Sunday, 28 April 2013

Post Office Cafe

It was my grandfather’s 88th birthday and he was after some country pub fare so we were heading out to the St. Andrew’s pub. As it was market day, it was unbelievably busy and therefore we were unable to park our car near the pub. So instead we headed to Hurstbridge. I just happened to have a free meal voucher, thanks to my wonderful Uncle Rob, for the Post Office Cafe in my bag so we decided to go there for lunch. Set in the lovely old post office building, the cafe is very inviting. The back of the cafe unexpectedly opens up to a waterfall! We were going to sit outside but there were a lot of wasps so we sat in the cosy front room. Beautiful fresh roses decorated the tables and the walls were hung with artist’s paintings for you to buy. We had a very long time to marvel at the interior design because we had to wait, and wait, and wait for a menu... We eventually managed to find a menu hidden on another table. No table service here of course and when we went to order at the counter the man could barely bring himself to take our order. My grandmother and I ordered the Smoked salmon focaccia ($14.95) which consisted of smoked salmon, cream cheese, baby spinach, capers, semi-dried tomatoes, and basil pesto. These must have been heated for a long time! Smoked salmon never tastes as good when it has been cooked. This smoked salmon was so dry... A couple of lettuce leaves accompanied our focaccias which was hardly exciting. They could have at least provided a boring side salad for that price. My mother went for the Chicken focaccia ($13.95) which contained sliced chicken breast, tomato pesto, baby spinach, semi-dried tomatoes, avocado spread, and Swiss cheese. Real avocado would have been a better choice than avocado dip... The birthday boy decided on a Pie ($14.95) with chips and salad. This was the best meal of the day. The salad had a curious, fruity dressing that everyone loved. Our lattes ($3.50) were thankfully good, and each came with a yummy choc-chip cookie. This cafe has so much potential to be good but the service needs to be seriously improved...

Address: 794 Main Road, Hurstbridge, VIC.  

Phone: 03 9718 2911

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Thursday, 25 April 2013

Tokyo Sake

Today I am off to a Japanese restaurant in Ringwood North. Situated on the corner of Dickson Crescent, Tokyo Sake is a warm and inviting restaurant with colourful lanterns adorning the ceiling. We were promptly seated and offered a menu. After ordering, a complementary palate cleanser of cabbage and perhaps an apple sauce arrived. I was a little concerned to find that they only had chopsticks on offer as I have always been completely useless when it comes to mastering them. However, today it was like I was possessed by a Japanese spirit and I was picking up even the hardest of objects with them! For our entree we selected the Gyoza ($8.50), pan fried Japanese style dumplings filled with pork and vegetables. I think I could have eaten at least five plates of these... The other entree we chose was the Tempura ($9.00), two deep fried prawns and three vegetables lightly battered. Also tasty but I really loved the dumplings... For my main I chose the Yaki Soba ($16.00), stir-fried soba noodles with tofu and vegetables including mushrooms and zucchini. It had a pleasant sauce coating the noodles and again I managed to use my chopsticks to consume the entire dish... My friend chose an entree sized Sashimi ($14.00) as part of his main. A selection of fresh raw fish slices served with soya and wasabi. I tried one of my friend’s tofu sashimi but didn’t realise he had added a lot of wasabi to the dipping sauce so after the initial shock, I found the sashimi to be delicious. He also grabbed some California Rolls ($10.00), seaweed rolls with crabmeat, cucumber, fish roe, carrot and mayonnaise with yoghurt and teriyaki sauce. Very yummy and I definitely think I will pick from the sushi menu next time although I would be very happy with a plate of dumplings... Anyway, for dessert we had the Banana Tempura ($8.50). Three pieces of deep-fried banana coated in batter and coconut then topped with syrup. This usually comes with a coconut ice-cream but our choices today were vanilla, mango, and green tea. I chose the green tea ice-cream which was great because the bitterness counteracted the sweetness of the syrup. Really yummy and a nice change from the usual banana fritters at other restaurants. Corkage is $2 per person which is very good. Overall the service was friendly and slightly slow from mains onward but it was a busy night. Tokyo Sake has rekindled my love of Japanese food which I find to be usually more tasty and interesting than Thai food. If only I can remember how to use chopsticks again next time...

Address: 174 Warrandyte Rd, Ringwood North, VIC. 

Phone: 03 9876 7999

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Saturday, 20 April 2013

Charlotte’s Corner

Charlotte’s Corner is located within the Blackburn South shops and I assume is called this because it’s on the corner of Charlotte Street... A lovely modern cafe that definitely fills a gap in the area unless of course you are after some fast food for lunch... Exposed brick walls and a black ceiling give a nice edge to the cafe that has some enticing food on offer. We managed to get a table after a couple of unsuccessful drive-bys (or walk-bys in this case). The Charlotte’s Corner Burger ($18.00) with free range beef, organic fried egg and bacon, caramelised onion, tasty cheese, house-made tomato relish and aioli with rosemary salted chips was very tempting but I did not think I had the large appetite today required for this dish. The Buttermilk Pancakes ($14.00) with palm sugar butter, vanilla ice-cream, and Canadian maple syrup sounded a bit too sickly. If it had some fruit to cut back the sweet on sweet then maybe I would have chosen this. Instead, I went with something from the breakfast menu. The Sweet Corn Fritters with avocado salsa topped with poached eggs ($16.00). Two large corn fritters with an avocado and corn salsa arrived and certainly had the potential to be an excellent dish. My fritters were rather nude in colour and perhaps the addition of corn also in the salsa was a little too much corn... Anyway, just a few tweaks and they are on to a winner. My friend chose a Toasted Pressed Pide ($12.00). This was filled with turkey, camembert, cranberry, and spinach and was accompanied by a fancy greek-style salad. Finally a cafe offering a side salad that you actually want to eat! This was very yummy and I without a doubt will be ordering a pide next time I’m here. Our lattes ($3.50) were very nice and the staff were wonderfully attentive in ensuring that everything was to our liking. The friendly service here was faultless. Tea for One is $3.50 but tea for two is $5 making a great value choice if you are lucky enough to have a friend that enjoys the same type of tea as you... The cakes also looked nice and homemade and would be great with a warming cup of tea. Oh well... next time.
 


Address: 106 Canterbury Rd, Blackburn South, VIC. 

Phone: 03 9894 3907

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Friday, 12 April 2013

Kallista Tea Rooms

Well my lovely readers, I think I have found my favourite cafe in the Dandenongs thus far... The food, service, and setting were all excellent. I can’t believe I have not been here earlier! The Kallista Tea Rooms is set in a charming, art-deco style building amongst the trees that are full of parrots. We booked ahead so that we could have an indoor table. Luckily enough we scored one of the wonderful window tables which just happened to be right next to the parrot feeders running along outside the window. Today we had galahs, crimson rosellas, and cheeky cockies entertaining us whilst we enjoyed our meal. The interior of the cafe is also gorgeous but of course I am always a sucker for fairy lights... Anyway, today I thought I would try the Ricotta & parmesan gnocchi with mixed roasted vegetables, walnut, pesto, and shaved parmesan ($16.95). This was unbelievably delicious! I’m definitely going to order this again. My friend decided to have something from the breakfast menu. Roasted mushrooms and fresh roquette on organic sourdough topped with fetta ($15.95) which was huge but very yummy. I would have loved to try the Soup of the Day ($10.50) with toasted cheesy herb & garlic beer bread but the weather was too warm for soup. Oh well, I will have to return here on a cold, winter’s day... My cappuccino ($3.50) came in a massive cup and thankfully was delectable too. The cafe is also licensed if you prefer something stronger to drink. Table service is provided here and the staff are very welcoming which just adds more to the delightful atmosphere of the cafe. I had no room for some cake today but they looked delicious and homemade. A slice of cake is $7.90 to $8.50 but there are also smaller sweets to tempt you. I spied that they had Lumberjack cake which I love, so will have to try that next time... 



Address: 103 Monbulk Rd, Kallista, VIC.  

Phone: 03 9755 2659

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Monday, 8 April 2013

Gourmet Girl

On the corner of a small strip of shops near Laburnum Station, you will find Gourmet Girl. I love coming here because their coffee is always great and it has the best setting compared with other cafes in the area. I have been here for coffee a number of times but today we thought we would try their food. As the weather was lovely, we sat out the front under the trees. The seating inside is limited, so if the weather is bad, I would definitely suggest booking a table. No table service provided here but the staff are very friendly and are quick to clear tables which is very smart indeed. A lot of other cafes could learn the benefits of clearing their tables more often than they do... There is a breakfast and lunch menu to choose from, plus a daily special’s board that offers some alternative meals. The Canadian focaccia with fresh garden salad ($15.00) was tempting me as it was filled with smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers, red onion, avocado, and mayo. But I felt like something sweet today so I went with the ‘The Village’ Mixed Berry Pancakes ($15.00). This was comprised of two huge, fluffy pancakes smothered in mixed berries, maple syrup and a scoop of ice-cream. Very yummy but I only just managed to finish it as it was massive. Definitely no room for a scone with jam and cream ($4.00). Oh well, there is always next time... My friend chose the Chicken Combo sandwich ($12.00) on light rye sourdough. This was a large sandwich containing chicken breast, avocado, tasty cheese, mayo, and lettuce. She confirmed that this was very tasty and it did look delicious. My latte ($3.80) was excellent as usual. They are also open on Friday and Saturday nights for tapas. Will definitely be back to try some more items from their menu.

Address: 21 Salisbury Ave, Blackburn, VIC.  

Phone: 03 9894 8417

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Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Station Street Cafe

Station Street in Nunawading has some intriguing shops that are well worth a visit. There is the wonderful retro shop full of interesting clothes and collectables as well as the second-hand bookshop that is crammed full of books. Further along is the Station Street Cafe which we had hoped to be as delightful as its neighbours. Today we thought we should try it out. This cafe is surprisingly large as it goes a long way back. It has a very cool vibe with tapas and music offered on Friday nights. Something to remember... Well, today we are after some lunch. The breakfast menu unfortunately is only served until noon so we had to choose something from the lunch menu. I considered the Warm quinoa salad ($16.00) with roasted pumpkin, orange, chick peas, walnuts, and spinach. Instead I decided on the Lentil Burger ($16.00) with zucchini, aubergine, peppers, turmeric, yoghurt, and onion rings. This was tasty except the couple of onion rings placed above my burger were made with the very outer layer of the onion. You know the stuff that you are meant to throw away... Thus the onion rings were extremely chewy and an unpleasant addition to the meal. My friend chose the Semi-dried tomato and caramelised onion tart with a fresh ricotta, basil, and cashew salad with salsa verde ($12.00). A tiny, empty shell of very hard pastry was filled with the ingredients named above as well as the salad. Although small, it did taste good apart from the pastry. Our lattes ($3.60) were not startling either. Maybe they were just having a bad day or the regular chef and barista were on holiday... However, the service here was very good but I don’t think that I will be returning anytime soon.

Address: 26 Station St, Nunawading, VIC.  

Phone: 03 9878 9383

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