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Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Blogging catch up - eating out
Olivers Garden Cafe
Queens Park Lake, Moonee Ponds
We stumbled across this place after a pleasant walk in the park in September. Lots of play equipment and ducks to entertain Sylvia and lots of pencils to draw with in the cafe. I had a veggie breakfast with rosemary mushrooms, slow cooked tomato, home made baked beans, guacamole, spinach and hash browns. I really enjoyed all the vegies and flavours. E was not so keen on his egg. Sylvia's chips were ordinary at best. And the service was not great. Despite the failings, I would go back there to see if it was an off day as it was such a nice space in a cute little house. Maybe next time I will just have an ice cream from the takeaway window.
Corner Latrobe and Swanston Street, Melbourne CBD
I was excited to read on Where's the Beef about the interesting hot dogs at Snag Stand. On my first visit the vegie sausage topped with mushrooms and a creamy sauce in a brioche bun was nice but a little heavy for my liking. I returned to try some other combinations and found them lacking. I ordered the vegie sausage with sauerkraut and sweet mustard. After standing about waiting, I found that the 'sauerkraut' actually had bacon through it. I got my money back. I will try again. I will ask if everything is vegetarian no matter what it says on the menu. If I have more success I might write about them more but the sauerkraut was just too disappointing. See post on Snag Stand.
I actually mentioned this cafe in an earlier post but thought it worth including here. My Croque Mademoiselle of leek, mushrooms and gruyere on toast was an interesting combination of flavours that worked well, even if it seemed to be reheated. The name of the dish amused me too. I requested that the ice cream and berries came on the side of her pancake. While I am not overly enthused about vanilla ice cream as a rule, I did enjoy this one with some berries. Sylvia enjoyed her plain pancakes. I liked the look of the place with big flowers, historic photos and green shelves, and the staff were very friend
Corner Elgin and Drummond Street, Carlton
Another Where's the Beef recommendation that I couldn't wait to try. I arrived and the specials board beckoned. I was fascinated by the strawberry, basil, hazelnut milk and (I think) banana smoothie. It was good but a little floral tasting. Unfortunately the soup had meat stock so I reverted to my first choice off the regular menu: GF Pumpkin and chia seed pancakes with yoghurt lentil and spinach salad. It promised so much. I liked it but found the pancakes were quite soft inside rather than fluffy and the salad was a bit creamy for my tastes.
However it was so refreshing to have something different to try and I would far prefer this to many of the standard offerings at other cafes.This might well be the most interesting dish I have eaten at a cafe in 2011. I look forward to getting back and trying more of their menu. The food is all the more enjoyable for the funky decor and the buzz of the crowds.
Vasilis's Munro Street Nursery
I love a quirky idea for a cafe. Celebrities interest me less. So it probably worked better for me that I had never heard of Vasili who opened the cafe but I liked the idea of it being situated within a nursery that had a sideline in gourmet grocery products. My spanikopita was quite nice and Sylvia's dips were superb. I was disappointed that the dips came with crisp bread slices rather than fresh pita bread in a Greek-style cafe. The other customers were quite a bit older than me and maybe happier than me with nice but pricey grub. My mum seems to enjoy taking Sylvia there. It is a nice rustic space with lots of interesting curios and, of course, plants (see top photo).
Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
This visit actually happened last weekend but I thought I would throw it in with the rest of the catch-up to anticipate one more post that might get away. We shared four dishes. I was pleasantly surprised. The confit potatoes were delicious even if the vanilla aioli was too much sweetness and not enough bite. The roast pumpkin was soft and sweet, which contrasted well with the feta and juicy olives. The hummus was great with a generous sprinkle of smoked paprika but the bread was a bit dry. The haloumi with a red rice, sour cherry and pistachio salad was fantastic.
My main complaint was that a bit more charcoal would have been welcome. The potatoes, pumpkin and haloumi could have had been crispier and the bread would have benefited from a few minutes under the grill. The place was a little dark and cramped for a lunch with a small child on a summer's day but I would return. I was so full when I left but E wanted to go home and eat.
Bourke Street Store, Melbourne
In December I stopped at Myer for some sweet comfort. I chose the hedgehog but it wasn't hedgehog as I know it. Too rich to finish the whole slab, I enjoyed that it was full of coconut but where were the broken biscuits! I include it here to bemoan the loss of the Myer food hall in the old (now defunct) Lonsdale Street store. Just look at these photos of the bountiful counters of food.
I used to love walking past the displays of lollies, chocolates, biscuits, bread, cakes. Sometimes I would go out of my way to the counters where I could buy potato cakes, bagels, fruit salad and yoghurt, rissoles, and other snacks. Rarely did I try and find space on the busy high counter and stools along the window. Oh how the mighty have fallen! The Emporia Cafe is on the ground floor. I recently noticed there is bread available on the 3rd floor as well as some of Brunettis lovely cakes but it is quite a detour on a busy lunch hour. These days David Jones food hall is a better bet.
High Street, Armadale
We met our friends Chris and Yavanna, with wee Florence, here in September. The place was huge and great for taking kids because there was lots of room for them to run about. The menu was extensive with plenty of vegetarian dishes. I had a pizza topped with heaps of vegies. It was good but a bit soggy. The dessert was far more pleasing. The Spanish churros were warm and crisp with a dusting of cinnamon sugar. The chocolate sauce tasted like it had condensed milk in it but who would complain about that! A good place for huge families.
Lygon Street, Brunswick
One of my favourite bakeries. I keep promising myself that one day I will do it justice in a post but for now I will share these baked goods that I bought there in. I can't remember why. I can tell you that they were excellent. If this place was closer to where I work I would be there all the time. Which would be very bad for my waist. The savoury muffins are marvellous - I think this one is something like pumpkin and feta. The Italian bombellini (doughnuts) with chocolate filling are heavenly, albeit with a hint of citrus. The almond croissants are amazingly flaky and soft. I wish I could stop by more for sourdough loaves and baguettes. It is such a gorgeous space that queuing for bread is a pleasure and if you can get a seat it is lovely to eat in.
And folks that is not all. I still hope to post about Crust Pizza and Malaber Hut in Brunswick. Stay tuned...