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
Website: lordcardigan.com.au

Lord Cardigan 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
Website: atlasdining.com.au

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

Pelikan Société

Pelikan Société is an awesome cafe located at Hastings, Mornington Peninsula. We initially set out to visit a winery in the Mornington Peninsula, but a quick Google search and we were drawn to Pelikan Société instead. I initially had two concerns about this place, the spelling of the name and the fact I had no idea where Hastings was! After visiting twice, I still can’t figure out these two things. We were drawn to the menu, and the pictures of this cafe looked great online. We punched the address into Google maps and off we went.

We parked in the car park and the scenery was pretty amazing. Clear blue water with small boats parked along the pier. There were people fishing along on the bridge also, with decent success. I don’t consider myself an outdoorsy person, but there was something very calming about this place.


Pelikan Société had massive windows from top to bottom which allowed us to enjoy this view whilst inside. The cafe was filled with natural light and as a result, the wooden furniture was glowing! It had a really comfortable and relaxing colour theme inside, I particularly liked the contrast with the different coloured chairs. The acoustic panels which they have installed on their ceiling, helped immensely with preventing echoing. We’ve been to a lot of places without the acoustic panels, and it can be really hard to talk without having to yell over one another.


I’ve always had a keen interest with the specials menu of any eatery. The specials allow the chefs to experiment with new dishes and to use great seasonal produce, which I wholeheartedly support. We were rewarded with an exceptional mussels dish from Pelikan Société! A true highlight for any seafood lover, and one of the best I’ve had. The use of royal gala apples with a cider reduction accentuated the natural sweetness of the mussels. The fresh herbs also balanced out the creaminess of the sauce. This sauce would go well with any seafood dish. The mussels itself were not only fresh, but was also cooked perfectly, still plump and juicy. It’s a shame that we won’t get to eat this dish next time.


“The Cuban” sandwich came out in a Cuban cigar box, very shnazzy! Certainly gets everyone looking and excited as it’s coming out – mobile marketing. Tastes as good as it looks, the pork belly melts in the mouth, with the dijon sauce and sweet pickles making it a very appetising sandwich indeed! Really can’t fault any of the food here, they’ve got the flavours down pat, and they should be very proud of themselves.


I highly recommend Pelikan Société for any food lover who enjoys a little day trip. You can also visit some nice wineries in the Mornington Peninsula afterwards as they are not too far away from the cafe. Water views plus vineyards all in one day? Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me!


Pelikan Société
Approx $35 AUD per person
Website: pelikansociete.com.au
Address: 2 Marine Parade, Hastings, VIC 3915
Phone: +61 3 5909 8132

Pelikan Societe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rockpool Bar and Grill


A lot of the restaurants at Crown come with a lot of hype but not much substance. I’ve been stung many times before with various restaurants in the complex, so I actually avoided Rockpool Bar & Grill for a long time, thinking that they’d just be overpriced and underwhelming. I would never have thought that they would be one of my favourite and ‘go to’ restaurants!

Even though I have been here on numerous occasions, I have never ventured into the main dining room. The reason for this is because the ‘bar menu’ is just such good value, and you get full access to the proper menu also. So the rules are simple, you come and ask to sit in the bar area, the area is strictly for walk ins only and they don’t allow for booking. They will either ask if you want to sit at the bar for a drink or you can go and wait at Spice Temple. Spice Temple are owned by the Rockpool Group so either way they’re going to make some money off you. If you do choose this option, they will make a phone call to Spice Temple to grab you when a bar table is ready.

With the bar area you’re not actually sitting at the bar, but there’s another section with a little partition to seperate from the main dining room. You still get to sit on at a table with some comfy chairs, so you don’t need to stress that you’ll be sitting on bar stools! When it gets busy, you do have to wait a while… my longest wait was nearly an hour. However generally 15 to 30 mins, a table will be ready.


There’s an adequate amount of options on the bar menu. What’s my pick of the lot? The Mishima burger of course! Mishima is a special type of Japanese cattle which David Blackmore breeds. This burger is not available all the time, so it can be a bit of a gamble whether it’s available or not. Sometimes when I’m really craving for it, I would call them up first to ask if the Mishima burger is on the bar menu. Otherwise I just wing it and hope for the best! This is my favourite gourmet burger in Australia and it’s truly amazing. The meat patty is cooked medium rare – when the meat is freshly minced, you can have a medium rare patty no problems. The meat is not only juicy and succulent but also has that strong beef flavour. The pickled zucchini and onions just top it off as it adds some acidity to the taste. They even seperate the tomato and cos lettuce so you’re burger doesn’t get soggy, how’s that for consideration!


I’ve also had other dishes such as the Minute steak, fish stew, cured ocean trout on brioche and the steak tartare. Speaking of the steak tartare, this is another stand out dish which you must get! It’s served with fat cut chips which surprisingly goes really well with the tartare. These two dishes are my favourite but I cannot fault any of the other dishes here. They all taste great and you won’t be disappointed. I used to also get a quail entree but they’ve since taken that off the menu. I’m quite upset the quail is gone… Rockpool if you’re reading this, please bring the quail back!


Service here is proper and professional. They don’t seem to smile much and they do take their jobs very seriously. They don’t really get anything wrong and I find them to be on the ball at all times. I did get a warm and bubbly waitress last time I was there which was a nice surprise, but generally the service is not like that. Depends what you prefer really, I’m someone who likes to have a chat and have a joke around with the waiting staff. There’s no right or wrong I guess. If you’re someone who loves proper and professional service, then you’d like the way they go about their business at Rockpool Bar & Grill.


Rockpool Bar and Grill
Approx $50 AUD per person (bar menu)
Approx $100 AUD per person (full menu)
Website: www.rockpool.com/rockpoolbarandgrillmelbourne
Address: Crown Casino, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC 3006
Phone: +61 3 8648 1900

Rockpool Bar and Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tommy Ruff Fish Bar


Finding a good fish and chips joint can be hard especially if you’re looking for something different and not the usual deep fried stuff that most offer. However we were recently pleasantly surprised when we came across a place that not only avoided frying all their produce, but cooked and presented it more naturally with almost a certain respect.

Tommy Ruff, located in Elsternwick (there is also one in Mordialloc) is owned by John Stamoulis and Helen Stamoulis who has been specialising in gourmet fish and chips for quite a while. Just to give you a bit of background, John’s father, Ipocrates Stamoulis was born on the island of Samos, in the Aegean sea and after migrating to Australia in the 1950s he worked in the seafood industry and then took ownership of his first fish and chips shop in 1969. Inspired by his father, John decided to enter the fish and chips business himself but with a gourmet twist and emphasis on displaying the beautiful produce he has to offer. He has since changed the traditional fish and chips view to a focus on flavour, health and quality produce.


The restaurant itself has a modern, casual and bright beach, fun feel to it with sea decorations wherever possible from fishing nets and fishing rods scattered along the walls, to newspaper clippings made into wallpaper – even the water jug was a large ceramic fish with its mouth as the opening for water!

Continuing with the nautical theme, the menus are available on the table and are blue themed, offering quite a variety of different seafood dishes to choose from. Having been a few times now we have tried a number of dishes so lets talk about them!


We have had the seafood chowder a couple of times now as a starter which consists of fish, prawns and mussels with warmly toasted bread for dipping. It also has a potato like consistency offering it a bit of thickness expected in a chowder. It is quite a large serving but quite hearty and tasty so you’ll easily gobble it all up!

Tommy’s tacos (fish or prawns), which come with Mexican salsa and slaw is also very nice with fresh tasting ingredients and also good for a starter. We have also ordered the vinaigrette oysters which I thoroughly enjoyed – their special vinaigrette sauce has the perfect tang and gets you ready for the mains!


I highly recommend the Chef’s seafood platter if you’re not sure what to order because the huge platter offers a bit of everything for a first timer. It includes the Tommy’s tacos, oysters, about 3 different grilled fishes, prawns, scallops, calamari and chips. The seafood is mostly grilled and not fried which is what we love about it and the produce is fresh! It is also not over flavoured with too much seasoning or sauces, allowing you to really taste the natural freshness of the seafood. However it is definitely not plain tasting either so I think the flavours have been balanced well.


I was also a big fan of the salmon burger which consisted of a lovely grilled salmon fillet with salad, lemon and dill sauce. With such simple, fresh ingredients, allowing the combination of natural flavours, it was a really enjoyable burger! I can’t also forget to mention the chips as they were of real high quality, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.


If you’re not too hungry for the seafood platter, you can also order one of their many grilled fish combos with chips and salad or rice and salad.

Overall, if you’re looking for something different from the usual fish and chips you are used to, do check out Tommy Ruff as they offer high quality seafood, presented very nicely. For the top quality produce and presentation, the prices are also very reasonable!


Tommy Ruff Fish Bar
Approx $30 AUD per person
(does not include the Chef’s seafood platter for 2 which is $72)
Website: http://www.tommyruff.com.au/
Address: 1/3 Carre St, Elsternwick VIC 3185
Phone:+61 3 9077 8815

Tommy Ruff Fish Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Delicious Afghan Feast


We discovered how scrumptious and delicious Afghan food was a few years ago when we decided to visit the Afghan town of Dandenong, where there are an abundance of Afghan restaurants to choose from. Ever since we had our first taste, we’ve never looked back!  So I wanted to share one of my recommended restaurants to go to if you are ever in town or wish to try out the cuisine.

Pamir Restaurant, which is located in the heart of Dandenong on Lonsdale Street serves up authentic and hearty dishes of Afghan food. On arrival, the entrance is narrow and leads you upstairs to their open and spacious restaurant. Once you enter you’ll notice the beautiful and extravagant decor and surroundings. The furniture is handcrafted with solid wood and complimented with Afghan artwork and decorations throughout. Staff are very welcoming and friendly and like to check in and make sure you are happy with everything.


On this occasion we ordered one of their banquet specials which was $35 AU per head and included a bit of everything. It  came with steam cooked mantu, Afghani traditional rice, chicken and lamb kebab skewers, meatball Kofta, salad, dips and bread. All the dishes were amazing but the chicken kebab skewers in particular were to die for – the chicken itself was so super soft and tender. I also really enjoyed the Afghani rice here, the sweetness of the cranberries made it really appetizing.

The steamed mantu which are like Afghan dumplings with minced meat are also always a hit. Served with yoghurt, they tasted like soft, fluffy pillows, bursting with flavour. And of course I loved snacking away on the dips and warm bread which was probably why I felt so stuffed in the end but I couldn’t stop!

Overall, all the dishes were exceptional and we are always so full after an Afghan meal because they are ever so generous with their servings. As previously mentioned, the staff are all so friendly too which makes the whole experience worthwhile. I highly recommend checking it out as they never seem to disappoint us!


Pamir Restaurant
Approx $40 AUD per person
Website: www.pamirrestaurant.com.au
195 Lonsdale Street, Dandenong VIC 3175
Phone:+61 3 9792 0197

Pamir Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Yum Cha at Tao Tao House

Since it’s Sunday today, I thought it was only fitting that I post a yum cha review! Last weekend, Helen and I were really craving for some yum cha when we woke up. I was kind of sick of the bad quality yum cha we’ve been getting around our area, so I quickly jumped online to see if there were any other alternatives. I came across Tao Tao House through my research and quickly learned that the chef had worked at Flower Drum for nearly 20 years. He also worked at Golden Dragon Palace afterwards, another very reputable yum cha place. Quite an impressive resume there, I quickly called up Tao Tao House to make a booking.

Tao Tao House - Inside

When we arrived I noticed that Tao Tao House was a lot smaller than other yum cha places we go to. Normally yum cha establishments are huge with a sea of people, but this had a more smaller and intimate feel. The interior had a bit of a purple colour scheme happening with purple chairs and purple table clothes. A little different from other yum cha places, but it was quite nice and I quickly got used to it. The waiter seated us down straight away with some jasmine tea. One thing I hate about a lot of other yum cha places was the wait to get the first dishes on the table. No such problem here, a lady walked by with a tray of food and we were well on our way!

Tao Tao House - Yum Cha

Tao Tao House -

We quickly filled our table with food. The dishes we ordered were Har Gau (prawn dumping), scallop siu mai, chive prawn dumpling, Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, chicken feet in black bean sauce, BBQ pork puffs, Xiao Long Bao (pork soup dumplings), prawn rice noodle roll and Chinese egg tarts. All the dishes were extremely high quality, and I was very impressed with both the taste and texture of each dish. Some of my highlights include the Har Gau, the prawns were very fresh inside and you could taste the prawn pieces in the dumpling. At some of the other yum cha places, the prawn in the dumpling can taste mushy. The Chinese broccoli was really crunchy and blanched perfectly. The oyster sauce was light, and flavoured the broccoli nicely without being salty. The chicken feet was so good! As soon as I tried one, there was a burst of flavour in my mouth. The prawn rice noodle roll had a very thin outing which just dropped over my chopstick when I picked it up. A lot of places make the rice noodle roll way too thick, which can taste very doughy and non appetizing. The prawns inside were once again very fresh. As much as we wanted to finish with a mango pudding, we were just too full. We enjoyed some fresh Chinese egg tarts for dessert. The pastry was very light and flaky. The egg filling inside was silky smooth and actually tasted like egg, and not just a sweet filling. Simply delicious…

Tao Tao House - Egg Tarts

It felt like there were a lot of staff there for a smallish place. We never had any trouble getting anyone’s attention, which can sometimes be a problem at really busy yum cha places. The customer service here was actually really good. They were not only switched on and very efficient, but also spoke nicely and were very friendly. A very pleasant surprise in the yum cha scene. The food kept coming out with next to no waiting time, and we got full pretty quickly. The price at Tao Tao House is a little more expensive, we found ourselves paying about $20 more between the two of us compared to other places. No complaints though, as the quality of the food justifies the price. This is the best yum cha I’ve had outside of Hong Kong. The search for great yum cha certainly doesn’t end here, I will continue to try other yum cha places in Melbourne and will definitely keep you guys up to date. I highly recommend Tao Tao House and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too!

Tao Tao House
Approx $50 AUD per person
815 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn VIC 3122
Phone: +61 3 9818 0968
Website: www.taotaohouse.com.au

Tao Tao House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mrs Kim’s Grill

Last weekend we were hungry but we were feeling too lazy to travel far for a good feed. So while we were driving aimlessly and naturally heading towards the city, we suddenly thought of the travel cooking show we watched earlier on South Korea and had a sudden urge for Korean food. So we turned off into Carnegie knowing there would be a few options there. Mrs Kim’s Grill stood out as a bright modern place amongst the other restaurants so we were naturally drawn to it. I discovered that it had only opened in 2013 by a Korean migrant who has been using traditional methods of marinating meat and who has been wanting to share her traditional food with everyone. She started off marinating meats for events and BBQs and when she gained a loyal, regular stream of customers, decided to open her own restaurant.

The interior was also furnished with modern decor and it looked really clean and spacious inside. We were seated upstairs and handed nice modern looking menus to peruse. The first thought that popped to mind was that prices were quite reasonable for Korean BBQ compared to others we’ve been to, particularly in the CBD. They have the a la carte menu where you can pick from a range of Mrs Kim’s marinated meats, or you can also choose from their set menu options where you pick the meat of your liking and it is served with a salad, soup of the day, butter vegie parcel and rice. Each set menu is $39 and is for 2 people. We settled on the Moo set which consisted of the marinated Gaibi beef ribs (350g) and skirt steak (250g). We also ordered an extra serving of the chilli marinated chicken (200g). Of course we can’t forget the unlimited complimentary side dishes that always comes with Korean food.

The staff were very efficient, fast and friendly. They brought out the BBQ equipment and cuts of meat pretty fast and started cooking and cutting the meats for us. The side dishes particularly the kim chi was quite good and the rice was super moist. But the highlight was of course the meats. The meats were so nicely flavoured and SOFT! They practically melted in my mouth. I was quite impressed with the quality of the food and overall service. Not to mention the reasonable price for the quality that was served. I also like the story behind the opening of this restaurant so we’ll definitely be back when we have another craving for Korean!


Mrs Kim’s Grill
Approx $30 AUD per person
136 Koornang Rd, Carnegie VIC 3163
Phone: +61 3 9563 4424
Website: www.mrskimsgrill.com

Mrs Kim's Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Crabapple Kitchen


Crabapple Kitchen has been one of those places where we’ve walked or driven past numerous times while we were heading somewhere else but we’ve never actually thought to stop by and try out.  Well today was finally one of those days!  Upon arrival we already noticed that it was very busy however the waitress offered us seats at the bar which we were perfectly fine with it. Not very long after though a table opened up so we were able to move to it which probably worked out better in the end due to the amount of food we ordered!  My first impression of the surroundings was that it was a very cute cafe. The decor was lovely with the brick walls, pictures of cows and chalk boards. I was also surprised at how deep the restaurant was when we moved to a table.


Breakfast is served all day and they also offer a lunch menu. I started off with my regular latte but also ordered their citrus sunrise juice which had ruby grapefruit, watermelon and orange. The coffee was okay, it could have been a little stronger but the juice was delish!  For starters we ordered the crabapple sliders for two which had spanner crab, granny smith apples, radish, mustard cress and Kewpie mayonaise in a brioche bun – it was very nice and refreshing and the brioche bun was toasted warm and crispy.  We also ordered the spanner cerviche which was accompanied with salted cucumber, sheep’s milk yoghurt, seaweed caviar, fried shallots and kale salsa verde. The presentation of this dish was exceptional and all the ingredients combined together quite nicely making it a very lovely dish.

For mains we ordered the Istanbul Turkey breakfast experience which consisted of a large chargrilled flatbread, spiced ground lamb, dukkah poached egg, garlic yoghurt, salad of freekah, red onion, tomato and harissa – each bite I took was a burst of flavours. We also ordered from the lunch menu the Ripal’s roasted pork neck stuffed with pine nuts, raisins and sage, sweet corn puree, braised winter greens and chorizo crumbs.  The pork neck was reasonably soft and the sweet corn puree was very tasty and went well with the dish.

Crabapple sliders for two – spanner crab, granny smith apples, radish, mustard cress and Kewpie mayonaise in a brioche bun & Spanner cerviche with salted cucumber, sheep’s milk yoghurt, seaweed caviar, fried shallots and kale salsa verde
Ripal’s roasted pork neck stuffed with pine nuts, raisins and sage, sweet corn puree, braised winter greens and chorizo crumbs

Service overall was quite good, the staff were attentive, friendly and switched on. One thing I do regret is not trying out their wines as they won the award for 2015 Australia’s Wine List of the Year and it felt like everyone around me was drinking wine. However what a great excuse to come back to not only try out their wines but perhaps check out their Friday Night Flights. They apparently offer a five course dinner for AU $45 a person so if we do try it I’ll definitely let you know!

Crabapple Kitchen
Approx $45 AUD per person
659 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3122
Phone: +61 3 9078 5492
Website: www.crabapplekitchen.com.au

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Milk the Cow

Creme de la crop cheeseboard
Creme de la crop cheeseboard

If you are a lover of wine and cheese then you must drop by Milk the Cow and check it out. How can anyone resist such a  catchy name? It proudly states that it’s the first late night cheese shop and stays open as late as 1am on Friday, and Saturday and late most other days. They stock over 150 cheeses from around the world and have an ever changing selection. You can order cheese takeaway or sit and pick from the many cheeseboard combinations they offer, you can also pair it with a boutique wine from their wide selection. If you’re feeling overwhelmed they offer cheese and booze flights where they have already carefully chosen a set of cheeses and drinks to match. Don’t like wine? They have cheese flights for beer, cider, whisky and even sake! The cheese flights and cheesemonger boards change every Tuesday so if you’re a cheese lover like myself you know you’ll be experiencing something different each time you visit.

Baked Camembert and Mac’n’cheese

However not only do they offer a great selection of cheeses, if you’re feeling a little hungry you can also order the cheese fondue, baked Camembert or Mac’n’cheese with a twist. By now you’ll notice that the theme is cheese!  There are two locations, we went to the one located in St Kilda but there is also one located in Carlton.

When we arrived recently on a cold Friday night it was buzzing inside so we set ourselves up outside which was fine as they had heaters to keep us warm. Once we were seated, we were served complimentary glasses of mulled wine which I thought was a nice touch. Since I’m a die-hard cheese lover, I was so excited and overwhelmed when the menu was placed in front of me. I just wanted to order everything! Common sense took over so our party of 5 decided to settle on the Creme de la crop cheeseboard which consisted of their very best and rarest cheeses with Spanish quince paste, muscatel clusters, freshly baked bread and housemade lavosh. We also ordered the baked Camembert and Mac’n’cheese with Perigold truffle oil and Courvoisier VS cognac. Oh, and of course we got a couple of bottles of red. The cheeses from the Creme de la crop cheeseboard were exceptional and the hot dishes hit the spot for the cold day. Overall a great experience and will definitely revisit when I’m craving some good cheese with a glass of wine, or two!

Milk the Cow
Approx $ 45 AUD per person
157 Fitzroy St
St Kilda VIC 3182
Phone: +61 3 9537 2225
Website: www.milkthecow.com.au

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Brunch at The Parlor

Ahoy there – poached eggs, house cured salmon topped with hollandaise served on a potato roesti

If you live around the South East Bayside area and you’re looking for a good brunch place without having to travel into the city, The Parlor Milkbar & Kitchen is worth the visit. I often sleep in pretty late on the weekends which normally means I wake up with my tummy growling and begging for food straight away. The Parlor is a short drive for us which means a faster satisfied belly! It is open for breakfast and lunch daily and for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. Staff are super friendly and very welcoming. On our most recent visit there were no more seats inside however staff were more than happy to turn on the gas heaters outside and give us a couple of blankets if we were happy to sit out on the outside deck. With the heater and blankets we were pretty toasty warm. I usually order the Ahoy there which has poached eggs, house cured salmon topped with hollandaise served on a potato roesti. The house cured salmon is super fresh and the potato roesti had the perfect crispiness to it.  The servings are also quite generous.

My husband ordered the baked eggs with house baked beans, chorizo, fetta and sourdough which is always a favourite. Order it if you are exceptionally hungry as it is very filling! The coffee is great too and there are a selection of cakes available inside which you can peruse at your pleasure if you’re after something sweet. We have also tried items from the lunch and dinner menu and they are also exceptional. The roast chicken, quinoa, broccoli, grapes, mixed leaf, goat’s cheese and almond salad is a favourite of mine. The combination of ingredients makes it a high quality, tasty dish.

So if you live in the area or do happen to be around, do drop by!

Baked eggs, house baked beans, chorizo, fetta and sourdough
The decor is clean and modern and includes a fireplace inside to provide that touch of cosiness.

The Parlor Milkbar and Kitchen
Approx $25 AUD per person
Address: 40 Weatherall Road, Beaumaris Victoria 3193
Phone: +61 9515 4514
Website: www.theparlorkitchen.com

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Saint Crispin

For the last year or so when people approach me asking for a restaurant recommendation where they can experience a touch of fine dining without having to pay an arm and a leg for it, I have said to them hands down Saint Crispin is the place to try.  Although this Modern Australian restaurant only opened in 2013, it quickly gained a chef hat. I remember after dining there raving (and probably rambling) to my husband about how amazing the food was and that they were definitely on their way to two hats. Fast track a year and lo and behold Saint Crispin was awarded two hats 2014! Located in Collingwood, the restaurant is beautifully furnished with an open kitchen, marble bar and an exposed brick wall giving the interior a rustic feel when you walk in. The cleverly thought out contemporary menu changes regularly based on seasonal produce and presentation of each dish is impeccable with perfect combinations of ingredients.   You are given the option to choose either two courses for $50 AUD, three for $65 AUD, or try the chef’s tasting menu of five courses for $100 AUD. If you’re feeling really hungry, there is also the option of seven courses for $130 AUD.  I generally find the three course for $65 AUD perfect for me. Once you are finished with dinner, I recommend you head up the narrow staircase above Saint Crispin and down the slim corridor to the hidden gem of a bar Thomas Olive for a drink. You can ask one of the friendly waiters in the restaurant who can escort you up.  The little cosy bar is French influenced and has a good range of cocktails to choose from.  And hey, if you’re still feeling peckish you can order some snacks or dessert straight from the Saint Crispin kitchen! 

Saint Crispin
Approx $65 – $130 AUD per person
Address: 300 Smith St, Collingwood VIC 3066
Phone: +61 9419 2202
Website: www.saintcrispin.com.au

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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
Website: www.simplyspanish.com.au

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