Friday, June 25, 2010

New Turf...NYC! - Cafeteria

Oh my gosh! Yes! I'm really here in New York city!

After 24 hours of flying and airports and only about 6 hours of sleep I was ready to...go to bed really.

But we landed at 6am in the morning and I was determined to battle the jetlag monster.

So we went and had breakfast instead.

It's such a different landscape, as in Melbourne city, if I wander around, I will come across a really cute cafe, really quickly, but it actually took us a little bit of time to come into an area that had a population of nice eating places.

But anyway, this place caught our eye from across the road, so with stomach's audibly complaining, we quickly ran across the road.

Cafeteria felt bright, light, open and friendly. I loved the huge windows which were perfect for people watching, even if you weren't right next to them. (I love how many dogs there are in this city!)

David got the Monte...something eggs. Essentially, I suppose the best way to describe it is, nachos + breakfast = this dish. There were potatoes and beans in the skillet, with a large flat corn chip/flat taco shell (?) over it, and over that there was a fried egg topped with some peppers, guacamole, cheese and more corn chips. Did I love it? Hmm. It was interesting, I suppose it's a little too foreign for me, gaucamole and eggs? Hmm. But it was still pretty good. And darn filling.

I got the country breakfast skillet, baked eggs, chorizo and hash potatoes. Whilst I generally like a bit of char from skillets and pans and things, I felt this tasted a tad burnt for some reason. Although it didn't bother me too much and I was extremely hungry. The potatoes and chorizo were terribly moreish and the eggs were cooked perfectly, when the yolks were burst they just cascaded all over the potatoes, giving them a delicious creamy texture.

Overall, a very pleasant breakfast experience and a nice way to start my trip to the US. :)

119 7th Ave
New York, NY 10011

Cafeteria on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Le Petit Gateau - The whole cake.

If you haven't figured out by now, I have a sweet tooth. Like a serious one. But not for hard boiled candies or jellybeans and snakes, I've got the richest of the sweet teeth. I like my chocolate.

And Le Petit Gateau fuels that vice terribly. In the most delicious way possible.

David and I decided we HAD to eat here before we left for America as the cakes are just too delicious looking to pass up.

After perusing through the delicious selection up at the counter, we managed to pick just two that we had the stomach space for.

I chose the hazelnut mille feuille and a passionfruit macaron.

And got a chai latte since I think that they're one of the best in Melbourne.

David got a blueberry macaron and the Black Beauty, which we had no clue as to what it was, but I love chestnut puree, which I spied on the top and the overall shine-factor just lured us to it.

We then discover inside, chocolate mousse, white chocolate and a bit of berry jam which was amazing. Rich. But absolutely decadent and beautiful.

The hazelnut mille feuille on the other hand, was also delicious and a lot lighter than the mousse, so there were nice to have together. Quite airy but really nice and nutty.

Easily I think some of the best cakes in town, David and I very happily rolled back to work after our rich little lunch break.

458 Little Collins St
Melbourne, 3000

Le Petit Gateau on Urbanspoon

Cafe Vue - Little Collins

After discovering how cute the Queens St end of Little Collins St is, David and I decided to venture up back that way to enjoy the charm of Melbourne before we set forth to America.

We fluttered back and forth between cafes, trying to decide what we felt like eating, this cafe or that? Tuscany or Syracuse? The options in that space are so concentrated it's quite overwhelming!

In the end I ended up dragging David into Cafe Vue, as I knew the menu items were generally pretty cheap and I wanted something light so I could venture on into Le Petit Gateau later for some sweet little nothings...

I've been to the Cafe Vue 401 on St Kilda Rd before which is quite a different experience to the one in the city. I'm actually quite surprised at how strongly Illy coffee was branded all over the cafe, it seemed like a bit of a shame, it took away some of the 'Melbourne' charm that our cafes generally have.

However, if you look past that, the place is still a sweet, intimate space. The staff were also very friendly and extremely accomodating.

I have to say I was initially a little disappointed that my peppermint tea wasn't loose leaf, although after opening the packet and seeing the hessian-like bag, I was a little more impressed. To be fair it did end up tasting very nice.

David had Cafe Vue's famous lunchbox for $15. On this particular day it came with a wagyu beef and caramelized onion baguette, salmon rillette, a small bowl of pasta and a rather decadent hazelnut chocolate mousse. The salmon rillette in particular I found was very tasty. And isn't the wooden box it's served in just gorgeous?

I went for the french onion soup, I very much enjoyed that this wasn't slathered in cheese like I've seen some french onion soups and it was quite hearty and filling with copious amounts of onion in it. Probably just as well as I was suffering a bit of a cold. My only critique is that it did come out hot, but not piping hot, which would've just made this perfect.

Cafe Vue
430 Little Collins St
Café Vue on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ladro in Prahran

I've never been to the Ladro on Gertrude St, although it has been on my 'to-do' list for a while. So I was quite excited when I heard that one opened on Greville St in Prahran, which is quite a regular location for me to be in.

So one lunchtime when I was in the area doing some work for Pan Asian, I sauntered in, found out they took bookings, made a booking and very eagerly awaited Sunday night to roll around. I'm honestly kind of surprised, I thought all the hip new places were 'first come first serve' policies these days...

I have to admit, when Brad and I did rock up, it was a bit quieter than I expected it to be, bustling for sure, there was a nice chatter and vibe, but after 8pm the crowd died down a fair bit, which was actually very nice, it became more intimate with the dim lighting. The space is quite open, with a few smaller tables, some higher up bar stool type seating and some communal style tables.

In comparison to the menu on Gertrude st, it's been described as 'same-same but different'. Unfortunately I can't compare, but I did like the variety. A good assortment of pizzas, a good sample of entrees and a good sprinkling of mains.

Now I am mildly gluten intolerant and would probably usually have gone for a main, but I felt it would not do justice to not try a pizza. So we ordered a few entrees and a pizza to share.

We started with the pan seared calamari, perfectly seasoned and cooked. The calamari was tender and full of flavour.

This though, was easily the better of the two entrees, although the standard is quite high! This was a Jerusalem artichoke, leek and potato bake. Ah, did someone say comfort food? The artichokes were soft, but kept their form nicely and was made rich and warming with the cheese. The portion size was just perfect as well, whilst I could've easily eaten more, it was just the right amount to be very satiated.

We're both suckers for mushrooms, so went with the mushroom, fior di latte and basil pizza. My camera did no justice in showing how big this pizza was, it was huge! We still managed to finish it all though, having a half each, I suppose our toppings weren't as heavy as of the other options at least! I loved the pizza cutter they provide with the pizza, leaving you to make your slices as big or as small as you want! When cutting the crust it had a beautiful crunch to it and was really piping hot. I would've liked a little more of the fior di latte, but when you did get slices with it, it was just lovely.

I feel like I've been skimping out on dessert lately, so I as adamant on trying at least one dessert since there were a couple of things that caught my attention. We eventually settled on trying the Camino (I think that's what it was called!). Milk ice-cream with espresso....I'm not sure what it was and montenegro. This was really interesting, I think I poured a little too much of the montenegro in and made it a bit too strong, but the texture of the espresso granules mixed with the milk ice-cream, which was fairly mild in flavour, was quite interesting. Deliciously interesting that is though!

I'm honestly quite surprised when I read the two reviews on urbanspoon that slate Ladro with terrible service, as I felt we were very well looked after. Maybe they've read the reviews and have been working on improving it! Menus were given very quickly, orders taken efficiently and professionally, water constantly being topped up even though they had the bottle on the table and dishes cleared shortly after we had stopped eating.

Maybe the new Ladro child just needs a little bit of time to smooth out a few rough edges, but I personally feel that it's on a good track, the food is great and the service for me was excellent. And for $75, including drinks, I think our meal was reasonably priced as well. So for those who are umming and aahing over whether to give it a go, I would say to give it a chance, but be open minded. Overall I really did enjoy my meal at Ladro and I hope you will too!

I noticed a few people taking pizza boxes out from the restaurant, so I also assume that takeaway is available for those who want something different to Lucky Coq!

162 Greville St
9510 2233
Ladro Prahran on Urbanspoon

Hardware Societe - Back for brunch again!

"Ashley it's time to make your blog epic with better food photos already! Use your camera of ultimate win!"

Well roughly paraphrased, but that's essentially what David said to me sometime last week. When I go out I almost always have my Canon G9 on me, which does a fine job of capturing moments and idle happenings, but I suppose it's not quite the same as getting the Nikon DSLR out with the 50mm on it. I just feel a bit pretentious and silly when I go into restaurants and start wielding it.

However, I do agree with him and I do get a little big of blog envy when I see some other blogger's photos, so what better way to get started than by going to an old favourite and having some fun there?

On Saturday, my mother, David and I trundled on down to Hardware Societe after registering my mother for her citizenship pledge (She became Australian!) for a bit of brunch. I've pretty much picked apart the lunch menu already, so I've always been keen to come down and try more of their breakfast-y type offerings.

How cute is the butter keeper? (I can't think of a better name for it right now...)

Mum got her latte, which looked absolutely beautiful while David and I got teas in the adorable tea cosies. And we got sugar doughnuts which I hadn't seen for a while! Always a nice little treat!

David decided to get the soft boiled eggs with three soldiers. My mum thought the yolks could be a little less cooked, but she likes them very soft and David was very happy with it still! I particularly liked the soldier with the white asparagus, it was so soft that when you bit on it, it just started spreading over the bread like butter! The last one which I think was a fish rillette, was also very tasty and David couldn't help himself but smush it all over the bread before devouring it.

Deciding to have a naughty brunch, mum went for the Croque Monsieur. Just look at the cheese oozing out! The bread was absolutely beautiful as well, lightly toasted to have a crunch but still lovingly fluffy. Absolutely dreamy!

Unfortunately my angle made it a bit difficult to get a good shot of the omelette I ordered, which was also delightful, it was made with duck confit, chestnut paste, baby spinach and mushrooms. So very satisfying, the flavours were very earthy and the egg quite nicely buttered up. Mmm!

To finish off, I could naturally not go past the macarons! David and I indulged in the blueberry and pistachio, which were terribly tasty as always!

What more can I say? I think you all know how much I love this place and will sorely miss it over the next 5 weeks I'm in the US! It's not a food blogger sin to post up multiple posts about the same place now is it..? :s

Hardware Societe
120 Hardware St

Hardware Societe on Urbanspoon