Category Archives: Australian

Estelle Bar and Kitchen

Estelle Bar and Kitchen
243 High Street
Northcote
Vic 3070
+61 3 9489 4609
Estelle Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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One of my all-time favourite restaurants in Melbourne is The Estelle. Fakebooo and I had a degustation several years ago. That night, my heart was captured by the rhubarb and musk dessert and the memory of it lingers. I’ve returned to The Estelle a couple years back for a truffle event held by Fringe Food Festival and it too was spectacular, with the hand-rolled pasta and truffle sponge cake etched deeply in my mind. These visits were done during my pre-blogging days and I finally returned this year to try The Estelle’s celebration of winter, organised by the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Each week over the month of August an animal was paid homage to, and on our drive into Northcote, The Angmoh jubilantly announced “we are going for Angmoh duck!” This is coming from an Australian man who, in his 28 years of living in Australia, is only familiar with the Chinese styles of duck, including Peking duck and the famous roast duck from Pacific House.

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As we settled into our wines, a cleansing entrée of duck consommé was tipped out of a sake bottle, pooling onto roast beetroot, duck leg and chickweed. The root vegetable bled into the broth, giving it a gradually deepening rosy hue. The duck leg was packed with flavour and each bite enhances the duck flavour of the soup.

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Next, we had confit duck breast and leg with broccolini and a duck reduction. The meat was perfectly cooked, tender and blushingly pink. A smear of sweet quince paste augments the richness of poultry. A side of kipfler potatoes with lapcheong, shiitake and parsley is set down in an earthern vessel, borrowing flavours from one of my childhood favourites, claypot rice. The main also comes with coleslaw, dressed in a sparingly creamy dressing.

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We finished off with a simple quince tart. The fruit had been caramelized into sweet sticky slivers and sat on crisp puff pastry. This was accompanied by a quenelle of vanilla-speckled crème fraiche. It was light and an extremely pleasant manner to round off the meal.

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With flawless execution, warm service and incredible food, The Estelle will remain a favourite and I look forward to yet another wonderful experience next year.

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Filed under Australian, Modern, Northcote

Gypsey & Musquito

Gypsey & Musquito
283 Bridge Road
Richmond
Vic 3121
+61 3 9939 9314
Gypsey & Musquito on Urbanspoon
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A couple months ago, I was approached by Eat The Globe to blog about a local eatery on their website. I thought I’d feature a place that proudly showcases the use of local and native ingredients, Gypsey and Musquito. Do check out their website for more international eats and here is my post:

I’d once solo-brunched at Gypsey and Musquito during my pre-blogging days. The café appeals to me, with its rustic cosy interiors, the use of native ingredients and just the overall simple charm of it all. That morning, I’d dined on baked eggs in tomato sugo, enriched with stretchy sharp cheese. It was a perfect breakfast that etched into my memory. I promised myself a re-visit soon enough.

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Gypsey and Mosquito happened to be on Fakebooo’s wishlist and so, on one of our now far and few Wednesday threesome brunches, Fakebooo, Fakebooobooo and myself found ourselves seated on the café’s church pew bench, ready for a different kinda Aussie breakfast.

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(Left) Housemade lemon myrtle iced tea – infused with mint & orange, & finished with sweet & tasty house made lemon myrtle syrup $7.50
(Right) Bluetongue lizard – crushed blueberries, cold pressed Preshafruit apple juice blended with minted goodness $7.50

Breakfast drinks consisted of cool and refreshing lemon myrtle tea and blueberry apple juice mocktail. It was a perfect way to cool off from the scorching Melbourne summer.

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Raw Australian bush salad, green beans, snow peas and their tendrils, apples, carrots, sprouts, nuts, seeds, lilly pillies and native sea parsley pesto $15

Fakebooo, who had been on a health-conscious brunch streak, had his eye on yet another green number. The raw salad had a mix of sprouts, snow peas and shoots, green beans, carrots and leaves. It was dressed with pesto and the addition of nuts and seeds gave it a crunchy sweet earthiness.

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Gypsey’s own house made crumpets, butter, ironbark maple syrup (Allow 15 minutes to freshly bake) $10

Fakebooobooo’s housemade crumpets had us sitting up and gasping in amazement. The 3 fluffy biscuits were fresh out of the oven with gentle curls of steam wafting up. Personally I thought the taste of bicarb was a tad too strong, but nothing a thick slather of butter and generous drizzle of honey couldn’t mask.

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Gypseys’ granola, wattleseed, macadamias, bush berries and oat clusters, roasted in apple juice, poached fruit pure water buffalo yoghurt, Cradle Mountain honey drizzle $11

For myself, I was initially crestfallen that the crocodile burger was not available. I chose a more breakfasty dish of granola instead. It was lovely, with the aroma of maple syrup working nicely with native spices, offset by the tangy buffalo yoghurt.
Gypsey and Musquito is a great little brunch place. The use of native ingredients give a unique and different twist on typical brunch dishes. I’m bound to return and next time round, crocodile burger, you will not go uneaten!

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Filed under Australian, Brunch, Richmond

Union Dining

Union Dining
270-272 Swan Street
Richmond
Vic 3121
+61 3 9428 2988
Union Dining on Urbanspoon

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The Angmoh and I have made it past yet another year. We celebrated with dinner at Union Dining, a handsome bistro on Swan Street in Richmond.

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The Angmoh loves his shellfish and couldn’t go past oysters. It didn’t matter where they came from, Sydney Rocks or Tassie, they were fresh and plump and slid down a fair treat to start his night. I, on the other hand, had a vegetarian starter. It was beautiful with wonderful pickled mushrooms set against rich goats curd and a soft boiled egg. The tanginess of the mushrooms helped arouse the palate and appetite.

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Oysters mignonette (per piece) $3.50

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Mushrooms pickled and roasted, quinoa, herbs, whipped goats curd, soft egg $19

For his main, The Angmoh went predictable and had steak. It was cooked perfectly, with a lovely charred crust and juicy bloody meat in the middle. It had a buttery flavour which went well with the bitter radicchio and salty anchovies. I had the goulash, which was presented in the most unexpected manner: there were little tears of deep fried cheese, perfect to soak up the hearty tomato stew.

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300g grain fed Victorian Black Angus scotch fillet, radicchio, Ortiz anchovy, red pepper hazelnut relish $39.50

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Hopkins River beef blade Austrian goulash, quark cheese spaetzle dumplings, sour cream $36

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French fries, smoked paprika salt $8

Dessert was a simple affair, with The Angmoh ordering his favourite: chocolate mousse. It was velvety smooth and intense with cocoa. My gelato, unfortunately, was a huge disappointment. The chocolate was alright, grainy in texture and nothing to shout about, but the pistachio tasted of essence and chemicals.

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Pistachio and chocolate gelati $12
Chocolate pot de crème, spiced blood plum crème fraiche $14

Union Dining still serves up some delicious satisfying food, most enjoyed in its cosy ambience and friendly warmth from staff.

Oh, and check out what The Angmoh got me for our anniversary.

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Filed under Australian, Modern, Richmond, Steak

Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar

Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar
Level 1 Crown Metropol
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank Vic 3006
+61 3 9292 8300
Mr. Hive Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

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The Angmoh and I had a date night at Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar. It was close to home, which meant I could scurry down 100m across the road in my hugging velvet dress and skinny heels. I succumb to heels in all their pin-pointy attractiveness, from the calf-stretching leg-lengthening glory to the painful so-gonna-lose-my balance arched agony.

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Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar is located in Crown Metropol. The space is sleek and handsome, with extremely high ceilings and an extensive black shelf interspersed with shiny gleaming copper pots. Mind you, I was half-tempted to nick off with one.

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As we deliberated over the menu, an amuse bouche of dried cherry tomato on polenta was set before us. I popped it in whole, and was instantly reminded of pizza. A really fancy, minute, gluten-free pizza.

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Oyster $4

As The Angmoh appreciated his very well-poured beer, I pounced on the distracted opportunity and started snapping away at the food. He had a lonesome oyster, which he described to be fresh and sweet, with just the hint of salt.

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(Left, top) Yellowfin tuna, ruby grapefruit, popcorn, sesame $15
(Left, bottom) Kingprawns, old bay spice $14
(Right) Crispy pig: pickled kohlrabi sauce gribiche $21

Amongst our selection of entrees, our favourites were the king prawns and crispy pork. The prawns were seasoned in a wonderful smoky aroma and somehow made me think of drunken prawns. I ordered the pork dish simply due to its name “Crispy Little Pig”. I believe it was pork jowl and it was full of rich porky flavour, which was nicely contrasted against the piquant ribbons of pickled kohlrabi.

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(Left) “Cape Grim” Tasmania hanger steak (250g) $34
(Right) Ricotta gnocchi, wild mushrooms, parsnip $30

Not usually a fan of gnocchi, I went adventurous and had ricotta gnocchi for my main. The Angmoh went old-school and predictable with steak, cooked medium rare. The fluffy bolsters of gnocchi were surprisingly not too heavy. Never one to complain about mushrooms, I loved my dish, and would have loved it more if it had a drizzle of truffle oil. The Angmoh’s steak arrived rare and well-charred and received his thumb’s up. He did find an overwhelming amount of caramelised onion over the steak, and would have preferred “a smattering” of it. I munched on his sweet potato chips, which were delightful. They were pillowy and dreamy, with a good balance of sweet and salty.

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(Left) Almond soufflé, blood peach yoghurt, honey ice cream $22
(Right) Poached rhubarb cookies, Cointreau, goats milk $17

For dessert, there was a choice of moving onto the counter to enjoy the famed dessert degustation. I was half tempted but wussed out in the end, ordering the rhubarb for myself and the almond soufflé for my man. I have a soft spot for rhubarb dessert and this did not disappoint. The tangy flavours of rhubarb shone through with the goats curd sorbet giving it a punch of refreshment. The almond soufflé was another winner. It was airy and light and chockers with real almond flavour. It paired so nicely with the honey ice cream.

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Mrs. Hive’s chocolate bar, peanuts, caramel $21

The Angmoh knows me and my dessert yearnings very well. I was also very keen to try the Mrs. Hive chocolate bar and didn’t think my rhubarb dish was quite enough. He ordered said dish on my behalf, so I wouldn’t appear to be the greedy oinker that I am. And thank the heavens we he did. It was an incredible concoction of rich silky chocolate mousse and luscious caramel, topped with a dollop of peanut butter sorbet. Oh yea, you heard right, peanut butter sorbet. It was the most ‘atas’ form of Snickers, period.

Our dinner at Mr Hive Kitchen & Bar ended on a sugar high. The food was good and the dessert amazing. The live vocals at the bar are impressive too and all in all it was one really pleasant night out. My only gripe was the lack of handwash in the ladies and disabled facilities. I had forgotten to mention it that night in my drunken stupor and eagerness to get to the chocolate bar, but dropped an email and have yet to receive a reply. So ladies, drag your men or girlfriends here for a night of sinful indulgence and do pack some hand sanitiser or wet wipes in your purse first.

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Filed under Australian, Crown Casino, Modern, Southbank, Steak, Sweets

Saint Crispin

Saint Crispin
300 Smith Street
Collingwood
Vic 3066
+61 3 9419 2202
Saint Crispin on Urbanspoon

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Another culinary delight has been added onto the never-ending gastronomy heaven on Smith Street, Collingwood. When I heard that Scott Pickett (of the Estelle) was about to pair up with Joe Grbac (formerly The Press Club) open something new, I sniffed about frantically like a rabid dog, leg eager to be cocked. On their second week of opening, I snagged a table of three for a mid-week dinner.

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Fakebooo and I caught up for pre-drinks at Agent 284 while awaiting our table. Having pathetic, almost next-to-none tolerance for alcohol, mocktails were in order. I had a berry cheesecake while Fakebooo indulged in a sparkly strawberry spritz. We practically had dessert before dinner. The Angmoh joined us soon enough, after patiently waiting for the Rudd/Gilliard poll to be finalised. Australia just wasn’t quite ready to be in the hands of a female. I applaud her strength and emotional tolerance for all the bull that was thrown her way in the recent tumultuous weeks.

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(Left) Pullet egg, mushrooms, parmesan, goats curd and black rice
(Right) Grimaud duck, heirloom beets, foie gras parfait and kumquat

Nevertheless, on a happier note, our table at Saint Crispin was ready and we shuffled onto scuffed wooden floor boards into a warm smokey dining hall that was once Cavallero.  There is a choice of 2 courses for $50, 3 courses for $60 or a 7 course tasting degustation for $120. The second option suited us very well and we quickly chose our dishes.

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Wagyu bresaola, quail egg, scorched cauliflower and hay ash

We started off with potato crisps with bois boudran, finely chopped shallots, topped with vinegared salt. It was a fancy version of salt and vinegar potato chips with ketchup. The Angmoh’s duck was “succulent and rich”. It had a combination of meats: roasted breast, terrine and foie gras. It went smoothly with the sweet roasted beetroot. Fakebooo’s entrée came artfully presented on a pristine white plate. It too contained a combination of beef. The tartare was fresh and the bresoala of great quality. My dish had all my favourite breakfast elements: slow-cooked egg, cheese and mushrooms. The pullet egg oozed over sweet mushroom sponge and sharp parmesan foam. The addition of slippery jacks and pine mushrooms gave the dish an earthiness that was warm and comforting.

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(Left) Jerusalem artichoke, parsnip, sunflower seeds and tuscan black cabbage
(Right) Flinders Island lamb, nettles, radish tops and slippery jacks

Halfway through our entrees, we realised that we had yet to be offered bread. This was quickly rectified with fluffy white bread and a delicious caraway and rye. Lescure butter and onion crème fraiche accompanied, to be slathered on generously.

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(Left) Chocolate, earl grey, milk and ginger
(Right) Poached rhubarb, burnt custard and blood orange

My 2 boyfriends had the lamb as their main dish. The meat was rosily pink, salty, chewy and flavoursome. The slippery jacks were meaty and delicious and the nettle puree provided a green herbaceous fragrance. I had yet another vegetarian dish that evening. The Jerusalem artichoke was tender, the parsnip sweet and the Tuscan cabbage shredded and tender. The sprinkling of toasted sunflower seeds gave a crunchy pine-nutty contrast. It was an opulent winter dish.

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Strathdon blue, Ross-shire Scotland, crackers and fruitbread

Fakebooo’s dessert came as a chocolate delice with earl grey ice cream. The chocolate mousse was smooth and full of cocoa and I loved the delicate flavour of the ice cream. I was blown away by the caramel custard in my dessert. It had a deep toffee richness and a smooth velvety texture. I was told beforehand that the meringue in my dessert would contain traces of Sichuan peppercorn. Being a huge fan of Sichuan food and the obligatory peppercorn, I was highly anticipating a tingly feel as I dug into my dessert. Alas, my tastebuds failed to numb. The Angmoh’s cheese platter had a rich crumbly blue that was pungent and intense. It contrasted beautifully with the quince paste and fruit bread.

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We waddled out of Saint Crispin, bellies happy, warm and full. A sweet ending completes the meal, hidden in this quaint little box. To find out what lies inside, stay tuned for Fakebooo’s take!

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Filed under Australian, Collingwood, Modern

Sweetwater Inn

Sweetwater Inn
1/60 Bray Street
South Yarra
Vic 3141
+61 4 02 532 578
Sweetwater Inn on Urbanspoon

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When Pan, Sham, The Angmoh and I arranged for movie night at Jam Factory, we decided to be one of the cool kids and check out newly-opened bar Sweetwater Inn.

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Sweetwater Inn offers a novelty outback-saloon feel, from a corrugated iron sheet as a bar, to hanging cow hides and dining with mess tins and recycled metal cans. There’s also melted candle wax, an organ as a condiment shelf and background country music. It conjured impressions of swinging wooden doors, glossy spurred boots and the obligatory rolling tumbleweed.

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Billy Tea – West Wings Gin, Green tea, Ginger, Lemon & Honey $10

The menu consists of Australian tucker, and the special for the day involved an all-time Aussie favourite, the BBQ.  Vegetarian and vegan substitutes are also available and I heard that the vegan options taste like the real deal. We decided to go all carnivore. Pan and Sham had the pulled lamb sandwich, which they thoroughly enjoyed. Their satisfaction was not elaborately described but a simple ‘very good’ captured their feelings. The Angmoh’s fish and chips came perfectly battered and fried, and my roo steak sandwich was tasty and very tender.

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BBQ Pulled Lamb with beetroot BBQ Sauce – Lamb shoulder, slowly smoked over lemon myrtle and black tea, coated in a sticky beetroot BBQ sauce. Pillled high over slaw in a damper roll. (Single $12)

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Fosters Fish and Chips – Crispy Fosters battered market fish and chips, served with a wedge of lettuce and green aioli. $16

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Kangaroo Steak Sandwich – Kangaroo steak, marinated in Bundy and coke, cooked to medium-rare, served in a warm roll with dressed salad leaves with Melbourne Bitter braised onions. $16

We had no complaints with our drinks either. I particularly like The Noelie: the homemade quince paste sour was sweet and tart, and made the cocktail rather delicious.

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The Noelie – Rum, Montenegro and house-made quince paste sour. $12.50

Sweetwater Inn is definitely a cool place to hang out. With a clientele ranging from skater punks, eclectic hipsters, and fashionable Chapel-Street goers,  people-watching while enjoying Aussie brew and fare will be most entertaining.

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Filed under Australian, Pub, South Yarra