Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Burger Block, Kew (by invitation) by Benny

Burger Heaven has been found! It’s in a tiny, largely neglected shopping strip near the old outer circle railway reservation in Kew. 

Burgers have long been the food of the common man, so it should not be too surprising that some of the best come from modest surrounds. In the case of The Burger Block, the surrounds are not so much ‘modest’, as ‘dilapidated’. The shopping strip looks like it was built in bits starting in the 1920s and ending in the 1970s, with most of the shops showing little evidence of any renovation or renewal since. The exceptions are a couple of cafés that are clearly popular with Ladies Who Lunch.

While The Burger Block sports bold new signage, new tables and chairs and fresh flowers on the inside tables, the fundamentals look as if they have been serving the locals for quite some time. But don’t let this fool you – Bilby Blue confidently proclaimed her chicken burger as the best she has ever tasted! And my Asian-inspired beef burger was so amazing that surely it can’t possibly be good for me.

The Burger Block, Kew, cajun chicken burger
Cajun chicken burger

Owner Brenda has invited Bilby and me to sample her burgers, and after a warm welcome, allows us free range of the largish menu – six Fusion Beef Burgers; five levels of Block Legends (which are really the same burger, but just bigger, and bigger, and …); eight Fusion Chicken Burgers; and for the non-meat-eaters, a Tempura Fish Burger and a Vegie Patch Burger. This abundance is augmented by other bready goodies such as a selection of toasties and Turkish pides, as well as dim sims (fried or steamed). For those needing something sweet after their burger, there are Belgian waffles, muffins, slices and a selection of good-looking bikkies.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Camberwell Charcoal Chicken, Camberwell by Obelix

Camberwell Charcoal Chicken is our family's chicken go-to.  Despite curt customer service (I have yet to see the proprietress crack a smile), we keep going back and here are the reasons why.

Camberwell Charcoal Chicken
Its chickens are far superior to the roast chooks of the supermarkets.  The charcoal flavours permeate through the moist meat.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sister of Society, Prahran (by invitation) by Benny

Our hosts Fraser and Olivia are expertly working the room, giving all of their guests a friendly welcome, ensuring that this launch event is going to be a success. A lot of thought and work has gone into the design and set-up of Sister of Society – an on-trend bar and nightspot in the fashionable part of Chapel St.

The view through the tinted full length windows gives a hint of the modish interior and great-looking bar – enough to pique the curiosity and draw you inside. Low lighting creates a warm enticing ambience, tinged bright red by the SOS neon on the wall. A mix of seating ensures the perfect spot to match your mood and the size of your party: squeeze into a comfy booth, park on a bench at a coffee table, convene around a bar table, or perch on a bar stool for counter-style eating, drinking and conversing. Looking for a bit of privacy? Head right down the back past the bar and servery and you’ll find a very comfortable nook, ideal for a half dozen or so close friends.

Sister of Society, Prahran, Morrocan spiced lamb
Moroccan spiced lamb with pine nuts, hummus, labne and pomegranate

Inside you will find craft beers (bottle and draught, both local and international), trendy cocktails and a decent selection of wines and spirits, plus great friendly service (which, to be fair, is hard pressed tonight, but is holding up very well). And the reason that Bilby Blue and I are here – the food!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Flying Woks, by Obelix

I approached the queue of Flying Woks food truck with much anticipation.  They certainly had the theatrics down pat.  Mighty big woks and guys stirring the contents within with big spades.  It was how I imagine witches would tend their bubbling cauldron(s).  

I gather from the Flying Woks' website, they offer a manner of all things Asian such as noodles, steamed buns, as well as paellas and Moroccan tagines.  However on the day that they visited, they were serving two noodle dishes.  

Flying Woks, food truck, rice noodles, vegetarian
One was a vegetarian rice noodles with a Tom Yum sauce.  This is what I had.  I ended up eating two of these noodle boxes as it was a scanty on the serves.  It was a bit lackadaisical.  The quality was akin to what I can cook at home (I'm not much of a cook).  It could have done with more vegetables and tofu.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Rosie, Parnell (NZ) by Bilby Blue

It had been a hectic day at the office, and lunch had been overlooked in the rush to meet deadlines. I deserved a special treat and Rosie – one of the eateries in Auckland’s Hip Group – looked like it could deliver the goods.

Its focus is on locally sourced, fresh, seasonal food, with the aim of letting the ingredients shine. And based on my experience, Rosie totally nailed it.

Rosie, Parnell New Zealand - zucchini flowers
When dining solo, I rarely have more than a main and dessert, but the entrée options sounded so good that I could not resist going that extra distance. For my entrée I chose the special of the day: fried zucchini flowers (from the Hip Group’s own farm) stuffed with pinenuts and feta, with charred zucchini, radish and zucchini puree. It was a great dish (the photograph does not do it justice). The feta by itself was extremely salty, but worked brilliantly when eaten together with the incredibly smooth zucchini puree.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Thresherman's Bakehouse, Carlton by Bureaucrat

Thresherman's Bakehouse brings back waves of nostalgia for me.  As bright-eyed 17-year old uni student (yes, I was once precocious), I stumbled into Thresherman's and got bamboozled by the communal tables and left the place without buying anything.  They say uni opens one's eyes, and yes, my hayseed eyes were wide open and couldn't comprehend why anyone would want to share a table with strangers.

Nowadays, I can cope with eating at restaurants that have communal tables, though I still struggle to understand why people would want to rub elbows at the dinner table with Tom, Dick and Harry.  I mean, in any other situation you'd want strangers seated as far away from you as possible... anyone who's travelled on public transport could empathise on that point.  Therefore, if I'm paying for a meal, I want a table to myself, thank you!

As a uni student (or indeed a salaried slave), you can eat like a king at Thresherman's.  Servings are large and the prices are cheap; even better, the quality is pretty good, too.  I was curious to see if things had changed since I last visited there 12 odd years ago.

Thresherman's Bakehouse, Carlton, lasagna
Happily, very little, if any, has changed.  I was very glad that two items that we ate on a regular basis were still available, still tasted good and still at a good price.  I got both as a takeaway to share with the Lawyer as a nostalgic foodie trip.  The slice of lasagna is now around $10 - it's still meaty, cheesy and filling.  Good times!