Pick your Transport

Transport Hotel
Federation Square, Cnr. Swanston and Flinders Streets, Melbourne

(Visited July ’18)

It had been a massive July day. Unusual for the month, being the middle of Winter and all. But I had been up early watching Croatia progress further in the World Cup. I hadn’t been able to sleep after all the excitement, but I wasn’t allowed to either.

It was a show-filled day.

Our first stop was seeing Lah Lah in Chelsea for baby girl to enjoy, and the last stop would also be for her… Disney on Ice in the city. In between?

Well, we were going to have some fun now, weren’t we???

Since we were headed into the city anyway, we had wanted to check out the MoMA New York exhibition at NGV that had made its way over to our shores. Also, we needed a spot to eat. Hubbie loved the bustling vibe of The Transport Hotel, and even though it was literally packed to the rafters, with footy fans and families moving throughout, we still lined up to try for a table.

Lucky we stuck with it. Or else Hubbie was just determined to get a table. The waitress told us she’d have a look, while another couple looked around the busy room on the ground floor and headed off. She saw us still waiting after she cleared some tables… sure enough someone was leaving. She ushered us over.

Window spot. YES.

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Baby girl and I were sitting with our backs facing against the window, it was kind of like a long window seat, whereas Hubbie was up on a high stool opposite us. He soon got a scotch, and he was IN HIS ELEMENT.

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I also opted for something light and refreshing, and got an Apple Mojito – apple juice, lime, fresh mint, soda… while he chased his first one down with a beer.

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It was a great vibe. There were surprisingly a lot of families around in that footy/pub vibing place, however a massive portion of the footy watchers were in the other room, standing with their beers and watching the action on the big screens. I watched the people outside exploring Melbourne city, the iconic Melbourne trams rolling on by, and it just seemed like a general wonderful stopping point to relax and take it all in, while remaining right in the centre of it all. It was relaxing, yet lively fun. Sunday out with friends. Family. No work in sight. And though it was looming the next day… you wouldn’t know it by looking at these people.

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Knowing it was cold out too…. Ahh. Better.

With all of the cold however, I would have to get myself a warming meal, right? I mean, it was clearly the current trend (and I hadn’t learnt my lesson apparently), so I ordered:

A vegetable curry with pumpkin and lentils, coriander and flat bread

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Hubbie got the Grilled Porterhouse, garden salad, chips with pepper sauce

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While baby girl got the mini parma, chips, salad off the kids menu

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It was hilarious, because as you can see by the above two photos this was right in the middle of baby girl’s fuss-pot phase. We took the ham and cheese off her parma and it became a snacking point on Hubbie’s plate… vacuum waste-not people that we are.

Baby girl’s meal was great value. A decent piece of chicken and chips and salad! Kudos for green on a child’s plate, kudos. Though she didn’t eat it (we did, as before-mentioned, vacuums) just seeing it there to get her used to it for future meals… she enjoyed her chips and chicken as we feasted on our meals too.

My curry was good. It wasn’t anything I would go and order again. But for that day it did the job. It was warming, it was hearty. The flat bread was delicious and I recall baby girl hacking into that too (carb-girl). It was a lovely meal and also something Hubbie took particular pleasure dipping into every now and then.

As for the rest of Hubbie’s food… he was happy. It wasn’t anything overwhelmingly amazing, but for that city style of commercial menu, and with that many people there that day (and the kitchen most likely, overwhelmed) he was happy. He ate it. It was passable. It didn’t detract from the atmosphere of the day, and in that he was stoked with.

Oh, what a lunch. We felt grateful to have found a spot in such a busy, happening place, and now we were also FULL. We got up to head off on our way, ready for the next lot of events to take us through the city.

Food: 7/10. It was good fare, nothing to blow our minds but the menu options were interesting and wide-ranging.

Coffee: N/A… we were stuffed with food and had to balance our intake. Our coffee hit came later at NGV.

Ambience: Really happening and bustling but also in a warm way. Because we were seated in an area looking out towards St Kilda road, away from the footy TVs in the communal sports room, it felt quite cosy. It was a great place to be, bustled up with everyone else.

Staff: They were actually, really good considering how busy they were. Big credit to them, because often smiles are the first out the door when the volume of people increases. They actually, gave a shit. So, maybe the drinks took a while to arrive… but I mean, they were packed.

People: A bit of everyone! Family groups, older friends, parents with littlies, and of course, the discerning fan with pint of beer in hand and footy scarf wrapped around their neck… all were present that Sunday 😉

Price: $88.50 Actually decent. How did this happen when Hubbie had two alcoholic drinks? Oh that’s right, I didn’t.

Advice: Be prepared to wait for a table if you are arriving at a peak time, for example Sunday lunch.

In a nutshell: It is a great meeting point to catch up with friends in the city. A wonderful melting pot of people, doing whatever they like to do on a Sunday afternoon, whether that is watch footy or have a bite to eat or have a drink… you will find them all here. I would be more than happy to go back and see it all, and be amongst it all.

There’s no excuse in not getting there either. From the train nearby, close trams and buses, or even your own personal uber… Transport is available from all locations. 😉

Transport Public Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Long queue no biggie at Longrain

Longrain Melbourne
40-44 Little Bourke street Melbourne

(Visited May ’18)

Well, late May and it was turning out to be a restaurant-heavy week. From the streets off Mornington Main, to Fed Square, to then, the laneways of Melbourne CBD, that last week was seriously bringing it all.

But what exactly WOULD the final hurrah of Autumn bring?

It was a cold night, the Winter settling in a touch earlier and letting us know who was on its way. I found car park within a raised building about a block away and walked over to Little Bourke to wait it out and see who else of my friends would arrive for our overdue catch-up.

Unfortunately for us no one had thought to book. Boo. Once myself and some others were there, waiting for more to arrive, we went inside to put ourselves on a waitlist that the front of house was more than happy to attend to.

Then we went back outside in the Friday cold night, to what else…

Talk.

We talked and talked and talked. We waited and talked for what seemed like 30 minutes. Once our entire party was there we headed in to see if they had something ready for us, but alas we were a tad off –

NEVERMIND. We were seated on the side of the restaurant, kind of like a waiting bay, where some waiters very graciously attended to us.

Drink? Sure I’ll have a drink. I perused the menu and after a couple nearby gave me their not-very-sober two cents, I ordered the Red Dragon cocktail.

Red Dragon – Chilli infused Ketel One Vodka, Peach liqueur, raspberries, coriander, cranberry

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WOAH. Talk about chilli. This had certain, definite, ain’t-no-denying-it, KICK. I sipped and slurped and there were all these other authentic chunky bits floating in my drink, like coriander leaves and little cranberries, and it was just super vibrant and PHWOAR.

I was actually worried I would be feeling it for days, you know… Happy to report that did not happen! 😉

We weren’t there awfully long before we were taken to a round table, so appropriate for the restaurant indeed…

With turntable.

Because share plates was the name of the game here peeps, at Longrain. Sure there were dishes you could certainly order individually, but the turntable enabled a sense of sharing is caring, a oneness with those around you, and a communal atmosphere.

So let’s see how that went.

After a lot of deliberation and careful negotiation with others at the table (you don’t wanna order the same thing now do you) I ordered the –

Green curry, roasted pumpkin, heirloom carrots, apple and pea eggplant

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Of course the dim lighting doesn’t do the variety nor the detail in the meal justice, but even so just as the lighting was underwhelming, so too was my meal.

It was basically a whole chunk of pumpkin in an extremely spicy broth with a variety of other vegies to boot. $30 for really spicy pumpkin. It tasted great, I won’t deny that, but essentially that was it. I thought I was going to spontaneously combust at one stage, what with the chilli coming forth from that meal, on top of my chilli-infused drink! Sweating much? I was reaching for water VERY often.

I did dabble in some other things on the table. There were rice sides, noodles, filled eggnet, and all manner of really fancy looking things zhuzh-ing up the table…

(Some things I tasted on the side)

But I felt a bit weird, mainly because there were some friends that had ordered specifically individually-minded, and others who were sharing. Where were the barriers? What could be had? What was to be shared? What was private? Lines were blurred and set and blurred again, so much so that I had a little of this and a little of that to settle that overwhelming heat, and then that was it.

Inner-city restaurant first world problems… I know.

After our food was cleared (and a lot packed into take-home boxes) we also got some coffees.

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My cappuccino was great, a really calming fix to all that had come before.

It had been a great night, company and all. With all of that fire raging through me, I was sure it would safely carry me through the cold night, and back to the refuge of my car…

Food: 7/10. The food presentation was sensational. Other meals were colourful and creative, yet mine, though tasty, lacked somewhat in individual satisfaction.

Coffee: 7/10. Mild.

Ambience: Really happening and bustling, but with a sense of off-the-beaten-track, hidden alleyway feel. Well duh. Little Bourke street, after all. It was moody, atmospheric, but be warned… those taking photos on their phones, your pics will come out looking like shit due to the mood lighting.

Staff: They were amazing. From the man who took our number down initially to seat us later, the guy who made small talk with us as we got our drinks, and then the waiter who so patiently waited for us while we ‘umm’ed and ‘ahh’ed and asked question after question over the menu… top scores here. Simply brilliant.

People: Lots of friends and dinner-after-work get together’s here. Oh so obvious. I mean we are in the city, right.

Price: $50 covered my meal and cap, and the extra covered the other food I had ‘dabbled’ in from a friend (!)

Advice: Share. Share Share Share.

Or, don’t share don’t share don’t share.

Make it known what is happening. And if you order the pumpkin, make sure you get something like rice on the side. Your mouth will thank you for it.

In a nutshell: Look, if you haven’t already guessed it, the theme at Longrain is sharing is caring… If you aren’t sharing, you aren’t really caring for you or others on the table now are you? Or things will just become awfully confusing and you won’t know where you stand.

So, make a stand! If you go here, make sure you know what you are doing, and order accordingly.

Me personally? Although the service was immaculate, I don’t think I would go back… being a Leo and all, when I catch my prey, I like to have it all to myself… Grains and all.

😉

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Longrain Melbourne Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Wizard of Fed Square

Il Pom Italian
2 Swanston Street Melbourne (in Federation Square)

(Visited May ’18)

Wednesday. Late May. A cold weeknight.

What on earth could see me, my sister, and nephew, strolling the streets of the city, all of us so far from home?

Why… much like Dorothy, we were “off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz!”

I had purchased some tickets to see this most revered and classic of stories in musical form, and in turn gifted sis and nephew for their upcoming birthdays…

I figure, it is SO HARD to buy for people nowadays. Give them an experience they won’t forget.

They’ll forget that organic magic goat soap you bought them 2 birthdays ago, but a decade on and you will never forget THE WIZARD.

We had all arrived a tad earlier for our show, with full intentions of having a happy, hearty dinner. After walking by The Regent and taking the necessary cheesy photo with theatre billboard behind us, sis told us she had recently been to an Italian restaurant with some friends in Fed Square. As it was coming recommended, we began the short walk there.

It was pretty deserted at 6pm. Still we wandered on through, observing the night lights, illuminated buildings and grand trees along the streets, ‘til we came to rest at Il Pom Italian.

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It was silent out, and we viewed a few people inside, also dinner early birds. We were tended to almost immediately by a waitress who we later found out was the manager. At first impression she seemed a bit forward, especially when laughing at our indecision on where to sit. Inside, outside, under heaters, under umbrellas… there was so much to consider on that almost Winter’s night, as it was still, the city looked beautiful, and we wanted to observe the scenery before us, but still be WARM.

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But we grew to love her. She was openly envious of our going to The Wizard of Oz, and we laughed constantly every time she was near. She was honest about alcohol given to minors, (when my sister politely asked the rules when kids are with parents, she said 15 for my nephew was too young in her book) and we all tsk tsk tsked at parents who decide to give their kids espresso martinis. That’ll knock ME out, let alone your kid!

We got some meals, again mentioning we had to be out of there by 7:30 (to exaggerated rolled eyes!) and I opted for something so simple, basic and fresh but sometimes, the simplest things really ARE the best.

Bambini di pasta – penne pasta w rich napoli topped w pecorino and torn fresh buffalo mozzarella

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And this was, THE BEST.

Such beautiful pasta. Cooked to perfection. Simple Napoli sauce. That buffalo cheese…. DRRRROOOOOLLLLL. I would go back to that restaurant only for that pasta.

Note to self (and everyone): when in Italy, do what Italians do.

When at an Italian restaurant, eat what Italians eat.

Therefore always go with their premium forte. It makes sense, right?

Everything about the pasta was perfect and made me so happy. We chatted and talked and made memories. Spending some quality time with my sister and nephew, bonding and sharing stories, was special, something you don’t get to do often in the busy-ness of every day, but more so, something we don’t get to do during a school/work weeknight! It felt like we were somehow cheating, but really, we were winning at life that night.

Our conversational juices really started to flow though, with… the MOJITO!

Pom’s Mojito – Bacardi superior rum, martini bianco, fresh mint lime and sugar, topped with Prosecco

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It was also, the BEST EVER.

I don’t know what drugs or sweetened syrup she put in there, as there was a distinct syrupy taste, but it was insane. It made me and sis, who also had one, feel like we weren’t drinking alcohol, as it didn’t taste at all strong, but then….

WHAM!

Right there in the head.

Goner.

That’s it, I’m out, thank you very much…

See ya later alligator!

I absolutely loved it.

We complimented the manager on the amazing cocktail, and I openly said I was a little “Wooo!” in the head. She showed her care but was still amicable, like that cool parent that lets you drink alcohol but still sets boundaries… She hadn’t let my nephew have any, but me, this grown-up adult was having one, and being told off in the process…

“No more for you!”

Okay Mum. 🙂 (Sheepish look ensued).

After some more chatting and memory-making, sis paid (her treat for us that night) and we went off, for our date with the ruby red shoes.

Food: 9/10. Wham bam thank you Maam. Beautiful and simple Italian. Deeelicious.

Coffee: N/A for me.

Ambience: So quiet that Wednesday weeknight. There were diners inside, but we were the only ones to brave the cold. The silence was perfectly to our liking. Warm heaters nearby, twinkling lights of the city before us… it set the mood to talk about magic.

People: Couples and friends inside. I’d imagine a few after-work dinners would happen here.

Staff: Our waitress/manager was fantastic. A ball of fun and highly entertaining to talk to. The right head of house exists there.

Price: About $120-$130 for what my sister forked out – that’s 3 mains, 2 alcoholic drinks, a lemonade and a coffee. A bit high for sure, but we aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto, and the pasta outside of our ‘burbs happens to be stuff you try to get lost for. Kudos.

Advice: If you haven’t worked out what to eat, please for the love of God, eat the pasta and have a mojito! You are most welcome, in advance. 🙂

In a nutshell: I loved this place, and more so because it was the prerequisite of the magic that occurred after…

I would definitely go back, and how much easier if I could just tap my ruby shoes 3 times…

“There’s no place like Il Pom Italian.”

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Il Pom Italian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sightings of People as Passionate About (Addicted to) Coffee as I am (SOPAPACAIA) #12

Precisely 2:02pm, on Wednesday the 7th of November.

Location? King Street, Melbourne CBD.

Sighted: A petite woman in a superbly fitted blue suit. Skinny and tall.

She is carrying a purse in one hand, a folder of documents under her arm, and in her other hand…

A coffee tray containing 3 coffees.

She is walking carefully, watching where her awfully narrow heels will fall.

Avoid that dirt surrounding the random plants, girlfriend. Avoid those lines in the footpath.

A narrow heel and a uneven tray of coffee could possibly spell disaster…

But this, is a woman on a mission.

This woman will not give up.

This woman will do anything to get her coffee, and keep her colleagues amicable at the same time…

This, is a dangerous and powerful woman.

Watch out world. This is my kind of woman 😉

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Photo by Cleo Vermij at Unsplash