Friday, May 20, 2016

Morris Jones - Champagne Lunch

Disclosure: I dined as a guest of the restaurant

Being a huge fan of ‘The Real Housewives of _____” series in general (Beverly Hills, Atlanta and Melbourne are my favourites though), it occurs to me every time I watch the show I clearly don’t wear my high heels enough, wear tight enough dresses, rock my cleavage or drink enough champagne. 

Seriously, I’m always inspired to go run around my closet and have some fun after indulging in a couple of episodes. 

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But maybe here’s the reason why; Melbourne’s culture is so relaxed. Brunch is in lycra and sneakers, fast casual is on the rise and more and more restaurants are pretty chilled out with dress code. I’m only in heels these days for really fancy meals (also cause taking public transport in heels is not so much fun anymore (showing my age?))

So Morris and Jones it is to the rescue, who figured why compete with all the other cafes in the High Street strip in Windsor and instead of brunch, offer a champagne lunch from Friday’s to Sunday’s instead.


For just $45 per head, diners get a three course meal (or $35 for two courses), with a couple of options for entree, main and dessert to choose from…and believe me, it’s hard to decide as all the dishes sound good. You can also get your glass of bubbly upgraded to Moet and Chandon for a little extra too. 

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When we went for the launch of the champagne lunch, prior to our three courses we also got to enjoy these, maybe slightly bizarre looking, but insanely delicious, salt and vinegar saltbush ‘chips’. Oh my goodness. Don’t think too much just drink your champagne and hoof these down, the leaves are perfectly crunchy and the salt and vinegar just makes me nostalgic for when salt and vinegar chips used to be my favourite things in the world. Delicious, do not miss out!

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Save some room too for the beautiful chunks of beer and caraway bread with thyme and honey butter. 

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Entrees around the table were delicate, and beautiful. Orders of the champagne marinated (of course darling) poached salmon with asparagus and fennel came with a dose of theatre; glass cloches filled with smoke revealed their delicate dishes. I died over my beetroot salad with holy goats curd, almonds and pistachio, a medley of stunning autumn colours, and so sweet, the beetroot could’ve been natural candy. 

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I was also particularly impressed with the southern fried quail, with just a slight crunchy crust and juicy, juicy meat. 

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I loved the portion sizes of the mains, not too big, but definitely still hearty. The generous thick cut of steak came with the most crazy good potatoes ever, a potato skin that had been filled with potato puree. Like what?

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My short rib had me licking my lips for more, just the right amount of fat, juicy, meaty, sweet, I just couldn’t have enough of it. 

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Another stand out main was the local mushroom risotto with mock truffle, wood sorrel, and grapes. There was a lovely crunchy element for texture, and the sweetness of the grapes worked unexpectedly well with the earthiness of the dish. Not to be missed. 

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When dessert is an option between a sweet and a cheese course…well most of the table went for the sweet. Nitro violent crumble with honeycomb and violet ice-cream. With more theatre. Who doesn’t love some liquid nitrogen honeycomb action? This was my perfect lunch dessert, luscious rich chocolate, but not too much of it with the crunchy honeycomb and freshness of the ice-cream; hitting that need for richness, but not being heavy. 

Really though, it is the perfect excuse to get the gang dressed up on a weekend and indulge in a mini but long lunch, I’m definitely thinking of bringing mum here…!

163 Chapel Street

Morris Jones Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Ichi Ni Nana

I love having foodie pals. We might not talk much during the year, especially if they’re residing overseas, but the second they’re back in town and we’ve got a meal organised…it’s always the best time. 

Em’s one of those people, when she sprung a surprise trip on family and friends earlier in the year (she lives in London at the moment), we quickly organised a trip to Fitzroy to check out Ichi Ni Nana, the newest in the Ichi Ni Izakaya family. 

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The building is huge, spanning 3 floors with a different concept on each floor. I was a bit early for our initial booking, so headed straight up to level 3, to the rooftop bar where Melbourne turned it on with blue skies and sunshine. Dominique Portet rose from the Yarra Valley was the only suitable wine choice.

Before long, I got the call that we were perhaps enjoying the sunshine a little too long and were now running very late for our booking at Ichi Ni Nana! 

So back to the ground floor we went, and into the restaurant, dimly lit with dark woods, and a gorgeous covered courtyard. 

We left ordering in the hands of the owner and the staff and were not disappointed. 

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We started with the Shiromi carpaccio, thinly sliced kingfish served with ginger wasabi sauce, which was a gorgeous and spritely way to wake the palate. Refreshing and zingy. 

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Em was almost beside herself with the ebi mayo came out, battered prawns tossed in karashi mayo, and after a bite, I quickly understood her excitement. The prawns are meaty and sweet, with a light batter and all that delicious kewpie-style mayo goodness we love. It’s a decadent combination. 

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Might not photograph well (dark, on dark, in a dark space…), but the wagyu gyoza (with what I assume is a squid ink skin) was rich and tender. 

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The Lamb Saikyo Yaki - charcoal grilled sweet miso glazed lamb cutlets, are a bit pricey at $18 for two pieces, but they are tender and succulent. It’s terrible difficult to go past a sweet miso glaze as well, with the surface of the lamb with just enough char on it as well. 

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The Volcano Roll is a pretty modern take on sushi, an inside out roll filled with asparagus, salmon and prawn, coated in flamed spicy scallop sauce which had a bit of heat (as promised). 

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But the real masterpiece, and also why you shouldn’t let staff order for you, was the Ichi Ni Nana Platter…which came out at the end of our meal. What a feast on the eyes! This could have very comfortably fed Em and I in totality…but after a full dinner, it’s a lot of sushi to look at!

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The quality of the fish was lovely, with cool, thick cuts of fish, that just melt in the mouth. I particularily enjoyed the scallop sashimi that were included on this dish, which had a dollop of hot sauce or something equivalent, which really popped against the sweetness of the scallop. 

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And yet, despite all that we still squeezed in a green tea ice-cream at the end. Because if you’re going to go hard…you may as well go all the way. 

Ichi Ni Nana was definitely a fun girl’s night out; not all the flavours or execution are going to be traditional, but that’s not what these guys are doing. It’s fun, it’s big, it’s flavour and it’s a good time. 

127 Brunswick Street

Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Catch Up - Fall menu at Nieuw Amsterdam, Le Petite Prince & House of Crabs

Disclosure: I was invited to dine as a guest at the following venues 

You may notice these days, that there’s quite a bit of a gap from when I have a dining experience on Instagram, versus when it’s up on the blog. 

It’s definitely hard to stay on top of everything, between flat out days at work which leave me not wanting to be in front of a computer, nights out and then making sure I’m in bed by 10:30 so I can go to the gym (prioritising fitness, whoo!) and well…blogging is a bit of work!

So here’s a little round up of a couple of places that I’ve been wanting to write about, just to help expedite the process a little!

106-112 Hardware Lane
Melbourne 3000 

Nieuw Amsterdam Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

A couple months back, I popped into Nieuw Amsterdam to check out their new (and now obviously running) autumn menu, matched with cocktails. 

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I’m always amazed at how creative with cocktails the guys at Nieuw Amsterdam get. One of my favourites from the evening? Peas-go-sour. A play on a ‘pisco sour’ (see what they did there?) with pisco, applejack, lime, snow pea syrup and habanero shrub. What. It’s fresh, it’s springy, it’s almost healthy…right? 

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Highlights included the deep fried pickles we munched on prior to our meal; which are basically the perfect bar snack. How come these aren’t everywhere? Golden, crunchy, piping hot and just yum. 

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Southern fried quail with romesco sauce and pickled grapes are also pure fried perfection. I absolutely love that these meaty mouthfuls are only dedicated battered, and the kick in the seasoning. There’s a lovely heat, and each mouthful is still so juicy. Happy sighs. 

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Curry spiced lamb ribs with cauliflower, eggplant, coriander and lime are also a favourite of mine, again amazingly meaty and no-hands-barred with all the flavour. Love the charred outsides and still pink insides.

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It’s hearty, hearty food, it’s been a little bit of a warm autumn sure, but once we swing full on into the colder weather…? Oh goodness. Perfection.

1A Mercer Road

Le Petit Prince Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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Armadale and Toorak can sometimes be a bit pretentious, and hoity-toity sometimes. But I love being surprised and instead of finding overly healthy dishes, or a little bit too intricate plating, just great big hearty dishes, that still look great.

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Le Petit Prince did just that for me. Beautiful coffees, in sky blue cups, and a pumpkin dish with roast pumpkin two ways which I just want to eat all my life. I don’t think you guys fully understand just how much I love pumpkin. Also helps this dish is loaded with haloumi as well, sprinkled with a bit of dukkah. It’s wholesome but not heavy comfort food that I love eating while sitting outside in the breezy weather. 

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Brad’s mixed mushrooms, Spanish morcilla, poached eggs, smashed avocado and feta is also a surprisingly generous feed, and incorporates all my favourite things…what’s not to love?

34 Inkerman Street
St Kilda

House of Crabs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

When I hear there’s a new restaurant open beneath the slick and very cool Newmarket hotel…well…House of Crabs isn’t exactly what I expected when I walk in.

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You’re instantly transported to the quirky corner of the south, with funky lamp shades, fringe and red…lots of red. It feels a little burlesque bar, but with a band playing Cotton Eye Joe instead. It’s kind of hilarious and the atmosphere is instantly jovial and bright. 

The cocktails are hard, but delicious; yes there’s a mini bottle of tequila that’s pouring out into my glass. 

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But it’s really all about sitting down at the butcher paper lined tables, donning some blue plastic gloves…and getting intimate with some crustaceans. 

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Mussels, prawns, and a selection of crabs are available to have as a boil, with your choice of sauce. The Singapore sauce is one of my favourites, totally reminds of chilli crabs back in Singapore, and I can’t remember which, either the Cajun or the Creole has some beautiful curry-ish flavours going on. 

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It’s a bit of work, but it’s a whole lot of fun and always a great icebreaker. Good way to vet out a potential date too (if they ain’t peeling prawns or getting into crabs, they’re a party popper and a no goer I’d say).

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The stuff on the side is also really good too, lobster fries with bacon, cheese and lobster gravy are terribly moreish and I love the crunchy buttermilk chicken bits with cajun sauce. 

Also highly recommend the soft shell crab tacos with jalapeño mayo and apples, beautifully crisp and a nice kick of heat.