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

Eat here: Gellibrand Cafe, Melbourne (brunch/cafe)

Gellibrand Cafe
16 Gellibrand Cres, Reservoir
https://web.facebook.com/gellibrandcafe/?fref=nf&_rdr

They’ve been open less than a month, and I managed 2 visits in less than 24 hours – I think I’ve found my new local! Tucked away in a little suburban pocket of Reservoir, it’s not the kind of place that’s going to get crazy foot traffic, so they’re going to have to rely pretty heavily on good word of mouth. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem…

The space itself is beautiful – it’s modern and minimalist looking, but the little touches like the Globo posters behind the counter give it a bit of a throwback to the past and makes it feel more homely.

Our first visit was last Saturday afternoon; they close at 4pm, but we thought we’d try to sneak in a quick coffee/tea date around 3pm on our way out. It’s incredibly how many places get narky when you roll in an hour before closing on a Saturday afternoon, so we braced ourselves for an icy reception. Which was completely unnecessary; we were welcomed with smiles and open arms. Massive points there, because another similar cafe in the area is quite the opposite when you arrive within 90 minutes of closing time.

We asked for tea, coffee and donuts, and while we sat waiting for them, we picked up on seriously happy vibes. The staff were laughing and joking around with each other, they were happy to chat with us instead of ignoring us, and it felt more and more like hanging out at a friend’s or extended family member’ place rather than a shiny new cafe.

Oh, and they stock Doughboys Doughnuts, which makes me very happy, because I love them!! Husband loved his coffee, my tea was hot and brewed just right, and the doughnuts were magic. Salted caramel that was properly salty and sugary, and a gorgeous little key lime number filled with lime curd and a toasted meringue hat. Perfect afternoon tea. Also, as the clock ticked closer to 4pm, more big points for not starting to turn off light and clean around our feet – sorry our timing was crap, guys, but thank you for not making us feel like a total inconvenience!! We decided then and there that we’d return for breakfast the next morning.

And so we did. Sunday morning rolled around, and we turned back up to Gellibrand again. A pretty simple menu with plenty of options to keep everyone happy, husband went straight for the smashed avo with chilli on toast, with a poached egg and bacon on the side. He’s fussy with anything that claims to have chilli in it (his tolerance levels are bordering on unnatural), so he was a pretty happy camper when his avocado came out with actual pieces of chilli mashed through it. He was even happier when he opened his egg up and found it all molten lava yolk (he’s has some sub-par over poached eggs lately). He also commended the amount of bacon.

I was hovering over the porridge, until I caught a glimpse of the specials board. There is something oddly satisfying about being able to order pancakes and ice cream for breakfast, for a few reasons:
1. When you’re a kid and you want pancakes and ice cream for breakfast, your parents laugh at you and give you cereal and fruit instead. As an adult, if you want ice cream for breakfast, you can.
2. When you’re a highly disordered eater, any time you can override the mechanism that tells you to order eggs and vegetables for breakfast and not to finish the toast, that’s a big win.

And it was a bloody good decision – they were proper, home made pancakes, not the perfect round cookie-cutter ones. They were full of blueberries, plenty of salted caramel toasted almonds, more blueberries and top, and that ice cream was the perfect side. I don’t often order pancakes because they’re such a special treat meal to me, and I don’t want to waste a special treat breaky on crappy pancakes, but these were exactly what I felt like – hope they make their way back onto the specials board again!

I’m feeling really fortunate to be living out in the northern suburbs these days; back when I was a kid, Preston and Reservoir weren’t the nicest areas. Now, as the suburbs next in line for gentrification after Northcote and Thornbury, they’re starting to become prime locations. I just hope that the new places opening up keep the friendly neighbourhood attitudes and a few little throwbacks to the past, like Gellibrand have. See you again soon, guys 🙂

 

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

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

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: 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 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

Tea time: Naked Espresso Bar, Melbourne (eat here, too)

Naked Espresso Bar
390 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
http://www.nakedespressoco.com.au/

Another Friday, another week down (almost). Come Friday, I feel like I’ve really earnt my lunch time break, and love heading down Little Bourke Street or Hardware Lane for a pot of tea and some reading and writing and people watching. Sometimes, if I’ve got a bit of extra cash (because eating in Melbourne costs a bloody fortune), I might even treat myself to lunch, like I did on this visit to Naked Espresso.

They’re one of my favourite go-to places to a good lunch time pot of tea, mostly because they’re lovely and friendly, play great tunes, and give me a chocolate dipped Tiny Teddy with my tea. How can you not love a place that does that?!  Thanks, guys, you make long work weeks so much better  : )

Food is also top notch, particularly the toastie menu for which they’re so well known. Is there anything better than a really well made ham, cheese and tomato toastie? Really? Good bread, well filled (not stingy on the ham, yay) and  a nice little pot of tomato relish on the side. Also, at $8.00, it’s a pretty good Friday lunch option if you don’t want to spend a small fortune and save your cash for after work drinks.

While I’m not a coffee drinker, I do know that they make a damn fine brew; one can only assume as much when you see the absurd amount of Naked Espresso take away coffee cups walking up and down Little Bourke Street first thing in the morning/at lunch time, as well as the constant line at the front door for them. And Melbournians are pretty fussy about their coffee, so if they’re happy to wait in line for a cup, it must be good! And one of my favourite mid week time out spots in the city  : )