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: Ruby’s, Melbourne (cafe)

Ruby’s
138 Nicholson St, Coburg
https://www.facebook.com/RubysOnNicholson/

This little cutie pie art deco café has been open around 18 months now, and I’m guessing it’s tucked-away location on the quieter side of Coburg is the reason it’s not more popular. Husband and I found ourselves in the area not long ago, and having visited before, I suggested stopping in for lunch.

They have an incredible milk shake menu that fits perfectly with the kitschy diner-style set up and had me once again cursing my lactose issues. On the food side, there are equally delicious jaffle options, and a Greek inspired brunch menu. Husband went with the chili scrambled eggs with (very generous) sides of bacon and avocado, and he loved it – the fresh chili in the eggs especially.

I went with the olive toast with grilled haloumi and fresh herbs, plus a fried egg on top. Clearly the most perfect little fried egg to ever come out of a kitchen, as you can see below. The haloumi was the perfect topping to the olive bread, and the fresh mint was an especially nice touch.

This place was designed to be a laid back, down-to-earth, dog & child friendly eatery, with good, unpretentious food and attitudes, and it delivers 110%. Yet another reason to head to the North this weekend – the cafes there are seriously the best in Melbourne!


Ruby's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: The Great Burger, Tokyo, Japan

The Great Burger
6-12-7 Jingumae, Shibuya
http://www.the-great-burger.com/

Hey guys! I’m in Tokyo!!! I cannot even tell you how much I already love this place, even after only two days.. It is incredible! I understand now how it’s possible that I’ve never heard anything bad about it; it is pristine clean, the people couldn’t possibly be nicer or more helpful, there is SO much to see, and the food is truly outstanding!

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While I’ve been enjoying the actual Japanese food, I couldn’t come here and not try something called The Great Buger, given what a committed burger lover I am, and especially after Googling them and seeing how perfectly Instagram-ready they are.

So, we were in the neighborhood in Harajuku yesterday and figured a burger lunch wouldn’t be a bad idea. We found The Great Burger tucked away off some side streets, and were stoked to find the line was only a few people deep (because in Tokyo, like Melbourne), people line up for ridiculous periods to get good food). This place is open from 11:30am, so our 12:15pm arrival was perfect.

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Imagine if an American diner went cute and hipster, and that’s what you’ve got here. The menu isn’t all burgers, either, they also looked to do some pretty amazing hot dogs, pastrami sandwiches and other American classics.

But we were there for a great burger – bacon cheeseburger (1350¥ + tax) with shoestring fries. I’ll go out on a limb and say probably the best shoestrings I’ve had with a burger; every single one was golden and crispy outside, soft and spudly inside. Nice.

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Burger: wow. Bacon, melty cheese, pickle relish, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, and a perfectly cooked beef patty. It was juicy, a little messy, but everything was in perfect proportion, making it easy to see why it’s at the top of most Tokyo burger lists. Melbourne has a great burger culture right now, and I’d confidently say this one would comfortably stand up against most of ours! If you’re a burger head visiting Tokyo, better put this one on the list!!

Eat here: Sookie La La, Melbourne (cafe)

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

In their own words, Sookie La La is a “diner style café serving sundaes, shakes, delicious Wide Open Road coffee, bagels, waffles and New York deli style sandwiches.” Sounds pretty good, huh?! This is one of those places I’ve driven past a million times, always noticed the big, simple black & white DINER sign hanging over the sidewalk, and still somehow never stopped. Until last weekend, when I decided it was finally time to get past the front window see what it was all about. I called upon one of my best friends for some girl time and delicious food, and we were not disappointed.

This cute-as-pie little eatery has everything you’d want and expect from a diner; cosy booths lining the far wall, a picture perfect little bar/counter, bright yellow and red condiment bottles on the table, and some seriously friendly but sassy staff to make you feel right at home.

They’ve made a name for themselves in the sandwich game, but the specials board was calling E’s name – she went with the cheeseburger and fries. Amazing, and she said she highly recommends trying one if it manages to stay on the specials board. She also had the most gorgeous picture perfect classic chocolate milk shake (they also have some more exotic stuff like the maple peanut butter, lemon slice, snickers and cherry ripe) complete with red & white stripey swirled straw. It even had the frothy bubbles on top. I so wish I liked milkshakes…

I heard the Cuban calling my name, because a) it seemed the most low FODMAP friendly and b) it just sounded bloody delicious, what with the ham and roast pork and swiss cheese and pickles… and fries, obviously. They were kind enough to make it with gluten free bread, too, and I think may be the first place I’ve ever been to who didn’t charge me more for my bodily intolerances! They were also more than happy to give me the honey mustard mayo on the side (on a side note, I decided to test things out and put a little on my sandwich. Didn’t end real well later on that afternoon. Fructose is definitely not my friend..), which was refreshing not to be sighed at like I was some weirdo health freak who was happy to have a meaty sandwich and fries, but didn’t want to have the fattening condiment – I swear I’m not like that!!!

The sandwich was delicious – chock full of meat, the pickles were unreal, even the GF bread was really good! And those fries… every single one was golden crunchy perfection. Not a single soggy chippy in there. Happy days.

 

I thought I was done after that, but miss E decided a sundae was in order, so we were with the most FODMAP friendly looking one – a coconut sorbet sundae with toasted coconut and chocolate sauce and some perfectly sweet and acidic berry sauce business on top. THAT’S how sundaes should be done. Big thank you to the server who suggested that we’d be total softies if we finished up  our lady date without dessert – it was the deliciously perfect end to the meal and totally worth the slight stomach ache later on!! That coconut sorbet was phenomenal!

I also caught sight of a seriously sexy dessert display on our way out, and am already pretty keen on another visit for a smoked salon bagel and some pie…

It’s no wonder the hipsters are flocking to the Northern suburbs in zombie hoards right now – with food like this in quiet little Thornbury, you’d be mental to go anywhere else! Oh, and they’re open until 9pm tonight… and back in business at 8am tomorrow… go on, you know you want to 😉

 

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

Eat here: Ben’s Chili Bowl, Washington, D.C., USA

Ben’s Chili Bowl
1213 U St NW, Washington, DC
http://benschilibowl.com

I know I said I was gonna suspend regular posting until I got home, but some of this stuff is too good to wait, and I was missing regularly posting and yeah.. So here’s another one!

We’re big fans of shows like Man V Food and all things Bourdain, so we’d seen and heard a bit about Ben’s Chili Bowl in the lead up to this trip, and we were keen on trying it.

Our second day in D.C. proved to be just as wet as the first, but we still managed to have walked around 12km around the city before lunch time, so we decided to visit Ben’s to load those burnt calories back on again. Great choice.

We turned up to the U street location around 12.30 today (Sunday) to find a line out the door, which kept up for the duration of our visit. We ordered the original chili half-smoke and tucked ourselves into a booth to get stuck into it – we turned around and noticed the table beside us was the one that President Obama infamously sat at when he visited.

The dogs were fantastic, more of a sausage than a frank, absolutely delicious. The chili was great too, a little bit of a kick, heaps of flavour, and plenty of it; surprisingly it actually didn’t make the bun soggy which was good news. We also found we had a side of chips thrown in!

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So yeah, great food. What was even better was the gentleman pictured above in the bottom left corner; he came over to our table to say hi, welcome to Ben’s, and asked how the meal was. Amazing, we said, worth the trip from Australia. Well, that did it; we became celebrities! He insisted on taking our photo for us, obliged most happily when I asked if we could get a photo with him – he asked another diner to please take our picture, informing him that we were Australian and he was so happy to have us with him. He also insisted on introducing us to the lovely lady in the photo top right, one of the owners and family members of Ben.

The hot dog was fantastic, but my goodness the people just made it! It was the best experience, we felt super important being taken around the restaurant with other diners staring at us, shaking hands and chatting happily.. If you’re visiting, go for the hot dog and stay for the gorgeous people 🙂 it’s a DC institution for a reason!!

Ben's Chili Bowl on Urbanspoon

Eat here: Rockwell and Sons, Melbourne (American)

Rockwell and Sons, Melbourne
http://www.rockwellandsons.com.au

You know the age old “what would eat for the rest of your life of you could only choose one thing?” question? Yeah, burgers for me, thanks.

I’m not a fancy diner, nor am I a particularly lady-like one when there are burgers involved. You know it’s business time when I’m pushing up my sleeves and tying my hair back so it doesn’t fall into the sauce.

Personally, I’m loving this whole American food kick Melbourne is on at the moment – every second place opening up seems to be USA-style, from burgers to dogs, po boys to subs, and I’m very ok with that! I love it all (except pickles. Not into pickles)!

I emailed husband at work 2 weeks ago and suggested a Friday night post-work burger & beer (well, beer for him, cider for me); he was keen. Sadly, upon arrival at Rockwell & Sons, we found it wouldn’t be opening for another 40 minutes. We were in a rush, so we ate elsewhere that night, but we returned the following week to give it a whirl.

We each got a double patty smash burger with Kraft cheese singles & special sauce on a toasty brioche bun, with a side of fries.

First off, let me say, top notch fries! It’s always a risk that they’re just not going to be quite crunchy enough, that there might be too many soggy ones and not enough seasoning. These were perfect, and the malt vinegar aioli was finished very quickly. I may have wiped up the remnants with my finger and licked it off. No shame, it was that good.

As for the burgers… Now, when I say I’ve eaten a freakin truck load of burgers in my time, I cannot even begin to tell you how many that truly is. It’s been my favourite meal since day dot, and I’ve taken great pleasure over the years in eating as many as my 5’7 frame can possibly fit.

Rockwell’s burger would have to be a top 3 ever burger contender.

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Bun – perfect, buttery, toasty enough to hold it all it sans sog, soft enough to melt on your mouth.
Special sauce – really f#^$@ng special. Really.
Kraft cheese – historically my cheese of choice on home made burgers. Couldn’t have been happier!
Patties – this smashed patty business is something else (google it – I had to!). Crispy and crunchy on the outside, soft and sweet on the inside, perfectly seasoned for my liking.

At only $11 for a burger, we were absolutely stoked with dinner, and kinda just wanted to go home for a nap and then go back for another one.

Also, special mention to the staff, particularly the guy who looked after us, who came back to check in on us twice to make sure everything was hunky dory. You guys make a huge difference to the dining public and don’t get enough kudos, so thank you!

We will without a doubt be going back. Oh my, we WILL be back…

Rockwell and Sons on Urbanspoon