Monday, June 14, 2010

Little Creatures Beer Hall

There are two things I love about Little Creatures . The beer and the bikes. 

That's not really true, I also adore Little Creatures Pipsqueak Cider. And as I found out today, I also have a soft spot for the Amber Ale. 

On a rather ho-hum Queens long weekend, I needed a little pick me up, and wandered to the beer hall. Its a big, noisy space located at 222 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. Its bright, bustling and in its second, maybe third year, quite popular.

I wouldn't say the atmosphere here is warm, but its definatly friendly, and there are plently of beers and/or other beveridges to chooese from. On this occoasion ther was no food consumed, but from what I could see, there are plenty of options to choose from. Snacks, mains, or shared. 

I would highly recommend the Little Creatures Beer Hall for an afternoon drink, and maybe a few more. I have herd that the steamed muscles are fab.  

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Best Sunday Roast in Melbourne - Contender # 2 The North Fitzroy Arms

Best Sunday Roast in Melbourne, contender #2 is The North Fitzroy Arms. 

I have written about the North Fitzroy Arms before, and I find it to be extremely pleasant. The wait staff are really friendly, and the atmosphere is warm and relaxed. On a Sunday evening they serve a traditional roast from 5pm. 

Sunday roast at at the Arms is possibly the best value I have come across. For $10 you get a full roast meal, for $15 you can have roast plus soup or dessert. Today's roast was beef, and dessert was the delightful Queen's Pudding. 

This roast is by no means the most adventurous, there are no hidden surprises. Its straight up roast beef, with carrots, pumpkin and potato and those pesky frozen peas (AGAIN). The beef is done well, but its still tender, and there is a nice little bite of mustard in the gravy.

My Queen's Pudding on the other hand is extremely surprising, and a little bit special. Inside this ramekin are layers of warm berry compote, lemon curd and cakie pudding. Topped with a soft meringue and biscotti on the side. It was on of those desserts where you wish it would never end. Each mouthful is a little bit of sweet but tart heaven. 

You aren't going to be blown away by an inventive twist on a traditional meal, but for $10 you will walk away with a full belly and some change in your pocket. 

Week 2 of the search for the Best Sunday Roast in Melbourne, The North Fitzroy Arms leads the charge.

Have you been to the Arms?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bar Fred - 797 Nicholson St, North Carlton

Is it possible to go wrong with a $5 pizza?

bad photography due to very dim hipster lighting

I'm sure it is possible to go wrong with $5 pizza, you could be ordering a domino's pizza. But at Bar Fred, the pizza is good, and the beer is cold. The beer is likely to be $10, but it will probably be huge. 

I like Bar Fred, it's within stumbling distance from home, its not going to cost you a fortune, there is no eftpos, which assures this and they play good music. They even play whole albums.  

My first few times here were grand. Got a seat at the bar, the friendly bar tender made suggestions on the drinks, some witty banter was exchanged and a great time was had. On my most recent visit, my encounter was less than pleasant. Now I know everyone has bad days, but there are lines that once crossed are hard to come back from. It went a little like this....

Me: Hi, I'd like to order two pizza's, this one and that one. And two honey wheat beers. 
Bar chick: fine, where are you sitting. 
Me: on the left had side, at the back. 
Bar chick: there is no honey wheat beer left
Me: OK, I'll pick something else.
Bar chick: raises her hand and slaps the bar loudly. The guy standing next to me so stunned be stands to attention and says "what the fuck".
Me: I'll just pay for the pizza then.

I have been mulling this over for a day or so now, and I'm going to go with, it is never OK to be that rude to patrons. Even if you are a hipster. If this was my first experience at Bar Fred, I would never go back. 

Eating it up in Brisbane

A few weeks ago I took a nice little long weekend in Brisbane. I love Brisbane, its warm, the bogans are hilarious, and the seafood is everywhere! You can get a Morton Bay bug until 3am in the Queen Street Mall, and that is something Melbourne just can't compete with. 

One of the rather interesting places I ate at was Vapiano's . It was a combination between a trendy bar and fasta pasta. Its a concept, and for most purposes it seems to work well.

When you walk in you are given a card, which you swipe to purchase everything, and pay at the end. There is a line for the bar, a line for pizza, and a line for pasta. Tables are mostly communal, and I recommend finding a place to perch before braving the pasta line. 

And this is Vapiano's weak point. While I lined up for the pizza, my friend lined up for the pasta....she waited...and waited....and waited. The pasta is cooked while you are standing in line. But the pizza isn't. If there were less people in line, maybe the pizza and pasta would be in sync, but instead I sat at our table, all alone, for almost half an hour. The cute little pots of herbs on the tables kept me entertained for a few minutes though. 

The food is pretty good value for money, and everything tasted quite fresh. We had pesto, baby spinach and prawn pasta, and parmesan, prosciutto and chili pizza.  We stayed until they turned the lights out. 

Death by cupcake

It was my turn to volunteer for the monthly morning tea at work, so i whipped these bad boys up!

On the left you have coffee cream, and on the right you have earl grey. On the top left, is an example of how much butter went into them. Mmmmm, death by cupcake.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Small Block

Small Block is one of those places that sometimes I love, and sometimes I hate. 

I hate it when I have to sit on the stairs, in the way, waiting for a table. I love it when I have the day off work, and the staff is relaxed. I hate it when hipsters sit outside, sipping too slowly on their soy lattes, smoking their cigarettes, and taking up a table I could be sitting at. But can you really give a cafe a bad review because its too popular? Probably not, and I won't. 

On a rather lovely Wednesday I was feeling quite unwell. With hardly any will to live and no energy to cook for myself, I staggered down the road and ordered scrambled fetta and pesto eggs, latte and OJ. By no means was the cafe empty, but the service was quick. I am always amazed by the number of people who have nothing better to do midweek, at 2 in the afternoon, but drink coffee and eat eggs. Clearly I am jealous. But I enjoyed my eggs, and the coffee was and always is fab.

Best Sunday Roast in Melbourne - Contender # 1 The Gem

As winter rolls in my appetite for hearty warm meals grows. And so, my search for the best Sunday Roast in Melbourne begins. I estimate that I have at least 3 months worth of cravings up my sleave, and an eating partner with an insatiable taste for roasted meats.

The search begins at The Gem, 289 Wellington Street, Collingwood. The Gem is a little rough around the edges. The walls are plastered with gig posters and the pool table is missing a ball. All these things add to the warm, no bullshit atmosphere of the pub.

Onto the meal. For $18 you have a choice of roast pork or lamb, with veggies and Yorkshire pudding. The lamb is a good size meal, with juicy meat, gravy, roast potatoes, parsnip, carrots and peas. Best of all is the yorky pud. Yum, yum, yum. My fellow dinner says in summary, "at first I was mad that the pudding was soaking up all my gravy, then I took a bite and I was in heaven. Gravy heaven. I would come back for the gravy alone".

Now I don't know if the Gem is going to be the best roast in Melbourne, but for the first cab off the rank, the standard has been set. My only critique is that the potatoes could have been better roasted, and I am not a fan of frozen peas, ever. At $18, the Gem represents good value.

Have you eaten at The Gem?