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Sunday, 20 July 2014

Kenji, Camberwell

Kenji Japanese Dining on Urbanspoon

Kenji is a Japanese restaurant located in Camberwell just before Warrigal Rd on Toorak Rd, in a small alleyway with a couple of other cafes/shops. It's easily accessible by tram 75, and there's also plenty of parking behind the alleyway if you're driving. I had actually been meaning to come here for awhile now as one of my friends had highly recommended it, but they were undergoing renovations at one point. I was really happy with my experiences here and would love to come back again to try some of their other dishes.

The interior design of Kenji is quite simple, with Japanese inspired decorations on the walls such as bamboo rows and artwork, and there's also lots of Japanese paper lights that makes the whole place feel bright. Soft jazz music plays in the background for a comfortable and cosy atmosphere. There's an authenticity to the place with a sushi bar on one side that you can sit at, and watch the chefs prepare your dishes right in front of you. The staff were really friendly, coming over to take our order quite promptly. However as the food we ordered was freshly made, it did take a little longer to come out.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Friends of Mine, Richmond

Friends of Mine on Urbanspoon | Website | Instagram

Friends of Mine is a popular cafe in Richmond on Swan St, about a five minute walk from Burnley station and easily accessible by tram 70. Overall I was happy with my experiences here and the food was pretty decent, though there is quite a bit of waiting around both for a table and for the food to arrive.

The cafe itself is a lot bigger than what I expected, with a cosy layout for the indoor seating. There's also plenty of seats outside, though this would probably be better in summer when the weather is better! For the interior, the seating has been separated into two sections; a more dining room style and a casual style with a communal table and tables for two. The dining room style seating is actually dubbed 'The Posh Dining Room', as it is the seating used when they serve their high tea. We were lucky enough to be seated at a corner table with comfortable couch like seating in this area. There's a lot of modern artwork up on the walls and heaps of cool lights, giving the whole cafe a funky and modern feel to it. There was music playing and chatter from all the tables of people, but as the cafe is quite spacious you didn't have to raise your voices. Each table has nice decorations on it, with a jar of flowers, salt and pepper grinders, and sugar, which came in a little jam jar.

We got to the cafe around 10:45 in the morning and were told we had to wait around 20 minutes for a table. Once we were seated, the staff were prompt to ask if we wanted drinks, though afterwards it was harder to catch their attention to actually order, as it was so busy. Eventually we did manage to place our order, though it did take over 15 minutes for it to arrive. The staff also said they'd bring the bill to us at the end of our meal, then promptly forgot about it afterwards, and another member of staff had to bring it over. The bill was placed in a little felt cover though instead of the usual plate, and they also have really cute name cards.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Charlie & Co. Burgers, CBD

Charlie & Co Burgers on Urbanspoon | Facebook Page

Charlie & Co. is a burger joint that has recently opened up in the upstairs food court in the Emporium as its first Melbourne store. It's a relatively well known burger joint in Sydney that's been around for almost ten years, and I was really excited to hear that they were finally coming down to Melbourne! The burgers here were really enjoyable and I had a mostly good experience except for the service, and two of my other friends who went at different times also said the same thing.

Located in the upstairs food court, Charlie & Co. is situated near Jimmy Grants, with a large amount of seating surrounding the place. You go up to the counter to order yourself, and are given a buzzer to indicate when your order is ready. My friends and I all thought the service could've been a little better - when I went up to order, I gave the order for my burger first, but before I had the chance to also order extras, the staff serving me already told me the price of the order, and I had to then tell her I actually wanted to order something else. I had also grabbed a bottle of coke and had it on the counter, yet she didn't seem to see this either until I pointed it out. The food was ready in less than ten minutes - when your buzzer goes off, you go up to collect your order, as well as any cutlery you wish to use. However, one of my other friends had to wait at least fifteen minutes for her order, even though she ordered right after her friend did and he received his order quite quickly. She had to go up and ask - they seemed to have forgotten her order, and had to redo it. When she eventually got her order, she was given truffle fries even though she ordered the sea salt ones, and was told that they had run out of ketchup to go with it. Another experience a friend had was also of bad service - though her buzzer went off quite quickly, when she went up to the counter there was no one to give her order to her. The guy working at the register looked at my friend, and simply turned around again even though he wasn't serving anyone, so she had to ask another staff for her order. Given the three different experiences, I'd definitely say that the service has to be improved.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Mamak, CBD

Mamak on Urbanspoon | Website

Mamak is a popular Malaysian restaurant located on Lonsdale St just past Elizabeth Street, easily accessible by a number of trams or about a five minute walk from Melbourne Central. I had actually tried to come here with some friends awhile ago, but there was such a long queue that we decided to go elsewhere instead. This time, we went around 6pm and were lucky enough to get a table straight away. I had an enjoyable experience at Mamak, though it definitely isn't the best Malaysian restaurant in my opinion.

There's a really good atmosphere to Mamak because it's always so busy - lively and warm, brightly lit and you didn't even have to raise your voices even though it was quite noisy in there. The decorations are quite simple; there's just a few large rustic photos hung up that contrast with the brightly painted red walls, but together with all the lights, gives the whole place a comfortable dining experience. Service was pretty good for the most part; our food came within about five minutes of us ordering, even the fish curry which we were told would take about ten to fifteen minutes. However for some reason, the vegetable curry did take another 10-15 minutes to arrive. A good thing we found about Mamak was that they don't make you leave when you finish eating, despite there being a queue outside waiting for tables, which allowed us to just sit and talk afterwards.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Mr Hendricks, Balwyn

Mr Hendricks Cafe on Urbanspoon | Facebook Page | Instagram

Mr. Hendricks is a small cafe that's recently opened up in Balwyn, near the shopping strip on Whitehorse Road just past Balwyn Road. I decided to visit this cafe after seeing several photos of its popular dishes on Instagram, and was really happy with my experience here. Mr. Hendricks is opened Tuesdays to Sundays for breakfast and lunch, and the cafe is easily accessible by tram 109, with plenty of parking on the side streets as well.

We went on a Sunday at about 12:15pm and it was extremely busy, but luckily we got a table for three facing outside. The cafe had a really lively atmosphere with the music playing in the background, together with the sounds of people's chatter, coffee being made and the bell chiming every now and then indicating a dish was ready. There's a French theme to the decorations and dishes at Mr. Hendricks, with simple black and white photos on the walls. The whole cafe is really bright with the large windows at the front allowing natural light to enter, as well as all the light bulbs dangling from the ceiling. The service was pretty good considering how busy it was; the staff were still prompt to take our orders, and our dishes came really quickly as well - within ten minutes of us ordering.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Kati Thai, Balwyn North

Kati Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon | Website

A little while ago, I was approached by Menulog to do a review of one of their listed restaurants, to help out the local community and promote its services - Menulog is actually the Number 1 site for Online Takeaway - and I was very happy to do so. The restaurant I chose was Kati Thai restaurant in Balwyn North, and I had a really great first experience with using the website.

Menulog's service is really easy to use; by simply entering in a suburb or postcode, you're provided with a list of the participating restaurants, which can be sorted/categorised in a range of different preferences. Each search result also returns with basic information such as opening hours, delivery speed, minimum amount to open, and the type of promotions that are offered. An example of the results can be found here and here.

Once you click on a particular restaurant, you're taken to the list of dishes available for order with a description, and you can jump to a particular section with the help of the navigation on the left hand side. Popular items are indicated with a star, and dishes you order are displayed in the cart on the right hand side. Once you have completed the order, you simply place your order and are taken to the checkout page. If you are a logged in member, you can track your order via email, and Menulog can also save your credit card details for ease of use next time. The whole process is very simple and easy to use, and completed in a short amount of time. You don't even have to wait until the opening hours of the restaurant to place your order, you can choose to have it delivery now, or at a later date and time.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Meat and Wine Co., Hawthorn

The Meat & Wine Co Hawthorn East on Urbanspoon | Website | Instagram

The Meat and Wine Co. is a steakhouse located in Hawthorn on Riversdale Rd, at the intersection of Burke and Camberwell Road. It is easily accessible by trams 70/72/75, or about a five to ten minute walk from Camberwell Station. I'd actually been meaning to come here for quite a while as I heard they had really great steak, and a few of my friends had been for lunch at the Southbank store and really enjoyed it. I had a really great experience here at Meat and Wine Co., and my friends and I all agreed that the steak here is probably some of the best we've had in Melbourne!

The restaurant itself has quite a sophisticated and classy feel to it, with the dim lighting and soft music playing in the background. There were lots of textured decorations on the walls both up and downstairs, and the menus themselves had an African Safari theme to it, with different animals displayed on the front. Though sophisticated and classy, the atmosphere is at the same time quite relaxed; you don't feel like you can't talk or laugh too loudly, and the chatter from the different customers made for lively surroundings. The service was really great with attentive staff coming over several times to see if we were ready to order, and also to check up on us during our meal.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Hammer and Tong, Fitzroy

Hammer & Tong on Urbanspoon | Official Website | Instagram

Hammer and Tong is a popular cafe in the Fitzroy area just off Brunswick St, frequently in the top 10 talk of the town list on Urbanspoon and best known for its soft shell crab burgers. It is easily accessible by tram 112 - it's on a side street off stop 17, and there's lots of side streets for parking as well. I did have quite high expectations of the cafe as it is so well known, so was a little bit disappointed when my experience didn't quite live up to it. Having said that though, it was still an enjoyable experience nonetheless!

One of the downsides would probably have to be the amount of time we spent waiting for a table. I had expected a bit of a wait, as with most popular places there's usually a queue. We got there around 12:30pm on a Saturday, and had to wait about half an hour outside before we were told to wait at the bar for another fifteen minutes. Once we did get a table and ordered, it was more than 20 minutes before our food was served, though drinks did come quite quickly. The service was really great though, as the staff were very attentive and kept us informed of how much longer it would take, and once we were seated at the bar, gave us water and told us we could order coffees first.

The atmosphere of the cafe is really lively with the chatter from customers, together with the sounds from the kitchen and the music playing in the background. We did find that the music was quite loud though, and you had to raise your voice just to hear the person sitting right next to you. The interior design is quite simple with not many decorations, and there's two large windows that allow for plenty of natural light to enter, giving the whole cafe a brighter feel.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Chuckle Park Bar and Cafe, CBD

Chuckle Park Bar and Cafe on Urbanspoon | Official Website

Chuckle Park Bar and Cafe is located on Little Collins St off Elizabeth Street, and is easy to miss as it is quite small. Once my friend and I got to the place, we both realised we'd actually walked past it heaps of times before, but just never realised it was actually a cafe, or given any thought to take a closer look. The cafe itself is completely outdoors, with a decorated wooden archway entrance that leads to a bunch of small tables for two to four people. I really enjoyed my experience here, and would love to go back and try out some of their other foods.

The design of Chuckle Park is made to look like you're sitting in the garden, with the artificial grass and the wooden panel walls. My favourite decorations would have to be the jars that hang above the whole place, with small twinkling lights that remind me of fireflies in jars. Luckily, we went on a day that was nice and sunny, as there isn't actually a roof - it's completely outdoors. There was a nice atmosphere with music playing softly in the background, and I was surprised by how empty it was when I went about 12:30 on a weekday.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Father's Office, CBD

Father's Office Speakeasy Bar and Restaurant on Urbanspoon | Website | Facebook

Father's Office is a restaurant and bar on Little Lonsdale Street in QV, next to Strike Bowling on the second floor. Most people would probably know it as a great place to go for drinks with friends, but they actually have quite a good range of foods as well. I decided to visit after a friend recommended the burgers, and another said their a la carte menu had quite good foods as well.

We went for lunch on a Saturday and had the option of sitting in either the restaurant or bar area, and opted for the bar as there were comfier couches. I was surprised at how empty it was as my friend had previously been on a weekday and found it filled with people, and having visited the place myself on a Friday night, found it to be really full as well. The interior design of the place is similar to most restaurant/bars - quite simple with not many decorations on the walls.