Thursday, 21 May 2015

A Trendy Serenity

Hawk and Hunter is a well layed out open spaced cafe that is bustling with morning local diners of Ripponlea.

Large communal table with delightful comfy seating is where we sat so I could gaze upon the action of the Sunday morning. Over hanging industrial lighting on the pallet made table with a mix match collage of a paper tree was actually rather a pleasant feel to the dining experience.

Service was fantastic and I commend our waiter, a young well mannered gentlemen was more than happy to chat, offer ideas and was fast on his feet. I unfortunately failed to get his name but the service truly made me feel welcomed to dine.

Using 5 senses coffee the creme was golden and rich and a medium well bodied blend of bean. Would make anyone enjoy there coffee. Temperature was perfect and if you are into it a little art on your late was good.

So breakfast on a Sunday, theres no denying by now it's my thing and if you haven't read my other blogs - I am one to enjoy the Sunday Breakfast.

Hawk and Hunter have what you would expect on the menu for a breakfast meal.

Smashed avocado, Corn and Zucchini fritters, Spanish Breakfast, Bircher muesli and so on to name a few. But I have to say the serving sizes are large and the dishes have a slight change to the usual to make the dishes there own.

For example the Fancy Forest Mushrooms are far from having just a serve of buttered button mushrooms. Here we have sautéed mixed mushrooms in a truffle butter served with a runny poached egg and polenta chips. This selection of wild mushrooms were full flavoured and with a slight add of lemon juice brought this dish to the next level.

The Hawk Benedict was gorgeous with the perfectly cooked poached eggs with short cut bacon on top of what they call Dr Marty's crumpets, fresh asparagus and house hollandaise.

The crumpets were amazing, far from any other house made crumpet that I have tasted. Light fluffy and delicious soaking in the hollandaise sauce and the oil from the bacon. On the side there version of a potato rosti. A dense rosti indeed but jam packed with fresh herbs and a stunning golden crisp coating.

To unwind and relax you should try there detox tea, served in a dainty glass pot with cup and saucer I did feel a little bit like Alice in Wonderland for a moment. But the tea was lovely, fresh lemon, mint and a touch of chilli really made you unwind and enjoy your serenity.

On your way out or perhaps if you still have room for more you should check out the cake counter.

A counter of muffins, slices, filled donuts and musk sticks just to name a few delights but make sure you check out the fridge for more intense chocolate treats.

I really did get to enjoy  the overall experience here. The staff worked well together and it showed both in the service and on the plate.

If you are in the area and you catch Public Transport into the city then you will be happy to know that it's right beside the station for that easy access to caffeine on the run.

Happy dining and Thanks to the Team of Hawk and Hunter.

Hawk & Hunter
8 Glen Eira Ave
9528 2719

Hawk & Hunter on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 14 May 2015

How may I direct your call?

With these wintery mornings it is getting so much harder to get out of bed. But if you are a food entrepreneur such as myself (or blogger which ever you would like to say) it's great. While the people are tucked in their beds I get up put on the beanie and scarf that I knitted, drag the hubby with me and head out for a quiet breakfast as the cafe doors just open.

Recently I was able to get to Operator 25. Just around the corner of Victoria market nestled down a side street behind a dance studio and offices it was already bustling with diners.

The menu has a great selection of dishes that are all plated with phasic and inspiring compositions that is now what is hitting the breakfast food scene.

The coffee has a stunning crema and is full bodied, great for those like myself that need the morning to start off with a good coffee. The respect of a bean can really make a difference and here the coffee is well respected.

On this mornings menu choice I went for the sweet option of the Elderflower Sago: a combination of chia seeds, strawberry and rhubarb compote, freeze dried mango and a white chocolate foam.

A refreshing and sweet start to the morning. It was hard not to eat it too quickly, some restraint was required. A very well balanced flavour with nothing over powering. I enjoyed the mango shards to give it complexion and texture. And of course.... pretty on the plate.

It was hard to choose my breakfast and I wish I could sometimes have 3 meals to myself, but alas it won't happen.

But to choose against the Sago, Ginger and date bread with caramelised banana mascarpone, salted milk crumb and pomegranate sauce or the Granola clusters with seasonal fruits coconut honey yoghurt and mandarine juice is really Hard.

Paul went for the savoury side of things, and it was a good choice at that. Smoked Sardines: on grilled rye bread covered with pickled cucumber, manchego, sour cherry, rocket and dill.

Under those luscious greens are delicately smoked sardine fillets that when combined with the cherry, cucumber and green mix is a world of pleasure about to be had when placed in your mouth.

Sweet and sour combinations enhance the sardines and are outstanding. It's possibly a dish that most would shy away from, being sardines and all. But these little fish are actually really good for you and hold an amazing flavour.
If you feel like getting a little fancy try In-house coffee spritzer and iced tea. The coffee spritzer is flavoured with cold brew, maple syrup, lemon, lychee, micro lemon balm and tonic water. A great stomach detox with all the lemon and tonic water and slightly bitter on the palate.

The iced tea is more suited for the sweet toothed people with Hibiscus, chamomile, eucalyptus honey and served with mint, orange and nata de cocoa.

It was a pleasant dining experience and most popular with the mums with kids in the dance studio. Great location pre or post venturing to the Victoria market and catch up with a friend.

There plating is eye catching and they will continue to grow with fans of the food crazed population.

Operator 25
25 Wills Street
9670 3278

Operator25 on Urbanspoon

Heighten the Senses

Isn't is amazing how our 5 senses are continuously working every minute of every day. I think they work harder than ourselves at work to be honest.

Everyone eats with their eyes, when it's fancy on a plate there is no doubt your mind will tell you its going to be delicious.

When you hear the surrounding people talk about their meal, your mind will believe them.

Smells and aromas that carry though out the restaurant activates the taste buds making you get anxious about where your dish is and changes you to all of a sudden be starving.

I recently went in and stopped at North Melbourne's new addition to the cafe scene "Mork Chocolate". A cafe dedicated to our grand chocolate lovers.

This quaint modern establishment is a place where you can catch up with a friend for an hour over petite cakes and of course chocolate beverages galore. Choose anything from a unique chocolate soda to the usual hot chocolate.

Start your dining experience with coco infused water to cleanse the palate and to get you ready to enjoy the rich chocolate goodness.

I had to go for something different that you wouldn't find in any other chocolate cafe and that was the Chocolate Soda. This lightly sparkling mineral water was infused with a bitter chocolate and a side of in house syrup to heighten the sweetness at your leisure. Unusual to say the least however interesting all the same and it works.

At first I was unsure whether I was meant to expect something like a spider after seeing the fizz the chocolate created when added to the soda, but it was far from that.

You can not compare it to anything from your childhood memories of chocolate and sodas. The flavours are rich and genuinely intense, but pleasantly enjoyable.

A lovely little brûlée tart was the perfect match as suggested by the team. creamy custard centre under a golden brûlée top and shortbread biscuit base.

The other unusual chocolate drink that caught my eye was the smoked chocolate. Smoke caught under the glass and chocolate served on the side was a magical experience. As the glass is turned the smoke awakened your senses but caught enough that when chocolate is added the fusion begins. Add a little salt to the glass and the experience has begun.

You can never say no to the accompaniment of a toasted marshmallow either. It makes you feel like you should be back on your school camps. Smoke of a camp fire and toasting your marshmallows while sitting on the logs. It's a perfect memory to be placed with this drink.

Although the menu is not extensive than a usual cafe, it is not needed. It is an indulgent place where you can not go to the extreme to  have everything on the menu, although you may think you should.

I did 2 chocolate drinks and both were as rich as each other, you can't really go for a third unless you are an extensive chocoholic and are crazy.

The best thing about this is that you would return. I'm already scheduled to go again to take my sister and she is a Chocoholic, so I will be interested to see how she goes.

I think I will be going for the Layered chocolate of chilled dark topped with warm custard or perhaps the A chocolate bar of hot chocolate with hazelnut and caramel. Who knows?

The team are great and can help you with the right selection and matching cake to go with what you choose. So don't be afraid to ask questions. You have to get the pairing right, it will make your experience even more exciting.

Mork Chocolate
150 Errol Street
North Melbourne
9328 1386

Mork Chocolate on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Top of it's Game

It's with no doubt as to why Top Paddock is hitting the high charts of the latest places to eat.

On the busiest road (Church st) in Richmond Top Paddock knows how to make you relax from the daily grime.

Decked out to glamorous measures with a modern interior, high bench seating, central barista station and calm exterior seating you almost believe your in such a busy location.

On such a pristine afternoon you don't need to question on where to sit. Overlooking luscious elm trees on s tiny parkland area it is tranquil and relaxing. A perfect place to escape.

The menu screams to you with freshness and amazing flavour combinations. Almost to hard to decide and to be honest I wish I was dining with more people so I could take more photos. Or maybe I could have turned into a freak and just taken photos of the surrounding tables so you can see how amazing each dish looked.

An inspiring tasteful dish of Pan fried local snapper served upon a tortilla with fresh avocado, tomato, rd chilli and a fried egg. Squeeze a little acidity of lime and this dish explodes with light fresh flavours.

Pleasant for those looking for something light. The snapper was cooked delicately and remained succulent. Hints of chilli powered through the lime coating and balanced well with the juicy tomatoes.

A tasty Fresh Queensland mud crab incased in a brioche bun with a fresh dill and fennel salad and lime mayo was exquisite or as I quote my mother in law "to die for".

This picturesque burger not only looked tasty but shone through it's flavours. Add a little hint of chilli if you love fresh chilli to heighten the flavours even more.

Both meals went down with a lovely fruity sav blanc and made it for a perfect grazing afternoon and catch up with friends.

Top Paddock focusses and commits to traceability of there produce. They ensure that full support are provided to their suppliers to deliver there visions and passions.

For this I know that there deliverance of meals will showcase bold flavours and amazing passion in the kitchen. It makes me really love what they do.

Top Paddock
658 Church Street
9429 4332

Top Paddock on Urbanspoon

From Sea to Plate

Claypots seafood bar in St. Kilda has been operating for a near 20 years. This quaint restaurant ensures in serving fresh sustainable seafood to your plate and a forever changing menu.

The small dining area is faintly lite and decked out with old victorian caboose doors and seating with a calm court yard adjacent.  At the front entrance you can pre gather your friends around the bar for a chat and drink before seating.

For a Monday evening from as early as 6pm this restaurant is full of fellow diners. with a small area the noise level is loud but with a large group like us, I'm sure it was us making the most of it.

But I was not here for a romantic dinner out, Tonight we eat!

For a light starter we all shared a Meze plate with fresh Turkish bread and dip. Fresh cucumber and tomato along side some marinated mushrooms, fresh skate and calamari was a great beginning.

While enjoying the plate an array of charred seafood and melting garlic butter wafted through the restaurant. It was the sign that dinner was going to be amazing. There is nothing better than heightened senses when eating out and when you can identify something so delicious as garlic and gar grilling you have to admit it gets you excited.

Claypots Garlic prawns was served next, cooked whole these Queensland prawns were HUGE! They say that if these were taken off the menu there would be a riot at the door. I would probably be one of those rioters if it happened.

Delicious flavours of garlic and herbs had soaked into the shell of the prawns and theres nothing better afterwards than to grab fresh bread and soak up the butter sitting on the bottom of the pan. More of that please!

To follow was whole Chilli cram and mussels. An infusion of chilli and lemon had coated the crab and the meat was so delicate and tasty I am glad we got a whole one each otherwise there would have been a fight.  With this dish you need to get in and get dirty. Grab those crab crackers and make sure you get every inch of the crab meat.

The whole fishes of Crispy skin Silver Dory with Sambal was truly one ugly fish but the flavours were strong and meat tender. Accompanied with potatoes and wilted greens the fish was not so ugly when you ate it. It did get you going back for more.

My favourite of the night was the Coral Trout coated with a sesame sot and ginger coating. Pretty on the plate and in the mouth.

This pleasant infused fish served with rice and asian greens

Simple flavours done well to such a succulent fish. Slightly sweet but the fish itself is a sweet type of sigh and one of my top picks in the fish world, it actually over takes the salmon placement.

Big sigh like these two tend to scare people. The questions that often come with it is can you remove the head - I don't eat fish with heads or how do you eat it.

The thing is that fish like this served in restaurants such as Claypots have been treaded so well with respect that neither of these questions should be asked.

The flesh falls off straight way causing no fuss to the fish that you need to flip over. As for the head the cheeks are where the flavour is best, you don't have to eat the eye if you don't want..... Did that just make you cringe?

Other things that may take your interest is there claypot dishes such as the Cajun style Flathead. Similar to a Gumbo the ingredients are all cooked in the same pot and served to your table.

A little easier to tackle if I have scared you off from the large fishes of the sea, which I really hope I haven't.

It's funny, a lot of us say they don't like seafood but somewhere or somehow I think we are just unsure. People play it safe when it comes to seafood and things like dishes that in your mind are to difficult to eat make you say I don't like it.

Seafood often is a sweet meat and the nature of destination and where it comes from changes the flavours completely. Whether it be from muddy, fresh or salt waters each individual fish and crustacean takes on a new form.

Dining in places such as Claypots can help you fins the seafood you like. They know the sources of where there produce has come from and the flavours it's suited with.

Claypots Seafood Bar
213 Barkly street
St. Kilda
9534 1282

Claypots Seafood & Wine on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

You Beautiful Thing - Make A Wish

Recently my apple of my eye and key to my heart Paul celebrated his last years of adventures of being in his 30's (sorry Paul but it's true - you can laugh at me when I reach the same point I promise). Paul always says he's easy to buy for but from every member of the family we can say it's not true. A humble fella that is happy with anything, but as a wife I feel I need to impress and deliver like he does for me every anniversary and birthday.

A dinner and quiet venture out was planned to somewhere that we had tried to get in before without a booking but failed. Of 2 people who have travelled the restaurant life for years should know that a table on a Friday night with no booking is hard to come by. So with no hesitation my wish list was looked up for a special occasion and a table booked.

This is what I've been waiting for, a dining experience to take me away on a journey to celebrate anothers special day.

Saint Crispin to some is known as a Christian patron saint of cobblers, tanners, leather workers and curriers, but here in Collingwood we know him as a Restauranteur who is serving us fine cuisine for all that venture.

A scrumptious 7 course birthday dinner on a Tuesday was nothing more than venturous I could assure you. Most people are lucky to get through a 3 course meal let alone a 7. But I wanted to impress remember.... but are those eyes bigger than the stomach you ask..... well honestly Yes but so totally worth every nickel.

A palate cleanser to start (not part of the 7 courses by the way) was refreshing and defiantly a palate starter to what was headed our way.

First course a salt baked celeriac dish with goats curd, dill and an apple crumb. You know when you taste something amazing you want to devour it so fast you would end up forgetting what you just had? Well you have to refrain from doing it when dining here. Savour the flavours and love every mouthful. Light goats curd with a slight salty celeriac was delicate and delicious.

Second course was a Kangaroo tatrare with native palm, warrigal greens and mastic. Mastic is like an opaque gum that is hard and brittle with a refreshing flavour similar to pine or cedar. This very delicate dish was full flavoured and with light peach flavours to accompany the kangaroo, I would have to say was a perfect dish.

But I have to say my favorite dish of the night and which contained a mind blowing experience for me was the Bass Grouper on a bed of black rice and verdale olives with a smashing squid ink. This is my suggestion of what to have when dining here. The balance of flavour combinations were exquisite and one that I did devour but will still rave about it.

Next was the Pork served with charred cabbage, nashi kimchi and shitake with a miso broth. Beautiful pork from Western plains cooked to mouth watering perfection and dressed with asian flavours. The crackle was golden and crisp with a slight sweet flavour but melted away heavenly in the mouth.

Are you full yet???

By this point I was counting how many dishes we had devoured, but so happy with the fact that the dishes were so extraudinary. Knowing that there was still 3 courses left I was worried I wouldn't fit thm in. I had to stand up and give myself more room so I could finish hat I had started.

Glazed lamb neck with quinoa, beetroot and eggplant was intense and rich. glorious tender lamb neck with fresh beetroot was amazing but for me too rich after eating so many other m
eals. I had to stop half way. A great winter or cool night meal for sure.

Dessert came in 2 parts, thats right I said it 2 desserts. Ot's every man's dream isn't it  - well at least it's mine. You could never refuse a dessert let alone 2.

It's all about the strawberries with the Strawberry and goats cheese dessert served with white chocolate and logan. Freeze dried strawberries with a strawberry sorbet. Refreshing and pleasant and left you wanting a bigger serve so you could lick the plate even more.

The final meal was a decadent and delicious Chocolate custard with rosemary, cumquat and hazelnut. Together this dessert held powerful flavours somewhat savoury but still held it's sweet rich flavours. tart cumquat cut through the dark chocolate flavours and then good old rosemary came along and made it whole.

A dinner like this is not your usual night out thats for sure and needs to be saved for that special occasion. But if you are going here the prices of a 2 course is exceptionally reasonable with the quality of produce and amazing flavour combinations that they deliver.

If you are wanting to do a night like this make sure you book for the second sitting, it would be a very tight schedule to eat this in 2 hours if you want to enjoy it.

We had an amazing night and the service was pleasant through out the evening with even delivering that candle on a special someones dessert. I'm not too sure who got more excited about it though me or Paul. But hey I love birthdays, and if theres a candle on a cake, you have to get excited..... I will even blow out the candles if you don't want to, just make sure you make a wish when doing so.

It really is a restaurant you should visit, it is pretty amazing.

Saint Crispin
300 Smith street, Collingwood
9419 2202

Saint Crispin on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 15 March 2015

What is she hiding from you?

In one of Melbourne's prestigious Heritage listed building is a place where you can combine everything you love and everything that makes Melbourne known around the world. Food, Fashion, Music and Art.

A grand glass entrance with a gracious front desk and a pink lite horse floating above you is just the beginning of your night ahead.

I welcome you to Ms. Collins, a place where you gather friends, mingle and enjoy some superb hosted service through the night.

This venue is grand and spacious with closed off rooms, split level and designed with neon luminous lighting to set you into a relaxing ambience.

Something that you may not have realised though is that here at Ms Collins they not only have a grand central bar where people like to mingle at after the working hour, but there is an extraordinary kitchen.

An outstanding menu of street food designed by renowned chefs in Melbourne - Jaques Reymond (80 hatted chef), Daniel Wilson (Huxtable), Paul Wilson (Icebergs) and Riccardo Momesso (Velentino). Now that I've name dropped there is no way you could refuse to eat here right?

Here is a menu that doesn't need s description of the food as with these culinary superstars you can't choose any wrong dish - I'm serious.

Currently Ms Collins is Chowing or should I say Bao-ing down on a Friday night, making for a spectacular start to your weekend with a Bao and wine special. A weekly changing Bao is a great accompaniment with a beverage in the late afternoon or pre dinner snack. With my taste of Waygu beef brisket with pickled cabbage in a soft pillowy bao was a delicious start, and not to heavy either.

Opening the menu showcasing extravagant dishes it is hard to choose, do you select only from 1 chef, mix it up or choose from your favorite culinary star. I say mix it up, that way you can understand the styles of each chef and what they want to showcase.

During my time spent here I was blown away by the Empanadas de Picadillo with mission fig mole. This short pastry melted like heaven and with the rich mole filling and sweet fresh figs I was floating on cloud 9. It was that good I couldn't sit still, I was too excited and started texting people telling them what I was eating and how good it was.

Dessert was a Banana and Ron Zacapa parfait with salted caramel, hazelnut brittle and brulee bananas. What can I say.... this picturesque dessert filled with depth of flavour but not overpowering in sweetness. It is subtle and delicate just like how it is plated.

What I love about Ms Collins is how proud the team is both in the kitchen and those serving and hosting.

Watching the Kitchen I can see the detail taken on every plate and together working in-sync as a unity. It makes me happy when every part of the team are working harmoniously together making for a flawless service to the guest.

Ms Collins is serving there menu from 4pm Tuesday - Saturday and will not fail in delivering your high expectations of what is a grand menu.

By all means book a table and have it for the evening and then continue to stay and get your groove on when the music picks up.

I guarantee that you will be looked after and have your mind blown away by there hidden culinary delights, so much so you will make it your regular place for after work drinks or a friendly catch up in the city with friends.

Ms Collins
425 Collins street
8614 2222

Ms Collins on Urbanspoon