Friday, November 30, 2012

Eat. @ Mister Close

Shop 13, Midtown Plaza, 246 Bourke St, Melbourne CBD 3000 ph (03) 9654 7778

Mr Close is found in Midtown Plaza, near the entrance to the city branch of Daiso, and it's not where you expect a cool cafe with excellent coffee would be.  But it is exactly that, and more!  Firstly I HAD to know who Mr Close is/was, and a look at their website reveals that Mr Close was the Year 8 teacher that taught the lads who run this joint Geography.  (This brought back hilarious memories of MY Year 8 Geography teacher who used to wiggle his bum unintentionally every time he wrote on the blackboard, tehehe!)  Anyways Mr Close sounds like a cool dude who would "take you around the world", just as the "honest food" served here aims to do!

A mid morning visit meant I was having brunch again (Mummies don't get to eat breakfasts till late) so I ordered the aptly named Fast Breaker, a roll filled with housemade thyme mayo & relish, tomato, bacon, poached egg and toasted.  Yummy combo and I especially liked the thickly sliced bacon.

Of course I had my usual mocha which was lovely and smooth, with beautiful latte art.

Macaron Monster had already had breakfast (even if I don't get to eat in the morning I DO try and make sure my kids do!) so a hot chocolate was a treat.  

We shared a canele from Gâteaux de Bordeaux.  Oh I love these custardy soft but crispy things.    These ones are some of the best in Melbourne.  One is never enough! 

The cafe was spacious inside with room for prams.  There were no high chairs but the kids, even Bubs, did okay on the benches next to me.  On the other side of the cafe is another area with lower tables to sit, ideal for office workers in the area or uni students taking a break.

Lovely to see a great cafe bang smack in the middle of town.  We will definitely be back to try their other offerings.

Mister Close on Urbanspoon

Toilet - yes, in the centre
Highchair - not that I could find

Friday, November 16, 2012

Eat. @ Mr Hive Kitchen and Bar

8 Whiteman St, Southbank ph (03) 9292 8300

A little while ago Hubby and I realised that we hadn't been on a date night for 9 WHOLE MONTHS!!!  Life has been ultra busy for us this year with juggling our work, kids, illnesses and other commitments.  And now that we we have 3 kids it always feel extra difficult to organise babysitting.  An opportunity came up for us to go out by ourselves and we were crazy with excitement - a meal where (hopefully) there's no crying, food throwing, or threats of "no dessert unless dinner is finished"!  I looked through the long list of fine dining restaurants on my list and finally decided on Mr Hive Kitchen and Bar.  We had not had the opportunity to visit prior to its transformation from Maze.  I'm glad to say that it more than lives up to the hype and we had a fabulously night dining out.

We sipped on our lemonade and dry ginger as we try to narrow down what to order from the menu.  As you'll see we went a bit crazy with the ordering!

The first of our 3 shared entrees was Crispy Little Pigs ($18).  Moreish morsels of pork with interesting zesty sidekicks of watermelon.  If you order ahead they do a meal with a whole suckling pig which sounds very interesting.

Following that we had the Charred octopus share plate ($18)  which was perfectly cooked.   In particular I really enjoyed the black garlic used in this dish.  Such an interesting ingredient, I'm not usually a fan of garlic but this was really delicious, and the dish was very pretty to look at.

Cured Kingfish with fingerlimes and smoked yogurt ($16) was very fresh and light.

For mains we had a Braised Lamb ($33) special for the night which was very nice.  We slow cook a lot so it didn't feel like a very exciting dish for us in the end, but the soft lamb and the sauce made for a bit of a comfort food" dish.

The Venison ($38) was perfectly cooked to rare, and came with a delicious parsnip mash and braised red cabbage. 

Sides of chips and autumn greens ($9 each) completed our mains.

I must confess one of the reason I picked Mr Hive was due to all the beautiful pictures of their desserts I had seen on my instagram feed.  For this part of the meal we were moved to the dessert bar and watched their dessert chefs work their magic.  We continued the food frenzy and ordered 3 desserts!  I told you it's been ages since we'd been out without the kids, and we seriously ordered like adults who didn't know when their next decent meal would be!!!

We shared Mrs Hive's Chocolate Bar, with peanuts and caramel ($18).  Melt in the mouth dessert that Hubby and I both loved.  

I had the White chocolate, with, mango, basil and coconut ($16).  The basil sorbet was a surprise but went remarkably well with the other elements.  The coconut mousse was very light and refreshing.

There's a 15 minute wait for the raspberry souffle, understandably as this has to be made fresh in the oven.  A scoop of heavenly ice-cream plunged into the centre of the steaming souffle made this totally irresistible, although my stomach had been totally defeated by the amount of food I had consumed on the night.  Hubby battled on and thanks to this awesome version he has dropped some pretty heavy hints for me to move on to souffles for my next baking adventure!

Last but not least, cute little bottles of milk shake and truffles.  I must confess I am ashamed of not finishing this even though it was ultras delicious!  We were also sent home with little bags of handmade boiled lollies and treats for a sweet souvenir of the visit.

The service was attentive and accomodating, the ambience was lovely and the food was well thought out and delicious.  Throw into that a discount with the entertainment book and we had ourselves a pretty awesome date night meal!  I can't wait to go back and have the Dessert Degustation. Hmmmm!

Mr. Hive Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

PS - I just realised that I had forgotten to publish this post a few months ago.  The menu has recently changed into their Spring Menu, although many of the favourites like the Crispy Little Pig and the desserts remain unchanged.  The prices have gone up a little as compared to those quoted in this post.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Eat. @ Giddiup

269 Coventry St, South Melbourne 3205 ph (03) 9682 8820

Giddiup is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it coffee nook on Coventry Street, diagonally across the street from the Made In Japan Warehouse in South Melbourne.  I must have walked past it a thousand times without even realising it's there, as the shop doesn't "declare" itself at first glance.  The fit out is simple, with basic stools, tables, and even a few milk-crate-converts for seating.  Friendly and efficient service makes it a place you want to come back to.  Bubs and I stopped by for a mid-morning pit stop after some market shopping.

I  ordered a little BLT slider from the menu, which was simple, delicious food and hit the spot perfectly.  (It comes in 2, but the waitress let me order just 1 as I wanted to have sweets after.)  Coffee is good here, as expected in this neck of woods.  I enjoyed my mocha with a little cherry danish by Noisette.  Other pastries and cakes are available daily from the front counter.  Not a lot of room in the shop itself but patrons were accommodating and I had no issues with Bubs in a stroller.

Definitely a great spot to have a break when shopping in the area!

Giddiup on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Eat. @ Coffeehead

8-10 Railway Parade, Camberwell 3124 ph (03) 9831 1400

A rare day off to do some medical tests for myself meant that I could have lunch out with Hubby on a weekday!  He always complains that I try all the cool new places without him (as it's less busy on weekdays) so we went somewhere we both hadn't been before.  Bubs was in full co-operation mode and slept in the pram for the whole meal.

Coffeehead is a spacious converted space just a bit further down Railway Parade from Brunetti's Camberwell.  The fit out is retro and the ambience is casual.  Plenty of room meant that maneuvring our pram to our table was easy and unobtrusive to other diners.

After all the fasting for tests lately I was hanging out for a coffee.  I sipped on my mocha with the pretty latte art and felt a sense of familiarity.  I looked up and spotted my favourite barista from Coffeehit at the machine!  He makes a fantastic coffee and this of course was no exception!

We ordered 2 of their mini wagyu burgers ($8.9 for one, $17.5 for two).  The brioche is all the rage now, and housemade which is great, albeit just a tad dry for my liking.  The wagyu was certainly juicy though and made up for that!  There was quite a bit slaw and ironically I made quite a dripping mess eating this but it was very tasty!

I loved the pulled pork tacos ($17.9) though.  A perfect serve of pulled pork on soft toasted tortillas and a a side of fresh salsa, mayo and lime.  I really liked this dish and would definitely have it again.

Coffeehead also do their own roasts and there are lots of bags of beans for decoration and for sale. I really quite enjoyed our visit here and would definitely come again for both the coffee and the tacos and stalk the barista!)

Coffeehead on Urbanspoon

Highchair - Yes
Toilet - yes, and big enough to fit a pram.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Batch 21 - The Wedding Macarons

I am very flattered that my brother-in-law and my now-sister-in-law asked me to make my macarons as their bonbonieres for their wedding earlier on this year.  They are known to be hard to impress so it was a real honour (and challenge!) to be part of their special day!

We decided to make Lime Butter Cream and Raspberry White Chocolate Ganache flavoured macarons, as they are my most consistent and reliable flavours, plus the pink and green colours look so preeeetty!

All up I needed 100 boxes of 2 macarons each with extras.  100 x 2 macarons = 200 macarons = 400 shells + extras!  All in all Hubby and I made over 500 shells 3 nights prior to the wedding.  We couldn't start till about 8pm that evening after work and sorting the kids out for bed first, and baked till 1am the next morning.  Luckily we made extras as I got plenty of maca-wrong shells! (of course that ALWAYS happens when you LEAST want them to!)

Then I spent the next day making the filling and then piping and assembling the macs together.  That night we had fun matching the macarons and packaging them into little boxes with the bride and groom.

I have to admit that I did lose some sleep whilst planning on timing the macaron making for them to be perfectly matured for the reception, whilst still juggling work, and kids school and activities in the week prior.  Fortunately the obsessive planning worked out in execution! The wait staff at the restaurant must have thought I was crazy as I was ultra protective of the storage and handling of the macarons right up to the moment they were placed onto the tables as bonbonieres. 

The effort was well worth it in the end.  The wedding went off smoothly, the bride and groom looked relaxed and radiant, and I got lots of compliments from the guests for the macs at the end of the day!  I know I will never be a professional macaron maker but it was great fun having a taste of what it felt like to make such a large quantity of macarons!

Lessons Learned - I bow my head down to pastry chefs everywhere.  I love my baking but I don't think I will ever be able to handle doing it as a profession!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Eat. @ Le Flaneur

5 Church St, Hawthorn 3122 ph (03) 9853 8587

I keep meaning to blog about this lovely cafe in Hawthorn.  It's become one of my favourite places to visit for a coffee and a meal.  As you will see in just a small fraction of the many photos I've taken here, Le Flaneur is cute as a button, cool and quirky and homely all at once.  Needless to say I've been more than once so get ready for tons of pretty pics!

The first time I visited was in the Summer. (Oh I miss you Summer, are you back yet? I love wearing everything with my boots but I'm REALLY over winter!)  We drove past on a 33 degree day on the way back from Parenthood (another lovely store) in Richmond and my shocking air conditioner in the car stopped working.  Thank goodness it stopped right near this cute cafe so we hopped out and I had my first cold drip coffee here.  

It was fantatic, I had some of it as is, then added some milk and made a rather grown up ice-coffee!  In the mean time Mini Me had an Ice Chocolate.  Again this was a little "grown up" for her, I had a taste and it's less sweet but more dark chocolatey than her usual.

We finished the visit with a couple of  Macarons by Josephine on a pretty plate.

Fast forward to winter and the lovely coffee with the gorgeous coffee art brought me back again and again.  Some of my most popular pictures on instagram came from here!

I'm told they source their products fresh and plan their menu for the week from there.  The Lamb Special I had here was one of my favourite dishes this year.  Served with pumpkin and purple carrots the dish was beautiful to look at as well as tasty.

Mini Me has been going through a soup phase and really enjoyed their soup.  My favourite bit  has to be that buttery brioche served on the side (yes I was a bad Mummy and ate half of it!)

Another main we enjoyed was the Pork Belly.  What more can I ask for in our cold Melbourne winter than a big slab of beautifully cooked, juicy pork belly?

Dessert of course! Yes we followed up with some delicious Brioche French Toast, served with BACON and MAPLE. Brioche + Bacon + Maple = my favourite ingredients EVER, so this dish was a dream for me!

We also can't resist the baked goods on display in the front cabinet.  I have lots of pictures of these, but here's one of a dainty raspberry syrup cake and of course, more macarons.  

In between courses I just couldn't help snapping pictures of EVERYTHING.  I love the interior styling, with whimsical touches everywhere.  The pictures!  The lights!  The chairs! The cushions!

As you can see we love this place.  Maybe when you visit you'll want to grab a quiet corner for a coffee.  You'll probably spy us over at the big communal table trying to stop our excited kids from knocking over their cute glasses and tableware. (Yes it's already happened....)

Le flaneur on Urbanspoon

Toilets - Yes, very cute, spacious and can fit a pram!
Highchair - No