The Left-Handed Chef

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of The Left-Handed Chef.
With a name that pays homage to the man behind it all, The Left-Handed Chef is a café that pleases patrons with life’s simple pleasures done well. 
With a relaxed, unpretentious and uncomplicated approach, the food features a variety of brunch options that will suit everyone, coupled with a friendly ambience.
Led by owner and Chef Ehud Malka, the kitchen is in capable hands. Ehud’s passion for food is clear and it is this unwavering passion and love for the small pleasures in life that imbues his creations with an air of fun and joy.
Pulled pork tacos 

The tacos were filled with an addictive medley of crackling, hot apple chutney, coleslaw and slowly roasted pork. The pulled pork was both tender and delicious, with caramel undertones. This brunch dish had it all - crackling, tender meat and vibrant fresh flavours.
Haloumi salad

The haloumi salad was delicious. This seemingly simple dish boasted balanced layers of flavour. The deep fried, salty haloumi was crisp on the exterior and matched beautifully with the rocket, pistachio, roasted pumpkin and asparagus. The balsamic reduction provided sweetness and acid, as did the pomegranate which also added a wonderful textural element. 
Serving good food at affordable prices, the Left-Handed Chef has unsurprisingly become a favourite choice for locals. A lovely and versatile meeting place, the cafe caters for lunching families to passer-by’s looking for a quick bite.


Location: 219 Park Street, South Melbourne
Phone: 03 9645 5800
Link: Facebook
Cuisine: Coffee, Sandwiches, Salad, Brunch


Click to add a blog post for The Left-Handed Chef on Zomato

‪#‎from5fridays @ Royal Saxon

To celebrate the start of Melbourne's beautiful autum, Royal Saxon are spicing up your Fridays with ‪#‎from5fridays. And you guessed it... it all starts from 5.

The Saxon have also recently launched a delicious

new autumn menu

which has kept us coming back more.

If you've never had the Saxon's charming Italian pizzas before, you'll get to experience their magic during ‪#‎from5fridays‬ where the Saxon shout everyone complimentary pizzas from 5-6! So keep a look out for those delicious pizzas when you're there.

And please... please stay back for dessert. If you do, we recommend the Poached pear tart with spiced red wine reduction and cinnamon ice cream. A beautifully decadent dessert, the soft centre of caramelised pears combines with the buttery crumbly pastry, the rich red wine reduction and moreish cinnamon ice cream in perfect harmony - absolutely sublime!

Think good tunes, cocktails & delicious aperitivo - All available from 5 PM every Friday.

What:

#‪‎from5fridays 

When:

From 5 PM every Friday

Location:

545 Church Street, Richmond

Phone:

03 9429 5277

Link:

http://www.royalsaxon.com/

Cuisine:

Italian, Pub/Bar Food, Coffee

Read our review of their new autumn menu 

here

.

Royal Saxon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Next of Kin

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Next of Kin.
Next of Kin exceeds expectations with superior brunch offerings at more than reasonable prices.
Melbourne has an ever growing brunch culture, making the café industry a particularly competitive and vibrant one. Next of Kin stands out by successfully crafting a convivial atmosphere in which to enjoy a lazy weekend brunch. 
Although the food menu is somewhat limited in size, you will find unique items that a carefully prepared with skill, precision and technique. 
Next of Kin is also particularly notable for the excellence of their coffee.  The profound respect for the humble beverage is palpable.  The Café serves speciality coffee from Proud poured by adept baristas.
Our espressos were, well made with luscious, dense crema sitting atop concentrated coffee.  The espresso blend was very easy to drink – it produced a coffee with light caramel notes and a hint of acidity.  
Their lattes and cappuccinos are similarly well made, with the slight sweetness of the frothed milk cutting through the residual brightness from the foundation espresso.  As expected, each arrived with an intricate rosetta in the milk foam.
Sheep Milk Yoghurt Panna cotta - Summer fruits - caramelised buckini granola - bee pollen

The Sheep Milk Yoghurt Panna cotta was as pleasing to eat as it was to behold. Barely holding its shape, the panna cotta was quivering on the plate. Smooth and well made, the panna cotta went well with the beautiful summer fruits and textural buckini granola. The scattered treasures of bee pollen were a playful and delicious addition. 
Cured ocean trout 
Sweet potato croquettes - avocado - pickled beetroot - fennel & dill

The fillet of trout had been cooked to perfection. It boasted a beautifully crisp and seared exterior and revealed a pink and delicate interior. The pickled beetroot added a desirable acidity which cut through the luxuriousness of the trout while the avocado, fennel and dill introduced a complex infusion of flavours. The sweet potato croquettes had a crunchy exterior and the mashed sweet potato inside was richly seasoned - it was a wonderful inclusion. In all, a truly remarkable dish.
Next of Kin is a delightful little café exuding modern chic charm with its cosy interior. The creativity and execution of the dishes at Next ok Kin are commendable – you will be hard-pressed to find similar quality dishes at comparable prices in Melbourne. 


Location: 546 Glen Huntly Rd  Elsternwick
Phone: 03 9041 8876
Cuisine: Breakfast, Coffee, Modern



Next of Kin on Urbanspoon

Bossy Boots

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Bossy Boots.
Drawing on the talent of two top Melbourne chefs Bossy Boots delivers generous hospitality and home cooked gourmet food in a contemporary café setting.
Under the guidance of chefs Ben Forehan and Rachael Browne, Bossy Boots are in capable hands. The pair have worked at notable Melbourne kitchens such as Stokehouse, Circa and Dench Bakers and are classically trained having both studied Vienoisserie at E’cole Le Notre, in Paris.

Bossy Boots has a large local following and is known for its relaxed ambience with chic courtyard and large windows  - the result is an inviting bright space. 
The menu is about fresh, honest food, with a mix of brunch and lunch staples and a nod to Italian fare.
Coffee is from Supreme and served expertly from a La Marzocco espresso machine.
Chicken Stuffed Peppers

The stuffed peppers were a brilliant start to our lunch at Bossy Boots. The peppers were bursting with flavour. The dish was uncomplicated but well executed.
Corn fritters with crispy bacon, avocado salsa, sour cream and chives.

The corn fritters had a crunchy golden brown exterior and were succulently sweet making for a great start to the day.
Carrot and macadamia cake

The carrot cake was a sweet end to our visit. The cake was moreish, moist, perfectly balanced and beautifully textured as a result of the luscious macadamia nuts that had been scattered generously throughout the cake and the citrus element in the icing added interest.
Bossy Boots café also offers some delicious take home food options. We took home a delicious chicken pie which we absolutely loved. The pastry was crisp and flaky – a testament to being worked carefully by masters of pastries Ben and Rachael. Rich and hearty with generous morsels of beautifully slow cooked chicken, it was an excellent pie.
Bossy Boots is an iconic café with its own relaxed style, creating a hub that is unique to Brighton and presents a wonderful counterpoint to the inner city, lane way cafes springing up around Melbourne.


Location: 106 Bay Street,  Brighton 
Phone: 03 9596 6825 
Link: http://www.bossyboots.com.au/ 
Cuisine: Breakfast, Salad, Bakery


Bossy Boots on Urbanspoon

Autumn @ Royal Saxon

As Melbourne turns golden and the leaves begin to fall, the Royal Saxon in Melbourne’s inner east is serving up a whole new array of deliciously rustic dishes that fuse simple classic flavours with an elegant modern twist. 
The all new Autumn 2015 provides a fresh, enticing experience that make this local haunt a serious dining contender. The Royal Saxon is a Richmond institution that’s best known for its edgy beer garden and excellent nightlife. But this two storey venue on Church Street in the heart of East Richmond also boasts a seriously delicious menu that rivals some of the best restaurants in Melbourne. 
Whether eating in the beautifully intimate restaurant, the upbeat bar or the leafy courtyard, the entire menu is available across the whole venue until late every single day.
The kitchen is in safe hands, being led by Italian-born Head Chef Simone Righetto and his first class kitchen crew. The warm and inviting selection of meals fuse traditional Italian cuisine with the best of fresh and seasonable Australian produce. 
As expected of any great Italian eatery, Royal Saxon is particularly good at producing quality pasta dishes of exceptional quality. The mushroom and ricotta parpadelle special that we had recently was no exception. The parpadelle was exquisitely al dente and when combined with the earthy mushrooms and rich, truffle infused ricotta, this dish was pure nirvana. Seemingly simple but with a great complexity of flavour, this pasta course undoubtedly belongs on the permanent menu. 
Royal Saxon serves some of the best pizzas in Melbourne. The delicately thin crusts have the perfect balance between crispiness and chewiness and the expertly judged toppings are always impeccable. 
Righetto has bought his hearty Italian feel to the new main dishes and constructs them with an air of delicious purity. From the whole snapper fillet that is baked in paper to seal in the succulent aromas, to the premium O’Conner grass fed steak, grilled to perfection and served with a drizzle of balsamic, each dish is prepared to accentuate and preserve their natural flavours – a skill of artistic simplicity which Righetto and his team have truly mastered. 
The menu now features an extensive range of sides and salads from which diners can select and share from. As summer fades and new, fresh options become available, the sides menu is constructed to take full advantage of this by including a vast array of fresh Autumn produce. From cannellini beans and peas to shitake mushrooms and broccolini, with a menu like this there promises to be a little something to suit all tastes.
Our favourite dessert from the new autumn menu, and a definite MUST-HAVE is the Poached pear tart with spiced red wine reduction and cinnamon ice cream. A beautifully decadent dessert, the soft centre of caramelised pears combines with the buttery crumbly pastry, the rich red wine reduction and moreish cinnamon ice cream in perfect harmony - absolutely sublime!
Make the most of Autumn’s cooler months and come sample these new flavours at the Royal Saxon. From something casual in the courtyard to something cosy in the restaurant, Royal Saxon is sure to delight. 

Location: 545 Church Street, Richmond
Phone: 03 9429 5277
Cuisine: Italian, Pub/Bar Food, Coffee


Royal Saxon on Urbanspoon

NL House

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of MATRADE's Malaysian Kitchen Program.
NL House brings Malaysian street-food culture, and hawker dishes to the heart of Melbourne.
Having benefited from a recent facelift last year, the restaurant is beaming with pride. Speaking to owners Marcel and Aline (who bought NL House in 2008), it is clear that they are passionate about the food that they serve. Everything you eat is made in-house. From the popular 'sambal' condiment that accompanies your nasi lemak to the pandan jelly in your iced cendol. 
The sambals: Traditional (spicy chilli sambal) Kelantan (sweet and sour sambal) Kerabu (shrimp and lime leaf sambal)

These babies take a gruelling 8 hours to make and are some of the tastiest and most authentic we have sampled in Melbourne. Our favourite sambal was the Kerabu, followed closely by the traditional sambal. The kerabu sambal was notable for its complex and fiery flavour which finishes on a citrus note courtesy of the kaffir lime leaves. Every morsel exploded with the briny flavour of the shrimp. Simply delicious! 
In the near future, NL House will be bringing their very popular 'sambal' condiment into local grocery stores. In the meantime, you can buy them from the restaurant at $5 a jar.
Beef Rendang nasi lemak with crispy anchovies, loved it with the kerabu sambal

The beef rendang was decadent. The full-bodied, pungent rendang gravy paired beautifully with melt-in-your-mouth morsels of beef. We enjoyed the richness of the curry and the generous use of spices which showcased the customary punchy flavours exhibited by Malaysian curries generally.  Together with fluffy coconut rice, crispy anchovies and out-of-this-world kerabu sambal, it was an addictive and comforting dish. 
Their most popular nasi lemak is the one served with their fried chicken and it is easy to understand why. The chicken was delectably crispy and had been nicely caramelised and flavoured well by an array of spices.
Seafood laksa

The seafood laksa was delightful. Derived from a traditional Malacca laksa recipe, the spicy coconut gravy base was complex and aromatic and was served with generous amounts of noodles, bean curd puffs, fish cakes, seafood, bean shoots, and garnished with carrot and spring onions. 
Left: soya bean and grass jelly drink
Right: Iced Cendol

The house made drinks are lovely and include a refreshing soya bean and grass jelly drink as well as an absolutely delicious iced cendol drink. For the uninitiated, the cendol dessert is a coconut milk dessert with pandan flavoured jelly noodles made with beautiful palm sugar. NL House’s rendition of this classic dessert was decadently rich, amply sweet and beautifully made. 
Serving up some of the most authentic nasi lemak in town, NL House presents a refreshing take on Malaysian cuisine whilst remaining true to its origins. With food this good, great service and prices this reasonable, NL House punches above its weight. 


Location: 115 Grattan St  Carlton
Phone: 03 9348 1572
Cuisine: Malaysian, Asian, Chinese

NL House (Nasi Lemak House) on Urbanspoon




Egg Unlimited - Little breads + catering

Gastrology were recently lucky enough to be able to cater a private function with some delicious hampers provided by Egg Unlimited, delivered straight to our door.
We found the choices available on the Egg Unlimited menu innovative and modern, with options suitable for a wide range of events from corporate lunches to high teas. We elected to sample 2 Wellbeing Hampers, an Against the Grain Hamper and a Bagel & Friend Hamper. 
Clearly made with love, each hamper was packaged securely sealing in their delicious contents and making the hampers very convenient – we simply removed the lids and served. 
Wellbeing 1 Hamper 
(Crispy skinned Atlantic salmon (6), Blanched broccolini tossed with sweet raisins and almonds (V) (12), Green zucchini and fresh mint omelette souffle (V) (6), Char grilled free range chicken marinated in lemon, garlic, coriander, olive oil, bay leaf and freshly cracked pepper (8), Two tubs of chef’s seasonal salads along with cucumber yoghurt (to serve) (V), House baked rolls to complement)

This hamper was an absolute stunner and our favourite hamper from the evening. The quality of the salmon was exemplary. The skin was perfectly seared to be very crisp while the flesh was delicate and moist. We loved how it was cooked simply, allowing the natural subtle sweetness of the salmon to be enjoyed. The blanched broccolini was fresh and we loved the addition of sweet raisin which complemented the dish as well as the almonds which added texture. The char grilled chicken was cooked to perfection and seasoned beautifully. 
Wellbeing 2 Hamper (Morrocan Lamb Fillets & tahini yoghurt sauce, Sugar & snow pea salad (GF,V), Calamari marinated in chilli ,garlic & coriander (GF), Freekah grain with sweet potato, leek, shanklish & maple (V), Omelette soufflé of sweet corn, chili and baby chervil (GF)(V), Two tubs and chef’s seasonal salads along with cucumber, yoghurt, Bag of spelt flour rolls to complement)

Another delicious hamper, we loved the high quality pieces of lamb which were cooked perfectly to a tender and juicy pink and the calamari which was bursting with flavour. The accompanying omelette souffle and seasonal salads exhibited a marvellous freshness and were each skilfully executed. 
Against the Grain Hamper 
(Rare roast Angus beef, anchovy butter, tomato relish and baby rocket tartlets (6), Green zucchini and torn mint omelette souffle (V) (6), Fresh green asparagus spears wrapped in goats curd and prosciutto (12), Prawn and Vietnamese mint rice paper rolls with lemongrass and marinated bean thread noodles (8), Char grilled free range chicken marinated in lemon, garlic, coriander, olive oil, bay leaf and cracked pepper (8)) 

A low carb hamper, this was yet another winner. The seemingly simple chicken was not only complex with layers of flavour, it was also perfectly cooked. The rare roast angus beef tartless were elegant and featured a beautiful depth of flavour - overall a skilfully executed, exceptionally flavoursome array of little bites. 
Bagel & Friend 
(Smoked salmon poppy seed bagel with crème fraiche and Lilliput capers (15), Baby pea and mint leaf torte (V) (15)) 

Continuing the trend for the evening, the Bagel & Friend hamper was delicious. The baby pea and mint tortes were creamy and decadent. We also loved the adorable little poppy seed bagels. The smoked salmon filling carried a rich depth of flavour - its subtle smokiness allowing the underlying taste of the salmon to be enjoyed. The little bagels were light and fluffy with a dense exterior - it went well with the salmon. The finishing touch of the crème fraiche and Lilliput capers, a classic accompaniment with smoked salmon, completed the bagels. 
This large selection of delicious canapés were perfect for sharing and were massive crowd pleasers. The flavour combinations were well matched and the high quality meats and fish were beautifully cooked - it was clear that these were sourced from quality producers and had been prepared with care. Egg Hampers made our function a roaring success and definitely impressed our guests. We look forward to trying their other delicious options for our future events. 

Learn more about Egg Unlimited here

What: Egg Unlimited - Boutique bakery and catering


New spring express lunch menu @ Kobe Jones WTC Wharf

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Kobe Jones.
Spring has well and truly sprung at Melbourne’s World Trade Centre (WTC) Wharf and the precinct’s premier waterside restaurants are celebrating with the launch of their new spring express lunch menus.
Catering for those looking for a premium food offering on the go, WTC Wharf’s Kobe Jones, Byblos, Man Mo and the Wharf Hotel are each offering an array of gourmet dishes designed to be enjoyed within a tight lunch timeframe. 
Gastrology sampled Kobe Jones express lunch menu which includes a teppanyaki experience without the wait. The express teppanyaki is a mere $25 and comes with fresh seasonal salad and a choice of grainfed beef tenderloin, chicken, fish of the day, or silken tofu topped with spinach and mushrooms. Selections are accompanied by garlic fried rice and red and white miso soup.
Salmon fillet salmon fillet $15
120g Atlantic salmon served with grilled bean sprouts and salad

The salmon skin was beautifully crisp from being seared on the teppan and the flesh was deliciously moist and tender. The accompanying bean sprouts were a delicious addition. 
Sushi and sashimi set $19
chefs selection of freshly made sushi and the finest sashimi cuts served with steamed rice and red and white miso soup

The slices of sashimi were fresh and exquisitely textured. The nigiri was expertly crafted and the plump, sweet scallops were stunning. It is clear that Kobe Jones is using only the freshest, highest quality seafood.

Escape the daily grind and treat yourself to one of WTC Wharf’s Spring Express Lunch Specials.

For more information visit:

Kobe Jones on Urbanspoon

Scarvelli Café - Balwyn's best kept secret

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Scarvelli Cafe.
A new café based in the heart of Balwyn, Scarvelli Café prides itself on providing legendary coffee and quality food that excite the senses.
The café has a contemporary vibe - comfortable wooden furnishings are juxtaposed with vintage chic antique mirrors which add clever accents. 
The menu is seasonal, fresh and delicious and focuses on a strong paddock-to-plate ethos.
Our coffees were well made, with the slight sweetness of the frothed milk cutting through the residual brightness from the foundation espresso (courtesy of Industry Beans).  Each came with an intricate rosetta in the milk foam.
Smashed avocado – whipped feta, confit tomatoes, basil oil on sourdough with wood-fire smoked salmon

A respectable assembly of breakfast essentials, two perfectly toasted slices of sourdough were canvassed with a creamy mash of feta and avocado. The wood-fired smoked salmon added a luscious salinity to the dish while the drizzles of aromatic basil oil brought the whole dish together. It was a simple and delightful dish.
Leading the flock - confit lamb, braised red cabbage and goat’s curd on toasted sourdough

Sandwiched between thick slices of buttered and toasted sourdough, generous shreds of confit lamb featured alongside beautifully braised red cabbage. It was a delicious lunch option that was highlighted by the captivating flavours and aromas of the lamb.
The café also delights with an exquisite range of sweet treats.
With a relaxed, unpretentious and uncomplicated approach, Scarvelli Café is a neighbourhood gem which ticks all the boxes. It's just a pity we couldn't keep it a secret.

Location: 143 Whitehorse Road, Balwyn
Phone: 03 9816 8887
Cuisine: Breakfast/Brunch, Coffee, Modern Australian

Scarvelli Cafe on Urbanspoon

All things Daylesford Father's Day giveaway - Win a 3 course lunch @ the Lake House & Adopt-A-Vine Cellarmaster package from Gisborne Peak Winery

Gastrology has teamed up with Daylesford and Macedon Ranges to celebrate Father's Day by giving away....
1 x 3 course a la carte lunch for two at the iconic Lake House 
and 
1 x Adopt-A-Vine Cellarmaster package from Gisborne Peak 


The Lake House
Location: 4 King Street, Daylesford
Phone: 03 5348 3329 
Cuisine: Modern Australian
Needing very little introduction, Lake House is one of Australia's finest luxury retreats and destination restaurants. A world away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Lake House is perched on the edge of Lake Daylesford amongst six acres of beautiful gardens... Continue reading here.


Adopt-a-Vine membership from Gisborne Peak
Location: 69 Short Road, Gisborne 
Phone: 03 5428 2228

An Adopt-a-Vine member receives lots of special privileges, discounts and opportunities for involvement. The program is fun, yet educational too. The Adoptive Parents are invited to 'Hands-on' Days in the vineyard so they can learn more about the 'vine-to-wine' process. A very generous 25% discount on wines purchased is good for the three years of the adoption. And there are special days of Adoptive Parents at the vineyard too.

The winner will receive an Adoption Kit that has an Adoption Certificate in it (suitable for framing) and states the name of the Adoptive Parent, the varietal of vine, the row number, plant number and date of adoption. It also has a full colour picture of your vine with your personalised hang-tag.
The vine is tagged with a personalised hang-tag bearing the name of the owner and date of adoption. Adoptive owners will receive an Adoption Certificate stating the variety of vine and date of adoption and a vineyard map showing the exact location of the vine... Read more about the Adopt-A-Vine Cellarmaster package membership here.

How to enter 

All you have to do, is: 
  • Follow us on twitter (if you have not already) 
  • Send us an email answering “Describe your dream Daylesford and Macedon Ranges holiday” in 25 words or less. 

The best entry as judged by the Gastrology team, will win 1 x 3 course a la carte lunch for two at the iconic Lake House and the second best entry will win 1 x Adopt-A-Vine Cellarmaster package from Gisborne Peak.

The competition will run from Wednesday 3 September to 5:00pm Friday 5 September (winner to be announced on this post on Saturday 6 September 2014). 

The fine print: 
Only entries made using a valid email address are eligible. Your email address will not be published. This competition is a game is of skill not chance. This giveaway is open to readers in Australia only. Prize is not transferable or exchangeable or redeemable for cash. The Promoter is not responsible for prizes once they have been dispatched to the winner. The image of the prize is purely representative and the actual prize is subject to change. 

******

[6/09/2014] Announcement: Winners of the Blog Giveaway: 3 course lunch @ the Lake House & Adopt-A-Vine Cellarmaster package from Gisborne Peak Winery


Thank you to everyone who entered!

 The 2 winners are…


 L. Marshall, who has won a 3 course lunch @ the Lake House with the following entry:
Daylesford massages dad has earned
Elegant wines around every turn
Savouring local produce in the country of spa
With who else but our beloved pa

K. Pruessner, who has won an Adopt-A-Vine Cellarmaster package from Gisborne Peak Winery with the following entry:
Gourmet food, breathtaking sites,
 Luxury accommodation for two romantic nights.
 No kids screaming and running riot,
 Just me and hubby enjoying peace and quiet!

… Congratulations, the winners will be contacted via email.


Competition Now Closed.

‘MATCHED’ @ The Boulevard

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of The Boulevard and Cake Wines.
Cake Wines recently launched ‘MATCHED’, a celebration of kitchens that don’t live in the limelight.
The campaign runs through-out July-Aug-Sept and is about celebrating “kitchens that don’t live in the limelight”, hearing stories from the chefs that run them, and giving some much needed love, and exposure, to the restaurants, cafes, tapas/wine bars and gastro pubs that sometimes get drowned out by the celebrity driven food world.
Cake Wines is a newish, contemporary winery from the Adelaide Hills made up of a couple of young wine makers and young wine lovers. Working with over 50 venues nationally, Cake has approached chefs / venues / owners to match their favourite dishes to any one of Cakes’ existing wines. Cake will dedicate their social media network to sharing some of these inspiring food and wine stories across the 3 months.
As part of the ‘MATCHED’ campaign, Gastrology were privileged to visit The Boulevard. A unique venue which offers beautiful views of Melbourne’s skyline and the local Studley Park precinct, the Boulevard is located a mere 10 minutes from the CBD. 
The menu features modern Australian cuisine which showcases the finest ingredients carefully selected from local and imported suppliers.
Whipped goat cheese with onion compote, house made dukkah and toasted olive sourdough

This was a scrumptious start. We enjoyed the prominent tartness of the goats cheese which was complemented by the sweet onion compote. 
House made gnocchi with mustard butter, fried sage and shaved grana padano

The beautifully pan fried gnocchi was wonderfully light and captivating with its fragrant sage aroma and lingering rich grana padano flavour.
Crispy skin barramundi with king prawn, sautéed spinach and prawn bisque

The quality of the barramundi was exemplary. The skin of the fish was perfectly seared to be very crisp while the flesh was delicate and moist. It was a dish that allowed the natural subtle sweetness of the fish to be enjoyed. The prawn bisque boasted a decadent depth of flavour and was the perfect accompaniment to the fish, king prawn and melt in your mouth spinach.
Slow braised beef cheeks in a red wine sauce, white bean puree, caramelised onions and crispy pancetta

The slow braised beef cheek was excellent – a memorable dish combining flawless texture with equally superlative flavours.
The matching wine, the Cake Wines Pinot Noir 2012 was the perfect match to the slow braised beef cheek. A supple and approachable wine, the summer fruit flavours and subtle spice notes complemented the earthy braising sauce and the sweetness of the onions. 
Banana and sticky date pudding with butterscotch, organic vanilla bean ice-cream, walnut praline

Consistent with the preceding courses, the banana and sticky date pudding was well made and decadently coated in copious amounts of rich butterscotch sauce. It was a lovely rendition of a classic dessert.
With a lovely relaxed ambience, cheerful wait staff and award winning Modern Australian cuisine, The Boulevard is an ideal venue to laze away the afternoon.  


Location: 121 Studley Park Road, Kew
Phone: 03 9852 8144
Cuisine: Modern Australian, Coffee, Breakfast/Brunch

The Boulevard on Urbanspoon

Brunch @ Las Chicas

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Las Chicas.
Las Chicas is the perfect embodiment of a thriving Melbourne café. It has rightfully earned its standing as a weekend brunch mecca, drawing in the crowds week in week out with its consistently excellent food, fantastic coffee and cheerful wait staff.
Las Chicas has succeeded in crafting a convivial atmosphere in which to enjoy a lazy weekend brunch. 
Left: Green goodness - Kale, spinach, spirulina, probiotic powder, cucumber, banana, dates, nuts & coconut water
Right: Nutrient enhancer - Kiwi, watermelon, agave & probiotics 
Field mushroom burger 
Yarra Valley feta, sundried tomato tapenade, kale, walnut pesto with taro chips

With a rich and succulent field mushroom, the burger had, sandwiched between two halves of a slightly sweet brioche bun, Yarra Valley feta, sundried tomato tapenade, kale, walnut pesto.  It was a modern yet classic veggie burger and was absolutely delicious.  The taro chips were crisp and perfectly seasoned. 
Sesame seared tuna 
Yellow fin tuna, purple carrots, cucumber ribbons, mint, coriander with a sweet mirin, ginger and soy caramel dressing 

This dish was well balanced, loaded with umami and complex. The ginger and soy caramel dressing cradled the fragrant mint and coriander and brought the whole dish together. The tuna itself was both beautiful and beautifully prepared.
The coffee at Las Chicas is excellent. The profound respect for the humble beverage is palpable.
Las Chicas uses AllPRESS Supremo – a sweet bold coffee with a taste of red berries and cocoa. The beans are sourced from Brazil, Colombia and Papua New Guinea and then prepared and served to patrons by adept baristas.
Melbourne has an ever growing brunch culture, making the café industry a particularly competitive and vibrant one. Las Chicas serves delicious, fresh and seasonal food, which makes it a cut above.  Given its popularity, we suggest that you visit, as we did, during the odd hours of the day to avoid excessive wait times during peak hours.
Location: 203 Carlisle Street, Balaclava
Phone: 03 9531 3699
Link: http://www.laschicas.com.au/
Cuisine: Mexican, International, Modern Australian, Coffee, Breakfast/Brunch

Las Chicas on Urbanspoon

Winter @ Royal Saxon

One of Melbourne's best bars, Royal Saxon offers a large selection of cocktails, beers and wine in a dynamic, bustling environment. Royal Saxon’s versatility is highlighted by the fact that it also operates as an Italian restaurant (and an amazing one at that).
Royal Saxon's dining area has a relaxed ambience with a large central bar that dominates the interior. Striped napkins sit atop the bare wooden tables with views to Church Street or the Royal Saxon courtyard (where on Sundays, you might catch a glimpse of the delicious spit roast).  
Under the guidance of head chef Simone Righetto, the kitchen serves consistently excellent Italian cuisine. All the pasta is handmade daily and the salumi and other cured meats are lovingly produced from scratch. 
Chef Righetto’s resume is impressive, previously holding high profile roles including stints with ‘Gamberro Rosso’; a 2 Michelin Star restaurant in Tuscany, ‘Perbellini’; 2 Michelin Star Restaurant in Verona and ‘Murano’; a 1 Michelin Star restaurant in London.
Margherita - tomato, oregano and fior di latte

Royal Saxon serves some of the best pizzas in Melbourne. The delicately thin crusts have the perfect balance between crispiness and chewiness and the expertly judged toppings are always impeccable. We love their classic margherita - think layers of mozzarella teamed with delightfully fresh basil and juicy ripe tomatoes. Encircled with a puffy crisp crust, this pizza is consistently superb.
Duck ragu parpadelle 

As expected of any great Italian eatery, Royal Saxon is particularly good at producing quality pasta dishes. The parpadelle that we had was no exception. The parpadelle was expertly cooked and retained a slight residual bite. The other ingredients combined to create a wonderful complexity of flavour – the duck ragu was deliciously flavoursome and tender.
Pan roasted barramundi fillet with new season artichoke trifolati, mint and broad beans

Seared beautifully on the outside and wonderfully moist on the inside, the barramundi was stunning. The broad beans and the buttery, soft artichoke were the perfect accompaniment. A profoundly delicious dish displaying great technique. 
Our favourite dessert from the new winter menu was the delightful tiramisu. Well made, with its flavour heavily dominated by the constituent alcoholic component, it was a simple and traditional dessert that was well executed and thoroughly enjoyable.
The chefs at Royal Saxon deliver highly memorable, superbly executed Italian cuisine and service with panache and precision - every dish we have ordered from our numerous visits has been perfectly seasoned and consistently excellent. The new winter menu is no different.

Location: 545 Church Street, Richmond
Phone: 03 9429 5277
Link: http://www.royalsaxon.com/
Cuisine: Italian, Pub/Bar Food, Coffee

Read about #SaxItUp @ Royal Saxon here // Read about Sunday #SpinsandSpits @ Royal Saxon here.

Royal Saxon on Urbanspoon

Month of The Prince @ Acland St Cantina - Taco Tuesdays | Cantina Crab Shack Thursdays and MORE... [April 2014]

Location: 2 Acland Street, St Kilda
Phone: (03) 9536 1175
Link: www.aclandstcantina.com.au
Cuisine: Mexican
Overall Impression: 9/10 

Clear your schedule, prepare the palate, polish your crown and get set for a festival of the senses as the Prince of Wales celebrates Month of The Prince in April 2014. Not only does April see the arrival of Prince William and Kate Middleton to Australia, but it also sees a hive of activity invade the iconic Prince of Wales complex in St Kilda, with a spate of feature events, exclusive guest-chef dinners, street festivals, live performances, lunch specials and accommodation packages available throughout the month.
Our all-time favourite Mexican haunt, Acland St Cantina celebrates "Month of The Prince" this April with lots of exciting foodie specials.

Cantina Crab Shack - Every Thursday in April
Every Thursday, Acland St Cantina’s Crab Shack will feature an evolving menu of deep-sea delights from everyone's favourite crustacean.  Clamp your claws around spanner crab tostadas, soft shell crab tacos and stuffed zucchini flowers. 

What: Cantina Crab Shack
When: Every Thursday in April
How much: $25 for 3 Baja California-inspired crab bites;  $50 for 3 bites + Veracruzbraised whole blue swimmer crab
Taco Tuesdays - Every Tuesday (duh!) in April
Every Tuesday, Acland St Cantina will be offering up some Mexican delights, all wrapped up in a soft tortilla.

What: Taco Tuesdays
When: Every Tuesday in April
Cost: $20 for 5 tacos; $10 margarita specials 

Read our review of Acland St Cantina here.

Other highlights include...

Savages and Hicks, Circa The Prince, Monday 7th April
Sydney’s chef of the moment, Brent Savage from Bentley Restaurant + Bar, join’s Circa’s Ashly Hicks to showcase a night of outstanding seasonal produce and flavor-forward fare with a five course menu. Wines will be matched by Bentley sommelier Nick Hildebrandt and Circa’s Sally Humble.
Tickets: Priced at $195 including 5 courses + matched wine.

Circa Through The Ages, Tuesday 15th April
A degustation dinner that will bring together some of Circa’s most memorable heads chefs, who will each prepare a dish from their time in tenure. Guest chefs include Matt Wilkinson, Philippa Sibley, David Moyle, Jake Nicolson, Ashly Hicks and Stephen Burke. Wine matched by past and present Circa sommeliers including Sally Humble, Chris Crawford, Matt Brooke and Sarah Ward.
Tickets: Priced at $165 including 5 courses + matched wine.

Street Feud, The Deck, Sunday 27th April
A street food stand-off between Melbourne’s sticky finger specialists on The Deck at Circa, including Hanoi Hannah, Saigon Sally, Charlie Dumpling, Acland St Cantina, Newmarket Hotel and more. Street Feud invites the public to scoff and score Melbourne’s favourite side-walk serves.
Tickets: Priced at $39 including a dish from each participating vendor

Lunch Like a Prince, Circa, April
Circa invites you to lunch like a prince on a poor man’s budget with a $25 two course menu + wine, available every Monday to Friday in April.

Live Music, Prince Bandroom and Prince Public Bar
Keep your ear buds on a high post Grand Prix, as April cranks up the decibels with huge local and international acts rocking the Prince Bandroom, including The Fratellis (April 4), Kodaline (April 5), Michael Franti & Spearhead (April 16), Devendra Banhart (April 17) and Yacht Club DJÕs (April 18). Get down and grungy at the Prince Public Bar with free live gigs by Drunk Mums, The Mighty Boys, Mimi V and Denver Maxx on April 4, plus a formidable line up including Gossamer Pride, Harvey Cartel, The Tarantinos, Papa G & The Starcats and Arthur Penn & The Funk Ten on April 26.

Live Like A Prince, The Prince Hotel
Live like royalty at The Prince Palace (Hotel) for stays in April, with a regal accommodation package that includes twin share accommodation, dinner for two at Circa, royal cocktails for two at Circa Bar and breakfast for two at Acland St Cantina.
Package Price: $450 per couple.

Check out more information on Month of the Prince here. 

Cafe Review: Magic on Ferrars

Location: 286 Ferrars St South Melbourne
Phone: 0414 991 556   
Link: Facebook
Cuisine: Organic, Breakfast/Brunch, Coffee
Overall Impression: 8/10
A new cafe darling of South Melbourne, Magic on Ferrars is all about exceptional service, coffee and food.

After starting the café 9 months ago, Ashley Kniveton and his wife, Verlyn have devoted all their energy into developing Magic. Bringing dedication and a wealth of professional experience from working in other cafes around Melbourne, the pair have created a delightful, welcoming café with unpretentious dishes and friendly staff.
The menu is reasonably priced, fresh and is underpinned by the ethos that cafes should use seasonal produce sourced from Victoria. The food served by the kitchen ranges from well-loved breakfast favourites to hearty lunch items.
The coffee beans are sourced from award-winning St Ali coffee roasters - a fact not lost on customers who relish in the quality caffeine hit.
The cappuccino contained a perfect layer of silken froth, complete with a flawless rosetta, and tasted terrific.
Your Beautiful Muesli
Organic Muesli with Shulz Yogurt, Fresh Fruit and Poached Apricots

The muesli was a fresh, moist and delicious option. The poached apricots were a beautiful addition.
The Smasher
Meredith Goats Feta Smashed with Fresh Avocado and Free Range Eggs with a dash of Lemon Oil

The two perfectly poached eggs were accompanied by a creamy mash of feta and avocado. It was a simple and delightful dish.
Mother Fritter
Corn and zucchini with a touch of chilli a side of Atlantic Salmon, an egg and some garden salad

The corn fritters had a crunchy golden brown exterior and were succulently sweet - the nuggets of deep fried batter brought pleasure to our taste buds. The smoked salmon was fresh and the egg was expertly poached.
Magic’s big breakfast
Served with egg’s your choice, toast, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, bacon, chorizo and avocado

Two perfectly fried eggs were succulently seasoned with rashers of smokey bacon and chorizo. These were accompanied by juicy roasted tomatoes and mushrooms. In all, this dish was a respectable assembly of breakfast essentials.
Magic on Ferrars also offers delectable cakes and baked goods delivered daily by pastry chef Matt Forbes.
Salted Caramel doughnuts
Cherry curd doughnuts

These golden puffs were stunning. Ethereal in texture, the doughnuts were cinnamon-sugar coated and jam-packed with delicious fillings. The salted caramel filling was beautifully creamy and decadent. The cherry filling on the other hand was fragrant, fruity and had the perfect tartness. We had difficulty picking a favourite!
Ashley and Verlyn have certainly brought some magic to South Melbourne. Exceptional service, great food coupled with some of Melbourne's best coffee in a relaxing environment, Magic is a quintessentially Melbourne coffee hot spot.

Magic on Ferrars on Urbanspoon

Gastrology bloggers dined courtesy of Magic.

Restaurant Review: BangPop

Location: 35 South Wharf Promenade,  South Wharf
Phone: 03 9245 9800
Link: www.bangpop.com.au/
Cuisine: Thai
Overall Impression: 7/10

In a market where casual dining is in vogue, BangPop assimilates perfectly.
BangPop delivers high quality Thai hawker inspired cuisine.
Slow cooked duck leg red curry,Thai basil, fresh chilli & roasted coconut 
Poached market fish in a southern Thai style yellow curry w/ Thai basil, lime leaf & pla grop 

This dish was the highlight of our meal at BangPop. The curry was particularly noteworthy for its fragrant and complex "broth" which was appetisingly laced with a sufficient amount of chilli, fresh basil and lime leaves.
BangPop is an excellent South Wharf restaurant serving well executed and wonderfully balanced food with bold, attention-grabbing flavours. But for our preference for restaurants that take bookings, our visits to BangPop would be frequent.

BangPop on Urbanspoon