Archive for category Cheap Eats

Boozy Girls Dinner @ Chocolate Buddha, Melbourne

Ok…so Chocolate Buddha is not new at all. It isn’t even new to me. However, I had the best meal I have ever had there just last week.

A friend of mine is gluten free, so Chocolate Buddha is a great choice as they have a separate gluten free menu and gluten free soy sauce on each table. It makes eating gluten free fuss free, which is always nice.

As I lover of Japanese and sushi, I usually opt for the sushi option. On this particular occasion I really wasn’t in the mood for a sushi platter or raw fish at all to be honest. So I scouted the menu for a change.

My sister and I decided the share a serve of the Soft Shell Crab inside out sushi roll to start (8pcs for $17.50).

This is always delicious. The soft meat with a crisp exterior sits perfects inside the rice. Avocado and the homemade tartare sauce give it a creamy finish. A must order here in my opinion.

Moving onto main course…

My gluten free dining partner ordered the Sushi and Sashimi platter for one ($24.00). She said that it was delicious.

Having had this many a time, I think it can be hit and miss. It depends what they have available and fresh. While usually good, I was once served 6 pieces of salmon on the one platter. This time however my friend was happy.

My sister wanted the Shake Oyako Don, which was cured cold salmon over rice. Sadly they were out of the cured salmon, but served this main with teriyaki salmon from the entrée menu for her.

She absolutely loved her meal. The salmon went perfectly with the sushi rice and cold salad that accompanied the original dish.

Heading into new territory I ordered the Yakitori Skewers (19.80) for my main. This consisted of 3 free range chicken skewers, char grilled and glazed with teriyaki sauce served with spinach and cucumber salad over sushi rice, topped with sesame seeds and pickles.

The chicken was beautiful and moist. The glaze was flavoursome and delicious. They make excellent sushi rice here and it was the perfect accompaniment to the chicken. The cold salad kept the dish light. Both of the rice dishes also came with miso soup.

This was by far the best meal I have had at Chocolate Buddha , and that is not due to bad experiences! It was delicious. I am always keen to go back here. I have to say I think the prices are quite good for the quality and quantity of food here as well.
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Lunch @ Miss Marie Cafe, Rosanna

Miss Marie, a site for foodie sore eyes, gives lunchers and brunchers of Rosanna a little something special. With cute wooden décor and art on the walls, you feel like your sitting in a café just of Brunswick st as you sip your creamy cappuccino (coffee art and all).

After having brunch here a few weeks ago with some girl friends, I suggested it for lunch when organizing a girly family lunch. All lovers of all day breakfast I though it was perfect.

My sister and I arrived at the busy café on a Friday afternoon and almost didn’t get a table! After looking at the menu, we had both decided on the all day breakfast option and tried to wait patiently for mum. Knowing what our mother usually orders I laughed as I said to my sister “We should just order her a large flat white and Eggs Benedict “. Nevertheless we waited for her to decide for herself.

The lovely young wait staff managed the tiny café with ease, and always with a smile. The all day breakfast menu offers a range of delicious options including the smoked salmon served on sweet corn and coriander fritter with rocket, avocado, roasted tomatoes and dill caper sour cream…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and the ricotta hotcakes with seasonal poached fruit and zesty lemon ricotta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was a range of gourmet sandwiches and other meals on offer, including the herb and Parmesan crumbed chicken baguette, which I was very temped by! Specials of soups, tarts and even a sumac crusted barramundi fillet were also avaliable. A cute café wouldn’t be complete with out freshly baked sweets including brownies, strawberry and coconut slice and gluten free flourless orange and almond cake.

When we were a three at last, the waitress came over to take our order. I had to laugh out loud when my mother turned to her and said “Ill have a double shot large flat white and the Eggs Benedict please”…she really is predictable! My sister and I both ordered soy cappuccinos and poached eggs on sourdough with a side of the homemade relish. Never ever ordering the same thing, this was slightly alarming!

As the coffees arrive I was a little disappointed. On my first visit to Miss Marie I had ordered strong and was very happy, but had forgotten this on my return visit! The cappuccino was lovely and creamy and chocolaty, just could have used a bigger hit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My eggs on sourdough were beautiful! The poached eggs were cooked just how I like them, runny but not too runny (over done for most people including my sister) and the sourdough was crunchy yet soft and actually had the sour taste you want from a sourdough. Mums meal arrived with a mound of fresh shaved ham and a creamy hollandaise and she was very pleased.

Lunch lingered into chatting and we stayed for a number of hours. No one seemed to mind, and we were always met with a smile.

Miss Marie is what Rosanna has been waiting for! A perfect little addition.

For more information:

Miss Marie Café

45 Beetham Parade

Rosanna Vic, 3084

http://www.missmariecafe.com.au/#


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Uni Break Turns Into Brunch @ Pope Joan, Brunswick East

Pope Joan, located strangely close to my apartment has become a favourite among locals and visitors a like. My street is always its busiest when the weekend brunch crowd wanders sleepy eyed to the welcoming doors of Pope Joan. Popping up out of car repair stores and run down houses, it was a sight for sore eyes.

The venue…

As you enter your welcomed by a warm and cozy dining room, with smiling wait staff, laid back patrons, a cabinet filled with freshly baked goods and a smell that assures you you’ve come to the right place. Take a seat either in the wooden dining room, or open the sliding door and venture out the outside. There are tables lining the undercover deck and then outdoor tables taking you all the way to the homegrown herbs and vegetables found in the garden.

There is an attention to detail demonstrated here that is rare in a small brunch/lunch venue. Each dish is served in its own original setting. The rice pudding is served in an old school jam jar, the fruit toast served in a toast stand and the porridge is served using three matching pieces of crockery. One to hold the porridge, one to hold the fruit and a matching jug to hold the milk. It was just a beautiful sight to see.

The Menu…

The menu, while not your standard breakfast/brunch menu offers so many delicious looking dishes. It ranges from baked ginger bread with maple butter, to rice pudding, to pressed ham hock and lentils with fried egg and sauce gribiche, to even W.A Sardines and tomato on toast with feta, pine nuts and currents.

In addition to this there are a range of gourmet sandwiches including The Cornish: Milawa chicken, stuffing and jalapeño peppers to tantalize those who are in the mood for lunch.

My Meal…

My friend and I had trouble deciding what to order so opted to share. We chose the warmed ginger bread which was served with smoked maple butter and the Boiled eggs, soldiers, bacon bits and herb salt.

Seriously…divine.

As it arrived by friend looked at me and said “I know this is weird, but I need to smell it” as she picked up the plate and brought it to her nose. Of course once she had done this I was unable not to follow suit. It has been a good choice, the ginger aromas filled my nose and it took all my strength not to eat her half as well as mine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ginger bread was amazing. It was light and fluffy with a strong ginger flavour pushing through. Perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, the maple butter was able to add moisture and subtle sweetness without interfering with the bread itself.

Then our eggs arrive. They were adorably served in a porcelain egg carton, eggs in their own section, bread in the centre and the bacon bits filling one corner and the herbed salt filling the other. It was a gorgeous picture!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we sliced the top of our soiled eggs, we revealed perfectly soft boiled eggs! The toasted grainy buttery bread, which accompanied it, was excitably dunked in straight away. The bacon, expertly crisped added everything bacon should, while the herbed salt was flavoursome and delicious. I couldn’t tell you which herbs they used, but along with the salt it cut through the richness of the egg yolk and completed the dish!

I should also say here, that my soy cappuccino, topped with love heart coffee art was also lovely. Rich and creamy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the vegetable garden out the back to the gorgeous antique looking crockery, eating here feels like you’ve come home. We sat for hours in the busy dining room people coming and going as they please, not once feeling the sometimes-watchful eye of waiters in a busy venue. I honestly think we could have sat there all day with no one having a care in the world.

All in all Pope Joan offers delicious coffee and exciting fun and innovative food that really hits the spot.

For more information:

77-79 Nicholson Street

East Brunswick

(03) 9388 8858

http://popejoan.com.au/

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Brunch @ Three Bags Full, Abbotsford

There has been so much positive buzz surrounding Three Bags Full, I don’t know why it has taken me this long to go! Meeting a friend who lives in Richmond for brunch seemed like a perfect reason!

The old brick warehouse on the corner of Nicholson Street Abbotsford, doesn’t give away the cute café awaiting you.  The outdoor tables, filled with brunch goers enjoying themselves does give a little away.

As I arrived, 15 minutes early for my Friday morning brunch, I was surprised at how busy they were already. I managed to get a cute table for two against the wall. As I sat down I took in my surroundings. The main room of the café is open and has beautifully high ceilings.  It has a cute wooden bar, which has bar seating situated below coffee cup hanging lights. To the right of the bar was the freshly baked section, showcasing muffins, slices and sandwiches. A huge communal table in the middle creates a fun atmosphere and the second dinning area allows for the huge space to feel cozy and private. I was alone for about 20 minutes and at no point did I feel like an imposition, the staff were lovely and welcoming and more than willing to help where they could.

The breakfast menu is broken down into 6 categories. Eggs on Toast offers things like Peas and Eggs: poached eggs, crushed peas, tomato vinaigrette and feta, along with standards like Eggs Benedict. The Savory section has things like the big breakfast or Beetroot Cured Salmon on corn pea and feta fritters, which was served with avocado, rocket and dill sour cream. Sticky Black Ginger Bread served with vanilla bean mascarpone, candied cumquats and pistachios stands out on the Sweet section, while the Vegetarian section offers Braised Leek and Potato Omlettes with seeded mustard and gruyere along side the more expected brunch of smashed avocado on toast. Finally, the last two sections are Oats and Toast offering the standard muesli’s, porridge’s and plain or fruit toasts. They also offere gluten free toast for their breakfasts which I will always appreciate!

What I loved about this menu was that it has the standards for when you want to know what you getting, but then offers new and exciting meals for when your in the mood for something different!

The coffee menu, rotating and written on the black boards behind the bar, allows you to choose your coffee based on flavour.

I ordered the coffee which was promising cocoa and nutty flavours in the form of a soy cappuccino.  While I normally order a strong coffee, I figured they knew what they were doing here and didn’t bother. I was very right! This coffee was beautiful. It was, as it promised nutty and delicious. It was also the perfect strength.

To accompany my cappuccino I ordered the Organic Sourdough served with their homemade apricot jam. This was divine. The bread was delicious, it was soft in the middle and had the perfect amount of crispness on the outside.  It also had that beautiful sourdough flavour coming through nicely. The jam that came with it was such a lovely combination. Sweet, yet not overpowering, it went perfectly with my buttered sourdough.

I was very pleased to find out as I was paying, that their bread, Jams and muesli are all available for sale at the café. There were also a number of coffees available for purchase.

I would highly recommend a visit to Three Bags Full, and am already looking forward to returning to try something different and buying a few take home treats!

For more information:

Three Bags Full

Corner of Nicholson St and Mollison St, Abbotsford.
(03) 94212732

http://www.threebagsfullcafe.com.au/

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Birthday Brunch @ Rococo, Hawthorn

 As a lover of brunch I thought it was the perfect activity to start my birthday celebrations!

I had been to Rococo once before when I was on a gluten free diet and had been very disappointed. I was disappointed because the menu was so amazing, yet all I could eat was the fruit salad. So…I thought I needed to venture back and try something different!

Their breakfast menu is huge and amazing! They have freshly bakes sweets, breads of all forms, muesli’s, pancakes, eggs and sides in all ways you could ever want and even cheese on toast with home made baked beans.


 

On this particular morning I couldn’t go past the Smashed Avocado on grilled sourdough with feta, fresh tomato, and basil served with marinated mushrooms and poached eggs. It was delicious!! The avocado fresh tomato and basil was fresh and flavorsome and the eggs were soft and runny. The mushrooms were also yummy, sautéed to perfection. The fresh crunchy sourdough topped on the meal. The soy cappuccino was, while nothing out of the ordinary, what I needed!

 



 



 

My sister ordered the Creamy scrambled eggs with feta fresh tomato and basil. While quite similar to my meal, this had an extra rich creamy note. She was very happy!

 



 

While nearly everyone else also ordered the smashed avocado, there was a side of freshly baked scones with jam and cream ordered.  I sneaked a little taste and was jealous I didn’t order my own! Warm and light, just how scones should be.

 



 

As we were leaving, we saw a number of lunch orders being taken to tables. Huge thin crust pizza’s topped with large meatballs and large focaccia’s, sliced and served with an array of dips went past us. This has made me swear to return for dinner and tapas!!

 

For more information:

Rococo

797 Glenferrie Road Hawthorn

(03) 9818 8212

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First and sadly the last pizza @ Bande a Part, Nicholson Street, Carlton North

Living on Nicholson street, I have walked/driven/trammed past Bande a Part countless times. I have also heard endless praise for this little pizza bar. While it has always been on my list of ‘must visit’ restaurants, it wasn’t until I heard the sad news that they were closing that I managed to get down there.

So, hearing that they were becoming crazy busy before their final day on July 14th, I called and made a booking.

We settled into our little wooden both and ordered some drinks. The venue is very cute. There is a small dinning area near the kitchen then a row of old booths lining the bar. There are also a few tables outside for the warmer months.

The menu does offer a few pasta dishes, but I felt the pizza was the reason to come.

I ordered the Buffalo Soldier, which was tomato, buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and basil a top a thin crispy base.  My boyfriend ordered the mushroom pizza, which was mushroom, tomato, cheese, garlic and parsley.

These pizza’s really were as good as people say. The base, was the best base I’ve ever eaten. It was light and crisp and tasty. It didn’t go soggy at all, and gave the meal a lightness that pizza often lacks. To top it off, there was a perfect amount of toppings to complement the delicious bases. Both pizza’s were lovely, with the fresh parsley on the mushroom pizza adding a nice freshness.

The service was relaxed, confident and friendly.

I can’t decide whether going just a week before they close was a good idea or not…now I’m going to miss these delicious pizzas when they are gone!

Having said that, if you’re a pizza fan and have time in the next three days…go!!

For more information:

Bande A Part Pizza Bar

749 Nicholson Street, Carlton North

(03) 9388 8950

http://www.bandeapartpizzabar.com.au/

 

 

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Girls night out @ Tsindos Greek Restaurant, Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

With a girls night out in the diary, all that was left was to find a good restaurant that allowed byo! With greek food on the brain, we chose Tsindos Greek Restaurant in the city.

As we arrived, the sliding door with no sign was a little off-putting, but as we walked inside we were greeted by the warm, friendly atmosphere you expect from a restaurant like this.

We sat down, opened our wine and looked at the menu. All of us were in the mood for multiple shared dishes so decided to order the pita bread with hummus, tzatziki and eggplant dip, and the saganaki to start.

Nowhere does dips and bread quite like a greek restaurant. The Tzatziki was so creamy and flavoursome, just beautiful! Their specialty, the eggplant dip, was chunky and garlicky and morish. The hummus, surprise surprise was also delicious.

The saganaki, salty and crisp was divine. What better dish than fried cheese lets be honest!

After our starters we decided to share a few mixed souvlaki, which included both lamb and chicken, marinated and then served on skewers with potatoes, greek salad and more of the heavenly tzatziki dip. The meat was tender and moist and was complimented perfectly by the salty feta and olives and the crisp salad. The remaining pita bread and tzatziki simply topped it off!

As the bill arrived, I was blown away, we left, all extremely full for only $25 dollars each including corkage!

If you’re looking for great tasting food and generous serves of it, you should check out this place!

For more information:

Tsindos Greek Restaurant

197 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

(03) 9663 3194

www.tsindosrestaurant.com.au/

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Boozy late night dinner @ Shanghai Dumpling, China Town, Melbourne

When a girlfriend of mine suggested a girl’s night out starting with BYO and dumplings at Shanghai Dumpling, I had a feeling the night was going to be a good one. Being gluten free for the last two years I had missed out on most that this place had to offer and was excited to try it all.

Running a little late, and getting off the tram at the wrong stop I lost my bearings a little and ended up slightly lost in Chinatown. On a Saturday night at 7 45 it was literally sensory overload. People were everywhere, walking in front of the one-way traffic running into each other left right and centre. The chaos only continued when I finally found Tattersall’s lane and headed to my desired destination. When I reached the queue (that’s right people literally line up for this place) I quickly ducked past the man in charge, as I knew my friends had already secured a table upstairs.

Finally I reached my table, already filled with dumplings, bottles of wine and plastic camping cups. I was greeted with a “We had to order otherwise they wouldn’t let us stay here”…with a $12 all you can eat menu, I wasn’t concerned. I asked what we were having and got a lot of umm’s, not sure’s and these ones are really good! So I decided to go head first into my first all you can eat dumpling experience.

The dumplings really are the main attraction here. They are delicious, morish and literally endless! They included Fried beef dumplings, fried port dumplings, steamed spinach dumplings, steamed pumpkin dumplings, steamed pork dumplings, steamed prawn and spinach, sweet fried dumplings and my personal favorite the seared mushroom dumplings. There was an array of sauces, without labels in sauce bottles around the table, which were an excellent addition to all varieties of dumplings.

The all you can eat banquet includes more than just dumplings, you also get fried rice, spring rolls, noodles and the most amazing Asian greens I’ve ever eaten. They were doused in oyster sauce and oil and were delicious!

To make the point clear…it is literally all you can eat for just $12 dollars. The waiters come around every now and then with a simple question of “More food?”.

Of course you can order off the menu here with 10 packs of the mushroom and spinach dumplings setting you back $6.80 and 15 pork dumplings coming to a grand total of $5.80.

I don’t recommend this place if your looking for class, or fine dinning, but if your looking for cheap, fun, yummy dumplings and don’t really mind which one you eat next, I recommend this place as the start to a good night on the town.

For more information:

Camy Shanghai Dumpling
(03) 9663 8555

23 Tattersalls Ln
Melbourne, 3000

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