Birdman Eating
238 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Birdman Eating has been on my list of places to eat for a long long time. I’d read reviews bemoaning their small portion size and poor value for money, but I was undeterred and excited when I was able to venture down for a coffee one sunny saturday morning.

Now, I am usually a very positive person and blogger and like to think the best of people/food. To the point where I can’t stem my praise for a meal and have to resort to nondescriptive words like zomgyummmm to describe what I am feeling. BUT…

While Birdman Eating had decent food and a creative menu, it was overshadowed by poor service. We had to wait 1.5 hours to be served, finding it difficult to attract the attention of the waitstaff. When we finally got their attention, we were told that our orders were being plated and would be ‘right out’. Ummm so probably a ploy to buy time, but not so clever if your customers are sitting right by the kitchen and can see for themselves the definite lack of plating activity and definitely not clever to promise that and then have them wait another 45 minutes.

/Rant. Phew, got that out of the way. Shame the service was so slow and uninterested, because the food was good.

We had the chilli cheese kransky with bubble & squeak, paoched eggs, toast and some sort of relish.

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And a steak sandwich of some sort.

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The usual cap.

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Overall the food was yummy and there were a few interesting things on the menu that I would love to go back and try – the black rice + coconut yoghurt + mango and the smoked pulled pork + mint + roast pineapple sorbet sandwich. I hope that when I go back, their service will be a bit more awake and a bit more honest.

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The Old Raffles Place
70 Johnston St, Collingwood

I must have driven past this place on the corner of Johnston St and Wellington Rd in Collingwood hundreds of times before a laksa craving got the better of me and I found myself here for dinner. It’s a brightly coloured exterior with big signs advertising MEE REBUS and all food Singaporean and authentic. Inside, it’s cosy, with pink walls and very friendly staff giving the place a homely, family-run atmosphere.

I had the chicken laksa and can I just say, so MUCH chicken!!! I had a much more photogenic photo of the presentation of the dish, but it wouldn’t convey the sheer protein monstrosity that is this dish. Do you see any noodle in this picture? No, didn’t think so.

This laksa is awesome! Great flavours, creamy broth to warm you up and chicken that is tender and free from tendons and other stringy bits. Lovely!

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We also had the chicken rice. Again, awesome chicken, done right and on the slightly rarer side.

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We also shared some sort of roti with some deliciously creamy and rich dipping sauce. Yum. No chicken though.

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A great find! A lovely place for dinner that is reasonably priced and generously portioned. Win.

The Old Raffles Place on Urbanspoon

After a superlongextended hiatus sustained by job applications and some serious planning for imminent europe travels (yay! so excited!) I’m back with more pretty food pictures!

So without delay and in no particular order:

Three Bags Full
60 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford

One of my favourite brunch spots in the collingwood/brunswick/abbotsford area. I used to get it confused with Proud Mary, both are found on a corner in a red bricked ex-industrial building block. But I Proud Mary to on the more experimental side with their dishes, particularly in the domain of breakfast sauces and condiments, and more on the small side in terms of serving size.. while Three Bags Full has a hearty menu that never fails to disappoint. Also bonus: they’ve opened a space to the side of the original cafe which eases the load on the saturday morning queues – even if just a little.

This time around I had the beetroot cured salmon with corn, pea and feta fritter, avocado, rocket with dill sour cream. A whole lot of yum. I’ve been hooked on all varieties of cured fish since my revelation at De Clieu.

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Such lively and vibrant presentation, so much love for this dish.

I can also highly recommend the black angus steak sandwich. If you’re up for meat on your saturday morning, this is a very very very satisfying investment.

Three Bags Full on Urbanspoon

Snow Pony
95 Whitehorse Rd
Balwyn

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Caught up with a friend over brunch at Snow Pony to swap pretty pictures of Prague and Barcelona to get ourselves in the mood for planning our big trip at the end of the year. …The grass is definitely greener 😛

Some pretty serious discussion also took place, including such #firstworldproblems as our itinerary through the south of france, exactly how many times we would need to cross the charles bridge for full effect and wether or not a weekend in greece would be too extravagant (the answer, sadly – yes).

Anyway! To the food:

My cute grapefruit juice in a jar + straw. Tasted… healthy. And by that I mean kind of sour and bitter haha, precisely what a fresh grapefruit juice should taste like, my brain must have temporarily been distracted while I was ordering.

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My friend’s toasted piadini. Can’t remember the filling exactly, but was pretty yummy.

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My happy chicken pilaf. I think while heavily intoxicated by thoughts of the amalfi coast, my mind replaced the word pilaf with salad and so when my order came, I was surprised that I was in for a rather more substantial meal than I had thought. Oh well.

What seemed like a little portion in the shallow dish was in fact a very filling serve of spiced rice studded with pieces of chicken with a hint of chilli and topped with the cooling tang of yoghurt. Pretty damn good, but it was quite rich and I struggled to finish a little bit.

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A most excellent and satisfying brunch. Will be back for a more detailed perusal of the menu when my mind is a little less distracted!

Snow Pony on Urbanspoon

Joomak
Basement 407-409 Swanston St
Melbourne CBD

Dinner the other night @ Joomak, a cosy korean place right near melbourne central. It’s a tricky place to find, there are no signs on the street but poke your head into one of the anonymous looking buildings with a lobby and you should see their bold cheerful sign peeking out from under some stairs.

The basement location is pretty cool, with individual booths customized to seat 2 or 4s (or more). And by booths I don’t mean the ones you find at TGI Fridays, this stuff is the real deal with wooden fencing and even a thatched roof. Cute.

We never really know what to order at korean restaurants besides our usual combo of seafood pancake + glass noodle +/- bi bam bap +/- korean fried chicken. Sorry to say, this meal wasn’t too different and we were too conservative to give the cheese egg roll, or the giblets a try… maybe next time.

Seafood pancake.

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Beef bulgogi hot pot.

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KFC.

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All the food was done well with nothing to fault. Having said that, nothing really stood out either, but I guess that’s probably just my reluctance to be adventurous with their menu.

I do like going to korean places to see what side dishes they bring out with the meals – ? are these called kim chi… or is kim chi only that red spicy cabbage one? Anyway, Joomak had a cute macaroni one which I haven’t seen before.

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I would recommend Joomak for the private booths and nice food. They also do some decent rice wine with yummy sounding flavours, mango etc which is worth making the trip for.

Joomak on Urbanspoon

Gaijin
135 Commercial Rd
South Yarra

Taking advantage of the hot weather on Good Friday, we decided that a nice dose of refreshing, cold japanese was what we needed. Our lovely dinner plans were foiled however by the inclemency of Melbourne weather and by the time we got ourselves organised and made our way to south yarra, it had started to pour with rain.

Unfortunately no one had bothered to adjust the air conditioning inside so we were greeted with icy galacial blasts as we ran into the restaurant fresh from our drenching. Sigh.

Nevertheless! We pressed on, huddled in a mishmash of jumpers and cardigans and generally being an embarrassing contrast to the ambient decor – sleek dark wooden tables, nice modern light fixtures and soft billowing curtains…

Now Gaijin markets itself as serving ‘fusion japanese’ cuisine, which I believe means that they’ve just westernized a whole lot of traditional japanese dishes – and from looking at their menu, mostly by adding cream cheese. So maybe it’s not the most delicate and innovative of ‘fusion’ cuisines around, but they do have some interesting flavours and textures (tempura crunch seems to be a big feature in their special sushi rolls). And the seafood is undeniably fresh, so a thumbs up there.

We started with a starter of Gaijin Special Salmon Salad ($9). Plump fatty salmon slices with a creamy dressing – not sure what it’s called, but its the one that has the hint of sesame? Whatever it is, addictive. Not much of a ‘salad’ though, more like salmon on a few slices of cucumber.

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Spider vs Dragon Roll ($13): tempura crunch, soft shell crab, mayo, cream cheese and unagi slices. I’m pretty sure this is what I was thinking when I made the order: heaps of tasty ingredients together = awesome end product! Hmmm… not quite. Tasty, sure, but the individual components didn’t really come together and the cream cheese was just a bit odd. Dunno, probably just not my thing.

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Crunchy Spicy Salmon Roll ($13). Tempura crunch, raw spicy salmon, gaijin sauce. Well we actually ordered crunchy spicy scallop, but at the time of photography I hadn’t yet realised the mistaken order. But for all intensive purposes they pretty much looked the same, variations on a theme. This one was really good, I’m a big fan of spicy and found this combination gave the sushi a bit of kick and bite.

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The chicken udon ($18). This was the dish to help warm us up after all the cold platters and did its work nicely. Thick, soft udon in a delicious umami broth with generous portions of well marinated chicken on top. Yums.

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Overall I thought it was quite a tasty meal, and not too expensive either. Good for a bit of fun and something different to your average Japanese food.

Gaijin Japanese Fusion on Urbanspoon

Misty’s Diner
103 High St
Prahran

We wandered over to Misty’s Diner a couple of week’s ago for a post-dinner snack. Knowing full well their reputation for an authentic American style food and dedication to surpassing all legal quotas of all things sugary and deep fried, we felt it only safe to approach with a solid week of gym efforts under our belts.

Inside, colourful booths and neon lights abound with a good smattering of American paraphernalia covering the walls – think flags, vinyls and license plates.

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We decided to stick to desserts and ended up ordering: the strawberry and white chocolate thickshake – rather garish looking under the lights don’t you think? It was probably too sweet, but I think I was too busy gulping it down to notice. So tasty that I’m pretty sure I had some sort of reflexive sugar coma and was subsequently drowsy and disorientated for the 20 minutes following consumption.

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And we had an old school cherry coke spider. The soft serve was of an odd quality, but hey, you can’t really go wrong with a spider.

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Also notice this on the dessert menu. Double stuffed deep fried oreos – it’s enough to clog your arteries just thinking about it.

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In fact, the rest of the menu was sort of amazing in a bizarrely fascinating way, full of a wide array of fried potato goods – curly fries, waffle fries, fried potato skins… – and ribs and wings … The more I read the more a perverse sort of craving developed. It’s just too unhealthy not to taste good. I will be testing this theory on my next visit.

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Misty's Diner on Urbanspoon

Cupcake Central
Melbourne Central

Epic cupcake craving the other week while waiting in line at hoyts for tickets to the hunger games. Satisfied completely and utterly by this lovely little morsel from cupcake central.

Red velvet, lovely (and completely photogenic) delectable moist cakey-ness topped off with a creamy light flurfffy icing – perfection.

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Cupcake Central Workshop on Urbanspoon

Spent a very relaxed granny easter in mt Dandenong on Sunday, mixing it with the tourists, families and elderly demographic. We had a wander around Sassafras, sampled some house-made dips at a deli (spicy pepper? And then they mixed it with sour cream and coriander and POW – like Doritos salsa but about 100 times better), discovered beetroot chips, bought some magical stones from the fortune telling shop for prosperity (gold and glittery haha) and for safe travels (a nice comfortable mustard) and came very close to buying an aloe vera plant.

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AND. Squeezed in a lunch at Ms Marples Tearoom. This place is some what of an institution, known for its famous scones and ginormous desserts and has become an increasingly popular with tourists in the area which has really pushed out their wait times (they don’t take bookings, 1 hour and 15 min wait for the two of us at 12:00pm – they open at 11:00am). This, combined with the rather snooty attitude of the front of house waitress who seemed to want to scare us away with her proposed wait time to cut down their lists, makes me want to try out some of the other lovely places I saw on the drive up.

But anyway, my rant aside, we had a lovely lunch (with excellent service from one of the younger waitresses), highlights as follows 🙂

Miss Marple’s Tea Room
382 Mt Dandenong Tourist Rd
Sassafras

The chicken, cheese and asparagus fingers. Delicious when warm, soggy when left for too long.

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The chicken pot pie! The epitomy of heartiness on a plate. So good, that I almost broke my rule of not ordering the same thing as my better half, almost.

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The quiche lorraine with hot chips and salad. I got this partly because I had a hot chip craving and partly because I wanted a salad to cut the richness of the meal, I’m a conflicted being. Advertised as egg and bacon… but only a few lost looking bacon bits stuck to the bottom pastry… on the plus side a whole lot of fluffy tasty egg 🙂

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The waffles with berries, cream and ice cream. Yummy, but the waffles were the wrong kind of crunchy… like stale-crunchy rather than light-fluffy-crunchy as per the waffle man in degraves st.

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We stayed away from the scones this time, avoiding the embarrassment of our previous epically greedy meal here where we piled on a Sundae Best on top of scones on top of a main meal. Excellent self control all round this time.

Miss Marple's Tearoom on Urbanspoon

We tried to walk it off after with a little stroll around the Rhodedendron Gardens (told you it was a granny weekend!). It wasn’t the perfect weather, but I managed to get in some practise with the DSLR in preparation for our Europe trip at the end of the year (YES! Can’t wait to blog about all things tasty from Vienna en route to Prague :D).

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Sigh such perfect fresh air in the Dandenongs! Pretty sure my lungs are shrivelling and turning black as I sit here blogging from suburbia.

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A lovely view! …And a quick mid-afternoon snack break to share, sweet potato chippiess and sparkling honey nectar (yep I’d never heard of this either, but delicious, and fresh tasting, not at all cloyingly sweet) courtesy of the aforementioned deli.

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Much Easter Love!

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Fonda Mexican
248 Swan Street
Richmond

So for somewhere on the quieter end of Swan St, even for a Friday Night, Fonda was pretty crowded when we got there. Possibly because they do some pretty tasty mexican, but also probably because the place is so small! Picture: a long rectangle with an open kitchen on the left and tables/chairs placed everywhere and anywhere, waiters and waitresses hurry through any remaining space. It’s tight and it’s packed, but I did manage to see a little courtyard out the back so hopefully there’s a bit more breathing room out there.

It’s amazing how they manage to churn out both dine in and take away orders so efficiently from their box-sized kitchen, how they even managed to fit so many staff into such a small space??

I had the horchata to start, a non-alcoholic concoction of rice, cinnamon, rose water, vanilla and evaporated milk which came in a sizeable jar with an old-school straw. I have a serious dislike for cinnamon (odd I know) but this combination was intriguing and worked well – recommended.

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The self-serve condiment on our table. Not sure what this was called, but went well with pretty much everything.

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Tortilla crisps with guacamole and smoky salsa. Yummo, perfect snack food.

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Charred Corn – delicious.

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The braised pork taco with pineapple, coriander, lime and onion. Great flavour combination which was really well infused together. Reminds of the ones at pacos tacos, which uses similar ingredients, but the flavours are very individual and complement each other rather than coming all together.

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The fish taco with chipotle aioli, pickled carrot, onion and cabbage. My favourite!! Amazing!

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Kangaroo fillet burrito with avocado, quinoa, sweet potato, smoky relish and coriander. The only real let down of the night, I thought this was a bit bland and lacked the flavour punch of the other dishes we’d ordered. I kept having to pile on that extra sauce on our table PLUS left over salsa from the tortilla crisps so I could get through my share. The kangaroo fillet was nice, but a little undercooked in parts so that it was a bit mushy and difficult to chew.

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I think Fonda is an excellent addition to Melbourne’s new wave of Mexican eateries. It might not have quite the menu range of Mamasita, but the food is fresh, authentic and very affordable. I haven’t even mentioned their excellent drinks selection of tequila and frozen margaritas – to try on my next visit!

Fonda Mexican on Urbanspoon