Sunday, February 28, 2016

Porcelain Tea Parlour

 photo porcelain-tea-carlton-9694_zpsbll152ok.jpg

As part of my job at BrandWorks, I’m fortunate enough to have to spend time just generally reading and researching what’s trendy, what isn’t, what’s upcoming etc. etc.

What I’ve been loving reading at the moment? 

 photo porcelain-tea-carlton-9702_zpslkpmugvb.jpg

How much tea is coming into it’s own in a coffee flavoured ocean. I’ve been seeing a lot of cocktails at bars infused with the stuff (therefore it’s healthy…right?) and I love some of the tea shop concepts I’ve been seeing popping up around the world (which are all so beautiful and zen like, I’m into it).

For those who don’t know, I don’t drink coffee, not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t feel I need to, and am a lover of all things tea like. 

 photo porcelain-tea-carlton-9692_zpsuhjnavts.jpg

So when I heard the Porcelain Tea Parlour opened in Carlton, it was definitely somewhere I had been keen to go to for a while, but life was doing it’s usual thing and distracting me from remembering to visit.

 photo porcelain-tea-carlton-9698_zpsllhe6xf1.jpg

Fortunately, when I suggested to Cheryl from Flag and Spear (who run some amazing tea events) that we should meet up, we wound up at Porcelain Tea Parlour. Trust a tea sommelier to get you there huh?

 photo porcelain-tea-carlton-9711_zpsto4axfqm.jpg

Warm emerald green walls, cushy seats, low tables; you could be at a tea party, or you could just be in someone’s living room. Porcelain Tea Parlour is definitely a place for reprieve, and on the slightly hot and muggy day it was, it was a relief to sink into comfortable seats to cool off. I love that they’re also open until 10pm, leaving plenty of time to pop in for a little chilled out tea time session before heading home after the work day. 

 photo porcelain-tea-carlton-9714_zpsm8k6ehdi.jpg

The tea menu rotates, with a diverse and interesting range of teas, a mix of familiar and a little more unknown. Opt for a tea of your choice (or let owner Scarlett help you choose), try a flight, or even request the ‘Tea & Post’ where you can sip your tea while hand writing a letter. 

 photo porcelain-tea-carlton-9700_zps0i2n6v5j.jpg

I had a golden tips tea when I visited, whilst Cheryl got an iced chamomile infusion. 

Should you need a nibble as well, there are macarons, chocolate and cheese on hand. 

If my evenings weren’t so busy as of late, you would definitely find me relaxing in Porcelain Tea Parlour far more frequently. I’ve decided to read more books this year (I’ve even got a google docs spreadsheet going to track what I’m reading!), and couldn’t think of a better space to do just that, along with one of my personal drinks of choice. 

149 Elgin Street

Porcelain Tea Parlour Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Panama Dining Room

Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant

Now that Brad and I have been dating for nearly 6 years (somehow), it’s been interesting seeing how his tolerance for spending money on food changes, and the type of food he prefers. 

 photo panama-dining-room-0444_zpsegi7g8jq.jpg

Modern Australian has become a bit of a ‘touch and go’ situation with Brad in the last couple of years, as there’s been some places that have been hits, where the food portions are generous and the flavours big and hearty, and some places where I can certainly appreciate the work that goes into the food, but it’s a little too subtle in flavour, a little too sweet, or maybe a little too pretentious, then I get a grumbly old man in the car ride home. 

 photo panama-dining-room-0441_zpstznr5kh5.jpg

Fortunately with Panama Dining Room, who recently changed owners and got a new chef in, the latter wasn’t the case. I had previously visited with a girlfriend, and although we had enjoyed our meal, I do recall it being a bit heavy handed with flavours and richness, so was looking forward to seeing how the menu had progressed.

On a Friday evening in summer, after climbing the three flights of stairs up, the dining room is inviting, softly lit with fading light through it’s gorgeously generous arched windows. Get window seats if you can, it’s just lovely. 

 photo panama-dining-room-0459_zpsde6lhlui.jpg

The cocktail menu thoroughly impresses me, not too much swirly girly stuff, but instead simple, yet unexpected and delicious sounding combinations for the educated drinker. Although I was going to just grab a classic gin and tonic, when I come across the Panama G’N’T, with Melbourne Gin Company gin, Aperol, plum and lime syrup, orange bitters and soda, I just have to give it a go. It’s a weird way to describe it perhaps, but it was kind of like a ‘jammy’ gin and tonic for me. I love the richness of the plum syrup, with a hint of citrus without being too zesty. 

Brad’s boring and just gets a gin and tonic. 

 photo panama-dining-room-0463_zpsjaekhajr.jpg

Beautifully fluffy house made bread is impossible to resist, especially with the cultured butter on the side that’s given a generous sprinkle of salt. Can everyone please serve up their salt like this more often? It is decadent salty heaven. 

 photo panama-dining-room-0493_zps41fhgf7s.jpg

In good form as always, we order too much. Starting with a couple of nibbles to share, the fried school prawns with fermented chilli mayo and lime are the perfect finger food. I feel like school prawns were the hip thing on menus a few years back but aren’t so prevalent these days…bring them back I say! I loved how crunchy, yet big and meaty these nibbles were, the serving is generous, but Brad and I ploughed through them in no time at all. 

 photo panama-dining-room-0477_zpsjzvcwg3n.jpg

 photo panama-dining-room-0481_zpsip8wdtck.jpg

Heirloom carrots, with cured yolk and soft brown butter are sweet honey and so delightful. I just want a whole plate of this as a salad. 

 photo panama-dining-room-0498_zpsuyj0ktwc.jpg

 photo panama-dining-room-0495_zpse19fvmh7.jpg

The grilled saganaki with honey, oregano and pistachio is also a delicious play on salty and sweet. The salty savoury goodness of the saganaki is paired beautifully with honey and sweet raisins, and again counterbalanced by the pistachios, which add a nice bit of crunch as well. 

Honestly, by the time I finished the three entrees, I was feeling pretty full; so little tip, perhaps just order two entrees to share if you’re both planning to have mains…and dessert?

 photo panama-dining-room-0513_zps7pynpi3j.jpg

I ordered the pork belly with apple, boudin noir, cabbage and kale, which perhaps wasn’t so smart on my half, because the portion of pork belly was absolutely huge, a real solid slice! The skin was lovely and crunchy, but I found the meat just a little bit on the dry side for my liking. The veggies on the side had quite a sharp dressing on them, which was really good for cutting through the richness of the pork belly, balancing it all out. 

 photo panama-dining-room-0504_zps7tferm3a.jpg

 photo panama-dining-room-0508_zpsqtwhzwft.jpg

Brad’s pappardelle with mushrooms, taleggio, brioche was so pretty, complete with a couple of edible flowers on top. This was a simple looking pasta dish, but it was very rich and filling, I particularly enjoyed the toasted brioche crumbs tossed over the top. 

 photo panama-dining-room-0509_zps26gl2kzt.jpg

If you want something on the side, ditch the diet and get the potatoes roasted in duck fat, rosemary and garlic. Oh lordy, these are delightful, perfectly done so they aren’t mushy but are soft and fluffy. Also duck fat. 

Although I very nearly declined dessert, when I was promised that the chocolate dessert was actually quite light and refreshing, and not that big, I just couldn’t resist. 

 photo panama-dining-room-0532_zpswwlgiwvp.jpg

 photo panama-dining-room-0536_zps7bspcfzj.jpg

The chocolate with roast hazelnut crumble and caramel was exactly as promised, with fine biscuit sheets propped up on a bit of chocolate ganache or mousse, and a bit of ice-cream on the side (which just fits through the cracks anyway). I absolutely love that this is quite a light dessert, as it is a good compliment after an otherwise very filling meal, but that it is also a creative take on a chocolate dessert. 

 photo panama-dining-room-0544_zpssycecflh.jpg

I can’t decide if it’s a good or bad thing that Panama is three floors up. On the one hand, you at least get to work up a bit of an appetite, on the other side, it gets a bit dangerous when all you want to do when you leave is roll down the stairs at the end of the meal! 

I was absolutely stuffed, and delighted, by the end of our meal. I love the change of direction in menu that Panama Dining Room has now taken, and it also looks like that the menu changes quite frequently, in less than a month some of the items I had have already changed (or at least according to the website). 

Good food, good atmosphere, would absolutely recommend and look forward to coming back; it’d be the perfect spot for a girly catch up!

Level 3/231 Smith Street

The Panama Dining Room and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Monday, February 15, 2016


I love Melbourne. I love that we travel with umbrella and sunglasses at all time. I love how much food we have available to us. I love that you have to explore and that sometimes, the best food isn’t just found on the shopfronts facing the main streets. 

 photo belleville-8596_zps89kofku5.jpg

Climbing stairs, and sneaking down into basements; enchanting visitors and locals alike, it's always a good time.

 photo belleville-8598_zpshb9onj5q.jpg

I had heard a lot about Belleville, and how good their chicken was, but hadn’t gotten around to visiting (as always); so it was good news when my boss decided that we should have our work Christmas dinner there last year to round out our year.

 photo belleville-8601_zpsbgbxeaaz.jpg

To find it, head into Chinatown, find Globe Alley just off it and climb up a couple flights of stairs until you enter the unexpectedly ginormous space. In true Melbourne-style, it’s got a bit of a worn out warehouse feeling, with mix n’ match furniture and neon green walls adorned with graffiti, framing the huge windows. 

 photo belleville-8609_zpsi9yfajp9.jpg

It’s definitely an easy chilled out space, with a fun and accessible cocktail menu, presented in a graph. It asks you what type of person you are and what time of day it is, then at the intersection, provides you a suggestion of a cocktail. Or you can just read through and make the choice yourself, but where’s the fun in that? 

All our cocktails were delicious; I suitably don’t remember exactly what we had, but I do recall them being easy to drink, not too sweet and gone very quickly.

 photo belleville-8619_zpskxeyuhwg.jpg

 photo belleville-8628_zpsfxgxyfjd.jpg

I do remember our food though. Watermelon salads with chargrilled watermelon, Vietnamese mint, roasted peanuts and Sichuan peppers and Rad Thai’s; wok tossed glass noodles with crispy eggplant were refreshing salads with plenty of crunch. Perfect for summer. There was also a green mango salad special available that evening, which matched the refreshing Asian theme very well. 

 photo belleville-8629_zps1b5xctcu.jpg

Streetcart Corn - chargrilled corn with spiced parmesan, butter and miso aioli were almost totally creamy and cheesy mouthfuls; the guys at Belleville were very generous with the parmesan, and that’s totally okay with me! 

 photo belleville-8636_zpsofadzbfd.jpg

Popcorn chicken, karaage chicken with togarashi and tonkatsu aioli, are delectably crunchy bites with a pop of spice to the flavour. They disappear very quickly, especially when you’ve got a cocktail on the side!

 photo belleville-8640_zps4wei6qpm.jpg

Personally though? My favourite side has to be the Belleville poutine, beer battered chips with shredded cheese, house chicken gravy and hot sauce. This really could just be a meal on it’s own. I absolutely adore the fries, with that gorgeous battered crust, they’re crunchy delights, which go so well with all that gravy. Completely and utterly moreish. 

 photo belleville-8652_zpsqk1fstfg.jpg

But we can’t forget the rotisserie chicken at Belleville, which is really the star. Whilst everyone else in town is battering and deep frying theirs, Belleville’s is a salt water brined free range chicken, that’s perfectly roasted. We get a whole chicken that’s miso butter glazed (Yes, yes, yes), and it’s an epic looking little feed. Pitchfork and all. 

The chicken itself was a touch dryer than I hoped it would be, but I still absolutely lapped it up, I loved the skin, I loved that I convinced myself it was ‘healthier’ than fried chicken, and therefore ate a whole lot more. Totally logical right…?

 photo belleville-8654_zps5otj5lmn.jpg

 photo belleville-8678_zpsso4hx6az.jpg

Dessert specials rotate, and on this particular evening we enjoyed warm chocolatey Nutella ‘bombs’/donuts with a raspberry sauce or something similar to dip into and a very decadent popcorn and salted caramel pannacotta (on the jiggle scale it scored very highly too). 

For somewhere with a relaxed vibe to hang with the friends (a lot of them too if you wanted to), have some drinks, and possibly have some great food as well, Belleville is a great option; I’m coming back for that poutine!

Globe Alley
Melbourne, 3000

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

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Craft & Co.

 photo craft-and-co-9375_zpsn5lxknki.jpg

With so many restaurants and cafes opening these days, sometimes it’s not just enough to serve food. Craft & Co. in Collingwood isn’t just a restaurant, but having taken over a huge double storey warehouse on Smith Street, they’ve squeezed in a microbrewery, micro coffee roaster, distillery, bakery, room for meat curing and retail space featuring local quality products and produce to also bring home. 


 photo craft-and-co-9314_zpsrzudt6wt.jpg

 photo craft-and-co-9316_zpshzwuhuit.jpg

Despite all that, the space is bright, spacious and looking sparkly and clean, with white tiled counters and walls, simple utilitarian finishes, copper, and pops of greenery. Perfectly inviting on a Saturday morning when you’re in the mood for a spot of brunch (like every other Melbournian). 

 photo craft-and-co-9323_zpslrnzaabq.jpg

No chai lattes here yet unfortunately, but I did get their matcha and peach latte, which I initially wasn’t excited about at first (as I ordered the matcha latte not realising it had peach flavour in it as well) but they surprisingly go quite well together; the peach adding a lovely sweet and almost floral note (but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to order it again personally). 

 photo craft-and-co-9331_zpsv3knyhnm.jpg

 photo craft-and-co-9334_zps0s4rfj1s.jpg

The breakfast menu is modest, but well considered, as I kind of want to try everything on the menu! From ‘G Luxe Cacao Pops’ to wagyu minute steak and bubble and squeak. 

 photo craft-and-co-9361_zpskgo40jty.jpg

 photo craft-and-co-9367_zpsymhxptmr.jpg

But I could not resist the buckwheat pancakes with whipped ricotta, strawberries and spiced honey. Gluten free pancakes! Yes please! I thought because these were priced modestly at $14, it’d be a smallish serve…but man, these are much bigger than I expected! They’re almost cake like, generous and fluffy. I enjoyed the flavours in this, not too strong, but quite sweet and light. My only complaint might be that the whipped ricotta and spiced honey only lasted for so long, and with both eventually lacking from my plate the pancakes on their own were a bit of a dry mouthful. So either I need more toppings, or just need to ration a bit better!

 photo craft-and-co-9346_zpsyjv4njcg.jpg

 photo craft-and-co-9350_zpsd49zkwl6.jpg

I easily predicted that Brad would order the spicy chorizo simmered in tomato, with cannellini beans, mozzarella and poached egg. Sweet, hearty, with a nice bit of kick. Nothing to dislike. 

 photo craft-and-co-9374_zpsgyqqlwah.jpg

With a lunch and dinner menu to explore, salami and cheese making classes, Craft & Co seems to just keep on giving. I can’t wait to come back and try more (and buy all the craft spirits). 

390 Smith Street
Collingwood 3066

The Craft & Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato