HOT: Patch Cafe, Studio 9, 2 Bendigo Street, Richmond

patch cafe

Patch Cafe in Richmond is a newish operation that serves a paleo-inspired, clean eating menu. Before you pooh-pooh the idea their food managed to entice someone like me, who is definitely not grain-free, sugar-free and fat-free. 

I was invited to try out their menu and took myself off to the old Channel Nine building in Richmond.

patch cafe

It’s been transformed into slick apartments with the cafe at the bottom level along with huge expanses of outdoor space.

patch cafe

Indoors it’s long and narrow, intimate and cosy. I recommend sitting at the back of the cafe, even though it faces the (fancy) sink, as it captures the most light from the huge windows.

patch cafe

As I’m not a coffee drinker (beans are from Code Black Coffee) I start with a huggable mug of creamy but dairy-free Anushka soy chai ($4.50) that’s warming and fragrant on a freezing wet day.

patch cafe

Even though it’s technically still breakfast I head straight for a serve of confit pork belly with apple puree, roasted root vegetables, paleo jus and crackling. The large plate is a very reasonable $23 and an excellent, fancy version of essentially meat and three veg. I have no idea what paleo jus is but if pork belly for breakfast equals clean eating, sign me up!

patch cafe

We also try the banana and almond hotcakes, with house made pistachio and cacao ice cream, paleo caramel and kiwi chunks ($10). I love how the hotcakes have a chunk of banana, gooey and caramelised, right in the centre. As they are made from almond meal they are more crumbly than a traditional flour-based pancake but the accompaniments balance out the dryness.

patch cafe

The raw desserts are made by Jayde Hwang, a blogger who also manages to find time as Patch’s marketing person. They are decadent and delicious and it’s amazing that they don’t contain sugar. I recommend the ‘blueberry cheescake’ and like many raw desserts you only need a little to feel satisfied.

If you’re on the go or heading to the park by the Yarra Patch Cafe offer ‘Patch Boxes’, take away meals for only $15 that are paleo inspired plus gluten, dairy, sugar and grain free. I like their chunky, nutty, satisfying bircher which contains activated hazelnuts and almonds, goji, apricots, pumpkin seeds, coconut, chia seeds, vanilla bean and orange, poached fig, coconut yoghurt and coconut nectar. Phew that’s a dozen ingredients I don’t have to bother combining (or activating huh) at home!

Patch Cafe shows that it’s possible to provide healthy food that’s tasty and anything but parsimonious. The stylish space is restful and peaceful, making a lovely stop for body and soul.


 

 

Patch Cafe, Studio 9, 2 Bendigo Street, Richmond (03) 9029 0328

Mon-Fri 7-4pm

Sat-Sun 8-4pm

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HOT: Bomba Goes to Spain, Bomba, 103 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

bomba

Every year Jesse Gerner, the owner of Spanish bodega/vermutería  Bomba, along with various staff, takes a trip to Spain. It’s a chance to eat, drink, meet local producers and bring back ideas and ingredients. The outcome of this year’s gastronomic adventures is Bomba Goes to Spain – two special Sunday lunches featuring stories, dishes and wines discovered on the trip.

bomba

This year Jesse and his team went to Seville, Cadiz, Jerez and the Canary Islands and I was invited to the Bomba Goes to Spain lunch inspired by the farmers, fishermen and chefs they met on their island adventures. 

I’ve never been to the Canary Islands and only know it for the British holiday haunt Tenerife. Turns out the Spanish archipelago, located just off the southern coast of Morocco, is famous for its seafood and many variations of mojo sauces. Our lunch featured both heavily.

bomba

To start, delicate Spring Bay mussels with a mojo de azafran ie saffron. Sweet, piquant and silken, these slippery little morsels slid down nicely with a sip of Christmassy-scented vermouth.

bomba

The fried school prawns were surprisingly fleshy and the spiky paprika salt gave each crunchy bite a satisfying kick. bombaIt was served with the housemade bread created by a sourdough starter called ‘The Mother’ started by Jesse almost eight years ago and now produces daily offspring for Anada, Green Park Dining and Bomba.  

bomba

Poached pork ribs, a traditional Sunday lunch dish, was modernised with sweet corn and a grassy mojo cilantro made with coriander and a bed of crushed potato.

bomba

One of my favourite dishes was the char grilled octopus with mojo aromatico. The octopus had been slow cooked for several hours at a constant temperature, turning each tentacle tender without turning it into mush. It was served with ribbons of confit potato and the mojo made with a pounded blend of aromatics.

bomba

The Montadito of olive pit smoked sardine and green onions was another favourite, inspired by a serendipitous find, one of the few eateries in the old town open on a Monday and serving modernised tapas. This dish was the first time Jesse had used olive pits to smoke and it’s a practice he will probably continue given pips are normally a waste product.

bomba

Slow cooked rabbit was another traditional Sunday lunch staple, served with one of the Canary Islands’ signature dishes – papas arrugadas, potatoes cooked in seawater. These wrinkly potatoes were served with a mojo picon, a paprika and garlic sauce. I enjoyed the full-bodied tomato and oregano sauce of rabbit but found the meat to be a touch dry for my liking. 

bomba

To finish, croquettes of leche asada (milk custard) studded with orange zest and a rum ice-cream and a spiced rum and orange syrup. I loved this dessert – crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and gently spiced.

This Sunday 30 August is the second of the Bomba Goes to Spain lunches, featuring dishes and wines from Andalucia. It costs $65pp for four courses including tapa, raciones and dessert so in fact you end up with a 8-9 dish long lunch – quite a bargain and guaranteed to fill you up so you don’t need dinner! There’s no nicer way to spend a Sunday than to feast in the surroundings of Bomba‘s warm brick downstairs dining room or by the bar. 

bomba

And don’t despair if you miss out – some of these special souvenir dishes, maybe tweaked a little, will be appearing in Bomba’s main menu in the future.

Bomba Goes to Spain, Bomba Tapas Bar and Rooftop, 103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne +61 3 9077 0451

Lunch 30 August 12-3pm

Normal opening hours

Lunch Mon-Fri 12-3pm

Dinner Sun-Thu 5-10:30pm, Fri-Sat 5-11pm

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HOT: Square and Compass, 222 Clarendon St, East Melbourne

square and compass cafe

Square and Compass in East Melbourne was recently crowned as one of Melbourne’s best new cafes and it’s the combined work of owners with links to Pillar of Salt, Touchwood and Barry.

Square and Compass stands alone on Clarendon Street inside a red brick terrace house, surrounded by residences, offices, health services and hospital blocks. Since its opening it’s been a drawcard for East Melbourne locals and workers bereft of good eateries at the northern end of Fitzroy Gardens.

square and compass cafe

The cafe is bright and welcoming and at 8am on a Sunday it’s already filling up. It’s too cold to hang out at the chic courtyard at the back but come summer I’m sure it’ll be popular.

square and compass cafe

The all day menu includes cafe standards with a twist and over several visits I’ve tried…

square and compass cafe

… the five grain porridge, with a ribbon of sweet apple puree creaminess punctuated by a crunchy crumble. It’s sort of like mixing an apple pie into your oats! However, I’d prefer fresh fruit to dehydrated fruit – stretchy, leathery dried fruit has never been my thing. ($13.50).

square and compass cafe

…the waffles, a gorgeous berry and flower-strewn palette atop some fluffy waffles. I like the addition of brandy snaps jutting out of the vanilla-flecked cream ($16.50).

square and compass cafe

peanut butter, heirloom tomatoes and toasted peanuts on toast ($13). The combination sounds weird but the menu says ‘trust us’ – so I do. It does work surprisingly well. The peanut butter is not particularly sweet and the savoury nuttiness balances out the tangy juicy tomatoes. I’m surprised it’s not on more cafe menus because now I’ve tried it once it seems like an entirely appropriate sandwich combination.

They serve coffee by Seven Seeds and Promised Land, Chai Boy chai and Mork hot chocolate. 

square and compass cafe

The service is friendly at Square and Compass and it makes a great pit stop if you’re heading to Fitzroy Garden. If you want to take away a picnic I highly recommend their gourmet rolls, particularly the pork belly with crackling (all $10), and maybe grab a decadent Doughboys Doughnuts as well.


Square and Compass, 222 Clarendon St, East Melbourne (03) 9416 4914

Mon to Fri 7:00 am – 4:00 pm

Sat to Sun 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

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HOT: Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters, 113 Hardware Street, Melbourne

hash coffee roasters

If you’re walking down Hardware Street and looking for Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters, just look out for the lightbox with ‘#’. In this social media saturated world, there’s no need to actually spell out H-A-S-H to brunch goers hunting for the cool cafe.

hash coffee roasters

Inside Hash the decor is dark, jagged and steely, with a rabbit warren of single booths, small tables and communal benches snaking up to a mezzanine area. The upstairs area is the best place to go if you want to hide from the busy hum downstairs.

hash coffee roasters

hash coffee roasters

hash coffee roasters

I was invited to try some of Hash’s menu but before we get to the food let’s talk about THAT hot chocolate ($6).

hash coffee roasters

This awe-inspiring beehive of house made milk fairy floss and beaker of Mork dark chocolate has been the talk of foodie social media since it first emerged. On a weekend the cafe has been known to sell 100 hot chocolates a day!

Basically you pour the molten mixture into the tower fairy floss, watching as the tower collapses onto itself and sweetens the 85% cocoa chocolate. The resulting drink is smooth, intense and not too sweet and the theatrical experience just adds to the fun.

If you’re not a hot chocolate fan the coffee is made using Zest beans though there are plans to roast on site.

The breakfast menu is available all day and I was given small tastes of some dishes, so the photos may not actually reflect the portions of a main meal.

hash coffee roasters

Highlights included the crusty leek and cheddar croquettes ($19.50) with cauliflower puree, shreds of ham hock, cavolo nero and a poached egg poached in turmeric which didn’t impart much flavour but did give the dish a jolly yellow glow.

hash coffee roasters

The coconut  yoghurt pannacotta ($15.50) could have been a little less firm but I liked the artistry of the accompanying toasted nuts and grains and delicate flowers.

hash coffee roasters

I returned another day to try their grilled banana and pecan loaf ($18.50). I really liked the chunky nuts inside the springy loaf but thought that it would be better balanced in terms of texture and flavour with either burnt honey mascarpone or white chocolate custard, not both. I also thought compared to some of the other dishes the price was disproportionate to the size of the loaf you got.

The CBD is a bit of a dead zone for breakfast on the weekends so Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters is a welcome discovery. I think some of the dishes could be simplified to highlight the top quality of the ingredients – the kitchen evidently cares about the provenance of its goods given the producers are name-checked on the menu.

And make sure you order the signature hot chocolate!


Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters, 113 Hardware Street, Melbourne, VIC 03 8529 0284

Mon-Fri 7:00am-4:00pm

Sat- Sun 8:00am- 5:00pm

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HOT: Bread and Jam for Frances, 1/701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn (enter via Linda Crescent or through Readings)

bread and jam for frances cafe

Melbourne Writer’s Festival starts tomorrow Thursday 20 August – Sunday 30 August so today I’m introducing you to a fabulous bookish cafe – Bread and Jam for Frances in Hawthorn.

The cafe is named after the classic children’s book by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban and is attached to Readings Hawthorn, one of my Top 10 Best Children’s Bookshops in Melbourne. You can enter via the bookshop or its own entrance on Linda Crescent opposite Coles.

bread and jam for frances cafe

I really like the church-like atmosphere of the place. Not that it’s silent and solemn. More that the cathedral-high ceilings and arched windows let in an abundance of light and the noise levels seem to be pretty muted (even during busy times) as most people are perusing their latest book purchase.

bread and jam for frances

Bread and Jam for Frances is run by Dench Bakers in North Fitzroy so you know the bread, pastries and cakes are sure to be good. Customers come to buy a takeaway coffee and a loaf of organic artisan sourdough or sit at small tables or banquette to enjoy the short, mostly grain based, menu (sorry paleo people). They serve Veneziano coffee and Larsen & Thompson teas and have an alcohol licence.

bread and jam for frances

I ordered the King brown, button, oyster mushrooms, goats cheese, silverbeet, toasted hazelnuts & toasted sourdough ($16) and was allowed to substitute the goats cheese for Meredith feta with no problems. It was hearty and filling and while a relatively basic dish, very satisfying toppling over with the mushroom melange.

bread and jam for frances

I then returned to drool over the sweets cabinet and was immediately drawn to the orange and pistachio cake with a syringe jauntily jabbed into it. I do love a dessert gimmick! The cake was grainy yet moist with a sweet dose of citrus within once the syrup had been injected inside.

bread and jam for frances

I think books and coffee go hand in hand and a cafe elevates a great bookshop to a fantastic bookshop. Bread and Jam for Frances is the kind of relaxed place where you’d be happy to linger with a novel and it’s a must-do destination for Melbourne bibliophiles.


Bread and Jam for Frances 1/701 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn (enter via Linda Crescent or through Readings)

Daily 7am – 6pm

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Melbourne Museum SmartBar – Giveaway!

SmartBar_Enews_1

Melbourne Museum is opening up next Thursday night 20 August for its popular adults-only Smartbar, with a theme for this event being Get Stuffed!

Spend a night exploring the scientific and historic background of taxidermy with the museum’s experts.

Image 30833 Title Felis silvestris, Wild Cat  mounted mammal specimen Source: Museum Victoria / Photographer: Heath Warwick

Image 30833
Title Felis silvestris, Wild Cat mounted mammal specimen
Source: Museum Victoria / Photographer: Heath Warwick

This adults-only event is stuffed with demos, drinks, talks and a dash of digital media that will make you think differently about taxidermy – an art form that takes years to learn and even longer to master. You’ll also be able to learn why Museums still collect in the 21st century and explore shifting attitudes towards taxidermy.

Food and drink is available for purchase on the night, or walk to nearby Fitzroy and check out some great eateries.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $16 concession/MV members – buy tickets here or call 131102 and join the Facebook event here.

Giveaway! Thanks to Melbourne Museum I have 3 x double passes to give away to attend Smartbar on Thursday 20 August 6-9:30pm.

To enter, follow the instructions below and the three winners will be drawn randomly after the competition closes midnight Monday 17 August. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HOT: Fifty-Six Threads, 56 Derby St, Kensington

fifty six threads cafe

Fifty-Six Threads is a social enterprise cafe located in the unlikely location at the bottom of a housing commission block in Kensington.

The cafe is a project for AMES, Australia’s largest provider of humanitarian settlement, education, training and employment services for refugees and newly arrived migrants. Fifty-Six Threads is AMES’ second catering enterprise, with the first being Sorghum Sisters, an African catering business.

Fifty-Six Threads’ name is inspired by its location (ie number 56 Derby Street) and the many cultural threads that run through the cafe and the local community.  During our visit on a rainy weekday it was fairly quiet but a diverse cross-section of clientele trickled in, from the postie to a local resident to families.

fifty six threads cafe

Given the dour exterior the cafe’s interior is modern and funky, with lots of geometric angles softened with beautiful pendant lights suspended from the ceiling.

fifty six threads cafe

Coffee comes from STREAT, another social enterprise based near Kensington, and the food is all made on site by a single (professional) chef.

fifty six threads cafe

The menu contains simple cafe classics at an unbeatable price. A huge home made sausage roll with delicious tomato relish is $3.50; the burger with chips is $13 and the generous French toast is $14.

fifty six threads cafe

The burger is a stand out as the home made patty is a loose conglomeration of mince and herbs, grilled to crusty perfection. It’s sandwiched between a floury bap along with fresh tomato, lettuce and beetroot (tinned unfortunately).

To enhance the community feel there’s a small bookshelf with children’s and adults books.

fifty six threads cafe

It’s actually a rotating library for the local community so that you can take the books away, with the polite request that you return them when you’re done.

Fifty-Six Threads is a simple, relaxing  cafe (with a funky Latin soundtrack on our visit) if you’re in Kensington looking for good value food and coffee with friendly service.

They also offer very reasonable catering with mini cakes/muffins at $3 per person and savoury finger food at $3 each and sandwiches/wraps at $7.50 per person. Best of all you know that your money is going to a good cause.


Fifty-Six Threads, 56 Derby St, Kensington (03) 9376 6885

Wed-Sun 7:30-3:30pm

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HOT: Darling Street Espresso, 146 Athol St, Moonee Ponds

darling street espresso

I just love it when old milk bars are transformed into community spaces of a different kind – a welcoming local cafe. And so the story goes with Darling Street Espresso, a 7-day a week daytime operation that inhabits a corner position on Darling Street and Athol Street in suburban Moonee Ponds.

Despite its quiet location, away from the main strip of Union Road,  it’s actually a prime position for a  local. It’s down the road from a school and just a hop skip and jump to Maribyrnong Park and the river.

darling street espresso

The interior is cosy, with a front room and steps leading to a red and tightly squeezed back room.

darling street espresso

A better bet is the side corridor (marked ‘For prams and pets’) that leads an undercover courtyard with narrow garden beds and a small Astroturf play area for kids.

darling st espresso

 

darling st espresso

The all day menu is rather eclectic, with Italian, American, Mexican dishes all jumbled in – so you can have a cheeseburger or tacos for breakfast if you choose! Coffee is made with Fitzroy’s Industry Beans.

darling st espresso

Breakfast runs all day and I ordered beetroot-tinged cured salmon, two poached eggs resting atop two potato and preserved lemon pancakes and avocado puree ($16). The mini pancakes were an interesting twist on a traditional breakfast dish though I couldn’t detect much citrus in them.

darling st espresso

To test out their sweet breakfast options I ordered the grilled banana bread. For $14.50 you get two slices of soft banana bread, a puddle of activated chia and quince pudding and lots of crunchy paleo granola.

 

darling st espresso

To finish I couldn’t resist one of their puddings ($9). The dark chocolate pudding came with frozen honey custard and chocolate popcorn. It was a bit too sickly sweet for my liking and the messy presentation wasn’t terribly appealing. I think the custard would be better off being churned into ice-cream for textural and visual appeal.

The service at  Darling Street Espresso was very friendly and helpful and I liked how they had a buzzer at the entry of the courtyard to call out a waiter if necessary. While the inside of the cafe is cosy and beautifully decorated, the outside courtyard is where to hang out.

Darling Street Espresso, 146 Athol St, Moonee Ponds

Monday – Sunday 8am-4pm

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HOT: Agathé Pâtisserie, Stalls 63 and 64, South Melbourne Market, cnr Coventry and Cecil Streets, South Melbourne

agathe patisserieIf you walked into South Melbourne Market last week your nose will have detected the new aroma of fresh, buttery pastry in the aisles. That’s because Agathé Pâtisserie, a Parisian-inspired patisserie and croissanterie, has just opened a permanent kitchen and retail store in South Melbourne Market.

Agathé Kerr’s pastries have gained a cult following since she started a little Saturday market stall in Prahran Market last year. The Parisian gained her professional pastry chef qualification at the prestigious Ecole de Boulangerie et Patisserie de Paris and had been making all her wares in a pop up store/lab in Windsor.

The new double-sized stall is clean and white, with the exposed kitchen baking fresh items daily behind the tempting pastry counter.

agathe patisserie

I ordered a classic pain au chocolat (with two luxurious sticks of chocolate inside), a brightly striped infused raspberry croissant, a classic escargot and almond croissant.

agathe patisserie

All excellent quality, with a buttery crumb, subtle flavours and airy layers of pastry.

agathe patisserie

There is one must-eat item on the menu. Agathé Pâtisserie’s famous cruffins ($7) are now piped to order with vanilla creme patisserie and topped with your choice of filling – on my visit, Nutella, salted caramel or peanut butter caramel.

agathe patisserie

agathe patisserie

agathe patisserie

For now Agathé Pâtisserie is focusing on their new premises and retail offering so there’s no wholesale orders to cafes. That means the only place to try these amazing pastries is at South Melbourne Market. Warning – on the first day of opening at South Melbourne EVERYTHING was sold out in 1 hour (9am!). So if you want to sample some of Melbourne’s best pastries you’ll have to set your alarm clock and get in early.


 

Agathé Pâtisserie, Stalls 63 and 64, South Melbourne Market, corner of Coventry and Cecil Streets, South Melbourne 0403 222 573

Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday 8am-4pm or until sold out.

HOT: Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee

truck stop deluxe

Truck Stop Deluxe is a new burger joint parked (pun intended) right in the centre of the Werribee.

It’s been created by three of Melbourne’s best-known burger pioneers –  Josh Lefers (Grand Trailer Park Taverna and Pawn & Co.), Dani Zeini (Dandenong Pavillion and Grand Trailer Park Taverna) and Jimmy Hurlston (Jimmy’s Burgers and Easey’s).

SONY DSC

This time, instead of trailers, the theme is trucks!

truck stop deluxe

truck stop deluxe

The bright, brash and cheeky venue is inspired by an American truck stop diner and it’s sure to shake things up in a relatively quiet suburban restaurant strip.

truck stop deluxe

truck stop deluxe

truck stop deluxe

I was invited to the launch and got up close and personal with some excellent burgers and a lion’s share of Kinder Surprise milkshakes made with ice-cream, chocolate, Frangelico and Baileys. Oh my.

truck stop deluxe

The menu is all about fancy burgers, cocktails and alcohol-spiked milkshakes.

truck stop deluxe

About 70% of the menu from Grand Trailer Park Taverna is replicated here, with some fried chicken and breakfast brioche rolls on weekends and ice cream doughnuts thrown into the mix.

truck stop deluxe

While the food is fun it’s the interior that really gets the party started. Trucks have been built inside the restaurant…and you can sit in them if you like! Complete with fluffy dice!

truck stop deluxe

truck stop deluxe

Up the back of the inside area are larger leather booths with big screens replicating the experience of sitting inside a truck cab watching the scenery go by. Out the back is a covered courtyard.

truck stop deluxe

Truck Stop Deluxe is bringing amazing burgers to the west from Wednesday 29 July. If you’re local, heading west or a truckie – don’t miss it!


 

Truck Stop Deluxe 98 Watton Street, Werribee (03) 9741 4000

Wednesday to Sunday 11.30am until late

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