Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Trei Cafe

Trei opened up late last year in Syndal. Its located on Blackburn road near the station, so quite a convenient location. I was quite happy to see it open there, as it gives many people in that area a new option for brunch.

D and I got there around 12.30pm on a Saturday and the place was bursting to the seams with people. There were tables outside and inside, we opted for an indoor table which meant a 30 minute wait. It didn't bother us too much, as it gave us time to drive to Woolies to get some groceries and come back.

Once we sat down we had our drinks order taken straight away. I ordered the Matcha Madness and D opted for water. The smoothie was made up of matcha, banana, spinach, chia, apple juice, lime, mango and topped with dehydrated coconut. It was a very filling smoothie and the banana taste dominated the smoothie so it's good if you are a banana lover.

The first thing I saw on the menu was Coconut Hotcakes. If you have been reading some of my post over the last few months, you would have noticed that I have started to go gaga over coconut flavoured things. The hotcakes came with vanilla nutmeg coyo ice cream, pistachio, coconut nectar, blueberries and shredded coconut. The hotcake was very thick and dense, the description may sound like a light option but don't let that fool you. It was definitely on the filling side.

D loves haloumi so when he saw the Big Brekky had haloumi, it was an easy choice. The big breakfast has the usual suspect of poached eggs, mushroom, bacon, spinach and avocado on toast. D was a bit disappointed with the haloumi, he found it to be too oily and the mushrooms were very moist, it didn't take long for the toast to get all soggy. Other than that, it did the manly breakfast item job and D was very full afterwards.

Overall 13.5/20 it is a good addition to Syndal, there was definitely room for improvement but we did visit in the early stages so I look forward to going back and seeing them shine in full potential

Trei Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Belle's Hot Chicken

Ok I will be the first to admit that I am horrible at dieting because I just love to eat things like fried chicken. So when a friend asked me where I wanted to go on Sat (cheat day of the week) I suggested Belle's without hesitation!

V and I go way back, been friends since I was 14, I don't see her much but when I do, I always have stuff to talk about. Then when you add D and F with their gaming talk, recipe for a perfect night out.

We visited the Belle's in Fitzroy (coz I'm like totes hipster =P) and was quite lucky in that we got a table within 10 minutes at 7.30pm on a Saturday.

Armed with a menu and decision making power, there was no way I could turn down the option of the Baller Bucket. So I picked the Bucket and a few more things to share.

To start we got the fried oysters with ranch and fennel. This was interesting, as you don't get too many fried oyster dishes out there, most places like to serve it raw. The fried coating with the creaminess of the oyster worked quite well, then it was cut through with the fennel. The ranch sauce was like an extra, you didn't really need it but it was nice to have.

In the bucket you get 16 wings, 4 sides, lot of pickles and sauce. We picked the Southern and the Hot for the wings; ranch and blue cheese for the sauce; and I will talk about the sides later. The chicken was very well marinated before they were fried. The hot chicken, is not for the faint hearted. Normally I can handle my heat reasonably well but I found myself to be progressively struggling with each wing. I started to rely on the ranch sauce to take away from some of the heat. It was very saucey, I found D and F to start having sauce drip down their hands and chin.

 The Southern was crisp and well seasoned. If you like your chicken no frills, this is the one for you.

We got all the sides to try. The coleslaw was a very homestyle and chopped up type of salad. Good flavor to it and it help balance out the hotness in the chicken. The mac and cheese broccoli and almond salad was my favourite. The freshness was welcomed sensation, after all the chicken. Chips were seasoned so I guess if you are after a beer/chip/chicken combo, this would be the way to go.

Mac and cheese was V's favorite, the cheesiness of the pasta was very guilty but satisfying.

Beans and bacon was our final side. The beans were a bit overcooked and more on the oily side, this was our least favourite side out of the lot.

We were too full and decided to skip dessert.

Overall 15/20 If you are after South American food, this is the place to go. Or if you just love fried chicken, you need to try this place out. It is also a good cheat day meal!

  Belle's Hot Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Zero 95

As a belated celebration for my win of Menulog's People's Champ win, I took my family to Zero95. Sis has been talking about this place for awhile. She called it one of the best pizzas she has tasted, so naturally I was keen to try it. So with Mum, D, Sis, H and I we made our way to Doncaster East to sink our teeth into some delicious carbs.

To start we got a few entrees to share. Calamari was was dressed in salt and pepper and aioli to dip. I found the calamari to be slightly bland, it could have used a bit of salt and pepper. Other than that, it was fried well, nice crispy coating.

Hand cut chips with tomato sauce and aioli was our other starter. The chips were fluffy and thick. Went nicely with the sauce and got us ready for all the mains to come.

First pizza was the Dolce E Salato, this had pineapple, ham, fior de latte and honey mustard dressing. This was on a thin base and a modern version of the "Hawaiian Pizza" I loved the honey mustard dressing on it, but there was a bit too much dressing as the pizza got very soggy very quickly, it there was 10% less dressing, I think it would have been perfect.

Second pizza was the Stromboli, with bits of eggplant, ricotta, ham, tomato, basil and parmigiano. The 2 cheese combination was interesting, and the eggplant wasn't too oily. I quite enjoyed this pizza, it worked well on the thin base.

First pasta was Gnocchi Al Ragu. This was a rich meat sauce with meatballs and homemade gnocchi., it was very hearty and filling. So glad we shared this one, otherwise I wouldn't have had room for dessert.

Second pasta was Linguine Allo Sccoglio. This was a mixed seafood, tomato based pasta. A generous assortment of mussels, prawns and fish.

We really didn't have space for dessert but Sis was insistent and H said he would hoover whatever was left... with that mind I ordered the Mini Pizza Doughnuts, This was small pizza dough deep fried and topped with nutella, vanilla gelato and nuts. It was the guilty way to end dinner.

Overall 14.5/20 It is a great local diner, it definitely lifts the standard in 'local pizza'  shops of the area. Family friendly, staff was cheerful and the place was buzzing. Food was good quality at a local price.

Zero95 Wood Fire Pizza Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, January 4, 2016

Scroll Ice Cream

Back when the Taste of Melbourne was taking place, I discovered Scroll Ice Cream. Unlike traditional ice cream that comes in scoops, Scroll ice cream comes in scroll form. It has a variety of flavours that were fresh or chocolatey. So when I got an invite to try more of their ice cream and learn how to scroll some of my own I couldn't turn the offer down.

So before we talk about the taste, you might be wondering how it's made. So the ice cream base is in liquid form and poured onto a cold plate. From there you add in the flavours/textures you want (e.g. lychee, strawberries, pretzel etc.) and start chopping away. After a bit of chopping, you spread it thin and scroll it up. Put the scrolls in cup nicely, then add in the toppings. This concept came from Thailand, one of the owners was on holidays in Thailand with his girlfriend, she loved it so he decided to bring it back to Melbourne so she could have it whenever she wants (cute story).

I was lucky to try three of their flavours and make one of my own. The first one I tried was Perfect Matcha. This had a lychee, matcha base and topped with more lychee and pocky. The good thing about scroll is, you can customize how strong you want the matcha flavour to be. The ice cream flavour was smooth and surprisingly didn't have a lot of have a lot of ice crystals in it. The lychee gave it that bit of sweetness to cut through the matcha.

Second one was Salted Caramel Popcorn. This was as the name suggested, a salted caramel based ice cream (duh) with salted pretzel smashed in. The texture had a bite and topped with popcorn and more pretzel, was a fantastic combination of bite, creaminess and crunch.

The other flavour we tried was the strawberry pavlova (I made this one), this was a vanilla base, then with strawberries and meringue smashed in with the ice cream base. The creamy texture with the strawberries and meringue through it made it a good interpretation of the real thing. (Sorry guys, no close up of this one, my skills aren't as good as the Scroll peeps, so it wasn't very photogenic)

Overall I was impressed with the ice creams I tasted. Besides the novelty of the presentation, the flavours we tried had a great range of depth of taste and a array of textures.

  Scroll Ice Cream Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Eden's Backyard

As part of my usual weekend affairs I like to brunch, but instead of going with D this time, I decided to take Mum and Sis to Carlton, to try out Eden's Backyard. Eden's is one of the newer brunch cafes in Melbourne. Their Nicholson Street location is a great balance of the hip vibe in Carlton, but yet laid back enough to be away from the Brunswick Street.

We got there pretty late (around 2.30) and were all starving, so we got four things to share amongst the three of us.

Since Mum and I were both slightly sleepy (ok I will be honest, I was slightly hung over from the work Christmas party), we both got a coffee to wake us up, and Sis got a cold press (Eden's temptation). The coffees were okay, wasn't a stand out coffee. Sis enjoyed her combination of apple, pineapple, spinach, cucumber, lemon, banana and coconut water.

Mum chose the Bacon and Eggs. A classic which is a favorite, however instead of opting for sunnyside up, as mum normally likes it, went with poached instead. The egg was runny on the inside and had a generous serving of bacon on wholemeal toast.

Sis got the Kev's Secret French Toast. This had nutella, poached pear, berries on a brioche french toast and caramel sauce to finish it off. This is definitely one of those naughty breakfast. It felt like more of a dessert than breakfast (not that I mind). This is one for the sweet tooth.

I went with the Smoked Salmon Benedict. It came with Norwegian smoked salmon, poached egg, homemade hollandaise sauce on sour dough toast. This was the breakfast I needed to fill in the starving spot in my stomach. The sauce was good but there was too much of it. It also makes me ask...... should the menu really call the sauce "homemade" when it's more store or cafe made? I would order it again, next time I am in, but I will probably ask them to go easy on the sauce.

Finally we also got the Abang Apam Crepes to share. Actually this was the reason I took my Malaysian Mummy here. Abang Apam is actually one of her favorite things to eat and always says she wish she could get it more easily here in Australia. She tends to make her own at home, but since Eden's offered it, I had to bring her here to try it. It served with mixed berries, vanilla ice cream, oreo/peanut/oats crumbs. Inside the crepe there was sugar, peanuts and a bit of creamed corn. This was interesting and the first time I had it outside my Mum's house in Australia. It was a good change to the usual pancakes and waffles for breakfast. I might be bias here but I really enjoyed it and would recommend this dish.

Overall 17.5/20 I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed the things I tried. Service was friendly, the staff was a little slow but I think it might have to do with the fact, they were new. Only downside was the coffee, mum wasn't very impressed with the coffee. Though I think the items on the menu would still entice her back here for another visit.

Eden's Backyard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Thai

Located on Chapel st in Prahran it was recommended to us by one of D's colleagues. FU and A was in town so it created the perfect opportunity to go out for a big feed. we booked in advance and lucky we did. The place was packed and buzzing.

To start we got the coconut pancakes to share, this came with 3 flavours peanut, chives and corn. These were very light and the coconut filling was just solid enough. It definitely got our taste buds moving.

The first dish was the Larb Gai. The spicy mince chicken was tossed with crushed chilli, toasted rice, red onions. Very refreshing but more on the spicy side, I won't recommend this if you can't handle the heat. Most of us struggled with it, D was the only one who was able to power through to finish it

Then we moved onto the Crying Tiger with Jim Jaw. The rump steak was well marinated and served sliced. The meat was succulent and soft, when paired with sweet and sour chilli sauce, it was the perfect texture and taste.

Next was Gatium Soft Shell Crab. The crab was battered and deep fried, and a side of spicy lime, mint sauce.

Green curry was very aromatic. We got the chicken curry and it came with string beans, capsicum, bamboo shoots and eggplant. It was just the right amount of spice and the curry sauce was perfect on the coconut rice.

Final dish was the Stir Fry Broccoli with Crispy Pork. This is my must order dish whenever we go to a Thai restaurant. I just love Chinese broccoli and I love pork belly, this dish ticks off 2 boxes for me. The Thai had crispy pork which ticked the right box. However I found the serving size to be slightly small. For $14.90 I was really hoping for a larger plate of greens and pork belly.

Overall 17/20 I found all the dishes to be very appetizing, and authentic with a modern twist. They had friendly service and helpful with menu questions.

The Thai on Chapel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pillar of Salt

Whenever I catch up with Mrs W, it seems to be over something edible. This time was no different, we had brunch at Pillar of Salt, located on Church Street in Richmond.

Richmond is not bursting with cafes and Pillar of Salt has been there for awhile now. It is well known to the locals and all the gym bunnies from the Fitness First across the road.

For us, it was just another place to check out, while we shared our travel stories.

We started with a coffee each, soy latte for me and skinny cap for Mrs W. Good roast with smooth flavours and the milk was just the right temperature.

For brunch, we ordered 3 things to share (more due to the fact I skipped dinner the night before and was famished). Mrs W picked the Kimchi, Corn and Sweet Potato Fritters. This was a rather different brunch dish, it came with wombok/pineapple slaw, grapefruit cured kingfish, kimchi and a poached egg. The fritters were a good combination of spicy, sweet and textured. It got a bit messy to eat, but it had the right flavours. The kingfish was beautifully cured, and went nicely with the fritters. The egg was that added extra that it didn't really need but a nice bit of extra protein.

I went with the Amazon Superfood Bircher. The muesli was soaked in coconut milk, with servings of dried fruits and berries, fresh mango, pineapple, passionfruit and topped with coconut yoghurt and acai coulis. This was not as sweet as the usual bircher you get, but I didn't mind it. I like the raw and organic flavors of it.

We also got a Mother Hen Toastie to share. This was filled with poached chicken, gruyere, monterey jack and aged machango. It was the perfect guilty snack, chicken to fill me up and all the melty cheese was the decadent touch.

The guy sitting on the table next to me was quite interested in how I was taking photos so when he got his Smashed Avocado he gave it to me so I could take a photo. I didn't take a bite of his meal but his feedback was that it was pretty damn good.

Overall 17/20 Great cafe with good selection of brunch and lunch options. The vibe is upbeat, makes a great place for a catch up with friends over good food.

  Pillar of Salt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato