A local on the Esplanade

Kirks on the Esplanade
774 Esplanade Mornington

(Visited October ’16)

We ventured to this hotel/pub style restaurant while still on hols… and by hols I mean in the deepest midst of never-ending unpacked boxes. I mean, when your kitchen stuff is God knows where, you really can’t cook up a meal, right? Especially when your potential dine-out view is something like this:

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Yep. It was freezing cold and windy as I stepped out of the car that evening mid-October, and yet I still had to brace myself just to take a photo of the most spectacular coastline.

I could definitely get used to those views.

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We headed into Kirks, and although we hadn’t booked ahead we still got a seat on that Tuesday night. We sat in the glass-house like section at the front of the restaurant, which in my humble opinion (and every other sane person’s I think) is the best seat in the house. There is seating behind this area, but the view of the water is further away, and really, unless you are sick of views like that (who are you, an alien?) I don’t know why you would choose to go anywhere else.

Although we received menus and all, and baby girl conveniently received one of those kid’s packs with crayons, stickers and activity paper, it was an order-at-the-counter type of establishment, so the food and drink were both ordered further into the restaurant behind us, with food at one section, and drinks ordered at the bar.

There are also toilets in between the bar and food ordering sections, while a TAB functions at the left of the establishment once you walk further up the stairs, operational every day of the week. This place has really got something for everybody. Food, alcohol, entertainment, and Port Phillip Bay views.

Hubbie got me a cab sav and himself a beer.

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The surroundings were peaceful, with definite locals around, now ourselves included (!) and there was a calm comfort in the air, the restaurant keeping the cold Spring air out and its inhabitants warm inside, with only the view of the water to remind them of the elements outside. It felt like a pub-style yet classy establishment.

Baby girl’s meal arrived first as requested, and it was hot!

Spaghetti with Napoli sauce

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She had also received a free drink as it was a kid’s meal special. She enjoyed her spaghetti, it was a hit with her, and the serving was definitely generous. With her main came our entrée, which was

Roasted pumpkin bruschetta – Oven-roasted pumpkin tossed with semi-dried tomatoes & basil served on mozzarella toasted ciabatta

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It was exactly as the description told us, with the pumpkin element adding a vegetable warmth usually missing in bruschetta options, and the mozzarella giving a good dose of cheesiness! It was a hearty meal, and we were already half way to full-ville when our mains arrived:

Hubbie’s YG Aged & Grain-fed Portland Scotch Fillet 300g with a red wine and mushroom sauce, with chips and salad

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And my Chilli Tiger Prawns, tossed in a cream & white wine sauce, served with fragrant jasmine rice & a side salad

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Hubbie thought his steak was amazing! Impressing the fussy butcher, WHAT?! Yep, you heard right. Although he had ordered his steak medium to well, it was a tad more medium… but that was acceptable. The other components on his plate were a bonus, because let’s face it, when a butcher orders steak, all we’re really gonna judge is the meat, right?

I had been longing for a classic style of chilli prawns. And this didn’t disappoint. The sauce wasn’t the most chilli-rific, but the prawns… there were 11 of them! Count that! That, made me happy. When I order prawn ‘whatever,’ I want prawns, and a decent quantity too. It was good to see that though the price was equally decent for an institution of that calibre, that the quantity of meal (and components on the plate) matched it. By the end, I was content.

After our decent meals, me giggling my way through the rest of my wine (the quantity of this was decent too, and got me fairly tipsy), and sitting back in our chairs observing the views outside, it soon grew too dark to see the water, and then it was time to go.

Food: 9/10. They are the classic pub-style generous sizes, jazzed up too because of the location and views. I give them a higher score, because of how well they received us on another visit… read on below…

Coffee: N/A, but mark my word I will try it one day soon!

Ambience: Casual and cosy. Intermittent laughter and louder than normal groups were heavily punctuated by longer silences and still moments when people were just chilling. I think being by the bay makes everyone feel that much calmer. You just stop, and stare.

People: Locals. Locals. Locals. Cold Tuesday night in October, who else but locals? There were a group of 3 guys near us, but predominantly there were older couples, and older groups… um, Mornington is a bit of a Pensioner’s Paradise. Is everyone aware of that? I mean, they even have a pensioner special! That’s telling you something.

There was also a Mum and son pairing, and then later, a family of 5 (applause to the parents) came to sit nearby as we were finishing up, but it was generally an older crowd about, and from repeated visits, we’ve noticed a $$$ one.

Staff: The staff provided friendly service, both in explaining to us straight-up after ascertaining we were new, how we had to order, and also by kindly giving the kids set to baby girl, without us even asking. God Bless. More on the exceptional staff below.

Price: The total price was approximately $120-130, being vague because there were two receipts when Hubbie put the orders through at the counter and bar respectively, and we didn’t keep both. Though Hubbie thought the price too much for pub-style surroundings, I reminded him we weren’t only paying for the food, but for the magnificent view. Something to keep in mind. I for one think it is worth it.

The only downside is the ordering up at the counter part for both drinks and food… it’s places like these you expect to pay a little less, rather than the amount we paid at Kirks.

Advice: Book ahead only so you can be assured a spot in the first sun-room section.

In a nutshell: We have been to this venue a few more times since our initial visit, which shows you without me saying, that we were more than happy to go back!

On one visit we received the most kindest and understanding staff, that I absolutely have to mention it here, and praise praise praise. Baby girl was having an exceptional moment one night, heavily over-tired, and pretty much had a breakdown as I tried to take her to the toilets, which resulted in me almost having a breakdown. One lovely waitress tried to help me settle her, and calm my nerves amidst other diners eye-ing us off suspiciously, and then when we were in the bathroom, that same waitress went to Hubbie and told him to let me know “not to worry. We are a family restaurant, we have kids, we understand.”

When he told me that, I honestly started to cry.

Because so often wait staff, store people, and just generally a lot of the population that have no kids, or have long passed that stage and forgotten how difficult it is, will turn up their nose at you for even taking your child out, let alone when they’ve had enough and scream blue murder at the top of their lungs. So for this waitress to go up to Hubbie and say what she did, was like an Angel singing the most beautiful hymn.

She then continued to be accommodating that night, by giving baby girl one of her own child’s toys to play with, and even another waitress was especially kind to us. It was like, they knew…

…that kids WILL act like kids. Funny huh? This place jumped up high in my books after that night, and eternally it will now be a regular fave. Well done guys.

So with all that said, I will definitely go back again, not only because they were so especially kind and understanding to us and baby girl, but also to finish off my ‘to-do at Kirks’ checklist:

Drink wine in their outdoor section taking in the view

Have brekkie in their outdoor section taking in the view

Have coffee in their outdoor section taking in the view

Did I mention taking in the view?

Basically… do not shirk a visit, to Kirks.

Kirks on the Esplanade Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Brisket District

District North Cafe
678 Mt Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds

(Visited September ’16)

Spring and sunshine. That was the mix and the fresh smell in the air as baby girl and I headed to Moonee Ponds on a Saturday at the onset of September.

A few weeks earlier we had organised for a little catch up – some of the ‘gang’ with our kiddies. As it was, one of the Mums left hers at home (lucky thing) while myself and another friend had our scallywags accompany us.

District North is an expansive, neutral-coloured, clean space. Seating is aplenty, but still, being in a busy eating precinct on a sunny Saturday morning, you can never be too sure. We had booked ahead, and got a booth location up against the wall.

Once the kids were both seated, they fortunately received this:

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Thank God for colouring pencils. Well, it kept them busy for all of 46 seconds.

Anyway, we very quickly ordered, rushing the kids’ meals. It was a busy place, and definitely one that your child’s voice would get lost in the crowd – this is good. However kids being kids, we just didn’t want to test them, 11:30am and all.

Baby girl got the kids serving of pancakes with ice cream

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While I got the Bloody Brisket Benedict – Dr Marty’s crumpets, slow-cooked beef brisket, poached eggs, bloody mary hollandaise

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Now to be perfectly honest, I didn’t really understand what I was ordering. I kind of did, but somehow in amongst keeping baby girl in line and handing over pencil after pencil, and trying to keep her hands from taking the trucks out of her opponent’s (my friend’s son’s) hand, I kind of missed the ‘slow-cooked beef brisket’ part of the description, and thought Brisket was just, well, sauce or something.

Shame shame shame.

Anyway, I now know what brisket is. And it was delicious. When I received it I was initially a bit “okaayyy.” I’m not huge on meaty dishes, only because of how fussy I am when I eat it. I don’t trust many to give me clean pieces of meat that have no icky bits in them. Even Hubbie was surprised to later hear that I’d had ‘brisket.’

“No, but it was good!”

And it was. The meat was super soft, there was a lot of it, but because of its shredded properties it all kind of melted in the mouth. I didn’t even find it all that overpowering, and it helped me to make the decision months later, to choose the brekkie brisket meal over at The Winey Cow in Mornington (post coming soon).

The eggs were fantastically poached, the bread was good, having gotten nice and soft under all that brisket and egg, and the hollandaise had definite kick… I would never have normally ordered a meat brekkie dish, but I was so glad I hadn’t read it properly, otherwise I never would have tried. Delish!

My friend, who had already been there with her son, had only gotten him one pancake on his own plate – and now I could see why. The pancakes were huge, and though baby girl had a very good crack at them, she didn’t finish them all. They were of a very good portion.

Now pumped up with much-needed fuel, we immediately ordered coffees:

Babycino and cappuccino for baby girl and I

My cap was very smooth, something I half-expected having already experienced this well-run operation of eatery. And baby girl, well… when doesn’t she like her babycinos?

After a couple of toilet breaks, a short sitting outside on the small patio, and the kids finding the bucket of chalk to draw on the blackboard wall opposite the bathrooms, we went to pay, ogling the desserts up at the counter, but promising ourselves we would be back for those… another time.

Food: 9/10. Tasty, generous, and inventive. Why, bloody Mary hollandaise? Why not?!

Coffee: 8/10. Smooth and pleasing.

Ambience: Busy and bustling, not necessarily loud, but there were many people about on that Saturday morning.

People: There were lots of friends and couples meeting for brunch, but then there was a decent dose of family types about as well, like the couple who came to sit beside us with their under 10s son and daughter, making me all jelly as their kids were just sitting there… reading the menu… like they didn’t have to do anything to entertain their kids. What?!

Staff: Friendly, but busy too so we didn’t really get a chance to get personal.

Price: I shouted one friend for a past favour, and the other gave me cash so I could pay with my card, so the individual total I was unclear on… but I believe it was about $80ish, for 3 brunch meals, 2 kids meals, and a few coffees? On par for that area.

Advice: Definitely book ahead if going in ‘prime’ time. Head over earlier too, just because you will need a bit of time to find parking on or off the busy Mt Alexander Road. If you have toddlers in tow, be mindful, the meals are generous. And don’t shy away from the Brisket!

In a nutshell: The food and coffee were fantastic. The venue itself, with its hipster pulled-back palette, is nothing inventive or inspiring to me, so in that regard it was lacking some character. I would definitely go back for the menu, but I’ve seen that kind of café and accompanying atmosphere around many times before. Nonetheless, if you are local to this area, you should check it out, that I recommend.

I would go there more often myself, if it were in my beach-side District…

District North Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Perspective

19 degrees in Winter… “Ahh nice, bring it on Spring.”

19 degrees in Summer… “What the?! What is this stupid excuse of a season?”

 

Waking up healthy… “Eh, another day.”

Waking up sick… “I can’t wait to feel good again.”

 

Dealing with a whinging baby… “Stop crying! You are so annoying, I can’t handle it!”

A childless woman wanting a baby, watching a whinging baby… “What I would give to hold one of my own…”

 

Going into work… “I hate work.”

Not having a job to go to… “My work wasn’t too bad.”

 

Feeling overwhelmed by food after a banquet sitting… “I couldn’t eat another thing!”

A starving child in a third-world country feeling overwhelmed by the lack of food… “If only I could find a crumb.”

 

These are trivialities, first world-problems, serious problems, and for us privileged, most are perspective.

Getting consumed by the nonsense of everyday life is both easy yet unnecessary, and can be overcome when you ask yourself “Is there worse out there? How bad is this scenario?”

There are many, many serious problems and issues out in the world. But how much easier would it be to deal with those things when we removed the silly nonsense from everyday life, enjoyed more of what’s around us, and appreciated what we have?

Showing gratitude for simple things every day, is a very easy way to turn your perspective around, and bring more joy, more happiness, more abundance, and generally more of what you want, into your life EVERY DAY. I know this, because earlier this year I started my own online gratitude journey… inspired by a car crash.

If you would like to check it out, or find some inspiration for your own journey, or you just want to see how I can possibly be grateful that I went back to work after time off (my most recent post), you can click here.

If you are reading this, that means you have survived every single bad thing that has ever happened in your life. Wow, are you a superhero?!

Remember, SMILE. It’s all good 🙂

Toyboxes and Happiness Beans

Bean Counter Café
15 Railway Place Fairfield

That Wednesday lunch was catch-up for me, baby girl and bestie, once again in Fairfield. I had wanted to go there because of the kid-friendly tags associated with the café positioned off the main road, and with mentions of books and toys, (and change table – hey you need to be prepared) I thought it would be a pleasing experience for all.

Bean Counter Café is positioned on the corner of a leafy tree-lined suburban street, opposite Fairfield train station, with seating both out the front and inside, as well as further seating out the back of the café, which I was to learn about later. It is a cool and cosy place, with a bit of Fairfield funk. Bestie already had a table inside the cafe right by the door, and with the addition of high chair we were all set.

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The woman making coffees and our waiter serving us were both immediately very friendly to baby girl and us adults, making me surer of our decision to go there. The worst thing is going to a place where you feel your child will be despised for their excited squeals, but here it seemed they were almost expecting it.

We ordered fairly soon after, and I was impressed when without mentioning it, our waiter asked me if I wanted baby girl’s toastie delivered earlier before our lunches. This guy knows. Tick.

Her H.C.T Toastie – Ham Cheese and Tomato toasted sandwich came fairly early.

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She ate most of it in dribs and drabs, as toddlers do, eating a lot, and then none, and then slowly having more in distracted moments while I put it in her mouth.

A fair wait later, we received our meals.

I had the Zucchini Corn and Haloumi Fritters – topped with blanched spinach, fresh avocado, a poached egg and finished with tomato salsa

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And bestie had the Smashed Avocado and Feta – two slices of sourdough toast with avocado mash and sprinkled with feta, topped with sunflower pumpkin and linseeds, served with grilled cherry tomatoes and asparagus

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Now, both our lunches were from the brekkie menu, which we had learned was available all day – tick. However I felt (and bestie even agreed) that it took a tad long to receive our meals… granted it was the school holidays, however we had ordered about 1pm, what you would imagine to be after the lunchtime rush, and though there were
people about it wasn’t really packed.

However, despite the wait, the food was delicious. I omitted avocado for mine because my stomach sadly does not do avocado anymore. My poached egg was done so perfectly and oozing the yellow yolk, the fritters were flavoursome, and the salsa gave it that much needed kick to complement the other earthier flavours. The presentation was amazing, and all in all I loved it.

I know bestie loved hers, as she often frequents the place with her hubbie. Tick.

Soon after we decided to get some coffees and a babycino of course.

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What I loved about the babycino we received was it came in a kind of rubber-type of cup, and I imagine the people who own this place know kids can throw things, which kind of horrifies me to think they’ve had cups of frothed milk flung far and wide from across the café, but having a toddler, I should know better and accept it as a reality. My hand continuously hovers above hers as she gulps it down. All was delicious, however the coffee drinking was halted when the lady making coffees saw baby girl starting to get impatient with us slow-drinking coffee girls, and suggested the back area for baby girl to play with. What? There was a kids ‘area?’ All I had seen thus far was a little corner by the front door that had worn out books and scribbly things, alongside brand new packets of mini colouring books that you could buy brand new (clever people). She helped us move outside, and it was here that I went ‘ahhh, this is where the kid-friendly tag comes from.’

Cafes can sport change tables, and waiters who know how to talk to your baby, and coffee making like-minded Mums who also have a toddler just younger than yours, but when a café has this

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It REALLY is a kid-friendly café.

That chair actually opened up to an empty space underneath, which I’m sure is where the toys strewn out alongside it on the table usually live when visiting children haven’t unearthed the contents. Baby girl happily joined in with some big kids in the toy excavation hunt, while bestie and I chatted away.

It’s a great outdoor area. It was a tad cold on that day, and even though it’s covered out there the wind still got its hooks into all of us. Coffee lady had turned on the nearby heater, though with the icy wind it didn’t do much, and suggested we use the handy throws they have on supply.

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Great idea.

It’s a beautiful space, probably much more enjoyable on a warmer day. There’s a small water fountain against the wall, cute mosaic tables and chairs, and a quote about coffee, and let’s face it who can have too much coffee quotes? Not me.

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Once baby girl had had enough of running around out there (defined by me who knows her best) we up and paid and left.

Food: 8/10. The wait was long, but the food was worth it. Great presentation, equally great flavours.

Coffee: 7/10. The coffee drinking experience was stalled when we moved outside, so it was a bit cooler by the time I got to it again, but all in the name of keeping baby girl busy, which is the most important thing really (even after coffee, I know).

Ambience: Pretty chilled there on the corner of a suburban street.

People: I’d say fairly confidently a good dose of locals and those who are kind of local. There were a few fams there as it was the school holidays, friends meeting for lunch and a lot of leisurely ladies.

Staff: Really lovely from the beginning, welcoming and friendly to baby girl and I, and engaging and helpful too.

Price: For our three lunches and 3 drinks, the tally was $50 ish, which I think was spot on for what we got, and the area we were in.

Advice: If you have kids, go straight out the back with them, rain hail or shine. Just come equipped, with jackets and scarves and beanies (which shouldn’t be so much a problem now as we’re in the midst of a Spring heatwave) so that kids and adults alike stay warm while adults enjoy their food and drink in peace. Because we all need peace.

In a nutshell: I would definitely come here again, they had some very interesting menu options and a wide variety too, including some spectacular sounding shakes which sounded more dessert than liquid! Knowing the outdoor area caters for baby girl is a huge drawcard for me, knowing that both she and I would be happy on return. And any place with the suggestion of coffee in their café name just reeks cool, don’t you think?

Bean Counter Cafe Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spring on over to (glorious!) Panton’s

Panton Hill Vineyard and Winery
145 Manuka Road Panton Hill

Visiting a winery had been an event-in-waiting for over three years. Before we had fallen pregnant with baby girl, I had been desperate to go to one and quite honestly, get nicely plastered before officially getting off the alcohol wagon for my lonngggg stop-over to responsible-parentsville. We had managed to stop at one, but it hadn’t really fulfilled my winery desires: there had not been a menu available on the day we visited, and though we sampled some wines and did take a bottle home, I had really wanted the full winery experience: food, wine, sitting in the splendid sunshine, ALL OF IT.

I’m an elephant, and I don’t forget. These unfulfilled experiences stay in my mind until the mother-fuckers are ticked off my anal to-do-in-life list.

I don’t even know how we came to the idea though – I think it went something like ‘this Sunday is going to be super awesome weather/this Sunday we are free/what can we do on such a nice day/let’s eat out…. Winery!’

Yes something like that.

So, on the first super amazing Spring Day of September, we headed over to Panton Hill Vineyard and Winery to make my winery dreams come true.

Why Panton’s? Honestly, I was looking at wineries close to our vicinity of town. This one was a 30 minute drive, and compared with wineries of similar distance as well as neighbouring town wineries, this one had a menu on weekends and looked really lovely. The website mentioned something about blending Australian and European surrounds, and I immediately went ‘ding! sold.’

I called them on a Thursday to see if I had to book in advance (if you go somewhere with your child and you don’t book beforehand, you’re uber-confident as well as playing roulette with some gangster Murphy’s Law fairies) and when no one answered I left a message revealing our Sunday intentions.

That night I got a call back, advising that yes, we needed to book, especially as it was going to be a gloriously sunny day. The lady I spoke to was lovely and booked us for 1pm.

Come amazing Sunday lunch, and here Hubbie, baby girl and I are, driving through Eltham and then Diamond Creek, via winding roads and greenery in all directions to finally make our way to a gravel-y, slow, long, driveway leading to Panton’s. The first car park we came across was full, but Hubbie spotted a sign alluding to more spaces behind the building, and so he followed it to find it was so.

After walking into one of the buildings, where there was a private party at one end, and wine tastings up the other, there followed a bit of confusion. There were two nearby buildings, one opposite the one we were in, and one further along the trail, but those two I didn’t see people coming in and out of. Then there was the outside seated area besides this building, with some shaded tables and some next to unopen umbrellas. I had booked for 1pm, but where was the person to seat us? Not to come across all high-brow with my demand of being seated, but as I had been told we were required to book, with the time of 1pm given, it was almost expected that there would be a little reserved sign on a table somewhere with someone waiting to say “Hi Smikg, your table awaits.”

Nope.

I patiently waited behind a couple tasting wines to ask the older gentleman (he appeared to be the only one representing the property around) that we had arrived for lunch and didn’t know where to sit. He said “wherever you like,” and proceeded to point out all the areas we could sit. We headed outside, because we’d just come out of Winter and all.

Here too we hung out for a while. We soon realised there were numbers on other tables (the kind you get when you order so when you sit down the wait staff can find you), but again, no wait staff.

Wait! No, then they appeared. We managed to somewhat successfully flag one young lad down who informed us, once we’d explained our situation (we want food and drink please give it to us) that we were to order and pay inside the building with the gentleman who had been handing out wine tastings. Apparently there was a menu there. Alright then, and back I went. I felt a bit like a see-saw by this stage, but the sun was too damn bright to darken my mood.

I ordered some food and drink, before Hubbie went in to do the same while I now did the babysitting duties, making sure baby girl didn’t throw too many rocks into the nearby fountain and what not. She was having a ball, and usually distractions while we’re out and about, especially when dining, are heavily appreciated, however picking up rocks and throwing them into a pool of water, didn’t seem like it would be heavily appreciated by others. So containing her insane excitement at the task was not-so-fun.

But there was a dog! This was very exciting for baby girl, but we couldn’t let her just wander after it and grab at it, and at the same time, though this sweet dog did seem very hungry, sitting at our feet (and everyone else’s) hoping to be fed, its name tag informed us ‘do not feed the dog!’ Ok then.

We also had the issue of the sun. I know, I know us Melburnians, we whinge all the time “it’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s too windy, it’s too still now I can’t breathe, it’s just too normal can we have all 4 seasons in one day again?” Anyway, yes we were rapt it was an amazingly beautiful day, and I knew so many people who were out and about and planning so many extraordinary things for this fine Spring day. It was the first one in a LONG time, which my facebook feed also gave testament too at the sheer volume of out-and-about posts that featured that day from almost EVERYONE. However, it was still, it was hot, and sitting under the sun without sunscreen (not used to the fear of not-being white yet so early into Spring) was intense, and then of course, was our sweet baby girl, who we protect like a magpie protects its young swooping down on unsuspecting passersby who hold no intention of malice, just because they are near this time of year. Her precious skin is not for the sun. Our umbrella though, seemed very hard to manoeuver, and it was only when a certain lady came out that I went ‘ahhhh.’

Boss lady. Because she was, it was so damn apparent.

She immediately came to us, knowing we needed it lifted without even asking. She moved through the tables, checking on people, getting things, talking to the suddenly present waiters about what to do. And then we had shade.

And then not long after that, food too:

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We had gotten a few things to share, along with a VB for Hubbie and a glass of Verdelho for me. The menu was primarily pizza, and even the specials that day included lamb on a pizza. It was a fairly casual menu, but still, I didn’t care. There was food, there was alcohol, and there was sun.

We shared the Potato pizza, Classico pizza and Cheese and Spinach Burek. What I had found humorous was when I had asked the man how large the burek was, and he proceeded to give me hand configurations adding that a Turkish man on premises made it. Dude, I know what burek is, my family makes it. That’s like describing to Willy Wonka what chocolate is. And his pronunciation of it was gold. He and his missus may have had accents, but that didn’t allow for the correct pronounciation of it. (Say bu-rek. Pronounce bu, not drawn-out ‘boo,’ but a short ‘bu,’ followed by ‘rek,’ rhyming with ‘neck,’ but the r is short as well, the r Europeans sound out, a bit of a rolling r. Anyway).

I now know that that ‘dude’ goes by the name of Teunis and boss lady, his wife, by Dorothy. I’m not psychic, their website says so. He may not know his burek, but he sure as hell knows his land, and his wine, having purchased that block of land in the ‘70s, transforming it single-handedly into what it is today. When you see the property, you know what an incredible achievement that is. I have such respect for individuals who turn nothing into something unique and spectacular, and Panton Winery sure fits that bill.

The classico pizza had salami, tomatoes, olives and cheese, with the addition of chilli. Hubbie, who had the majority of this one, said he couldn’t really taste the chilli, but still, he ate it all. I had most of the potato pizza, and its combination of rosemary, potatoes, Spanish onion and cheese is always a winner. We all shared the burek which was not served as a loaf as previously indicated (!) but cut up into tiny pieces, all the better as we all nibbled on it and easily fed baby girl pieces too. There were some marinated olives and mushrooms on the side too, and together we finished it all.

Hubbie thought it was fairly standard, however I loved it. Yes the menu was basic, but for me it was more the experience of the setting, wine and food together. Also what was perhaps slightly affecting him was baby girl’s inability to sit down and listen. We did the usual taking turns eating while the other watched her, and when it was my turn to keep her busy while he ate, she and I walked around the grounds while I took some photos of the surrounding bushlands, vineyard, and the picturesque buildings.

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It was getting peaking hot, and with it baby girl’s irritability was cranking up a notch. Getting tired, we didn’t want to push her, but before we left, there was just one thing left to do.

Hubbie watched her while I disappeared here for 20 minutes.

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At first Teunis was meant to give me some wine options, but he got busy and Dorothy stepped in. I had 6 wine taste testings, some red, some white, while two of them I tried decanted. She was asking me if I could taste the difference between the decanted and the standard, and you know, I could, but also, by then we were onto the 5th taste test and it all tasted fine by then. Then she tried to sell me a decanter, and that tipsy side of me was loose, very loose, and very easily persuaded, and Dorothy probably knows to try to sell the decanter on the 5th taste-testing rather than the first, but for some reason this narration kicks in when I start drinking, and the narrator was telling me ‘you know you’re well on your way, don’t just buy something for the sake of it.’

Fortunately for me, the narrator in my mind won out again and I didn’t make a flimsy purchase. I know her decanters were cheaper, but I think I’ll wait and buy a pretty one. Loved the tutorial on why you decanter though, it was very informative.

Anyway, from all of that I walked out with this

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All smiling into the sunlight and whispering to Hubbie as I approached “I just had 6 wine tastings and I’m drunk.”

Yep. Life of a Mum.

We left after that, relieved that baby girl was falling asleep in the car, with sweet memories of rolling hills and wine and mispronounced burek.

Food: 7/10. Yes it was a standard menu, but points for the fresh ingredients (I assume the rosemary we were picking from the shrub with baby girl was used for my potato pizza – but shhh!)

Coffee: N/A. We were really close to ordering it, but Hubbie just couldn’t take the heat (weak) and baby girl’s cheeky antics anymore so we thought we best not to push our stay.

Ambience: Very relaxed. Beautiful. Serene. Amazing surrounds. The buildings, reminiscent of something you may see in Tuscany, transport you to another place and make you feel like you are far, far away, rather than just 30 minutes from home.

People: I was surprised and relieved that we weren’t the only ones with cheeky toddlers. A big family was there, mostly though there were couples and older couples. Also that big party inside the wine-tasting building that was going through the bottles (and so they should).

Staff: I hate to say based on our lovely experience, but kind of not present at first. I put this down not to unwillingness to work or help the guests, but rather the demands placed on them by the people visiting and superb weather. Meaning, they were understaffed. Otherwise they seemed ok, but didn’t hang around to talk. Both owners were chatty, but due to the volume of people they also seemed rushed.

Price: We spent under $60 (and that wasn’t including my approximately $30 bottle of pinot noir), that included the two pizzas and burek all for $15 each, and then there was my white wine and Hubbie’s beer at about $6 each. Perhaps, a bit overpriced for pizza, but I get it, you’re paying for the surrounds, as well as the wine-tastings (how else are they going to justify giving each person 6 different wine-tastings?)

Advice: Go on a gloriously sunny day (have I said gloriously enough in this post yet?!), on the weekend, so you can enjoy both wine and food. Pay and order in the building where all the wines are lined up, and then sit ‘wherever you like.’ And just, enjoy 🙂

In a nutshell: I would definitely come back to this place. Taking baby girl with us, I’d probably go when we have other friends and their kids with us so she could play with them, rather than with the water fountain. Or I could even go as a brunch/lunch option when just meeting up with the girls only. It’s the right place for a relaxing gasbag. And a coffee too, must do that next time I’m there.

They have the right ingredients of setting, scenery, wine and food, but a little work needs to go into welcoming the guests and setting them up properly on arrival so they’re not left wandering the grounds, hungry and thirsty. All in all, an amazing find that I can’t wait to revisit.

To-do-in-life List:

Visit winery and drink and eat on sunny day.
Kiss in the rain.
Watch the sunrise come up while watching from a peak/hill.
See the Aurora Borealis.
See Madonna in concert – soon.
Get published.

Panton Hill Winery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Piggyback Cafe

Farm Café
18 St Heliers Street Abbotsford

This seemed like the perfect place for both adults and children. Which is what I was after (and really every other family out there too) but more so, because we were heading out to celebrate baby girl’s and my birthday. There were meant to be farm animals for the kids at the Collingwood Children’s Farm, and the Farm Café and luscious green surrounds were there for the big kids. I mean really, how could it go wrong?

The weather started off right. It was a sunny Sunday in August, the first weekend that we got a real taste of the impending Spring/Summer. I was excited. I’m constantly telling people how by the time my birthday pops around, the winter cold is diminishing and bursts of warmer weather are starting to infiltrate the cold. Maybe because I’m clutching at (Spring) straws; maybe because I’m defending my birthday month; maybe because I’m right. This day had me smiling in pleased confirmation again.

It’s hard to believe that there is 7 hectares of land nestled along the Yarra River, of which the Collingwood Children’s Farm and the Farm Café lies. I realise that city parks are not a rare thing, but to be so close to the city (5 kms) amidst those busy inner-city suburb buildings and surroundings, it just felt odd. Like how could this happen? Until we got there it was like ‘is this for real?’ It sure was. Driving around for a good 20-25 minutes made us realise that it was definitely real. Almost everyone was trying for a park in St. Heliers Street, and the long wait made us do a U-turn and try our luck elsewhere. The sign up ahead in the cark park had read ‘Full.’

With much focused staring and stalking, we finally found a park along Johnston St/Studley Park Road, and proceeded to walk on over about 5-10 minutes to the farm. (Click here for more info on parking there).

We chose the family pass of $18 to get into the farm, and received a stamp allowing us to first go into the café, before exploring the farm grounds. You can solely attend the Farm Café without payment, because the café is positioned and set in such a way that you can’t eat and then sneak through into the grounds without the entry fee. You can look from there, but you can’t touch.

So, payment = café and grounds entry (with stamp)
No payment = café only entry

We went straight to the café knowing that there might be a wait post 1pm, and sure enough there was. We received a buzzer that would inform us when it was our turn to be seated, and while we waited I took the opportunity to explore with baby girl and take photos of the surrounds.

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It didn’t end up being the half hour wait as told, perhaps a bit less. We sat down in an open area that was still covered, amidst tables tightly crammed next to one another, with views looking out to the farm beside/below us, of chickens roaming about, and a peacock doing a casual little walk.

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There was an outdoorsy feel. It was a farm after all.

We had to quickly order, as we were now very hungry and I didn’t want our little birthday girl getting cranky on her special day.

I got the Mushroom Pie – Mushrooms, roasted chestnuts and white wine served with potato salad, greens & spiced relish

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Hubbie got the Organic Beef Sausage Roll – House-made served with potato salad, greens & spiced relish

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While Baby girl had the Kids Egg & Bacon – Poached Fried egg on toast with bacon with a side of cheese

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I was a tad disappointed that I couldn’t get the kids lunchbox (cheese sandwich, a house-baked treat and a piece of fruit) for baby girl, but they had run out. Instead I swapped the poached egg for fried, removed bacon and added a slice of cheese, which they quite simply placed on the side of her dish. It was fairly uncreative, really. They could have at least put the cheese, on top of the bread, under the egg, so it melted slightly.

Mine and Hubbie’s meals looked ok, but in the end they were nothing special. To be honest, they were below average and fairly bland. My mushroom pie had no other discerning or interesting taste to it, all I could taste was mushrooms as I bit in. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE mushrooms. I just expected the sauce or gravy of the pie to have some hint of salt or flavour in it, to further complement the earthy mushrooms. None.

The accompanying potato salad was rather standard, again nothing special. Hubbie felt the same about his meal, and the only reason that we ate it without much antagonism was because we were spending a lovely day out for our birthdays, we were in such a good mood, and we were hungry. That was it. Baby girl’s meal was very standard, and I concur that most children’s meals out there tend to the ‘plain’ side, but this, with the cheese placed on the side as if it was just tossed there, took the meaning to a whole new level. She also like us was hungry, and ate most of it.

Following that meal, we were almost uninspired, tending to just head out and not worry about a drink. However Hubbie had some kind of surprise location planned next, (link) and kind of hinted that we may have some kind of drink there, but didn’t say what kind. I assumed it was coffee, so suggested we get hot chocolates at the Farm Cafe instead (again, the weather and the day and our birthdays was saving the Farm Café’s arse).

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We each got a hot chocolate in a mug, and baby girl got her necessary babycino. The hot chocolates were huge! They were served in mugs, tasting mild and softly sweet, which I didn’t mind, but I think Hubbie would have loved a more sugary, sickly-sweet hit. Baby girl happily drank all of hers, leaving chocolate stained marks on her face. But alas, it was a rather plain babycino, mostly milk and little froth, making the fact that I don’t believe they charged us for it (there is no babycino on the menu) more than adequate.

We then headed out on our way to peruse the farm, happily leaving all memories of the Farm Café behind (read my review of the Collingwood Children’s Farm here.)

Food: 4/10. Below average. Nothing made me want to try anything else, and I just felt the lack of food quality and presentation let down the beautiful location and serene atmosphere of the adjoining farm.

Coffee: N/A, and I’m not overly bothered I missed out either.

Ambience: As mentioned above, it has a very relaxed vibe. The surroundings were calm and placid, best enjoyed on a sunny day, which is fortunately what we had.

People: There were generally those with kids there, but I also saw duos of friends, younger couples, and older couples. I think the location brings a variety of people there, but most prominent are the families.

Staff: They were ok. Again, nothing above average, they weren’t rude or anything, but they didn’t really give us any smiles or necessary attention. They were busy though, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.

Price: It was about $50ish, and I say ‘ish’ because the lady up at the counter kept our receipt so I have to go off the prices listed on their website. The hot chocolates were the only half-enjoyable items. The rest made the total bill not worth it. Had the food been up to scratch, it would have been.

Advice: If you are going to the Collingwood Children’s Farm, save yourself the hassle and eat elsewhere. You probably won’t have to waste time waiting for food that is below par. If you are seriously not fussed with food, well then you probably won’t mind the quality of it. Perhaps the breakfast options are better.

In a nutshell: The Farm Café should consider itself very lucky. I said to Hubbie very early on into our lunch that day that the only way it was surviving was due to its location and proximity to the Children’s Farm. It was not surviving based only on the food, because if so then on that day we wouldn’t have found the café there at all, just remnants of what used to be one. Which is a shame, when I think of people I know who have put much effort and money into their own little works of art café creations, and poured so much research, energy and time into an amazing menu and superb coffee, only to have to close due to the people in the area NOT WANTING TO SPEND THE MONEY ON QUALITY. It’s sad, yet true. And here is a very average café with such a high turnover that their kids meals run out, who are able to ‘produce’ the kind of food that we got that day, and they still keep on going on, solely due to the high paying folk of the area and their fortune in being alongside an animal farm. I am really surprised. I hold no malice, yet based on our first and only experience there, Hubbie and I will most definitely not be going back to the Farm Café.

The Farm Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

(I am a glass half-full gal though, and the experience did not ruin my day, not in the slightest. Read on to find out how our day ended fantastically, here :))

This is the best bit

I am so excited.

Giddy.

Happy.

Hopeful.

In delightful anticipation.

I put on Michael Buble’s Christmas album on the way in to work today. (Yes. Yes I did.) In fact I’ve discovered I love the guy more after realising he too, is a Christmas fanatic as am I. I mean, if I had his money/connections/voice, I would also do Christmas specials every year.

How great would it be, to actually have a Christmas special, of your own. Wow.

It is a glorious day. Outside it is still, the sun is shining, and as all great starts to the day, coffee is at my left hand.

Like Summer’s Spring, and Saturday’s Friday, today is also such a day. It is Christmas’ Eve, and tonight I will go home, bake cupcakes for tomorrow, paint my nails a festive red, and enjoy the beautiful sight of all my ready presents all ribboned up under the tree, with the sounds of carolling coming from the TV.

I will sit and relax, and enjoy. And happily anticipate.

Happy Christmas Eve. 🙂

Happiness Is… #6

Purpley-flowered trees. Discovering nature on your doorstep.

It’s now become the norm that when I arrive back at home with baby girl after our late morning/midday shop, even though the car drive is no more than 5 minutes, she’s asleep when I turn off the ignition.

Today was no different. I did the usual: taking in the shopping while keeping a watchful eye on her, as well as one car door open to maintain the breeze in the developing heat.

After I was done I came back to stare at her sleeping in the car. I just couldn’t do it, I couldn’t pick her up and bring her in. I knew she would wake up if I brought her inside, and so I decided that standing there for about 30 minutes would give her the somewhat decent nap she needed.

It was while standing there that I realised the scent in the air: without thinking about it all too much my mind went ‘lavender.’ I looked around, knowing full well that there is no lavender of any sort bordering our property, then noticed the tree in the middle of our nature strip out front. It had purple flowers.

I had never really noticed it before. Yes Spring has been around for a while now, but these minute flowers were indistinct, and I just know that they’d taken some time to develop. That with my tunnel vision, says a bit.

I went up to them and smelled them. The scent wasn’t overwhelming, but there was a similarity to lavender. I was excited. I also noticed that the tree was harbouring little fruit-like seeds too.

I thought we had a regular green tree out front, when in fact it’s a purple, nice-smelling tree. Not quite lavender, but it’s good enough for me.

Jam and Love

Jam and Cream
1 Orr Street Rosanna/Heidelberg Heights (depending on what guide you’re using)

It’s the place of little girls’ tea party fantasies, where little boys have chocolate smudged around their lips without the fear of chastising, and where people like me can experience the joy of scrumptious scones in the best setting of all: Nana’s house.

Seeing as I never had the opportunity to meet my grandparents, perhaps this place fulfils that little girl desire in me, to be spoiled. Being the youngest though, you can have no fear that I missed out on any of that.

Or maybe I just like high tea.

High tea is what first led me to this quaint little place.

My first venture there was with my best friend to ‘suss it out:’ I had an idea, a plan, and that idea eventuated into my second outing there, with a very intimate group of my closest family and friends, in my last months of pregnancy. It wasn’t a ‘baby shower’ as such, more a get together to create some beautiful memories with my closest people amidst what had been a very dark year, prior to the biggest event of my life, thus far. I had been looking for a decent place in my neck of the woods that catered for high tea, and Jam and Cream came up in my search results.

On that grey Winters day in July, we were in the pink caravan at the rear of the premises, with intermittent rain keeping the ground wet and umbrellas a necessity. Despite the weather, it was one of the most beautiful, memorable and meaningful days of my life, a day I still look back on fondly. I had vowed I would come back with Hubbie, and try more of what had made the day such a joy: the scones.

I had been dreaming of those scones since, and during Hubbie’s week off from work I knew just where I wanted to go.

It was seriously like it was meant to be. The Friday started off as very cloudy, however as the lunchtime hour approached, so too did the clouds start to wane… to make way for the beautiful, glorious, Spring sun.

It became all too clear to me on our drive over: this was the weather making up for my last visit there; this was the weather saying ‘here you go, experience Jam and Cream the way you’re meant to.’

Upon arrival I actually saw three groups of people leave in the time it took for us to get our bags and baby girl out of the car. Even so, inside it was packed, and in the yard section which travels from the side of the café to the back surrounding the pink caravan, almost all the tables were taken. We took a spot outside, and managed to get a high chair for baby girl too.

It was an exciting day. Not only was I here, creating more beautiful memories of this wondrous place, over 1 year on from the last time I’d been, but it was going to be baby girl’s first foray into the world of babycinos.

(!!!)

I have been looking forward to her entering the café culture for a LONG time.

That, along with the fact that we were there for lunch and dessert and coffee, had me rubbing my hands together in anticipatory delight.*

For lunch, I had the Basil Scones

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and Hubbie had the Homemade Pie – beef, bacon and cheese

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I loved my scones. Firstly, adding to the ‘made at Nannas house’ feel captured by the café, is the fact that the menu states that all scones are made fresh and to allow a 20 minute wait for your order to arrive. This is most definitely true, as when you get the scones and slice through, the heat emanating from the middle, and the powdery softness of the dough, is indicative only of baked goodness recently out of the oven – it is so satisfying. I sure as hell will wait for that. Even baby girl liked the bits I gave her.

Hubbie enjoyed his pie, and even I thought it was good, the mouthful I tried (and I’m not a massive pie girl). I thought it was a tad small, but he also had a savoury scone on the side, which I have to add he wasn’t too happy with, he thought it was a tad uncooked. I told him he was talking complete nonsense, but realised he must have been telling the truth when we happened upon scones from another place a couple days later, and he said how much he liked those compared to Jams. So I have to take his point into account.

For dessert we shared the ‘Beryl’ Scones – with cherry ripe and coconut

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Yum and yum. There was a piece of cherry ripe in the scone, and it was covered in lovely coconut-y goodness. Accompanied by a nice big mug of cappuccino, that kept me rambling and rambling and rambling which to Hubbie probably felt like forever, and then of course baby girl got this:

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I was nearly crying from excitement. As fate would have it, baby girl was not, and although she took several spoonfuls of froth topped with chocolate powder, not even half-way through she seemed to have had more than enough and we stopped there. It’s ok, these things take time.

Sitting there in the beautiful sunshine, relaxing in the yard, eating scones and drinking coffee… ahh, this is the life.

Both the café and the yard are decorated with Grandmotherly, old-fashioned paraphernalia: tea mementos, cakes and cute items for the kitchen and themed parties adorn the inside of the café, while small tables sit outside, some with umbrellas to get some much-needed shade on hotter days. Even the serving-ware matches – floral dishes accompany your scones, and the mugs are huge and funky retro-themed, reflective of the odd stuff you might see in homes of Nanas and Papas.

When I went in to pay at the end of our visit, I realised that their indoor café space seemed to have doubled since the last time I’d been; although the eating area remains in the same place, they seemed to have acquired the shop space next to them, and used it to display all their extra miscellaneous cake/decorations/accessories, as well as housing their main counter. This was confirmed for me when I asked the girl putting my order through, and she said when their neighbouring shop had gone up for sale, they had purchased it. It’s definitely a great decision for both owners and diners, as it allows for much more eating space in their original café area, separating that from the cake counter and the other itty-bitty items that they had crammed together before. Even so, the packed look does do them a favour when they’re emulating Grandma’s house.

Food: 10/10. Their main food avenue is their scones, and they are done so, so well. Fresh, inventive, so many different flavours and varieties in both savoury and sweet options – honestly, what more could you want?

Coffee: 7/10. Loved the big mug, gave me such a caffeine hit, compared to other places that only offer the standard ‘cup’ size for coffees.

Ambience: Really relaxed and chilled outside, especially on such a stunning day. You can’t be stressed at Grandma’s house though, she has everything under control!

Staff: Really helpful, especially our waitress that day. Taking our order would have been both entertaining and frustrating for her. “I’ll have these scones… no wait, what about these?… Which sweet scones are good?… and can our sweet scones come after the savoury ones… and can the coffees come with the sweet scones?… and can the babycino come with them too?… and can we have a high chair?…. and can we have a big mug of boiling water?”

LOL. I did have to remind her about the water when it didn’t come immediately, but I kind of bombarded her with a million requests so I didn’t blame her. On my previous visits there the staff have been nice and helpful too, including one of the ladies there who I’ve encountered on each visit. She must be involved as owner/manager: she’s a tough woman, but don’t be fooled – it’s that generation, remember?

People: Kind of a mix. We had a teenage couple near us who baby girl kept smiling widely at, duos of females were abound, women with kids (ok so maybe more women) and an older couple. There was a group of kids in the pink caravan for someone’s birthday, and inside again there were mostly women, but people in there seemed older. If you have kids that still like to run, sit outside. It’s definitely a place that you don’t stay at for long, and I feel like we were the only exception, as almost all the people in the yard left long before we did. You come in with your friend/s, have a cuppa and some scones in between shopping/visiting friends/taking a walk and then you go. It’s a lovely in-between place, but it’s also an amazing place to while away the afternoon. It’s Nanna’s. Grab a paper and you’re set.

Price: Tallied up to $41.40. I thought that was really good, considering we had lunch, shared a dessert and had coffee. The babycino was free I think, and it is my firm belief that they should always be since all babies are getting are chocolate-sprinkled froth. From memory the scones are about $14 for a serve of two which I think is fair and totally worth the price for the quality of what you’re getting.

Advice: For a special event or get together, do what I did and book the pink caravan. It’s in high demand though, so you’ll need to book weeks in advance. It may even be worth booking for a normal Saturday or Sunday venture, especially if you have more than 2 people in your party. It was busy when we went on a Friday for lunch, but then again it was the school holidays.

In a nutshell: I am in love with this place (if it isn’t totally obvious). I can’t wait to go back again and again, with only my close friends. As I said to Hubbie “this is the only place I won’t ‘check-in’ on Facebook.”

Hubbie: “Why?”

Me: “I don’t want everyone coming here.”

* Anticipatory delight: the state of being in excited anticipation, that is, anticipating an event, the lead-up to it providing a frenzied atmosphere of happiness in waiting for it to occur. Examples: every Friday, the onset of Summer, first day of Holidays.

Jam & Cream on Urbanspoon

Daisy on the stairs

Jack & Daisy
152b Cumberland Road Pascoe Vale

It was a grey day, unlike the glimmers of beautiful Spring we’d recently been privy to experiencing. I was running late, and was VERY hungry when I got to Jack & Daisy one Thursday LATE morning in September.

Melbourne weather can really put a dampener on your mood.

I waited outside the café for maybe five minutes, pulling silly faces at baby girl in pram, thinking my friend had not yet arrived, when in fact she was waiting in the back room the whole time. I hadn’t gone to venture inside because of the ‘step.’

You see, when one arrives with a pram, and sees a decent step up into an establishment, one does not feel confident. Back when I had gone into the bustling The Red Corner Store, even that place had been confronting, and that was due to the busy-ness of the Saturday morning rather than its front step, which was so minor compared to this one.

Upon learning of her already being in there (“how the hell did she get her pram in there?”) I backed into the store, and thank God a kind soul of a man sitting near the entrance with his kids held the door open for me as I hoisted baby girl in.

When I saw where the back room was, I had to brace myself: accessible, but only via more stairs. After manoeuvring amongst tables, more prams and high chairs, I pulled the pram up with some difficulty, quietly willing the little girl taking her time on the stairs to move the hell out of my way.

Then another little girl appeared, and I smiled sweetly at her, pretending patience, as the waitress coaxed her away and I wondered where in the hell her Mother was.

By the time I got to my friend and her baby girl, I was kind of puffed. The back room we were in was as expected, at the back of the restaurant, and I think the sole purpose of this room is for Mums and their Bubs, as there were plenty of high chairs about. Two long tables spanned the room, and my friend and I with our prams in one corner, easily took up the whole table with our gamut of baby food, accessories and bags. On the other table behind us there were also two women with their kids.

You can take it in one of two ways: either the room is designed to give Mums and Bubs their own space, and a little privacy away from the rest of the diners; or they’re keeping the demanding and space-clustering customers away, and I don’t mean the ones without kids.

Having said that, the Mums and their Bubs were everywhere. As I mentioned, I was practically climbing over prams and high chairs (and annoying kids that wouldn’t move) to get to the back room. If I didn’t know better I would have thought the café catered specially for this breed I’m now part of. Which is great. Kind of. I can kind of only handle my own, plus only three more, maximum, at any one time. So conflicted thoughts there.

I was pretty hungry by the time the food came. I haven’t been out to eat brekkie with baby girl in tow for a while, so I hadn’t realised how HARD it was going to be, with her now super-mobile and all. She was in the high chair, and I tried to entertain her by my giving her my mobile phone to chew on, as I tried to eat:

Daisy’s favourite poached free range eggs, smoked salmon, herbed fetta, avocado salsa & toasted multigrain

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Now that’s the description taken from a photo someone posted on urbanspoon, but my meal came a little different. Firstly I had replaced the avocado salsa with mushrooms, because the last time I had avocado I actually thought I was going to vomit all my insides out (true story). I used to love avocado, but alas, avocado does no longer love me. Going by my photo, everything seemed to match the urbanspoon description bar the addition of the relish, which had a tangy sweet flavour to it. And weirdly, I still had green on my plate, so I’m assuming it WAS the avocado that they just forgot to omit. I didn’t try it, because of that whole fear of vomiting my insides. Hmmm. Chef probably should keep to the orders given, wouldn’t you say?

Even though I ate my brekkie over a 45 minute interval (or at least that’s how long it felt), the time taken to eat isn’t a determining factor in my review: what I’m trying to say is, if it’s yum, it’s yum, lukewarm or not. And if it’s weird, well it’s weird… fresh from the kitchen or siting at the table for 45 minutes.

It was like an ‘everything-on-a-plate’ thing. The poached eggs were perfect, and the bread they were on was amazing, but trying to cut it with my knife was almost impossible, despite the crunchy homely-style flavour they possessed. But then there was that green part of the bread I was unsure about that I had to cut out, which I’m just hoping against hope it was some fresh seedy bit that wasn’t toasted in the bread-baking process. I’m not sure. The mushrooms were good, the relish was nice, and the fetta was VERY citrusy – a bit too much for my liking, for cheese. I prefer my cheese creamy. I know that I ordered mushrooms, but even without them, I don’t know how citrusy fetta, avocado salsa and sweet relish goes together. I considered mashing the relish and fetta together, but decided against it because on their own the flavours were SOOO strong.

The smoked salmon was as expected, and perfect with the bread and eggs. Individually everything was good, some things were great; but together, I don’t think it worked.

Coffee came just after my meal. Again I had it a bit too late (the story of my life) but I still enjoyed it. It had a lot of lovely chocolate sprinkling on the froth which I love, and the way freaking cappuccinos should be you tight-arsed barristas elsewhere. My friend’s takeaway coffee came with the number ‘1’ on her cup when she asked for no sugar, and they happily replaced it with another. I know that may be easy to say and kind of expected (uh, pleasing the customer?) but seriously if I told you about my ‘glasshouse’ experience in Docklands when I felt I had to apologise for ordering a weak cappuccino – “is that ok?” – trust me, customer service isn’t HIGH on everyone’s list, as much as it seems a given to the person forking out the $.

Food: 6.5/10. Components were great individually… maybe I should have ordered something of a specific nature, rather than an ‘everything on your plate’ dish that the Daisy’s favourite meal suggests at.

Coffee: 8/10. Choc sprinkles to my liking, thank you.

Ambience: Cosy, relaxed, yet very constant for a grey Spring morning mid-week.

Staff: Attentive and friendly. They were all over us in the back room when we were getting the prams up, and then helping us bring them down over the stairs when we were all done. Which is what you’d expect since they seem to designate Mums in the back room, a back room albeit with stairs… you kind of expect that help, but still it’s very much appreciated when it comes and you don’t have to face the stairs alone.
Hey, here’s an idea… turn the stairs into a ramp. Back room is still accessible, and Mums don’t break into a sweat wondering how in the hell they’ll get in there if no staff are present to help.

Although it took a little while for our menus to arrive, once they were there our lovely waitress was all over it. Sugar wasn’t on our table when the coffee arrived, but fortunately our on-the-mark waitress was and promptly brought some over to me. And it was raw sugar, so I was extra pleased.

People: Mums and Bubs, Mums and Bubs….. um, Mums and Bubs. No, seriously, there was also Mums and Bubs there. And toddlers. Ok enough kidding, when we left I actually noticed there were less Ms & Bs, and quite a few groups of the non-young parent variety (shock horror!), as well as some business-looking folk. The unofficial Mums and Bubs session must have been ending… we were on our way out after all 😉

Price: Mine was $23, I think fair and reasonable for the locality, restaurant reputation and for what I got.

Advice: If you’re a Mum, with a Bub, going with a pram – book ahead, and by God make sure you’re not going into the back room. You don’t need that worry, please, trust me!

Just generally it might be worth booking, seeing as it was fairly busy when I went and it wasn’t even a peak time of day/week.

And get a meal that’s like, just eggs, or just pancakes, or just toast. Don’t get all complicated with your decision.

In a nutshell: I would like to try their other dishes, and try their cappuccino hot next time (my bad not theirs)… but only if it’s a sunny day.

Why you ask? So I don’t have to ‘step’ inside and deal with any stairs.

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