HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 1 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

Lygon Food Store was a pioneer in Melbourne in the 1950s. This iconic Carlton cafe and food store opened 63 years ago as one of the first suppliers of imported products from Italy and it was the first shop in Lygon Street to serve Lavazza coffee.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 7 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

This unpretentious establishment has long been a favourite with uni students and academics for a casual breakfast or a hearty lunch.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 4 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

Their huge ciabattas and baguettes are excellent value (all under $10) and the glass cabinet holds a rotating mouth-watering selection of Italian meals, soups and salads.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 9 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

The cartoccio, an oval mass of pizza dough, squidgy mozzarella and laden to overflowing with antipasti and charcuterie, is one of their specialities. It’s big enough to share between two or three, making it an economical lunch for $14.50.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 3 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

About a month ago Lygon Food Store opened its doors for dinner on Thursday to Sunday evenings.

I was invited to sample some of the dinner menu, which has an emphasis on Southern Italian cuisine mainly from Puglia, the region that owner Pasquale Coco knows best. Some of the recipes are from his family, some have been devised by Pasquale who is also the chef.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 2 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

The highlight of the preview was the serves of pasta and the risotto Milanese, all cooked al dente and adorned with the simplest of sauces to highlight the freshness of the ingredients. All the pastas and stone fired pizzas are under $20.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 6 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

There are just four main dishes to choose from – a veal osso bucco, rockling fillet, crunchy eggplant polpetta with spicy caponata and couscous and in a nod to on-trend ingredients, a light quinoa salad. Again, each of the mains was very reasonably priced under $30.

Lygon Food Store 263 Lygon Street Carlton 5 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

While bright new eateries ensure that Lygon Street is ever-evolving it’s always nice to revisit old favourites. Lygon Food Store is a Melbourne institution for a reason and now you can enjoy their wares (and do your deli shopping) morning, noon and night.

Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton 03 9347 6279

Monday – Wednesday, 7am – 6pm
Thursday – Sunday, 7am – 10pm

 HOT: Lygon Food Store, 263 Lygon Street, Carlton

HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

Ovest 572 Barkly St West Footscray 4 HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

Hooray! Good pizza arrives in Barkly Street West Footscray thanks to Ovest (which means ‘west’ in Italian but also unfortunately clashes with the name of the Footscray Hospital cafeteria and a vaginal cream!).

Ovest is a project of passionate westies Alex Rogers of Seddon’s Sourdough Kitchen, and Ben Sisley, the former head chef at St Kilda pizzeria Mr Wolf.

The modernist building used to house the ANZ bank and Serbian social club and now it contains a shiny Spanish stone-deck electric oven that churns out delicious pizzas six days a week.

Ovest 572 Barkly St West Footscray 2 HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

The menu includes entrees of mostly fried things (saganaki, calamari, fritters) plus sizzling garlic prawns and buffalo mozzarella served with bresaola and figs. The mains include a tuna nicoise salad, lasagna, cannelloni and daily roast pulled from the same pizza oven.

Pizzas are the name of the game here, with fourteen to choose from (gluten free bases are an extra $1). They are large do I recommend one between two.

I particularly like their margherita, which is fragrant with fresh basil and melted buffalo mozzarella ($17.50), as well as the prawn pizza with a bianco base (ie olive oil, no passata) generously topped with cubes of zucchini, chilli, mint, ricotta and fior de latte ($21).

Ovest 572 Barkly St West Footscray 1 HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

We’ve tried the pizzas both eat in and takeaway and can highly recommend them. The bases are crisp rather than chewy so whether you like it depends on your personal preference – but the toppings are excellent, full of flavour and colour. The first time we tried the pizzas we did think that they contained too much residual oil but this has not been the case on subsequent visits.

Ovest 572 Barkly St West Footscray 3 HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

For dessert we shared a rich dark chocolate mousse ($10) and vanilla flecked yoghurt panna cotta in a glass with mango jelly ($10). Both were pretty good without being amazing so if you’re too full from pizza then give them a miss.

Ovest 572 Barkly St West Footscray 7 HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

We visited on the third day of opening and found the service a bit chaotic (incorrect reservation, slow to serve, missing cutlery) but hopefully those glitches have been smoothed over now. Also note that the industrial space of metal and timber floors can get very loud and I think a few softening touches in the decor would help with the noise levels. It was half full on our visit and already too loud for easy conversation.

Ovest 572 Barkly St West Footscray 6 HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

Ovest is a great local pizzeria for an easy dinner with family and friends and as a fussy pizza eater I think it makes the best pizzas in the inner west that I’ve tried so far.

Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray (03) 9687 7766

Tue-Sun 5pm-late

minilink HOT: Ovest, 572 Barkly St, West Footscray

 

HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 7 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

Nestled between a Nandos and 7-11 on Bourke Street is a stairway to a heavenly waterfall. Goodbye Happy Palace, Hello Grand Trailer Park Taverna!

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 2 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

I have no idea how they got trailers up those narrow stairs but now you can sit inside a colourful cut out Airstream and eat fancy burgers and alcohol-spiked milkshakes.

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 5 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

Sounds like fun? It is!

I was invited to try out their menu and the kitschy trailer park was super busy on a weeknight with people of every type, from after-work suits to artsy students. On a sunny day check out the outdoor area overlooking prime real estate on Bourke and Exhibition Streets.

Tables contain all the necessary equipment for tackling one of their nine burgers, including wet wipes. It’s hard to choose but if you’re stuck (and hungry) go for the McDowell ($15.50), their version of the Big Mac, which was named one of Epicure’s Best New Burgers.

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 1 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

As I like my burgers HOT I choose the Atomic – premium Aussie beef pattie, American cheddar cheese, chili cheese kransky, crispy bacon, BBQ sauce and truffle cayenne mayonnaise on a lightly toasted brioche bun ($16.50). It’s an imposing tower of protein but oh so bad-it’s-good, with the melding of juicy beef, squeaky cheese and fatty, crispy bacon.

Their classic cheeseburger is dubbed CB1 ($7.50) and is actually just as satisfying as the Atomic at half the price (and presumably calories given its relative size).

To thoroughly throw the health kick out the window I pair the burger with a small serve of fries (too salty) and a potato, mac and cheese croquette (bit bland). Personally I don’t think the burgers need any starchy sides for your stomach to feel satisfied.

I wash everything down with a spiked milkshake containing a glug of Marker’s Mark Bourbon and salted caramel syrup ($17). It’s creamy and sweet and you can definitely taste the bourbon. You will laugh aloud when you see the maple bacon garnish!

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 8 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

If you don’t fancy a milkshake then the booze list includes classic American cocktails, local lager or wine.

For dessert I made the mistake of ordering the Kinder Surprise milkshake ($21) AND a serve of waffles with Nutella parfait, whipped cream, strawberries and Nutella sauce ($9).

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 9 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

A milkshake is easily a dessert in its itself as a tall glass probably contains around 250ml of milk. Add to that some icecream, chocolate, Frangelico and Baileys and it’s a chocolate milkshake, only tipsy!

Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2 87 Bourke St Melbourne 4 HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

The waffle stack is essentially a dessert burger and while it was indulgent and naughty if your stomach only has room for one burger then go with an actual meat (or mushroom) option. The waffles were a bit stodgy for me and not so amazing that you need to leave room to try them. 

Grand Trailer Park Taverna is a fun and boisterous place to indulge in some serious artery-clogging eating. Stick with the burgers and spiked milkshakes and I guarantee you’ll have a good time!

Grand Trailer Park Taverna, Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

Tuesday to Saturday 11.30am until late

minilink HOT: Grand Trailer Park Taverna Level 2, 87 Bourke St, Melbourne

HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 7 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

Crowning the world’s best margherita pizza is a big ask….but Johnny Di Francesco, chef and owner of  Brunswick pizzeria 400 Gradi was awarded this accolade by the judges at World Pizza Championships in Italy in April 2014.

Luckily for Melburnians, 400 Gradi has just expanded into their second restaurant at Crown and it serves the same fantastic pizzas and other traditional Italian and Neapolitan dishes as the original restaurant.

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 4 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank
I was invited to a first taste of Gradi at Crown’s menu and I can attest that every single dish was delicious, authentic and well-presented. A dining experience that was almost flawless from start to finish.

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 1 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

At the entrance to Gradi at Crown you’re greeted by a large rack of salumi and enormous wheels of cheese. In fact as soon as you walk into the restaurant you smell cured meats, not pizza!

On the left of the salumi counter is a Venetian-style cicchetti bar where you can snack on freshly cut salumi and formaggi over a glass or two of Italian wine. All the cheese is imported from Italy while the majority of the salumi is also imported from Italy with a few Australian exceptions, such as the mortadella.

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 3 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

On the right stretches a massive dining space with cosy chocolate easy chairs and a combination of large and small tables. I particularly liked the communal marble-topped table overhung with glistening copper pots as decoration.

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 2 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

The copper motif extends to the two glorious wood fired ovens presiding over the pizza making station. The two ovens were in constant use during our dinner, doling out pizza after pizza from its fiery depths.

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 6 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

Our dinner started with a selection of salumi served atop a thin wafer of Sardinian ‘carasau’ bread. My favourite was the Prosciutto Crudo Mornello 18month ($6.50 for 30g, $14 for 70g), thinly sliced and meltingly tender. I don’t know what they feed those pigs but the prosciutto tasted distinctly of soy sauce (the quality Japanese stuff, not Maggi)! Umami heaven.

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 13 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

From the formaggi selection I enjoyed the novelty of the Bello Lodi Raspadura, which comes in big wheels with shavings slipped into a neat paper bag ($6 for 30g, $13 for 70g). A couple of slivers dissolved on the tongue was just perfect.

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 14 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

The antipasti selection is mostly about beef and seafood. The standout was the only version of surf and turf that I condone – vitello tonnato ($19). A platter of finely sliced slow cooked beef, served cold with a velvety sauce of tuna, mascarpone, mayonnaise and fat, not too salty, capers.

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 11 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

For those not watching their waistline too much I urge you to try the montanare fritte. I wasn’t sure what they were based on the description on the menu and I was expecting small dough balls.

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 10 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

Montanare fritte turned out to be deep fried pizza dough crowned with savoury toppings ($15 for 3). Plump pillows of featherlight dough – a dangerously addictive savoury doughnut! My favourite topping was the ‘classica’ with San Marzano tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil and parmesan, full of sunny margherita pizza flavours.

Which turns me to the main event – the pizza. Chef Johnny Di Francesco is the first Australian ever trained in Naples to the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana rules. There are fourteen choices on the menu, all traditional combinations. They don’t offer gluten-free pizza as so much flour gets scattered around the kitchen that it’d be impossible to manage the potential cross-contamination (though they do offer gluten-free pasta on request).

The margherita ($21) and the caserta ($25.50) were the standouts. Is it the best margherita pizza in the world? I’m not the authoritative judge of that but these pizzas ticked all the right boxes for me.

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 9 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

Smoky, yeasty, slightly chewy crust that wasn’t soggy. Simple toppings with quality, high flavour ingredients. The caserta had the extra edge over the margherita, thanks to that 18 month prosciutto again.

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 8 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

If you’re an unadulterated carb lover then you can find more dough in the dessert menu. Gradi at Crown offer calzone with nutella and ricotta or coffee and mascarpone ($15).

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 5 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

The excellent crust meant that the molten filling didn’t turn the whole package into a soggy mess. In terms of flavour I preferred the coffee over the nutella (normally my favourite) as I found the mixture of ricotta made the filling heavier and diluted the telltale choc-hazelnut sweetness.

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 12 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

The dessert menu also offers tiramisu ($15), sweetly served in a pot-bellied jar and well-balanced in its layering of mascarpone and sponge, coffee and port liqueur.

Gradi at Crown Shop 25 8 Whiteman Street Southbank 15 HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

The dark chocolate fondant ($15) was similarly perfect, with a release of molten chocolate lava upon spoon entry and a spongy exterior.

The only downfall of the desserts was that they appeared to be served with mass-produced vanilla ice cream, a curious anomaly to a menu otherwise concerned with top quality produce and the provenance of ingredients.

My dinner at Gradi at Crown was an excellent way to carb-load to a satisfied tummy. Their pizzas are certainly contenders for some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten but they don’t fall short in other parts of their menu either. Go the dough!

Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank 03 9696 9888

minilink HOT: Gradi at Crown, Shop 25, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank

HOT: Ferdydurke, 31 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

Ferdydurke 31 Tattersalls Lane Melbourne 2 HOT: Ferdydurke, 31 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

I’ll let you in on a secret I discovered on a Foodi tour – you can get excellent $5 gourmet hotdogs at Ferdydurke! I don’t think even the fast food chains can beat that price, and the hotdogs at Ferdydurke are certainly a whole lot better. 

Ferdydurke 31 Tattersalls Lane Melbourne HOT: Ferdydurke, 31 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

Ferdydurke is a upstairs bar in Chinatown run by the same people as iconic Melbourne container bar Section 8. They are actually neighbours on grungy Tattersalls Lane and overlook a breathtaking street art mural by Adnate, except that to reach Ferdydurke you need eagle eyes to spot the tiny sign and you then you walk up a set of narrow winding stairs.

 Ferdydurke 31 Tattersalls Lane Melbourne 3 HOT: Ferdydurke, 31 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

The top of the stairs lands you in a surprisingly spacious, high-ceilinged space overlooking Section 8 and Lonsdale Street. The effect is a bit reverse Alice in Wonderland and certainly the decor is kooky, from gothic lamps to axes by the fireplace. 

Ferdydurke HOT: Ferdydurke, 31 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

Ferdydurke’s focus is on cocktails, beers, wines, hotdogs and live local electronic music producers and djs. You can slake your thirst from 12pm to 1am every day and feed your stomach from 12pm to 9pm.Ferdydurke 31 Tattersalls Lane Melbourne 4 HOT: Ferdydurke, 31 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

The frankfurters are Polish Parowka and made by Rob the ‘Sausage King’. The sausages are cooked in craft beer and saukerkraut broth then popped into glossy brioche buns from Grant’s Crust, a wholesale bakery business in Rowville.

 Ferdydurke 31 Tattersalls Lane Melbourne 5 HOT: Ferdydurke, 31 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

The simplest Frank and bread is only $3 and comes with tomato sauce, mustard, HP sauce or daily hot sauce special. My advice is to up the stakes to the $5 hotdogs and fill your dogs with some of the house-made chillifire beans (which aren’t too spicy actually), cider onions and/or the Pico de Gallo salsa made with tequila, tomatoes, onion, coriander and chilli. 

Ferdydurke 31 Tattersalls Lane Melbourne 1 HOT: Ferdydurke, 31 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

They even cater for vegans with vegan sausages. Or if sausages aren’t your thing they offer a special ‘Big Lebowski’ burger with pulled pork for $9, nachos for $6 or other bar snacks like house made jerky and pork crackling for $4.

Ferdydurke 31 Tattersalls Lane Melbourne 6 HOT: Ferdydurke, 31 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

The service is friendly, the atmosphere is cool yet cosy and it’s not so crowded, especially in the daytime, that you feel you can’t move or breathe. Ferdydurke is a winner – a well-stocked bar, cheap satisfying food and a funky little hideaway in the centre of Melbourne.

Ferdydurke, 31 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne(03) 9639 3750

Every day 12pm – 1am, Kitchen 12pm – 9pm

minilink HOT: Ferdydurke, 31 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

 

HOT: 8bit, 8 Droop St, Footscray

8bit 8 Droop St Footscray 5 HOT: 8bit, 8 Droop St, Footscray

8bit’s burgers, hot dogs and shakes are exactly what Footscray needs.

It’s a culinary 180 from the numerous Vietnamese and African options in the suburb. While it’s admittedly pretty cool to have such gourmet ethnic diversity on my doorstep, before now it’s been pretty hard to get after a good quality straight-down-the-line burger and fries. A rude shock for me after being within walking distance of Huxtaburger!

8bit 8 Droop St Footscray 2 HOT: 8bit, 8 Droop St, Footscray

The venue is in a prime location on Droop Street. It’s easy to spot thank to the distinctive light box hanging from the outside wall of an 8bit video game character, as the restaurant is all themed around arcade games. For instance, all the burgers are named after video game characters, the table numbers are all constructed with video game characters from PacMan to Super Mario and you can even play classic games from the console in the back (for free).

8bit 8 Droop St Footscray 3 HOT: 8bit, 8 Droop St, Footscray

We tried the Altered Beast with beef, bacon, cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, 8bit sauce and BBQ sauce ($9.50) and Golden Axe with crispy fried chicken, cheese sriracha mayo and slaw ($9.50).

8bit 8 Droop St Footscray 4 HOT: 8bit, 8 Droop St, Footscray

Both burgers were generously sized ie not slider sized with fillings stuffed to the brim between two buttered and toasted organic Lievito brioche buns. The beef patty had been cooked on the griddle, crusty on the outside and juicy on the inside. The chicken was also light and crispy without being over-fried. The sriracha is not hot at all so if you’re not a chilli fan you’ll still be ok.

The accompanied our burgers with a small serving of potato gems ($4), little golden puffs of steaming hot shredded potato.

8bit 8 Droop St Footscray HOT: 8bit, 8 Droop St, Footscray

And the milkshakes! At 5pm they’d already run out of salted caramel so it was back to the chocolate bar milkshake which is actually a mint Aero shake. A chocolate milkshake, only crunchy (and minty!) and served with one of those fat bubble tea straws so you can suck out every shard of chocolate.

8bit 8 Droop St Footscray 1 HOT: 8bit, 8 Droop St, Footscray

I suspect 8bit will do very well in the west. They were very friendly and seemed genuinely interested in asking for our feedback. Even on its first day the bright interior drew in lots of students, families and given it’s open till 11pm it will catch the after-work / late night drinks crowd. Happy eating!

8bit, 8 Droop Street, Footscray 03 9687 8838

Open daily, 11am-11pm

minilink HOT: 8bit, 8 Droop St, Footscray

HOT: Hero Subs, 1 Stewart Street, Tenancy 1, back of RMIT SAB Building 80, 445 Swanston St, Melbourne

Hero Subs Tenancy 1 RMIT Building 80 445 Swanston St entry via Stewart St Melbourne 9 HOT: Hero Subs, 1 Stewart Street, Tenancy 1, back of RMIT SAB Building 80, 445 Swanston St, Melbourne

When I was at uni there wasn’t much in the way of food offerings – nasty refectory food and make-you-own sandwiches was about the extent of it. Luckily for RMIT students, staff and nearby office workers that Hero Subs are available right on campus (they also have other stores at Collins Street and Hardware Lane plus soon Chadstone).

Hero Subs are all about bringing a bit of NYC to Melbourne and they’re owned by the folks behind another excellent CBD eatery, The Grain Store. The Brooklyn inspired sandwich bar sells freshly made oversized baguette sandwiches, aka heros, filled with a variety of hot gourmet fillings.

Hero Subs Tenancy 1 RMIT Building 80 445 Swanston St entry via Stewart St Melbourne 4 HOT: Hero Subs, 1 Stewart Street, Tenancy 1, back of RMIT SAB Building 80, 445 Swanston St, Melbourne

Hero Subs Tenancy 1 RMIT Building 80 445 Swanston St entry via Stewart St Melbourne 8 HOT: Hero Subs, 1 Stewart Street, Tenancy 1, back of RMIT SAB Building 80, 445 Swanston St, Melbourne

I was invited to try the menu and on my visit it seemed that the subs inspire a bit of a following – people were saying ‘oh I had that one yesterday, I’m going to try this one today’ and one guy was diligently going through the whole menu, day to day. Along with the standard menu there is a special sub offered every fortnight, with only 6 made every day. The prerequisite is that it must be decadent, indulgent and supreme in ingredients.

Hero Subs Tenancy 1 RMIT Building 80 445 Swanston St entry via Stewart St Melbourne 5 HOT: Hero Subs, 1 Stewart Street, Tenancy 1, back of RMIT SAB Building 80, 445 Swanston St, Melbourne

I tried half of a ‘By the Hour’ and half of ‘Catcher’, both on multi-grain ($12.80 for full, $8.20 for half). ‘By the Hour’ consisted of juicy slow-cooked pulled pork with apple cabbage slaw and corn salsa. Originally the corn salsa sat on top of the sub but customer feedback about the salsa slipping off and out of the sub all the time meant that they adjusted the order and now line the baguette with the corn salsa first. Nice to see a business listen to its customers (even if it does lead to a less photogenic sandwich).

Hero Subs Tenancy 1 RMIT Building 80 445 Swanston St entry via Stewart St Melbourne 6 HOT: Hero Subs, 1 Stewart Street, Tenancy 1, back of RMIT SAB Building 80, 445 Swanston St, Melbourne

‘Catcher’ was battered prawns slathered in creamy Thousand Island dressing and a bit of slaw, their version of a shrimp po’ boy. I found the batter too heavy for my liking and combined with the dressing too rich. Better to stick with the non-battered meat and if you must eat something deep-fried, choose the onion rings instead.

Hero Subs Tenancy 1 RMIT Building 80 445 Swanston St entry via Stewart St Melbourne 3 HOT: Hero Subs, 1 Stewart Street, Tenancy 1, back of RMIT SAB Building 80, 445 Swanston St, Melbourne

Don’t forget to end your sub lunch with some of their piping hot doughnuts. These balls of dough are crunchy on the outside, baby-chick fluffy on the inside and injected with molten raspberry jam or the flavour of the day – in my case, chocolate custard. I dare you to stop at one (so order 3 for $7 instead of 1 for $2.80 so there are no regrets)! Cute napkins too – because yes you will miss a spot :–)

Hero Subs Tenancy 1 RMIT Building 80 445 Swanston St entry via Stewart St Melbourne 2 HOT: Hero Subs, 1 Stewart Street, Tenancy 1, back of RMIT SAB Building 80, 445 Swanston St, Melbourne

Hero Subs is pretty small as it’s predominantly for takeaway trade, though there are a few high stools available for perching and a small dining area next door which is a bit lacking in atmosphere. If you take your sandwich back to your desk you’ll be sure to be the envy of your colleagues!

Hero Subs Tenancy 1 RMIT Building 80 445 Swanston St entry via Stewart St Melbourne 7 HOT: Hero Subs, 1 Stewart Street, Tenancy 1, back of RMIT SAB Building 80, 445 Swanston St, Melbourne

Hero Subs are opening at the Lower Ground Food court at Chadstone tomorrow, Thursday 10 April 2014. You can head down and grab a free sub at 12-2pm / 6-8pm during #freesubday.

Hero Subs 1 Stewart Street, Tenancy 1, back of RMIT SAB Building 80, 445 Swanston St, Melbourne

Mon – Fri: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Sat: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

minilink HOT: Hero Subs, 1 Stewart Street, Tenancy 1, back of RMIT SAB Building 80, 445 Swanston St, Melbourne

The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway!

The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway!

 Sponsored by Nuffnang

During November Melburnians have been eating, drinking and getting outdoors for the inaugural The Age Good Food Month and last week a few lucky Epicure readers were treated to a very special lunch as part of The Age’s Forever Curious campaign.

Forever Curious is all about encouraging readers to uncover the stories that are just waiting to be discovered. There have been four Forever Curious activations to date (such as ‘Just Graffiti’ and ‘Just a Tailor‘) and the reward for those who have been curious about what’s under the surface have been some money-can’t-buy prizes and unique one-off experiences.

The latest Forever Curious experience (and last for the year) was titled ‘Just a Chef’.

To set the scene, in the Epicure section of The Age on Tuesday 19 November a clue was inserted after a Karen Martini recipe (Karen is a Melbourne chef who’s a regular contributor to Fairfax publications) “If you’re curious at heart, head to Pino’s at Prahran Market this Saturday at 9:30am and look out for the Forever Curious grocer. Mention you’re an Age reader, and you could be in for a lunchtime treat with me. Only a few spots available though! – Karen-“

The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway 9 The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway!

More information was provided on Thursday and Friday through The Age’s Facebook page and Twitter feed…and then I turned up on the bustling Saturday at Prahran Market where a chef in a ‘Forever Curious’ apron appeared to be selecting produce for his kitchen at Pino’s Fine Produce (Karen Martini’s preferred grocer for her work and home kitchen).

The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway 8 The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway!

People who chatted to the chef about the seeded clues were rewarded with a signed copy of Karen Martini’s newest cookbook ‘Everyday’, which contains food that Karen cooks most – for herself and her family – and the recipes that are requested time and time again.

The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway 5 The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway!

The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway 6 The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway!

The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway 7 The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway!

In addition, some lucky people who didn’t have plans for lunch that Saturday won a private dining experience with Karen Martini at her St Kilda restaurant, Mr Wolf. Just goes to show it pays to be ‘unplanned’ and spontaneous sometimes because you get to enjoy unexpected experiences!

The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway 3 The Age ‘Forever Curious’ for Good Food Month + Giveaway!

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The lunch was a 4 hour affair, a bountiful meal of the greatest hits from the Mr Wolf kitchen and free flowing wine to get the conversation started amongst a dozen strangers.

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To start, some antipasti including brightly hued pickled vegetables, a ramekin of roasted peppers stuffed with goats cheese, cumin and crunchy walnuts, some classic crunchy calamari fritte with tartare and an artful pile of prosciutto flecked with mint, ricotta and smashed broad beans drizzled with balsamic and olive oil.

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Next up was a selection of some of Mr Wolf’s famous pizzas, all with a crispy thin base and topped with classic Italian ingredients – no barbecue chicken horrors here!

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That wasn’t even the main course – huge steaming plates of slow cooked Greek lamb shoulder arrived along with Karen’s take on ‘horta’ (Greek wild greens) tossed with barley, feta and herbs. That salad was one of my favourite dishes of the day.

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And to finish, a refreshingly light lemon zabaglione with a zing of fresh blood orange and a shard of dehydrated citrus.

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If that hasn’t made you jealous (or hungry) enough then watch this video of the ‘Just a Chef’, from the winners finding out their prize to a table full of happy strangers tucking into lunch.

Giveaway! Thanks to The Age’s Forever Curious campaign two people have the chance to win a $250 voucher to spend at Karen Martini’s restaurant, Mr Wolf and one person can win a copy of Karen Martini’s cookbook ‘Everyday’. 

  • To win one of the $250 vouchers, you need to use your own Twitter account to retweet this message by The Age (@theage) with the hashtag #forevercurious. You can enter multiple times with each retweet. The competition ends midnight Wednesday 11 December and the winner will be selected by random draw (Full terms and conditions).
  • To win a copy of Karen Martini’s cookbook ‘Everyday’ just comment below with your answer to What ingredient or dish are you most curious to learn about? (Full terms terms and conditions). Entries close midnight Wednesday 11 December and the most creative entry will be selected by myself and Nuffnang as the winner. Good luck!

 

HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

When in Beechworth, drink beer.

Bridge Road Brewers is one of Australia’s most popular craft beer producers and is one of the foodie destinations to visit in Beechworth thanks to their brewery operations in a 150 year old coach house, the kitchen’s famous pizzas and a convivial beer garden which is particularly family-friendly.

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 9 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

I was invited to visit Bridge Road Brewers by Tourism North East and we rolled into Beechworth just after lunch opening on a weekday. Being unseasonably warm already the beer garden was starting to fill up so if you’re coming with a large group or want to be assured of a spot during a busy period then book ahead.

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 7 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

For colder climes the beer hall is spacious and filled with beer-making paraphernalia, decor and furniture as well as a cosy wood fire.

The Bridge Road Brewers kitchen makes pretzels and pizzas influenced by brewery co-owner Maria Frischmann, who grew up in the Tyrolean Alps. The kitchen bakes pretzels daily and they come plain ($3) or with a choice of cheese sauce or chocolate sauce ($4.50).

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 11 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

These crusty, salt-speckled twists are the perfect beer snack – thirst-inducing and easy to hold. Perhaps only a busty girl and a stein are missing for the true Tyrolean experience (and the brewery does host Oktoberfest celebrations in mid-October every year).

The kitchen is most famous for its extensive range of pizzas though you can order other beer-friendly plates such as nachos, ribs and pie or a lighter soup or salad.

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 5 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

Bridge Road Brewer’s pizza bases are made in house using their Bavarian Wheat Ale and it creates a crispy, bubbly base for a range of toppings. We tried the classic margherita punctuated with big dollops of Shaw River Buffalo Mozzarella and fragrant basil leaves ($17.50) and for contrast, a non-traditional “Morrison Street Butchers” Sausage Pizza with bocconcini, caramelised onions, tomato, sausage and mustard sauce ($19).

Bridge Road Brewers Old Coach House Brewers Lane 50 Ford St Beechworth 3 HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

Both pizzas were bursting with hearty flavours and very filling – I think one large pizza between two would be sufficient. My only criticism is that I thought there could have been less topping so as to retain the crispiness of the base and to prevent ingredients frequently slipping off into a messy puddle (onto my lap, invariably). But in general Australian pizza eaters tend to prefer more toppings, not less, so I can understand the slightly overladen approach.

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To match your food you can try a pint of any of their craft beers or go with a beer flight of up to ten tastings that arrives on its own special board.

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You can also conduct your own tasting by taking home a mixed six-pack ($19.50) and for his taste RM’s pick of the beers was the Beechworth Pale Ale. He was particularly impressed that each bottle showed the ‘malt profile’ and ‘hops profile’ so you can judge the flavours for yourself.

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Finally, if you’re exploring Beechworth Bridge Road Brewers is a convenient starting point because they have free town bikes for hire. The “Town Bike” is a collaboration between Bridge Road Brewers, Larder Fromagerie and Provisions and Pennyweight winery and Beechworth’s wide quiet bike-friendly streets and access to Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail give visitors another way to explore the town and its surrounds. The town is currently holding events as part of North East Victoria’s inaugural Cycle Salute cycling festival (18 October – 5 November 2013).

And if you’re going further afield, Bridge Road Brewers is one of the stops along the High Country Brewery Trail where you can cycle parts of the scenic 100km Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail and visit craft breweries in Glenrowan, Beechworth, Bright and Mount Beauty for a recovery drink.

Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth +61 3 5728 2703

Kitchen opens lunch 7 Days a week, 12 – 3pm and Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 6pm. 

minilink HOT: Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth

HOT: Jimmy Grants, 113 Saint David St, Fitzroy

Jimmy Grants 113 Saint David St Fitzroy 4 HOT: Jimmy Grants, 113 Saint David St, Fitzroy

I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited anticipating the opening of a souvlaki joint before.

But I was intrigued when I noticed the old Peter Watson site being renovated into something bearing mysterious plus and minus symbols – and then I realised that George Calombaris was coming to Fitzroy with Jimmy Grants.

Jimmy Grants is a slick, modern interpretation on an old-school souvlaki shop and it de-greasifies the late-night drunken kebab into high quality, tasty fast food.

Its name is taken from the nickname given to the immigrants arriving in Australian after WWII from Greece, Italy and the Middle East, all bearing unfamiliar and unpronounceable names. So they were all just called ‘Jimmy Grants’ – immigrants.

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The use of the immigrant story gives Jimmy Grants a disarming charm and if you’re cynical, is calculated to make you feel warm and fuzzy about the place. The restaurant’s decor includes a mural of a plane and a steamer of the sort from which immigrants arrived to our shores in the 50s and 60s.

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The kitchen and bar open up with a vertical shutter like a street stall cart and the corrugated iron echoes the tin shacks set up by immigrant manual labourers toiling on the land.

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The paper menus create a heart-warming story too. ‘Mr Papadopoulos was fabled in the streets of Gazi, a suburb in Athens. His lamb soave was served from a steel pot tied to the back of his bike. It was said that the motion of the bike over the potholes of post-war Athens made it the most succulent fall-of-the-bone lamb in Greece. That was until Mr P. moved to Melbourne and became a gas welder. Athen’s loss. Our gain. And another example ‘ ‘Nonna L moved to Melbourne in 1968, with a husband and 2 suitcases and a recipe for chicken. She’d say the chicken recipe was the most valuable thing she brought with her’.

With those briefly sketched histories how could you go past ordering the ‘Mr Papadopoulous’ souva ($8) filled with lamb, mustard, chips, onion and parsley or the Nonna Maria ($7.50) of chicken, mustard, chips, onion and parsley.

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I think the bread is what makes these souvas amazing – the same fluffy, slightly chewy and perfectly charred pita breads served at Calombaris’ other Greek establishments Gazi and Hellenic Republic. It acts as a cocoon that doesn’t go soggy for the fragrant rotisserie meat – I preferred the juicy chicken while RM liked the tender lamb. The almost molten strings of onion were sweet and tangy at the same time and tucking some chips inside gave the package a guilty bogan-ness (though I would have preferred more meat and no chips to be honest).

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If you’re indecisive you could go the ‘Bonegilla’ which includes the chicken and the lamb, for pescatarians there’s a prawn souva and vegetarians are offered falafels with a shredded cabbage slaw and Greek yoghurt. All of the options are under $10 and while they are on the smaller side of your standard souvlaki you will still be full.

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If you want to make a bigger meal of your souva I recommend the grain salad ($8) full of goodness in the form of lentils, nuts, grains, parsley and dressed with Greek yoghurt. It’s texturally interesting and the flavours are clean.

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Finally, make sure you leave room for the Greek doughnuts with walnuts and honey (6 for $6). These are a revelation! They’re not just simply fried balls of dough – which would make them awesome to begin with – they have the most amazing crackling shell and a deceptively airy interior. It was like biting into a paper-thin eggshell with a meringue inside. They are some of the best doughnuts that I’ve had in recent memory and so cheap! The honey means that you’ll only be able to eat two or three without feeling ill so share them around.

I can’t wait to return to Jimmy Grants and I predict they’ll do really well in Fitzroy – especially when the promised delivery service commences (as you’d hope, all the food fares well on take away). Sure there’s a lot of souvlaki joints nearby but none I think with the same kind of quality and charm as the place that’s an homage to our nation of immigrants.

Jimmy Grants, 113 Saint David St, Fitzroy

Mon-Sun 5pm – 11pm (lunch opening soon)