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Posted by on in Cafe

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Once A Tailor is about the simplicity of Sicilian food in upmarket Hawthorn. The World Loves Melbourne was invited by John Bertuna and Tony Verga as part of a bloggers event for a sampling of the menu. The stunning ambience was married to simple fresh cuisine that focuses on breakfast and lunch. We dined in the outdoor part of the restaurant, open and charming - a superb setting for events and functions. 

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Once A Tailor is Sicilian inspired but don't think it's pasta driven. There's a great range of cuisine to please most palates and tastes. All Italian inspired restaurants need to do bread well. Once A Tailor serves up quality bread, and this Olive foccacia served with oil, is a delightful example of the Italian tradition.

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Posted by on in Cafe

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Top Paddock is already one of Melbourne's standout cafes with its spacious modern fit out and extensive imaginative menu. Meeting here in a trendy part of Richmond with my salubrious brother (Melbourne businessman and food critic extraordinaire) we commented that "these people know what they're doing". And they surely do being of the stable of Three Bags Full, APTE and Two Birds One Stone - some of the best cafes in Melbourne. Chatting with one of the owners Nathan Toleman at the restaurant, the team have pulled their experience from the other cafes and have even progressed the cafe concept.

What I love is that the team have not reproduced their earlier successes but sought to give Top Paddock its own identity. In the early days of Three Bags Full it seemed there were similarities with the menu of stalwart APTE. Which is fine. But here at Top Paddock the menu options are distinctive and even exploring new ground. Kudos.

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Top Paddock has a light and airy feel with plenty of space (and is accessible with nearby parking) and great use of timber paneling and modern fittings. Some serious coin has gone into the layout and to great effect. Top Paddock has a superb ambience for romantic escapades or catching up with friends. Check out the tiling along the wall, dark timber floor, semi industrial ceiling, cool world music (at the time) and the cute display cabinets with treats. The spacious outdoor area is also alluring on a fresh Melbourne morning.

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Tagged in: Cafe Eastern

Posted by on in Cafe

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8 Days Cafe is pleasing many a coffee lover and brunch devotee in classy Armadale. Surrounded by galleries and antique shops on the High Street 8 Days Cafe is a shining light in a precinct crying out for a serious cafe and coffee haven. 

I ventured there to meet up with my business extraordinaire friend. When you are into big business you need to take clients to an impressive cafe or restaurant. 8 Days Cafe delivers on ambience with a modern fit out and plenty of space. They make good use of their tables on the pavement although I had to be careful not to lean back into the flower garden...

As we discussed matters of importance the wait staff came and warmly engaged us, as they did throughout, starting with my favourite line "Would you like to start with a coffee?" 

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Tagged in: Cafe Eastern

Posted by on in Cafe

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Enter Louie, an all-day eatery, bar and coffee house, open seven days a week serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as coffee and snacks. 

Set on Domain Road in South Yarra, Louie takes in views of the Royal Botanical Gardens, which has had a strong influence on the restaurant’s food and beverage offering and vibe. 

The Gardens are inviting and unpretentious, used by all manner of people in a myriad of ways. Louie was born of the desire to create a place for the local community, which draws on the lack of pretension the gardens elicit, a place to lounge over the paper, laugh with friends, enjoy dinner with the family, have a business lunch or grab something on the run. 

The food is interesting, inventive and approachable. The menu delivers simple, beautiful dishes built on the quality of the ingredients that are sourced in season and from Victoria wherever possible. Each dish is characterised by uncluttered, clean flavours. 

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Tagged in: Cafe Southern

 

"I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!" said the White Rabbit. De Mad Hatter is a ever popular cafe in Docklands precinct that pleases with its cafe style cuisine, excellent coffee and cheery service. The fit out is modern and relaxed with large windows onto Collins St and a spacious feel. A concrete floor, Rabbit's timepiece large clock face, low ceilings and large communal table greet patrons. Not to mention the obligatory exposed brick at the counter.

Amusing is the Alice in Wonderland theme. As a corporate entering the cafe its unusual to see items on a menu such as Alice's Brunch and the Wonderland Big Breakfast. Then again many corporates can identify with a fantasy world where things aren't quite as they seem...

Maybe this cafe speaks of corporate restructures... "Off with their heads!" said the Queen of Hearts.

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Spring St Grocery is an exciting new development in one of Melbourne's most iconic precincts with Italian influences on Spring St. The excitement is in the quality gelati, the coffee and simple menu items, as well as in the staged expansion of the grocery concept including florist and gift shop. The ultimate will be in the cheese room (being developed at the back in a basement).

 

Spring St Grocery is a place to come for your fresh juices and gelati... You can take away or dine in (limited seating at this stage). Friendly staff engage and there is a great culture from related businesses such as The European and City Wine Shop.

The fit out is all class with extravagant flooring and decor in the European style. These guys don't do anything by half measures!

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Tagged in: Cafe City

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Green Refectory is one of the most ambient, reasonably priced, hipster cafes in Melbourne and thrills with its home made creations. The large blackboard teems with interesting cuisine from the famous Breakfast stack (remarkable $10) to wraps, burritos and chunky home made pies. The line up here at 4.30pm on a weekday was akin to Gate 3 at the MCG during a final. These guys are superpopular and for good reason...

 

Enter and grab yourself a bottle of water from the fridge then sit down at one of the chunky old timber tables and admire the Amor artwork, the exposed brick walls, floral arrangements, the staff rushing around, the chandelier and other quirky pieces and art. Even the table/order marker is a quirky small piece of square canvas. Here we have quirk and mismatch that works in a shabby chic kind of way...

 

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Tagged in: Cafe Northern

Rustica Sourdough is a sublime artisan breadmaker and bakery recently opened on Brunswick Street that is surely a standout in Melbourne. Come here for a superb cafe/restaurant experience as well as some of the best bread in Melbourne, as baked by Brenton Lang (ex Phillipa's) and his team. Rustica Sourdough serves up a cracker breakfast or lunch with a menu brimming with foodie options. I was invited here to sample some of the wares.

The breads at Rustica Sourdough are top class. I think I'll grab a Rustica loaf anytime I can get to Brunswick Street. I've savoured every bite of the Seedy Wholewheat Sourdough loaf I took home after my visit and absolutely loved it. I'm not easily impressed by breads - in fact I rarely like a bread from a supermarket and most bakers don't impress me. The bread was so good with excellent density, a sweetness of honey to balance the wholewheat flavour, an intensity and variety of seeds including sesame, linseed, sunflower and pumpkin - that I didn't need anything on it to enjoy it. Needless to say however I also added some Salmon steaks on top of the bread and it was a sublime combination.

 

I'm used to many a wine tasting but it was new for me to sit down to a bread tasting. The traditional Organic White sourdough was surprisingly light and airy, with a delicate sourdough flavour. I have to admit my love for butter and enjoyed this superb sourdough with loads of butter. This bread is versatile and great for sandwiches.

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Tagged in: Artisan Bakers

New York Tomato is another Melbourne treasure and Richmond icon with eclectic setting, excellent cuisine and engaging service. Typically Melbourne, this place sits back from the main road and is hidden in the heart of the suburb. Roller doors open up a wondrous courtyard which is also the main dining precinct. A smattering of potted plants and retro chairs and tables gives New York Tomato a great feel. One could be mistaken for thinking this place is an American diner with its name, but it's enjoying Mexican influences under its new owners.

New York Tomato boasts some excellent dishes including Corn and chick pea pancakes, NYT Spring eggs with smashed peas and Greek fetta, Baked eggs, Free range eggs on toast with a host of sides, and toasted pides.

But the star of the show is the Quesadilla as pictured above with refried beans, cheese, topped with jalapenos, salsa and sour cream and killer guacamole. I rate this as one of Melbourne's most satisfying breakfast dishes. Often with a Quesadilla you just get a thin offering with a few ingredients inside. New York Tomato gives you thick filling with the refried beans and cheese - and then serves up generous salsa and guacamole on the side. So it becomes a hearty breakfast and at a good price. 

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Tagged in: Cafe Eastern mexican

Rowena Parade Corner Store has that authentic feel of a "local" and is a part of the iconic history of Richmond. I love how the milk bars of yesteryear are enhanced to cater for modern needs. This Greek influenced cafe is another Richmond classic. You don't have to be Einstein to see that the early morning crowd is made up of regulars who just love this place.

 

Rowena Parade Corner Store is a cafe and a store. There are food products on shelves along the walls to make for a colourful and appealing atmosphere. The staff are more engaging than most and regularly smile - yes smile! What's with that? Rowena Parade Corner Store is definitely a convivial happy place. And I love it.

 

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Tagged in: Cafe Eastern

Posted by on in Cafe

Bendigo Street Milk Bar is a great local cafe in the Richmond/Burnley precinct tucked just off Swan Street. It hums with excellent food, personal service and brilliant spaces - including a funky outdoor area out the back where locals can enter through a side laneway. Owners Di and Mario Stefano have brought the love to this community icon in recent times. Milk bar, food store and cafe. It's one of the areas' treasures and locals love it. I enjoyed breakfast as a guest of Bendigo Street Milk Bar.

 

As a child I grew up with the humble milk bar of my Adelaide Hills community. It was full of charm and simplicity. Bendigo Street Milk Bar captures that charm but adds a layer of sophistication. It has a cool ambience with a touch of retro, and a lounge room feel.  Natural light steams through the large windows of this spacious cafe, with a pleasant leafy street outside. Generous cushions invite one to recline. Quirky pieces and a cool carpet add to the ambience. An upstairs area is perfect for a business meeting or catch up with a group of friends. And hey, kids can draw.

 

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Tagged in: Cafe Eastern

Posted by on in Cafe

Iconic Hellas Cakes is celebrating 50 years of serving Melbourne with its sensational cakes and sweets. This is another treasure of Melbourne, with traditions and values of yesteryear brought into the modern context. If ever a place oozed charm it's here. A recent renovation has opened up the most wonderful space that is simple, attractive and unpretentious.

In 1962 a post-war Greek immigrant Hraklis Kenos opened up a cake shop at the Swan Streets end of Lennox Street. Hraklis was a practising pastry chef who wanted to treat the Greek community to fine cakes and pastries. The business was sold to the Laliotis and Kantaris families and third generation pastry chefs are being groomed in the business today.

Loads of fresh quality Greek cakes are for sale at value prices. When I asked the staff about the great prices they told me some of the older Greek women would revolt if the prices went up too high.

 

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Tagged in: Artisan Bakers Greek

Posted by on in Cafe
 
An exciting new bakery is opening this week on Wed 21st  - The Candied Bakery in Spotswood ....
 
The Candied Bakery concept has been influenced by bakeries, food and flavours encountered by Toula and Orlando on trips to the USA and Europe. The most influential being a trip to New York City and San Francisco in 2011.
 
While in NYC and San Francisco, Toula and Orlando experienced top-notch ‘fast food’ at bakeries, milkbars, diners and food trucks that was tasty, inventive and didn’t cost the earth. Toula and Orlando were impressed by the combination of fresh ingredients and fresh ideas, including the melding of food styles and flavours at the ‘fast food’ end of the market.
 
Inspired by their experience, Toula and Orlando decided it was time to re-work known and loved Australian classics while tempting their customers tastebuds with some of their U.S and European favourites.
 
Similarities between the Sugardough product offering and the Candied Bakery menu are the top quality staples that Sugardough became well-known for – organic bread, pies and pastries.
 
Among Candied Bakery’s signature products is Orlando’s Aussie meat pie. Not only is it made with 100% organic grass-fed beef, it is made from scratch - a rarity in most commercial bakeries.
 
“It’s a classic meat pie using top quality organic beef. We wanted simple and delicious, and we wanted to use all natural ingredients”, say Orlando.
 
Another Candied Bakery signature product, and a favourite from Toula and Orlando’s NYC trip, is the Apple Pie Shake – essentially a slice of apple pie in milk, blended. “We loved them when we tried them in New York and we thought, ‘We’re a bakery, we make pies, why not a pie shake?”, says Orlando.
 
Driven by being the best at what they do, Orlando and Toula hope to achieve the same success they had with their first bakery, Sugardough. Reflecting on their time at Sugardough Toula says, “the best part was working hard, and being rewarded with a line of customers out the front on weekends”.
 
Orlando agrees, “There is nothing more satisfying than seeing customers enjoying food you have created.”
Tagged in: Artisan Bakers
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Posted by on in Cafe

Madame Mango is an conic cafe in Camberwell on Burke Road, pleasing with its ambience as much as its cuisine. I found my experience here refreshing due to the homely yet chic atmosphere and the engaging service from the waitress and the manager.

I walked in and noticed a "cafe with a restaurant tone" with expensive looking wallpaper and lamp shades and the advent of a chandelier in the second room. There's no lack of space here with two rooms and a courtyard, as well as an area on Burke Street. The manager tells me they will open up the courtyard soon in Spring for a couple of nights a week. Yes Madame Mango is about to do evening work.

I enjoyed the leather bench and mango looking orange cushions, old clock on the wall, classic display cabinet and that wallpaper.

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Tagged in: Cafe Eastern

Collective Espresso is a standout cafe in Melbourne let alone the eastern suburbs with its uber cool vibe, engaging staff and sublime coffee and cuisine. It's a popular choice for locals but also worth travelling across town for.

 

In fact Collective Espresso is just across from the Camberwell railway station - so I took the opportunity to dive off the train one morning, engage with Collective Espresso, then dive back on. These tables outside are a desirable place to enjoy your morning coffee and are often full by 8am. It's amazing how many school students frequent the cafes of Camberwell - obviously they've done their homework the night before...

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Tagged in: Cafe Eastern

Posted by on in Cafe

J Cafe is a superb Japanese cafe on Exhibition that thrills with its creative and tasty sushi burgers and salads. The combination of a sushi burger and a fresh classy salad is a sublime option for the hungry office worker. I'd heard about these sushi burgers but it took me too long to pay a visit. Melbourne has several excellent value Japanese cafe restaurants in the CBD which are well patronised by students.

J Cafe Restaurant is popular with students but also with a high proportion of surrounding professionals. I was superimpressed by the care, the quality of cuisine, the healthiness and the value of J Cafe. Oh and the service is great also - attentive, friendly and the meals prepared quickly.

 

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Tagged in: Japanese

Posted by on in Cafe

 

Pellegrini’s, a Melbourne icon, and original Melbourne coffee destination, puts a big smile on my face. It's easy to fall in love with Pellegrini's as it exudes so much charm and nostalgia. Classico! Often misunderstood in a sea of nouveau cafes and restaurants, Pellegrini’s is unique.

It feels like ‘real’ Melbourne with its history and standing. I’ve been there a few times and love it. Where else can you go for such quality banter, home cooking and strong coffee?

I tried entering Pellegrini’s very early one morning and couldn’t get in the door. That’s right! The owner (I think it was), came and unlocked the door and showed me in! That was cool.

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Tagged in: Cafe City Italian

Posted by on in Cafe

St Ali is a hip cool fun uber café with amazing ambience, stunning coffee and excellent creative menu choices - hidden down a laneway in South Melbourne. This is one of my “go to” places in Melbourne and have loved each of my many visits. The owner Salvatore Malatesta is an icon and visionary in the industry, in the city of Melbourne, and internationally. He has inspired an amazing culture in and beyond this cult cafe in a laneway.

St Ali is a cafe with style and culture. St Ali has some classic menu designs - here is one of my all time favourites...


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Tagged in: Cafe Southern

Posted by on in Cafe

Three Bags Full is a Melbourne darling and one of our more eminent cafes. Enter a world of Clover and Rwandan Aeropress (by the way so cool to see how Rwanda has recovered in recent years through things like coffee exports) and espresso bliss.  The vibe on a pumping Saturday brunch time is fabulous. Its another foodie haven and the coffee is seriously excellent.

Some confusion at first as to whether I was in Richmond or in Abbotsford. The colour scheme suggested I was in Richmond (bright yellows) but we were in fact in Abbotsford. Great ambience here. Walk in and immediately fall in love with this place.

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Tagged in: Cafe Eastern

Posted by on in Cafe

Mama Wong's is a place I've walked past many times as I negotiate the junction to head towards the MCG. Who is Mama Wong? Finally I took the plunge and rolled up for lunch. I was surprised at the extensive menu with a huge variety of Asian meals.

 

Mama Wong's also delivers on instant Asian meals in the bain marie. As once again I was in a hurry at lunch, I ordered the Satay chicken with a  fried dim sim as extra.

 

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Tagged in: Chinese