Monday, August 15, 2011


It's been two years since I have blogged about Java. In that time I have been in there for a few cups of chai after a movie but that is about it. To be honest it was hard for me to walk in. In fact Java was not my first destination, the new cafe where Funky Monkey was for 2 minutes last year was. Needless to say it was not open and I could not even find it's name. What happened to Funky Monkey??? It was sooooooo hard not to walk into the Corner Shop and just have some lovely baked eggs and a pot of their chai. But in fairness to SKY and the Blog and I thought it was time I gave Java another go.
The menu is the result of being a member of the Red Engine Group. Nothing new, nothing exciting, very similar to the Gravy Train. The Red Engine Group is a company that owns quite a few cafes around SKY and surrounding areas. It creates spaces which are very humdrum in my opinion. Their cafes are money making machines in great locations with buying power which makes them cheaper than other cafes. Although the menu at Java is basic my breakfast was delicious. I ordered the mushrooms, spinach and fetta on sour dough. However the white bread they call sourdough doesn't taste like sour dough to me . Still this is great value at $10 and shows you how effective buying power can be. Serving all the usual suspects Java does not pull any punches with the menu. You can the pancakes, the porridge, Muesli, French Toast and Eggs with all the sides. Still serving tea in the old canteen pots Java's Chai is surprisingly good. Not as good as across the road but better than a lot in SKY. Chai is also great value at $3.50.
If you want to taste real sour dough then hop on down to Victoria St to the SourDough Kitchen. Also read on after review as I have just recently been there(at least once or twice).
Java is not an inviting space. Some love and attention to the interior would really benefit the atmosphere and ambiance. As I sat there on a very cold morning, with the door wide open I could not help but notice the paint peeling off the walls, the floors looking very unswept and a lot of cakes sitting in the deli fridge looking quite tired.
It is a toss up when deciding where to eat breakfast, I guess everyone is looking for something different and it hugely depends on time and money in your pocket. It you are a bit skint Java with fill your belly but probably not your soul.
SourDough Kitchen
172 Victoria St
Breakfast here is a very casual, non egg event. Should I have a chocolate croissant or a plain croissant. I thought this would be the extent of my decision but when the young chap threw a plum jam croissant into the mix, I knew which way I was going. You must go and have a plum jam croissant! Yes YOU must!
The Chai is not bad here served a little bit different from everywhere else but nice and goes with the plum jam croissant..
A little Tibit - There is a new Italian style deli, fruit and veg and butcher going into the old furniture shop in Victoria St. Very Exciting SKY Goss!
123 Howard st
North Melbourne
It is always nice to have a change from SKY and see what else is happening in the surrounding suburbs. North Melbourne is and always has been a leader in the establishment of new cafes.
Ama Lurra is certainly a new approach to cafes, whether you like it or not is again dependant on your own style. A warehouse conversion, with polished floors and steel furniture your first impression may be that it is quite cold and clinical. However I did not feel like that once I was seated on one of the couches with the sun shining in. With mags and newspapers at my disposal I was quite comfy and warm. There is the potential for a lot of customers, however on the day I was visiting it was quite empty and echoey. The menu is quite small but very French and all sounded delightful.. French open sandwiches and Platters of Charcuterie. On display were some macarons but really the display needs to be jazzed up. I had the Croque Maiden Ama Lurra. Really, just an open toasted ham and cheese sandwich with some house made relish. However the ham was off the bone and the cheese was more than tasty. It was a quality toastie served with a lovely light green salad.
Now you know that I am a tea drinker! I have been enjoying chai for some time as I had become tired of drinking English Breakfast out. Well, I have found that the tea at Ama Lurra is certainly one of the best. Imported from France, Mariage Freres, makes a beautiful French Breakfast Tea. In the menu description I was a bit dubious as the tea was described as having hints of chocolate and orange. I asked the waitress and she said you can't actually taste these flavours. It does have a beautiful chocolate and orange aroma . It was a lovely subtle tea to drink with no particular flavour . Don't be alarmed if your tea does not arrive within 5 minutes. Part of the process with these teas is that they are brewed for 9 minutes.
On further research I have found that Mariage Freres is a Tea House in Paris opened since 1974. The teapots are just gorgeous and the best I have experienced in Melbourne. quite exciting really, a little bit of Paris in Melbourne! I look forward to going back to Ama Lurra for more tea and perhaps trying the macarons.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Living and Eating in Gamon Street

Oh my Lord! It's July!
It's been a while since I've Walked Gamon St. There's a new cafe, which I wrote about in May, Cafe Advieh, but mostly we have the established Businesses, such as Gourmet on Gamon, The Gravy Train and Le chien. As Well as the Cafes we have Sedonia, for a spot of jewellery/homewares shopping, we can buy our pets treats at Pets @ Gamon Street and we can beautify our selves at Wax and Relaxed. We can also take our kids to the park at Harris Reserve, we can buy Pizza from Cuoco's or we can hang out at Sabrosso's on a beautiful sunny afternoon on a bean bag with a glass of sparkling. A whole day could be spent walking from one end to the other. First I would start with Breakfast. After visiting each of the cafes offering Breakfast I have decided my preferance, but would that be yours? As alway food is personal and everyone's personal taste is different.
It's about 10 years since breakfast has taken off to the extent of the popularity it has today and in that time Breakfast dishes have evolved. But do you like the original Brekkie? The Eggs, Bacon and sides of mushies, tomatoes and spinach! If you do then my suggestion is Gourmet on Gamon. They do a fantastic traditional breakfast, which is perfectly cooked and presented. They also do a chai latte which at the moment is my choice of hot drink, which is fairly standard as well. From a premix. The day I visited the cafe was fairly busy but the service was very friendly and I didn't wait too long at all!
The latest breakfast Spot is Cafe Advieh. I had lunch here in April and I have to admit I was really looking forward to my first breakfast here. I was not dissapointed! The food here is really delicious. Simple fare with a twist of mediterraen/middle eastern. Yummo! I ordered the Avieh which consisted of 2 fried eggs, grilled haloumi, tomatoes , olives, cucumber and turkish bread. The turkish bread was slightly toasted in olive oil, exactly the way I like it. A fantastic start to the day, a perfectly cooked breakfast. I love that it is almost like a standard breakfast but it's not! My guest ordered the Turkish Omelette, which was thouroughly enjoyed and I was texted 8 hours later saying that she was still enjoying the flavours of breakfast, especially the Turkish sausage. The Lingering taste says it all. My biggest issue was the emptyness of the cafe. It was 9am but it was cold and empty.
Where are you people? It is definetly worth a visit! I finished this breakfast off with a Morroccan Mint Tea which was absolutely refreshing and served in a traditional pot and glass! Loved it!
Over at the Gravy Train on another cold winters day I was looking for something sweeter. I think the Gravy Train has the biggest Breakfast Menu. Big to me can often mean average! It means that the chef has a lot of preparation to do instead of doing just a few things really well. My breakfast was an example of this.
I had the french Baguette, stuffed with banana and topped with marscapone and maple syrup. As you see from the photo you can see that it is huge. I found that off putting to start with and I really wish that cafes/restaurants would halve their serves. All they have to do is reduce their prices by a third and they would make more money and have less wastage. We do not need to eat that much food. But back to their variation on French Toast. The Mascapone(?) was overwhipped and was off putting. It was nice to have some banana but really I did not enjoy this dish at all. I don't think it worked the way it was put together it was just too chunky. The Chai latte was in one of those dreadful canteen pots and a Kraft sachet of honey was on the side as well as hot milk to add. A different way again of serving Chai but not unpleasant.
Last but least is Le Chien and the Promite Special. Where would Seddon be without the P.Special. I have to say that on certain days I wake up craving the P.Special, I just walk myself down there to indulge in the perfectly ripe avocado with perfectly runny poached eggs with the tomato(sometimes a little under ripe)and the parsley, of course on top of the ciabatta toast with butter and promite(the perfect amount spread). And don't forget the squeeze of lemon.
This is a CLASSIC dish and should be considered along side such famous dishes as Eggs Florentine or Eggs Benedict! Because of the obsession I have with this dish, of course I have failed to try other dishes on the menu. I remember once trying something else and wishing the whole time that I was eating the P.Special. Any Suggestions on other dishes that could surpass the P.Special? As I am going throught the Chai Spell I ordered one here with great apprehension as I have had very average chai's here.This day was no exception . Warm milk(not hot, like I like it)with very faint suggestions of cardamon, cloves and cinnamon. MMMmmmm wish it was better. On the positive side I preferred this to the other offerings on Gamon St.
So in which one of these cafes would you have breakfast, in which one does your personality shine and which one is you local?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Month of April

I have to say that after March it has been a very quiet month. However there has been a few exceptional breakfast mornings and an evening of gastronomic highs in a very very cheap Chinese restaurant in the city.

Firstly the local news. New in Sky is Wee Jeanie!

Wee Jeanie - 50 Anderson St Yarraville - 9687 7187

Opened for approximately a month now I was lucky enough to have brekkie there in the first week of opening. Running Completely different to Iain and Claires Cornershop, Wee Jeanie is more a quick stop with a quick coffee and bite to eat, rather than the lets hangout atmosphere of the cornershop.

I had the delicious Welsh Rarebit, which had just the right bite. The breakfast menu is limited with simple and fast options. So tempted was I to sit and try more of the display I had to drag myself away. In the display is a variety of delicious looking quiches, salads, cakes and slices. A great courtyard out the back with a common table looking over the yarraville station provides a different view than the regular in SKY.

I also had breakfast at the cornershop this month and I tried the delicious black rice, rhubarb, strawberry, yoghurt and palm sugar. Served like a breakfast trifle I can only say it was delectable and I think it should be at Wee Jeanie as well.

Lunch today was at the newly opened Cafe Advei(sorry if the spelling is incorrect) in Gamon St. This was only opened two weeks ago and is being run by a Yarraville Family. You may have noticed the blue Mediterranean tiling on the outside, the paper on the windows and the blue doors. I was very excited when the doors were opened and was finally able to sit down and eat there. They do have a breakfast menu, which looks delicious and I will go back to try it, but today was about lunch. As you walk in there is a display counter, with middle eastern looking salads, felafels and other delights. We seated ourselves straight away and were presented with a menu almost immediately. The lunch menu consisted mainly of the displayed items, but also a number a yummy sounding wraps and foccacia's. My guest and I decided to share a felafel plate, which came with 3 felafels with hummus and our choice of 3 salads. We chose the lentil, the silverbeet and couscous and the mediterranean. Everything was so scrumptious. We also shared a zuchhini pancake which was also nice but a little too salty.

The mood of the cafe was one of a new venture. It was obvious that these people were a bit green, but they are on the right path. They need some proper signage on the windows, as it is hard to see the name of the cafe from a distance, they need some heating, cos although today was not very cold, it was cold in there and they need credit card facilities.

I do wish them luck and success. If all the food is as good as what I had today then I think they will make it.

A Seddon Food Crawl.

One friday night went like this!

1. Sabrosso's- French Champagne

2. Seddon wine bar - more French Champagne but this time with the most perfect parmigianno reggiano on one board and a delicious duck liver pate with sour dough from the Sour dough kitchen across the road on another board.

3. Tin Pan Alley - in Victoria St, just down from the Sourdough Kitchen. Pizza and Pinot Noir.Heavenly Pizza's.

4. Sabrosso's - More red wine and Dessert. Dessert was of course, churros with chocolate sauce. There were other dishes on the plate but you will have to forgive me because by that stage at least 5 hours had passed since that first glass of champers, and things were becoming a blur.

Highly recommend this evening out but do warn that the next morning could be fogggy.

Lastly I would like to share my discovery of the Shanghai Noodle house in Tattersals Lane in China Town, Melbourne.

We were trying for Camy Shanghai Dumpling and Noodle House but the line was so long we just walked into the next restaurant that we could see with a free table. Not very often do you walk out feeling you have just won the lotto.

We had so much food, too much, because we didn't realise how big the serves would be. Every dish that we ordered was undeniably superb. Dumplings, not a measly 4 per serve but 12, and so fresh. The noodle soups , the other dishes we ate I don't even know the names of, because really you just point and order and hope for the best.
The English language is not well practiced in this restaurant so don't be surprised if what you thought you ordered hasn't arrived, it probably won't, but whatever does comes I promise you will be delicious. There are a few details to overlook, such as a bit of grubbiness, no selling of alcohol(byo is allowed), and no credit card facilities.

We paid $72 for 4 of us and we could have ordered half. Just Amazing!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Melbourne Food Festival

I get very excited in March when the announcement of the Melbourne food and wine festival is made. I download the program and start planning. I'll do this lunch with this friend and I'll do this lunch with that friend and with the family, we can attend this event. Perhaps with my husband I'll go here and the list goes on. Any excuses to try as many express lunches in 10 days as possible as well attending other events. I've chosen 3 events to discuss that stand out. Libertine 500Victoria st Nth Melbourne 3051 9329 5228 I've heard about Libertine for along time and was very excited that they were included in the express lunch. Express lunches are 2 courses with a glass of wine and a coffee or cup of tea. For this you pay $35. (that's right!). On being seated the lovely waitress(not sure if she was the owner or not(Zoe Ladyman, a local Yaravillian, I hear) did not waist any time in giving us our menus and asking us what wine we would like. She also explained for an extra 10 dollars we could have 3 courses. And of course I straight away went yes that's for me. The Ambience in Libertine, is just lovely. It feels very French and old world. My entree was a cuttlefish salad with turtle beans and mint which was devine. It presented like a freshly bloomed flower and tasted light and sublime. For Mains again I had the fish - John Dory which was probably the best cooked piece of fish that I have ever had. Served on beautiful potato cooked in too much butter. Dessert was a plum and berry struesal served with Pistachio ice-cream. The service was brilliant with the waitress being more attentive to our needs than you would have thought possible. Overall Libertine has left a flavour in my mouth that I long to readdress, soon, please, someone take me there. The Healsville Hotel - The Cider Festival What a great family event! For $20 an adult and $5 a child this is an afternoon that I would encourage all to attend. This event is about cider tasting and although cider is obviously for adults the Healsville hotel made sure that our children were entertained whilst we attended the serious business of tasting. There were four stalls of tasting. I can remember three, Kellybrook, Punt Road and Coldstream Brewery. Now I mainly booked this event because my husband and one of his pals love cider. They also make batches of it now and again which they try to get me to taste. I have to say in the past I have not been too fond of cider. Well this was the turning point. I tried the Apple ciders, I tried the Sparkling Ciders and I tried the Pear Ciders. My fav being Pear. Delicious! For our $20 we got to do the tasting then we got to choose one stubby of cider and we also got a roast pork roll. The roast pork was delicious(from a spit) and I will not complain too much because as you can see for my 20 I'm already getting quite a good deal, but please, a little bit of butter on the roll or some apple sauce or chutney or even some gravy please. I would have paid extra just for that roll to be moist. Whilst eating and drinking cider our children were entertained by a clown and we listened to a lovely jazz band. Overall a brilliant afternoon! Stokehouse Schmoke house! What a disaster! Oh Lordy an example of what not to do during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. For a start the Express Lunch was downstairs, not upstairs where it should have been. Secondly whilst they were offering the Express Lunch they were still trying to do their normal menu in the bistro. We were seated on a shabby chipped table. On seating my male guest asked for a beer. We then waited and waited. In the meantime we were given the menu, which was dissapointing and uninspiring. We ordered our food as well as the wine component from the menu - then the beer came. We waited and waited and waited. We asked the waitress where our wine was and she said that she couldn't find any glasses, they may have run out. Oh! Eventually the head waitress came and bought us our wine and apologised saying that she would give us a second glass of wine free of charge. Eventually the entree's arrived for two of us and the waitress also bought out the main course for our 3rd guest. So Wrong! Do you know that the entree was so unimpressive I can't even remember what it was. We also received our second glass of wine at this point. Whilst we were waiting a waitress was carrying two plates of pizza. She tilted one plate and lost control and some of the pizza brushed on another customers shoulder. She regained control of the plate and turned around and served the pizza to the other table who had been watching. It was hilarious because she should not have served it, it was like a scene out of Faulty Towers. Again we waited and waited and waited. Lordy it's 3.30, our booking was at 1.30, our entree had been served 3/4 of an hour ago, we were starving and by the looks of things we weren't going to get anything else. So we walked! Yes that's right we got up and walked right out without paying without being stopped. That felt so good! I have never experienced such bedlam at such a supposed high profile restaurant. NEWS FLASH!!!!!!!! Just drove past Delizia and it is no longer there. Tin Pan Alley Is?? All that googling reveals is that it may be Italian cuisine with wood fired pizza's. How will Touks feel about the Pizza? Corner shop owners are not far off from opening 2nd cafe in their budding empire.Wee Jeanie's is the name and don't we love it. Very Exciting, can't wait for the opening! FYI How much do you love your cheese? Australia is one of the only countries left leaving a ban on unpasterised cheese or raw milk cheese. This is apparently to protect cheese eaters from harmful pathogens(germs). Raw milk cheese is said to have more flavour and health benefits according to some cheesemakers. Australian cheesemakers would like the ban to be lifted so that they can practice the tradional artisan way of using raw milk for cheese making. The variety of cheeses that benefit from this practice range from soft brie's and camembert's to firmer cheeses such as manchego and gruyere. Let's rally behind our local cheesemakers and support this ancient and natural process.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


The Next Craze - Bugs!

Yes! Apparently bugs are extremely good for you and they are going to be promoted as the next best thing. It's not that much of a jump really if you think of Moreton Bay Bugs or Balmain Bugs. These Bugs, the giant water bug, crickets or your average grasshopper apparently are full of protein, nearly the same as ground beef. They are environmentally friendly,they can be farmed more cheaply and on less land. They are already a part of a diet for amongst others Bear Grilles and our own aborigines.
Would you eat Insects as an appetiser? MMM!

auction rooms

Auction Rooms
103-107 Errol Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051
(03) 9326 7749

On my second visit to the Auction Rooms I was very excited. First time round I had the baked eggs, and they were delicious. So in the car trip over I was having a difficult time wondering whether I should have those eggs again or whether I should have the pork Knuckle sandwich(This breakfast was about lunch time) or should I have muesli and then a sweet treat. Ah decisions, decisions decisions. In the end The baked eggs were no longer on the menu and because I wanted to review I decided to stick with the breakfast menu. The breakfast menu is not for your average bacon and eggs Jo, it is quite sophisticated with many ingredients in one dish. I like that if it works.
I decided on Coriander felafel and poached eggs on grilled flat bread with a cumin and mint yoghurt, tabouli, dukkah and a tahinin dressing.(See what I mean). Unfortunately this did not work for me. Why, because this was not cooked with sophistication. So disappointingly the eggs were hard, this dish was really in need of runny eggs due to the tabouli being really dry . Couldn't taste the tahini dressing. The dish had quite a nice nutty flavour but could have had twice as much cumin and mint dressing. It had potential but didn't come close to realising it.
I get very upset when I find it difficult to choose off a great menu and then end up with that.

I like the atmosphere here! It is a beautiful brick building with exposed wood, lights made from construction piping, great music and of course the smell of freshly roasted coffee. It's also very busy which creates that buzz that one likes to feel in groovy cafes.
They Roast their own under the name Small Batch and even I Might be tempted to try a coffee here one day. Not really, I love my tea. Talking of which although I loved the way they served the Chai, it was undrinkable. So strong and luke warm. YUK!

The service was poor at our table, the girl who served us seemed to be in La La land. I never received the rhubarb crumble tart I ordered, could not be bothered chasing it up cos I felt the whole experience was a bit laxidaisical.

Not worth leaving SKY for!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reviewing reviews

How good is a review? How long after it is written is a review relevant? Each time I review or blog about a cafe/restaurant, what does it mean to you when your palate is completely different to mine. Or We could share very similiar tastes in food and you follow my blog and agree with what I have written, but what if the night you go into a cafe I have blogged about and unbeknowst to you it is the Chef's day off and you have a temp cooking for you. I have decided that I will test this theory this year and do some follow-up reviewing.

I will start with a Vietamese restaurant that was given a few lines in the Age last year. It wasn't a rating review but because it was in Footscray and close to me I thought I would like to try it. My favorite in Footscray is Huy Huy and I do feel guilty when I eat anywhere else. Trying other restaurants also makes me realise how consistently good Huy Huy is.

Star Restaurant
149 Nicolson St Footscray - 9687 3555

The restaurant is in the Footscray Mall, not what you would call the most inviting place. The mall has a reputation and I find it hard to see it improving in the near future. There's no doubt it has potential but so far no one in the council or in the traders association has been able to reach it.
When I walked into the Star Restaurant it was empty. It is a very old building and actually a great space for a restaurant. There was a table of Vietnamese people, they were not customers they were just hanging out there. There are booths which I quite like and myself and guests sat down. It took a while for the waitress to move from her buddies and serve us. There was a man behind the bar who did not register that we were in the restaurant. The waitress spoke very little English. It was very difficult to order.

There is a very big menu and not cheap! We ordered the Vietamese Chicken salad, salt and pepper calamari, beef and vegetables. We asked for fried rice and the waitress said they didn't do fried rice, it was not on the menu as a separate dish. Whether there were language problems, I'm not sure but I did think that fried rice was universal language. The same with wonton soup. Okay! MMMMMmmmm I started to worry. Was this restaurant just trying to be a bit different and a notch above the rest by not having common vietnamese menu items or did they just not want to do them for us. It was quite weird, oh they did do steamed rice!
The chicken salad was dreadful! It should have been listed as chiken skin salad, not of the yummy crispy variety, but of the boiled chicken skin variety. It is making my skin crawl as I write about it. Very little chicken, some carrot and coriander and a nice dressing. All for $16.00! Did I feel ripped off, cannot tell you how much! This scarred the rest of the meal for me. The other two dishes were fine. The whole cost of the meal with a couple of soft drinks was $65.
They didn't take credit card so we pooled all our cash and we were out of there as quick as possible. My overall feeling is that they didn't really want us as customers and did absolutely nothing to make us want to come back.

To be fair to the original reviewer, we did not eat what they ate, however even if all the food had been fine the atmosphere was dead and the quality was no way near that of Huy Huy!

The Gold Leaf
Level 1, 10-11 Star Circus
Waterfront City Shopping Centre
Harbour Town, Docklands - 9670- 1128

Now to a much more positive experience. Again I read about this in the Age and again this was not rated but just listed as a great place for Yum Cha!
Great is not the right word, Sensational would describe this experience for a lazy sunday afternoon. It did not start off well, we had a booking for 1.30 and it was very difficult to get seated. It is a huge restaurant and it was full and people were spilling out the front door and lining up. They have 2 sittings and this was the second one and obviously it was difficult as people weren't finishing as they should at the end of their sitting. The other difficulty was the maitre d had no logical system to seat people. We watched and learnt as people pushed their way to the front, pointed at their name in the reservation book and then were seated. It took us 15 minutes to learn that this was how you got seated.
Once we were seated(in very low but extremely comfortable chairs)it began. The service was excellent. Drinks were ordered and came straight away. An extremely well priced wine list was very satisfying to read.

And then came the food! Yum Cha is a tradition of drinking Chinese Tea and eating small portions of food. The small portions of food come around on trolleys in bamboo steam baskets. It was great fun looking and working out what was what(limited English for the waiting staff was a common problem) and then trying your choice. Yum Cha is mostly Dim Sum(it literally means a 'bit of Heart' but is actually lots of steamed or fried dumplings) but there are other choices, such as pork belly, which was so sublimely cooked, pickled fish and chicken feet(confession, I am a wuss and had no desire to try the chicken feet). There is lots and lots of different kinds of pork and prawn dumplings and they are all delicious. The springrolls were extroadinary, the best I have ever had! Once you have had enough savoury there is also sweet yum cha, which looks so bright and colourful, this is also a must. I have to admit , I ate and ate and ate until the custard filled doughtnuts(which I highly recommend) said to me how will you fit us in!
When we asked for the bill we were all a bit concerned because we had no idea how much this was going to cost. The way they charge for each dish is with a cross in a box on an ongoing order sheet left at your table. There were about three different sections obviously falling into cost categories. So imagine our surprise when the bill came back at $40 a head. That included one bottle of wine and soft drinks. Amazing, considering I was so full I didn't need to eat for days after! If you are looking for a nice way to spend a sunday afternoon I couldn't recommend anything better.