Eat here: Sookie La La, Melbourne V.2 (diner)

Sookie La La
593 High St, Northcote
http://www.sookielaladiner.com.au/

It’s hard to believe it was September 2015 when I first visited and blogged about this place… since then, it’s become our favourite Sunday breakfast nook and feels like a second home 🙂

Almost 18 months since that first visit, nothing about Sookie La La is slipping. The service is wonderful, prompt, and most importantly, welcoming and friendly. The booths are perfect – your own private little breakfast nooks. And the standard of the food is still top notch – it’s simple, homely, comforting food that makes you feel like you’re in a favourite aunt’s home.

Husband’s new favourite thing in the world is their fried chicken on waffles. You can probably see why. But tasting it is another story – the waffles are soft and fluffy, and the chicken is perfectly white and tender on the inside, with the perfect crunch on the outside. We’ve eaten a bit of fried chicken, but Sookie La La’s is both of our favourite.

I went with the reuben sandwich, the towering king of bread and corned beef and sauerkraut and pickles and cheese and Russian dressing. This is a proper sandwich. For breakfast or lunch, it’s just magic.

After a long week, when we roll up to their glass front door on a Sunday morning and slide into one of the beautiful wooden booths, it really feels like home. We both seem to sigh in relief as we sit down to a hot pot of strong tea for me and a chocolatey coffee for the husband, always brought over by the ever-smiling lady of the house, and we know that no matter what we order, it’s going to be delicious. We’ve spent many hours planning our #👫WorldTour there. Talking about our weeks at work. Mulling over problems that need solving. Discussing our plans for the future and remembering all of the good and bad from the past. We eventually look out at the street through the shuttered windows with the Sunday morning light streaming in, and reluctantly slide out of our booth to get on with the day. Always knowing we’ll be back soon 🙂

Sookie La La Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Eat here: Kelso’s Sandwich Shoppe, Melbourne (sandwiches)

Kelso’s Sandwich Shoppe
271 Johnson St, Abbotsford
http://www.kelsossandwiches.com/

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They’re only a few months old, but I think they’re gonna be popular.  Kelso’s is adorable. While they serve food, it’s not exactly a restaurant. They serve beer, but it’s not a bar or pub. They have milkshakes and filter coffee, but it’s not quite an American diner. So, sandwich shop is probably the perfect way to describe it.

It has all the right touches – vintage Kraft Singles ads on the wall, a gorgeous retro fridge in the corner where the beer lives, counter seating, an open kitchen, and probably their best feature, really lovely, friendly, genuine staff.

While their cheeseburger looks damn good, I had to get a sandwich for my first visit. I went with the ham sandwich with sauerkraut on rye ($8.00) and added in some pickles ($0.50), because they DIY pickles, and if you’re known for your sandwiches and your pickles, I want to try both.

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Great decision; it may not be the sexiest looking sammich, but it was damn tasty. That sauerkraut and those pickles were magic, and I’d find it hard to go past adding them into any future sandwich orders. Great ham, soft bread, so much better than your standard ham sandwich.

And, especially with its location, really really well priced! Most sandwiches are around the $10 mark, give or take a few dollars, and it was a very big sandwich I had for $8.50! Great food, great service, great value  – welcome to the neighbourhood, Kelso’s!

Kelso's Sandwich Shoppe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Jethro Canteen, Melbourne (café/brunch)

Jethro Canteen
385 – 389 Burnley St, Richmond
https://www.instagram.com/jethrocanteen/
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Sunday morning breakfast dates are my favourites. And living in Melbourne means there is always a new spot to check out; yesterday, it was Jethro Canteen in Richmond. It’s still relatively new, but is already pretty popular with the locals given the amount of people streaming in and out for coffees.

The space was beautiful;  yes, it was a little bit Melbourne-hipster-cafe-by-numbers, but that exposed brick + bright tile and tea on shelves + bakery style pastry display had me from the get go. Big windows meant we were drenched in summer sun, and it instantly felt like the perfect place to bunk down with a pot of tea and a good book for the morning. Or coffee – husband said it was fantastic.

Unfortunately, the people didn’t feel quite as warm and comfortable as the physical space to start off with. The staff all seemed a little preoccupied and sour, until someome stopped by with a cute dog. The little fluffball seemed to put a smile on everyone’s dials and made them all much more pleasant. The menu, like the cafe, was exciting straight away – husband struggled to decide between the chili dog and the Louisiana plate,  but the jalapeño popper won out in the end. Also on the plate was thick cut bacon steak, poached eggs on corn remoulade smothered toast, chili prawns and guacamole. Other than a slightly overdone egg, no complaints, and his plate was mopped clean. The jalapeño popper was definite highlight, though.

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I struggled to pick between the waffles with cereal milk pannacotta, the white chocolate & almond crumble porridge or the chia pudding, but the latter won out. Coconut and almond milk soaked chia, topped with elderflower jelly, berries, mango puree, vanilla bean cashew cream and granola. I was really disappointed that the granola was pretty much non-existent, because the tiny bit that was on there was amazing! The chia was perfect, the berries were fresh, and the cashew cream was the perfect surprise addition – thick, creamy,  strong vanilla flavour – loved it.

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Despite a few bumps, we both absolutely loved Jethro – the beautiful space and the creative menu (so nice to see something other than smashed avo toast and chili scrambled eggs!) make it the perfect addition to our brunch scene;  we will be back!

Eat here: Lievità V.2 – bringing in a new menu

Lievità
298 High St, Northcote
http://lievita.com.au/

I couldn’t have been more excited to get an email from the lovely Luca at Lievità a few weeks ago with an invitation to the showcase their new menu and toast the people who’ve supported their mission to bring pizza al taglio from the streets of Rome to the streets of Northcote.

Ok, so they’re bringing in a new drinks menu, but as any Italian will attest, the drinks are just as important as the food. And the pizza menu changes regularly anyway, because Luca’s a clever man with the Italian way of cooking front on mind – use what’s fresh, local and in season. Ingredients change, as does his menu, which is the way it should be.

On the new drinks list you’ll find that classic Italian aperitif, the Aperol Spritz, as well as a new pre-dinner drink, the Lucchetto – 2 parts Amaro Montenegro, 2 parts soda, a dash of orange bitters and a slice of fresh orange. Highly recommended.

They’ve got their own beer now, too – the Lievità Pilsner (4.8%), but I’m not a beer drinker, so you’ll have to wait for the husband’s verdict. That said, they were going down pretty quickly, so I’m guessing its a good brew!


Enoteca Sileno are bringing the wine to the party, with their DOC and DOCG wines (menu below)- I like a nice red, and I love a good white, but my favourite is always a cold bubbly Prosecco. The Umberto Luigi Domenico Prosecco gracing the menu (from the Veneto region, where my mum’s family is from) was amazing, and will henceforth be my choice of bubbles there; perfect for a hot summer night to accompany trays of pizza!

Food and drink aside, this was also an awesome opportunity to see how things really work behind the scenes; Luca managed to leave a successful corporate career and turn his dream of a pizza place into reality, and after meeting and speaking to his family and friends, it’s easy to see why. Not only is he clearly incredibly talented and pretty determined, he has the most amazing support network behind him. In true Italian style, the whole family was there to celebrate his success; being an Italian girl myself, knowing what the family culture is like, and seeing just how much love goes into this operation makes the pizza taste even better.

 

Disclosure: I was kindly invited to this event as a guest of Lievità, however the opinions contained herein are completely based on my own experience. If you need further proof, here’s the first post I wrote about them 18 months a several trays of pizza ago 🙂

Eat here: Tinker, Melbourne (café/brunch)

Tinker
235 High St, Northcote
http://tinkernorthcote.com.au

Another weekend, another breakfast. I used to say brunch until husband pulled me up and said that when we’re up, dressed, out the door and seated with menus in hand by 8.30am, its not brunch. Touché.

Anyway, I decided to have a little browse to check out the new openings in our area (we have high attendance rates at Sookie La La, but do occasionally like to see wha else is going on), and I remembered passing a new looking place when I went to the Northcote Kris Kringle Night Market last week: Tinker.

Online investigation led me to their Instagram page, which told me that Tinker was another product of the team that gave us Legacy Camberwell and Temperance Society. That’s all well and good, but proving yourself in the Northcote brunch scene is no easy feat. So, off we went to see for ourselves.

If I was unsure when we were parking the car, the welcome at my feet swept away most of my fears. It seemed I was certainly in the right place. We were promptly greeted and seated, and had tea and coffee in no time at all. Tea was hot and strong, husband loved the coffee. Off to a solid start.

Ordering was tough for husband, tossing up between chilli scrambled eggs, smashed peas, and eggs benedict, but the eggs benny clinched the win with the jalapeño rosti instead of plain old toast, and Kaiser bacon over ham. Perfectly poached eggs with molten yolk, golden crisp rosti, and a proper slab of bacon. Winning.

I was an easy decision; jaffa hotcakes with orange curd, vanilla mascarpone and chocolate swirled meringue pieces. Just wow. Two thick, dense hotcakes swimming in an incredibly generous pool of tangy curd, heaps of chocolate meringue pieces, and mascarpone that wasn’t too sweet or too cheesy. That was the sweet breakfast I’ve been craving!

The space itself is very clean and crisp, sparsely decorated, which I thought was a bit odd to start with, but once the food started to appear, these bright, colourful dishes looked evennbetter against the basic interior. I understand now, well done interior decoration team.

This whole being spoilt for choice in the breaky and brunch department is not getting even remotely old yet… welcome to the north, Tinker!

Tinker Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: The Old Milk Bar Cafe, Thornbury (brunch)

The Old Milk Bar Cafe
144 Dundas St, Thornbury

Back in Melbourne and back to weekend brunches! And don’t I feel just a bit silly not having visited this place sooner… We’ve been living a stone’s throw from the Old Milk Bar Cafe for a few years, now, and it’s one of those places that’s been on my radar but I just haven’t gotten around to visiting.

We finally made it to the sweet, little, old milk bar converted into a cafe over the weekend. High Street in Thornbury is getting to be a pretty popular location for cafes, but this one’s tucked off the main drag. If you don’t know about it, you’re not likely to stumble upon it, and that was instantly obvious – staff were greeting a lot of customers by name, which was really lovely to see 🙂

I adored the space itself – little touches like the old THE AGE sign on the wall under the kitchen were the perfect throw back to the old days. While the inside of the cafe isn’t enormous (with seating for around 8 on small tables and one larger communal table that seats another 8 or so), the outside patio seating was pretty spacious. And the menu looked great! Husband’s choice was made quickly; he went with the smashed avo – 2 slices of toast with an absolute mountain of smashed avocado, goats curd, and a panko crumbed egg on top. He gave big points for the amount of avocado and how perfectly oozy the egg yolk was, but was a little sad the panko crumbs didn’t stay crunchy.

My choice was even easier again – lemon lime ricotta hotcakes with blueberries. Yes, please!! These were hands down the lightest, fluffiest, most delicious hot cakes I’ve ever had. No competition. No other was to describe it. Absolutely perfect. Swimming in the most delicious citrus curd, and plenty of juicy blueberries. I was told these were a new addition to the menu, and I hope they stay on the menu – I’ll be back for them again. They were magic.

Vietnam was a good time, but no one does brunch like Melbourne. And when places like this are making food this delicious, it’s good to be home 🙂

The Old Milkbar Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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