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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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

Kappaya

1 St Heliers St
The Abbotsford Convent
Abbotsford

Tucked away between Lentils as Anything and the Convent Bakery, Kappaya is a cheery japanese eatery serving soul food – simple and healthy fare which is beautifully presented and delicious.

The menu is simple, serving several varieties of onigiri, side dishes and desserts. You can choose these on their own, or as a part of a set.

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We started with a non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice to share, refreshing.

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The bento boxes. Lovely presentation which highlighted the simplicity of each individual dish.

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The yakisake (grilled salmon) and kinpira (sweet and spicy vegetable) onigiri. The rice had a few different grains in it and I liked that it was quite textural and well balanced with the fillings. In the background you can see the side salad, which was mostly cabbage with some shoots and beans accompanied by a sweet and slightly vingegary dressing. Crunchy and light.

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The saku saku, tempura vegetables (I gave in and ordered the one deepfried option on the menu…). This was a bit cold and hard, as if it had been sitting there for a while before being brought out, but went really well with tangy pickled onion it came with and I ended up really enjoying it.

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Mushi Dori – tender steamed chicken sitting on top of soft pumpkin in a light broth. Such a simple and clean dish.

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Goma Pudding. How cute is the presentation? I loved the little wooden spoons, and the little pitcher the size of a thumb hiding behind the pudding cup. The pitcher had a molasses-y syrup in it which really brought out the sesame flavour of the pudding.

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I love that kappaya serves such simple, honest food. It’s so wholesome, you’ll feel that much healthier for coming here.

Kappaya on Urbanspoon

Kenji Japanese Dining
10/1405-1411 Toorak Road
Camberwell, VIC 3124

A much delayed post on this little japanese place out in the suburbs, which was highly recommended by friends. We made a mid-week trip about a month ago, loved it so much and were back within a week for more.

It’s located near the corner of Toorak and Warrigal road, inside a little arcade with ample 2P parking behind. The shop does both take away as well as dine in, which reflects in their contrasting set up. There’s a nice cosy dining area with timber furniture, bamboo partitioning, traditional paintings and a sushi bar along the back wall – but also an entrance with pre-fried goods sitting in bain-maries and pre-cut sushi as well as self-serve cutlery and hot tea.

They have an extensive menu with a highlight being their wide variety of sashimi, and all at an extremely affordable price. Think ~15 for an entree sized sashimi platter, ~ 9 for ramen/rice dishes.

Our first visit:

Miso Soup!

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Nigiri (entree size). Salmon, tuna, kingfish, scallop, ark shell and prawn. Really fresh, delicious. Possibly the first time I’ve tried scallop as sashimi – absolutely amazing, such a plump little serving and so sweet. Yums.

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A Bento box. I think this was beef (I’ve forgotten exactly now), which was tender with a yummy marinade/sauce. The sides were good, with all the friend components contributing to a very filling serve.

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The miso ramen with chicken. The winners for me in this was the chicken which was glazed and a little crispy on the edge and the bamboo which added to the flavoursome and hearty broth.

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Already enormously satisfied with our meal thus far, we proceeded to further sacrifice our waist lines for the good (and completeness) of this blog via the dessert menu.

The green tea creme brulee. Good matcha flavour, but not as smooth tasting or as delicate of a flavour as the one at Shira Nui in Glen Waverley. However, at about half the price of the latter and about double the serving size, it’s not a bad alternative.

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Red bean dorayaki. We should not have skimped on ordering a side of ice cream with this as alone it was a bit… dry.

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I think this place has the potential to be a serious contender at the finer end of japanese dining a la shira nui, particularly as they offer a sashimi omakase (which I still want to try), but at the moment is still a little rough around the edges in terms of of presentation.

Completely fine by me though, the food is fresh and delicious, and I’ll definitely be back here for more.

Kenji Japanese Dining on Urbanspoon

Marquee Restaurant
445 Toorak Rd
Toorak

Backing up our successful experience at the Globe Cafe, we headed to Marquee with another coupon the week after. The restaurant itself has the fine dining ambience, complete with soft candlelight, subtle background music, a billowing canopy of a marquee (ah the name all makes sense now!) and even wrought iron fencing. The waiters and waitresses are well mannered and there’s a front of house guy who’s happy to answer questions and ensure a smooth dining experience.

Now, at odds with all of this is the location of this restaurant which can be found on the ground floor of the Trak Centre in Toorak. After hours, the various hair salons and boutiques in the centre are closed and the whole place takes on a somewhat lonely and empty feel with the nearest open outlet the somewhat rowdy sichuan restaurant upstairs (amazing food btw, I went there about ?6 years ago when it first opened and glad to see it can still pull a crowd on friday night) and the trak nightclub next door.

Putting aside all oddities and juxtapositions, let’s discuss their menu offerings. The menu is divided into tastings, entrees, mains and desserts.

From the tastings menu, we had the pacific oysters with champagne and lime granita. Fresh plump oysters with a refreshing granita which balanced out the acidity of the lemon well.

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Our entree was the wagyu carpaccio with crispy caper berries, tomato concasse, roasted shallots with murray river pink salt, rocket and white truffle oil. Amazing. Loved the sweetness of the shallots with the earthy wagyu and the tang and bitterness of the other components. All accompanied by the aromatic truffle oil.

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My main of 250g Black Angus eye fillet with kipler mash, raosted baby veg, lardons and red wine jus. A well portioned dish, the eye fillet was fresh and cooked well. There was a slight bitter taste to the jus, but I’m just being picky.

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The 450g dry aged Rib Eye, char grilled with roasted potato and pepper sauce. Delicious rib eye. The potatoes had a crunchy outside and a soft, pillowy inside with a good amount of seasoning.

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So at this point I believe we got a little greedy and decided to go for a couple of desserts as well.

The Eton Mess with strawberries, chantilly cream, smashed meringue, ice cream, strawberry coulis and mint. Can’t really go wrong with this combination of ingredients, and so pretty looking.

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Soft centred Chocolate Pudding with vanilla bean ice cream and orange compote. Again a great combination, the soft centre was rich and that amount of syrupy ooze that makes you want to want to scoop it all up with your spoon and eat it up straight away.

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All of that plus a few drinks brought the bill to 180ish$ and I was glad at that point that we did have a coupon to absorb some of the damage. Really great restaurant though and I would definitely come back for a special night out. I can’t help thinking though how successful this place might be if the location was a little less random?

Marquee Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Globe Cafe
218 Chapel St
Prahran

Took the BF and a scoopon to the Globe Cafe a couple of weeks ago. I’m always a little wary with these coupon deals as there’s always the chance of ending up with a dodgy meal and feeling slightly jibbed. But happy to report that our dinner here was lovely and lived up to the relatively high rating on urbanspoon.

My lychee and apple cooler, yum! Love a place with drink options other than soft drink and alcohol.

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For starters we had the beer battered whiting goujons with house-made tartare

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and the sizzling garlic prawns with crusty bread

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Lovely entrees. The crusty bread was interpreted very literally and was 100% crunch. Would have been nice if it was slightly more substantial and spongy, if only to mop up the delicious garlic prawn sauce.

My linguine of mussels, prawns and calamari with white wine butter reduction and fresh herbs. A pretty dish with light, subtle flavours, fresh seafood and well-cooked linguine.

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We also had the lime and pistachio semi-freddo w/ pistachio praline and pomegranate molasses. I was too excited at the prospect of dessert and forgot to take a photo but it turned out to be a rather odd dish. The semi-freddo was delicious but completely overwhelmed by the sickly sour/sweet molasses.

A lovely little cafe with good food and if it was slightly more inexpensive (mains 26-32$) a student like me would come back more regularly. Nevertheless, a good dining spot on Chapel St and I shall be back for a coffee or lunch.

Globe Café on Urbanspoon

ps. Spotted while walking home from dinner:

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