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

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Eat here: Sartoria, Melbourne (café/brunch)

Sartoria
115 Plenty Rd, Preston
http://www.sartoria.com.au/

Sartoria was once a successful dressmaking, bridal and evening wear business from the 70’s through the 90’s created by J & C Agricola. In modern day, the whole space has been transformed into a friendly, warm light filled café and eatery adorned with machinery and novelties straight from it’s dress factory days.

Walking into this place last weekend gave me the biggest hit of nostaglia. My mum’s parents were both sartorialists; Nonna a dress maker and Nonno a tailor. I used to spend a lot of school holidays at their house, sitting with Nonna in her sewing room, watching her work. I would go with her to her friend’s houses while she measured them up for their next new outfit. She taught me to sew by hand (and knit), how to cut patterns from fabric, how to pin and stitch and hem and sew on buttons. I used to stitch together little outfits for my dolls and sisters, design dresses on Nonna’s scrap graph paper, and spend hours flicking through Nonna’s old fashion magazines from Italy. With all the beautiful old Singer desks and machines, Sartoria felt just like home.

The space inside is enormous, with ample seating and room to move. The little touches like the glass bowls filled with buttons and beads, and the fashionista slide show beaming through a projector make a place like this, and they’ve done really well on that side of things.

When it came to the food, the menu reads brilliantly, however I’ve heard lots of mixed reviews. While we mulled over our options, we started with tea (from Storm in a Teacup) for me and coffee (from Where’s Marcel?) for husband – both delicious and brought out quickly, great start.

I especially loved the little timer that came out with my tea, and the beautiful tea cup it as served with – again, little things that make a big difference.

We finally decided on food; husband went with The Machinist ($19.80): crispy pork hock, crumbed black pudding, romesco salsa, poached eggs and crostino. While the pork hock didn’t look like much being compressed into soldiers, once he started pulling it apart, there was suddenly a whole lot more. And it was good. The black pudding, he described as a “ball of flavour,” He said it was comfortably the best thing on the plate, and he’d go back again just to eat that. Unfortunately, though, his poached eggs were overcooked and the yolks were set inside, so no runny, gooey egg yolk to sauce it all together. Massive let down for what was otherwise one of his favourite breakfast dishes this year.

I had a really hard time picking a dish, but was ultimately feeling something sweet, and went with The Designer ($17.50): buffalo yoghurt hotcakes with activated nuts, green tea cream, caramelised pineapple and salted kaya. First up, I had to question the mention of activated nuts on the menu, because there were barely any on there! Other than that, though, I couldn’t fault the dish – the buffalo yoghurt made the hotcakes super moist, surprisingly fluffy and not overly sweet, they were perfectly cooked through, and the green tea cream generously plonked on top was delicious. I loooooved the caramelised pineapple as well as the bits of fresh fruit; this is the kind of breakfast I love going out for and treating myself to!

Overall, I think my hesitations were very much unfounded – while the over-done eggs were a big disappointment, we both agreed they got a lot more right than they got wrong, and we’re both already looking forward to our next visit. My only regret is that Nonna Gemma isn’t still around, because I think she’d have absolutely loved Sartoria 🙂

 

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

Eat here: BSKT Café, Gold Coast, Queensland (healthy & special diet friendly)

BSKT Café
4 Lavarack Rd, Mermaid Beach, Queensland
http://www.bskt.com.au/

Our quick Queensland escape weekend was actually a family affair, with us all there to celebrate my mum-in-law’s birthday 🙂 So, when they all arrived a few days before us and discovered some hipster-looking, kale-on-the-menu, drinks-in-jars café near our apartment, they all made sure to let me know about it and make fun of me a bit – fair enough! But upon menu investigation, BSKT actually looked like it had some great stuff that I really would enjoy, so after an early morning walk on Saturday, husband and I decided to have breaky there.

First up, gorgeous space – a block back from the beach, big and open and full of natural light, it was perfect for Mermaid Beach. It also had plenty of room – indoor, outdoor and courtyard seating, it looked like it was able to cater easily for the day long crowds (they do breakfast, lunch and dinner); apparently not, though, because walking past at 8am on Sunday morning, there was standing room only and it was PACKED! That’s always a good sign.

We started with drinks – husband gave the thumbs up to his skinny latte, and my mint matcha latte (made with coconut milk) was magic. Absolutely the best matcha beverage I’ve ever had, it was basically fairy dust in a cup. It wasn’t cheap at $7.00, but it was worth every cent. I need more.

For breakfast, husband went with the H & M Omlette ($19.00) – Shaved leg ham & field mushrooms folded over with melted Gruyere, served with superseed toast & house made tomato relish. It was a monster serve, and full of ham and cheese. Husband very much enjoyed it, although he did say that without the relish it didn’t pack much flavour, so he was glad he got a decent serve of that on the side.

I hated myself for ordering something with such a pretentious name, but I ordered the paleo veganola ($15.00). I even hate typing that, I’m sorry! Let me say that I am not a vegan or paleo worshipper, but a serving of granola packed with nuts, seeds, berries, coconut, macqui and a side of coconut ice cream sounded too good to pass up! And it really, really was – crunchy perfect granola, it was some of the best I can remember having… and that coconut ice cream was incredible! Husband got stuck into it, too, after he finished his omlette, and was a little disappointed there wasn’t more to go around.

It’s a great little café, although it does attract the young and beautiful “fitness crowd,” clad in their tight, bright lycra, puffer vests and a layer of make up. If you can get past that, though, the service was friendly and quick, and the menu is pretty great when you want a break from the standard surf club bacon-and-egg breaky, as are the brilliant range of coffees, teas, specialty hot drinks and juices  : )

 

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

Make this: Easy DIY matcha latte

Happy Friday! I’m going to make this a short and sweet post, because I’m actually jetting off to Queensland this morning for a quick little family vacay! But before I fly, I like to get to the airport super early so I have no reason to be rushed and stressed and anxious, then settle in with a hot cup of tea and a book. Usually; this morning, I’m in hunt of a matcha latte. I’ve very much liked matcha for quite a while now, and started really enjoying a good matcha latte a few months ago; I’ve now fallen even more in love with them since realising I can make them at home instead of paying $5 of $6 at a cafe every time I want one!

I wanted to write this quick little “recipe” up so that other people can realise it doesn’t have to be an expensive beverage to enjoy. I buy my matcha from ARC Asian Grocery at Preston Market because they offer the best prices by far of anywhere I’ve seen. It also doesn’t have to be complicated – you need a bowl, a small whisk, a sieve or tea strainer and a small saucepan. If you have a matcha whisk, that’s great, but if you don’t, any little whisk will do.

I based this recipe on Namiko’s from Just One Cookbook (I love her blog and recipes!), it’s super easy, so get matcha-ing!

Ingredients (serves 2):
– 1.5 cups milk (I like using an almond/coconut milk from Almond Breeze)
– 1.5 tsp matcha powder
– 2 tbsp very hot water (not quite boiling)
– pinch of caster sugar (optional)

Method:
1. Pour the milk into a small saucepan and set over low heat to slowly warm up – you do not want it to boil, though, so keep an eye on it.

2. While the milk warms up, sift the matcha into a bowl using a small sieve or tea strainer. Add the hot water and whisk quickly in a zig zag pattern to form a thick, green paste.

3.  Once the milk has warmed up to a good drinking temperature, whisk in the matcha pasta, again in a quick, zig zag (not circular) pattern – it should start to form little bubbles if you’re whisking quickly enough. If you have a milk frother and want to get a bit of fancy cafe styling to it, go ahead and get that going, too. I don’t, because I want this done quickly and easily. You can also add a little sugar, if you want it a bit sweeter (the earthy, bitter taste isn’t for everyone, I use a tiny pinch of sugar in mine because I find the almond/coconut milk adds a bit of sweetness, anyway).

4. And that’s about it! Pour it into your mugs and drink away; I did my best to get creative on Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club this week and went all out Japan inspired with my Gudetama mugs and attempted Gudetama-faced eggs… much tricky, so fun!

Skip the expensive cafe version and DIY this weekend! Unless, like me, you’re at an airport and don’t have any other choice to feed your addiction!

Eat here – weekend brunch spots: Wild Timor Coffee & Percy’s Aeroplane, Melbourne

Guys, it’s Friday. AKA the day before brunch time. It’s exciting stuff! Last weekend being a long weekend meant I had time for two outings instead of the regular one, so I thought I’d share them both this morning, in case you like to have a few options when picking out a weekend brunch spot  : )

 

Wild Timor Coffee
282 Sydney Rd, Coburg
http://www.wildtimorcoffee.com/

I always feel a bit bad visiting places like this who pride themselves on their coffee, because I don’t drink it! You can read all about the story behind the beans here, but basically these guys are sourcing organic, ethical and direct traded coffee from Timor Leste to help support the country and help it to prosper, while developing social programs that encourage the highest quality coffee. You don’t have to be a coffee drinker to appreciate that. Luckily for me, they can also brew a decent pot of tea  : )

While they say that the coffee is the biggest focus in the Coburg cafe, the food is pretty good, too. Simple and classic options like eggs benedict and a breakfast burrito, as well as dishes like their Timorese sweet and sour eggs which are pretty popular. Because I’m a sucker for good oat related breakfasts, I went with the granola, topped with berries, pistachios and coconut yoghurt.

It was nothing like what I expected, with no oats in sight – instead, it had a small amount of other assorted grains and lots of toasted almonds and cashews. I always expect granola to have oat clusters in there, so I was a little surprised not to find any, but I certainly wasn’t disappointed, given that it was basically just a bowl full of my favourite things – roasted nuts, coconut yoghurt and berries. And very filling – 3 hours after a normal breakfast and I’m usually hankering for a snack. 3 hours after this, I didn’t even want to think about lunch!

It was a little disappointing to see that the coconut and raspberry French toast was off the menu because I’d have loved to try that, but I’d happily visit again to try some of the egg-based dishes. It also didn’t hurt that it was a visually gorgeous cafe and staffed by some of the nicest people I’ve ever seen working in hospitality. Double points for the lovely young guy manning the cash register and the floor who knew almost everyone by name and made time to have a quick chat to all of his customers – you’re a star, mate!

 

Wild Timor Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 
Next stop was…

Percy’s Aeroplane
96 Denmark St, Kew
https://web.facebook.com/flywithpercys/?_rdr

I’ve heard so many great things about Percy’s, tucked away out in Kew near not much else, so I dragged the husband out last Sunday morning for a visit. One of my main reasons for visiting was the matcha panna cotta I’d seen pimped out all over social media, so when I arrived and found that it wasn’t advertised on either the menu we were given or the specials board, I was pretty disappointed. We were handed menus without much else of a word, so I figured they just weren’t doing it anymore. Luckily, the rest of the menu read pretty well, so husband chose the Mister Percy, and I went with the Smoked Buxton Trout.

The Mister Percy (crispy bacon, smashed avo and a poached egg on top of herbed potato rosti with a chipotle sauce. Literally every single thing the husband loves in a breakfast dish. And unfortunately underwhelming. For a breakfast priced at $18.90, you’d usually expect to get 2 eggs, but it was just the one. The bacon and avo were great, but the rosti were sadly a little underdone. Had potential, but didn’t quite get there…

As for mine, it hit both extremes. My breaky was comprised of smoked trout, rosti, baby spinach, an egg and dill mayo. The smoked trout and dill mayo were amazing! Incredible flavour, the trout was beautifully salty and smoked, and the mayo was absolutely perfect with it. But unfortunately my rosti were even more underdone than husband’s, so they left party uneaten  : (

On the way out, I couldn’t help pondering what breakfast would have been like if I’d been able to have that panna cotta I so wanted instead, only to see a small sign for it on the door on our way out… SO disappointing!! I so wanted to love Percy’s, and it had so much potential, but it just didn’t quite hit the mark for us. That said, I still want to try that panna cotta, so I may still be back!

Percy's Aeroplane Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Pillar of Salt, Melbourne (café/brunch)

Pillar of Salt
541 Church St, Richmond
http://www.pillarofsalt.com.au/

It’s almost weekend brunch time again!! YAYYY!!! Now that I’m feeling a bit more freedom to go out and actually enjoy my weekend brunches, I’m really enjoying ticking some cafes off my to-eat list. Last weekend, I finally got to Pillar of Salt in Richmond, husband in tow (he’s my favourite brunch buddy), even though he’d rather go to Fitzroy than Richmond.

When we arrived at Pillar of Salt and he saw Dennis Cometti sitting out the front, he had quiet fan girl moment and decided that if this hipster establishment was good enough for Dennis, it was god enough for him, too. Thanks, Dennis, I owe you one mate!

I saw immediately why Dennis and so many others chose to brunch at Pillar of Salt – gorgeous café, lovely staff, very sexy sweets cabinet on entry, it was all there. We sat out the back in the undercover courtyard area, which was perfect on a sunny morning for pale people like me who want a bit of the outdoors without getting burnt. A quick scan of the menu and orders placed, our tea and coffee came our pretty quickly considering how busy it was…

Husband, a relatively new coffee drinker, isn’t too fussy (yet). It’s generally either “shit” or “not shit,” and occasionally “yeah, good;” these guys got the high distinction of the raised eyebrows and “really good.” As was my tea. Also, love your teapots!

Food followed fairly promptly, with husband’s choice being the red chilli scrambled eggs with bacon, spring onion, parsley, parmesan and toast, plus a serve of hash browns. As per usual, his complaint was that it wasn’t spicy enough. I tend to discount that feedback because unless he’s sweating and hallucinating, nothing is ever spicy enough. Other than that, he was happy, particularly with the sweet potato hash browns that had little bits of bacon in them. So good!

I’m a sweet breakfast eater, so I couldn’t go past the American style buttermilk pancakes with mange, berries, creme fraiche, green tea jelly and Canadian maple syrup. I mean, look at it…

Big, fat, fluffy pancakes got a huge tick from both of us – they are deceptively enormous and filling, so husband happily got a bit, too. I loved the green tea jelly bits, and the maple syrup was phenomenal! The crème fraiche was a great addition to balance all the sugary goodness out, because it was a very sweet dish. I find pancakes to be the ultimate indulgence breaky; I don’t order them often, so when I do, I’m always stoked when they’re this good  : )

Couldn’t have been happier with the mornings’ proceedings, happy to have finally ticked another spot off the brunch list and found another amazing place I’d happily go back to. Any recommendations for this weekend?!

Pillar of Salt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Sir Charles, Melbourne (café/brunch)

Sir Charles
121 Johnston St, Fitzroy
http://www.sircharlesfitzroy.com.au/

Another weekend coming, another opportunity for brunch  : )  Last weekend my husband woke me up with “get up and dressed so I can take you out for breakfast.” I helped him out with a bit of work he took home over the weekend, and was more than happy to accept payment in the form of food. So, I hauled ass out of bed, grabbed my stuff, and just about ran to the car. It’s exciting anyway, but even better that it was my choice; I’d been wanting to get to Sir Charles for ages. Residing in the old Bean & Bagels space, with a small relic of the building’s past occupants still visible, it’s now a stunning space with high ceilings and benches, the requisite industrial-hipster interior with gorgeous brass and timber accents, lots of white, and natural light. Just the kind of space I absolutely love.

Drinks first. I was pretty happy to see Larsen & Thompson tea on the menu; their Assam English Breakfast tea is a bit of a favourite of mine at the moment. I’m also loving their lemongrass and ginger (particularly when my stomach as a bit off, seems to help a lot). Husband is a fairly recent coffee convert, which is awesome for me, because now I can take pretty coffee shots! He said it was amazing, too – must have been, because it was gone in 3 sips!

Food. Wow. It was tough deciding… husband went with the Sir Charles Benedict, a manly plate of panko crumbed soft boiled eggs, sriracha hollandaise, fresh chilli and bacon on roti bread, with a potato hash on the side because they sounded too good not to add. We’ve done a lot of brunch together, and he’s had a lot of bacon/egg/bread/potato combinations, but he said (without hesitation) this was hands down his best cafe breakfast.

I had a hard time tossing up between the Eton mess waffles and the chia pudding, but I made the call to go with the chia pudding. Just had a craving for coconut. And chia pudding with coconut sago, strawberry gel, berries and acai sorbet had my name written allll over it. Great decision; gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s close to the best chia pudding I’ve ever had. The ones I had at Manchester Press and Kitty Burns are right up there, too, but this one was really something special. The acai sorbet was the perfect thing to cut through the super creamy coconut, and the strawberry gel was phenomenal. If anything, it could have used a few crunchy bits like some toasted macadamia, but otherwise, really couldn’t fault it!

The service was spot on, too; for a Sunday morning, it was starting to get busy, with a lot of take away coffee orders rolling through the door at the same time as guests wanting to be seated and served, and they were on the ball the whole time, with smiles on their faces. It might not seem like much, but it’s always nice on a Sunday morning to feel like you’re  a welcome guest and not an annoying inconvenience  : )   Perfect weekend breakfast, and they’ll be ready for you 8am tomorrow morning – you know you want to!

 

Sir Charles Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato