Seven:am, Port Melbourne

Seven:am

Starting a new business in the midst of a global financial crisis does not seem like the wisest of ideas, but this is where Seven:am had its beginnings. The journey of cafe ownership has not been a smooth one for Jason Belcourt, with almost-inevitable mixed reviews at some stage of its life, to cafe break-ins and equipment breakdowns. Hanging in for the long haul has meant Seven:am has had the opportunity to learn and evolve with the needs and wants of both new and loyal customers, and it has now established itself as a Port Melbourne favourite. What better year for Seven:am to celebrate a milestone than its seventh year in operation?

Seven:am

Seven:am now sports a refreshed interior, and renewed coffee and food menus from a new head chef. Coffee Supreme has been a supplier right from the beginning, but with the new changes comes the introduction of single origin coffees from Seven Seeds, served espresso style. Single origin coffee from Coffee Supreme is available as filter coffee.

Seven:am - Smoothie - Matcha, banana, apple, honey, soy milk ($8)

Smoothie – Matcha, banana, apple, honey, soy milk ($8)

Seven:am - Debello Ethiopia - Coffee Supreme Filter Coffee - Chocolate Cake, Orange, Blackberry ($4.40)

Debello Ethiopia – Coffee Supreme Filter Coffee – Chocolate Cake, Orange, Blackberry ($4.40)

Seven:am - Latte ($4)

Latte ($4)

I try a filter coffee from Coffee Supreme, this one the Debello Ethiopia with notes of chocolate cake, orange and blackberry. Mum orders a latte, which she claims is one of the best lattes she’s hever had. Though their coffee is excellent, they do of course offer other drinks. We indulge in a matcha smoothie with banana, apple, honey and soy milk. Its solid matcha flavour is complemented by refreshing notes from the apples.

Seven:am - Pork belly BLT - Slow cooked pork belly, pear & raisin chutney, cos lettuce & parmesan aioli ($17)

Pork belly BLT – Slow cooked pork belly, pear & raisin chutney, cos lettuce & parmesan aioli ($17)

Seven:am jazzes up the humble BLT by using pork belly in place of bacon, and layers a pear and raisin chutney and parmesan aioli to inject flavour. Everything is served in a brioche bun vehicle, and it’s a pleasant balance of sweet and salty.

Seven:am - Emperor - Poached eggs, spinach, orange and beetroot relish & hollandaise on English muffins with smEmperor - Poached eggs, spinach, orange and beetroot relish & hollandaise on English muffins with smoked salmon ($18)oked salmon ($18)

Emperor – Poached eggs, spinach, orange and beetroot relish & hollandaise on English muffins with smoked salmon ($18)

The Emperor is their version of Eggs Florentine, coming with a choice of either bacon or smoked salmon. We choose the seafood option, and the perfectly poached eggs are accompanied by the usual spinach, hollandaise and English muffins. Their point of difference is the orange and beetroot relish, which creates touches of sweetness to contrast with the tangy hollandaise.

Seven:am - Schrooms - Soft polenta, sauteed wild mushrooms, garlic chips, popped wild rice & chilli oil ($15)

Schrooms – Soft polenta, sauteed wild mushrooms, garlic chips, popped wild rice & chilli oil ($15)

One of the heart-warming options on the Autumn menu are the Schrooms. Its creamy polenta base is topped by sauteed wild mushrooms and garlic chips. Bursts of texture come from the popped wild rice, and everything is soaked in a delicious chilli oil that provides some lift.

With excellent food and coffee and friendly vibes, it’s no wonder Seven:am is a stayer. Here’s to the next seven years.

Seven:am

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to Seven:am, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way

Seven:am
155 Bay St
Port Melbourne, VIC, 3207
(03) 9078 5776
sevenam.com.au/
seven:am Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat a Scroll, Collingwood

Eat a Scroll

Ah…scrolls. They bring back fond childhood memories of the times where mum would pick up scrolls from Saint Cinnamon after work as a special treat for us. This warm, fluffy roll still holds a special place in my heart, and even though I don’t eat them as often as I used to, they remain one of my favourite sweets.

Eat a Scroll - Ferrero Rocher, Salted Caramel, Hummingbird Scrolls, Caramel Custard Cruffin

Ferrero Rocher, Salted Caramel, Hummingbird Scrolls, Caramel Custard Cruffin

Eat a Scroll Bakehouse, formerly Pop Up Scroll, has taken up permanent residence on Smith Street, but  recently participated in a pop-up in Westfield’s Co-Lab space in Doncaster. New flavours have been launched, including the Ferrerro Rocher made with the chocolately goodness of gianduia and hazelnuts, and the delicious Hummingbird, based on the banana, coconut and pineapple flavours of hummingbird cake. Eat a Scroll has also ventured into the cruffin business, and we try the caramel custard, a version with sweet caramel on top but filled with smooth and creamy custard in the centre.

Eat a Scroll - Salted Caramel, Hummingbird Scrolls, Caramel Custard Cruffin

Ferrero Rocher, Salted Caramel, Hummingbird Scrolls, Caramel Custard Cruffin

Eat a Scroll - Ferrero Rocher Scroll ($4.50)

Ferrero Rocher Scroll ($4.50)

The flavour combinations, whether classic or original, were all delicious, the sweetness of the filling was well-balanced, and the texture of the bread was perfect. Eat ’em while they’re fresh.

Eat a Scroll

Disclaimer: I was invited to Eat a Scroll as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way

Eat a Scroll
76 Smith St
Collingwood, VIC, 3066
(0) 9023 4781
http://www.eatascroll.com.au/
Eat A Scroll Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sartoria, Preston

Sartoria

Multi-cultural Preston appears to be up-and-coming eating destination, with more and more quality places popping up. The latest to join the fold is Sartoria.

Sartoria

Adriana Agricola spent 15 years in New York before returning home to pursue her dream of having a place of her own. Formerly run by her parents Joseph and Carmela from the 70s to the 90s, the dressmaking workshop has now been converted into a warehouse cafe. The large space accommodates 120, and still bears the marks of its previous life. Walls and tables are decorated with sewing patterns, and shelves and floors are littered with Singer and Necchi sewing machines, mannequins and others bits and bobs.

Sartoria

Local producers provide ingredients like Pepe Saya butter, 5 & Dime bagels and Dr Marty’s crumpets, and portuguese tarts from Noisette and cinnamon scrolls from Oregano Bakery Drinks form part of the counter display of sweets. Drinks are supplied by Where’s Marcel? coffee, Chai Boy, Mork and Storm in a Teacup.

Sartoria

Consulting chef Jason Shiong (ex-Longrain and Di Bella Coffee Roasting Warehouse) has had a hand in the menu, inserting touches of his favourite Asian flavours, as well as some Italian flair to reflect the heritage of the Agricolas.

Sartoria - Matcha Latte ($4.50)

Matcha Latte ($4.50)

Sartoria - Red Velvet Hot Chocolate - house cold-pressed, beetroot-infused ($5)

Red Velvet Hot Chocolate – house cold-pressed, beetroot-infused ($5)

Hot drinks mark the beginning of our lunch. We try the matcha as well as their signature Red Velvet Hot Chocolate. The red colour is derived from a house cold-pressed beetroot-infusion, and there are little bits at the bottom, possibly originating from the humble root vegetable. The Mork chocolate is still rich, but with the slightly sharp freshness of beetroot. Not for everyone, but I personally enjoy it.

Sartoria - The Necchi - Sticky black rice pudding, banana, lychee, young coconut black chia jelly, matcha foam ($15)

The Necchi – Sticky black rice pudding, banana, lychee, young coconut black chia jelly, matcha foam ($15)

The Necchi is a sweet sticky black rice pudding, topped with banana, lychee and sliced squares of house-made coconut and black chia jelly. Coconut crisp adds much needed crunch, and matcha foam injects some colour. While not particularly rich in texture, we find its sweetness too overpowering to finish.

Sartoria - The Designer - buffalo yoghurt hotcakes, activated nuts, green tea cream, caramelised pineapple, salted kara ($17.50)

The Designer – buffalo yoghurt hotcakes, activated nuts, green tea cream, caramelised pineapple, salted kara ($17.50)

Sartoria - The Designer - buffalo yoghurt hotcakes, activated nuts, green tea cream, caramelised pineapple, salted kara ($17.50)

The incredibly photogenic Designer hotcakes are made from buffalo yoghurt, and featuree activated nuts, microherbs and a variety of diced fruits. A slice of caramelised pineapple is hidden beneath the green tea cream, and a sprinkle of dehydrated raspberries are crumbled over the top. The hotcakes are not as fluffy as those based on other dairy products, but is still moist. The zing of the fruits is refreshing, and the flavours are well balanced.

Sartoria - The Machinist - crispy pork hock, crumbed black pudding, romesco salsa, poached eggs, crostino ($19)

The Machinist – crispy pork hock, crumbed black pudding, romesco salsa, poached eggs, crostino ($19)

Sartoria - Saffron arancini, basil aioli ($7.50 for 2)

Saffron arancini, basil aioli ($7.50 for 2)

The Machinist is one that clearly had its beginnings in Shiong’s flavour preferences. Batons of crispy pork hock are arranged around a crumbed black pudding crostino. Romesco salsa adds zest and moisture, and poached eggs round the flavours out. The black pudding is dense and creamy, spiced with something like cumin, and has a texture almost like pate. The pork is cooked well, though a little sweet. Saffron arancini with a cheesy centre are available as a side and are far from the stodgy rice balls one might find at a cheaper Italian restaurant.

Sartoria - The Organza - ricotta gnocchi, zucchini flower, cherry tomatoes, pangrattato, mint, chilli, pecorino ($18)

The Organza – ricotta gnocchi, zucchini flower, cherry tomatoes, pangrattato, mint, chilli, pecorino ($18)

Sartoria - The Organza - ricotta gnocchi, zucchini flower, cherry tomatoes, pangrattato, mint, chilli, pecorino ($18)

The Organza – ricotta gnocchi, zucchini flower, cherry tomatoes, pangrattato, mint, chilli, pecorino ($18)

From the lunch menu comes The Organza. Flavoursome ricotta gnocchi is decorated with zucchini flowers, cherry tomatoes, pangrattato, mint, chilli and shavings of pecorino. The pan-fried gnocchi sports crispy bits, and is well seasoned with salt and pepper. The dressing is simple but packs a punch, and the cherry tomatoes taste wonderful.

Sartoria

Sartoria offers a wide range of dishes to suit different preferences, whether you’re after something Asian, European or brunchy. While there were hits and misses from what we tried, they’re still young and there is plenty of room for them to grow.

Disclaimer: Our meal was partially subsidised by Sartoria, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way

Sartoria
115 Plenty Rd
Preston, VIC, 3072
(03) 9480 5664
http://www.sartoria.com.au/
Sartoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Street Talk Espresso, Armadale

Street Talk Espresso

Dean Fouritz’s family has been involved in wholesale business for a long time, but his interest in the service side of things resulted in him starting Street Talk Espresso seven years ago. Greek, Italian and Middle Eastern influences are seen in the food at Street Talk, and Dean and his staff put together the inventive seasonal menus, making the most of local produce where possible.

Street Talk Espresso

We visit this Armadale cafe on an usually beautiful and sunny Autumn day, deciding to make full use of the spacious courtyard to enjoy the weather.

Street Talk Espresso - Double Shot Latte ($4.30)

Double Shot Latte ($4.30)

Street Talk began roasting its own coffee beans under their The Agency Espresso brand using predominantly South American beans, which were chosen for their sweetness. Its house blend ‘5th Avenue’ is sampled as a latte, and it is smooth and sweet, not requiring the regular amount of sugar to be added.

Street Talk Espresso - Cappuccino with Almond Milk ($4.80)

Cappuccino with Almond Milk ($4.80)

Almond milk is made in-house fresh every morning. Informed that using almond milk results in a slightly more bitter coffee, but comes with natural sweetness from figs, I was intrigued. The coffee is exactly as described. My cappuccino does seem quite bitter at first, but there’s a sweet aftertaste that lingered on the palate a little longer than sugar would. I’d recommended not being hasty in adding sugar before tasting the coffee for the first time.

Street Talk Espresso - Coconut, Fig and Berry Muffin

Coconut, Fig and Berry Muffin

Street Talk Espresso - Paleo Loaf

Paleo Loaf

Baked goods including fluffy muffins are baked daily. We also try the paleo loaf, which both smells and tastes heavenly, especially being straight out of the oven. Composed of a variety of seeds, chia and coconut flour, carrot and a few secret ingredients, it’s moreish, especially with the vibrant tomato chutney.

Street Talk Espresso - Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater Bruschetta - Roast Pumpkin smash, wild mushroom medley, poached eggs, coriander shoots, local charred halloumi, lemon + beurre noisette ($18)

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater Bruschetta – Roast Pumpkin smash, wild mushroom medley, poached eggs, coriander shoots, local charred halloumi, lemon + beurre noisette ($18)

Street Talk Espresso - Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater Bruschetta - Roast Pumpkin smash, wild mushroom medley, poached eggs, coriander shoots, local charred halloumi, lemon + beurre noisette ($18)

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater Bruschetta is a filling and hearty breakfast of roast pumpkin smash, wild mushrooms, poached eggs, coriander shoots, locally-made charred haloumi, lemon and beurre noisette. Butter on herbed mushrooms is a classic combination, and the rich beurre noisette is perfect for the task. The nuttiness of the burnt butter sauce with a squeeze of lemon gives everything a bit of a lift.

Street Talk Espresso - The Iron Mike - Sauteed cauliflower florets, green peas, yellow lentil puree, toasted chickpeas, burnt lemon, poached eggs, almond flakes, oregano salt ($17)

The Iron Mike – Sauteed cauliflower florets, green peas, yellow lentil puree, toasted chickpeas, burnt lemon, poached eggs, almond flakes, oregano salt ($17)

Street Talk Espresso - The Iron Mike - Sauteed cauliflower florets, green peas, yellow lentil puree, toasted chickpeas, burnt lemon, poached eggs, almond flakes, oregano salt ($17)

The ‘Iron Mike’ is a considered arrangement of sautéed cauliflower florets, green peas, smooth, spiced yellow lentil puree, toasted chickpeas, burnt lemon, poached eggs, almond flakes and oregano salt. The combination of all the ingredients was so delicious together and tastes more flavoursome than it might appear. If only all vegetarian brunches were this good.

Street Talk Espresso - The Boss of all Challah - Challah French toast squares, stewed apple, seasonal fruits, mascarpone, Tim Tam sand + espresso caviar ($18)

The Boss of all Challah – Challah French toast squares, stewed apple, seasonal fruits, mascarpone, Tim Tam sand + espresso caviar ($18)

Street Talk Espresso - The Boss of all Challah - Challah French toast squares, stewed apple, seasonal fruits, mascarpone, Tim Tam sand + espresso caviar ($18)

The Boss of all Challah – Challah French toast squares, stewed apple, seasonal fruits, mascarpone, Tim Tam sand + espresso caviar ($18)

Street Talk Espresso - The Boss of all Challah - Challah French toast squares, stewed apple, seasonal fruits, mascarpone, Tim Tam sand + espresso caviar ($18)

Street Talk’s French Toast uses challah instead of brioche, its intrinsic eggyness resulting in a beautiful and addictively fluffy dessert. Aptly named The Boss of all Challah, the toasty squares come topped with stewed apple, figs, passionfruit and kiwi fruit. Espresso caviar spheres create little pops of bitterness in the mouth when bitten into. Cruchy, sweet biscotti and chopped Tim Tams add extra crunch, and the mascarpone takes the edge off a dish that could potentially be too sweet.

Street Talk Espresso - The Iron Mike - Sauteed cauliflower florets, green peas, yellow lentil puree, toasted chickpeas, burnt lemon, poached eggs, almond flakes, oregano salt ($17)

Street Talk Espresso definitely impressed. Offering great coffee, amazing food, and friendly service, it’s a gem of a cafe that’s worth travelling for.

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to Street Talk Espresso, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way

Street Talk Espresso
710 High St
Armadale, VIC, 3143
(03) 9509 9687
www.streettalkcafe.com.au/
Street Talk Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Burma Lane, Melbourne CBD

It would be easy to be overshadowed if your stablemate is the ever-popular Red Spice Road. Burma Lane is headed up by Executive Chef John McLeay, who also looks after RSR, and the menu takes inspiration from both modern and traditional Burmese food, injected with a Modern Australian twist. The multi-level restaurant is dark and modern, and the contemporary feel is furthered by walls featuring local art and a colourful mural of now State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Burma Lane

Burma Lane - Pork Belly w Pickled Green Mango, Tamarind, Tumeric & Herbs ($31)

Pork Belly w Pickled Green Mango, Tamarind, Tumeric & Herbs ($31)

The Pork Belly comes with pickled green mango, tamarind, tumeric and a variety of herbs. Not as sweet as RSR’s version, its sauce is tangy and delicious. Although the pork belly meat is pull-apart tender and there are some promises of a crispy skin in parts, the skin in general is a tad too chewy.

Burma Lane - Rahkine Fisherman's Stew - Spicy Seafood Tomato Stew w Bamboo Shoot & Coriander ($32)

Rahkine Fisherman’s Stew – Spicy Seafood Tomato Stew w Bamboo Shoot & Coriander ($32)

Rahkine Fisherman’s Stew is a seafood tomato-based stew boasting fresh fish, prawns, baby octopus, a handful of mussels and slices of bamboo shoot. It has a pleasant tomato-ey bite, and the thick sauce is particularly comforting on this chilly night.

Burma Lane - Beef Cheek Curry w Chinese Broccoli & Eggplant Pickle ($32)

Beef Cheek Curry w Chinese Broccoli & Eggplant Pickle ($32)

Burmese food has been influenced by its neighbouring countries Thailand, China and India, and this is evident in noodles, breads, curries, spices and herbs. The Beef Cheek Curry is more sweet than spicy, and the tender chunks of meat come with a good serving of Chinese broccoli. Pickled eggplant is stirred through the sauce, which has a hint of aniseed. Though it’s not written on the menu, steamed rice is available and it could be a better option to go with certain dishes compared to the fried rice, whose flavours include spices such as tamarind. Crispy, buttery paratha is another wonderful accompaniment to the curries and stews.

It is pricey, but Burma lane does offer a good glimpse into Burmese cuisine.

Burma Lane
118 Little Collins St
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9615 8500
burmalane.com.au
Burma Lane Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Burger Block, Kew

The Burger Block has now taken over JD’s, but thankfully it’s still family owned. Bits of influence from various Asian countries like Japan, Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong and Indonesia are infused into the burger menu, whether that’s through the sauces, spices, marinades or ingredients included in the mix. All their burgers are made with brioche buns. Burger challenges (The Block Legends) are also available, ranging from one, all the way to five layers of burger madness and extras can be added on to further customise your meal. There are breakfast burgers too, and if you happen to get dragged along by a burger fiend but aren’t in the same mood, there are toasties and pides available as well.

The Burger Block - Eureka - American cheese, bacon, spanish onions, beer battered onion rings, lettuce and BBQ mayo ($13.50)

Eureka – American cheese, bacon, spanish onions, beer battered onion rings, lettuce and BBQ mayo ($13.50)

One of their more popular burgers, the Eureka, is filled with American cheese, bacon, Spanish onions, beer-battered onion rings, lettuce and BBQ mayo. The sweet, slightly tangy BBQ sauce goes perfectly with their signature Asian-infused beef patty, and those beer-battered onion rings add some extra texture.

The Burger Block - The Hot Chick - Hot bulgogi sauce, American cheese, spanish onions, lettuce, tomato, chilli mayo ($13.50)

The Hot Chick – Hot bulgogi sauce, American cheese, spanish onions, lettuce, tomato, chilli mayo ($13.50)

One of the spiciest burgers in their range, Korean-influenced Hot Chick is a juicy burger full of fiery bulgogi. Before ordering I slightly concerned about potential sweetness of the bulgogi sauce, but I reassured it was not. It was certainly more spicy than sweet, and the tender chicken pieces were accompanied by American cheese, Spanish onions, lettuce, tomato and chilli mayo. It was tasty, moist and easily wolfed down.

The Burger Block - Yellow Block Road - Schnitzel with American cheese, bacon, fried egg, spanish onions, lettuce, tomato and Jap mayo ($13.50)

Yellow Block Road – Schnitzel with American cheese, bacon, fried egg, spanish onions, lettuce, tomato and Jap mayo ($13.50)

The Burger Block - Yellow Block Road - Schnitzel with American cheese, bacon, fried egg, spanish onions, lettuce, tomato and Jap mayo ($13.50)

Yellow Block Road – Schnitzel with American cheese, bacon, fried egg, spanish onions, lettuce, tomato and Jap mayo ($13.50)

A good alternative if you’re after some crunchy chicken is the Yellow Block Road, which comes with a chicken schnitzel, American cheese, bacon, fried egg, Spanish onions, lettuce, tomato and Japanese mayo. The schnitzel had the slight flavour of spices and the crumb was satisfyingly crunchy.

The Burger Block - Loaded beer battered chips with aioli furikake (regular, $7.50)

Loaded beer battered chips with aioli furikake (regular, $7.50)

The Burger Block makes some of my favourite chips. The beer-battered pieces of potato deliciousness are amazingly crispy and light, and the japanese aioli and furikake in the loaded version make the chips even better.

The Burger Block - Iced sencha and matcha green tea ($4.50)

Iced sencha and matcha green tea ($4.50)

The iced sencha and matcha green tea was refreshing drink to wash everything down, and is available with or without added sugar.

Although this little burger spot is under new owners, don’t fret. The quality of the burgers remains the same, and the menu is as good as ever. Specials rotate every few months, so even if you’ve been through every burger on the list, there’ll still be reason to return to try something new at The Burger Block.

Disclaimer: I was invited to The Burger Block as a guest, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way

The Burger Block
85 Willsmere Rd
Kew, VIC, 3101
(03) 9853 5771
Facebook
The Burger Block Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Village Cantina, Yarraville

Village Cantina

Village Cantina placed its roots down in cosy Yarraville in late 2014, with a vision to reintroduce authentic and fresh Mexican food to us. Many of the decorative knick-knacks on the shelves are from Mexico itself, and a large portrait of Danny Trejo make it pretty clear you’re here for true Mexican food. Our idea of Mexican tends to veer towards the Tex-Mex side of things; steer away from the Coronas and nachos and check out the authentic stuff like Mexican beer from Day of the Dead, or the tacos so you can sample more varieties.

Village Cantina - Mangorita - Tequila, Mango nectar, Triple sec, Lime juice ($15)

Mangorita – Tequila, Mango nectar, Triple sec, Lime juice ($15)

Village Cantina - Coconut magarita - Tequila, Coconut cream, Agave nectar, Lime juice ($14)

Coconut magarita – Tequila, Coconut cream, Agave nectar, Lime juice ($14)

First, cocktails. The Mangorita is a fruity combination of Tequila, mango nectar, Triple sec and Lime juice. There’s also a refreshing coconut magarita with Tequila, coconut cream, agave nectar, and lime juice topped with a healthy pile of toasted coconut.

Village Cantina - Chilli cheese fries - House made chilli, blended cheese, pico, topped on shoestring fries ($14)

Chilli cheese fries – House made chilli, blended cheese, pico, topped on shoestring fries ($14)

Village Cantina - Elote - Street style chargrilled corn, chipotle mayo, queso fresco and lime ($5)

Elote – Street style chargrilled corn, chipotle mayo, queso fresco and lime ($5)

Village Cantina - Jalapeno poppers - Jalapenos, cheese, herbs, lemon zest, in bread crumbs ($9)

Jalapeno poppers – Jalapenos, cheese, herbs, lemon zest, in bread crumbs ($9)

Village Cantina - Jalapeno poppers - Jalapenos, cheese, herbs, lemon zest, in bread crumbs ($9)

Jalapeno poppers – Jalapenos, cheese, herbs, lemon zest, in bread crumbs ($9)

Village Cantina - Tiras de chile pollo - Spicy fried chicken strips ($12)

Tiras de chile pollo – Spicy fried chicken strips ($12)

Village Cantina - Quinoa Salad with chargrilled corn, radish, pickled onion, smoked almonds, cos, lime and agave dressing ($14)

Quinoa Salad with chargrilled corn, radish, pickled onion, smoked almonds, cos, lime and agave dressing ($14)

Starters include the Tiras de chile pollo – spicy fried chicken strips, which are thankfully tender and not dry. Chilli cheese fries are made with a house made chilli, blended cheese, pico, and minced meat all piled on a basket of shoestring fries. Cheesy Jalapeno poppers are flavoured with herbs and lemon zest, and coated in a crispy bread crumb. The juicy Elote are chargrilled and topped with a delicious chipotle mayo, shavings of soft and springy queso fresco, and squirted with lime. Also ordered is a quinoa salad with chargrilled corn, radish, pickled onion, smoked almonds, cos, and a fresh and tasty lime and agave dressing.

Village Cantina - Pollo Taco - Achiote chargrilled chicken, lettuce, grilled corn, and salsa verde ($7 for one, $12 for two)

Pollo Taco – Achiote chargrilled chicken, lettuce, grilled corn, and salsa verde ($7 for one, $12 for two)

Sauces and salads, like the pico de gallo and guacamole, are all made fresh daily. It’s a hard task for the kitchen, but the freshness is apparent. There are so many options to choose from the taco menu, all coming on 6″ tortillas from El Cielo in Port Melbourne. Though I didn’t try it, the salsa verde and ancho chilli & achiote flavouring of the chicken is a hit. One thing I notice is that the food at Village Cantina isn’t overladen with cheese, which means the flavours are kept light, fresh and vibrant. A huge selection of hot sauces are provided on the table, each with a slightly different list of ingredients and level of heat. For the brave, there is a special hot sauce kept behind the counter – be prepared for up to 2 hours of burning mouths that no amount of dairy can wash away.

Village Cantina - Pumpkin Taco - roasted pumpkin, crispy kale, avocado crema, pepitas ($7 for one, $12 for two)

Pumpkin Taco – roasted pumpkin, crispy kale, avocado crema, pepitas ($7 for one, $12 for two)

Village Cantina - Carnitas Taco - Pulled pork, grilled pineapple, red cabbage ($7 for one, $12 for two)

Carnitas Taco – Pulled pork, grilled pineapple, red cabbage ($7 for one, $12 for two)

Village Cantina - Gambas Taco - Grilled spicy prawns, lettuce, red cabbage, mango coulis ($7 for one, $12 for two)

Gambas Taco – Grilled spicy prawns, lettuce, red cabbage, mango coulis ($7 for one, $12 for two)

Village Cantina - Pork Belly Taco - with apple and beetroot slaw, topped with crackling ($7 for one, $12 for two)

Pork Belly Taco – with apple and beetroot slaw, topped with crackling ($7 for one, $12 for two)

Gambas comes with juicy, spicy grilled prawns, lettuce, red cabbage, and a mango coulis to add a sweet touch. Carnitas consists of pulled pibil pork, its preparation involving 10 hours of smoking. Grilled diced pineapple gives it a bit of a tropical flavour. One of the vegetarian options is the Pumpkin with crispy kale, avocado cream and pepitas, and its one of the favourites. The Pork Belly Taco is presented as a large slice of pork belly with an apple and beetroot slaw, then topped with crunchy crackling. Some pieces of the pork belly are a bit dry, but mine happens to be perfect.

Village Cantina - Dulce de leche - Vanilla ice-cream, shredded coconut, caramel sauce ($8)

Dulce de leche – Vanilla ice-cream, shredded coconut, caramel sauce ($8)

Village Cantina - Churros - Cinnamon sugar coated churros with melted chocolate (2 for $8)

Churros – Cinnamon sugar coated churros with melted chocolate (2 for $8)

It’s time for some sweets. The churros are crisp with moist and pillowy insides. The cinnamon sugar coating together with melted chocolate is always a great combination. Their twist on the Dulce de Leche is to bring back memories of Golden Gaytime – the golden caramel dessert is freshened up by a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, and is showered with shredded coconut and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Village Cantina

The space is cosy, warm and relaxed, and when the weather plays nice there’s some outdoors seating on the sidewalk, and an outdoors courtyard at the back. There are plenty of things to try at Village Cantina, and that 8-hour marinated shredded beef sounds very enticing.

Village Cantina

Disclaimer: I was dined as a guest at Village Cantina, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way

Village Cantina
30 Ballarat St
Yarraville, VIC, 3013
(03) 9689 8000
www.villagecantina.com.au
Village Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Elephant Corridor, Glen Waverley

In the bustling area around Glen Waverley station, one may never run out of ideas on what to eat. Restaurants are aplenty, and one of these is Elephant Corridor, adding authentic Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine to the mix. Thursday night is chilli mud crab night, which tends to draw in Malaysians and Singaporeans, and Sunday and Monday is hopper night, where the thin, crepe-like bowl-shaped pancakes are served to the masses.

Elephant Corridor - Mango Lassi ($5)

Mango Lassi ($5)

Elephant Corridor - The ‘Old Fashioned Ceylonese’ - Arrack Old, done the old fashioned way ($14.90)

The ‘Old Fashioned Ceylonese’ – Arrack Old, done the old fashioned way ($14.90)

Elephant Corridor - SLK style freshly squeezed lime juice with sugar syrup ($5)

SLK style freshly squeezed lime juice with sugar syrup ($5)

Elephant Corridor - Sri Lankan Lion Lager, Indian Haywards 5000

Sri Lankan Lion Lager, Indian Haywards 5000

We start with complementary mint and tamarind chutney to go with fennel and cumin seed papadums, so light and crispy that they whet our appetites but don’t spoil it. The Mango Lassi is thick and cooling, and the SLK style freshly squeezed lime juice is obviously tart, but a shot glass of sugar syrup allows us to tweak it to our desired level of sweetness. We also try a cocktail – the ‘Old Fashioned Ceylonese’, one of their signature cocktails. Using Arrack as the base, the cocktail includes include nutmeg, cinnamon and bitters. Arrack is a spirit produced in India, Sri Lanka, Java and the Philippines from toddy (the fermented sap coconut palm trees). Elephant Corridor also stocks authentic Indian and Sri Lankan beers to complete the culinary experience.

Elephant Corridor - Salt n’ Pepper Calamari - Sri Lankan style - Wok stir-fried Calamari w garlic, green onions & chillies tossed w a blend of Ceylon spices ($15.90)

Salt n’ Pepper Calamari – Sri Lankan style – Wok stir-fried Calamari w garlic, green onions & chillies tossed w a blend of Ceylon spices ($15.90)

Elephant Corridor - Seekh Kebab - Soft, juicy kebab of Lamb mince w a unique blend of masala, skewered & roasted in Tandoor served w mint chutney (3 pcs for $13)

Seekh Kebab – Soft, juicy kebab of Lamb mince w a unique blend of masala, skewered & roasted in Tandoor served w mint chutney (3 pcs for $13)

Elephant Corridor - Chicken Tikka - Boneless chicken marinated w yoghurt & exotic spices served w a mint chutney (3 pcs for $8)

Chicken Tikka – Boneless chicken marinated w yoghurt & exotic spices served w a mint chutney (3 pcs for $8)

We begin with a few dishes from the starter menu. Cylindrical Seekh Kebabs are made with lamb mince, blended with a special blend of masala and served with mint chutney after being cooked in the tandoor. At first glance the Chicken Tikka looks like it will be dry, but it most definitely isn’t. The boneless chicken pieces are still juicy, and its yoghurt and spice marinade is tasty. The Sri Lankan style Salt n’ Pepper Calamari is fried with garlic, green onions, chillies and a blend of Ceylon spices. The large pieces of battered calamari are cooked to perfection, and there’s a decent dose of chilli flakes sprinkled on top, giving it a moreish kick.

Elephant Corridor - Palak Paneer - Cottage cheese cooked w fresh spinach and light spices ($16.90)

Palak Paneer – Cottage cheese cooked w fresh spinach and light spices ($16.90)

Elephant Corridor - Chicken Makhani (Butter Chicken) - Boneless Chicken cooked until tender in clay oven, simmered in rich tomato base sauce and cashew nuts finished w butter & cream ($20.90)

Chicken Makhani (Butter Chicken) – Boneless Chicken cooked until tender in clay oven, simmered in rich tomato base sauce and cashew nuts finished w butter & cream ($20.90)

We journey to North India, where the food is creamier and less spicy. Palak Paneer is a vegetarian dish with a delicious sauce based on spinach and light spices, and cooked with spongey paneer cheese, which is almost like tofu. Chicken Makhani, or Butter Chicken, arrives in a copper bucket. The chicken is first cooked in a clay oven, before being simmered in a rich tomato-based sauce and cashew nuts then finally finished with butter & cream. The chicken is juicy and flavourful and there’s a slight tanginess to the sauce.

Elephant Corridor - Lamb Biryani - Tender lamb cooked w basmati rice, nuts & spices ($19.90)

Lamb Biryani – Tender lamb cooked w basmati rice, nuts & spices ($19.90)

The Lamb Biryani is delicious. Full of lamb and flavoured with spices, crispy onions and nuts, I struggle to resist urges to eat more.

Elephant Corridor - Keema Naan - Naan filled w spicy lamb mince & coriander, baked in Tandoor ($4.50)

Keema Naan – Naan filled w spicy lamb mince & coriander, baked in Tandoor ($4.50)

Some flatbreads arrive to go along with the dishes. Keema Naan is filled with a delicious blend of spicy lamb mince and coriander. It’s warm and comforting. Both the paratha, which is made from wholemeal flour, and the slightly sweeter plain naan have crispy exteriors and slightly fluffy insides perfect for mopping up sauces.

Elephant Corridor - Sri Lankan Devilled Prawns - Tiger Prawns, onion, capsicum, tomato , spicy sauce ($23,90), Fifteen String Hoppers (Idi Appam) - Sri Lankan ($11,90), Pol Sambol - Coconut & Chilli Relish, Maldive Fish ($5.90)

Sri Lankan Devilled Prawns – Tiger Prawns, onion, capsicum, tomato , spicy sauce ($23,90), Fifteen String Hoppers (Idi Appam) – Sri Lankan ($11,90), Pol Sambol – Coconut & Chilli Relish, Maldive Fish ($5.90)

Our food adventure then takes us southwards to Sri Lanka. The Red Prawn (Rathu Isso) Curry is made from onions, spices, red chilli and curry leaves. It’s a more delicate curry and one can truly taste the flavour of prawns in the curry sauce. String Hoppers (Idi Appam) – fine rice noodles made with either white or red rice and steamed into pancake shapes – are perfect with curry. Pol Sambol is used as an accompaniment and is particularly good with the hoppers. Not to be mistaken for sambal the chilli paste, pol sambol is instead based on coconut and chilli, this version also including Maldive Fish, a cured tuna product. When eaten with the curries the pol sambol adds freshness and an extra dimension of flavour and texture.

Elephant Corridor - Chicken Kothu-roti - Wok stir fried Chicken w onion, capsicum, tomato, lemongrass & julienne omelette served on Banana leaf ($21.90)

Chicken Kothu-roti – Wok stir fried Chicken w onion, capsicum, tomato, lemongrass & julienne omelette served on Banana leaf ($21.90)

Kothu-roti is a common street food in Sri Lanka, where strips of roti are stir-fried in a wok with various ingredients. This version includes chicken, onion, capsicum, tomato, lemongrass and strips of omelette and a little dish of curry comes on the side. One of my favourite things to eat for breakfast when I visit Malaysia is roti canai, and the kothu-roti reminds me so much of my beloved morning meal. The dish is slighty spicy and so tasty. Occasional bits of charred roti bring much delight.

Elephant Corridor - Sri Lankan Devilled Beef - Tender marinated beef, onion, capsicum, tomato tossed w Chef’s spicy sauce served on banana leaf ($20.90)

Sri Lankan Devilled Beef – Tender marinated beef, onion, capsicum, tomato tossed w Chef’s spicy sauce served on banana leaf ($20.90)

Sri Lankan Devilled Beef is apparently a common dish to eat together with drinks. The tender beef is marinated, then fried with onion, capsicum, tomato and a spicy sauce, and is packed full of flavour.

Elephant Corridor - Kulfi Pista - Indian ice cream w pistachio ($8.90)

Kulfi Pista – Indian ice cream w pistachio ($8.90)

Elephant Corridor - Wattalapan - Sri Lankan Custard pudding w palm candy & nuts ($9.90)

Wattalapan – Sri Lankan Custard pudding w palm candy & nuts ($9.90)

It’s time for dessert, and we try two. There’s the icy Kulfi Pista, an Indian ice cream made with pistachios, and the spectacular Wattalapan – a Sri Lankan coconut custard pudding with palm candy and nuts stirred throughout, and an impressive spun sugar construction topping it off.

Elephant Corridor - Arrack Flight - V.S.O.A., Double Distilled and Old Reserve

Arrack Flight – V.S.O.A., Double Distilled and Old Reserve

We end with an Arrack flight, which includes three different varieties: V.S.O.A., Double Distilled and Old Reserve. The Double Distilled is smoother than V.S.O.A, but the Old Reserve the easiest to drink.

Our meal at Elephant Corridor was most enjoyable. The portions are generous and the food is good, particularly the curries, which are beautifully flavoured. Definitely worth a visit.

Elephant Corridor

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to Elephant Corridor, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way

Elephant Corridor
179 Coleman Parade
Glen Waverley, VIC, 3150
(03) 9561 8810
https://elephantcorridor.com.au/
Elephant Corridor Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mabrown, Melbourne CBD

Mabrown

Mabrown, the venerable house of quail in Balwyn, expanded to the CBD a few years ago bringing their signature dish with them. Walk into Southern Cross lane using Australia Post as your landmark, and keep a look out for the red signage. Unlike its much older and well-established Balwyn cousin, whose white tablecloths, white napkins and high-backed chairs are more typical of Chinese restaurants, the CBD branch has a much more casual style, almost like a Chinese cafe.

Mabrown - Tea Tarik ($4)

Tea Tarik ($4)

Mabrown - Salt and pepper deep fried quail ($8 each)

Salt and pepper deep fried quail ($8 each)

Mabrown - Spicy deep fried quail ($8 each)

Spicy deep fried quail ($8 each)

Of course, one cannot come to Mabrown and not order quail. It’s what they’re famous for. Most people ordered platters of the stuff, engaging in a all-out hands-on feast. Fortunately there’s a much-needed hand washing sink sits just behind the front counter. The quail is first deep fried, then wok-tossed in chilli oil syrup, diced onion and peppers. This cooking process results in crispy skin, full-on flavours, and tasty quail meat. Their signature spicy quail is sweeter, and for people concerned about the how spicy the spicy quail is, it isn’t really. We pre-ordered the quail – highly recommended thing to avoid a long wait. Though I like my spice, I personally preferred the salt and pepper quail. It’s been years, or possibly nearly a decade since I had my first and only taste of Mabrown’s fame over in Balwyn, so I can’t make any comparisons. I can say though, that ordering the quail here is a no-brainer.

Mabrown - Drunken chicken (entree size, $9.50)

Drunken chicken (entree size, $9.50)

Mabrown - Salt and pepper calamari ($21.80)

Salt and pepper calamari ($21.80)

There’s a large selection of other meat, seafood, rice and noodle dishes to break up all that quail if you’d like, though really, no one will judge you for only ordering the small poultry. Drunken chicken (醉鸡) is moist and succulent, still sitting in a bath of its salty, Shaoxing wine cooking liquid. The salt and pepper calamari (椒盐鱿鱼) is coated with something crunchy yet light and puffy, perhaps rice. It’s a bit like eating a squid version of popcorn chicken.

Mabrown - Eggplant and chicken claypot ($22.80)

Eggplant and chicken claypot ($22.80)

Claypot dishes are one of my favourite parts of Chinese cuisine. Seafood and tofu, soy sauce pork belly, claypot chicken rice…I love them all, even when the weather is not conducive to eating hot food. We order the eggplant and chicken claypot (鱼香茄子煲), a style of dish usually seen with pork. Pork was still present in the form of lap cheong, but it added sweetness that I was unsure about. Melt-in-your-mouth eggplant is the star of the dish, with chicken, diced mushroom mixed through.

Mabrown is no frills dining, but you can’t deny that the food is tasty and that their quail is famous for a reason.

Disclaimer: I was received a discount to dine at Mabrown, however, opinions expressed here are purely my own and not influenced by them in any way

Mabrown (CBD branch)
111 Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9663 3141
Mabrown Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Joylati, Prahran

Joylati

The duo behind Joylati are certainly not newbies when it comes to gelato. Cristino Vedovato and Fabrizio Locatelli ran a successful gelateria in Piedmont in northern Italy for 15 years, shortly before relocating to Melbourne. Their desire to replicate authentic, artisinal gelati in Melbourne gave birth to the newest gelateria in town.

Joylati

A chocolate waterfall frozen in motion is positioned behind the counter, and a chocolate tap is on hand to fill up those waffle cones with liquid goodness. It’s a concept that brings forth memories of Willy Wonka. A fridge at the back holds desserts and cakes, which can be ordered in advance for special occassions. The pastel colour scheme create a sense of fun and child-like joy, and a mix of small and long tables are perfect for enjoying your cold treats.

Joylati

Premium ingredients, fresh fruit, organic milk and raw organic sugar are used to make the gelati, which is then stored in pozetti to preserve the texture and flavour of its contents before being served.

Joylati

A large cup can be filled with up to three flavours, so of course, three are picked out to fill the cup. Admittedly it’s no easy task. So many of the flavours on offer sound delicious. Pistacchio is made from pure sicilian pistachio nuts, and the Chocolate is made using Valrhona’s Coeur de Guanaja, a couverture chocolate containing 80% cocoa. My favourite of the three, the Nocciola, is made from Tonda Gentile hazelnuts from Langhe in the Piedmont region – a variety of hazelnut so renowned that it carries an IGP classification.

Joylati - Large Cup - Nocciola (Piedmont Hazelnuts, Tonda Gentile - Langhe), Pistacchio (100% pure sicilian pistachio), Chocolate (Coeur de Guanaja Chocolate 80%) ($8.50, large cup)

Nocciola (Piedmont Hazelnuts, Tonda Gentile – Langhe), Pistacchio (100% pure sicilian pistachio), Chocolate (Coeur de Guanaja Chocolate 80%) ($8.50, large cup)

The use of such high quality ingredients pays off. The flavours of each variety are disctinct, real and pure, and the texture of the gelato is deliciously creamy and smooth. If you’re a gelato fan, do yourself a favour and pay Joylati a visit.

Joylati - Large Cup - Nocciola (Piedmont Hazelnuts, Tonda Gentile - Langhe), Pistacchio (100% pure sicilian pistachio), Chocolate (Coeur de Guanaja Chocolate 80%) ($8.50, large cup)

 

Joylati
Shop G07
Prahran Central Shopping Centre
325 Chapel St
Prahran, VIC, 3181
(03) 9939 4922
joylati.com.au
Joylati Gelateria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato