Friday, 30 August 2013

Chez Dré

Tucked away down a laneway in South Melbourne is Chez Dré. It is a large, modern space with an open kitchen and a sheltered courtyard. As we were in the area, we decided to have afternoon tea here. Chez Dré also has a breakfast and lunch menu which can be found on their website. We put our name down on the waiting list and were told it would be about a twenty minute wait. This didn’t bother us as it allowed us to have a wander around the South Melbourne Market. When we returned, we were placed inside at the end of one of the communal tables. I quite like communal tables now... you get to see what everyone else is ordering. Everyone that served us was very friendly. We started with some coffee. The coffee is roasted by The Maling Room so I was expecting great things. Our lattes ($3.80) were indeed delicious. I would even go as far as saying that they were perfect. I would like another one right now... The beautiful array of cakes and macarons made it difficult to decide on just one.

 
I was tempted by the Passion fruit tart ($8.50) with the mini passionfruit macaron on top. The Peanut butter, caramel, and brownie cake ($8.50) sounded decadent with its pecan brownie, salted caramel, peanut crunch, and peanut butter mousse. The Lime-basil macaron ($3.00) also intrigued me but in the end I went with the cake special ($8.50). This consisted of white chocolate mousse, raspberry jelly, pistachio financier, and lemon cream with a fresh raspberry on top. This was incredibly yummy and I really hope they make this a permanent addition to their menu.
 
White Chocolate Mousse Cake
My friend went with the Lychee, raspberry, and coconut cake ($8.50). Coconut dacquoise, lime curd, raspberry jelly, and mascarpone mousse that formed a delightful pink dome of sweet bliss. My friend loved it. Next time I am definitely buying some macarons to go...
 
Lychee, Raspberry & Coconut Cake
 
Address: 287 Coventry St (rear), South Melbourne, VIC.
 
Phone: 03 9690 2688
 
 
 

Chez Dré on Urbanspoon
 

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

HuTong Dumpling Bar

Sunday in the city is a great time to do a little exploring and dining as there are less people to contend with. We felt like some dumplings today so we headed over to Chinatown. The HuTong Dumpling Bar is highly ranked on Urbanspoon so we thought we would give it a go. Our spontaneous desire for dumplings meant that we had no booking, so I was a little concerned that we might not get a table. However, as it was just before noon, they managed to squeeze us in. With some commands into his walkie-talkie, the man on the door ushered us upstairs. We ordered some Chinese tea ($6.00 for two) to start with whilst we perused the giant menu. The waiter poured our tea and overall the service was very efficient. We decided to share a selection from the dumpling menu. We started with the Steamed Garlic Chive Dumplings with Minced Prawns ($8.00 for 4). A lovely tasting dumpling that I could have easily eaten twenty more of. Although today my chopstick skills were severely lacking...

Garlic Chive & Prawn Dumplings

Next was the Boiled Dumpling stuffed with Spinach ($7.00 for 6). I enjoyed this dumpling perhaps slightly more than the first. A very yummy filling that reminded me of the filling you get in a spring roll. The problem with dumplings is that once you start, you just want more and more...

Spinach Dumplings

Finally, we shared a Spring Onion Pancake ($6.50). This complemented our dumplings and was very scrumptious.

Spring Onion Pancake

Our lunch of dumplings in the CBD has only increased my desire to try more places that serve dumplings. Thankfully, a delightful blog post from Hold the Peas about the Dumpling Kitchen in Blackburn South has provided a local opportunity for my next dumpling fix.
 
 
Address: 14-16 Market Lane, Melbourne, VIC.
 
Phone: 03 9650 8128
 
 
HuTong Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon
 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Brother Fox

We were going to have lunch at the Crabapple Kitchen today but it looked very busy so we headed over the road to Brother Fox. The cafe had an inviting interior with exposed brick walls. Table service was provided but overall the service was fairly lacklustre. The girl on the till woke up for a second so we could pay but then she overcharged. Oh well... The atmosphere was also kind of strange. It was just so quiet... Anyway, the menu showed an interesting range of dishes that were very reasonably priced. I thought about having the Fish Tacos ($18.50) but instead went with the Homemade vegetarian lasagne ($14.00). Roasted vegetables, spinach, Napoli sauce, béchamel, and cheese layered between sheets of pasta. This tasted very yummy and even had some rocket and shaved parmesan on top. I loathe vegetarian lasagnes that are dry but this was creamy and cheesy and a very good version.

Vegetarian Lasagne

My friend went with the Tandoori chicken roti wrap ($13.00). This consisted of Cos lettuce, tomato, Spanish onion, pickled carrot, and tzatziki with a side of beer battered chips. This was also a great tasting meal. I had a couple of the chips and they were very tasty and crunchy.

Tandoori Chicken Roti Wrap
Our coffees ($3.20) were not as good as we were expecting. My friend didn’t like their coffee at all but I thought it was okay, not great though. However, the food was delightful and well priced but I think I will be visiting the Crabapple Kitchen instead next time I’m in Hawthorn.

Address: 648 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, VIC.

Phone: 03 9819 0948

 

Brother Fox on Urbanspoon
 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Miss Marple's Tea Rooms

Christmas in July at Miss Marple’s is a lovely way to spend a chilly winter’s day in the Dandenongs. The outside of the quaint building is dressed up in fake snow, whilst the inside is decorated with Christmas cheer. Christmas carols play in the background creating a wonderful festive atmosphere. That’s if you can actually get into the place... Or at least be patient enough to wait quite a long time. Luckily today we managed to be seated straight away. A table of two has a better chance of bagging a table in a timely fashion. A bigger party may as well put their name down on the list, head home for awhile, wash their hair, watch a little T.V., and then return at the indicated time. The tables are rather close together which is not ideal for any sort of private conversation as you tend to have an audience. However, today our table was fairly separate, which allowed us to indulge in some juicy gossip. The waitresses at Miss Marple’s are always charming and efficient, dressed in their delightful outfits that make you feel as though you are a character in an Agatha Christie book. The menu includes English fare such as the Pimlico Pastie ($14.50), Cottage Pie ($14.50), and the Ploughman’s Lunch ($17.00). Today I felt like having some of Miss Marple’s Famous Fingers. I went with the Chicken, cheese, and pineapple fingers ($14.00). A yummy, creamy topping makes these fingers delectable. The alfalfa garnish adds some freshness to the fingers.
  
Chicken, cheese, and pineapple fingers

My friend chose the Welsh rarebit fingers ($13.00). Mature English cheddar, eggs, Guinness, mustard, and spices make for a delicious lunch. Of course a trip to the Dandenongs must include a Devonshire tea. Miss Marple’s Devonshire scones ($9.00) do not include a drink, but you can choose between having plain or fruit scones or one of each. I know Miss Marple’s scones are not your traditional type of scone but they do taste great. Cooked more like a slab, each scone can be split into three. Just the right amount of raspberry jam and cream is provided to top your scones. As we were dining in a tea room, we went with tea rather than coffee today. Huge, ceramic pots of Irish tea ($3.95) went perfectly with our scones. We both enjoyed a relaxing Christmas in July at Miss Marple’s but the real Christmas is only a few months away...

 
Address: 382 Mount Dandenong Tourist Rd, Sassafras, VIC.

Phone: 03 9755 1610


Miss Marple's Tearoom on Urbanspoon
 

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Firehouse

Housed in the old Ringwood Fire Station, The Firehouse restaurant is a must for special occasions in the outer eastern suburbs. It is featured in The Age’s Good Food Guide, with a 13 out of 20 score for 2013. It is a lusciously candlelit eatery where material napkins are placed on your lap on arrival. Quite a large restaurant, it comprises of a main dining room, with a number of adjoining, more intimate rooms. We went on a Thursday night and ended up in one of the smaller rooms, and by the end of the night the place was quite full. The menu showed a range of rustic dishes with a variety of tastes catered for, including vegetarians. I opted for one of the vegetarian dishes. Lasagne of slow roasted tomato, red pesto and nettle béchamel with gruyere cheese, and a drizzle of truffle oil ($27.00). This was rich and hearty and different from your usual vegetarian lasagne. I enjoyed the bitterness of the nettle and the crunch from the pine nuts but the tomatoes on the bottom layer probably would have been better without their skins.  

 
Lasagne

My friend chose the Burger ($26.00). Served on a brioche bun, the burger consisted of a Wagyu/Angus beef patty (cooked medium) with lettuce, caramelised onion, bacon, beetroot relish, tomato, vintage cheddar cheese and smoky BBQ sauce. This was accompanied by a bag full of triple cooked chips. My friend had already started eating the chips before I could take a photo so you will just have to imagine that they came in a paper bag... The burger was tasty but the chips were nothing special. I managed to sneak a couple off his plate but didn’t go back for more.  

Burger
 
Even though we were thoroughly sated by our main courses, we decided to have a look at the dessert menu. The Hot pan baked quince galette with wild blackberry ice-cream ($15.00) sounded interesting but in the end we decided to share the Hot pan roasted couverture chocolate brownie with Spanish salted caramel ice-cream ($15.00).
 
Chocolate Brownie
 
The brownie is served in the small pan it is baked in. Maybe we should have chosen the quince galette because this brownie was like concrete. It was definitely overcooked, perhaps during the reheating process. However, some forceful blows with our spoons managed to dislodge the brownie into bite-size chunks. Maybe some nuts would have added a bit of interest to the brownie and the ice-cream was rather dull. Definitely not worth $15 or even $5 really... Anyway, the service overall was efficient and friendly, but if you decide to come here for your special night out, maybe skip dessert...

Address: 253 Maroondah Hwy, Ringwood, VIC.

Phone: 03 9876 8100
 
 

 The Firehouse on Urbanspoon
 
 

Friday, 9 August 2013

Chapter Too

My favourite Heathmont cafe Spot + Nosh was closed for renovations the other week and thus gave me the opportunity to try out Chapter Too down the road. By the way, Spot + Nosh has re-opened as The Village Food Store which I hope to visit soon... Anyway, Chapter Too is quite a large cafe that is also open Friday and Saturday night for dinner. The dinner menu looks divine and is a great alternative to your local Thai or Indian for a night out. We sat next to the beautiful wall made up of white-washed books with flying birds painted over the top. During the course of our lunch we had many different waitresses that all provided fantastic service. The menu consisted of breakfast dishes that are available all day and a lunch menu. From the breakfast menu, the Mushroom Bruschetta ($17.00) of toasted sourdough with a ragu of wild mushroom and Persian feta drizzled with truffle oil was very tempting. The Shared Brekkie ($33.00) would be a great option if your companion had similar tastes to you. A sharing board of eggs anyway you like, toasted sourdough, chorizo, avocado, feta, house made hash browns, baked beans, vine tomatoes and toasted banana bread with berries, maple syrup and almond mascarpone. I felt like something from the lunch menu today. I considered The Burger ($18.00), 100% grilled Aussie beef burger with a beetroot relish, bacon, aioli and melted maffra cheddar on a toasted Turkish round served with herb salted chips. In the end I decided to go with the Seafood Salad ($17.00). Pan fried scallops and tiger prawns in a rice noodle salad tossed with peanuts, coriander, crunchy wombok with a soy and sesame dressing. Wow... Three huge, juicy scallops and three prawns crowned my dish. They tasted amazing and the salad underneath matched perfectly. I’m glad I eventually decided on this meal. My friend opted for the Winter Kick Start ($13.00) with a poached egg for an extra $3. Boiled potato, roasted pumpkin, baby beetroot, crisp pancetta, feta, green beans, pumpkin seeds and a house made vinaigrette. Another massive but delicious meal. Neither of us could finish our food due to the size but we both decided this is a wonderful cafe. Our coffees ($3.50) were lovely, hipster coffees. Such a rarity in the outer east but very much appreciated. Very excited to find yet another great cafe in Melbourne.  

Address: Shop 3, 110 Canterbury Rd, Heathmont, VIC.

Phone: 03 9720 0544


 
Chapter Too on Urbanspoon
 
 
 
Seafood Salad
  
Winter Kick Start with added poached egg
  
 
 
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