Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Eat. @ Hobba Coffee + Kitchen

428 Malvern Rd, Prahran 3181 ph : (03) 9510 8336

Bubs and I popped in to Hobba for brunch on the way to Prahran Market the other day.  Housed in an old converted garage, this cool cafe is a busy hub of activity.  Regular readers of this blog will notice that I tend to visit the "cooler, trendier" cafe spots during the week, as I'm weary of having to wait for a table on the weekend with our family of 5.   I am happy to report however, that this is a fantastic, cool, yet family friendly cafe, and one that I would even be willing to return on the weekend with our "Party of 5" and queue up for a table to sample more of their goodies and coffees.

I started with my usual choice of mocha.  A lovely cup, right up there with the high standards of Melbourne coffee. 

For brekkie, I ordered the Smashed Avocado, Persian Feta, Grain Sourdough and Slow Poached Egg ($11.8) and added a side order of Ottway Free Range Dry Cured Bacon (+$4.5).  The Hobba Kitchen serves up excellent Green Eggs slow poached at exactly 62.5 degrees, and being crazy for poached eggs I was keen to try this out.

All I can say is, WOW!   The egg white was soft, the yolk was "thick runny" but not messy.  If I was more poetic I would embellish this post with a sonnet or two about these eggs, but since I'm not even a good limerick writer, I will just tell you to try this one out for yourself and thank me later.  The egg was the show stealer, but the bacon held its own by being tasty without being overly salty, and the avocado and feta were perfectly balanced.  To be really pedantic, the toast was a bit too crunchy, but Bubs happily munched on it, seeds and all.

The whole seating area is very spacious, kid-friendly and awash with natural light.  (Apologies for the extremely overexposed photo of my coffee above!)  I was comfortably seated in one of the timber booths, with Bubs pulled up along side in the pram.  Towards the back of the cafe are communal tables with ample room for prams and highchairs.  Lots of parents and kids in the area must take advantage of the set up, as I enjoyed my brekkie and watched singles and couples, as well as families and mums, pop in for a catch up over coffee.  Little ones flew in on their little scooters and bikes while their parents picked up a take away.  The service was top notch, the staff were efficient and friendly, and the cool dude who served me even smiled in sympathy as he helped me pick up toys Bubs threw out of the pram for the ump-teenth time.  

Perhaps next time I will try out their eggs with asparagus and poached salmon, or in the Hobba version of the big brekkie?  The lunch menu also looks inviting with their take on chicken schnitzels, beef burgers and crab and salmon patties.  Vegetarians and kids are well catered for, with many menu items suitable or easily adapted for both groups.

As I sit here typing away, Hubby is next to me, simultaneously salivating over the pictures of the food and cursing me for going without him.  Look out Hobba, I will definitely be back!  Even on the busy weekends, with the whole gang, waiting in line and risking a toddler meltdown.  It was that good an experience.  

Eat.Play.Shop. Says - Go the Slow Poached Eggs!  And the coffee will not disappoint!

Hobba Coffee + Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Toilets - Yes
Highchair - Yes

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Eat. @ Market Lane Coffee

163 Commercial Road, Prahran 3141 (@Prahran Market) ph : (03) 9804 7434

I visited Praharan Market recently and found a treasure trove of new food-related things to love, not in the least is this beautifully minimalistic coffee specialist, Market Lane Coffee. 

These guys are really serious about coffee.  In this busy world of multi-tasking, instant gratification, and often way too many choices and options, it's actually really refreshing to see such a dedicated and single minded approach to the one thing that is important to them.  And that, is coffee.

I am the first to admit that I'm no coffee connoisseur.  I appreciate a good brew, and all I look for in a cup is consistency, pleasant taste, and no bitterness.  Coffee here is the main star.  To the point that there is no mocha here, just pure coffee.  I must admit I started to drink mochas as they are more forgiving if the beans and the baristas are not up to the tip-top standards of the awesome coffee places around Melbourne. 

I love a good flow chart!  Coffee explained!

I had a latte on the day, coupled with two gorgeous looking macarons The  coffee was perfect.  Smooth, lovely and no bitter after taste.  Beautiful latte art, with a cute little spoon.  If coffee is like this everywhere I'll gladly give up mochas and have lattes instead. 

The macarons, sourced from La Tropizienne, were fantastic as expected.  (Yes, one of my top picks for macarons in Melbourne!)  I had the Blackcurrant and Salted Caramel.  Very different but delicious in flavours, and both very well made and beautiful looking. 

The space occupied by Market Lane Coffee is spacious and well lit by natural light.   Enthusiastic but unintrusive service with a smile, a relaxed atmosphere coupled with quiet and soothing background (ie/non-elevator) music added to the ambience.

I loved the look of the large communal table, with storage buckets neatly stacked in the background working double-duty as funky decor.

Bubs was quite comfortable in the stroller pulled up to the table.  I couldn't see any high chairs, but did spot a make-shift booster obviously fashioned by an ingenious mum having a cuppa with a little one before me!

Being so coffee-centric, food takes a backseat as an accompaniment, and a small offering of treats to go with the main attraction is available.  I had no need for a babycino on the day so I'm not sure if this is offered, but the sweet treats look quite kid-friendly.

Eat.Play.Shop. Says -  Excellent coffee and relaxed ambience makes Market Lane Coffee a pretty special place for a "pit-stop" while shopping at the Prahran Market. 

Market Lane Coffee on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Eat. @ Ora Cafe

156 Pakington Street, Kew 3101 ph : (03) 9855 2002

Ora Cafe is a new addition to the increasingly cafe-centric Kew.  I have on my list quite a few more places to try in the coming months in this area.  Opened by Johnny Vroom (how awesome is that name!) previously of Proud Mary, this went to the top of my list, and I headed there with my friend one weekday morning after school drop off to catch up over coffee.

First up, coffee, and my mocha is not surprisingly faultless. ($3.5)

I ordered an "Ora Mini" ($5) for Macaron Monster.   This is a little roll, more like a snack or entree, with a daily special filling.  It's also a perfect size for little kids, and on the day we had lamb, with minted yoghurt and leaves.  The lamb was very tasty, complimented perfectly by the yoghurt, and would make a good starter for big kids like me!

The menu was filled with interesting items like fried duck egg with black pudding, chicken liver parfait, and salted cod.  I went for something quite boring in comparison and had 2 poached eggs with bacon.  ($9+$4).  A decently sized serve and good quality bacon, coupled with perfectly poached eggs made this a great brekkie.

My friend had the vegetarian option with avocado instead.

The meal itself was fantastic, and I enjoyed this, even though I felt a bit out of sorts with the patrons there.   We were initially seated outside as the place was fairly packed already, with Bubs in the stroller.  It got quite chilly so we asked to be seated inside when it was convenient, and the staff were most accommodating and offered us some seats next to the wall on the long communal table even before we put in our orders.   As there were no high chairs, the staff removed one of the chairs so Bubs could sit at the table in the stroller.  To access this I had to ask a few people to move their chairs forward a bit to get past, and once seated, no one else would be bothered by us. (For those who know their strollers, we have a Quinny Zapp which is one of the smallest and most compact strollers out there.)  We were seated next to a party of four ladies with 2 young kids on the communal table, and one of the ladies had to move their chair.  I was caught off guard when one of these ladies, who didn't even have to move her chair, turned and told me unsmilingly that I should have left my stroller outside.  Furthermore when I smiled and thanked another lady on the table behind us for letting the stroller through, she too gave me a massive greasy and a distinct look of disapproval.  My friend and I were both shocked to be treated in this way.  The cafe IS quite limited in space, and if the staff had asked me to leave the stroller outside, or had told me that children were not welcome, I would have gladly complied (probably with no choice but to dine elsewhere), but I would not have been upset.  However I am quite unaccustomed to such frank intolerance from other patrons in my cafe trips with my little ones, and it did make me feel uneasy for the rest of the meal. 

Nonetheless I think Ora is a great addition to the cafe culture in Kew.  For the coffee and meal I would definitely come here again, but perhaps just with some "girlfriends", and I would make sure that I am pleasant to others who might just want to grab a sanity-saving coffee and a bite with their little ones.

Eat.Play.Shop. Says - Great quality coffee in this part of Melbourne!

Ora Cafe on Urbanspoon

I believe there were no high chairs, and I didn't get a chance to check out their toilets.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Eat. @ QPO

186 High St, Kew 3101 ph :(03) 9852 8200

The iconic and heritage-listed QPO sits right bang smack in the middle of Kew Junction, and is obviously a play-on-word (or letters actually) for the site of the old Kew Post Office.  We made a last minute decision to grab dinner there recently when we were shopping at the nearby Leo's Fine Foods, and found it a surprisingly enjoyable experience.

The building houses a restaurant and bar area, as well as 2 function rooms for events.  The restaurant area is light filled, spacious and very pram friendly.  The staff was certainly friendly and helpful on the evening we were there, which made us feel very comfortable. (With 3 kids, dinner out is usually a well planned event!)

We started out with some drinks, the standard array available from their bar.

We ordered a standard serve of Spaghetti Bolognaise for the kids to share. ($15)  The staff told us that they also made many of their meals into kid-serve sizes even though there was no formal kids menu, with these meals around $12 each.   The kitchen staff split the serve into 2 smaller but still quite substantial serves for the kids, which is something we always appreciate, especially with messy pasta!

Hubby had the Lamb Shanks with Mashed Potato ($23).  A lovely, soft and tasty shank, and a good meal for us to share with Bubs!

The dish that will bring us back to QPO is their Grilled Kangaroo Fillet, served with Kipfler Potatoes, Rocket and Red Wine Sauce ($25).   Kangaroo meat can be so tough if overdone and for this reason I usually avoid ordering this to avoid disappointment.  However I'm very glad I was feeling more adventurous and gave this dish a go here.  The meat was obviously done on the rare side, and this was tender and tasty, and perfectly offset by the red wine sauce.  Little One had a try of some of the more cooked bits of meat and declared that we have to order this to share again next time!

Eat.Play.Shop. Says - All in all we had a great meal at QPO and found it surprisingly kid-friendly, and would definitely visit again.  I have now started scanning menus for kangaroo dishes when we're out!

QPO Restaurant, Bar & Events on Urbanspoon

Toilets - Downstairs so no prams there!
Highchairs - Yes