From vineyard to concrete jungle: Rochford Winery | Entrecôte | The DoubleTree Hilton, Melbourne

After an awesome day out on Thursday in Fitzroy and a delicious dinner on Friday, the birthday uncelebrations kept rolling into Saturday. First up, we made our way out to Rochford Winery in Coldstream for a small family gathering…


Eat here: Isabella’s at Rochford Winery
878 – 880 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream

Both my family and my husband’s family (two sets of parents, four sisters and partners) joined us at Rochford for a small lunch and a few drinks in what turned out to be not only a birthday affair, but a belated celebration of the birth of my third niece and  the fact that my baby sister and her partner turned up to lunch 45 minutes late after just buying a house!!! All of the excitement!

We’d been to Rochford a few times for A Day On The Green events (over the last few years we’ve seen Alicia Keys and INXS perform there), and I thought it’d be the perfect spot for a family catch up with everyone – the food and wine are both great, as are the beautiful views. We were seated outside the restaurant area on the terrace so we could enjoy the sunshine, and plied full of amazing food for the next few hours.

Food ordered for the day was:
– Vegetarian antipasto misto platters
– Cheese boards
– Charcuterie boards
– Dips
– Burrata, cherry tomato and basil pizzas
– Potato, garlic, rosemary and tallegio pizzas
– Pork belly, caramelised onion and sage pizzas
– Salami, mushroom and ricotta salata pizzas

The best thing about this was that I was able to pre-order and pay for all of the food, which meant it was just brought out to us as we were ready for it. Instead of everyone ordering something off the menu, we could all just kick back and relax, knowing the ordering had already been taken care of, and it made for a much more relaxed and enjoyable time 🙂 If you’re looking at organising a quite informal but still very nice gathering, I’d highly recommend this route at Rochford!


Stay here: DoubleTree by Hilton, Melbourne
270 Flinders St, Melbourne CBD

As part of my job in corporate travel, I occasionally get to walk through some of the hotels we book for our clients; I feel in love with the DoubleTree Melbourne as soon as I walked in to meet our booking representative and smelt fresh cookies in the foyer!

Service and amenities include:
– 24 hour business and fitness centres
– a more generous than usual 12pm check out
– WiFi (not free, unfortunately)
– luggage storage
– laundry service
– safety deposit boxes
– hotel restaurant
– parking ($30 per night)
– accessible rooms
– tea & coffee making facilities
– complimentary (and a little bit fancy) toiletries from Crabtree & Evelyn
– walk-in showers

Being literally a stone’s throw from Flinders Street Station, it couldn’t be more accessible, and rates start from around $180 per night for two people (for a lead in, interior rooms); an extra $40  give of take will upgrade you to a city view room, and another $10 on top of that will give you a Flinders Street Station view:

And the best part? If you’re staying there, you can feel free to ask for a complimentary DoubleTree Hilton chocolate chip cookie at any time 😉


Eat here: Entrecôte 
6 Alfred Place, Melbourne CBD

After a big lunch and a long walk around the city after checking in, we finally started to get a little hungry around 8pm. I wanted dumpling and noodles, pizza and pasta, burgers and tacos and everything in between for dinner, but knew my stomach wouldn’t be able to handle any of it. So instead, I thought about how nice it might be to just have a good, plain steak and chips. Enter Entrecôte, a Melbourne laneway Parisian steakhouse.

A beautiful, dimly lit, intimate space, Entrecôte is known for doing two things exceptionally well – fresh, Aussie seafood and good old fashioned steak frites. We also spied a burger on the menu, so not wanting to be too fancy, we ordered one of those plus a serve of medium rare steak frites – we like to share/maximize opportunities to try more than one dish.

The burger ($19.90) was pretty good, actually – not knock-your-socks-off amazing, but fantastic for a restaurant like this. The patty was thick and juicy, with a strip of pink through the middle, indicating that it was cooked to perfection. Lots of melted cheese, great burger bun, and very well seasoned, it needed just a little mustard and ketchup, but otherwise delicious!

The main event was the same thing that 95% of the other diners had on their tables; the steak frites ($39.90). Grilled Hopkins River porterhouse steak cooked to a perfect medium rare, smothered in sauce Maison (house sauce) of butter and herbs, a healthy pile of golden French fries and a side salad with radish, walnuts and Dijon vinaigrette. It looked impressive coming out, and tasted even better. It was SO nice to get a properly cooked steak that was still nice and pink inside, and it was just so soft and tender… it’s amazing how little effort you have to put into a good quality product to make it taste so good! The sauce was incredible – massive hit of flavor, perfectly seasoned. I usually absolutely abhor soggy chips and shove them out of the sauce as quickly as possible to “save them” – the house sauce drenched chips were the best ones!

Quick and polite service, (although some staff were a little on the cold side, while others had the perfect mix of manners and sass, like the lady serving the table next to us who instructed the couple to put their phones away and actually talk to each other, almost choked on my bread roll suppressing a laugh) a simple but beautiful menu (I’d love to return and try some of the seafood and dessert) and an elegant but fun atmosphere (think lovely bottles of wine, waist-coated waiters and white tablecloths, with paper overlay they could scribble your order on), it was the perfect way to end the night, and certainly worth a visit if you haven’t been before and want some good, simple food done right.

Stay here: Homewood Suites by Hilton, Chicago, USA

Homewood Suites by Hilton, Chicago – Downtown

I’m heading back to Chicago today, and taking you on a quick little tour of the Homewood Suites by Hilton – this was our home for a week over Christmas, and I couldn’t have been happier! We decided to stay here on a recommendation from a friend, and that’s why I wanted to share; if you’re looking at visiting Chicago, do yourself a favour and look into the Homewood Suites.

The hotel is in the perfect location, bang in the middle of the city – it backs onto Eataly, is a stone’s throw from the red line’s Grand station, and even closer to the Magnificent Mile. A few minutes’ walk will get you to the Billy Goat Tavern (check back in tomorrow for more on that!), the river, and a Whole Foods. Location wise I don’t believe it can be beat.

The rooms are fantastic, and the fact that our was self-contained made it my favourite hotel of the trip – I was quite unwell one night, and just wanted some home cooked pasta with veggies and butter, and having the kitchen meant that was easily do-able. Happy days! Here’s what the kitchen area in the one bedroom was like:


We went with the lead in room type, given that there was only two of us – we didn’t need anything too big or fancy. We found ourselves checking into this gorgeous suite with not only that nice big kitchen, but also a bedroom, large bathroom and a separate lounge area:


Other amenities you can expect to find in the rooms here include:
– work station
– complimentary wifi
– 2 LCD TVs (one in the bedroom, one in the lounge)
– fully equipped kitchen, including flatware, fridge, microwave, cooking utensils, dishwasher and stove top
– black-out curtains
– dining table and chairs
– adjustable thermostat
– Neutrogena bath amenities
– iron and ironing board
– full wardrobe with coat hangers and shelving
– hair dryer

The services at the Homewood are second to none as well:
– complimentary hot breakfast
– 24 hour Pavillion Pantry Market
– luggage storage
– guest activity desk
– laundry and valet services
– safety deposit box
– fitness room
– pool

We paid just under AUD$120 per night for 2 people over the week of Christmas (December 23rd to 29th to be exact), and couldn’t have been happier. The amenities and services were fantastic, the staff were incredibly helpful, and it really felt like a home away from home, which was so very appreciated at Christmas  : )

Oh, and the view from the lounge room and bedroom windows?