A Tot-ally Messy Time

I had been wanting to go to this play centre and area of discovery for both tiny tots and bigger kids for a while now. The reasons were three-fold:

  • It was in my town.
  • I have a child, and wanted to see how much fun it would be for her, and
  • I wanted to compare it against The Hungry Peacock, where I had been to twice since my first visit as part of a blogging experience in 2016.

It was a little bit cheeky, but I went in with these thoughts in mind. Which was superior? Which would keep the kids entertained more? What was, similar? I have it on insider knowledge that the peeps who started The Hungry Peacock with the existing owners, well they had wanted to do things a different way and clearly had other kids play area ideas in mind… and so The Messy Shed rebelliously was born from those peeps, to formulate those ideas into reality.

It was the Autumn school hols that saw me take baby girl along to meet with her two cousins and their Mum, for a midweek visit. We were booked for a 10:30am session, as there are times that you pick online, or when you call in… however on arrival we decided to also add the play centre addition, for an extra $5. The kids would get messy and creative and do all kinds of things for 45 minutes, before continuing the fun in the play centre area, for as long as they liked.

We got in nice and early, so the 3 girls, two aged 5 and one at 2, had a good go at exploring before more kids arrived.

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Sorting in a scavenger hunt.

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Water play and squirting.

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Sand art and castles.

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Pretend house.

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Make your own tube tunnels.

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Various games and tasks.

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And my fave… the swing!

This one got pretty busy after baby girl had her go, and the line turned long very quickly. Kids climbed onto a low hammock type swing, tummy down, and were given a piece of chalk to draw on the floor with while they pushed themselves around with their feet… even I wanted to do that one!

To my amusement and wonder I noticed a nearby corner where a kids hairdresser was located! It was partitioned from the rest of the messy area, but was clearly visible… why, how CLEVER.

Play, and then… “let’s cut your hair Tommy!”

😉

Lots of Mums had gotten coffees from the nearby café offering café-style simple treats and drinks, but we wanted to save ourselves, and wait for after…

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45 minutes was plenty of time for our girls, and perhaps too long. Our older girls in particular were finding themselves walking around and repeating the same tasks, and I had to wonder then, had they outgrown the ‘messy play’ stage, or was it something else?

I thought of the two times I had taken baby girl to The Hungry Peacock, and quickly realised… The Messy Shed had activities geared slightly towards the younger child. The Hungry Peacock, the older child.

As soon as the 45 minutes were up we were off, grabbing a table in the adjoining room so we could watch our kiddies run around an indoor playground, and drink coffee and eat some chips while doing so.

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They were having a great time, but I don’t need to tell you that… playcentre, kids, they are synonymous with GOOD TIME.

We were there for a while when we saw the side door to the right of the large room, that seemed to be the gateway for another play area…

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It is called Totsville, an interactive town, where kids can act out different roles usually assigned to adults, but in smaller form, so they can join in on the exploration and fun! We saw a number of kids going in and out, and after seeing some adults on the other side supervising their broods, we decided stuff it, ‘let’s also go to Totsville.’

Baby girl’s cousins Mum bought us ‘access’ and so we went to wait for the hour to be up so the last group could head out, before we could go in.

And after discussing with her how we thought The Hungry Peacock had more activities for our 5 year old girls to be enjoying, suddenly, we were eating our words.

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It was really, really good.

They stayed in there for the whole hour, not bored at all. They put on uniforms, acted out roles as roadworkers, postal service workers, vets, sailors, and café assistants amongst other things. We helped them out and played with them at times, letting them cater to us with their ‘pretend’ coffees.

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😉

It was a great time, and a terrific concept… the only issue we found was, for a play area that was only garnered for those who paid to enter, with new groups accessing it on the hour, well there was no one keeping score.

We counted a whole lot of kids who went in and out, not accompanied by any adult, and with no staff nearby to check.

Had those kids really paid? Were they bored by it? Could we have gotten away with not paying either?

Of course we did pay, but yet we felt a little foolish after seeing the free-for-all for Totsville and all the kids coming and going as they pleased. Otherwise, the concept was terrific. Staffing in that area… not so much.

After that, the girls had a few more runs through the play centre area, and then it was time to go… we had possibly exceeded our longest ever time for a play catch up, it was hitting 3 hours, and The Messy Shed was closing!

Was that a good sign? Yes, yes it was. 🙂

The deets:

The Messy Shed is at Factory 4 & 5, 1 Watt Road in Mornington

It is open 9:30am to 2:30pm every day of the week.

For further info call them on (03) 5975 2080, or alternatively go to their website for more information or to book a session – www.playatthemessyshed.com.au

Messy play sessions are at 9:30am, 10:30am and 11:30am. They last for 45 minutes and are $10, but pre-walkers are FREE!

The play centre access is $7 per child, or $15 if purchased in a Messy Play/Play centre combo.

Totsville is $10 for an hour of exploration.

You can throw a birthday party for your child there, and there is a hairdressing corner… contact them at the info above for more details.

Tips:

Definitely book! Messy play sessions can get busy!

From my personal experience, the messy area is better for younger kids, though the swing is a pretty cool contraption.

The indoor playground is great for kids of all ages (watch out for the top tunnels as little ones can get stuck up there, have an older child on hand is great!)

Totsville is great for all kid ages too, with a slight emphasis on older kids, as they discover, act out and experiment with the mini-sized world around them.

My final verdict?

Hmm, a tough one to weigh up. There are pros for both The Hungry Peacock and The Messy Shed.

Peacock has ample room surrounding their proper café. The Shed has a café, with seating surrounding the play area.

They both have messy sessions… I feel Peacock is geared slightly towards older kids, with the Shed aimed at the younger tikes.

The Shed has Totsville… Peacock has outdoor play areas (play subject to weather of course) and play equipment in and around the café (separate from the messy area).

The Shed has a hairdresser… Peacock has a refurbished church for hire.

Both do birthday parties.

Peacock also does kids classes and a school holiday program.

Where does all this leave my conclusion?

For a more in depth review of The Hungry Peacock, click here to go to my review of the place.

Other than that I can say this with assuredness.

Both have a place.

The Messy Shed messy area is great for younger kids, while the play centre and Totsville ideal for older kids on cold and rainy days, where you can sit and watch them, protected by the elements, enjoying some café fare and a coffee.

The Hungry Peacock’s messy area I think is better suited to older kids. The inside and outdoor areas are for both, and for a decent feed I would go here. Also, on a sunny day, it would be lovely to sit out.

Both places are very different, yet cater for almost identical things.

Yet I think there is enough dirty play for both to exist. 😉

 

 

 

 

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The Toy Shop with the lot

Do you ever do that thing, where you “go to bed,” but then end up sitting up propped by your pillow, the glare of your mobile lighting up the room as you look up holidays, articles on awards ceremonies, and other odds and ends like play centres and Feng Shui practices in the home?

Guilty as charged.

I think I find it a soothing way to unwind before I actually lay my head down to sleep, though I know most experts (actually, ALL) would argue that it is a bad, bad thing, to have that amount of bright light affecting your sleeping rhythm so close to bedtime. Doesn’t seem to affect me though. 😜

And I find I do get answers to all of my daily questions!

Europe IS a cheaper travel destination in September… Tom Gleeson did make fun of the logies, and insult Karl at the same time… Feng Shui says a winding path to your front door is ideal (yes!) and… Amazing Toys, has a lot of really cool things these school holidays.

Backtrack. Amazing Toys has a lot of really cool things, all year round. And they are only located a short drive from my house. True story.

I spent a lot of time on my phone late one weeknight, as I madly clicked buttons on their website, discovering all the wonderful ways in which I could spoil baby girl… for her birthday party? For presents? For the school holiday program?

And then the clincher… themed hair cuts.

WHAT?!

And so, we found ourselves on day 2 of the July school holidays, getting ready to get her hair cut PJ Mask style.

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Let’s be clear, it wasn’t like she was getting a Gecko-style do or even an Owlette-style V-shaped fringe… but this enormous toy store/hairdresser’s/birthday party destination and place of general kids fun, was having a themed week, whereby kids could get salon treatment, in the form of hair cuts and ‘up’ dos, amongst other cute additions, all in a PJ Mask styled salon.

It was too good to pass up.

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Firstly, brilliant idea. It’s a fun and safe place for kids where they can be surrounded by what they love, what is familiar to them, to ease any kind of stranger-cutting-your-hair worries, any over-sensory stimulation, or even just to make them feel special and spoilt… not like that doesn’t happen on a daily basis, let’s be honest.

But it is a fun activity, especially for the school holidays.

It was baby girl’s first professional hair cut, having had it cut for years by the MIL, so this was a different kind of ‘first.’

Her hairdresser for that day, started off by painting her nails… 3 colours alternating as baby girl’s choice. 💅

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Next, as they dried, she was propped up in the barber chair, to let her nails dry further as her hair was cut. 💇🏽‍♀️

Finally, the ‘up’ do – half up, half down.

STUNNING! With the obligatory spray of glitter of course. ALWAYS glitter.✨

The salon experience, which lasted about half an hour, with baby girl thoroughly entertained by PJ Masks on the screen the entire time (yay for distractions when hair brushing is involved!) was topped off by a balloon, lucky dip and lolly pop as well.

All for the, wait for it… awesome price of $30.

😮

It was totally worth it, to see the look on her face.

These themed weeks happen on a regular basis, with Emma from the Wiggles, My Little Pony, Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and Toy Story, among many others, all featuring, so you can be sure to catch a theme your littlie will love.

And if a more ‘basic’ package is what you’re after, you can get a few less frills, still themed, for $20.

😲😲

The thing that got me about this store, is how it is a well-thought out hub for all things kids. Not only a place for kiddies to get their tresses cut… not only a toy shop, (and a HUGE one at that)…

But it is also a place that houses workshops during the school workshops: think craft, painting, dancing sessions, anything a little tike, all the way up to a primary school aged kid would like – they have something here for everyone to entertain in this most prolific of “I’m bored” weeks a year!

And to top off the kids quadfecta of entertainment, there are the BIRTHDAY PARTIES.

Many themes and styles are available – think princess, superhero, disco and high tea. You can choose the theme and character to match… so for example, you can have a Frozen disco, or Frozen pamper party. Most themes can be suited and adjusted to the birthday kid, so just check out their website or give the staff a call to see what can be done.

So much lies behind the front doors of this small shop front in Mornington!

The deets:

Amazing Toys is at: 45 Mornington Tyabb Road, Mornington

They are open 9am to 5pm every day of the week.

Hairdresser

Standard kids cuts are available throughout the year and start from $15.

Themed weeks are on at certain intervals, usually school holidays – but check their web site for availabilities.

For these themed weeks, the standard package gives you a hair cut, glitter or funky hair spray, lucky dip, balloon and lollypop for $20.

For the Delux package, which is the addition of a hair ‘up’ do, and pretty nails or tattoo, the price is $30.

Women are also catered for here (keep the kids busy while you get pampered!) with cuts ranging from $30-$60, and colours starting at $45 for short hair.

The blokes are even looked after (!), with basic cuts starting at $20!

Kids birthday parties are available – call for more info on (03) 5976 8889, or check out their website at amazingtoys.com.au

Workshops are also a mainstay – Mums, Dads, dance mums, even you yourself can learn how to become an expert in braids!

A school holiday program emerges every end of term – these range from $2.50 to $15, but some workshops can fluctuate to $30, and include things like crafts, pampering, painting, dancing, sand art… anything really to keep those hands and toes busy!

And none of this includes the TOYS!

There is so much more in store, trust me you won’t regret it!

That is just, amazing!

Italy in the Bronx

Bronx Napoli 1999
1a Queen street Mornington

(Visited May ’18)

What was happening in 1999?

Well personally… I was in year 10, and listening to and doing “Livin la vida Loca” to Ricky Martin.

I watched 10 Things I Hate About You, and it became EVERYTHING. Heath Ledger God rest his soul, and that song routine on the school bleachers? Heaven.

Only one of my most FAVOURITEST SHOWS OF ALL TIME debuted… Angel. Ahhh. 🙂

I dabbled with more blonde in my hair.

Worldwide, everyone was freaking out about the whole year 2000 and subsequent Y2K bug, and if that wasn’t going to end us, apparently at the end of the year, or sometime during the year 2000… the whole world as we knew it would go kaput. You know, the usual Nostradamus prediction stuff and all.

But in other parts… well the eatery off Main street Mornington, either its brainchild flourished in that era… or they just like the graffiti from the Banksy of Naples… OR they’re really into football.

The place I’m talking about is of course Bronx Napoli 1999.

To work out which of the above explanations it could be, click through to their website here.

But very randomly, one Tuesday night in May, we found ourselves without power… but it wasn’t the Y2K bug at work. The failure of power wasn’t that surprising, since we had been given advance notice that electrical works to the area may result in no electricity, from 8 in the morning to oh… 3pm?

But at 4:30 when I got home from the library with baby girl and there was still nothing… I knew the candles would have to come out.

A short walk over to the road work men, and Hubbie found out sometime around 6pm, that they had experienced difficulties, and the work had been delayed… they hoped it would all be working in an hour or two.

???

No electricity? Why it was dinner time! With no working power in the house, even if we got takeaway, candles were not sufficient enough to light up the table, rooms, the house?

So naturally, we had to go out… and eat.

I don’t know why we went here, but we did. We were just so happy to go into a warm and well-lit place that honestly, any place would have been sufficient.

It is a wide, high-ceilinged restaurant. An open kitchen allowed us to see through into where the chefs were preparing our meals, and in front of the open counter was a selection of their own home-made pastas to take home… ooooh!

Soon enough we ordered drinks… A Mornington Pale Ale for Hubbie, and a Stumpy Gully Pinot Noir from the Mornington Peninsula for moi:

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What I loved was the accompaniment of warm bread with olive oil and balsamic reduction…. Drool. This I loved. It was on the house (well, you know, as much as ‘on the house’ means work is paying for your meal, not you 😉 )

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Baby girl was a fan of this one too.

We sat in the dim light of the restaurant just taking in our surroundings. It was warm. There was light. Ahhh. Electricity. There were plenty of families about, and we tuned into the conversation about European travel from the 45+ double date couples beside us.

One day.

Soon though, our food arrived.

I had ordered the Spaghetti di Mare – fresh spaghetti tossed with Napoli, chilli, vongole, mussels, prawns, calamari, fresh fish, white wine and garlic

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Hubbie had gotten the Cottoletta Milanese – Free-range Pork schnitzel breaded with parmesan and served with rocket and shaved parmesan with balsamic dressing

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Baby girl had the Bambini only pasta for kids, which was ‘pasta of the day with Napoli sauce topped with parmesan (and olive oil on the side).’

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And as an addition we also got a side of Patate fritte – thick cut potatoes, served with garlic aioli.

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So firstly, my spaghetti. I enjoyed my meal as it had a mild seafood flavour, strong enough to be yum, not so much to be overpowering like other restaurants (ahem, Manhattan?) The seafood was cooked well too, and that is always a plus seeing as biting into some longed-for prawns goes a bit awry when rubbery. But this was great.

Baby girl in fact did not have the Napoli sauce as mentioned in the bambini menu, she had cheese and oil on the side of her plain pasta. The waitress went to great lengths to ensure she got her order right, and even when it was delivered she was particularly interested to see if she was happy about it.

Someone interested in my 4 year-old being happy? May sound absurdly odd to think this as being so foreign, but alas no one gives a shit about kids. So I was happy, that she wanted to make baby girl happy.

And, baby girl was happy 🙂

But now, to the fussy butcher.

His exact thoughts, (and I recoil writing these words), were that the pork was turning. If you are not eloquent in Butcher speak, or aren’t married to one fine specimen, or don’t watch a lot of cooking shows, basically what he meant was that it was old. Old old old. He could taste it in every bite, and though he still ate it, because he was hungry, he was not impressed.

Don’t ask me how he knows…. He just knows.

On the positive, his rocket, parmesan and balsamic dressing was amazing. Anytime anyone gives me that combo, I am SOLD! Alas it was not enough to save his meal, but I was happy, picking at bits here and there.

And the patate fritte? Well, chips. Chips are chips. But these were super hot and actually quite yum. And the garlic aioli made it especially moorish.

We soon finished our meals, our bellies fuller, our bodies warmer, and hoping to go home and find our house, a little bit lighter…

Food: 7/10. I find it hard to score and average out when components of the meal are great, others not so. Because majority meals won, 7 it is. Baby girl was tended to with care, and the chips and my spaghetti were delicious.

Coffee: N/A on this visit.

Ambience: Dimly lit, yet with that chatterbox restaurant air. Cosy despite those high ceilings.

People: A lot of families of all ages. Young, old, double daters, and a group of pensioners arrived as we were leaving, enthralled with our girl in Queen Elsa costume.

Staff: Our waitress was very serious, but worked hard to please us. Extra points for her care towards baby girl.

Price: $96.50. That was 2 adult meals, one child’s meal, one side, and two alcoholic drinks… Hmmm it sounds about right, but had Hubbie’s been up to scratch, I would have been happier with that amount.

Advice: I think going the pizza or pasta route at this place is the way to go. It is abundant in their menu, and the way our pastas were brought out, the care is evident there. There is also a share menu for groups of 4 or more, and so having them select the best plates for you and your group to share, would also be worth doing if in company.

In a nutshell: I liked the place… Hubbie was not so impressed. But then again, this is me and my adventure with a fussy butcher Hubbie, and so that has become quite the norm. He swore off restaurants after this visit, but it was no fault of Bronx’s alone… it was the build-up of unsatisfactory meat meals at both Manhattan and Kirks, prior to that visit, from restaurants we both loved.

So the disappointment was wide-spread and handled out equally. ;/

But you can be assured we went out to eat again within a fortnight. So he is not an elephant. He can forget. Kind of.

I for one would like to go back with a group and try the share menu. And how could I not want to, when the wishes and whims of my little Queen were catered to so wonderfully?

Even, when in the Bronx.

Bronx Napoli 1999 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sightings of People as Passionate About (Addicted to) Coffee as I am (SOPAPACAIA) #13

About 9:15am on Thursday the 4th of April.

Where? A 7-Eleven in Mornington.

Sighted: An elderly man shuffling back to a car parked at a petrol pump…

He is old. About 80 I’d say. His white hair matches that of his female driver waiting for him as he makes his way over, ever so slowly…

But his snail pace is more for his state of age than the two coffees held in each hand – however it doesn’t do the journey any harm. No fear of spillage here. He heads into the white Hyundai, his white shoes lifting up carefully so as not to stir the air, as he settles into the car.

I watch them from behind as I fill my tank, as he passes a coffee cup to his companion.

Coffee lovers at all ages… now that is a couple after my heart. ♥♥

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Photo by Tessa Simpson on Unsplash

 

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

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

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

Love on the Rocks

The Rocks Mornington
1 Schnapper Point Drive Mornington

(Visited May ’17)

At the end of a very long Tuesday in early May, where Hubbie, baby girl and I pretty much ran to the reaches of all parts of this city, we settled back in our new home turf to head out to dinner. It was at a destination that had been organised as a surprise by Hubbie, so the surprise itself was known to me, with the destination meant to be unknown by me at the same time… but when he said the menu had primarily seafood, well there was only one local place I thought that was fancy enough for the occasion we were celebrating. 8 years of wedded bliss 🙂

And so it was, that we predictably headed down the Main Street, and kept heading down the Pier ‘til we reached the end, to the rocks.

The Rocks, at Mornington.

My, was I glad Hubbie had pre-booked. A fireplace greeted us nearby after we had climbed the winding stairs, and after our waiter glanced through the already-full room that weeknight, he led us to a table for 3.

I was actually, extremely pleased that it was so noisy. It was a poshy destination, that you couldn’t deny, but I was happy to hear the well-to-doers talking loudly and happily from all corners of the room, filling up the room with a bustling and fluid atmosphere. Though it was a ‘nice’ restaurant, it was actually quite cosy, with wooden and sailing paraphernalia throughout to add that necessary beach-side effect, and yet it was done so tastefully. There was fairly ample room in the large dining area we were in, with an outside area that we could view from through our side window, that was currently empty, but would be an amazing spot in Summer. Oh the joys of beachside living.

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We perused the menu first for the celebratory drinks, and I opted for a local red, while Hubbie went with a … beer. Of course, what else.

Yes, my wine was on the $$$ side, but it was fantastic. Divine. Truly a red worth celebrating love with. ♥♥

And soon after we ordered the food, it didn’t take long for the first few plates to reach our table:

Seafood dumplings, shallot, ginger, chilli oil

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And Spaghetti napoletana for baby girl

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It was a basic pasta for baby girl, but even that, it was done well and kept both her, and US busy (and me a bit OCD-mad) as I tried relentlessly to keep her clean from sauce-stains. Fortunately for this order freak, she is a little OCD too.

I turned my attention to our entrée when I couldn’t take it anymore, and was happily impressed. The dumplings were yummalicious, and the combination of flavours made it a delightfully spicy explosion in your mouth. They didn’t last long on our table.

In between those plates and our mains, we kept ourselves busy. Looking out at the dark waters before us, drawing with baby girl, and of course, taking her to the loo repeatedly, because that’s what a toilet-trained toddler is obsessed with of course, the toilets of the world. Some other diners started to head home, we drank some more, baby girl took blurry photos of us, and then the mains arrived!

Hubbie’s Lamb shoulder – free range riverina, slow-cooked overnight on the bone with Asian flavours and roasted chats, with a side of chips

And my Spaghetti frutti di mare – todays seafood, hand-picked tomatoes from Puglia & evoo (chip additions courtesy of baby girl)

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Here is where I explain why I got baby girl pasta, and not chips, since I was having a hellish time keeping her sauce-mouth in check. If I were to get pasta, and she chips, although she loves BOTH, I wouldn’t have heard the end of it, as she would have been hounding me for bites, getting upset at the distinct spices in it, but then getting more upset because she still wants pasta. We had carefully conducted our plan however, and by this stage not only was she fairly full on her napoletana, but she now had Hubbie’s chips to peck on too. Score.

It wasn’t spicy. It wasn’t meant to be, but it had definite kick and flavour. Seafood, without being sea-watery in flavour, and the pasta was just… mmm hmmm. All the seafood was cooked perfectly, and though I’m not much of a fan of calamari, I still ate most of it, just because I was enjoying everything so damn much. I loved the pieces of salmon and the oiliness of the dish held it together so well, although that component did leave me feeling pretty full once my plate was empty.

It was a slightly different story for Hubbie’s meal. His ‘meat’ was cooked beautifully, to the point that it was falling off the bone, and it certainly looked inviting… but the problem didn’t lie in how it had been cooked. The problem lay in what it was. Because the menu said lamb shoulder. And it was shoulder. It just wasn’t lamb.

It was mutton.

I know, I know. Tell him to do his own food reviews. Believe me, if you think I can be critical, he is of a higher power. But he is allowed to be – he is a butcher after all. He knows his shit, and his shit, is his meat. He deals with it all day. Poshy restaurant or non-poshy restaurant, lamb should be lamb, and the overwhelmingly ‘lamb’ smell that was emanating from his dish, told him it was definitely not the above-mentioned dish, but the parent version. The smelly version.

It didn’t turn him off the dish, and he still ate it… but considering the calibre of the restaurant, he was disappointed, and had really believed they would at least put their money where their mouth was in terms of food quality.

The fussy butcher strikes again.

Things like this kill me, really, they do. I sit there across from him, hearing him complain, and I’m like really? Are you sure? But does it taste good? But see how it’s falling apart? ALL TO DEAF EARS. I enjoyed my dish but because he didn’t enjoy his, it just meant we were going home a whole lot faster.

He probably would have indulged in a dessert, but as it was, opted to share with me, and go a dessert wine. He had his vino to forget about the mutton, while I went for

Panna cotta with figs and pistachio crumble

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And baby girl kinda stayed still long enough through her intense excitement, to let me snap a blurry pic of her own ice cream and chocolate sauce dessert

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So yep, she enjoyed hers. After an oily pasta dish, my panna cotta was light and creamy, not too heavy, and the figs on the side gave it that freshness that accompanied my full stomach well. It was the perfect dessert to follow what I had eaten, however my usual preference would have been something much richer and decadent… maybe that’s for the day I eat a salad there. Salad for dinner? Nah, not happening.

We soon paid and left the restaurant with a much lighter wallet.

Food: 8/10. That score was a tough one to make. I don’t take to deception well, and yet I see the quality in the rest of the meals they prepared, bar Hubbie’s… their emphasis is on seafood, and you can find it in most parts of their menu, except for the grill. They also do breakfast, which on a clear sunny day, would be splendid.

Coffee: N/A this time.

Ambience: Really relaxed despite what I would have expected. The wooden beams and sailing decoration added a chilled vibe, reminiscent of a beach-style lifestyle. Well, it IS a beach-style lifestyle where we are! It was cosy, yet happily boisterous too.

Staff: They were attentive and friendly, but we didn’t have much to do with them, beside their taking our orders and delivering our plates/removing them from the table. I didn’t feel they went above and beyond the call of duty like other restaurants we’ve been to, but they did their job.

People: A well-to-do crowd. What does a 20-something guy do when back in his home turf? Why, Mother and Father take him out for some dining. Celebrate a birthday in style with 8 of your closest friends! Go out for a special dinner at that seafood place with your special someone, and smile at that mischievous girl at the adjoining table because she reminds you so much of your own rascally child at that sweet age – oh wait, they were looking at baby girl? The people there were actually really good with baby girl’s insanity: older couples, families and groups alike. An older crowd ruled that night, majority 40 +.

Price: $140ish. Phew. Wowza. Had Hubbie been happy, this wouldn’t have been a problem, it was a special night for us after all.

Advice: Definitely book ahead. Get something seafood (not hard here). Take in the views, (and I say that without even having seen the views!) If your partner is a fussy butcher, make sure he DOESN’T get the meat shoulder!

In a nutshell: I have not given up on this place, not by a long shot. I am yet to eat more seafood here, have a drink overlooking the water, have brekkie overlooking the water, have a coffee overlooking the water… I think I need to have EVERYTHING overlooking the water. The quality of food is above average, and though the price is up there and may make you flinch, remember that its mainly because of the prime real estate… everything is that much dearer when you are on the rocks.

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

Superfood Store

Store Fifteen
15 Main Street Mornington

(Visited April ’17)

Breakfast. I mean, it’s a lazy and rich man’s prerogative to have someone else make him breakfast, right? Perhaps the simplest of the three main meals, if you can have someone, more so, pay someone to provide you with this most fantastic of luxuries, well then, you are doing well.

Or maybe that was the case 10-15 years ago. Nowadays, it seems like most new Mums, students, hipsters in inner city-Melbourne, suits and even pensioners are getting in on the café-culture bandwagon and paying for the privilege to have their aerated muesli, gluten-free toast, or organically produced eggs, tomatoes and spinach leaves in a breakfast burrito, bought to them on an artisan piece of table-wear.

I for one, think it’s FANTASTIC. Not just the table-wear, but the breakfast too. I was perusing the local haunts in my fair town over on the Zomato site, when I came upon the most spectacular looking bowl of ‘something’ that I have ever feasted my breakfast-hungry-to-go-out eyes on.

I vowed then and there, that at the next opportune time, I would go there and eat the bowl. Of food that is.

Which is how I came to be at Store Fifteen, the beach end of Main street in Mornington, one sunny and still Autumn’s day in April. I had dropped off baby girl at kinder, and was unashamedly going to indulge in some much necessary and selfish (though not guilt-free) ME time.

I find it a bit nerve-wracking eating on my own. It is a freeing experience, one I think all people should try – but I always end up feeling all introvert-like rather than the confident “look at me people, I am my own best company!” version of myself I should be when I do this. It becomes sooo apparent I have no friends, when really the case is –  I have no friends… in Mornington. Sea changing has its advantages, and not-so ones when wanting to dine out with company, still so soon after a huge demographic shift.

I was a bit unsure of what to do, standing there awkwardly for a while, reading the menu in front of the coffee machine, while trying to work out where to order, where I should sit, and what I was going to eat.

Oh, and of course, I was trying to find the delicious bowl within the menu’s contents.

I could have easily sat outside in the glorious sun, if most spots hadn’t been taken. There are crate-like seats which you can plonk yourself onto, with quite low tables beside them, as well as a higher long table running beside the outer entrance looking in on the coffee making area, with adjacent stools. Inside there were more tiny tables and chairs, and I had to admit defeat and position myself on the smallest of those, but with the advantage of looking out into the glorious day.

I had ordered up at the counter right near the coffee machine, before settling into my position gazing inward out. It’s amazing what a difference a couple of blocks can do. Sure, the menu was very different – there was no run-of-the-mill eggs on toast here – and the distinct menu, as well as the industrial yet organic interior, certainly attracted a different type of customer. Wealthier and well-dressed folk came in here, even the gym-type junkie with the full face of make-up – yep, that type. The counter and coffee-making area held the right position of the first half of the store, with a long thin table placed up against the opposite wall, and then small tables dotted throughout. I was actually sitting on a sack style-stool of some sort, that was the kind of furnishings within – it made you feel like you had just pulled up whatever to sit on at the local man’s barnyard.

It wasn’t before long after my deep musings on the folk here began, that I received the first order of the day:

Chai Latte – Love Chai: An earthy and warming blend of aromatic spices, turmeric, organic tea, and Australian bush honey

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Now, this was a proper chai latte. Not the type you receive in other cafes, where the only preparation was adding milk to sachet of powder. No, this had spices and all manner of herby green looking stuff sticking out and threatening to spill over the sieve as I poured the liquid through to strain it. It was magnificent. But it was what was to be expected from a boutique café such as this.

I had gone the chai latte route instead of my usual cap, only because I was feeling sickly, and going to be coming face-to-face with David Boreanaz the next day… so you know. Had to look my best for Angel, and not be croaking like some demon.

And not too long after that, the main event, the star, the whole reason for my going there at all…

The Acai Bowl

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Just observe that work of art in all its glory. This consisted of an Acai berry blend smoothie base (contains soy) topped with house made superfood granola (contains nuts), fresh berries, coconut chips, goji berries, and activated buckinis. Buckinis you say? Well we were close to the beach. Buckinis/bikinis/schmuckinis. Yeah I don’t know what a buckini is either, other than to speculate that they must do well in Summer-time. The bowl tasted great, and there was huge crunch-effect, so if there on a date, or having to go to an interview later on, maybe skip that one for the occasion. It was also really, really cold. The berry blend, which was the most vibrant of purple/red hues, had a temperature like it had been in a freezer. It might as well have been, that’s how cold it was. It took me a few spoonfuls, and then after never having had a brain-freeze in my life (I’ve avoided it well) one early spoon dipped into the icy red blend had such an effect in my mouth, freezing my top teeth and nearly making me wince in pain, that I was forced to resort my spoons to teeny, tiny amounts, more nut and goji than blend, giving the whole thing time to defrost.

Still, I loved it.

It took me ages to eat – both because it is a decent bowl, and because my sensitive teeth. It looked something like this when I was done:

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So I guess you can say I was happy with my choice.

I finished up, and since I had already conveniently paid at the start, headed on out into the sunshine, and into the Mornington town life. Super-food ready.

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Food: 9/10. With only trying one meal, yet seeing all the other food being delivered out, and the amazing display up near the counter of slices, raw juices and lunch options, this place is the real deal, and one to be reckoned with in the raw/vegan/health food movement. Expect the words raw, vegan and organic, A LOT on the menu, and even one such meal, the recent Kimchi Pancake, had me scratching my head and going “What?” Still, I‘d love to try it.

Coffee: N/A on this visit, but going by the Chai Latte, I can’t bloody wait to give their beans a try. Their range of juices, smoothies and health shots sound incredible to this caffeinated girl too.

Update! Coffee is smooth. Slightly strong. Very, very nice.

Can I give a score when it wasn’t tried on my first visit there (my foodie review prerequisite)? What the hell…

9/10. 🙂

Ambience: Really chilled and mellow. It was breakfast time after all. There was easy-going music in the background that not even a pair of two cute (and rowdy) kids could shake the demeanour of, but I have a feeling this laid-back vibe prevails throughout the day.

Staff: There was no over-the-top friendliness here – not to say that anyone was mean, but you know, they are in the business. The business of making sure the cardamom pods in your chai latte are about to burst from plumpness, you know? No time for chit-chat-chai.

People: The prime real estate of the Peninsula. I was pleased to see that I wasn’t the only one dining alone. Quite a few loners came in for their take-away drinks, many drank/ate opposite the counter, and then there were the custom friends with kids meeting, an uptight couple here and there, and your rich but super-nice gentleman type who came by to sip his espresso on a nearby stool, before tipping his hat to the playful youngster nearby and then going off to God-knows where to talk property and stocks with his investor friends… you know… the usual kind…

Price: $21:00 for the lot. Considering I walked away feeling like a superwoman after all of those supercharged superfoods, it was a bargain. Well worth the money spent.

Advice: If your teeth detest icy things, or it’s Winter, perhaps skip the Acai bowl. In Summer though, go for it. Sitting on a crate out front is the gold-medal position, what with the breeze blowing over the sea-spray from down the road.

In a nutshell: A place I would definitely go back to, and one that I hope to make a regular one, a reliable go-to in years to come. I’m glad there is a café catering to this niche market, because not only does it attract those who may have certain food allergies, but it brings forth the health-conscious, organically minded consumer, the one who wants to feel good, and try something different in the process.

It’s worth 15 visits for sure. Actually, 16… it’s my lucky number 😉

Store Fifteen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato