Eat here: Vincent The Dog, Melbourne (brunch/café)

Vincent The Dog
348 Drummond St, Carlton
https://www.instagram.com/vincentthedogcafe/

Another weekend, another brunch date. And guys, it’s Monday morning; the best way to get through the week is to start preparing for weekend brunch now!

Last weekend, I finally got around to Vincent The Dog, an unassuming little hole-in-the-wall in Carlton, which is pretty easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.

Inside, it’s teeny tiny, with one big communal dining table and a few bench seats, so prepare to get to know your fellow diners. Looking at the shelving displaying oh so much pretty coffee-ware, you get the impression that these guys take their coffee pretty seriously; you’d be both right and wrong.

Waiting on my friend’s arrival, I had a read through the menu, and found it to be pretty “this is what we think;” in little notes around the menu, they let you know just how their coffee making differs from everyone else, and make no apologies for it. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I respect anyone willing to back their methods. Instead, I ordered a jasmine/green tea blend, and am absolutely stoked when it comes out properly brewed and at the right temperature (when I’m served green tea leaves in a pot of boiling water, I know I’m dealing with amateurs – if not steeped for only a few minutes at a lower-than-boiling temperature, it goes bitter and yuk, and that’s disappointing). Beautiful tea, perfect start to the morning!

Breakfast. That was actually a pretty simple decision for me because
a) they’re kind enough to label the menu items with anything that may upset people with food allergies, so I knew exactly what to skip if I wanted to avoid onion and garlic – thank you!
b) I like sweet breakfasts.

So I went with the sweet waffle option: coconut waffles with fresh & freeze dried strawberries,  cherries, kiwi, coconut jelly, green tea jelly, fresh mint & pistachios… wow. The waffles were right on point for me – thick and fluffy, with heaps of shredded coconut through them. The jellies were easily the other highlight – I’ve found that a lot of places who promise jellies like this tend to end up with quite watered down flavours to the point that it could just be green-tinged jelly, but you could really taste the coconut and green tea in these. Thank goodness!

It’s a pity the place isn’t a little bit bigger so people could relax and sprawl out a little more rather than being so squished in, because it’s a really cute little café, and my waffles were great – everything else rolling out of the kitchen looked amazing, too. Another delicious addition to Carlton 🙂

 
Vincent the Dog Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Advertisements

Eat here: Shifty Chèvre, Melbourne (French/cafe/bar)

Shifty Chèvre
375 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
http://www.shiftychevre.com/#shiftychevre

This is another one of those places we’ve been meaning to get around to for ages; the blessing and curse of being a food lover living in Melbourne is that for every place you tick off your “to eat” list, another 3 pop up. It’s relentless. It’s the best possible problem to have.

Part cheese & wine bar, part brunch spot, they’re all about making you feel right at home. As they say on their website, their place is designed to be an extension of their own kitchen, “a place of warmth, laughter, cheese, good food and a bottle of something with friends.” It’s also a really beautiful place, full of the little touches like the wooden coat stand and random framed pictures.

Given the Sunday morning visit, husband got stuck right into some coffee, and tea was my poison. Both fresh and hot and all sorts of perfect for a Melbourne winter’s morning.

Then, food. Tough decisions had to be made. Husband finally settled on the smokey bacon sandwich ($18.00) – house-smoked thick-cut bacon with melted triple cheese, thyme roasted field mushrooms and tomato relish in sourdough bread with a fried egg on top. Damn good sandwich – that bacon was magic! While the egg on top made it pretty hard to eat like a proper sandwich, everything worked perfectly. Big winner!

My decision was easy: the Shifty Benedict ($18.00) – slow roasted smoked ham hock, poached eggs, multigrain toast, apple cider hollandaise sauce and pork crackling.

Perfectly poached eggs, soft and molten, and smothered in deliciously creamy hollandaise. The ham hock was the highlight, though – piled high under the egg, I couldn’t really tell what I was getting into, but breaking it up with my fork, it was soft and tender and juicy, with the most delicious smokey flavour. Oh, and that pork crackling… WOW…

If that was the brunch menu, I cannot wait to try out the dinner (with wine, obviously). Everything that was promised was delivered – it was a warm, cosy place, easy to feel at home in, and the food was incredible. Another perfect addition to the Melbourne brunch scene 🙂


Shifty Chevre Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Gellibrand Cafe, Melbourne (brunch/cafe)

Gellibrand Cafe
16 Gellibrand Cres, Reservoir
https://web.facebook.com/gellibrandcafe/?fref=nf&_rdr

They’ve been open less than a month, and I managed 2 visits in less than 24 hours – I think I’ve found my new local! Tucked away in a little suburban pocket of Reservoir, it’s not the kind of place that’s going to get crazy foot traffic, so they’re going to have to rely pretty heavily on good word of mouth. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem…

The space itself is beautiful – it’s modern and minimalist looking, but the little touches like the Globo posters behind the counter give it a bit of a throwback to the past and makes it feel more homely.

Our first visit was last Saturday afternoon; they close at 4pm, but we thought we’d try to sneak in a quick coffee/tea date around 3pm on our way out. It’s incredibly how many places get narky when you roll in an hour before closing on a Saturday afternoon, so we braced ourselves for an icy reception. Which was completely unnecessary; we were welcomed with smiles and open arms. Massive points there, because another similar cafe in the area is quite the opposite when you arrive within 90 minutes of closing time.

We asked for tea, coffee and donuts, and while we sat waiting for them, we picked up on seriously happy vibes. The staff were laughing and joking around with each other, they were happy to chat with us instead of ignoring us, and it felt more and more like hanging out at a friend’s or extended family member’ place rather than a shiny new cafe.

Oh, and they stock Doughboys Doughnuts, which makes me very happy, because I love them!! Husband loved his coffee, my tea was hot and brewed just right, and the doughnuts were magic. Salted caramel that was properly salty and sugary, and a gorgeous little key lime number filled with lime curd and a toasted meringue hat. Perfect afternoon tea. Also, as the clock ticked closer to 4pm, more big points for not starting to turn off light and clean around our feet – sorry our timing was crap, guys, but thank you for not making us feel like a total inconvenience!! We decided then and there that we’d return for breakfast the next morning.

And so we did. Sunday morning rolled around, and we turned back up to Gellibrand again. A pretty simple menu with plenty of options to keep everyone happy, husband went straight for the smashed avo with chilli on toast, with a poached egg and bacon on the side. He’s fussy with anything that claims to have chilli in it (his tolerance levels are bordering on unnatural), so he was a pretty happy camper when his avocado came out with actual pieces of chilli mashed through it. He was even happier when he opened his egg up and found it all molten lava yolk (he’s has some sub-par over poached eggs lately). He also commended the amount of bacon.

I was hovering over the porridge, until I caught a glimpse of the specials board. There is something oddly satisfying about being able to order pancakes and ice cream for breakfast, for a few reasons:
1. When you’re a kid and you want pancakes and ice cream for breakfast, your parents laugh at you and give you cereal and fruit instead. As an adult, if you want ice cream for breakfast, you can.
2. When you’re a highly disordered eater, any time you can override the mechanism that tells you to order eggs and vegetables for breakfast and not to finish the toast, that’s a big win.

And it was a bloody good decision – they were proper, home made pancakes, not the perfect round cookie-cutter ones. They were full of blueberries, plenty of salted caramel toasted almonds, more blueberries and top, and that ice cream was the perfect side. I don’t often order pancakes because they’re such a special treat meal to me, and I don’t want to waste a special treat breaky on crappy pancakes, but these were exactly what I felt like – hope they make their way back onto the specials board again!

I’m feeling really fortunate to be living out in the northern suburbs these days; back when I was a kid, Preston and Reservoir weren’t the nicest areas. Now, as the suburbs next in line for gentrification after Northcote and Thornbury, they’re starting to become prime locations. I just hope that the new places opening up keep the friendly neighbourhood attitudes and a few little throwbacks to the past, like Gellibrand have. See you again soon, guys 🙂

 

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

Eat here: Green Park Dining, Melbourne (all day) V.2

Green Park Dining
815 Nicholson St, Carlton
http://greenparkdining.com.au/

You know what a really fun way to start your weekend is? With a best friend brunch date. I love my husband and all, but I’m also lucky to have some really close girlfriends to hang out with. The added bonus is that they all love to brunch!

I enjoyed a particularly delicious brunch date last weekend with one of those lovely ladies at Green Park; I hadn’t been there since our Scarf Dinner last year, and heard they did a mean breakfast, so off we went. It was beautiful at night for dinner, but sitting there in the sunshine made it even lovelier – it’s the vintage books and knick knacks décor of my dreams…

Talking food, the menu is fantastic, and picking one dish was difficult. So I went with the breakfast platter ($18.00) and got a bit of everything! The platter comes with fresh caraway rye bread, butter, Maffra cheddar, marinated feta, a boiled egg, avocado, beetroot, ham & cured sausage. Exceptional value for money, and every single item was delicious. The coconut milk panna cotta and 63° egg with thick cut bacon sounded so good, but I’d be hard pressed to go past the platter again!

After breaky and a good chat, we still weren’t ready to head our separate ways and be adults, so we got more tea and dessert (duh). Chocolate brownie cheesecake was the pick, and it was the right decision. I’d highly recommend chasing up your breakfast with one of these!

Green Park isn’t shiny and new, but it should still be on you to-eat list. And even if you’re not there for breakfast (or lunch or dinner), you can enjoy some good tea or coffee and pastries. It’s literally your one-stop shop for weekend eats!

Green Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Serotonin Eatery, Melbourne (healthy stuff)

Serotonin Eatery
52 Madden Grove, Burnley, Richmond
http://www.serotonindealer.com/

So, I finally got around to visiting Serotonin. I’ve been putting it off for aaaaages because:
a) it’s a shit to get to from my place, and
b) it just seemed a bit bright and shiny and happy and positive for me.

But, overdue for a lady date, my lovely friend suggested Serotonin, and I figured “why not?” I probably wasn’t going to go on my own! I figured I’d kick back and relax with some good food and great company after a looooong week, and not worry about photos or anything this time, because I didn’t intend on writing a blog post about it, because every other man and his dog has already. Obviously, I changed my mind..

Serotonin is all about the healthy. Combining an eatery and exercise centre, they’re all about promoting good health and the happiness that comes with it. The menu is plant-based, relating back to their belief that this kind of food helps regular hormones, moods and gut balance, and therefore gives you more energy to enjoy the things you love. Normally, I get a bit antsy about these super healthy types, having experienced the full range of health-nuts working in the health industry; I always worry that they’re going to be a bit preachy and judgy with those of us who aren’t rolling up to eat in our tights and sports bras, toned and tanned and terrific.

I couldn’t have been happier to be proven more wrong; yes, the team working there were all far fitter and more beautiful than I, but there was not a speck of arrogance or holier-than-thou about them. I genuinely don’t believe I have ever been anywhere the staff looked so happy to be there, and it makes all the difference (those of you who’ve experienced the surly, snappy service first thing on a Sunday morning in some lovely cafe or other know what I’m talking about). Not only did this crew take your order, they asked if you needed any recommendations or had any dietary restrictions that needed attending to, pulled up a seat next to you and actually stopped for a chat! And you know what? I did not see a single customer grumpy at having to wait an extra 2 minutes because their server was having a chat with the people at the next table. I didn’t actually believe this was possible in Melbourne…

The place itself is gorgeous, too – heaps of seating inside, but the courtyard is where it’s at, in my opinion. When the winter sun hits it, it’s perfection. And even better, there are swings to sit on out the back – you wanna talk about getting the happy chemicals flowing, put a grown woman on a giant swing at a fancy cafe and watch it happen!

And the menu was actually pretty impressive – they even had a few dishes that were specifically mentioned as being onion and garlic free! Do you have any idea how hard it is to go out for lunch and find something without onion and/or garlic?! Even soups are made with them! We both ordered the deconstructed sushi bowl ($17.00), because it just sounded too good to pass up – a bowl of warm brown rice & quinoa piled high with pickled ginger, daikon, carrot, mushroom, capsicum, cucumber, avocado, shredded nori and crunchy wasabi peas, along with a syringe full of tamari soy sauce.

I loved it. I love sushi anyway, and I actually really like raw veggies, so even without any meat, this was brilliant. It was deceptively big, as well, and very filling, without being heavy and sickening. If I wasn’t totally lazy, this is the sort of lunch I’d make myself most days – don’t get my wrong, I’m still an utter and complete burger addict, but sometimes it’s nice to have something fresh and light, and this completely hit the spot. Those crunchy little wasabi peas were magic in there, too (note to self: add to shopping list).

By that point, the sun was out and we were warming up on our swings (and we were both procrastinating going home to adult for the day), so we decided to stay a little longer with some hot drinks. Drinks menu is incredible; they even have a peanut butter latte (seriously)! It was a matcha latte ($7.00) for me, though, made with organic coconut milk. Matcha and coconut milk is one of my favourite combos, and even though it wasn’t a cheap drink and I couldn’t ever justify ordering these regularly, it was the perfect treat to end lunch with. And, it was so happy to see me 🙂

We finally and reluctantly left our seats on the swings, bellies full and happy, and I have to admit how wrong I was about this place. The food was fantastic, the people couldn’t have been nicer, and it couldn’t have been further from the scary, intimidating experience I was imagining. I just wish it was closer to home!

 

Serotonin Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: The Vertue of the Coffee Drink, Melbourne (brunch) V.2

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink
8 Raffa Place Carlton, Melbourne
http://vertuecoffee.com.au/

While we’ve been back numerous times for tea, coffee and cake, it’s been a while since our last sit down and relax meal at Vertue. And, with a brand spanking new winter menu, I thought it was time for a fancy Sunday breakfast to try it out!

Nothing’s changed on the surface, with the same beautiful high ceilings and flooding light, and the same delicious, hot tea and coffee to start off on…

But after that, things have changed dramatically. I took a while to pour over the menu, but husband made up his mind straight away, choosing the crispy pork belly with soft duck egg, spiced sweet potato puree, black pudding and quince gel ($22.00). Black pudding is his new favourite breakfast item, and this one definitely didn’t disappoint! It was a very pretty breakfast, but it had guts, too – the pork was incredible, both soft & fatty and crispy at the same time. Big winner.

After much deliberation, I ended up going for the matcha panna cotta with finger lime, coconut chia pudding, house made granola, adzuki bean paste and kiwi fruit ($17.00). Because I love every single one of those things. And I, too, made the right choice – this is a little cup of heaven (and actually not that little). There’s nothing more disappointing than receiving a matcha dish that doesn’t actually taste like matcha, but the flavour was absolutely there in this. Creamy coconut chia pudding, amazing lime zing, and whatever is in that granola is magic. Would definitely order again.

By-passing the sugary window to heaven that is the cabinet full of sweets on the way out was not easy, but it gave us a good excuse to head back (again). As last time, beautiful setting, amazing food, great atmosphere, make time in your weekend schedule to visit!

The Vertue of the Coffee Drink Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Horse on Heels, Melbourne (waffles)

Horse on Heels
50 Rose St, Fitzroy
http://www.horseonheels.com.au/

The idea was simple: be the waffle specialists. Because cupcakes are done, donuts are getting old, and Melbourne needs a new sweet. Why not waffles? When JV suggested this for our weekend lady date, she had me at “it’s all about waffles.” When I looked at their website and saw they were the team behind The Waffle Club at the Queen Vic Market, I was even more excited, because I really love their waffles!

You’re looking for the plain brick building next to the Rose Street Artists’ Market, with no signage or  identifying markers other than the mini blackboard A-frame on the floor out front. I was there a bit early, and took a seat with a pot of tea while I waited – thank you to the lovely server who brought out a piece of freshly made waffle to nibble on with my tea! It’s a beautiful place to sit and drink you tea or coffee in, too; I couldn’t work out what it reminded me of with the natural light and wooden finished, until JV mentioned it reminded her a lot of Kitty Burns.

For breakfast, JV went with the Popcorn Chicken ($20.00) – a black charcoal coconut waffle topped with popcorn chicken, caramelised popcorn, pickled kale and chimichurri aioli sauce. It was a massive serve and great value for money, and she said it was amazing.

I like a sweet breakfast, and was a bit up in the air over what I wanted, but ended up going with the Autumn Fruits ($17.00) – a Belgian Liege waffle topped with coconut chia pudding, acai smoothie, granola, goji berries and fruit. I asked for it without banana, but unfortunately they didn’t remember that the acai smoothie was basically purple mashed banana, so I skipped that and a bit of the waffle that was soaked in it, which sucked 😦 the rest of it was amazing, though, but a little on the smaller side compared to the Popcorn Chicken. Totally kicked myself for not going with my first instinct and ordering the coconut pandan waffle with kaya jam and extras. Next time…

The menu is fantastic, and it was hard to decide on just one or two dishes – pulled beef, grilled pork belly, avo and pomegranate, meatsmith sausage with smoky baked beans… it’s extensive. Teamed up with the beautiful space and fantastic service, I’m ready to go back and try that coconut pandan waffle!

 

Horse On Heels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato