Sunday, March 25, 2012

Eat. @ Ladro (Fitzroy)

224 Gertrude St, Fitzroy ph : (03) 9415 7575

When did Winter 2012 hit Melbourne?  I swear I just waved good-bye to Summer last week, did I blink and miss Autumn in its entirety already?  Nonetheless it gave us a really good excuse to check out the wood fire oven dishes at Ladro on Gertrude St in Fitzroy.  (There's another one in Prahran)  Even more exciting for us is its newish kids' menu, declaring its readiness for meals with little ones!

We learnt tonight that Ladro means Thief in Italian

We had a booking at 5:30pm for the family-friendly early sitting, and the restaurant was empty when we first arrived.  We were warmly greeted and promptly seated, with a portable high chair fitted to one of the standard chairs for Bubs.  Luckily Bubs fell asleep for the entire meal so it was a lot less chaotic for us than usual!  The restaurant filled up pretty quickly after that but the service remained impressively attentive and efficient.

The kids menu offered pizza or pasta + dessert of bomboloni or ice-cream for $12.50.  My kids loved the puzzles on the other side of the menu and the color pencils that occupied them until their meals arrived.  Which meant no one hijacked my iPhone for the whole evening!

I enjoyed a sparkling blood orange drink by Daylesford and Hepburn Mineral Springs Co. ($4.5) while the kids kept busy.

Bread came with a very fruity olive oil that Hubby loved.

The older 2 shared a pizza and a pasta.  The Margherita pizza is a pretty decent size (enough that I had a slice, or two!)  Lovely thin base the way we like it.  I'm glad the kids enjoy a good old fashioned, simple pizza made in a wood fire oven.  

Margherita pizza

The prosciutto crudo pasta was delicious in its simplicity. (The large amount of cheese on top was requested by Mini Me)  

Prosciutto Crudo Pasta

For our mains we ordered the special for the night, which was wood fire oven roasted quail, with parmagiano potato mash, mushrooms and truffle honey ($36).  2 perfectly roasted quails rested atop the mushies and mash, the truffle honey giving that hint of sweetness that makes you want more.  Not a huge dish but very tasty, and something I would definitely have again.

Oven Roasted Quail

Rest assured we did not go hungry as the pizza was pretty big.  We ordered the Badabing ($20.5) which was topped with tomato, provolone, pork sausage, oregano, fresh chilli and basil.  Again a simple pizza with excellent flavours.  Our only gripe being that the base was a bit too charred (even for a wood fire pizza) and gave it  too much of a burnt taste. 

Badabing Pizza

The kids wanted dessert even before they had their mains, so their Jock's ice-cream was predictably well received!  Excellent chocolate flavour and real vanilla bean meant that Mummy enjoyed it too, when they graciously "shared" some with me!

Jock's Ice-cream, in vanilla bean and chocolate

Our dessert of Bomboloni, Italian doughnuts served with ice-cream and blood orange syrup was well worth the extra 20 minute wait.  The freshly fried (and perfectly round!) sugar dusted dough balls were super crunchy on the outside whilst being lovely and soft inside.  Served piping hot,, their temperature melts the ice-cream, which mixes in with the syrup into a delicious sauce that goes perfectly with the dough.  The highlight of the meal for me, and not only because it's dessert!

Bomboloni are da bomb!

There is an enclosed courtyard with a lovely skylight to the back of the restaurant, which has good pram access and a casual ambiance.  All up an excellent early dinner spot for families, with great service and delicious, simple food.  I already want more doughnuts and it's been less than 24 hours!

Ladro Gertrude on Urbanspoon

Tim from one of my favourite blogs TOT : Hot or Not also recently visited Ladro, read about their visit here.

Highchairs - yes
Toilets - yes, super clean, and although there's no proper change table, a flat space next to the main sink seems quite serviceable for a quick nappy change

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sweet & Sticky Event @ Brunetti Carlton (Melbourne Food & Wine Festival)

March is a fabulous month for the food and wine lovers of Melbourne, as it's the annual Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF).  It is truly amazing how many restaurants, providores and producers are involved in this event, pulling out all the tricks in their bags to showcase their goodies.  Masterclasses, Pop-Up bars and express lunches are just some of the events that are on offer this year, which runs from March 2nd to 21st.  With 3 kids it is difficult for us to attend many of these excellent opportunities to challenge our taste buds, but when an opportunity came up for us to attend the Sweet & Sticky Event hosted by Buller Wines at Brunetti in Carlton, Hubby graciously looked after the kids while I attended with my soon-to-be-sister-in-law.  

The chocolate fondue on arrival!

And what a cool event to attend!  In essence it is a wine and chocolate tasting masterclass, with experts "walking" us through 8 aged fortified wines matched with 8 delectable hand-made chocolates/desserts.  Buller Wines is a fourth generation family winery in Rutherglen, Victoria, and Richard, Mica, Susan and Angela host the informative evening in a casual and relaxed setting.  Those who know me (or have followed my blog) will know of my lack of experience and tolerance for any significant amount of alcohol, but even for such a novice as myself, the evening was very interesting and easy to follow.   

Richard Buller is a well travelled and extremely knowledgeable Winemaker, who is a fountain of information with his extensive  experience in wine including "having grown up drinking it all his life".  Mica Benito is a passionate Chocolatier who has been in the industry for 13 years.  She hand-makes all the chocolates and ice-creams that are matched with the wines on the evening and has taken my chocolate appreciation to another level.

Richard talking us through the wine-tasting.

I quite enjoyed the sweetness of the wines, my favourite being the Vintage Port.  Despite knowing I had 5 more wines to taste I finished this one off!  It was also paired with my favourite chocolate, which is the 70% Dark Chocolate from Ecuador.  Mica's other creations ranged from oh-so-smooth vanilla caramels, to truffles and chocolate with liqueur laced fillings, but something about this combination really hit the spot for me.

One of the highlights for me was experiencing the Rare Tokay poured over hand-made vanilla bean ice-cream.  A very grown up treat for sure!

There are still 2 more sessions of the Sweet & Sticky Event during this year's Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.  Tickets are $65 per person and includes all the wines and chocolates during the tasting, as well as a chocolate fondue on arrival, and some savoury treats during the break (to help me soak up some of my poor alcohol tolerance!)  I had a great time trying all the wines and chocolates with my (nearly!) sis-in-law.  Hopefully as the kids get older, getting baby-sitting will get easier and Hubby can come along next year!

Tickets to the event can be purchased from here.
Check out Buller Wines on their website.
And of course Brunetti Cafe's webpage - I found out they're moving back to the their original site, which is where Borders used to be!
And finally if you're wondering what it's like taking kids to Brunetti, here's my previous post on Brunetti @ Myer

Disclaimer - My guest and I attended the Sweet & Sticky Even compliment of Brunetti Cafe

Monday, March 5, 2012

Eat. @ Huxtaburger

106 Smith St, Collingwood ph (03) 9417 6328

On a trip to the museum with the kids recently we stopped by the much hyped Huxtaburger for lunch.  Yes, I'm one of those a-tad-cynical-about-hype sorta person, but let me say right now we all loved the burgers and I was most impressed by the service we got.  

The initial plan was for Hubby to drop me off out front and go grab the burgers to go.  However, after ordering, the lovely girl at the counter was most enthusiastic and accommodating to get us some seating, despite being told that I will be bringing along Hubby, 2 kids and another in a stroller.  So I ran back to our car parked round the corner and brought the gang back as our order was being prepared.  Unfortunately the spot she had for us had been taken by another party while she was tending the till, but she made sure we got the next available table out front before she went back to serve more customers.  I have to say that was above and beyond what I expected from a "burger joint".

And the meal we got was pretty fabulous.   The house burger is of course the Huxtaburger, which gives you beef pattie, mustard, mayo, tomato sauce, tomato, cheese, lettuce and pickles served in a sesame covered brioche bun ($8).  I ordered the Bills, which is the Huxtaburger with added bacon, egg, pineapple and beetroot ($10).  I am so going to turn into a fatty because I loved, loved, loved this!  Brioche as burger bun is quite the trend these days (we had sliders with the same idea at Taste of Melbourne last year), but this is a change I fully embrace!  The slightly sweet, buttery bun worked really well with the moist and juicy beef pattie.  Why did I never think of this before?

Hubby attacked his Theo ($11) before I got a decent picture of it.  This is the Huxtaburger with bacon, double pattie, double cheese and BBQ sauce.  Do I even need to tell you whether he liked it or not?

The kids had a Rudy ($5) each which is essentially a mini burger.  Went down a treat.

The burgers are served with no frills on old fashioned metal plates, which seemed totally fitting as the burgers are the kings here.  Glass bottled soft drinks and cold beer round out the meal nicely.  Crinkle cut chips are served in paper cups asking for you to chomp! chomp! chomp! on them in 2 sizes.  We had the bigger serves, at $3 each.  Bubs loved these; okay we did too!

Sitting in proximity to Josie Bones and Monsieur Truffe, Huxtaburger brings another dimension to the increasing number of eateries on Smith St.   I really did enjoy this meal, and I can't imagine ever eating an average burger that does not come in a brioche bun ever again.  Considering the quality and freshness of the burgers, the prices are quite reasonable, since you'd be expecting to pay $6-$8 nowadays for the dried out premade burgers sold at most take-aways anyway.  Dare I say I like this even better than those at  Andrews Hamburgers?  Gasp!  

Huxtaburger on Urbanspoon
Highchair - No