Tag Archives: northside

Lady Bower

Lady Bower is located in an area of Reservoir that you wouldn’t expect to turn into. On one side is a main road but if you enter from the other side, you will drive past such an everyday suburban street that you might wonder if you’re in the right place.

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It’s your typical small and cosy suburban cafe and I enjoyed that our water was served to us in a wine bottle. We were swiftly offered the menus, specials and drink orders but I had to change my order of a latte after I spotted the display below…

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The display provides a common vintage influence, along with the feeling that you’re looking at patterns straight out of your nana’s house. Upon our request, the staff let us move inside when a table became free due to the chilly and windy weather.

20140421_130912 My hand shaken salted caramel milkshake ($4.50) came in a tall 420mL jar and looked quite pale. It tasted very milky at first, but as I got used to the taste, the salted caramel became more apparent later on. You can also get a lamington version if that sounds more appetising! Meanwhile my friends ordered a latte and cappuccino.

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Whilst we waited for our food, I observed the interior was quite minimal except for the curvy lights and the wall at the back, with a tea set that continued the cute, nana sort of theme.

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Some seats also had a knit blanket (like the corner seats above), which we assumed was to cushion the plastic seat if you wanted, but may have just been there for decoration. The tables inside were mainly small and catered to two to four people, with one large table, but I’m sure some of them can be pushed together to cater for more!

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My other friend suddenly decided she wanted a hot chocolate ($3.50), which looked like your usual. Finally we received our food, which all looked amazing. Their menu had many items, which are not your usual breakfast and lunch items, so it felt like a refreshing change.

IMG-20140422-WA0003One of us ordered the Meatballs, smokey sauce, swiss cheese, rocket salad, on a turkish bread ($9.50, above). I had a taste of one of the meatballs and it tasted cheesy and a little spicy.

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My other two friends ordered the Pork Belly roll with apple coleslaw and sriracha mayo ($12, above) with extra rosemary mushrooms ($3). I found the pork nice and tender and really flavoursome. The sriracha gave it some extra spice in a good way too. I think it’s very filling for $12, so much that I had to help one of my friend’s finish it.

Finally, I decided to go with one of the March specials, Rosemary mushrooms, pate, brioche, truffle oil and autumn leaves with poached eggs ($17.50, below). I was very curious as to what they classify as autumn leaves, but it was pretty standard.

20140421_132154I think it was a good balance between various ingredients but the truffle oil wasn’t that evident and the pate wasn’t that great. I’ve tasted better pate at Rice Paper Scissors. It made the dish a tad salty, but I managed to balance it out with the salad. Overall, it’s a great looking and filling dish and the eggs were perfect, but maybe few more elements need to be refined.

It’s not a surprise as to why Lady Bower is such a popular place in an area that is a little short in quality cafes. I think their prices are decent and the staff are friendly and attentive, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t drop by especially if you live around the area.

Lady Bower is located at 1A Marchant Avenue, Reservoir and is open Tue-Sun 8am-4pm. Check out their current menu here.

Lady Bower Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Modern Asian Restaurants: Fumanchu

Fumanchu has come up in my food searches before, but I’ve always been weary due to reviews about service and the fact that it’s related to Miss Chu, which I’m not a big fan of. But, as I felt like trying a breakfast with a twist, I thought the risk might pay off. Not to mention the place is conveniently located in the northern suburbs.

20140316_124235There is no sign at the front to indicate that you’ve reached the right place and when we walked in, we thought we had walked into a bar in the middle of the day. The place emanated a pub atmosphere with its pink neon lights and walls lined with alcohol. However, the waitress assured us we had reached Fumanchu, so we decided to sit alongside the window bench, which displayed more of typical cafe decor than the front counter.

20140316_114612 copyMeanwhile, the artwork of the seats along the bench displayed some sort of mid-20th century Asian film poster images. This made more sense after a quick Google search, discovering Fu Manchu as the name of a fictional character with an iconic moustache.20140316_115731 To start with, I ordered a mango juice whilst my friend ordered a Vietnamese iced coffee. My mango juice appeared to be freshly made as it didn’t feel full of extra sugar usually in bottled juice. The coffee surprisingly came out in a traditional fashion, with the Vietnamese coffee filtered and dripping into the condensed milk. After this, you pour it into your glass of ice. It was impressively presented but time consuming when you desperately want to drink your coffee! It was also quite strong for my liking.20140316_120931

As a fan of this Japanese food, I couldn’t go past the Japanese Okonomiyaki Pancakes ($17, above) from the ‘Something Different’ menu. It comes with shredded cabbage and peas inside the pancakes and is served with house cured salmon and wasabi mayo.

The pancakes tasted different to the ones you would get in a foodcourt, which seem to have more of a filling. However, this felt freshly made and a bit healthier with an abundance of peas. They were adequately sized to go with the salmon. The salmon provided a complimenting texture and flavour to the pancakes, which could have been a little plain on its own.

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My friend was tossing up between the Asiaotic Saute Mushrooms and the Asian Omelette ($15, above) and ended up choosing the latter with extra mushrooms. The omelette consisted of wok-tossed free-range eggs, lap cheong (Chinese sausage), Asian herbs and roti bread topped with fried shallots.

I didn’t realise the omelette would be served wrapped in roti bread, which was interesting. I also enjoyed that the side of mushrooms was a mix of different mushrooms including enoki, providing a proper Asian air to the dish. With egg and Chinese sausage, the dish incorporated many ingredients already familar to me so it filled me up well, but it wasn’t outstanding.

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I was glad I gave Fumanchu a chance as it ended up providing quite decent food. The service was okay but not horrible, it can just be a bit difficult catching someone’s attention because the place is quite spacious. The tables around me were packed when I arrived around 11.30am but empty by the time I left (pictured above).


Image courtesy of their Facebook – some lovely artwork I noticed on a wall before I left.

They also serve dinner with more recognisable Vietnamese meals such as pho (rice noodle soup) and bun (vermicelli noodles) but I’m still dubious about the authenticity, especially when they also serve non-Vietnamese dishes such as mee goreng. I’m happy to try Asian inspired dishes but when it comes to traditional food you’d have better for cheaper in Footscray or Springvale. That being said, I haven’t actually tried it so if any one has tried their dinner food please tell me about it in the comments!

Fumanchu has changed its name to Chumanchu but it doesn’t feel too official with their name still the same on Facebook. The restaurant is open Tue-Sun 8am-10pm and is located at 2 Gilbert Road, Preston. Check out some old versions of their breakfast menu here and takeaway dinner menu here.

Fu Manchu on Urbanspoon

Brother Alec

If you’re familiar with the northern suburbs, you’ll know that High St is not lacking in places to eat and cafes. The other weekend I decided to try Brother Alec, even though I’d read a review that they hardly stood out from other cafes on the street.

The place is quite small, normal for a local cafe. The service was exceptional the moment we walked in. Whilst we decided whether we should sit inside or out, they mistook our hesitation as want for a better table (we would be sitting at a shared table indoors). Thus a couple they had just seated were moved to the communal table, allowing us our own table for three people. Of course we felt bad, but it’s good to know how accommodating they can be and their eagerness to satisfy customers.

Our drink orders were taken and I went for a standard iced coffee for the summer heat ($5), my friend got her normal latte but my other friend went for an adventurous choice – the Alaska (#4.5, bottom left).

This was a glass of iced water with double espresso along with milk and sugar syrup on the side to add at her own leisure. As with DIY hot chocolates, I love the ability to mix your own drink and I liked how they went for something different to a hot chocolate, a cold drink.

I really enjoyed my iced coffee as often they come too bitter, thus the order is always a risk for me and sometimes I prefer the iced chocolate as I definitely know they’ll be sweet. But this wasn’t too bitter and the ice-cream scoop mixed well into the coffee, resulting in a very happy me!

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When it came to the menu we noticed their signature dish to have a Mexican sound, the Huevos Rancheros ($17). They even had a staff leaderboard of who had eaten this dish the quickest. I did notice a slight Mexican influence as they had Mexican sauces on their shelf and they had items such as nachos and housemade chipotle black bean chilli on the menu.

I was also curious as to what “housemade chorizo crumble” was, as listed with the tomato poached eggs. I was told that it was diced chorizo, then cooked together to make pieces of crumble (something like that, I’m no cook). Luckily, their latest menu includes this in their “extras” section so I could order it as a side with my Pork Belly (below) dish, which is not on their latest menu on their website.

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This included pork belly slices, cornbread, poached eggs and diced cucumber and tomato. The bread was nice and fluffy, ensuring it plays a big part in filling you up. The pork was perfectly cooked, tender and not too hard to cut at all. I also enjoyed the diced ingredients on the side to balance out the heaviness of the pork and bread.

The chorizo crumble (the small plate in the middle) looked a little similar to popcorn chicken but it was great – crunchy and crispy but still with that distinctive taste of chorizo. It was a bit salty so I think it needs to be eaten with more bread and vegies, but of course, as I ordered it on the side and already had meat this was bound to happen.

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Both of my friends ordered sandwiches, but they were quite different. One got the Breakfast Roll – Turkish roll, omelette, housemade basil mayo and tomato relish with bacon or spinach (12.50, top left). She also added mushrooms as a lover of mushrooms. It was definitely very tasty, I think the sauces and breakfast ingredients made it rich in flavour compared to a plain sandwich.

My other friend got a classic BLAT, which you can get with bacon or haloumi and she went with bacon ($13.50). You can also add a fried egg so it came to $15. I didn’t taste this but it does have a lot of rocket in it, so if you’re not a fan of rocket stray far away!

The service was very attentive and I enjoyed all aspects of the meal, which I feel I have found rare in my latest posts. The staff cleared our clean plates very soon after we were done but not with the feeling that they wanted us out. When we went to pay, the waiter who had been looking after us squeezed himself in front of the counter in front of his fellow staff member in order to sort out our bill swiftly.

Brother Alec is located at 719 High St, Thornbury and are open 7am-3.30pm on weekdays and 8am-3pm on weekends. Their Autumn menu from last year can be found here but they have a more up to date one for summer I think!

Brother Alec on Urbanspoon