45 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
03 9650 1445
n. A welcomed start to the work day.
It has been a while since I’ve been so excited to get out of bed on a weekday. Cumulus Inc made it well worth the freezing trek up to the CBD’s Spring St end. Much to my delight, we were seated immediately without having to wait at the bar. Unlike 7:30 on most nights, the restaurant was only one third full at 7:30 in the morning. Although, it does get quite busy come 8 o’clock.
The place has a really laid back, lofty feel – like I had just woken up to a casual breakfast at a mate’s studio apartment…with the only light source being the dim glimpse of sunlight Winter has decided to bestow on us. Even though there were already quite a few tables waiting for their food when we put in our order, we were still able to be in and out within the hour, without feeling rushed for time. How the one chef managed to get the orders out reasonably quickly, all by himself, is beyond me. Kudos to him.
That was what I was looking forward to the night before, but turns out E wanted the same thing… So I thought I’ll try something different and scab a little bit of her dish. If my taste buds weren’t all awake, they were now! Not your ordinary breakfast and such a novel idea to have it come out in an iron cast pan. It had a Middle Eastern flavour that packed an adequate punch in the little spoonful I tasted. Now that I think about it, it wouldn’t have hurt to have ordered the same thing.
The egg looks poached, but it’s actually slow cooked in its shell in 65 degrees for 65 minutes. It was light enough to make me not feel food fatigue in the morning, but enough to satiate me for the entire afternoon! Love the combination of apple, avocado and toast covered with warm, runny egg yolk.
Looked delectable but not a fan of the blood sausage on toast. It’s not the food, just comes down to personal taste because S loves the blood *makes a funny face*.
I noticed I’ve been straying from my regular choice of scrambled eggs for breakfast. It’s a good sign – I’m adapting to change and variety.
Melbourne Supper Club
Level 1/161 Spring St, Melbourne
03 9654 6300
Funny how The European has been one of my favourite haunts but I’ve never actually paid any attention to that unassuming door right next to it. Ascending the flight of stairs to the Supper Club, I braced myself for some pretentious snobbery from the staff. To my surprise, it was quite the opposite, they were very accommodating on what seemed like a very busy Saturday night. Kudos to them for not judging our post-iceskating get up (or at least I couldn’t sense anything uppity about their attitudes).
The place is definately something. The decor is warm and old fashioned, with a mash-up of comfy barrel chairs and large leather couches. Offering only very dim lighting, it reminds me of a place that old men bring their dates to before taking them home for some sexy time. It set such a mood that one couple didn’t even make it home before the hanky panky started. But it’s not all like that. It is a great place to hang out till the wee hours of the morning without feeling like you’re holding the waitstaff back from finishing up – they close at 6am!
They have an extensive and expensive liquor list which I don’t care for, since I don’t drink, but I thought you might. I was there for some late night food that is not China Bar or Chillipadi. We shared the Crème Brulee, Sticky Date Pudding and I tried some of my friend’s Croque Monsieur (toasted ham and cheese, sounds ordinary, but far from it).
Crème Brulee, I don’t rate it at all, I could taste too much of the egg and the texture was airy and lumpy. Oh European, why did you have to take the Crème Catalana off your menu!!
The Sticky Date Pudding, on the other hand, sat invitingly in a generous amount of butterscotch sauce, enough to polish off the entire thing without a dry moment. So soft, so fluffy, so decadent, so bad for my waist line.
So coming back.
327 Mt Dandenong Tourist Road, Sassafras
03 9755 1466
We stopped by Flippin’ Pancakes on our way back down from an excursion up the mountains during ANZAC long weekend. Let me just say, entering the car park from the road and parking was an adventure in itself. The entrance was a steep upward drive. Felt like it was on a 50 degree angle!
Flippin’ Pancakes came highly recommended by a friend of mine who is a Mt Dandy resident. Walk in and it was like one big antique function room with aged maroon carpet. But it had a very warm and inviting homey cottage feel. Although I did find it a bit odd when I saw a disco ball was hanging on the wooden frame above us.
The serving sizes make the prices a very reasonable deal, in comparison to Pancake Parlour. I shared the savoury Saucy Bird crepes so I could have enough room to try Gone Bananas for dessert.
The Saucy Bird ($12.90) are crepes filled with chicken and mushroom, similar to the Chicken Nicoise special at PP. It was tasty with generous chunks of meat, but nothing mind blowingly good.
Gone Bananas ($12.90) was one large crepe packed with soft, warm banana pieces, marinated with maple syrup, cinnamon and cointreau, similar to the Jamaican Banana at Pancake Parlour. It would have maybe been better on pancakes rather than crepes. But each to their own. I love anything and everything cinnamon! Their pancakes are nice and fluffy, with generous serves of fruits/topping.
And another thing – They make one of the BEST vanilla smoothies I have ever tasted!! How can plain vanilla taste so good? I don’t know, but it is. I shit you not.
Very accommodating staff, especially with our group of 8 and our split bill request. Perfect for a relaxing Sunday brunch when time is not of the essence.
Sho Noodle Bar
Crown Casino Complex, Southbank
03 9292 6885
You can see this restaurant has been designed with particular emphasis on a sleek and classy ambience, the kitchen is fully on show and enclosed by the bar seats. Reminds me of the decor/setup of L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Paris. With this association, I just don’t feel the decor matches well with the South East Asian menu at Sho. However, it is expected to appear lavish since it is, after all, a part of the Casino complex, which also means it is out of bounds for under 18s. The restaurant has an open design where you can still feel and see the atmosphere of the gaming floor, with flashing lights, ding ding noises, and all.
We had walked over to Crown after dinner purposely to try the Sago Gula Malacca that my friend was raving on about. They have an International-Guest-Friendly menu with English, Chinese and Vietnamese. Expensive place. $30, three small desserts and a bottle of Pellegrino later, I had still not tasted the Sago Gula Malacca. Because they had ran out. I am having so much luck with food lately, the dishes I order somehow are always “sold out”.
I ended up with the sticky rice with pandan kaya (coconut jam) and drizzled with golden syrup. Two pieces of 4cm squares were presented on a plate. The bland sticky rice flavour mixed with the sweetness of the jam and syrup makes a palatable combination, until about the fifth spoonful. Interesting to try but not something I would have again, unless I am in Asia. No sane Asian person would pay $6.50AUD for that. Seriously.
The menu should clearly state it is a soup because the name easily makes me assume it’s a solid. This was only lightly sweetened with black sticky rice floating around. The third mystery dessert was a Mango Pudding, which looked extremely refreshing but I did not have a chance to try.
I don’t think I can make much of a judgement of Sho since I did not go through the full dining experience there. The savoury dishes, I have been told are quite nice, so perhaps I shall come back here on the rare chance I find myself in the gambling area of Crown again.
196 Victoria St, Richmond
03 9421 2418
A catch up with gorgeous bestie led us to the inner city equivalent of Springvale, where she took me to her fav restaurant for pho. When it comes to good tasty pho, I have the assumption it can only be found in the scungiest of places (I am imagining a white tiled room, a la the original SAW movie). My memory of the most delicious pho of all time was in a white tiled store front on Phu Quoc Island in 2008. Naturally, the first thing I asked was “Is this place scungy looking?” to which she replied with a “no”.
Prepared for standard Vietnamese fare, we walked into the decently packed Co Do and was greeted with organised chaos. The man was shouting over the noise to seat the few groups that had tried to squash themselves in the narrow entrance path. The place was painted a warm maroon with a continuous panel of mirrors along each wall, and with furniture native to cheap, no fuss eateries. We were seated right up at the back next to the till where everyone goes up to pay. Our explicit conversations would have to be toned down.
They had a huge menu to suit whatever tastebud it seems but our choices did not stray from the first page. Initially deciding on two bowls of pho, pork spring rolls, prawn rice paper rolls, the roasted quail and my four colour drink, we had come to the rational decision that it may be too much for the two of us. So cancel the prawn rice paper rolls, thanks.
Food came out relatively quickly, though when one is busy with gossip, wait time is a non issue. My four colour drink was different to other watered down versions I’ve had in the past as I actually made a conscious note about being able to taste the coconut milk, rather than melted ice. The spring rolls was freshly fried, crunchy on the outside and hot on the inside, none of that soggy crap you sometimes get. The roasted quail was the favaourite dish of the night, with a spicy savoury sweetness to it. I love quail, and I love quail eggs, but my mother has warned of the high cholesterol content of both. Boo.
Our pho came out topped with a sufficient amount of meat and a delicate broth that wasn’t too salty. I normally mix in a generous amount of Hoi Sin sauce (seafood sauce) provided on the table to give it a sweeter taste. Service was acceptable and they promptly came over after I had knocked over my cup of tea, they did not bother us much after that which is perfectly fine with me. Overall, no complaints with anything except for the lack of chilli paste on our table and tea refill. But kudos to the Roasted Quail dish!! Standard it was not!
Total came to just below $40. Not bad at all for the amount of food we had. I was completely stuffed at the end of the night.
161 Spring St, Melbourne
Since we couldn’t make it to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D due to that freakish tropical weather on Saturday night, we rescheduled to the Sunday arvo session — another opportunity to eat out! It felt like more of a chore, even though I WAS looking forward to Alice, having to drag my ass out of bed early on a Sunday morning. But the thought of brunch after the movie was motivation enough.
I’ve been to The European for dinner and late night dessert but not for brunch(the meal that is most raved about there). It was a very busy Sunday afternoon when we walked in at 2.30pm but the crowd cleared out soon after. Sunday brunch is available until 4pm! Breakfast for me is normally scrambled eggs on toast with mushrooms, but that day, I had a curiosity to try something I had NEVER EVER tried before — Eggs Benedict.
Out came a plate of Eggs Atlantic, which is Eggs Benedict with salmon instead of ham. The noise of the restaurant drowned out with my first bite, and all I could hear were the voices of heaven. The hollandaise sauce felt like such a guilty pleasure. Eggs Atlantic, where have you been all my life!!
I had a taste of my companion’s scrambled eggs and it was a little too soggy for my liking. Wasn’t a fan. But The European still remains one of my staples for quality food and a cozy bistro atmosphere, even though they took my favourite dessert off the menu!! — The Creme Catalana.
Now to the movie — Alice in Wonderland complete with its dark undertones, was a thoroughly enjoyable movie. I did read the shocking review from that UK critic who observed that Alice looked like she was on drugs, and Johnny Depp’s Scottish accent kept dropping out. His sheer ignorance amuses me. Did he overlook the fact that it may have been part of the movie? Don’t expect a rendition of Disney’s Alice, because this is a Tim Burton film.
SOUQ Kitchen & Bar
194 Commercial Road, Toorak
03 9510 3654
After a week of work and uni, my brain was absolutely fried. So I was pleasantly surprised when my friend happily took the executive decision making out of my hands this time around. How we ended up at this gem of a restaurant was literally random luck — he had imported my list of 50 ‘To Try’ restaurants into Excel and created a random generator spreadsheet. All you had to do was press one button. So thank you, ‘F9’.
SOUQ is a relatively new restaurant on Commercial Road, opened some time in the second half of 2009. The same strip is also home to the second Hutong Dumpling Bar (which is supposedly an institution), which I was tempted to walk into instead of SOUQ. Reason? It was 7.30pm and SOUQ was empty, whilst Hutong was bustling. Maybe it is just me, but I get a little awkward walking into an empty restaurant. It makes me feel like I am making the biggest mistake of my life being there.
Lucky we did nothing of that sort! F9 had spoken, and must be obeyed
SOUQ is a fusion between Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and North African food. The place was decked out with Morrocan style furnishings, very warm, earthy and comfortable. The waitress was very helpful and made me a pretty decent lychee mocktail — yes, non alcoholic drinks is how I roll.