Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Eat. @ Saint Crispin

300 Smith St, Collingwood 3066 (03) 9419 2202

My brother-in-law and my Sister-in-Law recently came back from the US for a holiday.  I remember asking them when they left Australia where they'd most want to eat when they came back and their answer was Estelle Bar and Kitchen.  We'd recently just eaten there, so Hubby and I decided to take them to Scott Pickett's other venture since they left, which of course is Saint Crispin, one of my favourite little restaurants in Collingwood.

We started off with an amouse bouche of savoury madeleine with an onion foam.  They were really quite delicious, but much like savoury macarons, my brain kept telling me that they should be sweet!

We had to order the Snap, Crackle and Pop ($9) which are crispy pork crackling with the most addictive spicy seasoning.   I bought a bag of these at the Taste of Melbourne last year with the intent of sharing (nods vigorously) but ended up scoffing the whole lot myself!

They are an excellent bar snack.  I don't like beer, and I admit I know zilch about beer. BIL ordered this German one which was so nice tasting I could swear it's not a beer!

We also ordered the smoked eel croquettes ($8 for two pieces) which were tasty little morsels  of potato with with a zingy sauce.

Then it's off to start our 3 course meals ($60 for 3 courses, $50 for 2, matching wines extra).  For entree BIL tried the Marron (+$14) which was served with their 24  month prosciutto, foie parfait and celeriac.  This was a beautiful looking dish and BIL said it was tasty and fresh.

I had the Venison, heirloom beetroot, radish, chestnut and chocolate, which is an intriguing combination of ingredients, and I found delightful and interesting.  The dish was pretty as a picture and the dish has Scott Pickett's signature mix of opposing yet complimentary ingredients, tastes and textures.   And of course gorgeously presented on the lovely Glenn Tebble tableware.

Hubby and SIL both had the Quail, with shaved cuttlefish, shiitake mushroom and kombu.  A bit of a fusion comfort dish packed with umami.

For mains Hubby and BIL had the Wagyu rump and oyster blade, with parsley risotto, stout and carrot (+$20).   A colourful garden of interesting vegies showcasing the two different cuts of meat which were amazingly different in taste.

SIL and I had the Western Plains pork, with miso, beans, charred cabbage and nashi.  Whilst this was not as pretty as the other dishes, the pork was beautifully done and oh so tender, offsetting the crispy pork skin and crunchy fresh vegetables.

Hubby says the best thing about being married is that you always have someone to share dessert with, so you can order more!  Never as true as this night, as I got to try 2 of the loveliest desserts I've had in a while.  The first was a Brillat savarin cheesecake, mandarin meringue and beurre noisette.  Yes, a beautifully looking deconstructed dessert, I loved the tangy flavour contrasting with the sweet, and of course the smooth cheesecake component mixed with the brilliant citrus crunch of the meringue.

Then there was the Hazelnut and honey parfait, with apple, pear and chamomile.  So pretty to look at but again a lovely play of textures and flavours.  I was pretty full by then but couldn't stop eating!

It was a lovely evening of fun conversations and delicious food.  The restaurant is dimly lit and can be quite noisy but has a great atmosphere.  We ended the night like it started, with a little surprise sweet treat, this time of chocolate.  We've been to Saint Crispin quite a few times now and I love that if you just wanted a straight forward 3 course meal, $60 will get you 3 dishes of extremely high quality, well thought out fare and a fantastic evening out.

Saint Crispin on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Eat. @ Po' Boy Quarter

295 Smith Street, Fitzroy 3065

Yet another fun and trendy take on fast food from overseas.  This time it's Po'Boys from Louisiana, but at a much closer destination in Fitzroy.  We visited on a Saturday afternoon, when there was a steady flow of diners, and we were happy to grab a table for the five of us.  

Po'boys, as I found out, were crusty baguettes with fillings like meat and fried seafood like shrimps and oysters.  We ordered a few to share as they are quite big servings.  First off the Cajun battered cat fish ($9.9), nice crunchy pieces of cat fish in a fresh baguette with lashes of Louisiana hot sauce along with tomato and lettuce.  Nice crunchy fish in a fresh baked baguette, and a decent size serve for lunch.

Next was the Beef Debris ($11.9) which had 10 hour braised beef shredded with cajun gravy, mustard and hot sauce.  A lovely slow cooked flavour and a comfort food type of roll.

We also tried a piece of the Southern Fried Chicken ($5) as a side.  A great piece of fried chicken in a tasty and crunchy batter.

The side of french fries ($5 each) were covered in their amazing sauce which made the chips super more-ish.  The kids wouldn't stop eating them!

We had wanted to try their house made New Orleans Lemonade but they had just run out, so we tried their Canadian Ginger Beer instead.

Yet another good spot for fun food in Fitzroy.  Totally spoilt for choice when you're in the area!

Po' Boy Quarter on Urbanspoon

Toilets - Yes

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Eat. @ Jinda Thai

1-7 Ferguson Street, Richmond 3067 ph (03) 9419 5899

I was a super lucky girl this year for my birthday, as I got taken out to quite a few dinners (I guess everyone knows my love for trying new places to eat!)  "The Gym Girls" suggested Jinda Thai for our dinner, which was fantastic as I'd been hanging out to try this much talked about Thai restaurant in Richmond.  I'm the type of person that goes to the gym only for exercise classes (because I need someone to yell at me and be too embarrassed to just walk -out mid-class) and I mostly just zone out and run around doing my jumping jacks and not saying anything.  So it's extra cool that I now have "gym friends" and ones that seem to love eating out as much as me at that!

We started with a round of Cha Yen - Thai milk teas ($3).  I'd never try this before, and it's interesting how different Asian Cuisines all offer a slightly different version of this drink.  I really like my tea, it's quite a strong tea and not too sweet nor milky.

We couldn't come to a Thai restaurant and not have Pad Thai!  We ordered ours with prawns ($14.9).  This was really delicious and fragrant, not too salty, with a little bit of sweet.

We ordered a small serve of the Boat Noodles ($6) to try as we've heard that this is is quite  a famous dish.   It was pleasant but not something I must have to have every time.

The Fried Soft Shell Crab  ($15.9) was super yummy though.  Good sized pieces with that lovely and slightly spicy dressing which I really liked as I find that this dish can be quite heavy without a good sauce.

The Barramundi with the Green Apple Salad ($19.9) was equally delicious, again the tangyines of the salad gave the dish a good balance in both texture and taste.  

My order for the night was the Red Curry Duck (($15.9) which is what I like to gauge a Thai restaurant by.  Fortunately this didn't disappoint and was wonderful with some fragrant rice.  Like all Thai curries a little goes a long way when eaten with rice, and this was a pretty decently sized serve.

Emily was keen to try the Pineapple Fried Rice with the combination seafood ($14.90) and this was a pretty big serve with a curried fried rice.  I liked the rice although by this stage I was getting really full and knew I NEEDED to save room for my birthday cake!!!

Of course I had to have the famous Crepe Cake ($8.5 served with ice-cream).  We shared 3 pieces between the four of us and tried 3 different flavours : Pandan, Coconut, and Thai Milk Tea.  Whilst Emily liked the pandan, Nancy, May and I all liked the Coconut.  I like the Thai Milk Tea one also, but the delicate coconut flavour was just that more-ish!

After the dinner we wandered into the Thai Grocery Store next door and did a spot of shopping.  Yep, we can shop anywhere anytime!  To our delight we found the lovely crepe cake (which I found out later were made by Tata Bakery) in little take-away packs for $6.5, so Hubby got a piece to try that night!  I have been back quite a few times since to buy more but they are so popular they are often out of stock.  Please feel free to tweet me if you're there and find the cakes in stock!

I finished off the night with some lovely Koko Black chocolates that Nancy, May and Emily had given me.  Thanks Girls for a lovely birthday dinner out!  I look forward to taking Hubby and the kids back to try out other dishes at Jinda Thai and have not doubt this will be a fast favourite of ours.  I suggest booking ahead as we have so far not been able to get a table at short notice!  

Jinda Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 7, 2014

Eat. @ Mr Hendricks

469 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn 3103 ph (03) 9830 7579

A new addition to Balwyn's cafe line-up is always an exciting thing for me.  As much as I love all the cool cafes in Fitzroy and Collingwood, a nice, dependable coffee hangout nearer to home is always welcome.  I've quickly fallen in love with Mr Hendricks (new man in my life?  Sorry Hubby!)  and have had quiet a few visits since.

My first visit was a coffee catch up with my good friend Helen.  The mochas here ($3.8) are exactly the way I like them.  Smooth, rich coffee with no bitterness and the subtle chocolate giving them the perfect amount of sweetness.  I'm also happy to report that they have been quite consistent (despite different coffee-art) on my subsequent visits.

Bubs had no kinder that day and tagged along and of course I had to get him his favourite "eggies".  The Crispy Eggs ($18) are soft boiled eggs which are then crumbed, served with smoked ham hock, sweet potato puree, fennel, radish, and walnuts on sourdough bread.  The house made honey mustard dressing lifted this delicious combo to amazing.  Everything on the plate was yummy, and I could see this becoming my go-to dish when I visit.

The next visit was for Saturday brunch with Hubby, and we sat outside in the back courtyard and enjoyed our coffee with some vitamin D.

Even though I wanted those crispy eggs again, the Blogger in me made us order something else.  The things we do for a photo op!  We shared a serve of Mr Hendrick's Big Breakfast ($19), which had fried eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, potato hash, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, housemade BBQ sauce and some sourdough to top it all off.  A very tasty and decent sized serve of a "big brekkie" dish, and quite comfortably shared between two.

But of course we have to have something sweet, and the French style crepe with lemon curd ($9.5) was one of the nicest crepes I've had.  The house made curd was perfect in tanginess, the crepe was thin and light.  I swore THAT was going to be my go-to dish from now on!

I loved it so much that we came back 2 weeks later for my birthday brunch, because I'd been hanging out out for more of that crepe!  But wouldn't you know it the menu had changed and you should've seen my long face when I found out the crepe's not on the new menu!!!  It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to!  Okay, I didn't cry, but I did order the next sweet thing on the menu which is the Brioche French toast ($14.5) with vanilla poached pears, caramel sauce and double cream.  Indulgent and oh-so-delicious, this is a fantastic dessert-as-breakfast dish.  I still love the crepe though so I hope to see it back on the menu!

Hubby had the Breakfast Cassolet ($19) served with confit duck, toulouse sausage, persillade and fried eggs.  This is a delicious but pretty heavy dish, and combined with the brioche french toast we didn't eat anything that day until dinner!

The staff are friendly and helpful, and on my first visit with Hubby they took the time to warn us that the food might take a little longer as they were very busy and a bit behind on the day, which we appreciated to help us plan the morning, but ultimately the food was ready in under 20 minutes which was quite reasonable.  The seating inside is quite cozy, with an ancilliary room off to the right for more seating, and the decked out courtyard out the back more friendly for kids.  Mr Hendricks is currently one of my favourite locals and I hope that they can keep up the great standards so far and look forward to many future visits.

Toilets - yes
Highchairs - yes

Mr Hendricks Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 27, 2014

Eat. @ Canton Kitchen with Menulog + Our first Give-Away!

4/261 Blackburn Rd, Doncaster East 3109 ph (03) 9842 8082

We're now right in the middle of winter and our household is crazier than ever!  Juggling kids going to school/kinder/activities,  along with my increased work hours mean that "take-away" nights are sometimes almost a necessity.  I was recently contacted by Menulog to try out their website, which is an online delivery site that lets you order from participating restaurants that deliver in your area.

All you have to do is enter your suburb or postcode and the list of eateries that deliver to you pops up.  You can then click on the links directly and order from there.  We haven't had any good old Chinese take-away for a while so we ordered from Canton Chinese Restaurant, a little place which has a decent reputation for authentic Cantonese food around the area.  I chose the "Now" option for delivery, and an SMS text was sent to me right after I finished ordering, letting me know that dinner would be arriving in around 35 minutes.  In fact it arrived in 15! 

We ordered the Fillet Steak with Cantonese Sauce ($18) which was a tangy plum-saucy fillet steak.  Often I find Chinese food quite heavy and I like that the sauce in this dish makes it a bit lighter and it goes so well with rice!  I did however think $18 a little pricey though.

The kids' choice was the Crispy Lemon Chicken ($13), no surprises there.  It was a decently sized serve and the chicken was still crispy (with the sauce being packaged separately) at delivery which was great.

Lastly we ordered the quite traditional Salted Fish and Chicken Fried Rice ($10), a good sized serve for the price!  I love salted fish, and this is such a delicious alternative to the usual fried rice.

We got a free serve of prawn crackers (free for orders over $25 with orders through menulog) , which I had to hide from Bubs because given the chance, they are all he will eat.  It was a great bribe for the older ones to finish their dinner in a timely manner though!

Overall Menulog is a handy website for ordering take-away.  It's great that you can browse through the menus and order directly from one place.  The types of food delivered obviously depends on the suburb ( I did NOT know there were that many pizza places near me!), and will further improve if more restaurants around your area offer ordering through the site.  

The folk at Menulog have given me the opportunity to host our first give-away by giving one lucky reader the chance to try Menulog out for yourself with a $20 voucher!

To enter the draw :

1) Like us on Facebook here and leave a comment on this blog post about what your favourite take-away foods are.  If you're already a liker just say so in the comment :)

2) Share this post (or the facebook post) on your facebook page and you'll get an extra entry.

The competition ends at midnight 6th July 2014.  The winner will be randomly drawn, and the results posted with an update on this blog post.   The winner will have 3 days to send their email contact details to : so the voucher can be sent through.  Australian residents only.  Voucher conditions - expires 1 month after winner selection.  Delivery, Credit Card and 1 use only.

Disclaimer : Menulog provided us with a $30 voucher to try their service, the rest of the meal was paid for by us.  They will also supply the $20 for the winner of this competition.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

And our winner is : anastasiastarz!!!  Please contact us with your email details within 3 days to claim you prize!!!