Thursday, March 26, 2015

Glovers Station

Average age of 40, Louis Vuitton bags in strollers while the kids run around in the front courtyard and copious amounts of expensive lycra and neon running shoes.

Brad, we aren’t in hipsterville anymore.

Indeed, Brad and I were instead in Elsternwick, away from the usual hipster neighbourhoods, where the crowd was less tight jeans and fixies, and more athletic mums and surprisingly cool dads. 

We were meeting a friend from Ferntree Gully, and Elsternwick made a nice middle spot between the two of us. That, and I had read about Glovers Station and been sold on visiting instantly. Even better? When I found out it was from the same team that did Little Tommy Tucker in Bentleigh.

Glovers Station is just beautiful, breathing new life into an old building that was once a service station, with a great big courtyard outside, it certainly has a grand and historic feel to it and I can’t stop marvelling at how nice it looks. 

Inside though, the historical stops, and the modern begins. Crisp, minimal, bright; the coffee station bang in the middle of the cafe with life revolving around it (pretty accurate for most people isn’t it?)

I fell in love with the fuzzy felt banquette seats, and although the space was modern, it definitely still exuded warmth and cosiness. 

Jimmy Marinis, one of the co-owners, made sure things ran smoothly, and I am still in awe with how attentive and personal he is with each customer, always coming back to make sure we knew that they knew we were waiting for table and apologising for the wait. Having been a waitress some years's tough work! Was definitely a lot less stressed than when we saw him at Little Tommy Tucker! (You knew it was coming buddy! :))

His style of service has obviously rubbed off on to the staff, who, despite the crazy Saturday they were having (only a week or two open and absolutely full to the brim), were cool as cucumbers, friendly and attentive. 

After a half an hour wait or so, we are seated, and I drink one of my new favourite chai’s in Melbourne. Served up in a volumptuous and generous glass, I am smitten with the spiciness and richness in texture as well. Have not really come across anything like it, and adored it so much…that I had two…which never happens! The chai is from the Original Chai Stall, and will now definitely keep an eye out for it around town…

The menu reads a pretty treat, with lots of interesting ingredients and unexpected additions, without being pretentious.

Brad’s baked beans with buffalo mozzarella, potatoes, corn puree, grain crunch and chorizo, were hearty and rich, and our friend ordered the poached ocean trout with quinoa, kale, goji berry and broccoli sandwich with avocado puree and a poached egg. The trout smelt delicious, and I loved how clean and fresh the dish looked. 

I didn’t really try either of their dishes though, because I was too busy devouring my braised ox tongue on gluten free toast with burnt onion puree, mustard butter and pickles. Seriously, the way to my heart must be offal. The ox tongue was sliced thinly, and so tender and lovely. Juicy too. I was all about the burnt onion puree, which worked beautifully with the tongue. Although it sounds rich, it wasn’t really, and was a nice modest sized serve…

…meaning that there’s room for dessert. In the form of a polenta, orange and blueberry cake, which was moist, zesty and refreshing. 

Although they were so busy, despite us finishing and gas bagging for a while after, we were never rushed or hurried, or felt to feel like they didn’t want us around. I absolutely loved my visit to Glovers Station, and love the energy it brings to an otherwise sleepy little street in Elsternwick. 

258 Glen Eira Road
Elsternwick 3185

Glovers Station on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Sir Charles

It’s funny to think that a lot of places in Melbourne are actually named after someone. I mean, look at Batman Avenue for example. The number of American friends I’ve had who have been fascinated with the street have also had a strong desire to drive down it going ‘Nanananananananana Batman!’ and are surprised to hear someone actually had that surname.

I wonder if anyone still does, how cool would it be to make a reservation in the name of “Mr. Batman”?

I had never taken much thought about Fitzroy before, but when Sir Charles opened, when I googled to find out more about it before visiting, I kept bumping into Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy (capital R)! I wonder if anyone still has that surname, and if they do, if they live in Fitzroy? 

It would only be fitting. 

Sir Charles the eatery is now open on Johnston Street, just a flick away from Brunswick Street. Although it has many of the elements of Scandinavian design that is so popular at the moment, the space is inviting and warm and I enjoy how the large and airy space has been broken up so that it doesn’t feel so warehouse-esque. 

The menu excites me, Sir Charles is clearly well travelled, with an eclectic mix of items, with some familiar things with new twists, and some things I’ve never seen on a brunch menu before…which is just fun. There’s an obvious Asian influence to the menu, and although some Asian-fusion combinations can feel a bit vacuous, I simply want to eat everything on this menu.

But I eventually opt for Sir Charles Benedict with panko crumbed eggs, Siracha hollandaise and bacon, served with roti. Yes. I don’t care what you all say, Siracha is still hot in my books. This combination is simply a winner, with perfectly cooked eggs, rich hollandaise with a bit of bite, delightfully salty bacon and roti, which isn’t served up too oily. All win here. 

Brad gets the jalape├▒o and mushroom poppers with a poached egg and salsa verde on a toasted baguette. Again, delicious, exciting lively flavours, with a bit of bite. That salsa verde, so fresh!

My only mildly negative comment about Sir Charles is that the portions are not ginormous, but they are executed well, and are fine if you’re not totally starving and mean you can also fit in brunch dessert. 

I couldn’t resist the toasted coconut, vegan crepe with butterscotch sauce, berry compote, and mango salsa. Vegan crepe? I was so intrigued.

It turns out, the vegan crepe is a thick, sticky rice pancake (essentially), which to my Asian palate is so familiar, but made fresh with the introduction of butterscotch and all the berries. I’m smitten with the colours, and it satiates the sweet tooth without being too decadent; especially first thing in the morning. I love the toasted coconut, the contrast of the fresh and crisp apple batons, and the slight char to the ‘crepe’. 

The staff are friendly, and very attentive and the chef, and co-owner, Tyler Preston, who brings experience from Chin Chin and De Clieu has created a very clever little menu indeed. I look forward to trying more of it, and also check out the dinner offering from Thursdays to Saturdays. 

Sir Charles
121 Johnston Street
Fitzroy 3065

Sir Charles on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 16, 2015

Two by Two

Although I regularly tote a bag around that says ‘Eat Cake for Breakfast’, in reality, I hardly do sweets for breakfast, despite my great love of sweets. Sure, maybe when I was 18 I felt like I could get away with it, but these days, I’m a little more conscious of what I’m eating. So now sweet breakfasts are relatively few, usually planned in advance on my end, but always savoured. 

I’ve always loved how pancakes read on menus, but alas, for the days when I am being a well behaved glutard, they are not on my list of things to eat, so all I can is look lovingly as someone else orders it when it walks on by and as such, am always on the hunt for someone who can do good gluten free pancakes…because really, not many places do!

A little while ago, after a pizza session at Lievita, Brad and I strolled around High street and passed by Two by Two. It looked cute, so I had a quick squiz at the menu hanging in the window, which after reading, decided we would be back next week.

And we were. As promised.

Two by Two is an all day eatery in Northcote, carrying through from breakfast all the way until dinner. It’s a generous space, but I opt to sit along the counter by the window…for lighting purposes of course!

Although I’m usually a bit hit and miss with Calmer Sutra chai’s, at Two by Two they do a good job with it, and although the mercury was creeping up outside, inside where it was still cool and comfortable, it was just what I needed.

Brad ordered the bacon and fried egg sandwich, with cheese and a housemade HP sauce, which was far more elegant than I could have expected to look at. Elegant, but delicious as well, the housemade HP sauce was a real treat! 

However, I was here for one reason alone.

Buckwheat pancakes with banana, pistachio and marscapone. 

And yes glutards, it’s gluten free. 

Two generously thick buckwheat pancakes, stacked and sitting in a pool of golden syrup, generously topped with fresh bananas, pistachios and a dollop of marscapone. Oh yes. These were so fluffy and airy, with great big lovely air pockets making them so absorbent, slurping up the sweet syrup they were sitting in. Although I initially thought the bananas might be nice charred, upon having them, I much preferred them fresh, adding a creaminess in texture. 

I particularily liked this combination because it wasn’t too sweet or indulgent…pistachios and bananas are totally good for you right? 

All in all, a very happy Ash. My sweet breakfast quota is filled for the month now! 

These have easily been my most enjoyed gluten free pancakes yet, however, if you know somewhere I should try out, I would love to hear about it! 

235 High Street
Northcote 3070

Two By Two on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A25 Pizzeria

At A25 Pizzeria, the message is simple.

Pizza is sexy.

Hell yeah it is.

I ended up at A25 with Brad and a bunch of guy friends after a lively afternoon of lawn bowls at the Windsor bowling club, which sounds really lame, but is actually totally fun. We were so lucky to have the most stunning weather for it too!

And when the weather is this stunning, you simply have to sit outside, where it always seems to be shaded, but you get a lovely breeze blowing past regularly. 

You also must simply get a blood orange Italian granita, when you’re not quite in the mood for an alcoholic beverage, which is so refreshing. 

The Roman chips were a good call on my half (don’t trust boys to order all the good stuff), which are essentially freshly fried potato crisps with parmesan shavings and cracked pepper. Kind of wish I had ordered two baskets of these, as these were simply moreish. Just the right amount of cheese, I loved how crispy the potatoes were, but also the fact that there was some body to them, these weren’t razor thin. 

Around the table, the boys tucked in to the Bunga Bunga pizza (awarded best pizza in 2013 at their sister pizzeria NSP), with for di latte, tomato, berkshire sausage, porcini mushrooms and parmesan as well as Man’s Man pizza with for di latte, tomato, leg ham, cacciatore salame, berkshire sausage, scamorza and parmesan. Both were well received and gobbled up in half a minute. 

I had to of course get ‘Sexy Truffle’ with for di latte, white truffle cream, mushrooms, radicchio and parmesan shavings. As the name might suggest, the pizza was delightfully aromatic, and although this could have  been very rich very quickly, the fresh radichio on top cuts through nicely. Really well done gluten free base as well.

Next time, I’ll definitely pick a pizza from the ‘Crazy’ section, with combinations like roasted potato, rosemary, fresh ricotta, raspberries, mint and black sea salt or cream of dates, berkshire sausage, radicchio, pecorino shavings and liquorice dust (which I’ve been told is actually very good). 

To wrap up, a little sweet pizza to share, with nutella, strawberries, coconut snow and mint, with a couple of scoops of ice-cream as well of course! The boys hadn’t been interested in this initially, but once it hit the table, it was gone before I could take a couple of breaths! 

So is pizza at A25 sexy? Yeah you know it is. The vibe is relaxed and easy, the food is hot and saucy, and I honestly love a relatively cheap date…when have you seen gourmet pizzas at around a $15 and under mark recently? Pray tell. 

720 Chapel Street
South Yarra 3141

A25 Pizzeria on Urbanspoon