Lady Carolina

Boasting vibrancy and creative Latin gastronomy, Lady Carolina has been the talk of the town since its opening in September this year. The swarm of after work drink seekers ensures a buzzing atmosphere in this Latin influenced bar/restaurant. With high quality cuisine and a wide range of cocktails to match, Lady Carolina’s success is no surprise.

Owner Alby Tomassi (Feast of Merit and YGAP) and creative director Paul Wilson have teamed up to create a Latin feasting experience, highlighting fresh and creative ingredients that shine in playful dishes and cocktails inspired by Peruvian, Mexican and Cuban cuisines.
Clever partitions create distinctly different areas with their own unique feel within the venue. The Paladar Dining Room is the main restaurant while the Carolina Back Bar is a place to kick back relax and enjoy delicious street food washed down with complementing cocktails.
Guacamole - From left: Green Goddess (Spring Verduras / Tomatillo Verde), Super Soulful (Cancha / Pepitas / Goji Berries); Chicharrones (Bacon / Pomegranate Mojo) 

Our dinner commenced on a high with a trio of decadent guacamole - Each unique and full of flavour. The Chicharrones guacamole was incredibly appealing. Boasting large chunks of pork crackling this guacamole wantonly disregards the current trend towards healthy eating and, as a result, is abundantly flavoursome – the slightly sweet flavour of the Pomegranate Mojo is enhanced by the delicious Bacon and liberal helpings of pork fat. Not to be outshone is the Green Goddess guacamole which is deliciously healthy and possesses an expertly balanced level of spice and flavours. Coupled with perfectly crunchy tortilla chips, the guacamole make for the perfect bar snack or appetiser.
Smoked kingfish

The Smoked kingfish ceviche was another highlight. The thick slices of very fresh kingfish were served with horseradish, finger lime and pecan. The dish was notable for the quality of the kingfish and the interplay between the tartness of the lime and the richness of the horseradish cream. It was a simple but well executed dish.
Anticuchos grilled Peruvian skewer

The Anticuchos grilled Peruvian skewer was wonderfully flavoursome and displayed a delectable outer charring courtesy of having benefited from the perfect time on the grill. As the inherent richness of the sausage makes this dish relatively heavy, sharing this dish with a dining companion would not be unwise.
Lechon Asado – Heritage suckling pig with Orange Mojo

The Lechon Asado was addictively good. A pork dish, made from a whole suckling pig and then roasted for hours, this dish is comfort food at its best. It’s got it all - crackling, tender meat and amazing flavour.
Salted caramel & sweet corn sundae

We concluded our visit with the Popcorn and salted caramel sundae - absolutely stunning. Each layer had a wonderful flavour intensity that worked beautifully together. We savoured every spoonful.
Lady Carolina showcases Latin authenticity with its outdoor bar serving creative street foods and the indoor cevicheria which will take you on a journey to explore the depth of Latin cuisine, while highlighting cultural fusions of Peru through Chifa and Nikkei blends. 

Location: 175 – 177 Lygon Street North, Brunswick East
Phone: 03 9381 0898
Cuisine: Latin American

Upcoming events

Lady Carolina is set to host two major events this November, as well as feature at Melbourne’s Night Noodle Markets as a part of Good Food Month.

Lady Carolina will host renowned chef Diego Muñoz, head chef of La Barra, Casa Moreya and Astrid y Gaston, recently voted 14th in The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2015. Munoz spearheads the recent surge in Peruvian cuisine, famous for its cosmopolitan flavours and ingredients, the cuisine is the living legacy of a rich history.

La Barra with Diego Munoz – Sunday 22nd November
Time: 7pm – 10pm
Cost: $120 for a seated shared dinner paired with cocktails and wine 
Venue: Lady Carolina Cevicheria, pisco bar and the paladar

Join Diego Muñoz as he creates muy rico dishes from his restaurant La Barra, renowned for its modern Peruvian fare. Expect to find refreshed Chifa and Nikkei dishes showcasing native Australian produce, local super foods and Amazonian like tropical fruits and vegetables from the hinterlands. The shared dinner hosted by Lady Carolina includes all dishes and accompanying beverages.

Crop Up! Peruvian Talk – Sunday 15th November
Time: 6pm–8pm
Cost: $17.00 adults/children free
Venue: Immigration Museum 

Diego Muñoz will join Pastuso's head chef Alejandro Saravia in a panel discussion as part of Good Food Month about the significance of seeds, grains and berries in various cultures. Diego talks about his fusion of Peruvian and Asian flavours that he will be showcasing at the Lady Carolina pop up stall at the Night Noodle Markets.

Night Noodle Market - November 12–29
Venue: Birrarung Marr, Melbourne

Paul and Diego will go head to head in a battle between Chifa vs Nikkei. Be a part of the audience to taste which of these Peruvian-Asian cuisines will win!

Lady Carolina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Lady Carolina.

Mr & Mrs Howell

Combining a unique modern and relaxed dining experience and a firm focus on affordable hospitality, Mr & Mrs Howell impresses.
The restaurant has been drawing in the crowds since April 2013 on Brunswicks’ Sydney Road with its fresh seasonal produce matched with a range of boutique beer and wines.

The ambience is warm and inviting with comfortable furnishings and fittings, exposed brick walls and accents of timber. 
The kitchen is in safe hands with Chef and owner Mark Brozics’ leading the charge. The menu comprises an eclectic array of dishes inspired by a variety of international fare in particular Middle Eastern, Asian, European and African flavours.
From left: Almond crusted goats’ cheese; House made charcuterie

We started with the almond crusted goats’ cheese and house made charcuterie. The goats cheese was luxurious while the house made charcuterie was a respectable assembly of cured meats which were each excellently prepared.
Duck spring rolls

An Asian take on the cigar, the mouth-watering pastry rolls were delightful. Biting through thin, crunchy exterior pastry, our taste buds were greeted with a flavoursome concoction of tender duck, pine nuts and currants. 
Tasmanian scallops, sweet corn puree, ginger, soy sauce

The scallops were perfectly seared and bursting with natural flavour, a flavour further enhanced by the restrained sweetness of the sweet corn puree and the slight bursts of heat from the ginger.
Indian spiced chicken with mango chutney and saffron rice
John Dory with macadamia nut satay sauce and seasonal vegetables

The quality of the John Dory was exemplary. The skin of the fish was perfectly seared to be very crisp while the flesh was delicate and moist. It was a wonderfully simple dish that allowed the natural subtle sweetness of the fish to be enjoyed.
From left: Mini doughnuts with salted caramel; Hokey Pokey cheese cake with ginger biscuit 

The desserts at Mr & Mrs Howell were similarly well devised. 
Lemongrass pannacotta with fresh mango and coriander

The Lemongrass pannacotta was excellent. A texturally perfect rendition, the pannacotta was silky smooth with the perfect hint of aromatic lemongrass. Just barely holding its shape, it was quivering on the plate.
Steamed lemon pudding with berry compote and ice cream

The steamed lemon pudding is another must-have from the desserts menu. Mastering the perfect amount of sweetness and tartness, this dessert was a truly ambrosial version of the classic steamed lemon pudding. The pudding was well made and decadently topped with a generous serve of luscious ice cream.
Mr & Mrs Howell offers uncomplicated, affordable, masterfully executed Modern Australian dishes within a highly contemporary fit-out which combines the best of old and new. 

Location: 173 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Phone: 03 8657 8571
Cuisine: Modern Australian

Mr & Mrs Howell Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Mr & Mrs Howell.

Kumo Izakaya

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Kumo Izakaya.
Standing proudly at the corner of Lygon and O'Connor Streets in Brunswick East, Kumo Izakaya and Sake Bar is a Japanese oasis which embraces the social izakaya-style side of Japanese eating and drinking. Offering a laid back environment for catching up with friends and family, Kumo Izakaya focuses on quality food designed to share all of which is served in stylish, modern Japanese surroundings.
Effortlessly blending strong Japanese themes with industrial and Art Deco influences, the restaurant's fit out is a masterstroke. Its symmetrical design features geometric booths with dividers providing flexibility to dine communally or more intimately. Magically lit, the space glows in soft  amber light.
Kumo Izakaya founder and owner Andre Bishop is one of Melbourne's quiet achievers in hospitality. A self-confessed Japanophile and sake connoisseur, he's the man behind the revitalisation of Japanese institution Izakaya Chuji on Lonsdale Street in Melbourne. He also created Izakaya Chuji's South Melbourne offshoot. Andre is also behind Nihonshu Sake & Shochu Bar in Melbourne's CBD, his first venue dedicated to his prime passion of sake.
At Kumo Izakaya, food and sake pairing is a key focus. The exceptional staff are happy to guide diners through the extensive sake menu. We found an exceptional range of sake styles on offer, ranging from floral and fruity to nutty and earthy, all of which are conveniently set out in the sake menu along with tasting notes.
The kitchen is headed by Akimi Iguchi and Eriko Hamabe. Akimi brings exquisite skills to the Kumo kitchen having trained in many top Japanese kitchens as well as Melbourne's Yu-U and Bar Lourinha. Eriko on the other hand worked the kitchens of Kobe Jones and the Royal George Hotel. Together, they bring their unique take on izakaya cuisine.
Left: Chicken Thigh Yakitori Skewers
Right: Uzaku - grilled teriyaki eel with wakame & cucumber pickle

The slices of grilled eel were a delicious appetiser. Stained with teriyaki marinade, the fatty flesh was counteracted by the tart pickle and savoury wakame.

The Chicken Thigh Yakitori Skewers had been sufficiently seasoned and were wonderfully flavoursome. The skewers benefited from a delectable outer charring courtesy of spending the perfect time on the grill. A simple dish, prepared with care and precision.
Premium assorted Sashimi of the day

The sashimi plate featured a variety of sliced raw fish. Each slice of fish had an enjoyably firm yet soft texture. Of particular note were the plump, sweet scallops. It is clear that Kumo Izakaya are using only the freshest, highest quality seafood.
Seared Scallops with Butter & Soy topped with Bonito Flakes

The scallops were perfectly seared and bursting with natural flavour, a flavour further enhanced by the restrained savouriness of the butter & soy sauce. The bonito flakes brought a tremendous savoury element - a magnificent dish.
Shiitake mushroom stuffed Tsukune chicken ball with cheddar cheese & Teriyaki sauce

These savoury ball-shaped dumplings were adorned with melting cheddar and a mushroom base and laced with copious amounts of delicious teriyaki sauce - A simple but very enjoyable treat.
Pumpkin & cream cheese stuffed zucchini flower tempura with green tea salt

The tempura zucchini flowers stuffed with pumpkin & cream cheese and served with green tea salt were fantastic.  The batter encasing the zucchini flower was ethereally light and crisp while the stuffing was rich, flavoursome and exquisitely smooth.  The addition of green tea salt was a masterstroke that was a delightful departure from the norm.
Spicy Black vinegar Karaage Chicken with spring onion

The Japanese bar staple of Karaage Chicken was a delicious sight.  The meaty morsels were encrusted with a flavoursome spice mix and then perfectly fried to achieve a moreish crunchy exterior - dangerously addictive.
Miso marinated grilled kingfish fillet

Our savoury courses concluded with beautifully fresh kingfish which had been cooked to perfection. A light coating of golden-brown, caramelised miso charring added complexity to the soft kingfish flesh.
Dessert platter for two: Baked Green tea & White Chocolate cake with Raspberry compote;
Yuzu infused Cheesecake with cream and Yuzu sauce; and Japanese plum wine mousse with mint infused umeshu Jelly & cream

Unable to decide which desserts to choose, we opted for the dessert platter which comprises an assortment of Kumo Izakaya's Japanese inspired desserts. Each item on the platter was a welcome departure from the ordinary – from the absolutely moreish baked Green tea & White Chocolate cake with Raspberry compote to the smooth, rich consistency of the Yuzu infused Cheesecake, to the vibrant flavours of the Japanese plum wine mousse.  An exemplary display of Kumo Izakaya’s versatility.
Kumo Izakaya is the destination izakaya for Japanophiles who want to get inside the izakaya culture and experience it in an immersive way. Offering a vast array of delicious food, one of the most impressive sake lists in Melbourne and an effortlessly trendy Japanese, industrial chic fit out, Kumo Izakaya is definitely a place to put on your "must visit" list. 

Location: 152 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Phone: 03 9388 1505
Cuisine: Japanese, Wine Bar, Tapas

Kumo Izakaya & Sake Bar on Urbanspoon

Shinwa Izakaya - Japanese Bar & Restaurant

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Shinwa Izakaya.
Shinwa is an izakaya-style establishment located on Brunswick’s bustling Sydney Road, dedicated first and foremost to the art of Japanese eating and drinking, offering a laid back environment for catching up with friends and family with a focus on quality food designed to share in stylish but comfortable surroundings.
Accompanying the wide range of sake, Japanese beers, umeshu and shochu is a smorgasbord of Japanese small eats comprising of skewers, gyoza, okonomiyaki and the like.
Gyoza Teppan – fried housemade dumplings with special ponzu sauce

Shinwa boasts some of the best yakitori that Melbourne has to offer. We absolutely loved their range of grilled skewers. Without exception, each skewer had been sufficiently seasoned and was wonderfully flavoursome and displayed a delectable outer charring courtesy of having benefited from the perfect time on the grill.
The eggplant skewer was of particular note. Complemented by a delicious sauce and dried bonito flakes, it was a memorable treat for its beautiful texture and burst of umami.
Shinwa tempura set

The Shinwa tempura set featured deep fried king prawn and fish fillet and assorted vegetables (black mushroom, pumpkin, eggplant, sweet potato) served with grounded ginger and meshed radish and tempura dipping sauce. The tempura batter was ethereally light and crispy. The ingredients inside the batter were fresh and pleasing - the eggplant and king prawn were the most memorable.
Housemade Japanese curry sauce served on top of rice and garnished with red pickles

The Japanese curry was outstanding. The beef was perfectly cooked and the curry was robust, fragrant and had just the perfect amount of spice. Together with steamed rice, it was an addictive and comforting dish.
Nigiri selection

The sushi platter of assorted nigiri sushi boasted a tenderness exhibited by high quality produce. The seared salmon nigiri was our favourite - this melt in your mouth nigiri combined the best of both worlds (partially cooked, partially raw).
Japanese greentea cheesecake
Kokutou manjyu

Our dinner ended on a sweet note with the Kokutou manjyu, a delightful Japanese brown sugar and red bean cake. Shinwa’s rendition of this traditional dessert was beautifully light and fluffy and when eaten with the creamy sesame ice cream, was a little piece of heaven.
Fairly new to Melbourne’s culinary scene, Shinwa Izakaya already has a band of loyal followers and it is easy to understand why.  Unblemished execution of Japanese food in light of its vibrant atmosphere, desirable beverage selection and overall dining experience, Shinwa has certainly earned our stamp of approval.

Location: 139 Sydney Rd  Brunswick
Phone: 0412 705 314
Cuisine: Japanese, Bar, Seafood, Tapas, Asian

Shinwa Izakaya - Japanese Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

400 Gradi Cicchetti

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of 400 Gradi Cicchetti.
400 Gradi Cicchetti brings a little piece of Venice to Melbourne. The bar replicates a traditional ‘bacari’- a small, intimate bar typically frequented by locals in the City of Bridges.
Keeping in the tradition of cicchetti, the 400 Gradi Cicchetti menu features small plates including the likes of crispy polenta with mixed caramelised mushroom and gorgonzola, and spaghettini al granchio with lobster bisque, fresh crab meat, garlic, chilli, cherry tomato and fresh basil. 
The wine list showcases an intelligent choice of drinking options including an extensive list of Italian wines. Not just appealing for the palate, the 50-seater bar has been designed by award-winning Pascale Gomes-McNabb, one of Melbourne’s most celebrated interior designers.
Situated next door to Di Francesco’s popular Lygon Street restaurant, 400 Gradi Cicchetti is a sleek yet relaxed and informal bar, shunning the grungy look that is today’s Melbourne norm in favour of a more conventional bistro atmosphere.
Our host for the evening was Fulvio. Professional, very knowledgeable, friendly and passionate, Fulvio made our dining experience a sensational one. 
Aperitif: Peach Bellini

A beautifully fresh cocktail made from prosecco sparkling wine and peach nectar this Venetian cocktail was a great start to our evening.
Fresh natural shucked oysters
A selection of salumi

The selection of salumi was a display of superlative flavours comprising of a respectable assembly of 18 Months Old Prosciutto di Parma Devodier Cantina Mornello, 30 months Old Prosciutto di Parma Devodier Cantina Secretum, Mozzarella Di Bufala, Bella Lodi Raspadura freshly shaved Cheese and bread. The Prosciutto di Parma Devodier Cantina Secretum and Bella Lodi Raspadura were in particular excellent – both possessing a richness that had been further enhanced by the flavours of the intense curing salt mix.
Beer battered zucchini flowers stuffed with crab, ricotta, and a bit of chilli

The batter encasing the zucchini flower was ethereally light and very crisp while the stuffing was rich and flavoursome.  Combined with the sweetness of the crab and the lovely kick from the chilli, the dish was a delight to eat.
Freshly made Arancini balls made with sausage rice and cheese

A traditional comfort-food classic, the arancini balls were beautiful. Each morsel was sufficiently seasoned and flavoursome.
An elegant, dry and aromatic drop with beautiful peach and floral notes, the BIO VIO - Pigato wine from Liguria Italy was the perfect match for our entrees before we continued on to our heavier mains.
Duck ragu trecce

As expected of any acclaimed Italian restaurant, 400 Gradi Cicchetti is particularly good at producing quality pasta dishes. The Duck ragu trecce that we had was no exception. The large spiral pasta were intertwined amongst lashings of tender duck ragu. The flavours were complex and rich. Texturally, the tenderness of the duck contrasted nicely with the perfectly cooked al dente pasta. Fulvio presented it to us as “a wonderful dish” and we could not have agreed more.
Girolamo Russo A'Rina Etna Rosso - Nerello Mascalese and 5% Nerello Cappuccio wine

The matching Girolamo Russo A'Rina Etna Rosso was a light and exuberant wine with a tight flavour profile.
Margherita verace Pizza

400 Gradi Cicchetti patrons can also include Johnny’s internationally awarded pizza in their dining experience. Johnny took out the number one spot at The World Pizza Championship earlier this year for best STG (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (Specialita’ Tradizionale Garantita), with 400 Gradi now being home to the world’s best pizza.

The Margherita verace pizza was picture perfect in appearance and outstanding in taste. A thin layer of tomato sugo, healthy dollops of buffalo mozzarella and a sprinkling of basil leaves created a delightful fusion of flavours that would keep any pizza purist happy. Encircled with a puffy crisp crust, this pizza was superb.
Tagliata Di Manzo - Angus Beef Eye Fillet grilled and sliced served medium rare with shaved parmesan, balsamic cream, capers and baby rocket

Our final main course of Angus Beef Eye Fillet met our expectations admirably.  The accompaniments to the beef were simple and delicious. A light searing ensured that each slice was lined with a thin crisp layer packed with caramelised beef flavour.  The meat was intense with characteristic Angus beef notes and a deep earthy richness and texturally it was sublime with a decadent melt in the mouth, almost buttery, consistency.
Molino Barolo 2010 From Nebbiolo wine

The beef was served with our favourite wine of the evening. A classic Barolo, the Molino Barolo boasted a bouquet of dark fruit aromas, mint and liquorice. We loved its balanced flavour profile which while quite tannic given its age, tasted beautiful.
Homemade Tiramisu and Pannacotta tasting plate

400 Gradi Cicchetti’s rendition of a pannacotta was texturally perfect. The pannacotta was silky smooth - just barely holding its shape, it was quivering on the plate. The tiramisu was similarly well made, with its flavour heavily dominated by the constituent alcoholic component.  Both were simple traditional desserts that were well executed and thoroughly enjoyable.
Passito Di Pantelleria Dessert Wine

Hailing from the sun-drenched island of Pantelleria, this dessert wine was thick and syrupy with intense aromas and a fresh acid finish.
Cheeses: La rustichella truffle paste cheese, Taleggio 'Bufaletto ' made with buffalo and cow's milk, Pecorino Cacio di bacco: Pecorino style cheese matured in pomace and covered with grape

Our evening concluded with a selection of good quality cheeses. Each unique and varied greatly with their distinct flavours and luxurious textures. It was a fantastic way to finish the night off.  
400 Gradi Cicchetti combines friendly and affable staff, wonderful ambience, exceptional food and one hell of a beverage list to deliver an enchanting experience - one that transports you to a traditional ‘bacari’ in Venice.

Location: 99B Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Phone: 03 9380 2320
Cuisine: Tapas, Bar, Italian

400 Gradi Cicchetti Bar on Urbanspoon

Regional Italian dinner @ Gelobar

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Gelobar.
One of Melbourne’s favourite gelataria, Gelobar proudly serves authentic Italian dishes at an affordable price.
The décor is warm and welcoming, it feels like stepping into the Scullino family's home for dinner. The menu boasts an array of traditional dishes that pay homage to rustic Italian cooking.
After 20 years, Gelobar still remains focused on three things - food, family and love. Apart from introducing Melbourne to the famous recipes of gelati, Gelobar now offers compelling authentic Italian fare (both sweet and savoury) to enjoy over coffee or a few glasses of wine amidst a vibrant and energetic atmosphere. 
We visited on a Thursday night, Gelobar’s regional Italian feast night and were treated to a delicious selection of rustic Italian food with plenty of soul.  
Our table was quickly adorned with an array of delightful starters. Among these, the battered calamari was our favourite.
The delicious ribbons of calamari were perfectly seasoned and featured ethereally light and crispy batter. 
Left: Capretto e patate - baby goat with potatoes in tomato sauce with black olives
Right: Green olives and potato spaghetti
Stocco e patate - cod fish with potatoes in tomato sauce with capers
and green olives

The mains were unpretentious, full of flavour and generous. The goat and cod fish mains were both traditional Southern Italian dishes that were available for the Thursday night Regional Italian dinner only and do not form part of Gelobar's regular menu.
The dolci menu is one not to be missed, bursting with a gorgeous selection of desserts featuring artisan style gelati and traditional Italian pastry including ricotta cheesecakes and cannoli.
Our evening at Gelobar concluded on a sweet note with a dessert plate of “spaghetti” gelato, ricotta cheesecake and a shot of Frangelico. The gelato, as expected was delicious. Texturally perfect with beautiful flavour combinations, the passion for artistic expression using quality ingredients can be tasted in their gelato. Each flavour was made with dedication and artisanship. The ricotta cheesecake was a charming Italian cake. The filling was beautifully smooth courtesy of being made using excellent ricotta and we loved the fact that it was not too sweet. The Frangelico was an indulgently sweet and heady way to cap off our night. 
We left with a selection of Gelobar’s delicious cakes to have at home.
At the end of the day, the food is but one reason to visit Gelobar. The Scullino family legacy is that they have created a warm, inviting, home away from home where you can enjoy rustic Italian food with friends. 

Location: 74 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Phone: 03 9388 1419
Cuisine: Desserts/Ice Cream, Breakfast/Brunch, Italian

Gelobar on Urbanspoon

Foxtrot Charlie - Cleared for takeoff

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Foxtrot Charlie.
Pioneering a culture of food, coffee and all-around cool vibe, Foxtrot Charlie delivers Melbournians a modish café in which to embrace quality coffee.
The name comes from the code words in the NATO phonetic alphabet for F and C (which represent Food and Coffee). An appropriate name we think, given how owner, Costas has successfully created a quintessentially Melbourne coffee hot spot which serves great food.
Serious about coffee, the café is its own boutique roaster, roasting daily to ensure a consistent quality. The result is a blend tailored to cut through the milk and ensure the coffee flavour is still present without too much bitterness.
The food at Foxtrot Charlie is a big draw card - doing it differently with a breakfast menu developed around the seasons and a balanced lunch menu with daily specials that more than satisfies its neighbourhood clientele that include business and residents alike.
House made semolina gnocchi with tomato, speck and chilli

The light pillows of gnocchi were accompanied by a rich, flavoursome sauce and lashings of savoury speck and spicy chilli. It was a simple dish, done well.
Asian style beef cheek served with a pickled salad of carrot, radish, coriander and fried shallot

The beef cheek was tender and delicious, with caramel undertones courtesy of being slow-braised in Chinese wine. Paired with an earthy Asian braising sauce, the cheeks fell away at the weight of our spoons whilst still retaining their integrity. The salad which sat atop the cheek was the perfect accompaniment. Fresh, vibrant and crisp, the salad provided acidity and texture. It was a magnificent dish.
Pistachio & Yoghurt Mousse cake

Our visit to Foxtrot Charlie concluded on a delectably sweet note. The Pistachio & Yoghurt Mousse cake had a vibrant combination of flavours. The yoghurt mousse had a pleasant balance between tartness and sweetness, blending well with the flavour and texture of the pistachio cake. The accompanying rhubarb was cooked to perfection and a welcome addition to the dessert.
Right: Fresh House Made Passionfruit Marshmallows
Service is yet another strong point.  We were well attended to and the staff were friendly, warm and welcoming.
The perfect embodiment of a thriving Melbourne café, Foxtrot Charlie is a weekend brunch mecca, drawing in the crowds week in week out with its excellent food, fantastic coffee and cheerful wait staff.

Location: 359 Sydney Road,  Brunswick
Phone: 03 9387 3397
Cuisine: Modern Australian, Breakfast/Brunch, Coffee

Foxtrot Charlie on Urbanspoon

Jason Rodwell heads the kitchen @ Albert St Food & Wine

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Albert St Food & Wine.
Housed within an old bank, Albert St Food & Wine epitomises Melbourne’s unique dining culture - world class food served in a casual environment without pretence.
Since moving into the position of Executive Chef at Albert St Food & Wine in January 2014, Jason Rodwell has been preserving Albert Street’s position at the forefront of Melbourne’s dining landscape with a refreshed menu and a range of special dining events. 
The dishes at Albert St Food & Wine are undoubtedly the creations of an accomplished chef who not only understands and appreciates fresh, high quality produce but is able to craft from it perfectly harmonised flavour combinations. 
Having been a part of the team at Albert St Food & Wine since its inauguration in 2011, Jason Rodwell's resume is impressive - including stints at Michelin-starred restaurants Nahm and Royal Hospital Road in London as well as Auberge du Bon Laboureur in France’s Loire Valley. 
Left: Organic chicken, smashed cucumber, charred cost, sesame
Right: Wild mushroom ‘en papillotte’, crème fraiche, autumn crisps
Crispy scale blue cod, cauliflower, mussels, cavelo nero

The blue cod was cooked to perfection, retaining its characteristic delicate but firm texture, the sweet flesh was a delight. As promised, the skin was impressively crisp.
Grilled lamb breast, eggplant, smoked yoghurt, sheep sorrel

The perfectly seasoned, tender lamb with moreish. Eaten with the smoked yoghurt and sheep sorrel, this dish was complex and wonderfully crafted, immediately transporting us to the Middle East. 
Over the course of the evening, new Bar Manager Joey Tai, (previously of Brunswick Mess Hall and Golden Monkey and winner of a range of cocktail awards) wowed us with delectable cocktails (including a constant stream of espresso martinis).
Caramelised apples & quinces, quatre épices ice cream

A winter-warming dessert, the caramelised apples and quinces were perfectly poached with a delicate hint of cinnamon. 
Chocolate tart, mandarin ice cream, pop-corn

Decadently rich, the chocolate tart was a lovely end to a wonderful evening. The soft, rich chocolate filling was framed by thin sweet biscuit pastry. Topped with gold leaf, the mandarin ice cream provided freshness and was a clever counterbalance to the indulgent tart.
Albert St Food & Wine has consistently delivered captivating food to diners over the past few years. Under the expert guidance of Jason Rodwell, it appears the restaurant is in safe hands.

Albert Street Food and Wine on Urbanspoon

Event: Rustica Sourdough Bakery reopening

Location: 402 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Phone: 03 9417 7775
Cuisine: Bakery, Breakfast/Brunch, Coffee

Rustica Sourdough Café was opened last year by master baker, Brenton Lang (formerly of Phillippas Bread). A successful venture, today, Rustica supplies some of Melbourne's best cafes with delicious wild yeast fermented sourdough.
While this degree of success would leave most content, after 16 months of focusing on his breads and baking, Brenton closed the doors to customers for a gastronomic intermission whilst he worked to refresh and reinvent Rustica to be the café he envisioned. 
Gastrology bloggers were delighted to attend the grand re-opening of Rustica to see the new place and celebrate the start of a new era for the café with a tasting of Brenton's most popular sourdough breads and baked goods. 
Everything served is made onsite in the back bakery from cake to cronut to almond croissants to fig ficelle to chili jam. The beautiful range of artisan breads are exceptional, a credit to Brenton’s use of time-honoured techniques of crafting bread. The café cultivates wild yeasts and nurture cultures that become the flavour base from which a selection of classic and contemporary breads are crafted. 
The sourdough breads at Rustica are of particular note. Practising the art of authentic and traditional sourdough means the flavour and texture of each loaf is enhanced. 
The tastings ended on a sweet note with an array of decadent offerings ranging from popcorn macarons to lemon curd filled cronuts. 
We particularly enjoyed Rustica’s award-winning passionfruit tart. The pastry was desirably short, light and crisp and the passionfruit curd was delectable and struck the right balance between sweet and sour. 
On top of being an excellent bakery, the Rustica Sourdough café serves a complete breakfast and lunch menu which features a wide range of fresh sandwiches, freshly baked pies, stone-baked pizzas and delicious treats. We sampled a couple of their baked pies which were absolutely moreish. 
In the next few weeks, Rustica will be extending their evening hours during Fri/Sat nights to encourage dinner diners in the area to have a delicious, dessert experience along with Roastcraft coffee or a glass of wine from their new wine list featuring wild yeast fermented wines. We look forward to returning to Rustica to sample their new dinner menu.

Rustica Sourdough Bakery on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Sugardough Panificio & Patisserie

Location: 163 Lygon Street, Brunswick
Phone: 03 9380 4060
Cuisine: Coffee, Modern Australian, Bakery
Overall Impression: 6.5/10
Sugardough is a lovely café in Brunswick.

Sugardough serves good coffee and brunch and has the most tempting array of cake selections. However, due to its popularity, the café is frequently packed which means there might be a bit of a wait before you are seated. 

Sugardough Panificio & Patisserie on Urbanspoon