Monday, June 26, 2017

Ramblr

Where on earth has 2017 disappeared to? I’m not sure what’s happened. Although I did post in February, saying it was my intent to get back into writing on the blog, I just feel like I’ve been consumed by life! However, a couple of weeks ago my dad informed me that the wife of one his friends, who I have never met, apparently asked why I hadn’t been writing recently and sometimes that’s all you need as a little kick in the butt to get back on it. I never like to disappoint! 

Lots of things have happened in my personal life. Brad and I got engaged (which I still intend to write a blog post about), we’ve had some unexpected losses, and I’ve turned 29 - how terrifying! 

For the latter, my actual birthday fell on a weekday, so decided to postpone Brad’s dinner treat for me until Friday, where I booked us in for Ramblr on Chapel Street. 

Ramble, since it’s opening, and a couple of glowing reviews from foodie friends, had been stuck in my mind so although I could’ve made Brad spend much more on me…sometimes the heart (and tastebuds) just want what the heart wants. 

Having had visited Leonard’s House of Love a couple of months earlier, you would never guess by first look that it was owned by the same people. The space is almost painfully cool, almost blending in on the street, dimly lit with clean stripped back finishes offset with touches of warm material and finishes. It’s very Melbourne chic. 

We’re so lucky in Melbourne to have a great range of restaurants from the high end, to the cheap eats, to the not too expensive - but definitely very nice - sweet spot, which is where, in my opinion Ramblr sits beautifully.

I love that the menu reads simply, just feature ingredients, and not too much fluff. Best to leave some anticipation after all!

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Since it was my birthday celebration, my usual aversion to gluten was on hiatus for the night. The house made bread was gorgeously warm, with delightfully crunchy crust and just lightly herbed, salted, perfectly seasoned. 

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Warm cocktails? That involve figs? And bourbon? (I think)? Tick, tick, tick.

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Crispy pigs head fritters with sauce ravigote also ticks all the things I like. The golden, crisp, brown batter on the outside is just to die for. It wasn’t quite as moist and juicy as I thought it might be on the inside, but it was just right.

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Calamari noodles with smoked bone marrow and kim chi sounds like it comes from another planet, and kind of looks like it too. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s an abstract art piece, with the vibrantly coloured, and flavoured (hello spicy kick!) kimchi a stark contrast to the incredibly textural calamari curls. I absolutely adored this dish - a real palate awakener!

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In continuing my disregard for gluten for the evening, I ordered the crab linguine with lemon, dill, chilli, garlic butter and bottarga for my main (although Brad and I swapped plates half way through, as we always do). Brad’s been going on recently on how good just simple pasta is - without being drowned in sauce and this really was just a beautiful example of that. The pasta it self was beautiful in texture, gorgeously al dente, and so wonderfully complimented with simple ingredients and sweet crab meat. I don’t do pasta often, but when I do, it’s gotta be like this.

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While the linguine was light and zesty, the slow cooked beef cheek, BBQ onion and horseradish sat on the other end of the spectrum. A small but densely packed luscious lot of protein. A little sticky, the beef still had some structure to it, but fell apart beautifully and was so tender - and although little, filled you up very quickly!

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Dessert options are limited to two, and feeling pretty full, just opted for the baked muscatel custard with cinnamon poached quince. I’d had mixed responses to quince desserts in the past, but this creation from Ramblr was a hit for me. Perhaps because it was more custard than quince and I was kind of delighted that it was executed like a creme brûlée (not sure what I was expecting otherwise though…). I actually did like the quince a lot too though, maybe it was the texture that made it seem sweeter, and lighter than I’d had before, but I enjoyed it greatly. 


In all, I was greatly impressed by Ramblr. I love the modern Australian dining experience that is a good balance of experimental and boundary pushing, but with a lack of pretentiousness about it. The setting was relaxed and intimate, but professional. For a nice meal out, I also found the price point to be very reasonable - in fact I think there might’ve even been a first (or perhaps second date?) going on at the table next to us…! 

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(Also, shit, how I am 29 already?)

363 Chapel Street
South Yarra

Ramblr Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Breakfast at Marion

Although I love the bustle and energy of a cafe (paired with at least a 15 minute wait no doubt), there’s something special about breakfast places that are soothing, restorative and quiet - and they’re usually not cafes. Or at last not in the typical Melbournian way.

I never realised Marion, a wine bar, also did breakfast, until I saw someone visit on Instagram who posted a rather luscious picture of a good looking black pudding - and made the executive decision (as I usually do) that we should visit.

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It was a slightly muggy and wet morning when we visited, which made the restaurant feel particularly soothing, a beautifully designed sanctuary filled with diffused light. The neat and smart interior, is also quite inviting, with comfortable looking banquettes and brick walls painted white. 

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Coffees and chai are a touch short on the foam, but I’m not one to judge on technical execution. Milk was smooth, chai was sweet, but not too sweet - I’m easily satisfied with just a couple of little things.

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Brad ordered the baked eggs with greens, labneh and Turkish chilli, which is a refreshing alternative to the usual saucy tomato based baked eggs, but equally as hearty. 

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I don’t often order omelettes when I go out for brunch, but when I do, they better be as good as Marion’s omelette with zucchini, tarragon and buffalo ricotta. Oh lordy, someone let loose on the butter and I am so okay with that. Delightful moreish, and fluffy, I loved how the tarragon cut through the richness a bit, and although it maybe was just a tiny bit salty, I was much too content to be bothered. 

A lot of cafes you’re in, and then you’re out. But when you have a space where you feel comfortable so sit, and I mean really sit, not just perch at a communal table on a stool, with a newspaper (or just the news on the phone), it’s really quite a luxury. One I hope to enjoy again quite soon. 

53 Gertrude Street
Fitzroy 3065

Marion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bang Bang

Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest as part of an event

We could smell it as we walked down the street. There are lots of places that are doing contemporary South East Asian, French Indochine cuisine, but Bang Bang smelt like it - in all the best ways possible. Lemongrass hung in the air, and the irresistible smell of barbecue was impossible to miss. 

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Bang Bang has been a long time coming, but it’s been worth the wait. On a balmy evening like the one we had, and are still having (late Melbourne summer’s for you), the indoor-outdoor deck is bright and so inviting, especially with a cocktail or three in hand. The Vermouth Spritz is the perfect way to begin your night, with Dolin Dry Vermouth orange and holy basil, topped with soda. It’ll be one before you know it. 

But the food! When Daisy and I arrived, we were a bit late, having been stuck in traffic, but really, we were just in time, as food hit the table minutes within us being seated. It was all totally planned. Obviously.

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Chargrilled King prawns with roasted shallots and lime, are juicy, sweet and a great way to get the meal kicking. The betel leaf with confit duck, and the betel leaves with pomelo are both delightfully herbaceous - although we’re divided over the table which we like better. I’m a sucker for pomelo personally, and I love how vibrant the pomelo combination is. 

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Kingfish sashimi with caramelised cashew and trout roe is refreshing, but also textural, with a unexpected amount of zest - all the favourite flavours from South East Asia. Chilli, lemongrass, citrus - perfect.

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It’s hard to dislike crispy chicken wings, especially when they’re crispy as advertised. The chicken itself is juicy and moist inside the batter, only issue? You’ll definitely need to order two serves. Why share?

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Chargrilled pork neck was also tender with a hint of sweetness, reminiscent of char siu for me, complete with the slightly charred edges. The crunch of the iceberg lettuce a refreshing contrast in texture, and a hit of chilli to bring everything to life. 

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The roasted pumpkin curry with kipfler potato with cinnamon and anise was a hit around the table, other than the fact that there was no where near enough gravy to drown the rice in - cause it was so darned good! Creamy, slightly sweet but nicely offset with a balance of spices, would come back and order this with a bowl of rice just for myself!

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For those who are looking for something a bit more filling, the chargrilled Cape Grim short rib is definitely a solid choice. Literally! The meat from his just falls off the bone, so tender and very moreish. 

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To wrap up? Black sticky rice with pandan sweet cream, mango and coconut sorbet - a twist on a classic Thai dessert. Very easy to gobble up, but lacking some of the punch that the savoury dishes had in flavour. 

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We were also served some watermelon with chilli salt, which is quite a classic combo in South East Asia and very refreshing on the palate. Having said that, I’m not sure if it’s something I would order while out at a restaurant personally, but it is a great option if you might have miscalculated in your ordering, don’t have much space for dessert, but still want something sweet to end the night on. 


All in all, good vibes, good cocktails, bright and punchy food (in general). It’s refreshing to have a modern Asian space that’s approachable, friendly and fresh, and would definitely be around for after-work drinks if I lived closer to Elsternwick! 

294 Glenhuntly Road
Elsternwick 

Bang Bang Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Making Hot Pot at Box Hill Central

So excited to share this project with you guys! Box Hill Central invited Daisy from Never Too Sweet and I to visit and pick out some ingredients, and show how to make a dish. We figured there's no better way to showcase the wide range of produce and product you can get at Box Hill Central than...a  good old hot pot! 

Check out the video below, hope you enjoy it - I'll definitely be getting into the hot pot swing of things once the weather cools down again. Can you imagine anything better? 


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mukka

Hey guys, sorry it’s been so long between posts, but after 7 years of doing this I think I just ran out of steam at the end of last year. Work was taking over, the time and love I had to dedicate to editing and writing was disappearing, and honestly, I’m sometimes a bit jaded with the direction food blogging has taken. 

Don’t get me wrong, still loving the food, still loving the photos, still loving the people…just needed an impromptu hiatus. 

But I’m coming back and working towards a little more of a slow and steady pace, to rebuild the love I know I still have. Also helps that I’ve watched all the episodes of Mythbusters on Netflix as well so I’m out of things to do when I do have an evening free now…

So. A while ago Brad and I popped into Mukka on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. It won The Age Good Food’s cheap eats award last year, and after visiting - deservedly so! 

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Indian food is something I find myself craving more and more recently, it’s just so comforting, but yet so exciting at the same time with so many vibrant flavours - and often at a price point that the wallet can regularly agree with.

Mukka is a cosy little spot, which feels right at home in the neighbourhood with distressed brick walls, paired with pops of colour. 

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First bit of business at Mukka? Obviously getting a masala chai, which did not disappoint, beautifully brewed in the traditional Indian way. It had a nice little spice kick - definitely not your sweet powdered gunk!

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We ordered a dosa to share, which is one of my favourite Indian dishes - I usually pick at the ‘pancake’ component of the dosa before diving into the filling - I think we got ‘The Classic’ with cured potatoes but don’t quote me on that. Although I enjoyed the dosa, I usually like my dosa a little browner/cooked, so that I have crispy edges to pick at. But I guess that’s just a small personal preference. 

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What I really, really, really loved at Mukka though, was their butter chicken. Oh my goodness. I think Brad and I visited Mukka well over 6 months ago but I still tell people about this butter chicken. The gravy is so rich, thick and perfect for pouring all over your rice. But what I really love is the chicken that tastes like its had a quick session in the tandoor, so that it has a nice bit of grilled, kind of charred flavour to it, which really for me, kicks the flavour profile of this dish to the next level. Delicious. 

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The biryani serve is also generous, and vibrantly flavoured. Plenty of spices kicking around in there. 


Although my Indian cravings are usually when I’m out at Brad’s in Gembrook (I know. It’s a little weird), so happy to have Mukka for those days when I need it a bit closer to home, serving simply hearty dishes in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. 

365 Brunswick St
Fitzroy VIC 3065

Mukka Indian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Fancy Hank's

Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest 

So, I’ve discovered that my brother isn’t the best dining buddy - he’s not much of a small talker. But I have found, that I actually kind of really love American BBQ. I’ve always enjoyed it, but now that I’ve had some really good brisket, I’ve realised how much I like it, crave it and actually appreciate it. 

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Fancy Hank’s, after a food truck, and a stint in Queen Victoria Market, has found a more permanent home at Level 1 of 79 Bourke Street (just a few doors down from Grand Trailer Park). 

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Walking up, they just feel like their doing Melbourne right. The space feels clean, bright and smartly dressed, yet also relaxed. The aromas are drool-inducing and the vibe is just right. Be sure to say hi to Puffing Billie, who’s on your immediate left when you walk in, the custom made offset smoker who’s responsible for the amazing smells, and who will be doing a lot of the work getting the flavour into your food. 

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Although there’s a good alcoholic drink list going on, Fancy Hank’s has collaborated with a winery for their house reds and whites, which are easy drinking, their non-alcoholic offering is also intriguing and delicious. My brother gets the house made ginger ale, which just punches you in the face with ginger intensity, and isn’t too strong on the sweetness - I almost like it better than my wine. 

The food menu is a great selection of snacks, sides and smokers, so whatever size of meal you’re after, you can put it together at Hank’s. 

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Start with the butter milk biscuits for pure heaven on earth. I wish I was joking, but I’m not. Warm, light, fluffy and oh so buttery. With the whipped maple butter on the side, it’s utter perfection. Dangerously easy to gobble on down. 

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Devilled eggs are creamy and cool little mouthfuls, the yolks are so smooth. Maple glazed belly ham with red eye mayo is not as intense as I think it’s going to be, instead the ham is tender and gently sweet. 

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I’ve been seeing a lot of deep fried cauliflower, usually in the tempura style though, so it’s nice to have a change of flavours and have it with ranch dressing and hot sauce instead.

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Although I was almost filled up on just the ‘snacks’ (really, those biscuits could be a total meal right?) and on to the main affair. The platter with all the meaty goodness, featuring Puffing Billie’s good work (or so I assume).

Beef brisket, from Gippsland Victoria, pasture fed with marble score 2+ and covered in a black pepper rub is exactly how I like my brisket. I’ve been developing a greater love for this, and am so happy all the American BBQ places are opening up so I can indulge. It’s so tender, meaty (obviously) but with the fat rendered beautifully through. Done simply, but so well.

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I’ve not usually been a huge fan pulled pork, but I liked the flavours in Fancy Hank’s, made from Black Berkshire pig shoulder, from Western district Victoria, with a paprika and brown sugar rub. The chicken is from Northern Victoria and buttermilk brined - it’s tender, but not the most exciting dish on the plate for me. 

The sausages though, are a treat. Made daily, we had the options of beef with black pepper or pork andouille style. Get both, obviously - they are fabulously dense and moreish, without being overly fatty. I really enjoyed the beef with black pepper - really well seasoned. 

And although the meat is stellar, and definitely the star - I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed some of the sides to go with it.

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Namely, the wedge salad with blue cheese dressing, onion jam and pickled radish. This was the last of the sides I ate, as, let’s be honest - it looks a bit boring, but was one of my favourite things that evening. The crunch of the greens, and the combination of the blue cheese dressing with the onion jam is just heaven, the sweetness of the onion offsetting the richness of the blue. Forget quince and cheese guys - blue cheese and onion relish is the place to be (although maybe not very good first date food if you think about it). Don’t be like me and diss a salad.

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Pit braised beans with molasses, smoked bacon and sour cream were gone once I got a mouthful - my brother has a tendency of eating a LOT of the things he likes, the coleslaw was refreshing and the corn bread with jalapeño butter was so light and fluffy. 

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To finish the evening, Cafe du Monde, doughnuts and coffee pudding which isn’t totally sexy to look at, but was very nicely done. The coffee flavour was strong and aromatic, and the doughnuts weren’t just air, there was some body to them and they soaked up all that caramel goodness nicely.

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Fancy Hank’s has good vibes splashed all across it. Although there were plenty of staff, assumedly because the restaurant was full of chatty bloggers, they were all warm and friendly, but also professional. It’s cosy without being too close to anybody, and the food and grub are incredibly approachable. If you want a nice sit down dinner, without the pomp, or the price tag, I think Hank’s is filling that gap nicely. It’ll be stellar once the rooftop bar is open too!

1/79 Bourke Street
Melbourne 3000

Fancy Hank's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato