Tag Archives: steak

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.

20140524_132751

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.

20140524_132422

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.
20140524_133937

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

Advertisements

Tree of Us

If you haven’t noticed, I love to take on people’s recommendations. I mean, rather than pondering over mixed reviews on Urbanspoon, that comfort of having the approval come from someone you know just provides that extra weight.

Thus, Tree of Us sits on my list of places to go after The Sunday Oven told me where she thinks the best burgers are at.

20140524_183923

Located on the quiet end of Church St, less lively than the likes of Victoria St (Shizuku, Jinda Thai), it can be identified by this dark, yet intricate artwork on the wall outside. I like that the place embraces this aspect of Melbourne, especially when it’s located in the inner suburbs where street-art is prominent.

As a burger place, they add a few basics to brighten up the interior, such as paintings and simple flowers, but also don’t try too hard because in the end – it’s all about the food!

20140524_191329

For a Saturday night, it seemed a little quiet, but I have noted it seems like a popular breakfast place too. This is understandable when there is a “Not Burgers” menu section which includes meals such as organic muesli, French toast and – wait for it….a breakfast steak!

Speaking of steak, I was extremely hungry (more than usual), so I went with the No Misteak (above, $18), which had scotch fillet, bacon, Swiss cheese, caramelised onion, relish, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. The issue this posed is that the steak was a bit hard to bite off if I used my hands, but if I tried cutting the steak, it made my burger fall apart. First world problems much! In the end I went back to my hands – the steak was actually quite soft and became easier to bite, but I might have preferred it a tiny bit pinker.

20140524_191345

On the bright side, I enjoyed the way the Swiss cheese oozed over my steak and how the chips were like thickly cut potatoes ($4 as a side). I’ve said it before, I like my chips thickly cut, but these were a bit salty after too many.

My friend ordered The Chicken Coop with free range chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, garlic aioli and dill pickle (above, $12). These sounded like your standard burger ingredients, but my friend downed it astonishingly quickly.

20140524_191350

My other two friends ordered the staple Tree House Burger with beef chuck patty, lettuce, relish, mayo and dill pickle ($11). One of them ordered a Bonsai burger, which is a mini version of the burger ($6, above). They also offer this for the Lumberjack and Sweet Pea burgers. I think it’s a great option for people who are not overly hungry.

My friends also enjoyed the delicious and soft brioche buns used with the burgers. If it was earlier in the day, I would have adventurously gone for a milkshake/smoothie and maybe even a Breakfast Burger, but instead I went with a meat fest! Having had about three burger meals in that week, I still feel that Spot on Kebab Station wins in value for money and in the uniqueness of their burgers.

20140524_202029

Tree of Us offers great service, the owner looked after us and even provided a complimentary slice of salted caramel brownie (above) as our group chatted until were the last ones there. The salted flavour was quite strong for me, so I found the bite sized pieces for us a good portion. If you check out their Instagram, it seems that one of their mothers likes to drop by with homemade desserts quite often!

I love the simplicity of the place, the honest and down-to-earth feeling that the staff and shop provide and their ethos of sustainability. I’d be happy to drop by for brunch, as strange as that sounds, for a different and bubbly atmosphere and to try something off their Not Burgers menu!

Tree of Us is located at 71 Church St, Richmond and is open Mon-Tue 7.30am-4pm and Wed-Sun 7.30am-9.30pm. Check out their menu here.

The Tree Of Us on Urbanspoon

Station Hotel

After asking around about other people’s experiences, I chose to try Station Hotel over The Meat and Wine Co at Crown. I guess I was a little bit skeptical about places that automatically get a thumbs up from being located at Crown and decided not to risk it.

In contrast, Station Hotel is located in the Western suburb of Footscray, perhaps unexpected for a French-inspired gastropub. Its old and dingy exterior doesn’t hint at the bustling activity on the inside. On entry you find yourself in the casual pub section, but walk around the corner and you find yourself in the dining area.

Still during the Christmas break, the place was packed and the employees running around like crazy. The annoying thing is that each staff member seems to have a role, so if the one to seat you isn’t free, then you must wait. After being seated with menus and bread, our orders were taken but I noted our drinks (a coke and a cocktail) took a tad too long, although they did arrive with an apology.

IMG-20140107-WA0004

But onto the food – for entree, we went with the crumbed mussels with olives and chorizo ($15). I liked the crumbed exterior and it was actually quite soft and enjoyable to eat. It had about the amount of chorizo I expected and you even get butter to dip it into and indulge that much further.

IMAG7480

As the earlier description may indicate, the decor is quite bare and straightforward. There were some paintings on the walls and a little bunch of flowers next to us (first picture), but I felt a little cramped as my chair was very close to the table behind me. It was even more awkward when staff members tried to shimmy their way through that area.

IMAG7482

But like most people who visit, the purpose of the trip was to try their much-talked-about steak. My friend even noticed everyone ordering the steak, so we followed suit. The waitress was absolutely no help when we asked for recommendations, and since it was busy, seemed like she was anxious to get us over and done with.

Thus I went with what I knew and ordered a scotch fillet, the 300g Kilcoy (QLD) 120 day grain fed Black Angus scotch fillet ($38, above) to be exact. The waitress was at least helpful in telling me that the Bernaise sauce was like hollendaise. I found it to be a touch sweeter than your hollendaise and more fragrant with the herbs mixed in.

IMG-20140107-WA0007

My friend went for something on the specials (above), so I don’t quite remember what it was called. I do recall it was served a la bordelaise, which means with a classic French sauce, usually made with red wine. I’m not sure if it was definitely made this way, as there are other versions of the sauce but I did definitely enjoy it. It was rich and dark and a bit sweet. I also enjoyed how her potatoes were served, much more interesting than my plain chips, but perhaps mine was served this way as my sauce was already fragrant and bold.

Our steaks were cooked medium rare as requested and I found this was done perfectly. I find steak a bit of a risk to eat out as they really have to cook it right, but I had no complaints. Although after trying my friend’s salad, I realised they did put different dressings and her’s was a bit too citrusy and sour compared to my light and subtle one!

IMG-20140107-WA0003

My friend also ordered a cocktail, an Aperol Sour (or something along those lines), as we aren’t really wine drinkers. It did sound like the most appetising cocktail out of all of them but she found it too sour to even down half. So perhaps stick to the usual pub beverages or have some wine if it’s your thing!

IMAG7497

And of course we had room for dessert, and debated between the sticky date and bread and butter pudding. Once again our waitress nonchalantly said she couldn’t help us because she hadn’t tried the pudding…so making up our own minds, we chose the pudding ($14). The top was jellylike and the usual dried fruits hidden in/underneath this gelatinous layer. The bread part was very soft, and the layers eaten all together proved tasty and a refreshing change to other desserts. We enjoyed it but for once, I can’t say we finished it, as our steaks really filled us up!

I wasn’t impressed by the service – granted it was busy, but a place like Station Hotel would be busy a lot of the time right? So if they can’t handle that and provide good service, then that’s a bit disappointing. However, the food was pretty good and I can see why people enjoy the steaks at this spot. Now if anyone would like tell me what they think of The Meat and Wine Co and why I should try it, please feel free!

Station Hotel is open seven days a week, 11am until late. 

Station Hotel on Urbanspoon

Ribs & Burgers

Yet another place that has been sitting on my to-go-list, as it does for many people, the name of Ribs & Burgers pretty much speaks for itself.

I had always thought it to be a small joint, but the restaurant is actually attached to the corner of Northcote Plaza and its seating extends outside. It was surprisingly just about the same size as the Degani cafe located right across from it. I mistakenly thought it looked quiet from the empty outside seating, but as it was the beginning of the lunch hour, I swallowed these thoughts as I saw a queue of people waiting to order and sit down.

IMAG6967

Similarly, from the online information available, I thought that the menu would be fairly limited. How wrong I was, as we lined up to be greeted by a humungous menu board listing double the amount I thought they had on offer. Click on the image below for a closer look!

IMAG6971

I took my little sister with me and treated her for completing VCE – so there’s no holding back when there’s a reason to celebrate. Not to mention, we eat a lot. So we couldn’t help but order a small side of their “famous chips” ($4) AND onion rings ($5, below) because I had heard good things about them.

IMAG6984

The chips came in quite a large serving for a small, but I’m not sure what is so famous about them. They are thickly cut, the way I like them, and not too salty. But there’s no seasoning or anything that can make them stand out from a normal bowl of chips.

The onion rings were definitely different, not thickly battered like fast food chains. They were thin and crunchy but lots of these thin pieces make you feel like you are receiving a heavy dose of just onion. Thus, the one size serving they have is quite large when you feel the strong taste of onion. It would be fine in small doses so we probably needed a few more people to help us finish it.

IMAG6980

I definitely wanted a burger, as sometimes a whole steak or slab of ribs can be a bit much even for a hungry person like me. I compromised with a steakhouse burger, which included pasture fed rib-eye, caramelised onion, their pink and BBQ sauce and the usual lettuce, tomato and pickle ($18, above).

The burger was good, the steak done just right. There’s a note at the entrance saying all meat is done medium rare unless requested otherwise, and this is how it was served so I was happy with that. The mixture of their pink and BBQ sauces was also flavoursome, as I enjoy BBQ more than tomato and the pink was more of a light, creamy sauce. I can’t fault it but at the same time I cannot find a factor that makes me want to rave about the place. I also enjoy their boards and presentation, perfect for eating a messy meal.

IMAG6981

My little sister got the mini burgers, which I thought would actually be smaller than the above. It’s a very good option if you want to taste a few of their burgers – it includes a beef, chicken and lamb burger for $18. I only had a taste of her chicken as I enjoy the creamier sauces that go with chicken and enjoyed it a lot. Her favourite was the beef but unfortunately her lamb was a bit burnt.

She was quite full after the mini burgers, whereas I felt like I could keep going after my steak burger and was happy to munch on the chips and onion rings. If I come next time I think I need to try the other part of their name – their ribs, before I can completely write off the hype of this place. It was definitely good and filling, but I didn’t feel there was much that was unique about them.

IMAG6976

The service also seems to be an aspect that people aren’t too happy about. After ordering at the front, they provide you with a bucket (above) full of utensils for you to take to your table. I thought it was cute but it seems people do not like the idea of ordering before sitting. It’s understandable that this may be annoying at peak hour during dinner – but there are many places where you have to line up to order such as Laurie Dee’s and Misty’s Diner.

However, I can also see where people are coming from. You feel like the staff who deliver your food are not there to serve really. Even when I asked for water, they told me to get it from the bench where there’s a tap with glasses.

IMAG6974

As it’s not too far and the food was good, I wouldn’t mind going back but to try some other items on the menu. The service, or lack of, isn’t something that really deters me as many places are choosing to operate in this way. The most important thing would be the food, of which there was not much fault this time around.

Ribs and Burgers is located at Shop 94-96, 3 Separation Street, Northcote Plaza, Northcote. They are open Sun-Thurs 11am – 9:30pm and Fri-Sat 11am – 10pm.

Ribs & Burgers on Urbanspoon