Tag Archives: American

Bowery to Williamsburg

It’s rare that I venture to the city during the weekend for brunch, but the Mother’s Day Classic gave us a good reason to reward ourselves after.

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Most brunch places on my list were a bit far from the Flinders area though, but I remembered there was a bit of hype around Bowery to Williamsburg when it first opened. Located on a laneway of Flinders St, there was bound to be hype as they are run by the same team behind The Hardware Societe.
20140511_100528It basically serves brunch with an American twist, hence the name (Bowery – New York, Williamsburg – Virginia). The menu (above) is short and sweet whilst printed on the back of a postcard.
20140511_100546When the hype first started, all I heard of was the peanut butter hot chocolate (below). Served with a Reese’s peanut butter cup and in a trippy cup that’s designed to look scrunched, the taste was definitely rich of peanut butter. The only issue was it got unpleasantly clumpy at the bottom of the drink.
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My friend and I ended up choosing the pulled pork hash ($16, below) with broccoli rabe, poached eggs and corn bread. It was served with a sauce on the side, which to me tasted like a barbecue sauce with a hint of mustard, demonstrating the American influence.

20140511_102937One egg fell off the top of my pile of food and onto the plate on the way to our table, so my friend’s dish was more suitable for photos. I enjoyed the dish as it’s something different from your normal brunch fare.

The pork was a little cold but I’m not sure if it was because we were waiting for the last dish to come out or it was genuinely not that hot. The portions of each ingredient was reasonable and I really enjoyed the sauce on the side.
20140511_102943Meanwhile, my friend was eyeing a dish on the table next to us. It happened to be one of the shakshouka eggs, similar to baked eggs. Out of the the pastrami, salmon and sweet potato, she chose the hot smoked salmon ($16, below).
20140511_103229The dish looked great but unfortunately it felt like the salmon didn’t suit the shakshouka’s sauce that well. I think pastrami would have been my choice, served with a mint salad and yoghurt.
I wouldn’t mind coming back to try some other dishes but it’s not as though I’ll be rushing to come back.

The place was busy when we arrived but luckily a table had just left, which spared us a wait. Unfortunately the round tables outside are quite small and they had to pull up an extra chair for all our condiments etc to make room for our food. The long rectangular tables are more spacious but evidently more popular and often taken.

At the counter is a sandwich bar where you can choose what ingredients and spreads or “schmears” (as the sign says) you would like, so you can treat yourself with an American sandwich for lunch.

I am constantly eager to try brunch places that don’t just serve the everyday items and this was a nice addition to the mix. I find it at least a bit more interesting than Hardware Societe itself. They also have a few specials so don’t forget to take a look at these too – check out the buttermilk pancakes with lavender marshmallow listed above!

Bowery to Williamsburg is located at 16 Oliver Lane, Melbourne CBD and is open 7.30-3pm weekdays and 8.30am-3pm weekends. Check out the menu here.

Bowery to Williamsburg on Urbanspoon

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Father’s Office

I’ve heard the place Father’s Office thrown around many times, but always thought of it as more of a bar. Upon arrival it has a noisy bar section on one side, but a lovely dining section to your left.

Father’s Office Speakeasy Bar and Restaurant actually has a 1920’s theme, which I wasn’t aware of until I saw the waitresses dressed in sparking black dresses with fancy headpieces. “Speakeasy” refers to places that served alcohol illegally in the 20’s in America, as it was prohibited.
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It was early in the night, so still a little empty, but it allowed me to admire the decor, with the main wall’s photo (above) providing a true vintage feel. In addition to this, the blue water glasses really provided a nice colour that subtly complimented the colour of the walls.

Continuing with the theme, the menu is presented like an olden day newspaper with the unique cocktails on the front whilst the inside is full of various American and pub meals..and plenty more drinks. The menu had a similar feel to my previous visit to New Orleans inspired Po’ Boy Quarter, with items such as New Orleans Cajun Chicken Wings, however Father’s Office’s influences felt a little broader.

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20140322_190857Their drinks menu had some entertaining descriptions and I thought I couldn’t drop by this place without trying a drink. So I went for a Granny’s Blackberry Press ($15, right), perhaps swayed by the description “An instant favourite with some of our prettier customers”, allowing me to deduce that its popular with the ladies! It consists of blackberry, creme de mure, limoncello, apple juice and mint. All those flavours mixed so well, with the prime flavour being blackberry. It’s quite fruity and was presented in a lovely fashion, so my other friend ditched her sparkling wine and we ordered another one!

We all ended up getting burgers – I was particularly determined on getting one as I had been craving one that week. It was a tough choice, but I went with the pork belly burger ($19, below), which included brioche bun, apple and pear compote, cos lettuce, Dijonaise dressing and Victorian pork belly. Secretly, I was hoping that it would live up to the pork belly burger at Strange Wolf, which has sadly closed.

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In my excitement, I didn’t realise the apple part was “compote”, usually pieces of fruit soaked in syrup and spices. It provided a strange mushy texture to my burger, which I didn’t enjoy too much. I was expecting crunchy pieces of apple, but that’s my fault for not reading properly (and maybe not knowing what compote meant until I wrote this blog). The pork belly was not bad but didn’t feature as much crackling as I would have liked.

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The chips were classic French fries and were addictive, but I’ve always preferred my chips thickly cut. I know this isn’t the tradition for American food though but I did love the the accompanying mayo in a cute little jar on the side.

My other friend chose the fried chicken burger ($15, above), crispy buttermilk battered chicken thigh with purple pickled coleslaw and Dijonaise mayonnaise. The chicken lived up to its description as it was cooked just right, it was crispy, juicy and buttery. My friend absolutely loved it, whilst I had a try and felt the same, but she felt there was too much of the purple coleslaw.

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Finally, I had joked to my friends about the ‘Man burger’ and next thing you know two of them ordered it! The Man burger ($20, above) comes with fried Dijon mustard, black Angus patty, Swiss cheese, beer battered fries, more cheese, a fried egg and bacon. I looked at my burger, and then their’s and instantly felt the food envy. It looked great, but my friends felt the taste of the Dijon mustard was a bit overwhelming in the burger.

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Overall, the meals and atmosphere were great. The burgers were good and although they weren’t as big or amazing as I expected, they satisfied our burger cravings and made us content. There are little things in the burgers that didn’t suit us as individuals, but seem unique from other places and seem to be pleasing the crowds.

Father’s Office is located at 249 Little Lonsdale St and is open Mon-Thurs 11am-1am, Fri-Sat 11am-3am and Sun 11am-midnight. You can find their menus here.

Father's Office Speakeasy Bar and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Third Wave Cafe

Invited to try this branch of a Port Melbourne favourite, as a fairly new writer I was kind of flattered when we introduced ourselves to the waiter and he asked in his American accent, “Are you a blogger?”

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The restaurants are owned by a Russian woman, thus you will find the menu with some typical meals with some Russian, but also American BBQ twists. The Prahran branch is slightly concealed on a small street off Chapel St and it didn’t get too busy until later in the afternoon, I guess due to its fairly new location and the fact it was a lazy public holiday. The decor is quite simple and minimalistic, with various cushions, white chairs and mainly white walls. The most adventurous part was this wall of overhanging pot plants and another corner with some light brown wallpaper.

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Having seen pictures of a white chocolate mocha, but not seeing it on the menu, I queried whether they could make it. They happily made it and also a vanilla latte for us. The mocha came without coffee art as the waiter informed me he hadn’t made one before. I really enjoyed the flavour, which was just sweet enough, and the serving mug was quite large! However, it had some clumps throughout of powder that hadn’t been mixed in properly. We couldn’t really taste any vanilla in the latte too.

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From the moment they invited me, they had recommended the Crunchy Risotto Hash Brown ($19.40, above), seared mushroom and parmesan risotto hash topped with butter mushrooms, chorizo, roasted tomato and poached egg on a bed of rocket. I gladly took this recommendation as it pretty much had everything I need and love (meat, egg, hash brown) without the need to order any extras (so rare)!

I enjoyed the two rectangular risotto hash browns, with its crispy edges and risotto pieces inside. It still tasted pretty similar to a normal hash brown, but I like their experimentation, as it’s pretty impressive for the taste to be the same when I could clearly see the risotto inside. They served a generous amount of rocket underneath the mushroom and chorizo, however the chorizo was a little hard. Perhaps if the chorizo was cooked a bit better and an extra egg was added for a price of nearly $20, it would make a winning meal!

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My friend went for an American inspired dish, the Texan Fry Up ($18.40, above). This included slow smoked brisket, panfried with Kiefler potatoes and butter mushrooms in house made spicy BBQ sauce, topped with a poached egg. It also said served on a bed of roasted vegetables, which I believe was pretty much the aforementioned ingredients plus tomato.

Once again, the meat was a little overcooked, but I loved the spiciness of the meat and BBQ sauce. This is probably what I enjoyed most about the dish, its spicy Texan kick. It even comes with extra sauce on the side. In comparison and competition with many other brunch places, my friend would have also preferred another egg, although it does state one on the menu. But if the meat was more on the tender side, I think this also has the potential to be a great dish.


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Even more generous, the cafe offered us some Cherry Cheese Blintzes ($15.40) to try, a Russian pancake (on the breakfast menu) a bit similar to crepes. They were plated beautifully and came with a cute little jar of blueberry jam.

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As we cut eagerly into our goodies, we were quite amazed to find it bursting with a pink concoction of cherries and cream cheese. The creamy insides had a slightly sour taste, but not overbearing, and with small doses of blueberry jam really worked well. It was something a bit different for breakfast/dessert, and an introduction to Russian culture.

I think as Third Wave eases into its new location and brushes up on the details of their dishes, they can be the cafe to go to for a different dose of culture and food with a difference. Most of their menu items raise curiosity whilst simultaneously sounding delicious, and our palettes were really treated to some new ideas and flavours during this meal. Many thanks to Greg who invited us to dine in!

Third Wave Cafe is located at 30 Cato St, Prahran and is open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm and 8am-4pm. Their Port Melbourne branch is also open for dinner, find more info here.

Mon’s Adventures dined as a guest of Third Wave Cafe.

Third Wave on Urbanspoon

Burgers in Melbourne

Before you start telling me what’s the best burger in Melbourne – let me put this straight. I’m not here to debate the BEST burger, I’m merely here to share some of the burgers I have tried. You may have heard of them, you may have not, and there’s plenty more on my to-go-list so please leave your suggestions!

Strange Wolf: Strachan Lane, Melbourne CBD

Introduced to this typically-hidden-in-a-dodgy-alleyway joint by my lovely film festival committee, Strange Wolf is located underground just off Collins St. Or should I say was – I think they’re closed now, as I heard they would be closing towards the end of the year and their Facebook and website has disappeared.


Not my picture – from Urbanspoon, click for link!

Alas, let me reminisce of the burger that was. It was called The Underbelly ($15, above), with free range pork belly, smoked cheese, pickle, apple slaw and BBQ sauce. Unfortunately, from this view you can’t tell the burger’s true size. I found it larger than your average burger, or than burgers from more casual takeaway places such as Huxtaburger, and thus quite filling. The apple slaw goes well with the large pork belly slices and made it stand out from your everyday beef burger. It felt like a fulfilling burger and it wasn’t too messy except for the bits of apple slaw that fall out.

Furthermore, they have large herby hand-cut chips, which is how I like my chips – nice and thick. I would usually prefer a larger serving than the small cone that comes with it – but the burger really filled me up! If this place hasn’t closed, please correct me, but the signs don’t look good.

Strange Wolf on Urbanspoon

Huxtaburger: Fulham Place off Flinders Lane

To be honest – I don’t have that much to say about Huxtaburger. It seems to be a highly rated burger shop amongst Melburnians, indicated by the excitement of CBD dwellers when they opened up Huxtaburger II (the original is in Collingwood).

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Like most burger places, it has a bit of an American diner atmosphere to its decor. This place has more of a take-away feel, rather than dine-in, unless you’re after a quick munch on your work break or with one or two friends. Their menu is very basic, with their staple burgers and their beer/soft drink menus on either side.

As I wasn’t too hungry, I went for the classic Huxtaburger ($8.5) with beef patty, mustard, mayo, tomato sauce, tomato, cheese, lettuce and pickles. To me, this sounds like a typical burger. It was good – but what was so special about it? I’m still not sure. I also tried their chipotle fries ($2.50-$3?), which gives the chips a kind of smoked, Mexican chilli flavour. I probably enjoyed this more than the burger – although as I have mentioned, I’m pretty weak so it was a bit chilli for me towards the end.

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Huxtaburger on Urbanspoon

Hammer & Tong: 412 Brunswick St, Fitzroy

On a bit of a different note, Hammer and Tong are more of a brunch place. One of their specialties is their soft shell crab burger ($16) and my table had 3 out of 4 people order the dish.

Soft shell crab burger

My friend enjoyed the mayonnaise/cheesy sauce, as it complimented and added to the texture of the crab, and seemed to provide the main flavour of the dish. I enjoyed a bite too – but I guess the downside is the price vs the serving size. Hardly enough to fill you up unless you’re after a light meal.

Hammer and Tong on Urbanspoon

Misty’s Diner: 765 Gilbert Rd, Reservoir

This year, Misty’s Diner opened its second branch in the northern suburb of Reservoir. We’ve discovered this place is basically where you go if you want to have a heart attack on a plate…so it’s best not to go too often. Misty’s goes all out with it’s American theme, from its Marilyn Monroe newspaper art, to the American accented cashier at the counter.

ThickshakeThe attraction of Misty’s is its extra goodies from thickshakes, deep fried desserts or American snacks such as Twinkies at the counter. Having enjoyed a white chocolate cookies and cream thickshake last time, I couldn’t resist trying a mixed berries and white chocolate shake this time! I think I still prefer the cookies and cream one (they’re a bit expensive though, can’t remember the price but probably $6 or $8+).

Burger and fries

Another extra, is that they have various fries with topping. Delicious, but fills you with so much guilt after the meal. I ordered the Western & Bacon burger ($14.90, above), mushrooms, BBQ sauce, onion rings, bacon, mayo and Swiss cheese, with a side of wet fries (fries topped with meat gravy).

In complete American style, these meals are oversized but delicious, fatty but mouthwatering.  The menu with its sauces and abundance of ingredients really attempt to pack lots of meat and flavours into your meal. Not for the light-hearted!

Misty's Diner on Urbanspoon

Beatbox Kitchen: various locations

Lucky last, and lucky for me, Beatbox Kitchen often stops by the front of my work building. Eager to try, I left my lunch at work in order to try burgers from this cutely designed truck. There were only two options, the Raph Burger ($11, beef) and the Shroom Burger ($10, portobello mushroom).

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Never content to leave it at that, we asked if we could add a beef patty to the shroom burger. Of course, it was possible, but for a price of $15. This meant my burger had a whole marinated portobello mushroom, beef, lettuce, gouda cheese, tomato, onion and stereo sauce (tangy mayo).

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Out of all the burgers, I enjoyed this one the most. It seemed to have just the right amount of everything, including sauce. That means you still get to a messy stage, with sauce dripping out, after you get about halfway. It was so good, I didn’t even need to take my tomato out (I don’t like tomato) as the other ingredients and sauce still made it taste rich and flavoursome.

The excellent flavour might have something to do with the stereo sauce, but the beef patty was juicy and tasty too. We also ordered chips with stereo sauce (at that time, I still wasn’t sure what stereo sauce was but it sounded interesting), but didn’t realise the serving was so big. The burgers were incredibly filling with the extra beef, and the chips were too similar to McDonald’s fries for me to enjoy so I didn’t finish them.

UPDATE:
To add to an already very long post, I couldn’t help but try Beatbox Kitchen again whilst pondering what I should have for lunch the other day. Spying the truck across the road, I thought this could only be a sign! I thought I would try the Raph Burger and see how it stands on its own. This included the 170gm grass-fed beef patty (medium-rare), cos lettuce, tomato, cheese, onion and stereo sauce.

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So the difference from last time was no gouda cheese or mushroom. As I was looking for something less filling, I still enjoyed the burger immensely and can deduct that the actual beef patty is cooked just right. Without the gouda cheese, it’s evidently less saucy/cheesy but the stereo sauce was still great and tangy. It also meant that this time, I could notice the buttery bun a lot more and the bun’s texture was slightly crisp and crunchy today. Goes to show what different experiences you can have with the same place!

Beatbox Kitchen on Urbanspoon

In addition to these places, I have been to Andrew’s Hamburgers in Albert Park and The Bottle of Milk in Lorne, but due to my lack of photos and memory, I can’t comment too accurately. I do however remember I wasn’t completely amazed by Andrew’s Hamburgers after all the hype, and that I enjoyed a good messy burger from The Bottle of Milk by the nearby beach! Perhaps it’s better to try it yourself rather than trusting my bad recollections.

I am still eager to try Ribs and Burgers, Top Paddock’s soft shell crab burger and anything else you guys recommend. Let me know what burgers you liked or where I should go in the comment section below!