Sunday, August 17, 2014

Eat. @ Stagger Lee's

276 Brunswick St, Fitzroy 3065 ph (03) 9419 5564

Bubs and I have been playing what I call "Brunch Roulette" on Fridays.  There are so many cafes in the Fitzroy/Collingwood area nowadays I practically just drive that way, find a parking spot, and we wander into the closest cafe for our weekly brunch.  On this happy Friday we parked in front of Shocolate and wandered into Stagger Lee's, which was a wonderful piece of luck as I had wanted to come here earlier in the year but it had just won awards and I was a bit shy of crowds.  

So happy happy us as I sat down and ordered a mocha, which of course brought me deja vu feelings of Stagger Lee's older sibling Proud Mary.

I ordered the Mama's Stack ($19) which on the menu was shaved corn beef, pressed potato, black cabbage, soft poached egg and horseradish cream.  My corn beef was cubed rather than shaved (not that it made any difference!) and it was mighty delicious.

I presume the pressed potatoes makes this a "stack"?  Regardless, Bubs wolfed down more than half of the dish in no time (except for the black cabbage, sigh, my eternal struggle with kids not eating their greens!)

Yet another nice cafe in Fitzroy.  I am so envious of you people that live in the area, so many places to eat awesome brunches and drink great coffees, totally spoilt for choice!

Stagger Lee's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Eat. @ Crabapple Kitchen

659 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn 3122 ph (03) 9078 5492

My Sister-in-Law amazes me that she would know about the cool new places to eat in Melbourne even though they have been living in the US for the past 2 years.  At her suggestions we went to Crabapple Kitchen in Hawthorn for Saturday morning brunch and I must say it was an excellent choice as we all loved it.

The cafe is deceptively well serviced by a back room of tables and a heated, covered deck area.  As a party of 7 we were seated in the deck area and even though it was a freezing winter morning,  we were kept cosy by the heaters.  We started with a warm drink as we looked through the menus.  Mochas ($3.5) for Hubby and I.

Latte ($3.5) for SIL.......

 and a short black for BIL.

The kids were busy checking out their own little menus.  The "Little Crabapplers" get to chose a meal and a drink for $13.  I would personally eat any of the dishes on this menu, where were cafes like these when I was little? (I suspect the answer would be - in my dreams!)  The reverse side of the menu are pictures of the whole Simpsons family to colour in, with buckets of pencils given to the kids by the friendly staff.

Readers of this blog will know that Bubs is a bacon and eggs type of dude, so free-range eggs and bacon on sourdough toast for him it was.  Poached eggs with runny yolk of course, nothing less for this little foodie!

Macaron Monster with her sweet tooth went for the pancakes with maple syrup and vanilla ice-cream.  What a lovely, fluffy looking pancake!

Whilst adventurous Mini Me tried the minute rump steak with shoestring fries from the lunch menu.  

Their drinks were served in little bottles with paper straws.   The older tow had milkshakes whilst Bubs went for a water melon juice (not pictured as I couldn't get him to give it up for a photo once it arrived!)  I really can't comment on their food as they disappeared from the plates pretty quickly, so no complaints from my children there obviously!

SIL and I both went for the Breakfast Experience from the Chef's Travels" from Stockholm, Sweden ($18), which was smoked ocean trout on toasted rye bread with shaved cornichon, red onion, capers, seaweed caviar, horseradish creme fraiche and young celery.  A sophisticated combination of interesting ingredients, and a beautiful looking dish I must say.

The BIL ordered a Chargrilled Flatbread with yoghurt, freekah, dukkah poached eggs ($18.5) - I think he added an extra sausage, which he quite liked.

Hubby the Sweet corn, coriander and chilli fritters with Cyprian haloumi, avocado, cucumber, tomato, red onion and mint salad ($17) with a poached egg (+$3).  This was the only dish that we were a bit disappointed in, as we found the flavours quite bland; it could've used a little bit more salt or perhaps a sauce to spice things up a bit.  

All in all it was a wonderful and enjoyable meal.  The staff were friendly and helpful with the little ones, the brunch options were quite varied and they cater to the the kids really well.  

Crabapple Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Toilets - yes
Highchairs - yes

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Eat. @ Little Tommy Tucker

432 Centre Rd, Bentleigh 3204 ph (03) 9576 5174

I had the rare opportunity to spend a day by myself down toward Brighton way a few weeks back, and had a really pleasant brunch at Little Tommy Tucker in Bentleigh.

They serve a mighty tall mocha.  I always worry that a bigger glass will mean disproportionate milk/coffee/chocolate ratio, but this one was still great!

On the recommendation of one of the friendly staff members I had a pretty filling brunch of Pulled Otway pork roll, with fried egg, tomato relish and watercress ($13).  A beautiful combination and it did not disappoint.

A great little cafe for the locals.  I would definitely come more often if I lived closer!

Little Tommy Tucker on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Eat. @ Luxembourg

157 Fitzroy St, St Kilda ph (03) 9528 4488

The "Kinder Girls" let me pick a place for our next Girls' night out to celebrate my birthday and I picked Luxembourg.  This rebirth of Golden Fields into a bar & bistro offered a wonderful menu that was perfect for our dinners out, as the 4 of us love our increasingly "Melbourne" culture of sharing plates and small dishes.  

We were a little early as we were anticipating parking difficulties, but Jo somehow "magicked" a parking spot right round the corner from our destination and the lovely girls shouted me a cocktail from a pub down the road whilst we waited for our table.  I have a notoriously poor tolerance for alcohol and I giggled my way through this delicious Toffee Apple.

Once we were seated in the restaurant and ordered, we were greeted with a rustic bag of bread and some more-ish salt and butter.  Let me say my friends are now getting so good at lightly up my pictures (and not eating until the photos are done, haha), I love the lighting in this photo!

We kept some of our bread to go with the Smoky Eggplant Dip, sesame ($6) served with radishes.  It's quite a novelty to dip the wedges of radishes (including the leaves) into the dip.  We did find the dip to be less smokey and salty than we would've liked, and therefore a little underwhelming, but the crunchy radish made this a quirky dish and the dip also went really well with the bread (and some of that salt).

The Sea Bream Sashimi, horseradish, buttermilk and dill ($14) were little morsels of fresh fish with a slightly tangy dressing that was delicious, and a dish I really enjoyed.

But the Potato Skins with whipped cod roe and avruga ($11) was my favourite dish of the night.  The crunchy little potato skins with the whipped smooth filling was super tasty and more-ish, and like I said on my instagram  post, I could seriously eat my weight in these!

As it was the Melbourne Truffle festival that weekend, it was fitting for us to try the Truffle Raclette Toastie ($18).  It was undoubtedly the most expensive toastie I've had, but the truffle taste was pleasantly strong, and the cheesey truffle-y goodness was definitely worth it.

Then it's onto the Soft shell crab Sandwiches ($9 each) with tartare and iceburg lettuce.  My goodness these were Goooooood..........

Next we had the Fried broccoli, caper & raisin dressing, espelette and salted ricotta ($15), which I thought was a surprisingly tasty dish.  Who knew broccoli could be so tasty when fried?

The Globe artichoke barigoule, salt baked celeriac and duck egg ($17) was very pleasant and the fried duck egg was a highlight.

We rounded out the meal with an excellent side of hand cut chips ($8).

On to desserts :  I had wanted to try their canele ($5) since I spied them on the menu.  These were not as custardy in the centre as I liked but still very nicely caramelised on the outside and buttery inside.

The Mille-feuille, spiced quince and brown sugar cream ($14) was layers and layers of buttery pastry goodness (sourced from Tivoli Road Bakery I believe). Perfectly light, it was beautiful with the tangy quince and fluffy sweet cream.

And finally we shared the baked to order Chocolate Tart ($12) served with cultured Chantilly Cream.    Who could say no to this sweet warm tart on a cold winter night?

Look at the gooey flowing chocolatey centre!

Another wonderful meal out with my lovely friends, who so kindly treated me to this fantastic dinner at Luxembourg.  One of my favourite meals of the year, Luxembourg is definitely a destination I hightly recommend for a night out (sans kids!).  I will definitely have to come back with Hubby!

Luxembourg on Urbanspoon

Eat. @ Saint Crispin

300 Smith St, Collingwood 3066 (03) 9419 2202

My brother-in-law and my Sister-in-Law recently came back from the US for a holiday.  I remember asking them when they left Australia where they'd most want to eat when they came back and their answer was Estelle Bar and Kitchen.  We'd recently just eaten there, so Hubby and I decided to take them to Scott Pickett's other venture since they left, which of course is Saint Crispin, one of my favourite little restaurants in Collingwood.

We started off with an amouse bouche of savoury madeleine with an onion foam.  They were really quite delicious, but much like savoury macarons, my brain kept telling me that they should be sweet!

We had to order the Snap, Crackle and Pop ($9) which are crispy pork crackling with the most addictive spicy seasoning.   I bought a bag of these at the Taste of Melbourne last year with the intent of sharing (nods vigorously) but ended up scoffing the whole lot myself!

They are an excellent bar snack.  I don't like beer, and I admit I know zilch about beer. BIL ordered this German one which was so nice tasting I could swear it's not a beer!

We also ordered the smoked eel croquettes ($8 for two pieces) which were tasty little morsels  of potato with with a zingy sauce.

Then it's off to start our 3 course meals ($60 for 3 courses, $50 for 2, matching wines extra).  For entree BIL tried the Marron (+$14) which was served with their 24  month prosciutto, foie parfait and celeriac.  This was a beautiful looking dish and BIL said it was tasty and fresh.

I had the Venison, heirloom beetroot, radish, chestnut and chocolate, which is an intriguing combination of ingredients, and I found delightful and interesting.  The dish was pretty as a picture and the dish has Scott Pickett's signature mix of opposing yet complimentary ingredients, tastes and textures.   And of course gorgeously presented on the lovely Glenn Tebble tableware.

Hubby and SIL both had the Quail, with shaved cuttlefish, shiitake mushroom and kombu.  A bit of a fusion comfort dish packed with umami.

For mains Hubby and BIL had the Wagyu rump and oyster blade, with parsley risotto, stout and carrot (+$20).   A colourful garden of interesting vegies showcasing the two different cuts of meat which were amazingly different in taste.

SIL and I had the Western Plains pork, with miso, beans, charred cabbage and nashi.  Whilst this was not as pretty as the other dishes, the pork was beautifully done and oh so tender, offsetting the crispy pork skin and crunchy fresh vegetables.

Hubby says the best thing about being married is that you always have someone to share dessert with, so you can order more!  Never as true as this night, as I got to try 2 of the loveliest desserts I've had in a while.  The first was a Brillat savarin cheesecake, mandarin meringue and beurre noisette.  Yes, a beautifully looking deconstructed dessert, I loved the tangy flavour contrasting with the sweet, and of course the smooth cheesecake component mixed with the brilliant citrus crunch of the meringue.

Then there was the Hazelnut and honey parfait, with apple, pear and chamomile.  So pretty to look at but again a lovely play of textures and flavours.  I was pretty full by then but couldn't stop eating!

It was a lovely evening of fun conversations and delicious food.  The restaurant is dimly lit and can be quite noisy but has a great atmosphere.  We ended the night like it started, with a little surprise sweet treat, this time of chocolate.  We've been to Saint Crispin quite a few times now and I love that if you just wanted a straight forward 3 course meal, $60 will get you 3 dishes of extremely high quality, well thought out fare and a fantastic evening out.

Saint Crispin on Urbanspoon