September Dining Round-Up

Excellent pepper steak with great crispy chips at Montmartre Cafe

After spending the first half of September in Queensland, mostly pigging out on steaks…

AMAZING rainbow and mint chic chip ice creams with sprinkle cones at Sea World

ice creams…

My favourite kebabs EVER in the whole world at Sahara – we went back more times than I’d like to admit…

kebabs…

We’d heard that BBQ Baron was supposed to be a pretty decent burger joint but this experience was very average.

and burgers…

French Vanilla Pancakes – stack of 3 pancakes with butter and maple syrup ($10, fruit and ice cream extra)

….I got back into the (only slightly) healthier meals once I returned home to Geelong and back to reality. This month there were some great breakfasts, starting with Biagio’s – a relaxed yet professional Italian dining room in Niddrie. Jono’s pancakes were pretty much flawless, fluffy and hot served with real maple syrup and generous portions of fruit and ice cream.

Eggs Florentine – 2 softly poached eggs with spinach and hollandaise sauce on a toasted English muffin ($10).

My eggs florentine brekky was great too, and the hollandaise – although not the best I’ve had – was laced with wholegrain mustard, making for a nice twist to the famous sauce.

 

Lemon meringue pie ($13)

 

Armageddon Cake is a cute little dessert bar that opened in late 2011 and, despite hearing rave reviews, I only managed to get myself down there a few weeks ago. We should have visited sooner – the venue is more ‘lounge’ than ‘bar’; in fact, it’s just like being in a friend’s lounge room. Jono loved it as he got to sink into one of the big, old, comfy chairs in the front corner and relax with a hot chocolate and a massive piece of cake. As well as the pie, we had an excellent sticky date pudding, and the coffees and peach nectar were delicious too. Armageddon Cake’s friendly staff serve up an ever-changing menu Thursday to Saturday from 8pm-11pm. It’s a much needed nightspot for Geelong – I love that they don’t even open until many of Geelong’s restaurants are closing their kitchens.

 

63 big brekky with scrambled eggs, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, spinach, hash brown & kransky sausage on zeally bay sourdough toast w side of 63 baked beans ($21).

and

Sweet potato & bacon hash cakes with roasted beetroot relish, rosemary & feta scrambled egg with chive hollandaise ($16.5)

You can’t really go wrong when it comes to breakfast and brunch at 63 Degrees. Generally, both the Highton and Pakington Street stores get it right and I couldn’t help but revisit an old favourite, the sweet potato and bacon hash cakes. I love this meal; the hash cakes are beautiful little balls of carbs that go perfecctly with the fresh beetroot relish, the scrambled eggs are always creamy and the hollandaise sauce at 63 is probably my favourite in Geelong. Jono was equally happy with his big, man sized breakfast.

 

Two scrambled eggs on sourdough with smoked salmon and hollandaise ($15.50)

The new Winter’s spring menu is fantastic – it has some really interesting breakfast choices that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in Geelong, like an open crab omelette with fresh papaya salad, or vodka cured salmon gravlax on charred rye with sauce vierge, cottage cheese and micro herbs. On this occasion, however, I was craving a simple breakfast of eggs and smoked salmon, again with my old favourite, hollandaise – I reckon Winter’s takes second place in the unofficial “ravenous melbourne’s Best Hollandaise in Geelong” competition.

 

Jono and I took a trip to my old neighbourhood, Port Melbourne, for lunch before catching the VFL semi final. I’ve only been up that way a handful of times since moving back to Geelong two years ago, and it was interesting to see how many of the local cafes are no longer there or have changed hands. Port Melbourne can be a really funny place for dining out and it took us a while to settle on a venue. Creme was nothing spectacular, but it did the job – we ordered a big, carb-y lunch of pasta, Turkish bread and arancini balls. The portions were big and good value, and while this place won’t have you raving, it’s a quick, reliable option with lots of menu choice.

 

And it wouldn’t be a round up without a few dishes from my work at The Shed @ Terindah Estate – this month for staff lunches we’ve been treated to some really beautiful eye fillet served simply as is, or in a fresh salad accompanied by organic chicken, confit garlic bread and Andy Pye’s famous Russian potato salad.

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My Sister Says: No Photos

 

 

 

My Sister Says

118 Bridge Street

Port Melbourne 3207

Ph: (03) 9646 1117

 

 

 

It’s hard sometimes, being discreet when you’re in a cafe gathering content for a review. Sitting on a  stool at the bench at My Sister Says, amongst the Friday morning breakfast crowd, I was feeling very conscious of how small the room was and how many staff there were who could bust me snapping photos. I needed shots, and I couldn’t get them without being really obvious.

So I decided to use my back up student line: “Hi, I study at William Angliss and I’m doing a project on Melbourne cafes, is it ok if I take a few pictures?”

I’ve never had to ask this before. Perhaps, because I am generally dining with others, I don’t normally feel so conscious of my camera, or I can find ways to make it look like I’m taking pictures of friends. I expected the answer to be positive; after all, surely I’m not the only person to ask such a question – Rebecca from Melbourne Cafes Photo Blog says, in regards to permission for photo-taking,  “… (I) just show up and take my chances”. But the answer I got was, “I think that’s going to have to be a no, but you are welcome to use the pictures from our Facebook page“.

 

So folks, here are my sneaky little iPhone pictures from breakfast at My Sister Says.

 

 

You can take your pick of either a seat at the bench or on one of the cosy communal tables in the tiny dining room. Interesting design features all throughout the cafe, like the cutlery presented in a terracotta pot, and the row of spices in jars lining the bench.

 

 

 The spot I nabbed for breakfast; this bench soon filled up with busy breakfasters as the morning rush began.

 

 

Coffee is great and, if you need to grab it to go, you can knock on the little window at the front of the building – like a drive through for coffee, only “walk-through”. It’s a nice service they’re offering and means you can wait for your coffee in the sunshine instead of around a hot, crowded counter.

 

 

A good ham and cheese croissant is made great with the addition of a spicy tomato relish – $6.90.

 

The breakfast menu offers up different selections to what you may find at other cafes down the road. It’s not your standard breakfast menu with the usual suspects like Eggs Benedict or a Big Brekky; instead, choose from cauliflower fritters ($12.50), chorizo, chilli and feta baked eggs ($14.50), or the mixed bag brekky, with a vanilla yoghurt pot, muesli ‘sprinkle’, fresh fruit, a boiled egg and toast soldiers (13.50). I was pressed for time and had to stick with a simple, quick croissant, but even that was given a delicious twist from the rich, spicy tomato relish that accompanied it.

 

 

The room is filled with home made goodies available for purchase, such as the breakfast items shown above (priced around $9.50 each), or the take-home meals in a small fridge in the corner, with options like home made gnocchi, chicken curry, or apple crumble, priced between $14.50-$15.50

 

 

The tiny kitchen, tucked away in the corner of the dining room.

 

 

On offer at the front counter: a selection of sweet treats like muffins, cupcakes and slices; and ready to go lunch options like toasted sandwiches with pesto topping, or baguettes filled with smoked salmon or rare roast beef.  Sweets are around the $3 mark, savouries around $10.

 

 

I dined alone at My Sister Says, and I really enjoyed it. It is the perfect place to sit with a cup of coffee and the paper and ease into the start of the day. Whilst the small room and a busy Friday morning meant I didn’t hog my seat for too long, it was a relaxing breakfast where I enjoyed the cute little touches in the decor, and good, friendly service. Open seven days, the cafe is small but still manages to cater for a wide range of tastes and covers lots of different needs: a quick breakfast, a takeaway sweet to keep you going, a light lunch or a coffee at the “drive through” window. With their ready to go lunch options, take home dinners and desserts and a fresh looking lunch menu consisting of salads, patties, tortillas and sandwiches (ranging in price between $14.50-$18.50), My Sister Says is yet another Port Melbourne cafe that seems to have captured that CBD Melbourne-tiny-cafe-charm and replicated it bayside.

My Sister Says on Urbanspoon

Hidden industrial gem: Salford Lads Club

 1 Fennell Street (Cnr Bridge St)

Port Melbourne

VIC 3207

Ph: 0409 543 911

Recently featured in Epicure, Salford Lads Club is tucked away in the industrial part of Port Melbourne, a venue that provides a refreshing change and something different from the cafes that line Bay Street.

The feel here is much more inner city Melbourne than glamorous Port Melbourne – the mismatched furnishings, tyre swing hanging from the tree above vibrant green grass and open kitchen make this little warehouse cafe full of that type of charm and character Melbourne is famous for.  

 

Good, strong coffees and cute presentation.

 

 

Dad and I both ordered this salmon “pie” from the lunch special board – also featured were hearty dishes like the signature steak sandwich and meaty stews. Although I had hoped for some flaky pastry to encase the filling, once I tucked into it I was not disappointed. The pie was creamy, full of fresh salmon flavour, with big chunks of salmon and crisp asparagus pieces.

 

Indian curry and rice

 

Prices range from about $8-$15, with a set breakfast menu, pre made and ready to go meals, and a changing specials board. Many of the dishes are pretty much ready to go and just need to be reheated, so expect your meal to arrive quickly, but fear not – the flavours and quality of the dishes are not sacrificed because of this.

 

The Lads Club has a distinctively Melbourne feel, with an open, rustic, ex-workshop space that reminded me of CBD locations like Seven Seeds. With a liquor license on the way and a plan for tapas evenings on Thursdays and Fridays, it’s a little club with great potential and is picking up a cult following fast.  

 

 

Salford Lads Club on Urbanspoon

C’est Bon: French, family food

It was a good sign, the two French diners who were enthusiastically tucking into their meals as we sat down at the table next to them. This, I hoped, was an indication that tonight’s dinner at C’est Bon would be hearty, authentic, comforting French food. We certainly were not disappointed by the food served up by chef and owner of C’est Bon Port Melbourne, Amelie Bonnet, the cute, young daughter of chef Michele Bonnet, whose picture is plastered across the C’est Bon website. She, the restaurant states, is “The new face of old-fashioned French”.

Gnocchi au potiron – home made pumpkin and sage gnocchi with a mushroom sauce, topped with blue vein cheese ($15.90)

Soft pillows of pumpkin matched perfectly with the earthy, creamy mushroom sauce. The blue vein provided a strong, bitey kick to a dish that was moreish and left us scraping the plate to get every last drop of that sauce.

Filet de boeuf sauce poivre – eye fillet of beef, topped with a green peppercorn sauce, kipfler potatoes and crunchy onion rings ($32.90)

My steak was cooked perfectly, medium rare as I asked. There was plenty of the rich, peppery sauce, onion rings that were not particularly crunchy but still delicious, and simple but well-paired winter vegetables.

Bf asked for his steak to be cooked the same as mine and yet it was completely different. My piece of meat was tender and juicy and easy to cut into; Bf’s still tasted great, but it wasn’t until he hit the centre of the steak that his meal began to resemble mine.

As readers of this blog may be aware, I’m not particularly into sweet foods, but just about everything on the dessert menu at C’est Bon sounds fantastic so we decided to finish off with creme brulee – despite being absolutely stuffed from our first and second courses.

Traditional vanilla creme brulee ($15.90)

A crispy, crunchy topping cracked open deliciously to reveal a rich, creamy vanilla base. It was perfect, and one of the best I’ve had by far. I finished my dinner with the feeling of a satisfying, well rounded dining experience and that a third course was a good decision.

This is a cosy, comfortable, inviting restaurant where the emphasis on family and relaxed yet professional service seems to make the meals taste even better. The food and the space itself are comforting, meals are rich and hearty and the focus on old-school French fare means your dining experience will leave you with fond memories. The C’est Bon souvenir key ring they give you as you leave is cute, too.

396 Bay Street

Port Melbourne

VIC 3207

Ph: 9646 2296

http://www.cestbon.com.au

C'est Bon on Urbanspoon