Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Waffling on Waffle On

Waffle On
Shop 9 Degraves St
(Just outside the Flinders subway exit to Degraves)
Telephone: 0401 408 168

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-5pm

(sometimes later, or earlier, depending on how quickly they run out)

My friends always say, "Hey, Vee! You're always so busy! What do you eat when you're on the go?"

Or at least they would if I had any.

I'm lying of course; I have three.

Unfortunately (because it would be very entertaining otherwise), none of them speak like their dialogues are written by campy advertisers. Or Sesame Street writers.

It is true, however, that I am very busy. Sims 3 was just released after all, and the new season of America's Next Top Model is out. I'm hectic. So whenever I catch a break, I get my fix from my man Mark.

Best waffles anywhere. Thick, rich, and with granules of sugar sweeter than Don Lothario. They'll melt in your mouth...because they won't be in your hands any longer than five seconds before you stuff them in your gob.

Nutella and ice cream (who would've thought) sets the bar for me, but my friends (two of three) swear on the strawberries and chocolate. Waffles cost $3, and toppings are a dollar extra encompassing maple syrup, chocolate, bananas, jam, whipped cream, peanut butter...sugar, spice and everything nice.

To counter the sweet high - Le Roast Beef, with added brie.

Sliced in half for picture perfection!

This is $8.50 I believe, but I'm always too hungry to count my change (when I get change out of $10 for good grub, I don't complain). Rare roast beef slices, French pickles, French mustard, mayonnaise, rocket salad, tomatoes, thick slabs of Brie on a buttered house-made baguette. That will do me, merci!

The only 'table' is a very narrow shelf along the wall on which you can precariously balance your goods and food at the high risk of having them fall off or on you (twice now). Short of sneaking a seat at Grill'd across the lane, I'd suggest you take your treasures home with you, like I did tonight.

Now I have to spend the rest of my evening with a hunky meaty sandwich. Poor me!

Waffle On on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 26, 2010

Café Vue: To View and Be Viewed

Café Vue
401 St Kilda Road
(near the corner of Toorak Road)

03 9866 8055

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-11pm; Sat-Sun 8am-11pm

There are few things more trendy in Melbourne than hidden destinations, tiny spaces (for elbow-knocking exclusivity), and The Vue Trinity. I'd love to be Mr Bennett's Ms Darcy.

Café Vue on St Kilda Road eschews the 'little local' hypothesis however - it's big, bright and beautiful. And with the droves of people clamouring to get on board - you can bet she knows it, the saucy minx.

We were seated immediately at 9:45am on a Saturday morning. Menus were brought promptly, with a full bottle of water.

We placed our orders, and my pistachio cupcake was served in seconds (this, unfortunately, marked the end of the day's good service).

It was almost like a pistachio flourless cake - very dense, very nutty, and not too sweet at all. I didn't like the stiff little icing, which was reminiscent of 'strongly-flavoured' pistachio ice-cream. But that's an absolutely personal thing - I've always thought pistachio ice-cream tasted a bit like cough syrup. And I'd definitely order this again, as the icing's easy enough to pry off.

Sit at the bar?

Definitely a place for chic-chat and to lounge about fashionably - my sister's adequate flat white arrived only after 20 minutes, and our food took a good 30-40 from when we first placed our order, so we missed our next appointment. It was also difficult beyond reason to flag someone down to check on our order.

Don't mind if I do.

When it did arrive, however, it was completely flawless.

62° eggs on toast ($9.50 + $3.80 for the white sausage)

My stalwart order - perfectly poached eggs, lemony hollandaise, crisp, chunky toast, and enough spice in the sausage to elevate it from 'something I could get at the supermarket'.

We were a little less impressed with the presentation on my sister's dish.

Spanish eggs en cocotte with tomato fondue & capsicum purée ($9.50)

My secret self-satisfaction at having made the superior order was quickly extinguished however! (Food envy karma will bite you in the bacon.)

The tomato fondue blended with the capsicum purée to produce the freshest tomato 'salsa' I've ever had; there was absolutely nothing ketchupy, pasty or 'processed' about this, just really pure and fresh tomato and capsicum flavours. I unashamedly appropriated copious amounts for my own forkfuls of eggs, sausage and toast - the joys of eating with family!

Bacon for the table, as you do ($3.80)

And I can never go past this - the most perfect little lemon tart, with a meringue dollop only just-crisped on the surface ($4.50). I haven't had any better in Melbourne, and I love them - so tell me if you have!

All in all, you can't fault the food - or the fabulousness of your surroundings. My obvious gripe though would be how s l o w the service really was; in speed and quality! For example, it was a pretty annoying (and ridiculous!) end to the meal when we paid $58.10 exactly for our $38.10 breakfast and received our $20.00 change in coins. (The reason for this being that our $8.10 in small change was ignored completely, and the person processing our order only put the $50.00 note through!) Consequently, we received a mostly-silver pile of coins in our bill tray taller than the tart we'd just consumed! Mind, it took 10 minutes to get our bill, and a further 15 to (poorly) process the payment!

Would I come here again? Probably; I do adore the food, the novelty of sweeping space, and it's conveniently located in the middle of my regular route. But I wouldn't schedule anything else for the rest of the morning.

My advice? Bring lots of reading material if dining alone - plenty of surface area to spread it out on as well!

Café Vue at 401 St Kilda Road on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Perfection: Porgie + Mr Jones

Porgie + Mr Jones
291 Auburn Rd
elephone: 03 9882 2955

Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 8am-3pm (breakfast and lunch); Fri-Sat dinner (bookings essential)

Georgie Porgie kissed the girls and made them cry. But I'd happily go all the way with Porgie + Mr Jones.

Once upon a time, I spent my weekends scouring the surrounding neighbourhoods for The Perfect Breakfast. Much like religion, fashion or another kind of f-, however, what entails perfection differs for everyone. I adored the scrambled at Mart 130, but they lacked the sweets. Cumulus Inc was petite for the price, Babka couldn't bump us out quickly enough, and my local the Green Refectory was limited on the space frontier.

Anyway, this quest got old with time, as did I. Then I read this post. And like Goldilocks being roused from a slumberous stupor, I heard the call of the wild. Because you see, boys and girls, just like the quest for the Holy Grail cannot be satisfied by any ordinary mug, I too have very exacting requirements of my perfect breakfast. Perfect scrambled, but with a twist. Perfect scones, with gluttonous quantities of jam. Somewhere perfectly pretty and non-pretentious.

So this is what we had.

McPorgie – English muffin stuffed with ham off the bone, emmental cheese + creamy dreamy scrambles ($4.90)

What can I say? Ronald McDonald had a farm...and his baby girl moved to Hollywood. A glamorous version of a guilty childhood treat - you can't really go wrong with ham, cheese and eggs!

Mr Jones’ golden folded scrambles with fresh herbs + holy goats cheese on wholegrain toast ($12.90 + $3.50 each for double smoked largo bacon and slow roasted tomato)

Truly the epitome of the perfect scrambled. Golden, silky layers of soft egg laced with serendipitous strands of goat's cheese. Attended to by just-juicy roasted tomatoes with a crisp exterior, beautiful bacon strips, and a thick toast even the carb-cautious would devour. I didn't want this to end...

...until this was served. Know this - I love scones. I love them unfailingly, ardently, and obsessively. I wake up craving scones and feel agitated until I can get a fix. I'd name my first-born son Scone if I didn't think I might eat him in scone-deprived madness. And then I would plead permanent insanity because you'd be trippin' if you think my fervency for scones is at all momentary.

Lemonade scones with bon maman jam + Chantilly cream (1) $3.50 (2) $6.00

How do you tell when the perfect scone is home? Knock the door! (Terrible...terrible joke). A hollow sound should emanate from its crisp surface, and on breaking it open; buttery-soft insides - still warm. Perfectly partnered with some of the best jam I've ever had - almost an entire half a jar just for lil' ol' me!

As for factors non-edible? It's deliciously chic, with darling mismatched furniture, and unwashed walls bearing pictures you can literally take home (for a price!). If you so desire, you can dine in armchairs by a fireplace, as you do.

Also - 'We make everything in our kitchens using as much organic, free range happy and local produce as financially and commercially possible.' Parfait!

You can attain identical levels of nirvana at Snow Pony in Balwyn . I know - twins! It's almost pornographic.

How do I like my eggs? At Porgie + Mr Jones!

Porgie and Mr Jones on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lunching @ Les Boucheries Parisiennes

Les Boucheries Parisiennes
268 Toorak Rd
South Yarra VIC 3141
Telephone: 03 8256 1636

Opening Hours: Daily 7:30am-10:00pm

In the lead-up to the opening of Maze Melbourne, I've been thinking a lot about Gordon Ramsay.

Okay I lie. I think a lot about Gordon Ramsay all the time (Yes, I'm sad but not as much perhaps if the object of my affection was, say, a 16-year-old teenage sensation). As a consequence of having followed Gordon (first-name basis...score!) through every season of every show he's ever made, my experiences while eating out are usually marked with reverential and religious reveries of 'WWGD'.

What would Gordon do?

The name of Gordon's game is consistency. Therefore, I deduce that he would like Les Boucheries Parisiennes.

First - some disclaimers. My opinions are based solely on my numerous experiences lunching here with a spectrum of dining partners (friends, family, one-on-ones, and imaginary Ramsays) - the absence of dinners owing only to the fact that I'm rarely in South Yarra at night. Know this - the food here is not groundbreaking. What it is however, is good. Always.

Unfortunately, many restaurants refuse to give its lunch service the same attention and care that they do their dinners (during which fat cats can pay and critics come out to play). Which is why I keep bringing different people back to Les Boucheries whenever I'm in South Yarra for lunch - nothing more embarrassing than being 'The Foodie One' in your network and then bringing your guests somewhere sub-par.

Example of a 'fake' foodie - the type who claims to 'know and love Asian food' (that distinction alone should ring alarm bells) and proceeds to introduce you to China Bar.

Pick one of these flyers up from any Laurent for a 10% discount at Les Boucheries - there's one almost directly opposite the restaurant itself!

The last time I visited Les Boucheries, I was in the excellent company of my sister and msihua, who graciously got there early and placed our orders for us in advance.

Complimentary dinner (lunch?) rolls:
Generous quantities of bread pillows with seams more refined than my actual cushions at home, served warm in an incongruously proletarian hessian sack.


With olives!

I like this - instead of whipping the excess away, you keep your bread with you the entire meal, politely waiting out of sight. Is this something restaurants usually do in France? Because I know Bistro Vue adopts an identical practice.

I would only advise ordering from the set menu ($29.00 for two courses and wine/tea/coffee) if you have a long, lazy lunch hour - consider how long it usually takes for two courses to arrive at dinner time and you'll be right.

The Lunch Express menu is quicker and more affordable.

But I can never go past this entrée:

Duck Liver Parfait - with toasted brioche, dried fig and pear chutney

It tastes as gorgeous as it looks. Buttery brioche, with sweet and slightly tart chutney to complement a perfect paté. The dish is deceptively small as it is really very rich.

And being a terrible creature of habit, I can also never go past this main:

Atlantic hot smoked salmon - with potato chive pancake, beetroot puree

I can never really tell how the salmon is 'smoked', but the flavours in the whole dish are just clean and simple. The pan-fried salmon fillet is not unlike the one I made here, or ate here, and it arrives accompanied by a 'pancake' akin to a potato macaron, with spinach and beetroot. It may not be inspired, but it is beautiful!

mishua's main (she eschewed an entrée in favour of dessert):

Chicken Breast - with parsnip cream, chorizo sausage and salsa verde

She enjoyed this immensely - the chicken was tender, the chorizo made the dish more interesting and the salsa verde brought it all together. I think a bigger portion might not have gone astray though - on first glance I assumed it was her entrée (albeit a very generous one)!

And her dessert - a naughty Bailey's crème brûlée that tasted very strongly of the drink. With a sugar crust and the teeniest plain madeleines you ever saw, home made of course!

I didn't want msihua to feel awkward having a dessert all on her lonesome, so I had to have one too, because I'm just that sort of person. I was very kindly proffered the entire dessert menu from dinner (at full price of course), and if you thought I could order anything but this you must be mad.

Chocolate fondant, caramelised banana, banana wafer ($15.00) - I'm not sure if this usually comes with vanilla ice cream, as I simply asked if it did and the waiter good-naturedly promised to arrange it. I wasn't charged anything extra either. What a man!

I loved it to the very last lick. In fact, when my sister asked if she could try some (the audacity!), it took immense resources of love and generosity to grudgingly grunt in assent. When she held out her spoon for a second bite I smacked it with my own. Charming, I know.

So many places in Melbourne are fun and fresh and light-hearted. I'd say Les Boucheries is classic and conservative, with a very good, old heart. And that's the way I like it.

Les Boucheries Parisiennes on Urbanspoon