Saturday, February 26, 2011

Eat. @ Andrews Hamburgers

144 Bridport St, Albert Park ph : 9690 2126
Mon - Fri 11:30am-2:30pm/5pm-9pm, Sat 11:30am-3:30pm/5pm-9pm, Sun closed

Continuing the theme of taking our kids to places that we used to go before they were born, our next stop is Andrews Hamburgers.  Probably one of the most famous hamburger joints in Melbourne, we used to go there when Hubby lived around the corner before Albert Park became a trendy place. 

Andrews Hamburgers has been around since 1939.  And yes, they do a great burger.  Not anything gourmet, fancy or exceptional, but the thing about it is that THIS is what a burger from your corner shop should taste like.  And the burgers have been made here, and probably tastes exactly the same, since the shop opened, which in itself is a fantastic achievement!  It has even outlived Sam Wah, which was the local chinese take out with your old favourite dimmies and chopsuey, and is probably the last remaining iconic eatery in the area from that era.

Judging by the celebrity photos on the wall, EVERYBODY loves Andrews Hamburgers!

The shop front is not particularly eye catching and the shopfitting is a blast from the past (not intentionally, it's just the way it is), which is part of its charm.  I made my order and waited patiently for the alloted 10 minutes and picked up my goodies in the good old brown paper park and we headed down to a local park for our lunch.

The Hamburger with the lot at $10 will fill most of the boys, and I certainly saw plenty of locals ordering the works.   From the dressed up real estate guys from around the corner, to the little boy grabbing lunch with mum after his morning basketball game.

The kids and I all chose the cheeseburger (okay I chose for them because it seems less messy than the one with the lot) and as delicious as it was, I could not finish the whole burger!

The chips were surprisingly good as well, and those who are not filled by the burger will surely be stuffed by the time they finish the chippies. Small chips pictured are $3.

The hamburgers are exactly as I remembered from before.  Finally I have found a place that still serves food as well as it did in my memory!

Eat.Play.Shop. Recommends : The burger with the lot, but do share if you're a small eater!
Give it a Miss : if you're into "gourmet" (low fat/fancy lettuce/avacado/sprouts/panini/ciabatta) burgers.  This is not.

Andrew's Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Toilets and Highchairs : Um, it's a take away shop......

Friday, February 25, 2011

Eat. @ Sushi Jin

 29/246 Bourke St, Melbourne, 3000 ph : (03) 9639 4683

Another blast from the past for me.  Sushi Jin is the first eatery that served the sushi handrolls popularised by "Sushi Sushi" type eateries, and I have fond memories of dropping by for a healthy and relatively cheap lunch during my uni days (okay, showing my age there!)  @ $1.50 a handroll, I would be full after paying $4.50 for lunch, and that was pretty good for any uni student back then!

Sushi Jin closed when the Target Centre was renovated by has opned up again in the last few years.  Sadly it's just not as good as I used to remember it (is there a new owner?  I couldn't really see around the back!) 

Don't get me wrong, the rolls were okay and there was a good variety, but on my scale for judging sushi rolls, they are more "sushi sushi" than "Kenzan at GPO" quality.
They have also diversified from the previous menu of sushi rolls only, to bento boxes, nigiris, fried stuff and California Rolls.  We had a serve of the Curry Chicken.  It was okay and ordinary and let's leave it at that.

I think I will file this one under "food that are better in our memories than revisited."

Eat.Play.Shop. Recommends : it as an alternative to Sushi Sushi
Give it a miss : and stroll down to Kenzan@GPO for a better version if you have the time

Sushi Jin on Urbanspoon

Seating is in the nearby food court.  Toilets at Target Centre.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eat. @ Misuzu's

7 Victoria Ave, Albert Park 3206 (03) 9699 9022

Ah, Misuzu's.  A restaurant I've always had a secret love for.  Hubby used to take me there when we were still "dating" and I've always liked its mix of traditional Japanese fare, with its funky mix of more fusion-type, tapas style morsels in the platters and take-away boxes.  Misuzu's burnt down in December 2007 after a cellophane covered lamp caught on fire, but fortunately the Japanese owners were keen to rebuild, and so it has had its "rebirth" and lives on to serve its customers for another day!

There are 2 main parts to the restaurant, an eat in area with a bar, and a take-away area with a food counter.  The seating inside is adequate but only a few tables will have enough room for a pram to be parked next to it.  However there are tables on the pavement outside which are serviced by overhead heaters on cold days, and is a popular choice as per other restaurants in the area catering for the Albert Park crowd.  However, having a kid who likes to wander around after the meal, we chose to be seated indoors.

The menu consisted of platters, rice bowls, noodle dishes and some Japanese mains, and also a wine list that impressed even though I'm not a drinker!  We ordered quickly and the food was served without too long a wait, which is always a bonus when eating out with littlies!

We ordered a large mixed non-vegetarian platter.  The staff chooses a selection of tapas style goodies including 3 salads for you so it's a bit of a surprise what you'll get on the day.  The selections are mainly based on meatballs, fishcakes, and different types of california roll type morsels.

Large mixed platter.  Pot Luck?

We also ordered a chicken curry rice which was surprisingly tasty.  It was not the traditional Japanese sweet curry, instead a lighter and slightly spicier version which was very pleasant.  It tasted fresh, not like something that's been sitting in the pot for 3 days, as often is the case when you order curry from asian restaurants.  Even the kids liked it, and we were surprisingly full after the platter and the rice!

A fresh curry!

I have read a lot of reviews recently complaining of the service from the wait staff.  I've never had any problems with them.  In fact, this time, having 3 kids in tow, I have to say they were nothing if not friendly and kind to the kids. The service was prompt, and not just in a "can't wait to get you and your ratbags out of my shop" kind of way.  The lunch time crowd were mostly adults catching up with friends, young couples and some business people, but on the day everyone were very tolerant of the kids.  Okay, it also made my day because one of the patrons told me my kids had great manners and were very well behaved! (Unfortunately I find people usually only say things to you when they have something negative to say, so that was a lovely change!)

The toilets are located at the top of the steep stairs but are very clean.  There were no changing facilities but the girl's toilet has this cute little lounge/antechamber, which worked well for a change room when the need arose!

Okay, it felt strange taking a picture of the bathroom! 
Eat.Play.Shop. Recommends : trying the platter.  Has always been a pleasant surprise for us!
Give it a miss : Their desserts did not look very interesting so we didn't try....   

Misuzu's on Urbanspoon

Highchair : Nope
Toilet : as previously stated, just don't try taking your pram there!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eat. @ The Cupcake Bakery

The Cupcake Bakery Website, 3 locations in Melbourne CBD

Having cupcakes for afternoon tea again.  I know I know, cupcakes are SO very last LAST year, since the new kid in town macaron arrived on the scene last year.  Unfortuantely after going through my macaron baking craze, I now can't bear paying so much for a cookie that costs so little to make.  Worse still, I can't stop feeling disgruntled at how much they charge for macarons with bad feet, messy fillings, flat uneven tops.....  Anyway, I know that cupcakes are also easy and cheap to bake, but at least I'm a lot fuller after forking out the same amount of money for cupcakes than macarons!

The Cupcake Bakery is a cute little shop with a mouthwatering display of beautifully decorated cupcakes.  As Valentine's Day is just around the corner, the whole shop was decked out in red, LOVE, cupids and hearts all over the place!

The cupcakes are $3.80 for a standard, and $4.50 for a deluxe.  The standard ones included the usual suspects including Red Velvet, Vanilla Vanilla, Double Chocolate, and a few less common ones like Sticky Date and Choc Peppermint.  The Deluxe ones included Tiramisu, Lemon Meringue, Custard Tumble, Molten Choc, Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake and Hummingbird.

My cupcake was the Lemon Meringue one.  I often choose this cupcake as a) I love the taste of lemon and b) lemon meringue cupcakes are fidgety to make and since I'm paying for it I might as well pay for something I'm less likely to make!  Unfortunately I was rather disappointed on this occasion.  The cake was dry, they were stingy with the lemon curd and the cake was probably not the freshest either, so most of the curd had been absorbed by the dry cake and there was none to be tasted (or seen!) when I bit into the cupcake.  The meringue icing was okay but nothing to jump up and down about.  Overall it was not worth the $4.50 and it definitely did not measure up to the same cupcake from Joy Cupcakes.

Hubby said the Sticky Date one was okay.  I had a small bite of a couple of the other cupcakes before my kids attacked them.  The Red Velvet which was very very dry, and lacked any discernable flavour.  The strawberry Swirl Cheesecake was rather average, but was quite heavy and would go well with a cup of tea.

We had the chocolate vanilla one left and popped it into the fridge.  The next day I took it out and brought it back to room temperature, but by that stage I could throw the cupcake out the window and knock the cat out with it, so it did not get sampled before it got tossed.

On this occasion, we found that the cupcakes from the Cupcake Bakery looked a whole lot better than they tasted.  I hope for their sake that this is an exception to the rule.....

Eat. Play. Shop. Recommends : that if you get cupcakes here, eat it quick before it becomes a dry and deadly weapon.
Give it a miss : if you're plannning to buy ahead.
The Cupcake Bakery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Eat. @ Kam Fook (Doncaster)

Level 2, Westfield Doncaster, 619 Doncaster Rd, Doncaster ph: 9005 1888

Probably because of the epic horror that was Jacky's Kitchen (one of Jacky Chan's restaurants that used to reside at Westfield Doncaster back in the the day when it was known as "Shoppingtown"), I've always been a bit sceptical about yum cha at shopping centres.  Consequently I have been hesitant to try Kam Fook since it opened at its location opposite Borders and Village Cinemas when it opened in 2010 at "Shoppo".  To be honest, some time in the last 5 years I severely overdosed on yum cha, and now find I only really feel like yum-cha-ing about twice a year.   Given the convenience of parking and being under cover the whole time, I visited Kam Fook with my folks and the kids on Chinese New Year day.

Given its location, the restaurant had a very open feel about it.  There was plenty of room for my pram (a big big plus for this as most chinese restaurant don't), it was not stuffy at all, and we got a table without booking (although this might not be a good thing.....).  Anyway, we were promptly seated.  The yum-cha session here consisted of the usual ladies-pushing-trolleys-full-of-food, with a combination of yum cha staples and noodle dishes which can be ordered ala carte from the menu.

The food was okay in general.  The stand out item was the steamed prawn dumplings which had whole prawns in them.  Other than that the "Cheung Fun" (steamed rice noodle with fillings), the steamed buns (we had pork ones and custard ones), fried wontons, and a few of the other dumpling dishes were of average standard.  You won't be wowed by it but you're unlikely to find it offensive either.

We had some "Dofu Fa" (silken tofu in a sweet syrup/soup) for dessert, and I would advise you share this as it's about one and half size the normal serve you would get at another yum cha place.  Again it was quite average, and would probably be much improved with a bit more ginger in the syrup. 

The hit of the day for my kids, hahahaha :
Not sure how chinese these are......
and excuse the obligatory soy sauce spillage on the table cloth....

The have these custom make high chairs that I've only ever previously seen in chinese restaurants overseas, which were also a hit for the kids.  It made them feel like they were sitting at the right height for the table, but yet not really in a "kiddy" high chair!

The staff took a little prompting but generally got everything that we requested for us.  However you can clearly tell that they HATE their job.  (A trait common in chinese restaurant staff???)

There was a display on the table which advertised for a "mah jong" package : $68 for yum cha lunch, afternoon tea and dinner (while you play mah jong with your mates!)  Ah, the old chinese version of the internet gaming party, with catering!

There was also a very impressive wine room display, although I cannot comment on this as I'm not a drinker.

Eat.Play.Shop. recommends : this is a good place for yum cha if you don't like crowds, and want to park and walk to the restaurant without being outside (ie/maybe on rainy day)
Give it a miss : if you like a big variety of food for yum cha.  You won't find it here.

Kam Fook on Urbanspoon

Toilets : Westfield Doncaster toilets just outside its entrance.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Eat. @ Lindt Cafe (Chadstone)

Shop B193 Chadstone Shopping Centre ph : (03) 9563 3355

Lindt opened its second cafe at Chadstone in 2009, when the new section of the shopping centre was unveiled.  I have always been tempted but never actually visited since I'm a fan of the Koko Black iced chocolate and always end up there instead.  On this occasion I thought I'd give it a go.

The staff were very accomodating and we were seated very quickly.  I scanned the menu and kind of gasped.  The prices were not very kid "friendly" - The chocochino was $2, a petit chocolate shake was $5.50, and a kid sundae $7!  Fortunately the kids had already had lunch and I was really just trying to grab a quick bite, so they chose some macarons.

I ordered the lunch special (available to 2pm daily) which is $14, and includes a beverage of your choice.  There are a selection of panini's, quiches, rolls and sandwiches.  I went with the Salmon Tramezzini, which is "Club sandwich with smoke salmon, dill, baby watercress, pickled cucumber and goat's curd".  It was lucky I had chosen this as when I went to order I was informed they had run out of 3 of the 7 choices on the menu.

The Tramezzini, as fancy as that sounded (to me), was more ordinary than the font I'm currently typing in.  It looked and tasted like something I could make at home, only I'd probably be able to make it better looking and more delicious. (and I'm not that great a cook!)

I chose the Iced Chocolate for a drink because a) it costs $7.50 when ordered alone, and b) this is a "chocolat cafe" for goodness sake!  Again I was disappointed.  Iced Chocolates should have a lovely balance of chocolate flavour without being too sweet, and also a good milk to ice-cream ratio so it does not come out like a half melted bucket of ice confection.  Unfortunately there was not enough chocolate taste in our Iced chocolate.  It was more like an ICED-milk, with some brown coloring squirted as an after thought.

Then came the 2 macarons (for $5!).  Oh sorry, quoting their webpage - "at Lindt, we call them Delice" (why?) You get to pick a flavour and because pink is the favourite color of the month for the kids, strawberry what-ever-you-want-to-call-them it was!  Those who know me will know that I've been on a crazy macaron baking spree lately and I'm quite picky with my macarons.  I think the picture will say it all.

Cracked shell!  Awful Feet! Messy Filling! And $2.50 EACH!

Luckily my Macaron Monster is not a connosieur yet and gulped down the 2 macarons in a jiffy.

Maybe they were having a bad day, but for that sort of pricing, I expected a lot more in quality (if not quantity), than I got.

Eat. Play. Shop. Recommends : Trying somewhere else.  A massive chocolate hit can be had with the Koko Black Iced Chocolate.  It's 25c more but if you're splurging .....
Give it a miss : if you really like Lindt.  Instead, go by Coles and buy a box of lindor balls and make your own cup of tea. 

Lindt Chocolat Café on Urbanspoon

Toilets : the best parents room at Chaddy are located right next to this cafe.  The best bit!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Play. @ Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm (a bit of Eat. & Shop. as well!)

244 Shands Road, Main Ridge VIC 3928 ph : (03) 5989 4500
Nov - April (strawberry season), daily 9am-5pm, May - Oct, weekends 11am-4pm

I love the strawberry farm!  From when I was little and used to go with my parents, to when I was holidaying with friends while I was at Uni (yes, very healthy recreations!), and now that I'm a parent with little ones, a trip to the strawberry farm is always fun and something I eagerly look forward to!

The drive down to Sunny Ridge has been made a lot more pleasant for us since Eastlink opened.  The kids are kept busy on the look out for the "art" along the side of the highway, and by the time we hit Frankston (and the holiday traffic usually draws us to a slow crawl), they are asleep. 

You can chose what you like to do once you get there.  The star attraction during strawberry season is of course the U-Pick fields where for $8/adult and $4/child, you get to pick your own strawberries off the plants to fill a 500g/250g punnet.  (Note that you can't go into the fields just to "supervise", if you go in, you'll have to pay, but you'll get your 500g quota!)  If you're there at the right time, you will find the freshest, juiciest and best strawberries you'll taste this side of town,  and the price is often not any more than what you would pay for lower quality berries at the supermarket. 

There's quite a large area for strawberry picking

We were there on a pretty hot day, and some of the strawberries were being scorched by the black plastic ground cover, so the trick was to find the nicest, ripe strawberries that were hanging and not touching the ground! 

My packed box of strawberries!

After the "hard labour" of picking strawberries (it was for us anyway, with 3 kids in toll!)  it was great to sit down to some delicious strawberry treats.  The kids of course went straight for a scoop of ice-cream. 

I love a good devonshire tea and they make a good one here, with their delicious strawberry jam.

We also got a kids Strawberry Knickerbocker, which was ice-cream piled on top of fresh strawberries covered in strawberry sauce and chocolate topping.

Sunny Ridge also produces a whole lot of other berries which they use for jams.  A bit of shopping after all that is inevitable, especially after we cleaned up the strawberry jam that came with the devonshire tea....!!!

Jam Glorious Jam, and sauces and coulis and even alcohol!

There's also a great range of local produce for sale.

If you can't be bothered working in the fields, you can
always just grab a pack to take home!

We've been here during public holidays in the summer and the farm can be hectic, filled with locals and overseas visitors alike.  My tip is to try to come during a week day if you can.  The other tip is to throw some gumboots into your car boot.  The aisles between the strawberry plants can be deceptively muddy.  I was so glad my kids had their gumboots, even though it was hot and sunny on the day we were there, the ground was really muddy due to the recent rain.  We were given plastic bags to wrap around our feet (yes, height of fashion!) but mine ripped and I am not the sort of person to enjoy mud between my toes. 

These NQR strawberries for jam look nicer than most of the ones
at the supermarket and greengrocers!

Eat. Play. Shop. Recommends : Head down the peninsula and make a day of it! There are lots of attractions in the area, like Arthur's Seat (it's closed but the view is spectacular and the maze there is pretty cool), the beaches in Rye, Blairgowrie and Sorrento, Red Hill Market, cherry picking, Portsea Pub and so on.  Oh, and bring an esky to transport your strawberries back home without making strawberry jam or wine on the way!
Give it a miss : on public holidays, and make sure you come during strawberry season if you want to pick the berries.  You can still shop and eat at the cafe during the off season.  Check here for updates on how the strawberry season is going, and it's not a bad idea to ring them to check whether U-Pick is open before you head down for the day.
And finally, an amusing sight of a row of what appears to be "workers in asian hats"
picking strawberries for the farm in the restricted acess area.

Toilets - they have a row of semi-porta loo type toilets, and also a disabled toilet which has change facilites for babies.