Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mr Tulk, CBD, Melbourne

On the North-Western corner of the grand Victorian building that houses the State Library of Victoria sits Mr Tulk.  This licensed espresso cafe feels all light and airy apart from the rapturous sounds of chatter emanating from the informal dining room.

To the left of the entrance is a large counter that does takeaway coffees and food, affectionately referred to as 'Tulk Junior'.  And to the right is the sit down dining area known as 'Mr Tulk'.  With a large central wooden communal table in the middle, there is strategically placed seating around the edge of the room.  Not forgetting the outside seating as well, this place is often overspilling with patrons. 

Inside Mr Tulk is a large board listing wines and beers.  They also have a specials chalkboard for wines.   

There is also a 'specials' menu for food which changes all the time I am told.  My friend and I decided to share the 'Asparagas with labna, poached egg and bastourma'.  Bastourma being an air-dried cured meat, hailing from Turkey and the Middle East.  We also chose the smoked salmon bruschetta with capers and dill.

The waiter went off with our order and proceeded to take away the menu's as well.  We couldn't help but notice how all the Mr Tulk staff were men and the women were behind the counter in the Junior Tulk part.  Not sure if this is done on purpose or it was just a coincidence...

Still,  we received our two dishes.  The poached egg with the bastourma and asparagus was done to perfection.  The labna (yoghurt cheese) was sitting right under the poached egg.  The dish was executed and presented so well.  I wish that there had been more of it...

The smoked salmon bruschetta was also perfectly executed.  The ingredients were fresh and tasty.  The ciabatta was toasted just right.  Again, I wish there had been two pieces instead of just the one!

We both finished off with coffees.  The coffees of which I have to say were excellent - strong and hot, just how I like it. 

I give this place gold stars all round for the food.  I will however say that our first waiter was rather unfriendly.  Perhaps he was having a bad day...although not an excuse to be unfriendly, especially when working as a service waiter.  The others however, (of which we had a different one each time bringing us out the food and drinks) were pleasant enough. 

Still, I would come back here again and I might even try it on a Friday evening with some friends after work or for brunch on a Saturday.

Mr Tulk
328 Swanston St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +6 1(03) 8660 5700

Mon-Thu: 7am-5pm
Fri: 7am-9pm
Sat: 9am-4pm

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hairy Canary, CBD, Melbourne

Today was stifling hot in Melbourne and this evening, my friend and I decided to try out another tapas place.  Hairy Canary is at 212 Little Collins street, up a small flight of stairs which opens out onto a bar. 

By the bar, there's a chill out lounge area and past that are the dining tables.  There are a few red leather benches and we were put into a corner where the leather seating had torn somewhat exposing the foam seating below. 

Certainly not a good look in my opinion.  Perhaps management are either too tight to re-upholster or are just trying to be trendy.  Shabby chic can look good after all, when done correctly.  Personally, I think management are too tight to replace it.

Nevertheless, the waiter (an Englishman who hails from the East Midlands) brought over some menus.  The background music was funky ambient and certainly made for a relaxing atmosphere. 

We ordered the good old 'Patatas Bravas with tomato salsa', 'Chickpea, pumpkin and spinach salad', and 'Chicken meatballs in spicy sauce'. 

The patatas bravas arrived first.  No sign of the tomato salsa, but as we dug in, we discovered it at the bottom of the dish.  "Shouldn't it be at the top?!" we both proclaimed in unison.  Shrugging, we carried on...

The potatoes were generously coated in paprika and were steaming hot which was good.  All in all, a substantially sized portion with plenty enough for two. 

The chickpea, pumpkin and spinach salad came out warm, but it lacked any real flavour.  As a warm salad, it was OK.  However, since I had already sampled the one at Bar Lourinhã, I have to say that theirs is miles better. 

This one was nice enough as vegetables on their own.  It really could have done with some oomph!

The chicken meatballs came covered in a basil infused yoghurt.  It was certainly delicious and the tomato sauce was lovingly spicy.  In fact, the sauce tasted very good over the chickpea, pumpkin and spinach salad.   

It kind of reminded us of an Indian curry where you get the oily layer on the top.  Not the healthiest of tapas I guess, but it was quite tasty.

Of course, no tapas meal is complete without churros.  So, we decided to finish off with their churros con chocolate.  The mini bitesize churros were lukewarm, covered in melted dark chocolate and sprinkled with pistachio crumbs.   

They churros themselves were covered in cinnamon sugar, were too doughy and not crunchy enough for my liking. 

Neither of us thought they were good, in fact, I would go as far to say that they were pretty awful.

All in all, the food was very average tonight.  Apart from the upbeat English waiter, service was rather unfriendly.  The waitress had forgotten to give us any cutlery for our doughnuts.  Prompting my friend to pipe in that perhaps she thought we were animals considering the way that she was treating us. 

In the end, my friend went to get our cutlery from the tray since we couldn't catch her attention.  However, the waitress did notice and came over to apologise.  After that, she seemed to lighten up a bit.  All a little too late though.

Hairy Canary, I think is past its prime.  A place with a good name and a good location.  It could certainly do with a good update, an overhaul of its service and perhaps a new chef.

Hairy Canary
212 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel: +61 (0)3 9654 2471

Mon-Fri: 7:30am-1am
Sat: 9am-3am
Sun: 9am-12am

Hako, CBD, Melbourne

I came across Hako whilst searching for Japanese places on Flinders Lane.  Seeing as it was close to home (which meant that I wouldn't have far to go), I emailed it to my friend who agreed to it in an instant. 

It's just off Elizabeth Street and wasn't overly busy when we arrived for lunch today.  It's light and airy inside with a bar to the side.  Empty sake bottles line up at one end of the bar to form a 3D sculptural display.

There's a lunch menu with bento boxes, lunch sets and mains.  We both opted for the salmon teriyaki bento box.  The waitress then returned with two little side plates containing just three edamame beans.  OK, not enough to fill you up, but enough to get the tastebuds going. 

She then returned soon after with two steaming hot bowls of miso soup.  It was deliciously warming and certainly got us both excited for the bento boxes.

Thankfully, we didn't have to wait too long for our bento boxes.  Presented in a trio box with rice and salmon, eggplant age dashi and a lightly dressed salad.  The salmon was juicy, fresh and the skin was gorgeously crisp.  The eggplant had been cooked through and just melted in your mouth.  The salad was fresh with crispy leaves.

For $15.80, I didn't think it was overly pricey.  It all tasted absolutely divine - the perfect light lunch.  We both polished off every last piece of rice.  Yes, it was that good! 

A great lunch spot which wasn't overly crowded.  I would certainly go back again.  Service wasn't rushed and they were polite and friendly.  Another good Japanese eatery in the CBD.

310 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel:  +61 (0)3 9620 1881 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Mill, CBD, Melbourne

Amongst the many restaurants on Hardware Lane sits 'The Mill', which offers contemporary a la carte in a beautiful setting. 

With comfortable, modern seating indoors as well as 'al fresco', this place is right in the heart of the Northern end of this no traffic, bricked lane.  

Sunday evenings sees this place ringing with live jazz from six-thirty onwards.  So, tonight we reserved an outside table for an earlyish six-thirty dinner.

I was a little surprised to see that this lovingly restored lane wasn't bustling tonight.  Nevertheless, I preferred the fact that it wasn't full as it made for the most relaxing of evenings. As the live jazz tunes danced their way out onto the pavement, it all suddenly felt like being on holiday.

The menu is modern Australian with a few bits of Asian and European thrown in here and there.  The specials sounded rather good tonight and between the four of us we ordered the 'Seared Atlantic Salmon fillet on steamed bok choy with chilli caramel and pickled carrots', the 'Rosemary and palm sugar smoked lamb rump with boulangere potato and minted jus', and the 'Special beef fillet with mashed potato and bacon stuffed mushroom'.

We had ordered some 'Rosemary and orange marinated olives with sourdough' to nibble on.  Unfortunately I didn't take a picture.  Having never had warmed olives before, I can say that they were deliciously tasty and something that I would like try at home.  The bread itself served as a good filler whilst waiting for the mains.

My Atlantic salmon came out looking beautifully crisp and fresh.  The pickled carrot laces were crunchy with just a little sweetness.  The salmon itself was cooked to perfection.  The skin was crispy and delcious - just how I like it.  The bok choy was perfectly cooked - still slightly crunchy in the middle.  All in all a very lovely dish and a definite thumbs up for a lighter main.

The rosemary and sugar palm smoked lamb rump arrived looked absolutely devine next to a generous serving of potato boulangere.  It was a little fatty, but the meat itself was sweet and tender.  Another good choice made by two of our party.

And the most salivating looking dish (or at least I thought so), was the beef special.  With a lovely green salad on top, it all looked utterly sublime.  My dining companion seemed to enjoy it as much as I liked the look of it.  I certainly had a little bit of food envy tonight...

We decided to peruse the dessert menu seeing as we all like to finish off a lovely meal with some cheese or sweet treat.  Two of my dining companions went for the cheese plate.  It came out looking gorgeously rustic on a wooden board with slices of three different breads - ciabatta, white french stick and raisin bread.  A small bunch of both green and red seedless grapes, slices of green apples, a handful of walnuts, a bowl of herbed olive oil and a generous serving of chosen cheese.  I had nibbles of this one...

One of us ordered the 'Glass chocolate tart with mesh orange blossom, chocolate ice-cream and pashmak'.  Not knowing what pashmak was, the waitress told us that it is Persian candy floss.  How curious was I?!  Very!!!

It came out on a rectangular plate with a scoop of chocolate ice-cream, a carefully sliced strawberry, the chocolate tart and a ball of Barbie pink pashmak. 

Pashmak looks more like unwoven wool than traditional candy floss as I know it.  It's also not as sugary sweet, but still melts wonderfully on the tongue.  The chocolate tart was deliciously rich and smooth.  A winner of a dessert.  I know what I'm going to have if I come here again.

We all enjoyed our meals tonight and the background jazz only added to the ambience of the place and the lane itself.

The staff seemed to huddle together by the entrance podium, which I guess is where they can all catch up on the goss on a quiet evening.  Our waitress was polite and attentive, so I'm not complaining. 

I would definitely recommend this place for a lovely evening meal.  If you want good Modern Australian food in a lovely setting (be it inside or outside), The Mill has it all.  A thoroughbred of restaurant.

The Mill
71 Hardware Lane, Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel:  +61 (0)3 9600 1454 

Mon-Fri: 12 noon-late
Sat-Sun: 5pm-late

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Degraves Espresso Bar, Melbourne

I have only ever had a take-out coffee from here before and I really liked it.  So today, my friend and I decided to pay a visit to Degraves Espresso bar with a view to taking a leisurely afternoon with coffee and cake.  We managed to get two seats by the window. 

Before I visit a place, I often like to read reviews to see the majority vote.  However, since reviews tend to be rather subjective, I like to make up my own mind. 

With this place, I had read so many reviews stating that it used to be good in the early days, but has now gone downhill with rude and unfriendly service.  So, today I went with an open mind, since I do really like their coffee.

It's not huge inside.  There's a couple of wooden tables and benches at the back, red leather seats and wooden tables to the front.  It feels kind of old-fashioned in a really trendy sort of way.  It's got a cool grunge feel to it and is obviously popular with all sorts of clientele. 

As we sat down, a waitress approached us all smiley and friendly.  She took our order of two flat whites and on asking what cakes they had, she promptly took me to view them in their front window display. 

The sticky date pudding certainly looked lovely and so did the chocolate mud cake.  But seeing as I am going through a 'flourless' cake phase at the moment, I chose the flourless orange cake.

The waitress asked if I wanted it solo (i.e. without any cream or ice-cream), of which I did.  And she then proceeded to ask if I wanted it warmed up.  Again, I did.  

She soon came back with two coffees, lovingly presented in black and white coffee cups and saucers.  Oh, and a carefully coifed leafy tree patterned foam top.

I love the coffee here - it's smooth and strong without being overpowering.  By no means a coffee expert, I only know what I like and what I don't like.  As is the case with anything in life really...

The warmed flourless orange cake was a very generous slice (or slab rather).  I was very glad to be sharing it with another person.  Of course I could have eaten the whole lot, but I am not a glutton or at least I try not to be.

Although I must admit that I can indeed, 'eat cake' for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I do like to have a bit of control.  Especially when it comes to balancing fat, sugar and calorie intake versus daily exercise, or in some cases, lack of daily exercise.  As so many fitness experts will tell you, "It's all about everything in moderation". 

Mmm, this cake was moist, dense and full of gorgeous bits of orange rind.  Yes, it would have been lovely with a bit of vanilla ice-cream, but I was being good and moderating my calories. 

If this is anything to go by, I think the sticky date cake would be oh so perfect for my next visit.  I really am a sucker for a good piece of cake.   

Our waitress wasn't rude in the slightest.  She was smiley, friendly and very attentive.  However, I did notice that the manageress seemed a little stressed and dare I say, a little frazzled.  She certainly didn't smile, but she didn't look like a rude witch either.  Coming from London, I'm used to extremely rude service, so anything other is good to me.

The guy making all the coffees was being kept busy behind the machine.  In fact I don't think he stopped the whole while we were there - about two hours or so. 

A lovely place to come for coffee and cake.  They also serve breakfast and lunch too.  With a few tables and chairs outside, you can sit under the shade of the carousels whilst taking in the full view of life on Degraves Lane.

Degraves Espresso Bar
23 Degraves Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel: +61 (0)3 9654 1245

Mon-Tue: 7am-9pm
Wed-Fri: 7am-10pm
Sat-Sun: 8am-6pm
Closed some public holidays.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Canteen (a.k.a. Rosa's Kitchen), Melbourne

Rosa's Kitchen or rather 'Canteen', as is its official name is located next to the reception desk of the CAE on Flinders Lane. 

With no obvious signage, this place can be hard to find.  Apart from a red neon lit 'Rosa's Kitchen' sign in the window above the ground floor (which incidentally can only be viewed from across the street), one can be forgiven for not knowing that this place exists or even where the entrance is.

Go up the stairs from the ground floor (next to the CAE reception desk) and you'll see an open working kitchen which looks across into the well lit room full of metal and wooden canteen style tables and chairs.  Leather bar stools are positioned along the front window, perfect for those dining solo or in pairs. 

We were greeted by a lovely waitress who seated us at the end of one of the tables.  There is a chalkboard menu and it's limited, so those wanting a vast menu will be disappointed.  Their menu changes from day to day which, in my opinion, makes for a proper canteen style experience. 

Today, my companion and I wanted to share.  Since we were told by the waitress that the 'Degustazione' isn't for sharing, we decided to share a small 'Antipasto' and the 'Spaghetti with tomato, basil and ricotta'. 

We had arrived at 12:30pm which was lucky as we were one of the first diners there.  However, it didn't take long for this place to fill up and soon the room was fully of busy chatter.  If you don't like noisy canteen places, then this isn't for you either. 

The only reason I say this is because I took a friend to a noisy canteen type place the other week and although she loved the food, she looked terribly uncomfortable and didn't talk throughout the whole meal.  Instead she looked rather pained and kept professing that she couldn't hear what I was saying due to the loud chatter of the place.  Needless to say, I just gave up talking!

Anyway, back to Rosa's or Canteen rather.  The waitress brought over a bottle of cold water with two glasses, which was soon followed by a basket of white and wholemeal bread. 

Our 'Antipasto' arrived looking deliciously fresh and tasty.  There were black olives (two to be precise), green beans (again, just the two), a slice of roasted eggplant, grilled ricotta, sliced capsicum, salami (one large piece), mint and garlic zucchini, panzanella (tomato, bread and red onion salad), sliced chat salad and a tasty potato fritter type thing.  Sorry, I really don't know the name of it!

I will just say that it was very, very good indeed!  The ingredients were fresh, delicious and boy, I could have eaten more. 

We had a little wait for our spaghetti to arrive.  But it wasn't a drumming the fingers on the table kind of a wait.  The canteen was brimming today, as I am sure it is every day in fact.  So the staff were being kept as busy as bees - buzzing around tables with plates of food and collecting up empty dishes to take back.

Our spaghetti arrived and although it may not look like the biggest dish, it was certainly enough for the both of us.

The tomatoes were as fresh as a daisy, the ricotta was lovingly broken up and the basil added that extra herby boost.  The pasta was also fresh which always makes a huge difference.  As we murmered with delight, our eyes widened in happy surprise at how tasty it was. 

It also came with a side of lightly dressed icebery lettuce and thinly sliced radish salad.  It was so simple, yet so deliciously awesome. 

We both loved our lunch and my friend, who has lived in the Melbourne for the past decade or so (and is regular out and about Melbourne diner) commented on how wonderful the antipasto was.  I had to agree, it really was superb.

I love this place for being a no frills canteen when it comes to the decor.  But I love it even more for its amazingly fresh, well balanced and well prepared food.  I don't care that it has a limited daily menu or that the seats aren't anything plush.  Service is polite and efficient.  It's all about the food here and Rosa has done a very fine job. 

Note: just remember to have some cash when you come here as this place doesn't take plastic.

Canteen (Rosa's Kitchen)
Level 1, 253 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, VIC 3000

Mon-Fri Lunch: 11:45am-3:45pm
Mon-Fri Dinner: 6-9pm

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Kouzina, Melbourne

On the mid level of the Southgate Arts & Leisure Precinct, Kouzina doesn't stand out in any way, shape or form.  It serves modern Greek food and having only eaten in one other Greek restaurant in Melbourne so far, I was looking forward to tasting some delicious meze.

I booked a table for seven o'clock dinner tonight and when we arrived, a friendly, smiling waiter took us to a comfortable table by the window. 

He then went on to present us with a couple of large everyday menu's.  He quickly explained that the drinks were listed on one side, whilst the food was listed on the other.  Any questions, he would endeavour to help.  

The food is split into 'mezedes'; ...from the land, ...from the sea and, ...from the garden.  There are also 'sides and salads', 'main meals' and 'desserts'.  There is also a kiddies menu too which is great for those with young children. 

Seeing as we were in the mood to try a few different things rather than having a main meal each, the mezedes suited us rather well. 

Our first mezedes was the 'Spetsofai' from the land.  This is Greek sausages with cherry tomatoes, slices of eggplant, slithers of roasted peppers, chilli, spiced baby onions and feta, all on a sizzling plate.  At $12.50, it was a decent portion.  The sausages weren't fatty, the eggplant and peppers were cooked just right.  The baby onions added a nice little touch and the chilli was very subtle indeed.   

Then came the 'Grilled Octopus' from the sea.  Beautifully sliced grilled pieces of octopus leg with oregano, olive oil and lemon.  I loved how the wedge of lemon had been dipped into chopped oregano to create the herby green edge.  It reminded me of frosted cocktail glass rims where they're dipped in either sugar or salt.

The octopus came already sliced so there was no having to cut off pieces to eat.  Something which could have been potentially fiddly. 

It was wonderfully grilled and only a little chewy, not rubbery.  I say not rubbery because there is a difference between chewy and rubbery.  My jaws weren't aching after I chowed on this, which let's face it - a rubbery texture would have given me tiresome jaw ache.  This didn't.  And one has to remember that Octopus is a meat that will always be a little chewy.   

Next up, 'Piperies' from the garden.  Grilled sweet baby capsicums in virgin olive oil on a mat of balsamic reduction.  These were really delicious, as confirmed by my dining companion who piped positively between mouthfuls.  The balsamic reduction added a very pleasant piquant flavour as well.

From the sides, 'Lemonatta potatoes' at $8.00.  Whole roasted lemon and herb potatoes.  They weren't greasy in the slightest.  There were six of these roasted babies and boy were they filling. 

My only comment, I wish I had ordered a dish with some sauce or dip of some kind to compliment these.  I don't like eating dry roasted potatoes on their own.  But this was my fault for not ordering right!

And 'Horiatiki salad' - traditional Greek salad.  It came out as a traditional Greek salad and tasted just like one.  What more can I say.  It was fresh and tasty. 

Having finished digesting all the savoury mezes.  We were in two minds about having a dessert, but as we surveyed the other diners enjoying the delicious looking desserts around us, we thought it a shame to miss out. 

So, after having a good peruse through the dessert menu (and a good stare at the other tables who had desserts), we ordered the 'Fig and Rosemary crème bruleé' ($11.90) to share. 

It was a generous ramekin sized crème bruleé - plenty for the both of us.  To the side of it was a pistachio and rosewater ice-cream,
'Mavrodaphne' candied olives and two pieces of pistachio bread.  

I have never thought of infusing my crème bruleé with rosemary, but I have to say that it works really very well. 

The ice-cream was 'wow' delicious and a lovely palate cleanser inbetween spoonfuls of the bruleé.  The almond bread (biscotti) was also tasty and made for a lovely edible spatula to the ice-cream.

The dessert ended the meal on a high and we were both extremely satisfied with it.  The mezes were generous, tasty and I would love to come back to try some different ones. 

I'm not sure how authentically 'Greek' it is, but it was certainly enjoyable and tasty.  And I will have to remember to pop back here should I find myself hankering after a coffee and dessert one afternoon whilst strolling the Southbank.
Shop MR3, Midlevel, Southgate Arts and Leisure Precinct, 3 Southgate Avenue, Southbank, Victoria 3006
Tel: 61 (0)3 9682 2999

Lunch: Mon-Sun 12-3pm
Dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10pm, Fri 5:30-11pm, Sat 5:30-12pm

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Bar Lourinhã, Melbourne

I walked past this cute and curious place last week on one of my little city jaunts.  All the small trinkets on the wall caught my eye and I made a mental note of it.

Tonight was my weekly get together with a girl friend of mine and seeing as we both like tapas, we decided to meet here for some informal supper and a good old natter.

We arrived just before six-thirty and made our way into the hustle and bustle of the long open room.  A waitress greeted us and showed us to a couple of high stools at the bar.  Giving us perfect access to all the waiters and waitresses.

There is seating all along the bar which curves around the corner to the wall at the front.  By the front (and only) window, there is cushioned window seating with low mini circular tables.  If you can get one of these and, I am guessing you would have to come early or just be very lucky to do so - what better vantage point from which to soak up the atmosphere and take in the surroundings.

Two high, long wooden tables with wooden stools stand side by side behind all the seated bar diners.  "These are for larger groups", (i.e. more than 2 or 3) the waitress replied as I politely asked whether we could sit at one.

Still, we enjoyed sitting at the bar, right in front of the chalkboard which lists an array of wine, from sparkling to white to rosé to red. Bottles of spirits are perfectly lined up on a couple of mini wooden shelves, one on top of the other, running along the back wall.  

The walls are decorated with assorted bottle openers, a horseshoe, mirror, framed paintings and other nic-nacs.  One could call it an eclectic, shabby chic wall decoration.

The menu is interesting and tonight's specials that the waitress reeled off from her scribbled pad sounded delightful.  This is Portuguese tapas as opposed to the Spanish variety and it all sounded both curious and tempting.  We went for the Pimentos special ($16), the Spiced chickpea & spinach salad ($14) and a grilled King prawn ($10).

The green pimentos came out steaming hot in a cast iron skillet.  They were both garlicky and salty.  The shaves of crunchy garlic scattered all over gave them the 'wow' factor.  It was an eye poppingly beautiful tapas dish which tingled our tastebuds in a very good way.

The waitress came over with a complimentary wooden bowl housing a huge chunk of rustic wholemeal bread.  It looked more like a slab of cake the way it had been cut.  It was indeed very country rustic and was perfectly continental in flavour.  It was spot on for mopping up all the juices as well.

The grilled king prawn came out with metal skewer still intact.  It was steaming hot and tasted fresh, delicious and a little garlicky too.  Perhaps a little pricey for $10 considering how much meat we actually got from it.  But it really was delish!  We even got a fingerbowl to wash our greasy paws in afterwards.

As we took our time eating the pimentos and the king prawn, the chickpea and spinach salad seemed to be taking forever to come out.  It seemed to be taking so long in fact, I was actually beginning to think that they had forgotten all about it. 

Nevertheless, it did arrive, finally.  And it was well worth the wait.  As a hot salad, it was cooked to perfection.  The chickpeas were soft but not too much so.  The spinach had only just been wilted which is how they should be.  Again, more crunchy shaves of garlic and boy, the whole thing tasted utterly lip-smackingly gorgeous! 

I forgot to take a photo when it first arrived - probably due to my wiltering impatience and hunger for this dish.  But I did remember to take one halfway through devouring it, hence why there isn't much left on the plate...apologies...

We decided to that we couldn't possibly end the meal without trying their 'Churros & dulce de leche'. 

It came out with six blazing hot, sugary, crispy, doughy churros, along with a shot glass of the dulce de leche.  Dulce de leche is sweetened milk that has been heated through to create a thickened texture and an almost caramel like taste.

However, this dulce de leche was a real let down.  It was watery for start, nothing like the dulce de leche that I have had in Brazil (OK, not quite Portugal, but close enough!).  And so I can only compare to the Spanish version which is devine. 

Taste-wise, I can't really comment because after dipping the churros into it, most of it just dripped off onto my paper napkin before I could get it into my mouth.  Unless they improve the dulce de leche, I won't be having these again in a hurry. 

A great place to come with a friend or two, or three.  The staff seemed a little rushed off their feet and flustered at times.  They could do with being a little more friendly as well.  Don't get me wrong, they weren't rude in the slightest, but if I had to compare staff at other tapas places in Melbourne, Movida Next Door and Hairy Canary beat this place for friendliness

However, I will big this place up because it's got great atmosphere, more than worthy tapas and a good drinks selection.  It's a little quirky, individual and just a really relaxed, informal place to come for an after work drink, some great tapas and a good old gossip! 

Just a shame about the dulce de leche. 

Bar Lourinhã
37 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Tel: +61 (0)3 9663 7890

Mon-Wed: 12-11pm
Thurs-Fri: 12pm-1am
Sat: 4pm-1am

Monday, December 7, 2009

Commercial Bakery, Melbourne

Commercial bakery can be found on the corner of Gills Alley and Little Collins.  I read somewhere that it used to be a truck rental garage.  I'd never have guessed it.

I was meeting a friend for lunch here today.  At 1:30pm, we arrived just on the cusp of a busy lunchtime.  As the office workers were finishing up, we were just getting started. 

The bakery cafe has just a few tables and leads into Gills Diner at the back.  Although not a huge place - with tables cosily placed next to each other, the high ceiling gives the bakery cafe a greater sense of space. 

The chalkboard listed a cold soup (of which I failed to make a note of) and spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino.  Mmm, a delicious Italian rustic dish.  However, I was in the mood for a nice pie, so I ordered the 'Cock-a-leekie' pie with salad for $10.50.  The waitress came to take our order.  But a minute later she came back saying that they were out of all the pies...a little disappointed, I opted for the spaghetti. 

I also ordered a skinny flat white.  My first coffee of the day, it was strong and smooth.  It went down a treat. 

Stainless steel utensil holders are filled with cutlery on each polished concrete topped table, along with a jar of brown sugar and a breakfast/drinks menu.  It feels a little like a school canteen. 

The spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino arrived with grated parmesan on top.  The spaghetti had a lovely bite to it, the parsley was fresh and fragrant.  It was just delicious...DELICIOUS!

If I had to criticise, I would say that it was a little measly in portion size for $16.50.  However, that could just be me being exceptionally greedy.  It was afterall, my first meal of the day.  I don't usually make a habit of skipping breakfast, but today I had no choice.  So come 1:30pm, I was famished to the core. 

Commercial bakery cafe has rustic and homely charm.  I bought some fluffy looking croissants to take home with me.  They are freshly baked on the premises along with their bread and other pastries.

The girls who work here even have a homely, countryside feel about them with their black aprons and casual jeans.  A lovely place for an informal bite to eat and some take-home croissants. 

Commercial Bakery
360 Little Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 (0)3 9670 7214

Mon-Fri: 7am-5pm