Thursday, 28 August 2014

Tivoli Road Bakery

Tucked away on a nice road, Tivoli Road in fact, this bakery is a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Chapel and Toorak. They stuff their sandwiches full of gourmet fillings and offer all sorts of tempting pastries. Despite getting rid of their delectable cronuts a while ago, Tivoli Rd still manage to tempt and impress with their regular donuts filled with changing flavours like salted caramel, sticky toffee and crème brûlée.


Today I was lucky enough to grab the choc mint donut ($4.5, and the lemon curd went to That Girl). I have tried their hot cross bun, salted caramel, lemon curd and chocolate fillings and I have to say this choc mint was the best of them all – smooth, not too heavily minted and left me wanting more.

Their caramel banana & coconut muffin ($4.5) was very nice as well, though the desiccated coconut was more evident than the actual muffin and the caramel was quite subtle. Otherwise, the muffin was moist and I enjoyed the banana taste without having to eat chunks of un-mashed banana.


TL;DR Go for the Doughnuts.
Tivoli Road Bakery on Urbanspoon

Monday, 25 August 2014

Adriano Zumbo Pâtissier

When I heard Zumbo was opening a store in Melbourne town I was a keen bean, I would buy all the macarons I thought, I would buy all their cakes, chocolate and ice-cream I thought. It hasn’t really been that way, but that isn’t a reflection on Zumbo – I’m still a fan. I go there when I want to be punched in the face by sweet, or try his crazy-cool macaron flavours like peking duck or the Pie + Sauce (beef pie flavoured filling and zesty tomato sauce gel inside a pastry-like macaron shell. Yeah, that tasted really weirdbad). No-one really does experimental left-of-centre flavours like Zumbo and he will always hold the title of boundary-pusher in my mind.

On this occasion I picked up two cakes:

Pars the Strawberry Gran - Strawberry & white chocolate mousse, frangipane, parsley jelly and granola.

The Par's ($9.0) beautiful light cake base was great accompanied with the strawberry mousse. The parsley gel was definitely made of parsley and had a distinct ‘green’ flavour but together the combination worked. The granola was added for crunch but seemed to have absorbed some of the cake’s moisture and thus was a little chewy.

Aussie Kids - White chocolate cremeaux, flourless chocolate sponge, banana jelly, blackberry marshmallow, brownie, weet-bix crunch & a blackberry sphere.

I didn’t enjoy Aussie Kids ($9.0) as much as the Pars. The flourless chocolate base was quite bitter and not sweet enough, whilst the blackcurrent mousse didn’t lift the cake up as much as I hoped. There was a crunchy weet-bix chocolate texture which worked well, but on the other hand the banana jelly didn’t come through enough. This cake felt like a shambles, but the one redeeming factor was the Blackberry Sphere; IT POPPED JUICE AND THE JELLY SHELL WAS SO NICE. Amazing. See, it’s the little things.


TL;DR Check out Zumbo for the novelty.
Adriano Zumbo Pâtissier on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Nieuw Amsterdam


I excitedly booked this one in due to its instant popularity on the Urbanspoon charts, and by jove it did not disappoint. Another unmarked entrance meant I almost walked past but it turns out Nieuw Amsterdam is in the old Puggs Mahone. 


The décor in the bar below is much the same, moody lighting but a new styled bar with friendly staff, the upstairs is quite modern and refreshing, though sticking with the wooden fittings.



We settled down and I was chuffed to see WAFFLES ON THE MENU! These Chicken Waffles, pate, terrine, crispy chicken skin, orange caramel ($15.0 for three pieces, $4.0 for extra waffle) were incredible. Holy waffles batman! Amazing. The smooth rich pate matched with the more meaty terrine and crispy texture of the skin, with an accent by the orange caramel were divine. The waffle was soft and mostly savoury and with that hit of potent duck pate… I will order these every time I return.


This Mash and gravy ($9.0) was the creamiest thing I have ever put in my mouth /giggity. And so damn tasty, it was more like butter with a bit of mash. The gravy was quite thin, but flavour packed.



To accompany our mains we got Dutch potato fries, sriracha mayo ($9.0) which were roughly cut and chunky, baked not fried but satisfactory. The aioli was pretty epic, salty and way better than tomato sauce with fries.


The BBQ Scallops, mango gazpacho, avocado, chilli ($16.0) were served lightly seared but mostly raw and a tad chewy, with most of the flavour of the sweet scallops being overpowered by the stronger puree and chilli oil that accompanied the dish. Worth a try, but not as good as the waffles.


We ordered the New York Clam Chowder, leeks, bacon, potatoes, clam veloute ($20.0) with glee as I was never really sure what a clam chowder was or should taste like. After trying this one however, I want to make it my staple. One first taste the soup was quite sour, but whilst eating it with the bacon and clams it was so comforting; truly a creamy and warming winter dish. The bread was lovely and fresh and went so well to mop up the chowder, though we did have to ask for more to ensure we left no drop left.


The Southern Style pork belly chops, sauerkraut, apple sauce, crackle ($21.0) were soft and tender, with no skimping on the fat or flavour. The crackling was somewhat pointless as the taste was overpowered by everything else on the dish. The sauerkraut tasted mildly like apple and was only a tad sour, so was actually quite delectable, especially when eaten with the pork.


And desserts were the Berry Split, berry jelly, white chocolate mousse, cream cheese sorbet ($14.0) which was a great little dessert. Fantastic layers of sorbet, mousse which reminded me of panna cotta, and jelly plus berry granita with POPPING CANDY. The biscuit decoration was thin and crispy but didn’t really match the dish.


And then, my mind was blown by the Pumpkin Donuts, Kentucky bourbon cream ($12.0). These donuts had a crumbly outer shell with a super soft moist fluffy core. It was great. I would not have picked up on the pumpkin though; they just tasted like less sweet and dense donut holes. The cream was quite rich but with prominent bourbon notes plus sugar. This quickly became my favourite dessert and you get so many too!


TL;DR Bring whoever you want to impress here, the perfect date night.
Nieuw Amsterdam on Urbanspoon

Monday, 18 August 2014

Bowery to Williamsburg (take 2)

This was a very rushed stop at Bowery and I feel I didn’t get to experience the dishes as thoroughly as I would usually. That being said, I am still happy with the dishes here and would be happy to return.


The Iced Chocolate ($4.5) was pretty terrible, clumpy milk and very little chocolate taste. It was iced due to ice blocks rather than ice-cream, and so was not very enjoyable. I would avoid this until they feature it on the menu, rather than by request.


The special of the day was confit duck stew served with pork belly, chorizo, poached eggs and beans ($14.5); though I didn’t get to finish the whole dish (due to time constraints, in reality there wasn't much to it) I was satisfied. The olive oil flavour was quite prominent but made for a warm hearty winter stew. The duck was tender and tasty and the poached egg broke open to a gooey mess easily.


I managed to try The Reuben, pastrami beef brisket, sauerkraut, Russain dressing, swiss cheese ($12.5) plus a side of pickle, pretzels and mac and cheese. I never thought mac and cheese could ever be amazing, but this was so, so good. Creamy, fatty cheesy goodness, I would repeat this side over and over. The sandwich itself was alright; the pastrami is served warm and matches well with the mustard. I feel if the price went down, the sandwiches would be even more enticing.

TL;DR Good chunky sandwiches, albeit pricy.
Bowery to Williamsburg on Urbanspoon

Monday, 11 August 2014

Little Ramen Bar

Always on the search for a good hearty ramen in Melbourne, I found out about this tiny shop a few years back, but recently revisited it to double check their standard. There is often a queue forming outside the door but they shuffle you through quite quickly. On this occasion we opted for an outside table and were seated much faster.

The menu has a nice range of very traditional starters like housemade gyoza, edamame and miso soup. They also have a wide range of meat and vegetable ramens and additional ramen toppings like extra noodles or Godzilla size for the very hungry.


I opted for the Miso Special Ramen with a combination of white and red Miso, a little chilli and delicious pork soup with three pieces of marinated BBQ pork, corn, butter and a traditional seasoned egg, plus extra roasted seaweed ($12.5 + $1.0) which was a joy to eat. The thick ramen broth really warmed you up with and the ingredients were perfect. It was quite a traditional Ramen in that there was not a lot of meat, but the delicious broth meant that didn’t matter. The corn was surprisingly sweet, not soggy and lacklustre and the gooey egg is a must. When you eventually found the pork in the large bowl it was tender and the right amount of fatty.

TL;DR A nice little Ramen bar which rivals Kokoro Ramen in my opinion.
Little Ramen Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Top Paddock (take 2)

I returned to Top Paddock to gleefully embrace their (my) Ricotta Hotcake with my tastebuds and I must say it didn't disappoint. Despite returning there on a busy Sunday morning, the wait was neither long nor tedious, partly due to the cleverly placed celebratory Easter Egg Hunt on the lawns opposite their beautiful building. Though eggs weren't very difficult to find, it was still a very cute surprise and thoughtful addition on Top Paddock’s part.


Their hot chocolate is delicious! Definitely one of the better hot chocolates out there; and picture perfect! The correct balance between chocolate and milk creaminess.


I had a lot of time deciding what to order on the menu, despite being so keen to return. I always want to eat the sweet dishes like the Oat Porridge with strawberry & rhubarb compote, violet sugar & pistachios ($14.50), or the House made museli with poached fruit & yoghurt ($12) but the inner carnivore always screams to get something heartier. So I settled for the House smoked keiserfleisch & fried egg roll with a pear & apple chutney ($16.5). This was a bit of a mistake. When the dish was presented I remember feeling disappointed at its size, although I did foresee this by its price compared to the other dishes. It just seemed so boring and underwhelming. I knew I should've gone for another option. Sure enough, the keiserfleisch was tasty, but very salty. The roll was nothing spectacular and bordering on tough and the chutney was very sweet. It just was not a very satisfying dish.


Luckily I got to sample some of the Top Paddock: chorizo, pickled onion, peppers, basil, bacon, Adelaide green tomatoes, poached eggs & relish on toast ($22). This matched how it looked – Magnificent! I am very against getting the “Big Breakfast” option at brunch places, because really, how much can you do with a fried tomato, some mushrooms and bacon and eggs ± a sausage or two. But Top Paddock is the exception. The peppers were incredibly tasty and well roasted, the bacon was, well, bacon and the chorizo with onions and relish was so good.


To finish, the Blueberry & Ricotta Hotcake with berries, organic maple, seeds & double cream ($17) was my crowning glory. Perfection in a dish; so soft and moist like a dish-shaped flat cake and the ricotta doesn't really have a strong overpowering taste, making it accessible to all you cheese haters out there. I must say I enjoyed my first time a lot more, but overall this dish will keep me coming... back. again. and. again.

TL;DR Mixed feelings about some dishes here at Top Paddock.
Top Paddock on Urbanspoon

Monday, 4 August 2014

Darac Grill & Bar

A cosy Korean slash Japanese style restaurant with quite an extensive menu, well loved by surrounding uni students and workers alike. We didn’t have to make a booking for a Wednesday night, though the restaurant was quite full when we arrived.



The first dish we tried was the Grilled Sashimi Set 2 (seared fillets of salmon and soured mackerel sashimi prepared on the table $21.0), they put the dish down on the table and lightly seared the pieces with a handheld blowtorch which was pretty awesome. The fish was fresh and the seared sides brought through a more solid flavour. The soured mackerel was surprisingly tasty, I almost preferred it more than the salmon.


Whenever I go to a Korean restaurant, I always try to order a Spicy Soft Tofu Stew (soft tofu stewed with egg and various seafood for two $17.0) or similar, and it rarely disappoints. I love silken tofu and mixed into a spicy broth with seafood, you can’t really go wrong.


Lastly the Takoyaki Salad (octopus balls with soy sauce and mayonnaise $8.0) was nice, the balls were served piping hot, which I think is important with Takoyaki, otherwise it just gets mushy and weird. The salad was unnecessary but fluffed the dish up to a bigger size.

TL;DR Would return for an easy relatively cheap eat.
Darac Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon