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HOT: The Guilty Moose, 143 Victoria Ave, Albert Park

The Guilty Moose143 Victoria Ave Albert Park 2 HOT: The Guilty Moose, 143 Victoria Ave, Albert Park

There are no moose to be found in Melbourne and who knows why it’s guilty – but The Guilty Moose is a sweet cafe in Albert Park with a neat and interesting menu and a curious name.

I love that it’s open every day, bright and early at 7am for the beach joggers and dog walkers. The small space is a nice location to take a break, with a front room where the coffee action happens, a small back room with a cutout that provides a good nook for people-watching and then an expansive courtyard for warm days.

The Guilty Moose143 Victoria Ave Albert Park 1 HOT: The Guilty Moose, 143 Victoria Ave, Albert Park

The menu has a few cafe standards then does an about turn into Asian fusion.

The Guilty Moose143 Victoria Ave Albert Park 3 HOT: The Guilty Moose, 143 Victoria Ave, Albert Park

I love the sound of the okomiyaki  which comes chunks of smoked trout and a poached egg ($17). The pancake is chock full of purple cabbage and the veges prevent it from being just a big flat dough cake. There’s liberal use of otafuku flavoured mayonnaise, the egg is perfectly poached and I think the only thing missing is some flying bonito flakes for texture and visual appeal.

The Guilty Moose143 Victoria Ave Albert Park 4 HOT: The Guilty Moose, 143 Victoria Ave, Albert Park

I also tried the toasted house banana bread with citrus curd, crushed pistachios and strawberry creme fraiche ($15). The banana bread was too crumbly to hold the other ingredients on the same fork and the highlight was actually the well-balanced sweet/tangy lemon curd. It was just like scooping up the insides of a lemon tart.

I think Albert Park locals will really embrace The Guilty Moose. The food is a cut above and reasonably priced, with a mix of staple and more challenging dishes. The vibe is relaxed and I found the service to be super-friendly – the kind of place where they’ll take the time to know your name.

The Guilty Moose, 143 Victoria Ave, Albert Park 03 9078 0925

Open daily 7am-4pm

minilink HOT: The Guilty Moose, 143 Victoria Ave, Albert Park

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HOT: Bo De Trai, 94 Hopkins St, Footscray

Bo De Trai 94 Hopkins St Footscray 2 542x1024 HOT: Bo De Trai, 94 Hopkins St, Footscray

I’m not vegetarian but I can appreciate a good vegetarian restaurant when I encounter one! And Bo De Trai, a cheap and cheerful vegetarian Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant in Footscray, is awesome. In fact, I think some of their dishes are better than their original meaty versions.

Bo De Trai is a restaurant which is linked to the Quang Minh Buddhist Temple in Braybrook and all the profits go back to fund the temple’s work (if that makes you more or less inclined to eat there).

Over time I’ve eaten a large portion of their menu, eat-in and takeaway. My advice is to stick to the rice paper rolls, the crispy spring rolls and the soup noodles, particularly the Vietnamese style dishes. I’ve heard the claypot and slow-cooked dishes are good but from my experience I’d avoid anything stir-fried – their technique is on the clammy, saucy side.

Bo De Trai 94 Hopkins St Footscray 4 1024x630 HOT: Bo De Trai, 94 Hopkins St, Footscray

To start try the Bo Bia. Five huge rice paper rolls absolutely stuffed with mixed stir-fried vegies and a fairly standard dipping sauce. You could easily fill up on a plate of these and there’s your lunch or dinner for only $6.50.

Bo De Trai 94 Hopkins St Footscray 1 680x1024 HOT: Bo De Trai, 94 Hopkins St, Footscray

My go-to dish is Bun Hue, a colourful spicy noodle soup filled with chunks of tofu, fried gluten and vegetables ($9). You can pile your bowl even higher with the accompanying array of bean sprouts and different mint leaves. The broth is the highlight, as it has a surprising amount of flavour given it’s vegetarian. Be warned the chilli factor is pretty high so you may not necessarily want to add the fresh chilli that’s provided.

Bo De Trai 94 Hopkins St Footscray 6 540x315 HOT: Bo De Trai, 94 Hopkins St, Footscray
The other dish which is an excellent interpretation of the original is the Bun Rieu ($9). Normally a homestyle tomato-based vermicelli soup with crab, the vegetarian version used egg. In texture it was completely different of course but in taste it was spot on. Very comforting on a cold day.

There’s only one choice of dessert – a ‘caramel cake’ for a measly $1.50! It’s actually a little plastic tub of creme caramel and quite delicious – smooth and silky with a deep caramel flavour.

Bo De Trai 94 Hopkins St Footscray 5 1024x838 HOT: Bo De Trai, 94 Hopkins St, Footscray

The staff are volunteers and hence the service is almost non-existent though confusedly friendly when it happens. People sort of amble in the back rooms doing whatever until you poke your head in or you have to wave your arms about wildly if staff are, by chance, serving someone else. Not everyone speaks English so you may have to do a bit of sign language to be understood.

Just call it a genuine experience of what it would be like to dine out (vegetarian) in Vietnam.

Bo De Trai, 94 Hopkins St, Footscray (03) 9689 9909

Mon-Sun 10am-7pm

minilink HOT: Bo De Trai, 94 Hopkins St, Footscray

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HOT: Sweet Evelyn, 128 Union St, Brunswick

Sweet Evelyn 128 Union St Brunswick 11 HOT: Sweet Evelyn, 128 Union St, Brunswick

Sweet Evelyn is a Brunswick cafe and micro bakery which is as sweet as its name (apparently named after the owners’ daughter).

Sweet Evelyn 128 Union St Brunswick 5 HOT: Sweet Evelyn, 128 Union St, Brunswick

All the baked goods are made fresh on site every day, from the large range of cupcakes to the brownies, cookies and savouries – only the bread and croissants are brought in from Dench Bakery. They only use free range eggs and where possible, organic ingredients. They also serve up a simple all day breakfast and lunch menu with most items under $15 – a bargain in brunch-mad Brunswick. Coffee is from Reverence and in fact you can find their cakes at Reverence cafe in Ascot Vale.

The cafe is spacious and there’s a back courtyard for warmer days. Though a bit of fake grass to soften the look and feel of the bare concrete would be appreciated.

Sweet Evelyn 128 Union St Brunswick 1 HOT: Sweet Evelyn, 128 Union St, Brunswick

Three of us stopped by for afternoon tea and indulged in a white chocolate raspberry cupcake, a caramel popcorn cupcake, a dotty chocolate biscuit bigger than a toddler’s head and a slice of gluten free beetroot chocolate cake. I know – that’s more serves of cake than people at the table! That’s how irresistible everything was on the counter.

Sweet Evelyn 128 Union St Brunswick 7 HOT: Sweet Evelyn, 128 Union St, Brunswick

Sweet Evelyn 128 Union St Brunswick 10 HOT: Sweet Evelyn, 128 Union St, Brunswick

The cupcake base was a little dense but still quite moist (the caramel cupcake had caramel inside as well), while the buttercream frosting was marshmallow light. The chocolate cake was a decadent, muddy mixture with a chocolate avocado mousse and a sprinkling of pistachios. It’s worthwhile licking every crumb off the plate as it’s relatively guilt-free because it contains veges!

Sweet Evelyn 128 Union St Brunswick 9 HOT: Sweet Evelyn, 128 Union St, Brunswick

The combination of delicious home made treats, super-friendly service and play time opportunities if you have kids in tow, I will definitely be heading back to Sweet Evelyn.  Next time I’m going to try the brioche doughnuts!

Sweet Evelyn, 128 Union St, Brunswick 0432 189 744

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday: 7:30am- 4pm

Tuesday: Closed

Friday, Saturday: 7:30 – 6pm

minilink HOT: Sweet Evelyn, 128 Union St, Brunswick

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