.00). When the waiter was describing how the pineapple was prepared by spit roasting while being basted in an apple salted caramel sauce, I was sold! What really surprised me about the dessert was the amazing freshly made brioche; it completely blew me away. I spent a lot of my time sniffing its intoxicating scent, it reminded me of stepping into a bakery. The brioche is finished off with brandy and Sauternes cream which was like an amazing bread and butter pudding on another level. I would have this every day if I could.Want a bite?The beautiful pineapples slowly being spit roasted while being basted every now and then.Chocolate bar passionfruit jam and ginger ice cream ($30.00).The Lamington cake raspberry jam, toasted coconut, rum and vanilla ice cream ($30.00).A little something something~

Just when we thought the experience was about to end, we were given an extra little something sweet before we left. Chocolate ganache with carraway seed biscuit– the ganache was extremely soft and smooth and the biscuit was the perfect accompaniment because it offset the sweetness.We found the service to be very attentive, efficient and friendly. I wouldn’t wait for a special occasion, just come here and experience fantastic food.Venue: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Address: Crown Towers Melbourne, 130/8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC

Phone(03) 9292 5779

Websitewww.dinnerbyheston.com.au/

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Booking ahead

I’m more of a spontaneous diner but in one week TimmyC has booked several restaurants in anticipation for my birthday month. The list of restaurants includes:

  1. Biota
  2. Tetsuya’s
  3. Centennial Vineyards
  4. Katers restaurant at Peppers Manor House
  5. Dinner by Heston

and I also booked a Food Safari that my friends were nice enough to get for me for Christmas. It is going to be a delicious and busy month!

Attica

Sorry to those who have been waiting for this post to come out (it might only be José who was waiting, sorry!). I was absolutely ecstatic to get a booking at Attica and the memories of this dinner will stay with me always.

When people ask me to describe my meal, I tell them that Attica is Australia’s only restaurant to make it to The World’s 50 best restaurants, but that isn’t the only reason why I wanted to go. There is Spanish cuisine, French, Italian and a big up and coming South American wave but there really isn’t much in the way of Australian cuisine. Attica uses lots of Australian produce and native herbs and spices that show off our country’s unique ingredients, so it was nice to have an Australian restaurant using Australian ingredients (by a NZ chef hehehe) to make it on the coveted top 50 list.

 

The evening’s dinner was broken up into a lot (and I mean a lot!) of little starters, 4 mains, 1 palette cleanser, 2 desserts and of course ending the night with the very famous Pukeko egg. It ended up being a five and a half hour dinner with excitement at every new plate, good company and lots of fabulous food.

 

I felt the modest furnishings of the food and the unlikely suburban location of the restaurant reflected the humble personality of the talented chef Ben Shewry.
Starters~
Now there were lots of these and I’ll just write about the most interesting and also my absolute favourite ones (it was hard to choose), otherwise it will take me another 4 months to write this post.

 

House made sour cream apple balsamic and olive oil with leaves.

Pickle daikon, pumpkin beetroot with honey mustard.

Steamed pippies with seaweed butter.

Mouth full of green asparagus sugar snap peas walnut purée. For something that seemed so simple, this really took me by surprise with how much I enjoyed it. The flavours and textures seemed so fresh that it showed off these humble ingredients at its best.

Fresh cheese and honeycomb cows milk cheese made on site with honeycomb with hazelnut oil and lemon. It seemed like an odd pairing but the flavours worked so well together. I love how the honeycomb is served fresh onto the plate.

Crispy artichoke with snow crab.
Wallaby blood pikelet malt vinegar cream with native plum jam. It felt very strange to have a pikelet with blood in it but if you didn’t tell me I’m unsure if I would have noticed.
Chicken carrots carrot with marinated chicken thigh sorrel and tarragon. This was like a little carrot taco. I really enjoyed the marinated chicken and the carrot provided the perfect ‘taco shell’ which doesn’t fall apart as you try and eat it.
Baby corn. I’m not usually a fan of creepy corn (that is what I call baby corn) but this was served even younger than what we would normally find at supermarkets. The corn barely feels like it has individual kernels and has a different taste; more juicy and refreshing rather than sweet.

Mussels freshly shucked mussels, battered flash fried served with succulents. I thought this was fantastic. The flash fried cooking really brought out the mussels natural sweetness. 
Beef on the Bone. There is something primal yet modern about this dish. The ribboned beef carefully weaved  on the ‘skewer’ placed on a beautiful plate really contrasted to the fact that I was eating of a sharpened bone. The beef was beautiful and I really wanted more than one bite that we got.Garden herbs in a light chicken stock. Errr, eating got the better of me and only  when I was almost done eating, did I remember to take a photo.  Just take my word that it was beautifully presented. The stock was really light and all the flavours came from all the interesting herbs and flowers, I just wished that the starters were more spaced out so I didn’t feel rushed while finishing my broth to attend to the next dish.House made bread and condiments.Macadamia purée with macadamia oil and saltbush leaves.

Mains~

Red kangaroo with bunya bunya. I thought that the carrots and currants were the star of the dish and the kangaroo just played the perfect side kick.Look at that amazing colour.
Marron. It was suggested to us that the best bit of the marron was the tail so don’t bother with the body, so what did we do? We tore open the pincers and the body to eat whatever we could find, as daintily as we could before proceeding to the delicious tail. Even though the tail was admittedly better, I definitely thought it was still worth eating the meat from the upper part of the body.So much prettiness in the detail.Yeasty potatoes with cheesy rind sauce. I love potatoes and I love cheese so this dish was perfect for me. There was definitely lots of depth to this dish; the array of flavours became more intense the more you ate. It left me feeling warm and comforted, with a craving for more cheese sauce.

Adding the final touches at the table.142 Days on Earth emu with baby red cabbage. So cutely named because that is the time it took for the cabbage to grow and get to your plate. Just when I thought the dish was complete, the server kept on adding more and more on top. I have never had emu before and I naively thought it would taste like chicken, instead, it was a dark heavier meat. This dish to me felt like a rich heavy stew mixed in with the delicate leaves of the baby cabbage. It was really interesting and I love how this dish was prepared and so thoughtfully named.Half time oranges. The flesh of the frozen orange segment was replaced by orange sorbet and lemon myrtle. We were taken outside for a spot of ‘tennis’ (our skills really sucked) and then we were undeservedly rewarded with our half time oranges. It was really cold on my teeth but it made for a refreshing palette cleanser despite being a little salty and tart.We were taken into their garden with lots of beautiful flowers and herbs for the ‘half time show’.Dessert~

Maria’s Green Apple granny smith apple filled with cream cheese served with fermented rhubarb. I was so amused by the never ending coil of the delicate apple. The tartness of the apple was balanced out by the cream cheese filling and was given the ever so slightly sweet touch by the rhubarb. I loved this! How beautifully delicate is this dessert!
Lois’ Jelly Whip sheeps milk gelato, mandarin jam, freeze fried sorrel and coconut. Just when I didn’t think the desserts could get any better, out came the next one. It was hard to describe but the gelato was perfectly soft which contrasted against the crunchy textures of the top. Nothing was overly sweet and OTT, it was just a lovely balance of flavours and textures. 

I was so happy after two amazing desserts and ready to be rolled out the door that I almost forgot about the Pukeko egg, but after the cute patch of grass with three eggs balanced perfectly on top was placed down in front of us, I quickly forgot about feeling full and my eyes widened with excitement.
Pukeko’s Egg. The chocolate shell was beautifully decorated to look like a spotted egg and inside was mainly hollow except for the patch of very thick caramel which was incredible. I broke apart my shell and dipped my pieces into the paste savouring every bite. TimmyC was wondering if he could get 5 more on the way out, he was a massive fan.

It was wonderful to have been served by lots of different people and chefs, it allowed the people who helped create the dish to be proud of their work and serve it to happy customers.

The menu is forever changing at Attica but a few key dishes get a longer run time. I would happily go again if I ever get the chance.

Venue: Attica
Address: 74 Glen Eira Road, Ripponlea, VIC 3185
Phone: (03) 9530 0111
Bookings: Bookings are released on a month-by-month basis on the first Wednesday of each month at 9am, three months in advance. Bookings can be made via their website.

 

Attica Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fancy Nance – Melbourne series

After back to back eating sessions, I probably wasn’t feeling the hungriest when we stepped into Fancy Nance for high tea but FOMO got the best of me and I could not pass up the ‘I’m so Fancy’ option while my more sensible eating companions opted for the smaller ‘Pink Flamingo’ high tea.

Follow the signs for Fancy Nance.
A very mad hatter’s tea party feeling as you walk in.
I love the tea pot and tea cups lights.I’m so Fancy ($65.00)~

 

Despite the order written on the menu, things came a bit out of order but you did receive sweet things first and then ended on savoury which is usually how I eat things anyway. They must be going off the premise that life is short, eat dessert first.

 

‘Not so late’ carrot cake. I could not stop smiling while eating this. In short this was a deconstructed carrot cake but it was so tasty. The soft torn cake pieces delicately sat on top of the whipped cream cheese was genius but my favourite part was the candied nuts and different coloured carrots. This made me very excited for what was still to come.
Complete with a carrot top!
I felt a bit rushed when this board was placed in front of me with four different things on it. I didn’t eat fast enough and some of the ice creams started to melt and drip everywhere.
Bubbles, marzipan, rum fruits and roast cinnamon ice cream. This was more complex than what meets the eye, just below the bubble surface was many complex layers of different textures and flavours.
Cocoa nib creme brulee, pineapple and pina colada ice cream. This might have tasted sweeter if I had started off with this before the other desserts but by the time I got to this, the ice cream had melted into a puddle of mess and flavours weren’t as prominent because of the sweeter flavours from the other desserts.
Chai panna cotta, pear cremeux, ginger and honey. You had to dig down to get all the layers but the chai panna cotta flavour was the most prominent aftertaste. The texture of the panna cotta was incredibly smooth.
Macaron I couldn’t tell what flavour it was, after eating the entire board the sweet flavours started to meld into one.
Scones with 2 jams – roast capsicum jam and some other jam that I didn’t really try. As full as I was, I could not stop eating these scones with roast capsicum jam and cream cheese, it was sweet yet felt savoury at the same time. This might not be for everyone but I certainly enjoyed it.
Pastries de jour. I started to slow right down after the scones because by this point, things arrived one after another and I could barely keep up. I slow nibbled at this but I didn’t find either one particularly extraordinary. 
Tapioca cracker, tomato and ricotta. There was a nice break before the savouries started to arrive and like most people who have a separate dessert stomach, I have a separate one for savouries. This was a nice transitioning course from sweet to savoury as it was definitely salty but it wasn’t heavy or overwhelming.
Taco de Nance tuna, strawberries, avocado, tomato sorbet. This might sound like a strange combination but it really works well together, although I did find the corn taco shell getting a bit soggy and hard to eat as the sorbet melted. With the fish and fruit combined, it was refreshing on the palette.
Chinese chicken balls. These came out extremely hot and not as I expected, I assumed it would be more like a meat ball rather than a doughy interior with a meat centre but it did soak up the delicious sauce very well.
Beef cheeks with vanilla and purple carrots. This was really tender and the sweetness of the vanilla and carrots balanced out the heaviness of the meat. It wasn’t as good as the beef from MoVida, but it was definitely memorable.
Tea, coffee or hot chocolate. We ordered our beverages first and since we had so much sweet on the way, I opted for green tea. 
Someone TimmyC managed to squeeze in an iced coffee with everything else ($5.50).

Pink Flamingo ($45.00)~
 
Bubbles, marzipan, rum fruits and roast cinnamon ice cream.
Chocolate and cherry long john. This was the pick of the Pink Flamingo high tea, so it was a shame that it was one of the first things to come out. It was like a cronut with many flaky layers with the perfect amount of cream and sweet toppings.Creamsticle. I thought these were adorable. Not much particular flavour to them but they are so teeny tiny.
Scone with 2 jams
Tapioca cracker, tomato and ricotta
Taco de Nance tuna, strawberries, avocado, tomato sorbet
Chinese chicken balls
Tea, coffee or hot chocolate
 
For a high tea with so many courses of sweet and savoury and also the obligatory high tea scones, it was definitely value for money compared to the high teas we get here in Canberra. What I thought was disappointing was for someone who specialises in sweets, I was hoping that Zumbo would push the envelope with his desserts and give me something new and exciting. I really enjoyed the carrot cake but from there, the dishes didn’t really compare; there were just lots of soft textured layered desserts. I thought the savouries had more variety and were more daring in flavour combinations and textures than the sweets. Still worth checking out though, it beats stake cake and tarts and crustless sandwiches any day.

 

Venue: Fancy Nance
Address: 21 Daly St, South Yarra VIC 3141
Phone: (03) 9826 0312

Fancy Nance Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MoVida – Melbourne series

Okay, most people plan their interstate trips to do multiple things but TimmyC and I came to Melbourne (this time) to specifically eat at MoVida. TimmyC’s trendy cousin was generous enough to buy me a voucher to the MoVida group but because the other restaurants were not open yet since the New Year holidays, we booked a table for 3 at the original MoVida.Complimentary~

Warmed bread with olive oil. Always a happy surprise when a restaurant gives you delicious warmed bread for free!I loved their personalised wine glasses.
Tapa~ I love the thought that these morsels were made so well, individually portioned and reasonably priced; it didn’t matter if no one wanted to share with me, I could just order one for myself.
Yabbie special ($9.00 each). I thought this was a refreshing morsel but nothing really specifically unique. It was good to have at the beginning of the meal before the heavier, deep fried tapas arrived.
Queso quince paste cigar with whipped goats milk cheese ($4.00 each). I’m not particularly fond of goats milk products but that didn’t stop me from ordering this just to see how it would taste. I liked it so much I convinced the rest of the table to order another just to taste it. The outer quince paste cigar was surprisingly crispy and provided a nice contrasting texture to the whipped filling. The goats milk cheese wasn’t too strong but it was perfectly balanced out by the sweetness of the quince. You definitely have to try this; there were so many surprises in one mouthful.
It looks so simple and small but there was a lot of flavour in this tapa.
Flamenquin crumbed pork with jamon, thyme and mahon ($5.50 each). These were perfectly crispy and jam packed with pork. I was very tempted to order more of these, but I got too full in the end.
A delicious peek into the crispy croquette.
Fish croquette special ($4.50 each). These were very ‘fishy’ which I loved, it was a nicely seasoned filling with a crunchy non oily exterior. 
Raciones~
Carrillera De Buey slowly braised beef cheek in Perdo Ximenez on Cauliflower puree ($28.50). Oh where to begin while describing this fabulous dish. The beef was amazingly tender and pulled away effortlessly as you put a spoon through it. It had a beautiful sweet stick glaze all over which worked perfectly with the cauliflower. Don’t even get me started on that puree, it was so smooth, it was like a thick soup (and I could have easily drunk it like soup). I would order this again in a heartbeat.
This photo doesn’t do it any justice.
Patatas Bravas fried potatoes with spicy tomato and mayonnaise ($16.00). The smaller pieces were fine but I thought some of the potatoes were too big and therefore the ratio between crispy exterior to starchy fluffy filling to be way off. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting and since the rest of the meal had been so spectacular, these potatoes couldn’t compare.  Barramundi special ($27.00). The fish was soft and moist while the asparagus was cooked perfectly allowing the fresh flavours to really shine through. It was nice to have a lighter main among all the deep fried tapas and heavy meals.
Desserts~
Churros Spanish doughnuts with rich drinking chocolate ($12.50). The doughnuts were really crunchy on the outside with a fluffy texture in the centre and it was paired with what was truthfully named a ‘rich drinking chocolate’.
Flan crème caramel with pestinos ($15.00). This was so smooth and creamy, making it very easy to eat.
Pan con chocolate chocolate, bread and olive oil ice cream ($14.50). I wasn’t convinced by the description on the black board that this was the dessert for me. It wasn’t until I asked our waiter which the best dessert was; he then smirked and asked me if I was asking for the best dessert in his opinion or the most popular dessert ordered (which we rightly guessed was churros). I obviously wanted the best dessert and for something interesting against the ‘norm’, he then suggested this dessert and to ignore the very poor description on the board. What came out was fabulous. A warm soft chocolate cake encased in a crispy bread sandwich, which gave it a wonderful contrasting texture while the olive oil ice cream helped balance out the sweetness of the chocolate. As we were leaving, I told our waiter that they should really change the description because it didn’t really do the dessert justice.
I love how they have presented the ‘sandwich’ standing up on its side, it gives you a clear view of the crispy bread encasing a warm moist chocolate cake.
Check out the sexy chocolate cake sandwiched inside.
Even though we were eating on a dead line (6pm- 8pm booking) we never felt rushed and despite the restaurant was completely packed, the service and food was very prompt and the staff were very friendly and helpful. I would love to come back to try more of the menu or even the other restaurants. I loved the small tapas for individual portions at a reasonable price (take note Canberra restaurants) and that there were good variety of mains available.
The famous graffiti on Hosiser Lane which is opposite the lane way to the MoVida restaurant.
Venue: Movida
Address: 1 Hosier Lane, (off Flinders St), Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone: (03) 9663 3038

MoVida Bar De Tapas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Galleon Cafe – Melbourne series

 

TimmyC’s trendy cousin took us out for brunch at the Galleon Cafe near Ackland street; it is a hipster central cafe decked out in mismatched vintage furniture (it reminded us of A bite to Eat in Chifley) and really friendly staff. There was a bit of a line up at the front to get a seat but since we didn’t mind squishing to one side whilst sitting outside, we got a table fairly quickly.
Us seating outside smooshed to one side, just trying out the fish eye camera lens that I got for Christmas.
A peek inside the cafe: the view from the outside.
There was a bit of a wait for food and beverages but they were super busy.
Scrambled tofu with mushroom, spinach and crispy fried enoki with sour dough toast – vegan ($14.50). I surprised even myself when I ordered this but I love a good tofu scramble ever since my friend made an awesome one for me years ago (hello Mellie!). I think because it doesn’t have a sauce or bacon, it needed a good dose of flavour or salt from something and this tofu scramble just didn’t have that. I think if it had more salty notes or chilli it would have been a lot better. I love the addition of fried enoki and I think I’ll be doing that more often in my own home cooking.
Eggs Benedict made with our house made hollandaise sauce with bacon and two eggs ($14.00). I really liked their house made hollandaise and was sporadically dipping my forkful in it. The eggs were probably ever so slightly over cooked, maybe 30 seconds less it would have been perfect. 
Poached eggs on toast (full serve $10.00) with a sweet potato hash brown ($4.50).
Banana and date loaf (baked in house) toasted with vanilla bean ricotta (half serve $4.00?). I am always torn between savoury and sweet for breakfast, so today I decided I will have both. It probably didn’t really matter what was underneath because the vanilla bean ricotta stole the show! A semi sweet, rich creamy paste that I smothered all over the bread. I’m going to have to start making my own ricotta soon.
Fresh juice orange, pineapple and ginger ($7.50). This was a nice refreshing sweet juice but I couldn’t taste any ginger.
Despite being bogged down heavily with patrons, I found all the staff at Galleons to be super friendly. I loved the diversity in the menu from different toasts, bagels, breakfast bowls to a wide variety of vegetarian, non vegetarian and a whole bunch of extras. The most expensive menu item was $15.50 and a lot of options come with half serves for those who don’t eat as much as me; making this place very accommodating and cheap!

 

Venue: The Galleon Cafe
Address: 9 Carlisle St, St Kilda VIC 3182
Phone: (03) 9534 8934

The Galleon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kong BBQ – Melbourne series

I had heard great things about Kong BBQ and it always intrigued me that the Lucas group’s band of restaurants did so well (Kong BBQ, Chin Chin, Baby Pizza and now also Hawker Hall) but yet were so different. I heard all of them were hard to get into but Kong BBQ was our best bet. We left our name with the waitress and told her we were happy to wait for a table, we were told we would receive a sms when the table was ready and we had 10 minutes to come back and claim it.

I was enjoying a lovely mocktail from the Royal Saxon when we got the sms. I quickly sculled the rest and headed to Kong BBQ before they gave away our table.Kong apple and cinnamon iced tea ($6.00). TimmyC and I found the cinnamon a bit OTT but it was cooling and refreshing on a hot summer’s day.Bao~

Spicy pork belly with pickled cucumber and Kong crazy horse chilli ($7.00 each). Despite the description, this bun filling wasn’t really spicy so don’t let the name stop you from ordering this. I loved how the pork came in two separate parts: one is the tender pork belly with striations of fat and meat while the crackling, which is served separately and delicately laid on top of everything, was super crunchy.Fried chicken with spicy corn and edamame salsa ($7.00). The chicken must have been just fried, placed in the bao and served straight to me because it was so hot and fresh. I really enjoyed this bao and it was possibly my favourite pick (pork was a close second but the chicken had a better filling to bao ratio).Soft shell crab with salted duck egg relish and coriander ($8.50). I was surprised to see the soft shell crab was so small, the tiny legs meant that there was a lot of batter and I found it more oily than ‘meaty’. Not worth the higher price, I would stick with pork or chicken. BBQ soy chicken wings with sesame and spring onion (6 pieces $12.50). I found these overly sweet and as much as I love chicken wings, I think the sticky marinade over powered all the senses.BBQ baby back pork ribs with soy and sesame (half 300g $22.00). I found the same problem with this as I had with the chicken wings, the sticky sweet salty marinade was over powering and you couldn’t taste the pork meat at all, although the meat itself was very tender.Bossam – BBQ Cape Grim black Angus sirloin bulgogi marinated with walnut ssamjang, kimchi and lettuce ($29.00). I have a habit not really reading all the menu, take exhibit A. I read that there was Cape Grim beef, I wanted it so I ordered it. So I was some what surprised when this arrived and the server explained to wrap the beef in the lettuce with the condiments like a sang choy bao. As much as I wanted to like this, I did not like the marinade and the beef was oddly dry and chewy in some parts. The only saving grace of the dish was the walnut ssamjang.Oh Cape Grim beef, why were you not as delicious as I wanted you to be?Fried rice with kimchi, beef brisket and egg ($16.00). I love a good fried rice, there is little ingredients so there is nothing to hide behind. This was amazing. Not a strong kimchi flavour but everything combined: hot rice, kimchi, beef and the runny egg yolk was the perfect combination. I would definitely order this again!BBQ zucchini and spice crusted silken tofu salad with soy vinegar dressing ($17.00). While ordering so much meat, I start to feel guilty that there was little vegetable content so I ordered this from the ‘greens’ section of the menu. It wasn’t what I expected but this surprisingly was one of my favourite dishes of the night. The tofu was ever so delicate covered in a thin crispy batter which paired well with the refreshing BBQed zucchini.Look at that beautiful tofu.This place was packed and clearly popular with the Melburnians and I can see why. We waited happily at a trendy pub down the road for almost 45 minutes for our table and when we came back, it was busier than before it that was possible. I would probably steer clear of meats with heavy marinades and stick to the baos, fried rice and accompanying dishes.

It can get pretty noisy in here with all the people, not a romantic date place.Dishes arrived when they were ready but the spacing between dishes were pretty close together; our table filled up very quickly.Food came out almost instantly from the kitchen so kudos to them for getting the orders out so well despite being ridiculously busy. The waiters were really friendly, attentive, and knew what they were doing which really helped with the efficiency of things, although towards the end they did start packing my plate away while I was still eating the bao above it and we felt a bit rushed to leave.

Venue: Kong BBQ

Address: 599 Church Street,Richmond, Melbourne, VIC

Phone: (03) 9427 1307

Websitewww.kongbbq.com.au/
Kong BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jimmy Grants – Melbourne series

TimmyC’s trendy cousin asked me if there was anything in particular I wanted to eat while I was in Melbourne. Besides going to Movida, I didn’t really have anything else in mind and I was just going to go along for the ride to places that she was willing to suggest, but when posed with the question, it made me think about what I couldn’t get in Canberra easily and my first thought was: Greek food.

The schedule was tight while we were in Melbourne, so much to eat yet so little time. We devised a game meal plan and figured while I was getting my fill of Melbourne shopping between meals, I would drop into the Jimmy Grants location within the Emporium Melbourne for a late lunch.

It was finally good to sit down after some non-stop shopping in the giant mall that is Emporium Melbourne but there was plenty of people eating in the food court even though it was around 3pm. When we looked at the Jimmy Grants menu, we could not go past the lamb option so we went with Mr Papadopoulos lamb, mustard aioli, chips, onion and parsley ($11.00). We both really enjoyed this and it was exactly what we needed. Delicious tender lamb in a soft pita bread filled with chips. Mustard aioli wouldn’t have been my first pick of sauces but in fact the flavour tied the whole thing together.

I think it was good to have Jimmy Grants in the more relaxed atmosphere of the food court rather than going to the garishly decorated restaurant that we had driven past the night before. We were able to get in and out with exactly what we wanted even with our time constraints. I will definitely come back to eat more off the menu, why oh why can’t one open in Canberra?
All the options I should try next time!
Filled with lots of lamb which was balanced out by the bread, onions and the chips so it didn’t seem so meat heavy.  

Venue: Jimmy Grants

Address: Emporium Melbourne, Level Three, 287 Lonsdale Street, CBD, Melbourne

Phone: (03) 9020 4336
Jimmy Grants Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Easey’s – Melbourne series

When TimmyC’s trendy cousin was telling me about a place that we were going for breakfast which was in train carriage on top of a building, I thought to myself ‘only in Melbourne’. Surprisingly, these trains carriages were up on the building before the burger joint Easey’s moved in and they only occupy one of the carriages; I think an Entertainment lawyer is next door.We can spot the joint a mile away!There is some seats outside if you don’t want to dine in the train carriage.BLT streaky bacon, egg, ketchup and double cheese ($6.00).Sausage and egg sanga sausage patty, egg, ketchup and double cheese ($6.00). I love cheese so the double cheese was great for me but I wasn’t too big on the texture of the sausage patty (think sausage meat shaped into a patty), which was somewhat springy. Still, it was only 6 bucks.Just in case you wondered what it looked like under all that cheese.Chicken tenders three southern fried chicken pieces with perinnaise ($5.50). I really enjoyed this over my breakfast burger. The chicken was super crispy but the flavour hit definitely came from the sauce.When we ordered water for the table, we were very grateful that all the glasses came with lots of ice. It can get hot up there, even with the air con on!  I took the stairs going up to see the cool graffiti art but the lift going downIt might be the world’s slowest lift, but it will take you to the 4th floor when your legs cannot.The view from the window.Inside the train carriage is pretty cute.
Neighbouring graffiti, I love the detail in the eye.
Our breakfast bill came to the grand whopping total of $23.50 albeit no drinks but still a bargain! I probably wouldn’t come for breakfast again, but their burgers looked awesome and worth coming back for, especially if they have double cheese on them too.

 

Venue: Easey’s

Address: 48 Easey street, Collingwood, VIC 3066

Phone: OFFICE: (03) 90795942 TAKE AWAY: (03) 90795940

Websitehttp://easeys.com.au/

Easey's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rustica Sourdough Bakery- Melbourne series

I am a massive fan of Pierre Herme’s Ispahan macaron, so you could imagine the excitement on my face when I came across an Instagram photo of an Ispahan croissant from Rustica Sourdough Bakery; it was one of my few food requests while we were in Melbourne visiting TimmyC’s trendy cousin and she took us there for brunch.I was trying to concentrate on what I wanted for breakfast but it was a bit hard when their display cabinet had the most beautiful and enticing pastries and sweets. I believe this is the very definition of food porn! Wow, it was really amazing to see. One of the biggest food regrets that I have is that we didn’t order that blueberry danish pastry.

Our meals arrived pretty promptly which was good because we were getting hungry.Scrambled chilli eggs with spring onion, coriander, bacon, shaved pecorino and sourdough ($16.50). Once I eventually dragged myself away from the counter and sat myself down to look at the menu, I knew exactly what I wanted within 5 seconds (which never happens). This had everything that I would want in a savoury breakfast and it was delicious! I personally would have upped the chilli just a little.Eggs anyway on sourdough ($9.00)  potato hash ($3.00). Lobster eggs benedict lobster, apple, green salad, poached eggs, hollandaise and a brioche bun ($22.00). I believe this is when my sister would say “that’s what rich people eat”. Lobster for breakfast, why not? I particularly liked the sweetness and crisp texture of the apple and sweet salad.We finished everything but the brioche bun, it was too filling so we only ate half of it.Cronut salted caramel? ($6.50). Now I don’t remember the exact flavour of the cronut but it doesn’t matter because it was hands down the best one I have ever eaten. It was so buttery and sweet but what was perfection was the texture. As you bite down you could feel all the pastry layers break, I’m drooling just thinking about it again.Ispahan Croissant twice baked, rose, lychee, almond, raspberry ($6.50). I know this croissant is why we came to this bakery but in comparison to the cronut, it wasn’t as good. It had nice rose and raspberry flavour through it, although I couldn’t detect any lychee flavours.I seriously wish I grabbed a sour dough under my arm on the way out so I had something to munch on at the airport. I really want to come back here and eat more!

 

Venue: Rustica Sourdough Bakery

Address: 402 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065

Phone(03) 9417 7775

Websitehttp://rusticasourdough.com.au/
Rustica Sourdough Bakery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Attica – birthday promises

Ready, get set… Book!

TimmyC had promised to take me to Attica for my birthday next year; we rarely plan ahead but for meals like this we will. As it so happens, we have been given a generous offer of free accommodation with family until the end of the year and we jumped at the opportunity.

I told TimmyC to book Attica for around November unaware of their booking system. Apparently they only release booking blocks of up to three months in advance and new dates are released the first Wednesday of each month, which happen to be last week. From my blanket fort in the lounge room, I reminded TimmyC last week that he had to make a very important phone call at 9am. It turns out that all the bookings are made online and as soon as the phone message prompted him to go on the website TimmyC rushed online. Dates quickly became dashed from the calendar, TimmyC panics and fumbles for his mouse. The 21st of November was already dashed but he clicked on it anyway. Presto! He was able to make a booking for 3 people that night anyway.

WOHOO, we’re in! And now we wait…

p.s.
Yes I realise I have already been very spoilt this year.
p.p.s.
No this will no longer count as my birthday present TimmyC