Monday, September 29, 2014

Baby, Richmond

We were in the mood for brunch, as the Top Paddock was too unreasonably lengthy and we couldn't stake out the wait because some of the girls had to head off to other things afterwards. Instead, we went across the road to Baby, hoping that they would offer brunch options. However it was already past noon and only the lunch menu was available.
We ordered a few things to share, although we didn't have a large appetite for too much carb. Even so, we still found the salmon pizza to be a standout and I especially enjoyed its abundance of toppings and creaminess.  
The cabbage salad was fresh, albeit a tad dry. A dressing of some sort, plus some cheese would have been good. As for the arancini and croquette, they weren't cheap at $15 for four.

Baby Cafe & Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

OmNom, Melbourne CBD

My excitement for visiting OmNom has been building up for quite a while, after many could, would and should have been's. Finally, I visited with B and R one Friday night. We didn't make a booking and they found us seats at the bar.

We decided to order 3 desserts to share. The desserts were all beautifully presented and quite impressive to behold.

However I found the flavors didn't captivate me like I thought they might. The desserts were nice, but nice wasn't quite what I was hoping for. Especially, at such expensive price to quantity ratios. Even the spectacular deconstructed smoked bannofie was only mildly impressive.

Om Nom Dessert Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Meatmaiden, Melbourne CBD

I'm happy to report that our first office take away order was a success! J took the initiative to try out Meatmaiden one night, and bravely bore the risk of collective wrath.

Our orders were correctly received and made, and also packed well with each of the boxes labeled. Most of the team enjoyed the food and found it quite delicious.

My chicken ribs were certainly a very sinful combination between greasy and creamy. As I was on yet another D-day diet, I only had a few and gave up the rest as team food.

Besides, I had the lobster mac to move onto. It was a tasty dish with a rich creamy consistency and just enough crusty cheesy bits around the edges to make it enjoyable. In fact, its was quite good except the fact that there was only one single piece of lobster in the entire thing. I dug around hoping I would find more, even if they were just tiny slivers, but there were none. I can't deny that I felt slightly disappointed. 

Meatmaiden on Urbanspoon

LuxBite, South Yarra

LuxBite's range of beautiful and delicious desserts is special. They are gorgeous to look at, full of decadent ingredients and just irresistibly addictive. If happiness had a taste, Luxbite is what it would taste like.

I used to naively believe that if I was sweet enough, someone will always bring me sugar. Nowadays when there is no one to bring me sugar, I've learnt to source my own sweet moments. So one Saturday, I found myself wandering in hoping for a taste of happiness. I thought about the instant gratification that I could achieve by eating my sugar right there. Mnn sweet sweet sugar.

However upon further consideration, I decided to buy these two for take away because that weekend, happiness was hope, the hope that I would share these with a boy who sometimes brings me sugar. 

PS: Just as pretty girls can be smart, pretty desserts can also be gluten free. Indeed, LuxBite offer s a fantastic gluten free selection and both of these were also quite pretty AND delicious. Perhaps then, pretty girls can be smart AND nice. 

LuxBite on Urbanspoon

Little Bean Blue, Melbourne CBD

It was one of those rare week days when lunch plans actually worked out. In fact, lunch plans worked out so well that day, that I managed to merge two sets of lunch plans. C suggested meeting up at LBB, which is actually quite close to the office but which I hadn't even noticed springing up recently. They are renowned for coffee and mine was alright. There were a few food options such as pastries and sandwiches. 

The egg tart caught my eye and I was curious whether it would be a contender for Oli & Levy's infamous egg tarts. These were almost double the price and slightly larger. However, I didn't feel that it was worth almost double the price. The ingredients were similar and tasted similar.

Given its proximity, I wouldn't be adverse to coming back and checking it out again to see if my thoughts / feelings change.

Little Bean Blue on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dainty Sichuan, South Yarra

When my parents specify a Chinese restaurant to try out, I obey. 1) Confucius principles of filial piety dictates so and 2) it always pays to defer to experts.
Hence I found myself at Dainty Sichuan, South Yarra, with my parents. Their keenness to  dine there certainly made me highly anticipatory.
We chose a large hotpot with the traditional soup base, accompanied by a myriad of ingredients and sauces. The soup base was very tasty and very nourishing.  


Of the hotpot ingredients, the selection here is far more extensive and of a better quality than most other places I’ve been to. We were all quite impressed and felt that the higher prices were justifiable.
My favourites from the night included the beef skewers, the pork and coriander meatballs and the deep fried pork ribs.

We made a conscious effort to keep ourselves to the hotpot menu as there were just too many good options on the al carte menu. However every once in a while, dad and/or I would experience inevitable bouts of food-envy.
I would definitely be keen to revisit and sample the al carte menu.

Dainty Sichuan on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Marroo, Melbourne CBD

Marroo offers good Korean food at fairly reasonable prices. We came to sample the al carte menu one night as a prelude to an inevitable BBQ session. The fact that they offer a BBQ buffet makes it a must-do in my books.

Although Marroo's reputation has largely arisen due to its BBQ offerings, the al carte menu is still quite large and we had a lot to choose from. I'm in the process of trying to boost T's red meat intake and convinced him to have the beef bulgogi. I also ordered some tofu and vegies as positive reinforcement for him

As at all good Korean restaurants, we were given a selection of kimchi to snack on. The selection here is quite standard, and they didn't refill it when we ran out.

As for the food, the servings were very generous and of good value. I quite liked it all, although T found the beef a bit dry. It probably was a little, but only very slightly so, and I resolved it quite simply by dipping the beef into the sauce that came with the tofu and vegies dish. T was above playing with his food, so I was only tepidly sympathetic to his complaint. 

At the end of the meal, I still managed to broker an agreement to revisit from a slightly reluctant T. There were enough positives to warrant further investigation. However, next time, I'm going to visit, dressed in old unwanted clothes, keep my hair unwashed, with no makeup except a layer of primer to protect my pores. The fumes from the BBQ permeate every corner of this basement restaurant and we both walked away smelling like like meat. Mnn, lucky for T, I like the taste of meat.

Marroo Korean Charcoal BBQ & Bar on Urbanspoon

Saigon Inn, Melbourne CBD

I came by on a lonely Friday night hoping they could do takeaway. The place seemed sadly quiet and the owner took my order. He was very accommodating and agreed to make the broken rice for me, even though it is a feature of the lunch menu. I also ordered some satay vegies and added a sweet and sour chicken as an afterthought. Those dishes weren't Vietnamese but I was nevertheless drawn to the familiarity of those classic flavours.

Everything turned out to be really delicious! The sweet sour chicken was crispy and succulent, the lemon grass pork chop was fragrant and the vegetables were fresh. There were also plenty of snow peas, which to most Asians, is a sign of generosity, as it is an expensive ingredient. Saigon Inn is also generous with the portion sizes and offers fantastic value with most of their mains priced around the midteens.

The other thing that I really respected about this place is that it is trading stoically in an era dominated by the likes of Chin Chin, Hardware Societe and Fat Duck. Sometimes all I need is a place that serves food that I know. 

Saigon Inn on Urbanspoon

Raw Trader, Melbourne CBD

Twice in a month and I think I'm starting to develop a new habit!

I brought J and J with me to sample the goods and we got the white raspberry cheesecake, the strawberry cheesecake and the chocolate banana slice to share. I also ventured to try the almond milk which was quite refreshing but also slightly sweet.

My favorite of the desserts was the chocolate banana slice and J2 said hers was the white raspberry cheesecake. J1 was a bit agnostic and thought that the whole healthy dessert thing probably isn't really her thing. 

Raw Trader on Urbanspoon

If that is the case, Short Stop doughnuts has just opened up next door offering ridiculous flavors including apple, bacon, honey and thyme.

The Russell, Melbourne CBD

Only less than a year ago, I was writing about a new restaurant called Pho&Co.

Pho&Co has recently become The Russell and we ventured to try them out. The menu has changed from Vietnamese fusion to gastropub. The soft shell crab sliders and the chicken drummettes are the only things which has made it onto the menu. They appear alongside beef burgers, steak sandwiches, risottos and lamb shanks.

I ordered a BLAT sandwich and a Caesar salad. Both were done reasonably well using fresh ingredients and tasted fairly decent. 

It'd be interesting to see how The Russell fares over the next few weeks as people register the change. It would also be interesting to study how it competes with The Portland Hotel across the road as the menus are not too dissimilar, except that The Russell seems like a cooler cousin.

Russell on Urbanspoon

Picnic, South Yarra

Everything that could be bad was terribly bad. This wasn't just a mild case of bad, it was terrible. It all started with my artless flat white. I would never expect a Picasso, but this ugly layer of bubbly foam is just unacceptable.

Then came the half filled juice jugs. Both J and C ordered the green juice and they must have only made one batch and then separated it between two jugs. However, they must have mistakenly miscalculated or been deliberately stingy with the ingredients, because, as can be seen in the photo, the juice jug at the back is about 1/3 juice and 2/3 undrinkable foam. When we raised the issue with staff, we were told that's just what happens. Well that's just not good enough.

The waitress begrudgingly took away the juices and came back with two fresh glasses of juice, properly filled to the brim with only a thin layer of foam. Which she slammed down.

To make matters even worse, the same disgruntled waitress brought C's burrito after much delay and did not apologise for its lateness. The burrito cost $15 and leaked in a very off-putting manner. I would have accepted some oozing, but a leaking burrito is just not okay when it costs this much.

I would not come back here again and will actively discourage people from doing so under current management. Tis a shame, because there is so much potential here in the convenient location, the catchy name, the cool interior, and access to customers who have a lot of disposable income for discretionary expenditure. Plus, the live band that started to play mid-morning was also pretty awesome.

Picnic on Urbanspoon

Gaijin, Prahan

Gaijin's food is as good as I remembered it, and I was quite excited to be back here after almost three years since my last visit. This is one of the few places in Melbourne which makes Japanese food like they do in the US of A. That is, with lots of sauce, lots of creamy sauce, lots of strong flavours, and lots of it. 

We ordered a lot of food including the Baked Dynamite Roll and the Cheese Sensation which were my favourites and another standout was the spicy pork belly. 

Gaijin Japanese Fusion on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Coffee Exchange, Melbourne CBD

T's favorite cafe is an ubiquitous option near the top end of Little Collins and Spring. It doesn't have a flashy name or a flashy exterior, but it consistently does very good coffe and very good food. It has a wide range of take away as well as sit down options. 

Its close proximity to Parliament station makes it the perfect antidote to the morning slog for the many skirts and suits who passes this way everyday.

T got the classic poached eggs and I'll customized it with a few extra sides, all of which were served in ample portions. It was all very fresh and very wholesome.

As we went to pay, my eyes lingered over the pastry selection at the counter. I know I'll definitely be back soon to try out the salted caramel croissants!

Coffee Exchange on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 15, 2014

Raw Trader, Melbourne CBD

Raw foods have been all the rage in Melbourne and I was quite excited to hear about Raw Trader opening up in the city. Their focus on sweet raw foods was the main draw card for me, as I have an insatiable sweet tooth that gets me into all sorts of trouble.
T brought me here one Saturday to cheer me up and I couldn’t help but break into a smile as soon as I saw the array of magnificent cakes & slices and beautiful desserts on offer. There is just something instantly cheerful about the idea of eating lots and lots of delicious guilt-free food.

We ordered one of the tasting platters as well as a smoothie. It’s quite a small place and there aren’t too many seats, but the staff are good at shuffling furniture and patrons around to create space.
We shared a table with two strangers which was quite an effective stopper on my aggressively passive tantrums, allowing us to appreciate the good food and regenerate some good will.
The tasting platter featured a slab of caramel slice, a slab of peppermint slice, and a bowl of coconut cream and mango chia seed pudding. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious everything tasted.

With each dessert, the flavors are obviously a tad different to the traditional versions, but they tasted like a different interpretation rather than an imitation. The other thing which struck me was the absence of heaviness which did not accompany each mouthful. I felt like I could eat endless servings of these desserts.

Raw Trader on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 8, 2014

Pastuso, Melbourne CBD

If I had a wishlist, I would have eating alpaca and tasting Peruvian cuisine in there. Both of which I would have accomplished by visiting Pastuso. C took me here for lunch recently and we arrived early around 12. The place hadn’t begun to fill out yet and we were greeted by a flurry of staff.
Still, it took them a while to read the table map on the computer and figure out where they were going to place us. It was as if the waiter was still learning the layout of the restaurant which is understandable given its very recent opening.
We were in a bit of a rush and glossed over the menu. The alpaca jumped out immediately, and we also ordered entrées of pork belly and swordfish ceviche, as well as a radicchio salad.
Ceviche was beautifully done with thin slices of swordfish and plenty of zesty flavours to tease open our taste buds.

The slow cooked pork belly was done in a spiced batter, with a purée. It was quite chunky and I would have preferred a bit more juice in the meat.

Alpaca tastes like a mix between lamb and duck, oddly enough. The version that we were served was quite firm and a few mouthfuls were enough to satisfy my curiosity.
The salad was much more exciting and I quite liked the mixture of radicchio, palm heart, heirloom tomatoes and passion fruit dressing.
Overall, I found the food engaging and I would revisit to sample some other items from the menu. Hopefully, they're able to refine both the food and the service. The fundamentals are there, but I think that Pastuso still requires a bit of fine-tuning to compete with the likes of its nearby neighbors.

Pastuso on Urbanspoon