Thursday, March 31, 2011

Eat. @ Three Bags Full

60 Nicholson St, Abbotsford ph : (03) 9421 2732

So cute!  I presume Three Bags Full is named for the sheepskin product manufacturer and supplier that used to occupy the building that now houses this eatery on its ground floor.  I have driven past a hundred times, but like Seven Seeds and so many of these trendy cafes nowadays, it's difficult to spot what is inside from outside of this brick walled building, which blends inconspicuously into the infrastructures in this neighborhood.

My mocha here was very nice.  I know I've complained before that mochas from most cafe's are more hot chocolate than coffee, the mocha here probably had a little less chocolate for my liking.  Nonetheless it was very enjoyable.

My choice for breakfast is of course, Eggs Benedict.  The eggs here are well poached and certainly the whole dish was very well presented and of a high standard.  I would have liked a little more tang in the hollandaise, and would prefer the ham to be more thinly sliced, but that's just me being pedantic.  I wouldn't say I'm a connoisseur but I DO love my Eggs Benedict!

To finish we had a sweet treat and ordered the Passionfruit and Coconut Cupcake.  This was a dense cupcake with lots of large chunks of coconut throughout.  It was a tad too heavy for me and at $6 each I probably will try something else next time.

Maybe these carrot cakes?  The cream chesse icing looks very enticing!

There are 2 steps up to get through the door, so if you're bringing your pram keep this in mind.  I am going to have a little grumble and it has nothing to do with the cafe.  As I'm trying to get my pram through the door, 2 guys in shirts and ties were heading out.  The first dude opened the door for the second, and as I leaned down to pick the pram up to hoist over the steps, they let the door close.  While I didn't expect any help and is quite adept at going places with 3 kids, it would have made my life a heck of a lot easier if he had held the door for an extra 3 seconds.  Sigh.....  I guess all I can do is to teach my kids to make sure they grow up to be courteous human beings.  Anyway, if you can't get your crew through the door you can always sit at these cute tables made out of road signs out front!

Lots of mums with tots in prams came for  take-away coffees while I was there.  As I was leaving I heard a staff member say that they need to make room for a pram parking area!  (I couldn't tell if she was making a joke or was slightly annoyed at the traffic jam!)

Eat.Play.Shop. Recommends : Giving this a try if you're in the Abbotsford area and are not in the mood for Asian/Vietnamese food.  It's a stone's throw away from Victoria St.
Give it a Miss : Well, I wouldn't not go, but just watch for the 2 steps at the front door if you have a pram.

Three Bags Full on Urbanspoon

Highchairs : None that I could see and none was offered

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eat. @ Capital Kitchen.

Chadstone Shopping Centre, 1341 Dandenong Rd, Chadstone ph :9563 4144

Thanks to the recommendation from my friend at Home Made Home Baked after my less than impressive visit to the Lindt Cafe, we tried out Capital Kitchen for a bite and a cuppa.  It has now become a fast favourite of mine for a good quality cafe pit-stop when we visit Chadstone.

Capital Kitchen is in the new bit of Chadstone, right across from Gap (lots of things to covet there for kids and for me, sigh....)  It's a mix of eclectic homewares for sale, big communal tables for groups, high counters for singletons, and smaller tables for groups of 3 & 4.  These are thrown amoungst counters topped with sweet bites and cabinets of rolls, wraps and salads, 2 large coffee makers staffed for a constant flow of drinks, and a counter for ordering made-to-order items from the kitchen.

The Chicken Baguette made for a very filling lunch.  Good amount of chicken with avocado, made more interesting by the crunchiness of the celery.

The Breakfast Burrito was saved by the tangy relish, which would have been quite dense and ordinary with just the scrambled eggs and bacon filling.  The relish gave it a refreshing tang, but I would probably recommend this more for brunch rather than for breakfast.

I love Eggs Benedict and usually order this when available whenver I get the opportunity.  Unfortunately I'm often disappointed by the lack of ability of many eateries to poach a decent egg.  The Eggs Benedict here was probably slightly above the normal standard of most cafes, but was let down by the slightly too heavy hollandaise sauce.

The little lemon meringue tart was very nice.  Many lemon meringue pies are too heavy due to the excessive pastry, especially when they are small versions, and as such the pastry to filling ratio becomes way too high.  This little gem was the perfect size with a cuppa, and had the lightest pastry just on the bottom, with a nice tangy curd and lovely meringue topping.

The citrus and passionfruit butter cake is essentially a lamington dipped in a fruity jelly sauce instead of chocolate, then rolled in coconut.  It made for a refreshing change and again went well with a cup of tea.

The kids could not go past one of the giant macaroons stacked high at the order counter.  These things were grapefruit-sized meringue and coconut confections stuck together with some chocolate cream.  It's probably too much even when shared by 2 kids, but relatively good value at $3.

The boards displayed behind the drinks counter showed a kids menu with kids soldiers, pasta, pizza and shakes.  We didn't get a chance to try those ourselves, but the kids on tables near us had some of those menu items. The serves looked to be decently sized and were certainly being devoured quickly!

The staff were very busy and looked much happier when chatting to each other than when taking your order.  Forgivable thanks to the relatively fast service.

All in all, I think Capital Kitchen serves inner-suburb-cafe standard food in an outer suburb shopping center, which is great to see.  The prices reflect their slightly-more-up-market cafe crowd (expect $11-13 for the rolls, about $3-5 for sweets), which is fortunately balanced out by decent sized servings that will fill you up for breakfast, brunch, lunch or morning/afternoon tea.

If eating is not enough you can also do some shopping here.

Eat.Play.Shop. Recommends : The Chicken Baguette, so far my favourite menu item.
Give it a Miss : I found it a bit hard ordering when there's just me, the kids and the pram.  You have to order at the counter and give them a table number, and during busy times it's hard (and a bit dangerous) to leave your kids and pram at a table half way across the large eatery and run over to the counter and order.

Capital Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Toilets : they have their own toilets!
Highchairs : Yes

Friday, March 25, 2011

Eat. @ Seven Seeds

114 Berkeley St, Carlton ph : 93478664

Seven Seeds, for those who are coffee enthusiasts, is one of Mark Dundon's coffee-centric Eateries around town.  For those who are not, this is still a really cool place to have a great cuppa of your choice and grab a bite.

The mocha was one of the best I've ever had.  Too many places make mocha's that are 90% hot chocolate and 10% coffee.  This mocha looked great, was seriously smooth, and just had the most lovely, subtle taste of chocolate to counter the coffee.  I could drink this all day (and not ever need sleep after that I'm sure!)

The Porchetta Baguette was awesome.  Freshly made, the radish and green apple were "just-cut" moist and crunchy, and made a perfect offset for the sweetness of the relish and the tender meatiness of the pork.  I love that you can TASTE that it's freshly made.  At $11.50 it sounds a bit expensive but most decent eateries now charge $10-$12 for baguettes and rolls, and most of those are from a mountain of rolls pre-made earlier in the day.  I thoroughly enjoyed this for brunch!

Seven Seeds was filled with trendy young uni students (ah, I wish this was around when I was at uni!) and cool inner suburb office workers picking up their morning brew.  There were certainly a few trendy parents and their (very fashionably-dressed) bubs.  Prams are no problems in here.  There are a few large communal tables and also lots of smaller tables with seating for 2-3.  Beans are roasted and ground  on site, in the warehouse next to the eatery.  You can also buy bags of beans and take the goodness home with you.

The menu items are limited (Here are the pics of the whole menu), but they will make up for that if all the items are as fresh and well prepared as the baguette.  There's also a selection of cakes and pastries at the counter.

Bike riders and their mode of transport are well looked after!

From the outside you'll barely be able to tell this is a busy Eatery.  Just look out for the flow of trendy coffee fanatics through the deceptively ordinary door making their daily pilgrimage!

Eat.Play.Shop. Recommends : Visiting for the awesome coffee, staying for the feeling of trendiness even if you're not.
Give it a Miss : if you want anything you can't see on the above menus (or the pastries of the day on offer)
Seven Seeds on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Eat. @ Malaysian Kitchen

910-912 Doncaster Road, Doncaster East ph : (03) 9078 4590

Good-bye Urban Retreat, Hello MK!  Malaysian Kitchen opened just outside of Jackson Court replacing Urban Retreat last year.  Totally different style of food as UR served pizza and pasta and MK is typical Malaysian food.  Typical is probably a good word for this place as the food is nowhere near exceptional, but not awful either.

The Hainanese Chicken Rice and the Crispy Skin Chicken Rice are essentially the same meal with a different plate of chook.

The Roti can be variable.  We've had lovely crispy fresh roti here, but at other times have been served chewy, slightly cold roti here as well.

The Nasi Lemak is a good measure of how good a Malaysian Restaurant is.  The one here, like the restaurant itself, is fairly average. 

The Salt and Pepper White Bait is probably the best dish I've had here.  It's fesh, crispy, with just the right amount of chilli.  And yep, probably one of the least healthy dishes ;)

The Wanton and Roast Pork Noodle is one of the few dishes with the least amount of spice and soy sauce that the kids can eat.  It is usually quite pleasant.  Unfortunately on this occasion we found that the wantons had gone off.  Not very impressed I must say, and fortunately the kids didn't get sick as they ate the noodles before we discovered the off wantons.

The Teh Terik is quite good.  And they serve REAL bottled coke as opposed to a generic cola, as many Asian places tend to do.

The staff there are quiet, not entirely enthusiastic but will bring extra cutlery and bowls as requested.  If you have a pram you might have to ring and try to book early to get a table in the inner room.

Eat.Play.Shop. Recommends :  The Salt and Pepper White Bait.  Very very more-ish!
Give it a miss : if you're looking for a more authentic and flavourful Malaysian food experience.  Try  Rasa Malaya up the road, or Okra in Hawthorn.

Malaysian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Toilets : Yes
Highchairs : Yes

Monday, March 14, 2011

Shop. @ South Melbourne Market

322 Coventry Street, South Melbourne VIC 3205 ph : (03) 9209 6295
Wed, Sat & Sun 9am-4pm, Fri 9am-5pm

South Melbourne Market is a wonderful place to take your kids for a market experience.  It's especially good if you find the Queen Victoria Market a bit daunting, as SMM is a bit smaller, and all in all a bit cosier and friendlier.  My earliest memories of the market was a primary school trip to the market (at which time I spoke very little english) to buy fresh vegetables to cook a giant pot of soup on a cold winter's day.  A few more trendier shops have popped up here and there and the suburb has become a lot more upmarket since then, but the lovely atmosphere at the market has remained much the same.

The market is essentially divided into 3 sections.  The fresh food, the non-consumables (like clothes, art supplies and kitchenware), and the eateries.

The fresh food section boast a wide selection of fresh produce, most notably the fresh seafood.

The fruits and vegetables are usually cheaper and better quality than the ones in the supermarket.  There are also organic options.  My kids learnt most of their first words by naming fruits and vegetables at greengrocers.

One of my favourite shop is Rita's Coffee and Nuts.  They have everything from dried fruit (they have freeze dried mango and apple which can be hard to find, but often sell out quickly as a consequence!) and nuts, to coffee, turkish delight and chocolate.  They also have a lot of grains etc in giant bags for purchase by weight.  Rita is there most days and is very helpful.

The deli section is fabulous.  Lots of cheeses, bagels, deli meats, yum!


The kitchen store there is full of great useful kitchen aids and treasures.  Unfortunately for them Chef's Hat across the road from the market also carry a great range with competitive pricing.

These macarons in a deli/cake store looked fabulous!

Store 6 in the food area is another favourite.  They have a cheap lunch, cheap okay coffee, and cool decorated cupcakes for the kids.  They also have take home packs of food for quick heating like lasagnas, quiches and curries.  So if you're tired from shopping all the fresh food, and ironically don't want to cook after, then you can always grab something here.

There is free parking on the roof top for market days, and there are usually plenty of parking. 

Eat.Play.Shop. Recommends : coming here for fresh produce.  Kids love markets and this is quite a children friendly one!
Give it a Miss : on wet and windy days as the roof top parking area can get quite wild and I wouldn't like to be up there with a pram full of kids and groceries.