Men make a Bar out of Brekkie

Eira Café and Lounge Bar
1 Pryor Street Eltham

(Visited August ’16)

It is not good when best mates get together

It is good when best mates get together.

When men get together, shit happens

When men get together, the best stuff happens.

When best mates hatch a plan, watch out…

When best mates hatch a plan… watch out…

And so it is when Hubbie and his best mate are together. It’s a manly match made in heaven: they were each other’s best men at their respective weddings; they are both so fond of their hair and appearance; and they love beer, and alcohol, and COFFEE, oh, so, much.

Oh, and they don’t mind us wives either.

But really, truly. We get along smashingly.

So on a Saturday night at a birthday party, when within 5 minutes of being in the same room as each other, they came looking for me and Best Man’s wife, exclaiming “here they are!” as they walked into the room, you just knew, something was up.

Not up in the way it was many, many, many moons ago when they decided to trespass on the grounds of a piece of Melbourne criminal history and nearly got eaten by Rottweilers. Not that kind of ‘up.’

They’re Dads now. We would actually kill them if they decided to pull shit like that again.

So, this was a more ‘let’s go out, let’s get hammered’ type of hatch plan.

“We’re going out to brekkie tomorrow!” is what they told us.

Like I said, they’re Dads… they’ve mellowed out.

I personally had not been out to brekkie with baby girl in yonks. Other than the times we’ve been on a weekend away and a café has literally been a 5 minute drive so that her morning hunger nerves aren’t extended any more than they have to be, I gave up the thought of breakfasts out a while back, only because I don’t want to torture her, just because I need to be a Melbourne hipster eating my Avocado smash with gluten free mocha/Frappuccino/Matcha blend with raw sugar from the Jungles of the Amazon. Nah. I’ll wait for her to be a little older.

However, as it is when you’re in a group of over-excited-testosterone-planning-the-beer-they’ll-drink-before-breakfast neanderthals, I thought ‘what the hell.’

It was very different the following morning as we, and they, woke up in our separate houses feeling groggy and sleep-deprived from a late night and early morning. We had to beat ourselves out of bed, and after much to-ing and fro-ing, and ringing around, decided on a place not too far from either of us, Eira Cafe and Lounge Bar in Eltham.

It is a café situated on a corner not far from the Main Street, opposite Common Place where we had previously frequented, and near a public car park, with many shops, cafes and supermarkets all around. It was a stunning Sunday for Winter, and we arrived first, sitting at our Reserved table nearby the fireplace.

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It isn’t a huge café, and most tables were taken. There was a lot of wood about, and even the long table we were on had long stools for sitting rather than individual seats, adding to the earthy aspect. As is the norm nowadays, suspended lightbulbs hung down low from the ceiling, which I love to see no matter how many Cafes showcase this trend. And the floor length windows allowed you to get a good look at the passers-by and goings on in the street outside, from wherever you were sitting.

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I FORTUNATELY ordered baby girl’s meal before our friends came. I am so grateful I did that.

We got for her the Pikelets with maple syrup and ice cream, and though she was rapt with the cold stuff, I think the maple syrup was just not to her taste.

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I forgot to take a photo because I was so concerned about baby girl getting some food into her. Here is her 2 and a half pikelets (originally 3), a decent serve for a child I think, albeit a toddler like her. However I hadn’t needed to use the standby piece of bread I had ready and waiting in my bag in case she couldn’t take the hunger no longer. She was occupied with our friends’ kids across from her and their gadgets. She ate a decent portion and seemed happy, and the presentation was nice.

We had all ordered at the same time once our friends were here – our adult meals plus their kids’ meals. Everyone watched baby girl’s pikelet plate as we waited. And waited. And waited. Not even the kids meals were coming out! Our kids plus now a content baby girl walked around, jumped over the nearby couches on the stage area, which was a step up from where we were seated. Some areas of the café appeared zoned, such as this step up area which we assumed might be for a band on a music night; and then there was another couch in front of the fireplace. It was homely and comforting, sure, and it all looked good… we just wanted our food!

The boys were drinking pre-brekkie beer as discussed, but getting hungry. Us girls were getting hungry. The poor kids were getting hungry. It was obvious it wasn’t only limited to us, as around me I could see plenty of empty tables with people looking around with curious eyes, and yet no staff came over to say anything. We withheld comment for over an hour… and then as expected, as soon as baby girl needed a nappy change, our food came out.

Great.

However, it was great, since a waitress informed me they did have a change table in the disabled toilets (take that Lygon street!) I sacrificed my warm, arrived brekkie, and went into the loo with her, only to first hear from the waitress delivering our food that a chef had gone home sick, which is why a huge backlog of dishes had occurred and been delayed.

Well, that made sense. Now we would stuff ourselves.

By the time I came back with baby girl, I pretty much passed all responsibility of keeping baby girl out of trouble (like running behind the counter and making a coffee for herself) over to Hubbie, as I proceeded to eat very quickly.

I mean, it was almost 12. It was now practically lunchtime.

I had ordered some kind of Vegetarian breakfast: mushrooms, eggplant and zucchini atop sourdough bread, cherry tomatoes on the side and 2 poached eggs, with a balsamic glaze.

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Not their fault, but because I had tended to baby girl, my meal was lukewarm. I ate it quickly, and even the sourdough had gotten a bit tougher in that time. I still enjoyed it, as a person stranded in the desert enjoys water, but I still felt I could have had more, and I don’t know if that’s because it took so long to arrive, or because the meal could have been larger.

Having waited so long for the food, I still needed something else to satisfy my Sunday morning craving…. Caffeine. We all got coffees, and both Hubbie and I enjoyed ours, though I forgot to photograph them… again, hunger and thirst pains. But they were good, strong, smooth. Ahh. When I go “ahhh” all is good.

I didn’t however, forget to photograph the best looking one:

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Baby girl’s babycino.

Kudos for creativity, bravo. And baby girl LOVES marshmallows. I found it very clever indeed 🙂

After our marathon wait and then elevator ride finish, it was now lunchtime… and time to go home and eat and catch up on some sleep.

Food: 7/10. I’m not deducting points just because someone was sick in the kitchen – shit happens. The rest of the menu looked really good, with their variety of lunch meals, tapas, main meals, and all kinds of other bits and pieces like desserts and kids meals.

Coffee: 8/10. It touched my soul on that Sunday morning. Strong and smooth.

Ambience: Comfy, with a touch of Eltham class. The wood panelling gives it that homely feel, and I really like the various areas of seating creating little zones within the small café.

People: Family types out for brekkie. Younger families, older families, Dads with kids, Mums with kids, and large groups.

Staff: They were busy. Nice, but shit was happening in the kitchen you see. They did their best and they were good with our requests.

Price: I have no clue on the final countdown because our friends shouted us on this occasion, but the prices on the menu show the $15-$19 mark on all the various ‘adult’ breakfasts, which I feel is on the money… However where my meal felt not so large, baby girl’s was generous.

Advice: Book ahead, and maybe try and go on a night where they have their live music playing… it would be a treat to experience in that homely environment.

In a nutshell: I would go back, and have no reservations despite their unfortunate bad luck that day. Perhaps they could have informed the customers of what was proceeding so that the people in the café weren’t looking around for an hour scratching their heads… but oh well.

Still a nice place to Lounge away on a Sunday. With the big kids, AND the little kids – the little kids being our Hubbies, of course.

Of course 😉

Eira Cafe Lounge Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Northern slice of Paris

Jahdomes Bakery and Café
42A The Stables Shopping Centre 314-316 Childs Road Mill Park

(Visited June ’16)

It was a long overdue catch up that had me meeting in our then local grounds to see bestie. Hubbie was home and could look after baby girl, which meant I could really, truly, properly, have a good gas bag with her.

Bestie had suggested the place, since not only was it a great meeting grounds between her work and my home, but the parents of a girl she used to work with, opened the café. I was excited, because not only was it a hop, skip and a jump away from home, but I had been meaning to go to Jahdomes for a while. I had heard about their famous vanilla slice, and my intentions had been to takeaway some for home…

Upon greeting bestie and then sitting down in the corner café at The Stables, I took some time to take in my surroundings. The French theme was most definitely apparent, with French and provincial paraphernalia, in the form of lights, Eiffel towers, birdcages and loops and bicycles – this cafe was evoking images of a small cake shop within the hearts of Paris. All you needed was the people watchers out the front facing the street as you strode past, and it was complete. It was a quaint slice of Paris in the Northern suburbs and the interior definitely removed you from the greater surrounds with gusto.

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After a long talk, talking without looking at the menu for what seemed like a while, we finally realised we should probably order something. Table service arrived too, which I was pleased with. We ordered, and soon after I received my Chicken Burger – tenderloins, relish, egg, pickles, tomato, sauce

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My burger was really moist and delicious, homely-tasting, and the pickles tasted like McDonalds pickles! I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just mean they tasted familiar, a recognisable taste from my childhood. Good, hearty café fare, with chips on the side and a rocket balsamic salad too. It was generous and filling, a good meal to set you up for lunch.

We didn’t have any coffees, instead replacing our sips of usual caffeine for more gas-bagging… but I did take home the New York cheesecake, after being told that the vanilla slice had sold out! I think it does so early on each day, so being lunchtime I had totally missed the boat on that one. Damn.

It was a small visit, with not a great deal spent or eaten, however the length of time we sat leisurely catching up with each other, taking in the surrounds, and just relaxing, made the visit that much more special. I saw the potential of the place, and visiting it for the first time with bestie, made me love it more.

Food: 7/10. Hearty café food in the ‘burbs, done well. The menu showcases many of your standard sandwiches, foccacias, brekkie items and kids options, alongside an ‘ever-changing’ food section. What you would expect, it caters for its location.

Coffee: N/A on this visit, but not long after I revisited this place with Hubbie and baby girl this time, and we only feasted on this:

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The cakes were lovely and the coffee was great… an 8/10. No vanilla slice yet again (!) so we’re just gonna have to keep chasing it down… sigh.

Ambience: Quiet and cosy, though there is ample seating it wasn’t packed on that weekday, but it wasn’t loud with the diners it had there either.

People: I think quite a few locals already privy to the place, there was a man eating alone, some other friends, and a group too.

Staff: They were friendly and accommodating with our requests.

Price: It was $25 for my burger and the cheesecake I took home on that day, so I think that was right on the money.

Advice: If you want to grab the famous vanilla slice, best be up with the early birds and get on down there before they sell out… because they do!

In a nutshell: A great find within the Northern suburbs, and one that lifts the standards of other more average options for the discerning diner. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite, a hearty meal, some delicious cake, or a hot coffee, these lovely surrounds cater to your every need. A Parisian slice of heaven, in simple suburbia… You’ll feel at home, at Jahdomes.

Jahdomes Bakery & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The stop-over Bay Hotel

Inverloch Esplanade Hotel
1 A’Beckett Street Inverloch

On our way home from our RACV Resort Inverloch stay, we headed on down to the town centre, a small selection of shops and strips, very reminiscent of an actual, old-school ‘town’… and decided to lunch it at the local Hotel before our long drive home.

It was quite idyllic, eating at the ‘main’ Hotel on the main strip. Old photos of the street and how it used to look decades and decades ago, adorned the walls inside, offering a fantastic view into how things used to be. A little trip through history that was fascinating. A lot had changed, but I was happy to see that the area definitely still retained its little town and out-of-the-way village feel.

The group of us sat down in a middle table, happily lapping up the conveniently-playing Collingwood game on the nearby screen. Many others, most likely locals, had the same idea, and were lunching it to the footy on screen on one wall. Unfortunately, it was not going the Pies’ way. But we could eat, and that would make it ALL better.

It’s a pay-up-at-the-counter place, so we perused the menus at our table before a couple of us went up to pay on behalf of the whole. The boys went to the bar area and bought drinks, bringing them back to the table, and I headed to the middle of the restaurant which had an area to pick up your cutlery and pour yourself some water, and could see that at the bar they had colouring pencils and folders of girls and boys colouring paper! So clever! I grabbed those too for baby girl and that kept her happy for a while… until that is of course, she saw the kids play room. It’s stationed in the corner and separated by glass windows all around, so the kids are kept totally separate from other diners. She kept pointing but we only let her go until after she ate, if we had let her in earlier she would have NEVER come out!

Our food was delivered to the table, and soon, we all had a plate in front of each of us. On the menu for Hubbie, baby girl and I, were these selections… for me:

Thai Green Prawn Curry – with steamed jasmine rice

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For Hubbie, the Beef & Bacon Burger – House-made beef pattie with bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled onion and jalapenos on a toasted bun with bbq relish and steak-cut chips

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And for baby girl, Chicken Nuggets and Chips

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I enjoyed my prawn curry meal, however with the wine that was accompanying it, it had a real kick and was super-spicy! It was great, yet I feel that some prawns were slightly undercooked.

Baby girl’s meal of nuggets and chips was a decent one, especially for the price-tag. She enjoyed it and we helped her along where necessary. Hubbie did enjoy his burger, but it was simply standard pub fare for him, nothing amazing or mind-blowing. Our meals had come out super quick which was a bonus, meaning baby girl could head on over to the play area and knock herself out ‘til it was time we hit the road for home…

Food: 7/10. At a place like this, the local corner Hotel, you come to know what to expect. Still decent.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: Chilled considering the footy was on, and not noisy in the slightest. Maybe because it was a quiet Sunday afternoon, maybe because the day was grey, or maybe because, that’s just how it is in a quiet town by the water!

People: A mix of older people, and families. I’d say confidently, mostly locals.

Staff: They were friendly, however we didn’t have much interaction with them, only when we ordered, and then they brought us our meals.

Price: Although I don’t have a summary price of what our groups tally came to, I can give you some figures from what we ate. Baby girl’s meal was a very decent $9. Mine was a bit on the upside at $28, and I didn’t really think that was worth it. It was a lovely meal, but the price needed to be a bit less than that. Hubbie’s was on the mark more at $18, so there is a real mix there – of meals both appropriately priced, and then mine, which if executed better, and ‘plumped’ up, would be well-worth the pricier tag.

Advice: Having said all of the above, from their website at the time of writing, it looks as if they have improved many parts of the restaurant, including the menu. Check it out, you may be pleasantly surprised,… then let me know 😉

In a nutshell: With the fact that it looks new and improved going on almost a year after we last saw it, I would go back to revisit this venue. I love the old-Hotel vibe, the photos showing way-back-when on the walls, and the beachside location and local feels that really put you, in the midst of it all, part of the town of Inverloch and its long-standing history.

Do have a wander over, as there is something there for everyone. Sports TV for the guys, strip of shops nearby for the girls, and a playroom for the kids… did I mention the collapsible change table in the toilets? Mornington Main Street and Lygon Street could learn a thing or two from them!

A stay, and a bite to eat in Inverloch, is a lovely way to spend your day.

Inverloch Esplanade Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Move straight to the centre

Radius Restaurant
RACV Resort, 70 Cape Paterson-Inverloch Road Inverloch

(Visited June ’16)

Our trip to Inverloch in June 2016 was in celebration of many things. And it was our first family holiday together as one, so it made sense that there were people and events to celebrate.

When I say family, I mean ‘family,’ in the all-encompassing, all-inclusive sense.

Road tripping it over was myself, Hubbie and baby girl… my MIL… my parents… my sister, bro-in-law, and my two nephews.

It was a BIG one.

Although it was a very short trip, it was jam-packed and still a lot of fun.

On the night we arrived, we dressed ourselves up and headed on over into the dining quarters of Radius, the restaurant at the RACV resort that we were staying at.

If you can stay at the RACV resort, do it. You have so much accessible to you, the rooms are new and modern and luxurious, and then you have a view like this from your window.

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Highly, strongly recommended. So, back to the restaurant. There was a fairly big group of us, so it was a given that one of us had booked ahead to guarantee a table. We arrived by 7pm, and it took a while to settle with so many.

After all that though, we started getting into the holiday spirit with some drinks

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and then it was the long and arduous task of deciding what to order.

Not that there weren’t any good meals. It was just that our parents wanted ‘easy,’ ‘simple,’ ‘recognisable’ options, and translating what everything was, and what they would eventually get (understanding some menus requires study in itself) took a bit of effort.

Our waitress was lovely from the outset. She was kind and extremely accommodating, not at all like the nose-in-air customers who were dining nearby, looking over questioningly every time baby girl or my nephew made a sound. They did it with such rudeness, when they weren’t even being that noisy, that I almost asked THEM to leave. The inconsiderate nature of some people just astounds me.

But the waitress worked hard to make us happy, even telling sis that we could chill out on the empty table behind us, if it helped to make my nephew happier.

She had forgotten our bread rolls early on, but that was easily forgotten with her kind gestures, making her the ideal waitress that night.

Baby girl spent some time drawing in those small kid’s packs that come with some paper, 4 crayons and a sheet of stickers. That kept her busy, keeping us relieved.

When our food came, we were all raring to go.

I got the Bass Coast fettuccine, roasted cauliflower, charred corn, with gruyere cheese sauce and toasted hazelnuts

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Hubbie got the Porterhouse with red wine jus, with duck fat roasted baby potatoes and a resort salad, and an additional side of Steamed vegetables, local olive oil (not pictured)

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And finally baby girl had Chicken Nuggets, chips and salad

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Baby girl’s meal was good and even we ended up pecking away as the minutes ticked on! All our meals were pretty enjoyable, I enjoyed my fettucine, the hazelnuts gave it a definite crunch, and it was a very creamy and satisfying dish, which I didn’t eat all of, only so I could make some room from the desserts I was eyeing off in the display cabinet.

Hubbie was happy with the preparation of his meat, it was done as he liked. He enjoyed the meal, and though it was substantial, he felt it was missing something, and needed a bit more beside the meat, potato and salad component. Nonetheless, he was still happy.

There were main meals, entrees, and sharing plates everywhere. By the time we were done with that, the waitress suggested we could go into the adjoining bar area, where we could lounge out on the couches there and have our coffee and cake delivered to us!

So, why not?

The 10 of us meandered across and fixed ourselves over about 3 couches, before indulging in some yummy coffee and desserts

I got a cap and a mango ‘something.’ I don’t remember the name, but I know there was a pistachio cake layer, pistachios, jelly, mango of course, and a custard. I didn’t like the cake part, but I preferred the creamy/jelly/mango layer on the bottom. So it was half good, half not. The cappuccino was smooth and easily knocked back after all of that food.

After drinking and eating some more, and baby girl going out of her way to greet everybody… it was nearing ‘late’ time, and we so we headed off down the hallway… just a minute or two walk to our rooms 🙂

Food: 8/10. Good menu, and satisfying food.

Coffee: 8/10.

Ambience: It was warm and relaxing, yet there was enough noise to still put you at ease and not have to worry that you were dining in a library (ahem, nose-in-the-air diners).

People: Apart from the above annoying people, there were a lot of families and groups, being a resort restaurant.

Staff: Our waitress was overly accommodating if there is such a term. Brilliant, so lovely and genuinely warm.

Price: Surprisingly, for our large group, where there was a multitude of drinks and all kinds of meal plates, as well as desserts and coffee, it only came to $205! I actually can’t believe that, but it was true. So clearly I am saying, due to this it was definitely value for $$$.

Advice: Book ahead, being a restaurant within the RACV resort, it is a given to be busy most nights.

In a nutshell: I really enjoyed this resort, as we all did, and because of the fond memories made there, both at the resort and restaurant, how could I not want to go back? We dined at Radius for breakfast the following morning, and I can confirm their consistency, as the buffet breakfast selection was great.

The holiday was short and sweet, but so, so good. I want to go back, now.

Radius at RACV Resort. Keep it on your radar. And then zoom in.

RACV Inverloch Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Heavenly Surroundings

God’s Kitchen
53 Barkly Street Mornington

(Visited April ’16)

We called ahead on night 2 of our Mount Martha stay to find out which restaurant would be best suited for us to dine at with baby girl. We booked with the kitchen of the Gods, after hearing they were kid-friendly. Loud, we were advised, with the commencement of the nearby band by a certain time, but definitely friendly.

Loud, did you say? Loud enough to drown out any of her complaints? We almost high-tailed it over to the bar/restaurant, a grasshopper’s jump away from the Main street.

Luckily we had booked. The round, dome-shaped conservatory-type room we were led to wasn’t huge, with other tables already full and our table with high-chair waiting. God’s Kitchen is based around a heritage-listed church from back in the 1800s, the church itself used as the space for live music by local musicians, with diners able to eat casually at the garden bar, the conservatory type room with the Bohemian-looking chandelier, or at the front courtyard. It was already loud as we arrived, so we felt immediately at ease.

I soon ordered a glass of Stonier Pinot Noir from the Peninsula itself, while Hubbie ordered a sweet beer, off tap.

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We had to call for service because we were forgotten amongst the rush of it all, but because the waitress was so nice about it she was immediately forgiven.

We got some Prawn and Ginger Gyoza with Ponzu to share, and even though I couldn’t taste much of the ginger they were still really good.

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Baby girl’s meal came before ours as requested, and even though crap photo in the dark quality doesn’t show much of it (what you get from dim lighting and simple camera phone), she really did LOVE her Pasta. We were amazed that even though she wore a pale pink top, it remained untouched with sauce stains the entire time… until the last 2 minutes of her meal of course.

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She happily slurped it up.

Soon our mains arrived: my Pumpkin and Chickpeas Curry alongside rice and warm flatbread

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And Hubbie’s Grass-fed Rib Eye steak from Gippsland, atop mash and greens

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Mine was definitely a comforting dish, and was pleasing, however it just felt like a carb-fest. I would have appreciated some tzatziki or yoghurt to offset all the warm flavours and heavy textures. I’m a carb girl, through and through. But it was just a bit imbalanced on the plate.

Hubbie enjoyed his steak, saying it was cooked to his liking, and the accompanying sides were just right. He also enjoyed pecking at my carbs when I was done getting overfull!

Baby girl was doing well, meaning to say we had discovered the best way to occupy her was to set up a constant stream of Wiggles on youtube via our phones, and this kept her happily entertained… which is why we were able to have this: Churros – chocolate-filled Spanish doughnuts

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These were doughy, and also, amazing. I’m not an expert on the churro, though they’re so good I should aim to be, but I had just imagined them to be crispier, whereas these were softer… maybe having the filling leads to the softer texture, whereas a traditional plain churro is crispier? Someone inform me. Otherwise, crispy/soft, they were really yum. Moorish, and really easy to eat.

It had been a great night, in comforting yet loud surrounds, right up our alley with baby girl, and we had even gotten some interesting info from our main waitress who had a distinct accent. We told her we were planning a Sea change, and she told us she had done the same from overseas but to a neighbouring suburb that she loved. It was comforting to hear and discover, and more than a coincidence we thought, that we should be served be her 🙂

Food: 7/10. Decent. Nothing to particularly rave about, but it matches the bar atmosphere.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: Really loud with the live music blasting from the adjoining church! Having a vocal baby girl, we loved it.

Staff: Really friendly. Both our accented waitress and another shyer waitress were terrific with us, we couldn’t have been happier with the kind and genuine service.

People: In our space there were many families, young and old dining out, whereas as you left this room to go outside through the church area, it became a typical pub scene, with heaps of teens hanging out rocking to the music. I was surprised that such a diverse group of people occupy the same space, yet somehow, it works.

Price: $120: consisting of 3 alcoholic drinks, an entrée, child’s meal, 2 mains and a dessert. Perhaps a bit much for what we received, but we’re on the PENINSULA now you see. Still slightly overpriced. My wine was $12 on its own.

Advice: Book ahead, because we’ve learnt that everything on the Peninsula gets booked out: all the locals head out on the weekend, and if you’re from out-of-town you need to compete with them to get seated!

In a nutshell: I enjoyed this restaurant due to the casual atmosphere and live music, it definitely is a fun place to be on the weekend. I’d love to try those churros again, and have some brekkie outside in the courtyard on a warm sunny day. There is no 5-star food here, but it does the job. Being the location of a former church makes it all the more picturesque. Still, it’s a heavenly location.

Gods Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ooh, baby baby it’s a wild (pizza) world

DOC Pizza & Mozzarella Bar Delicatessen
22 Main Street Mornington

(Visited April ’16)

It was a cold Saturday night on the Peninsula, and we had escaped there yet again for the Anzac Day Long Weekend. After walking up and down the Main street in Mornington, we decided on DOC. We had been there on a rainy afternoon YEARS ago, pre-baby days, and thought we would have a go at it again.

Back then there was like, 3 other people in the store on that rainy afternoon. That night in April, there was about 300.

Or so it felt like. The communal tables inside the Pizza & Mozzarella bar were crammed, and every other table either inside or outside had people hanging off it too. I don’t know how, but we ended up somehow on a free table outside, and though I was initially scared of the cold, the heaters above our heads were so strong that I had to take off my jacket, and my mobile on the table was kept extremely warm all night. (Warning, due to low-lighting, crappy photos follow).

Soon after sitting down, another party, a family of 3, sat at the other end of our medium-sized table. We didn’t mind, but I just prayed they wouldn’t be put off by any of baby girl’s antics. Soon enough though, she would be plenty busy.

Our waiter arrived with menus, and immediately I could read the type. He was aloof, but not try-hard, with an obvious accent, and I knew it was only a matter of time…

As we ordered I asked about the wine, and by placing my trust in his expertise he suggested I get a red ‘something,’ while Hubbie got a Menabrea

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And then he opened up. He let baby girl keep the torn paper menu she had used up already, even bringing her over a cup of pencils without asking. She proceeded to draw on the torn menu at the table with us, as well as on the floor next to us.

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We eventually received our shared meal. We thought it would be enough, but alas, we were starving. When our waiter told us it would be sufficient to share, I should have told him we’re of European descent, as he was:

Our Pizza San Daniele – San Marzano tomato, D.O.P Buffalo mozzarella, D.O.P San Daniele Prosciutto

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And the Mista – mixed leaf salad with balsamic

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I don’t know why we chose just the San Daniele. It was great, don’t get me wrong. I think the simple ingredients made me think everyone, especially baby girl would enjoy it. Also, but in one of my all time fave movies Only You, doesn’t Marisa Tomei’s character end up going to a Daniele-type Italian village as she chases after her supposed soul mate Damon Bradley? It stuck in my head. And you just don’t know with some pizza places, you order a pizza and it can barely fit on the table.

Despite how light and thin the crust was, and how tasty the evenly proportioned ingredients were on the base, within a few slices we flagged our waiter and said “get us a cap too.”

Pizza Capricciosa Nuova arrived soon after. With San Marzano tomato, mozzarella, leg ham, mushroom, artichoke and olive

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I didn’t know ‘til I’d had a few bites of that one that there was a different taste I had been unaware of. Not unpleasant, just different. The artichoke! It was interesting and definitely not unwanted, certainly a capricciosa that I will remember for future. Nuova indeed. Again the base was thin and all the ingredients were so tasty and fresh, and easily between the 3 of us we smashed both pizzas.

Even the salad was really fresh and appealing, easily consumed and not needing to be forced down like other boring salads. The balsamic really brought it together.

We were having a really great time by this stage. Hubbie had proceeded onto a Peroni continuing in the Italian spirit, my red was still swimming in my head, its bouquet immediately apparent as I had taken the first sip. Baby girl was happy, our waiter was singing as he swum from one table to the next, telling us that this was nothing and that the restaurant would peak in Summer time. How could many more people fit in the joint? He also gave baby girl plenty of attention, even going to the lengths to pick up her pencils from the floor when they fell. We hadn’t moved to the Peninsula yet, and already this place was our locale.

It was certainly an experience when I went to look for a change room for baby girl. We had ordered desserts, and suddenly, nature called. I asked a nearby waiter if there was a change room, and he pointed me in the direction. I was looking in the disabled room, and checking all corners of the ladies loos, but still nope, no change table of any kind. I went back out, holding baby girl’s hand and lugging my massive Van Chi, and spotted our waiter in the main dining room. I asked him for his help, and he was sure they had one too. He personally came with me through all the toilets, checking to see if indeed there wasn’t any as I’d suggested. He barged into the ladies, us following, and after scanning the room pointed to the bench space near the basins up front.

“Just change her there.”

I cast a doubtful look. “But people come in here, and then wash their hands…” I felt bad. I knew where he was heading, but someone could really get pissed off if I spread my nappy changing crap out and proceeded to change a nappy where women washed their hands after using the loo. People LOVE hanging shit on Mums (pardon the pun).

He shrugged. “Who cares? She’s a baby,” with a wave of his hand as if to say ‘whatever.’

I thanked him. His no-care attitude and support gave me the courage I needed. I got her stuff ready on the bench, waiting until two women who had just come into the bathroom left so I could be at peace. Then in lightning time, I changed her. No one came in. Relieved and very thankful for the waiter’s help (and encouragement), I went back to Hubbie who had started on dessert. He just couldn’t wait.

He had the Nutella calzonoino with vanilla bean ice cream, while I had the sour cherry (I’m pretty sure it was) pannacotta

Mine definitely had the sour flavour, yet I still loved the lightness and creamy texture it possessed. Hubbie’s calzone was filling yet tasty, he adored it. Really he did. But there’s Nutella, so there you go.

And baby girl loved both very much.

Our meal there finished after two lots of people had both come and gone at the end of our table. We were very full. We left happily, with lots of thoughts of when and where we would be moving there.

Now usually my review would end there. My reviews are based on my first blogging experience  – since starting my Food Reviews – at a restaurant… but seeing as we coffee-d there two mornings after, and received distinctly different service from that Saturday night, I have to note it down.

The Main Street had been closed due to the Anzac Day parade, and we happened to arrive there right after it opened post 11am, after we had checked out of our Mount Martha accommodation.

Now I will forewarn this by saying that I believe the staff at DOC that day were understaffed and not expecting the quantity of people who came into their venue once the parade had finished. They were stressed, when crowds of people started lining up for a table.

Stressed is one thing; rude is another.

The man who served us that day was not the same as our lovely waiter from two nights earlier. Once we had been seated by another stressed waiter, this rude one came along.

Woe was us.

He also had an accent (a prerequisite for a job there I think) and took our coffee orders before I went off to check out the display case of cakes at the front. I came back to be told by a very angry Hubbie that while I was gone, baby girl yelled out in a frustrated fashion (as she sometimes does) and when Hubbie looked over apologetically at the waiter, he gave Hubbie a greasie.

He totally gave him a nasty look.

I had to flag the waiter down to take our dessert order, since he wasn’t making any eye contact. He made it out to be a total disservice to have to serve us: he repeated my order of “custard doughnut and salted caramel tart” like I had a learning disability and he thought me incompetent to communicate. After that travesty he angrily walked off and I later heard him condescendingly speaking to a large group of non-Italian people behind us, who were having trouble understanding what “calzone” was. He got lucky with them, as they all laughed at each other and didn’t catch the arrogance in his tone. There was no “restraint exercised” with him (refer to the menu for an explanation). I would not be surprised, in fact I would be expecting that he did not get so lucky with other customers that day.

We got our coffee and our desserts.

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The coffee was smooth, and the desserts were ok. They were delivered by our waiter from the other night but he was so busy he just plonked them down and didn’t realise who we were. Baby girl was going off rude waiter’s vibes and being especially cranky. We were so happy to hear a baby inside the restaurant also crying, I can’t tell you. We left immediately.

Food: 7.5/10. Fresh and simple, done well. Authentic and satisfying. I need to try their cheeses. I mean, it’s in their title ‘mozzarella bar.’ It’s got me drooling at the thought, and will have their food score sky-rocketing I think.

Coffee: 7/10. I’ll be honest, the service kinda spoiled any correct assessment I can make on it. I was too busy being pissed off.

Ambience: It was a really bustling and happy atmosphere the Saturday night that we dined there. They turned all the lights off inside at one stage to sing a type of Happy Birthday song to somebody, and just the way everyone went crazy was awesome. I loved the vibe. It was more chilled outside, whereas inside it was LOUD.

People: All kinds, families, couples, friends, everyone. This is the place to be, that was so apparent. You can take anyone you want, and everyone will fit in. There was a line out the door just to be put on a waiting list, and there are genuinely people spilling out the door and in the venue, either already sitting or waiting for one to pop up.

Staff: As above, as I’ve noted in detail. We had an experience of extreme proportions. We had a great waiter, then a shit one. But I’d like to think they’re all good like the first one, and the shit one has had his bags packed off for him by now.

Price: We paid $106 on our Saturday night. Two pizzas, 3 alcoholic drinks, a salad, and two desserts. Pizzas are $$$. Don’t be shocked. We had a great time so for us it was worth it.

Advice: Consider booking ahead, since this place really gets full early on. As I said ‘it’s the place to be.’ Everyone wants to be at this venue sitting on the corner of Main Street and looking out at the passers by. If you by some chance get a dude who looks like he’s just bitten into a lemon, immediately flag another waiter. Trust me, you don’t want him. He’ll ruin your visit. If the DOC is the body governing the standards of various cheeses and wines, then the DO-whatever needs to send rude guy packing and whip his arse into shape. Just saying.

And if you like to eat, trust me, a pizza on your own is no difficult feat.

In a nutshell: We were really disappointed to have such a negative experience on our immediate second visit there, offered by a staff member who frankly had no business at that business: he’s killing it for them. But not wanting a negative to offset such a positive, we are adamant that we will go back to DOC. for the friendly singing-Italian, the beautiful and fresh food, and the bustling atmosphere, rather than the guy who will most likely be gone by the time we revisit.

I always try to focus on the positives, and unless a venue offers me consistently bad experiences, I will usually go back if there has been a problem that could on the next visit be easily fixed/avoided.

So D-O-C, crack the whip on cranky waiter’s B-U-M, so I can hurry on back and get me some C-H-E-E-S-E.

D.O.C Mornington Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Off the wall

Off The Boat
203 Edwardes Street Reservoir

(Visited March ’16)

It was a lovely Autumn’s day in mid-March that had us deciding to lunch at this restaurant/café of European origins:) I had been to Edwardes Park Lake across the road with my parents and baby girl, trying to take advantage of as much park/mild weather/grandparent/bonding time as I could. It was all too easy to wander over to the edge of the park and cross the road to Off The Boat, on the corner of Edwardes and Spratling street.

I had wanted to come here many times already, but the right opportunity had never presented itself. It seemed very quiet from the outside, there wasn’t anyone eating out there, but upon entry I was surprised to see that there were already quite a few lunchtime diners. We took a table near the back of the café with a booth, so baby girl could jump up and down as she pleased.

It’s a small café/restaurant, with an ice cream/gelati section up the front near the register, alongside the coffee machine. It’s cosy and homely, making you feel like you may be somewhere at Nonna’s house, rather than a corner café in Reservoir. I immediately warmed to it.

We didn’t have to wait long to receive our food, all of us sharing

The Capricciosa – tomato, mozzarella, ham, olives, mushrooms

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And the Patatine Fritte – potato chips

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We were all in unison over our opinion of the pizza. It was a light and thin base, yet still the generosity of the pizza toppings made it incredibly moorish. Being a thin base, made it easy to eat, and we polished off the whole thing between the 4 of us! The chips were golden and upon arrival very hot, which made it hard to explain to a hungry baby girl who kept bringing it to her lips too soon, but I personally love food extra hot, I don’t know but it just emphasises the ‘fresh’ factor.

My Mum said the pizza was really good too, and said they had done something different with the base, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. My Mum being an old-style cook, and a self-proclaimed detective, does not give out points so easily, always saying that everything home-cooked is better. It’s true. But the fact that she gave credit here, I thought was enormous. The pizzas do come out of a wood-fire oven, so I don’t know how much that has to do with it… but oh my God they were good.

After our food we had some coffees. Cappuccinos and babycino

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I particularly liked their own personal addition of a sweet Italian cube of cake placed beside the coffees we received. Very clever. The cake was nice, and I don’t know why I was surprised, but I was, as the coffee was quite good.

Because of the company and the weather, the food and coffee, the day had turned out exceptionally well! I went up to the counter to pay and continue our damn fine day.

Food: 8.5/10. It’s not just your average, run-of-the-mill Italian café. This place has heart and quality, and it showed in what we received that day and the subsequent surroundings.

Coffee: 8/10.

Ambience: If you’re not Italian and you don’t know how it would feel like to be in Nonna’s house, well just picture yourself in a little café on a side-street in Italy, and if you haven’t been there, just use your damn imagination. Cute, warm, ethnic. Really homely surrounds, makes you feel at ease straight away.

People: There was a mix of people but there were duos all around – tradie duos, friends meeting over lunch duos, and older duos. I think it’s a lot of locals coming in, but with the fare provided I wouldn’t be surprised if people came from much further afield to enjoy this fantastic eatery.

Staff: Friendly and warm. Our waitress wasn’t hanging over our table but when we called on her she was accommodating.

Price: $35-ish for all our food, which I considered fairly reasonable since it was shared and had fed 4 of us, and then we had gotten caffeinated too.

Advice: Go across the road to Edwardes Park Lake first, then once you’ve exhausted yourself walking, jumping around on the playgrounds, or chasing unruly children, give yourself a break (and your entourage too) by walking across the road and having an afternoon of fine Italian fare. You won’t be sorry.

Regarding seating, if you have older kids, it’s fine to sit outdoors, however with toddlers I’d advise you stay inside… there is a kind of enclosure separating the street from the outside eating area, but with a fairly main road RIGHT THERE on the doorstep of the café, I wouldn’t want to risk it, would you? No. That’s perhaps the only downfall, so staying indoors is the safe option.

In a nutshell: I really loved this place, and my eyes widened when upon paying they feasted upon the wide range of ice creams on offer. Hmmm, I set a plan into motion.

Step 1: Convince Hubbie to have a park day on the next sunny day.

Step 2: Go to Edwardes Park Lake with Hubbie and baby girl, and get them both really tired and hungry – tips: let him catch her (encourage her to chase ducks); he pushes her on the swing as I conveniently step back; she makes him partake in all the playground activities (after I whisper to her to pull Dada along to do everything with her).

Step 3: “Oh, would you look at that! A café! And it’s lunchtime. Gee, are you hungry?” (Baby girl will be so hungry and irritable by this stage that driving home 15 minutes will be like hell on earth – only option, EAT NOW).

Step 4: Eat food at Off The Boat. Drink coffee. Then buy ice cream and take to park to eat there and have more fun.

Step 5: Great park/café day concluded.

😉

These guys may be Off The Boat, but they certainly brought all the good stuff with them.

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Off the Boat Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

For the First Thyme

About Thyme
10 Blake Street Mornington

After our lunch at Biscottini we hop, skipped and jumped our way a few blocks (literally with baby girl in tow) and happened across About Thyme. There was select seating for a few groups of people outside, and one lot being free (that included a kind of booth/long stool) I found the seating to be particularly favourable with a squirmy baby girl (I could block her in) so we decided to coffee there.

I was so happy when a waitress came to take our orders. I don’t know why, but having just ordered and paid up-front at the counter at Biscottini, it felt like a luxury to sit there and not have to remember what everyone wanted as I walked up to the counter. The waitress was lovely and despite being busy, talked us through their current desserts.

We received the coffees and desserts all at once, to our devilish (and caffeine-deprived) delight. There was baby girl’s babycino, my cappuccino, Hubbie’s latte and 2 cakes: Caramel Slice and an Apple Strudel.

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I will begin by saying: now this is a babycino! This is what I will happily pay for. (However Theobrama does an awesome babycino too that keeps baby girl happy every time). She also received two marshmallows on this visit, but my photo-taking was too slow for her quick fingers. Damn. Both Hubbie and I enjoyed our coffees, they had a good kick of caffeine, which was just what we needed.

Hubbie’s caramel slice was crumbly, making it hard to pick up with a fork. But so yum. Also, despite the fact that the apple strudel had raisins (something I was not aware of ‘til it arrived!) it was still good. If you haven’t guessed, I’m not a huge fan of sultanas or sultana-like products. The strudel was warm though, and made the raisins somehow… ok? It was strange, I actually enjoyed the package, raisins and all. The pastry was also flaky, so we had another messy one to work with as we tried to cut it with forks and knives, but damn it was yum. Being heated up made such a difference. It was a good strudel, and I can critique with confidence seeing as I’ve been brought up eating my Mum’s! Her strudel is moister, this pastry was flaky and dry, but it was still incredible. Just a different texture, that’s all.

We were really pleased after this experience, and happily wandered off to peruse Mornington, bellies full and content.

Food: 9/10. Fresh ingredients and warm combinations. It all looked inviting. Also, lovely presentation. (And having eaten here on many an occasion following this visit, I can properly confirm that the food is amazing).

Coffee: 8.5/10.

Ambience: Relaxed hipster by the beach. Small, quaint, quirky. Inside there was much more seating, but it still is a little café. Great place for the kiddies, as there is a basket full of books and colouring stuff to keep them busy while they’re not chugging a babycino or jumping on chairs. Yet a very refined and older group of people still come here, so despite the kid-friendly things on offer, beware of wary looks.

People: Locals, many groups of women on that day. Sunday lunch-ers? It had a young family vibe as well.

Staff: Friendly and professional, really nice, despite being so busy.

Price: In the $20s for 2 desserts and 2 and a half coffees. Not bad considering the quality of what we got. Impressed.

Advice: It’s a good place for the kids with the kid-fare on offer inside. They did seem snowed under a bit, so maybe be prepared to wait… I’ve noticed most places in Mornington appear to be understaffed when we dine there, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence either.

In a nutshell: A great place that we’ve actually returned to since! So I totally take my own advice when I say go there, you will enjoy it. I loved the vibe, the fact that the items on the menu weren’t stock-standard, and the cute little shops nearby aren’t too bad to window shop at either…

The service was great, and you could just tell the food was luxe… that little bit of refinement. This place is a stayer, a breath of fresh Thyme.

About Thyme Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hipsters and salads at the Biscuit place

Biscottini
157-159 Main Street Mornington

(Visited and Written pre-Sea change)

We day-tripped it yet again to Mornington one Sunday in March. We arrived right at lunch time, with initial plans for ‘First, Coffee.’ But seeing the time, we re-evaluated and decided to fill our tummies first.

This wasn’t our first visit to Biscottini, or to the Peninsula, which you would know already if you’ve been reading any of my blogs. Although Biscottini is situated in fairly prime position, right in the middle of the strip of shops on Main Street, allowing you to easily people watch from the outdoor seating, or even the tables inside through their big window, it still has a very laid-back, seaside town kind of feel. We decided to sit outside since it was a pleasant day out, and do some people watching ourselves while trying to blend in.

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(Hipster sunnies, courtesy of Hubbie)

At Biscottini you order inside at the counter, beside the counter showcasing all their little cakes and sandwiches. I stepped up there and ordered, besides our lunch, some drinks to get us started.

Moscato and Beer.

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I was surprised with the plentiful quantity of Moscato I received. Despite it being a light wine, it hit me straight in the head and I giggled my way through lunch, which was this:

Grilled haloumi and prawn salad – leafy salad, chilli, zucchini and semi-dried tomato

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While Hubbie had the Caesar salad with chicken – crisp cos lettuce, croutons, parmesan cheese, anchovies and house-made dressing, topped with soft poached egg and crispy pancetta

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And baby girl had the Fish and Chips

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I enjoyed mine, however it was a bit heavy on the dressing. There was loads of rocket, which I love… if you don’t, better luck next time. Only 3 or 4 prawns, so it could have done with a tad more since they were good. And there was plenty of Spanish onion and fetta cheese alongside the sundried tomato thrown in for good measure.

Both mine and Hubbie’s meals made us feel good for ordering them, but after completion we realised there were a lot of things added to compensate for the supposedly light ‘salad’ component. Hubbie’s Caesar salad was a decent portion, yet he found it too hard for him to eat due to the rich aspects, like the dressing. He enjoyed it though, and then we both enjoyed pecking at baby girl’s meal. She of course loved hers, and we were pleasantly surprised that it was of a decent portion too.

Following all of that it was now time for coffee… but we decided to hit foot to pavement, just for the entertainment of moving on.

Food: 7/10. It’s standard café fare, with decent portions. The menu looks quite good too, and I know from experience it’s ever-changing.

Coffee: Not on this occasion, but having had it there many times before (and since) I’d give it a 7.5/10.

Ambience: Outside it was laidback. Inside there is a TV and a large seating area, so if you prefer not to people watch you can just glance outside through the windows when you wish.

People: This is the place you expect to see a few tourists pop in and mingle in amongst the locals sipping their lattes. We’ve been here many times now, and I can just spot the locals with their dogs a mile away (they love their dogs in Mornington).

Staff: Friendly and busy, usually getting down to business.

Price: Really reasonable. We paid $54 for 3 meals and 2 alcoholic drinks. The meals were of decent size, and I was impressed that baby girl’s considerable serve came in at $8, a real bargain when I remember how great it tasted.

Advice: Also from personal experience, I know they don’t have a change table – tsk tsk tsk. So beware! We didn’t place baby girl in a high chair on this occasion, but the chair she sat in had a decent backing, with no gaping holes for her to fall through. That was great, especially with a 2 year-old toddler going on 12.

In a nutshell: We’ve been here many times before and will undoubtedly find ourselves here many more. The food is reliable so you can be assured to find something you’ll enjoy – however on another visit there I noticed their menu had been spiced up a bit, which was interesting. The place doesn’t have any real pizazz for me, but I still like that we can depend on them, and their positioning on the main strip doesn’t remove them from the customers either.

Maybe if I try their biscuits I’ll be sold further???

Biscottini Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

No. 8 is No. 1

No. 8 by John Lawson
8 Whiteman Street Southbank

We had left home on time to dine at No.8 pre-Valentine’s Day that Saturday night. Feb 14 falling on a Sunday that year, we decided to do a V-Day dinner the night before, because Saturday night – why of course.

The only problem was, there was traffic. Being all outskirts-of-the-city savvy, I thought we could sneak off the freeway through Docklands and towards Crown, but there was an event that night, making the traffic through the docked suburb a nightmare. It held us right back, and even as we tried to make our way in as quick as we could, taking multiple detours due to the event, every time we tried to get closer to Crown – you couldn’t turn left into there, while here, you couldn’t do a hook turn. I wanted to scream in frustration. I very nearly came to screaming point when I received a phone call 15 minutes after we were scheduled to arrive, from the restaurant’s staff, asking where we were. I politely, through gritted teeth said we were stuck in traffic. We were close. I had booked days earlier, and we had been booked into the 6:15-8:15 session, yet I did not realise how strict they were with their ‘sessions.’ The lady informed me it was fine, but we would still be booked in ‘til only 8:15, despite arriving later.

Basically, she was telling me they would kick us out prior our 2 hour pre-booked stay.

We were seriously pissed driving over for the next 5 minutes.

But, we were dressed nicely, it was Saturday night, and it was a comfortably warm night too. We pushed it to the back of our minds and went forward.

We were half an hour late when we walked in. Considering we had just received a phone call, the door girl took a while to find our booking. When we were finally brought to our table, I was a bit disappointed.

It had nothing to do with the surrounds. They were elegant though arty, not offensive to the eye at all. But when I had booked I had been told we would have outdoor seating overlooking the Yarra, and also, a high chair. We were inside, with no high chair.

Sigh. Another speed bump. We flagged a waitress and queried the lack of outdoors and child-seating. She said she would find out.

The ‘talker’ arrived. She explained that because there were bookings from weeks ago, versus my booking of a few days ago, the older bookings were given priority. And, a high chair was on its way. Apparently shared between restaurants. Okay then.

Clunky oversized child seat arrived. Yay.

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After settling in, I was happy to observe that even though we were inside, in a poshy restaurant, it was fairly loud. And soon after that, we received menus, and were introduced to our waiter for the night, who I shall refer to as ‘Louie.’

Louie, because he reminded me of a younger, less dorky, tad cuter, Louie Theroux. We ordered drinks with Louie, and as I perused the drinks menu I noticed most of the glasses were between $15-20 a glass. I ordered a 2015 Yarra Valley Rose – ‘Crudo’ by Luke Lambert,  Hubbie had a Crown Lager, and we also received some complimentary bread with butter, that was exceptionally moorish, but only complimentary as far as the fact that everything else was jacked up in price to compensate.

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Soon after, we started receiving our meals.

First baby girl got her Fish and Chips

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Hubbie received his Porterhouse steak with baked onions

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I received the Chicken breast, with broccolini and mashed potato and jus

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While we all had a go at the side of asparagus

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Now before I continue, my meal descriptions would be far ‘fancier’ if I had found the original menu online. Not only is it seasonal, but sadly the restaurant is no more! I think it is Crown’s constant philosophy to keep updating their restaurants and keeping things fresh and new, no matter if they are popular… Anyway, just imagine the above with the addition of words like ‘jus,’ ‘garden dressing’ and ‘crumb crust.’ The photos show you anyway.

Although it looked quite simple, baby girl’s meal had her rubbing her tummy after most bites! That was a good sign. When offered chips and something else, it’s often hard to get her to eat the ‘something else,’ but in this case she did have quite a few pieces of the fish, picking up the chunks with her hands and feeding herself! What?! I didn’t have to beg her? And a lovely fish it was, delicately grilled pieces, which I was very happy about, since there is so much batter on offer for toddlers at restaurants, it becomes a bit boring. Not to mention unhealthy.

We were hoping she would have the asparagus, but it had a certain dressing that I can’t recall which left her opting out. We ate it instead with our meals, it was different, salty, but enjoyable.

Hubbie said his medium to well steak was grilled perfectly. In fact, his meal was amazing, perfect. Woah. Butcher approval? That’s a good sign. I also, LOVED my meal, in particular the crispy chicken with the jus… it was a tender, wholesome, comforting chicken, and until I ate that one I never realised I could be so damn pleased with chicken. The best word I can use to describe it would be ‘homely.’ I don’t know, it’s like the stuff that reminds you of home and your Mum’s cooking on a Winter’s night. Only this one was super-amazeballs.

Then there was the mash, and the crusty stuff on the mash – extra heartiness added there. We just couldn’t stop commenting about how good it was, and we only had positive things to say. There was one negative with the whole dinner experience, but it didn’t come anywhere from the food, the service or the restaurant itself… we actually could not eat together. Baby girl was extra fidgety, and did not want to stay in her high chair (it did look quite ugly) a moment longer beyond her meal being finished. So it meant that I walked with her and showed her the Chinese New Year display outside while Hubbie ate, then we did tag team and he went out with her while I ate solo. So, as far as Valentine’s Day was concerned, there was not much ‘connecting’ there.

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We had one of those moments: “What’s the point of going out?” But then Louie told me we were raising a fine girl, so I guess that counts for something right? Oh Louie.

That’s how it is peeps. It ain’t easy with a kid.

After I finished my main and Louie came to take our plates, he asked if we wanted to see the dessert menu. Personally, I really did, but I knew the time – it was after 8, meaning our time was almost up. I politely queried him, aware of the few empty tables around, fairly sure of the response.

He went away to check which I hadn’t expected, but upon return said there was no issue. Of course 🙂 It was interesting to note as we waited for the desserts, that the lamps on the wall came on at the same time, giving the room a romantic and atmospheric feel, and it was then I saw the time: 8:15. Coincidence? It was all very timely and appropriate, but that kind of attention to detail, I liked.

We managed to rope baby girl back in with promises of dessert after we ordered, and received this:

Dark chocolate ganache with berries and sorbet

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And a Panna cotta with fruit and celery granite

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Ha ha! I thankfully remembered the detail of the ‘celery granite,’ as that was my dessert. I loved it. It was cold and refreshing, light and creamy, and considering I’m not a celery fan, this granite did not taste at all like it, thankfully. It was frosty and cool, I really enjoyed the flavour. It was in cold contrast to Hubbie’s dessert – also good, but so intense with the chocolate. Hubbie was personally like “I’m paying how much for that?” He thought it was overpriced for the quantity of what he received, but I reminded him it was the presentation, attention to detail and the restaurant. That’s just how it was.

We asked for the bill soon after – and then it was definitely time to go!

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Food: 9/10. The quality was fantastic, yet if there was slightly more on the plate, especially in reference to the dark chocolate ganache, the score would have hit the top. Exceptional food and presentation.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: Calm, though loud which I did not expect. It had us feeling more comfortable because we didn’t feel like we had to whisper like in a library. It was a fine dining restaurant, with simple, modern and classy surroundings, and that cool, relaxed vibe followed through.

People: Poshy. Don’t be mistaken. Generally the age ranged from mid-30s to up, but that suggests that there were many people in their 30s, which there weren’t, as there were older couples and groups abounding. There was one family who had a baby, but this baby was in a pram… there were no other toddlers I could see! There was a hen’s party near us, who provided some of the loud laughter, which I very much appreciated.

Staff: I realised as soon as the ‘talker’ had left at the beginning of our experience there, that it was their intention that no one leave unhappy. It was impossible. They would not allow it. And too right with the price being asked…

The staff were exceptionally professional. They were friendly too, with Louie talking to baby girl a bit and even another female waitress smiling at her each time she walked by.

I particularly loved Louie’s narration on our food as he brought it over, almost like he was trying to sell it to us once again… “and here is your beautiful chicken… your fine asparagus.”

LOL. Very poshy here.

Price: A very healthy $192. 3 mains, a side dish, 2 desserts, and 3 alcoholic drinks. Not bad for a less than 2 hour stay. I have to add again though, that the food was amazing, as was the service… but still $192 is expensive. You don’t leave the restaurant feeling you may pop out of your clothes the way you think you might for that price, but again, it’s the type of restaurant.

Advice: Firstly, book. It’s a rule at Crown, stated on their website. If you’re really fussy and want outdoor seating, perhaps book over a week in advance so that you can almost guarantee an outdoor seat, overlooking the Yarra, and watching the passers-by, pass by.

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In a nutshell: This is a beautiful restaurant that I would like to go back to, however it’s not something that, at this stage of our lives, I can see happening easily. When you’re forking out that kind of money, you want to be able to enjoy the experience sitting across from your partner, Valentine’s Day Eve and all. So perhaps, unless you have a kid that sits there and does nothing (so really that applies to no parents), I’d suggest making your way over when you have left them with the grandparents. It’s just easier, as you do want to experience the surroundings and food and service in all of its finest…

And even with that being said, we still wouldn’t frequent the restaurant often, just because of the $$$ price tags. Like the chocolate ganache that is served sparingly, so should you too enjoy this restaurant in the same way (unless of course you are majorly cashed up, and in that case would you mind joining us on our food adventures? :))

So, I will come back… soon… one day… maybe when baby girl is 8. Yeah that sounds about right.

Afterword

As already mentioned, this restaurant has sadly permanently closed! Unlike the last food review I posted on the horribly appropriate failed Lygon street restaurant we had the displeasure to visit, I strongly believe this restaurant would have only seen its demise due to Crown’s ever-changing restaurant image.

If you see the name John Lawson anywhere, EVER, do not fear. Great food, is here.

Also, this should serve me right for waiting 11 months to post my review. (Waiting suggests I’ve been staring at my laptop thinking of what to write for that entire time.

Huh. If only life were that boring. NEVER).