Bensons on Martin

Tapas is the best cure for indecisive people, which was the category that Helen and I fell into on a weeknight. It’s hard to keep the budget down on weeknights without opting for Asian food, but ya gotta splurge sometimes! We were interested to find that Brighton had a tapas restaurant called Bensons on Martin with some decent reviews. Brighton is not the first suburb I think of when it comes to a tapas restaurant, but this was the exact reason why we decided to try these guys out.

First thing I noticed walking in was that it didn’t have the buzz of a tapas restaurant. I’m used to a packed house, people chattering, music playing, etc. This was not the case here ,as we even got to pick where to sit. I’m not complaining but it just felt unusual. This was a weeknight after all, so maybe they get busier on Fridays/weekends. We decided to sit by the window to give these guys some free advertising.

The decision was made to get an assortment of tapas and then reassess our fullness. We were off to a flyer with the mussels with white wine broth! Plump and juicy mussels, the broth had heaps of flavour and character. I could also taste the onion and herbs coming through as well, this was a delicious dish. There just wasn’t enough though as I could have done with 6 more, such a tease! The other two dishes I really enjoyed were the scallops wrapped in bacon and lamb cutlets.

Some of the other dishes we had here were a bit hit and miss. It’s interesting because I’m not referring to the whole dishes as a miss, but specific components within the dishes which did not hit the mark. For example, the caramalised onions were overwhelming the stuffed mushrooms, it felt like I was eating caramalised onions on a small plate as I couldn’t taste the mushroom at all. The crispy pulled pork was good for the first two bites before it go so sickeningly sweet that we couldn’t finish it, and the smoked salmon in the carpaccio tasted like it was from a packet at the supermarket. It’s not that I don’t like packaged smoked salmon from the supermarket, but it’s just that for the price we’re paying, we kinda expected a bit more.

The tapas didn’t fill us up fully so we decided to get a roasted duck breast risotto to finish off. The risotto itself was amazing, but once again the inconsistencies shined through as the roasted duck breast was extremely tough. If I had dentures, I’m sure this duck would have ripped it out of my mouth!

Bensons on Martin does some dishes really well but they also a healthy amount of not very enjoyable dishes. The ratio is too high to warrant a return from us unfortunately. If these certain components in the dishes could be improved, then the customers would be in for a stellar experience! We hope that they take some of the feedback on board and continue to improve, and we wish them all the best.

Bensons on Martin
Approx $45 AUD per person
Address: 146-148 Martin Street, Brighton VIC 3186
Phone: +61 3 9596 0443

Bensons on Martin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


The saying goes… it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We forgot how we came across Nomada, but by the time we walked out the door, we realised that we have had one of the best Spanish meals ever! Nomada has a strong team of the Melbourne culinary world backing them, think Kettle Black, Bomba and Anada. Luckily I wasn’t equipped with this knowledge prior to writing this review, because it allowed me to enjoy the food as it is, and not to form any comparisons with the other restaurants.

Walking in, we were greeted straight away by a very friendly waiter. He ended up being our exclusive waiter for the night. No complaints from our end, he was extremely personable and knew the menu inside out. Wooden furniture, fancy lamp shades and green plants are scattered across the restaurant. It’s a safe and proven formula, and we felt very much at home. It did smell of heavy smoke inside, like I was next to a giant camp fire. By the end of the night, I was fully marinated and it resulted in the minor inconvenience of a second shower for the day. I’m not a huge fan of washing my hair twice in a day, gotta let those natural oils build up a bit before being stripped again! In saying this, the food did more than make up for the smoky smell…

We started off with some tapas – oysters with seaweed jelly and finger lime, slow cooked egg with spanner crab and Yarra Valley caviar, and Cape Grim steak tartare with black garlic and pulled beef tendon. If these menu items sound delicious to you, imagine the agony we went through with picking what we wanted… it was not a huge menu, but we just wanted to order everything! The steak tartare was a standout dish. Cape Grim is one of my favourite cattle producers, their meat quality is second to none. This quality translates directly across to this steak tartare. The flavour is clean and beefy, tribute to the cattle being grass fed and free of growth hormones. I’ve never had black garlic with steak tartare and I’m happy to say IT WORKS! The sweetness of the black garlic works beautifully with the steak. Steak tartare has come a long way since I’ve started eating it, and this style makes me excited for the future of this dish.

For the mains we got the hanger steak with parsnip, queso valdeon & bone marrow sauce and the coal grilled calamari, potato puree, chorizo & green pea. The hanger steak was cook perfectly, and the bone marrow sauce acted as a flavour booster. The texture was tender enough, but I did try to cut against the grain to help it along also. Calamari is something I love to eat but rarely order outside, because to be honest, most places overcook the hell out of it. This was not the case at Nomada. The potato puree was fluffy like clouds, and the chorizo and peas together were just a match made in heaven! It’s best eaten all together as the chorizo provides the salt for this dish.

We got two complimentary ports with our Creme Catalan dessert. Not my drink of choice generally but boy were these delicious! One thing I will say however is that I found the portions of some dishes a bit small. For example, the pipis cost $9 but I would have only got around 11-12 pipis. So if I divide 9/12, that means each pipi cost 75c each! I would have expected double the amount of pipis for the price? I am a little conflicted because it seems this is the price/quantity ratio of most Spanish restaurants in Australia though. Portion sizes and a smoky dining room are minor problems we can overcome together. I have always liked the Spanish food here more than in Spain. Nomada has further reinforced this view for me, and I’m happy to have another Spanish restaurant to go to. Seriously one of the best Spanish restaurants in Melbourne and I cannot wait to dine here again!

Approx $70 AUD per person
Address: 412A Brunswick Street, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Phone: +61 3 9416 4102

Nomada Food & Wine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Heartattack and Vine


I’d like to share with you guys today a refreshing Italian restaurant located on Lygon Street. Now I know what you guys are probably thinking. Italian men standing at the front of their restaurant with menus, herding people in like sheeps! This is actually one of my pet hates, and I would never recommend a restaurant that does this. Heartattack and Vine is the total opposite of this unwelcoming stigma. They let their showcase of food, and the faces of happy diners do the marketing. We’ve walked past Heartattack and Vine many times after dinner. Everyone always looks happy and relaxed dining here. Having missed out on trying their food so many times, food frustration kicked in, and we made an exclusive trip to Carlton to try them out.

Heartattack and Vine is an Italian tapas style restaurant. They have an outdoor seating area outside, but since it was a warm day when we went, we opted for some indoor air con goodness. Dimly lit lighting sets a romantic and intimate scene. They showcased all their beautiful cichetti (tapas) at the front behind some thick glass. Staff were welcoming with big smiles on their faces, and we were seated straight away on the communal curbside bench. The dining area was small and cosy, and they soon realised how big our appetites were! We ended up taking up the space of 4 people with our food. The concept was simple, you walk up and pick what cichetti you want and either pay on the spot or start a tab. Cichetti were $3.50 each or 3 for $10. More substantial items such as oysters or house salads, had their own prices.



After ordering 2 Italian reds, we were on a mission. The cichetti were great value and we pretty much tried them all. I was asking what everything was just to satisfy my curiosity, but I knew I was going try all of them! We were truly impressed by the variety offered, and it wasn’t too carb heavy, which was a bonus. The dishes were simple yet with all the ingredients combined they worked effortlessly. The produce was extremely fresh, proof is with the seafood. It’s hard to disguise freshness with seafood, the mussels and oysters here were spot on! Figs, quail eggs, mascarpone cheese are some of the other delicious delights you may find on the day. I say ‘may’ because they are constantly changing their dishes to the seasonal produce. I’m not expecting to eat the same things next time I come to here, and that’s an exciting thought!



Heartattack and Vine offers an abundance of food to cater for any picky or adventurous eater. I don’t expect any two persons to eat as much as we did, but if you do decide to go a bit crazy, it certainly won’t send you broke. You’d be hard to find value like this, with quality to match. I have a feeling this will be one our regular go to places, and I hope it will be yours too!


Heartattack and Vine
Approx $30 AUD per person
Address: 329 Lygon St, Carlton VIC 3053
Phone: +61 3 9005 8624

Heartattack and Vine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pablo Honey


We would like to thank Pablo Honey for inviting Helen and I to dine at their newly opened restaurant/bar. Please note that this meal was sponsored by Pablo Honey, however we pride ourselves on writing honest reviews for you guys and in this instance it’s no exception.

There’s a reason why we don’t dine at St Kilda much and that’s simply because the parking can be absolutely horrid! It was no different this time, as St Kilda had some event on which not only meant that parking was bad but traffic was also bumper to bumper. After a bit of driving around and frustration in the car, we decided to go to my trusty paid parking spot at the Coles car park. It was a short walk to Pablo Honey and wasn’t too bad.

We were greeted warmly by Emily at the door. First thing I noticed was the huge and brightly lit bar on the left. The honeycomb wall which doubles as alcohol bottle storage space was a very nice touch and stays true to the name of the restaurant. Emily had reserved a nice big table for both of us. As I’ve mentioned before in my reviews, big tables are just awesome, because we eat so much and it’s nice to have some table space to move the dishes around for photos.


A friendly waitress attended to us straight away and handed us the drinks menu. She would turn out to be the sole person serving us for the night, which I was very happy with. She was quick, on the ball, and knew the menu inside out. From the ingredients to the cooking techniques, she could answer all the questions we threw at her. She was a gun at her job, and Pablo Honey are very fortunate to have her working for them.

We opted to go for 3 small share plates and 1 large share plate in order to try some more foods. Looking back at what we ordered and the prices, I would say that the small share plates are pretty good value as they are a decent quantity for the price. Add to the fact that you also get to try more dishes it’s a no brainer. I personally found the large share plates a bit expensive, as the 3 dishes ranged from $45 to $55.


We ordered the smoked chicken wingettes, ceviche of octopus, green tree ant cured salmon, and the smoked fillet of snapper as the large share plate. The smoked chicken came with a salsa which had nice spiced flavours. Chicken was also extremely tender. There were however only mild hints of smokiness, I was expecting a lot more smokey flavours as per the name of the dish. As I bit into the chicken, I noticed that the meat was not smoked and as I suspected it the smokiness was from the sauce.

The ceviche of octopus I didn’t particularly enjoy. I expected the octopus to be more raw, but instead I was served an orange coloured thoroughly cooked octopus. The octopus itself was also very chewy, and was quite hard to swallow. Green tea cured salmon was my favourite dish of the night.


The salmon was fresh, soft and fatty! Great dish as it wasn’t heavily flavoured and allowed the salmon taste to shine. The salt and vinegar taro chips which came with the salmon was weirdly satisfying and went surprisingly well together. The taro chips to salmon ratio was a bit of whack though and we had way too many taro chips left over. Considering they were too flavoured to have by themselves, we couldn’t finish the chips. The smoked fillet of snapper tasted really good. I could tell that the fish was smoked this time as it penetrated the snapper meat. This also caused it’s downfall too as it made the delicate snapper meat a bit tough. The seaweed salad that came with it was probably our least favourite of the night. It may as well have been called a grapefruit salad as there was so much grapefruit in it. The dressing was also not very pleasant.


The dessert was very unique. We ordered the Dulce de Leche Mousse which was recommended by the waitress. It came out in the mould of a skull which represented the the wall of many beautiful skull sculptures behind our table which are designed and created by the owner Matt’s wife. There are so many pretty ones that are available for sale there. Anyway back to the skull dessert. With a spoon, we cracked into the skull sculpture which got us into the mousse. It was a very interesting way of presenting it. The initial entry of the mousse was pleasant and eyebrow raising but it got too sweet very quickly. There was also the element of popping candy which gave it some texture.


In summary we did enjoy our time at Pablo Honey. The interior decorations along with the superb customer service was the highlight of our experience. I admire the creativity of the food as it sets a point of difference with other restaurants, however the food was a bit hit and miss. Some fine tuning of the food and the potential would be infinite. The great thing was that Matt (one of the owners) welcomed our suggestions, and with such an open mind, it’s surely a recipe for success. I love supporting small restaurant businesses and would be happy to help in whatever way I can. If you’re around the area, give Pablo Honey a visit and show them some support, as I see a bright future for this new restaurant.


Pablo Honey
Approx $50 AUD per person
Address: 68 Acland St, St Kilda VIC 3182
PHone: +61 3 9534 3246

Pablo Honey Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Simply Spanish

We came across this by chance as we had plans to go to another tapas restaurant in South Melbourne however they were booked out and didn’t allow walk-ins.  A quick search on the internet for another place close by brought this little gem up which was only about a 5 minute walk away.  Nestled just on the edge of the South Melbourne market it was buzzing when we arrived and as we sat down we felt like we were in Spain all over again with the smells and the atmosphere of the streets of Madrid.  You have the option to sit indoors or outdoors but outside is where the buzz and experience is.

The tapas were delicious and served in just the right quantities.  I recommend the garlic prawns, fried balls of goats cheese served with beetroot relish, the squid ink and tiger prawn paella, pork belly and the sauteed mushrooms.  However everything we tried was impressive. If you have been to Spain and you want to have a taste of it in Melbourne then Simply Spanish is the place to be.

Squid ink and tiger prawn paella
Prawn and squid ink paella

Simply Spanish
Approx $50 AUD per person
Address: 116 Cecil St, South Melbourne VIC
Phone: +61 9682 6100

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