The Commons Street Feast

Friday night was the opening night of The Commons Street Feast and where were you Canberra? Perhaps you were busy with Christmas parties or perhaps the other half of you was oblivious to the fact that these awesome food trucks have set up a home in Canberra for the next 7 days. Either way, I was taken by surprise about how quiet the event was, especially on opening night.

We arrived 30 minutes before our butler service started so we could scout the area, checking out all the food vendors. This is essential to see what’s on offer and knowing what to promise your stomach later on. I was surprised to see the set up was so spread out. A lot of the vendors had barricades to zig zag a long line in anticipation of large crowds, there is a large funky pyramid in the middle (with different artworks on each side) pumping out music to the crowd and lots of picnic tables set up all over.

The Butlers

TimmyC is not a fan of lining up (in fact, who is?) and it is hard to time food well when you have dispersed to take on different lines. So I had preemptively booked a butler for my party of three in anticipation of the usual large crowds that flock to foodie events like this.We met our friendly butler Ben who was to look after us for the next two hours. The butler service had reserved tables under the shade of trees just right of the entrance but I explained to Ben that that would be no good for photos, especially with the sun setting soon. We found ourselves on a table next to the pyramid, in the centre of all that is happening and Ben asked if we wanted to walk around and browse the area and he could recommend things, but we explained that we had scouted the area and we knew what we wanted already, so let’s begin.

We had ordered dishes from three different vendors on his tablet (if it was a little busier it would have been quicker to order from one vendor at a time), we tapped our card and paid right there on the spot on his device and off he went. While we casually sat there and took in the atmosphere, Ben raced back with dishes from one vendor at a time in quick succession. For people who just wanted to sit, eat and take photos, this butler service was really working out for us!

Handy little contraption took our orders, printed receipts and allowed us to pay there at our table.

Our butler was super friendly and enthusiastic the entire time and when I asked him questions about vendors that only a food blogger would, he would race off and find the answer for me. At first I thought maybe 1 hour of the butler service would have been enough, but I’m a slow eater so I was definitely not rushed with 2 hours. Ben mentioned a lot of tables who have booked one hour didn’t get to try as much as they wanted.

Bao Stop

The first thing I wanted to eat was the Peking Duck fries that I wanted to pair eventually with TimmyC’s Mary’s burger. With the butler service this was able to happen, if two people were to line up in each line, you might have ended up with cold fries and a hot burger.

Peking Duck fries ($15.00). This was loaded with sauce and duck on top of crispy shoe string fries. I really enjoyed the pairing of the hoisin sauce to the chips and even when all the duck was eaten, I still liked eating the chips with shallots (maybe it’s the Asian in me).

Thai in a Box

Chicken pad thai ($13.00). This was definitely not my choice but my Mum said she wanted noodles that this was the only choice on site. She found it too sweet and didn’t finish it although it was served very hot and fast.

Mary’s

This was an exciting highlight for me when I read the vendors who were coming. Not knowing what to try first, we just chose the classic cheeseburger.Mary’s cheeseburger ($14.00). Mary’s had the longest lines but our butler came back pretty quickly with our order. I really enjoyed their soft buns, delicious beef patty and cheese but TimmyC found their patty a little small and that they were a little heavy handed with their sauces. I agreed but I still really liked it. TimmyC also mentioned that it reminded him of Grease Monkey. I wonder what their fried chicken tastes like…

Smokin’ Grill

After being intoxicated by the smell from their smokers, I sent Ben off to get me beef short ribs with slaw and corn chips ($20.00). He came with a with a blackened, pepper encrusted tender beef rib served with undressed slaw that cut through the pepper and meatiness of the rib. The meat was really nice but I thought that it was a little steep for the tiny serve that we got.

The Grace caravan

Mumsy was freezing by this point when the sun had set and it was unusually cold for this time of year. I sent Ben off on a mission to find her some hot tea, even if it was just to hold and gather some warmth. He found an assortment of teas from Grace caravan and Mumsy chose a lemongrass and ginger tea ($4.00) and while he was there he may as well grab that caramel slice that she had been eyeing off for $5.

Happy as Larry

I was starting to wonder if our butler was judging the amount of food that we were eating but that didn’t really stop us from ordering more. I was impressed with Happy as Larry’s split level set up carrying one massing looking wood fired oven and had to try one.Margherita San Marzano tomatoes, basil, fior di latte, extra virgin olive oil ($16.00). The pizza smelt really good but this was so hard to eat because everything other than the crust had no stable structural integrity. As soon as you went to pick up a slice, the topping would slide right off. Definitely not a first date food. I really enjoyed their ingredients, maybe if they had slightly thicker bases it wouldn’t be so sloppy.

De Wafel

De Traditional speculoos + whipped cream ($9.50). TimmyC could not help himself and had to order waffles while we were there. They had an ever so slight crunch to the exterior while being fairly soft and pancakey in the centre. I really liked the combination of toppings and will definitely be trying  crumbled speculoos at home.

Messina

Now this was the big reason why TimmyC wanted to go to The Commons. Messina has cleverly done a novelty take on an International Soup Kitchen with cute homage to Campbell’s canned soup packing to match. What was also very smart of them was everything was pre-made and frozen. All the server had to do was pop the lid and give you a spoon. I imagine lines for this place to be long in the coming days but it should be a quick run through as you’re given your can and spoon.Faux Pho salted coconut sorbet, kaffir lime marshmallow, lychee meringue, chilli cashew crunch ($9.00). At first I was confused if they had forgotten to add anything other than the coconut sorbet in my can as that was all I could taste, but if you delve deep in the depths of the can, on the very bottom was all the other goodies. I loved the heat from the crunch which was off set by the cooling coconut and I loved the kaffir lime mixed through it all. I chose this because I loved all these flavours (again perhaps it is the Asian from within) but I don’t know if I came across any lychee meringue in my spoonfuls.

American chow down peanut butter gelato, cream cheese gelato, oreo cookie crumbs, pretzel crunch ($9.00). TimmyC’s stronger affinity to sweetness meant he enjoyed this tin a lot more than I did, I found it a little OTT. They definitely had American flavours in there, it tasted very peanut buttery and chocolatey with crunchy textures.

Other stalls

It may come as a surprise to you that I didn’t get around to eating from all the vendors, but here are some photos of the other places. You might have also noticed that there are stalls missing (Fritto + co, Urban pasta etc) but apparently there will be around  7 food trucks that will be swapping over from around Wednesday. Ribbies barbecue weren’t able to open on the first night but were hoping to be ready for the weekend.

Yalla Yalla!

Vutu

Pact beer – Canberra represent!

Capital Brewing co. – Canberra represent!Pialligo Estate – Canberra represent!Sakura on wheelz

MeetThe One – Canberra represent!

Rolling schnitzel

Kransky Brothers – Canberra represent!

A special mention to these guys, they let me try some of their kransky it is sooooooooo good and reasonably priced. I’m going to get this next time.

Mantooth’s place

Keep your eye out on their events calendar, there are plenty of things to do like random karaoke, table tennis and Christmas carols. Also check out my previous post to see the opening hours and what you need to know.

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Hello Kitty Diner

There is so much cuteness in one cafe but the Hello Kitty Diner isn’t just for little girls.Even their booths are covered in this cute material.I really wanted a cute cheeseburger with the iconic Hello Kitty bow but we had just come from lunch so all I could squeeze in was a cute milkshake and a waffle for an afternoon snack (don’t give me that look).

When we were seated, we were given water in these really cute paper cups.The Pancake Milkshake ($8.00). This had little chunks in it and yes it tasted and felt like a pancake milkshake with maple syrup. I don’t know if it is worth $8.00 for the size, but I didn’t want a lot and it didn’t disappoint in flavour.Cinnamon waffles apple pie ice-cream, salted caramel ($8.00). I was pleased to see that it was freshly made and was hot and crunchy, while a lot of cafes I have been to serve a warmed pre-made one or even worse, from frozen. The fact that it was in the shape of Hello Kitty’s head topped with a cute bow was just a super cute touch. I really enjoyed the apple pie ice-cream that went really well with the salted caramel sauce. A perfect sweet treat that isn’t overly sweet or filling.True, a lot of the appeal of this diner comes from the novelty of having cute Hello Kitty detail around the cafe but the food we experienced was surprisingly quite good, albeit a little over priced for some things.

Venue: Hello Kitty Diner

Address: The District, ChatswoodInterchange, 436 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood, NSW

Phone: 04 3017 7850
Hello Kitty Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Seriously, when did that happen?

A follow on from my previous post “What? When did that happen?“,  I am still finding myself uttering these words as my grip of the Canberra dining scene seems to slowly be slipping through my fingers.

1. Buttermilk and bourbon fried chicken with waffles is coming to Woden. “Seriously, when did that happen?”

Okay that was just a menu item, their actual name is No. 10 restaurant and bar. According to their Instagram account, the first week of October is when they plan to open. There are plenty of things on the menu that have caught my eye, check them out here.

2. Turkish Pide House City has now closed. “Seriously, when did that happen?”

Apparently for ages! I drive past it all the time and always assumed it was there but now something new is taking its space. Hopefully not long to go.

3. Damian Brabender is finally opening his restaurant Otis . “Seriously, when did that happen?”

Technically this hasn’t happened yet for the public, but my friend was lucky enough to attend a soft launch and I cannot wait to eat one of everything from the menu. See a sneak peek from Michelle here.

4. Shannon’s BBQ is now closed. “Seriously, when did that happen?”

Or not paying their phone bill, I can’t tell since their phone line is disconnected. This was also on my ‘to eat list’ but I never got around to eating there and now it looks like I never will. Does anyone know what happened to this place?

5. Rockin’ Ribs has now closed. “Seriously, when did that happen?”

I never made it to Rockin’ Ribs after Victor died but now the whole place is completely empty and available for lease. All the BBQ places seemed to have closed up shop in Canberra.

6. Fried Korean Chicken is coming to Dickson. “Seriously, when did that happen?”

I recently walked past and saw signs for Rogane Chimac opening next to Kingsland. I don’t know when it will open (or if it has already),  but it didn’t look like it was far off. They have more than fried chicken, but does it really matter?

7. Gus’ is now closed. “Seriously, when did that happen?”

Now this is starting to show how little I venture into Civic and I’m probably the last one to know about this, but Gus’ cafe has been closed since around June(?!?). Gus’ has been around for so long, I was shocked to hear that it closed.

8. Mills and Grills is providing ribs and pizza to Canberra. “Seriously, when did that happen?”

According to my friends Mills and Grills have been open for ‘a long time’, which really means I need new friends or a better radar. They are loving their pizza but I want to try out their ribs. Check out the menu at here.

9. There is a restaurant out near the airport. “Seriously, when did that happen?”

It is called Helix bar and dining and located inside the Vibe hotel and a lot of reviews say it is over priced and the service is sub par. It doesn’t sound like a place that I want to rush out and try.

 

Has there been anything happening around the Canberra dining scene that has got you asking “seriously, when did that happen?”

 

 

 

 

Space re-run

TimmyC and I are not morning people, but everyone has a price so when TimmyC suggested that we wake up early and go to Space to have breakfast, I agreed although our early morning progress would be negated by said breakfast and we would just arrive to work at the time as we would normally.Polenta waffles lemon thyme sautéed mushrooms, goats cheese, poached eggs, corn puree, salsa verde and truffle oil ($18.90). I thought the addition of dry ice and truffle oil to create a ‘truffle cloud’ upon serving was more for showmanship rather than for taste, but it gives Space a more theatrics side of things setting them apart from their sister cafe Ricardo’s. The waffles themselves were rather crunchy with a soft centre and I loved it paired with the mushrooms and sweet corn puree but I found the goats cheese flavour too strong. I would easily order this again if I wanted a unique vegetarian option.The truffle cloud presentation.Space benedict pulled pork croquette with poached eggs, beetroot hollandaise, pork crackling brioche crumble and pea puree ($18.90). I loved the interesting presentation of this dish and I can’t resist a croquette. The crunchy croquette coating which encased the tender pulled pork was brilliant although I wasn’t a fan of the pea puree. I was surprised to see that I found the slightly sour beetroot hollandaise really addictive and kept dipping my fork into it. Definitely a breakfast classic with a twist that is worth trying.Served with beautiful violets and perfectly cooked eggs.
The dynamics and atmosphere of Space is really different to Ricardo’s, you can see that this cafe is more ‘mature’ and invites a different clientèle in that would be suited to the surrounding office buildings. I love the addition of this funky cafe to the south side and I would definitely recommend this to anyone for a great breakfast and lunch, although I am not sold on their cakes yet. I can’t wait to go back and try more of their menu.

Read the blog post that my awesome guest blogger wrote here.

Table 1 Espresso

I wasn’t going to blog about my brunch while I was in Newcastle over the weekend, I was just going to catch up with a dear friend of mine who had heard good things about Table 1 Espresso, but when our drinks came I couldn’t NOT blog about it.IMG_0899I thought it was odd that this popular cafe was right next door to a car wash in the middle of nowhere, although there was no surprise that there was a queue forming near the front, luckily I had booked a table earlier.

At first we were surprised that the menu was mainly savoury items without a single pancake or waffle in sight, but when TimmyC went to order and pay at the counter, he spotted waffles on the specials board and his first choice was quickly replaced. I didn’t take a photo of the menu (because I didn’t think I was going to blog about it) and TimmyC has a terrible memory for details so the descriptions and prices are based from my memory.IMG_0901Oreo and Snickers milkshakes. TimmyC knew me well when he chose Snickers from a list of popular chocolate bar flavours. I looooove snickers and this milkshake tasted exactly like it! Not only did it look absolutely fabulous (and sparked my need to blog about this place) but they both tasted great too; Canberra cafes should take heed.IMG_0904IMG_0892IMG_0893Flat white Campos coffee. TimmyC didn’t think that there was anything special about his coffee and kept on sneaking sips of my milkshake instead. I like how it comes with a little love heart short bread that he didn’t even offer me a nibble of *cough*.IMG_0889Waffles with banana, vanilla ice cream and maple syrup. TimmyC specifically asked if the waffles were made in-house and the person at the counter said ‘yes’. When he started to eat them he had his doubts because of the texture was thick and hard like at Max Brenner, he was less than satisfied but I surprisingly finished off his waffles between mouthfuls of mine.IMG_0896Scrambled eggs 3 scrambled eggs with spinach, fetta, chorizo and toasted sourdough ($18.00). I liked the flavour combination, I just think that the toasted needed some melted butter and it would have made it easier to eat. I liked how the eggs were moist and that the chorizo was crispy.IMG_0897I must highly commend the wait staff, despite being really busy, they were always polite and efficient. I was surprised at the minimal wait time, the cafe was particularly full when we sat down but the drinks and food all came in a timely manner. The menu is a bit simple but I wouldn’t hesitate to come back and grab a milkshake!

Venue: Table 1 Espresso

Address: 89 – 93 City Road, Merewether NSW 2291

Phone: (02) 4963 3796

Websitewww.table1espresso.com

Table 1 Espresso on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at Smoque

This was our plan B after Common Grounds in Gowrie failed to have pancakes available for the second day in a row. TimmyC had been raving about Woden Smoque‘s waffles as he had been several times without me.IMG_7997.JPGI love their huge Christmas tree.IMG_7994.JPGI’m not a fan of Aunt Jemima’s syrup as it is full of corn syrup but I like how there are condiments on every table so you can help yourself.IMG_7993.JPGSignature waffles~ Our signature American style waffles. We imported a speciality waffle iron from USA. All served with syrup.

The Classic plain waffle simply served with Maple Syrup and honey butter ($8.90). To be honest, this was all I wanted to try but I didn’t want both of us to order the same thing. TimmyC said that his previous experience here was much better as the waffle came out crazy hot and the honey butter had completely melted overt the top. Today the waffle came out luke warm and the butter had to be pasted over the top of the deep welled waffle but it never really melted.

The waffle itself was a little pancake-y and could have done with a bit more crisping.IMG_7999.JPG

IMG_8001.JPGBlue Suede waffle blueberry compote, whipped cream and honey butter ($12.90). Basically the same as the classic waffle but it has an added blueberry compote and some whipped cream. I like how most of the berries retained their juicy round shape despite being in a compote.IMG_8003.JPGI couldn’t finish it because the butter that failed to melt was OTT and it felt like I was eating solid fat.IMG_8006.JPGIt seems like food here is a little inconsistent if TimmyC had fabulous waffles (they were so good he ordered another serve) the previous week and this visit it was very mediocre.

I had been here previously for their dinner menu, see that post here.

Bean and Grain- again and again

——-26/08/2012——-

I almost wanted to wear a fake moustache in fear of someone recognising me from the previous day. When greeted with ‘you’re back again’, I knew I had been caught, my brightly coloured dresses always give me away. This time we were lucky enough to grab a seat inside!

Starting off with a flat white coffee so Timmy can be awake for the rest of the meal. 

The food arrives! The waitresses make room on our table for all three plates and neighbouring tables pass intrigued yet judgmental looks.

Bean & Grain Breakfast – 2 free range organic eggs (poached), 2 sausage patties, maple chilli bacon, blistered vine ripened tomato, mushroom and sour dough toast ($17.00). When dining in your receive a complimentary smoothie shot and a potato croquette topped with crème fraiche & chives. I usually get the country benedict but for an extra $2 I could try the Bean and Grain breakfast with so much more, besides I was particularly keen to try the mushroom. The tomatoes were cold from the fridge so not even close to being ‘blistered’ (although I didn’t know they were supposed to be cooked until I wrote this post) and I found the mushroom disappointing and I couldn’t finish it because it had a vinegary taste to it. I still really enjoyed the breakfast though.

Classic Eggs Benedict – 2 poached free-range organic eggs, house made English muffin, smoked leg ham, fresh made hollandaise sauce ($15.00) The hollandaise was SOOOOOOOOO good and you could taste the hint of lemony goodness.

Belgium Waffles with maple syrup and whipped butter ($14.00). Not as good as the previous day but that might be because we left it to last to eat and it got cold. Mmmmm waffle.

This is definitely one of the best places to brunch in Canberra despite their limited menu and seating. They have a unique touch to dishes (like the complimentary smoothie shot and potato croquette) and for not so ridiculous prices.

Bean and Grain- again

——-25/08/2012——-

When you’re hungry first thing in the morning, it doesn’t take much convincing to go eat waffles at Bean and Grain. I have been wanting to try this since hearing that one of Timmy’s cousins went and they recommended it. We only had one between us because we were heading off to lunch afterwards. 

A delicious hot fluffy waffle served with whipped butter and maple syrup and a complimentary berry smoothie shot, it was so good. It was really hard to share. I wanted more.