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Tag Archives: review

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne)

Another example of a top notch Melbourne café situated in the beautiful suburb of Ripponlea.

Tucked away on a side street yet located in the heart of the suburb, right next to the railway station, Turning Point is a great place to hang out with friends and family.

Subscribing perfectly to the word ‘Modern Australian’ is both the ambience and menu. There is a large seating area inside and a small outdoor space too for the sunnier days. The décor is bright and cheerful with contemporary touches.

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The menu, as I mentioned is Modern Australian; all the classics but plenty of twists and fusions accommodating all kinds of foodies. Also it is divided into two, as the café is open for dinner also from Thursday to Sunday. The drinks menu is also extensive during the dinner timings.

We visited the café for brunch, a good time to enjoy both the breakfast and lunch dishes.

For drinks, I chose a glass of Lambrook Rosè (Adelaide Hills) while the hubby chose the ‘Citrus Squeeze’ cold pressed juice spiked with gin. A very interesting drink which had the goodness of orange, carrot, grapefruit, lemon and mint; the gin took it to another level creating a rather refreshing cocktail of sorts.

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The little fellow opted for the eggs and bacon on toast, but we also added a side of chorizo. (The photograph was taken before the bacon arrived). A classic that ticks all the right boxes. There are plenty of options to customize this and make it simple or as gourmet as you wish to.

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

I chose one of the café specials, Three Point Turn – poached eggs, bacon, house made beans, mushroom, wilted spinach, potato rosti, roasted tomato and relish. Served with toast but I omitted it. Now this is what I call a gourmet breakfast. Absolutely delicious and so full of flavour; especially loved the beans and rosti. Highly recommended!

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The hubby likes his protein fix so he opted for the Flank Steak – overnight marinated and grilled steak with caper and smoked paprika butter, jumbo tempura onion rings, a fried egg and thick cut fries. Now this one is for the big eater; generous portions with each component done to perfection. Just the kind of brunch for weekends.

Turning Point (Ripponlea, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

To summarize, the Turning Point is an amazing café to hang out for coffee, drinks or a delicious meal. Definitely going back soon.

Turning Point

8 – 10 Glen Eira Ave
Ripponlea, 3185

Phone no: (03) 9528 2719
Website: https://www.turningpointripponlea.com/

Timings:

Monday – Wednesday: 7am – 4pm
Thursday – Friday: 7am – 9pm
Saturday – Sunday: 8am – 9pm

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

Turning Point Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience

Grossi Florentino, the restaurant, needs very little introduction and Guy Grossi, the Chef, needs no introduction at all.

Situated on the iconic Bourke Street, Grossi Florentino is the brainchild of Guy Grossi, a much celebrated Chef both at home and internationally. His cuisine and restaurants are inspired by his Italian heritage. Grossi Florentino has three different areas to dine in – Cellar Door, Grill and Florentino; all three integrated by Italian food and hospitality yet all three exploring the varied nuances of the cuisine.

This was our first experience at Grossi, and we had chosen to dine at Grill as a special birthday dinner.

Reservations are always necessary, especially for dinner as it’s a small space and it is definitely not a place to stop by for a quick dinner. Grill is open for lunch too, and offers a set menu; a more affordable quick option for the office goers or those catching up in the CBD for a quick lunch.

An open kitchen, dark wood paneling with gold accents, leather seating, Grill has a very relaxed yet sophisticated ambience. It’s an eclectic mix of tradition meets modern which reflects on the menu too.

The wine list at Grill is extensive, so unless you are sure of what you like to drink, asking recommendations is a great idea. The staff are extremely cordial and take care of your needs really well.

We decided to start with a glass of Domaine Simha ‘Simla Field Blend’ 2016 , a Riesling blend from Derwent Valley, Tasmania. I have wanted to try out the Domaine Simha wines for a while now, especially having written this article on Indian origin wine makers in Australia for Indian Link. Very refreshing on the palate and beautifully balanced, I would strongly recommend you to try this one out.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

We began the meal with a plate of freshly shucked oysters with Chardonnay Vinegar followed by Kingfish Crudo, Capers, Horseradish. Both were excellent especially the kingfish, really fresh and beautiful light flavours to start off the meal.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

The next two dishes we tried from the Antipasti section was the Zucchini flowers, Ricotta, Eggplant Caponata and Pickled Tongue, Salsa Verde, Radish. The stuffed zucchini flowers with ricotta is an Italian classic, one that we love ordering always. The crunchy deep fried zucchini flowers with a creamy ricotta filling is a match made in heaven; the addition of the caponata was new for me, but paired well.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

Sam was a bit hesitant ordering the pickled tongue; it was the first time we were going to taste it but the staff assured it was gonna be delicious. And we were so happy we did, because for me, it was dish of the day. Perfectly chargrilled cubes of beef tongue with onions, radish and a delicious Salsa Verde to accompany, it was really amazing and highly recommended.

For the sides, we chose Italian Flat Beans with Tomato; delicious and different to the regular salads and potato wedges. And it paired well with the mains we had chosen.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, my son chose an entrée sized portion of Taglierini, Prawns, Zucchini. The best out of the three mains we had, the pasta was perfect al dente tossed through the most flavourful combination of prawns, zucchini and herbs. Definitely a must try.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

We went for a second glass of wine, this time a glass of Montesecondo Sangiovese, 2014 from the Tuscan region. Full bodied and rich, yet balanced, this was recommended by the staff and it was a great choice indeed.

I chose the day’s special which was a whole baby snapper with radicchio and tomatoes. The fish was cooked to perfection but somehow the combination with radicchio didn’t really work for me. Perhaps I didn’t enjoy the combination of the bitterness from the radicchio with the tomatoes, not really sure but definitely not impressed with the flavours.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

For mains, Sam chose the O’Connor, Flat Iron,  Angus which was served with horseradish and Dijon mustard. The meat was definitely flavourful but not as tender as he had hoped it to be. Not a letdown, but not to the expected standards of the place.

Grossi Florentino (Grill), Bourke Street, Melbourne – a Tuscan Experience / thespiceadventuress.com

And since we had clearly overeaten, we decided to share one dessert amongst us so we went for the Beurre Bosc Pear, Honey Crunch Ice Cream. It was light and delicious, a great way to end the meal. But not before some coffee and Italian biscotti.

11

To summarize, the mains didn’t excite us as much as the antipasti but there were clearly many dishes that stood out in taste and quality from the night. Service is excellent and definitely a place we would love to go back.

Grossi Florentino (Grill)

80 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone. 03 9662 1811

http://www.florentino.com.au/grill

Timings:

Monday to Saturday
Lunch from 12pm
Dinner from 5.30pm

Grossi Florentino Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review

Brunswick Flour Mill is situated on the iconic Sydney Road in Brunswick, which is a food lover’s paradise. The name comes from the unique heritage building that is atleast 100 years old in which the café is housed. Apparently, it was a location for trading and flour was one of the main commodities, hence the name.

The unique heritage structure is visible not just outside but inside the café interiors too with rustic wooden furniture, vintage flour sacks, balances and other props that add to the warm ambience and the bygone history of the place.

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The café culture of Melbourne is really strong and personally, I love the trend because it’s such a nice space to enjoy a cup of coffee all by yourself or have a quick lunch with friends or colleagues. This time, I was meeting a new friend who had just moved to Melbourne to pursue her dream of being a pastry chef.

When the new management took over around a year ago, there was a revamp of the old menu. The dishes are all familiar but now with an emphasis on clean flavours and use of local, sustainable and organic ingredients wherever possible. There are also plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans. The all day breakfast menu has something for all taste buds and dietary needs ranging from a healthy bowl of granola to salads, pancakes and the big breakfast with eggs, sausages and all the sides.

And ofcourse coffee is serious business at Brunswick Flour Mill. The owner, Anjali Diddi, said that they use only certified organic rainforest alliance coffee which has been selected and roasted by some of Melbourne’s premier baristas.

Apart from coffee and tea varieties, there is also a selection of freshly squeezed fruit juices, smoothies and a basic alcohol menu.

Brunswick Flour Mill is now open for dinner too from Thursday to Saturday. The new dinner menu has the classics as always but will also include more health conscious yet delicious additions.

We were at the café for lunch, so began our meal with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a glass of Chardonnay.

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

My friend couldn’t look past the Wagyu Beef Burger on the menu so that’s what she ordered. With a homemade beef patty, bacon, caramelized onions, pickled cucumber, cheese, iceberg lettuce and tomato relish between perfectly toasted buns, this one was a juicy delicious delight. And the in house aioli and chips was a perfect match. Definitely recommended if you want to sink your teeth into something meaty and delicious.

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

I chose to order the day’s special, the French Omelette and a side of thyme flavoured mushrooms. The sides menu is really interesting and you can also put together your meal without having to order a specific dish from the menu. For eg: you can order some eggs and add a side of mushrooms or sausage etc….

The French omelette lived up to my expectations; fluffy and moist with a filling of earthy mushrooms, ham, caramelized onions, sun dried tomatoes and herbs, it was light yet really delicious. A really satisfying meal with two toasts of sourdough and butter on the side.

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Brunswick Flour Mill (Sydney Rd, Brunswick) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The café also stocks a range of cakes, pastries, muffins etc….that is prepared fresh and can be chosen from the counter shelf.

To summarize, the Brunswick Flour Mill is a great café to step into while out and about in the area. With a warm and welcoming ambience, it’s the perfect spot to catch up over delicious food or grab a great coffee and muffin on the go.

Brunswick Flour Mill

341 Sydney Rd.
Brunswick 3056
Phone no:  (03) 9078 0497
http://www.flourmill.net.au/

Timings:
Monday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm
Tuesday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm
Wednesday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm
Thursday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm/5.30pm – 10.00pm
Friday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm/5.30pm – 10.00pm
Saturday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm/5.30pm – 10.00pm
Sunday: 7:30 am – 5:00 pm

Brunswick Flour Mill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest of AGFG and Brunswick Flour Mill, but all the thoughts and opinions about the food are entirely mine.

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.

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

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

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 and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria) - thespiceadventuress.com

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, 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 and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, 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.

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria) - thespiceadventuress.com

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria) - thespiceadventuress.com

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, 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.

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Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria) - thespiceadventuress.com

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.

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria) - thespiceadventuress.com

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.

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

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria) - thespiceadventuress.com

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.

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria) - thespiceadventuress.com

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.

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria) - thespiceadventuress.com

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.

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria) - thespiceadventuress.com

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.

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria) - thespiceadventuress.com

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.

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria) - thespiceadventuress.com

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

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

Djinta Djinta Winery and deVine Restaurant (Kardella South, Victoria) - thespiceadventuress.com

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

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

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review

If you have read my review on Al Rahimi Restaurant in Dandenong, then you will know how much I love the cuisine of Afghanistan. And living just 5 minutes away from Lonsdale Street, it was high time I had a review of Pamir up on the blog.

Dandenong is quite an interesting suburb in terms of culture and food. It’s diverse and colourful; we truly practice ‘live and let live’ down here. Afghan food has a huge presence here, with plenty of restaurants and takeaways lining the Afghan precinct and also on Lonsdale Street.

Owned by the husband and wife team, Uzbekistani Chef Alisher Azizullaev and Shahini Ahad, Pamir is situated on the busy and vibrant Lonsdale Street. The exterior is rather unassuming, a small door which leads to a flight of stairs. The restaurant is situated on the second floor and if you are not familiar with traditional Afghan décor, you will be surprised by the ornate interiors and rich, dark woodwork. On the walls, you will find plenty of references to Afghanistan like pictures, maps, traditional outfits etc….

Pamir has a very warm and comforting ambience. There is plenty of seating space so bookings are only essential on weekends but you are likely to find a place even without one. But do make a call beforehand as the restaurant is often booked out for events and social gatherings.

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Within seconds, we were greeted by the hostess and seated at a comfortable table. Pamir does not have a bar but its BYO so remember that when you visit. The food mainly revolves around traditional Afghan and Uzbek cuisine. The menu is pretty self explanatory but if you do need suggestions or help to understand the flavours of a dish, the staff is always there to help you out.

If you are eating at Pamir for the first time or want to experience many dishes from the cuisine, then the banquets are the best choice. There are different types depending on the number of courses and also a vegetarian version. Since we were familiar with the dishes and have had the food before, we decided to go a la carte for the day.

The first to arrive at the table are the dips (also referred to as chatnis) followed by the salad and flatbreads. Three different types of dips or chatnis are served and these are the minty cucumber yoghurt dip, tomato chilli chatni and the carrot dip. The salad is a simple one with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and leaves drizzled with vinaigrette. And the flatbreads, one of the best I have had; soft and pillowy and perfect to scoop the chatnis.

Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Fresh Green Salad at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

Freshly baked Afghan flatbreads at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

The next dish we ordered was the Chapli Kebab which is basically grilled lamb mince patties flavoured with coriander seeds, chilli, herbs and onion. Chapli Kebabs are quite famous in northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Chapli kebabs at Pamir were just perfect, so full of flavour especially that hit of coriander which warms your tastebuds yet allows you to taste the meat. The kebabs were tender with the mince cooked just perfectly. Highly suggested!

Chapli Kebabs at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

There was no way we weren’t going to order to a plate of Mantu, one of our absolute favourite things to eat from this cuisine. Basically, these are steamed dumplings with mince and onions; then topped with a chilli chatni and a yoghurt sauce. An absolutely delicious experience! If you are a dumpling fan, then make sure you try the Mantu; you might not want to eat dumplings any other way. Another must try here.

Mantu (steamed dumplings) at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

There are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu and the next dish we tried was Potato Borani – finely sliced potatoes which are pan fried, flavoured with spices and herbs and finished off with tomato and yoghurt sauce. Nothing more to add except that it was really delicious and makes a great vegetarian dish.

Potato Borani at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

And we finished the meal with the traditional Uzbek Pallow, a rice dish with lamb. The menu calls it as lamb biryani but that name is rather misleading as biryani takes on different avatars in different cuisines; this one’s more of a pilaf. Long grained rice that has been flavoured with whole spices and has a generous portion of carrots and sliced lamb through it. Just this rice and the yoghurt dip can make me a very happy girl. Absolutely delicious.

Uzbek Pallow at Pamir Restaurant (Dandenong, Victoria) – a Review - thespiceadventuress.com

There isn’t much choice when it comes to desserts so we decided to skip it. But I would love to see a few traditional sweets or desserts on the menu apart from the lassi, gulab jamun and icecream. You can finish off the meal with the traditional black tea which is great for digestion too.

In a nutshell, a restaurant you do not want to miss if you are looking for delicious, high quality, traditional Uzbek and Afghan cuisine. Make it your weekend priority!

Pamir Restaurant

195 Lonsdale Street
Dandenong
Victoria 3175

Phone no: 03 9792 0197
Website: http://www.pamirrestaurant.com.au/

Timings:

Monday: closed (open some days, check website)
Tuesday – Thursday: 4pm-10pm
Friday – Sunday: 12pm-10pm

Pamir Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

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