Friday, 3 February 2012

Sowing the Seeds & Breaking the Fast

(degusted November and December, 2011)

Seed Café, Mordialloc

Our first restaurant post for 2012, and we’re ashamed to admit it, but we have judged this book by it’s cover for many years. Seed café is nicely located half-way between Nepean Highway and the beach, in the middle of Mordialloc. We’ve posted previously about Main St Café (which is less than 200 metres away from Seed), and have enjoyed the breakfasts and coffees at Main St. Recently though, we’ve found Main St to be quite “busy” and thought it was high time we tried somewhere else in this lovely town for breakfast.

Across the street from the Woolies carpark, Seed Café’s façade is not exactly awe-inspiring. It’s a fairly plain-looking shopfront – clean and neat for sure – but to us it lacks the “wow” factor and almost gets lost in the streetscape. There's no tables & chairs on the footpath, so it is very hard to tell if the place is busy. From the street, Seed always seemed to look empty, and we mistakenly took that as a sign the locals were already voting with their feet and going elsewhere. How wrong we were.

Walking through the front doors, we realised why the front looks so quiet. The back half is where the action is at, opening out into a nice decked alfresco area. It was bright, open, airy, homely, and a little peaceful haven, all in one – and this was something we felt was missing in our visits to other local cafés.

We’ve visited Seed on two recent occasions, so the descriptions below are over two days (we didn’t eat it all at once!).

First up were the portugese eggs (poached eggs, with chorizo, served on a toasted bagel – I had a side of smoked salmon also).  This was remarkably tasty – as you’d expect with the chorizo – but there’s also some red onion, which gives even more flavour.
The other dish sampled was a customised plate-up, with the ‘eggs on toast’ and sides of field mushroom and home-made hash brown. The mushroom was huge, and nice and ‘meaty’. The hash-brown was a nice thick morsel – good enough to make us order more on our next visit (see below).
Potugese Eggs, with side of smoked salmon
poached eggs, sides of field mushroom and hashbrown

On the return visit, we were looking for a lighter, sweeter brunch. We found this in the French toast (delicious, and lovingly covered in slivered almonds, and a side of mixed berries) and in the Organic flour pancakes with poached pears and ice-cream. Both were lapped up eagerly. Both were soft and fluffy – and oh-so-moreish. I did mention that we got a couple of the home-made hash browns again on the second visit, and they were equally good – if not better – this time around. The best way we could describe them is to say they are bordering on being a flattened ball of yummy mashed potato that had been fried off to a crisp and tasty finish. A great little savoury to offset the sweet (and miles above similar thin, pre-frozen and greasy offerings at some other places).
French Toash - we loved the slivered almonds

Fresh home-made pancakes.

Some of the yummiest hash-browns we've ever had at brunch.
The caffeine-fiend deguster went for a couple of espressos, which were good enough, and consistent both within and between visits. The other deguster opted for soy milk mochas, and these were REALLY good. So good in fact that the espresso drinker had to order one for himself.

The food was good, fresh, clean. The service was friendly and relaxed (compare to Main St café which seems to be frantic and buzzing constantly). The atmosphere was nice and relaxing, and the space was good – enough space to fit a stroller, and there’s little risk of knocking elbows with the folk at the adjacent table. We like it.  For a relaxing brunch in Mordialloc, this is currently our pick.

Points of note:
-Eggs are all free range.
-The menu might change with seasonal availability of items, but you can check it here:
-Gluten free options are available
-Vegetarians should be OK here (but we’re unsure about how well a Vegan request would be handled).
-Kid-friendly – there’s a children’s menu, and room to park a pram next to your table.
-There’s a party/function room available
-Serving Breakfast & Lunch

Rating:  Nom(x2) - will be back.
Meh                      It’ll Do                   Nom(x3)                              Must go back!
Done and Degusted @ Seed Cafe, Mordialloc

-Portugese Eggs
-Eggs on Toast
-Sides of smoked salmon, field mushrooms, and hash-browns
-French toast
-Short black / espresso

Seed Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 2 February 2012

New month, New Year, and Finally, a new post

It has been a little while between posts, although let me assure you this is not for lack of eating. With the silly season now behind us (and a belly full of ideas and notes), we will be looking at posting up a few of the last couple of months’ eats - if we can just find the time.

We’ve spent a bit of time re-visiting a couple of our favourite places (taking friends and family to see their reactions), and this has cemented those places in our “favourites list”. We have also tried out some new places as well (including some amazing Indian take-away). Being such a busy time of year for us, the pictures have been snapped, notes taken, but alas, the blog posts remain (as yet) unwritten.

The latest addition to the barrage of electronic media has been lightbox – kind of like instagram, but – dare I say – better. We’ll post random pictures up from time to time and provide a link shortly.

A little bit of home baking by the resident (apprentice) "pastry chef" has been fun, but the home cooking is much better eaten than photographed. That said, some quick, healthy & yummy recipes have been developed, and we reckon they are worthy of sharing. Maybe one day soon we will even release the recipe for the long-standing favourite of many of our friends and colleagues – Steve's lemon slice.

For now, happy New Year (Gregorian or Lunar) and welcome to 2012, the year of the Dragon. 
It’s bound to be a big year, we’re sure :)

Friday, 28 October 2011

Blue Chillies

(degusted 24/9/2011)

You know that feeling you get when you find a restaurant that you think that you simply MUST come back to the same place the next day or at the latest next week?.. That excitement and anticipation of thinking about how you’ll try out all the rest of their dishes when you come back, and thinking of all the people you’ll be able to invite to come out to dinner with you to that place… Well, we got that feeling after eating here at Blue Chillies, on the iconic Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. Actually, it was more like that feeling had smacked us over the head, dunked us into the barrel of whisked happiness and rolled us in a crumb of satisfaction… Yeah, that was it, and we loved every minute of it.

In the past, when we’ve felt like Malaysian food, we have oft' popped into one of our favourites in Camberwell – Monk & Me – for a delicious feed, and it has served us remarkably well over the years. Steve says: “I’m a sucker for the simple stuff and tucking into a nice Beef Rending with some Roti is where I find my happy place”. Monk & Me have been the supplier of choice, but now we’ve got another vendor in the picture…

Beef Rendang at Blue Chillies. One of our favourite dishes.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Shocolate - Fitzroy

(degusted 24/9/11)

Chocolate, white choc macarons, ice-cream & chocolate sauce.
The matched wine at least made us feel a bit like grown-ups,
even if the sweeties made us feel like children again!
When you’re trying to balance healthy living, exercise, and a hobby that involves the food intake equivalent of a rugby league half-back, it is quite an indulgence to then add to the intake by means of a dessert degustation (a chocolate-based degustation, to be accurate). However, with the unending torrent of temptations that fly past every day - and the opportunity to save over 50% thanks to a scoopon to which we just couldn’t say no, well, we folded and found ourselves in possession of a voucher exchangeable for a sugar rush the likes of which the world had never seen… (well, perhaps not since Augustus Gloop fell rather unceremoniously into the chocolate river in Charlie’s Chocolate Factory)…

The day after our meal at Lucky Chan's (do you feel lucky, punk?) We moseyed on down to Shocolate in Fitzroy on a cold Saturday afternoon. It’s a beautiful looking shop – high ceilings, French-provincial styling we guess – a comfortable air about the place. We noticed the ‘no photographs’ sign on the display cabinet that housed their range of macarons and delicious-looking chocolate morsels. It’s a shame that photography was not appreciated, as the items on display made fantastic subjects – but we concede it would get a bit annoying having snap-happy passers-by popping in all day long to take a pic and not buy anything. In this regard, we respected their request… sort of ...(a couple of sneaky (read: poor quality) android phone snaps simply did not do the place or the food any justice - so we shall leave them out). Pictures of molded chocolate are not that interesting, anyway, and so for once the pictures are really not necessary (unlike our previous post on the dessert degustation at Cafe Rosamonde!).

First up was a tasting plate with 6 different chocolates – each with something unique. We were blown away by the Vegemite chocolate, which was remarkably good – even for one of us who hates vegemite alone. So good was the vegemite chocolate in fact, that the “usual favourite” of salted caramel was outshone.
There, we said it: Vegemite wins over caramel. Wow.

The white chocolate macarons were as macarons should be – crisp shell, chewy inside, flavoured nicely (and not just a mouthful of sugar). These were yum to be sure, and we ordered more of other flavours to take away – which were equally good.

A vanilla bean icecream with molten couverture chocolate (made with lots of cocoa butter) was the finale, and it was like being a kid all over again. We had allowed the ice-cream to melt slightly to that soft consistency that makes the flavours and creaminess shine through. Then, giggling with the sugar rush from the preceding items, and prodding at the ice-cream to make small craters with our spoons, we slowly poured the molten chocolate into the ice-cream.. Then, before it completely solidified we took a scoop and sunk back into the seat, enjoying the pleasure that ensued.  Ahhh... Chocolately vanillary bliss.

For a truly decadent afternoon delight, you can’t pass up the opportunity to stuff yourself with some fine chocolate, and quaff a matched wine.  Send an invitation by telegram to your pancreas well in advance though, because it will need to be working hard to deal with the sugar-high that ensues.

Rating:  Nom(x3) - Perfect for a chocolate fix!
Meh                      It’ll Do                   Nom(x3)                              Must go back!

Shocolate on Urbanspoon

Monday, 17 October 2011

Ask yourself a question: Do I feel Lucky, Chan?

Lucky Chan @ Crown Casino
(degusted 23/9/2011 )

Wagyu rolls - a standout -
but at $50 a plate don't fill up on these.
See below for more...

We had planned to do some cooking ourselves over at the Wooga Korean grill on Victoria street, but we found out – at 6pm on a Friday - that it was fully booked. So instead, we had to quickly find something else to satisfy our spicy cravings, on one of the busiest nights... At the recommendation of our dining friends, we decided to give Lucky Chan’s a run for our money (of which we had plenty, just as well), and they had a table available!

Lucky Chan’s used to be located on the corner of the Crown Casino near Jeff’s shed for some time, but recently moved to a more central position along in the Casino complex – still river side.. With a number of lack-lustre reviews on the ‘old’ location, we wondered if the move to the new digs would change anything…

As we have previously mentioned (and careful readers will recall) we don’t normally pay much attention to the prices of foods – instead letting the ‘vibe’ of the place and the quality of the food dictate whether we enjoyed it or not. Here we did sneak a peek at some prices, and we were amazed at some of the asking prices. The prices may be fair compared to the likes of the premium dining destinations at Crown (for example, the nearby Nobu, Silks, or Koko’s), but it’s an apples and oranges case – you can’t just directly compare them. Chan’s is listed as one of the “casual” dining places in the Crown website, and one would expect prices to reflect that distinction. Relatively small servings put the sting into the tail of these prices, which are at the high end of normal, if not perhaps more than most people would expect to pay for a meal. Looking at other blogs and reviews, it seems that the peeps definitely consider these prices too high. From our perspective, all we can say is that when we ignored the price-tag, we thought some of the food was top-notch..   But not everything was good.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Robert Burns Hotel - Spanish food vs Scottish Poet

(degusted 19/9/2011)

Outside the RBH - Smith St. by night
"An unassumingly-named pub with Spanish food is a good twist, and serving tapas in a bar is a sensible pairing against which few would argue. As long as the quality and consistency of food stays high, this face-lifted Spaniard with the name of a Scottish poet might just do alright".

If you were to be asked –off the top of your head - what Spanish names come immediately to mind? What do you come up with –
Antonio Banderas…sure. 
Penelope Cruz… ahh yes. 
Salvador Dali… oh yeah, that “melted clock” bloke. 
Robert Burns? Excuse me – who was that last one?

The name associates more with a Scottish poet than with a tapas bar - perhaps that's why it took considerably longer for us to register that the Robert Burns Hotel (RBH) specialises in Spanish fare. Fear not, however, for if ever there was
a match made in that figment of peoples' imagination they call Heaven, it must be the serving of tapas and the (responsible) service of alcohol at the same location. And so it goes, from this day forth, the Robert Burns Hotel will, to us, now be duly known as the Spanish tapas pub on Smith street, in Collingwood, 'till death or cirrhosis do they part. We hope it will be a long and loving relationship.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Quick Bite: A tasty little gem in the crown

Where can you get a bowl of chow for under 6 bucks? Actually, perhaps we should re-word that:
Where can you get a tasty and enjoyable bowl of chow for under 6 bucks and not be disappointed?

By complete chance, we stumbled across this offering at the East to West eatery, inside the Crown casino complex. Nothing special.
This blog post is NOT about the eatery itself, but just one dish it offers.

Here they had on offer a simple seafood salad with shrimp, calamari, pipis and octopus, mixed through a salad with wombok, capsicum, celery, carrot and vermicelli. Not to forget the mild sweet chilli kick, and some peanuts, and fried shallots for crunch and taste. Is that some wood-ear mushroom in there too? Think it might be.

And then there’s that price tag to make fast food outlets blush – at $5.95 there’s no need to battle your way through the food court crowds – if you've dragged yourself away from the Baccarat tables long enough to realise you're hungry – grab one of these little rippers... 

Just don't get caught out paying $15 for a pint of your favourite amber fluid!