Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review

Located in the heart of the Yarra Valley, the Yarra Valley Grand Hotel is an iconic landmark building that opened its doors in 1888.

We decided to drop by for lunch at the in house restaurant and bar while on our recent trip to the Yarra Valley. Apart from the regular restaurant, the hotel also houses Herb’s backyard that serves gourmet pizzas and drinks. The hotel is also a hot spot for weddings and special events with special areas dedicated for the same.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Apart from the dining options, the Yarra Valley Grand is also a great place to stay over. The 4 star fully appointed rooms have still retained the old world charm yet equipped with the most modern facilities.

Stepping inside the Yarra Valley Grand transports you to a different era. In spite of all the hustle and bustle (the restaurant is packed especially on weekends), the space feels warm and inviting. The ambience is definitely old world charm yet with a contemporary touch.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The restaurant space is huge and spread across different areas. There’s plenty of seating yet it’s advisable to make a prior booking. Fortunately we were able to get a table within 10 minutes of walking in.

The menu at Yarra Valley Grand is modern Australian pub food. The menu is not extensive but you are likely to find something for everybody; also there are specials everyday which are based on seasonal produce.

We bought a selection of drinks including a single malt whisky, sparkling white, beer and lemon lime bitters. Nothing much to write about but there’s a good range of drinks including some great Yarra Valley wines.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

As I mentioned the restaurant was extremely busy and we were informed by the staff that there would be a bit of a delay for the food to arrive. But we decided to wait anyway. I think that was not a very wise decision as we had to wait 45 minutes. No complaints though as they did inform us the same.

We didn’t order any starters instead we opted for a salad – the crunchy Thai salad with crispy noodles, Thai chicken, carrot, cucumber, sprouts, herbs, cashews and nahm jim dressing. Perfectly well balanced flavours and textures and it was a delicious start to the meal.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, we had the Saltibocca – half roasted chicken, crispy pancetta, sage, potato gratin and sautéed spinach. The chicken was cooked perfectly and all the accompaniments complemented the chicken perfectly. Definitely recommended.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The second main we ordered was the Twice cooked pork belly – with son in law egg, chilli jam, creamy mash and tendrils. An absolute stunner of a dish; the pork was just melt in the mouth with a crispy layer and every single element on that plate was perfect. Definitely dish of the day!

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The third main we chose was from the special of the day – Grilled trout with Schezwan pepper and salad. The flavours were good, the fish was cooked well but not an outstanding dish in terms of flavour.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

And the final dish we ordered was the Porterhouse with chips, salad and a red wine jus. The only dish that disappointed us; the steak was a bit tough and chewy. It wasn’t a bad dish but not good either especially after we have had such amazing steak experiences at other places in Melbourne. So by comparison, we weren’t too happy with this one.

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Overall, a great place to stop by for food or to stay over while visiting Yarra Valley. I am sure, we will definitely be going back…

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel

19 Bell Street,
Yarra Glen 3775

Phone: (03) 9730 1230
Website: http://www.yarravalleygrand.com.au/

Timings:
Monday – Sunday ~ 11.30am till late

Yarra Valley Grand Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – All the food and drinks were paid for by my family.

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Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review

AGFG (Australian Good Food & Travel Guide) is one of my favourite websites to visit for restaurant reviews, recipes, stories from the food and travel industry, dining deals etc… And this year, AGFG also bestowed the honour of Top 10 Bloggers, 2017 which was a great opportunity for me to take my work forward.

So when AGFG reached out to me to review the food at Thirty Eight Chairs, I was really keen because I had heard really good things about the restaurant and also, regional Italian cuisine is one of my favourites.

Thirty Eight Chairs has two locations – South Yarra and Carlton North.

Situated in a quiet, beautiful neighbourhood of Carlton, Thirty Eight Chairs is a dream come true venture for its owner, Gino Forlano.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The South Yarra restaurant was a huge success but Gino always wanted to open a branch in Carlton because it has one of the biggest Italian communities in Melbourne. He wanted to have a dining space that was a reflection of both Italian hospitality and way of life. A space which is not hurried but where families and friends can sit down to good food and wine, engage in meaningful conversations and spend time with each other.

The ambience at Thirty Eight Chairs is best described as friendly. There are lovely streetside tables (great when the sun’s out and shining), a relaxed dining space downstairs and a large venue space upstairs. The staff are extremely friendly, very cheerful and was genuinely happy to help out with choosing from the menu.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

I had the opportunity to have a chat with head chef Giuseppe Di Mauro. He told me that the food served here is classic Napolitana style, true to its origins in terms of flavour but care has been taken to present it in a contemporary style. They use a mix of local and seasonally available ingredients but also source certain ingredients from Italy which are not easily available here.

It was a warm day and all our drink choices were centered on that. I started with a sparkling while the others chose a Cosmopolitan, Mojito and a whiskey cocktail. There are also wines on tap (somehow I get very excited everytime I see this) and I chose a Prosecco to accompany the mains.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

We had a selection of starters beginning with the ‘A Tunnat ‘e Mar (Peppered yellow fin tuna, crispy shallots, caper vinaigrette & micro herbs). Hands down, one of the best tuna dishes I have ever had. Presented beautifully and the flavours were simply incredible. Highly recommended!

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

No matter how many ever times I have had it, I simply cannot resist ordering ‘A Caprese (Fresh tomato, basil & buffalo mozzarella) when visiting an Italian restaurant. It’s a classic and an instant judgement of what’s to follow because this salad is all about freshness and quality of ingredients. Happy that I was not disappointed at all.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Fried street food is also quite popular in Neopolitan cuisine so we also tried out ‘O Coupon ‘e Terra  – a mixed platter of pea arancini, potato croquettes, polenta chips, beer battered zucchini & salty dough balls. Absolutely loved all of it but my favourites were the polenta chips and beer battered zucchini.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Thirty Chairs is quite famous for its pasta dishes as all the different types of pasta are made in house using traditional Italian methods. And what surprised me was the fact that there were so many pasta varieties that I still had no clue about. Don’t bother about the term ‘al dente’ here as that’s not the texture that suits fresh pastas!

The first pasta dish we tried was a signature dish that was highly recommended by the chef. ‘E Mafaldine ‘a Cacciator (long curly pasta, slow cooked duck ragú, porcini mushrooms & shaved pecorino cheese). The simplest of dishes yet the most complex in flavour as that duck ragu was slow cooked for hours to get the perfect texture and consistency. And the taste of freshly made pasta is simply out of this world.

13

The second pasta dish was from the day’s special list. Yet another variety I have never tasted before. Mixed with fresh sausages, chillies and tossed through the most amazing sauce, this pasta dish could easily be one of the best I have ever had.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The seafood lover in me had to try out the special seafood dish with cuttlefish, swordfish, scallops, prawns, clams, salmon and mussels unshelled in a delicious tomato chilli broth served with a side of grilled bread. Absolutely stunning flavours especially that bisque was just heavenly.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Also ordered a light and refreshing Bietola e Caprino (Mixed beeroot, baby cos, snowpeas & goats cheese, in lemon dressing salad) which paired extremely well with the rich flavours of the other dishes.

Thirty Eight Chairs, Carlton (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

To summarize, the dining experience at Thirty Eight Chairs was a delicious and delightful one. I have dined at a lot of Italian restaurants yet discovered that there is more to the cuisine than I really knew, especially the differences between Napolitana style and other regional styles.

The freshly made pasta was a delight and clearly sets apart the pasta dishes served at Thirty Eight Chairs. And with a great ambience and customer service, it’s definitely a place you want to visit with friends and family.

Thirty Eight Chairs

651 Rathdowne St
Carlton North
VIC 3054

Phone no: 03 8383 4113

http://www.thirtyeightchairs.com.au/carlton-north/

Timings:

Tuesday – Saturday
Lunch: 11.30am – 3.00pm
Dinner: 6pm – 10pm

Sunday
Brunch/Lunch: 10.30am – 4pm

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest at Thirty Eight Chairs, but the opinions and views expressed are unbiased and entirely mine.

Thirty Eight Chairs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

MoVida Original (Hosier Lane, Melbourne) – a Review

I can’t really call this a review, but rather an experience because MoVida is one of those landmark restaurants of Melbourne that needs no introduction to any food lover.

It’s been on our list for quite a while now but it finally came to be on Father’s Day. The place is slightly on the expensive side so a planned visit is ideal. And make sure you have made prior bookings too.

While there are other MoVida restaurants, we wanted to visit the original MoVida Bar de Tapas situated inside the iconic Hosier Lane. Frank Camorra and his team had visualized an intimate bar ambience focusing on traditional Spanish tapas style food with modern influences and an equally great wine list to match. And that’s exactly what you get at MoVida Original.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

We were lucky to be seated at a corner table which only added to the intimate experience for the three of us since we were looking to spend some quality family time over a slow, relaxed dinner.

The staff was extremely friendly and very attentive. After enquiring if this was our first time at MoVida, she explained about the menu also offering us wine pairing suggestions based on our order. Tapas is what MoVida is most famous for and we wanted to taste most of the dishes so our order was heavily from the tapas section. As for drinks, we went with the staff’s recommendation since we didn’t know much about Spanish wines.

(All the details of the dish described under each photograph)

MoVida (Melbourne), a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

2015 Ladairo Mencia Monterrei – with an intense raspberry colour, it had fresh and fruity aromas, quite soft on the palate and paired beautifully with all the dishes we ordered.

MoVida (Melbourne), a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Bread, warm and fresh from the oven to start off the meal….

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

GAMBA – Crisp Potato with Slices of Poached Prawn & Parsley Aioli. Amazing flavours and textures with super thin and crisp potato slices. Delicate yet packed a punch and a great way to start the meal. Highly recommended!

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

COGOLLOS – Baby Cos Lettuce with Anchovy & Pickled Garlic. Light and fresh, this was quite an interesting dish. Garlic and anchovy are strong flavours but when topped on the freshest cos lettuce, it was a delight and not overpowering at all.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

TOSTADA – Pressed Pork Sandwich, Red Onion Jam & Quail’s Egg. So different from the tostadas that we are used to at most Spanish restos. Again a super thin and crispy base, hardly get the flavour of pork but the onion jam was simply stunning

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

VEIRA – Port Phillip Bay Scallop Baked in its Half Shell with a Jamon &Garlic Sauce. It’s hard to go past scallops and we are so glad that we decided to order it. Perfectly cooked, plump sweet scallops in the most delicious jamon and garlic sauce.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

ANCHOA – Hand-filleted Cantabrian Artisan Anchovy on 
Crouton with Smoked Tomato Sorbet. Anchovies are an acquired taste so if you are new to it, you might be a bit hesitant about the flavours of this dish. But if you love it, then this would be a great one to try. I was so blown away by the flavours of the smoked tomato sorbet.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

CABALLA AHUMADA – House Cold Smoked Spanish Mackerel with Pine Nut Gazpacho Sorbet. Our first smoked mackerel experience. This one arrived in with a bit of theatre at the table; the little fellow was squeaking with delight watching the smoke escape as the lids were lifted.

Since we had feasted many rounds on the tapas, we decided to order just one main and a side.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

BROCCOLINI – Chargrilled Broccolini with Manchego Custard and Soft boiled eggs. Never have I tasted broccolini so delicious. That creamy custard and soft boiled eggs oozes over the broccolini resulting in sheer magic on the tastebuds.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress.com

CARRILLERA DE BUEY – Slowly Braised Beef Cheek in Pedro Ximenez on Cauliflower Puree. Absolutely melt in the mouth beef cheeks in a creamy cauliflower puree with a sticky reduced Ximenez jus.

And we completed the meal with one of the best desserts I have had in a long time.

MoVida (Melbourne), a review - thespiceadventuress..com

ACEDERA – Sorrel Sorbet with Kiwi, Citrus, Blood Orange and White Chocolate. A celebration of native Australian flavours with a modern interpretation. Every mouthful was a delight and I could go back just to have this again.

MoVida is a beautiful and delicious experience for any food lover. And it’s definitely a place I would be returning to.

MoVida

1 Hosier Lane, (off Flinders St)
Melbourne
VIC 3000
Melb. Office Tel:
+61 3 9663 3038

Timings:

Open Mon to Sun 12pm ’til late

MoVida Bar De Tapas Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – Not a sponsored post; all the food and drinks were paid for by me.

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience

“My idea of good company…is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.’
‘You are mistaken,’ said he gently, ‘that is not good company, that is the best.”
 Jane Austen, Persuasion

High teas are always an escape from reality for me. It’s an escape into a beautiful world, where I truly unwind and take time to enjoy life’s little luxuries like a perfectly brewed cup of tea, delicious savoury and sweet nibbles and above all, the company of those whom I truly value.

But at the Austen Tea Room, it went a step further….I got to enjoy one of my favourite authors of all times.

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The Austen Tea Room, as the name suggests, is an ode to the creative brilliance of Jane Austen. Anyone who loves to read would have picked up and loved an Austen book at some point in their life. And this tea room transports you to that era, allowing you to escape the everyday mundane and bask in the happiness that comes from not racing against time.

And that’s why we decided to book a high tea experience for our book swap meet.

I have been to other high tea experiences but what immediately struck me about the Austen Tea Room, apart from the obvious reference to Jane Austen, is the classic British setting. It was not just about luxury and pretty, it was about slowing down like the women did in those times.

There is ample evidence to Austen, her life and books right from the moment you walk in. There is a central café area and is the place you are most likely to be seated if you are just dropping in and not booked in for a high tea or luncheon. And you might want to see if those high back chairs against the window are free for the best spot in the café.

The individual and shared tea rooms are at the back which is arranged according to the size of the group. While some tables are intimate just for 2-3 people, the rest are large making it ideal for hens parties, birthdays etc…

I was visiting with another friend (also my muse for the day!) and so we were directed to a beautifully arranged table for two.

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

We had booked for Jane’s Sparkling High Tea. So the first thing to arrive was the bubbles; I can’t think of a better way for two fine ladies to unwind. Our table was decked with the most beautiful tea set, classic Victorian design tableware and we had that perfect spot near a window. I think the picture would do more justice than my words…

We chose to start off with savoury and then follow it up with the tea and sweet treats.

A selection of delicious savoury treats was presented beautifully at our table. There was freshly made ribbon sandwiches with assorted fillings, dainty quiches, sausage rolls and mini meat pies. All of it was delicious but I especially loved the sandwiches.

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

Good conversations are important for a high tea experience, because it is all about slowing down as I mentioned earlier. So we pondered over Jane Austen for a while and then just rambled on, conversations flow naturally when you are in good company.

Once we had polished off most of the savoury nibbles, the tea was bought out along with the sweet treats. The tea was perfectly brewed, at the right temperature and we enjoyed with first with some hot scones, clotted cream and homemade jam. Heaven!

There was also an assortment of macaroons, mini cupcakes, and petite cakes along with a few other nibbles to accompany the tea.

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The Austen Tea Room (Essendon, Melbourne) – a Beautiful High Tea Experience - thespiceadventuress.com

The high tea at Austen is not the most elaborate or indulgent that I have experienced. But the old world Victorian charm here is just magical that it transcends everything else. And anything to do with books will win my heart easily.

Austen Tea Room

40 Nicholson St
Essendon, VIC 3040

P: 03 9326 2966
http://www.theaustentearoom.com.au/

High Tea Timings:

(Bookings are essential)

Weekdays: 12pm – 2pm
Weekends 2.00pm – 4.00 pm 

The Austen Tea Room Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – The High Tea experience was paid for by me and my friend.

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review

It’s hard to miss The Public’s Corner because of its strategic location, right on Lonsdale Street near the stairs leading up to the council office and library. It’s probably one of the busiest and vibrant areas of Dandenong.

There was another restaurant operating at the same location earlier, which I have been to so I was a bit curious when I saw the new signboard. So decided to try out the place for a weekend brunch, to find out if it was just rebranding or has the menu/food changed.

The décor and ambience of the restaurant has not changed much, but the menu has gone through some changes definitely. While many of the dishes from the old menu remains, there were quite a few new ones added. And there’s also a revamped drinks menu which was great to see.

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

So for drinks, I got a glass of the Leopardwood Shiraz (Heathcote, VIC) and Sam got the classic Mojito. Nothing much to write about the wine except that it was a pretty decent one. Sam felt that the Mojito lacked balance in terms of sweetness and the staff said that she could provide with some sugar syrup but he opted to have it as such.

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For starters, we got the Saganaki with sautéed figs and pita. I have had Saganaki before, prepared it a couple of times too so there were high expectations. But this one didn’t match up, found it a bit too salty and hard. The pairing with figs was delicious but the best part of the dish was the pita….so fluffy and soft. I would order the pita again, perhaps with some dips.

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, I got the Lamb Loin Chops served with mixed grains, chat potatoes, roquette, roasted capsicum and feta. Before I get onto the taste, let me tell you that the portions offered here are huge so account for that when you place the order. Getting back to the dish, I enjoyed the chops a lot; the meat was cooked well and the sides tasted delicious. I would have preferred some sort of jus or sauce though or perhaps mashed potatoes instead of chat for that creamy element to the dish. Otherwise a really nice one….

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The second mains we ordered was the 12 hour slow cooked lamb shoulder served with mashed potatoes, topped with greens, feta and jus. The meat was so tender, juicy and fall off the bone and the accompaniments matched perfectly. I felt that the meat could have been seasoned more but then that’s a personal preference. This was the perfect weekend indulgence!

The Public’s Corner (Dandenong, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Overall, The Public’s Corner is a nice place to meet up whether it’s for a working lunch, quick coffee date or a relaxed dinner. The food is not the best you will have, but it’s good, value for money with great service on offer.

 The Public’s Corner
Shop 1, 225 Lonsdale Street
Dandenong. VIC 3175

Phone no: 03 9794 6697

Timings:

Monday: 7am – 3pm
Tuesday: 7am – 3pm
Wednesday: 7am – 10pm
Thursday: 7am – 10pm
Friday: 7am – 10pm
Saturday: 8am – 10pm
Sunday: 8am – 10pm

The Public's Corner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Peking Land (Rowville, Melbourne) – a Review

It’s quite strange that very few people write about food/restaurants in the suburbs.  Especially in Melbourne, I have noticed that the reviews are concentrated in and around the city or in picturesque slightly far flung areas like Yarra or Mornington. But there are hardly any coming out of the suburbs, where eating out at your neighborhood restaurant is the reality for most residents.

We have always enjoyed discovering restaurants in our suburb as well as the neighbouring ones. It’s often word of mouth or random experiments, some of which turn out to be an amazing find and some others not so pleasant.

And that’s how we ended up at Peking Land. A new South Indian restaurant had opened in Rowville, and we noticed Peking Land during a visit to the other restaurant as both occupied neighbouring spaces. So one weekend, when the Asian tastebuds needed to be satisfied, we decided to try out the place.

Peking Land has a huge space so most days, you can get away without making a booking unless they have an event going on. But it still would be wise to give a call to find out before walking in. I also noticed they have some great deals for takeaways and you can find all that information near the cash counter.

The décor is classic Oriental; deep red upholstery against dark wood furniture with Chinese lanterns and dim lights. Despite the familiarity, the place does invoke a sense of luxury and exotic.

Peking Land (Rowville, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Peking Land (Rowville, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Getting to the drinks and food, I was quite surprised to see an extensive wine, beverage and cocktail list. It’s hard to find in the suburbs especially in restaurants from the Asian subcontinent so it was definitely welcoming.

We decided to get a bottle of Murray Street Barossa Shiraz 2012. And boy, one of the best Shiraz we have had in a while! Rich yet smooth on the palate, it paired beautifully with all the dishes we ordered for the day. Peking Land also had some interesting cocktails on the menu, which I definitely plan to try out next time….

Peking Land (Rowville, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

We began the meal with two types of dumplings. The first was steamed Cantonese style dim sims with a pork filling and the second was pan fried dumplings with pork and prawn filling. Both were really delicious and the Cantonese style dim sims were quite new to me in terms of taste and texture.

Peking Land (Rowville, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Peking Land (Rowville, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The next dishes to arrive were the soups. One of the main reasons we tend to visit  traditional Chinese restaurants is for the soups, especially during the colder months. So today, we had the hot and sour combination soup and the chicken mushroom soup. Both were equally amazing, warm and delicious.

Peking Land (Rowville, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Peking Land (Rowville, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

And for mains, we had Chicken Fried Rice with Salted Fish with Phoenix Nest. It was the first time we tried out this particular style of fried rice. The dish was recommended by the staff and though Sam was a little hesitant seeing the ‘salted fish’ in the description, it turned out to be an amazing dish. It does not have the classic salted fish taste at all but there’s so much flavour than your regular fried rice. Do give it a try, you will be pleasantly surprised.

Peking Land (Rowville, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Phoenix Nest is a dish I have had before in India. Basically, its sautéed combination of chicken, beef, roasted pork and king prawns with wok tossed vegetables served on a crisp potato nest. While in India, the flavours are Indo Chinese, this one is pure Cantonese. So good with the fried rice….

Peking Land (Rowville, Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Overall, a great place to stop by for traditional Cantonese style cuisine. We will definitely be going back again…

Peking Land

1089 Stud Road, Rowville
Victoria 3178

Phone no: 03 9764 9388

Timings:

Monday: 12-3pm, 5-10.30pm
Tuesday: 12-3pm, 5-10.30pm
Wednesday: 12-3pm, 5-10.30pm
Thursday: 12-3pm, 5-10.30pm
Friday: 12-3pm, 5-11.30pm
Saturday: 5-11.30pm
Sunday: 12-3pm, 5-10.30pm

Peking Land Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monkey King (Melbourne CBD) – a Review

Books are a very special and integral part of my life; it has been so ever since I can remember. At all phases of my childhood, I have been a book nerd seeking to escape into another world through words and characters.

In the past four years of living here, I have slowly formed a small gang of friends who appreciate books and reading as much as I do. And finally, earlier in the month, we decided to have our first ever book swap meet. It was to be a pretty informal affair, just a handful of us meeting in the city to swap some of the books from our collections. And we also decided to make a visit to the State Library Victoria; what better place for a book lover, rite!

Time must never be a parameter when a bunch of women decide to meet so the plan was to catch up in a central point before heading to the library. And since I arrived in the city without having any lunch (just an excuse), I decided to join up with another GF. So randomly, without any clue whatsoever about the place, we landed up at Monkey King inside Melbourne Central. And before we knew it, others joined and soon what was supposed to be a quick lunch turned into a slow, relaxed and delicious lunch affair.

Monkey King is relatively new to the Melbourne Central food scene. As I understand it, the restaurant is going through some changes so the space is divided into a bar and restaurant, and they operate separately in spite of being in the same space.

Industrial chic, boho with contemporary Asian influences, the décor and ambience of Monkey King is definitely worth mentioning. With beautiful art murals and interesting accessories, the space is lavish and welcoming; definitely a respite from the crowds.

Monkey King, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Monkey King, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

I was quite impressed with the bar menu, especially the cocktails. There were a range of tea based cocktails, with really interesting flavour combinations. You could also consult the bartender and come up with your own cocktail creation which can then be named after you.

Before we get into the food, here are the cocktails we tried out;

Monkey King, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Cucumber and Rose Tea Tom Collins; a perfect afternoon drink created from a blend of Gin, Gifford Lychee Liqueur, fresh lemon juice, rose syrup topped with soda. It was refreshing, delicious and that hint of rose was just amazing.

Monkey King, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Hibiscus and Peach Bellini; a blend of West Winds Gin with lemon, peach sugar, hibiscus syrup topped with sparkling wine. Again a refreshing drink perfect for long chatty afternoon with friends.

Monkey King, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Peppermint Tea Mojito; with Mt Gay white rum, lime and an in house peppermint tea syrup. A beautiful ombre drink again perfect for the afternoons.

So as I mentioned, Monkey King currently operates another restaurant inside its space called Bao & Co. As the name suggests, the menu focuses on different style of bao which is essentially Chinese style steamed buns with a variety of fillings. It’s a simple and small menu but we sampled quite a few dishes to reach the conclusion that this was an amazing place to return to.

We ordered different style of bao along with a few sides and here’s what we had;

Monkey King, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Wasabi Barramundi Bao – crispy barramundi, seaweed, dill, wasabi mayo with pickled vegetables all encased in the softest bao. Damn delicious and highly recommended!

Monkey King, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Crispy Fried Chicken Bao – chicken, pickle, coriander, carrot, cucumber, red cabbage with chilli mayo. This one was fabulous especially with bits of crispy chicken against the freshness of the vegetables.

Monkey King, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Veggie Lover Bao – with a vibrant, refreshing mix of veggies, the vegetarian version of the bao is equally delicious as its non vegetarian counterpart.

Monkey King, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Papaya Salad – we could all go back just to eat this salad. Carrots, chilli, green papaya, crushed peanuts, fried shallots with cherry tomato; this salad was bursting with delicious flavours and made the perfect side to the bao.

Monkey King, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Crunchy seasoned wedges – perfectly seasoned and crispy wedges yet soft and fluffy inside.

Monkey King, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Edamame Bean – Boiled green soybeans with sea salt. One of the healthiest yet really delicious snack to munch on.

Monkey King, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Veggie Spring Rolls – crispy rolls with delicious mixed veggie filling; it was freshly made and that made all the difference.

And as always, we left no room for dessert but there were quite a few sweet bao versions to try out; maybe next time.

Monkey King

Melbourne Central Shopping Centre,
68 Menzies Alley,
Melbourne VIC 3000

Phone no: (03) 9066 0207

Website: http://www.monkeykingbar.com.au/

Timings:

Monday: 11.30am – 11.00pm
Tuesday: 11.30am – 11.00pm
Wednesday: 11.30am – 11.00pm
Thursday: 11.30am – 3pm; 4pm – 1am
Friday: 11.30am – 3pm; 4pm – 1am
Saturday: 11.30am – 3pm; 4pm – 1am
Sunday: 5.00pm – 10.00pm

Monkey King Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Burma Lane (Little Collins St. Melbourne) – a Review

‘Created in Melbourne, Inspired by Asia’…..that tagline fits Burma Lane perfectly.

I was at Burma Lane recently for a tasting of their new menu and also to view the photographic exhibition, ‘Seasons of Gold’. And as part of my work with Indian Link, I was also doing an interview with Anu Kumar, one of the photographers taking part in the exhibition.

‘Seasons of Gold’ presented by Burma Lane, not only showcases the launch of the restaurant’s new menu but also celebrates the unique Modern Australian-Asian street art and photography.

Burma Lane, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

A digital exhibition that is set against the breathtaking Mike Eleven mural, champions the work of four up and coming photographers (Jaz Blom, Anu Kumar, Thomas Lim and Bryan Tang), highlighting the culinary ethos of Burma Lane’s Australian Asian identity.

Located on the vibrant and bustling Little Collins St, Burma Lane is an escape into relaxed sophistication. For a good few minutes, I stood staring at the Mike Eleven mural; something which I continued to do throughout my time there. It is simply stunning!

Burma Lane, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

The dishes are light tapas style and perfect for sharing. It is not a long menu, but a small simple one that focuses highly on local and seasonal produce.

Since I was working, didn’t order any drinks but jumped right into the food after the interview. And since Anu was a vegetarian, I got to sample some of those too. Lucky me, I say!

All the dishes I tasted were delicious, nothing to fault at all. So instead of writing delicious in almost every sentence, I am just going to do a pictorial guide to all the dishes captioned with the name and explanation of the dish.

Burma Lane, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Pickled tea leaf, cabbage, peanut, crispy bean, tomato salad; a vibrant and refreshing salad with such interesting textures.

Burma Lane, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Smoked wings, chilli, sesame, green onion; fingerlickin good with that sweet and spicy sticky coating.

Burma Lane, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Cauliflower, potato dumplings, brussels sprouts, peanuts, chilli, Sichuan pepper; an absolutely stunning vegetarian dish that I highly recommend. Need to go back just to eat this again….

Burma Lane, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Shan tofu, smashed tomato, radish, herbs, peanuts. I am not too fond of tofu but this dish totally converted me with the interesting blend of flavours.

Burma Lane, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Green pea fritter, tomato curry, roasted carrot yoghurt, betel leaf…..yet another vegetarian delight!

Apart from this, I also ate the Five-spice pork belly, black pepper caramel, ginger, red vinegar which somehow I forgot to photograph. If you love pork, then this is just heavenly.

And we dug into all of these with great gusto and a side of steamed white rice.

The exhibition runs till the end of June, so it’s the perfect time to drop into Burma Lane with friends and family. I promise it will be a delicious experience.

Burma Lane

118 Little Collins St
Melbourne, VIC
Phone no: (03) 9615 8500

Website: http://burmalane.com/

Opening hours:

Lunch: 12 – 3pm
Dinner: 5.00pm – late

Mon: 12 – 3pm | 5.00pm – late
Tue: 12 – 3pm | 5.00pm – late
Wed: 12 – 3pm | 5.00pm – late
Thu: 12 – 3pm | 5.00pm – late
Fri: 12 – 3pm | 5.00pm – late
Sat: Closed | 5.00pm – late
Sun: Closed | Closed

Burma Lane Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – I had a media invite for the tastings; but all the opinions stated here are entirely mine. 

El Sabor (Melbourne) – a Review

El Sabor by El Cielo, located on Victoria St, North Melbourne, specializes in authentic and traditional Mexican style comfort food in an upscale setting.

The fact that the restaurant has Executive Chef Dhi (a two time winner of Restaurant & Catering award for Best Corporate Caterer (Victoria) 2012 & 2013) at its helm speaks a lot in terms of the quality of food served here.

I decided to check out the restaurant with my girlfriends who were equally keen to try out some real Mexican food. El Sabor has a quaint ambience with a bit of functionality and tradition thrown in. The restaurant has two seating areas….the more communal dining space with handcrafted wooden tables and benches on the ground floor and a more relaxed space on the first floor for those who want to spend more time catching up over food especially on weekends and at dinner times. It is best to make reservations if you are visiting on weekends or in a large group.

El Sabor (Melbourne) – a Review by thespiceadventuress.com

El Sabor (Melbourne) – a Review by thespiceadventuress.com

You can also find a lot of products, especially salsas and hot sauces made under the El Cielo banner on display and on the tabletops. While there is a small bar area on the ground level, most of the drinks are mixed in the bar space upstairs which boasts of some traditional mezcals, tequilas, beers and wines from South America & Spain.

El Sabor (Melbourne) – a Review by thespiceadventuress.com

El Sabor (Melbourne) – a Review by thespiceadventuress.com

The menu is truly Mexican and not the fusion that we often get to see in many restaurants that claim to serve Mexican cuisine. So while the tacos, fajitas and many other dishes may sound familiar, you will be surprised that the flavours are different to what you may have eaten in many other places.

The drinks menu is also very interesting, especially the cocktail section with a lot of Mexican/South American influence. Hence we decided to skip the wine and try out the cocktails. Also strongly recommended are the mezcals and tequilas.

We couldn’t skip past Tommy’s Margarita, which is the classic style served on the rocks. Loved the rim lined with chipotle salt; lipsmacking and highly recommended. I always gravitate towards drinks or dishes which uses a particular spice in an interesting manner and that’s how I ended up ordering the Chipotle El Sabor made with mezcal, chipotle, agave, lime and ginger beer. Very refreshing and a really different cocktail; loved it. The third cocktail we tried was the Mariachi with mezcal, pineapple, jalapeno, orange, lime and agave. This one was really refreshing with a lot of punch on the tastebuds. Don’t feel threatened by the jalapenos; a really good drink if you like refreshing flavours.

Tommy’s Margarita - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Chipotle El Sabor - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Mariachi - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

And to accompany, we had the corn chips (made in house) with some delicious guacamole and salsas. Can’t think of a better way to start a Mexican meal.

Corn chips, guacamole, cocktails - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

We began our meal with the tacos. Tried out three different ones; Pollo Pibil (chicken marinated in orange-lime juice & Achiote, served with pickled red onion), Pescado (Baja style battered fish, served with chipotle mayo, red cabbage and lime) and Carnitas (Michoachan style slow cooked pork belly, served with coriander and onion). All the three were delicious and in the hurry of gobbling it all up, I forgot to photograph one. But the Pescado was the crowd favourite; that battered fish combo was simply to die for.

Pollo Pibil (chicken marinated in orange-lime juice & Achiote, served with pickled red onion) - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Pescado (Baja style battered fish, served with chipotle mayo, red cabbage and lime) - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

The next dish we tried out was Sopes; this is a traditional Mexican dish that I have heard a lot about but never really tried one. So it’s basically handmade thick corn tortillas served with refried beans and topped with chicken/beef/potatoes (your choice) and then topped with lettuce, cheese and cream. We tried out the chicken and it was really delicious; and I recommend trying it out with the salsa if you want a bit of that oomph factor.

Sopes - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Another traditional Mexican dish that I have heard heaps about but never tried is the Tamales. So we ordered the chicken tamales which is basically freshly steamed corn masa pockets, filled with chicken mole; again recommended with the salsa especially the hot green one.

Tamales - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

Next it was time to try out the Fajitas. Loved the way it was presented; make your own fajitas which are so much fun with friends and family around. So the tortillas, chicken fajita filling and a platter with beans, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, Mexican rice, corn chips and cheese. And there are of course the salsas on the table.

Fajitas - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

And even though we were stuffed, dessert was not going to be skipped. The dessert choices are rather minimalistic with just three options. Instead of the classic churros, we decided to try out the Burnt Flan with that hint of coffee and icecream on the side. While it was good, not the best I have had.

Burnt Flan - El Sabor, Melbourne - thespiceadventuress.com

To summarize, El Sabor is a great place to experience traditional and authentic Mexican cuisine. The staff are friendly and ready to help you out with suggestions. And don’t forget to make a booking before you visit.

El Sabor (by El Cielo)

500 Victoria St
North Melbourne

Phone: (03) 93299477
Website: http://www.elsabor.com.au/

Opening Hours:
Monday to Saturday – 6pm onwards

Disclaimer – I was invited as a guest but all the photographs, opinions stated here are entirely mine.

El Sabor by El Cielo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Frankie’s Top Shop (St Kilda, Melbourne) – a Review

Another delicious addition to Melbourne’s café culture!

Frankie's Topshop (Melbourne), a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

4

Located inside a beautiful historic building (a former neighbourhood milk bar) in Cowderoy Street, St Kilda West, Frankie’s Top Shop is Michele Curtis’s first solo venture.

Michele needs no introduction to the food lovers, a professional chef and award winning food writer with publications like ‘The Foodies Diary’, ‘In The Kitchen’ and ‘What’s for Dinner’ to her credit. Her vision for Frankie’s was simple – a local food store, milk bar, café, all under one roof.

Michele Curtis, Frankie's Topshop (Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

With the focus on fresh, seasonal and local produce, Frankie’s menu has a range of salad options and healthy sweet treats. But you will also find all your café favourites, done really well. Michele believes that healthy does not mean boring which is why you will find the bacon sitting very comfortably next to the green goodness bowl!

Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

I love trying out new cafes especially for brunch with my girlfriends catching up over the mundane, so there was no way I was going to turn down an invite to sample Frankie’s menu.

So I visited Frankie’s on a beautiful sunny day with my new GF. We decided to sit outdoors because the weather was just perfect. And with the neighbourhood slowly passing by, doggies and pups all around us, it was the perfect slow life.

While my friend started off with lemonade, I decided to try out the fresh juices. So it was the carrot orange concoction for me and it was just amazing. Light, refreshing, healthy and delicious!

Carrot orange fresh juice - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Frankie’s also has a range of milkshakes, smoothies, coffees, teas and kombucha; so take your pick. If you love smoothies, then the Frankie’s delight with blueberries, almond milk and banana comes highly recommended.

Frankie’s delight smoothie - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Eggs are an important part of any café menu which is why I decided to try out the Folded eggs with mushrooms, parmesan, herbs, spring onions and super greens, served with sourdough toast. Simple food done well with absolutely fresh ingredients.

Folded eggs with mushrooms, parmesan, herbs, spring onions and super greens - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

My friend couldn’t go past the pie so she had the Frankie’s lamb pie with red pepper relish and a couscous, roast vegetables, chickpea salad. The fact that she polished off her plate in 5 minutes is enough testimony to the food.

Frankie’s lamb pie with red pepper relish and a couscous, roast vegetables, chickpea salad - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

As I already mentioned, the salads are really interesting at Frankie’s. Don’t just stick to the menu because they do have daily specials so just ask the staff or take a look at the refrigerator inside the café. You can also create your own salad bowl by mixing two to three salads depending on the flavours available. Like this green bowl which features both the quinoa salad and the green salad. So yumm!

Green Salad Bowl - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

If I had taken my son along, then pancakes would definitely be something we would be ordering like these delicious buttermilk pancakes with fresh figs, vanilla labne and smoked maple syrup.

buttermilk pancakes with fresh figs, vanilla labne and smoked maple syrup - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

And for those with a sweet tooth, Frankie’s won’t disappoint. There is a range of sweet treats, cookies, muffins etc….that are made daily and available for purchase like this chocolicious brownie and the very pretty Persian cake.

Choco brownies - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Persian cake - Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Frankie’s Topshop also stocks products like pasta sauces, chutneys, jams etc….which are made in house. You can also find a wide range of artisan food products made locally and some wonderful foodie gifts and cookbooks too.

Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Frankie's Topshop - thespiceadventuress.com

Overall, a great place to work from, catch up with friends or a delicious brunch with family. Or perhaps you can grab a takeaway before heading to the beach. Frankie’s has something for everyone.

Frankie’s Topshop

20 Cowderoy Street
St Kilda West

Phone no: 03 95254971

Website: http://www.frankiestopshop.com.au/

Frankies Top Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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