Somewhere in Queenscliff…

Circa 1902
59 Hesse Street Queenscliff

(Visited February ’18)

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Funnily enough, this was the only new place we dined out at, at the back end of our Barwon Heads getaway. We had returned to BeachHouse Barwon Heads, from a previous trip over, so no foodie review there, and then the following night we decided to stay in and do our own bbq while away – a very good idea.

But upon returning home via the Queenscliff to Sorrento ferry, we had a little extra time on our hands, and decided to chill, hang around, and grab some lunch on what was a still and sunny February Summer’s day.

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Circa seemed like the perfect choice. Both a hotel and restaurant, the seating outside was ample and in a nice and bright position, the menu looked appealing, and then there was the greenery abounding which made us feel relaxed and like we were eating in someone’s friendly and quaint backyard.

 

It was an order up at the counter type thing, so after perusing the menu and making selections, Hubbie went up to make our food and drink order, coming back with some necessary holiday-lunch BOOZE.

Well for him anyway. I had an OJ.

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We were positioned with one of our favourite table numbers, so that was already reason enough for feel good vibes. There were other families about eating there, but it wasn’t packed, oddly enough, being a Saturday in Summer.

Soon, after several trips to the loo with baby girl (she gets slightly obsessed with new outhouses when in new places) our meals arrived.

And they looked good.

Now, seeing as the website was still in production as of this writing (and by now let’s face it they’ve probably changed their menu), I have to best describe our meals without their insider chef’s knowledge. So here goes…

I had the Chicken Curry with rice and pappadums

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Hubbie had a Pulled Pork Burger with chips on the side

And baby girl had a Fish Fillet atop chips, with a side salad and tomato sauce

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We were all pleasantly surprised by our meals. Hubbie loved the Pulled Pork, I was in awe of how moorish and comforting my curry was, with the oh-so-necessary and amazing addition of rice and pappadums, and baby girl happily ate away at her clean piece of fish… and when a child is catered for as well as her parents, in terms of quality pieces of food… not only is she happy, but I am too.

It was really very good. We weren’t expecting it to be horrible, but we knew being a hotel it might just be, you know, ‘casual’ lunch fare. Meanwhile the tastes were impressive and spectacular, and we immediately vowed we would we back on our next ferry ride over the Port Phillip Bay.

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Food: 7.5/10. Simple, but scoring high because it was what it was, and was amazing at that. Points for that.

Coffee: N/A on this visit, we were only slightly spoilt by coffee choices back over in Barwon Heads 😉 But judging on their food, next visit, a must.

Ambience: Very casual and relaxed out there in the front yard, with the sun shining down, local folk striding by amidst out-of-towners (ahem, US) and holiday vibes just abounding. Inside there is seating but I wasn’t privy to checking that out, though on a warmer day, I reckon head out, it rules.

Staff: We didn’t actually have much to do with them, other than at ordering, and them delivering our food to us. I often bemoan the task of going up to a counter to order and pay for food, rather than receive the full table service usually afforded to more formal eateries… but having said that, in this case once you have eaten your food and are done, you can just up, and walk off! Bill has already been settled! Quick exits are sometimes necessary with unpredictable kids… and ain’t that a positive 😉

People: Locals and out-of-towners as already mentioned. Many groups. It’s a hotel, so a mix of all, though probably an older, family-friendly generation is the majority.

Price: $ 76.00 Pretty decent wrap-up. 3 meals and a few drinks. And of course since it was so tasty, worth every cent.

Advice: Sit outside on a warm day. If there is a curry on the menu and you don’t mind some heat, eat it, don’t be afraid. It is amazing.

In a nutshell: A really lovely place to dine at that is unassuming but delivers on taste. If you want to sit outside, enjoy the local surroundings and watch the world go by, then this is definitely your place.

And I mean, who wouldn’t want to enjoy some fine food and think about, I don’t know… how amazing life is?

Oh that’s right, the frame ‘circa’ their interior walls covers that TOO. 😉

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Afterword: This restaurant does not operate under the name Circa anymore after some new owners took it over last year… but I sure hope they kept that curry recipe…

 

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The Fox that ran away

Dr Fox
37 Main Street Mornington

(Visited February ’18)

(Foreword: Ok… so this is awks much? This ‘reincarnation’ has since closed down, so lucky for me they didn’t see this review or else I would have felt a tad guilty… here it goes, unedited as per the day we visited):

It was a very sleepy Monday as Hubbie and I headed on down to Main Street for brekkie… after dropping off baby girl at kinder.

What? We were ALONE? This was unheard of. Sure we were on holidays, but being able to actually enjoy each other’s company, and enjoy our town at the same time, without having to herd a cheeky 4 year-old along with us, was at the time unimaginable.

But it WAS happening. We hauled our tired selves, spent from the weekend holiday-going-around, to the ‘main’ strip, and soon decided on a place where baby girl had months ago promptly sat herself down at, almost demanding she have a babycino.

The staff had been so lovely I decided I would be back. So here we now were again, at Dr Fox’s.

Why ‘Dr. Fox’?

Why, I have no idea where the name comes from. All I know is we stepped in, found a small spot inside, away from that unusually cool Summers morning in February, and I saw staring across from me this quote:

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I don’t know the story Alice in Wonderland too well to know if there is a fox in it, but my investigate prowess tells me the above quote is loosely based on the quip Alice makes in the film, so…

A café where things are as they shouldn’t be, and they shouldn’t be as they are? This would be interesting.

It was very quiet. We listened to the staff talk to some other diners there who they knew, as we tried our damnest to WAKE UP.

That was done with Hubibie’s first coffee of the day…

Strong latte

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And an OJ for me.

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Ahh, tangy. Just what I needed.

It was soooo weird to be sitting there across from Hubbie, and not have a 4 year-old grabbing our attentions at every moment. The fact of it being such a still morning, meant that apart from looking at each other sleepily from across the table, the extra calm in the café, just made it odd and unnerving for us.

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We wanted couple time, right? And now that we had it, we didn’t damn well know what to do with it.

But we focused our attentions on food. We ordered, and my position sitting in a booth against one wall, meant I could see half of the kitchen, and the two men in it working away.

It made me feel… awkward? I know they were making our meals, but somehow I felt I was privy to something I wasn’t meant to be looking at. I tried to look away…

But you can’t NOT think of the colour ‘red,’ when I have just told you don’t think of the colour ‘RED.’ See? Impossible.

Soon we got our meals fairly promptly.

Mine was a Vegie big brekky that had the following: 2 hash browns, spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, pumpkin, mushrooms with an additional two scrambled eggs

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While Hubbie had the Big brekky – this had hash browns, chorizo, bacon, two pieces of sourdough, tomatoes, mushrooms and scrambled eggs.

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If we had known how big our meals were, I wouldn’t have gotten the additional eggs on my plate and would have just eaten off Hubbie’s – as it was he could barely finish his meal! My meal was just a whole lot of everything. Sure, when you have the words “big brekky” in the title, you should expect a lot of things. It tasted good, but it was just so overwhelmingly large, and perhaps my own fault I ordered that, than something else from the menu that would have been a bit more inventive or with a different taste. It tasted good, and I appreciated the uncommon vegie brekky addition of pumpkin. But I could barely finish it.

Thank God I had no bread. Hubbie had bread, plus all that meat, and egg, and hash… woah. We were just WOAH. Definite value for money, but nothing mind-blowing either. Wondering now if it is possible to have a big brekky meal and have it be something unusual, not just a lot of stuff piled on?

I chased my brekkie and overwhelming sense of fullness down with a cappuccino, while Hubbie got yet ANOTHER strong latte (holiday hangover season).

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The cap was good and gave me the boost I needed to walk up and down the Main street with Hubbie afterwards and spend $$$ 🙂

Food: 7/10. Hard to tell when it was just a lot of food on a plate, but it did taste good.

Coffee: 7/10. Woke me up and was pleasant-tasting.

Ambience: Cosy is the operative word. Super quiet. More so than the library around the corner. This was clearly because of the time of day, being an early Monday morning in February… but don’t forget it was still Summer too. Takes the folks some time to wake up down ol’ Mornington way…

Staff: There were two girls, the two chefs, and another very chatty guy, maybe the owner. They were around for us only when we needed something – you know, the basics.

People: Minimal. Two girls who knew the staff were having brekkie too. I’d say it’s a mixed bunch that comes here, as per most of the cafes on the Main strip.

Price: $64.50. Fairly reasonable for what we got.

Advice: Well firstly, it is tiny. ‘Small’ space doesn’t really explain how little it is, but with the combined outdoor and indoor areas, it equals up to much more, a necessity for an operating café. So whether you want to visit at low-peak times or call ahead, just be warned…

In a nutshell: I found that visit average, but that I base on the uninspired meals we ordered and the calm of the café. I don’t blame the café itself. I would prefer to go for a different brekkie meal next time, IF we did in fact venture out there.

My ending thought? Well in true spirit of the quote I read upon our entry into the café, it is what it isn’t, and isn’t what it is… it is ok, but I much rather prefer the Cow to the Fox. Now that’s a Main Street riddle for you. 😉

(Afterword: I have since learned that the new café operating from these premises is an improvement on the old, and it has been getting some very, very good reviews…. I will be sure to link to it here when I visit 🙂 )

Dr Fox Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Green Cafe

Lilo Café
1/725 Esplanade Mornington

(Visited January ’18)

It was the Australia Day weekend that had us venturing for a sea view from a café on the Esplanade. During some of Hubbie’s early morning Sunday drives where baby girl and I kept on sleeping (she doesn’t fall far from my tree) he came across Lilo several times, and seeing the amount of people bursting from the joint, decided immediately that we must go there.

And so it was a Sunday. A steadily approaching 35 degree day Sunday. I had to work later in the day so this was our little venture out as a family, trying to pack in quality time before I headed off. As we were seated in the bustling café, at one end of a communal table where there was an older couple on the other end of it, something started to become apparent.

Green vase.

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Green plants (ok duh, but stay with me).

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Green cup.

Green cutlery holder.

Green clock.

Green on the walls.

And then when I looked behind me at the counter/café section there was green everywhere!

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Green, was the theme.

There was a nice quirkiness to it all, not cliché or overdone or just tacky. It was kind of like your Grandma’s house, but not like your average Grandma – rather this was the cool hippie Grandma who never remarried, swings with other like-minded independent pensioners on twice yearly cruises, and out-drinks the 20 somethings at the Christmas gatherings… and goes to bed after they have fallen asleep on the couch. And she loves green because it reminds her of that time with your Grandad at the park… never mind.

That kind of Grandma.

I perused the menu and while Hubbie got his first latte of the day, I opted for a fresh

Watermelon mint and apple cold pressed juice

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(See, green straw).

It was tasty, and I could have easily had another. Hubbie meanwhile had an extra strong latte, as suggested by our waitress when he asked how strong the coffees were (apparently not that strong if he had to order strength up times two).

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(Green saucer!)

The café was fairly busy and noisy too. You could see outside to the trees across the road, which blocked much of the view of the water, but sitting at certain vantage points right near the window would definitely give you peaks of blue and sparkling.

It was hard at times to flag people over for service, being the public holiday weekend that it was, since everyone was out to play and eat, apparently, and also being Mornington having a 50% increase in general foot traffic through the eateries there… but once that was all done and we had a little wait, our breakfasts finally arrived (we were famished by that stage):

I had the Lilo brekkie – two poached eggs on toasted sourdough, potato croquettes, Istra bacon, peperonata

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Hubbie had the B.L.T. Istra bacon, cos lettuce, tomato, relish, Noisette bun, fried egg

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And baby girl had Pancakes with fresh strawberries, ice cream and maple syrup, and side of strawberry jam

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I really enjoyed my meal. The eggs were poached perfectly, the potato croquettes were so yum and creamy, and that combination with the peppers that tasted like the home-style ones our parents make (Hubbie agreed) was just a fanciful flavour combo. The bacon wasn’t as clean as I liked, but that’s why I have Hubbie you see, to take the fat while I keep the clean bits. It was a simple and classic dish, not too weird to put people off of the standard fare, but still interesting enough to be memorable. It was a safe kind of different.

As you can see above, there was green lettuce in Hubbie’s burger… ok I am just kidding. Obviously, it cannot be purple (actually it can, aha!) Hubbie loved his burger, and said he would get chips with it next time. Yes, next time. He had added the egg which was optional, and really I don’t know how anyone can’t when you are having brekkie. He had a side of sauce because SAUCE FANATIC, forgetting that there was already relish in the burger… oops. Never mind, two sauces makes my butcher-sauce-loving Hubbie a very happy man.

Baby girl’s pancakes looked fresh and inviting. But at the same time she was firmly not into berries then, and so all she had to indulge in were the two very small pancakes with lashings of jam that we had asked for, and the ice cream. Size was on the meagre side, as I had to give her half of my toast just to satiate her appetite.

While heading over to the toilets one of several times that visit (experimental 4 year-old, that’s why) the theme that had been so prevalent throughout the dining area only expanded…

Because along with the eclectic wall of teaspoons that decorated the area directly opposite the male and female individual toilets…

The large and spacious inside toilet also continued with the green theme! Can I say, Grandma’s old school toilet is very, very cool. A large model of a lady hung on the inside toilet door, and the green continued in fixtures and fittings, towels and posters. It was a very attractive toilet, if I DO SAY SO myself. It really was, and maybe this was part of the reason baby girl had to go like, 3 times during our visit.

We ordered coffees after our meals were done with, and not surprisingly these probably took just as long as our food to arrive, they were that busy.

Cap, latte, babycino and choc-chip cookie.

Honestly, I was surprised the cookie did not come out on a green plate. Even the choc-chips. Come on, why?! :):):)

The coffee was mild and to my liking… and now I am questioning whether they have green coffee. That would just tip me over the edge. Ok I will stop now.

It was a busy and full experience there at Lilo, and since my time with family was limited, once our bellies were full of all things good, we headed towards the counter…

Food: 8/10. It was inventive yet also traditional in that it gave you the good stuff you would come to expect of a café… and based on our second and third experiences there, we have come to learn that they are very good at balancing the right flavours within a dish. Party in your mouth. Yummo Bravo.

Coffee: 7.5/10. Mild.

Ambience: Very busy and bustly, seems a noisy place and even when there haven’t been many around things just seem to echo. Considering the tranquillity of the across-the-road views, this café seems to block out everything else.

Staff: They were very busy that day, however other times we have found them, how should I put it, hard to come by? They tend to appear on the ‘understaffed’ side, therefore ‘stressed’ side, albeit still trying their best.

People: A very mixed bag, really it is everyone in here, with a good portion of the older generation seeming to inhabit. Why of course, it is Grandma’s friends.

Price: $78.65. That included a 10% surcharge for the Australia day public holiday. Although still acceptable, based on a future review of another café we dined at where we were slogged a 15% surcharge, I have to say…

WHAT THE?

I understand that staff need to be paid extra on the public holidays, and I certainly DO NOT oppose that. But I have two questions/statements, one from me, and one from Hubbie…

There is unreservedly a greater influx of people coming in on these days, meaning more customers = extra $$$, which I argue discounts the need to charge a surcharge to cover your staffs wages.

Second, Hubbie asked: If cafes create this imposed surcharge to cover their staffs additional wages, why then don’t the shopping centres charge us extra on public holidays to cover the definite increased wages they need to pay their staff? Safeway, Coles? Do they charge us extra?

(One can argue they already do, but I mean do they charge us additionally because of this day?)

NO!

It does not make sense. Cafes, STOP doing this, it is wrong and very annoying.

Advice: Now that I’m done with my outburst… sit as close to the windows if you want a sea view. Have one of their fresh juices. Go to the loo, and just be in the moment (seriously). Also if you love carbs, the potato croquettes in the Lilo brekkie are GOOD.

In a nutshell: It’s a café with a wonderfully retro character, which follows cleverly throughout. The food is simple yet done VERY well, and when eating you can tell the chef knows what he is doing. With a beautiful locale, it is easy to see how so many flock to this eatery, both for the food, interesting and homely atmosphere, and also for the chance to peak out at the waters nearby…

I guess it is kind of appropriate that a stretch of bushes and trees watch the café from across the road. Green.

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

Playground Hotel

The Dava Hotel
614 The Esplanade Mount Martha

(Visited December ’17)

I don’t even remember why we ventured over to the Dava Hotel that Tuesday in early December. I think Hubbie had heard of the place, and we were also keen to try something different, yet still close.

It was practically a 3 minute drive there. So the close box, was ticked. √

After waiting some time at the front counter to be seated, we were taken to a table to the side of the middle in the large room. It was LARGE. Open plan, working within the hotel image, where people staying overnight in the rooms within could venture on down and take food from the buffet cases, or people like us could walk in and dine from individual menus.

The expansiveness of the room, meant it wasn’t awfully cosy. But this was a hotel. We were coming to expect different.

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And just like a Hotel, we had to order and pay at two individual counters for drinks and food. Again, not ideal for us, but it happens at the Royal and we love that place. So Hubbie disappeared for sometime at the bar, doing his bit, and then I went over to the counter next to the buffet set-up to order our food.

While we waited for our drinks, I told him how the service I had received at the counter had been colder than the iceberg that hit the Titanic. The waitress was just not in the mood AT ALL, didn’t wanna be there, and hiding her palpable animosity towards, well LIFE in general, was very trying for her. I had sped off hastily.

Some alcohol helped me forget. I got the Wynns “The Gables” Cab Sav, while Hubbie had ordered himself a beer.

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The reason why I wasn’t kicking up a stink in regards to the service, was another huge determining factor of our possible night’s success. It was baby girl. And where she was. There was an enclosed play area just outside the eating area, and although it was around the corner, there was something else that made it easier to spy on your kids, even though you couldn’t see the entrance/exit.

The TV.

They had a TV on one wall showing the play area, and suddenly we realised why many families had sat within view of that TV – to enjoy their meal and yet still watch out for their little one outside.

We were slightly out of view of this TV, so we took turns in each getting up and going out to check on her – she was cool, as excited as a kid at Christmas (well it was coming up), and honestly wasn’t fazed that she hadn’t yet had her dinner.

But in between, we had moments of, what’s that word again… peace? Silence? Um, couple-time?

WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THE ABOVE?!

Hence why I forgot about the Iceberg-waitress fairly quickly.

Our food came relatively fast considering there were so many people there, and we had to herd our girl in for it too.

Hubbie had the 300 gm Grass Fed Porterhouse: served with chips and garden salad, and tomato sauce

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I had the Linguini Marinara: garlic and olive oil base with mussels, prawns, scallops and calamari.

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And baby girl had the Spaghetti Bolognaise

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Hers was a free kids meal because kids eat free on weekdays. It was an effort to get her to eat it only because that was the start of her “no sauce, no lumps” in pasta phase. So we moved things around and wrestled as much sauce free pasta out of the plate as we could, until we were somewhat satisfied with her efforts. Having said that, although it was free, a bolognaise from the jar was a fairly unimpressive kids meal, and I don’t care if it’s free – they are people too! And chefs, don’t you dare tell me that that sauce came from anywhere else!

Having said that, I could see other kids meals floating around, like fish and chips, and they looked much more appealing. Note to self. Order things for kids that is unlikely to come from a jar/packet.

Hubbie really liked his meal, and even likened the steak to Kirks style, even the price, saying there was not much difference. No way! The same? That was impressive, that a hotel could do a steak to the same standard as a restaurant like Kirks. He was impressed. Geez.

Having said that, I was pleased with my meal too. It was a substantial dish, I enjoyed the mild flavour of the garlic and olive oil, and half of the seafood I did enjoy, such as the fish pieces, prawns and mussels, however the scallops were undercooked for my liking, and likewise the calamari was not a fave. Seafood dishes are really hard to get right I find, and when I do find a dish that gets every single component right and seafood cooked perfectly, I’ll let you know. Those not-to-taste bits were easy to pick out, and otherwise, it was yum.

We had been pleasantly surprised with our meals, baby girl was having a rad ol’ time running between our table and the outside playground, and we could actually relax… so we decided what the hell, let’s do dessert and coffees too.

I got a cap, Hubbie a latte, and baby girl a babycino

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(Hubbie’s ‘strong’ latte)

And then the dessert: baby girl got ice cream with choc topping and sprinkles; I got the Toblerone mousse cake; and Hubbie got an opera slice

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Baby girl was rapt with her dessert. Ice cream, sprinkles, chocolate? That makes perfect sense. She ate it ALL. However that’s where the satisfaction stopped. Hubbie’s opera slice was average, whereas my slice of cake was just, ok. I was left feeling overly full, but not in that delightful way where you’ve had the most amazing meal. It was the regretful “I should have stopped at main” feeling. Both our cakes had that bulk manufactured taste, and really, I think the safest way to go for dessert was baby girl’s route – the ice cream.

The night was a really mixed bag. There were pros, there were cons… but as we tried to wrangle our girl from the playground and into the car, to protests of tears and “I don’t want to go!” we realised we may have just found ourselves an imperfect paradise for some ‘us ‘ time.

Food: 6.5/10. This was a hard one to rate, due to the difference in meal quality between courses. I have to take in Hubbie’s ‘like Kirks’ steak, just as I need to take in baby girl’s ‘sauce from a jar’ bolognaise.

Coffee: 7/10. It was good.

Ambience: Noisy and busy – just how we like! It allowed us to relax (relax in noise?) as we weren’t concerned about any of baby girl’s sporadic outbursts out of random necessity. Lots of people about, all getting ready for the festive season. And this was a Tuesday night.

People: Families on holiday, pensioners, ladies meeting for a tipple or two. Grown families, young families, really, ALL sorts. The typical Aussie prevailed. You define that as you will.

Staff: Apart from that one cold-from-the-depths-of-her-ravaged-soul waitress, we did in fact have luck with others. The girl who sat us down, the woman who cleared our plates for us, and also the girl who took our dessert order, were ALL very pleasant and friendly, so majority won.

Price: just over $100 for the lot – including drinks, main meals and dessert. Baby girl’s meal was free, so that meant our $64 food order averaged about $32 a piece… decent considering it is a hotel. So those individual prices were a bit high for hotel-quality food, yet overall we did well in the $ department.

Advice: If you come with children – sit as close as possible to the TV as you can. You won’t regret it. If you have really small littlies, there is a smallish room around the corner from the bar, that is the entrance to the playground – you can sit in there and eat, as well as watch your kids go on baby-type play equipment, and you are right there. But so is every other baby in the restaurant, so you choose.

Pick foods that can’t be screwed up for kids. Main adult meals should be ok. Dessert – just go for the ice cream, you’ll be happy you did.

In a nutshell: Having the outdoor playground with monitored TV inside is an excellent concept. So simple, so clever. It is simple food, and when you order what they do well, you walk away with a bargain.

If you want a no-fuss, child-friendly place where you can relax while your kids burn off some steam… then you have found it. And because of the ability to have some child-free moments, you walk away feeling like you’ve actually been on holiday… at a hotel.

The Dava Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mi Burrito

Mi Mexiko
25 Main Street Mornington

(Visited November ’17)

Do you always need a reason to dine out? Nah. This reason of nothing, and the added effect of having not much to do already on that sunny Spring Sunday in November, had us wandering over to Mi Mexiko on the main street.

At first, I was a little concerned. Could we find something to please even our most fussiest of eaters palate?

Why, yes. And baby girl would have something too.

Our second fussiest person was kept entertained with much appreciated textas and drawing paper, something that makes all parents sigh in relief when it is brought over. I don’t have enough mobile data for all her youtube vids EVERY time.

Whereas our first most fussiest, Hubbie, started off with a straight scotch, and then a pale ale to chase with. Me, I opted for something green and fresh, much like the day happening around us.

A seis de mayo cocktail – lime, mint and soda.

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Of course we had to get nachos of some kind to nibble on, this was the place for it! The music was traditional to the theme and had a great party vibe, and it filled up the otherwise empty restaurant that afternoon. Sure there were people dining outside, but while there, we were only one of very few who had arrived for that Sunday afternoon thus far.

So, the corn chips were great.

Corn chips, guacamole, salsa fresca – smashed avocado, lemon & lime, fresh tomato salsa, corn chips

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I had to avoid the guacamole underneath, because Avocado-aversion-that-makes-me cry-and-hold-my-stomach-in-pain-for-3-hours-after-eating-it (don’t cry for me Avocado), but the salsa onion and tomato dip on top, and the crunchy corn chips were so good, honestly that was a meal in itself and so yummy. Baby girl didn’t realise how great it tasted until we were almost done, and just as well as she would have left us with NONE.

But it was ok, because the mains were near.

First baby girl’s arrived. I had been after something fairly plain for her, because you know, kids, and 4, and somehow those two things together makes for one hell of a fussy eater. No sauces, no condiments, no dressings, no funny business of any kind! I had to make sure the mayo in her meal was on the side before ordering.

Fried chicken taco, lemon mayo and crispy fried potatoes.

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But having said that, it was actually a really, really good kids meal. She demolished the warm taco bread, and after I tried a nibble I could see why. So moorish. She even had a great attempt at her potatoes and chicken, but the mayo…

Yeah that remained uneaten. Like I said, no funny business at this age stage.

Hubbie got the Chipotle chicken (burrito) – Chipotle grilled chicken, quinoa, peppers, corn, cactus, guacamole, salted ricotta, salsa verde

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And I got the Fried cauliflower (burrito) – tamarind cauliflower fritters, smoked eggplant, quinoa, sweet potato, jalapeno salsa, salted ricotta, salsa verde

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Both were great burritos, but I found Hubbie’s the superior one when I took a bite of his. However, it was a good thing that I didn’t order that for myself, since I realised in my bite that I had swiftly missed a portion of guacamole in there! Just as well. Mine was very vegetable-orientated, and with all the tangy and salty tastes springing forth, you couldn’t say it wasn’t flavoursome! It was quite strong though. I still enjoyed it, but if I could do it again, I would have opted for Hubbie’s chicken burrito, minus the guacamole. It was still a filling, and very pretty meal.

We had had no plans to dine out, and we still had no plans for afterwards… so we decided to follow suit in our randomness, and go and get ice cream.

Food: 7.5/10. Fresh, exciting, and inviting.

Coffee: N/A on this occasion.

Ambience: Lively, even though there wasn’t many people around! The restaurant soon filled up as the day wore on, and on both sides of that the Mexican/Spanish music filled the place with lots of get-up-and-dance vibes. Loved it. Also, it was still easy-going enough that you didn’t feel like you had to get up and stand on the table, you know?

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People: Couples outside and inside, and families. Catch-ups and family gatherings make it a fun place to dine at.

Staff: A very mixed bag here. Considering they were very quiet when we first arrived, many staff found it difficult to display courteousness. One waitress delivering food to tables showed obvious annoyance in having to walk around me and baby girl when we were walking back from the toilet, and the same waitress very hastily shoved our plates down on the table when our food had arrived. Passive aggressive, yet so obviously the latter. Funny how this waitress had no time for querying customers when they were so quiet at the time. We had a lovely waitress almost make up for all of that who put our bill through at the end of the visit. But alas, sour notes linger. Management, tell your staff that the bubbly vibes your restaurant gives out can be easily burst by rudeness.

Price: $81.50 saw us have lunch, some nibbles and drinks. Prices were on par as lunch meals, and the kids meal came in at a very respectable $8.50, fantastic since the quality of what she received was right up there.

Advice: If you have no aversion to avocado, please go there and eat all the avocado (for me!) Otherwise try the corn chips, they are lip-smacking salty good. Sit inside at a window booth, you will have a wonderful vantage point through the hopefully open windows, along Main street and even further along.

In a nutshell: The prime location of this restaurant makes this the place to be, and an excellent meeting point amongst friends and groups. With its great lively vibe and bright location, it is a terrific Summer spot, and even in Winter, the music there would perk anyone right up. If staff can properly represent the atmosphere being presented by all else there, it could be an unbeatable combo. The flavour in the food is distinct, however there are options that could please even the most fussiest and unadventurous of eaters, though they are few. Mi will be back… eventually.

Mi Mexiko Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ex-stuz mi?

Stuzzi
325 High Street Northcote

(Visited November ’17)

I had been to this Northcote café a few times before, each time there meeting a certain group of chicks for a much-needed catch-up.

It had been years since the last visit. But not much had changed.

It was our annual KK catch-up that had me heading on over after a long day out with Hubbie and baby girl, and the company was the same, my old high school friends.

The original, and the BEST.

It was a hot night, and being free of child for the occasion, I was first to arrive. Sure, things had been revamped and done up a bit. I was seated on a medium-sized table alongside the bar in the middle of the café interior. There weren’t many people about, so I sat and watched waitresses meander around, assisting those who needed food and drink, all the while waiting for the Friday night influx on this November day.

Yep, we were killing the KK catch-up, hitting it up mid-November. The shin-dig thing-a-ma-jig was early, but we had to, you know, find time amidst our very busy lives and all.

It’s a modern café, with a couple of large TVs on either side of the walls for all to watch. Nothing inspiring, but still on trend. I checked out the local news, while I ordered myself a drink during the wait for my gal-pals…

Summer Squeeze – watermelon, orange and pineapple

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This was refreshing, and had me feeling the soon-to-be Summer vibe.

It wasn’t long until I was joined by one friend, and then another, and another, and then another, and then we were right and ready, in amongst chatting and laughing and hilarious youtube videos, to finally order.

We opened our KK pressies and had a grand old time doing so, and then soon after, our meals arrived.

I got the Stuffed Chicken Breast – Whole chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, bocconcini, sun-dried tomato, served with mashed potato, broccolini, topped with a honey and creamy seeded mustard sauce

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My meal was adequate, perhaps to be expected from a café of that type. Appealing to the masses, huge variety of choice on the menu, but perhaps more a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type café. My chicken was huge, and as one friend observed about the chicken meals on the table “these chickens are on steroids.” Enough said.

I didn’t notice anything other than tomato stuffed in the chicken – the prosciutto was on the top, and the cheese was possibly in there as well. It was sitting atop mounds of mashed potato, and though I love my carbs, the ‘steroid chicken’ comment had me feeling slightly off, plus it tasted a bit tough. I ate a decent amount of it, but just couldn’t eat it all, making sure I had at least eaten the broccolini. Get those greens in. Thank God for them, or else it all would have looked too beige. I would have rather a smaller, succulent chicken, than one taking pills to be on Gladiator. Also, it was swimming in the mustard sauce, and suddenly everything, not just the chicken, felt overdone.

Big meals were all around the table, and they seemed to be okay… but one friend observed a ‘problem’ with the table parmesan, and that’s all I will say for the sake of being respectful… but it was quickly rectified from our smiley and happy waitress.

The company and conversation far outweighed any food or drink we had that night – but still, it wasn’t as cool as what I remembered it, and nothing to make me wanna come back for in a rush either.

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Food: 5/10. Nothing incredible, but it satisfied my dinner craving. The steroid chicken kind of ended it for me. The fresh juice was the best thing I had that night.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: A chilled and relaxed catch-up vibe amongst friends, as we weren’t the only ones on that Friday night catching up in a large group. Casual surrounds on the city outskirts meant it was cruisy, but things were constant, too.

People: Generally a “friends” type crowd… lots of groups, not so much families, and a eating-before-heading-out-later-on-to-party crowd too.

Staff: They were pleasant. Our waitress was the smiliest, others were doing their job. Nothing bad, but nothing overly-friendly either.

Price: Just under $40 for my meal and drink. The price of the meal served the quantity, but sadly not the quality.

Advice: This place will probably do you if you need to catch up in the area with friends, hence our night…

Also, there is parking out the back that leads directly into the rear of the café, so try that first, or else you will need to look for parking along High street at peak hour time – so let’s just say arrive early.

In a nutshell: I think this place didn’t amaze me only because I have had so much better restaurant/café meals since my early visits there so many years ago. It has a vast menu that caters to many, but that is essentially all.

It’s nothing overly bad… but nothing overly inspiring either.

Sorry Stuzzi… nothing ‘appetising’ about coming back here anytime soon.

Stuzzi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Green servings at Red Hill

Green Olive at Red Hill
1180 Mornington-Flinders Road Main Ridge

(Visited October ’17)

Our winery exploration continued. We had a free Sunday in October, and though a bit dreary at first, it was also a mild day.

We would wine and dine then.

I had heard about some kids activities, such as duck feeding and trampoline jumping on these Main Ridge fields, and when I saw I had a token for free duck food, it make up my mind EVEN more.

Ok, so really? We all know I didn’t need the duck food token to get ourselves quacking on over.

It was the promise of this:

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Once we had driven some distance through endless tree views, and then parked and walked down a long and sloping uneven gravel surface to the restaurant below us, only then did we get a chance to sample some of the above.

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Ahhh.

It was a busy day. We were amazed just how so, and managed to quickly nab ourselves a table outside where it was free for the picking. The inside tables were all full and reserved, and there were quite a few of them too. We grabbed one just outside of the main doors, and proceeded to try and open up the umbrella as precarious drops from the darkening heavens floated on down.

It never rained though, and so we were able to relax.

It is an order-up-at-the-counter establishment. Once we looked through the menus, scanned out toward the vineyards, and looked through the menus again, I headed on inside to place our orders.

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The store is inside as you line up to order, featuring all of the farm-made produce such as their dukkah, olives, oil, and other fine deli produce. Positioning is fantastic especially on a day like that was, as you had a lot of time to fall in love with the various olive bowls, gourmet pastas and even body creams up for sale as you waited in line.

Fantastic strategy for them. Not a good thing FOR ME.

But I controlled myself, and focused on the outcome ahead of me. Order the food. It took a good while, but finally I was at the counter and baby girl and I were ordering our drinks and food.

Which brings us back to the above image. Now as Robert Zemeckis would be proud to hear me say, Back to the Future.

I got some drawing paper and pencils from a ’help yourself’ area inside the café, and then as baby girl got drawing, we observed the quirky garden elements/accessories around us as we waited for our drinks, which took a bit as they were so busy… A 2017 Moscato for me, and a Mornington Peninsula Pale Ale for Hubbie:

It was fabulous. A sorta sunny Sun-day, out with the fam, enjoying the increasing Melbourne warmth, wine… why, it was divine.

The setting was fabulous, but how would the food fare?

The food is tapas style, but we weren’t overly hungry so we were content to get a piece for each of us and share as we pleased. It was hard to find something for baby girl, so we ended up getting some bread and dip, used the dip ourselves and let her dig into the bread. Ahhh, good ol’ carbs.

Beetroot hummus dip, extra virgin olive oil, farm dukkah, ciabatta

and alongside that was Hubbie’s selection of a BBQ Pulled Pork open sandwich, pickled carrot, chilli salt

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And then my choice was Egg frittata filled with garden vegetables, farm made capsicum relish

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They were tapas, and they were presented nicely, but for what we got, we felt $12.95 each was a tad steep. The group of rich older Italians behind us (don’t ask how we know, we just do) also agreed. The older man who reminded Hubbie of his old boss, was saying loudly how they had just spent $200 on tapas between the group of them and were still hungry (see that’s how we know, typical Italians).

Although the food was ok, not amazing but still good, we were still infuriated by the antics of another fellow European on a nearby table. Don’t ask me how I know, I just know. She was with her husband and child, and she was wearing white pants.

You know who wears white pants? Really young teenage girls, extreme beach-dwellers (generally pensioners)… and Europeans.

Also we could hear a slight accent.

She was really horrible. She had a gripe about something, and I do not lie, but she complained and had two different waitresses come over to listen to her whinge on at least 5 separate occasions. She would not let up. It was upsetting to witness for the poor waitresses, and she looked a total mole so I was in total support for the staff. We were trying to eavesdrop as all good people do, thinking she clearly wore the (white) pants in the relationship, when her husband even started up! OMG just go away. Their problem was food-related, and though I wasn’t exactly dancing myself in the seat from the taste sensations in my mouth, I also wasn’t a horrible person to blame the waitress for thinking my meal should be otherwise. There is a way to distribute criticism, and white pants lady, her way was just SHIT.

Hubbie and I were so peeved at their unrelenting and non-stop negativity that WE almost told them to leave. It affected our mood, but we got coffee and dessert and tried to put her white pants and snarky voice behind us.

The cappuccinos were satisfactory as was the babycino (established by how quickly she smashed it down), and the ice cream also so. We held the sauce on the ice cream for baby girl, and I had the coffee crème brulee with biscotti on the side which most definitely had the caffeine kick, whereas Hubbie had a counter brownie – not anything amazing he said.

After that was done we soon claimed our duck food with voucher (detouring off to the in-ground trampoline below the café that baby girl went psycho on for 5 minutes) before we headed down to the lake.

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It had been a mixed duck-bag of experiences. The setting was amazing and worth the visit. We weren’t sure about the food, and were wondering if we had ordered something else, whether that would have been more to our liking.

These thoughts were on our minds as we headed back home…

Food: 7/10. It was ok, but compared to the scenery before us, it was slightly underwhelming.

Coffee: 7.5/10.

Ambience: It was a very relaxed yet refined vibe. Very refined. You were amongst the vineyard and trees and all-round greenery, and yet this greenery had $ attached. See below.

People: We were in Main Ridge, and the people representing showed us we were not in Kansas (or Mornington) anymore with their super designer threads and fancy-schmanc handbags.

Staff: They were exceptionally busy, but good. The manager or boss (don’t ask me, I just know) helped fix our umbrella for us, and the rest were just doing their job on that exceptionally busy Sunday.

Price: I wasn’t keeping receipts each time we ordered, and the girl behind the counter wasn’t offering either – a clever tactic perhaps to keep you from keeping score, or just busy? – but I kept score, and it tallied to about $95. A bit much for tapas, even with alcohol included. That price should have given us larger meals.

Advice: 1) Sit outside on a sunny day, 2) if going on the weekend with a larger group perhaps best to book ahead, and 3) just keep in mind that you might need to order multiple tapas to fulfill your hunger. The accompaniment of wines will make you need MORE.

In a nutshell: It is a lovely place to while the day away on a sunny day, whether with family or friends, or let’s face it even by yourself as all busy Mums will attest. And it is super kid-friendly in the ‘activities’ department, what with the drawing accessories, trampoline and duck feeding on offer, as well as all the walks you can take exploring the grounds which we didn’t end up doing.

The food store itself gives me reason to go back, but food wise, I’ll probably check out all the other Hills on the Peninsula, Red or otherwise, before going back to taste-test their other menu options…

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Green Olive at Red Hill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

‘Botham’s Up’ for Father’s Day

Hickinbotham of Dromana
194 Nepean Highway Dromana

(Visited September ’17)

We had still NOT been to a winery. In the 11 months following our Sea Change, we hadn’t as much as suggested it, researched it, let alone GONE to one.

Then, Father’s Day was approaching. And this coincided with an online post I had read, that mentioned kid-friendly wineries on the Peninsula.

What?! Our time had come.

And so it was. Hickinbotham was the first one I called off of the kid-friendly list, and they were more than happy to have us for their 11am set lunch on Father’s Day. Hubbie didn’t know where we were going, and even though it wasn’t the nicest of Dad’s days, as we arrived amidst the cold, wind and occasional rain…

… He still smiled at the surroundings. He was really pleased.

I had done well (go me 🙂 )

We were in fact, the first ones to arrive that Sunday. We were seated immediately, and had a good look around the restaurant, taking it all in.

Though restaurant wasn’t quite the word. Sure, the tables were set up nicely, paper table-clothed and all. There was a long bar in the middle of the room, and behind that what appeared to be a tasting area, a large shed/warehouse-type room, with barrels evident from where we sat.

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Wooden tones were everywhere. But this wasn’t a renovated, wooden-accented place. No, this wood had been there for years.

And years and years.

Because that’s what this place was, authentic. You could tell that you had stepped back in time, not too far, but far enough to understand that a winery had been there in place for a long time, way before people started coming in to dine. It was old, vintage, and polished.

There were two other seating areas I could see… one immediately to the front of us, that was completely covered, and another off to the side, which too was sheltered, yet opened up into the greenery outside.

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Shotgun outdoor area on a sunny day. Just putting it out there.

Since it was 11am, and a tad before our usual eating time of 1pm, we decided to just opt for the 2 course menu, rather than do the 3 courses.

First up, some drinks please.

A glass of 2016 Pinot Gris for me; and a pint (ALL the men there were soon getting pints) of Hix Pilsener, Silver medal Royal Sydney Show 2014

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Can I just say it was super exciting to be drinking beverages from the local wine/beer-makers there themselves. We were giddy, and although we had ordered our mains, the alcohol went to our heads and suddenly we were hungry!

Baby girl had received some crackers and dips as part of her kids package that day

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And we all kind of dipped into that one (thanks Pinot Gris)

By this stage the place was filling up. There were Dads galore, and the waitresses were wishing everyone a Happy Father’s Day on arrival.

The fireplace had been lit, and was getting stoked, but the fire just wasn’t taking, so the group of people seated beside us took it upon themselves to re-stoke it.

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It was a beautiful old fireplace, and the warmth that emanated from it was very much required that day.

Soon, the food!

I had ordered the succulent baked chicken breast, kipflers with bacon and thyme, garden greens, chicken jus

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Hubbie had ordered the 250gm grass fed scotch fillet, dauphine fat chips, baby sprouts with Portobello, béarnaise

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And Baby girl had the pleasure of her all-time fave dish… pasta

Spiral pasta with bolognaise sauce

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(Oh woe is me. Back to the time where baby girl actually had sauce with her pasta).

Baby girl happily lapped up her pasta while she watched other children playing with toys on youtube. Of course.

Hubbie was pleased with his steak and how it was cooked, but questioned whether it was in fact, 250gm… otherwise he enjoyed it, yet he left behind a fat chip for me to enjoy… oh my. It was thick and creamy, and all I can say is dauphine chips are the BOMB. They were that GOOD.

Crisp potato puff… mmmmm.

And I loved my meal. It was comforting and warm, the chicken was most certainly succulent, and the jus? Amazing. I dragged my vegies and chicken ALL through the jus, trying my best to soak up every last drop. Yum.

We were very content, but what is a special occasion without dessert? We had spent a good deal of the past month hibernating, accepting and allowing the cold to pass, and also hoping that once that most-coldest of cold seasons was over, baby girl would also be more mature, and happily sit with us as we dined out throughout the Peninsula, ALL through Spring and Summer.

She is well-acquainted with the phone though, so…. say what you like. We were ALL happy then.

We ordered coffees too, and then it all started to arrive:

I had a cap, while Hubbie had a STRONG, heart-shaped latte:

Baby girl had a babycino accompany her kids dessert, which consisted of vanilla ice cream, chocolate cake, marshmallows and snakes

Hubbie ordered the Passionfruit tart, burnt meringue, coulis, clotted cream

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And I had Jo’s stunning chocolate mousse cake, pistachio crunch, two types of raspberry

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Firstly, can I say, when I hear the words ‘chocolate mousse’ my head almost swivels Exorcist-style. True story. I enjoyed the light, yet decadent mousse component, and the base was most definitely crunchy… not sure if the combination worked completely, I understood the textures being in contrast to one another… but sometimes you just need some cream alongside your chocolate-whatever. I appreciated it nonetheless. I had to bypass my 3 raspberries sitting a-pretty on top, ever since that fateful day when I ate a whole punnet of raspberries one night, and then felt a bit awkward and uncomfortable, went to the loo, and promptly threw up the whole thing. I then proceeded to feeling better instantly, and the incident was so bizarre I actually question whether it in fact happened or I just dreamt it all…

But I think, I have developed some kind of aversion to raspberries, or whatever thing it is inside them that irritates my stomach. I would have risked the 3 if we hadn’t had any other plans that day… but we did have plans, and I wasn’t going to ignore history/a bad dream and risk running to the bathroom.

Hubbie thought his passionfruit tart was ok… I think he is not a tart-y, or burnt meringue kinda guy, just saying. He is also an incredibly fussy guy. Just saying.

Baby girl enjoyed mixing every component of her dessert together until it developed into a gooey creamy mess, but funnily enough did not like the marshmallows then (she LOVES marshmallows) and until I tried one, I realised why – they were incredibly cold, either from the ice cream proximity, or what I believe, sitting in a fridge for a while? I otherwise thought it the perfect dessert for a child, just a colourful combination of bright and simple sweet things that children love.

We were now very full, with the added assistance of our caffeine hits, and decided it was time to pay.

Outside the rain had ceased, and now the sun glared down from in-between the clouds. Hubbie and baby girl ran around the yard, mucking about… and then it was time to go.

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Food: 8/10. I loved my chicken, and other components were amazing too. I would love to go there when there is not a set menu, to see how they go preparing and cooking food ‘on the fly.’

Coffee: 7.5/10. It was pleasant, not too strong, and smooth.

Ambience: Incredibly cosy. Honestly, I felt a bit like I was at my uncle’s old house down Warburton way. The abundant wood and fireplace gave it a real homely feel, and seeing the greenery and trees throughout the windows linked us to the outside, making it feel quite idyllic, and very appropriate, for a winery.

People: Being such a family day, there were families of all kinds EVERYWHERE. Young families, old families, families with extended family, smaller intimate families, and many kids too, which was further testament to the review I had read online.

Staff: They were incredibly attentive, polite and friendly, really fine service.

Price: $161. This consisted of mine and Hubbie’s 2 course set menus – both at $60 a head. Baby girl’s set 3 course meal was $29.50. Throw in some home-grown alcoholic drinks, coffees, and voila. Price is justified. Or is it? I think baby girl’s set price was on the upside… and if you break down each of our main and dessert meals to $30 each, I think it is STILL too high. But it is a winery, and so, you reach out into your handbag and pull out the dough (or in my case, the Eftpos card).

Advice: Maybe on weekends it would be best to call ahead in case they are busy, however there was an ample amount of seating in many areas, and they were all covered, so risking it shouldn’t do too much damage either.

In a nutshell: Although it was pricey, and Hubbie didn’t rave about his main meal, he absolutely loved the winery, and the beer. I too love the entire place. Being not too far from our house, with Spring on our doorstep (any day now Melbourne weather), we will definitely come back again. We’ve already planned to sit somewhere outside, in the afternoon sunshine, sipping on some lovely local produce and gazing at the views and water up ahead, while baby girl just RUNS with glee.

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So just pick up your glass and…

…Botham’s up.

Hickinbotham Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Warm olives, cold Cowes, but fond memories

Fig & Olive
115 Thompson Avenue Cowes, Phillip Island

(Visited August ’17)

We had trekked over to San Remo for a couple of nights during mine and baby girl’s birthday period. While café-ing out in the main strip one windy Tuesday, Hubbie asked the nice guy delivering coffees out to everyone, “can you give us a good dinner recommendation?”

The first name he rattled off was Fig & Olive.

He mentioned a few more, but his description of the place and the food it delivered won us over, and we planned to book ahead. Upon driving back to our accommodation a short while later, we looked at the area in which it was meant to be, as directed to us by kind waiter.

And suddenly, we were time lapsed to 5 years earlier.

Because we had been there before. Pre-food blogging days. Pre-baby days. Pre-Sea change days.

It felt like a long time ago, and yet the memory of that visit was strong because we had sat outside on a warm Summer’s evening, had enjoyed a delicious drink and dessert, and snapped an amazing selfie of ourselves, and let’s face it when you get one where you BOTH look great, it’s immediately one for the memory bank (and photo album – old school, yes).

It made total sense to be returning to this restaurant 5 years on.

Although things were a bit different. We were with baby girl. We absolutely HAD TO sit inside. And we absolutely had to, because we almost didn’t make the drive over from San Remo to Cowes, it was raining that much.

We burst in through the doors a bit sprinkled on from our mad dash from the car, and chose a table alongside the wall with booth to sit at, alongside another couple who were entering at the time.

I honestly can’t speculate at what had changed in the 5 years or so that passed between our visits. I couldn’t remember. All I remember was we had been seated at some kind of outdoor alfresco area, so the interior – I wouldn’t have a clue.

Now it was warm, illuminated by warm and sparkly lights, and the ample seating and ambience made the setting quite refined. However the orange-red wall brought it a playful burst of colour, taking it closer to its ‘Relaxed Casual Dining’ web site tag.

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I was happy when they brought over some pencils and colouring-in paper for baby girl, as there is never such a thing as ‘too much distraction’ when a toddler is out with you.

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We perused the menu and settled on some

Warm marinated olives with bread

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Hubbie got a VB, and I got a glass of the ‘Dance with the Devil’ Cab Sav

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Of course we had to try the appetiser of the restaurant name, didn’t we? I’ve been getting right into olives as an entry to main meal, ever since we started getting them at Manhattan. They were great and the bread was lovely to dip into the oily concoction and soak up all the goodness.

It was pretty quiet, being a midweek Winter’s night and all, but happily for us (those noise levels are preferred to be always loud in case a certain toddler decides vocal aerobics are necessary) some more groups of people soon came in, though at the most there was still only 4 or 5 groups that whole night.

Baby girl’s meal of spaghetti bolognaise immediately followed the olives

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And then soon after ours came. Mine was the pumpkin risotto with goats cheese, cherry tomatoes and rocket

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While Hubbie had the 300g scotch fillet, with potatoes, broccolini, and creamy peppercorn sauce

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So baby girl loved her spaghetti, though it may have been hard to notice since I literally had to spoon-feed it to her – as I said before, distractions. She was quiet, so it was good. Even Hubbie and I took fork stabs at it occasionally since it did look so delish. Sometimes it’s the simple things… like taste-testing from your child’s plate.

My risotto was sensational. Rich, but not too rich. It was quite liquid-y when it arrived, leaving Hubbie with a puzzled look on his face as it was brought to the table, but this is why I am the food blogger and not him. There were pumpkin pieces in there that brought it texture, the liquid made it moorish and smooth, and the complimentary tastes of goats cheese and rocket were YUM. Did I mention anything with rocket added is immediately made better? Well there it is.

ANYTHING WITH ROCKET ADDED IS IMMEDIATELY BETTER.

So I loved mine. Hubbie enjoyed his too, and that in itself is a God-send. Angels sing! The meat was cooked exactly to his liking, and it was tender too. All hail Fig and Olive.

Since it was our last night on that side of town before we were due back home the next day, and also as I already mentioned, ‘birthday month,’ I had to have dessert – whether I was full or not.

I was kinda full. But it would fit, I assured myself.

Hubbie went with our old holiday fave, the Affogato, and got himself a shot of Frangelico in addition on the side.

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He ended up pouring all the coffee over the ice cream, which he immediately regretted since he and I could not then actually taste the coffee on its own. Oh well, it still tasted good.

I went for the warm chocolate fondant – chocolate sauce, crumble and vanilla ice cream – because really, how does warm and melted chocolate NOT sound good on a cold Winter’s night?

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And baby girl was more than content with her vanilla ice cream and strawberry topping

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My dessert was oozing with thick melted chocolate, so my heart naturally followed.

I enjoyed it very much, and the chocolate crumble, was a really lovely addition to break away from the gooey-ness of it all. Vanilla ice cream to lessen the sugar-rush impact. Yes.

We had been first to arrive, and almost a couple of hours later, we were last to leave. We paid our bill, said our byes, and hurried back to the car, to drive through the rain once again.

Food: 8.5/10. The standard was there as it was years ago, and whether or not a change of ownership has occurred, I don’t care. It was wonderful. Dreaming of that risotto.

Coffee: Since it was had alongside the liqueur and ice cream, it was hard to ascertain on its own, other than to note that it was strong, so I can’t give a proper score here.

Ambience: Quiet and refined, though there was a casual element to it too.

Staff: Professional and friendly, and helpful when it came to our main orders.

People: There was only a handful that night: an older couple; a group of tourists from out-of-town; and another group of 3 that I can’t remember, other than to note they were near us… a real mixed bunch.

Price: $129 for 3 mains, an entrée, and 3 desserts alongside some drinks. On the money.

Advice: Perhaps book ahead on the weekend in warmer months/holiday season to avoid disappointment. Eat the risotto.

In a nutshell: We really enjoyed this place, and being the destination of fond memories, we will definitely be back. It has something for everyone, and next time we will be back, basking in the sunshine, or basking in its interior orange glow…

Either way, it is sure to be warm. It’s definitely a place I would love to revisit, but I won’t wait 5 years next time 😉

Fig & Olive at Cowes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thanks be to Burgers

Thanks Albert
32 Main Street Mornington

(Visited June ’17)

Burgers. That was the request on that Wintery day in mid-June. All Hubbie wanted was a burger. It wasn’t to be a fancy restaurant, a tapas-style menu, or zujjed up Italian-American style comfort food  –

Just, Burgers.

We had already been to YOMG a while back. We had eaten it – takeaway at home – and since the experience had not been IN the restaurant, is why I didn’t write a blog post about it.

When I was done eating it, I didn’t wanna waste my time writing. I mean, I couldn’t write about the entire dining experience anyway, since I hadn’t really had it within its defined doors… but all in all, all I could say was – oily. Salty. Too much of both. The first few bites tasted good, and then I was full.

Maccas tasted better. (Woah food blogger, don’t admit to eating Maccas).

Somehow, we remembered there was a burger joint, at some point down Main street, past YOMG, and across from the Mexican joint – the location was so clear in my mind, because I had walked that strip with baby girl only that day.

So we went. In search, of THE burger.

Upon entering Thanks Albert the contrast was apparent. Where YOMGs had been loud, music thumping, full of people and inhabiting a very LONG space, this eatery was smaller. Quieter. Only two small groups of other people were there at the time, and even with slight background music playing throughout the premises, I still could hear myself think.

And I heard the friendly greeting from the guy up front as we walked in.

I immediately loved it.

The guy asked us if we had a booking – er, no. That was ok, since presently the place was pretty quiet, and honestly if he had turned us down with that many empty seats, I would have been surprised. But with the small size of the joint, I could totally see why it would be a prerequisite on busy nights.

We were seated to our liking in a corner booth, which made us feel so at home, and also especially comfortable and happy with a squirmy, jumpy, can’t-sit-still baby girl. As we perused the drinks and food menu, looked around, settled in, and Hubbie got some beer samples because for the life of him couldn’t decide what beer to try (liar! – he just wanted to taste-test) I was staring straight ahead at me at the circular frames containing quotes on the wall.

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I had already looked and observed the colour red, abundant around me, the suspended light bulbs – hanging a fair distance from the ceiling, further adding to the ‘I have an idea!’ moment – wondering why the place was thanking some dude called Albert, and reading all the signs up on the wall, one by one, in between trying to work out what I was going to order, when I read a quote, that literally had me at a lightbulb moment.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”

!

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Why, that was an Albert Einstein quote…. They ALL were!

And his face was on the glasses! Everywhere! (A delayed comprehension I know).

Hence the birth of Thanks Albert.

Sheesh. Now I loved it more. Gratitude and profound thanks to a world-changing game-changer and inventor, someone who would affect the world for centuries to come, an absolute legend in his own right? A restaurant dedicated to him? (Did he like burgers? Doesn’t matter).

Wow.

Maybe he invented that, too. That’s not for us to life amateurs speculate. All we need to know about is the food that night.

After Hubbie finally decided on a pot of Mountain Goat, and I got a glass of Pinot Noir
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(Loved the wine glasses by the way) we ordered some food, and soon after received

A Thanks Albert burger –Angus beef patty, double cheese, Thanks Albert mustard, dill pickle, red onion, tomato, butter lettuce, aioli, with fries for Hubbie

A Simply the Breast burger – Southern fried buttermilk chicken, bacon, smokey BBQ sauce, caramelised onion, tomato, butter lettuce, for me

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And a Kids chicken and chips meal, with free OJ drink, for baby girl

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I had actually wanted to try the house burger like Hubbie, but in Food Review blogging style, there was no chance in hell we were going to have the same meal. So I went for the chicken one, as I eat it so much, I might one day grow wings and fly as my Dad liked to tell me growing up.

Hubbie enjoyed his burger, and yes, it was more to his liking than their competitor down the road. I also enjoyed mine, but with all burgers, was feeling overfull about half-way through.

Thank God I didn’t get any chips. I pecked on baby girl’s, as hers was a decent meal for a 3 year-old, of chicken pieces and chips. We also decided early on, that her chips were better than Hubbie’s.

His contained, and I assume maybe all adult meals, the secret seasoning, making it a tasty yet also very salty combination. With the already overload of burger, bun, salt and oil, it was a bit too over-the-top for me, and US. I guess next time, we would hold the seasoning, and go for the plain ones like baby girl had.

We were definitely full by the end of it all. I had been keeping a cheeky monkey out of trouble by controlling her inate desire to blow bubbles into her OJ glass (it overflowed at least twice and had us grabbing at bar napkins), and as the burgers were soon devoured, we slowly pecked at chips, peck peck peck, ‘til it was time to go.

Food: 7.5/10. Comforting, salty, and inventive. Really filling.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: Chilled, cosy yet uplifting, what with all those lightbulbs at almost eye-level.

Staff: The guy who greeted us, who was behind-the-bar and also EVERYTHING guy, was fabulous, and the one who brought out our food was super-friendly too… more on him below.

People: A few couples were floating around, and then a group of high-teens sat next to us. The burger place is definitely the flame to all the teenage moths around (or in this case, the lightbulb to all the teens), as this place showed us that night, even more so YOMG a while back, which was practically a nightclub on a weeknight.

Price: $60.50. For a dine-out, takeaway style meal on the ‘up’ side, with alcohol… that sounds about right.

Advice: If you aren’t keen on too much salt or seasoning, skip their special one and opt for the normal kind. Maybe you, like me, only need a burger to satisfy you (especially if you can peck on the nearby chips of a loved one). And thirdly, if you have a child (or husband) who makes too much mess, sit yourself near the bar for easy napkin access. You won’t be sorry.

In a nutshell: This place was far superior to me than YOMG, and the little extra attention near the end of our experience won me over…

Once we had received our meals, the guy out the back (chef/owner, both?) came out and checked on our meals as we were eating, to see if all was good. Considering by this stage there were a few groups out, and he went over to them too as well as us, in my books, he got massive brownie points for.

That’s the kind of thing I give Thanks for. 😉

Thanks Albert Burger Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato