Sunday, August 28, 2011

Luxe Bakery, Newtown

I love coffee. I love breakfast. I love Luxe Bakery. / End Post
Okay fine, I know I need to elaborate a bit more but to be perfectly honest - I'm just about ready to run back to Luxe Bakery at Newtown as I write this post. Why you ask? I'm an absolute sucker for the smell of warm and freshly baked treats and a bang on cup of coffee.
Ham & Cheese Croissant $6
Come on, who can say no to a deliciously crunch toasted ham and cheese croissant? Not that I come to Luxe just to have this to start my day. And you know.. years of seriously researched studies show that the best start to any day is with a toasted ham&cheese croissants but coffee here is the main drawcard!
Picollo's ($3.50) are predictably ordered by us (I followed it up with a takeaway strong small latte too..) The Single Origin Roasters beans are roasted to absolute perfection, giving a creamy but strong dark lingering flavour that has you loved up with coffee all morning.
Luxe Bakery is a one stop shop. You can get your superb coffee fix, A sweet or savoury breakfast treat or a sandwich for lunch - and you can take some of their freshly baked bread loaves home too. Convinient!
Yes, nothing like sweet sweet carbs to start your day. Demos and I share a Blueberry Danish and an Almond Tart ($4.50 each) on top of the Toasted Croissant. The sweet pastry flakes away and are so light and sweet - a perfect companion to the strong flavoured coffees we ordered. Am I the only one getting excited about food and coffee pairings here?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Yum Cha at The Eight, Haymarket

Its amazing how your weekend can be dictated by your dining experiences. You shuffle dinner plans, catch up over breakfast or as often is the case for us - lunch after a big night out to cure some serious hunger pains! What better way to sort this out than with a big Yum Cha lunch at The Eight Chinese Restaurant in Haymarket. By the time Demos and I stumble around and adjust our eyes to the light of day, it was 1:30 pm on a Saturday and being a self proclaimed yum cha veteran - I knew it would be peak hour madness.
After shoulder charging through the crowd to get a precious ticket, we use our smarts and avoid the heaving crowd and wait it out at the adjacent Chatime cafe kiosk. Hydration when its needed the most! I think with any weekend Yum Cha visit - you have to know what you are in for. Let's be honest here - and I'm not speaking just for my immediate friendship group..but Yum Cha is THE BEST HANGOVER FOOD and we were at The Eight for this very reason.
That being said there are aspects of Yum Cha that do not appeal to that particular state of being. The crowds and the never-ending wait can definitely tip anyone over the edge, add to that the Yum Cha boss lady on a power trip with her portable microphone machine.. its survival of the fittest. If that doesn't break you then i'm sure the fluorescent lights will.
But enough about that, once seated - if its food you want, then its food you are going to get! With Yum Cha, I always feel like its luck of the draw. You either get a good table where all the trolley ladies seem to pass, or a pretty average spot in the corner where you get all the boring dishes leftover. This instance, we were seated with a prime positioned table and as long as the wait was - the food came hella quick. See that tidy table pictured above? Its about to get messy!
I practically tackle every lady with bamboo steamers in their trolleys to get to my favorites - Steamed Pork Siu Mai and Steamed Prawn Gow Gee. I was quite impressed by the generous size of these dumplings and both were very very tasty. We were off to a good start with these two dishes.
Before even denting our dumplings, another lady with a tray of Peking Duck Pancakes passes by and I immediately grab her attention. I know from experience that you have to fight for these and that you have to be quick! Again, impressed by the generous chunk of duck in the pancakes - not just a sliver of meat here! The skin is still oh so crispy and both the duck meat and the pancake wrapper are still very warm. The plump meat with the sweet hoisin sauce made me want to hunt that tray down again!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Fern, Redfern & a Dessert favorite.

"Poached eggs, smoked bacon, bacon gravy over english muffins" have I got your attention now? Because seeing that description on a breakfast menu certainly did, and boy did it get my heart in a flutter. But we'll get to that again later. Weekend Breakfasts are definitely our forte here at The Empty Fridge and boy do we love them. The more interesting, the better and everything about The Fern has grabbed my attention thats for sure. It is another eatery located in the up and coming fipster (foodie hipster) mecca of Redfern.
Gone are the days of Redfern being a rough and tumblesome neighborhood, dining precincts are popping up around the 'hood and what better way to spend a Saturday morning than getting to know a great new venue. Of course we start our mid-day (thank you weekend sleep-ins) with standard piccolo latte's. The freshly roasted Gravity Espresso blends from Melbourne add some cool coffee cred to The Fern, and of course a good caffeine fix is just what we coffee fiends need to get cracking.
 Things slow down once the coffee comes, and I do believe it's a tactic to get everyone calm down and enjoy the quirky surroundings. Taking advantage of some recent sunshine we prop ourselves in the courtyard and spot as many mini chairs and random objects we can find. The restaurant could just be mistaken for any small terrace in the area if it wasnt for the bustling customers dropping by. The "front yard" is quaint and leafy with added pops of colour from the mini chairs - super nostalgic for those childhood days when i'd actually fit into one of those kindy seats! Mis-matched furniture, vines and herbs growing and even a little chilli bush is quite a relaxing surrounding and fipster points for having issues of Vice and Acclaim magazines on hand.
 Now here's what we came here for.. the food. Grab on to your screens folks and behold The Fern Benedict. An English Muffin topped with two poached eggs, thick cut smoked bacon rashers and BACON GRAVY. Forget about your standard eggs boring-dict, this slaps it right in the face.

Oozy Egg. If this dish sounds a bit too sinful for you, don't fret. This breakfast dish is not just about the shock value, but very delicious also. The Bacon gravy isn't overpowering at all, and reminds me of a thin pasta carbonara sauce when the egg is mixed into it. Very very tasty - and that bacon? Thick rashers of bacon  is the healthier bacon option right?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mamasita, Collins St Melbourne

Hola amigos, who isn't always in the mood for Mexican. I mean, what could be better than downing some tequila and tacos. Have a second to think about it. I thought so, pretty hard to come up with anything better isn't it? Yes I know there is more to Mexican than tequila and tacos, however we have a soft spot for that special twosome. So one evening as we meandered about the streets of Melbourne during our last interstate visit we thought it was a good idea to have a bit of a snack revolving around that trouble twosome and ventured to one of the best Mexican spots in town, Mamasitas!
Up at the very top of Collins St it wasn't hard to miss Mamasitas despite its unassuming entrance, there was a line of people pouring out the door. We put our names down and waited in line as we were told the wait was roughly an hour. It was pretty early in the evening but it seemed bustling with activity as the noise filtered down the stairs. People were popping  in and out of the line but we persevered as the allure of Mexican food was too hard to say no to.
So upon surviving the line we made it upstairs where we could see why the wait was so long, it was packed out.  Our friendly waiter seated us by a window bench and gave us the menus to look at at and of course we said yes to the question it asked. Un Tequilla..Duh.?
Totopos - Tortilla chips with guacamole & salsa $8
To kick off proceedings we got stuck into the tortilla chips with the salsa and guacamole. So so good. The salsa had a nice spicy kick and the guacamole was incredibly smooth. Of course I couldn't resist napalming the salsa with some green and red habanero sauce, I can still feel that burn but so worth it. 
Having made plans to go out late in the evening we weren't really after a massive meal but we couldn't help ourselves so we ordered the filete de Cerdo Con Tamarindo $25. Pork fillet, tamarind chipotle glaze, braised cabbage, cranberries & apple pico de gallo. Really loved everything about this dish. It was presented on a slim wooden board and tasted as good as it looked. The pork was tender and the tamarind chipotle glaze was so tasty. The different combination of textures really worked well and just made us want to have more and more. No mucking around with bells and whistles, just plain and simple good food. 
What visit to a Mexican restaurant would be complete without tacos? None. So of course we had to order some tacos as well. We picked three to share; de Pescado $6 - grilled fish, lime, achiote paste & red onion salsa; de Chorizo $5 - chorizo, cabbage, chipotle, coriander & onion; de Frijoles con Nopales $6 - baked black beans, catus pico de gallo & queso fresco.
The tacos were soft and packed with flavour. They really didn't last long, a blink and they were gone. The chorizo was a favourite and of course had to have a bit of extra kick added. The habanero sauce available may seem like a good idea at the time; lets just say I'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Menya Noodle Bar, Sydney CBD

Yo Stop.. Ramen time! Yes folks - as part of our growing CBD lunch escapades, I have developed a dangerous new addiction. Menya Noodle Bar in the heart of the city completes the CBD ramen trinity for me and is a fantastic place to kill some ramen cravings.
Crowds seated around the open kitchen
Most of the time we make the mistake of getting there during what I often refer to as lunch break peak hour. This place is heaving with hungry peeps patiently waiting for their ramen fix, so best try and hold off till a bit later after 1pm. Lucky for everyone involved, the service is super speedy and our big bowls of noodle goodness arrives in a flash.
Tori kara-age ramen with Natural Salt soup ($11.90)
Now really, do you think I would order anything else? With a big bowl of the most flavoursome soup and a more than generous serving of crispy succulent chicken, you just can't say no. The broth is a natural salt based soup made from a combination of rock salt, chicken and fish broth - beware of the dehydration that ensues after consumption, make sure you have a bottle of ice tea handy. These soups are pretty good for getting rid of those lunch time hunger pangs. Big servings of noodles, flavoursome soup and copious amounts of toppings will be sure to fill up the hungriest of those ramen raiders and CBD lunchers alike.  
Menya Box - Terriyaki Chicken $10.90 
Our lunches have become quite the family affair with my mom, Mrs Fridgemagnet walked over from her office to join the lunch date. Her no fail pick is the Menya Box which is pretty good value for $10.50. A big portion of tasty Terriyaki Chicken, Miso Soup, Green Salad and unlimited rice refills. The Menya box is available with Chicken Kara-age, Chilli Beef, Teriyaki Fish and also Salmon Sashimi for $2 extra.
And of course, where there is food - my brother of Pho-An food trip fame also appears during his uni break! His favourite is the Cha-shu lover's ramen with miso soup. This broth consists of the same special chicken and seafood stock but infused with miso paste. It is a very strong flavour that goes so well with the slices of roast pork this dish is served with. This bowl comes in at $12.50
Demos' ramen du jour is the Chilli beef ramen at $11.50. This bowl is packed with a spicy flavour hit and generously topped with tender strips of beef, spring onions and chilli. The shoyu based soup is made by combining soy sauce with seafood and chicken stock and is really well balanced. The clear void is devoid of any 'funkyness' and just tastes amazing with that kick given by the fresh chilli. It's a very hearty soup given that there is a decent amount of beef to eat as well as noodles and of course the soupy goodness. Add a bit of rooster sauce to give things a bit of napalm flair and you have a winner. 
More of that Kara-age ramen to tempt you... 


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