Twenty Pho Seven

We were recently invited to dine at Twenty Pho Seven located on Russell St in the CBD. Yes you read right! It’s a play on words for a twenty four seven pho place! For those of you who may not know what pho is, it is a Vietnamese bowl of soup noodles. Being Vietnamese myself, I have had many bowls of pho in my lifetime, through my family cooking it up at home, at authentic local Vietnamese restaurants, and even in Vietnam when I went on a family trip many years ago. So it’s safe to say that I had high expectations on the pho at this place!

Our first observation when we arrived outside was that it was a perfect location for a 24 hour restaurant. It was in the heart of it all and I could really see people showing up in the wee early hours of the morning after a night out partying in the city for a hearty bowl of pho for the soul. It provides a great alternative to greasy fast food. Why wouldn’t anyone want some soup noodles to cure a hangover? We also loved that on the feature wall, there was Bruce Lee holding a bowl of pho.

We were warmly greeted by Taeeun who provided us with some menus and talked us through the options. We started off with a couple of cocktail bubble cups. I ordered the Whisky Business and Davin ordered the Good Morning Vietnam. I’ve always loved whisky sours but this one was probably more on the very sour side. The Good Morning Vietnam cocktail however was really good! It was a unique take on the traditional Vietnamese coffee and we loved it.

For entrees we ordered the Bo la lot Beef Skewers which is beef in betel leaf skewers served with nuts and nuoc mam sauce. This was super tasty! The beef was flavoured really well. We also got the Nem Nuong rice paper rolls. The rice paper rolls were huge and the ingredients were really fresh. The Nem Nuong was not salty at all which can often be the case.

Our highlight entree dish however was the Hanoi honey glazed fried chicken. Oh. My. Gosh. It was SO good! They came out piping hot, the skin was super crispy and yet the chicken was so moist inside. In fact when I took a bite, I think some of the moisture from the chicken dribbled out onto the table. Oops. The flavours were also spot on, it was sweet, tangy and really appetising.

For mains I of course had to order my usual pho of choice which was also their best seller, pho with sliced beef. Given I had already ordered pho, Davin decided to opt for the Bun Bo Hue which is a spicy noodle soup. The bun bo hue was probably not as flavoured as the soup base tasted a bit watered down. However the pho was really good. The soup base of the pho was flavoured really well and I loved that they provided extra pickled onions on the table. My only comment was that the sliced beef was more on the tough side, ordinarily we love our beef on the rarer side. However other than that it was a pretty decent bowl of pho!

Overall it was a great experience and a place we would definitely come back again when we’re in the CBD and craving those deliciously fried chicken wings and a hearty bowl of pho!

Twenty Pho Seven
Approx $30 AUD per person
Address: 138 Russell St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: +61 3 9654 2024

Twenty Pho Seven Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Whisky & Alement

Bringing you guys something a little different today…. a whisky bar review! I had been coming to Whisky & Alement for a number of years now, even back to when they were called ‘Chez Regine’. Whisky & Alement have really expanded their whisky range throughout the years, and have always been one of the go to places in Melbourne for one’s malt addiction.

It’s an intimate affair inside Whisky & Alement. It’s a small space with close and limited seating. The chances of getting a seat is higher if you come in a small group, be prepared to wait or get relegated to the smokers area if you come with a bigger group. I’ve made this mistake before, and this made me feel quite claustrophobic. Luckily on this particular occasion, it was just myself and Helen so we were able to get a spot at the bar straight away.

Their whisky range here is massive, and can be very overwhelming. Most whisky drinkers will have a country and region which they prefer, and their menu does cater for this in order to make your selection easier. Anyone that’s new to the game can ask the bartender to recommend a single malt and they’ll be more than happy to pass on their recommendations. I’ve been drinking scotch whisky for over 6 years but I still consider myself a beginner, I have a certain flavour profile which I love and stick to. I prefer peat monsters from Islay, Scotland.

Peat is not to be mistaken with smokey. I would describe the flavour of peat as more of an earthy, soil, decaying vegetation taste. Smokey is like what you’d smell/taste from a burning campfire. Doesn’t sound very appetising does it? Well I can tell you the peaty flavour profile is highly addictive, ever since Helen had started appreciating peaty whiskies, my collection at home has vanished!

On this particular occasion, the drink of choice was Bowmore 15 and Ardbeg Corryvreckan. The dark green Ardbeg bottle always gets me excited, it sends out a message ‘don’t mess with me’, but you gotta live life dangerously sometimes! True to it’s word, when I nosed the Ardbeg, it smacked me in the face! The 57.1% alcohol content is no joke, certainly not for the faint-hearted. I had to put a few drops of water in to tone the beast down, only then was I rewarded. The taste of peat was prominent, along with hints of salt, smoke, and pepper. As good as it was, I personally preferred the Ardbeg Uigeadail, one of my favourite whiskeys of all time. We both didn’t enjoy the Bowmore 15 at all, it was pleasant enough on entry but then it hits you with a strong smokey bitter aftertaste. You win some, you lose some, that’s the beauty of trying whisky at a place like Whisky & Alement, it saves you money from buying a whole bottle!

Overall it was a peaceful Sunday afternoon… you guys may gasp at us for drinking at this time of day, but we would rarely have more than one shot each when we’re at a whisky bar. We drink it really slowly and appreciate every sip, because the intention is not to get drunk, but to enjoy the moment so to speak. The bartenders here are professional as always, they will not bother you if you don’t want to be bothered, but they’ll always welcome whisky talk if you wish to head down that path. I will finish up with a word of caution: the alcohol content is really high in whisky, so make sure you find appropriate transport home if you choose to have more than one shot. Happy whisking!

Whisky & Alement
Approx $20 AUD per person
Address: 270 Russell Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: +61 3 9654 1284

Whisky and Alement Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shyun Ramen

Down the street from Shyun, there’s their sister restaurant Shyun Ramen. It’s small and inconspicuous, but Matcha lovers will no doubt be drawn in by their lit up Matcha sign. As well as serving ramen (which is what their name implies) they have a wide selection of Matcha iced lattes. More on this later… first let’s talk about the parking! Trying to find parking on Koornang Road can be a difficult task to say the least, going up and down with a car right up your a** can be pretty stressful times. I’ve personally had more success with the carpark at Shepparson Avenue, but people are catching on, so I’ve had to park further down Neerim Road these days. I’m revealing all my parking spots, please be nice and leave a spot for me!

Walking into Shyun Ramen is like a trip down memory lane as it looks similar to a lot of restaurants in Japan. All the tables are squashed on the left and the kitchen is on the right, because real estate in Carnegie is expensive yo! Don’t expect any personal space here as it’s literally shoulder to shoulder. A guy asked to sit next to us, but when another table was available, he quickly slipped away like a ninja! Nothing fancy here… wooden tables and coloured stools. Be prepared to listen into other people’s conversations and vice versa. I didn’t mind this though because it spells bang for buck food, and it turned out to be great value indeed.

We started off with the wagyu beef tataki as our entree. It was seared on the outside and rare on the inside. We would have preferred it more rare, but I think most people would prefer it like this, gotta cater to the crowd! Great acidity, yet the sauce was still pleasant without being too intrusive. It’s probably one of the better beef tatakis we’ve had as of late, great start to our dining here.

I had the classic pork ramen with a shoyu based pork broth, the benchmark where ramens are rated on. Helen got a Tokyo ramen which is pretty much like my pork ramen except it comes with a light soy based broth. I enjoyed both the soup bases, the soy based one was more punchy in flavour, whereas the pork broth was richer and lubricated my lips after each slurp. Yes you heard right… slurp it up people, it’s the proper way to eat ramen! We both unanimously agreed that the pork broth was better, but we may pick the soy based to mix it up every now and then. The noodles weren’t overcooked and the corn had good texture to it. I’m not sure if it’s fresh off the cob, but I suspect it may be a higher quality packet corn. I thoroughly enjoyed my ramen, but there is one bone I have to pick with Shyun Ramen… why was there only one piece of pork!?! I’m a growing man! At least give me another piece for old time’s sake. The pictures on the menu shows two piece of pork… did we get scammed? I’m a little emotional because the pork tasted pretty damn good.

We finished off with some Matcha goodness. The decision as to what to get was tough because they have a huge range of iced Matcha lattes. You can have one with red bean, green tea softee with strawberry, cream with strawberry and chocolate syrup, etc. There’s about 12 varieties to choose from. Helen went for a classic iced Matcha with cream latte. She asked me if I wanted to share, but I aint no fool! I got myself a nice green tea softee, which is a soft serve. It wasn’t too sweet and had that tinge of bitterness I was looking for… perfect.

Apart from only getting one piece of pork I’ve enjoyed everything about Shyun Ramen. Everything was very tasty and decent value. To give you an idea, our beef tataki was $7.90 and our ramens were $11.90 each (add $5.50 for a drink and 3 gyozas). My green tea softee was $2.50. A very affordable weekday eating place which doesn’t blow the bank balance. I have an inkling feeling that we may become regulars here…

Shyun Ramen
Approx $20 AUD per person
Address: 73 Koornang Rd, Carnegie VIC 3163
Phone: +61 3 8394 5971

Shyun Ramen Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Young and Foolish

So I’ve been telling people about this new brunch / lunch cafe in the local ‘burbs’ that just opened. Being food bloggers we’ve earned a bit of trust when it comes to suggestions for good eateries. But when I tell people that this new cafe is located at Brandon Park shopping centre, even I get doubtful looks and questionable wrinkled noses and frowns. Yes people, there is a pretty decent and modern cafe at Brandon Park! In fact, the last few times we’ve been, we’ve had to stalk other cars just to find parking. I feel like perhaps this cafe may be drawing more people to this place.

Anyway, located on the ground floor in a spacious spot where past failed restaurants have come and gone, Young and Foolish has recently opened up and taken the spotlight at this normally quiet shopping centre with its bright lights, bricks and wooden decor, leather booths and greenery throughout the cafe. It is a refreshing and welcoming change.

Staff were super friendly and seated us down straight away. They took our drinks orders and let us peruse the menu. Now I’ve been here twice now in a span of weeks so some of the dishes we ordered on both occasions included the wagyu cheese burger with crunchy fries, the vodka cured salmon, meatballs risoni and the Young and Foolish breakfast.

All the dishes were presented beautifully, particularly the vodka cured salmon. This was a really pretty and appetising dish. Davin felt like this was probably more of an entree for him and he wouldn’t be full on it but it was a perfect portion for me. The wagyu cheese burger was tasty and the brioche bun was not too sweet. It was a scoffable dish! The meatball risoni had veal and pork in it and it was slow cooked in tomato and basil with buttered risoni pasta. It was flavoured really well and a hearty dish. Our foodie friend ordered the Young and Foolish breakfast which had poached eggs, bacon, pork fennel sausage, swiss brown mushrooms, a hash brown and zucchini tomato relish, a clean dish! We also ordered some fresh juices in which they let you choose different combinations of ingredients and were pretty good.

Overall it was a great place to catch up with friends while enjoying some good food. Service was also great and staff were friendly and accommodating. Highly recommend if you’re in the area!

Young and Foolish
Approx $30 AUD per person
Brandon Park Shopping Centre, Corner of Springvale & Ferntree Gully Road,
Wheelers Hill, Melbourne, VIC 3150
Phone: +61 3 9560 2065

Young and Foolish Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nikos Tavern

My friend recommended Nikos Tavern to me as an alternative to the Greek restaurants in Oakleigh. He said they were just as good. My interpretation of just as good was that they are not as good, otherwise he would have said that it was better. My success rate with ‘just as good’ places has been disappointing to say the least. Instinctively I was already thinking that Nikos Tavern may not have been such a good idea, because they were not only further away from me, but I’m settling for just as good. I thought I may be getting too caught up with these 3 words so my stubborn self wanted to be pleasantly surprised!

On one weekday evening, we made the trip to Ringwood to try these guys out. Just like the start of the movie – Meet the Fockers, it was all sweet and rosy at the start. The traffic to Nikos was silky smooth, the exterior and interior gave the place a real authentic feel, and the food we saw come out were big portioned. My skepticism turned to excitement and suddenly I was really looking forward to this dinner! Unfortunately this story has no happy ending, and what followed could only be described as a disaster…

They started us off with a very generous amount of dips, and some pita bread. First thing I noticed was that the feel of the pita bread was different. They were barely lukewarm and tasted very old. Old bread has this weird texture and flavour which is very easy to pinpoint. This was not fresh at all… but what were we going to do with the dips without the bread? They go hand in hand! There were so many dips, we sucked it up and tried to power through it. The dips themselves were OK. They stimulated the taste buds initially, especially the eggplant and caviar ones, but soon they all started tasting the same.

The saganaki was so heavily battered, I didn’t know whether I was eating batter or cheese. By this stage, my taste buds were all shot, and I wasn’t sure what I was looking for in this meal anymore. The chicken gyros came out, and after a quick bite… DRY. It seemed as though their turnover of meats hadn’t been good that night, and they’ve pre-cut the meat and put it in a warmer. Not only was the chicken dry but it was tasteless, and lacked seasoning. We waited a long time for the lamb, when we queried this the waitress said that the lamb was seen as the next course. This was interesting… I didn’t understand why the chicken and lamb couldn’t have come out together. The lamb suffered the same fate as the chicken, DRY. The chips that came with the salad were soggy and had zero crunch to it. They were quite possibly the worst chips I’ve ever had! Things really weren’t working out, we didn’t know what to do, so we just dropped everything and said that’s enough.

Hurts me like hell to waste food like that, but I couldn’t doggy bag it. If I’m eating meat this dry at the restaurant, the next day would be even worse. We drove home miserable, but the hardest thing was when my friend asked me what I thought of the food. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings but the truth had to be told. He seemed disappointed, but I assured him that there’s plenty of opportunities for good food in the future, and told him to not worry about it. With that said, we rode off into the sunset together….

Nikos Tavern
Approx $35 AUD per person
Address: 190 Mount Dandenong Road, Ringwood East VIC 3135
Phone: +61 3 9870 0554

Nikos Tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mr Foxx

So we’ve had a good run lately and found another great brunch place! Lucky us! Mr Foxx has been a cafe in which we’ve driven past a number of times and one where we often say we probably should check out and then just never get around to it. Well on this occasion we made that effort and boy did it pay off!

Located on Malvern Rd in Glen Iris, we found parking instantly and entered into a lovely spacious cafe with a feature wall of artwork of foxes hanging out on a tree. Very cool.

We started off with some coffees. I ordered a latte and Davin ordered an iced coffee. My latte was strong and just how I liked it. Davin seemed to thoroughly enjoy his iced coffee and didn’t think about sharing until I asked for a sip.

For mains, I ordered the Fricassee mushrooms with garlic and thyme butter, cauliflower puree, toasted brioche, poached egg and truffle oil. I also opted for the extra chorizo. The serving was SO generous! The portions were huge! There was like a whole forest on my plate because there were so many mushrooms, and they were truly delicious! The combination of that with the cauliflower puree, the crunchiness of the brioche and the poached egg was divine! It was one glorious dish.

Davin ordered the dill cured salmon fillets with fondant potato, asparagus and lemon salad and pea puree. Again the serving was super generous. The salmon was cooked to perfection and not overcooked at all. The puree was nicely flavoured and complemented the salmon really well.

I have to also mention how attentive, friendly and efficient the staff were there. Customer service is everything these days and we will certainly come back because of that, and of course the great food and coffee! We were very impressed!

Mr Foxx
Approx $25 AUD per person
Address: 1491 Malvern Rd, Glen Iris VIC 3146
Phone: +61 3 9821 0001

Mr Foxx Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lord Cardigan

Lord Cardigan…. what a name, it’s certainly got a ring to it! Established in 2007, this restaurant was started by a husband and wife combination, John Singer and Dominique Bolger. There’s only one reason why I would go to the effort to read the ‘About Us’ page on their website, it’s because I freaken love this place! What started out as a filler dinner, ended up being one of the best dining experiences for me in 2018. We’re still early in the year, so Lord Cardigan better put the brakes on a bit to allow the others to catch up!

The restaurant welcomed us to vinyl seats, wallpaper and hanging pot plants from the ceiling. There were also pictures of flowers on the wall. Had we jumped into a time machine and gone back in time!? We looked around and we were by far their youngest customers. Amidst feeling a little weird at the start, I soon relaxed and embraced an era beyond my years.

We were greeted by some of the friendliest staff ever, who guided us through the menu in a warmly fashion. It was a great menu indeed, as we really struggled to pick what we wanted. The confidence shines through, and I could tell that these guys were not afraid to ‘do it different’. After much pondering we finally settled on some oysters, various ‘taste’ dishes, the Flinders Island lamb shoulder baked in filo pastry, and the ocean trout fish special. The taste dishes were bite size and $7.50 each. It’s a great concept because it gives you the opportunity to try more dishes without having to spend a fortune.

The Pacific oysters were extremely fresh, with the mignonette dressing and lemon providing the perfect acidic touch. At this stage I was impressed, they got fresh produce and can make a mean sauce, but I was eager to see what else they could do. They respond to the challenge by punching out some of the best bite size dishes I’ve ever had! You know the competition is fierce when the most perfectly seared scallop loses out to quail wrapped in ham. This quail was boned and wrapped in Kaiserfleisch ham with a truffle and balsamic dressing. It was oh so tasty, so make sure you grab one when you come here.

Little did I know that the best was yet to come… it was so good that it’s made it to my top list of fish dishes in Australia. I had given up hope of eating a fish as good as a flounder I had at a particular restaurant in the Melbourne CBD. It was cooked so beautifully, I almost cried! I stared at this ocean trout in awe, as I couldn’t believe how good it was. Being the supportive wife she is, Helen left me alone to savour this moment between myself and this fish. The skin was ultra crispy, with the meat inside just barely cooked. Which chef dares to push the boundaries like this with a fish!?! I’m convinced there’s a madman lurking somewhere in the kitchen! The Asian inspired sauce accentuated the sweetness of the ocean trout. As it’s a special, I may not get to try this fish again. However the memories will live on for many years to come, this I can guarantee.

On our trip back home, we couldn’t stop talking about the memorable experience we had at Lord Cardigan. These guys really are the real deal, and we cannot wait to come back. No ifs and no buts people, Lord Cardigan is a MUST TRY!

Lord Cardigan
Approx $60 AUD per person
Address: 59 Cardigan Place, Albert Park VIC 3206
Phone: +61 3 9645 5305

Lord Cardigan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Little Chloe

Amongst the many brunch places in Melbourne, we’ve yet again found another winner. Little Chloe is located on the more quiet end of Malvern Rd in Malvern East so parking wasn’t an issue when we arrived. This meant fast and easy access to glorious food!

Upon entering, my first impression was that it was quite spacious for a cafe. The decor was modern and clean, and we were greeted by friendly staff and seated straight away. We were excited by the menu because it had unique items that you wouldn’t normally see for a brunch style cafe.

In addition to the usual fresh juices, they also had drinks such as the house made lychee ice tea which consisted of earl grey tea, raw honey, lemon and lychee popping pearl. I couldn’t say no to that and there were certainly no regrets! The tea was deliciously refreshing. What I loved most about it was that it was not sweet at all and it was only the lychee popping pearls that added hints of sweetness to the tea which perfected the drink.

Davin ordered the Expresso on tonic which was Yuzu infused. Again it was nothing like we’ve ever had before and was quite nice. The tonic was served cold, and it allowed us to pour in the hot expresso when we were ready. The combination of the two actually worked.

For food, I ordered the Tasmanian smoked salmon which came with mango and lime chutney, smashed avocado, potato rosti, feta and a poached egg. This was a really good dish! Not only was the serving quite generous, every ingredient seemed to work together. The smoked salmon was not too salty, the chutney provided a nice sweetness to each bite, the potato rosti was crispy on the outside but soft on the inside, and the egg was poached perfectly.

Davin ordered the Breakfast ramen. Yes, you heard right! They had ramen on the menu and so Davin couldn’t resist. It came with a soft boiled egg, mixed Asian mushrooms, chicken and dashi broth, pickled ginger and seaweed. Davin also got the extra optional pork belly. The ramen came out in a generous large bowl with a deliciously flavoured broth. The noodles were cooked well and the pork belly was flavoured. The chicken was however on the dry side. Overall it was a hearty bowl of goodness.

I also ordered a piccolo just to get a taster. It was nice and strong. I’ll have to come back next time and try a latte too. In fact, we will definitely be back again for their great food and drinks! Highly recommend!

Little Chloe
Approx $25 AUD per person
Address: 1810 Malvern Rd, Malvern East VIC 3145
Phone: +61 3 9885 2194

Little Chloe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saab Der Thai

We do love Thai cuisine however haven’t had a fantastic experience with Thai restaurants in Springvale in the past. Unfortunately on this occasion it was no different.

Saab Der Thai is located in the heart of Springvale and is a small takeaway style shop with tables for eating in.

We got the Thai iced milk tea which was actually pretty good because it wasn’t overly sweet. It had a good tea flavour to it so I liked it.

Because there were a number of us, we decided to order a variety of dishes for sharing. This included the chicken satay sticks, Pad Thai noodles, red curry with chicken, green curry with beef, pineapple fried rice, tom yum soup and a couple of salads.

The chicken satay sticks were nice, the meat was tender however the sauce that came with it was not the usual satay sauce. Both the red curries and the green curries were not that great. They were very watery and the meats in it was quite tough and far from tender. The Pad Thai noodles and pineapple fried rice were also just okay. The Pad Thai noodles were flavoured, however the fried rice was quite dry and a tad plain.

The salads were nice and had a good chilli kick to it. The tom yum soup was average and not very special.

Overall, we probably wouldn’t recommend this place if you were in the mood for Thai. The main dishes were a let down and you could definitely find better quality elsewhere. However if you’re desperate for cheap Thai and in the area, it might be more for convenience.

Sabb Der Thai and Esan Food
Approx $25 AUD per person
Address: Unit 1/1-3 St Johns Ave, Springvale VIC 3171
Phone: +61 3 9546 0599

Sabb Der Thai Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Atlas Dining

There are a lot of things I respect about Atlas Dining. For one, the food is inspired by chef Charlie Corrington’s travels. I love the fact that he has brought back pieces of his travels, and is now sharing it with us in the form of food. Let’s not forget that he is only 24 years of age. The menu at Atlas dining changes every 4 months to the cuisine of another country. This concept is not only brave, but it shows that they are not scared to push the boundaries. Helen and I had a chance to experience their Peruvian menu, read on to find out what I thought of our experience!

Walking inside, the interior was very warm and comfortable. It had a Scandinavian feel to it, with the use of light coloured wood around the restaurant. The stained stone wall and big mirror on the feature wall was the X Factor. As we sat down, we noticed the leather cutlery pouch straight away. As much as I appreciated the attention to detail, this leather pouch turned out to be a massive confusion! My cutlery was faced in a different direction than Helen’s, so the cutlery on my left side turned out to be on her right side. It was a guessing game which cutlery we were supposed to be using for each dish. Another thing to note is that they love their stoneware here. It felt like a stone exhibition after a while. After scraping on stone with my cutlery for 7 courses, I really missed porcelain dinnerware!

The menu itself was simple enough, $70 for 5 courses or $95 for 7 courses. I was warned beforehand by my trusted adviser that there was no way 5 courses was going to be enough for me. Therefore we opted for the 7 courses, but little did I expect the 7 courses to be so short on food! More on this later. The food itself was very creative and I got to experience some new flavours here. My favourite dishes were the flathead ceviche and lamb arroz. The ceviche was the perfect starter. I had never had flathead this raw before, and didn’t realise it could have such a nice texture. The lime juice punches through and the result is an extremely appetising dish. The lamb arroz was like a savoury rice pudding, with chewy bits of lamb ‘jerky’. They probably don’t call it jerky, but it tastes exactly like it! I thoroughly enjoyed this dish.

Some of the other dishes I wasn’t a fan of was the potato, and duck dish. The potato with Ocopa and Aji sauce was simply way too dense for me. It started congealing in my mouth and I could barely swallow it. The sauces were good though. The duck was bland, which was a shame because it was cooked perfectly. The eggplant and charred beans did very little to help out.

Before I finish up, we need to come back to the portion sizes. If I was to use universal clothing sizes as a guideline, the portion sizes here would be XS! The extra two dishes did very little to fill us up, and I do speak on behalf of Helen because even she expressed the same views. I feel that for the price, they could have provided a bit more food. Unless you’re coming off a lemon juice diet, it’s hard to imagine anyone even getting close to ‘content’ on the 5 courses. I think one should come here expecting to spend $95 per person minimum for the 7 courses, and even then I felt more suppressed than content.

Overall, Atlas Dining opened my eyes to a wide range of Peruvian dishes. Even though the dishes were a bit hit and miss for me, I appreciate the experience nonetheless. One final thing I’d like to say is that the service here was fabulous! The waiting staff were kind and attentive. Their attention to detail was second to none, and we were well looked after. If any of you are reading this review, keep up the good work!

Atlast Dining
Approx $110 AUD per person
Address: 133 Commercial Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141
Phone: +61 3 9826 2621

Atlas Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pie In The Sky

On one sunny afternoon we decided to make the trip to the Dandenong Ranges to check out Pie in the Sky. We’ve known about this place for a while and know that it’s been featured on TV shows as a spot to visit, famous for their hand-made pies made daily.

Upon arrival and entering we could see that it was an obvious tourist drop in place as there were plenty of tourists there either eating in or buying a pie for takeaway. The eatery itself was quite spacious with plenty of wooden tables and chairs.

The staff seated us at a table, however the table still had crumbs and had not been cleaned from the previous customers. In fact, a lot of the other tables looked the same.

The process was to order and pay at the front counter first so Davin got one of the multiple gold medal winner pies which was the Korma Chicken. It had tender chicken pieces and two coloured vegetables in a creamy yellow curry sauce. I ordered the pumpkin pie which had blends of roasted pumpkin and roasted sweet potatoes with rosemary, garlic, leeks and fresh feta. Both pies came out piping hot with a lovely crispy pastry. The ingredients were fresh and flavoured well. I loved the combinations of my pumpkin pie and would definitely order it again. Davin’s pie had generous chunks of chicken, and combined with the curry sauce it was also quite nice.

Overall the pies were very nice and tasted fresh and hand-made. The service however was very average as I think they must get tourists in everyday and perhaps don’t have enough time to clean and set the tables in time.

Pie in The Sky
Approx $25 AUD per person
Address: 43 Olinda-Monbulk Rd, Olinda VIC 3788
Phone: +61 3 9751 2128

Pie in the Sky Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Curry Smuggler

We recently had the pleasure of being invited to dine at Curry Smuggler. In addition to the fact that I love their choice of name for their restaurant (it certainly made me giggle!), I love Indian cuisine and never get an opportunity to eat it as much as I would like to so of course we happily accepted the invitation!

Curry Smuggler is located on the business end of Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, a more quiet location away from the busyness that you would normally see and experience on a Saturday night. On the outside, the restaurant looks like any other, however upon entering, we noted how clean, spacious and modern it was inside.

We were warmly greeted and seated at a window seat which was perfect for us. Being a food blogger, great lighting for our photos is everything and nothing beats natural light! Menus were then provided for our perusal which got me quite excited because there were so many delicious dishes to choose from! It is also worth noting that they also have an extensive vegan menu for all the vegans out there which we thought was very considerate.

We settled with trying the Daaku Di Tangri (Smuggler’s) Drumsticks. With ‘smuggler’ in the title we assumed it must be one of their signature dishes so had to try it out. The dish had chicken drumsticks with a core of lamb mince, marinated in tandoori spices and yoghurt and the chef’s special sauce. This is a dish we’ve never had before and was very interesting. It was strange cutting into the chicken to find pieces of lamb mince attached to it. However the meat was tender and flavoured well. The creamy sauce also complemented it.

For mains we ordered the Butter Chicken (it’s one of those dishes I ALWAYS have to get because I love it so much), which were boneless pieces of tandoori chicken cooked with tomato, spices and a nut cream sauce, the Tawa Goat which was cooked in smoked flavoured traditional curry served with smoked onions and capsicum on a hot plate, the Biriyani Lamb which was lamb cooked with basmati rice, and two garlic naan.

The Butter Chicken was really good! The chicken was tender, and the sauce was cooked perfectly as it was not overly creamy and you can taste more of the tomato flavours in the sauce. The Tawa Goat however was probably the star of the show. The goat meat was SO soft! It literally just melted away from the bone and was flavoured really well with lovely spices and flavours.

The Biriyani Lamb was nice however probably didn’t stand out for us compared to the other dishes. Similarly, the garlic naan was just okay, and interestingly had a bit of salt on it which with some bites may have been too salty for our liking.

Overall it was a lovely experience and we enjoyed the food. The prices are probably more on the expensive side compared to other Indian restaurants we’ve come across, however the servings were quite generous and we were so full when we were done!

Curry Smuggler
Approx $30 AUD per person
Address: 223 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Phone: +61 3 8597 0647

Curry Smuggler Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Stones of the Yarra Valley

We recently had the opportunity to dine at The Barn for a wedding on a Sunday afternoon. And if you’re wondering, then yes, we went to Meletos next door only the day before this for a birthday! It was one busy weekend filled with Yarra Valley adventures! The Barn is spacious with lovely floor to ceiling windows offering spectacular views of the greenery and vineyards outside. It has a beautiful rustic feel inside with fresh greenery and wooden decor. It is a real stunning place for a venue.

For entrees I had the heirloom carrot, grilled haloumi, herb crusted cauliflower and radish salad. The carrots were lovely however the haloumi was probably a tad bit salty. Davin had the twice baked Yarra Valley goat’s cheese souffle with chive veloute and confit cherry tomato. This was a really nice dish and the souffle was so light and delicious.

For mains I had the free range chicken breast, romesco, rocket, pistachio and chilli. The chicken was flavoured, tender and was certainly not overcooked. Davin had the eye fillet with gratin potatoes, mushroom ketchup and grilled leeks. The steak was cooked medium. We would have probably preferred it a bit more rare however overall it was a good dish. We also got dobson potatoes with confit garlic and herbs as well as farro, peas, mint, salted ricotta and lemon vinaigrette as sides to go with our mains.

Overall it was a lovely venue inside and outside with its gorgeous surroundings.

Stones of the Yarra Valley
Address: 14 St Huberts Rd, Coldstream VIC 3770
Phone: +61 3 8727 3000

Stones of the Yarra Valley Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


If you’re heading out into the Yarra Valley for a day trip and you’re looking for a place with great food and wine, then Meletos might be just the spot for you! We’ve been here to dine on a number of occasions, but most recently we were here for a birthday lunch.

It’s always a lovely drive to Meletos, particularly on a sunny day and the scenery is so picturesque leading up to the restaurant and even more so when you arrive. There are crabapple trees and raised vegetable beds right out the front. The restaurant itself are a collection of century old farm buildings which have been developed into the restaurant it is now. It is beautifully rustic inside with floor to ceiling windows offering views of lush greenery outside.

It is always bustling with people inside and on this occasion it was no different. For drinks we started with a couple glasses of the 2015 Rob Dolan ‘Blanc de Blanc’ Sparkling Chardonnay. We’ve been really getting into sparkling lately and this was lovely and crisp.

All the dishes were ordered for sharing and some of the highlights for the starters included the marinated white anchovies which were delicious and not too salty, and the Yarra Valley goats curd with truffle honey and grilled bread. The goats curd was amazing with the truffle honey!  We also had the hand cut cacciatore mild salami.

For mains we ordered some wood-fired pizzas on their menu which included the Cotechino sausage, San Marazano tomato and Roast pumpkin. We also shared the whole market fish and wood-fired rotisserie free range chicken. Oh and we can’t forget the french fries with smoked paprika and manchego. These came out so fresh and crispy! To be honest none of the dishes really disappointed. It was a great meal and perfect when you feel like trying a number of different things.

We then ended the meal with a couple of Four Pillars gin and Fever Tree tonics which was so refreshing and perfect for a warm day! They came out in these lovely glasses and I am definitely going to have another one of those next time I’m there.

Attached to the restaurant is the Napoleone Brewery so you can also order paddles of beer or cider to enjoy at your table.

Overall, we highly recommend checking Meletos out if you’re after some good food. Whether you’re there to just have a few small dishes and drinks or a proper lunch, this place can cater for it because of their variety of dishes, small and large. And how can you say no to the lovely scenery?

Approx $70 AUD per person
Address: 12 St Huberts Rd, Coldstream VIC 3770
Phone: +61 3 8727 3030

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

Dairy Bell

I’m going to take you guys on a trip down memory lane today with a review on Dairy Bell. With so many fancy Gelato places these days, it’s easy to forget the humble old school ice cream shops which started our sweet tooth obsession. Without sugar coating anything, is Dairy Bell as good as it’s successors? That’ll be a definite no. The quality just isn’t up to par for today’s standards, however Dairy Bell will always have a special place in my heart. Just like Neapolitan ice cream, the nostalgia is strong.

After a very filling lunch with my work colleagues, one of them suggested to get Dairy Bell for dessert. Since I hadn’t been in a while, I happily obliged. It was my first time at the Malvern branch because the franchises have been steadily closing one by one. Last time I had Dairy Bell was actually in Dandenong, but that store is long gone now.

First thing I noticed when I walked into the shop was that it smelled like oil! This was very weird for an ice cream shop. I soon realised that they were also selling donuts. When I think of donuts, Dairy Bell wouldn’t spring to my mind, but I’m happy they’re trying different things. I looked around the shop and it looked exactly the same as what I remembered it to be. For this day and age, a revamp couldn’t hurt because the layout is starting to look really dated.

My colleague got the banana split, and I only got a single serve of blood orange sorbet on a cone. The prices are certainly on the cheaper end, and it’s very easy to up your sugar intake at this place for not much money. His banana split just looked like an overkill for someone who’s had a big lunch. I couldn’t believe he finished it all by himself! My blood orange sorbet was on the sweeter side, and tasted a bit artificial. It wasn’t horrible but wasn’t the best either. The cone itself wasn’t anything to talk about, it’s the dime in a dozen ones you find at the supermarket.

Even though I didn’t have the best experience, I would still come back for old time’s sake. I might try some classics next time like chocolate or coffee. Even though the competition has left these guys behind, I’d still show my support for an old Australian icon.

Dairy Bell
Approx $10 AUD per person
Address: 89 Chadstone Road, Malvern East VIC 3145
Phone: +61 3 9530 4369

Dairy Bell Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


We must have Japanese fever here at One Piece Left! Two Japanese restaurant reviews in a row, where the name nearly sounds the same… try and not get the two confused peeps. So on our search for weekday and budget friendly Japanese food, we came across Aoba. This restaurant had unusually high reviews for it’s genre, and we were a little skeptical to say the least. Before I talk about the food, here are some quick observations on Aoba.

1) The place is really small and only has one chef and one waiting staff
2) The restaurant smells like expelled oil, and you will end up smelling like that by the time you walk out
3) There are spelling mistakes everywhere on the menu. Words like ‘dineer’ and ‘dumpring’. I must admit… ‘dumpring’ made me chuckle, I was starting to think they were doing it on purpose!

So let’s talk a bit about the food. I got the Wafu porterhouse steak. The sauce was not overpowering as it allowed the beef to be the star of the show. No instructions were needed as the beef was cooked medium rare, the way a porterhouse should be cooked. The portion size was also really generous and it came with a bowl of rice. At $21 I’m not complaining! You know how hard it is to find a steak for $21 these days? I was very impressed with the quality to price ratio with this steak and Aoba in general.

Helen got the AOBA dinner set which consisted of 2pcs spring rolls, 2pcs pork dumplings, 3pcs agedashi tofu, 6pcs of sashimi, 1 main with miso soup and steamed rice. Not a bad deal indeed for $29! Everything from the starters was cooked fresh and very tasty. The tofu was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The salmon sashimi was a quality cut with plenty of fattiness.

Helen chose the chicken karaage with rice for her main. The batter was flavoured perfectly and the chicken was juicy and succulent. Along with the mayonnaise dipping sauce, it was a real highlight dish!

Some non sweetened Japanese green tea to wash down the oil from the chicken kaarage and we were some happy campers! But there’s always room for dessert, so we shared a green tea ice cream. It had the trademark green tea bitterness and it wasn’t too sweet at all. I’d like to give a quick shout out to the reviewer who said that the ice cream was too icy and hurt their teeth…. absolute CLASSIC! Thanks for making my day!

I think we may have found our perfect weekday Japanese restaurant. Who knows… we may even push the boundaries and come here on weekends too! All the food was what we hoped for and more, well deserving of their high praising reviews. Two thumbs up from us!

Approx $25 AUD per person
Address: 279 Glenferrie Rd, Malvern VIC 3144
Phone: +61 3 9509 3399

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