Uncommon love.

We need more cafes in Melbourne. Said no one ever. I am one of those people that will look at a menu for an hour, decide, and as soon as the waiter arrives, I’ll either,

  1. Want what she’s having
  2. Want husband to order something that I secretly want as well
  3. order 329048 things
  4. umm and ahh and eventually ask the waiter to choose for me.

So a plethora of cafes to choose from, really makes my Sunday mornings difficult. Oh yes, first world problems are here to stay.

Rambling over. Enter Uncommon. If you’ve got a friend coming to visit you and they want a real ‘Melbourne Breakfast experience’ (oh yeh, that’s a thing). Walk straight in here. The fitout, the service, the menu, the cold brew and all those amazing ferns (plant love) will have them in awe of your amazing life and breakfast opportunities.

Side note, I haven’t had a snack in about 12 minutes, so that would mean I am hungry and so you can blame these rambles and tangents on that.

That ‘healthy’ breakfast thing is usually supported by those wearing lycra is encouraged and you hear the murmurs of ‘I’m just going to finish my chia/acai/grain thing then I might go to bikram, or barre, or maybe I’ll just talk about the gym until it’s time for cocktails’.

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But with Matt Kennedy at the helm, Uncommon provides a brilliant fresh take on this style of food and still throws in a brekky beef short rib for good measure. Yes they’ve got the Acai and their Granola but you’re going to find a lot of choices that are just going to make you want to try the whole damn menu. Trust me, you can bring your yogi or your carnivorous friend and they’re both going to love Uncommon.

Chef Kennedy (no relation to J.F….as far as I’m aware) has created a menu that looks as good as it tastes. I reckon there would be a few pairs of little food tweezers in that kitchen and I am totally ok with that. I ventured here a few weeks after it’s opening in December and it was already running like a well-oiled machine.

As I mentioned earlier, my indecisiveness was all over the shop so requested the assistance of the lovely top-knotted waiter in my decision. I realllly wanted to try the short rib, but the temperature outside was sitting around 59730 degrees, so I will save that bad boy for a cooler day.

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What a stunner. I decided on the Market fish in coal oil, chickpea aioli, minted peas and broadbeans, 65 degree egg, coconut bacon and mustard nectar dressing. Yes that is the fanciest sounding breakfast I have ever ordered. I felt I needed to court it before I consumed it.

  1. Yes I primarily went with this dish because it had the word bacon in it. Then realised after ordering, this was in fact coconut bacon. Nevertheless, I stuck with my decision and it was terrific.
  2. The fish was Hapuka. Not to be confused with the ever amazing snow boarding destination of Hakuba. Ah best times everrrr. Until I fell down and cracked my coccyx. That’s a story for another day.
  3. 65 degree eggs are a poachie-lovers heaven on a plate. So much yolky goodness. Skills in that kitchen. Sk-ills.

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My bacon loving breakfast partner in Crime, AB, went with (big breath) hand sliced salmon pastrami on pumpernickel (yes they make their own), soft herb scrambles, whipped honey, salted kernels and chili capers. Wowzer. This was a damn good looking dish and AB loved it. The house made pumpernickel looked epic. Such a wanky way to say it, but every element was just prepared so well.

Uncommon’s food is, you guessed it, a bit left field, not going to be found in every café, its uncommon. Duahh. Matt Kennedy has created a gem for our breakfast scene and will soon be creating delicious dinners as well. Drooling already.

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The industry beans cold brew had raring to go as well. Ok I might have had two…three. There’s a great range of teas for those tea-lovers, a wattleseed chai which I will need to chai (ha…try/chai…) and a vanilla bean matcha latte for those who need to eat whatever is trending on twitter at the moment.

As we both never understand the meaning of being full/ordering too much, we knew breakfast dessert of course had to happen. We are both also those people that stare at everyone else’s meal as it goes past to judge whether we ordered correctly or whether we need to keep ordering other things. Yep, those people that just stop their conversation to inspect others’ meals. We know we do it, we know we may need to repeat the same conversation 7 times, but we are totally ok with that.

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I’ve never been a big fan of sweet breakfasts and would usually always choose the cheese platter (with all cheese options) instead of a sweet dessert, but these pikelets had my name all over them. Well they didn’t have a badge exactly, but I believe they could be renamed in my honour. JP’s Pikeys. Hm maybe not.

These crackers were 90% banana and flaxseed pikelets, accompanied with Yarra Valley strawberries, cherries, poached green pawpaw, pure maple and toasted milk. Yep think they spelt heaven incorrectly. Ermagherd. These were phenomenal. And what do you know, I’m writing this on Shrove/Pancake/Pikelet Tuesday. Which means it’s obviously a sign that you need to go and eat them. Now.

One of the best meals/’breakfast experiences’ that I have had. Awesome, friendly service, cracking décor and the food, the glorious food. Definitely worth the trip and the parking chaos. Just dream of JP’s pikeys and go test out the menu for yourself.

 

Uncommon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Mornington Peninsula.

You just have to love living in a spectacular country like ours. Incredible scenery, the cutest wildlife (and some that want to eat you), friendly folk and of course an array of mouth watering food, wines, ciders, spirits, you name it.

At this time of year, we are all heading back to the daily grind, and of course, planning our next holiday because, let’s face it, we all love to get away. Enter, Mornington Peninsula. The getaway that’s on your doorstep with so many opportunities to explore.

Late last year I was invited along to a spectacular garden party at the ever beautiful Botanic Gardens to enjoy what the Peninsula has to offer. Yep, tough gig, I know. On this particular day, in late November, I packed a leather jacket, sunglasses, an umbrella and ended up getting burnt. Oh, Melbs. We love you, but try keep it together.

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On arrival, the lovely group that had gathered were greeted with a ‘Spiced Seaside’  cocktail. This tasty little treat was a concoction of Bass & Flinders gin, lime, star anise, fresh mint and cucumber. And yes ok, I took the shot from that angle as I was so in love with it I drank half of it before taking a photo. #badfoodie

The day was put on to show guests the amazing variety that the Mornington Peninsula offers. And it delivered. I think I went home that day and immediately started planning our next weekend trip to the beautiful area.

I like to think of myself as a professional grazer and therefore I was very much in my element at the garden party. Produce was brought in by Red Hill Bakery, Main Ridge dairy, Peninsula organics, Woolumbi Farm, Harts Farm, and my favourite, Red Hill Cheese. Anyone who reads this or follows the ‘gram would know I have a love for cheese that goes beyond regular food enjoyment. We’re involved. And I’m totally ok with that.

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Side bar – take a look at the size of those strawberries! 

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The antipasto table was probably where I spent most of time that afternoon. Who can say no to salumi from Woolumbi Farm? Especially when there are layers and layers of it in front of your eyes. Ahhh.

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Under all my cheesey goodness love, I am a carnivore at heart and the day was filled with brilliantly bbq’d delights. There were even mini sausage sandwiches (yes ok, I’m from NSW, I refuse to call it sausage in bread). SO much iron splendour.

I had brilliant company on the day and loved that the ever gorgeous Lisa (Lisa Eats World) understood my portion control issues and my need to continually return to the cheese boards.

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For those who prefer the splendour of the sea (under the sea, under the seaaa), there were terrific fish tacos as well as a whole baked snapper. That big boy would have been a treat to reel in.

One of my favourites of the day was the scrumptious white wine marinated mussels. The Mornington Peninsula is a treasure trove for seafood lovers, so I implore you to visit before I eat it all.

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That’s not a chocolate mousse….THIS is a chocolate mousse.

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We all have that other stomach reserved for dessert time. Hell, sometimes we all could have three courses of dessert. It’s just the way we’re programmed. So when two strapping young lads (geez I’m getting old) walk out with a crate-sized platter of chocolate mousse, two words, chick magnet. Our eyes were glued on the size of the mousse covered in brilliant strawberries from Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm. I really just wanted to roll around in it. Imagine….

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Not to be outdone, we were also treated to cloudy apple juice jelly with poached Red Hill cherries and honeycomb brittle. I tell ya, this was a really hard going afternoon. I was just glad I chose the super flowy eating-dress.

If you are yet to venture to the Peninsula or have a limited exposure to what it offers, please go there. Eat ALL the food. And enjoy this bloody spectacular country of ours.

 

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Grand Grandeur.

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I believe it is a well documented fact that I have a love for the Grand Hotel in Richmond that goes beyond regular food love. It seems that whenever the work girls ask me where I’m off to on the weekend, the Grand will always be involved in some capacity. The atmosphere, service, the wine and the food. Oh the food. Everything has always been top notch and recent visits have been no exception.

As I have visited multiple times of late I thought I’d collate them into one food coma inducing post and I’m sure by the end of it you will be wanting to book in your next Italian food fest.

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Recently I have visited for various occasions including the 130th birthday celebration, various meals (just because) and most recently the brilliant ‘Grand Air’ event held for Good Food Month, which was also supported by the ever brilliant Vino Bambino. On a side note, if you can get to this event in 2016, please do so! The Grand team throw everything at this event and it is so ridiculously entertaining.

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Yes I was invited to a couple of those functions, but I would be going there 4768735 times a year regardless. The hotel out the back is brilliant on a sunny afternoon and the pub fare is far from your average parma.

Barnie Bouchard is the king of this castle and is such an asset. The entire team know service, from the laid back nature of the back beer garden, to the ‘upmarket’ fine dining experience in the Dining Room. Hey, I’m heading there this Friday. That’s how convincing this post has been. I convinced myself to return asap.

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Look at that risotto. Ah I’m drooling. Every dish you get has so much love. It’s like a cuddle for your tummy. The food is so impressive yet doesn’t seem overworked. The team have set menus that flow so well with a wine list that compliments every dish imaginable.

 

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Side note, this carpaccio was one of the best dishes I have had at the grand. They’ve picked the best produce, and let it do the talking. Nothing better than that. Unless it’s a bombolone. Then I’ll make an exception.

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I wanted to write about the Grand as my first post of 2016 as they were by far my favourite destination in 2015. Service for me, makes or breaks a place, and yes I know that sounds super wanky but it’s true. No matter how good the food is, you need the atmosphere that makes you want to bring every relative, including the great uncle that slurps his spaghetti (only way to do it!), to sample the fine fare and enjoy the experience.

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And of course, a brilliant italian destination means mouth watering desserts. Whether it be a semifreddo, crostoli, or my forever-favourite bomboloni (that I ordered twice), those with a separate stomach for dessert, will not be disappointed.

Yes I believe I am in love with a restaurant and yes, it is possible. As Mr Meldrum would say, go and do yourself a favour, call the crew on Burnley St, sit back and embrace the deliciousness.

 

Grand Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

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Squat goose can’t boogie. Round bird can’t fly.

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I never wrote about the bird! How could I have missed them. Well, the menu has probably changed since I ventured there a couple of months ago, but I implore you to venture to the land of Lilydale for this terrific little gem.

Round Bird can’t fly. Firstly, it’s one of the best cafe names ever in my opinion. So they had me on side before I even walked in. I visited on a Saturday on my lonesome whilst Husband was out exercising. He does the work and I eat the donuts. Balance. The perfect partnership.

The place was packed and I squeezed into a spot on the front bench. Perfect people watching position. You get to see the people walking past and those in the cafe tucking into their tucker and discussing first world problems. Brilliant.

Service from the beginning was fantastic. The entire team were so friendly and were keen to chat about their food, their produce and the vibe (it’s the vibe, it’s Mabo, – ha oh JP, you need new material).

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I was in a shakshuka kinda mood and their option sounded very different to the tomato based deliciousness I have come to love. Greens, ahoy. I was excited.

Coffee is Chum Creek Coffee, roasted by Greg Liney, and the baristas sure can make a smooth long black. So good in fact, I had two. Ok I may have had a takeaway as well. Mhm I was bah-zing that day.

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The shakshuka was probably the best I’ve had and it was so different to the others I’d tried. A gazillion different greens, perfect eggs and the flavours were so well thought out. The house made rye that accompanied the dish was really different again. By itself I thought it might have been a tad sweet, but when used as a ‘spoon’ it was just a party in my mouth.

I was very sad to see the bottom of the plate as I knew the food celebration was near the end. It was really a brilliant way to start the day and I felt uber healthy after all my greens. So in typical JP fashion, I knew this healthiness needed to be balanced out with something sweet. Enter house made donut.

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Take a look at that bad boy. I’ll admit it, my donut radar was blaring as soon as I stepped into Round Bird. I could sense I was in the presence of greatness. This house made donut was filled with a tart, delicious mandarin curd that I had never tried before and will definitely choose again. The donut was probably slightly over done on the outside as it wasn’t as fluffy as anticipated, but I still devoured it as expected.

I was soon a very round lady who had to roll out of Round Bird. Can’t compliment the staff enough. Such a homey feel and all so welcoming. I’m heading back to Round Bird this weekend with my visit parentals and I think you fly in soon, too.

 

Round Bird Can't Fly Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Hunters’ Roots.

The eternal question; what am I going to have for lunch today?

Yes I try to be good and prepare the lunches but when you work smack bang in the middle of Melbourne’s CBD, the food choices call to you. Eat the fried chicken, eat the burger, eat the sashimi, eat the delicious 7 tiered cake that will cause you to suffer severe food coma as soon your done. Food, you evil temptress.

On this particular day, Cmac and I ventured out and wanted to try to be healthy. Not an easy feat I can assure you. I was yet to try Hunters’ Roots and knew they sold Extra Mile Kombucha so figured it was a win win.

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Walking into this small space in the Archway off Flinders lane, you immediately feel like you’re doing good things for your bod. Crisp is the word I would use the describe the space. With a selection of organic salads, sandwiches and sushi, the decisions were very difficult.

I chose two salads being the poached chicken and the salmon and soba noodles. Mm so tasty. Everything was cooked brilliantly and even though I probably hadn’t chose salads that complemented each other, they were both delicious in their own right.

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The Lemon detox Kombucha from Extra Mile also went down a treat. If you prefer Kombucha a tad sweeter, try the Passionfruit variety. Tastes like a super healthy Passiona (minus the sugar high). It took me back to days of being 6 or 7, running under the sprinkler in the back yard in summer time and thinking that it was pretty much the best day ever. Ahem, my bad, back to the Roots.

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Cmac went with brown rice sushi and a poached chicken sandwich which he was raving about for days. No snap unfortunately as it was demolished in record time.

Healthy, light lunch options with produce that makes you feel good. Can’t get much better on a sunny lunch time in Melbs.

 

Hunters' Roots Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Gimme Jimmy.

Thousands of shoppers have been descending upon the new and improved Eastland and it would be fair to say one of the most popular places would have to be Jimmy Grants. Georgie boy is expanding his empire piece by piece.

About a week after the big reveal, I ventured into J.Grants as a newbie. I’d never been to any of the other stores but knew I was in for a Greek food feast.

I headed in on the dot of midday as I knew it would get busy. To be honest, it wasn’t the best first impression. Yes they’re teething, so you have to cut them some slack, but if you have customers waiting at the door, it might be a good idea to pause the ‘catchup convos’ happening at the door of the kitchen and help the patrons. We can see you. And it ain’t a good look.

I was seated at a long table sans menu, which was forgiveable. When that was rectified I was left to ponder my choice. Oh so many options. My foodie partner in crime, JW, had raved about the grain salad, but I’m not one to leave it at that. Mr Papadopoulos AND the grain salad. Locked in.

I was leaning towards an additional serve of Taromosalata but the food gods must have been monitoring my portions as I was informed they had run out.

Hopefully next time I visit, there will be a bit more organisation going on. No one really knew who was serving who or where orders needed to be sent. People around me commented that they had been waiting for a “solid 30” and were keen to “just grab whatevs.” I hoped it wasn’t going to get to that stage as I was in already in the early stages of hangry before I arrived.

Food came out in waves so I managed to get mine pretty quickly. Yes they ignored me and forgot to give me a menu and weren’t really sure whether their heads were screwed on, but boy did the food live up to the hype.

 

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The Mr Papa was so fresh and flavoursome and took me straight back to the streets of Santorini where I ate my weight in gyros each day. Quite an accomplishment I think. Bravo, JP.

My only negative would be the aioli. I’d definitely prefer it was lashings of Tatziki. But if that’s how GC does it, then we’ll roll with it.

The grain salad was a brilliant recommendation and one of which I will attempt to recreate at home. This would probably end with knowing mine didn’t taste as good, jumping on the bike and riding to buy some more at Jimmy Grants. That may or may not have happened already.

If you’re yet to experience Jimmy’s, it’s definitely worth it. Just maybe give the Eastland crew a few weeks to hit their stride. Mr Papa, I’ll be back for you.

Jimmy Grants Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Nothing/Everything fishy at Hunky Dory.

Eastland has arrived. The new Eastland. With a funky new logo that naturally means they are super modern and you should visit based on the logo merit alone.

Must admit I was uber impressed on my first visit. Like its massive counterpart, Chadstone, aka the centre of the Universe according to Husband’s nana, there is plenty of natural light and the shops available are pretty damn brilliant.

Now to the important stuff. The food. Eastland was promising big things in their open air food arena and they have delivered. Some of Melbourne’s heavyweights have come on in and there are food choices galore. Calombaris brought J.Grants, Mr Cammora brought his tacos from Paco and the Dan Wilson rolled on in with Huxtaburger. Yup. I am way too close to the food.

On my first visit to Eastland, there was one venue in particular that was pulling a crowd, and that my friends was Hunky Dory. (Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…I digress. But you were thinking it too)

Walking in, you can physically see the fish is fresh and everyone loves that hot chip smell. But I can reassure you; this place is far from your local fish and chip shop.

First up, the service was brilliant. This was their first day. First day! And things appeared to be working like clockwork. Everyone was smiling and super excited to feed you. I had found my people.

 

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I went with a grilled fillet of salmon, chips and Greek salad. Freakin delicious. And the portion size was one that goldilocks would have approved of – juuuust right. Aka perfect for me and probably massive for a regular appetite. The fish was cooked so well and just melted. Crispy skin, added bonus. They definitely knew how to whip up a damn good Greek salad and them chippies…ahhh.

Hunky Dory made a brilliant first impression and will definitely be able to take on the Ronda Rouseys of food land. Great spot for a pre movie dinner or if you need shopping sustenance. Head on in, grab a good feed and everything will be Hunky Dory.

 

Hunky Dory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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