Sunday, 18 March 2012

Convent Bakery - Melbourne - 1 St Heliers Street, Abbotsford

We took my nephew to the Collingwood children's farm for the first time. It was my first time too so I was equally as excited.

We popped into the Convent Bakery for a quick bite to eat. This place is buzzing.

This place does baguettes, cakes and coffee very well. Seating is outside and beer on tap if you wish.

The bread is super and fillings are quite attentive to detail. I ate a lamb baguette with carmelised onion, mustard, cheese, lettuce, tomato and a touch of mayonnaise. The toasted chicken and avocado wrap was also very fresh.

Around $8 each which is, sad to say, cheap these days.

Highlight for me were the geese and for my nephew, the dirty big black pig.

Abbotsford Convent Bakery on Urbanspoon


Taiwan Cafe - Melbourne - 273 Swanston Street, Melbourne

Looking for a cheap but tasty place to eat - Taiwan Cafe is the one.

Don't worry that the staff don't know what style of wine the house white is or that you may not get chopsticks when the food is at the table, this is a place where you feel like you can eat almost everything on the menu.

I ate pork dumplings which were kind of gyoza-style. Juicy and well-herbed in the centre and crispy on the outside.

I also tried the minced pork with rice, absolutely moorish. You know, I love minced pork Chinese style and now I can add Taiwanese to my list.

My friend had kung po chicken which was nutty with a good amount of chilli.

And you look around the place and you feel like you want to come back and try everyone else's meal.

Around $40 for two people, including a $20 bottle of wine. Good value my friends and a great alternative to cheap Chinese or Vietnamese for lunch or a late Friday night meal.

Taiwan Cafe on Urbanspoon


+39 Pizzeria & Degustation Bar - Melbourne - 362 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne

Danger alert everyone - a vegan was coming to dinner.

The last time I felt this sort of stress was when I had to cook for a vegan back in my uni days, now I was tasked with finding a place to eat with something edible.

Thank god he is only a part time vegan so will eat mozzarella if he has to.

I had heard many good things about +39.  A rainy night and one of the few places with streams of people coming in and out, just like Rome.

This place is all about the pizza and seriously it is up with the best around town.

The vegan ate hot chips - quite rightly he is an expert on hot chips and reckons these flat potato chip styled-ones were very good. Having said that his partner did remind us that he will say anything is beautiful even if it is terrible - vegans can't be choosers.

He also ordered a broccoli pizza which sounds bland but was actually very tasty.

The best pizza was the bufala, simply home made tomato salsa, mozzarella and basil. The pizza base perfectly thin and there was some magic in the tomato.

Have all the pizza you want but you gotta try the lasagne.  Hands down below zero it is the best lasagne I have ever had in my life. It is a major call and I am a bit reluctant to go public with this one as I have always branded my aunty's as the best.

This lasagne had pork, beef and veal ragu with egg, peas, mozzarella and parmesan. Don't be put off by the egg, it adds a mild creaminess. I have been dreaming about this dish all week and could go back every night of the week.

My aunty still makes the best home-made lasagne, so she still has a first place.

The gelati for dessert was great but the pastry of the cannoli was way too chewy.

The service is not the slickest and sometimes it feels like the waitress is standing like a dear in headlights wondering what to do with the left over pizza, but it suits the casualness and italianness of the place.            

As for the company, well vegans are actually rather normal my friends. You may get some tips on alternate sources of iron and an email to follow with diets that may change your life but overall they are kind, generous and have a great sense of humour.

Only $40 per head, including a good glass of wine.

9/10 - marked down only by the cannoli.

+39 Pizzeria on Urbanspoon


Monday, 12 March 2012

Pearson & Murphy's - Melbourne - 124 Latrobe Street, Melbourne

I was a bit pessimistic about the cafe scene in the Melbourne CBD but hanging out with some of the younger staff members at work, I am starting to find some real gems.

Pearson & Murphy's at the RMIT campus may not be a precious stone but it allows you to reconnect to the whimsical freedom of University days even if it is only within the 45 minute work lunch break. Although at $9.50 for a chicken baguette, you do see more lecturers than students.

The place feels warehousy with high ceilings, old-world black prints on the walls and decked with cool coffee paraphernalia.

The tuna patty was very good and everyone else thought the bread of their baguette was decent.

This place also caters for corporate functions - now back to the real world.

Pearson & Murphy's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Teahouse at Chinatown - 11 Cohen Place, Melbourne

If memory serves me correctly, I think there are three Teahouses in Melbourne, the first in Box Hill, the second Camberwell and the final in the city.

We got there at 6pm on a Wednesday night and the place was fairly empty.  By 8pm it was full.

Teahouse has traditional Shanghai dishes and is well known for its peking duck, like many a good Chinese restaurant.  But it also has some dishes with a difference.

The trio of scallops each had different flavours, one with ginger and a light soy, another with chilli and vermicilli and the final I cannot remember which means it was not that memorable.

The omelet was fluffy with a good punch of crayfish - although my friend corrected the menu and thought it was more like a scrambled egg.

The peking duck was actually very good and meatier than other places.

Sichuan beef was cooked perfectly medium rare with a nice touch of scallions.

But the most interesting for me were the wasabi prawns. I was thinking "this is not gonna taste good" when the waiter recommended them, but to my surprise the buttery wasabi on the crispy prawn was rather delicate and delicious.

As for dessert, I am sorry but I hate all Chinese desserts. A good friend had previously told me that this statement makes me slightly racist, to which I replied "well I pretty much hate all Greek desserts too, does that make me a racist against my own nationality?" Thinking more broadly I hate all Aussie desserts too - the pavlova.

I still tasted the dessert that we shared. My friend summarised it well "the red bean pancake was yuck made tolerable by the banana".

Ambience is maybe a bit less crazy than other Chinese restaurants but still has a good oriental feel.

To conclude, if anyone asks for a good Chinese restaurant in Melbourne, I recommend Teahouse.

Teahouse at Chinatown on Urbanspoon

Pelligrini's Espresso Bar - Melbourne - 44 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Having already felt like we had a full week's work by the end of Monday, my friend slightly twisted my arm convincing me to forfeit spin class and join her for a drink.

So we headed to Comme for a couple of vinos.

I saw a sign saying Crawl n' Bite at the bar and a fair few people wearing fluro wrist bands but thought nothing of it.

Food was being passed all around but never seemed to hit our table.  I got a bit fired up over this so my friend kindly decided to approach the waitress and ask that she venture our way. The waitress asked if we were on the Crawl n' Bite to which my friend flatly responded "of course we are, but we turfed out our annoying wrist bands".

Before long I got the message, we should join that but for now we are outta here!

Needing a quick bite, there is no other place than Pelligrini's.

It was pretty much a full house.  Similar to the Waiter's Club, if you don't know this place then you don't deserve to be anyone's friend.

As we were taking our seat at the bar, my friend said "this is an institution you know".  "Why thank you Captain Obvious" I replied.

The decor has not changed in 30 or so years. On the one hand there is a feeling of nostalgia but on the other there is a feeling of "gee, I have aged over the years" when looking into the mirrored wall. To which my friend added "the light here is not very forgiving and may as well be fluro but at least I can tell when it is time to colour my hair".

I left the bolognese, which I normally get, to my friend and ordered the spaghetti marinara which I fooled myself into thinking was the healthier option and would compensate for letting go of spin. And I didn't touch the piece of white bread with butter cos that is the real waistline killer.

Boys, that is the way girls trade and do deals between life choices.

The marinara was big and great and the seafood of the miniature kind, not the big fresh kind you get at fancy pants restaurants. The bolognese was also great.

In fact everything is great after a couple of vinos.

So, in summary, this is the place to be after a few drinks on a Monday night or, even more so, if you are in need of pasta and a home that is consistent and familiar.

Cost is around $18 each. Good coffee too.

Pellegrini's Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Fonda Mexican - Melbourne - 248 Swan Street, Richmond

We were expecting to wait a long time for a table at Fonda but luckily we only had to wait around 5 minutes. I know others have not been so lucky and have had to wait an hour or so.

My suggestion, don't go in a group, make it a night out just for two.

This place is pumping for a Tuesday night. Actually for me this is more of a weekday place. You order, you eat and then you leave - that is the deal. Except for my lovely cousin and I who did not stop yabbering on and realised we were the last ones left holding up the staff who wanted to make their way home.             

Takeaway is also good and in fact this place has a takeaway fish and chip shop feel to it but with a modern (maybe Mexican) feel.

Some are describing it as a casual Mamasita but I don't think it is anything like it except perhaps for the corn and cheese - not all Mexicans are the same amigos.

The menu is simple and errs on the carbs side of Mexican food - burritos, tacos and quesadillas. 

Tacos are not the "no name" dorito style from taco bill; they are mildly crunchy and made, for viewing, on the premises.

Everything here is very fresh, textured and flavoursome. You won't be disappointed with anything on the menu.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Food comes out quick and the service is just ok - lacked a bit of personality for my liking.

My cousin put it simply but well - "You get shitty when the food is bad. You also get shitty when the restaurant is fancy and you don't get value for the price you pay".

This price was $45 for two, so we weren't anywhere close to being shitty, in fact we had a swell time.


Fonda Mexican on Urbanspoon
Adios Amigos