Saint James Cafe, Malvern

Saint James Cafe is the English Cousin of From on High, Hard Pressed; Small Print Pizza Bar, Pedro Espresso & Yorkshire Brewhouse. I’ve seen some reviews recently on this newly opened café (opened about 7 months ago) and finally had a chance to visit on Sunday and was totally satisfied with the experience.

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Craig along with the others at Saint James was exceptional in their services. Love a friendly and happy crew! The café itself was fresh, inviting, and open with a cohesive urban design. I’m a big sucker for designs that include fresh green plants especially that beautiful bird of paradise planter pot in front corner of the café! So chic! Plenty of seatings available, but the tables are a little bit too close to each other which made it a bit uncomfortable to squeeze around. Toilets to the back can do with a lil bit more character.

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The menu is filled with plenty of familiar items with a modern touch.

First off, as a weekend coffee drinker I must say the coffee here is perfect. The drink here is all about the coffee roast; milk texture is creamy with a small layer of foam. Totally delicious!

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The hubby ordered the Saint Benedict which included Berkshire pork shoulder, poached eggs, fresh apple and sauce with hollandaise on toasted sourdough. I think the delicious tender pork, went well with the apple sauce. My husband on the other hand was on the fence about this brunch option. He’s more of a savory man and preferred his eggs as a savory option. Unfortunately the hollandaise sauce got a bit curdled toward the end of the meal but that could be due to the hot plate?

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I on the other hand went toward the sweeter brunch option and got the Strawberry and Cream Pikelets. The buttery soft and spongy pikelets was topped with delicious chocolate soil, fresh berries and meringue gems. While it may sound like a sweetness overload, the dollops of cream fraiche balance the sugar; and the tartness of the berries brings the harmony of the dish together. Topped with some edible flowers, this totally made it on my Instagram page!

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I was stuffed by the end but when Craig generously suggested I should go ahead with one of the sweet option, who could resist the Cookies & Cream Syringe Donut?! Ok it was a bit tooo sweet for me but again totes Instagram worthy! The donut was a little bit more on the doughy side with a great dark chocolate topping that balanced out (haha) the Nutella. Better to share this one with someone I say; but when I do return to Saint James I think I might try another sweet instead.

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I did forget to mention that I also tried the ‘Melon Delight’ juice which unfortunately didn’t hit the mark for me. It was refreshing after all can’t go wrong with apple and watermelon and mint right? However I need an extra oomph to it, perhaps a touch of ginger to bring out the fruity flavour, include some ice for a warm day and a lil bit of visual garnish for that extra appeal like the foods itself which was a work of art in presentation wise.

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Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Saint James. Highly recommend everyone to pop this little gem on your ‘must eat list’ when visiting the neighbourhood!

“When eating fruit, remember who planted the tree; when drinking water, remember who dug the well” ~ Vietnamese proverb

Till next time!
Xox

| Courtesy invite by Saint James Café. Opinions are of my own. |

Saint James Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fork & Fingers Ascot Vale

Fork & Fingers has a very modern look and feel to it. Upon entering the very quiet restaurant (Thursday night and we were the only one in the restaurant at 6PM).

Menu was all about mixing exotic Indian flavours with a fusion of other cultures i.e. taco, burgers etc. Very modern but we opted for the traditional dishes, hence ordering 4 curries, 3 Nan breads, rice and some beverages. And although the dishes looked small when it came out (and presented very nicely), boy was it a struggle to finish it all up!

First off I must say one of the best Nan bread I’ve eaten! A touch of too much garlic however once dipped in the curries it was heaven!

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Butter Chicken – godfather of Indian curry – my must have dish. And I was not disappointed! The tomato based sauce was creamy and the chicken was cooked to perfection where it was so tender and moist. We got a medium version however I think we could have gone with Hot for the extra kick to bring out that sauce a bit more!

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Lam Rogan Jose – The lamb was braised very well with delicious cooked gravy – very aromatic.

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Goan Fish Curry – The spicy fish cooked in coconut with a lot of ground spices was a surprisingly good dish to me. I’ve never been a big fan of fish curry however the curry was light and sweet and definitely works well on the place with the other curries.

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Veg Korma – homemade with various veggies. It was tasty however the vegetables were all a bit too confusing for me. Probably braised a bit too long so it did get a bit drowned out by the curry itself.

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Mango Lassi was delicious at first however quarter way through it got a bit too creamy and thick for me. Perhaps a bit too much yoghurt?

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Overall a lovely experience. Booking was made easy via open table bookings. The service was lovely and he was very friendly with a great sense of humour. We sat down at 6pm and were out by 7pm. It was great for a quick dinner before our cirque du soleil show at Flemington Racecourse which was a few min drives down the road!

“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink.” ~ Epicurus

Till next time! =)
xox

Fork & Fingers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eureka 89 – Asian Gala Dinner

What a wonderful place for absolutely any events!! from romantic dinners to weddings to the Asian Gala Dinner event on 8 Feb 2017. The view was absolutely gorgeous. Such an honoured to attend such a well organised event to dine during such a beautiful sunset setting. Having never been the 89th Floor – I’d never realised Melbourne by night is so beautiful.

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Menu and thoughts:

Canapes on arrival: Sesame seared tuna with yuzu, pineapple, chilli & coriander salsa and Steam prawn dumpling. I loved the presentations of these mini-bite size delights. The flavours of the the seared tuna complemented each other and the tuna was seared to perfection. The steamed dumplings was juicy and steamed very well.

Crumbed Tuna and Pineapple Salsa

Shared entrees to the table: Spanner crab with lime & seaweed cracker, Crispy duck with watercress plum sauce, Tasmanian oyster with ginger dashi dressing and Seared scallops with black bean sauce. My absolute favourite would have to be the duck with the plum sauce. The dish was presented beautifully and the flavour was definitely en point for the CNY theme.

Plum Duck

Main course –  Master stock braised chicken with shitaki mushroom & black rice crisps and Barramundi with asian noodles. Alternating between eating the two with my partner, I must say both dishes were presented beautifully on the glazed plate. The chicken was moist and tender and the black rice surprisingly was not as plain as I thought it would be. Likewise for the fish, cooked to perfection with a slight crispy skin on top. Both dishes however lacked the sauce element. It was agreed around the table that a good gravy or fruit sauce would have completed both dishes.

Braised Chicken

Dessert – Coconut pannacotta with mango textures and freeze dried passion fruit Poached fruit with lychee & coconut ice cream. Although both looked like artworks, unfortunately I found that both desserts had way too much ingredients on the plate. It’s nice sometime to have less then more for me. The sweet and sour and creamy flavours were too confusing for my amateur pallette.

But overall a very enjoyable meal with great company!! Thank You to the teams for the great communications and services (Eureka 89 team and the event organisers) from the get go to the end of the night.

“It’s so beautifully arranged on the plate .” ~ Julia Child

Till next time
xox

| Courtesy tickets from RACV for the Asian Gala Dinner 2017 event. Opinions are my own. |

Eureka 89 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Taste-T on Collins

What a cute little joint in a busy food court location on Collin Street~ Taste-T features traditional Vietnamese street food with a touch of western influence. First impression ~ Very clean with simple fit outs, less is more sometimes I say! Menu was easy to read and understand with popular dishes such as rice paper rolls, banh-mi, pho, noodle salad and Pho.

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I was suggested to try the Pho – so that i did and got the mixed meats option (beef and chicken). The broth was crystal clear (like a delicious French consommé) and very flavoursome i.e. the earthiness that the broth produced after been simmered for hours in bones, aromatics etc.  There were heaps of meats! Often I would review that there are too little! Boy of boy. Slightly regret not just getting the beef on its own as the chicken component was a little bit overcooked. And I could have gone with a bit more authenticity – where’s the oxtail and flank and tribes? I would suggest an added option for the side in the future for the pho-lovers? I’m also missing the extra herbs and bean sprout etc. – the garnishes that you associate with a good bowl of pho. However for a hot steamy bowl at that size in a food court of Melbourne CBD for $9 I’m not complaining!

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The second item we got was the banh-mi. At $6 I knew that it was definitely an affordable option for busy city workers during lunchtime already. I didn’t even realised you could get a banh-mi in the city for under $7 nowadays. This is definitely more westernised as its missing out on the pate and mayo spread on the baguette, that you would see from a traditional banh-mi food cart on the streets of Vietnam however don’t get me wrong it was certainly still a deliciously tasty looking baguette.  I would prefer the meat to be heated up and bread to be toasted slightly on its own rather than via a flat toaster – however that’s a minor issue!

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Then we washed it down with 2 giant cups of Vietnamese ice coffee and home-made peach tea (which was presented rather nicely). YUMMMYYY!!!! Both were a touch too sweet for my liking but definitely reminded me of all my Vietnam trips.

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Overall I lovely experience! I like the rows of sriracha sauce bottle on displayed but perhaps a bit more like some Vietnamese non-la , sugarcane or photos of sit-lo etc. CHEESY… but rather effective to attract potential customers (or at least someone like me ha-ha!). Did I also mention the services were top-notched??? Nothing better than seeing happy smiley faces from the start to the end of the meal.  Keep smiling girls!

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“To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.” ~ Anthony Bourdain

Till next time
xox

| Courtesy invite by Taste-T on Collins. Opinions are my own. |

Taste T on Collins Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wabi Sabi Salon

I recently attended a friend’s wedding that was catered by Wabi Sabi Restaurant. So here is my review for the catering component as I have yet to dine at the restaurant itself in Collingwood.

I understand Wabi Sabi create more of an authentic home style and fusion Japanese style of cuisine – just as you would find in Japan! Boy do I miss Japan. The menu of the evening was extensive.  I can see the banquet on offered would be great for sharing however we got them as individual plates per courses.

Appetisers: Sashimi Carpaccio and Sushi – Cooked Tuna, Ocean Trout Nigiri.

Shashimi Capachio and Sushi - Cooked Tuna, Ocean Trout Nigiri

Shashimi Capachio and Sushi - Cooked Tuna, Ocean Trout Nigiri 2

The Appetisers were fresh and light to start off with, I’m not often one for raw fishes etc. but when they’re sourced daily from the markets (or I would assume) they do taste rather delicious combined with all the different sauces. For appetisers I must say, there are a generous amount of sushi and sashimi on the plate.

Entrée: Pork Belly Bao w Jap pickled, Soft Shell Crab Tempura w Ponzu Chilli Sauce, Chicken Karaage w Soy mint sauce.

Pork Belly Bao w Jap pickled, Soft Shell Crab Tempura w Ponzu Chilli Sauce, Chicken Karaage w Soy mint sauce.

Pork Belly Bao w Jap pickled, Soft Shell Crab Tempura w Ponzu Chilli Sauce, Chicken Karaage w Soy mint sauce. 2

My favourite course/s of the banquet!  Who can say no to a deliciously cooked Pork Belly Bao with a nice glazed that complemented well with the pickled cabbage. The bao unfortunately was a bit cold by the time it got to our table though so that was a bit of a shame. The chicken Karaage was tender in the inside and lovely crispy on the outside. I am however missing the mayo though. Although the soy mint was tasty, it sort of just got sucked into the crispy skin making it a bit soggy after I finished my bao. The softshell grab was good but there were a bit too much tempura coating on the crab itself.

Main: Crumbed Sword Fish with rice, thinly sliced Pork Loin Shabu Shabu style, Cold Soba Noodles with Tiger King Prawns with sesame.

Crumbed Sword Fish with rice, thinly sliced Pork Loin Shabu Shabu style, Cold Soba Noodles with Tiger King prawns with seasame.

By this stage I was getting really full. However “I don’t say no to foods!”  The main course/s was a bit of a let-down. It was presented nicely on the plate though, so totally Instagram worthy! I found that the pork was overcooked so it was too dry to eat, the cold soba noodles was rather wet and plain and the crumbed fish was just a crumbed fish… nothing special? Perhaps, more seasoning for the course overall?

Dessert: Tasting Platter consisting of mini cheesecake, Pannacotta and Black Sesame Icecream.

Dessert Tasting Platter - Cheesecake, Pannacotta and Black Sesame Icecream

I love a good tasting platter! Desserts were defiantly delicious. Ok the cheesecake and pannacotta was a bit too creamy for my liking – I like when it is a bit more set like wobbly gelatine, but that Icecream was definitely a highlight. It was sweet and creamy which melted in my mouth. What a great way to end the meal!

“The more you eat, the less flavor; the less you eat, the more flavor.” ~ Chinese Proverb

Till next time

xox

Wabi Sabi Salon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Crux & Co

The Crux & Co  I have to say is one of must absolute favourite patisserie to go to for a tasty coffee and a side of tasty sweet… anything from delicious buttery croissants to cakes. Okay they’re not so cheap but hey, I girl who work hard got to treat herself?!

This time I decided to try out their lunch menu with a girlfriend. At 1pm on a week-day I must say it definitely isn’t the easiest place to get a table. At 33 degrees, sitting outside in one of their cute chic table surely wasn’t the most ideal location however as soon as I got a sneak peek of the other diner’s orders I simply refused to walk away.

Service was great. The girls were professional, efficient and always with a smile. Foods came out within 10-15min.

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I ordered myself the Pork belly burger served with pickled slaw and hand cut wedges. At $19.50 for the menu it’s definitely a lil bit more expensive than my usual lunch cost however it came out presented rather beautifully. The slaw was perfectly pickled with the right amount of pork belly between the sweet brioche buns. Sometime I just wish the pork belly to have a little bit less fat on them and more meat?

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My friend ordered the Scotch quail eggs, aranchini & falafel services on mixed beans and chilli concasses. The dish came out on a large plate, with such vibrant colours that is way too pretty to eat. My friend said that the dish was well balance and was very tasty. However again at $20.50, it is a bit pricey and a rather large dish for lunch.

Overall a lovely lunch experience and I would definitely come back again on another sunny day!

“Sugar is a type of bodily fuel, yes, but your body runs about as well on it as a car would.” ~ V.L. Allineare

Till next time
xox

The Crux & Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato