Playground Hotel

The Dava Hotel
614 The Esplanade Mount Martha

(Visited December ’17)

I don’t even remember why we ventured over to the Dava Hotel that Tuesday in early December. I think Hubbie had heard of the place, and we were also keen to try something different, yet still close.

It was practically a 3 minute drive there. So the close box, was ticked. √

After waiting some time at the front counter to be seated, we were taken to a table to the side of the middle in the large room. It was LARGE. Open plan, working within the hotel image, where people staying overnight in the rooms within could venture on down and take food from the buffet cases, or people like us could walk in and dine from individual menus.

The expansiveness of the room, meant it wasn’t awfully cosy. But this was a hotel. We were coming to expect different.

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And just like a Hotel, we had to order and pay at two individual counters for drinks and food. Again, not ideal for us, but it happens at the Royal and we love that place. So Hubbie disappeared for sometime at the bar, doing his bit, and then I went over to the counter next to the buffet set-up to order our food.

While we waited for our drinks, I told him how the service I had received at the counter had been colder than the iceberg that hit the Titanic. The waitress was just not in the mood AT ALL, didn’t wanna be there, and hiding her palpable animosity towards, well LIFE in general, was very trying for her. I had sped off hastily.

Some alcohol helped me forget. I got the Wynns “The Gables” Cab Sav, while Hubbie had ordered himself a beer.

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The reason why I wasn’t kicking up a stink in regards to the service, was another huge determining factor of our possible night’s success. It was baby girl. And where she was. There was an enclosed play area just outside the eating area, and although it was around the corner, there was something else that made it easier to spy on your kids, even though you couldn’t see the entrance/exit.

The TV.

They had a TV on one wall showing the play area, and suddenly we realised why many families had sat within view of that TV – to enjoy their meal and yet still watch out for their little one outside.

We were slightly out of view of this TV, so we took turns in each getting up and going out to check on her – she was cool, as excited as a kid at Christmas (well it was coming up), and honestly wasn’t fazed that she hadn’t yet had her dinner.

But in between, we had moments of, what’s that word again… peace? Silence? Um, couple-time?

WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THE ABOVE?!

Hence why I forgot about the Iceberg-waitress fairly quickly.

Our food came relatively fast considering there were so many people there, and we had to herd our girl in for it too.

Hubbie had the 300 gm Grass Fed Porterhouse: served with chips and garden salad, and tomato sauce

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I had the Linguini Marinara: garlic and olive oil base with mussels, prawns, scallops and calamari.

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And baby girl had the Spaghetti Bolognaise

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Hers was a free kids meal because kids eat free on weekdays. It was an effort to get her to eat it only because that was the start of her “no sauce, no lumps” in pasta phase. So we moved things around and wrestled as much sauce free pasta out of the plate as we could, until we were somewhat satisfied with her efforts. Having said that, although it was free, a bolognaise from the jar was a fairly unimpressive kids meal, and I don’t care if it’s free – they are people too! And chefs, don’t you dare tell me that that sauce came from anywhere else!

Having said that, I could see other kids meals floating around, like fish and chips, and they looked much more appealing. Note to self. Order things for kids that is unlikely to come from a jar/packet.

Hubbie really liked his meal, and even likened the steak to Kirks style, even the price, saying there was not much difference. No way! The same? That was impressive, that a hotel could do a steak to the same standard as a restaurant like Kirks. He was impressed. Geez.

Having said that, I was pleased with my meal too. It was a substantial dish, I enjoyed the mild flavour of the garlic and olive oil, and half of the seafood I did enjoy, such as the fish pieces, prawns and mussels, however the scallops were undercooked for my liking, and likewise the calamari was not a fave. Seafood dishes are really hard to get right I find, and when I do find a dish that gets every single component right and seafood cooked perfectly, I’ll let you know. Those not-to-taste bits were easy to pick out, and otherwise, it was yum.

We had been pleasantly surprised with our meals, baby girl was having a rad ol’ time running between our table and the outside playground, and we could actually relax… so we decided what the hell, let’s do dessert and coffees too.

I got a cap, Hubbie a latte, and baby girl a babycino

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(Hubbie’s ‘strong’ latte)

And then the dessert: baby girl got ice cream with choc topping and sprinkles; I got the Toblerone mousse cake; and Hubbie got an opera slice

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Baby girl was rapt with her dessert. Ice cream, sprinkles, chocolate? That makes perfect sense. She ate it ALL. However that’s where the satisfaction stopped. Hubbie’s opera slice was average, whereas my slice of cake was just, ok. I was left feeling overly full, but not in that delightful way where you’ve had the most amazing meal. It was the regretful “I should have stopped at main” feeling. Both our cakes had that bulk manufactured taste, and really, I think the safest way to go for dessert was baby girl’s route – the ice cream.

The night was a really mixed bag. There were pros, there were cons… but as we tried to wrangle our girl from the playground and into the car, to protests of tears and “I don’t want to go!” we realised we may have just found ourselves an imperfect paradise for some ‘us ‘ time.

Food: 6.5/10. This was a hard one to rate, due to the difference in meal quality between courses. I have to take in Hubbie’s ‘like Kirks’ steak, just as I need to take in baby girl’s ‘sauce from a jar’ bolognaise.

Coffee: 7/10. It was good.

Ambience: Noisy and busy – just how we like! It allowed us to relax (relax in noise?) as we weren’t concerned about any of baby girl’s sporadic outbursts out of random necessity. Lots of people about, all getting ready for the festive season. And this was a Tuesday night.

People: Families on holiday, pensioners, ladies meeting for a tipple or two. Grown families, young families, really, ALL sorts. The typical Aussie prevailed. You define that as you will.

Staff: Apart from that one cold-from-the-depths-of-her-ravaged-soul waitress, we did in fact have luck with others. The girl who sat us down, the woman who cleared our plates for us, and also the girl who took our dessert order, were ALL very pleasant and friendly, so majority won.

Price: just over $100 for the lot – including drinks, main meals and dessert. Baby girl’s meal was free, so that meant our $64 food order averaged about $32 a piece… decent considering it is a hotel. So those individual prices were a bit high for hotel-quality food, yet overall we did well in the $ department.

Advice: If you come with children – sit as close as possible to the TV as you can. You won’t regret it. If you have really small littlies, there is a smallish room around the corner from the bar, that is the entrance to the playground – you can sit in there and eat, as well as watch your kids go on baby-type play equipment, and you are right there. But so is every other baby in the restaurant, so you choose.

Pick foods that can’t be screwed up for kids. Main adult meals should be ok. Dessert – just go for the ice cream, you’ll be happy you did.

In a nutshell: Having the outdoor playground with monitored TV inside is an excellent concept. So simple, so clever. It is simple food, and when you order what they do well, you walk away with a bargain.

If you want a no-fuss, child-friendly place where you can relax while your kids burn off some steam… then you have found it. And because of the ability to have some child-free moments, you walk away feeling like you’ve actually been on holiday… at a hotel.

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

Heavenly Surroundings

God’s Kitchen
53 Barkly Street Mornington

(Visited April ’16)

We called ahead on night 2 of our Mount Martha stay to find out which restaurant would be best suited for us to dine at with baby girl. We booked with the kitchen of the Gods, after hearing they were kid-friendly. Loud, we were advised, with the commencement of the nearby band by a certain time, but definitely friendly.

Loud, did you say? Loud enough to drown out any of her complaints? We almost high-tailed it over to the bar/restaurant, a grasshopper’s jump away from the Main street.

Luckily we had booked. The round, dome-shaped conservatory-type room we were led to wasn’t huge, with other tables already full and our table with high-chair waiting. God’s Kitchen is based around a heritage-listed church from back in the 1800s, the church itself used as the space for live music by local musicians, with diners able to eat casually at the garden bar, the conservatory type room with the Bohemian-looking chandelier, or at the front courtyard. It was already loud as we arrived, so we felt immediately at ease.

I soon ordered a glass of Stonier Pinot Noir from the Peninsula itself, while Hubbie ordered a sweet beer, off tap.

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We had to call for service because we were forgotten amongst the rush of it all, but because the waitress was so nice about it she was immediately forgiven.

We got some Prawn and Ginger Gyoza with Ponzu to share, and even though I couldn’t taste much of the ginger they were still really good.

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Baby girl’s meal came before ours as requested, and even though crap photo in the dark quality doesn’t show much of it (what you get from dim lighting and simple camera phone), she really did LOVE her Pasta. We were amazed that even though she wore a pale pink top, it remained untouched with sauce stains the entire time… until the last 2 minutes of her meal of course.

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She happily slurped it up.

Soon our mains arrived: my Pumpkin and Chickpeas Curry alongside rice and warm flatbread

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And Hubbie’s Grass-fed Rib Eye steak from Gippsland, atop mash and greens

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Mine was definitely a comforting dish, and was pleasing, however it just felt like a carb-fest. I would have appreciated some tzatziki or yoghurt to offset all the warm flavours and heavy textures. I’m a carb girl, through and through. But it was just a bit imbalanced on the plate.

Hubbie enjoyed his steak, saying it was cooked to his liking, and the accompanying sides were just right. He also enjoyed pecking at my carbs when I was done getting overfull!

Baby girl was doing well, meaning to say we had discovered the best way to occupy her was to set up a constant stream of Wiggles on youtube via our phones, and this kept her happily entertained… which is why we were able to have this: Churros – chocolate-filled Spanish doughnuts

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These were doughy, and also, amazing. I’m not an expert on the churro, though they’re so good I should aim to be, but I had just imagined them to be crispier, whereas these were softer… maybe having the filling leads to the softer texture, whereas a traditional plain churro is crispier? Someone inform me. Otherwise, crispy/soft, they were really yum. Moorish, and really easy to eat.

It had been a great night, in comforting yet loud surrounds, right up our alley with baby girl, and we had even gotten some interesting info from our main waitress who had a distinct accent. We told her we were planning a Sea change, and she told us she had done the same from overseas but to a neighbouring suburb that she loved. It was comforting to hear and discover, and more than a coincidence we thought, that we should be served be her 🙂

Food: 7/10. Decent. Nothing to particularly rave about, but it matches the bar atmosphere.

Coffee: N/A.

Ambience: Really loud with the live music blasting from the adjoining church! Having a vocal baby girl, we loved it.

Staff: Really friendly. Both our accented waitress and another shyer waitress were terrific with us, we couldn’t have been happier with the kind and genuine service.

People: In our space there were many families, young and old dining out, whereas as you left this room to go outside through the church area, it became a typical pub scene, with heaps of teens hanging out rocking to the music. I was surprised that such a diverse group of people occupy the same space, yet somehow, it works.

Price: $120: consisting of 3 alcoholic drinks, an entrée, child’s meal, 2 mains and a dessert. Perhaps a bit much for what we received, but we’re on the PENINSULA now you see. Still slightly overpriced. My wine was $12 on its own.

Advice: Book ahead, because we’ve learnt that everything on the Peninsula gets booked out: all the locals head out on the weekend, and if you’re from out-of-town you need to compete with them to get seated!

In a nutshell: I enjoyed this restaurant due to the casual atmosphere and live music, it definitely is a fun place to be on the weekend. I’d love to try those churros again, and have some brekkie outside in the courtyard on a warm sunny day. There is no 5-star food here, but it does the job. Being the location of a former church makes it all the more picturesque. Still, it’s a heavenly location.

Gods Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bacon, Brioche & Co.

Milkbar & Co.
1/42 Lochiel Avenue Mount Martha

It was the morning after deciding to randomly stay over in the Peninsula. Our accommodation in Martha was great, however, when you come unprepared, it means you might suddenly get freezing cold at 5am because you’re up in the hills, and you sleep half-naked because you didn’t bring anything other than your swimwear underneath your dress.

So needless to say, we were a tad tired that Monday morning. We ventured down to the little strip of shops we had run off to the previous night to buy much-needed supplies, to a quaint and funky place called Milkbar & co.

I had been drawn to the place ever since I’d seen the handwritten poster up against their outside wall.

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For those of you who can’t read sun-glare writing (who can?) it says “I hate when people say you don’t need alcohol to have fun. Well you don’t need running shoes to run but it helps.”

This made me LOL inside. It made perfect sense that we should eat there.

However we immediately encountered massive pole-bum attitude from the young waitress who tended to us. She was too cool for school. Literally. Like she had just finished holidays and was jealous she wasn’t out there beach-bumming it like all her friends. She was very sour, we had to call her over several times, and she made it out like we were doing her an injustice by calling her over. She was only moderately-tempered later when I paid at the end of our meal inside the café, and maybe that was because her boss was nearby. I don’t know. I usually save my report on staff ‘til the end of my review, but her disdain for everything was so apparent that mention must be made first.

We sat outside, and placed our orders. A very kind local was sitting alone near us, and heard us telling baby girl to behave. Baby girl, was not. This lady mentioned that we could get colouring pencils from the staff, seeing as she usually does that with her own cheeky brood when they are there with her. That day, she was enjoying some temporary peace. (How I was jelly). Upon her kind suggestion we got some from another passing waiter (not Grinch-girl).

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They kept her kind of busy.

Hubbie’s cappuccino came first. It looked awesome after 5 interrupted hours of sleep.

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And I ordered a freshly squeezed orange juice, which was uplifting and refreshing. Hubbie loved it as much as I did, as he kept stealing sips.

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Then our meals:

My Brioche French Toast, with organic maple syrup and streaky bacon

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And Hubbie and Baby girl got the same meals – Fruit toast with butter and jam2016-01-11 09.49.38

My meal was really nice, however I seriously wasn’t expecting that much bacon. I need to say that I am not necessarily a bacon girl, but I will eat the ‘clean’ pieces if it comes in a meal of mine. If you’re a bacon lover, you would LOVE this meal. Even though the pieces were ‘clean,’ and I was impressed by that, still consuming the lot (I hate wastage) it made me slightly ill later, only because I’m not used to so much of it.

The fruit toast was thick and soft, with very chunky fruit pieces inside. Again, if you are a fruit toast lover, this is fab. The chunky fruit pieces were a bit too chunky for baby girl, however it’s something I know I would have enjoyed. It was a generous fruit toast in my book, and very sweet.

Later I had my cappuccino and enjoyed it for a few lovely and lonesome minutes while Hubbie walked a squirmy baby girl up and down the footpath.

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Their coffee is Dukes, and at first the flavour was quite strong, but like Dukes usually is, it softened and gave way to a gentle smooth flavour by the time I was taking my last sip.

I paid Grinch-girl inside where she suddenly had found the mechanism to turn her face into a somewhat upward turn, and we left for Mornington Beach.

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Food: 7.5/10. It was generous, and done well.

Coffee: 8/10. Dukes: strong, then smooth.

Ambience: Chilled beach-vibe, what with the surf hidden behind the tall trees just across the road. It had a very local feel sitting in amongst all the other convenience stores and eateries there.

Staff: Hmmm. So should I reiterate? Our waitress was ill-mannered. Other wait staff there seemed ok. The management needs to either be careful of who it hires, or put their staff into an aggressive waiter boot camp, where snobbish, rude, arrogant and unhelpful traits are stamped out. You can’t serve people like that, you just can’t.

People: I could heard a lot of ‘local’ talk, and you would, as I said, being on a small strip within Mount Martha. Families, ladies catching up, and older people too. We also saw a well-known underground figure walking his dog… All sorts.

Price: In the $40s for our lot. Within reason.

Advice: Try not to get served by anyone that looks like they have just bitten into a lemon. There are colouring pencils there for the kids, so if you’re not given any and you just can’t handle the whining anymore, call over a ‘lovely’ waiter to pass some over thank you very much. Listen to the menu descriptions too. Bacon on brioche means “lots of!” bacon. Fruit toast means “lots of!” fruit chunks. Take note.

In a nutshell: Despite the fact that our waitress left little of her service to be desired, this would be a cafe we could happily go back to. The food was great, coffee too, the beachside proximity was desirable, and it was a nice lovely strip to stop for brekkie. Plus, we’re kind of in love with the Peninsula. So fortunately for this establishment, we’ll be back.

But Grinch… me (and co.) will be watching you…

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Milkbar & Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Main Hotel

Bay Hotel
62 Main Street Mornington

Not even a week after returning from Port Douglas, we were down at Frankston beach, rapt with all the kid and family-friendly features and surroundings – grass, shady trees, big change rooms for children, accessible (but heavily fought for!) parking, nearby café and ice cream – that after we were done there for the day, we kind of drove further into the Mornington Peninsula just to get baby girl to fall asleep in the car… and we ended up staying in Mount Martha overnight. As you do.

It was spontaneous, exciting and so different. We hadn’t packed, we didn’t have nappies for baby girl, and all I had on me was my bikinis with my very tropical-fringed dress draped over me. We were definitely not prepared. After organising overnight accommodation, we bought a few key items, and headed on down to Main Street in Mornington, where we have been so many times before, to get some tucker into us.

We decided on The Bay Hotel after a bit of to-and-fro up the street, only because we were looking for something a bit kid-friendly, both space and food wise, because she had slept very little in the car and we didn’t want to piss her off even more.

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It’s a grand old building, visually striking, and used to be a bank back in the day before being transformed to the restaurant and bar that it is today. There was seating outside but much more within its doors, with some casual lounges on the right by the window to perhaps sip on a coffee and window-watch people stroll by, with the majority of the seating on the left of the venue, beside the long-stretching bar. High ceilings, echoey spaces, and dark wood gave this venue even more of an esteemed aura, making me a tad nervous with baby girl’s intermittent outcries. Add to that the few people actually sitting inside, none of them making noise, and it didn’t feel like the best place to bring along a toddler.

However the staff didn’t make us feel like that. The waiter who served us in between spending the majority of his time behind the bar, and our main waitress, both made us all feel welcome, getting us a high chair, giving baby girl pencils and paper to colour in with, and just being very kind and gracious about her ‘noise.’ They were awesome. And of course, there was a kids menu, so they expected kids to come in and yell, right?

We ordered as quick as we could.

We needed something to peck on first, so we got the

Duo of dips, cumin oil and flatbread

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The flatbread was warm and eagerly devoured by baby girl. In fact we could have just let her eat that, but we had gone and ordered a proper main for her as well which in hindsight we could have gone without going by the flatbread portion. The dips were both great, and though I completely forget which was which, I know I liked them both, whereas Hubbie only liked the green one.

We had ordered drinks too – I had a Pinocchio Pinot Grigio, and Hubbie ‘double parked’ as the waitress coined, with a Johnnie Red and also a Crown

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Baby girl was kept busy with this picture of a cat (colouring in by Mum and Dad)

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After, our meals came.

My Paella – prawns, chicken, chorizo, mussels, saffron, olives and smoked paprika

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Hubbie’s 400g T-bone with chips and salad

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And baby girl’s Kids parmigiana and chips

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While we also had a side of steamed vegetables, for anyone that cared for them

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(Note: the uglier my food photos, the harder the meal was with baby girl. Just a late disclaimer).

Baby girl’s meal was huge! She pecked at most of the chips and we found bits of tomato in her salad too which she loved, but she didn’t have a lot of the chicken, which we tried to finish ourselves despite our huge plates. Nothing against the chicken, but she isn’t a huge fan of meat. Too much chewing required. Sigh, children nowadays. It was a massive kids meal, well worth the $12, and probably better suited to older children than toddlers like herself.

Hubbie enjoyed his T-bone steak, saying it was cooked to his liking, had a great char-grilled favour, and in total was a generous, comforting meal. He was a happy chappy.

My Paella was nice, however there was no overriding smoky flavour, or other discernible flavours as suggested in the meal title. It was a nice dish, but there was nothing noteworthy about it. As a paella, it was fairly bland. However, being hungry, and the fact I had seafood and rice in front of me, I ate as much as my stomach allowed.

Baby girl had been going a bit crazy during our meal time, and we had had to take turns watching her (walking outside with her while she waved at all the passers-by) while the other party ate alone inside. Seriously, this is why parents do not eat out with toddlers. My food posts may cease altogether if we continue at this rate. For some unknown reason, we still thought it appropriate despite her unsettledness, to order short blacks for us, and a babycino for her.

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She was happy with the marshmallows that accompanied her babycino. We both skulled our coffees, however mine was very much on the strong side, a bit too much for my liking. Still, coffee: I drank.

I up and paid and we left. Sorry folks, hope we weren’t too much of a racket. Bloody Melbourne folk.

Food: 7/10.

Coffee: 6.5/10. Based on my short black, too strong for me.

Ambience: A bit too quiet and refined for my liking, with baby girl I mean. Chilled out Triple J-like tunes playing in the background made it out to be more of a place you catch up with friends, than one you take your toddler out to dinner with.

Staff: Really friendly, smiley and helpful, and I’m grateful for this because I’m sure they thought we were a bit annoying. (I say ‘we,’ but I mean ‘baby girl,’ because I’m trying to be overprotective and defensive of her you see 😉 )

People: Couples, an older mother and daughter duo, and another family, but this family had older kids with ipads, with the Mother looking over to me every now and then with the look ‘why have you taken her out with you?’ while I stared back with ‘Have you forgotten how it’s like to have toddlers you nasty piece of *^&%!’

Price: $122.10 all up. That was one starter, 3 mains, 1 side, 3 alcoholic drinks, and 2 and a half coffees (they charged for the babycino…. Grrr, Argh). The price was actually reasonable considering what we ordered. I just wished some of it had been to a higher standard.

Advice: Maybe eat outside if you’re coming with kids – the outdoors will cloud their cries of discontent/amusement/toddler talk.

In a nutshell: It was a lovely place, and though some things we felt needed improvement, the staff more than enough made up for it. The fact that it’s on the Main Street and within a place we love to frequent (watch this space…) we would probably come back in the near future.

Who doesn’t want to be by the Bay?

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😉

Bay Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato