Tuesday, April 29, 2014

brunswick foodstore, brunswick

It's been a long while since an update but so much has happened since the last post and I've come to realise that this space could potentially be the side-hobby of nothingness but of utmost joy to continue committing time to. So, here's to a new cafe and to many more to come!

Find a park in Barkly Square and you'll be sure to stumble upon a wonderful cafe within a 5-minute walk radius. One of these little gems would be Brunswick Foodstore.

The cafe, when I visited, was quieter, only because it was a weekday morning. Compared to some of the other cafes around the area, Brunswick Foodstore exudes a cosy and familiar ambience in its interior and service. Compared to green refectory, this cafe is one that you won't miss too easily. Look out for the beautiful yellow bicycle mounted on the brick wall and there it'll be! It's yellow-framed menus and yellow-painted floors will also be sure to grab your attention their way.

The tables are well spread out across the spacious cafe which I think would make a wonderful group catch-up venue. Note too that they also take reservations- so you don't have to fret waiting for half an hour to get a spot.

The latte I had was simple. Slightly too creamy for my liking and from memory, I do remember the milk tasting slightly too bitter. Unfortunately, just a little underwhelming for me.

(L): scrambled eggs w sucuk, shankhish & chives on sourdough toast
baked eggs w eggplant, mushrooms, roasted peppers & shankilsh served w toasted turkish bread
However, the meals were wonderful! My friend had the dish on the left while I, on the right. What seemed to be a very simple scrambled eggs on toast breakfast was accompanied with sucuk, a Middle-Eastern dry and spicy sausage. The sucuk definitely drew me away from the predisposition I had initially of the dish and left me interested in trying more! One of my favourite vegetables of all time would have to be egg-plant. Hence, to have egg-plant in baked eggs was quite possibly one of the most exciting things I could have ever hoped for and I am so glad to say that it lived up to my expectations! The toasted Turkish bread was a bit too crunchy and ended up cutting my gums a little but I can't say I didn't expect it! That's generally what that kind of bread does to you, unfortunately. Also, I loved the peppers and mushrooms in the little ceramic pot; it added textures and didn't leave me thinking I just had blended eggs and salsa.

And one of the best memories of all from this trip? I discovered my love for who is one of my favourite Melbournian bands on Bourke Street busking, Woodlock.

brunswick foodstore
29 weston street
brunswick 3056
9388 8738
price point: ~$15
Brunswick Foodstore on Urbanspoon
listening to: lemons by woodlock

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

green refectory, brunswick

Green Refectory has been my (no-longer) secret favourite brunch spot for the last 4 months or so. Located in the heart of Brunswick where other amazing coffee places are within 5-minute walking distances, green refectory makes a name for itself with its locality, simplicity and affordability.

Upon entering, you'll realise it is ridiculously squished and 90% of the time, you'll need to place yourself on one of the communal tables for a spot but I promise, it is all worthwhile. So, if you've arrived with a friend, have a look at the menu and split up so that you'll actually get a seat! When I was last there, I even saw a guy climb over the table to get to his seat. I promise it was more hilarious than feral. To me, that just yelled out "HOME" even more (except I don't have a chandelier casually hanging about in my house). 

If you're looking for some exquisite fancy brunch meals, then green refectory probably won't be the place you're looking for this time. The menu is simple, with the necessities on the board and what you'll realise is they are very cheap, especially for a brunch spot. Although it is simple, it ranges well from savoury to sweet with the special highlights like French toasts and smoked salmon. Also, the hot porridge with prunes and apricots sound absolutely delish that I will probably try that the next time I go back.

(L) flat white
(R) breakfast stack
potato pattie, bacon, grilled tomato, spinach, halloumi cheese, basil w a poached egg
The coffee, to me, was easy. It wasn't so much amazing, but it'd be a local coffee place were I to live in Brunswick myself. There was no odd after-taste and it was very smooth. Although, I sat on the left corner communal table and it was rather wobbly, so I think I ended up getting a fair amount of coffee on my saucer- very extremely depressing. I dare say, I was shooting lasers out of my eyes in fury. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the 'Breakfast Stack' of green refectory. One word, spectacular. So it may not look like much, but don't let its looks deceive you. Its portion was huge with just the right ratio of meat to potato to salsa to spinach. Having gone back a second time, I still didn't regret ordering this again just because it is such a satisfying dish. Although, I peeped over the ladies next to us and realised they ordered the same but with mushrooms added to it. I shall definitely try that the next time I go back, should I decide to order this again.

Note too that it was only $11 which meant I only paid ~$14 for my whole brunch experience. If you're a regular to the brunch arena, you'll know that brunches easily hit the $20 mark with coffee. So to pay less that $15 is a miracle and really, the perfect place for poor university students like myself!

green refectory
115 sydney rd 
brunswick 3065
9387 1150
price point: ~$12
Green Refectory on Urbanspoon
listening to: you're beautiful by phil wickham

Friday, September 20, 2013

breakfast thieves, fitzroy

Even before I made my trip down to Breakfast Thieves in Fitzroy, I had heard a lot about how great their brunches were. One of my friends who was vegetarian recommended it to me often and so when I finally had the opportunity to check it out, I was definitely quite excited!

The interior of the cafe is very simple and cozy. I love the little lightbulbs they've hung as lighting and even though it was nice and bright outside, the lights most definitely emitted some warmth into the room. Going to cafes often give me ideas and inspirations for what I could do with my room (or future home)- almost like a real-life Pinterest, if I can say so.

Despite visiting Breakfast Thieves on a weekday arvo, there were still a fair amount of people in the cafe. That being said, we were seated quite promptly upon arrival. Also, this cafe is smaller than Industry Beans having a few communal tables and more bar seats, so it might be tricky to visit this place with a large group of people.

flat white

Sometimes I wish brunch sessions weren't always so weather-dependent. Not only does the rain dampen my spirits just a little too much, but the cold weather also cools my coffee far too quickly, especially since the coffee comes in a comfortably not-too-hot temperature. What I end up with by the time my food comes, is hot food and cold coffee. That being said however, the flat white I had was smooth, smelled lovely and as you can see, looked very pretty with its porcelain blue cup and saucer. Additional points for pretty coffee art (figure of speech, I am not creating a point system of any sort).

(L) The Legend:
Spicy baked eggs with spanish chorizo, roasted mushroom,
 green peas, feta, served with herbed garlic toast
(R) The Leprechaun:
Crisp spiced sweet corn & basil fritters on cauliflower puree,
side of poached eggs on mini avocado toast drizzled with basil oil

On to the amazing stuff! I had 'The Legend' and my friend who was vegetarian had 'The Leprechaun' and having had a taste of both, I can say it was absolutely amazing! From my blurb on the right, you'll see that I love mushrooms and so to have it in my baked eggs is perfect. Before this, the only other places I've had baked eggs were at Hardware Societe and Coffehead (will review at some point) and this baked egg repertoire definitely packs a punch with its rustic presentation. Unlike the others I had, 'The Legend' had a great spicy kick to it, giving full credit to Mr. Spanish Chorizo. Also, while some of the other baked eggs have a 'bolognese' base sauce to it and is quite saucy, 'The Legend' is chunkier in texture compared to other normal baked eggs with the many different ingredients in the dish. It still has a lot of sauce but it is more puree rather than the runny pasta sauces some of us might be used to. The other great thing about baked eggs is if you aren't a fan of runny yolks, you can always leave them in there for just a little bit longer and they'll firm up in a minute or so!

The fritters in 'The Leprechaun' itself were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, just as fritters should be. I personally think this is a great dish for the vegetarians out there, and my friend agrees. The cauliflower puree is smooth and as expected, the poached eggs were no challenge for the chefs- perfectly runny. On top tasting great, look at it, it looks beautiful! Perfect instagram shot right there.

breakfast thieves
shop 1, 420 gore st,
fitzroy vic 3065
9416 4884
price point: ~$15
Breakfast Thieves on Urbanspoon
listening to: fire escape by imaginary friend

Thursday, September 12, 2013

industry beans, fitzroy st

Nothing beats exploring the little wonders of Brunswick with girlfriends on the rare Saturday I get off work. Except if it is sunny; and it was. The seven of us adventured up to Brunswick's Industry Beans in hope for some good food and good company- of which I believe we were very successful. 

 Like most cafes on a Saturday morning, Industry Beans doesn't do reservations but the girl I spoke to on the phone cleverly recommended a few of us to go in a bit earlier to score a table, so I did and it worked! We were seated at one of the communal tables and were served very promptly.

The cafe's interior concept appropriately suits what the cafe does: serve, source, roast and brew. The bags of coffee add onto the warehouse feel and secretly, I think the cafe just smells amazing.

There were two menus provided; one for food and one especially for coffee (the food menu is available online here). Even if you aren't a coffee-drinker (the heresy!), have a flick through the coffee guide as it is really quite amazing how intricate you can get into coffee. If you're like me where you just want to learn more about coffee but the menu makes little sense to you, just go ahead and ask one of the waiters/waitresses for help. They'll educate you as best they can in the short 30-second attention span you have before you realise you have no idea what they're talking about. At that point, the blank look on my face prompted a recommendation of a spring roast flat white. I'll get there.

(L) spring roast flat white
(C) skinny latte
(R) chai latte

I thought it might be worth sharing how to drink the chai latte since it might come across as somewhat of a scientific experiment, especially when most of us are used to drinking chai from a take-away paper cup. Needless to say, as I claim to be a guinea pig for everyone else, of course I've made all the mistakes you could possibly make with this five-part chai latte experience. However, if you've got it all locked down, feel free to skim past and move on. 

It's not really as complicated as it looks. The strainer on the cup is used to filter out all the herbs and spices in the teapot when you pour it in. The little cup on top is not your drinking cup, but the place you put your strainer once you've finished using it. The gooey liquid in the white ceramic is honey to sweeten your drink. Most quick-to-serve places will put honey in your latte so if you're used to your chai latte being quite sweet, do not hesitate to put it all in. It will not warrant weird looks. Drink up!

corn and chorizo fritters
(minced chorizo & corn fritters served with crispy leeks,
chamomile mayonnaise, watercress, date relish and a poached egg)

One of the benefits of having seven people eating together is that we can all order something different and see most of the menu on a plate. The weakness of it however is that it's almost impossible to take a photo of seven meals. I personally had the corn and chorizo fritters (pictured above) and was very happy with it. My personal favourite corn fritters is actually from St. Ali but I have to say, this one is a good competitor. It wins me over with the little things like the chamomile mayonnaise and date relish which tasted amazing!

(L) cold drip cured salmon & cornbread
(house cured salmon on homemade fried cornbread with cornichon vinaigrette,
cultured cream, grapefruit, white onions & mixed edible flowers)
(R) gluten free french toast
(served with cold drip coffee caviar, pure maple syrup, blueberry compote & whipped cream)

One of the reasons why I think Industry Beans makes a great gathering place is the flexibility in the menu. Before deciding on a place, I rang up to ask what their varieties were for individuals with dietary requirements (mainly gluten-free and fructose-free). Instead of providing specific meals, they were more than happy to adapt the menu to suit the requirements and the girl I spoke to commented that they get it quite frequently. One of my girlfriends was gluten-free and fructose-free and speaking to her later, she said that despite the dietary requirements, she didn't feel like she was missing out per se. So if you are gluten-free, vegetarian and fructose-free, Industry Beans is definitely a place you can visit!

coffee chemistry tasting plate
(L) latte pearls
(R) aeropress jelly and coffee toffee

Something unique in Industry Beans is their experimentation with coffee chemistry- slightly Heston Blumenthal. The lovely waitress suggested we order a tasting plate between the seven of us and it was a perfect amount to try every little bit. The latte pearls are obviously slightly difficult to 'share' but they were like little explosions of latte in your mouth. Be warned that the aeropress jelly is bitter and has a very strong hit of coffee and the coffee toffee is very very sweet, as toffee should be. The girls were inventive enough to have the two together which tasted a lot better but I personally preferred the jelly a lot more on its own. I think if we had more of the pearls, someone would have tried the three together. Who knows what that would've been like! The tasting platter was $9 altogether and split between 7 of us, it was definitely worth it. Did I also mention that these lovely people offer split bill? Lifesaver.

industry beans
warehouse 3, cnr of fitzroy st & rose st,
fitzroy vic 3065
9417 1034
price point: ~$20
Industry Beans on Urbanspoon
listening to: watch me by daytrip

Friday, August 30, 2013

kinfolk, 673 bourke st

My visit to kinfolk about a month back was exciting, encouraging and inspiring (I'll explain 'inspiring' later). It's cosy and warm (literally!) and as I waited for the girls outside, I noticed that wasn't just an adventure for someone like me, but also the local coffee-spot for many in the city.

The guy at the counter greeted a familiar face with a bright smile and said, "The usual?" I look forward to the day I have enough money to grab a coffee everyday and have 'the usual'.

 What's inspiring about kinfolk are their volunteers and their advocacy for developmental projects all around Australia. There's a real focus on kinfolk being not just another cafe in Melbourne, but a movement to bring about change and opportunity for the community they are a part of.

free flat white to celebrate kinfolk reaching another grand for donations

(L) asian mushrooms, goat's curd, roquette, grated macadamia, open sandwich (+ pork);
(R) cauliflower risotto w/ sauteed rainbow chard, parmesan cheese (+ pork)

On top of the great initiatives and visions that the cafe stands for, the food was thankfully just as amazing! Kinfolk's menu changes everyday depending on what fresh produces are available. While some might consider that frustrating, I think that's great and adds on to the casual atmosphere of the cafe. You can however, stay updated on their FaceBook page here.

I personally had the (last) open sandwich (for the day) on the left and the girls had the risotto on the right. Highlight of the sandwich was the grated macadamia which I personally thought was ingenious to include in a sandwich. As Masterchef judges would say, "It's texturally great!" Note also to all the vegetarians out there that pork is optional so I'm sure you'll enjoy it just as much. I also did have a taste of the risotto and it was definitely a filler, especially for lunch. The stock was flavoursome and the risotto, to my best understanding, was cooked well! Note however that I am not Italian. Also, my flat white was smooth with the right amount of bitterness and froth. I have heard that their chai tea is amazing so, there's a recommendation!

673 bourke st, melbourne
0423 229 953
price point: ~$15
Kinfolk on Urbanspoon
listening to: silver by woodlock lemons