Lunchosaurus is on baby leave. Back into the reviews as soon as possible. Until then, keep eating everyone!
Lunchosaurus is on baby leave. Back into the reviews as soon as possible. Until then, keep eating everyone!
How cheeky of you!
Well as it turns out, I think we both needed to do some more research in regards to Arak. While I’m sure you are familiar with Middle Eastern Spirit, I was referring to the popular Balinese rice liquor of the same name. There’s a Wikipedia page that explains it here…
Thanks for the useful, if not slightly aggressive information. I hope you learned something too.
Thank-you very much for the updated prices. I’ll modify my review:)
Where: Strachan Lane, Melbourne
When: Weekdays: Midday- late, Sat: 8pm- late
Contact: (03) 9662 4914
Strange Wolf describes their menu as “New York Deli” but I’d give it so much more credit than that. The short menu is limited to the American classics; hot dogs and burgers, but the details are really impressive. Carnivores can enjoy pork belly or yearling and wagyu beef numbers while the vego and vegan options are truly exciting. I tried the “I am Shah Rukh” which featured haloumi and potato patty, Indian spiced relish and onion salad ($14). The patty had all the warmth and indulgence of a hash brown with plenty of salt and crisp. While the rest of the flavours were simple, I’d never call the burger bland; just modest and comfortable and satisfying.
If you’re looking for something with a little more bite, go for the “Confucius is Vegan” which promises a silken tofu and sesame patty, crispy shallots, apple slaw, chilli and mint ($14). The tofu was a plentiful slab and the burger had a good spark of chilli, set off by fresh coriander and a sweet hoisin sauce…nothing like the description. This could have been annoying, only the version dished up was probably a lot better than what was written on the menu.
Both burgers came with impossibly giant, misshapen chips which were lightly salted and served in a rather cute plywood/paper cone. For $14 they were well priced, even though they were on the smaller side. If the buns had been more substantial and less of the sugary, take-away variety then nobody would have left the table peckish.
Silken tofu and sesame patty, crispy shallots, apple slaw, chilli and mint ($14)
Service was friendly but not very involved as all the ordering is done at the bar. It would have been nice for staff to have offered us more water instead of just clearing the glasses as we weren’t allowed to take the water jugs from the bar to our table. A steady thump of muted electro permeated all the dark spaces of the venue, giving it a bar vibe without killing any chance of lunchtime conversation. Because Strange Wolf is a basement, it is quite dark but lets in surprising bursts of light from the foot-level windows peering out at the street. Creative little light boxes have been created underneath each with a sort of Mad Professor vibe of wayward terrariums and snaking wires and cords. The concrete support pillars and exposed pipes frame the room, some parts still stained from graffiti and others, slicked over with dark, shimmering wallpaper. It’s an eclectic mix of glitz and grunge that manages to be ambient without any pompousness. While we managed to sit very comfortably at the communal table, most of the seats are not very suitable for eating at because the tables are blocks; with nowhere to fit your legs under. Great for a drink but make sure you get in early if you’re planning a sit-down meal.
Haloumi and potato patty, Indian spiced relish and onion salad ($14)
High Tea at The Westin, Melbourne
Where: 205 Collins St, Melbourne
When: High Tea is served every day from 12.30pm
Contact: (03) 9635 2222
Autumn Menu High Tea ($55 pp or $65 with Chandon Brut)
High Tea can be a downright risky affair, with so many variable factors and a prestigious price-tag it is easy to be disappointed, The Westin had a lot at stake. The hotel takes a modern approach to their High Tea ($55 pp or $65 with Chandon) but still not straying too much from the traditional miniature sweets and sandwiches. The room itself has a sophisticated, masculine feel with dark leather armchairs and walls muted with a creamy, deep green. Parts feel more like James Bonds’ den than a glittering hotel café. Seating is considerately situated so you can expect some space to enjoy either the High Tea feast or the A la Carte menu.
Our High Tea experience was with a reasonably large group so some delay was expected, nevertheless there was a wait much longer than the promised “fifteen minutes” before the tiered trays arrived. Our waitress also didn’t seem to understand my pregnancy dietary requirements of “no cured meats or raw eggs”. My tray was not “pregnancy friendly as I had feared and arrived with a cured meat item. When staff was notified they returned with a generous reimbursement of two chicken pies and two chicken sandwich triangles. Unfortunately the sandwiches contained mayonnaise; a notorious raw-egg item. I wondered about the communication skills and knowledge of the wait-staff.
The savouries were impressive and sufficiently warm, in particular the chicken and leek pie was robust and juicy. The sandwiches were also full-flavoured and excellent but it was heartbreaking to only have one comically small triangle to enjoy. While High Tea is traditionally dessert heavy, this still felt weighted far too much towards sweet rather than savoury.
Speaking of sweet, no effort was spared when it came to the intricacy and beauty of the cakes. The standout was the impossibly gorgeous red velvet cake encased in pink vanilla icing; it was much fun to eat as it was to admire! The chocolate heart was a flowing, burst of chocolate and berry which tasted much more impressive than anticipated as was the double dipped chocolate strawberry. It was a really enjoyable experience tasting the individual little flavour parcels on offer.
We were able to order coffee, tea and champagne as much as we wished although on a few occasions, guests had to get up to make further drink orders with the friendly, but preoccupied staff. The barista on staff dealt very well with our inquiries when there was no one else to talk to, and she made an excellent coffee too.
Overall I enjoyed my experience at the lovely Westin but the lack of understanding and communication skills with the staff put a dampener on things. It didn’t seem to fit with the high profile that The Westin holds. I wouldn’t be put off returning but I believe I would be hesitant to recommend the venue on this experience alone.
Miniature Red Velvet Cake
Hi there and thank-you for your question!
Coburg certainly does have an abundance of Lebanese and Turkish food doesn’t it? It’s understandable that you’d feel like a change eventually.
A little while ago I reviewed Little Deer Tracks in O’Hea Street. They’re a vegetarian place but you’d be hard pressed to notice as they’re incredibly clever with their menu. The pasta I had was delicious.
You might also like to try The Post Office Hotel on Sydney Rd. It’s been sold, renovated and re-branded a couple of years ago and has a whole new lease on life. Although it is more on the expensive side, so think Fancy Dinner.
That’s all that comes to mind at the moment, so you may have to consider shuffling a little further down the road to Brunswick which is positively bursting with new foodie talent.
Where: Literature Lane (Enter via Little Latrobe St)
When: Mon-Fri: Breakfast and lunch, Saturday: lunch
Contact: (03) 9654 7887
Take-away (very limited seating)
The top end of the city is buzzing with new, exciting places to eat. The latest darling is Wonderbao, a take-away Chinese eatery that has a short menu consisting entirely of steamed doughy items (think buns and dough taco-shaped savouries or gua bao). For breakfast, lunch or snacks, these hot little parcels are served up lightening fast, with a smile as you wait. If you’re lucky enough you can grab one of the five stools overlooking one of Melbourne’s signature graffiti lanes, or failing that, a milk-crate in said lane.
The stand-out menu item is the Fried Silky Tofu Gua Bao ($3.80) with pickled mustard, coriander, sweet soy and crushed peanuts. The lightly fried tofu takes on a slightly sticky skin which adds lots of beautiful texture to the generous pillowy filling inside. I’m not normally a fan of silken tofu, but this steamy number won me over. The sauces weren’t too overpowering and the addition of fresh cucumber and coriander was gorgeous.
Left: Da Pork Bao ($3.20), Right: Fried Silky Tofu Gua Bao ($3.80)
It’s always hard to go past the sweet/savoury hybrid that is char-sui bao (BBQ pork bun) for $2 and Wonderbao does a particularly good one with lots of warm spiced flavours and no nasty gristle or sickly sweet gravy. Also good was the Da Pork Bao ($3.20) which had Chinese sausage, boiled egg and shitake mushrooms. The sausage was good quality and the mushrooms were large, juicy and radiated flavour throughout the whole bun.
Homemade Organic Soya Milk ($2.80)
To drink there are a few sweet tea tetra-packet drinks in the fridge or you can enjoy a hot or cold soy milk which they brew themselves. Be warned though, this is more of a soy drink and comes quite sweet. I tried the hot version but decided the sweetness would be less overbearing had it been cold. When I asked for hot tea the staff politely let me know that they didn’t have any but then had the initiative to offer me some water instead; a nice consideration.
For dessert you can choose from a taro or egg custard bun ($1.70), I ordered the latter and found it completely thick and delicious; a powerful eggy punch.
This steamy little place is a well-priced and high-quality convenience, matched with a great staff it’s sure to do well.
Egg Custard Bun ($1.70)
Where: Rear 774 High St, Thornbury
When: Every night from 5:30pm
Contact: 9484 0173
Vego :) :)
Erkin Koray; tomato, beef sujuk, red pepper, haloumi, olives ($19)
Up the quiet end of High Street you’ll not only find plenty of parking but also The Moor’s Head; a place which describes it’s pizza as “inauthentic”. I’d just be happy to say it was Lebanese and Turkish pizza, as the flavours aren’t so much inauthentic as they are Middle Eastern. There isn’t actually any frontage on High Street, so you’ll need to enter via the side street (Collins St). The building looks to be one converted from an old warehouse, in solid red brick with high ceilings. Inside the kitchen sits open-plan in the middle of the venue, so wafting smells and heat from the ovens set a cozy mood about the place. There are a few booths and comfortable benches distanced enough from each other that you feel like you really have your own space. The staff is incredibly welcoming and do their best to make sure you have everything you need.
Pizzas come cozily encased in either a boat-shaped pide, a rectangle or a traditional circle. Although they may look it, the dough isn’t too thick or over-bearing, but thin-crust pizza it is not. They are all served with heavy duty roller cutters for you to divide them up whichever way you wish.
Sultan Mehmet, tomato, lamb ma’anek, red pepper. Feta, black olives ($19)
We tried the Sultan Mehmet with tomato, lamb ma’anek, red pepper. Feta, black olives ($19). The quality of ingredients was good but the lamb was plain, and would’ve benefited from some seasoning, as could the tomato base. Generally though the flavours were pleasantly warm and spiced with cinnamon.
We also ordered the Erkin Koray; tomato, beef sujuk, red pepper, haloumi, olives ($19). Again the tomato base fell a bit flat but there was a good middle-eastern-flavoured sauce which had traces of cumin and other spices. The tasty sausage pieces on this pizza filled in the flavour well.
One the side we had a salad of cabbage, mint, soused onion, caraway ($9). The natural sweetness of the cabbage probably wasn’t enough to balance out the powerful, tangy dressing. In small doses, it made for a refreshing garnish but it was difficult to finish the bowl.
You’ll find some interesting drinks on the menu too, including crisp beers from 961 and the Turkish Uludag Gazoz soda which offers an unusual and delicate bubblegum/champagne flavour. Quite bizarrely, you’ll even find the Balinese rice-wine spirit ‘Arak’.
If you haven’t got room for dessert, consider ordering the Persian Fairy Floss, which dances on your tongue with flavours moving from nutty to vanilla to creamy before melting away into oblivion. It’s truly a delicious experience that won’t fill you up.
The Moor’s Head offers a truly snug and relaxed atmosphere where you can have a leisurely dinner and really enjoy your company. And while the food isn’t outstanding, the fantastic service and wonderful ambiance will most likely see a return visit from me in the near future.
Salad of cabbage, mint, soused onion, caraway ($9)
Hi there, that’s a good question. I haven’t been to Gladstone Park, perhaps you could check Urbanspoon?
Where: 304 Smith St Collingwood
When: Breakfast: Weds-Fri, Lunch: Weds-Sun, Dinner: Tues-Sat
Contact:(03) 9417 7779
CC and EFTPOS
Heirloom Tomato Salad, Pickled and Raw Cucumbers with Ricotta ($15)
In case you hadn’t noticed just yet, Americana is the new Mexican. Hip young things all over Melbourne have been flocking to junk-food-chic food vans for a while but now the tastes of The States are getting serious. Take Gorski and Jones in Collingwood, the edgy fit-out and bar atmosphere have plenty of drunk young-person favourites like onion rings, fries and burgers alongside mussels, heirloom tomato salads and chorizo tapas plates. Low-brow flourishes such as Kraft (cheese) and Dr Pepper BBQ sauce are printed brazenly upon the menu.
Grilled Chorizo with Sweet and Sour Figs ($6)
Because all the shares and sides looked too exciting to ignore, Dining Partner and I left out the mains and ordered a tapas-style collection. Our first treat was the Heirloom Tomato Salad, Pickled and Raw Cucumbers with Ricotta ($15). Overall this was good, with the little ricotta balls adding a fantastic, creamy dimension. However the vinegar dressing was strong, and laid on heavy, which when coupled with the pickles was too much on the acidic side. It would have benefited from a sweeter element in the dressing perhaps.
Next up was the Grilled Chorizo with Sweet and Sour Figs ($6); a gorgeous, juicy, fruity dish that was tragically undersized at a mere three slices of chorizo.
Smoked Poon Boon Lamb Ribs with Salsa Borracha ($12)
Crispy Confit Duck Wings in Red Dragon Sauce ($10)
Moving on to the Smoked Poon Boon Lamb Ribs with Salsa Borracha ($12); nice pieces of meat in a fiery, piquant sauce which I imagined to have more of a heaviness to it, but actually came off tasting fairly light, even a little watery. Still, they were tasty and would be great with a cold beer.
The real star of the meal was the serve of Crispy Confit Duck Wings in Red Dragon Sauce ($10). Which were indulgently rich and crispy, a good portion size and nicely seasoned with the crunchy sesame seeds. I couldn’t eat more than three due to the richness of the skin and oils but they were a great share item.
An equal favourite of mine were the French Fries with Malt Vinegar Aioli ($6) which managed to lock in a real roasted potato flavour.
And what to say of the Mack Cheese ($8)? Although it looked a bit frightening when it came out; lumped in a colourless pile on a plate that would inevitably have it go very cold, it was incredibly creamy and delicious, just make sure you eat it before it cools down.
French Fries with Malt Vinegar Aioli ($6)
On reflection, ordering only shares and sides resulted in the various intense flavours clashing with each other. These were essentially bar snacks designed to be washed down with a drink and nibbled slowly. I’d be interested in trying a burger next time.
Looking to the service; it was attentive, and our waitress’ detailed knowledge of the menu was really helpful. Seating was limited to hard wooden benches or hard wooden stools, neither making you feel like staying very long, but maybe that’s the idea. It was also pretty loud, with more of a bar feel than that of a restaurant, somewhere to get rowdy and laugh heartily through a mouthful of onion rings. Overall, I think American cuisine can feel a bit like overpriced junk-food, but occasionally on a night out with a few beers, it’s all in good fun.
Mack Cheese ($8)
Where: 202 Bellair Street, Kensington
When: Weekdays: 7am-4:30pm, Weekends: 8am-4pm
Contact: (03) 9376 7565
Vegetarian :) :)
CC and EFTPOS for purchases over $15
The Premises Eggs; two poached eggs, green olive tapenade & a Persian feta & zucchini salad on organic toast ($17)
The Premises in Kensington is a long-standing local favourite. It boasts an unusual menu with plenty of sophisticated ingredients and unique fusions. The range of Seven Seeds coffee on offer (including filter) do well too. The setting is primary utilitarian, with hard wooden furniture deployed as communal tables and stools, no doubt to accommodate the large peak-time crowds. Lots of window exposure makes for a bright and cheery setting and a decent place to have a chat.
I ordered The Premises Eggs which promised two poached eggs, green olive tapenade & a Persian feta & zucchini salad on organic toast for $17. I was really happy with the large eggs and their perfectly cooked golden yolks, however the quantity of olive tapenade as well as the slices of preserved lemon were distastefully salty. The Persian feta was excellent quality but only added to the unsavoury level of saltiness which was barely offset by a scattering of raisins. The zucchini salad could have saved the day if it had been sweet and pickled but its soft dressing left it listless in all the salt chaos. Disappointing also was the size of the toast; quite thin and small slices for an expensive café breakfast. Overall I did not enjoy it and didn’t find it particularly filling. I neutralised the flavours with a cappuccino which was very well crafted and embodied that tell-tale mildness of the Seven Seeds blends; not a strong drop but good nonetheless.
Our waitresses were very attentive, pleasant and helpful but the service at the register from an apathetic young man certainly left something to be desired from the whole experience. Initially he couldn’t locate our bill and then overcharged us by double, then told us he wouldn’t split our bill (only a condition of weekends and not a quiet Thursday afternoon, as noted on the menu) all the while not listening to us (made evident by his constant repetitive questions) and addressing us with real disdain. This mixture of incompetence and apathy left a sour taste in my mouth. I’ll stick to Luncheonette over the road from now on.
Where: 258 Church St Richmond
When: Mon- Thurs 7am-5pm, Fri 7am-9pm, Weekends 8am-4pm
Contact: (03) 9429 4332
Vego moderately friendly :/
EFTPOS and CC accepted
Steak sandwich with charred Angus, shallots, sultanas, beetroot, veal reduction and leaves ($20)
New Richmond hotshot, Top Paddock is already busy every day of the week. It seems this quieter part of Church St was really craving somewhere to get a good, even a pretty fancy meal and a decent drop as well. It also helps that the baristas really know what they’re doing but aren’t too proud to make your coffee soy or skinny or whatever which way you please. There’s a good range of seating in the large, polished venue although your best bet is to try and grab a seat with a bit of padding in one of the little nooks. Very stylish stools made from flattened street-signs may suit people just popping in for a quick bite, but many of the seats aren’t designed for a long lunch. But with the amount of buzz bouncing off the hard floors, it is pretty difficult to engage in much conversation anyway. If you really need some peace, there are some little spots outside in front or in the little courtyard.
To eat, there are plenty of hearty and enticing breakfast options and some high-end-type mains. Although there is not much to eat for vegetarians if not ordering a breakfast (served all day) item with the exception of a roast veg and pesto baguette, a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich or a salad. If however you’re partial to meat, the reasonably priced baguettes are great value at $12.
I treated myself to the steak sandwich with charred Angus, shallots, sultanas, beetroot, veal reduction and leaves ($20). While the rich reduction coupled with the sweet sultanas was gorgeous, the steak was thick and fatty and quite difficult to saw through while keeping the delicate slices of bread from flinging across the table in the same motion. I really believe you should always use a very thin, minute steak in a sandwich. The shallots were great although I couldn’t detect any beetroot and it would’ve been nice to have some dressing on the watercress which came across as dry and grassy in its abundance.
Fortunately my coffee and lamington really hit the spot. It was nice to have a few feisty coffee grinds whipped into the crema on the cappuccino. The lamington was actually juicy in its generous dipping of chocolate sauce, and I was especially pleased with the cherry jam in the centre which satisfied that sticky sweetness you’re expecting with a lamington without seeming like something you’d find in a canteen doughnut.
I can’t praise the staff enough at Top Paddock, they were very patient with our menu indecisiveness and always seemed to be intuitively one-step ahead at meeting our needs. There were also plenty of them to go around, which helps. Overall it’s a great spot for coffee and a treat but I’m not confident about forking out the big bucks for the top menu items when the fresh baguettes seem like such a better deal.
Where: 48 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea
When: Weekdays: 7am-5pm, Weekends 8am-5pm
Contact: (03) 9523 8155
Vego and GF :)
Lamb Shawarma with hummus, tabouli, pickles and harissa on flatbread ($13.50)
Ripponlea is barely a dot on the map but it sure holds its own when it comes to hot places to eat. Local favourite, Spout is a good solid winner on the strip. Playing it cool with a short menu, all-day breakfast and Allpress coffee, it draws a mighty crowd and you could be waiting for a seat even mid-week. There are some rather oddly proportioned outside tables for such occasions, although they might be more fitting for the under 10’s age-bracket. If you’ve been lucky enough to land yourself a seat inside the cosy, brick interior, service is usually pretty snappy with water and menus pronto.
To eat you’ll find delicious Jewish and Middle-Eastern influences such as the Challah French Toast, Shakshuka and a Lamb Shawarma, the latter of which I ordered. Lamb Shawarma’s just don’t come with pickles like that in the North where I’m from so I couldn’t resist.
The deconstructed wrap was a generous size and the delicate lamb pieces really melted in your mouth. The hummus felt like a genuinely excellent homemade one and the tabbouleh avoided the usual “too prickly or too bland” traps. The highlight was the spicy tomato harissa on top and of course, those big juicy pickles. The only downside was that it was difficult to figure out how to eat the beast, as it was too massive to roll up but hard-work to saw though the flat-bread without a steak-knife.
My food was excellent although I have to mention that my chocolate milkshake was a bit of a weakling. Even kid-sized milkshakes deserve a chocolaty taste I believe. Yet overall, I left Spout a rather heavier, and very satiated customer. Pretty happy with the service with the exception of one sullen-faced waitress who just didn’t fit with the vibrancy and helpfulness of the other ladies. Ripponlea, you’re alright.
Where: 49 Pearson St Brunswick
When: 7 days 7:30am-4pm
Contact: (03) 9005 8680
Yes another cool Brunswick café, who’d have thought? But wait, this one doesn’t think so highly of itself that your seat feels like a ‘found art’ installation. There are plenty of comfortable places to dine both inside, and out in the courtyard which means it’s easy to get a table you are really happy with. There’s a very cute child-friendly theme with recycled school chairs, a Lollypop-Lady sign and kids’ murals here and there. The stained glass frontage gives the whole place a very homely feel. We sat out in the courtyard, enjoyed a warm shady spot and listened to the eclectic music piping from the speaker; a playlist I’ve decided was 80% excellent.
The menu is vast but full of such interesting and unique choices; it won’t have you “glossing over” but rather spending a really dedicated amount of time on your choice. The ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’ sections didn’t appear to be limited by any time constraints, with my Dining Partner ordering a breakfast item at 1.30 in the afternoon, no problems. The waitress was really quick to have us seated and with drinks straight away; great service.
Spaghetti special with tomato, fresh spinach, prosciutto and pecorino ($17.50)
I opted for the spaghetti special with tomato, fresh spinach, prosciutto and pecorino ($17.50). While the breakfast-fiend ordered the granola with poached fruits and yogurt ($10.50). We were both really happy with our meals which arrived without much delay. The spaghetti was a generous size and completely abundant with spinach and prosciutto and the sauce was very fresh, being more deconstructed tomato than puree. It was on the salty side but I really enjoyed it nonetheless. The large wisps of fresh pecorino were great.
The granola was fragrant with toasted caramel notes and plenty of sunflower seeds and nuts which contrasted with the soft, heady, mix of marinated peaches, prunes and blueberries. It came with a sweet vanilla yogurt but I felt would have been better with a tarter one as the whole dish ended up being too sweet and impossible to finish.
Granola with poached fruits and vanilla yogurt ($10.50)
It’s great for the West-side of Brunswick to have a café like John Gorilla, if I was a local I’d be there every week. I’m sure most customers would leave with a sense that they’d experienced good value from the experience, as the café doesn’t cut corners on portions or service. Plus they split the bill; fantastic. I’m already planning my revisit for coffee and those tempting muffins I eyed off at the counter.
Where: 486 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill
When: Tues-Sat 7.30am-5pm, Sun 8am-5pm
Contact: (03) 9486 1606
I enjoyed my Mixed Business experience so much that I came back a couple of days later to do it all again. The result is that I have discussed a breakfast and a lunch option.
I always think it is particularly in good spirits when a café opens early; Mixed Business opens early and closes late which I believe only adds to their excellent customer relations, they’re completely accommodating and lovely, as long as you can excuse their lack of EFTPOS/CC facilities. Although I’ve never visited at peak times, (I’m sure the place gets busy) the clever sound panels on the ceiling ensure it never feels like a scout-hall. It’s a breezy open space, with lots of natural light and hard floors so they have worked hard to keep the acoustics perfect. Around the back features a green little courtyard with lots of tables for two, shade and potted plants.
Free-range poached eggs on sourdough with potato and rosemary rosti, avocado and house relish ($16)
For my breakfast visit I enjoyed the Free-range poached eggs on sourdough with potato and rosemary rosti, avocado and house relish ($16) The eggs were perfectly poached, the toast already golden with butter and enough avocado and relish to really indulge yourself. I was particularly impressed with the tomato relish, which was one of the best I’ve ever had. The potato and rosemary rosti was strong on the herb front but still excellent. I accompanied breakfast with a cappuccino which was definitely OK but just nowhere near as strong as I like it. My husband ordered a “strong latte” and it was so strong it came out bitter. A bit of a conundrum.
On my lunch visit I ordered the Pork and fennel meatball hot roll cooked in tomato sauce with basil, Parmesan and pickled shallot ($9.5) Piping hot indeed, this roll was every bit worth the reasonable price tag and then some. The tomato sauce avoided all blandness (which can sometimes happen) and there were plenty of crunchy salady bits as well as the fennel to keep it interesting. The meatballs themselves were really substantial and juicy although occasionally gristly. Top quality Parmesan and a fantastic bread roll (I suspect from Dench) brought it all home; completely delicious.
Pork and fennel meatball hot roll cooked in tomato sauce with basil, Parmesan and pickled shallot ($9.50)
I washed lunch down with the Lemon and mint soda ($4.5). I’m not sure why this was called a soda as there was nothing carbonated about it, it was really a crushie. Not that I had much to complain about, the drink was a perfect balance of sweet and sour with the coolness of the fresh mint brought to life by the snowy iced consistency. Perfect on a hot day.
With its stand-out service and consistently good fare, Mixed Business has quickly become a new favourite of mine.
Lemon and mint soda ($4.50)
Where: 545 Church St Richmond
When: 7 Days, noon till late
Contact: (03) 9429 5277
EFTPOS and CC accepted
Nduja salami (hot), red onion, tomato and scamorza bianco ($10/18)
Royal Saxon knows how to pull a crowd, probably because of it’s ability to play host to casual drinkers, fine diners and families all at the same time. High quality building features ensure various comfortable and segmented spaces, including an expansive shady courtyard, a rowdy main bar as well as quiet intimate spaces. Prepare to fork out a little bit, for the food’s pricing is far from casual. The best value options seem to be the pizza which come in two sizes with the smaller one being substantial enough. Order a side and you’ll have a a little feast.
Asparagus, bocconcini and prosciutto di San Daniel ($12/20)
Our pizza candidates for the evening were the Nduja salami (hot), red onion, tomato and scamorza bianco ($10/18) and the Asparagus, bocconcini and prosciutto di San Daniel ($12/20). Both had excellent quality ingredients and perfect bases; not too puffy, not too crispy with delicately doughy edges. They were on the salty side after a few slices but this wasn’t too bad as the rich tomato concasse balanced the acidity. The asparagus pizza was the favourite because of its perfectly juicy green stalks. Both items were fairly minimal with toppings but acceptable. It should be noted that the prosciutto on the asparagus pizza was cooked where it would normally be left fresh (a diner variation due to pregnancy).
As you would expect from the prices and the caliber of food on offer, the service was terrific on all fronts. If you feel like a flashy meal with a relaxed atmosphere Royal Saxon should do nicely.
Where: 222 Brunswick St Fitzroy
When: 7 days, 8am till late
Contact: (03) 9417 5500
While the spacious layout of Little Creatures Dining Hall seems to make more sense when you consider its W.A. roots, Melbournians have embraced the huge eatery despite their fondness for small, hideaway cafes. If you have a large group of 10 or more, they kindly take bookings but for small groups it’s pretty easy to get a table. The only issue to contend with is the scout-hall atmosphere which is echoey and fairly impersonal, however the staff are always on their toes and never leave you feeling abandoned. Popular with families by day and beer-guzzling rowdy groups by night, Little Creatures has its finger in all the pies. Speaking of pies, their daily one comes with a fantastic salad, drenched in good quality homemade dressing, a good serve of marinated capsicum and fresh cherry tomatoes. Sometimes even great cafes forget how to do a nice side salad these days. The pie itself is also good, with crunchy, buttery pastry. On the day I ordered it was beef and mushroom, both of which you could clearly see falling out in delicious tender chunks once piercing the crust. No fatty off-cuts here, but for $22 you’d be unimpressed otherwise. While the gravy and meat were top notch, after a few bites and in conjunction with the aromatic tomato chutney it all got too sweet. Never mind, let’s move on the Cheese kransky with sauerkraut and chutney ($13.50). More of an entrée than a meal (actually they recommend it as a shared item) this little sausage comes with the same sweet aromatic chutney as the pie, which matches much better with the tangy sauerkraut. Although not as oozy as past cheese kranskies I have enjoyed, the snag delivers what you’d expect.
Pie of the Day; Steak and Mushroom ($22)
As you’d probably guess, the beers are all of the Little Creatures craft beer family, plus an extensive wine and spirit selection. Staff are even happy to offer you a tasting while you figure out what to order. If you’re the type to order several different beers in a night, try the Pony glass, they’re great for mini-drinks.
Cheese kransky, sauerkraut and chutney ($13.50)
Where: Corner of Bridge and Fennell Street,Melbourne
When: Weekdays: Breakfast and lunch, Saturdays: Open til 2.30pm
Contact: (03) 8534 9957
Salford Lads Club had been recommended to me for its delicious hot meals, so I was a little saddened to find that on Saturdays they only did a breakfast menu. Nevertheless I wasn’t disappointed for long. My BLT was hot, full and juicy, with a delicious full-flavoured mayonnaise. The addition of a sweet onion pickle/chutney and mustard was a unique touch, as was the peppery roquette. It would have been perfect if a substitute to multi-grain toast had been offered.
My dining partner ordered the similarly hearty Uncle Rocco’s Bacon and Egg Sandwich which looked glorious and had a generous serving of creamy avocado too. This sandwich was sauceless which I think put it a couple of points behind the stand-out BLT. The egg was also not runny so one’s sleeves can be considered safe, although a runny egg is always appealing I feel. Both sandwiches sported indulgent buttery toast slices.
SLC BIT; crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayo and house relish on multi-grain ($9.50)
To wash it all down I had the Homemade Lemon Lime and Bitters. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was expecting by “homemade” but a standard glass of bitters and lemon topped up with a tepid Sprite was not it. Isn’t this just a sub-standard lemon, lime and bitters? To be fair the waitress was very apologetic about the lack of refrigeration and that they had run out of ice. She personally chipped away at a left-over icicle so that I could have a cold, less sweet drink. All was forgiven, but I’ll not be ordering that again. Fortunately the coffee was brilliant, with Coffee Supreme beans delivered dark, handsome and creamy.
It seems Salford Lads Club hasn’t quite built its crowd yet, as there were plenty of seats during the Saturday Brunch Rush-Hour, and not just any seats but adorable, curious little tables tucked away in hidden nooks with cut-out walls and such. It was like an architect’s wet dream with an amazing conversion of it’s grungy warehouse space, including a stair-case that looked like it could take you to a third dimension. My favourite part was the shady entrance with a big old tree and tire-swing; it felt relaxed and friendly, somewhere to take your family or your date, and that’s a hard balance to find.
Uncle Rocco’s Egg and Bacon Sandwich; bacon, fried egg , Swiss cheese, spicy avocado and lettuce (11.50)
Where: 349 Victoria St, West Melbourne
When: Lunch- Tues- Fri 11:30-2:30, Dinner- Tues-Sun 5:30pm
Contact: (03) 9329 3960
CC and EFTPOS
Licensed and BYO
Front: Aloo Matar- potatoes and green peas cooked in tomato sauce with herbs ($13.50)
Kathmandu Cottage sits unassumingly on the Errol St end of Victoria St, snuggled in-between a handful of similarly unremarkably-fronted restaurants. I doubt you’d think to visit unless you were a local, but really, you should. I can only assume this cozy little restaurant is a family-run business because you often see a cheeky faced child poking their head around the corner or walking in the door with their school-bags. The homey atmosphere shows through in the cute handmade decorating; a mix of posters and art work on burnt orange walls. The place smells fantastic, which you’ll understand once you’ve experienced the food. I’m a repeat offender but on this particular visit I enjoyed the Beef Curry (tender diced beef cooking with onion, tomato and herbs) and Aloo Matar (potatoes and green peas cooked in tomato sauce with herbs). It’s hard to describe how dishes seemingly so plain were remarkable but thanks to a perfect balance of flavours and good quality ingredients, both dishes were excellent. My only gripe is that we ordered both dishes “medium” spicy but couldn’t detect any heat in any of them. They go quite easy on their clientele so if you like your chili, think big.
The staff are very well-trained and absolutely attending your every need, including the mid-meal “everything OK” check; much appreciated. There wasn’t a whole lot to be excited about with the roti, which was a bit flat and too similar to the naan. However the naan is perfect, so it’s best just to stick with that. Dishes arrive quickly and are a good size and there is an extensive and delicious vegetarian selection.
I know I’ll visiting again and again, I just fear that I’ll never be able to eat as much as I order. Bring a crowd and sample as many dishes as you can.
Beef Curry- tender diced beef cooking with onion, tomato and herbs ($15.90)
Where:O-Hea St, Coburg
When: Breakfast and Lunch 7 Days
Contact: (03) 9354 3449
CC & EFTPOS available
Handmade potato (or spelt) gnocchi saltati with spring peas, spinach and fresh tomato and basil ($18.50)
O’Hea Street in Coburg is a funny sort of spot for a café but Little Deer Tracks is a funny sort of café. The very loosely transformed former residence sports polished concrete floors and casual wooden café furniture, plus an arts-space out the back showcasing the local talent. Interestingly though the food, the bar, and the wait-staff seem to be suited to a much more formal restaurant rather than a suburban café. And indeed the meals are fit for a restaurant table; I had the Handmade potato (or spelt) gnocchi saltati with spring peas, spinach and fresh tomato and basil, but for $18.50 those really aren’t café prices anymore.
I was really happy with the pasta topped with fluffy parmesan; it was completely perfect, and a generous serving too. The bouncy green peas and fresh baby spinach lifted the heaviness of gnocchi beautifully. However the drafty, echoey atmosphere of Little Deer Tracks didn’t entice me to plan a long lunch next time. On this occasion though, I had company and it seemed only sociable to share in a slice of cherry tart which was an excellent decision. The whole Morello cherries were not too sweet and not too tart, just tender and juicy, encased in top-notch pastry. For $6.50, I didn’t feel so hard done by. The coffee was good enough to make me feel almost cosy, but not quite. Little Deer Tracks could use some rugs or floorboards to improve the atmosphere. Overall service was good if not on the very serious side and the food worth visiting for.
Cherry Tart (6.50)