Thursday, June 11, 2015

the breakfast club

We are making a move to the north this winter and will take this opportunity to check out the cafes that everyone's been raving about!

The Breakfast Club sits along St Georges Road, which for the eastern suburbs noobs (I will willingly admit I was one until very recently) is kind of a nicer version of Burwood Highway - a major highway-like road which is home to a weird empty spaces, lots of residential and commercial properties, and a very beautiful piece of indigenous Australian reconciliation art, on the back of a billboard girding a sports oval.

It's a little cafe sitting behind a black and white striped canvas, where you will find the kind of comforts on display in the home of your artist friend who lives in Northcote. Small details like the salt and pepper shakers which are kitschy porcelain affairs in the shape of capsicums, tomatoes and cabbages. Dark wood tones, exposed brick - tick tick. Squishy seating - unfortunately a tick.

The menu is small, with handful of breakfast items and sandwiches. Their logo is very cute - a silhouette of the final fist pump moment from the iconic John Hughes movie we all watched in our 20s ironically with glee.

There is nothing kitschy about the food though - the items sound creatively yummy ("eggplant and cauliflower sambal, brown rice, cashew cream and vadouvan" and "kaagi corn fritters, miso aioli, green tea salt and pickled cabbage") and I witnessed some serious portions (y'all know how I feel about portions).

We were here in the late afternoon and I got the lamb wrap - juicy lamb with barley tabbouleh salad. Nicely seasoned, fresh ingredients.

As 1405 and I sipped our chai lattes (taste very natural and subtle, I liked it but 1405 thought it was bland) we did some people watching. Gone are the blonde stroller mums in 2XU leggings and down vests with their daughter clones abundant in our area. We saw a pair of shaved head lovers split a muffin (which looked delicious, by the way) and a cigarette. Another couple wore their matching outfits from the 1970s and gazed lovingly into each other's eyes when not furiously texting on their phones. Two teenage boys ate monster plates of eggs and bacon. We saw a man with a giant furry mastiff-like dog walk in and out nonchalantly, his giant bear dog trailing him, scaring the little jack russell that belonged to the shaved head couple, hiding under the table.

I think we are going to have an adventure here.

The Breakfast Club
206 St Georges Road
9489 0251

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Friday, May 29, 2015

grand trailer park

This damn burger obsession continues. A new burger joint has opened in the CBD and people are lining up around the corner.

It's the Grand Trailer Park Taverna, on Bourke Street where I distinctly remember singing karaoke at the former restaurant Happy Palace, after dinner and 13 years old with my family. The new occupants have decked the place out in booths like faux caravan trailers and strung multi-coloured fairy lights over the chandelier (a relic of the Chinese restaurant). It's twee and charming at the same time. 

There is always a wait but it's not for long. We sat inside the big caravan at the back and ordered the burger with the most hype - the Frank Underwood. Like Francis it is hugely ambitious and like most Netflix original series it is binge-worthy. In addition to the beef patty, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato there is also a chunky potato mac and cheese croquette - a meal in itself. 

We all agreed that this would be a great date venue and we did see many cool couples, hanging out in their trailers. 

The Grand Trailer Park Taverna
87 Bourke Street
9972 3699

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

crompton coffee

Isn't it nice when we peel back the BS and only have what is essential to happiness / central purpose? It's the reason I have thrown out most of my wardrobe, have failed to replenish it, and now have exactly 7 outfits from circa 2012 which I have on rotation. It's liberating, really. It gives me the head space to dream and feel the peace of not giving a single fffff -

Crompton Coffee is the same. No BS. They're about toast. They do really nice toast, with 8 good seasonal toppings. And coffee. And muesli. And that's IT. No kale, salmon, variations to put shit on the side (wherefore? So your food "doesn't touch each other?" What the hell is that about?)

The interiors are stripped back minimalist, a good space for thinking.

We ordered the spiced avocado and the ham with lettuce and glace fruit. The toast is thickly sliced, warm and perfectly crunchy. The toppings have a great balanced flavour and you can taste the thought behind them.

When it's raining on a Saturday and you want to hibernate away from the BS of everything, come here for something comforting and familiar, with a chic twist.

Crompton Coffee
380 Victoria Street

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

fat bob's bar and grill

Um, are you even serious Melbourne? ANOTHER burger joint?! I hitched myself on to this burger bandwagon about 10 years ago, before the Grill'd phenomenon and all that, when I was in my late teens (the best age to eat shit like this) and discovered an unassuming burger joint in Darlinghurst, Sydney. I remember the experience as transcendental. It was amazing (and I never use that word any more because Louis C.K. is in my head with his "you wasted 'amazing' on a fucking sandwich.") Meat juices, the overly salty sauces, the impossibly tall stack of meat and at one point a pineapple ring. Then, I got older and got over it. It's really that simple.

It's unfortunate that 1405 is obsessed with burgers, perhaps because I don't care for them. Those of you who know me know that once I like something I will eat it over and over again. My husband is the same.

So, on a windy autumn day, we find ourselves at a place one of my friends billed as "the best burgers in Melbourne." I was skeptical to say the least. The outside of this outfit is attached to what looks like an ugly shoe outlet, in a strip of tired suburgatory warehouses. This was starting to feel like a nightmare. We found the sign, took a photo, and walked into the only shop in this strip that wasn't painted with a coat of what I can only describe as "you-peaked-in-high-school-and-now-your-life-is-shit grey".

We walked in, and step into what can only be described as a haven of old neon signs against a black windowless room, the signs making the inside timeless in the sense that you would not have any idea what time it is outside. It's perpetually twilight on a ranch somewhere in Texas in here. Upon closer inspection many of the signs are Australian icons, the old Optus sign etc. In a good way, it feels like Lone Star diner from the 90's in Australia.

We order some zucchini fries and as I was strictly "not eating any of it."

1405 orders the "Jackie O" - 180g grass-fed beef pattie, tomato, spanish onion, fontina cheese, cos, mustard, tomato and Fat Bob's sauce .


It was really quite good. The sauce complemented the beef which was very fresh and tasty. The cheese sauce drips out of the burger and into your hands, which you then lick off. It doesn't feel greasy or dry (a chronic problem of some other burger joints) and the balance of lettuce and tomato was spot on.

Much to 1405's despair I ate much more than "just one bite". It's the kind of burger that reminds you that you were very young once, and ate your heart out in Sydney because, well simply because you could. A great trip down nostalgia lane.

Fat Bob's Bar & Grill
80A Cochranes Road
9555 0909

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

richmond oysters

As adults, we all love seafood. Remember when you were a kid and you hated seafood (especially prawns), and suddenly, at the age of 19, it's like a bright beautiful window opened in your palate and you suddenly understood the bright salty-creamy taste of oysters and the subtle lightness of fish?

I love to eat seafood the way that one eats rice - a LOT of it, and all in one go. One of my pet hates is when I order a seafood dish for like $40 and it comes in teeny tiny Brobdingnag portions. What the hell man?! I shop for food now and I KNOW that it's not as expensive as some restaurants make it out to be.

Richmond Oysters, alongside Claypots Seafood Restaurant, is quickly becoming a mecca for seafood lovers in Melbourne. I'm talking about an exclusively seafood restaurant, not one with a fish dish on the menu. After restaurants like Waterfront faced their demise in Melbourne in the last 10 years there has been a gaping hole for good fish spots, especially for the asian seafood-eating (not fish and chips) crowd.

We booked Richmond Oysters on the recommendation of a friend for a special occasion and wish we had discovered this gem earlier. 

Right opposite East Richmond train station, the interior is clean, pleasant but not overdone, a long clean fish tank dividing the dining room from the fish and chip area. The menu abounds in delicious things like scallops, tiger prawns, squid and so many different types of fish. We ordered a seafood platter and a paella. 

The platter had a pot of mussels, prawns, scallops, calamari, 2 different types of fish, baby octopus, soft shell crab, tuna on Melba toast and Moreton Bay bugs. 

A giant seafood paella swimming with fresh seafood!

The most important thing about seafood is that it is fresh - this place had it in spades, with great service too. A really good night with fabulous food.

Richmond Oysters
443 Church Street
9428 5121

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

crabapple kitchen

We freaking LOVE Crabapple Kitchen. We live in the area so we knew it when it was just a humble new cute kid on the block and are so happy that it's catapulted to megastar status now.

The awning looks like something from a 12 year old's scrapbook, pink hues of cheerful. Simple white tables and walls, exposed brick. It looks like one of the many easy stylish and homely houses in Hawthorn. But there is nothing generic about the food. This is haute-cuisine - seriously good food.

Photographs of the places 1405 and I have always wanted to go (... Noma!) adorn the white walls in fit-together frame and pays homage to the chef / owner's travels. There are things like lobster risotto and Italian anchovies on the menu. Really really our kind of place.

We haven't been back for about a month (which is a long time for us) but here is a selection of things we have eaten over the past two years:

Myrtleford buttermilk pancakes with Autumnal pears, almond & pink peppercorn praline, lemon & vanilla mascarpone and pure Canadian maple syrup.
Risotto with lobster.
These pancakes will actually rock your world. So unbelievably fluffy and moreish.  

Farmer's market salad with veal and eggs.

Farmer's market salad with farm produce, blood sausage and crumbed poached eggs.
You know you're doing something right when you are crumbing your poached eggs, sir.
Avocado on olive toast with Meredith Dairy soft feta, chilli, mint, avocado oil & lemon and a poached egg.

Crabapple Kitchen
659 Glenferrie Road
9078 5942

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Thursday, December 11, 2014


Combi is a raw / vegan / organic cafe in St Kilda, two streets away from the Elwood beach foreshore. It is part of the wave of nouveau hippie restaurants like Yong Green Food and Supercharger who are making vegan relevant and accessible to the vegetarian-curious.

It looks like a relaxed Hawaiian beach bar / kiosk, moved indoors. There was a very long line (I think many of the online gripes are about the fact that it is very very busy and you get, you know, hangry). On the morning we came the line moved relatively quickly.

I must admit I feel a bit out of my depth describing the food here, given that there are many more extremely passionate people who are converts to this kind of lifestyle 100% of the time. I am just, I guess, a dabbler in raw eating.

I feel like in the past five years veganism has done an about face. Not long ago it used to be the butt of jokes in uni (people miming holding up the limp heads of starving vegans) but now, in our late 20's, in light of all these spontaneous food allergies to everything, I find people being more open to lifestyle changes.

Berry beloved smoothie
The drinks are incredibly involved which is great: this smoothie had raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, acai, lucuma, raw fermented protein powder, coconut flesh, banana, house made nut mylk. They had run out of a lot of things by the time we sat down so I guess that is another source of angst for those hangry online reviewers.

When you think about it, the values of eating raw / organic / vegan blend seamlessly into the yuppies (do we use that word anymore) of the 2010's - fitness, image conscious, health conscious, trendy, environmentally-friendly. We all love health kicks. It's a kind of redemption after being excessive, all the damn time.

The food is beautiful, by the way. Like, literally looks like flower bouquets.

Organic chia party.
You know the ingredients? Parfait of chia seeds, soaked in house nut mylk infused with orange rind, layered with banana, berries crunchy activated chocolate buckinis, zesty incan berries and macadamias. Topped with house made coconut cashew yogurt and strawberry coulis. Phew.

I admit I follow a few Instagram accounts of people who make this themselves at home. I consider myself healthy but I have never bought a packet of acai in my life. This one includes "antioxidant-loaded Acai blended with banana, blueberries, house made nut mylk then layered with crispy coconut flakes, activated caramelised buckinis, banana, maca and cranberries".

Super acai bowl

The soup was delicious. I would love to see more savory dishes on the Combi menu like this.

Daily soup special.
I really enjoyed this place. Not in a "yeah OK I'll take this as an alternative to what I REALLY want" kind of way, I could imagine myself eating this food forever. If only the lines were shorter and the prices were more accessible for every day eating.

140 Ormond Road

(03) 9531 0084

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