Monday, October 27, 2014

New Cafes and Restaurants in Melbourne

13 Brand New Melbourne Eateries That Haven’t Been Written About Anywhere

It's tough being a blogger. You're up against hundreds of others. You have to balance posts about cheery local brunch spots with extravagant banquets put on by PR companies. Plus you are generally in the shadow of publications such as Broadsheet, TimeOut and Epicure, which always have their fingers on the pulse of Melbourne's throbbing food scene (apologies if that was a bit visual). Every now and then, you beat them all. You have a little win and sit back smugly. Today I'm not just having one little win, but 13. Today I'm sharing 13 brand new cafes and restaurants in Melbourne that are yet to be written about. Go nuts, you ambulance chasers, you.

1. Village Cantina | 30 Ballarat St, Yarraville | (03) 9689 8000 
Opening just last week, Village Cantina is bringing tacos back in Yarraville. The decor is uncomplicated but effective, with the vibrant logo printed above the kitchen window and the usual Mexican artwork and knickknacks scattered around the place. The small courtyard is all set for summer, and the menu keeps things simple with tostaditas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas and nachos. 

source: Village Cantina Facebook, credit: Maguri Photography

Village Cantina on Urbanspoon 

2. All Blue Espresso | 187 Through Rd, Camberwell | (03) 8394 3968 
This humble little café in Camberwell serves up 5senses coffee and all the brunch favourites. Dishes like French toast, smashed avocado and bircher muesli are prettily presented, while bonus points are awarded for service with a smile. 

All Blue Espresso on Urbanspoon 

3. Harry Hall |115 Glenferrie Rd, Malvern | (03) 9509 2708 
Back in the 1930s, Harry Hall was a moneylender operating out of what is now Harry Hall restaurant and wine bar. There’s an open fire (and a courtyard on the way), as well as rooms available for private functions. Food-wise they do everything themselves, from smoking meat to stuffing sausages. The wine menu is also a bit different, listing an Australian or New Zealand wine beside a similar varietal from another part of the world. 

Harry Hall on Urbanspoon 

4. Brother Nancy | 182 Essex Street, Footscray | 0439 318 820 
Don't be fooled by the size of this tiny, minimalist cafe, the menu packs a punch thanks to its French chef out the back. Restaurant-quality dishes such as the chicken and quinoa salad, or perhaps the steak tartare, arrive artfully arranged. Brother Nancy is quietly scoring Footscray extra points in the competitive world of Melbourne dining. 

Brother Nancy on Urbanspoon

5. The Colonel's Son | 299 Beach Road, Black Rock | (03) 9589 0481 
This Black Rock local is all about freshness and flavour. Make a beeline for the glass cabinet on the green and white-tiled counter filled with enticing sweet treats like rosewater meringues and peanut butter and jelly cupcakes. They’re open for breakfast and lunch seven days, serving everything from waffles through to linguini.

Colonel's Son on Urbanspoon

6. The Ambrosiary | 70 Portman Street, Oakleigh | (03) 9568 4490 
Ambrosia, the food of the gods, is said to make those who eat it immortal. That's not necessarily the case at The Ambrosiary, part grocer part café, but there's certainly a health focus. There are also plenty of higher-end boutique brands with loads of organic, gluten free and lactose free products. Stop in for a house pretzel and a Four Rascals coffee, then take home some Spanish Jamón Ibérico or an Almdudler alpine herb soft drink.

Ambrosiary on Urbanspoon

7. Tipo 00 | 361 Little Bourke St, Melbourne | (03) 9942 3946 
Named after the high-quality flour used in making pasta, Tipo 00 is a new pasta bar in the CBD worth a visit. The dedicated kitchen team make squid ink linguini, pappardelle and more out the back, while knowledgable waitstaff are more than happy to suggest some vino to match. 

Tipo 00 on Urbanspoon

8. Woven | 175b Stephen St, Yarraville | (03) 9973 5926 
The devil is in the detail: homemade almond milk, juices cold-pressed daily, Rooftop Honey on quinoa bircher and crumpets from Dr. Marty's, just to name a few. Then there's the tofu and kale gratin for the vegos, super grain salads for the healthy, and burgers for the wise. Woven has all bases covered in a converted warehouse to boot. 

Woven Cafe on Urbanspoon 

9. Hard Pressed | 76 Wellington Pde, East Melbourne | (03) 9417 4441 
Finally, a decent café in East Melbourne. The area, which was previously dry until Persillade opened at the end of last year, now has a French Press coffee and Latino-inspired sandwich shop to add to the mix. Those who have never had a Cuban sandwich should do so here, quick smart. 

Hard Pressed on Urbanspoon 

10. Mr. Willis | cnr Hampton and Willis Street Hampton
Hampton locals rejoice! Mr. Willis has set up shop in your 'hood, bringing with him a canary-yellow coffee machine and a display cabinet that will make your eyes pop. Make yourself comforable on the stylish cushions or grab some caffiene to go. Just make sure you keep an eye on the kids, there may or may not be lolly jars on the counter. 

source: Mr. Willis Facebook, credit: Caprice Photography

Mr Willis on Urbanspoon 

11. El Habanero | 342 Clarendon St, South Melbourne | (03) 9645 8148 
Forget the fact that these guys have ripped off Meatballs & Wine Bar's logo for a second, because their authentic Mexican is supposedly top notch. Sure, there are tacos and tortas galore, but it's the warm service that's leaving its mark on the neighbourhood. Dig into fresh and colourful tortillas, then finish with avocado ice cream. 

El Habanero on Urbanspoon 

12. Pg. 2 | 207 Swan St, Richmond | (03) 9043 6823 
Walking into this café feels like you’re entering someone's living room. Personal touches are rife, from summery flower arrangements and glass lolly jars to cushions made by the owner’s mum. Pg. 2 also supports local artists, so expect the wall candy to rotate. There's a sizeable courtyard out back, complete with red leather armchairs. Pop in for some sweet potato pancakes, or perhaps jerk chicken is more your thing? 

Pg.2 on Urbanspoon 

13. The Grounds at St. Columbs | 5 St Columbs St, Hawthorn | (03) 9819 0890 
If you want to get away from trendy cafes with queues of hipsters snaking down the street, head to The Grounds at St. Columbs. This beautiful café is located within the grounds of a church, complete with sunny courtyard and veggie patch. For now they’re only open for coffee during the week, but brunch will be in full swing early November. 

The Grounds at St Columbs on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 25, 2014

19 of the best Halloween Food Costumes on the Internet

Halloween Food Costume Ideas

With Halloween just around the corner, the logical thing for me to do while I should have been working was to source the best food costume ideas for Halloween on the internet. Although not as popular in Australia as overseas, there are still plenty of events held in celebration of Halloween Down Under, plus it's a fun activity that's guaranteed to get the kids away from those computer screens (and perhaps on track to being diagnosed with Diabetes, but hey, you can't win them all). Most of these food costumes are DIY, too. Without further ado, below is a list of Halloween food costumes to rival the best out there.

1. The Sushi Couple

Source: Mayuk Radzis

2. Clean Eaters' Choice, Quinoa Super Woman

Source: The Kitchn

3. Brunch Baby

Source: Pinterest

4. The Bacon Suit. Also ideal for Spring Racing Carnival.

Source: John Reiber

5. Finger Lickin' Fried Chicken

Source: Kitchen Fun with my 3 Sons

6. A Night at the Movies, Popcorn Costume

Source: Costume Pop

7. DIY Taco 

Source: flickr

8. Stoners Best Friend: Foil-Wrapped Burrito

Source: Pinterest

9. Easy DIY Doughnut Costume

Source: Studio DIY

10. Contender for the BEST food-related Halloween costume - The Croquembouche

Source: Studio DIY

11. The French Macaron, Darling

Source: Studio DIY

12. Human Strawberry. NOTE: for pineapple, wear yellow.

Source: Studio DIY

13. Spaghetti and Meatballs Costume

Souce: Bored Panda

14. 'Cereal Killer' Costume

Source: Huffington Post

15. Hotdog Vendor, complete with 'hotdog'

Source: The Guardian  

16. A Bunch of Grapes Costume (AKA Grapes of Wrath)

Source: eHow

17. To continue the grape theme, here's a Goon Box costume.

Source: Instructables

18. A Lone Mini-Wheat

Source: PopSugar

19. Teabag Costume

Source: flickr

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Goodbye, ST ALi North. 
Hello, Green Park Dining.

THREE-WORD SUMMARY Good for everything 

Must-order Casa Mariol Vermut Negre with orange to whet the palate 
Better off without sitting at the tables in the main thoroughfare 
Top tip live music on Sundays from 5pm to 7pm 
The crowd families with kids, catch up crowds, bloggers, locals 
The damage $40pp excluding drinks for dinner, $12-23 for breakfast & lunch 

Green Park Dining opens first thing tomorrow at 7am sharp where ST ALi North once stood. Owner Jesse Gerner (the fellow behind Bomba in Melbourne CBD and Anada in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy) was an original partner at ST ALi North, but he sold his share to focus on Bomba. Gerner recently shook hands with former ST ALi North business partner Salvatore Malatesta, bought the whole thing, and turned it into an all day eatery. 

Green Park Dining’s co-owners – the ‘Green Team’, if you will – have an impressive combined resume: Jamie Munro-Lynch (ex-Charlie Dumpling, Anada, Circa and Cutler & Co.) is in charge of the floor, Howard Stamp (ex-MoVida and Le Bon Ton) is at the helm in the kitchen, and James Madden (ex-Kirk’s and City Wine Store) has put together the drinks menu with wines from our home soil as well as France, Italy and Spain. 

I attended a preview dinner last night with a throng of media, blogger and industry folk. Eades & Bergman have done a fantastic job of simply but effectively revamping the formerly cold, reverberating shell into a moody space with forest green walls and colour-coordinated ferns. A timber divider breaks up the once-hollow dining space, and a wine bar replaces the coffee area, complete with both stool seating and booths with leather banquettes. 

Food-wise, a Spanish influence sneaks onto the menu, but Gerner has been telling the media that Green Park Dining shouldn’t be pigeonholed into the Spanish category. Breakfast favourites are likely to include the smoked brisket hash with a fried duck egg; scotch egg with black pudding and rosemary glazed bacon on brioche; and cornbread with avocado, scrambled eggs, tomato and chipotle relish. Lunch, served from 11am to 3pm, is short and sweet: gnocchi, aged Murray beef burger, pan-fried fish, cider-braised pork and an ancient grain salad with pickled cauliflower, asparagus, capsicum and goat’s cheese. 

Come dinnertime, your best bet is to start with charcuterie and follow with either two courses for $30 or three courses for $40. At the moment there’s a fish, lamb and vegetarian option for main with mascarpone tart, profiteroles or chocolate salami for sweets. The bar menu is more extensive with small share dishes such as braised oxtail croquettes, steak and pepper tartar with potato chips and fried rabbit with tarragon mayo. Bigger plates include meat from the grill and wood-grilled fish. I’ll be popping in for a digestif and the frozen chocolate and hazelnut Aero bar. 

The highlight dish from the launch was the supple kingfish ceviche punctuated with pale green daubs of avocado, coriander, chipotle and zingy jalapenos. Meatier dishes – such as pork and rabbit terrine and fall-off-the-bone Murray Grey beef ribs – were richer in flavour, while snapper on a bed of stewed zucchini was delicate by comparison. Side plates didn’t drop the ball, ranging from seasonal greens and colourful roast carrots with labne, to golden fried potatoes spiked with garlic butter. Park St Pastries supplied a selection of sweets, which will be available from a display cabinet throughout the day. 

At the most basic level, Green Park Dining has all bases covered, whether for a midweek drink, Sunday session or family brunch. There’s a children’s breakfast menu ($5-6) with play equipment an arm’s length away, live music on Sundays (New Orleans piano and horns), a snacky bar menu, Clement Coffee to complement your eggs, intimate candles in the evening, and then some. Pulling off such a broad offering is a brave move, but if Gerner and his experienced team can do it, Green Park dining will quickly become a Carlton North staple. 

Contemporary, Spanish Influence 
815 Nicholson Street Carlton North, Victoria, Australia 
(03) 9380 5455 
Open daily 7am-11pm 
No bookings 

Green Park on Urbanspoon

Thank you to the team at Green Park Dining for the introduction to the establishment.