Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

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

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review

ARZ was first recommended to me by a senior official at the Dandenong council. Knowing my extreme fondness for Middle Eastern cuisine, she suggested the place and wanted to know what I thought of the food. While this conversation took place almost a year ago, I somehow never managed to visit ARZ till 2 weeks ago.

ARZ has changed ownership recently (we had a great conversation with the head chef post dinner) so I cannot do any comparison between the old and new.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

On arriving, we realized that there was a private party happening and since it was in the main dining area, we were not sure if the restaurant was open for public. Within seconds, the staff came out to greet us and informed that the restaurant was open to all as long as we don’t mind the extra bit of activity and music that was happening. She also suggested that we could sit outdoors if we felt that it was noisy inside.

We were quite glad to be seated outdoors because it was a beautiful evening and the weather was just perfect for an outside dining experience. Must say that the dining space inside the restaurant is beautiful with textured walls, low lighting and plush seating and outside, it’s rather basic with plastic chairs and tables but that did not deter us one bit.

Moreover my husband had also noticed that many people sitting outside were using the sheesha/shisha. And on enquiring, the staff said that the sheesha could only be used outdoors which reinforced our decision to sit outdoors.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

ARZ has a really good menu to give you a glimpse into traditional Lebanese cuisine. Instead of a-la-carte, we decided to go for the banquet option so that we could have a taste of many dishes. The banquet we chose has no dessert options but a range of savoury dishes as outlined below;

The first to arrive at the table was the cold mezze which included a trio of dips – hummus, garlic tahini dip and beetroot dip along with bread and tabbouleh. Classics done well but that beetroot dip deserves extra mention because it was really delicious.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Soon arrived the hot mezze…Lebanese sausages grilled to perfection (really delicious), chicken livers cooked with onions and spices (another fabulous dish) and a platter of falafels, fried kibbeh, pickles, onions with sumac, all served on a bed of lettuce. While all the dishes were excellent, the sausages and falafels stood out to me personally as the most delicious.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

To be pretty honest, we were quite full already and didn’t mind the fact that the next course took a while to come out. And while we were waiting, we decided to order for a Sheesha and chose the double green apple flavour…our first Sheesha experience in Melbourne. While I do not smoke or encourage smoking of any kind, the Sheesha was more of a fun experience than anything else.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

And then it was time for the grilled meats to arrive…a platter laden with chips, chicken skewers, lamb seekh kebabs and beef skewers topped with more of the sumac spiced onions. The skewers were pretty similar to many others I have had at other Middle Eastern restaurants. The lamb kebabs were really good but the beef was not tender enough to be enjoyed. And while the chips have become standard fare in Australia, I would have preferred a salad instead.

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine, Dandenong (Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Desserts are not a part of the banquet; would have been nice to have a traditional one included to complete the meal experience. But there are a few on the dessert menu that you could try out.

The hospitality and service at ARZ is commendable; the staff are attentive and make you really feel welcome. We also got the opportunity to have a good chat with the Chef and hear about his passion for the cuisine.

Will I go back? Yes, most definitely….

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine

Shop 2, 78 Cheltenham Road
Dandenong
Victoria 3175

Phone no: 03 8743 3929/03 9799  0999

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

ARZ Lebanese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – Not a sponsored post!

Man Tong Kitchen (Crown Melbourne) – a Review

The first restaurant review of 2017!

The visit to Man Tong Kitchen was an impromptu and special one because it marked our 10th wedding anniversary. We were out in the CBD visiting friends and since our little fellow was getting bored, decided to stop at Crown for some gaming fun at the newly renovated Kingpin entertainment area.

Like many, I was only aware of the food court and the high end restaurants but not the mid priced ones located on Level I. A spot of shopping at the retail area landed us in this area and we were delighted to see the dining options. And thus we decided to indulge ourselves at Man Tong Kitchen as a little treat to ourselves.

Man Tong Kitchen (Crown Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The first thing that strikes you on entering Man Tong is the Oriental opulence…..classic with a touch of indulgence which makes you feel that you have arrived at a special place and makes this restaurant ideal for a celebration. The décor is beautiful with warm red hues and plush seating, a beautifully set up bar area and plenty of Oriental influences to look around in the form of figurines, vases etc….

Man Tong Kitchen (Crown Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Man Tong Kitchen (Crown Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Man Tong Kitchen (Crown Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

In spite of arriving without any prior booking, we were lucky to get seated immediately. But I would strongly advise calling ahead especially if you are a large group.

Soon the tea was bought out along with the refreshing towels; and the menus followed close behind.

The drinks menu at Man Tong is extensive for wines but heavily leans towards Penfolds; clearly a brand association there. But there are also great options for other Australian wines. The rest of the list is pretty average but there are some really expensive bottles of whiskey if you have the cash to burn. I would have loved to see some Asian inspired cocktails on the menu but unfortunately there aren’t any great choices.

So we stuck to the wine and went for a bottle of 2014 Yering Station ‘Village’ Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley. A classic Pinot with plenty of red and black cherry notes, earthy undertones and subtle hints of spice; paired beautifully with our choice of dishes for the day.

Man Tong Kitchen (Crown Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

2014 Yering Station ‘Village’ Pinot Noir, Yarra Valley

The menu is quite extensive so I would suggest to take your time and go through or perhaps ask for recommendations. As for me, I love to ponder over the menu and picking out our favourite dishes to try.

It is almost impossible for us to eat at a Chinese restaurant without ordering dumplings; that’s the gold standard dish for us. So we ordered the steamed Wontons with Szechuan Chilli Oil…..and boy, we were mighty pleased. Beautifully cooked wontons in a flavourful chilli oil dressing that had the perfect balance. Not overly spicy but with a perfectly balanced spice kick that even our 7 year old could enjoy. And that wine matched perfectly!

Man Tong Kitchen (Crown Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Wontons with Szechuan Chilli Oil

The next on the list was the Sizzling Curry Prawns. I must admit that the term ‘curry’ did intrigue me and one of the reasons why I wanted to try out the dish. Perfectly cooked tiger prawns tossed with bell peppers and onions in a mildly spiced curry sauce. Do not think of a spicy Indian curry but instead this had milder flavours but definitely with a kick of curry powder. Highly recommended…

Man Tong Kitchen (Crown Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Sizzling Curry Prawns

Given our fondness for spices, we continued on the Szechuan trail with the Szechuan style Fish Fillets in Chilli Oil. A humungous pot of perfectly cooked and succulent fish fillets swimming in chilli oil with Szechuan peppercorns. Again not too spicy that you cannot enjoy it but take care not to bite into too many of the peppercorns. Brilliant flavours done well…

Man Tong Kitchen (Crown Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Szechuan style Fish Fillets in Chilli Oil

To go with it, we also got the Hokkien style Fried Rice with Seafood. A very different fried rice style to what we have had so far; this one had perfectly cooked seafood bites tossed through a flavourful sauce which was spooned over the rice itself. Not spicy at all so perfectly balanced out with the fish.

Man Tong Kitchen (Crown Melbourne) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Hokkien style Fried Rice with Seafood

And as always we had feasted too much to take a look at the dessert menu but I did notice there were a few Chinese traditional desserts on offer.

In a nutshell, Man Tong Kitchen is a good place to indulge in classic Oriental flavours. The price is slightly higher but the quantity is good and the ambience more than makes up for it.

Man Tong Kitchen

Level 1, West End
Crown Entertainment Complex
Corner of Clarendon Street and
Crown Riverwalk
Southbank

Phone no: +61 3 9686 9888

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

Timings:

Lunch: Monday to Sunday 11:30am – 3:00pm

Dinner: Sunday to Thursday 5:30pm – 11:00pm
Friday to Saturday 5:30pm – 2:00am

 

Man Tong Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria)

Did you check out my travel post to Phillip Island? If not you must, since this is what we were upto the second day of our travels.

Whenever I travel within Australia, I try and visit a local winery or restaurant in the region – a part of the holiday I incorporate to broaden my understanding of food and wines here. Though a lot of names came up while researching for wineries both in Phillip Island and along the Gippsland Highway, Djinta Djinta captured my interest as they had a restaurant on the property.

After leaving the San Remo Fisherman’s Co-op, we took a picturesque drive towards Kardella South to visit Djinta Djinta Winery and also to lunch at deVine Restaurant (on the property itself).

Djinta Djinta Winery, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

Djinta Djinta Winery, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

What a unique name, isn’t it? Djinta Djinta (gin-tah gin-tah) is actually a distinctive sound that is made by the indigenous Willy Wagtails. This winery is a 10.5 acre picturesque property located within the Strzelecki Ranges and lies between Korumburra and Leongatha, just off the South Gippsland Highway.

The view is spectacular and we were blessed with a bright sunny day to walk around and enjoy the property. A stunning location for events especially weddings; I even told the husband that maybe we should renew our vows here.

Djinta Djinta Winery, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

Unfortunately the cellar door, ‘Wines of Armour Room’ was closed due to an event so we couldn’t do any tastings. Please do call up ahead and confirm about availability if you are interested in tastings. That was a miss for us as we were looking forward to this eagerly.

But the experience at deVine more than made up for this.

The restaurant is situated at the upper level of the main house and a beautiful barrel shaped door greets you at its entrance. The ambience at deVine is traditional and infused with a lot of warmth and comfort. All the wood paneling, rich colours and a well laid out space gives you a homely and welcoming feeling.

deVine Restaurant, Djinta Djinta Winery, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

deVine Restaurant, Djinta Djinta Winery, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

deVine Restaurant, Djinta Djinta Winery, Victoria - thespiceadventuress.com

After a warm greeting by Eleonor who is part owner at Djinta Djinta, we were seated at a table overlooking the vineyard, a sight so spectacular that you could gaze at it for hours. A seasonal a-la-carte menu is available and there is also a special children’s menu, vegetarian and vegan menu.

Since we couldn’t enjoy the tastings, we got two bottles of wine based on recommendations Eleanor gave us after understanding our taste preferences and also our meal order.

The first was a bottle of 2014 Djinta Djinta Pinot Noir which had a strong, velvety and lengthy flavourful palate with hints of cherry, plum and cassis.

2014 Djinta Djinta Pinot Noir - thespiceadventuress.com

2014 Djinta Djinta Pinot Noir

2014 Djinta Djinta Pinot Noir - thespiceadventuress.com

2014 Djinta Djinta Pinot Noir

And the second was a bottle of 2013 Sweet Melody; a sweet, aromatic and refreshing white with floral and musk flavours. Hands down, the wine of the day and especially recommended for those who are fond of sweeter whites than the crisp dry ones. Loved it so much that we bought home an extra bottle for the festive season.

2013 Sweet Melody - thespiceadventuress.com

2013 Sweet Melody

The luncheon menu had options for 2 and 3 course and with four of us, there were quite a few dishes we sampled.

The first entrée was Housemade Hungarian Pork Sausage on Caramelized Onion drizzled with Romesco Sauce.  Delicious was the verdict especially with the quality of the sausages really shining through. A great entrée which is not only flavourful but showcased the quality of ingredients.

Housemade Hungarian Pork Sausage on Caramelized Onion drizzled with Romesco Sauce - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Housemade Hungarian Pork Sausage on Caramelized Onion drizzled with Romesco Sauce – deVine Restaurant – thespiceadventuress.com

The next entrée was Beetroot, Feta and Toasted Cashew Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Housemade SourDough Crisps. I ordered this salad because it was a unique combination of flavours, one that I had never tried before. A stunning option for those who want to start off with something light and highly recommended if you are a vegetarian too.

Beetroot, Feta and Toasted Cashew Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Housemade SourDough Crisps - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Beetroot, Feta and Toasted Cashew Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette and Housemade SourDough Crisps

The third entrée was Pumpkin and Chickpea Fritters with Chilli Dressing and served with a Mixed Lettuce Salad. Yet another delicious vegetarian option, the fritters were so full of flavour with the chilli dressing complimenting the sweetness from the pumpkin.

Pumpkin and Chickpea Fritters with Chilli Dressing and served with a Mixed Lettuce Salad - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Pumpkin and Chickpea Fritters with Chilli Dressing and served with a Mixed Lettuce Salad.

Time for the mains; we ordered two of the Pan Seared Meditteranean Salmon Fillet on Roasted Tomato, Eggplant, Zucchini, Onion and Olives topped with Tangy Lemon Salsa Verde. Cooked to perfection, moist and succulent salmon paired deliciously with the roast vegetables and tangy herby dressing. While it was perfect, I would have liked more of the salsa verde on the plate.

Pan Seared Meditteranean Salmon Fillet on Roasted Tomato, Eggplant, Zucchini, Onion and Olives topped with Tangy Lemon Salsa Verde - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Pan Seared Meditteranean Salmon Fillet on Roasted Tomato, Eggplant, Zucchini, Onion and Olives topped with Tangy Lemon Salsa Verde

The next main dish to arrive was the Marinated Roast Duck Leg in Sweet Spiced Pinot Gris with Plum Jus and Seasonal Vegetables. The duck was cooked perfectly and I loved that sweet spicy jus which went really well with the duck.

Marinated Roast Duck Leg in Sweet Spiced Pinot Gris with Plum Jus and Seasonal Vegetables - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Marinated Roast Duck Leg in Sweet Spiced Pinot Gris with Plum Jus and Seasonal Vegetables

The vegetarian mains ordered was a Thai Coconut Vegetable Curry on Jasmine Rice. While it might not be an authentic Thai curry, it was definitely full of flavour especially that coconut broth; refreshing and delicious.

Thai Coconut Vegetable Curry on Jasmine Rice - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Thai Coconut Vegetable Curry on Jasmine Rice

My little fellow chose the Gourmet Pizza with Ham, Cheese, Pineapple, Chicken and Olives. So happy to see that the children’s menu gets the same attention as the adults. He was extremely happy and so were we; I even managed to sneak in a slice.

Gourmet Pizza with Ham, Cheese, Pineapple, Chicken and Olives - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

Gourmet Pizza with Ham, Cheese, Pineapple, Chicken and Olives

For desserts, the first one ordered was a French Fudge Chocolate Mousse in a White Chocolate Cup, Chocolate Shavings and Almond Tuille.

French Fudge Chocolate Mousse in a White Chocolate Cup, Chocolate Shavings and Almond Tuille - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

The second choice was the Nashi Pear and Blueberry Cobbler served with Vanilla Icecream.

Nashi Pear and Blueberry Cobbler served with Vanilla Icecream - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

And the third was a Cacao Pudding served with Raspberry Coulis and Fresh Strawberries.

Cacao Pudding served with Raspberry Coulis and Fresh Strawberries - deVine Restaurant - thespiceadventuress.com

There was utter silence at the table after the desserts arrived; in fact everyone was impatient for me to finish my photography so that they could tuck in. Unanimously, the dessert course was acknowledged as the best course of the day (not by me, I am a savoury girl). And every single plate went back polished off. It would be hard to pick a favourite as all of them were delicious but I thoroughly enjoyed the Nashi pear crumble which was so warm, fresh, not too sweet and dancing on your tastebuds with that cold icecream. Highly recommend all three.

So happily fed, we thanked Eleonor for a wonderful time and then strolled around the winery a bit. While everyone else settled in the shade for a bit of rest, I decided to explore where the vines grew and spotted these baby grape bunches. My first ever experience!

Djinta Djinta Winery - thespiceadventuress.com

I strongly encourage all of you to visit Djinta Djinta; it could be a day’s journey in itself or as part of the South Gippsland wine trail or perhaps clubbed with your Phillip Island trip. Djinta Djinta also hosts different types of food events at the restaurant like the Friday Tapas nights.

Djinta Djinta Winery & deVine Restaurant

10 Stevens Rd
Kardella South VIC 395

Phone no: (03) 5658 1163

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

Email: info@djintadjinta.com.au

Djinta Djinta Winery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Transport Public Bar, Melbourne CBD – a Review

Lunch dates with girlfriends is such an awesome thing; infact it must be made legit and compulsory. That few precious hours snatched away from the daily grind and routine is such a relaxing experience for me.

I am lucky to have a few but a solid bunch of girlfriends here in Melbourne with whom I meet at varying frequencies. And we always try and meet up for lunch at restaurants in and around the city which also gives us an opportunity to try out a new place each time. So this time, we headed to the Transport Public Bar in the CBD.

The Transport Public Bar is one that needs no introduction, especially given its location. Though many of us might not have walked into the space, almost all of us would have seen it at some point or even everyday. If location is anything, this place has picked out the most coveted spot; right opposite Flinders station and bang in the middle of Federation Square.

Overlooking the city, Transport bar has an amazing view on offer. Whether you pick your spot outside or inside, it’s a space that you can both relax and soak in the city atmosphere at the same time. We chose indoors as it was slightly chilly. And being a working weekday, there weren’t too many customers which suits just fine when you are catching up with your girl tribe.

For drinks, we decided to go with cocktails as the menu had a few interesting ones. Both the drinks and food menu changes often which is great as this is a space that attracts a lot of regulars.

I chose the Lemongrass and ginger daiquiri, specifically because of those two ingredients. The flavours were distinctly refreshing and even though I expected it to taste summery, it actually reminded me of autumn…

Lemongrass and ginger daiquiri - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

The second cocktail chosen by one of the girls was the Pom Plum Rum (I hope I have got this right), a delicious concoction of rum, cherry and other ingredients. Apologize that I forgot the exact combination; we were having too much fun to get into the details but nevertheless it was delicious and perfect for autumn.

Pom Plum Rum - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

And the third drink we ordered for the day was the Somersby apple cider…..which really needs no introduction at all.

Somersby apple cider - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

The food at Transport Bar is relaxed and casual; no fancy stuff but crowd favourites created in the most delicious way.  Easy to share food with good quantities is another highlight which works perfect when you are catching up with friends or stopping by for an after work drink or a bunch of tourists.

We ordered three dishes which we shared amongst ourselves and these were;

The Baja fish tacos with coleslaw, lime and coriander – a Mexican delight that just can’t go wrong. Succulent pieces of fish encased in soft tortillas and finished off with coleslaw, salsa, lime, coriander and a dash of sour cream. Absolutely delicious and fingerlickin good.

Baja fish tacos with coleslaw, lime and coriander - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

Simple couldn’t go past the Mexican street corn with cheese and Tabasco butter – how can you not love corn on the cob with grilled cheese and that splash of Tabasco to spice it up. Highly recommended especially if you are a corn lover!

Mexican street corn with cheese and Tabasco butter - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

And the final dish was the day’s special – buffalo chicken wings. Yet another classic that was done to perfection. The chicken cooked perfectly and tossed through a delicious buffalo sauce that had just the right kick of heat. Yet another fingerlickin one.

buffalo chicken wings - Transport Public Bar (Melbourne CBD) - thespiceadventuress.com

Thoroughly fed and satiated, we said no to dessert this time. Maybe another lunch date to try out the desserts. I am sure we are going back…..

To summarize, a great place to hang out with friends and family. Do make it a point to take out a bit of time from all the stuff you need to get done and catch up with that someone special; small priceless moments of happiness.

Transport Public Bar

Federation Square, Corner
Swanston Street and Flinders Street
Melbourne CBD
Victoria

Phone no: 03 9654 8808
http://transportpublicbar.com.au/

Timings:
All days – 11.00am to 3.00am

 

Transport Public Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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

 

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