Friday, 1 November 2013

Giraffe Cafe, Melbourne

giraffe cafe melbourne japanese kawaii tea coffee bakery sandwiches

In the CBD and want to retreat from the busy crowds? From the outside, Giraffe Cafe looks like a conventional sandwich take out shop, but go further in and you will find the cutest back room, packed full of knick-knacks jumbled together, with a handmade paper tree filling the centre of the room. Tags with inspirational sayings and cuteness dangle from the branches. My dining friend had one word for it - Kawaii: the japanese word that roughly translates as an adjective for things that are 'super-cute'. Grab some biscuits, sweet drinks, cake and retreat from the city.

Giraffe Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Meatmother, Richmond, Melbourne

meatmother melbourne american food pulled pork pickles mac cheese brisket

Never one to go past good American BBQ (we went to the Melbourne Show this year just because we heard the local slow-cooked smoked meats king, Jack the Ribber from Silver Creek Smokers, was doing a 16 hour smoked brisket), Meatmother in Richmond is a one-stop shop for meat-lovers. One step in the door and you know this is no place for vegetarians - the walls are decorated with classy meat-art. Protein, carbs and pickles abound. Don't come here on a diet.

Meat trays are a good choice - pick pulled pork, beef brisket, beef short rib or pork spare ribs - and one side of either BBQ beans, chipotle slaw, mac cheese, gravy mash, smoked corn or sprouts with lardon. All options served with thick 'Texas toast' (AUD$19-21). Top pairing for me is the brisket with mac cheese, hands down. Pulled pork sandwich is  made with 8 hour smoked pork butt, on thick texas toast with chipotle slaw (a little light on the chipotle for me, but I am a self-confessed chipotle fiend) served with house pickled veg on the side (AUD$13). Daily burgers are always a good option, with the kitchen getting a little creative. Good to visit on American holidays such as 4th of July, as they will always have a 'themed' special. 

Meatmother on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Acland St Cantina, St Kilda, Melbourne (Take 2)

acland st cantina mexican food red mole flinders island lamb green rice tortillas

acland st cantina mexican food rose tea strawberry cocktail

acland st cantina mexican food oaxacan mixed grill tortillas skirt steak chorizo

acland st cantina mexican food prawn pumpkin tacos

Another favourite restaurant of mine that is deserving of a re-review update this month is funky Acland St Cantina. Mexican food at its best, they do what they do well - and they use only the best ingredients. Once again spot on with the flavour, you can't pass up the Red Mole with Flinders Island lamb and herby green rice (AUD$28), rich and unbelievably tender. The Carne Asada comes in a basket packed with Oaxacan Market style mixed grill of skirt steak and chorizo, with fresh, soft, warm tortillas and condiments (AUD$29). The prawn and pumpkin tacos are served on purple corn tortillas, with fresh, crisp salad and a peanut mole sauce (AUD$7 per piece). Cocktail are interesting and varied - I can't ever turn down the Rose & Strawberry Margarita with strawberry and rose tea infused tequila, strawberry liquor, lime and a fizzy pink sherbet rim (AUD$15).

Acland St. Cantina on Urbanspoon

Monday, 28 October 2013

Sweetwater Inn, South Yarra, Melbourne

sweetwater inn melbourne pub bar australian food

sweetwater inn melbourne pub bar australian food chiko roll

sweetwater inn melbourne pub bar australian food kangaroo steak chicken wings lemon myrtle damper poutine beer battered fries

sweetwater inn melbourne pub bar australian food lemon myrtle cocktail

sweetwater inn melbourne pub bar australian food red wine house

Our new 'local' is vegan-friendly Sweetwater Inn, a mild parody of the American/Mexican food fad going on in Melbourne at the moment. The place is undeniably hipster, but packed full of typical 'Australiana'. Ceiling fans, corrugated tin, animal heads - it is a pristine impression of an outback pub, staffed by uber-cool young Aussies sporting beards and leather tasselled vests. The idea was that we, as a city, are obsessed with overseas food - but we have such an amazing culture of our own, largely unexplored. 

Using native ingredients, the menu rocks a mean wagyu rissole sandwich with gravy and melted cheese (AUD$15), a housemade Chiko roll (AUD$10), a very close approximation of the original tuckshop favourite, but this time made with actual food-based ingredients. My personal favourite is the tender lemon myrtle smoked pulled lamb, stuffed in a pillowy soft damper roll and smeared with housemade beetroot BBQ sauce (single burger: AUD$12 double burger: AUD$18). A close second is the Kangaroo steak sandwich, marinated in Bundaberg rum and coke, in a warm roll with Melbourne Bitter braised onions (AUD$16). Fried chicken wings with spicy mayo (AUD$12), crispy thick cut beer battered chips with gravy and swiss cheese (AUD$12) - it is close to impossible to go wrong. They have an entire vegan menu also, with many of the same dishes veganized. However, a few vegetarian friends have tried and haven't raved about it as much as I have, so I have stuck with the carnivorous options. 

They offer some mean cocktails too, packed with Aussie native ingredients, such as the Emma Chiset with Beetroot infused 666 vodka, dill, apple and soda; the Billy Tea with local West Winds Gin, Green Tea, Ginger, Lemon and Honey; or the Bush Whacker, also with West Winds Gin, Lemon and Eucalyptus syrup. The house wine comes bottled with labels that fit perfectly with the atmosphere, and the wine is pretty darn good too. 

Sweetwater Inn on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 26 October 2013

The Grain Store, Melbourne (Take 2)

grain store melbourne french toast with eggnog curd peppered caramel and oreo crumb

My constant brunch favourite, Grain Store makes a reappearance (original review here), due to a menu addition that quite simply blew my mind. Not for the faint-hearted, this is would send a sugar addict into a coma. Starting with buttermilk french toast, the plate is scattered with an oreo crumble, a generous serve of peppered caramel, and a dollop of eggnog curd sits atop a pile of pink grapefruit (AUD$17). Chocolate, pepper, fruit, caramel and eggs? They work. Trust me. The eggnog curd brings the other flavours together with the egginess of the french toast - the bitter sweetness of the grapefruit cuts through the overwhelming sweetness of the caramel and chocolate. I love the Grain Store as a whole, but this dish brings my adoration to a whole new level.

The Grain Store on Urbanspoon