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Sunday, 13 April 2014

Cafe Gaia, South Yarra

Cafe Gaia on Urbanspoon | Website | Facebook Page

Cafe Gaia is a small cafe in South Yarra, about a five minute walk from South Yarra Station and tram 8, in the third side street on the right if you're walking away from Toorak Road. I decided to visit this cafe as I was visiting Adriano Zumbo's Patisserie (again!), and my friend saw that this was the second most popular cafe in the area. For the most part I was happy with my experience here, though there could be some improvements to service.

We went on a Saturday around 11:30am, and waited about ten minutes for a table. The cafe has seating both inside and out, and the outside seating is in a deck like area, all covered so it wouldn't matter if it rained. Service was not the best; a couple came after us and were told to wait, but were asked if they wanted to order coffee while they waited. It was only after the couple made their order that a member of staff asked if we too wanted to order something until a table was ready for us. Also, when we were seated, it took awhile to get the attention of the staff members to take our orders; they seemed to keep walking around but not doing too much.

We were seated at the outside tables, and there was a good atmosphere with the chatter from all the customers, and the occasional car going past in the street. The interior of the cafe looked bright and comfortable, and quite spacious with tables not being too squashed together.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Black Toro, Glen Waverley

The Black Toro on Urbanspoon | Website | Facebook Page

The Black Toro is a Mexican/Spanish restaurant in Glen Waverley, along the Kingsway strip near Mocha Jo's. I decided to visit this restaurant after hearing quite a few good reviews about it and seeing it pop up on Urbanspoon quite recently, and was extremely happy with my experience there.

Originally we were going to go on a weekday, but they only had reservations for 6pm or 8:30pm, and this didn't quite suit us, so we ended up going on a Saturday at 6pm. As the restaurant is quite popular, you'd most likely have to book in advance to get a table. We booked a day or two before, and only managed to get an outside table for the five of us, as the inside tables were already booked. In hindsight however, it was probably better that we were seated outside, as because it's so packed with people, it can be a little hard to hear each other over the conversation of everyone else without raising your voices. Even though we were seated outside, there was shade/covering so that despite it raining that day, we didn't really feel it, and they also had the heating on so it was still quite warm. When the rain did become heavier and was coming down on us slightly, the staff quickly shifted all the outside tables towards the right, so that we didn't get wet. Service overall was really great; the food came in a timely manner and the staff member who served us on the night, Michael, was really knowledgeable about the dishes. I was impressed by how much knowledge the staff knew of not just the dishes, but the ingredients and methods used in making the dishes, and it definitely made our experience even more enjoyable.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

One Thai, Balwyn East

One Thai on Urbanspoon | Website

One Thai is a Thai restaurant in Balwyn East, in the little shopping district on Belmore Road. It is probably easiest to get to by car, though the 302 bus towards the City will also stop in the shopping district. I decided to visit this restaurant after a friend recommended it, and was happy with my experiences.

One Thai is quite a well known restaurant in the area, and recently underwent some renovations, as there was an incident in October last year when a car actually drove into the restaurant and caused significant damages. The restaurant is very open and spacious, and brightly lit with the large windows and lights inside. There's no music playing in the background, but still a good, lively atmosphere from the chatter of people. We made a reservation for 6:30pm on a Friday, and I noticed that most of the smaller tables for groups of two to four people were reserved or occupied already during the time we were there. One Thai is only opened for dinner, but they have an online reservation system on their website, and you can also call in and leave reservation details on their answering machine.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Queen Victoria Night Market, CBD

The Queen Victoria Night Market is an event that runs every Wednesday from 5pm-10pm during December to March every year, and consists of a range of food stalls from a wide range of cuisines around the world. There's also some clothing and arts/crafts stalls, but the main attraction for most is the food. There's only two more weeks of the Night Market this year, and I'd highly recommend going to try some different dishes you normally might not think to do so, for relatively cheap prices!

There's tables everywhere for you to sit at with your food, and the music and street artist performances, together with the chatter from all the different groups of people make for a really lively atmosphere. We were lucky enough when we went that the weather was really great, apart from being a little windy. The night market runs every Wednesday regardless of the weather, since most of the food stalls are inside anyway. Plus, a Melbournian should always carry an umbrella in their bag, so there's no reason to not go just because it's raining!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Tuckshop Take Away, Caulfield North

Tuck Shop Take Away on Urbanspoon | Facebook Page

Tuckshop Take Away is a small burger joint in Caulfield North, on the corner of Hawthorn Road and Glen Eira Road, specialising in burgers and chips. I decided to visit this place after hearing about it from a couple of friends, and seeing it on the list of Top Ten Burger Places in Melbourne by the Herald Sun. Tuckshop Take Away is easily accessible by tram 64 towards East Brighton - there's a tram stop right outside the burger joint, and there's also several side streets nearby for parking as well. I really enjoyed this burger experience, and can definitely see why it has been named as one of the best burger places in Melbourne.

The burger joint itself is quite small; there's only about thirteen seats at most, and most people do get their orders take away. We went at 11am on a Saturday when it opened, and were lucky enough to grab seats at the communal table. Although the place isn't very big, it's quite an open space setting with old school decorations, consistent with the name as a Tuckshop. There are clocks on the walls similar to what we used to have at school, a set of small lockers with decorations in them, and a sign at the back leading to the 'Principal's Office'. Even the cups for the water have coloured pencils as the pattern - this is self serve from a tap to one side of the burger joint, near where the magazines are placed. There's also really cool graffiti style art on one of the walls outside the burger joint, which is very bright and eye catching, and a hopscotch drawn in chalk just outside the entrance.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Brown Bagels, CBD

Brown Bagels on Urbanspoon  | Facebook Page 

Brown Bagels is a small cafe in Equitable Place just off Collins Street between Elizabeth and Queen St, specialising in bagel sandwiches. I've been to this place a couple of times now, as there's a good range of bagel options to choose from and the prices are quite decent for the portions and amount of ingredients you get. The cafe itself is quite small; there's only two communal tables for seating near the entrance, but most people seem to get the bagels take away to eat. Like most places in Equitable Place, you go up and order/pay for the food, and it is then brought over to you. The bagels are all freshly made on the spot, and whether you're eating in or take away, it doesn't take more than five or so minutes to get your order.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Little Tommy Tucker, Bentleigh

Little Tommy Tucker on Urbanspoon | Facebook Page

Little Tommy Tucker is a small popular cafe in the Bentleigh area, just across the road from Bentleigh Station, about a fifteen to twenty minute train ride on the Frankston line from Richmond Station. I decided to visit this cafe because a friend and I wanted to check out the Bentleigh markets just next to the station, and this seemed to be quite a popular place in the area. Overall I was happy with the quality of food and service at Little Tommy Tucker, though its menu on the more simpler side compared to a lot of other cafes around Melbourne.

We had to wait about fifteen minutes for a table when we went around 10:30am on a Sunday; the place was bustling with people either eating in or just grabbing a coffee and pastry, and had a good lively atmosphere to it. The interior design of the cafe is quite simple, with a lot of wooden panels and plain white walls, giving it a modern look and the feel of open space. Despite the tables being placed quite close to each other, we didn't actually feel very cramped and squashed. The music playing in the background was quite loud, and we found that even between two of us, we had to raise our voices just to hear each other over other people talking, as well as the music itself. The staff were friendly, coming to refill our water multiple times and taking our plates quite quickly after we finished eating.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Nshry, Albert Park

Nshry on Urbanspoon | Official Website | Facebook

Nshry is a small cafe in Albert Park, about a ten minute walk from the last stop on tram 1 towards South Melbourne beach. I decided to visit this place as a friend had been before and enjoyed the food, plus the weather has been so great lately that we couldn't pass up a chance to have breakfast on the beach! Overall we were quite happy with our experience though there were a few downsides, and will definitely be visiting again in the future.

The cafe itself is quite small, with seating indoors and outside, though all in the shade so you don't feel the heat even when it's 35 degrees (celsius). The location and great view from the outdoor seating area is one of the main features of Nshry, as well as its take on typical breakfast dishes but with a Japanese/Asian twist, and its range of burgers on the lunch menu. We went at around 11am on a Saturday and was lucky enough to be immediately seated at one of the corner tables facing out onto the ocean, and the cool ocean breeze with a hint of sea salt smell in the air made for a great experience, though we did find that it became quite cold after almost two hours of sitting in the shade with the breeze. The service was good with friendly staff, and our dishes came in about fifteen minutes. Our drinks did take awhile to get here though; my juice arrived pretty quickly after our order was placed, but my friends ordered an ice chai latte and a latte, which came a little after our food did.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Top Paddock, Richmond

Top Paddock is quite a popular cafe in the Richmond area on Church St, about a ten minute walk from East Richmond Station and easily accessible by trams 78 and 79. I decided to visit this cafe after it was voted the Best New Cafe of 2013 by The Age's Good Food Guide and a recommendation from a friend, and was quite happy with my experience there. 

My first impression of the cafe was that it has a very modern setting to it, with the wide open space and large windows allowing for plenty of natural light to enter. There weren't many decorations hung up on the walls apart from a few lights here and there, but there were a lot of plants around the cafe, giving it a very peaceful, natural atmosphere. I was surprised at how big the cafe is, as from the exterior you can't really tell; there's lots of communal tables, tables for groups of two to four, and marble tables for larger groups of people. The music however was quite loud, and combined with all the chatter from the packed cafe, meant you had to raise your voice slightly to talk to people next to you, when there was a lot of people there. 

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Bowery to Williamsburg

Bowery to Williamsburg on Urbanspoon

Bowery to Williamsburg is an American style restaurant located on Oliver Lane, just off Flinders Lane near Chin Chin and The Meatball and Wine Co. I decided to visit this restaurant after seeing it in the Talk of the Town section of Urbanspoon for so long, but was actually quite disappointed with the experience, mostly due to my friend becoming ill from her dish, and feeling a little ripped off with the extras we ordered.

The interior design of Bowery is quite simple, with one wall/stairs designed to look like a subway station, and a large blackboard covered another with the breakfast and lunch menus. The subway station design reflects the name of the restaurant; Bowery to Williamsburg are the names of two neighbourhoods in the state of New York, USA. The long communal table that takes up most of the interior gives it a homely feel, like how you would imagine a large family sitting down for a meal. There are also a number of small tables for two or three, and outside, tables for groups of up to six, decorated with large colourful umbrellas. The staff were generally quite friendly and attentive, coming over a few times before and during our meal and refilling our water. However, there was slight inconsistency as we didn't get an explanation to the items on the lunch menu, but the people sharing our table did, with descriptions to what each item was.