Sunday, February 22, 2015

Axil, Melbourne CBD

A has always provided wise advice and she loves the ginger bread men here. So I was quite keen to check these out. 

Axil does coffee and it does coffee really well. Since opening in the CBD, it's built up a loyal following amongst the nearby office buildings. As well as coffee, there is also a selection of sweet treats here including their popular ginger bread men. 

These aren't very big, but are quite dense and very thick. Like all good ginger bread men, they are adrmirably well decorated, and have quite a jolly look about them. They are quite tasty, but I would have liked the ginger flavoring to be a bit stronger. I wouldn't mind one every once in a while, but these (ginger bread) men wouldn't have me salivating with anticipation every afternoon at coffee-o'clock.
Axil on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Ganache Chocolates, Melbourne CBD

There are a few of these scattered around the place, including one tucked in between a strip of Collins Street shops near T&Co. 

They compete closely to Lindt, but they have first mover's advantage and people around here are used to going. T brought me some macarons which I shared with the office and our 101 neighbors. 

The fact that we had macarons to nibble on was in itself a wonderful treat. Although there were mixed opinions on how they tasted. 

The white vanilla one was loved by R, and B enjoyed the purple one whilst S found it a tad too sweet. I sampled a few bits of the dark fuchsia and the dark green, and found both a bit light on the flavoring. 

Ganache Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 20, 2015

Pillar of Salt, Richmond

Pillar of Salt is very cool, and this type of cool is for a lot of people, but it's not for me. 

Located amongst the busy South Yarra end of Church St, Pillar of Salt has chosen a smart location in relation to its target market. When I drove past on a lazy Sunday morning, there was already a crowd gathering outside, and no sign of an available parking spot nearby, not even a paid one. The combination of those two factors meant that I was already anxious and  annoyed before I even got there. 

Luckily S and C were already there and had put our names down. There was a wait of ~15mins in the sun. This would have been a welcoming interlude for most, but I have a slight aversion to tanning. I've tried it twice, and realised that the allure of a bronze glow in the short term isn't enough for me, given the accelerated risk of wrinkles, crackling, dryness and sunspots that I will have to bear in the longer term. 

When we were chosen to be taken to a table in the courtyard of the cafe, I felt like the kid who had just been chosen to play on a team in PE class.

My sense of relief was exponentially elevated, as I had to leave the car almost two blocks away, in a 1P area. By my calculations, I only had about 40mins left.

We sat down, and to make a long story short, we ended up waiting a long time for our food to arrive. It was disappointing enough to be kept waiting for so long, but it was even more disappointing that the table next to us who arrived and ordered after we did received their food first, and it was even more disappointing that not of of the staff came to assure us that our orders were on their way. It was all very cliche. 

Our food when it all arrived, did look quite beautiful, and we took our time examining each dish, trying to determine their composition and taking multiple photos from all angles. 

I had ordered the superfood salad after reading an article on breakfast salads in Melbourne. Unfortunately I found this one had an unpleasantly strange taste. There was a whiff of sourness to it that was almost nauseatingly pungent. Something didn't smell right, which affected the taste, and I started picking out each of the ingredients to work out why. The corn kernels were sweet enough, and the beans were bland enough. The goji berries and the kale both tasted as they would and were thus unlikely culprits. Thus, the inexplicable sourness could have come from the quinoa, if it had been soaked and kept in a warm area, or the liquid from the poached egg if it hadn't been drained properly, before being placed on the salad.

Pillar of Salt on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Merrywell, Crown Casino

Merrywell upstairs serves American style dishes just as it's downstairs counterpart does. However upstairs provides table service, linen napkins, reservations and a more extensive menu with some offerings priced at $100+.

We came by on a Friday evening for L's third round of birthday celebrations. The three of us had all come from work and we were ravenous. 

We chose an entree each and also ordered the grilled seafood platter for sharing. 

Of the entrees, my favourite was the excessively saucy buffalo wings with blue cheese fondue, which reminded me of good times in the US of A. 

J's favourite was undoubtedly the jalapeño poppers which she had been raving and craving since we sat down. I liked them although thought the serving size was quite stingy. 

The mac and cheese bites were also done just right, with enough crunchy hardness and plenty of gooey softness on the inside.

For mains, we shared the grilled seafood platter which looked very exciting when it arrived, but which we found disappointingly unsatisfying as we worked our way through it.

For $120, we weren't given a lot. There were only two pieces of crayfish, two small yabbies, a few prawns and an extremely difficult-to-devour piece of crab. The shell was thick, the exterior was spiky and the legs were mostly hollow. It was a dramatic piece of garnish at best, and a potentially dangerous prop at worst. There was also a side salad, although we felt that a side of chips was also warranted. If I ever have to come back again, I will most certainly be adhering strictly to deep fried goods and simple mains like burgers.

The Merrywell on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 16, 2015

Fob Rolls, Melbourne CBD

T doesn't like me using the F-word. He doesn't like it in the same way that I take offense to him using the word 'gay' to describe something negatively. 

But we both agreed that Fob Rolls is a fantasticly catchy name. Another fantastic thing about it is the cheap lunch combos which are hard to find in the city of high rents and high wages.

For $10, I bought myself a bahn mi with grilled chicken, a grilled pork rice paper roll and also a Vietnamese iced coffee.

The rice paper skin on the grilled pork roll I wanted was slightly broken, so the girls generously offered me the choice of another. 

These are slightly smaller than the ones made at Roll'd and more similar in size to those from Bage't. However, they possessed a rather pleasing filling to vermicelli ratio, and were accompanied by a delicious hoisin based sauce. As it has sometimes been said, size does not matter, and I was certainly quite satisfied with these.

The bahn mi was also not the largest that I have come across however, the softness of the bread, along with its tasty spreads and fresh fillings won me over.

This is definitely one I would go back to and recommend others to go to. Hope they do well enough to open up a few more of these around, and drive down the prices of their competitors.
FOB Rolls on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 15, 2015

True South, Black Rock

True South is located on a great piece of prime real estate amongst the main strip of shops in Black Rock. It's a casually cool restaurant downstairs, whilst there is a spacious function room upstairs.

We found ourselves there on a cool summer's evening celebrating an engagement. The room exuded #beachlyf cool with its light coloured fixtures and furnishing, Pinterest inspired add-on's, and open balcony.

The food was alright and although it was all pretty standard. I asked them whether they were items from the menu and the server said no, which might go towards explaining their underwhelming state. Oh well, at least there were certainly enough to go around.
 Besides, the addictively rich and chewy brownies served for dessert more than amply made up fro the disappointing savories. Even more importantly, it was a happy occasion and we all had a thoroughly good night!

True South on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 9, 2015

Loop Roof, Melbourne CBD

Melbourne loves rooftop bars and I especially love Loop Roof. It's spacious, with plenty of seating options for the early birds and plenty of standing room for the late comers.

The setup is relaxed yet still cool and not excessively grungy. Thus it's suitable for a casual catchup between friends or a celebratory afternoon session with work colleagues. 

The bar here appears to be really well stocked, and the drinks menu is fairly succinct with some interesting spritzers and cocktails upfront and some stanandard pages outlining other beverage options.

On this occasion we also ordered some sweet potato chips, however I didn't like them as they were oddly cut and also slightly soggy. The service was also slightly evasive that day and it was as if the staff hadn't really started to get into the swing of things yet. Even so, I've had plenty of good experiences here to offset this one-off and I would recommend the hike up the stairs to Loop Roof.  

Loop Roof on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Saigon Fusion, Melbourne CBD

They say that we are the company that we keep. Nestled between the old favorite Shanghai Street, and the newly popular Little Ramen, Saigon Fusion is almost destined to be a success.

Just like the other two, the food here is very authentic, very cheap and very easy to like. I got myself a medium sized traditional Vietnamese roll for $5.50, and had to make a conscious effort to not splurge another $6.00 for three rice paper rolls. The prices are just too irresistible!

Saigon Fusion on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 5, 2015

LEspresso, Ballarat

I've never been near Ballarat except on a school trip to Sovereign Hills many years ago.
My grasp of Victorian geography is pretty rudimentary and I can’t say that I haven’t confused Ballarat and Bendigo.
But there is nothing like a long drive and an actual visit to the town to get my bearings. In a way, Ballarat is exactly how I imagined it to be. There is a main street, around which the town seems to revolve. There are also many side streets which are a lot more busier than I had been expecting.
LEspresso is situated near the town clock. Even with my very rudimentary understanding of regional Victoria, I knew that meant it was located on some prime Ballarat real estate.
The place was abuzz with activity when we came to visit on Boxing Day and we loitered around to snap up a table outside.

Now at this point, I must confess that apart from being the best eatery in Ballarat, the other reason that we chose LEspresso is because T's sister H works here. H set us up with menus, water and left us with some rather sound recommendations as we pondered over our choices.

Both T and I heeded her advice, to great effect!

L'Espresso on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

IKEA, Richmond

At less than $5 for most of the breakfast meals, how could we deny ourselves a feed? 

We got an IKEA breakfast for $3.95, added some baked beans at $0.99, added a couple of cinnamon scrolls at $0.99 each, plus a chocolate bliss ball for another $0.99, and chucked in a few slabs of chocolates at $0.99 for good measure. Oh and did I mention that the drinks here have free refills! Gotta love the amazing business model!

IKEA Richmond Restaurant & Café on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

East, Melbourne CBD

I don't mind Hutong, but I really really like East. It looks a lot nicer, the food tastes better and the service is far more superior.
The menu is similar to Hutong, but not quite the same. It was akin to the menu at Neil Perry's Spice Temple, although the prices are closer to Hutong's rather than Spice Temple's.

The dishes are refined, but they are not dainty and didn't leave us feeling hungry. The flavours were intense, in a mature sort of way, rather than being outright brazen.
I really enjoyed the Xiao Long Bao's and they tasted better than those from Hutong. The chilli wontons were also rather tasty although the skin could have been a bit more slippery.
What I really loved was the delightfully crispy and sticky Shanghainese sweet and sour pork ribs. They weren't cooked the way that Mummy would have made them, yet they still made my Daddy and I rejoice.

East Bar and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Persillade, East Melbourne

Right underneath T's building is a rather nice place serving pretty fine food along with good coffee and good wine. 

Apparently, there used to be a wine bar and a coffee shop which co-existed alongside, and they merged to become Persillade.

We came with some friends for an early breakfast one morning on T's recommendation. The food was delicious, and the coffees were satisfying, but we all found the service to be slightly frustrating.

Starting with the good, the coffees were rich and creamy and came out in adorable servingware that we contemplated stealing for the home. I also liked the small chunk of biscuit which was a touchingly thoughtful bonus. 

My breakfast was a curious dish of rice cakes, kimchi, and a softly Asian style poached egg. It was a very unexpected item on the menu and they did a good job of delivering the surprise.

My curiosity was also piqued by the cheesymite croquttes, which I ordered as an additional side, just because.

Persillade on Urbanspoon