Tag Archives: cafe

Crowded House

It’s always nice to have an excuse to explore a different area. As we were on our way to Altona Dog Beach, this gave me a reason to explore the cafes along Melbourne’s inner west coast.

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It was a nice day, or as nice as Melbourne would get whilst approaching winter, so the pictures of Crowded House’s outdoor area enticed me to this particular cafe. You can go through the cafe, or as it’s located on the corner, enter from the back.

The back looks almost like a shed, but as you swing the grungy door open, you’ll find yourself in a pleasant and open area.

20140524_131409The other requirement was a dog-friendly area. The area is spacious for a dog, and as it was the pup’s first brunch we were able to keep him in a corner with the dog bowl.

Unfortunately, after we were given the menus no one seemed bothered to tell us that the breakfast special was sold out. Disappointing, because it sounds amazing! I would have liked to try sweet potato rosti and judge the difference to normal rosti.

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We started off with some coffees, and I often like to indulge with an iced coffee (above). It was presented perfectly with scattered coffee beans on top, but the drink itself was standard. In my mind iced coffees from Brother Alec and Green Eggs and Ham are still leading the way.
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My friend ordered the Black Angus steak sandwich (below) with fried egg, toasted corn bread, relish and mature aged cheddar ($18). She also ordered extra mushrooms for about $3. It wasn’t really a sandwich, thus the dish seemed a bit small for the description. Consequently, it wasn’t anything to rave about.20140524_133857

I ordered the Shanklish poached eggs with spinach and tomato on toast (below, $14). This didn’t sound like enough to me, so I also ordered extra chorizo ($4) and mushrooms ($3)!

Shanklish refers to the cheese on top of my eggs, originating from Lebanon/Egypt. It didn’t seem to make a big difference to your usual poached eggs. The chorizo was also cut very thickly, which I found a bit strange as I prefer to eat it in smaller pieces.

20140524_133839Service was quite accommodating and friendly, but being seated outside you really have to grab their attention before they disappear inside again. There were some louder and more demanding customers near our table, but the staff seemed to handle them quite well.

I do like their outdoor seating area, and don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much indoors. I might have had a different experience if I got to try that breakfast special – but maybe not. I’ll probably never know! Unfortunately the other dishes on the menu weren’t as exotic and exciting as they sounded.

Crowded House is located 48 Ferguson St, Williamstown. They are open 7am-3pm weekdays and 8am-3pm weekends. For their menu, you can see some of it in my picture above or check out Consider The Sauce’s old review here with a similar menu.

Crowded House on Urbanspoon

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Green Eggs and Ham

Green Eggs and Ham is building up a reputation around the southern most part of St Kilda Rd. Many go for the coffee, others for the friendly smiles and service that greet you at the door. The first time I went to get something for lunch they didn’t make a good impression – they kind of stuffed up my order. But my colleagues and I decided to go for a dine-in lunch and I thought I would give it another chance.
20140327_125202 Their menu is quite simple and succinct, as can be seen by their breakfast menu here. They were a bit busy as we sat ourselves down, so we went to get the menus ourselves from the bench above. I ended up choosing a wrap from the display window rather than the menu, as the last time I ordered a tandoori chicken one for takeaway it was great – it was just the service that was the problem.

20140327_130336It’s friendly yet kind of strange that a staff member floats around the door and the front counter to greet you. That’s from in front of the counter – not behind. So when you order, you find yourself standing right next to the person serving you and asking what you would like. There’s not really anything wrong with it, but you will find it a change to your conventional processes of having a barrier between the server and customer.

I ordered a Korean beef wrap ($9) with a side of chips (I think it was about $3). I loved the presentation of everything, the bonus salad and the cute basket of french fries (below).

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My wrap was full of plenty of beef but it didn’t really have that spicy tang of Korean flavour I’m so used to. I was kind of expecting something similar to say a Koba BBQ burrito, a blend of spicy flavours, as the tandoori chicken wrap last time tasted exactly like it would in a meal. This is not to say the beef didn’t taste good, it just wasn’t what I expected.

It may seem silly but small aspects such as their glasses and brown sugar impressed us with their aesthetics. Unfortunately, what wasn’t simple was their special of the day. We were eyeing a few other meals with a large mug and wandering what everyone was getting.

It was not until we heard a waitress say that it’s their special that we noticed the sign high above on the wall, opposite the counter and not entirely noticeable. Another customer on our communal table highly recommended it, thus my friends who were in line, suddenly changed their minds to order the special.

Unfortunately one of my friends ordered the last one! It included a large mug of pumpkin soup and a sandwich with some pieces of bread to dip into the soup. My friend said she doesn’t usually like pumpkin soup but she liked this one, and continued to finish every little bit of the meal.

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Finally, my other friend was eyeing a teriyaki tofu wrap ($8.50) in the display. I love tofu as well, so teriyaki tofu definitely sounded appetising. In the end she went with the teriyaki tofu salad ($8.50) with extra chicken ($3.50) and the result below looked amazing and definitely worth the value!
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This cafe has evidently located itself to cater to the corporates, only being open during the week. It’s either full of people on their lunch break or those dropping by to get their daily fix of coffee. The staff are friendly but considering we had to get a menu ourselves, I think it would be a great idea to have a menu on the wall considering it’s quite short. Perhaps a sign indicating you need to order at the counter would also be good to invest in, to avoid any confusion.

Overall, I do enjoy their interesting variety of wraps and what they are trying to accomplish, so I hope they continue to find their feet in the coming months.

Green Eggs and Ham is located at 22 St Kilda Road and they are open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm. You can see their breakfast menu here, but you’ll have to check their lunch menu in store and their special’s board so you don’t miss out on anything like this!

Green Eggs and Ham on Urbanspoon

Cafe Casuarina

On a rare venture to the Western suburbs, we found our selves at a cute and spacious cafe called Cafe Casuarina in Williamstown. Looking like an everyday, local cafe with a teal sign, we were pleasantly surprised to find quite a large and open interior to enjoy a sitdown and late brunch.

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Having just played sport on a Sunday, it was understandably quiet as it was after 2pm and close to closing. But we had just enough time to undo all our exercise, with cappuccinos, iced chocolates and iced coffees (below).

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Of course, I found myself with a tall and devilishly sweet iced chocolate, something you can’t really go wrong with, especially when it has a generous scoop of ice-cream. Quickly after this, we made our decisions as the kitchen was only open for another half an hour.

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As I felt the chocolate and ice-cream already satisfying my thirst and hunger, I didn’t feel in the mood for a large meal, so went with the Casuarina Omelette ($16.50, above) with cheese, ham, avocado, bread and an extra hash brown on the side ($3). It doesn’t look amazing but that’s because everything’s hidden on the inside, and together the ingredients provided a nice and light meal, with the crusty bread helping to fill me up.

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But what also helped to fill me up, was a taste of my friends’ Braised Mushrooms ($14.50, above) with 5 types of mushrooms braised with red onion and ciabatta, served with poached eggs, goat’s cheese and paris butter. One of my friend’s ordered extra bacon with the dish, and another with smoked salmon below ($3 each).

The mushrooms were really a standout, each bite of each mushroom seemed so juicy that you just wanted more. Consequently, the mushrooms’ flavour also seemed to be able to stand alone without any sides, as my friend started finding it difficult to finish off the extra bacon.

20140309_142749The mushrooms were an excellent recommendation and both my friends who ordered it said they’d definitely be willing to come back for that dish alone. My other friend had a standard steak sandwich (above), which she downed fairly quickly along with an iced chocolate.

It’s a great-looking and spacious cafe with friendly service, and I’d love to feel the atmosphere when it’s during their busier hours, which I just may experience one day when we return for the mushrooms.

Cafe Casuarina is located at 4/77 Douglas Parade and is open Mon-Fri 6.30-4pm, Saturday 7-4pm and Sunday 8am-3pm. Check out a glimpse of their menu on Food for My Belly’s blog here.

Cafe Casuarina on Urbanspoon

Chez Dré

A trip down memory lane often leads to memories of food. It’s been a little busy lately so apologies for the lack of posts, but as I tried to rack my brain for places worthy of writing about that were visited a long time ago, Chez Dré came to mind.

Was it the delicious brunch food or desserts that keep it still in my mind? Probably both.

It’s not far out of Melbourne CBD, only a short tram ride away and a little walk off Clarendon St. And typically for a hip brunch spot, its entrance is down a sloping alleyway. It’s one of those always-busy places and, on both occasions, I was seated closer to the entrance of the place and not fully inside where one would be able to see the counter and desserts display more clearly.

Despite my visits being 1-2 years ago, they seem to stick to a slightly similar menu. My first experience, I chose the Moroccan Baked Eggs ($18.50, below), which perhaps has set the standards for me whenever I order baked eggs now.

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It was a decent size and presented well with the spicy sausage pieces scattered in a circle. This is unlike some bigger servings that choose size over quality, and don’t put too much effort into the presentation. This provided just enough of everything and I think the spicy sausage made the dish a winner.

Another bonus was the dipping sauce of tahini yogurt for the baguette, creating a beautiful Mediterranean air for the dish. My friend ordered the same on my second visit (below), although the presentation was slightly different, with the addition of more greens such as mint.

I can’t remember what my friend on my first visit had exactly, but by the photo, it was probably scrambled eggs on sourdough ($9.50) with extra sautéed mushrooms ($4). Despite the simplicity of the meal, my friend kept wanting to go back to Chez Dré after that day. I also ended up with one or two takeaway macarons (vanilla and coffee I think?), which I remember were quite good but not extremely special.

On the second occasion I wanted to save room for some of their proper desserts so I went for the Veggie Petit Déjeuner in French, being the vegetarian big breakfast ($18.50). It included poached eggs, sautéed mushrooms, potato rosti, tomato, avocado and tomato relish.

I think this was a great vegetarian option of the classic big breakfast. I especially enjoyed the potato rosti, a large addition to ensure that you can still get full with no meat. A look at the current menu looks like they have updated this to roasted herb potatoes.

Something that should not come as an afterthought at Chez Dré, are the desserts! We had so much trouble deciding what cake to share ($9.50 each) that the inevitable question of, “Why not both?” sprung to mind.

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Thus we ended up with the Hazelnut-Praline Crunch and also the Blueberry Cheesecake, and the closest I can find on the current menu seems to be the Blueberry and Chestnut Tart. The hazelnut was certainly not the prettiest and we chuckled at the unpleasant look of it. However, it was amazing with its combination of mousse and praline layers, living up to the crunch of its name. The crumble at the top topped it off too – this piece disappeared into nothing extremely quickly.

The cheesecake was nice, but as with most cheesecakes it’s better in small doses. You can see the high amount of the creamy section compared to the base, providing an imbalance and also a cake that is too sweet even for three eager girls to finish. The hazelnut was definitely the winner – although looking at their menu now, I’m tempted by the sound of the Banana, Caramel and Ghana Milk Chocolate gateau!

I would happily agree to drop by Chez Dré any time, but as my food adventures continue, two visits is already plenty, but I would definitely recommend it to other people.

Chez Dré is open 7.30-4.30pm seven days a week and can be found at the rear of Rear of 285-287 Coventry Street, South Melbourne. Find their current menu here.

Chez Dré on Urbanspoon

Jack & Daisy

Last weekend, as my friends and I were heading towards DFO Essendon, we thought would try out brunch in the area. We decided to try Jack & Daisy in Pascoe Vale, as I couldn’t resist the photos of towering banana pancake stacks.

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It was busy as expected for a Sunday (I only managed this shot in the rare few minutes that no one was sitting there), but they managed to seat the four of us on a table designed for six. We joked that we probably eat enough for six people anyway.

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We ended up ordering three of the  Jack’s Roadhouse ($14.50) , my one with some extra potato hash ($3.50) and one Daisy’s Favourite ($14.50). The food took a while to come out, and we were unluckily seated right next to the kitchen where the waiters/waitresses pick up the food. We eyed many other appealing dishes such as the burgers and pancakes as they were delivered to other tables.

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Quite hungry after a two-hour badminton session, most of us downed our drinks whilst we waited. Still on a coffee ban, I ordered an organic apple and pear juice but I was quite fascinated by the presentation of my friend’s hot chocolate. I pointed it out that it looks like a cow, then we pondered whether this was intentional or not. This proved awkward when another table got two hot chocolates and we were pointing and saying, “Cows!” haha.

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Finally, the glorious moment came and our food was delivered. My potato hash came in two little balls and they served a generous amount of bacon (there’s more hidden underneath) and mushrooms. Times like this, remind me of how much I love breakfast food.

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As we eyed our friend’s Daisy’s Favourite dish, we noticed she had received her “lady relish” as indicated on the menu but none of us had received our “man relish” (please refer to the menu at the top). We weren’t too fussed though, considering we probably wouldn’t even eat it and we were eager to dig in.

Being the eager beavers we were…we thought we’d share some dessert. At first we were leaning towards a serving of the vanilla bean pancakes with banana, salted caramel and whipped peanut butter – sounds heavenly right? However one friend commented that she doesn’t like peanut butter, thus we went for their special that day – waffles with baked pear, maple syrup, mascarpone and some sort of crumble.

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The result was very impressive. The baked pear worked well, and the crunchy texture and nutty flavour of the crumble balanced out the rest of the dish which was quite soft and sweet.

The cons of this trip included the seating, being placed so awkwardly next to the area where they pick up the food from the kitchen that I felt like my seat was in their way. The food also was a bit slow to come out, however the waffles didn’t take too long. The waiter also didn’t notice we didn’t have any cutlery when he served our waffles, as you usually collect it from the tin on the table, but there were no forks left.

But on that note, we left extremely full and enjoyed this sign at the entrance whilst we went to pay. Oh but that also reminds me – they charged us $3 for a muffin we never ate/ordered.  If I’m ever heading to DFO Essendon again, I might drop by as it’s not far and I enjoyed the food, but I’m sure there other places to try in the area before I head back.

Jack & Daisy  is open Mon – Fri: 6:30 – 15:30 and Sat – Sun: 8:00 – 15:00 and is located at 152B Cumberland Rd, Pascoe Vale. 

Jack & Daisy on Urbanspoon