Sunday, October 13, 2019

Vanilla Cakes and Lounge, Oakleigh by Bureaucrat

I've previously declared my love for Nikos Cakes.  If you've been to Eaton Mall in Oakleigh, it's hard to miss that Nikos Cakes is located at one end of the mall, while Vanilla Cakes and Lounge is located on the other end.  Both are big cake shops.  Both are popular.  And both have loyal patrons.  

Vanilla Cakes and Lounge, Oakleigh
While I love Nikos, I couldn't resist the siren call that was coming from Vanilla Cakes and Lounge.  And with a smidge of betrayal in my tummy, I decided to give Vanilla a go - hoping that it wouldn't be better than Nikos.  So whose cakes reign supreme?  Read on! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

D'elephant, Chadstone by Bureaucrat

One of the good things about shopping centres is that they now have a range of better quality dining options - a very welcome change from the rather dreary food court fare of days gone by.  This time around, we found ourselves at Chadstone Shopping Centre and an opportunity for an early lunch saw us front up for a table at D'elephant.

I've eaten at D'elephant Thai Street at the Glen Shopping Centre which I really enjoyed.  However, from what I understand, this particular D'elephant at Chadstone is not located in the food court and is styled more like a restaurant - so, no buzzing electronic tokens heralding your order and table service is offered instead.  As Mother Hen and I were soon to find out, there are also slight changes in the menu offerings.

D'elephant, Chadstone, kao mhu grob
I was really hoping to order the grilled chicken with rice and soup dish that they have at D'elephant Thai Street Food.  Alas, this was one of those dishes that do not appear at the restaurant version of D'elephant.  I took this opportunity to try something new - Kao Mhu Grob.  This was a very rich and yummy crispy roast pork.  The pork was pretty good - most of the crackling was deliciously crunchy, although there were a few chewier/tougher bits.  The meat itself was tender and had a nice meat-to-fat ratio.  It came drizzled with an aromatic sauce and served with soup, rice, half a boiled egg, cucumber slices and steamed gai lan.  All of this was done very nicely.  There was a soy-chilli dipping sauce which we avoided as some of it splashed out and we found out unexpectedly that it packs fiery punch!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Niska, Melbourne by Bureaucrat

Robots? Yes!  Ice cream? Yes!

Welcome to the future of ice cream, Melbourne!  Just in time for the school holidays, the Melbourne Show and the footy Grand Final, Niska has arrived in Australia.  It's a no-brainer that this futuristic robotic ice cream shop will be popular.  

Niska, Melbourne, Pepper, robot, ice cream
Thanks, Pepper! I love it when my decisions are validated.

Niska's robots (named Pepper, Eka and Tony) are on-site to take your orders and serve up locally-made ice cream.  Customers put in their orders with Pepper via a touch screen.  You can order one or two scoops (from a choice of about 16 flavours) and a range of toppings.  

Monday, August 26, 2019

Gallery Restaurant, Ballarat by Foghorn Leghorn

For a few decades after the gold rush of the 1850s, Ballarat was one of the wealthiest cities in the world. You can still see the wealth in the buildings from that period, and one of the best examples is Craig’s Royal Hotel, built in 1862. Back in the day, it was the hotel of choice for Mark Twain and other celebrities.

Gallery Restaurant, Ballarat, assiette of duck
Assiette of duck with nettle puree and roast carrots

A few years ago the building was completely renovated with a modern addition: the courtyard was enclosed with a glass ceiling, creating a light and airy space for a modern restaurant. It displays a changing set of artwork on the walls, so it’s called the Gallery.

On a cycling weekend in Ballarat, Mrs Shiraz and I went to the Gallery for lunch. After a morning of strenuous bush-bashing (trying to cycle the Goldfields Track to Creswick - more info on this later) we’d worked up a bit of an appetite.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Hunters & Disciples, West Melbourne by Foghorn Leghorn

I’m a long term fan of Southbank restaurant Tutto Bene, so I was pretty keen when I heard that their former chef Nathan Scarfo has opened up a café in West Melbourne. What’s more, it was a trip to the old neighbourhood, because I lived in West Melbourne for a couple of years in the early 1980s.

The café, Hunters & Disciples, is in a courtyard off Spencer Street. My recollection is that this was a truck depot, and the drivers used to drink at my local, the Moomba Hotel (now a backpacker place). The renovated café space is cool and funky industrial: polished concrete, exposed ducts and cables, with a spacious feeling that comes from the high ceilings of the original building. There’s background music at just the right volume.

Hunters & Disciples, West Melbourne, charcuterie board
Charcuterie board

The menu is café style, mainly muesli, eggs, toast and a few other odds and ends. There’s a specials board with pasta, soup and pizza. The café is still waiting for its liquor licence, so drinks are limited to non-alcoholic.

After a bit of discussion, I went for the spinach and ricotta gnocchi (from the specials board), and Tam O’Shanter chose the Hunter Burger. There’s also a breakfast burger on the menu, but hard experience has taught us to avoid anything with this description. One thing a breakfast burger doesn’t contain is a burger. There should be a law against it, but there isn’t yet.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Curator 23, Mt Waverley by Bureaucrat

As fun as it is to try new places, it's always good to return back to those cafes that made a good impression.  Two years ago, we checked out Curator 23 and for a cold blustery lunch one day, we thought it was timely to go visit it again.  

Curator 23, Mt Waverley
The biggest change to Curator 23 was the decor.  It used to smartly decorated in bright yellow and modern touches, which I liked.  But now, it's transformed into this almost Alice in Wonderland does high tea with nanna, which I love!  And clearly, I'm not the only woman who thinks that - the cafe was filled with smartly dressed ladies having a yarn over tea and lunch.  There's lots of greenery (albeit of the plastic variety), velvet cushions, marbled table tops, Laguiole knives, Le Creuset crockery, gorgeous wooden trays, dainty heavy golden teaspoons, and lots of pink, pink, pink!  The owners have clearly spent some serious coin in decorating a modest suburban eatery.  Even the Lawyer said he felt conscious of the fact that he, along with two other guys, were the only men in the cafe... lol.