Friday, April 26, 2013

Eat. @ MoVida Bar de Tapas Y Vino

1 Hosier Lane, Melbourne CBD 3000 ph (03) 9663 3038

My latest catch up with the "Kinder Girls" brought us to a fantastic night out at MoVida.  None of us had been before, and if I must say so our nights out are getting more adventurous, in a good way!  We have gotten into the habit of ordering a lot of dishes to share, rather than sitting down for a traditional 3 course meal, so that we can all try something new and different.  Movida was an excellent choice as the menu is full of sharing dishes.

After ordering wine we went straight down to the business of ordering.  The first thing to arrive at the table was the only dish we didn't share. The Anchoa ($4.5) is a hand filleted Cantabrian artisan anchovy on crouton with smoked tomato sorbet.  Salty, bitey anchovy with crunchy crouton and the tart sorbet all contrasting with each other for a really interesting taste.  

The reason I had the lone Anchoa was because the other girls went for the Maiz ($4.5 each), and I'm not a fan of baby corns. (Big boy and girl corns yes, and even the popped variety, but not so much the babies!)   Lucky for me, the girls didn't think I missed out on much, as they found the corn pleasant but not overwhelmingly memorable.

From here on everything was delightfully delicious.  I'm not being lazy (well, only a little), but I'll let the pictures and the food description do most of the talking!  Croquetas de Choco En Su Tinta ($4 each) are squid ink croquettes with cuttlefish.  We all agreed we could eat a whole tray of these!

Bunuelos de Bacalao ($4 each) are deep fried salt cod and potato fritta with pil pil.  Not your ordinary potato croquette!

Pescado Ahumado ($6 each)  is a plate of house cold smoked yellowtail kingfish with pine nut gazpacho sorbet.  It's served covered, and when the lid is opened with a flourish the smell of the smoke that escapes is amazing.  

Sardinilla con Salsa Agril Dulce ($4 each) is a baby sardine with lemon crumb and sweet and sour pickle.  Pretty and yummy!

Bogavante ($11 each) is Tasmanian Southern Rock Lobster Sashimi with Russian Salad.  Whilst I could not fault how fresh and delicious it tastes, $11 for a mouthful might not be the thing to order if you're starving!

The Queso ($4 each) was one of my favourite dishes of the night.  These little quince paste cigar with whipped goats milk cheese are sweet, savoury, crunchy and smooth all rolled into one!

Pollo Escabache al Miguel ($4.5 each) is a spiced chicken escabache tapa on crisp crouton.  

We also shared dishes listed under "Raciones", which means rations, and are bigger serves for sharing.  The Pulpo a la Galeega ($16.5) is a dish of Galician Style slow cooked octopus with potato that we all agreed was delicious and great as a share dish.

The Setas Asadas con Jerez ($13) is a serve of oven-roasted Portobello mushrooms finished with sherry vinegar.  They may not photography well but they tasted amazing, and I am not a fan of the fungus usually!

In contrast, the Pure de Cocido de Verano ($12.5) is a beautiful looking dish of Summer chickpea cream with Heirloom tomato salad.  This was a very pleasant surprise to me, as it's not something I would have ordered ordinarily, but turned out to be one of the most delightful dishes of the night.  The simple presentation of the dish surprises with the complexity of its flavours.  We could not get enough of that chickpea cream (recipe anyone?) and ended up soaking every last bit up with our bread.

For dessert my friend Jo went for the Flan as she's always been a fan.  (I'm a cheap poet, I know it I know it!)

I,  however, could not go past the Churros ($11). Four freshly prepared churros, served with a pot of rich and smooth chocolate for dipping.  Along with my English Brekkie tea, it was an awesome end to an awesome meal.

Fantastic food, lovely company and the cosy ambience made for another excellent night out with the girls.  Special thanks to my friend Jodi, who since learning of my blog, has become my "lighting director" for all my photos.  The girls are so patient and tolerant of me snapping away prior to anyone else touching the food!  So grateful for your friendships!

MoVida Bar de Tapas on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Eat. @ Cru

916 Glenferrie Rd, Kew ph (03) 9818 4366

So I've stared at this sign a lot and wondered if it's a co-incidence that it spells CRUSHED?
I have been meaning to blog about Cru for quite a while as it's become one of my favourites in recent months.  Don't be deceived by the small shop front on Glenferrie Rd.  The courtyard at the back of this little gem in Kew opens up to a lovely area perfect for families to enjoy their gorgeous coffee and food, especially on one of our beautiful autumn days.

Mochas ($3.5) are always perfect with beautiful latte art.

The kids love their ice chocolate ($5) on a warm sunny day.  Quite a generous serve so there's enough to share!

The menu offers many dishes that you'd expect at most of Melbourne's good cafes, but often with a great twist.  The Roesti ($18) with avocado, smoked salmon, red onion, crispy capers topped with a poached egg has all the elements I love in a breakfast, but also went together really well together.

My favourite dish at Cru however, is the LB's brioche french toast ($15), with bacon, banana,  and maple syrup.  Yep, that combo cannot go wrong with me!  It is such an amazing dish with the sweet maple, gooey banana and salty bacon all on a soft, almost custardy french toasted brioche.  Every bite is a "hmmmmm" moment.

Another view of this epic breakfast dish!

For the kids, the menu has a "Pipsqueaks" Section (so cute!)  The eggs n soldiers, knees n toes (even more cute!!!) is pretty good for $4 considering what lots of other cafes charge for  what is essentially eggs and toast.  The bread is brioche makes it even better (and more likely that Mummy will be stealing some!)

The runny runny yolk is of course perfect for dipping!

The Stop 80 ($5) which is a fried egg on brioche bun, with bacon and tasty cheese is a decent little snack for an adult or an excellent lunch option for the kids.

I've found the staff to have always been very friendly and accommodating with the kids when we've eaten here.  I must mention that on one of my visits I was gearing up for a coffee in peace as Bubs slept in the pram, when he suddenly woke up and shattered my vision of a stress-less brunch.  The staff appeared with a box full of colour pens and papers and helped me settle a slightly distressed post-nap Bubs, and I managed to still have a very enjoyable meal.  That combined with good food and coffee will no doubt help Cru become a popular local meeting place.  We'll be baaaaaaack!

Cru on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Eat. @ St. Ali North

815 Nicholson St, Carlton North 3054 ph  (03) 9380 5455

St Ali has a new outpost, and it's bigger and better than the original in my humble opinion!  Apart from being a great place for cool young things, coffee aficionados, bike riders and Carltonites in general, this is probably THE perfect cool cafe for parents' with kids!  

We've been here quite a few times and each time the staff and patrons have been super helpful and friendly, and it's so lovely to feel welcomed.

Just past the railway line on Nicholson St in Carlton North, I was most impressed that I could actually get off street parking right near the cafe, a bonus when you have a wriggling, energetic toddler who likes to run and is not a fan of holding hands!  This of course is partly due to the fact that a lot of the patrons are bike riders, and locals who walk there.  

Being bike-friendly, it also has a "ride-thru" where you can grab your drink without even hopping off your ride (also excellent for take-away coffees).  You can also grab the excellent baked goods and baguettes on the go from there.

Speaking of coffee, the mochas ($5) here are fantastic, as one would expect from a St. Ali outpost!  The chocolate comes in a separate little pot so that you can control the amount of cocoa you want with your caffeine.  A tad more expensive than the usual at $5 but it's worth it!  

Their big breakfast is the Big English Ex Spanglish ($20.5), with eggs anyway (ours were poached), sour dough, house bacon, bean ragout, pork & veal breakfast sausage, field mushrooms and roasted whole tomatoes.  Enough to feed quite a few kids, or a hungry husband!

You can also build your own meal, starting with Just Eggs ($9.5) - I had poached, but good to see the 63 degree egg as an option here - on a choice of sourdough, multi-grain or gluten free breads.  I of course added an avocado and feta mash ($4.5), and  a side of house bacon ($4.5) ,because bacon makes everything super duper!

The kids have their own "Little People's Menu" complete with colouring pencils for entertainment after ordering.

The kids menu offers small versions of some of the big people's dishes.  Bubs had a half serve of Eggs Anyway ($8.5), served with a couple of slices of sourdough.

The inscription on the plate is just too cute! (And kinda lucky Bubs can't read yet?!)

I couldn't go past the Sweet 16 & Never Been Kissed ($17.5) which is the roasted stone fruit, with brioche, bacon ice-cream (!!!!) and fruit jus.  Bacon ice-cream sounds strange but it totally works, with the taste of the caramelised bacon infused in a vanilla based ice-cream, melting over the sweet stone fruit and brioche.  I will definitely have this again!

When you're done with the food St Ali North is conveniently situated right next to a park, which happens to be a good bribe incentive for the kids to behave during the meal so they can have a play afterwards.

If they just can't wait to play outside you can always grab one of the picnic mats and eat and drink outside whilst the kidlets run around to their hearts' delight.

When visiting without the family I like to sit at the coffee bar for a bit of coffee gazing and peace and quiet of dining out solo.

The baked goods here change regularly and are fantastic, very hard to leave without taking some with me!

And yes I am guilty of getting a danish (or 2!) as a take away for a sneaky afternoon tea when the kids are tired out from all the eating and playing.

Highchairs - yes
Toilets - yes

St Ali North on Urbanspoon