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

 

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The Fox that ran away

Dr Fox
37 Main Street Mornington

(Visited February ’18)

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

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

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

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

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

Why ‘Dr. Fox’?

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

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

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

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

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

Strong latte

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And an OJ for me.

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Ahh, tangy. Just what I needed.

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

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

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

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

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

Soon we got our meals fairly promptly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Green Cafe

Lilo Café
1/725 Esplanade Mornington

(Visited January ’18)

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

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

Green vase.

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

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Green cup.

Green cutlery holder.

Green clock.

Green on the walls.

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

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Green, was the theme.

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

That kind of Grandma.

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

Watermelon mint and apple cold pressed juice

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(See, green straw).

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

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(Green saucer!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cap, latte, babycino and choc-chip cookie.

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

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

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

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

Coffee: 7.5/10. Mild.

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

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

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

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

WHAT THE?

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

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

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

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

NO!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rebel with a Glaze

(Disclaimer: I am using the wording ‘donut’ for the sake of the business I am reviewing, but we all know the proper spelling is ‘doughnuts!’ Because there is dough, duh. Onwards…)

I was utterly shocked over this past Summer when I read some fellow bloggers’ posts that they had just gotten sneak peeks at a soon-to-be-opening new donut shop just down the road from me… what? It was literally DOWN THE ROAD. I could essentially walk there. Something I would probably have to do a lot of if I did in fact visit the place… but probably not a good idea to test out, for risk of it being too convenient, you know?

But, I was enraged! How did I not know about this? How did they get a sneak peak, and your neighbourhood friendly SmikG did not? Harumph. That’s ok. I would still visit… and review them quietly, as per my identity…

MWA HA HA.

It was Australia Day, the day to enjoy the Australian and Western World privilege of not cooking for yourself (public holiday, so not doing much of anything for that matter) and so after getting for ourselves some takeaway food for the night, we popped into Rebel Donuts, to see what these guys had in store.

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A lot, it appeared.

There were over 15 varieties, and I now know from repeat visits that these often change. Each visit will bring you a surprise combination, a quirky name (like a Ned Kelly or James Dean inspired one), and a headache from having to make the tough decision of which to choose each time! They prepare donuts according to seasonal occasions, there are vegan varieties too, and for my fair people of Mornington, guess what? DELIVERY! Yes you can have your donut delivered, AND eat it too.

Why, I never.

That day we put on the brakes and brought home just 3.

(From left: a custard donut, plain with sprinkles, and Tim Tam).

The verdict? They were GOOD. They had a distinct yeasty taste, something that reminded me of my Mum’s doughnut making – and that is a good thing. Because if they have that hint of homemade, they will always be a winner in my books.

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Soft, delightful, exciting to pick and choose from… these guys can’t go wrong. If you are headed to Mornington, past Mornington, or you just need an excuse to get doughnuts, well here it is!

The deets:

Rebel Donuts

968a Nepean Highway (actually on the corner of Nepean Highway and Mornington-Tyabb road, in the same complex as McDonalds, Red Rooster, Dominos, as well as other fast food eateries. They often have a large billboard up on the corner pointing to where they are, so just look for the pink!)

Trading Hours: 8am to 10pm daily, unless sold out.

#rebeldonuts #mornington

 

Spanish Beach House

Casa de Playa
39 Main Street Mornington

(Visited April ’17)

The reason we ended up at this restaurant on a Tuesday night in early April was pure chance. Sure, our intention was to eat out, we just didn’t know where we would do it.

And then, parking right out the front happened, and Hubbie had to ‘go,’ like immediately.

And so our night was born.

Dining at a Spanish tapas restaurant didn’t require much discussion or twisting of our arms though. Tapas, Barcelona and May, many many many years ago, was a firm memory in our minds, and had been the first, and one of our best, honeymoon destinations. We could rekindle the romance again, but this time, with baby girl in tow.

We were seated right near the middle bar, which was an expansive work of art in itself, that had copper pipes and barrels hanging significantly above our heads, which left us wondering ‘are they for real? Or a gimmick?’ Tiling against the wall behind the bar gave it that little village feel, and the suspended lightbulbs brought it in line with every other contemporary café doing the suspended lightbulb thing at the mo. I don’t knock it, despite its over-abundance wherever you go. In fact, I love it. People were sprinkled throughout the café, and with the front windows open and inviting, it gave it a real casual, all inclusive, spill-out-into-the-street Barcelona-style vibe, however it also left us cold on that cool Autumn night.

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IMAG3578So to warm up, alcohol.

How could I possibly bypass a traditional recipe Sangria, after I had had so many night after night in one of our fave holidays destinations? And a recipe that had been passed down generation to generation, this I had to try. Hubbie, had a schooner of Fat Yak

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The sangria had that distinctive spice, and was fresh enough to disguise any strong alcoholic elements.

After perusing the menu for a long while, and discussing it with two waiters who were attending to us that night (one a male, the other one a woman who appeared more managerial-like) we decided we’d order food and try it as we went along, before deciding what was next. First up on the agenda:

Smoked eggplant dip – charred Turkish flat bread

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This was brought over, large pieces of toasted bread with a lovely and not-too-overwhelming eggplant dip. The smokiness was noted, but not too strong. The bread was a tad too toasted for me, you know, the cut-your-gums-on-bread type texture.

This soon came alongside baby girl’s Calamari and Chips

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I didn’t really think she would eat any of the rings, and sure enough when she tried it they were a tad too stringy for her. But it was only another tapas meal for us to peck on, and kept us satiated until the next items arrived.

Croquettas – manchego, piquillo, mojo

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And, the Pulled Pork Cubano cigar – coffee ash, mojo

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Though we shared the croquettas, Hubbie primarily had the Cubano cigar, albeit one bite which I indulged in. I don’t know the ingredients even though they are listed above, other than to say the inside was soft. Likewise with the eggplant dip, they both had a decent kick of smokiness once again, which I didn’t mind one bit. They were both moorish.

After all of this, we were surprisingly feeling 60% there – what with pick at this, pick at that, nibble here, and nibble there, and ‘hey I’m almost full!’ But we had one more thing that we had to try, and Hubbie being a massive coriander fan, and myself having become much predisposed to it lately, we had

Charcoal roasted chicken tacos – grilled corn, quinoa, roquette, coriander, jalapeno crema

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I liked the simple, fresh and quite pretty presentation, and it was just that, very enjoyable. It was a very light meal, and definitely meant to be had alongside other tapas, due to its small yet delicious portion. Herbs, cream and smokiness, alongside the textured grilled corn, all jumped out on the palate, and it was a meal I would definitely revisit on any other occasion too.

During the evening, baby girl only ventured to the toilets only about, say 3-4 times. Life with a toddler, you just need to take them seriously every time they say they have to go. But, it wasn’t so much an issue. Hubbie had told us to use the upstairs toilets, (remember his early visit?) accessible via winding stairs, since they were spacious and so much more nicer than the small one located around the corner and opposite the kitchen.

This bathroom was lush, with lovely white and new spaces, a huge selection of toilets (you won’t be left wanting here), luxury hand-wash products, and one of those airplane sounding hand dryers that scares the beejesus out of small babies, but is way too much fun for a 3 year-old toddler.

Anyway, in amongst all this, I had looked at the menu way in advance, and decided almost from the moment we left home (I know we didn’t even know where we were going, right?) that we were GOING TO HAVE FOR DESSERT:

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Churros – 54% Valrhona chocolate, Vespa’s crème catalan ice cream

And shock horror, as baby girl and I returned back to the table after one such toilet visit, Hubbie had already started eating the churros. Without us.

Dum da dum dum.

Also you should know, we got some other things too…

Some short macchiatos, and a babycino

After I forgave Hubbie his slight in starting without us (but in a way I couldn’t really blame him – if that image of sweetness were staring at me, I would not be able to hold back either), baby girl and I dug in, however she was much more interested in her marshmallow and the milk and white chocolate buttons she had received.

The churros were crisp and as expected, and the short macchiato exceptionally strong. Baby girl also totally took over in the ice cream eating department, and I loved the shout-out to their Main street neighbour, using Vespa’s ice cream alongside the Spanish signature dessert. It’s so overwhelming, I can’t even handle the camaraderie.

Fuelled on milk and sugar, once baby girl started counting the 1000 tiles up against the bar, loudly, we knew it was time to go.

Food: 8.5/10. Exciting, fresh and different. A blend of international and modern.

Coffee: 7.5/10. Ahem, strong! I’m used to my frothy caps, and yet I didn’t have one that night because I wasn’t feeling it for the milk. Hard to judge, but it was smooth as well as tough.

Ambience: Very relaxed and cas, but in a trendy and upmarket way.

People: Couples and friends were dining out predominantly. Ages up to late 30s seemed to prevail.

Staff: Both our male waiter, and the managerial-like female tending to us that night were really lovely, but the female, more so. She was a natural and totally cool with baby girl, which always puts us at ease. They explained the tapas format really well and let us do as we please, menu-selection wise.

Price: $109.10 all up. Lots of little meals, but little meals still add up! That was for 3 alcoholic drinks, a kids meal, 5 small/sharing plates, as well as dessert and 3 coffees. Still, not too bad, and the quality was up there.

Advice: If the windows are open on a cool night, try to sit out the back of the restaurant.

When you go to the loo, venture upstairs!

Try the chicken taco (if you don’t like coriander scratch that).

Have the sangria (if you say you don’t like sangria why the hell are you even going to a tapas place???)

In a nutshell: Creativity, combustion of food, and fresh flavours make this an exciting and inventive place to be. We did the light, tapas-style meal this time, maybe the huge Paella to share might be next on the agenda. With the blend of Spanish influence with a modern contemporary taste, on the main street so close to Port Phillip Bay, this place is one Beach House that I will definitely say Hola to again.

Casa de Playa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A Royally great time

The Royal Hotel
770 Esplanade Mornington

(Visited March ’17)

Minutes before we were due to head out of the house that Tuesday night for dinner, we looked out the window… and saw a storm about to unleash. The weather report had warned of extreme weather and rain, and the south-east was about to cop it, BAD. We stood there, already dressed, asking ourselves “Should we just stay in?” Was it worth going out when the weather was going to be so terrible – hell, even dangerous to drive in?

But then, we realised what we were saying. I mean, what, the weather was going to hold us back? Since when? No bloody way. Besides, we were locals now. We’d be in the car, driving an average of 40ks, for 5 minutes, tops.

So how lucky we were then, to arrive at The Royal Hotel and find a park right out the front. Try to get us now Rain.

Although a neighbour to Kirks and also on the Esplanade, both establishments sharing amazing bay views, the feel of the Royal Hotel is completely different. And understandably, why would they want to modernise the place when its history holds such Royal ties? Inside it is all white with seemingly freshly-painted interiors, however unlike the sweeping views from Kirks of a full-length windowed wall allowing uninterrupted views from almost wherever you sit, here at the Royal the windows were small, possibly the same as they had always been, and though from there you could also see out towards the bay, you really had to be near them to get that beautiful view.

Intricate ceiling and wall detail, arches, and pillars that separated the left side of the room from the right: both sides that appeared to have been former large living quarters, with a large bar in the centre towards the right of the room, and a staircase leading up from the centre, this hotel had been transformed with a recent facelift, but the old-style feel remained, and it oozed character. You could just see how this place had been in existence over a century ago, at a time of horse and carriage, and adding to this vibe was one more, fairly prevalent thing: the musty smell.

It actually smelt like an old hotel. But not in a rotting, outdated, unclean way. It smelt earthy, original, and very very cool.

The hotel was renamed to its current name after a visit from Queen Victoria’s second son Prince Alfred. Remaining a site of enjoyment for some of the finest members of ‘societe’ over the years, it is clear to see this reflective in the current day interior retaining old-world charm, and why it has continued to hold onto its strong and proud ties to its noble past.

The hotel shows its age with its great, expansive spaces, something I learnt soon after as I took baby girl to the bathroom… on the way there and to your left, is the open-view kitchen that allows you to look in and see the chefs at work. And in the bathroom itself, old-world grandiose continues in the little details, fixtures and fittings, with large amenities too. New hotels are not the size that these magnificent pieces of history are. You can tell this is an old, old building, in the most fabulous and appreciative of ways.

The hotel is open 365 days a year and as well as having rooms for accommodation, it also has the fine restaurant we dined at that Tuesday evening in March.

We were showed to a table that wasn’t in front of the ‘bay’ window, but we could see out through it still from our distance… instead we had a window that showed out the side towards Kirks, and it was nice to see that while we were deliciously snug, it was rainy out.

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I had called that day to see if we needed to book ahead, and I think being a non-peak season period the man suggested it was ok if we just ‘rocked up’ as I would say, or ‘arrived,’ as he probably would.

We were brought menus and ordered our drinks, but realised fairly soon after our French-looking waiter disappeared for a while, that we actually had to go up to the counter and pay and order for ourselves.

We got beer and a Kuku Pinot Noir to start

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while baby girl entertained herself with some pencils and colouring paper brought over by French-man. It was fairly quiet at this stage, so it felt super library-like, and I was super-freaking out over any outbursts baby girl would make. More on that later.

After not too long a wait (there weren’t many people there so it was to be expected) we received our meals:

Baby girl’s Crumbed chicken strips with fries & vegies

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Hubbie got the Murray Valley Port cutlet, mash potatoes, green beans, walnut & parsley salsa with red wine jus

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While I got the Malaysian chicken curry, jasmine rice & roti bread

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So I’ll start with baby girl, and her meal was fantastic. I was really pleased to see something other than the usual chicken and chips on her plate, and it was vegetables! And green ones at that! When provided with chips I know she will prevail on that, but she is a good eater and at home she eats her vegies… so when given the option, she will graze slightly, and so she did that night. She ate the chips and chicken alright, but she also had her broccoli, and that just makes any Mum happy. The food on offer was real, and didn’t look like crappy offcuts or leftovers, so that made me doubly happy.

Hubbie enjoyed his Pork cutlet, and it showed in how clean the plate was on removal… the only thing that wasn’t to taste was the red wine jus, he thought the marinade had burnt, as there was a slightly off-putting taste to it. If it weren’t for that, top marks from that fussy butcher Hubbie of mine.

And, leaving the best ‘til last… my meal was amazing. The highest honours, if only for that. The chicken was falling apart, it was succulent and soft and delicious. The jasmine rice in the banana leaf I believe, was very appealing and looked great, and then there was that roti bread. Drool. Oh man, if this is what all roti bread tastes like, I HAVE BEEN MISSING OUT. Of course the next roti bread I have elsewhere will not be up to scratch, I guarantee. But this roti bread was warm, puffed up, stretchy and soft. We all had some, I actually don’t know why I decided to share it as much as I did… maybe it was because I wanted to share my sudden intense love for roti bread… but they all concurred with me that it was definitely mmm-worthy.

I cleaned up my plate, easily.

Dinner had been yummo. I would have gladly stayed on for dessert, but for some reason baby girl just wasn’t working with us, and the other diners were now looking over… grrr argh. Great food, but snob-central. That night at least, we would have to give coffee and cake a Rain-check, so to speak.

Food: 9.5/10. Sensational. Fresh and delicious.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: Quiet, library-like when there are not many diners present. You can feel the character of the hotel and so silence is almost necessary to sit and soak up the chapters of history that have unfolded there.

Staff: We really only dealt with French-man, and he was fine, very concerned about doing his job properly, ‘to the book.’ But good.

People: We didn’t come across many. There was an old gentleman dining on his own who left before we did; a few couples beside the long-desired for window seats; and towards the end of our meal a rowdy American family sat near us, and this made me happy as their business and family talk almost blocked out any of the noises that baby girl was sporadically exploding with. I say almost, because she was still loud, and there was a couple, what looked like a 30-something woman with a 50-something man, who gave us ‘looks,’ staring pointedly when baby girl would yell out. Well, you all know how happy I am about ‘looks.’ I gave her a really good one as we exited the hotel, making sure she caught full well my intention… her rudeness and the library-vibe was the only thing that made the night difficult, as even though there is a kids meal section, and colouring and pencils for the kids, well unless they are in a straight-jacket, I don’t know quite how accepted they are there…

Price: $95ish for the lot. For 3 meals, and 3 drinks. The prices were slightlyon the upside, but the food was most definitely worth every delicious morsel I mean coin.

Advice: Book ahead if you want to sit by the window. Order the Malaysian chicken curry (you won’t be sorry). Maybe go at a peak time if you don’t want to deal with snot-faced moles when your child decides to you know, have a voice, and just generally be a child. F*&k me.

In a nutshell: I really loved this place, as Hubbie did too. The character and the food both won us over, but I wouldn’t hurry back (even though the Malaysian chicken is calling me), only because I am afraid of the too-quiet ambience and how that gels with a generally rambunctious and full-of-life baby girl.

I do highly recommend it to anyone else thinking of giving it a go, as I think the food and the atmosphere are something unique to be experienced. Stepping over the threshold where a royal has, is reason enough.

*UPDATE*

A year later, and back we went. And guess what? This is my new fave. The food yet again, amazing. And the alternative to possible snobby people inside?

IMAG9491

Sit outside. Ahhh.

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