Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Eat. @ Tasti D-lite

Shop 5, 450 Chapel St, South Yarra 3141 ph (03) 9827 4124

A super quick post about Tasti D-lite, which we stumbled upon recently when I went to check out Topshop on Chapel St.  Chapel St was chock full of teenagers thanks to the One Direction shop, and the kidlets had enough of weaving through the sea of people so we stopped by this little shop for a bribe treat to the get them through the afternoon!

Founded in 1987 in New York, Tasti D-lite offers over 100 different flavours of frozen dessert which are mostly between 70 - 120 calorie per serve, and therefore as their logo says, you can "dessert your guilt".  So far there are 2 shops - Chapel St and Southland.  Initially I thought it would be similar to colombo, but this is not frozen yogurt, but a lower calorie soft serve alternative to ice-cream.  There are over 100 flavours which they can make, with "flavours of the day" being a a little cheaper and changing, daily of course - find today's flavours here.

All the flavours and their calorie count!
(click on image for a larger view)

We shared a chocolate one with sprinkles (of course!).  The flavour is really not bad considering it's reasonable low calories.  The kids loved it of course, and I'm hoping next time we can be more adventurous and try out other flavours! (Something with peanut butter perhaps?)

Tasti D-Lite on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Eat. @ CheekyChinos

145, Cecil Street, South Melbourne 3205 ph (03) 9077 6492

Regular readers of this blog will know that while I write about places to eat with kids,  I'm usually not a fan of kid-centric dining, where food and drink seem to come last on the list.  There's a time and place for heated up sausage rolls, cordial and giant slides and ball pits (ie/ birthday parties), but I don't really want to do that when we go out for our little dining out experiences. Cheekychinos in South Melbourne however, has opened up this type of dining for me with a fantastic twist that will no doubt attract parents with young kids (including myself!) for return visits over and over again.

Essentially Cheekychinos is a cool cafe, with an adjoining play area with 2 trained staff members looking after the kids at play, while you get to have your meal in (relative) peace.  It is situated on Cecil St, diagonally across the road from South Melbourne Market. 

There are less than a dozen tables in the dining area, and on the day we visited, the cafe was already full to the brim at 10:30am.  We were initially turned away and advised to come back later, as the play area was already full - I think they only allow 6 children in at the same time - and the tables were all taken.  I decided to start ordering anyway since there were a few spots at the bench facing the front window.  Luckily by the time I finished  putting in my orders a table was available, so we had morning tea and put our names down on the waiting list for the play area.

The menu offers food that you would expect from most of the nice inner suburb cafes, with a great selection of healthy options and gluten free fare.

Macaron Monster had fun picking a drink from their "Chino Art" menu, which is CheekyChinos' range of creative babycinos ($2).  Of course the one we chose on the day was the aptly named Rainbow Chino, which was covered in 100's and 1000's!  The range is quite interesting, from the Cosmic Chino, with cosmic wormhole, moon and star sprinkles and mini m&m's, to the rather new-age sounding Tranquil Chino, which is caffeine free chai froth, honey, cinnamon sprinkle with gingerbread man.

My mocha ($3.8) was very good, not your average coffee at a play centre!

I ordered The Gruffalo's Lunch ($9) for Bubs, which was shaved virginia ham, swiss cheese, crunchy veg sticks, hummus and apples slices.  I'm proud to say that Bubs has inherited my love for little courses of food served on a platter, and enjoyed his meal so much that he spent the whole time eating playing with the food!  The grapes and the currants were a nice touch I thought.

Macaron Monster fuelled up on an Angry Chook ($5), which is smashed egg on a toasted mini roll.  Cute, and pretty tasty!

While Macaron Monster played, I sat back and ate a mini lemon cheesecake.

So what about the play area?  It is lovely, clean, safe, colourful, and probably most appropriate for kids from crawlers to about 5 years old.  The design and colour scheme was very appealing and Macaron Monster had a ball. The staff were patient and lovely, and there were 2 of them looking after 6 kids.  It does cost $10 per child per 30 minutes ($15 for 60 minutes) but I think if you factor in most play centres charging $5-10 for unsupervised play it's not too bad.  

Being a baby friendly cafe means that it's also got a pretty clean and user-friendly baby change area.

Overall we had quite an enjoyable time at CheekyChinos.  I was impressed with the coffee and menu selections, and Macaron Monster obviously loved the play area.  The only issue I can foresee is that this place is way too popular for the number of tables it has to offer, so it might be difficult to find a spot during cafe peak-hour! 

CheekyChinos on Urbanspoon

Toilets - Yes
Highchairs - Yes, and in abundance!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Eat. @ Simon's Peiking Duck Restaurant

197B Middleborough Rd, Box Hill South 3128 ph : (03) 9898 5944

In need of another dose of duck in the suburbs, we recently had a big family dinner out at Simon's, the famed duck-slicing ninja restaurateur who used to be behind Old Kingdom before retiring, then re-emerging in this little strip mall in the 'burbs.  

There are 2 seatings, at 6pm and 8pm, and like other specialty duck restaurants they will ask you how many ducks you would require for the night at the time of booking.  We've been told that on average you would share one duck between two adult diners.  The duck menu choices of A ($55) and B ($63) only differ based on your choice of noodles that are served after the main Peking duck event.  

The kids were totally entertained by Simon flipping pancakes onto their plates.   The pancakes were super thin and more delicious than the ones found at the average Chinese restaurant.  Simon belted out instructions on how the Peking duck should be wrapped and chastised us when it was done wrongly, in a way only an Asian Chef can get away with!

The ducks were all perfectly cooked, yielding good sized slices with light and crispy skin and succulent meat.  We ordered 4 ducks to feed 8 adults and 2 kids, finding that the quality was consistent and there was certainly plenty to go around.  

If you're still hungry after the Peking duck is gone, you can fill up with duck noodles and soup.  These were nothing to write home about, but that's not what you come to Simon's for.  The menu also had a list of the usual suspects of dishes available at your local Chinese place, but looking around us no one else ordered anything  but duck, duck and more duck!

Similar to both Old Kingdom and Little Beijing House, you're here for the sole purpose of eating yummy duck, and not for the ambiance, service or a lingering chat over desserts, nor for a place for the kids to roam and play after dinner.  However, I DO prefer this place to the other two in terms of food and access. (We had 2 kids and 3 toddlers amongst us who occupied 2 highchairs and we even manged a pram in the corner for the sleeping baby).  Simon gave us the duck carcasses to take home for my mother-in-law to make stock, which made the duck go even further.  

Eat.Play.Shop. says - Excellent duck in the 'burbs.  Need to book and visit the ATM prior as they are Cash Only. 

Simon's Peiking Duck Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Highchair - yes (I'd mention you need this at booking)
Toilets - yes