Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Eat. @ Touchwood

480 Bridge Rd, Richmond 3121 ph (03) 9429 9347

My Bro-in-Law and Sis-in-Law are in town visiting from Overseas, and we've been out brunching Melbourne-style as often as we could manage in the last few weeks.  As their visit nears the end, much to the kids' distress, we took the opportunity to visit Touchwood on their second day of opening.  This is actually pretty cool, as we had no preconceptions of what to expect, being totally free from reviews and opinions.  Most of our cafe visits are usually well planned and researched, but the only things I'd known about Touchwood was that it's brand spanking new, serves 5 Senses coffee, and seats 110.  (The last fact being the clincher as it's the school holidays and we didn't fancy waiting to be squeezed into a little cafe with a party of 6 including 3 kids.)

What we found was a large, spacious cafe which was bright, minimalist but welcoming, with concrete floors and a liberal use of wood for furnishing.  The back opens up to a wood-decked courtyard where we were seated in a booth, perfect for our group, and extremely kid and pram friendly.

At a glance, the menu serves up interesting modern cafe fare with the usual all day breakfast suspects and lunch from 11:30am.  Dishes ranged from porridge, eggs, and fruit bread, to burgers, tacos and po'boys.  First thing first for me is of course a smooth, smooth mocha, of good Melbourne standard! ($3.8)

S-i-L had the impressive sounding (and looking) Tequila and citrus cured salmon, with poached eggs, smashed peas, dill, lemon creme fraiche, sauteed endives and sourdough toast ($17.5). She gave her approval and I think I will definitely have to try this on my next visit.

B-i-L had the Omelette, with caramelized shallots, roasted capsicums and buffalo mozarella and basil oil. ($16.5) and a side serve of cotechino sausage ($5).  He quite liked this, and I tried some of the sausage which was really flavour-full.

I ordered the Pulled Pork Tacos ($18.5) from the lunch menu.  This was really tasty, with the tender pork, contrasting with the crunchy mix of cabbage, fennel and coriander, and the winning addition of the sweet apple compote giving this taco an interesting twist.  I also liked that the ingredients were not overly watery even though the pulled pork was moist, which made it a relatively "neat" taco to eat!

Mini Me and Bubs had Scrambled eggs with toast and bacon ($10) from the "Little Peeps" section of the menu.  This was a pretty decently sized serve (we all shared!) and the scrambled eggs was lovely and creamy.

Last but not least Macaron Monster, my sweet-toothed child, ordered the Peanut butter and jelly whole meal waffle ($16) with poached raspberries, whipped peanut butter ricotta and peanut brittle, which of course went down a treat.   She generously shared some with us all and it was a delicious end to brunch.

A few little things like sharing the deck with smokers and an un-smiling (perhaps stressed?) wait staff common to many cafes were our only negatives.  Considering how new it is, Touchwood made a good impression on us and I have no doubt we will be back!

Touchwood on Urbanspoon

Toilets - Yes

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Eat. @ N2 Extreme Gelato

329 Brunswick St, Fitzroy 3065

We managed to have dinner out without the kidlets on the weekend, and as a bonus we "detoured" via Fitzroy to try out the new N2 Extreme Gelato that's just landed in Melbourne.  Already a fixture in Sydney, I was keen to try out the "instant" ice-creams that's churned on the spot with with liquid nitrogen and a KitchenAid.   

The flavours change weekly, and even if you're sceptical about the "gimmick" *cough cough Hubby*, the interesting flavours on offer is surely enough to make you want to give this place a go!

The first flavour we tried was the Creme Brulee ($8)  The ice-cream was really smooth, with a lovely custard flavour, and yes, even a brulee sugar top.  Their serving size is not small but I could've kept eating this one!

The next flavour was the Deconstructed Chocolate Lava ($8) is a sour cream chocolate gelato that comes with a syringe full of chocolate ganache sprinkled with cocoa powder (Is food more interesting when it comes in a syringe?)  The flavour is good but perhaps because I work in health care the syringe thing wasn't as exciting a draw card as it was meant to be for me.  The ganache was quite tasty so squirting THAT directly in your mouth is pretty yum and fun.

The star of the night for me was the Earl Grey Ice-cream with Dulce Le Leche ($6).  I love the taste of Earl Grey tea in desserts but find that most of the time, it's subtle flavour is stomped all over by whatever other flavouring it's paired with.  The Earl Grey flavour is excellent here, with the caramel flavour a sweet complement, making it a perfect combination!

It was Saturday night, and he line was pretty long when we first got there but it moved at a reasonable pace.  We were told it was another 20 minutes wait after ordering, but it wasn't as stressful as we weren't waiting with the kids, and the company was fun.  Even if you don't buy into novelty food trends (and we have so many in Melbourne!), the ever changing, taste-bud challenging flavours N2 offers will no doubt keep the store busy.  Looking forward to more stores opening up across our city!

N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

Highchair and toilets - N/A

Monday, September 9, 2013

Eat. @ Bowery to Williamsburg

16 Oliver Lane, Melbourne CBD 3000 ph : (03) 9077 0162

Question : How can you tell you're a parent of little kids?
Answer : When you start taking public transport "for fun"!

On one such "joy ride" around town, Bubs and I hopped off the tram a few stops too early from our destination and ended up at this cool American food-themed cafe from the good people behind the fantastic Hardware Societe.  A happy misadventure as I'd been quite keen to try the goodies from here!  Fortunately I was not disappointed.

I took a detour from my usual mocha to try the peanut butter hot chocolate ($5), served in a cute crumpled paper-look-alike cup.  This actually surprised me with its pleasant chocolatey peanut buttery taste that wasn't too sweet or over powering.  

We were brunching at 11:15am which meant I got to look at the breakfast menu, and could also check out the lunch menu that starts at 11:30am.  The lunch menu had a variety of classic american sandwich fillings like The Reuben and the Lox Bagel, and I would love to have given one of those a try!

However Bubs was quite hungry so we went for the Lox on Latkes ($17) from the breakfast menu, which was served with heirloom tomatoes, pickled fennel, creme fraiche and poached eggs.  I really liked this dish, with its perfectly poached eggs and interesting and contrasting flavours and textures.  

The Lox dish was quite filling, but I'd had my eye on the pretty key lime pie ($5) sitting in the window counter as I walked in, so we got that as a take away.  I'm no expert on key lime pies but I'd definitely catch public transport, or get there any way I can to have another one of these!

Since we travelled on the tram I didn't have my pram with me.  The main part of the eatery is actually in the semi-basement of the building in this little laneway and pram access would be difficult as you have to go down a small flight of stairs.  However they do have tables outside on the street level which would be perfect for those with prams or furry friends in tow.

Quite possibly the best misguided tram ride I've ever taken!

Bowery to Williamsburg on Urbanspoon