Monday, August 31, 2009

East Brunswick Top 5 take out

While I love to cook, I can occasionally suffer from bouts of severe laziness. Thus my top 5 take out options in Brunswick/East Brunswick. 
  1. Red Beef Curry-Mai Thai-Lygon Street-East Brunswick
  2. Butter Chicken with Garlic Naan- Sings Indian Cafe- Nicholson Street- East Brunswick
  3. Any of the wood fired pizzas at Carmela's Pizza- Brunswick Road- East Brunswick
  4. Vegetarian Curry Luksa-Sushi Noodle Guy-Sydney Road-Brunswick
  5. Vege 2 Go- Lygon Street- East Brunswick

Little Zephyr- North Carlton

563 Nicholson Street, North Carlton
On a very cold Tuesday night, my boyfriend and I decided to head down Nicholson Street to find a bite to eat. Our favorite mexican joint had recently closed, so we were a little lost for ideas. Luckily, we stumbled upon Little Zephyr.

The restaurant is one of those little places which is instantly welcoming. The polished wooden floors and the soft lighting make for a warm atmosphere. Not to over done, a perfect place for a quiet dinner for two.

The wine list offered a nice selection of mostly Australian wines with a few international selection's. We took the waitresses suggestion of a Richmond Plains Pinot Noir from New Zealand ($40). As for the food, the menu offers quite a few options. There a plenty of Mezze (little bundles of joy) options for sharing and a solid range of mains and salads. I went for the special of Risotto with baby spinach, roasted pine nut and feta. My guest chose the Atlantic Salmon filet topped with lemon garlic and prawn sauce.

The meals were wonderful and the service was friendly. With Bistro Flor just a few doors down, Little Zephyr stacks up to the local competition, and raises the bar. For a mid week meal, our selections were a little pricy, but you could easily choose cheaper.

Overall, Little Zephyr comes highly recommended. 16/20

Sunday, August 30, 2009

El Mirage- East Brunswick

349 Lygon Street, East Brunswick

Since landing in Melbourne six years ago, eating all day breakfasts has been a pleasure in which I regularly indulge. I just love eating poached eggs at 3pm.

Like anyone who lives in Brunswick, it has come to my attention that the northern end of Lygon Street is where its at. Precisely, it is where El Mirage is at. Situated in an old automotive garage, to say that the interior is funky would be passe. It is sleek and modern, but inviting and comfortable.

This is not the first time I have been to to El Mirage, I have actually been here many times, and tried may of their dishes. The menu is short and simple. There are also some seasonal selections. I really like the emphasis on eating seasonal produce, this can be something you don't see a lot of in cafe's.

I ordered Eggs Gringo, featuring 2 poached on whole wheat toast, breakfast beans, home fries and bacon. The verdict. Yum.

Over all, stopping off here for breakfast is a great idea. The waitstaff are friendly, the food is top notch and the coffee is consistently amazing. The prices won't send you over budget either.

I would offer El Mirage 15/20.

Mrs Parmas- Melbourne

25 Lt Bourke St Melbourne

At Mrs Parmas apparently size does matter. Your Parma will weigh no less than 230g and will be lovingly hand crafted by a Chef trained in the mysterious art of Parmology. I like a good Parma as much as the next person, but apparently not as much as some.

Days before visiting Mrs Parmas, my work colleagues had been talking up a storm about the place. Who could finish the whole thing? what flavor are you having?? I heard there is one called Parma'geddon? Indeed there is.

I once lived with a nice Kiwi chap who didn't really get what all the fuss was about, "Isn't it just cheese and sauce on a schnitzel?" he asked? Well yes, it is.

However, At Mrs Parmas the concept has been taken into an whole other stratosphere.
There are no less than 10 different toppings, on either chicken, wiener schnitzel or egg plant. And salad and chips are always served on the side, not UNDER the parma. Geeez, now its getting complicated.

Good news for those who don't wish to have a heart attack on the way back to the office, there is a menu offering bistro classics. The Polenta salad didn't look to bad, and the token vegetarian reported that it was edible.

Not only is Mrs Parmas a haven for those who love the deep fry, it is also a beacon for those who like a micro brew. In particular, a Victoria one. I really like this concept, and went for a Coldstream Cider. It was marvellous.

While the idea of devouring a parma the size of a dinner plate for lunch doesn't get me as revved up as some, I must say, it was pretty good. It is obvious that quite a bit of love has going into the operation of this place. Considering I dined in a rather large goup of 20, including gluten free and vego's, the service was efficet and friendly.

I probably wouldn't return to Mrs Parmas for a causal meal, but I just might pop in for a cider, or a Mildura Storm Cloud Ale. One this occasion I offer 14/20.

The Builders Arms- Fitzroy

211 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

For a foodie like myself, there is nothing more exciting than finding a restaurant which offers a menu so interesting and diverse, you simply must return to try as many dishes as you possibly can. And it doesn't hurt either if the dining room itself is so tripped out that you feel as if you have gone down the rabbit hole and entered some weird Alice in Wonderland like hemisphere. With chicken/rooster portraits lining the walls, my bird phobic friend would only be seated facing away from them. This dining room is really a shining example of how exceptional decor can heighten the dining experience.

This was my first and quite long standing impression of the Builders Arms. I literally dragged along every willing and sometimes unwilling dining partner I knew to taste the wonderful Middle Eastern inspired cuisine. As you could understand, after such a high rotation, it was time to give the old gal a break and expand my tastings. So it had been a while.

So it was Friday night, dinner was to be had somewhere, and the Builders Arms was thrown in as a suggestion. Sounded like a good idea, and the others didn't need convincing. Maybe we needed a booking? You can imagine my surprise to arrive to an empty dining room at 7pm. My first impression was, do they still serve food here? Hang on, there are menus on the tables. Something had changed....table service out, pub menu in, pay at the counter.

I can only imagine that the hospitality industry may have suffered many blows in the past year, and obviously Chefs move on, but seriously, has it come to this?

While the food was not terrible, in fact, my fellow diners report good things about the Atlantic Salmon on New Potatoes and the Pork Belly on Mash, my choice of Scotch Fillet with Salsa Verde and roast tomatoes really lacked any inspiration. And was overdone.

Along with the inspiration, the chook portraits are gone. Maybe this isn't the kind of place one goes to the be wowed anymore? Maybe I just chose the wrong dish.

In all honesty, I can only rate this at 12/20. The service was non existent, I could smell the waiters body odor, the menu was a down grade and the music was terrible. No. I would not like a side of Kate Bush with my steak. Thank you. The restaurant felt like a place where people scoff down a burger before hitting the bar. Oh well. Se La Vi.