Wednesday 11 January 2012

Blogging catch up - eating out

I have great intentions.  I go to a cafe.  I take a photo.  I intend to write a post about it.  I am busy.  I am distracted.  The post falls by the wayside.  So here I am making amends with a collection of some of the places I ate out in 2011 that somehow didn't get their own post.  Some should have and others maybe not.  Maybe they will reappear once I have visited again and have a bit more time and energy.

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.

Snag Stand
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.

North Melbourne

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

Cafe Lua
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).

Birdman Eating
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.

Emporia Cafe, Myer
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.

Giorgios Restaurant
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...


  1. That must be very frustrating when you find out that something marked vegetarian is not, in fact, vegetarian!!!

  2. Oh fiddlesticks! My friend raved about Sugardough before I went to Melb last weekend but I never got there! Fidddddlesticks!!

  3. Great post, I must admit to being the opposite to you as I generally forget to take photos when eating out or my dining companions are too impatient to wait! That's my excuse for hardly ever writing about my dining experiences. Love the look of the breakfast at Olivers as I find it too time consuming to cook so many bits and pieces for breakfast at home.

  4. I'm sure it's even more of a challenge for you to get these photos than for us as you have Sylvia with you. I think it's great that you got these photos and are blogging about them :)

  5. Wow, you've been all over the place!

    Good that someone else is blogging about the people at Snag Stand not quite understanding vegetarian and vegan...hopefully the management will amend this soon...

    Worst thing ever is finding meat in your food :/

  6. The Myer food hall is gone???? This post was going so well until I read that! I can't believe I hadn't heard of it in the 4 years since it shut, but my last two visits to Melbourne were very brief. Oh how you say, it was a wonderful place.

    Leaving aside my grief on that topic, this was an interesting round up and as I share your enjoyment of quirky cafes, a fun one to read. There would be more cafes in gardens and nurseries if I had my way.

  7. Some great looking eats in there. All of those photos looked delicious.

  8. All look very good, Johanna! I have noted down a few cafes to visit.

  9. Thanks Lisa - actually the sauerkraut wasn't marked vegetarian - I just thought that it would go with the vegie sausage but I did think that sauerkraut was just sauerkraut

    Thanks Hannah - seems your trip was full enough but there will be many more opportunities for sugardough, I am sure - just as well because it is excellent

    Thanks Mel - I love a good cooked vegie breakfast because I rarely do that sort of thing at home - the one at Olivers had eggs and I think I subbed in hash browns instead - they seemed happy to do that

    Thanks Lorraine - it can be a challenge to get photos with sylvia about but she is learning to wait for the photo before eating :-)

    Thanks Louise - meat in your food is very unpleasant - especially on lunch break when you have already had a wait (though it was worse when I was about to head to the airport at New York but that is another story) - will blog more if I find some snag stand sausages to love but will be more wary

    Thanks Kari - I still miss the Myer food hall - it was just somewhere that I would pass through even if not eating - even now I get shocked that there is no longer a Lonsdale street store to walk through to get from lonsdale street to bourke st - the journey through the city has lost a certain sparkle! Amends could be made by myer with a rooftop garden cafe but that probably isn't about to happen :-)

    Thanks Brydie - I take far less photos in cafes than at home so am glad it looks good to you

    thanks Anh - hope you enjoy!

  10. Phew, what a whirlwind tour! Thanks for the warning about Snag Stand - I'll be careful what I order there in future.


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