Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Eat. @ Twenty & Six

594 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne ph (03) 9329 0298

Brunch roulette the other Friday landed Bubs and I in North Melbourne, on the doorsteps of Twenty & Six.  We were greeted with a smile and seated near the big coffee machine, and got to stare at the lovely carrot cakes and basket of cookies.

My mocha ($4) was lovely.  I giggled with Hubby via text message that we expect no less in Melbourne nowadays!

I ordered the citrus cured salmon tartare, with pea puree, spring pea and asparagus salad, horseradish cream, poached egg and toast ($19), plus an extra poached egg ($3) for my growing boy!   The cured salmon was delicious, and in fact quite a generous serving.  Even with Bubs eating most of my eggs and toast I was really full after the meal.

Bubs had his heart set on "bacon and eggies" and so we ordered a side of bacon ($5) which was lovely and crispy, just the way I like it.

A great cafe with excellent coffee and a great brekkie dish in North Melbourne.

Twenty & Six on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Eat. @ Nora

156 Elgin St, Carlton 3053 ph (03) 9041 8644

I visited Nora on a "Me-Date" recently and had a lovely coffee, breakfast and of course, some of their famous charcoal tarts to go.  The team behind Nora had been supplying their distinctive tarts to a few select Melbourne cafes to rave reviews and I was really excited to try their Thai inspired interpretation of breakfast and lunch dishes.

I got there at 10am on a Thursday morning but the cafe was already full so I got to admire the display of their "tarts of the day" artistically set up with their ingredients.  

Once I was seated I ordered a coffee.  They don't serve mochas so I had one of my rare cappuccinos ($3.8).

I perused the menu, and each dish is named for one ingredient, which is then followed by a few other ingredients in the dish, in a similar vein to the menus at Estelle Bar and Kitchen.  I chose BACON, onion consomme, rice, pickles, corn ($18) and to be honest I had no idea what would be conjured with these ingredients.   Fortunately what arrived was a beautifully plated dish with surprising interpretation of the ingredients.  The bacon was more of a slowly cooked pork belly, the corn was in the form of young shoots, the onion were tender caramelised rings, and the rice was a finely ground sprinkle that gave the dish a grainy textural contrast. 

It came with a side serve of what looked like a popover, which provided some bready carbs to the dish. I appreciated the depth of thought and the chef's clever handling of the individual elements involved in the dish, and the experience was immensely enjoyable.

Of course I had to have some of the tarts ($5 each), and instead of having to choose one, I got one of each and took them home to share with the gang.  (Best Mum of after school treats I am!)  After I took a million photos first of course!

From the display, the first tart was made with dark chocolate, sesame, and I think this was topped with a sugary honeycomb.

The second tart had white chocolate, pistachio and cherries.

And last but not least a lemon ginger and lemongrass brulee tart.

We all enjoyed the tarts.  The charcoal, made from coconut husks, gave the tarts their distinctive and striking black colour, but was surprisingly mild in flavour and worked well with the lightness of the pastry.  The filling were interesting and the flavours were complementary.  If Nora had been around when I was still at Uni I can guarantee I would've spent a lot of time there getting fat eating tarts to my heart's content.  I envision many future visits, if only to grab some of those yummy tarts on the go if I can't get a table!

Nora on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Eat. @ Shortstop Coffee and Donuts

12 Sutherland St, Melbourne CBD 3000

The latest pit stop for a coffee and sweet is at Shortstop Coffee and Donuts.  There's lots of buzz about this place, and I've heard about long queues and donut shortages in the afternoon.  Luckily for me there was no queue and an abundance of yummy donuts when I dropped by on a Tuesday morning just after 11 a.m.

I'd just had brekkie over at Nora, so this was a donut run as a treat for the kids after school.  I'm the best/worst Mum.

I bought five to share (and also so I can carry them home in a box, less than that number they travel in little paper bags).

So here are my selection.  First off the Red Velvet ($4.5).  This was much like the cake and the kids loved the chocolatey flavour.

Next up Earl Grey and Rose ($4.5).  I quite enjoyed this although I thought the flavours were a little subtle as the donut is quite dense.  

My favourite was the Rhubarb and Ginger Donut ($4.5).  It didn't feel as heavy as the others as it's a raised donut, and the ginger really worked in the glaze.  And such a pretty pink!

The Banana and Chocolate Hazelnut ($4.5) is again a cake donut and the banana/choc hazelnut combo is quite timeless and translates pretty well to the donut form.

And last but not least, the Cinnamon, Cardamon and Sugar ($4) is delicious in its simplicity.

I usually like my donuts somewhat lighter than the ones I've had at Shortstop but they are certainly quite nice donuts and a winner as morning tea for city workers.  I'd definitely come back for the interesting flavours and changing menu.  My instagram followers will notice that I have a thing for taking photos of round foods (food on round plates, cakes, macarons, tarts and of course donuts!) and now I'm addicted to taking pictures of these pretty donuts.

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Eat. @ Noir

175 Swan Street, Richmond 3121 ph (03) 9428 3585

Hubby and I celebrated our anniversary this year with a degustation at Noir in Richmond.  I hadn't heard much about this restaurant but it came highly recommended and I'm glad we booked here as we had an extremely enjoyable meal.

We went for the Tasting Menu ($80) which had essentially 7 courses with sides, some to share and some served individually.  We started off with an amuse bouche of a trio of tartlets for each of us.

The Eye fillet of beef tartare, wardorf salad and gaufrette potatoes was a fun and interesting twist on the traditional.  

The cold smoked Pacific oysters with chives came in little ceramic shells and the oysters were fresh with a subtle smokiness.

The smoked Skipton eel, potato salad, mustard and jellied eel consomme was a very beautifully plated up dish, with pretty colours and interesting flavours.  It's one of those dishes I love, with an interesting mix of colours, flavours and textures.

The Stinging neetle spartzle pasta with lemon, chilli, peas, pinenuts and broad beans was a pleasant dish, reminiscent of a homely stir-fry with very fresh and tasty ingredients.

The Hendricks gin and tonic sorbet, cucumber and dried botanicals (and good splash of Hendricks!) was the perfect mid-meal palate cleanser.  

The Crisp pork belly with poached pears and pickled vegetables was delicious, my only lament being that I could probably eat a whole lot more of the oh-so-tender pork with the crispy crackling!

The main to share was a Roast Partridge with Parsnips, served with seasonal green vegetables and a mornay sauce.  I'm not a fan of mornay sauce in general, but the rest of this dish was lovely, the partridge perfectly cooked and the poached pears offsetting the meat nicely.

We ended with a sweet dessert of rich chocolate marquise with orange and hibiscus.  Hmmmm such indulgence!

Overall we had a great meal at Noir.  We both agreed that it was an Estelle - like experience in a Saint Crispin like setting but with a quieter ambience.    It was a lovely meal worthy of date nights, even without the hype, and in fact probably all the better for it!

Noir on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Eat. @ Seoul Soul

323 Victoria Street, Abbottsford 3067 ph (03) 0478 768 760 

Richmond has always been dominated by Vietnamese/Chinese Eateries, and it's nice to see  a few cafes and other cuisines popping up along Victoria Street.  Seoul Soul as its name suggests is a cute little Korean Restaurant that has marked itself as a great place to stop for a bite or grab a box of take-away.

Our party of 2 adults and 3 kidlets were promptly seated on one of two 2 high share tables.  We were perched on tall stools, which the kids enjoy, but slightly younger ones might find a bit challenging.  We started with their complimentary balchan (side dishes) which were pickled radish and kim chi served in cute little jars.  I really liked their kim chi and we had a second jar!

Their seafood pancake ($8) is a good entree, crispy on the outside and delicious with the dipping sauce which absolutely makes this dish!

The kids always like noodles so we ordered a Beef Bulgolgi Noodle Soup ($14).  A decent sized serving with a hearty soup.

Seoul Soul is famous for their Dosirak, which are wooden meal buckets, like a Korean version of a Japanese Bento.  We tried the Beef Bulgolgi Dosirak ($14) which had a good amount of rice with a couple of samosas and potato hash and a fresh salad and pickles for a side.  The beef was nicely done, and this is my pick for an easy meal both for kids and adults alike.

Hubby and I also had a Spicy Pork Bulgolgi Dosirak ($14).  I am addicted to the spicy marinated sauce and it goes so well with plain steamed rice!

Their chargrilled and BBQ dishes come served on a sizzling (no cooking on the table) and we had a lovely serve of Chargrilled Pork Belly ($14).  The little morsels of pork belly were perfectly cooked and it's hard to stop eating!

Little sugar rock candies ended the meal.   The service was efficient and friendly.  The gang was all full and happy and we're glad to find another nice place to eat with the kids.  Seoul Soul has opened a bigger soul sister (see what I did there) in Northcote on more family friendly premises and I'm looking forward to trying them out at a latter date.

Seoul Soul on Urbanspoon