Sori Cafe, Kensington

Where: 174 Bellair Street Kensington

When: Mon-Sat: 11.30am-10pm, Sun: 5pm-10pm

Contact: (03) 9372 2025

Vego :)

Vegan :)

Gluten-free :)


Kid Friendly


Gyoza ($6.90 for 8) & complimentary accompaniments

While everyone is losing their minds about the new Korean in Kensington (Frying Colours) it is easy to overlook the long-established Sori Café mere metres away on Bellair Street. And while I’m yet to enjoy what Frying Colours has to offer, I can happily vouch for Sori for all your Korean cuisine needs.

Not only is the food great there but the service is a warm hug and big bowl of piping-hot old-fashioned comfort.

Literally speaking now, Sori is a wonderful winter warmer with juicy pan-fried gyoza, sizzling hot plates and warm sake. Hedonists can indulge their bellies with fried chicken or pork options while those seeking something fresh and vibrant can enjoy a hotpot with at least three more colours in it than the fried chicken plate. Japanese fiends will be happy with the fresh sushi and sashimi options too.


Bibimbab with beef ($15.50)

On our visit we enjoyed the Bibimbab; a rice hotpot of egg, mushrooms, pickled carrot, beanshoots and beef which we ordered with the chilli sauce option, although I’d be so bold as to bring on the flavour sensation of chilli AND soy next time. This delightful sizzling dish is served following a creamy serve of miso soup which wasn’t overly yeasty and salty as they can sometimes be.

We also ate up the Tonkatsu; a crumbed and fried pork loin with a sweet dark ‘tonkatsu’ sauce and salad ($16.50). Yes, it was as good as you’d imagine, and no, it wasn’t oily or sickly by the last bite either. The salad however; a glorified garnish, was not nearly as impressive as its crunchy neighbouring pork morsels.


Tonkatsu, deep fried crumbed pork loin with tonkatsu sauce and salad ($16.50)

There were extra little details which made our visit pleasurable, like the complimentary snacks (a bowl of delicious moreish crispy pieces which are yet to be indentified) and plate of kimchi, omelette and green beans as well as the little chocolate pancakes which followed our meals. The waiter was also fantastically adept at ensuring allergies were known and even organising custom gyoza numbers rather than ordering only plates of eight at a time. At the end our group order was even tallied up for each individual so that we didn’t have work it out ourselves.

I can’t wait to visit again, and next time I’ll even bring the baby.


Complimentary chocolate pancake

Food: 4.5/5

Service: 5/5

Ambiance: 3/5

Sori Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wild Timor Coffee Co., Coburg

Where: 282 Sydney Rd, Coburg

When:7am-4pm 7 Days

Contact: (03) 9386 2315

Vegetarian friendly

Vegan friendly

Gluten-free option

Pram accessible

Kid friendly


Haloumi Burger with avocado, ajvar relish, baby spinach and slaw on whole grain ($10)

You can’t get much more different than from the outer reaches of Sydney Rd to the jungles of East Timor, but a new café in Coburg is impressing the locals with it’s point of difference.

Wild Timor Coffee was established by four ex-soldiers who were part of the peace-keeping mission in East Timor in 2012. While they were there they discovered that the coffee grown by the locals was being traded unfairly by middlemen taking a huge cut of the profits. The soldiers set up Wild Timor Coffee Co. and raised enough money to begin trading the coffee to Australia and paying the farmers a fair and equitable price for their product. So now you and I can enjoy the incredibly fresh and powerful Timorese coffee along with traditional flavours of the region like Portuguese custard tarts (choc, berry or original), spicy avjar relish-licked burgers and a range of Timorese cakes. Plus you can feel all nice and good about yourself for helping such a great cause simply by stuffing your face.

The coffee, as you would expect from all this hype is truly excellent and in the hands of very skilled baristas. The flavours are quite acidic, almost fruity and stand up really well to the strength of almond milk (available for an extra 0.50). Don’t freak out though, they have cow and soy milks as well. You can even get pots of interesting teas like rose and double mint. Or exotic smoothie concoctions, including green ones if that’s your thing.


Toastie with Avocado, cheese, ham, relish and spinach ($7)

As well as incredible coffee beans for sale for you to brew at home, Wild Timor Coffee Co. offers an impressive range of raw sweeties with exciting ingredients that most people are too lazy to shop for let alone squish into something fantastically delicious. There are raw cakes like the Purple Haze made with lavender essence and the Banana Rama which apparently tastes just like a chocolate cake. I opted for the Peppermint Twist which had a wholesome, lightly sweetened biscuit base topped with a pillowy layer of mint and raw cacao nibs. The mint layer was so delicate, almost foamy, but had an invigorating kick to it. Also devoured was a traditional custard tart ($3.50) which had that caramelised finish they’re famous for and quite a sweet filling.

If for some reason, you require more than caffeine and dessert in your daily diet, Wild Timor offers toast or muesli jars for breakfast and a range of quiches for lunch. They will also do you a toastie with three things in it for $5 or four or more things in it for $7.  Options include cheese, ham, tomato, avocado, baby spinach and relish.

The big-ticket item on the menu is the Haloumi burger with avocado, ajvar relish, baby spinach and slaw on a nice little wholegrain bun. I shared a toastie with the lot (sans tomato) and the burger with a lucky volunteer and we were both really pleased with the freshness and uniqueness of both. The winning factor all round was surely the ajvar relish; a fiery orange sambal with a creamy base which gave a very savoury, sophisticated edge to both meals. The toastie certainly could have been hotter and on better bread but it boasted plenty of filling. The side of juicy yellow pickled chillies with the burger were especially appreciated.


Original Portuguese Custard Tart ($3.50)

Ambiance-wise the place has a homely style with chortling blues and photographs of East Timorese and the troops on the walls. However there aren’t any comfortable seats, only metal stools (high and low) with the exception of a wooden bench with a throw over it, which didn’t look much better. There is a highchair and a couple of kids’ activities as well as plenty of space to park a pram, but you likely won’t want to be sitting around for too long. For now, Wild Timor Coffee Co. feels more like a take-away/ eat-and-run sorta place.

 So with lovely service, competitive prices and products which taste as good as they make you feel, the only thing left to do is see how many times a week you can have a toastie for lunch. I’m betting…lots.


Peppermint Twist Raw Cake ($5.50)

Food: 4/5

Service: 4/5

Ambiance: 2/5

Wild Timor Coffee on Urbanspoon

Tomboy, Collingwood

Where: 356 Smith St, Collingwood

When: Weekdays: 7.30am-4pm, Sat: 8am-4pm, Sun: 9am-4pm


Vego friendly

Gluten free friendly

Outdoor seating


Industry chic meets cosy and homey at Tomboy in Collingwood. Almost every furniture and décor item has been rescued from workshops, Milk-bars and possibly factories, yet the restrained interiors won’t make you feel as though you’re sitting in a junk shop. Everything has been spaciously and generously designed to provide an open, calm atmosphere. Unlike some establishments with blaring music or squawks of laughter from the staff, Tomboy has a peaceful ambiance which manages laid-back without being sloppy.


The menu offers an unpretentious, simple selection of brunch options with a star selection of suppliers including Dench Bakers and Seven Seeds coffee.

I ordered the Reuben Bagel (corned beef, cheddar, pickles and hot English mustard) and a chai latte to keep it all company. The toasted poppyseed bagel warmly housed a bitey mayo and red cabbage combo, was that horseradish I could feel in my nostrils? As well as a mellow melted cheddar and decent slopping of pickles. It would have been an extra treat to have this Reuben served with potato chips, as per tradition. Small and scrumptious, it was fun to eat but a little over-priced at $13.

Reuben Bagel with corned beef, cheddar, pickles and hot English mustard ($13.00)

The Chai latte ticked all the boxes; frothy and unsweetened with a hint of spiced sugar sprinkled over.

The waiters were really personable, like seriously, exchange a few words and before you know it you’ll be thinking of asking them to move in with you. So while the food is expensive for what you get, Tomboy’s ambiance and service will likely invite you back time and time again.


Food: 3/5

Service: 5/5

Ambiance: 4.5/5

Tomboy on Urbanspoon

SNAPSHOT REVIEW: The Premises, Kensington

Hibiscus poached fruits with orange creme anglaise and cocoa granola ($12.50)

And you thought fruit was supposed to be healthy…

Order the Hibiscus poached fruits with orange creme anglaise and cocoa granola ($12.50) and you’ll get more indulgence than you bargained for. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing; my taste-buds are still urging me to eat MORE MORE MORE, but I finished the bowl hours ago.

Rhubarb and crimson-stained pear are coddled in the frothy creme anglaise, sorry I meant to say, magic fairy soup. And just in case you forgot that this was supposed to be breakfast, scattered atop are deeply chocolatey granola clusters which add a a hearty crunch and carbs for your tummy.

For a fruit slash dessert slash mocktail that keeps your tongue in an extended state of longing, The Hibiscus Poached Fruit at The Premises is your guy.

Pair with a perfectly crafted Seven Seeds coffee for maximum daytime rush.

Latte ($3.80)

Noisette, Port Melbourne

Where: 84 Bay Street, Port Melbourne

When: 7 Days, 6:30am-6pm

Contact: (03) 9646 9555


Vego Friendly

Kid Friendly


Monte Cristo ($6.90)

You may have tried their loaves, you may have even delighted in one of their sumptuous sticky fruit buns, but Noisette has even more to offer at their retail home in Port Melbourne. Simple filled baguettes, perfect pastries and very impressive Petits Gâteaux can be casually ordered from the very-low key café which does a seven-day trade and a tireless 6:30am-6pm roster. Perfect for a quick lunch but lacking any sort of pompous glamour you might’ve hoped for from the French Patisserie, Noisette offer more of a cafeteria sort of experience without table service and a pretty dismal bathroom too. But the bread and pastries really are good, and the coffee is to standard, although the beans themselves weren’t as good as the barista’s skills.


I ordered a latte and a prosciutto, avocado, cheese and semi-dried tomato baguette ($9.90). This seemed like a dud choice compared to the experiences of my Dining companions as unlike the other sandwiches, it was more bread than anything. Of course, this isn’t a terrible thing when the baguettes are excellent, but to say that mine had half the filling which would be required is actually an understatement. So my prosciutto baguette suffered terribly from stingey filling; just a few shavings of prosciutto and cheese sliced so thin, it was translucent. While the ingredients were all nice enough, I could barely detect them at all.

Convinced I’d just been unlucky, I followed lunch up with a chocolate and raspberry mousse Petits Gâteaux; the Monte Cristo ($6.90). As suspected, it blew me away with all of its pillowy aerated chocolate and tart raspberry goodness. Unlike other chocolate mousses, it was not heavy on the cream so it didn’t leave your stomach with any sickly regrets half-way through. Very enjoyable.

Noisette know how to bake and their prices are pretty reasonable too, but while the service isn’t bad, it won’t add anything to your experience. The brilliant munchables are probably going to be much more enchanting as take-aways. Just make sure you pick one of the “full” baguette sandwiches.


Prosciutto, avocado, cheese and semi-dried tomato baguette ($9.90)

Food: 4/5

Service: 2.5/5

Ambiance: 2/5

<a href=””><img alt=”Noîsette on Urbanspoon” src=”” style=”border:none;width:130px;height:36px” /></a>

Gingerboy, Melbourne

Where: 27-29 Crossley St, Melbourne

When: Mon-Fri 12pm-2:30pm, Mon-Sat 5.30pm-late

Contact: (03) 9662 4200

Vego :)


Glittery Interior

Nestled in a quintessential cobbled alley, Gingerboy is a glittery, high-end Melbourne favourite serving “modern south-east Asian street-food”. The venue has an exciting bar-vibe; low lights, dark smooth furnishings and bar-staff who’s drink knowledge is rivalled only by their personability. If you’re after a special night out, this is a good place to start.

On the drinks menu are some exciting cocktails as well as several crisp beers, including a mango beer (a little like a cider), to compliment the spicy food. The menu itself is designed for sharing and it is handy to know that sizes can be modified to suit the number of guests, for example: a plate of three dumplings can be changed to four or five if required. There is an entirely separate vegetarian menu, which is provided upon request.

 Prawn and Ginger Dumplings, Peanut Chili Soy ($15)

Son in Law eggs ($13.50)

To start we ordered the Prawn and Ginger Dumplings, Peanut Chilli Soy ($15) and the Son in Law eggs ($13.50). The dumplings were just incredible; luscious and fresh and had a surprise hint of chilli in addition to the spicy soy.  Son in Law eggs, notoriously tricky to pull off due to being soft boiled inside and carefully fried on the outside, were not good simply because they were barely warm. They hadn’t been on the plate very long but still the insides were tepid, which is a real game changer for runny yolks. The accompanying chilli jam was fantastic, just make sure it doesn’t get left behind on the plate when you excitedly snatch your egg away.

Following the entrées we indulged in one of the specials; pieces of deep-fried crab with a zesty, very savoury salad of fennel, red onion and herbs. The crab’s buttery flesh melted in mouths, although some thought the batter was a little heavy. Servings were quite small, with only really a little finger of meat per person.

Also eaten were the Fried Sticky Rice Balls, Chilli and Coconut Caramel ($13) which weren’t nearly as fantastic as their mouth-watering description. The balls were flavourless and stuck in teeth while the sauce couldn’t easily be mopped up by them so it didn’t come together very well.

Next up was the Fried Silken Tofu, Blackbean Chilli Soy, Crisp Asian Coleslaw ($32) which was very sweet and very delightful. Silken tofu takes on an entirely new feel when deep fried, with a crispy outside and a warm creamy explosion inside.

Surprisingly the humble Wok Greens ($8.50) we had on the side was my favourite dish. They’d been infused by a smoky wok and perfectly accented by a touch of oil and fresh bean shoots.

 Fried Silken Tofu, Blackbean Chilli Soy, Crisp Asian Coleslaw ($32)

Deep-fried Crab Special

Fried Sticky Rice Balls, Chilli and Coconut Caramel $13

To finish, we indulged in dessert share plate ($39.50) which contained all of the following: south eastern mess of strawberries, passionfruit, mandarin sorbet, chilled toasted coconut pudding with black sesame and chocolate soil, cinnamon sugared banana fritters with pandan ice cream, chilli peanut parfait and choc coated freeze dried fruit, vanilla and rhubarb compote with cashew crumble. All this felt like more of a visual performance than anything. All the flavours were surprisingly subtle, particularly the ice-creams. Even the chocolate dessert didn’t have a lot of depth to it. The exception to this was the rhubarb and custard which managed a perfect marriage of sweet, tart and creamy.

 Gingerboy does feel like a special experience both in atmosphere and food creativity but some of the dishes lacked the real intensity of flavour from the traditional cuisines which inspired them. It is also important to consider the price tier Gingerboy are playing in, which has brought the food rating down slightly. The staff is professional and attentive although very serious and really could have been warmer.


Dessert Share Plate ($39.50)

Food: 3/5

Service: 4/5

Ambiance: 5/5

Gingerboy on Urbanspoon

Best value for money high tea in Melbourne for a 50th birthday

Asked by

Hi there,

Thanks for your question. It’s an interesting one actually because High Tea is not typically synonymous with good value, as the point of one really is indulgence. It’s really tricky though because while you can definitely find cheaper High Teas (from as little as about $30 and probably not very good), even the larger hotels can be a bit disappointing despite the fatter price tag.

I would hands-down suggest The Grand Hyatt’s ‘Afternoon Tea’ which is $65 per person on the weekend and includes a gorgeous dessert buffet. I’ve never been disappointed with food or coffee at The Hyatt, and their Afternoon Tea is no exception. It certainly isn’t the cheapest option but it IS much better than even it’s similarly-priced peers at The Westin and The Windsor.

There are cheaper options available all over Melbourne at smaller restaurants and cafes, although I personally think a High Tea is best eaten somewhere grand and beautiful.

I hope the 50th goes well!

x Lunchosaurus

Union Food and Wine, Ascot Vale

Where: 169 Union Road, Ascot Vale
When: Wed to Fri- lunch, dinner, Sat- breakfast, lunch, dinner, Sun- breakfast, lunch
Contact: (03) 9372 7566
Vego :(

Ascot Vale’s rather drab Union Road shopping strip is brightened by Union Food and Wine; a light-filled café with a short, beautiful menu and a relaxed vibe. The reasonable prices and casual setting make the rather fancy menu options feel even more special. After just a few minutes you get the feeling that this is a café that offers a little more; an extensive wine list and dinner in the later half of the week. The waiters are very personable, and seem to really care a great deal about what they do.

Dining Partner and I ordered coffee, the heirloom carrot salad with sultanas, mint, oregano and parsley dressing ($10) and the warm ciabatta roll with pulled beef short rib, celeriac remoulade and onion rings ($15).
Although our coffees had all the potential in craftsmanship and beans, they were far too milky for our liking.

The salad’s generous and indulgent dressing played up the sweetness of the tender carrots without overpowering and the sultanas provided a nice accent too. It was very garlicky and oily (perhaps too oily) but still felt very fresh.

Heirloom carrot salad with sultanas, mint, oregano and parsley dressing ($10)

The pulled beef ciabatta was unapologetically stodgy; in all its shades of beige and brown. The meat had a delicate sweetness but was so incredibly oily that it soaked through the bun and took away any freshness the celeriac remoulade could have offered. The onion rings were flawless; piping hot and crispy, with a sweet, juicy flesh. If not for the excess of oil, its flavour so strong, then it would have been a delicious meal.

Warm ciabatta roll with pulled beef short rib, celeriac remoulade and onion rings ($15)

The star of our meal was the dessert; soft chocolate with spiced quince, gingerbread and honeycomb ($13). The gorgeous lick of dark chocolate cream matched the exciting gingerbread pieces and honeycomb beautifully. I was not a fan of the accompanying sultana and vanilla ice-cream but it wasn’t too bad. This felt like the sort of dessert you’d have with a nice wine and a whole lot of special-occasion.

Soft chocolate with spiced quince, gingerbread and honeycomb ($13)

Union Food and Wine is an impressive and friendly little place that ticks a number of boxes; communal dining, casual coffee, romantic meal. Apart from the standard lunch menu neglecting to cater to vegetarians, the café appears to have something for everyone.

Food: 3/5
Service: 5/5
Ambiance: 4/5

Union Food & Wine on Urbanspoon

Happy River Café, Footscray

Where: 45 Moreland St Footscray
When: Tues-Sun 8am-6pm
Contact: (03) 9689 3244
Vego :)
Vegan :)
Gluten-free :)
Pram Accessible
Kid Friendly

Parents of young children will delight in this café nestled in a surprisingly green pocket in Footscray. With a huge green lawn littered with toys of all kinds (including the occasional ride-on) Happy River Café offers a peaceful home-away-from-home vibe with a simple brunch menu and a few mainly Asian-inspired wraps and sandwiches.

Today I visited for a coffee and felt privileged to enjoy a sunny Melbourne day on one of the outdoor mats under a tree. That’s right, table service extends out onto the mats, which are dotted by coloured astro-turf-covered cubes sporting their own “table number”. There is regular old-fashioned seating outdoors too, shaded by umbrellas. For those who prefer to be out of the elements there are a few inside tables to choose from also. It is unfortunate however that smoking is allowed in the courtyard in what is predominantly a children’s area.

Latte ($3.70)

Waiters are attentive and quick to take your order, with the kitchen responding just as promptly. My latte was perfectly put together and had good flavour. Those who like it strong should specify.

For a spot of greenery and a relaxed vibe in the inner city, Happy River Café is one to visit.

Coffee: 4/5
Service: 4/5
Ambiance: 3.5/5

Happy River Cafe on Urbanspoon

The European, Melbourne

Where: 161 Spring Street, Melbourne
When: Mon-Thurs: 7am-11pm (bar till 12am), Fr 7.30am-12am (bar till 1am), Sun 7.30am-11pm (bar till 12am)
Contact: (03) 96510811
Vego :)
Gluten Free :)
Bookings accepted (except before 12pm weekends)

Seasonal mushroom risotto with truffle oil ($28)

Glamorous Melbourne establishment The European is what many might imagine to be a typical “date restaurant”. Housed in a gorgeous old building, with possibly the loveliest front door in Melbourne, it seems to offer plenty in the way of romance with high-brow wait-staff, mood lighting and a rich decadent menu. Although claiming influences from rural France, Italy and Spain, the food felt predominantly French to me. Dining Partner and I ordered a seasonal mushroom risotto with truffle oil ($28) and a chicken, leek and heirloom carrot pie with truffle and mustard ($36.50). Both were indulgent and flavourful, the risotto being particularly strong and aromatic.
The pie balanced delicate flavours in a creamy, white sauce. Its presentation was as beautiful as you’d expect for the price tag; as pretty as a picture. It was a nice little surprise to find the almost-caramelised baby vegetables hidden beneath the pie.
We followed with coffee that was excellent, yes, even the decaffeinated one.

Chicken, leek and heirloom carrot pie with truffle and mustard

While the staff was polite and ticked all the boxes, they didn’t seem particularly passionate. That said, it is hard to be passionate when you’re working the weekend. However they seemed to reflect the tiredness of the building itself, which felt like it had seen far better days. The stunning front door had been haphazardly labelled with a roughly painted “PULL”, as if someone had written it in great haste with no time to acquire a proper sign. However, as a repeat customer, I know that it has been written there for years. The toilets were similarly disappointing; stuffy and cramped like something you’d find out the back of a cheap Chinese restaurant. There’s nothing very wrong with cheap toilets in a low-cost restaurant, but The European’s prices do set up the expectations of a certain level of ambiance.

While the quality of the food is excellent the whole experience of The European feels like it is crying out for some love. Perhaps the very extended opening hours don’t leave much room for maintenance, but it is a shame to see such a beautiful establishment fall behind its former glory.

Food: 5/5
Service: 3/5
Ambiance: 1/5

The European on Urbanspoon