Italian Tapas

Assaggini
1C Albert Street Mornington

(Visited December ’16)

I was a bit hesitant to walk into the eatery on that Wednesday evening in December. Not that Assaggini, didn’t look pleasing to the eye. Far from it. People were outside, squeezed onto tables, while inside the stylish looking café-wine bar, with its long bar on one side of the restaurant, the spots were quickly filling up.

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I think it was more the possibility that it was a too-fine dining experience for the two of us with child. But when we enquired (as that is always the test, our greeting upon enquiry), we were fortunate enough to be seated by a lovely waitress who was obviously keen to please, as she sat us down in a booth to our liking, and later when an elderly group arrived, they indicated to our spot, which I believe was meant to be theirs! They did get another booth, but I do believe ours was the best booth in the house, by the bar no less 🙂

It was a special Pasta night, and so there was no question as to what I would then order. While baby girl was kept busy with a children’s menu to decorate with pencils, we went about ordering, plus got a couple of drinks too: a Peroni, and the white wine special.

It was a busy restaurant, and so I didn’t feel too anxious when baby girl decided to cry out in glee/agony at various intervals… but still, it was a fairly classy-looking establishment, this eatery around the corner from the Main street in Mornington, and the older, poshy looking people around matched the vibe. They promote themselves as an Italian-style tapas bar, with smaller dishes to please wide-ranging appetites, however there was nothing casual about the atmosphere, tapas or not.

Very soon baby girl’s meal arrived – The Kids Pasta Napoli

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And soon ours followed… My Linguine with Tiger Prawns, heirloom tomatoes, seafood bisque sauce.

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And Hubbie’s Calabrese Pizzette

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Although baby girl’s meal was an adequate proportion, which she appeared to enjoy, our meals fell short of the satisfactory full mark. I do realise that I ordered a meal from the menu which listed all 4-5 pastas as being $20, however for $20, I felt I needed more. The prawns were delicious, pasta was good, and the sauce it all swam together in was moorish. By the end of it though, I was still hungry, and somehow I don’t believe that the pasta from the pasta specials on Pasta Night, is meant to be treated as tapas.

Hubbie had been tossing up between two meals, and had opted for the pizza when the waitress informed that the pizza would be far more filling than his other interest, the sliders, and he was HUNGRY, as was I. However as his pizza arrived, the pizza that had been made out to be HUGE, was actually just a normal type of pizza. He smashed it all easily, and though it satisfied his hunger, it wasn’t necessarily hot or spicy as a Calabrese might be expected to be.

Our meals HAD been tasty, we had just expected more. Since we were still hungry, the smaller plates paid off for the restaurant as we ordered dessert, and coffees.

Baby girl had a babycino, Hubbie had an affogato with Frangelico, and I indulged in the dessert, mostly, before the other two barged in on my affair… of Sicilian cannoli, with strawberry mascarpone and white chocolate.

My cannoli was delicious, and though I joke about my family ‘helping’ me out, with a serving of 4 it was nice to share, empty or not-empty stomach. It was a lovely light flavour, and the presentation of all was brilliant. Hubbie enjoyed his coffee, and the combination with ice cream and alcohol made it all the more so.

We had arrived unannounced, had a fairly pleasant meal, but it also felt like we had been fed unannounced, with our plates cleaned too much, due to the lack of quantity. Quality though, WAS there. Once our dessert and coffee cups were also cleaned up, we paid, and headed off home.

Food: 8/10. I still gave them a fairly high score, because it was good… I just wanted MORE of it.

Coffee: 7.5/10. Kind of hard to tell amidst the alcohol and ice cream, but still, pleasant.

Ambience: It was busy that night, maybe with people coming in due to tapas-style Pasta dishes, but it still maintained an air of class. Maybe the long bar with all the alcohol and empty glasses awaiting your drink order that were on display, allowing you to view your reflection in the turn of their shiny rim, made everyone look and appear more shiny and – cool.

Staff: Some with Italian accents, and that ALWAYS makes it appear you know, really Italian-like. I don’t know who else has been to Italy, but they have a high-class yet welcoming air about them in the restaurants we have been to. It’s a very European thing. D.O.C like, only less pretentious.

People: Older groups, families and couples, but I don’t think I say ANY with kids. Yikes. It’s not like they’re not welcome, I mean there was a kids menu… but I think it is best said on their website:

“We welcome reservations as well as walk-ins, and we do welcome, well-supervised kids.”

:-O

Price: $97.50. Personally too much. Not even I will justify to say this is on the ‘up-side.’ Plainly, the price is representative of the atmosphere being emulated. If I had walked away completely satisfied, and Hubbie had to take his meal home, I would have understood the reason for the price. Yet though the quality is there, I still believe there should have been more, if only slightly so.

Advice: Make sure your kids are behaved, 1. 2, Order several tapas if you like your food. A pasta special will not quench your stomach hunger. 3. When they say the pizza is huge, just know it is like a large pizza size, maybe even a medium. You will be fine eating it.

In a nutshell: I would go here again, despite my agonies over the serving sizes. The food was of quality which I appreciate, and they were accommodating to us being ‘walk-ins’ and all…

I also like the tapas idea, as it reminds me of that amazing place place in Barwon Heads we dined at years ago… though there, we left FULL.

Never mind. Head on over to Albert Street, give them a shot, and don’t forget to order one, two or three, samples, courses, whatever.

Assaggini – treat everything as tapas, and you will know what to expect.

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

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House with a (Boat) view

Fairfield Park Boathouse & Tea Gardens
Fairfield Park Drive Fairfield

On a gorgeous sunny day in late December, baby girl and I found ourselves heading down a scarily steep path on the way to meet my friends for our fabulous KK Christmas catch-up.

That was the only downhill we encountered that day. Everything else was rad.

If I haven’t already mentioned it, I love Christmas-time, I love catching up with the girls, and I love Summer. And food. And coffee. Combine them all for a truly fabulous mix that coincided with a pretty fantastic view.

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After mine and baby girl’s steep descent towards the Boathouse sitting along a river named Yarra, we were on time and I took the best seat on the reserved table out on the verandah just so, because I could well damn it.

Shortly the rest of the girls joined me, and we started in our food orders.

The Boathouse in Fairfield is set up a little different. Not bad, it just may have been difficult if let’s say we all had bubs with us there. Fortunately for baby girl who got ALL the attention, even the other mother’s there had left their kiddies at home, and fortunately for me, I had people to help me out when it came to ordering. When you order drinks or coffee/tea, you go to the drinks section to pay, and then pick up your drink (which is made fairly quickly); likewise with the food, you go to the grill section, pay and order, and are given a little buzzer that goes off when your food is ready, to let you know you can go and pick it up. I had to feed baby girl fairly soon after arriving so when I went to pick up her food (after the buzzer buzzed) I had to contend with carrying her on one arm (she didn’t want me to leave her) while carrying a tray holding her plate of eggs on toast in the other, outstretched so she wouldn’t reach out and grab it. Fun.

But like I said, I had friends there and they helped with the rest of my ordering. However, if you’re with a bub, make sure you have a spare hand, on hand.

I didn’t get a photo of baby girl’s meal, but fairly basically it was just two fried eggs on two pieces of bread. I was excited as it was the first meal out I’ve ordered for her, and she enjoyed it, even imitating the way I dipped the bread into the yolk for her, and getting herself into it by getting her fingers right into the yolk. Lovely.

However I took a photo of my starting drink which was this:

Purple heaven: A fresh vegetable and fruit juice of carrot, beetroot, celery, ginger and apple

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(Penguin cookie not included with juice!)

Now I don’t usually do juices (look up my tag of coffee on this blog and it’ll start to paint a picture) but I just went ‘yes!’ after reading the description, even though I don’t like celery. Sure enough, it looked amazing and tasted really fresh. Two of my friends also had it, being tempted by the purple colour, however they weren’t big fans. I don’t know, but it appealed to me, even though I could taste the celery. And I don’t like celery! I think I fell in love with the idea of a fresh, healthy juice, and I certainly was buzzing for hours later and felt really energized (nothing to do with my subsequent coffee I guess 😉 )

Now, for lunch. My friend ordered for me (thank God) and the food was already on the table after I came back from changing baby girl. I stupidly ordered this:

Boathouse Beef Burger: relish, aioli, tomato, lettuce, bacon, cheese, with chips

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Now let’s be clear: I wasn’t stupid about the burger. It itself was very wholesome and hearty. No, I was stupid because I ordered like I was born a Mum yesterday. Like seriously, who in their right mind orders a massive burger that they barely manage to manoeuvre with both hands, while their bub sits nearby waiting to be entertained on her high chair? Should I add here that this was the same high chair she fell in earlier? She fell off the freaking high chair! She actually fell off the f^$king high chair, like seriously. And then I order a burger, so that both my hands are full, of burger. Not baby.

So anyway, due to some miracle, baby girl actually was really good while I ate this burger. I totally forgot to take a photo of my meal before I started eating, which explains the above photo. Also, I totally demolished the burger, because

a) I was hungry
b) Baby girl was sitting nearby in high chair she had recently fallen down with (see she didn’t fall out – the WHOLE thing tipped over)
c) I actually couldn’t let go of the burger once I started (see above)
d) I was really hungry

I loved the fact there was plentiful aioli, and the burger tasted really good too. There was lots of bacon, and even after taking out all the fatty strips there was still plenty of fleshy-meat bacon in there (which is great because when I usually remove all the fat there’s one tiny strip left). I took the long toothpick out too early though, and somehow, though I struggled for a good while with sauce all over my hands and mouth, I ate it in a somewhat clean fashion… four napkins later.

Again, if you’re a Mum, don’t be stupid. But it was a great burger. Came with fries, which baby girl also enjoyed. Give me a kid that doesn’t like salted chips.

I really needed a coffee after that hard work of eating the burger, and walking up and down the pathway amongst the tables with baby girl, looking at pigeons, the view, and talking to other lovely diners. It’s hard work. And can you believe it…

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I had my cappuccino warm. I know, I’m still getting over it too. And it was really good, hit the spot.

All in all it was a great outing: from being an eating-out milestone for baby girl, having some much needed girl talk, and doing our exchanging of pressies for Christmas (and this year our group of girlfriends grew as one has recently moved back to Melbourne) – we had plenty to celebrate, and be thankful for. The river view made it all the more wonderfully serene.

Food: 7/10.

Coffee: 8/10.

Ambience: Really relaxed and chilled. It’s hard not to be when you have such a lovely view. Also the order-up-front, pay and pick-up thing they have going gives it more of a casual vibe.

We were seated on the verandah as I mentioned, however there was also an indoor area that was empty – maybe used for night time, or busier times? There was also some outdoor seating right near their grilling station, and we could see another little section further down below, right near the river where there appeared to be a Christmas party happening. All in all, very outdoorsy, very cas.

Staff: Friendly and accommodating. I mean, we only really dealt with them when they cleared the table since we picked up our own food, but the waitress who seated me took a photo of us and that’s always nice when they do it with a smile and take an extra five. 🙂

People: Families, older crowd. The Christmas party was a younger 20-30 something crowd bringing them through. It seems to be a real family, get-together place, and places like that always have a really nice homely feel about them, this one no exception.

Price: I think on the up-side, and I don’t know if it’s because we were in Fairfield, or maybe the location and view that made it that way? Baby girl’s two fried eggs on toast were a tad much, and likewise my coffee of $4.60 was more than I expected, more than in other places anyway. My burger was about on the money of $22.50, but I guess when the food presentation is fairly standard, I have to wonder where the justification of some of those prices comes from? I enjoyed it all though, and would go back again.

Advice: Definitely book if going on the weekend (just so you can get a nice table looking out at the Yarra!) and also because as I got there the waitress immediately asked me if I booked. So maybe it’s a thing. Anyway. And if you have a baby, or child, make sure someone with free hands can assist you, with ordering, paying, picking-up food, and feeding you a burger if need be. Just don’t get the burger if you are alone with child, I beg you.

In a nutshell: Thank you Boathouse, for a most spectacular day. And thank you Melbourne, for the gorgeous weather. Once again you made a 23 degree December day feel like 30 in the shade. Thank you muchly 🙂 

Merry KK.

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