10 of my favourite foodie finds in Melbourne this week

Sweet Roll

1. There’s a certain mystique around Hi Hou, a Japanese bar/restaurant on Flinders Lane. Make sure you have a booking, ring the doorbell at the unassuming entrance and wait patiently for the maître d’ who will whisk you up a flight of dimly lit stairs. Here you will find a beautifully designed bar with a cosy, romantic ambience. If you’re lucky, you can sit in the traditional style cushioned booths. The buckwheat crepes and seared tuna come highly recommended, as does the great range of warm and cold sake.

Hihou on Urbanspoon

2. There’s not many locations so close to the city which are as picturesque as Abbotsford Convent and the Collingwood Children’s Farm. On a sunny day, take a picnic and graze beside the sheep and horses on the green pastures. Alternatively, head to the Farm Cafe, a quaint cafe on the fringe of the Children’s Farm. Initially starting as a coffee and pancake stall in 2005, it has transformed into an idyllic cafe, serving delicious, wholesome and sustainable food of a high quality.

Farm Cafe on Urbanspoon

3.Just a stone’s throw from Camberwell train station, Collective Espresso is the perfect pit-spot for a pre-work coffee or a caffeine injection post Camberwell market. The coffee is exceptional here – they use Five Senses Coffee as well as rotating a few single origins.

Collective Espresso on Urbanspoon

4. The Premises, a quaint pavement style cafe in the heart of leafy Kensington. The cafe is the most popular in the village for good reason – the food is great. Unfortunately for locals, it is hard to get a seat. You can enjoy creative takes on brunch classics like lemon cheesecake french toast and kenso eggs with beetroot slaw and tahini yoghurt.

The Premises on Urbanspoon

5. Venture to the backstreets of Collingwood and follow the crowds to Proud Mary – a hip corner side cafe. Coffee is a true art here – you can’t help being impressed by the six-group custom-made Synesso espresso machine. And the brunch and lunch options are great too.

Proud Mary on Urbanspoon

6. Bar Americano is the brainchild of Matt Bax, the cocktail bar extraordinaire behind former Der Raum in Richmond. Cool and sophisticated, this tiny bar has no real seats – so it’s standing and leaning room only. This only adds to the charm of this Italian style bar.

Bar Americano on Urbanspoon

7. The latest addition to casual dining on Flinders Lane is Fonda Mexican. “Fonda” is used by Mexicans to describe a local house with an open kitchen in an atmosphere which is warm, familiar and relaxed. Fonda Burritos are made with freshly pressed tortillas, using the famous ‘Fonda Press’ which takes just 1.8 seconds to press your tortilla. Fonda has over 200 covers so, like other counterparts on Flinders Lane, you won’t have to wait for long.

Fonda Flinders on Urbanspoon

8.Von Haus is one of Melbourne’s hidden treasures. It’s a tiny, rustic space with only 20 covers so expect to get cosy with your neighbours. The bar has a great wine list which is complemented by a small dinner menu, consisting of only a few specials scrawled on the blackboard.

Von Haus on Urbanspoon

9. If you’re a fan of creme brulees, you may want to follow the latest location of The Brûlée Cart - a mobile dessert van which travels to festivals and farmers markets around Melbourne. While there are rotating seasonal flavours every week, the classic French vanilla is a strong staple.

10.Jimmy Grants is a modern style souvlaki bar off Smith Street. Owned by George Calombari, this is old-fashioned Greek cooking at its best. Think succulent souvas, oregano and garlic seasoned fries and sweet treats from Burch and Purchese. I’m getting hungry just writing about it.

Jimmy Grants on Urbanspoon

What have been your favourite foodie finds this week?

 

Restaurant of the Week: BangPop South Wharf

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Out with the old and in with the new. It seems that casual dining is still hot on the lips of every Melbourner  and fine dining is out – at least for now. The street food trend, which created a storm in London, continues to hit Australia at full force. Diners are looking for good authentic food in a casual atmosphere, without the fine dining price tag.

BangPop, a Thai street food inspired restaurant in South Wharf, has quickly cottoned on to this trend by offering customers a casual communal dining experience. Head chef, Kam McManamey (ex Dandelion Elwood), brings a sense of refinement to typical street food offerings. Hawker stand staples like grilled pork neck and chicken spare ribs take centre stage on the menu as do larger plates and salads designed for sharing.

There’s no questioning the authenticity of the street food offering at BangPop. These guys have done their research – even bringing in the experience and expertise of Yaigum, a long term Thai street food stall-holder, to consult on the menu.

Why the name?   In Thai, the word ‘bang’ means a village situated on a stream, while the ‘pop’ element encapsulates the bold flavours, vibrant colours and larger-than-life personality of this Yarra-side restaurant.

It’s a super sleek fit out. Gaze above to the high ceilings and you will find a tangled mess of wires and dangling industrial filament globes. The mood is fun and creative, with splashes of colours surprising customers in every corner, from the bicycles on the terrace to the lego studded bar which has survived since the Sharing House. The long communal tables are perfect for neighbourly gossip and sharing. BangPop has managed to recreate the energy and excitement of Bangkok’s hawker stands to a tee.

The service is friendly with no pretension. If you have trouble deciphering the menu, just ask them for their recommendations – they are more than happy to help.

The Gaeng Daeng Phed (Red Duck Curry) ($28.90) is slow cooked to perfection, eagerly falling apart from the bone after the tiniest of nudges. An infusion of coconut milk, red curry paste, Thai basil and fresh chilli bathes the duck superbly. In fact the sauce was so good I could have started drinking it from a straw. The roasted coconut on top of the dish provided it with a beautiful texture and a touch of sweetness. If, like me, you don’t mind a sweeter and rich sauce, this dish is perfect.

 bp1

A sizzling bowl of lanna style beef curry (Gaeng om nua-lanna) ($24.90) was equally good, full of greens like snake beans, kaffir lime, galangal and dill. A small bowl of sticky rice was perfect to mop up the succulent sauce and offset the spicy flavours a little.

The dishes were served with a selection of dipping sauces and aromatic condiments. For me the flavours were bold and well-balanced enough to need any extra kick, but this is a nice touch so patrons customise their own flavours according to their individual palates.

A tapioca and pandan pudding ($10.90) was beautifully executed, topped with a mango sorbet and lemongrass syrup for a touch of sweetness.

bp2
BangPop has a great personality – it’s fun, vibrant and full of energy. In true Thai fashion, the dishes are spicy, fierce and full of flavour which is just what I love about Thai cuisine. If Bangkok street food is as good as this, I will be on the first plane tomorrow. 
 
The Damage?
 
Approximately $80 for two people including two mains, dessert, wine and service.
 
Food: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Atmosphere: 8/10

10 of my favourite foodie things in Melbourne this week

strawberry field

Photo credit – Martin Fisch Flickr ‘Strawberry Fields’

1. If you’re looking for a great coffee option on Smith Street, think no further than the Place Holder pop-up at number 9.This hole in the wall type establishment churns out coffee to the local hipsters and weekday corporate types by the dozen. Expect quality blends from Seven Seeds and Small Batch as well as special rotations from Market Lane and Top Paddock.

2. Mamasita on Collins Street for its tasty mexican food and cocktail list. The food is fun, creative and perfect to be shared. And the best news? It’s authentic! Think moreish chargrilled corn, fluffy soft shell tortillas and taste bud tingling chorizo quesadillas.Tequila fans will be impressed by the decent range of tequila on the menu. Just make sure you line your stomach first.

Mamasita on Urbanspoon

3. There’s a reason why Arcadia is one of the originals on Gertrude Street and has lasted the test of time. This is my go to place for a healthy pit stop for lunch.  The salads are to die for and large enough for a small army. The bright, airy space is also lovely for a spot of breakfast with a paper and morning coffee.

Arcadia on Urbanspoon

4. Meyers Place is one of my favourite Melbourne lane ways for quality bars and restaurants. It may not be a new bar as such but Loop Bar has a new rooftop, and it’s looking mighty cool! If you’re feeling fit, climb up a few flights of stairs to reveal a hidden sanctuary full of exotic plants and panoramic rooftop views. The drink list isn’t bad either.

Loop Roof on Urbanspoon

5. If you haven’t been to New Gold Mountain yet, then add it to your Melbourne bar bucket list – this place is epic! Don’t miss the Champagne and Blintz pop-up on the glitzy red level upstairs during the month of April.

New Gold Mountain on Urbanspoon

6. Three Bags Full Cafe in Abbotsford for its epic brunch menu and quality coffee. Their coffee is supplied from iconic roasters, Five Senses, with a  range of single origins and seasonal signature blends on offer. It’s a great space, styled in typical industrial chic decor with quirky design elements like stools made from ‘men at work’ recycled road safety signs taking centre stage. If it’s your first time going here, it won’t be your last!

Three Bags Full on Urbanspoon

7. Viet Star in Hawthorn for its Vietnamese cuisine. This no frills restaurant is always busy and extremely popular with the locals around Glenferrie Road. The prawn cold rolls come highly recommended.

Viet Star on Urbanspoon

8. Porgie and Mr Jones is a cute characterful cafe, nestled in the leafy suburb of Hawthorn. Famous for its brunch classics like smashed avocado on toast, the menu at Porgie and Mr Jones definitely packs a punch.

Porgie and Mr Jones on Urbanspoon

9. For the ultimate Easter treat, venture to La Belle Miette, a small French patisserie specialising in macarons. Speckled Easter Egg macarons are filled with a beautiful Cacao Barry milk chocolate couverture, egg shaped and hand painted.

La Belle Miette on Urbanspoon

10. The latest Lisa Bakes – an impossibly simple recipe for Melting Moments.

What have been your favourite foodie finds this week?

Lisa Bakes: Melting Moments Recipe

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When it comes to biscuits, I must admit, I can be pretty lazy at baking. Why spend hours elbow deep in flour and butter when you can pick up some sweet treats at the supermarket. Melting moments are a different story however – they need to be baked fresh. Whenever I go to the country or a local farmers market, I always bypass the other sweets to the cute wrapped bags of melting moments.

This is one of the best and simplest recipes for melting moments you will find. Two buttery shortbread biscuits sandwich a luscious layer of creamy, zesty icing. If you haven’t already, add this Australian country classic to your baking list. When unexpected guests arrive, it’s a perfect treat for afternoon tea.

Makes about 24 biscuits

For the biscuit – you will need

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 200g of plain flour (sifted)
  • 90g of icing sugar (sifted)
  • 100g of custard powder

For the icing – you will need

  • 120g butter, softened, extra
  • 220g icing sugar mixture
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 160°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.

2. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Fold in the flour, icing sugar and custard powder. The mixture will be quite dry and crumbly at this stage.

3. Roll small balls of the dough in your hands and place on the baking trays. Flatten the biscuits slightly using a fork dusted with flour. Bake in oven for 12 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven to cool completely.

4. For the icing, beat the butter and icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the lemon rind and juice and beat until well combined. When the biscuit is completely cool, spread one teaspoon of the icing sugar on the flat side of one biscuit and use another biscuit to sandwich together. Repeat for remaining biscuits.

Enjoy!! xxxx

 

10 of my favourite foodie finds in Melbourne this week

luwak coffee

Photo Credit: I am Flickr ‘Luwak Coffee’

1. Cumulus Inc – a beautifully converted eating house and bar on Flinders Lane. This is my go to place for a quality brunch in Melbourne’s CBD. You can expect creative twists on typical brunch classics like potato and cheddar waffles with smoked brisket. For a classic brunch option, you can’t beat the Cumulus Inc Breakfast for $16, consisting of a boiled egg, toast, preserves, organic orange juice and coffee or tea. In the evening, venture upstairs to try their new cocktail and wine bar – Cumulus Up.

Cumulus Inc. on Urbanspoon

2. Axil Coffee Roasters – one of my favourite coffee haunts in Melbourne. In typical industrial chic fashion, the cafe on Burwood Road never has a problem pulling in the crowds. The coffee is exceptional and so are the food options. Brunch lovers will be at home here.

Axil Coffee Roasters on Urbanspoon

3. Fatto a Mano in Gertrude Street for their delicious range of organic baked goodies. Think organic breads, gourmet pizzas and  palate popping sweet treats like chocolate brownies and coffee scrolls. Vegans and gluten-free customers will be well looked after here. I can’t wait to return and get my hands on some of their hot cross buns for Easter.

Fatto a Mano on Urbanspoon

4. Marquis is the latest bar to hit Fitzroy’s Johnston Street. Housed in the former burlesque bar, Marquis is a sultry drinking den with a marked French baroque influence. Work your way through the cocktail list starting with ‘The Libertine’ – a devilish concoction of house-infused jalapeño Olmeca tequila and Libertine sauce, topped off with tomato juice, celery and olives.

Marquis Bar on Urbanspoon

5. There’s so much to love about the Morrocan Soup Bar in Fitzroy. The $20 banquet is an absolute steal and is a real treat for the senses. The serves are generous so be prepared to come with your second stomach. Don’t expect to be served any alcohol or non vegetarian cuisine here.

Moroccan Soup Bar on Urbanspoon

6. 1806 is the year that the word cocktail was first defined in print. Named after this iconic date, 1806 in Exhibition Street is about all things of the cocktail variety. The drinks menu is epic, so don’t expect to leave this drinking den after just one.

1806 on Urbanspoon

7. Chez Dre in South Melbourne for its beautiful pastries and all day breakfasts. It’s definitely worth seeking out this pastry lab, nestled in an unassuming alleyway off South Melbourne market. Expect to be delighted by the largely French inspired treats like macarons and madeleines. They also serve an all day breakfast.

Chez Dré on Urbanspoon

8. At last a speciality tea shop in Melbourne! Storm in a Teacup is an absolute must for any tea connoisseur, or even tea drinker for that matter. Whether you like your tea black, green, white or oolong, there is something here for everyone. I know where I’ll be coming for my next tea fix.

Storm in a Teacup on Urbanspoon

9. Black Pearl Bar on Brunswick Street for its great cocktails, good vibes and quality service. With an atmosphere and cocktail list like this, it’s no surprise Black Pearl is voted as one of Melbourne’s best bars, year after year. If you’re looking for something a bit more subdued, check out the Attic upstairs, where its table services and places are limited.

Black Pearl on Urbanspoon

10. Jamie Oliver’s Lemon Drizzle Cake – a perfect treat in the afternoon, or morning for that matter. Check out my latest bake here. 

What have been your favourite foodie things in your city this week?

Lisa Bakes: Jamie’s Lemon Drizzle Cake

ld

If you’re looking to bake a lemon drizzle cake, you can’t beat Jamie Oliver’s old fashioned tea cake recipe. Even his nan was impressed. The addition of ground almonds and poppy seeds provide this cake with a beautiful texture. My favourite part is pouring the  lemon syrup on the cake while it is still warm so it oozes into every crevice. The result is a super moist and flavoursome cake which your family and friends will just love. And the best news? You can bake it in just four easy steps! Enjoy!

This recipe is from ‘Cook with Jamie’

For the cake- you will need

  • 115g unsalted butter, softened
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 4 large free-range or organic eggs
  • 180g ground almonds
  • 30g poppy seeds
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 125g self-raising flour, sifted

For the lemon syrup – you will need

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 90g lemon juice

For the lemon icing – you will need

  • 225g icing sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4. Grease and line the bottom and sides of a 20cm springform cake tin with greaseproof paper.

2. Using an electric whisk, beat the butter with the caster sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, beating each in well. Fold in your ground almonds, poppy seeds, the lemon zest and juice and the sifted flour. Spoon the mix into the prepared cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes or until lightly golden. You can check to see if the cake is cooked by poking a cocktail stick right into the sponge. Remove it after 5 seconds and if it comes out clean the cake is cooked; if slightly sticky it needs a little longer, so put it back in the oven. Allow the cake to cool on a rack.

3. Make your lemon syrup by heating the sugar and lemon juice in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. While your cake is still warm, make lots of little holes in the top with a cocktail stick and pour your syrup over.

4. To make your icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the lemon zest and juice, stirring until smooth. When your cake is almost cool, put it on a serving plate and pour the icing carefully over the top. If you pour it on to the middle of the cake, then let gravity disperse the icing down the sides, you get the ‘drizzle’ effect! Give it a helping hand with a spoon if you want.

10 of my favourite foodie finds in Melbourne this week

when the band began to play the stars were shinging bright. now the milkman's on his way and it's too late to say good night.

Photo Source: D Loop – Flickr

1. No wonder the crowds descend on Smith Street to get their greasy hands on one of the famous burgers from Huxtaburger. A toasted brioche bun is topped with all the trimmings, but the real hero is the grass-fed Wagyu beef patty. Add a bucket of crinkle cut fries or chipotle to the mix and you will be in for a treat.

Huxtaburger on Urbanspoon

2. If you’re looking for a little slice of Argentina in Melbourne then head for San Telmo on Meyers Place. This beautifully converted restaurant has an uber cool atmosphere with a clientele to match. Enjoy authentic Argentinian dishes like empanadas, entrada, mollejas and other dishes straight from the char-grill. No visit is complete without trying the Argentine national dessert, Dulche De Leche – the ultimate treat for sweet tooths.

San Telmo on Urbanspoon

3. I think I have found my ultimate coffee spot for my pre Camberwell market coffee on Sunday. Meet Prospect Espresso – home to some of the best coffee in Camberwell. This place gets busy so be prepared to wait for a table at busy times. For brunch you can enjoy innovative dishes like buttermilk pannacotta with mango mousse, passion fruit and amaretto or warm coconut rice with kiwi, lime and puffed rice. I’m feeling hungry just thinking about it.

Prospect Espresso on Urbanspoon

4. Bar Lourinha on Little Collins Street for its quality tapas and great wine list. This cosy bar/restaurant is a perfect spot for a date or a special occasion with friends. It’s full of vintage nic nacs like tiny paintings and ornaments, but this all adds to the charm of the place. There’s also a great range of specials which change daily.

Bar Lourinhã on Urbanspoon

5. Los Barbudos for your ultimate rum fix in Fitzroy. Rumour has it that they have the best mojito recipe in town. Shhhh….

Los Barbudos on Urbanspoon

6. Who knew crumpets could be such an art?! These baked goodies at Dr Marty’s Crumpets are definitely not your average crumpet.The crumpets are handmade using organic flour and perfect for topping with generous slick of butter and honey. They can be found at various locations around Melbourne, including leading farmers markets. Get your crumpet on now!

7. Zhou Zhou – a new drinking den above the Oriental Tea House in South Yarra. Beer fans will be impressed by the 50 craft ales on offer.

Zhou Zhou on Urbanspoon

8. From crumpets to croissants. Lune Croissanterie in Elwood offers the best croissants you will find outside of Paris. Expect luscious buttery croissants full of rich, flaky goodness. The hardest thing is stopping at one…

Lune Croissanterie on Urbanspoon

9.For a taste of Penang, head to Hawker’s Cafe in Hawthorn. It may not have the bells and whistles of other restaurants, but it packs a punch when it comes to good authentic Malaysian flavours. The Hainanese chicken comes highly recommended.

Hawker's Cafe 2 on Urbanspoon

10. If you are keen to get off the beaten track for a good coffee, head to Monk Bodhi Dharma in Balaclava. This boutique coffee shop roasts all of their coffee in-house. The baristas really know their beans so don’t be scared to ask their recommendations.

Monk Bodhi Dharma on Urbanspoon
What have been your favourite foodie finds in your city this week?