Fitzroy

Mission #4: Industry Beans Everyday

Not long ago, I met up again with Melbourne Food Blogger for brunch in the inner suburbs. I don’t get out to brunch too often, so am a bit behind on some of the biggest trends. Continue reading

Mission #3: Laverton Market

I hope you’ve enjoyed my quieter, third mission of mobile food so far. Before I go on to talk about some of the stalls at Laverton Market, I’ll provide you with a few mobile food tips for the rest of the year.

  • MARKETS: Look out for all the markets rolling in for summer including Coburg Night Market (Nov), St Kilda Twilight Market (usually Dec) and a new market called called Hank Marvin Market at Alma Park, St Kilda East (Nov). It has already confirmed the likes of Hammer and Tong, Koba and more!
  • NICHOLSON ST PROJECT: Speaking of Hammer and Tong Truck, they recently posted the below photo with the caption “sneak peak on our new project happening soon”. Watch out Nicholson St!
  • GOOD FOOD MONTH: Finally, it’s Good Food Month next month and the Night Noodle Market returns! It didn’t impress me too much last year with its crowds, small portions and overpriced, unauthentic food. But hey – hopefully it improves this year and I know heaps of people last year had a different opinion. Includes the likes of Chin Chin, Longrain, Red Spice Road and more!

Pho Trang

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Now back to Laverton Market. I’ve written about a Vietnamese place here before that does excellent Bun Bo Hue (Hue-style beef noodle soup) and xoi (sticky rice). On a few later visits we noticed a new pho place pop up (beef noodle soup) so thought we should give it a try.

IMG_2557 copyTrue to its tagline, they serve various Vietnamese noodle soups, mainly different types of pho, and a few other items. They even have a menu to give you when you are seated – this doesn’t happen often at outdoor stalls.
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They accidentally made two special phos (usually just a mixture of all the meats) instead of one with just beef balls and sliced beef – but I’m not complaining. We also ordered a Vietnamese iced coffee but it’s hard to go wrong with that!

The bowl was filling but did look small upon first impressions. It definitely wasn’t one of the best bowls of pho I’ve ever had, the broth acceptable, average even, but the meat and beef balls not the best quality either.

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My friend ordered Bun Rieu, crab noodle soup with a tomato broth. As you can see they packed a lot of tomato itself into the bowl, which made it a bit too strong and didn’t leave a lot of room for other fillings.

It’s no surprise that despite this new opening, the other Vietnamese place in the market is still bustling and more crowded than Pho Trang.

Pho Trang on Urbanspoon

Eggy Egg Puffles
We were also fascinated by this different type of dessert from Hong Kong called an Egg Puffle. It resembled a waffle but with egg-shaped sections, whilst the sections could be filled with different flavours.

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We sampled a cheese one, which was not bad but my friend enjoyed the vanilla and strawberry more. The flavours were very subtle but present, a bite of the strawberry revealing a thin red layer inside the puffle. The crispy nature of the dessert along with the convenience of breaking it into pieces to share make it a great concept. Check them out here.

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Eggy Egg Puffles on Urbanspoon

The market is definitely not short of food. You’ll see people walking past with corn, sausages, BBQ skewers and more. Some are particularly busy each weekend so they must have built up large followings, especially as permanent stalls.

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The fun also lies in discovering all the types of things for sale – from goldfish to hardware and clothes!

Laverton Market is open every weekend from 7am-4pm but experience shows that a lot of stalls start packing down at around 2pm or after lunch.

Mission #1: Yong Green Food

A restaurant recommendation that has often come up during my vegetarian mission is Yong Green Food. I made a quick stop by the other day and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to test out my new Canon 600D camera. Continue reading

Madame K’s Vegetarian

Sometimes spontaneity provides you with more memorable experiences, especially when out to dine. After an unfulfilling meal at Henry and the Fox (a post on this will be coming in the future), we ventured to Brunswick St for a second round.

Our initial plan was to drop by the popular vegan and organic restaurant Yong Green Food, but this plan was thwarted after their voicemail said they were closed for a break.

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Next idea was Vegie Bar, but this place is crazy-busy on weekends. But Melbourne is full of eateries and we were bound to find something else on Brunswick St – and my friend then spotted Madame K’s Vegetarian.

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It was smaller than Vegie Bar but still full of diners, and we were lucky to get a table for three.

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It was a bit cramped and the staff kept squeezing between me and another table, but I was just glad we managed to score a table on a Friday night.

We started off with some chive dumplings ($6.90, below – sorry for blurry photo). They were panfried and surprisingly full of flavour – I honestly didn’t realise these crispy vegetarian dumplings could be so tasty! I think the dipping sauce also had an attractive, strong flavour – similar to soy but a lot more compelling.

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I wasn’t entirely hungry after Henry and the Fox (how rare), thus I went for an entree of lamb sliders. I assume it was “mushroom made lamb”, as described in all their other lamb dishes on the menu. They won my curiosity as the description did not mention the common brioche buns but instead, naan bread. They were quite different but I don’t think it worked as a wrap for me.
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The doughy and thick nature of the bread means I would much prefer dipping it in some nice curry. The other ingredients reminded me of the minty flavours you would get in a Vietnamese dish. Unfortunately, I probably would have preferred these ingredients in a normal bun, as the bread is a tad chewy to bite off whilst trying to enjoy a wrap.

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My friends on the other hand, were still ready and gearing for another full dinner. They both ordered rice dishes, which were quite similar in taste.

One was a mushroom dish (above, $16.90), with various mushrooms, eggplant and Thai basil served with Jasmine rice. You have the option to choose Jasmine or brown rice. The dark sauce resembles oyster sauce, but I felt like the flavour was more interesting and intense than your average oyster sauce.

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This sauce was similar to what was used with the tofu and cashew dish (above, $16.90). And this was a good thing because we all enjoyed this flavour a lot. I think perhaps the sauce’s aroma and flavour was enhanced by the Thai influences, rather than your typical Westernised Chinese takeaway.

Whilst we enjoyed our meals, I noticed a constant stream of takeaway customers coming in and out of the restaurant. Service was quite quick – the only issue was they didn’t realise my entree was actually my meal, so they were waiting for me to finish before serving my friends’ mains. This was quickly sorted though.

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Finally, we couldn’t say no to dessert as we were enjoying a good chat and thought the banana roti ($10.90) sounded too good to pass on. I was still dreaming of Chin Chin’s amazing banana roti, but this was different and delicious in its own way. It was a bit like a crepe but with a thicker base of roti, with not only banana, but also strawberries, soy ice-cream, their homemade sauce and a bonus kiwi fruit.

Thus, I’m not ashamed to say – we ordered another one of these! I’d happily go back but I’m aiming to try Yong Green Food first. If you decide to go here, I’d suggest booking or going on a slightly quieter night during the middle of the week to get a better table.

Madame K’s Vegetarian is open for lunch Sat-Sun from 12-3.30pm and dinner every night from 5-10pm. Check out their menu here.

Madame K's Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

Po’ Boy Quarter

Po’ Boy Quarter comes from the the people behind Melbourne’s beloved food truck, Gumbo Kitchenwhich serves up dishes inspired by the Cajun and Creole cuisine of New Orleans. No doubt its name is inspired by the “French Quarter” of New Orleans, and its location now provides Melbourne’s own permanent spot to come and try their gumbo and po’ boys. No idea what these are? You’ll soon find out.

20140217_183510Located in the popular inner suburb of Fitzroy, the place is cosy and perhaps unnoticeable unless you’ve heard of Gumbo Kitchen. The quiet atmosphere we experienced was probably due to it being a Monday night, usually a night where you just want to get home from work ASAP.

The feel is quite American with “soda” on the drinks menu, and the concept of some items reminded us of our past visits to Misty’s Diner. I’ve tried some of the po’ boys before whilst visiting the food truck – and loved it! Po’ boys are like sandwiches/rolls usually with meat or fried seafood.

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I felt quite tempted by the shrimp po’ boy, which I’ve tried before, but I thought it’s best for me to try something different, so I went with the pulled pork ($12.90, above) with housemade BBQ sauce and Cajun slaw. It was full to the brim with meat and it wasn’t after a few bites that the slaw was found buried deep in the roll. It’s so big that it’s hard to fit everything in as you bite it and it gets quite messy.

I think it’s good value and very generous, but I feel my memory of the deep friend shrimp is more impressive as it’s unique compared to your average pork roll or beef debris po’ boy, which is what my other friend ordered.

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My friend ordered the chicken and sausage gumbo ($11.50, above), which I’ve personally never tried as the po’ boys have always seemed more appetising. Gumbo involves a broth, meat or seafood and vegetables served over rice. There’s a lot of broth compared to rice and my friend wasn’t entirely a fan.

Finally, between four of us we thought a serve of plain fries wasn’t enough ($5), so we also ordered The Dom, ($11.90, centre of the below photo), which was fries with shredded beef with Cajun gravy and mayonnaise and pickles. I enjoyed the sauces on The Dom most, whilst I think my pulled pork would have been a little bland without the slaw.

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I also wanted to try the house made New Orleans lemonade ($5), presented in very American fashion in a plastic red cup. The pink lemonade did provide an air of being made on site, which is good, but it was a bit too bitter to down a lot at once.

I think the first time I tried Gumbo Kitchen, the new experience and food truck experience really did it for me. This time around, the food was pretty good and it provided a place that opens late to sit and talk with friends. I’d consider coming back if my friends wanted to go again but I might go back to my deep-fried shrimp po’ boy! It sounds so bad for you, but so good.

Po’ Boy Quarter is open daily 11am-11pm and is located at 295 Smith St, Fitzroy. Check out their menu here. For the Gumbo Truck location, follow their Twitter and their rotating menu includes these items here.

Po' Boy Quarter on Urbanspoon

Summer is calling…

As Melbourne finally heats up (temporarily), the call for ice cream grows louder and louder. I can’t say no to ice cream so let’s not waste anymore time and I will share some more hotspots, following on from my last post Gelato in Melbourne.

The Lab: 188 Bourke St, Melbourne

The Lab shares a similar concept to N2 Extreme Gelato, with large machines full of nitrogen and clouds of smoke engulfing their scientific-looking employees.

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Their location is more convenient, located in the heart of the city on Bourke St and so I eagerly joined a long queue. Their flavours don’t sound as exciting as N2, but that’s not what matters. We ended up with a banana honey crunch and salted caramel popcorn ($6 each).

The banana was nice and sweet with some added texture of muesli on top and the salted caramel matched well with the popcorn pieces scattered on top.

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The problem is I found N2 flavours a lot more smooth and wholesome. They seem to find a way to cohesively mix flavours together whilst adding innovative things such as a creme brulee layer on top, whereas The Lab just put pieces of things on top. So if you’re in the city, it should satisfy your ice cream cravings but if you have time I’d suggest venturing out.

The Lab is open Mon-Thurs and Sun 12pm-11.30pm and Fri-Sat 12pm-1am.

The Lab Nitrogen Gelato on Urbanspoon

Gelato Messina: 237 Smith St, Fitzroy

Another new and well-anticipated shop is Gelato Messina. Heralding from Sydney with great popularity, winner of this year’s Australian stage of the Gelato World Tour, and voted the best gelato in Australia by the Good Food Guide, there’s every reason for the hype surrounding them.

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A great queue greeted us on a Friday night, but they even have takeaway menus for you to look at whilst you wait. In addition to that, they have a Specials board, which makes the decision of what flavour to get that much harder.

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In addition to your everyday flavours (above), I tried to avoid the generic salted caramel that was also on show and instead my eyes lit up at my other true love, white chocolate. I was also interested by the apple pie flavour so I got a scoop of that and their special, nicciolino, which was described as white chocolate and hazelnut gelato with frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) soaked sponge and gianduia (sweet chocolate containing hazelnut) ganache (2 scoops, $6). Phew.

Until now, I didn’t even realise what those ingredients were and now I realise the abundance of hazelnut. There were some chunks of all these things, sponge, ganache and apple pie, that made the gelato quite tasty and full of surprises. We couldn’t quite put out finger on what it was, but we’re 90% sure it was the frangelico sponge that was the tastiest addition to the gelato.

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The apple pie also uncannily resembled the actual taste of apple pie quite well, with pies of pie throughout it. Finally getting to try it, I can understand the hype and the queue, however you will see where my heart lies at the end of this post.

Their outfit is also very funky, located on Smith St it’s a must. There’s quite a few spots to sit on the curvy benches inside and enjoy your gelato as well, and if you’re up for it you can even order tubs of ice cream or the misto plate ($12), a plate of five flavours.

Gelato Messina is open Mon-Thurs and Sun 12pm-11pm and Fri-Sat 12pm-11.30pm.

Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon

Il Dolce Freddo: 116 Lygon St, Carlton

If anyone ever refers to “Freddo’s” for short, this is where they mean. Located on Lygon St, there’s plenty of competition from other gelato shops yet on a Saturday night, this place still managed to be constantly busy.

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Even glancing at the flavours, most of them were close to finished. They have a wide range of flavours but are not as experimental, with Asian nuances. Flavours such as durian, green tea and lychee demonstrate this.

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This time, I couldn’t resist their version of the salted caramel, and now I’ve realised my liking for bits and pieces in my gelato, I also tried the vanilla crunch. My friend went for a green theme, with green tea and pistachio. I think they were about $5-6, and the waffle cone was a nice touch.

They have limited tables to sit inside and some outside to enjoy the lively Lygon St atmosphere. I enjoyed the combination of my flavours and the crunchy bits of my gelato. My friend’s green tea was also good but not too strong. If I’m ever in the mood for ice cream that I know will be good, I can usually rely on Freddo’s. They are more traditional and no frills except for a few of their exotic flavours.

Il Dolce Freddo is open Tue-Sun 12.30pm-11pm.

Il Dolce Freddo on Urbanspoon

Cones: 141A Station St, Fairfield

Cones is a local gelato shop in Fairfield, located on the busy Station St near Fairfield Station. After a brunch session at the amazing Fifteen Poundswe took advantage of the hot day and walked over for our gelato fix.

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Their flavours range from the classic bubblegum to the comforting and rich nutella. I was immensely tempted by the tim tam flavour (bottom left), but it looked too rich and full of chocolate for me to stomach in ice cream form.

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Instead, I ended up with a honeycomb flavour, which seems to look like all the other flavours I get from other shops (salted caramel, hazelnut etc)! It wasn’t mind-blowing, but subtle and enjoyable. They had decent prices and we were really happy with how full they pack your cone/cup with ice cream as it’s rare for local places to be so generous.

Cones is open everyday 9.30am-9.30pm.

Cold Rock Ice Creamery: Shop 21, Janefield Drive, University Hill

University Hill is generally a very quiet and empty ghost town in the northern suburbs. However, Cold Rock seems to be full of people looking for a good dose of late night ice cream, who don’t want to venture towards the city. If you’ve never been, you get to choose various toppings for them to smash into your ice cream.

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Their flavours aren’t that extensive, but at least they had white chocolate to satisfy me. When I realised I could get two flavours, I also got the mango sorbet as mango is my favourite fruit.

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I got them to put in tim tams, a favourite chocolate snack of mine, and as I didn’t want it overflowing with hard chocolate pieces, I also got marshmallows to balance it out. It may not look pretty, but I think I created a pretty good combination.

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I guess the only problem is customer service is a tad slow for perhaps one of the the only busy places at University Hill, and the person who served me didn’t seem too enthusiastic. To top that, he charged me the wrong price and had to come over to get more money off me. The toppings are also a bit expensive, all up it was about $8.90 or so.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t finish my filling serve of smashed ice cream as I was so full and if I’m ever feeling particularly lazy, I wouldn’t have to venture far to visit here.

Cold Rock is open Mon-Wed and Sun 10am-9pm, Thurs 10am-10pm and Fri-Sat 10am-11pm.

Cold Rock Ice Creamery on Urbanspoon

N2 Extreme Gelato: 329 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

It is evident from this post, that I eat way too much ice cream. No matter how much I like the other ones, I have decided N2 still wins in my heart but it most certainly depends on which flavours. Their popular French Earl Grey dulce de leche is a winner and third time around, this lemon meringue pie ($8) was also amazing.

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The meringue swirl was warm and full of flavour, whilst it contrasted with the cold gelato below. The added shortbread to the serving made it an overall taste sensation and now the next on my list to try one day would be their ferrero reveal, considering how much I love ferrero rochers!

N2 Extreme Gelato is open everyday 1pm-11pm.

N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon