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Finally… Frank at Fonda…

What a frikkin good idea to frequent Fonda on this particular Friday…. Okay… it was a Tuesday but that ruins my alliteration attempt (haha! again)… Anyway, main point is that I had been keen to try Fonda for ages so when an ex-work colleague suggested it as a Richmond venue for a quick bite to eat I thought it was a FAB idea! I was concerned we would be waiting for a bit, maybe for a table or for food but it was super quiet at 1:30pm. Phew, because I was very hungry.

One great thing about this restaurant is that the menu is short so you could try everything in a couple of visits. Woot! To start and to share, we ordered pork scratchings with guacamole, corn chips with guacamole & salsa, and the corn… OH. MY. GOD…. The corn… It was the epiphany I expected when I ate the corn at Mamasita (that didn’t happen at Mamasita). I can’t really explain the difference except that the Fonda corn was creamier somehow…

Pork scratchings, corn chips, salsa & guacamole
The O.M.G corn with chipotle aioli, ricotta salata, lime

“Do you think the pork scratchings are healthy?”

“Uuummmm… Yep, probably as healthy as prawn crackers…”

For mains we were both super keen on the beef taco and the fish taco so we got one each.. and then we were really, really full!

Beef brisket taco with poblano peppers, breakfast radish
The fish taco with chipotle aioli, pickled carrot/onion, cabbage

Great value. The perfect lunch spot… The sun even poked her head out enough for me to strip to a singlet top and enjoy a wonderful Melbourne afternoon…

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Restaurant quality at home (not my home)…

A really special dinner… for a couple of reasons…

Mainly because it was spent with my in-laws to be… and also because the chefs for the evening take such pleasure in entertaining and the whole meal preperation took place central to our conversation. I just love open-plan! We arrived and our menu was written on the chalkboard in the kitchen

chalkboard

We chatted as the sides were created in front of us and the fish cooked on the balcony BBQ…

sweet potato & goats cheese getting mashed

Dinner is served…

mash, fish & coriander salad

Amazing! Thanks for having us guys! We will come again please!

x

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Girl talk at Chez Dre…

Lunch at Chez Dre was a gossipy affair over some delicious light meals. I was feeling really bad about the last time my friend and I hung out because as usual, my wedding talk took over, and I didn’t manage to ask enough questions about my friend to find out she had a new boyfriend… self-centred bitch that I am! Wedding talk is super boring compared to new boyfriend talk… as we both found out!

Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella & Pancetta Bruschetta
Moroccan Baked Eggs with Sourdough

I ordered the bruschetta which comes with an egg. The combination sounded little strange but totally worked for me. The pancetta was fab. The Moroccan baked eggs looked amazing and were ordered with sourdough instead of ciabatta to avoid too much crunch. We basically both ate brekkie at lunch but nothing wrong with that and to top it all off… they had one of their incredible cakes on tasting as we paid the bill… Yyyyeeeeesssssssss!!

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Mother’s Day at Axil… Or should we call it Auntie’s Day..?

Stunning weather for Mother’s Day in Melbourne this year… or maybe not. I woke up to heavy rainfall on the window for about the fourth morning in a row… Bob the Dog could tell you exactly how many days it had been, as it would also be the number of days that he hadn’t been for a walk…. oops… Anyway, he definitely wasn’t getting a walk this particular morning either so I snuggled back under the covers… without turning my alarm back on…. double oops…

So we were late again… Ben and I in the car… me being a front seat driver in the rain… eeekkk. We were off to meet Auntie Chrissie (Mother of Max) for a little Mother’s Day brunch. Also in attendance, London sister and her NZ boyfriend, in Melbourne for a flying weekend visit. I warned Auntie that we were running late… She responded with:

“I have put us on the list”

List dammit?! What is with queuing for brekkie in Melbourne (special weekend I know but this is pretty standard these days)! When we arrived at Axil on Burwood Rd in Hawthorn, I had flashbacks to uni days flitting between The Glenferrie Hotel and Nevermind Bar but I have no idea what used to be in the cavernous space that is now Axil. Cool space too. With massive milk-can pendant lights and a barista training room – which on this particular day just had a family sitting in the glassed-in room enjoying brunch. We didn’t wait too long but it was pretty funny as each time “the doorbitch” (one of the owners I think) flew past he kept telling everyone quite loudly that they were all at the top of the list… We were seated at one end of the big share table watching the food come out. We ordered and were delivered our coffees really quickly which was super impressive given the busy-factor. Good coffee too but unsurprising given the coffee pedigree of the owners three-times barista of the year or the like! Our meals were also served up quite quickly.

Fran's obligatory smashed avo & goats cheese with poached egg
Haloumi corn fritters
quesadilla with eggs, avo & chilli

A really delicious meal was had by all. I was very boring ordering my standard avo and goats cheese on toast but was happy with the range around the table. I am definitely returning to try the frozen yogurt muesli brekkie when I am feeling a bit sweeter… frozen yogurt for brekkie would be a first for me and maybe needs to wait until it’s a bit warmer but I guess that will give me more time to get back to my Northside brunch quest

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Celebrating birthdays with Movida madness

A super Saturday night dinner at Movida to celebrate a couple of birthdays! The four of us (Ben & I and the Kooyong couple… joking, joking!), had been planning a Movida dinner for ages (and you need to plan for it given the wait to book). These birthdays seemed a very good reason to finally book it in! It had been probably two years since my last visit to Movida, a restaurant that used to be my favourite, but with the explosion of new kids on the block, my focus had moved to trying out new stuff, rather then re-visiting old stuff… I definitely won’t be leaving it as long in the future! It is still deserving of the top spot!

We started the evening with a little glass of the Roederer… because we were celebrating… and complimented the meal with 3 more bottles of french and spanish wine… Including a particulalry delicious garnache! YUM!

And what a meal it was! I got to be the orderer… And I was really hungry… Check it out below… Mr Kooyong showing off the salty cod fritters!

Salt Cod & Potato Fritters with Lemon Emulsion
Spiced Chicken Escabache Tapa on Crisp Crouton

Oh the Jamon! This was probably the dish of the night for me! So flavoursome, so delicious and the toasted bruschetta… I can’t believe it beat the lamb and the beef which were also both fabulous!

24 months aged jamon on bruschetta
Pyrenees Wet Roast Lamb Breast with Fino & Paprika Sauce
Rabbit with croutons & grapes
Slow Cooked Baby Leeks with Butter and Garlic

The famous beef cheek….

Slowly Braised Beef Cheek in Pedro Ximenez on Cauliflower Puree

What do you think of my ordering huh?! AMAZING! Can you believe we ate all of this!?! But wait… there’s more… We also hoed into some amazing dessert… churros, creme caramel and the top dessert…

Hot Chocolate Ganache Pudding with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream & Nougat

Sometimes I feel old because I can’t remember the last time I was in a nightclub… But then, when I have a Saturday night like this one… Great friends, less pain on the wallet and no hangover (okay… maybe a little headache)… I realise that the future is bright 🙂

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Surprise! Tuesday night chef’s table at Attica

Ben had told me we were having dinner with his parents on Tuesday night… Tuesday night was public holiday eve again! Woot! I got home from work and asked where we were going… “Not sure but probably a pizza place on Glenferrie Rd”… Excellent, some pizza and a few glasses of wine with the in-laws to be! 15 minutes later I was ready to go… Ben looked up and said “A bit casual aren’t we?”… Uuummm…. For a pizza place on Glenferrie Rd?? And more to the point… I was dressed perfectly fine! “Excuse me?! I would dress like this for Vu De Monde!”… Wowsers, a fight before we even got out the door… I was seriously grumpy as I drove towards Glenferrie Rd, when Ben started directing me in the opposite direction… I began to think something funny was going on…. and when I parked near the corner of Kooyong Rd and Glen Eira Rd I suddenly understood the irony of my earlier comeback! We weren’t going to Vue De Monde but rather Attica! Melbourne’s best restaurant according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and the location of my favourite meal ever. Good Tuesday night surprise Benny! Especially on a public holiday eve! Double Woot!

butter, whipped olive oil & table decoration

Tuesday night is Chef’s Night at Attica. This is when Ben Shewry and his team test and develop new menu items. It costs $95 a head for five courses and you can match wine for an additional $70. I have added a photo of the evening’s menu.. it’s not very descriptive. In fact, it’s hard to imagine what you will be eating from the list of ingredients describing each course.

That’s the beauty of it! The shiitake broth flavour was INCREDIBLE. I knew I could smell mushrooms cooking when we walked in. They must have been cooking hundreds of them to get the depth of flavour that was happening in this tiny bowl of clear broth with eleven types of basil leaves and a liquorice leaf floating in it. No photo of the first couple of courses as I felt a little funny taking pics for some reason (until I’d had a few wines of course). Each course was very small but blew me away with the flavour combinations. Really hard to describe too. I had to keep telling myself to slow down and really enjoy each little plate of food. For once I was happy to keep nibbling on the delish bread between courses as I wasn’t afraid of getting too full!

Roasted pigeon with thinly sliced turnip and black cabbage
shredded radish & watermelon on granita with liquorice leaf

The dessert was slightly too strange when it first came out but as the granita melted it became more enjoyable. I was really hoping for a final treat like the last time we came and my wish came true when the bird nest arrived with four gorgeous caramel filled eggs to really finish the meal!

caramel filled chocolate eggs

Attica again lived up to the hype as Melbourne’s best… I can’t wait to go again on a Tuesday and see what new dishes are coming out of that genius kitchen!
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Brunch with a bridesmaid… in Beechworth

We woke up after a wonderful winery wedding in Beechworth with a few sore heads. Lunch didn’t start until 1pm but food was required immediately so we headed up the main st of Beechworth for some brunch. Beeline for the Beechworth Bakery… but were scared away by the crowds and found the Beechworth Pantry. I was pretty keen on a pie and decided it was perfectly acceptable to eat a pie for brekkie (brunch?) when you have a sore head.. So I did… and it was excellent!

Chicken and vegie pie

And then obviously, as per my rule: every meal needs dessert, I just had to try this tangy, raspberry, meringue, cream deliciousness of dessert and will drive 3 1/2 hours again just to eat another piece… definitely!

INCREDIBLE raspberry cakey thing.... I wish I could remember the name of it!!
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Suntime, funtimes at Fitzrovia…

Fitzrovia is a lovely little spot for lunch on my favourite food street in Melbourne; Fitzroy St, St Kilda. On this occasion; a ladies (work) lunch, the location was key, as work seemed to be super busy for all involved and we needed a central point… Plus I was totally bored of South Melbourne (a silly thing to say really given how many places I haven’t actually been to)… The sun was out, trying desperately to throw some heat our way as April pushed back, reminding us when we sat in the shade in our singlet tops, that it was actually autumn…

The menu had me drooling! There were a LOT of things I wanted to try… I was hoping to have a taste of four great meals. I had to settle with three great meals as Debs had Greek fasting which meant no meat, no dairy… and a strange order of toast with jam and roasted tomatoes… I gave that one a miss. The girls ordered special healthy juices which looked pretty delish but I would recommend also ordering some ice.

Smoked ocean trout with fennel, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, toasted quinoa, white bean hummus and poached egg
House made fish cakes with wakame tartare sauce and Asian pickled cucumber salad
Shaw River buffalo mozzarella and organic truss tomato salad with fresh basil and lemon oil plus ham

My salad was amazing but I was glad I added ham (prosciutto) to make it a little more filling for my lunch. From the little tastes I had of the girls’ lunches I will definitely be returning for a full plate of fish cakes or the trout salad when I want a light lunch. Or how bout this? My dream sandwich!

Otway free range pulled pork shoulder ploughman’s, with Pyengana cheddar, Scotch quail’s egg, sourdough bread and an apple, sour cherry and fennel chutney

Definitely got a few reasons to go back, not to mention the daily changing specials and the completely different dinner menu. Lucky me it’s so local!

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Date night at Bistro Thierry

A relationship-saving ‘date night’ at Bistro Thierry as harvest draws to a close 😉 Okay, that is probably a bit drastic… but it was certainly nice for Ben and I to have a night out together at a lovely restaurant where we both got a little dressed up and Benny spoke in French all night… to the waiter…. dammit!

I find it pretty hard to go past a steak tartare when in a french restaurant, but as this ended up being the second french restaurant in a week and I had already had a decent crack at 250g of raw meat, I thought a tuna tartare would be a better… And look how pretty it looked.

Tuna Tartare with avo, radish & sesame

I had a small problem with the menu this particular night. I just wanted to eat all the entrées… I couldn’t go past the quail special but figured as long as we ordered a side of pommes frites it would be fine… and it was… OMG, the french fries were fantastic…

Quail entrées with richest sauce ever

We finished the night off with a brilliant creme brulee… a big cracking crunch!

Bistro Thierry is the perfect local date night restaurant, especially if you like chatting in french… with the waiters…

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French Felix fun in sunny Sydney…

Another wedding… another plane trip… this time to Sydney… The wedding was actually on the NSW Central Coast however Ben was doing a wine event at Ivy Bar on the evening before so I also flew in for a little wine tasting… or so I thought… ‘little’ would be the wrong word to describe the HUGE event Merivale put on with over 700 peeps tasting wine from a number of regions around the country… the problem was that it was so bloody busy that Ben had no time to talk to me and the other folks that I knew didn’t arrive until 8:30pm… I arrived at 6:30pm… uh oh… I’m assuming you can guess what happened… I tried to disguise my slipping sobriety by writing tasting notes as I ticked off each winery on what I called Frank’s Australian Riesling Tour… As the crowd dwindled, it occurred to me I should put some food into my tummy to try to soak up some of the riesling… The next day was going to be busy (and filled with Ben’s family) and the last thing I needed was a hangover! 

We traipsed downstairs to Felix Bar & Bistro and sat on one of the ‘laneway’ tables. Ben ordered more wine… and more wine… and I ordered a bottle of mineral water – sparkling! We feasted french style…. three course of course… starting with my favourite french dish – steak tartare…

Steak Tartare
Old fashioned seafood cocktail
Beetroot and goats cheese salad

For main I order the spatchcock. It was super simple and perfectly accompanied by quite a number of french fries.

Spatchcock with iceberg lettuce & lemon

For dessert we shared profiteroles and the bombe alaska…

Profiteroles

We crashed into bed close to midnight, fed and watered (especially me) and awoke to clear heads for the sunny, special wedding day ahead of us!

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