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

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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

Tea time: The Village Larder, Woodend, VIC 

The Village Larder
81 High St, Woodend
http://www.thevillagelarder.com.au/

Going back in time today because it’s cold and I’d rather be sitting in front of a fireplace with tea and scones. Unfortunately, I’m fairly stationary today, but when you’re taking a road trip and it’s freezing cold and raining a little bit and you’re not quite there yet, you gotta stop for hot tea and coffee. On our way from Melbourne to Bunjil Farm, we passed through the sweet little town of Woodend, and The Village Larder looked like the perfect place to stop off and warm up.

If I lived here, this would be my regular tea house. It was perfect; warm and cosy, owing mostly to the fire place (heaven!), cute random fabric curtains, the most gorgeous old wooden counter and plenty of space to sit and read and relax.

Tea and coffee were both delicious, and so was the sultana scone, warmed up and served with delicious berry jam and cream. I also really loved the two drawings stuck to the coffee machine; one a beautiful pen sketch done by someone who was clearly a talented artist, and another done by a child, signed with their name. They both looked perfect there. It’s the simple stuff 🙂

The breakfast menu looked great, too – shakshuka, fig date & raisin toast, bacon + egg + avo + chipotle ciabatta and freshly squeezed juices… next time, I think I’ll want to leave a little earlier so I can have breaky instead of just morning tea!

 

The Village Larder Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Ampersand Coffee & Food, Melbourne (café/brunch)

Ampersand Coffee & Food
863 High St, Thornbury
https://www.facebook.com/AmpersandThornbury

I noticed this place what feels like ages ago on one of our long walks. A few weeks after that, I saw Ashley’s review on I’m So Hungree, and this girl knows her food, so I made a mental note to get around to it. 4 months later, I finally did (the only down side to this Melbourne hipster apocalypse is the ridiculous amount of good food popping up and no extension of weekends to accommodate it all).

We were greeted by the requisite fancy coffee menu on old-school board, ironic décor of a bike hung behind the counter covered in vines, and completely random neon light/art installation. But, I quite liked it all – it’s a beautiful, light space, and everything worked to make it a really comfortable place.

We were quickly seated with drink orders taken – while still new to the bean scene, husband loved the coffee (Padre coffee, for those who understand these things) and noted how many people were dropping in just for a cup to take away. I was happy to see Larsen & Thompson tea on the menu, and got me some Good Morning tea. Nice.

The menu, while not enormous, does have all the basics that you’re wanting. It should also note that they cater exceptionally well for special dieters, vegetarians and vegans, so big points there. Husband was recovering from a big Saturday night, and went with the breakfast burrito ($16.00), filled with scrambled eggs, Mexican rice, bacon, rocket, and chipotle mayo. He didn’t look too impressed when it came out, saying that it looked a bit on the small side, not realising how full of bacon and egg and rice it actually was – he didn’t finish it, in the end!

I was feeling a bit crap and was after comfort food; when I saw that the porridge ($9.00)  was made with soy milk (I think these guys are the only ones who offer a lactose free porridge…), I knew that was for me. Also came with poached pears (which I can’t really eat due to fructose issues), pistachios (yum) and toasted coconut (favourite). I was expecting something a little on the small side for the price, but this was a deceptively big bowl of porridge! I know I probably should have, but I did nibble on a bit of pear, which was soft and delicious. And heaps of pistachios and coconut. Just really good winter comfort food – loved it!

Cute café, great food and coffee, quick (albeit a little cold) service, and close to home – I wouldn’t mind another visit for the waffles with honeycomb, ricotta and chocolate sauce next…

 

Ampersand Coffee and Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat & shop here: Duck Duck Goose & Larder, Kyneton, VIC (café)

Duck Duck Goose & Larder
17-19 Piper St, Kyneton, Victoria
http://www.duckduckgooseandlarder.com.au/

The hipster apocalypse is nigh. They’ve even made it out to Kyneton! Country Victoria has hipsters! If you’d told me I’d be able to find something like this in Kyneton, I wouldn’t have believed you, but there was Duck Duck Goose, a cafe, larder and providore.

A family business run by mum, dad and daughter, Duck Duck Goose is located in a beautiful old building on Piper Street in Kyneton, and does it all. The cafe is located at the front of the building, with a larger area through the doors and out the back containing their larder and providore, stocked full of artisan breads and biscuits, fresh and locally sourced fruit and veggies, beautiful ceramic tea cups and milk pourers, baskets, cookbooks and lots more.

Despite the strong hipster vibe, the food is actually pretty good, old-fashioned country fare – soups, stacked sandwiches, and pastries, like the sausage roll and pie that caught our attention. The sausage roll was massive, and very tasty – unfortunately the pastry wasn’t as crunchy as I’d have liked (partly because it was half sitting in the salad it came with), but the filling was good.

The pie was magic. It was a chicken and leek number, with the most tender, juicy chicken you could imagine. The pastry was golden and crunchy, and layered like you wouldn’t believe. Hands down the best chicken and leek pie I’ve ever had, and to steal the title away from the Beechworth Bakery is no mean feat.

So, the food was good, but it wasn’t cheap; $12.50 per dish for a pastry + salad was a bit much. We also decided to grab some cookies from the counter on our way out, and were shocked at the price tag of $4 each, for a pretty standard sized chocolate chip cookie! Don’t get me wrong, they were delicious, but not $4 delicious. It seems to be a difficult line to tread at the moment between good, local, home grown produce and reasonable pricing, but at least places like Duck Duck Goose are making a start on it by offering such good stuff to the public. And being the only place of the sort in Kyneton, I can see why they’re so popular!

 

Duck Duck Goose & Larder Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Cheerio Cafe, Melbourne (café/brunch)

Cheerio Cafe
323 Lennox St, Richmond
https://www.instagram.com/cheeriocaferichmond/

Long weekends are great opportunities to squeeze in extra brunch dates, and this long weekend, brunch we did. Sunday saw husband and I pass through Richmond on our way to a movie at the Jam Factory, and we decided to stop at Cheerio for a late breakfast after seeing it’s very high ratings on Zomato.

A pretty standard cute-little-hole-in-the-wall type cafe, it was actually really well set out considering how small it was inside. A little coffee machine/dessert cabinet island dominated the middle of the room, and with the heater going on a cold Melbourne winter morning, it felt like home. Even more so with the tea and coffee we ordered promptly brought out to our table.

Unfortunately, that’s where the familial hospitality stopped; with room for maybe 20 people tops and 4 staff floating around, it still took half an hour for someone to take our order. I know, Sunday morning on a long weekend, I’m sure they had lots to catch up on and chat about, but we weren’t the only ones kept waiting – it wasn’t hard to overhear the frustration coming from other tables. We finally gave up and hailed a  sulky waitress down to take our order, and settled in for another 15 minute wait for our food.

Pity it was such a crappy start, because the menu read so well. Husband was pretty excited to see a more than decent toastie menu on offer, and went with the pastrami reuben toastie with pickles, provolone, red onion, rocket and housemade reuben dressing ($10.00). Excellent value for money; for $10, it was stacked high and full, and very delicious. Husband’s only complaint was that there was way too much red onion, but otherwise a great toastie.

I loved the sound of the coconut, quinoa and rice porridge with roast quince and toasted coconut ($12.00), and that, too, delivered. Warm, thick and richly coconutty, with heaps of chunks of quince and lots of toasted coconut. It was a nice, big bowl, the perfect winter’s morning breaky; even husband, who hates porridge, loved it.

It’s a real shame that the service was so slow (waiting almost an hour for porridge and a toasted sandwich when there were only 6 other tables of people there was really disappointing) and kinda rude, because the food was fantastic!

 

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