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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Eating the city: Saigon, Vietnam

There’s really no such thing as bad food in Saigon, but there were definitely favourites that were done exceptionally well. Here’s what to look out for when you eat your way around the city…

 

Pandan waffles.
Soft and hot and chewy and ridiculously delicious, this is the street corner dessert dreams are made of. Don’t let the weird green colour put you off; look for it like a beacon if happiness when you pass the ladies on the streets manning their little carts.

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Banh mi.
Preferably pork. Don’t screw your nose up at the slathering of patê, because it’s magic mixed in with the pork and fresh herbs. The fresh baguettes have a shell like glass covering the cloud-soft inner. This was breakfast for us every morning in Saigon, and at under AUD$2.00 each, you’d be crazy not to!

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Fresh spring rolls.
If you see spring rolls on a menu, and you have the option for fresh and fried, try the fresh ones occasionally. When you’re hot and sweaty from walking around the city, sometimes a fresh prawn rice paper roll with a cold iced tea is exactly what you need without even realising it.

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Bun cha.
Again, preferably pork. Because a big bowl of vermicelli topped with juicy pork and fresh herbs and pickled veggies is the ultimate night market meal at the end of a big day. And out of Hoi An, Hanoi and Saigon, I liked the Saigon version best!

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Eat here: Vincent The Dog, Melbourne (brunch/café)

Vincent The Dog
348 Drummond St, Carlton
https://www.instagram.com/vincentthedogcafe/

Another weekend, another brunch date. And guys, it’s Monday morning; the best way to get through the week is to start preparing for weekend brunch now!

Last weekend, I finally got around to Vincent The Dog, an unassuming little hole-in-the-wall in Carlton, which is pretty easy to miss if you’re not paying attention.

Inside, it’s teeny tiny, with one big communal dining table and a few bench seats, so prepare to get to know your fellow diners. Looking at the shelving displaying oh so much pretty coffee-ware, you get the impression that these guys take their coffee pretty seriously; you’d be both right and wrong.

Waiting on my friend’s arrival, I had a read through the menu, and found it to be pretty “this is what we think;” in little notes around the menu, they let you know just how their coffee making differs from everyone else, and make no apologies for it. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I respect anyone willing to back their methods. Instead, I ordered a jasmine/green tea blend, and am absolutely stoked when it comes out properly brewed and at the right temperature (when I’m served green tea leaves in a pot of boiling water, I know I’m dealing with amateurs – if not steeped for only a few minutes at a lower-than-boiling temperature, it goes bitter and yuk, and that’s disappointing). Beautiful tea, perfect start to the morning!

Breakfast. That was actually a pretty simple decision for me because
a) they’re kind enough to label the menu items with anything that may upset people with food allergies, so I knew exactly what to skip if I wanted to avoid onion and garlic – thank you!
b) I like sweet breakfasts.

So I went with the sweet waffle option: coconut waffles with fresh & freeze dried strawberries,  cherries, kiwi, coconut jelly, green tea jelly, fresh mint & pistachios… wow. The waffles were right on point for me – thick and fluffy, with heaps of shredded coconut through them. The jellies were easily the other highlight – I’ve found that a lot of places who promise jellies like this tend to end up with quite watered down flavours to the point that it could just be green-tinged jelly, but you could really taste the coconut and green tea in these. Thank goodness!

It’s a pity the place isn’t a little bit bigger so people could relax and sprawl out a little more rather than being so squished in, because it’s a really cute little café, and my waffles were great – everything else rolling out of the kitchen looked amazing, too. Another delicious addition to Carlton 🙂

 
Vincent the Dog 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

Eat here: Small Victories, Melbourne (brunch)

Little Victories
617 Rathdowne St, North Carlton, Melbourne
http://www.smallvictoriescafe.com.au/

 

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Wednesday morning. Just got to work. Feeling a bit down and flat. And remembered it was only Wednesday. Shit. Computer on, diary checked, to do list consulted, emails loading, phone bleeps: “Hey lady, how you doing? I want to check out Small Victories for breakfast on Saturday, care to join me?” YES!!!

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This girl is great. We’ve only been friends for like 5 years or so, starting work as travel consultants in the same store a few weeks apart, but I feel like I’ve known her forever. We got to be better friends after a few days in Christchurch together (see above) and bonded over a shared love for eating, cooking, photographing and reading about food, as well as a mutual understanding that most people are morons most of the time. She also has this uncanny knack for always texting me at the exact time I need to hear from someone not full of sunshine and lollipops and “oh yay, be happy, life is great!”

Anyway, breakfast at Small Victories. It’s a cute little place, designed to be clean and simple, and tucked into a little strip of Rathdowne St amongst a few other cafes. The menu is gorgeous, and hard to pick from, but in the end, @jessicavee (if you need a delicious new Instagram account to follow, this is it) went with the buttermilk waffle, candied pecans, gingerbread ice cream, toasted vanilla marshmallows, pumpkin custard, maple syrup ($17.00), which looked magnificent and I believe wad quite delicious!

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I went with the poached eggs, ricotta fritters, roast pumpkin, walnut purée, brown butter, 18 month ages prosciutto and crisp sage ($17.00): amazing! Eggs were poached perfectly, the sweet roasted pumpkin and ricotta fritters were delicious against the salty prosciutto, and the walnut purée, though not nearly enough of it, was a great addition.

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While the service was a little cold and impersonal, the food was fantastic; I spied a few other dishes rolling out of the kitchen that I’d be keen to try, too. They’re open all weekend, too, so if you need a reason to get out of bed before lunch time tomorrow, scroll back up to those waffles and eggs, and call a friend!

 

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