A whale of a holiday

The Whaler

39 Salamanca Place Battery Point Hobart

(Visited August ’18)

It was our last night in Hobart, and somehow again, the struggle was real.It continued, because again we were at a loss as to where to eat on the apple aisle.

Only we didn’t want fruit… we wanted DINNER.Most of the bars/eateries in Salamanca Place were geared for friends and locals, not so much for families. We were brought inside places and showed where we would sit… at a table with high-stools… it just wouldn’t work! Baby girl would fall off it, damn it!

Baby girl would fall off it, damn it!

At first we were reluctant to head into The Whaler, with that younger just-out-of-high-school crowd, a bouncer out front, and of course it was also that the building looked like it had been picked up out of Brunswick Melbourne and plopped down at the corner of Salamanca Place.

We were wary. Was it appropriate with a child in tow?

But once we went inside to check out the menu, we found out that not only was there a kids menu (shock horror!), but we were allowed to eat inside with her if we wanted… something about kids being in a licensed venue, I don’t know. I mean I wasn’t going to order her a beer… I’ll wait ‘til she’s about 9 for that.

(Totally joking).

It didn’t matter though, because we chose to sit outside. We had fresh air and lo and behold, no stools. Just benches. Inside seemed rowdier and we were just happy to have a meal and drink on our last night on this most interesting of holiday locations.

I ordered all of our drinks and food up at the bar (a la inner city Melbs pub style!) and then we proceeded to sit back, relax, take in the Saturday night Salamanca vibe and reminisce on what the last 5 days had been like.

Our drinks helped us think back over the past week.

A ’16 Beautiful Isle Pinot Noir for me, and a Cascade Lager for Hubbie

Searching for parking on Davey street along Salamanca Place…

Getting lost on the highways and looping right on Tasman hwy instead of turning right on Domain highway…. REPEATEDLY…

Struggling to find decent takeaway food…

Dealing with a sick baby girl for a day and a half…

Having the sunrise wake us nice and early at 7am if we were lucky, due to the non-existent blinds…

The hills…

The water…

The views from our rental in Lutana…

The fact that everything was cheaper!

Port Arthur, lookout points, meeting real-life animals up close at ZooDoo…

Discovering art and everything deep and dark at Mona.

Nah, yeah. The verdict was clear. We loved Hobart. 💖🥰

Baby girl watched youtube with her recently acquired fairy doll in fairy shop (an absolute must for fairy girls!) and glittery lip balm. Because as a 5 year-old you just don’t know who you will see in Hobart City on a Saturday night. 😉

We were happy when the food finally arrived. Happy because it looked great and also tasted just as good.

I had the special of Fair Market Fish, which was Silver Warehou from Tasmania, with fries and aioli

Hubbie had the 250g Cape Grim Scotch Fillet, with thick cut chips, charred greens, and single malt mushroom sauce

While baby girl had the ½ serve Fish and Chips

We were actually really impressed with the quality of baby girl’s fish pieces, more so since it wasn’t the classic family-catering place, despite the small kids menu on offer. She enjoyed it too as she nibbled while watching Elsia and Anya on youtube. Ahh kid life.

My fish fillets were also delicious accompanied by the chips and aioli, and although at the end of the day it was still your simple fish and chips, tasting the quality of the product like in baby girl’s meal, was impressive.

Hubbie enjoyed his steak. He said for a pub meal it was what he’d expected, but still, he was satisfied.

We felt relieved and happy once our tummies were full, glad we had made the right choice… Yeah! Since we had already paid, all we had to do was walk over to the rental, and then go back to start thinking about packing… 😬

Food: 7.5/10. It was surprisingly good for a pub-style place like that, bringing us memories of our inner-city town back home.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: Actually really quiet outside, surprisingly for a Saturday night. Wonder how the place fares in the warmer months. A couple of groups of friends, mostly teens and 20-somethings, were gathered outside at one stage but that was it. It was happening inside though, everyone seemed to be there.

People: As mentioned, the younger crowd, think out of high school teens and uni students, 20-somethings and those looking for a good meal with their pint of locally brewed beer. There was a kid in the bar with family though (shock horror, I know!)

Staff: The lady I ordered with and then subsequent waiters who brought us our food were all super lovely.

Price: $95. What? Under $100? For alcoholic drinks and 3 meals? They’ve broken away from mainland Aus not just in shared territory but in prices too…

Advice: This is a great place to hang out with friends, a cas night where you can enjoy some drinks, as well as know for sure the food quality will match.

In a nutshell: This one was the surprise underdog for me. It impressed with its great drink and food options, the major plus being baby girl’s food was better than your usual frozen nuggets on a plate – in fact nothing like it at all! And to end our Hobart visit like this, to be positively influenced and stunned all in one…

Well it kind of was the overall theme of our trip there. Pleasantly surprised, as we’ve found a new place to love.

We can’t wait to come back. 😊

The Whaler Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday night conversations #5 What will you do first?

Maybe somewhat pre-emptive, what with coronavirus still well and truly on the forefront of our fears, our minds, our lives…

But with restrictions lifting ever so slightly in Melbourne this week, I was thinking:

“When everything is open, where will you go first? What will you do first?”

I’ll go first.

This is all highly dependent on the day, for sure. But I think I will wander over to a café… somewhere.

Anywhere.

Breathe in the caffeine fumes and warm food emanating from the kitchen…

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And relax in the company of people. Hell, maybe even some less than 1.5 metres.

😮😱

What will you do first? Where will you go?

A sign of Tassie times

Signal Station Brasserie
700 Nelson Road, Mount Nelson TAS

(Visited August ’18)

It was our last, FULL day in Hobart. The days were still sunny and calm (did we get lucky or what?) and after we discovered that traveling to the top of Mount Wellington from our accommodation would take us 40 minutes, one way, we decided to opt for the much shorter distance to Mount Nelson… we had driven to Port Arthur the day before and were getting seriously over driving. This was a holiday after all.

Mount Wellington would have to wait until next time.

We drove under 20 minutes instead, along winding roads with scenery that continued to grow and expand and show us snippets of what we were coming to see… far off mountains and valleys and endless greenery. After a couple of wrong turns we finally made our way up a residential looking street, and came to a dead end at what was the summit.

Not only did we find views… but we found a café (heart).

The signal station brasserie.

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Now those are my kind of views. 180 degree views along Southern Tasmania, thank you very much.

First, we had to take in some splendid scenery.

Breathe in with me…

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And breathe out.

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Ahhh.

The signal station was the first to be built in Tasmania, back in 1811… holey moley. Used back then for signalling and the reporting of shipping to the Port of Hobart and eventually to Port Arthur, it is now a place of rich history and fascination as tourists and locals alike come to feast their eyes on outlooks that were once used for very different means.

And to have a spot of afternoon tea, of course 😉

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Back then it would have been in operation every day as the café was now… 7 days a week. We turned our attentions to the few tables that were getting baked in the Winter sun, and grabbed one before anyone else beat us. Soon, an interesting looking chap walked over and gave us some menus before walking away and talking to himself as he had been talking to us – like he had known us forever.

 

There was both himself, and a woman making the inner and outer café rounds, and it was with the latter that we made our afternoon orders, before proceeding to sit back and enjoy the fresh and beautiful surrounds.

It is a most magical spot. There is also inside seating within a small building that would have most likely been a house, sitting opposite the signal station tower on the other side…

But on the day that we had, you would have been crazy to wanna miss those views, and that sunshine.

Soon we were very happily being attended to.

Hubbie was happy to receive his short black with James Boags

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Baby girl got a very colourful babycino

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And I got a cap, while she and I shared some Signal Station Lemon Scones – with housemade jam and freshly whipped cream (2 per serve. $11.50)

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Those scones were just sky high. They were a very decent serving, even for two, and baby girl enjoyed them as much as I did, applying lashings of cream… licking it off the scone… then applying more cream.

Ahh. Kid life.

Her marshmallows were forgotten but had been promised, so the man promptly called her into the café so she could pick up her never-ever-forgotten cushions of pillowy goodness from out of the jar. She was in heaven.

My coffee was great as was Hubbie’s short black, and he enjoyed it alongside his Sunday arvo beer, classic Aussie style. It was a lovely afternoon out in the sun and we felt particularly lucky to have been granted such pristine weather on our stay in Hobart, since we had definitely not expected it being Winter… being Tasmania.

When it was time to pay and go, I ventured inside to see the interior, and passed the most fantastic sign, that I was immediately compelled to capture:

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What a beautiful sentiment. It gave me ALL the feels, and had me in such a happy state, that when what happened later inside, happened, I guess it was fortunate for them, as I had already been buttered up like a sky-high scone before my massive letdown…

Like a pancake.

Because you see, I went inside to pay, and was standing in front of the register/coffee making counter, waiting to pay. The man who had tended to us earlier was busy making coffees and playing catch up, and there was a father and daughter duo who were ordering a specific drink for the girl… it could have been lactose, gluten free, almond milk perhaps, who knows. But the discussion as the man behind the counter made the drinks, was that she had a difficult order, the man had successfully made it, and they were now telling the man that they were appreciative of his efforts. The father and daughter walked off, the girl with her takeaway drink in hand.

Stay with me.

Meanwhile, as eccentric man as we’ll call him, was behind the counter playing catch up on drink-making, having his last of the conversation with the father and daughter duo, another couple walked up and were to the side, also appearing to want to pay. At this stage I did that thing where you move a bit closer to the counter, in an effort to say ‘I was here first,’ hopeful that surely, eccentric man would realise I had been waiting longer.

But then as the father and daughter duo exited, eccentric man started talking to the couple – they knew each other. Jokes were shared, inside convo, local lingo, things about the café, upcoming events… they mucked about and laughed and meanwhile I smiled profusely in the background as eccentric man made these drinks, thinking ‘any time now. Any time.’

Any time now, he will finish his drink making, turn to this couple and say “sorry I’ll just serve this young lady, she was here first.”

This young lady, tourist from Melbourne.

This young lady, first timer to Signal Station Brasserie.

This young lady, patiently standing and waiting.

This young lady, whose alias is SmikG and is a food blogger.

!!!

Then the UNTHINKABLE.

(Or perhaps, thinkable by now because I have been leading there).

He started to put through their order first.

(Mouth gaping open emoji.)

More unthinkable… the couple let him.

Sure, they kind of may not have known what I wanted… I was simply WAITING THERE TO PAY NOT DOING ANYTHING ELSE.

I enjoy just standing around doing nothing on sunny Sundays.

Majority blame, goes entirely to eccentric man. Making the drinks, ignoring me the entire time, and going ahead to let someone else pay before me.

In horror I watched as he unapologetically put through the other couple’s order, and as he did, and they paid, they continued chatting, and laughing, and taking their GOD DAMN TIME.

By the time they decided they had been there long enough, the couple walked off SLOWLY, talking to him over their shoulder, and I, feeling like a volcano about to erupt, walked hastily RIGHT UP to the counter and waited to pay. He made no apology, made small talk, I paid and was OFF.

I was gob-smacked.

Hubbie looked at me like ‘where the hell have you been?’

I said “don’t – I can’t talk about it now. I’ll fill you in in the car.”

And then we proceeded to verbally bash the unhospitable event for the next 30 minutes. Oh the story has even made its way to people back home, don’t worry. More in the below notes…

Food: I can only score on the scones, so a 7.5/10. Generous servings make for happy customers.

Coffee: 7/10. Pleasing and adequate.

Ambience: Unmistakably serene and chilled… a beautiful place to enjoy on a sunny day, with uninterrupted mountain and coastal views, and the cafe building a quaint interior, cottage-feel type place where you could easily hide away in and feel like you have stepped into someplace special.

Staff: Away from my comical exclamation marks and open-mouthed emojis, is this cold, hard FACT:

In Melbourne, this kind of queue jumping would not stand up.

Would not hold court.

Would not be acceptable.

The ignorance and blatant disregard would be dealt with, like a lion taking prey upon a stray zebra.

It is just not on. To be standing there waiting to pay, (busy or not busy) and then someone jumps in front you (their friend or no friend) is just so unprofessional and so unhospitable, it speaks volumes.

Hubbie told a workmate about this story, and his work mate said ‘that is not unlike Tasmania.’

No where else did anything like this happen. Everyone was wonderful in fact. So I don’t know how isolated this incident is, but if there are fellow travellers or Tasmanian locals who know of this kind of disregard for decency and order, please by all means enlighten me on what THE RULES ARE.

But, if I am waiting to pay, anywhere in the world, and someone else comes along and then jumps in front, the wait staff allows it and then proceeds to not even apologise or make any mention of it and there is no emergency to justify the queue-jumping?

Well in the matter of common global human decency, that is not on. In no language or country is that ON.

It just makes no sense. I am actually a very fair and understanding person, and I try to see both sides, but in this one I see only ONE.

Massive rant over.

People: Older couples (grrr) as mentioned, families, and kids. Tourists are onto this place equally as much as the locals are, yet it still remains quite secluded, private and unique.

Price: I paid, but got no receipt, or else I misplaced it in my overwhelming confusion and frustration. I have it on strong suspicion it was in the low $30s, which would make sense as we had predominantly drinks.

Advice: Despite everything said above, I urge you to visit this place… there’s nothing quite like enjoying a drink or a snack, and being able to see amazing vistas with your butt still firmly planted on a bench. Go early on a sunny day and enjoy the outdoors.

In a nutshell: Again, despite all I have vented about, I would come here again… and to eat, and coffee… I don’t know how I would be come face-to-face with eccentric man… but I would just turn my gaze towards the mountains, and Signal to myself –

‘something good will happen to me today.’

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Signal Station Brasserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Going Retro in time

Retro Café
31 Salamanca Place Battery Point TAS

(Visited August ’18)

What a different experience our proper day #2 eating out for lunch was compared to our proper day #1.

Oh the drama!

It was all about the freaking parking meters.

THE FREAKING PARKING METERS.

This was because we had to book our afternoon trip over to the MONA museum via the ferry, but finding parking to do that, and then working out where to go was a feat in itself…

I will do a Hobart post about our adventures which will recount ALL the fun – both real and sarcastic. Really, we DID have a ball. You just need to know a thing or two about parking meters if travelling there (especially if you have a hire car and have to you know, occasionally ‘park’ or something crazy like that).

🤦‍♀️

But what we also had to do apart from book the ferry tickets, was of course, eat.

We needed no drama. No fuss. Baby girl was cranky and we were going to find out later it was due to her getting increasingly sick (note to self: do not plan a birthday party for your child to be infected with other kids diseases, only days before embarking on a family holiday. Repeat, DO NOT).

Well we eventually parked in a 2 hour slot at Salamanca Place, so we literally went to the closest café on the corner. The Retro Café.

We were sitting outside, and to be honest most of the time we were preoccupied with parking woes so we didn’t see anything retro about it. But it was a simple café, with a simple menu, some specials on the board out front, and on that cold and sunny day in Hobart, we cracked on to the task of ordering.

We had a ferry ride waiting, after all.

It was a clearly visible spot amidst some weekly foot traffic. It was interesting to observe the locals about, mainly work people and friends meeting for lunch, and I wondered how clearly it looked to them all that we weren’t from those Kansas quarters?

 

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(The Whaler, which we went to on our last night)

With an increasingly sicker baby girl, we plopped the ipad in front of her and hoped to salvage some shred of this holiday ($$$), breathing a sigh of relief as the food arrived.

Thank God.

Baby girl got (keeping in recent dairy theme), a toasted cheese sandwich.

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I got one of the specials: Grilled vegetable bruschetta topped w/ grilled haloumi and hummus

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While Hubbie got a vegetable salad roll

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I realised how unwell baby girl was by her inability to show interest in any sign of food there… but I slowly and surely through persistence and strong willingness to cure her of any ill health during our trip, got her to finish most of it.

My haloumi was really good. I mean bruschetta. You know what I am getting at here… it was a satisfying yet still light lunch option, a perfect in between of feeling healthy with vegie toppings, and then… well cheese and bread. Need I say more?

Hubbie felt just as healthy with his salad roll. It was a salad roll, and that was that, keeping him light on his feet as we had A LOT of walking ahead of us that day.

We didn’t dawdle there long, just due to, you know, afore-mentioned parking constraints (do people not hang around here long?), meter change issues, and a sick girl… 😦 I headed on in to pay, happy with the meal, hoping the day would lift just as the food had helped us do.

Food: 7.5/10. It was satisfactory café-style food, and did the job in making us less hangry in amongst frustrating parking meters.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: It was really quiet and calm, quite coastal-town like whilst on holiday… hold up, we were on the coast there, and it was mid-week and we were on holiday… it just seemed quieter than usual, considering the Salamanca Place locale, an area we would come to know quite well in the days that would follow.

People: People meeting for lunch, business-types on lunch… those who were actually from the area.

Staff: They were nice. Hard to flag down to grab our order though. We found this an increasing Melbourne vs Hobart trend. If you’re native to my Victorian parts, remember this one thing when going out in Tasmania… BREATHE. LET GO. RELAX. (That’s three things but you get my drift).

Price: $30.50… wait, what? Only $30.50? Here, the strike of the cheap Tassie was happening again. Wait a minute, we didn’t have any coffee or alcoholic beverages… still it seemed cheap compared to a similar meal we would have had in a similar region, in our old Morning-Town…

Advice: For the love of God, keep gold coins, ANY loose change on you. When you come to park you will totally get it.

Totally unrelated but also advice: if you are holidaying after throwing a kids birthday party (could happen) DO NOT actually throw the kids party. Throw it after your holiday when you don’t care about getting sick. In fact don’t see any kids, at all before your holiday for like, a month (other than your own child, but if you can avoid them, well…)

In a nutshell: A really cute and simple corner café that gives you some regular and fresh options beyond some of the usual café fare you might find. It’s close to shops and walking distance to other parts of the city… just don’t forget that change.

I just realised with the whole parking meter thing, how truly retro the place really is…

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

Strong Arms in old Richmond town

The Richmond Arms
42 Bridge Street Richmond TAS

(Visited August ’18)

This was the first place we dined out for a meal, properly (bar takeaway), when we holidayed in Tasmania in late August of 2018.

Firstly, they had said it would be cold. So cold. I was preparing, you know, for the worst.

We brought our jackets. For sure. We were from Melbourne after all. If anyone knew, it was US.

But instead, sunshine shone so much that day, we left our jackets in our car.

In Tasmania! True story.

Secondly. We had heard a bit about this old-fashioned Richmond town. It was nothing like the inner-city suburb that Melbourne knows so well, home of the yellow and black footy supporters. No.

This was something else entirely. Sure it held a lot history much like it’s sister city back in Melbs…

But unlike Melbourne’s Richmond, Tassie’s Richmond still looked like it was in the 1800s.

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After a wander up and down, into Sweets and Treats, Richmond’s lolly shop, for coffee and what else, lollies, we really needed a bite to eat. It was our second day in Tasmania having arrived the day before, and really, our first proper spot of sight-seeing.

What a place to start on.

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We had travelled approximately 30 minutes from Lutana where our accommodation resided. The scenery was striking and beautiful. What immediately struck me was the constant views. They were all the same, yet so different and continuously beautiful. That’s because largely, there were hills, and water.

Hills and water.

Hills and water.

HILLS AND WATER.

It was very picturesque. We started to understand quite quickly why people said Tassie was such a beautiful place. We went up Grasstree Hill Road and then back down it, winding around and around to finally reach our destination at Georgian-style Richmond town.

And of course when lunch time came, we really had to go old-school too.

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At The Richmond Arms.

The interior certainly matches the exterior. Where the outside shows the age of the building and the time it came from, we found not much was changed inside. Though perhaps slightly updated, the rooms are definitely of another time and place, so don’t go expecting anything life-changing here. The room we sat in was away from the area that housed the bar where Hubbie went up to order and pay at, and in one way it felt like we were sectioned off into a room that may have very long ago been a lounge room.

The Richmond Arms Hotel also has accommodation, something to consider if you want to spend more than a day in Richmond. There is plenty to do and see, and considering the history and beauty of the town, why wouldn’t you?

Despite the age of the tables and chairs, I really was quite taken aback by one feature wall within… it had a quote so beautiful, so treasured and meaningful, and also so close to my heart, as it was a sentiment confirmed to me as the years have gone by, a written manifestation of what I had known all along, but never really verbalised… that I had to photograph it:

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‘An opal-hearted country,

A wilful, lavish land,

All you who have not loved her,

You will not understand

though Earth holds many splendours,

Wherever I may die,

I know to what brown country,

My homing thoughts will fly.’

– Dorothea Mackellar “My Country.”

WOW.

After ordering Hubbie brought over our drinks, a beer for him, and of course a local for me – the Richmond Arms Sauvignon Blanc

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Considering it wasn’t awfully busy it still took some time to receive our meals… I used this time to run around the old-fashioned shops within the street, to find out of all things, a mobile phone car charger! It appeared that my phone was just not coping with all the photos I was snapping, and I couldn’t bare to waste all my battery and go home having not photographed all of Richmond-town. Oh, the horror! My prayers were answered at the large convenience corner store kinda opposite the Richmond Arms.

Exhale.

When the food did arrive, we were very hungry, and it looked delish. Well worth the wait.

I had the Asian vegetable and Hokkien noodle stir fry

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Hubbie had the Chicken schnitzel – served with chips/salad or vegetables and your choice of sauce (no salad, with sauce)

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And baby girl had the Macaroni cheese

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Firstly, Hubbie was so jealous when he saw my meal! I guess the thing with being married to someone is you have to give each other bites of your meal… for better, or for worse. I for one know Hubbie is hanging to have a bite of whatever I order when he starts offering me bits of his… in an attempt to subtly hint “hey, I want some.”

Ha ha.

The sauce was very flavoursome and the noodles and vegetables all combined well to make a delicious dish. There were bits of all kinds of veggies, and the presentation really was up there, not what I expected from the kitchen of that hotel… I was surprised. Pleasantly so.

Hubbie enjoyed what he had ordered. He was happy in that it was a hearty pub-style meal, and to be honest, simply what he had expected… it was chicken with vegetables after all. He was full, let’s just say.

Baby girl’s macaroni was overwhelmingly cheesy – hence the mac and cheese – so she struggled with it. She was not hating it, but wasn’t so much a fan as that was during her ‘plain’ phase. And this cheese-dripping-over-every-inch-of-macaroni meal was as far from plain as you could get. We fed her that, and chips and vegies from Hubbie’s plate to satisfy her lunchtime requests.

No fault of the meal’s… it was all her tastebuds that decided for her. It was an especially cheesy meal, not for the faint-cheese-hearted.

When it was time to go, we left happy and satisfied. We had been venturing through Bridge Street, and next… to Zoodoo Zoo it was!

It ended up being a most wonderful day 🙂

Food: 8/10. It was hearty, tasty, presentation was great… it ticked many of our boxes for good old-fashioned fare.

Coffee: N/A. We can’t put all our food and coffee eggs in one basket can we? We like to try out as many places as we can when we’re someplace new, meaning food and coffee don’t tend to happen at the same place. That happened over at Sweets and Treats earlier! I hope to one day be back at the Arms, and then I will know.

Ambience: Quiet. Lunchtime in Richmond tends to be a calm affair, even with the fact that it is a destination… it may pick up on weekends?

Staff: Almost non-existent, other than to bring our food over. If you need them, you know where to find them… up at the bar.

People: Pensioners pensioners pensioners. You know there were a lot of older people wandering around the street, clearly tourist-minded, however considering what there is to see, do and appreciate, I am surprised there were not a lot of younger families? Perhaps we came during off-peak season, which come to think of it, is not a bad thing.

Price: $69.00. Is that it? For food and drinks? Crap I am moving to Tasmania now…

Advice: Go when you’re not yet overly hungry, so you don’t mind waiting that extra bit for that steaming plate of love that comes out of the kitchen some time later.

In a nutshell: A really authentic and memorable lunch experience. The food is not average or out of date in any respects, despite what the interior and exterior may look like. The surrounds are interesting and reflect the nature of the street and town as a whole, which make the whole experience that much more pure and relevant. In my mind, legs and ARMS, it’s the only place to go.

The Richmond Arms Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

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

I never wanted to use the hyphen (-) for a murdered woman again

I attended La Trobe University in Bundoora.

From the years of 2002 to 2005. A couple of my high school friends went there too, however we were all varied in our fields of study.

One such friend and I, though interests apart, chose a general subject to study that saw us come together once a week.

Anthropology. 2 hours a week in the late evening, we would often drive in and then drive back home, taking turns at the driver’s seat, and then once the 2 hours were up, made our long walk over to ‘one’ of the car parks.

There were A LOT of car parks. Back in those years, there were about 8. You had to walk some distance through the buildings and grounds and amidst tall trees and bushes of varying greenery to get there…

But there was nothing to be scared of. I remember even when daylight savings ended, and our walk to the car park was amidst black night, our biggest concern was whether spiders had already set up their webs, and so we walked hands outstretched hoping to God we wouldn’t feel something unsightly crawling on our skins.

The only time I was attacked there, was in broad daylight. It was while walking to a tutorial when something whizzed past my head so quickly and so close, that it stirred the hair on my head. Damn bird.

They were the lethal ones.

Not people. Never ever did I feel unsafe from people.

Days after the fatal assault on Israeli student Aiia Maasarwe, who was involved with the university on an exchange programme and never made it back to her apartment on Tuesday night, and Melbourne and the rest of the country is still left reeling.

Not necessarily because this has never been done before. More, because it continues to.

The feeling of déjà vu is chilling. Only 7 months earlier, a vigil was planned for Eurydice Dixon, who was raped and murdered in Carlton North. Thousands turned up to the silent protest to stand for a woman who was taken unfairly, and also, again so close to home. But that wasn’t the beginning either.

2012 saw the nation horrified at the sudden disappearance of Brunswick woman Jill Meagher. Even before the #metoo movement sparked a chord, 10,000 people marched Sydney Road in protest that once again, a woman could not walk home 5 minutes without being assaulted, raped and killed.

And not even that is the beginning.

Because the problem isn’t with all men. No, far from it. It is the underlying culture that men grow up in, the “boys will be boys,” under-handed sexism, and superior gender that prevails and dominates our everyday life, that is the REAL problem.

It is also the underlying culture that women have to put up with. The cat calls, leers and unwanted attention. The keeping keys on you at all times. Looking over your shoulder. Going out in pairs.

Calling someone as you walk alone.

This is the very act that Aiia did as she walked home for the last time earlier this week. So fearful was she over the 5 minute walk from her regular number 86 tram stop to her apartment, that she would call her sister. To imagine the fear that she held, subdued from her physical space, existing only in her mind, to turn into a full-blown living horror as her sister heard the phone fall, some voices, and then nothing… I can’t even imagine.

I don’t want to. But I remember walking those grounds. I remember the Uni, and how dark everything was at night. I shudder.

As females we message our friends, partners, and family when we get home. Aiia didn’t get to message anyone that night. Her body was found strewn and badly battered, to the point where police are still keeping a tight lid on the horrific details of that night.

“But she shouldn’t have been alone at night,’ my Dad said yesterday as we were talking about it.

And therein lies the problem.

Not with my Dad. The problem isn’t with all of the men in my life, or your life, or even most of the men around us. Because most of the men don’t go around sexually assaulting and then killing people.

But some men DO go around imposing unwanted advances on girls that are alone.

And some men DO go around letting off jeers and whistles and making filthy remarks when a woman walks by.

And sometimes, its these actions that escalate to stuff of full-blown nightmares.

Sadly, females are contributing to this. I say this with hesitation, because as soon as I told my Dad it was not right that Aiia (and every other woman) wasn’t allowed to walk home safely at night, I added

“But, I would never walk alone, and I would never let baby girl do it either.”

We as women, are adding to the dialogue, by saying it is not safe.

The culture remains, and that is the problem.

We aren’t teaching our boys to not rape.

But we are teaching our girls to not walk at night.

Jill Meagher

Eurydice Dixon

Aiia Maasarwe

PLUS so many more before them. Plus those that are not murdered, but are left with permanent life-time bruises and scars that will horrify their minds for as long as they are alive.

How many more names have to be added to this list before a conscious effort is made to change the way men and women are taught, raised, expected to perform, and excused? How many more hyphens have to appear until repeated sexual offenders, are not put back on the streets to walk amongst everyday people, and given umpteen chances to strike again? (as was the case in the man who murdered Jill Meagher).

You will notice I have not named perpetrators. They are not people. They are inhumane monsters who deserve no name, no voice, no life. Theirs should be taken away, just like those they consciously and with evil effort decided to take.

All that is left now is the memories of those girls, all the could-have beens, should-have beens, and the questions over whether any of this, is leading to change, a conscious effort, anything good, at all.

 

R.I.P Aiia Maasarwe. Unknown-2019.

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Photo by Zoran Kokanovic at Unsplash

 

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