Pho Mee I love Pho: CBD

This tiny Vietnamese joint is hidden away at 108 Bourke Street in an extensive and largely empty mall. The first sign that this place wasn’t going to stack up to the competition was that their opening hours have recently changed to exclude weekends, now only opening for weekday lunches.

Something Tasty?

Hoping for something tasty I opted for a fish Laksa, a spicy noodle soup with its origins in China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. After waiting twenty minutes a waitress came over to inform me that they had no fish, so I was switched to chicken. A few minutes later I spotted another waitress running to a nearby coffee shop and grabbing a milk carton from the fridge. Now as far as I could tell no menu items contained milk and they didn’t serve coffee, so I could only assume the worst. I was about to suffer a coconut milk to cow’s milk switch up.

Cow’s Milk? Seriously?

Now I’m no curry connoisseur, or indeed knowledgeable regarding Asian cuisine, so correct me if I’m mistaken, but cow’s milk for curry? Seriously?  Needless to say this Laksa had been thrown together in a hurry, I had almost been waiting half an hour, but chucking some chillies in milk and adding chicken isn’t the way to entice me back for more.

Hunger Strikes

I should have complained, turned over my bowl and kicked up a momentous fuss, but when tum starts a grumbling there’s not much else to do but eat. Upon further inspection the chef had decided to chuck not just thin rice vermicelli, but thick egg noodles. This was weird. The egg and milk combo was not good, just creamy on creamy with not much else, which left me feeling like a might soon re-fill the bowl.

Pho Mee no love for Pho

I’ve had the chicken and beef Pho soup here before, which was better and more towards what I expected for a quick lunch at this price point. That said there are much better places to grab a bite in the city and I would not eat here again.

Pho Mee I Love Pho on Urbanspoon

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Woos Winter Warmers: Soup

It’s pretty wintery at the moment in Melbourne, so I thought I’d share my recipe for butternut squash soup. I use the word ‘recipe’ very lightly, as I really just throw it all in and hope for the best. I keep making big batches, probably around 6 portions and freezing what I can’t eat on the day into plastic zip bags.

This soup is so easy to make, and is really tasty with some crusty bread, or just licked straight off your hand. Get started by buying a butternut squash. They can be found for around £1 per kilo in most markets, or up to $3 per kilo in supermarkets. If you don’t know what a squash looks like and can’t pop on Google, it will probably be next to the pumpkins.

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The hardest part about cooking this soup is chopping up the squash. I attack the outer skin with a peeler then hack at it until it is in block like shapes of around an inch long/wide/thick.

Next grab a couple of medium sized brown onions and chop them up too. Grab your biggest pan and throw in some olive oil, I’d estimate my average chuck is about 3-4 table spoons.

Fry off those onions until they smell perfect for hot dogs, but try not to burn them. Next throw in all the Butternut Squash and coat it in the oil. It’s about this point I throw in some chilli flakes, a good wad or them, or any other spices you have lying around to give it a little heat.

Boil the kettle and add water to just cover the Squash, add 2 chicken stock cubes and get it all simmering. Give it around half an hour, then poke the squash with a knife, if it’s soft it’s cooked. Take it off the heat, grab a potato masher and squash that Squash.

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Threw in a couple of potatoes too!

When each chunk had been squished, grab a stick blender to get the soup super smooth. Finally have a taste, you can always add more spice, a bit of black pepper, or whatever takes your fancy.

As there is no dairy in this recipe it will keep in the freezer. I’ve defrosted some after two weeks and it was fine. A word of warning: when defrosting, it doesn’t look great, but keep heating and you will get some delicious warming winter soup that looks just like it did the day it was cooked.  

The Wayside Inn: South Melbourne

Popped in here for lunch after some serious recommendations and left shortly after feeling very full and underwhelmed.

First up let’s start with the good points. This corner pub looks like any other on the outside, but with its light, fresh decor and friendly service, every diner seems to feel immediately at ease making for a relaxed atmosphere. I was dining as a duo and we both plumped for the Wagyu Burger, which is perhaps a little unexciting, but for $18 a pop we expected something more than your average meat in a bun.

Wagyu Burger

Each burger element was delicious expect the main event. The beetroot relish was sweet and finger staining, the bacon smoky and the melted cheese creamy. Even the bun was supremely buttery brioche which really complimented the other elements, but the let-down was the patty in its centre. Tasty yes, but dry and over cooked, this thick burger sucked the moisture from the tongue and was quite a chore to get through. The fast that the waitress had asked if it was ok to have the meat a little bloody, to which we replied a resounding ‘yes please!’, only hastened my disappointment. I’m sure they cook these perfectly every other day, but not today.

The burger is served with the chunkiest chips I’ve ever lain eyes on, but with only a mini portion of tomato sauce these soon begin to dry the mouth. The chip makers of at this joint should be reduced to herbs, as with only salt and sauce quickly expiring, these walloping chippies soon get tiresome.

I’m sure this place is great when it’s great, but today it let me down after much anticipation. Perhaps I should’ve sent the food back and stuck my hand in the air for more sauce, but at $36 for two burgers ‘n’ chips, I don’t think I should have to.

Wayside Inn on Urbanspoon

Gânache: South Yarra

Last weekend I wanted to buy a yummy pud to take along to a friend’s place for dinner and found myself in Ganache. Their staff were friendly and patient when I just couldn’t decide, they answered all my questions with a smile and the whole place felt very relaxed. I opted for a Brownie Moose Cake after some deliberation, and goodness was it good. Smooth chocolate gânache on a bed of gooey brownie finished with a luxurious glaze and topped with golf leaf and a chocolate twirl. The chocolate flavour was so rich, yet the mousse texture of the gânache made it light. Needless to say it was a hit with everyone who tasted it, and could have easily fed 8 rather than 6.Brownie Moose

I’ve seen this place so many times, but never went in as I was afraid of snooty staff and ridiculous prices. I should not be so judgemental, not judge a book by the cover and a shop by its window. That said the prices are high, but lower than other similar stores in the area who charge $40 plus for a similar sized cake.

I’d love to visit the café and indulge in a hot chocolate, and try more of their beautiful delights. I’m sure some day I will have worked my way through their entire menu.

Ganache Chocolate on Urbanspoon

The Swiss Club Victoria: Flinders Lane, CBD

Arriving at the Swiss Club I initially thought I was in the wrong place. Granted in hindsight there is a menu by the front door, but the entrance to the restaurant on the first floor is in Swiss. They could perhaps put “restaurant” in English in brackets to help out the non-Swiss speakers in Melbourne!

The restaurant was warm and homely with various Swiss décor giving the place a touch of cultural flare whilst not making any guests feel like they don’t quite fit in. Quickly seated, the staff then took 20 minutes to make it to the table to grab my order, even though the place wasn’t busy.

Once ordered the food quickly arrived; a huge steaming pot of cheesy fondue deliciousness along with a mountain of bread and hillocks of crisp green apple, potato roti and assorted traditional sausages. The chef gave a quick demonstration and away I went, tucking straight in I quickly realised that making a dent on the litre of cheese was going to be a struggle; thank goodness I wasn’t taking on this challenge alone.

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The bread provided was thick and spongy, the prefect cheese absorbing accompaniment. The green apple gave a refreshing zing and changed up the flavours, and the sausages were juicy, each with different tastes. The roti wasn’t ideal for dipping as it refused to be stabbed with the fondue folk, but a little ingenuity (sticking it on to cheese dipped bread) helped it provide a crunchy texture to an otherwise soft dish.

The fondue experience was thoroughly enjoyable, but the cheesy taste did get a little repetitive towards the end of the pot. That said it was also more-ish in a way only cheese can be, and there was little chance of me putting down my fondue folk ahead of time.

At full price the dishes described above come in at just over $80 with a glass of wine each. This is pretty pricey, so look out for vouchers where this meal can be grabbed at half the cost. I think this dish would work great at a third of the size for lunch, or even smaller as a starter as the cheese does get a little repetitive. That said this is fun as a one off, but not one to be dipping into very often.

Swiss Club of Victoria on Urbanspoon

Sezana’s Coffee Shop: Clarendon Street, South Melbourne

South Melbourne is a great suburb to grab a bite, with the market close by and loads of little cafes, there’s something to suit all tastes. Today I nipped into Sezana’s Coffee Shop and was surprised to find the food sub-standard, especially with so many great places in competition close by.

Summer Burger - more like Sickly BurgerI was pretty peckish so grabbed a Summer Burger and Chips, at $9.50 just for the burger; I expected something juicy and tasty. What I got was quite the opposite. The burger patty was thin and dry, not tasting of much at all; I wouldn’t be surprised if this had come from the supermarket value section. The avocado was very mild tasting, and pineapple (tinned) was very bland – I’m quite unsure how they managed to sap the flavour out of these ingredients. Even the bacon didn’t taste of much and was obviously very cheap.

The chips were not even seasoned and were about as boring as chips can possibly be. We were given a pot of watery tomato sauce, but this didn’t improve the flavour.

The decor and atmosphere in here is rustic and relaxed, but the food is very poor for the price. Their coffee seemed popular, but I didn’t want to hand over any more money to try one. I’ll never step foot in this place again.

Sezanas Coffee Shop on Urbanspoon

Related Post: Scoping Sezanas Coffee Shop by Foodsider

Chokolait: Little Collins Street, CBD

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This little gem is hidden in a tiny arcade on Little Collins Street in the heart of Melbourne and provides a chocolate heaven for sweet toothed travellers. Whether in need of sustenance after a hard mornings shopping, or just seeking … Continue reading