Urban Garden Café
Basement 488 Swanston Street
+61 3 9225 9009
Social media is a great way of getting news of food. I’ve been stalking Winston on Instagram and when he uploaded pictures of Char Kuay Teow and Durian Brulee, tweeting that he had visited Urban Garden Café three times in one week, I knew I had to go soon. A dinner date was quickly arranged with Fakebooo, Wince and Leaf.
Urban Garden resides in the basement of Arrow on Swanston, a serviced apartment complex tailored for students and tourists. It brought back heaps of memories as I spent my first year in Melbourne as a resident in the very same building. The café is a great support to the international students on Arrow, providing a source of income, a social network, food that speaks of home and a hangout/study lounge.
We ordered a whole heap to share, allowing everyone to get a taste of each dish. While all the dishes were executed well, some of them stood out especially:
- Char Kuay Teow: had good “wok hei”, meaning that the noodles were fried in a well-seasoned wok at a high-enough temperature to produce a charcoaly, smoky flavour.
- Penang Laksa: had the correct noodles (thick rice vermicelli) and the soup was full of fish and pineapple. I personally prefer more chilli and sourness to the soup.
- The pandan panacotta: was smooth and wobbly. It sat on a palm sugar syrup that was rich and sweet.
- Durian brulee: was amazing. The rich custard had visible durian strands without the taste of the fruit becoming overwhelmingly chemical.
(Left) Panda Ninja – Real pandan panna cotta with glossy gula Melaka and fresh fruits $6.90
(Right) Assam Laksa – Peranakan specialty of fat rice noodles in a thick aromatic hot and sour fish broth $8.50
I reminisce about hawker food from back home, and while most Malaysian eateries in Melbourne offers that food, it never tastes the same. Urban Garden didn’t evoke childhood memories but it does fulfill the craving.
162 Commercial Road
+61 3 9098 1155
I was offered to dine, courtesy of Gramercy Bistro on their opening “Burger Night”. They had tweeted the launch of their burger menu and offered a free burger for the first 20 to reply. I swooped in eagerly, fingers swiftly tapping out “Hell yeah!” and moments later, was cordially invited to attend and bring along a friend.
The deal is simple; $20 gets you a burger, hand-cut chips and a drink. The choices of burger range from the usual fillings of beef patty, fried chicken and pulled pork to the interesting choices of beef brisket and Thai fish cake. The Angmoh and I decided to go simple and both get a beef burger; mine being the Downtown, and his, a Manhattan.
We also ordered a starter of Southern fried chicken as The Angmoh was starving after a long hard day at work. The ribs were hot, juicy and crisp, and what I like to term ‘bloke food’. Bloke food basically is finger food, best served with footy + beer.
The burgers came not too long after. The Manhattan an impressive towering stack of bun, patty, onion rings, tomato and bacon. My Downtown was not too shabby; the combination of pickles, relish and mustard always works for me. We both agreed that the bun was really good and I especially liked how it came studded with seeds and grain. We did provide some feedback to the manager that the burgers could use a little more sauce.
Thursday nights are now good for 3 things: it is just one day before its one day before the weekend, you get paid (well at least I know I do), and you can spend a small fraction of that pay for a deliciously satisfying meal.
I hear that Gramercy now has a steak night on Tuesday too. I think that’s plenty enough reason for a return.