Archive for the ‘Cafe’ Category

Shocolate: Another chocolatier hits Melbourne

Shocolate Chocolatiers

I first spotted something being built at the back of the old Fitzroy GPO last month. Google provided no information to what Shocolate was other than bad spellers of chocolate. I had to have a try after Brian from Fitzroyalty declared it as “possibly the best hot chocolate of my life” and MelbourneHotorNot’s Joyce declaring it HOT.

What is Shocolate?

It’s best described as a cross between Koko Black and Brunetti. They offer both hot and cold chocolate based drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), individual chocolates, and pastries/cake type desserts. Where they differ from Max Brenner and Koko Black, for now anyway, is the lack of hot desserts.

The story which I hopefully have right, is that the Greek owner and a French chef decided to set up shop at the Fitzroy location. They were due to open in March but due to some delays were only able to open last month. Just like the other chocolatiers around Melbourne, they are looking to expand into other areas.

On my 2 visits, I’ve tried the Iced Hot Shocolate, Iced Mocha Shocolate, a chocolate ball with orange inside ( pictured above), an Exotic tart which resembled a Lemon Meringue pie, and a Mocha Tart (pictured below). All of them were top notch.  Some of their hand chocolates pack some unique flavours and the day I was there I tried the Vegemite Chocolate, which to someone who doesn’t really like Vegemite, found it to be quite nice.

Shocolate Chocolatiers

Staff are extremely friendly and they all seem to have European accents. I don’t doubt that this place will be around for a while especially as they have a fantastic location right in the heart of Fitzroy. The only downfall for me is their lack of website. Seriously, just stick a PDF of your menu up there instead of having a website that says Under Construction?

Shocolate Chocolatiers

Johnston & Brunswick Street, Fitzroy (Next to 120 Bar)

Lindt Chocolat Café opens up location in Melbourne

Lindt Chocolat Café opens up this month

Lindt Chocolat Café opens up this month

Coffee is king but over the past few years there has been rising faction of chocolate cafes dominating Melbourne. John wrote a piece back in January about the increasing popularity of cafes like Koko Black, Max Brenner and San Churro. When I was up in Sydney a few months ago, I got to try the Lindt Chocolat Café in Martin Place and I was thoroughly impressed. While I do like chocolate, I find the sheer amount of chocolate involved in Koko Black and Max Brenner’s dishes to be a bit much at times. Lindt, while it does serve similar dishes, actually has some desserts where a good amount of vanilla ice cream is involved. In addition, they serve some non-savoury breakfast and lunch items at its cafes.

According to a job listing recently posted in Seek, Lindt plans to open up it’s first Melbourne store at 271 Collins St this month with another location to open in August  in Chadstone (in the new West Wing extension). I anticipate a visit there later this month.

Lindt Chocolat Café

271 Collins St, Melbourne

Lindt

Review and Pictures from the Melbourne Foodie Blog

The dark heart of Melbourne

In the city which ushered in the Espresso Age in Australia, a new culture is taking root with a darker, sweeter and more seductive nature.

The chocolate cafe, selling chocolate hot or cold, dark or white, made with cocoa butter by a skilled chef, is becoming entrenched in the proud Melbourne dining scene.

How true.

Koko Black was still a novelty act in 2004 and I remember visiting their tiny store in the Royal Arcade and staring at those chocolates sold in a jewellery-style glass enclosure. Quite the experience. Back then it was the only Koko Black (as far as I’m concerned) store around.

Within 18 months a string of chocolateur chains sprung up all over the city. Max Brenner is probably the most famous. Then to my surprise, Koko Black opened in coffee-culture Lygon Street. I had no doubt it will do well as it caters to a different market altogether. Unlike *cough* Starbucks *cough*

I do make it a point to purchase Koko Black’s choc mocha every time I head into the CBD. At around $6 a cup, it’s not cheap. If you can afford it, the chocolate infused coffee (a pleasant coconut aftertaste, you gota try it to believe it!) doesn’t disappoint!

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Rude, racist staff in Cafe Andiamo

Cafe Andiamo - Great food and coffee. Pity the staff aren't.

Cafe Andiamo - Great food and coffee. Pity the staff aren't.

Cafe Andiamo, along Degraves Lane, is one of the more popular coffee and meal spots in Melbourne. It’s a personal favourite of mine, having spent many cold winters and hot summers there with my fiancee and dog. It’s a warm, fuzzy relationship built up over four years. I love it.

Of course, I write this to warn people never to go there again. Unless barbed racial remarks done with unprofessional subtlety is what they are eager for.

Yesterday arvo, my fiancee, her sister and me made our way to Andiamo after running some errands. It was lunch time and naturally, packed to the rafters. We spotted an empty table lane side and sat down. Really, the three of us were in good spirits. Laughing, teasing, gesticulating madly while telling each other a story.

It became clear we weren’t going to be served quickly, so I made my way to the counter to grab some menus. I’m familiar with what they serve, but I felt like an All Day Brekky and wanted to know if they served it during lunch time (alas, they don’t serve it between 12-2pm).

We took several minutes to decide, and my fiancee’s sister decided to call for the staff’s attention. My back was facing the counter, so while mucking around with the girls I flapped the menus around like a lightsaber. Mostly to get the staff’s attention too, but also because I can.

A longtime staff (I won’t mention race, coz it’ll be really obvious) came over. I greeted him. His response?

“You don’t have to wave the menus as I gave you the menus so I’ll know when to come over. This is not Chinatown.” (more…)

Bye bye Starbucks: A ‘foreigner’s’ take

Starbucks Fuck OffI remember it as clear as day. It was December 1996 when Starbucks opened her flagship stall opposite Liat Towers along busy Orchard Road in Singapore. I was 17 years old then, straight out of high school and heavily influenced by the Star-Spangled Banner and everything Hollywood. Prior to Starbucks, the only coffee I knew was the straight black variety roasted from beans. Sugar or condensed milk could be added to it for flavor enhancements, and it cost about $0.70 for a cuppa. When Starbucks opened, young Singaporeans were riding on a wave on technological advancements (that was a period when pagers were still cool and mobile phones were rare as they were too expensive) and liked to see and seen. Naturally, Starbucks became a hit.

Myself? I do admit to having – at that time – an overpriced Frappuccino every week or so. Young adults don’t baulk at paying $5-$8 for a coffee. In hindsight, it does seem excessive as one can get a complete meal for $5 in Singapore. “What’s that?” you say, “A cuppa coffee costs more than dinner?!” Damn right. I remember having a conversation about how cool it was to be seen consuming a Starbucks coffee with my dad. He’s old school and subscribes to the old Asian ethos of working hard and saving every penny, and doesn’t quite understand the excesses of life. Naturally our Starbucks conversation ended before you could say ‘That’s not carrot cake!’**

There isn’t a coffee (or cafe) culture in this part of the world; couple that with Singaporeans’ receptiveness to new foreign products (mainly America, which means it’s good) and we have a pseudo-coffee addiction. Of course, who the hell knows what a cafe latte, cappucino, long black or white coffee is? Fucking hell, give me a Venti Oreo Frappuccino with whipped cream please. Or if I’m feeling something warm (seldom though, due to the sickening humid weather), I order a vanilla latte. Singaporeans are happy and contented with that. There’s no need to venture out to experience the real coffee or cafe culture. Afterall, Singaporeans are a pretty sheltered bunch, and as long as it’s from America, it’s good. What’s good for America must be good for Singaporeans.

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The Coffee Club, Prahran

Today, I had tea at The Coffee Club (250, Chapel St, Prahran). I ordered a Caesar Salad, and was totally blown away by the fact that there were anchovies, a poached egg and some lemon pepper calamari. Totally impressive, for about $15. I used to think Degraves St. was the best place to get this, but clearly, The Coffee Club has trumped it.

Beer? There’s quite a bit, but most are bottled (like my Leffe Blonde). I should have probably tried the amazing range of coffees available (including ice-blended ones), maybe next time.

Service? They mention its full table service, but its definitely under-staffed. Sitting outside, it was almost impossible to get the attention of the waiter. A friend had a pizza, which was a base, with lots of topping – impressive, if a little different.

Will I be going back? Definitely. They bring a unique twist to the food served. Service can be improved, but maybe I should try it during lunch or dinner.

Beer DeLuxe

Putting “beer” in the name of a venue is always going to attract punters. A couple of weeks ago while walking around Fed Square, I saw a sign for Beer DeLuxe and thought why not try it. The venue is split into a beer garden, hamburger grill, espresso cafe, and an inside dining area. I chose the beer garden / hamburger grill and got myself the DeLuxe Burger ($15) and a Sam Adams beer. A friend ordered up the cheeseburger.

The Verdict?

Pretty crap. For $15, you would expect some kind of decent burger. Hell, for $15 you can get a Bogan burger from the Napier or a Wagyu beef burger from Rockpool. The burgers were about the same standard you would get from a fish and chip shop. The food didn’t come with a plate and was served in a takeaway box.

Burgers aside, the beer garden is quite nice as it is at the very inside of the square away from the crowds and there are not many places serving Sam Adams, so that’s definitely points in my book. Although I haven’t tried any of the food inside, if you can’t make a burger then there is little chance the food inside will be any better. Go for the beers and avoid the burgers.

Beer DeLuxe
Federation Square

link

Picture by Michael Blamey (who has a different Melbourne photo on his site every day)

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Smiley leaves Intersection Cafe

You will probably have no idea what I am talking about unless you go (or have recently gone) to Melbourne Uni or live in the Carlton-ish area.

Intersection Cafe is a souvlaki/pizza/fried food cafe located in Carlton on the corner of Lygon and Elgin street. It is an institution to Melbourne Uni students as the place to eat after the pub. In previous years, they offered half price pizzas on Thursdays causing huge lines for food and even opened a bar upstairs. Sadly, the man behind the operation, Alex or Smiley to locals is leaving the business.

Currently on Facebook, there is a group called the “Smiley’s (intersection cafe) appreciation society” with a massive 288 members. On there you can post your best Smiley deal; the most amount of food for the least amount of money. Throughout the years, many people, myself included have gotten some great late night deals. Once I even got some pizza for free.

Sadly, all good things have to come to an end. Just as Naughton’s is missed by locals, Smiley will go down as a Carlton and Melbourne Uni legend.

Facebook: Smiley’s (intersection cafe) appreciation society

Picture by Jude Newton

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I’ve found my poison … Norsiah’s Kitchen

I’ve found my poison and its called Norsiah’s Kitchen. Located opposite Lincoln Square, in Carlton, it is close to Melbourne Uni, a stone’s throw away from the Royal Women’s Hospital.

They serve authentic Malaysian cuisine, cooked in a home-styled manner. My favourite dishes are the curry chicken dishes, nasi lemak as well as the roti prata. Especially on cold wintery nights, the spicy nature of the food keeps me warm.

The kitchen is sparse but clean; grab your own utensils and water from the fridge but the food is the reason why people (mainly students) keep going back. Average price of a meal is around $6.50 – $7.50.

What’s your poison?

Address:
Norsiah’s Kitchen
604 Swanston Street
Carlton 3053
Victoria

“open” Public space vs. malls

Part of the Melbourne Conversation, where the research was into the Transnational & Temporary, was the use of public space. Why is it that malls like Melbourne Central or QV were much more populated, as opposed to parks like Lincoln Square, the State Library (when there was grass), and so forth.

I think many doing the study, haven’t actually studied foreign geography closely enough. Where do the 37% (or 50% if looking at the northern fringes – does this include Melbourne Central/QV? Where exactly does this fringe end? – if Figure 1 was online, its safe to assume the area around RMIT (Latrobe) to UniMelb) of students from overseas come from? Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Vietnam, mainly (going from memory, afaik – I’m sure there are more, but the major classification stated by the researchers seemed to be these).

Is there a park culture in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong or Vietnam? Having been to four out of the five countries in that list, I can assure you that nobody hangs out in parks. The idea of sitting down on the greens, in the humid sweltering heat, is just not fun. You hit up malls and shopping strips. Air-conditioning is good (same can be said for the heating, here, I guess).

Its only normal that if you’ve grown up spending time in malls, you’d do the same when you go overseas. The park is foreign, as a culture.

Is the solution having little seats below a shady tree? (suggested last night) I don’t think so. Will the use of open public space like parks make them more community members? Or should change be embraced, in where we head for a mall culture?

Years ago (and this was not long ago – 5 years is a good bet), Melbourne didn’t know of Starbucks, Gloria Jeans, or Coffee Bean. Coffee, was to be had at small corner cafes. Now, does anyone want to count the density of coffee joints on Swanston St., for example? Changing culture, has led to a new, more commercialized coffee culture.

Any guesses as to why we have such changing culture? You guessed right, it came from the mall culture that the overseas students brought with them. Businesses recognize this – change is the only constant, and we’re all in it to make a profit. However, some people are still holding on tightly to the past.

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