Oxford Larder, Collingwood

Oxford Larder

A corner store and cafe, Oxford Larder comes from the owners of the not-too-far-away South of Johnston, Stuart McKenzie and Simon Carver. The interior is tight – there are only about 15 seats indoors and 12 outside. We arrive just past 12pm on a Saturday and manage to snag the last of the tiny round tables inside.

Oxford Larder

Oxford Larder

Oxford Larder - Large Market Lane latte ($5)

Large Market Lane latte ($5)

The provedore side of things sells kitchen utensils, cookware and other household items, vegetables, bread, pickles and preserves. Coffee is from Market Lane, and in terms of food, the menu from Glenn Bourke and Matthew Palmer has French and Nordic influences. Meals such as pies, curries and salads can be taken away to consume later, and cakes, pastries and buns also feature at the counter for the on-the-go crowd. The kitchen cabinet displays the day’s salads, pies and tarts. Once finished, they may not be restocked, so if you’re keen on having a wider choice, an earlier visit might be a good idea.

Oxford Larder - Nordic potato waffle - Smoked salmon, crushed avocado, Sour cream, larder beetroot pickle, soft-boiled egg, lemon & dill ($16)

Nordic potato waffle – Smoked salmon, crushed avocado, Sour cream, larder beetroot pickle, soft-boiled egg, lemon & dill ($16)

Oxford Larder - Nordic potato waffle - Smoked salmon, crushed avocado, Sour cream, larder beetroot pickle, soft-boiled egg, lemon & dill ($16)

The green eggs baked with brown rice, lemon zest and zucchini intrigues, but it’s part of the breakfast menu only, so I settle for the Nordic potato waffles instead. Unlike many cafes these days, the breakfast and lunch menu are largely distinct, changing over at noon. There are a few dishes that cross over both sides, and fortunately the Nordic potato waffle is one of them. The waffles consist mostly of finely julienned potato. Smoked salmon, crushed avocado, and a soft-boiled egg are the main toppings, and the flavours are lifted by the sour cream, and zingy pickled beetroot. Though the potato waffle is a bit dry, it’s a great combination of flavours.

Oxford Larder - Oxford larder pie with 2 salads ($12 + 6) Beef cheek and polenta pie, freekeh, cherry tomato and pumpkin salad, cauliflower, kale and black rice salad

Oxford larder pie with 2 salads – Beef cheek and polenta pie, freekeh, cherry tomato and pumpkin salad, cauliflower, kale and black rice salad ($12 + 6)

Oxford Larder - Oxford larder pie with 2 salads ($12 + 6) Beef cheek and polenta pie, freekeh, cherry tomato and pumpkin salad, cauliflower, kale and black rice salad

We also order a pie with two salads, choosing (the last) beef cheek and polenta pie, a freekeh, cherry tomato and pumpkin salad, and the cauliflower, kale and black rice salad. This one is more of a pot pie, the tender, pulled beef cheek and diced carrot filling topped with a ‘crust’ of polenta. The salads are nutritious and tasty, and cauliflower salad in particular is delicious.

Oxford Larder

It may be hard to linger due to its limited seating, but there’s a warm and cosy feel to Oxford Larder that may draw in a regular crowd.

Oxford Larder

Oxford Larder

Oxford Larder
18 Peel St
Collingwood, VIC, 3066
(03) 9417 3675
oxfordlarder.com.au
Oxford Larder Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

IONIO: Greek Charcoal BBQ, Doncaster

IONIO

Shopping centre food generally doesn’t get me excited. When catering for the masses, eateries can get a bit slack, with a corresponding change in food quality. IONIO resides in Westfield and could easily be boxed in with the stereotype, but can they stand out from the crowd?

IONIO

IONIO takes pride in food made from scratch and the use of their charcoal-fired rotisserie, which can be seen in action, roasting those rotating spits of meat. Consulting Dani Venn of Masterchef fame, their newly redesigned menu re-focuses on authentic Greek cuisine.

IONIO - House made dips - hommus, taramasalata

House made dips – hommus, taramasalata

No Greek feast is complete without olives, and of course, house made dips. Tzatziki, hummus and taramasalata are slathered onto warm and fluffy pita. Though delicious, self-control is needed; we’re only at the beginning of the meal, and who ever leaves a Greek household feeling hungry?

IONIO - Fried cheese balls - kefalogravieria cheese w lemon

Fried cheese balls – kefalogravieria cheese w lemon

IONIO - Fried cheese balls - kefalogravieria cheese w lemon

Fried cheese balls – kefalogravieria cheese w lemon

IONIO - Grilled Dodoni saganaki - kefalogravieria cheese w oregano & lemon

Grilled Dodoni saganaki – kefalogravieria cheese w oregano & lemon

IONIO - Grilled Dodoni saganaki - kefalogravieria cheese w oregano & lemon

Grilled Dodoni saganaki – kefalogravieria cheese w oregano & lemon

It’s now time for cheese. Fried balls of kefalogravieria cheese are crunchy and oozy. Skillets of Dodoni saganaki arrive hot to the touch, the grilled kefalogravieria inside them flavoured with sprinkles of oregano and squeezes of lemon before being torn apart in all their stringy glory.

IONIO - Charcoal-fired lamb and chicken gyros

Charcoal-fired lamb and chicken gyros

IONIO - Chargrilled rainbow trout wrapped in vine leaves, marinated in lemon & garlic

Chargrilled rainbow trout wrapped in vine leaves, marinated in lemon & garlic

Meat from the charcoal-fired spit is enjoyed as gyros, the succulent and tasty lamb and chicken assembled DIY style at the table. Rainbow trout is marinated in lemon & garlic, and wrapped in vine leaves before being cooked on the charcoal grill. Lifting the leaves away unveils the blushingly pink trout. Juicy and perfectly cooked.

IONIO - Homestyle moussaka with beef, lamb, eggplant, potato and bechamel

Homestyle moussaka with beef, lamb, eggplant, potato and bechamel

My favourite dish of the day is the homestyle moussaka. Minced beef and lamb, tender eggplant, and slices of potato are topped with bechamel, cooked until the creamy white sauce possesses the tasty browned layer on top. Comfort food at its best, it was hard to stop eating until it was demolished.

IONIO - Roasted Beetroot - roast beets w labne, mint & hazelnuts

Roasted Beetroot – roast beets w labne, mint & hazelnuts

IONIO - Goddess of Grains - quinoa, barley, freekah & farro, almond, currants & pomegranate

Goddess of Grains – quinoa, barley, freekah & farro, almond, currants & pomegranate

Salads arrive to balance the meat-heavy mains we’ve received. There’s the Greek salad with its classic combination of tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, feta, olives and oregano, and the zingy and tender roasted beetroot with labne, mint and hazelnuts. Goddess of Grains is a healthy, but textural and enjoyable mix of quinoa, barley, freekah, farro and sliced almonds, sweetened up by currants and pomegranate.

IONIO - Smashed baklava with toasted walnut and honey ice cream

Smashed baklava with toasted walnut and honey ice cream

IONIO - Warm Bougasta with cinnamon sugar

Warm Bougasta with cinnamon sugar

Smashed baklava with toasted walnut, pomegranate and honey ice cream is a deconstructed version of the popular Greek sweet. It’s lighter, fresher, not as saccharine, and probably healthier than the traditional version without all that sugary syrup, though is also less crunchy. One dessert that’s perfect for colder weather is the bougasta. The fragrant pastry dusted in cinnamon sugar contains smooth and piping-hot custard, and it’s the dessert I keep going back to.

Usually not a fan of restaurants in shopping complexes, IONIO surprises. Thankfully bucking the trend, their revamped menu means this is one shopping centre restaurant worth visiting.

IONIO

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of IONIO. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and based on my experience at the time of the visit

IONIO: Greek Charcoal BBQ
Shop 2001 (next to Village Cinemas), Level 3
Westfield Doncaster
619 Doncaster Rd
Doncaster, VIC, 3108
(03) 9840 1423
http://www.ionio.com.au
IONIO Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Cut Cocktail Bar, Melbourne CBD

Originally hailing from Sydney, Fratelli Fresh and The Cut Steakhouse have opened up in Alfred Place, which was most recently the home of Stokehouse City.

The Cut Bar & Grill

The Cut

Fratelli Fresh resides on the ground level, and you’ll find The Cut after a short journey up the plush flight of stairs. Both have a different vibe, Fratelli Fresh feeling more like a casual diner serving up Italian cuisine, and The Cut giving the appearance of a high-end destination with its high ceilings, marble, dark timber and plush leather seating. The two restaurants also have their own separate bars.

The Cut Bar & Grill

The Cut Bar & Grill - The Roy - Talisker 10yo, Laphroaig PX, 10year Old Madeira and whisky aged bitters ($24), Gin at No 7 - Tanqueray, Aperol, framboise, apple, yuzu, bitters ($19)

The Roy – Talisker 10yo, Laphroaig PX, 10year Old Madeira and whisky aged bitters ($24), Gin at No 7 – Tanqueray, Aperol, framboise, apple, yuzu, bitters ($19)

The Cut’s dedicated bar has been done up in speakeasy style, with a fireplace, cushy armchairs and of course, high seats at the bar counter. Thankfully the bar seats have back support, which makes it more comfortable to to lounge around and chat for a few hours. Trying two drinks, we have The Roy, which is a warming cocktail made from Talisker, Laphroaig PX, 10year Old Madeira and whisky aged bitters.  Gin at No. 7 is a lighter, fresher drink of Tanqueray, Aperol, framboise, apple, yuzu and bitters. We’re also given a plate of potato chips, which are lightly coated with a green-coloured seasoning, and taste faintly like salt and vinegar.

With incredible interior styling that brings you to a different time and place, The Cut Cocktail Bar is in a prime location for pre-theatre drinks.

The Cut Bar & Grill

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of The Cut. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and based on my experience at the time of the visit

The Cut Steakhouse
The Alfred
7 Alfred Place
Melbourne CBD, VIC, 3000
1300 253 733
http://www.cutbarandgrill.com
The Cut Steakhouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Poked, Melbourne CBD

Wake up Melbourne, poké has just landed from the sunny shores of Hawaii. You can catch it at Pokéd, the first store in Melbourne dedicated to the dish. Classically made with seafood, the protein is seasoned, combined with salads and toppings and piled on top on hot sushi rice.

Started up by medical student Thomas Hu, Pokéd aims to promote a healthy lifestyle, and not just through dietary choices. Seating is mainly comprised of standing stools designed to improve posture, and importantly, digestion.

Poked - The Hawaiian - Sashimi salmon and tuna, Hawaiian soy, cucumber, tomato, spring onion, sweet onion, edamame, seaweed salad, crispy wontons ($13.95)

The Hawaiian – Sashimi salmon and tuna, Hawaiian soy, cucumber, tomato, spring onion, sweet onion, edamame, seaweed salad, crispy wontons ($13.95)

In a Subway-like process, you can watch your bowl being filled with ingredients of your choosing. After selecting a protein and either white or brown rice, add on five toppings for a large serve, three for a small. At the end, take a pick from the range of sauces made in-house, such as Hawaiian soy, spicy mayo and wasabi mayo. If the choices are too overwhelming, ask for one of their pre-determined combinations.

Toppings and proteins are prepared fresh daily. Sustainably sourced sous vide prawns, and sashimi salmon and tuna make up the seafood side of things, the other proteins available being tofu and sous vide chicken. Although the cut of chicken is from the breast, the sous vide method keeps the meat moist.

Poked - The Hawaiian - Sashimi salmon and tuna, Hawaiian soy, cucumber, tomato, spring onion, sweet onion, edamame, seaweed salad, crispy wontons ($13.95), The Big Kahuna - Sashimi salmon, sous vide prawns, Hawaiian soy, cucumber, tomato, spring onion, sweet onion, edamame, seaweed salad, seafood salad, tobiko, pineapple, crispy wontons ($13.95)

The Big Kahuna – Sashimi salmon, sous vide prawns, Hawaiian soy, cucumber, tomato, spring onion, sweet onion, edamame, seaweed salad, seafood salad, tobiko, pineapple, crispy wontons ($13.95); The Hawaiian – Sashimi salmon and tuna, Hawaiian soy, cucumber, tomato, spring onion, sweet onion, edamame, seaweed salad, crispy wontons ($13.95)

Being a bit indecisive, we try two bowls designed by the team at Pokéd. The Hawaiian contains sashimi salmon and tuna, Hawaiian soy, cucumber, tomato, spring onion, sweet onion, edamame, seaweed salad and crispy wontons. For something more bright and tropical, go for the Big Kahuna, with salmon, prawns, Hawaiian soy, cucumber, tomato, spring onion, sweet onion, edamame, seaweed salad, seafood salad, tobiko, pineapple and crispy wontons. My pick of the proteins is the salmon and tuna sashimi, and our favourite toppings include the addictively crunchy strips of wonton skin, and the fresh seaweed salad. The spicy mayo gives a nice kick to the bowl of ingredients, though the Hawaiian soy is equally satisfactory in flavouring the base of rice.

The poké here is tasty, the servings are generous, and it’s easy to forget that your meal is so nutritious. With so many ingredients available, we’re spoilt for choice, making it easy to return and try something different, or simply pick something that matches your current poké cravings.

Poked

Disclaimer: I dined courtesy of Pokéd. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and based on my experience at the time of the visit

Pokéd
Shop 3, 551 Little Lonsdale Street
Melbourne CBD, VIC, 3000
(03) 8657 7681
http://www.poked.com.au/
Pokéd Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sezar, Melbourne CBD

Sezar

I have to admit I know nothing of Armenian cuisine. An inland nation surrounded by Turkey, Georgia, Azebaijan and Iran, there are Middle Eastern and Mediterranean influences courtesy of its neighbours, but being an ancient culture, its cuisine has its own unique identity. The team behind The Black Toro introduced contemporary Armenian to Melbourne back in 2013, and their menu comes to the table courtesy of Head Chef Nick Cornell (ex-Ezard).

Sezar

Sezar is, quite literally, hidden away in a corner of a small laneway. Once you find it, you’ll find yourself in two-level space, where dim lighting illuminates a warm and comfortable dining room.

Sezar - Good Fortune - Noy brandy, pomegranate, chilli, lemon, Bachik Bachik - Tequila, sloe gin, honey, lime, spicy salt rim

Good Fortune – Noy brandy, pomegranate, chilli, lemon, Bachik Bachik – Tequila, sloe gin, honey, lime, spicy salt rim

Sezar has an impressive list of wines and spirits, including Armenian brandy, but we decided to kick things off with some cocktails. The Good Fortune, composed of Noy brandy, pomegranate, chilli and lemon delivers a sour chilli hit. The Bachik Bachik, on the other hand, is lighter, more refreshing and slightly tangy with its tequila, sloe gin, honey, lime and spicy salt rim.

Sezar - Oysters w compressed apple & anise

Oysters w compressed apple & anise

Sezar - Hommus tahini, chickpeas, zaatar and lavash

Hommus tahini, chickpeas, zaatar and lavash

Sezar - Spinach and Feta Boreg - Aleppo mayo

Spinach and Feta Boreg – Aleppo mayo

Sezar - Bastourma and Egg - Armenian air dried beef, quail egg, toasted brioche & garlic jam

Bastourma and Egg – Armenian air dried beef, quail egg, toasted brioche & garlic jam

The banquet menu is a good way to take a gustatory tour around their Armenian menu – a great option seeing as there isn’t much of it to be found in Melbourne. A course of small dishes soon arrives, and we eagerly tuck in. We start with the oysters with compressed apple and anise. It’s a deliciously interesting combination of fruitiness and zip. Hommus tahini is studded with whole chickpeas and sprinkled with zaatar. The dip is gleefully scooped up with soft and elastic lavash. The hommus is smooth, both in terms of texture and taste – it’s less sharp than most other hommus we’ve had before. Boreg are paired with Aleppo pepper mayo, the crispy pastry cigars filled with a warm spinach and feta filling. The Bastourma and Egg is almost sigh-inducing. Toasted brioche rounds serve as the base for a delicately cooked quail egg and a scroll of the Armenian air dried beef. There’s a hint of sweetness, possibly from the brioche, and the tasty garlic jam ties things together neatly.

Sezar - Cured Ocean Trout - Apple & fennel salad, crème fraiche and roe

Cured Ocean Trout – Apple & fennel salad, crème fraiche and roe

Sezar - Spanner Crab Manti - Armenian dumplings, yoghurt soup & paprika butter

Spanner Crab Manti – Armenian dumplings, yoghurt soup & paprika butter

Sezar - Lamb Shish Kebab - Eggplant caponata, pine nuts and baba ganoush

Lamb Shish Kebab – Eggplant caponata, pine nuts and baba ganoush

Now for the medium plates. Cured Ocean Trout comes with an apple & fennel salad, crème fraiche and roe. The salad injects brightness, the roe creates little salty pops in the mouth, and subtle spices add some complexity to the dish. Next are the Armenian dumplings, these filled with spanner crab. The silky dumpling skins contains the smooth and springy filling, and the manti swim in a soup of yoghurt and paprika butter. The filling is a tad underseasoned, and the yoghurt soup is a bit too tangy for my liking. Lamb shish kebabs are paired with eggplant caponata, pine nuts and baba ganoush. Nicely cooked, the lamb isn’t too gamey, and I love the added smokiness of the eggplant and crunch that the toasted pine nuts provides.

Sezar - Bastourma spiced beef cheek with smokey eggplant

Bastourma spiced beef cheek with smokey eggplant

Our large dish is the bastourma spiced beef cheek and like shish kebabs, also comes with smokey eggplant. The meltingly tender pieces of beef cheek come with a smoked potato puree, which is thick and smooth, making the whole dish even more comforting.

Sezar - Honey Cream - saffron poached pear, sweet brik pastry, New Style Baklava - Crispy filo, walnut toffee ice cream and salted caramel

Chocolate Marquise – Spiced hazelnuts, cardamom whipped cream & argan oil, New Style Baklava – Crispy filo, walnut toffee ice cream and salted caramel

Sezar - Pistachio Frangipane Cake - Figs, sesame halva, orange blossom and pashmak

Pistachio Frangipane Cake – Figs, sesame halva, orange blossom and pashmak

Sezar - Pistachio Frangipane Cake - Figs, sesame halva, orange blossom and pashmak

Pistachio Frangipane Cake – Figs, sesame halva, orange blossom and pashmak

Sezar - Honey Cream - saffron poached pear, sweet brik pastry

Honey Cream – saffron poached pear, sweet brik pastry

Sezar - Chocolate Marquise - Spiced hazelnuts, cardamom whipped cream & argan oil, New Style Baklava - Crispy filo, walnut toffee ice cream and salted caramel

Chocolate Marquise – Spiced hazelnuts, cardamom whipped cream & argan oil, New Style Baklava – Crispy filo, walnut toffee ice cream and salted caramel

The banquet concludes with a dessert platter. The pistachio frangipane cake is paired with figs, sesame halva, orange blossom and a towering head of fluffy pashmak. The cake is dense and isn’t that sweet, which is appropriate given the sweetness of its accompaniments. The Honey Cream comes with saffron poached pear and is decorated with shards of sweet brik pastry. The honey cream is smooth and almost panna cotta-like, but less gelatinous. The Chocolate Marquise is topped with spiced hazelnuts and argan oil. Its decadent richness defeinitely needs the airy cardamom whipped cream, which comes on the side. Of the dessert, our favourite is the New Style Baklava – just as well the platter comes with two! Crispy filo pastry sandwiches walnut toffee ice cream, and the whole thing is doused with salted caramel and chopped walnuts. There’s enough ice cream to balance out the salted caramel, and we fell in love with this very textural dessert.

Sezar

There aren’t many places (or any that I can think of) where you can try Armenian cuisine in Melbourne, and the food is thoughtful and not heavy on the spices. Even if you’re simply after tasty, well-executed fare, Sezar is just the ticket.

Sezar

Sezar

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of Sezar. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and based on my experience at the time of the visit

Sezar also features in the 2016/2017 Entertainment Book. You can also take advantage of their 25% discount offer by buying a membership. 20% of every membership sold through this link will contribute to fighting child poverty with Compassion Australia!

Sezar
6 Melbourne Pl
Melbourne VIC 3000
(03) 9663 9882
sezar.com.au/
Sezar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spare Me Kitchen, Fitzroy

Spare Me Kitchen

A new entity separate from its Glamorama home, Spare Me Kitchen focuses on quality food out of the kitchen to match with Glamorama’s quality bar and top-notch sound system. It moves from the continental menu of Glamorama, to a modern Australian offering with local produce and beverages; something a bit different from the abundance of ethnic cuisine on Brunswick St.

Spare Me Kitchen

Spare Me Kitchen - Espresso Martini

Espresso Martini

Spare Me Kitchen (19) Hoochie Mama - Ole smoky apple pie, lemon, fresh apple, cinnamon ($18)

Previously being known more for its bar than its food, it’s no surprise that there’s a large range of alcoholic drinks on offer. One of the more popular cocktails is the Hoochie Mama, a refreshing drink of smoky apple pie, lemon, fresh apple and cinnamon.

Spare Me Kitchen (22)2

Spare Me Kitchen (27) Hiramasa kingfish, lemon oil, shoots

Engaging David Stewart, owner and Head Chef of Ascot Food Store, as their executive chef, there’s a strong emphasis on entrees and shared plates. Deliciously smooth slices of Hiramasa kingfish are dressed simply with lemon oil and capers. In contrast, there’s also the rich duck liver rich parfait paired with salty jamon, pickles and crumbled saltbush. Perfect smeared on a slice of bread. The highlight of the entrees are the madras spiced trawler prawns. Crunchy and full of spice, these addictive little bites are gone in no time.

Spare Me Kitchen - Charred broccolini, zucchini, kale, avocado, spiced hummus

Charred broccolini, zucchini, kale, avocado, spiced hummus

Spare Me Kitchen - Gippsland beef fillet, shaved fennel, parsley with port and PX reduction

Gippsland beef fillet, shaved fennel, parsley with port and PX reduction

Spare Me Kitchen - Seared blue eye, clams, white wine, parsley

Seared blue eye, clams, white wine, parsley

On to mains. The Gippsland beef fillet is cooked to medium-rare, and dressed with a lip-smacking Port and Pedro Ximenez reduction. Nicely flakey, the seared blue eye is matched with clams and a creamy white wine sauce. Though it needed a bit more seasoning, the sauce had a great flavour base. If only there were more of it to go with the fish!

Spare Me Kitchen - Chocolate marquise, peanut praline, salted caramel

Chocolate marquise, peanut praline, salted caramel

Spare Me Kitchen - Whipped goats curd, mascarpone, shaved grana, vanilla almond soil, lemon gel

Whipped goats curd, mascarpone, shaved grana, vanilla almond soil, lemon gel

Spare Me Kitchen does desserts too. Presenting a little like a deconstructed cheese cake, lemon gel cuts through the creamier whipped goats curd and mascarpone, and vanilla almond soil provides a bit of relief from all the flavours. For those who prefer richer, decadent sweets, the chocolate marquise is up your alley. Peanut praline and salted caramel adds texture to the smooth and dense ganache-like chocolate dessert.

Spare Me Kitchen

Offering a bar, live music, a dance space, and now with a greater focus on food through Spare Me Kitchen, this venue is a solid all-in-one destination.

Spare Me Kitchen (28) Grilled halloumi burger, spiced pumpkin, pickle2

Spare Me Kitchen (31) Chicken breast, baby corn, mushroom, shootsWB

Disclaimer: I dined courtesy of Spare Me Kitchen, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way

Spare Me Kitchen
393 Brunswick St
Fitzroy VIC 3065
(03) 9419 6380
http://www.glamoramabar.com/sparemekitchen/
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Spare Me Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Short Black Cafe, Camberwell

Short Black Cafe Camberwell

Short Black Cafe Camberwell - Latte

Not to be confused with Short Black Cafe in Richmond, this Italian cafe and restaurant sits near the craziness that it Camberwell junction. Veneziano coffee is available all day long, and thank goodness because the coffee is very good. The kitchen features a slicer and rotating wood fired pizza oven, and pasta is handmade daily.

Short Black Cafe Camberwell - 2-year aged prosciutto

Short Black Cafe Camberwell - Chilli Mussels w beans and chorizo sausage ($12)

Chilli mussels w beans and chorizo sausage ($12)

We start with some chilli mussels, the shellfish coming with a stew-like mix of beans and chorizo. It’s hearty and substantial dish that’s full of flavour, and also a generous serve for the price.

Short Black Cafe Camberwell - Pork Belly - roast pork belly w caramelised apple served on potato mash ($15)

Pork Belly – roast pork belly w caramelised apple served on potato mash ($15)

Short Black Cafe Camberwell - Lobster Fettuccini - lobster tail pan tossed w olive oil, onion, garlic and cherry tomato served w home-made fettuccine with walnut, rocket, parmesan and pear salad ($38)

Lobster Fettuccini – lobster tail pan tossed w olive oil, onion, garlic and cherry tomato served w home-made fettuccine with walnut, rocket, parmesan and pear salad ($38)

The pork belly entree utilises the classic combination of pork and apples, each piece perched on top of a base of mashed potato, with a slice of caramelised apple sitting over the crackling. Lobster fettuccini arrives, the pasta cooked with garlic, onion, olive oil and cherry tomatoes. The half a lobster tail is quite the looker, unfortunately a bit overdone, but the smaller pieces of lobster mixed through the fettuccini are much better. The accompanying salad of rocket, pear, walnut and parmesan is a welcome addition of punchy flavour and texture.

Short Black Cafe Camberwell - Pear and Pancetta - Gorgonzola, parmesan, mozzarella topped w juicy pear and pancetta ($25)

Pear and Pancetta – Gorgonzola, parmesan, mozzarella topped w juicy pear and pancetta ($25)

With the rotating wood-fire oven in action, we decide that leaving without trying pizza is not an option. The pear and pancetta is an unusual but popular choice. Coming with gorgonzola, parmesan and mozzarella, and topped with thinly sliced pear and pancetta, the cheese flavour is strong with this one. The base is thicker and denser than in neapolitan-style pizza, but still delicious.

Short Black Cafe Camberwell - Gnocchi with garlic prawns, capsicum, creamy sauce ($28)

Gnocchi with garlic prawns, capsicum, creamy sauce ($28)

One of our favourites is the gnocchi with garlic prawns, capsicum with a creamy base. No stodgy parcels of flour and potato here. Oven baked for extra flavour, the gnocchi almost melts in the mouth.

With many good ideas on the menu and beautifully done pasta, Short Black Cafe is a decent option for family friendly Italian.

Short Black Cafe Camberwell

Disclaimer: I dined as a guest of Short Black Cafe. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and based on my experience at the time of the visit

Short Black Cafe Camberwell
761-767 Burke Rd
Camberwell, VIC, 3124
(03) 9882 8599
shortblackcafe.com.au
Short Black Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mototaxi, St Kilda

Images of mototaxis conjure up images of the busy streets South-East Asia, full of life, full of action, and of course, full of delicious food. Mototaxi is the name adopted by this new casual dining room and cocktail bar, featuring a menu designed by executive chef Danny Neat (ex-Pei Modern, Phillippe Mouchel) and with head chef Tad McLean running the pass. Co-owner Lee Mack comes from an impressive hospitality background, and is now striking it out on his first venture, building on his passion for South-East Asian cuisine.

Mototaxi Pop-up - Blanco Long Co - El Jimador Blanco, Vanilla + cacao infused coffee, Aztec chocolate bitters, condensed milk ($18)

Blanco Long Co – El Jimador Blanco, Vanilla + cacao infused coffee, Aztec chocolate bitters, condensed milk ($18)

The cocktail menu has been put together by Carlos Araujo, whose experience includes Panama Dining Room, Rice Queen and Green Park Dining. The Blanco Long Cô is made with El Jimador Blanco, vanilla, cacao infused coffee, Aztec chocolate bitters and condensed milk. It’s like an alcoholic Vietnamese iced coffee, or from a different perspective, a Vietnamese version of an espresso martini.

Mototaxi Pop-up - Oysters

Oysters

Mototaxi Pop-up - Vietnamese boudin noir tiger roll, pickles, herbs ($9.50)

Vietnamese boudin noir tiger roll, pickles, herbs ($9.50)

The food menu puts a contemporary spin on traditional Vietnamese and Cambodian dishes and flavours. The boudin noir tiger roll is filled with the blood sausage, hoisin, pickles and herbs including coriander and spring onion. I enjoy the bold flavours, and the crustiness of the bread contrasts neatly with the smooth pate-like texture of the boudin noir.

Mototaxi Pop-up - Scallop tartare, tamarind, shreded pork skin, black rice cracker ($7.50)

Scallop tartare, tamarind, shredded pork skin, black rice cracker ($7.50)

Scallop tartare with tamarind and shredded pork skin is served on a strikingly coloured black rice cracker. It’s a very textural dish, the ethereally light rice cracker almost melting in the mouth, leaving the bouncy diced scallop and shredded pork skin behind to contemplate.

Mototaxi Pop-up - Herb box, banh hoi, spring onion oil + condiment plate with nuoc cham, hot sauce, crispy chilli oil, peanut sauce ($3pp + 3)

Herb box, banh hoi, spring onion oil + condiment plate with nuoc cham, hot sauce, crispy chilli oil, peanut sauce ($3pp + 3)

Mototaxi Pop-up - Rice paper roll, jicama, omelette, herbs, noodles (2 for $9)

Rice paper roll, jicama, omelette, herbs, noodles (2 for $9)

Rice paper rolls are filled with jicama, chopped omelette, herbs and vermicelli noodles, seasoned with a flavoursome peanut hoisin sauce. Getting more hands on, the herb box contains the web-like banh hoi for wrapping with. A dish of spring onion oil is provided for extra flavour, though a condiment plate with nuoc cham, hot sauce, crispy chilli oil, peanut sauce can be added on for extra.

Mototaxi Pop-up - Runner beans, yoghurt, fried garlic, green papaya, dried shrimp

Runner beans, yoghurt, fried garlic, green papaya, dried shrimp

Mototaxi Pop-up - Eggplant, shiitake, black vinegar, spring onion, rice cakes ($26)

Eggplant, shiitake, black vinegar, spring onion, rice cakes ($26)

Mains are enjoyed with various salads, such as runner beans, yoghurt, fried garlic, green papaya and dried shrimp, and a number with grilled eggplant, shiitake, black vinegar, spring onion and flat noodle-like rice cakes.

Mototaxi Pop-up - Quail wrapped in shiso, pickled pear, radish salad ($18.50)

Quail wrapped in shiso, pickled pear, radish salad ($18.50)

Mototaxi Pop-up - Bonito, charred avocado, pomelo, rice powder ($8.50)

Bonito, charred avocado, pomelo, rice powder ($8.50)

Mototaxi Pop-up - Sher wagyu skirt, black garlic, bitter leaves

Sher wagyu skirt, black garlic, bitter leaves

Shiso-wrapped quail is succulent, paired with pickled pear and radish salad. There’s a hint of sweetness together with tanginess from the pickling liquid. The grilled bonito is fresh and juicy, flaking apart easily with the fork. Small pieces of pomelo add a slight bitterness and cold refreshment to each bite. The Sher wagyu skirt is paired with a beautiful black garlic concoction and bitter leaves. There’s a bit of gristle in this cut of beef, but it’s still moist and tender, and teams nicely with the beautiful fermented flavour of the black garlic smear.

Mototaxi Pop-up - Vietnamese Creme Caramel, Pear

Vietnamese Creme Caramel, Pear

Mototaxi Pop-up - Chocolate ganache with sesame caramel

Chocolate ganache with sesame caramel

We finish with the Vietnamese creme caramel with pear, and a chocolate ganache with sesame caramel. There’s a drizzle of coffee over the ganache, and thin slivers of chewy sesame caramel and chopped nuts create texture. It’s a match made in heaven that ties up the meal nicely.

Waiting for a permanent home, the Mototaxi pop-up is currently residing in Glass Merchants, taking over when night falls.

Disclaimer: I dined as a guest of Mototaxi. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and based on my experience at the time of the visit

Mototaxi Pop-up
63-65 Nelson Street
St Kilda, VIC, 3183
(03) 9029 0170
http://www.mototaxi.com.au/
Mototaxi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Doughnut Time, Windsor

It’s hard to believe Doughnut Time only had its beginnings last year in Brisbane. Almost exactly a year later, Doughnut Time made its way to Melbourne, opening its first Victorian store on Degraves Street. It’s rapidly expanding here too, with the Windsor store being the most recent branch.

Doughnut Time

The colourful, hand-dipped doughnuts are made offsite then delivered to the stores as soon as they’re ready. There are conventional ones, like original glazed and jam and cream, but they are perhaps more well known for their unique varieties decked out in all sorts of glazes and toppings. A small selection of vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free doughnuts are often available on the constantly rotating menu.

Doughnut Time - Purple Haze, Home Alone, Pass The Parcel, Love at First Bite, Lemon Sherbet, Slim Shady

Purple Haze, Home Alone, Pass The Parcel, Love at First Bite, Lemon Sherbet, Slim Shady

Eat them quickly; no one likes hard and stale doughnuts. It’s recommended to consume them within 4 hours of purchase so that you can enjoy them in all their soft glory, but when a boxful of doughnuts is shared in a group, they disappear within minutes. A launch exclusive for the Prahran store, The Crucial Look was a brightly coloured lemon sherbet-glazed doughnut with sprinkles, vanilla meringue, white chocolate crispearls and edible gold leaf.

Doughnut Time - A Matcha Made In Heaven (Vegan) - Matcha green tea glaze, freeze-dried raspberry powder and vegan sprinkles

A Matcha Made In Heaven (Vegan) – Matcha green tea glaze, freeze-dried raspberry powder and vegan sprinkles

Doughnut Time - Vegan Fox - Vegan chocolate glaze topped with freeze-dried strawberries and crushed pistachios

Vegan Fox – Vegan chocolate glaze topped with freeze-dried strawberries and crushed pistachios

Lolly-topped varieties such as the slightly medicinal-tasting Purple Haze, Slim Shady and Pass The Parcel might please the inner child, though these tended to be too sweet for our tastes. A Matcha Made In Heaven, the red velvet Sia Later, and the chocolate glazed Vegan Fox are some of the vegan options that sound enticing enough for non-vegans to purchase them. These turned out to be amongst our favourites.

Doughnut Time - Love At First Bite - Signature Nutella-filled doughnut, dusted with cinnamon sugar

Love At First Bite – Signature Nutella-filled doughnut, dusted with cinnamon sugar

One of their most popular flavours is Love At First Bite. Filled with Nutella and dusted with cinnamon sugar, it’s no surprise why. Other filled doughnuts include the delicious salted caramel-filled Veruca Salt, and the fresher Creme de la Creme with its creme brulee custard filling. Though mostly comprised of filling, I generally preferred the texture of these doughnuts, which seemed lighter and fluffier. My personal pick is The Cookie Monster with a chocolate and cream glaze, a marshmallow and chocolate biscuit filling, and an Oreo on top.

Doughnut Time - The Cookie Monster - Cream and chocolate glaze, marshmallow and chocolate biscuit filling, topped with an Oreo

The Cookie Monster – Cream and chocolate glaze, marshmallow and chocolate biscuit filling, topped with an Oreo

The constant rotation of flavours and introduction of new ones means your yeast doughnut fix can usually be satisfied at Doughnut Time, and with their current rate of growth, it’s likely that there’ll soon be a store near you.

Doughnut Time - Déjà Brew - Light and dark coffee glazes, topped with a chocolate crunch and gold-dusted hazelnuts

Déjà Brew – Light and dark coffee glazes, topped with a chocolate crunch and gold-dusted hazelnuts

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of Doughnut Time. Opinions expressed here are purely my own and based on my experience at the time of the visit

Doughnut Time
178 Chapel Street
Windsor, VIC, 3181
1300 576 495
http://www.doughnuttime.com.au/
Doughnut Time Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Aqua S, Melbourne CBD

Aqua S brings their signature sea salt soft serve over from Sydney, along with their famous Instagram-ready cloud wallpaper. The other flavours are changed every two weeks, and could be anything from pandan to matcha, blueberry to shortbread. Half-half with sea salt can also be done if you want a bit of both.

Aqua S (2)

Pick between having your ice cream to be in a cone or cup, then choose up to four toppings. You might have popping candy, a palmier biscuit, popcorn, a cloud of fairy floss or grilled marshmallows stuck in with chocolate-coated Pocky.

The sea salt flavour might taste a bit unusual to some, but it’s not too overpowering, especially when combined with the subtle matcha. For smooth, gourmet and customisable soft serve in Melbourne you could do worse than Aqua S.

Aqua S - Sea salt and matcha with popping candy and fairy floss

Sea salt and matcha with popping candy and fairy floss

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of Aqua S. Opinions expressed are purely my own

Aqua S
16 Red Cape Ln
QV
Melbourne CBD, VIC, 3000
www.aquas.co
Aqua S Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato