Wednesday, February 29, 2012

China Red

China Red
Shop 6, 206 Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

I see China Red as an overpriced fast food joint with better decor. Other than the novelty of touch screen menus, I come here because its convenient and there's hardly a waiting period between ordering and stuffing your face.

Together with my mother, we ate our way through Vegetarian Dumplings, Pan Fried Pork Buns, Spicy Fish and Black Sesame Paste with Glutinous Rice Balls.
 The dumpling skins were tough and thick and there was little soup to be found within. The filling wasn't bad, just not memorable.
 
Pork buns were a mini disaster. Little filling and the bottom of the bun (just above the fried base) was soggy.

I was not prepared for the strength of the chilli - it didn't look too bad! After an extended period of time spent shovelling rice to combat the spiciness, we were able to enjoy this more :) The fish was very tender, though there were only about 5,6 pieces floating about.
 As for the sesame dessert, I strongly advise against it. It's a tiny bowl and you fork out $7.80 for it. The rice balls were soft and chewy, but nowhere near special enough to justify the price.

Total: $35.70
China Red on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 27, 2012

Patterns Cafe+


Patterns Cafe
It's raining, it's pouring

The waiter gave us menus and 5-10 minutes after we ordered he informed us that the chef was out and we wouldn't be getting our food, though he offered to make some toast with jam. We declined and stuck with the iced coffees, though he did bring us a plate of oreos as an apology.
L's coffee had the barest hint of sourness in every sip. 

Total: $6

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Patterns Cafe

Patterns Cafe
254 Swanston Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Due to some unrelated dodgy behaviour, I had a late lunch and was shivering from hunger (also melting from the heat. I'm a living contradiction). So I opted for some place close.

Scanning over the options I decided on a Beef Burger and an Iced Coffee.The burger may not look too big, but it was still awkward to hold. See the upside of burgers from fast food joints is that it comes giftwrapped so you can keep all the fillings in place. Here, I was playing a very serious balancing and catching game.
 
Eventually the lettuce and beetroot dropped out, and I had to forcibly remove the bacon and cheese - it was messy. My main dilemma was my fringe which enjoys hanging around and ruining my relationship with food.

The bun was soft and encased beef, bacon, lettuce, onions and beetroot. Beef patty was thick and embedded with red spices; the juice was dripping onto the container. Couldn't taste the beetroot but the caramelised onions were sweet enough and really hit the spot~

Chips were crisp and very lightly salted. Finally, someone who cares about sodium intake!

The iced coffee really won me over. The bitterness of coffee juxtaposed with the cool sweetness of milk and dissolved cream. Very tempted to order another before I left, but the meal was ridiculously filling and my stomach was begging me not to.

So I'll see you there for breakfast :D
Total: $11.90
Patterns Cafe on Urbanspoon

Affogato Espresso Bar

24/2
Affogato Espresso Bar
29 Hardware Ln
Melbourne, VIC 3000
L had Grilled Chicken with capsicum salsa. At 16.50, it was good value for 3 chicken skewers, salad, and roti (?). The chicken was strong, tart and lemony, which mellowed out when combined with yoghurt. The roti was much too hard [it was amusing watching her stab at it :P] whereas the salad lacked dressing. The lemon lime bitters agreed with her.
I had the Grilled Lamb backstrap. Personally, I like it when they serve food on a chopping board. It’s a step up from the food court tray. The serving of lamb was very small and there was an inconsistency with the wedges and ratatouille (very peppery). Some of the potato was undercooked, whereas the zucchini was either tender, or overcooked and became mushy. The salad came with a sweet/sour dressing that earned my approval.
 
 As a traditional end to the day, we headed off to Cacao Green for a serving of yoghurt.
L's Original Yoghurt with Blueberry Compote
A day eating is a day well spent.

Total (excluding yoghurt): Around $40

Giraffe Cafe


24/2
Giraffe Cafe 
302 Little Lonsdale St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

An array of unique ornaments sit innocently around the room: a polar bear wrapped around an invisible wine bottle, a pair of content cats fishing, stuffed animals and a miniature sign advertising the 60km/h travel speed, to name a few. The strange harmony that rings between them is just asking for you to get up and examine each one of them individually - or that was just me.

 From the interior you can tell how nice a place it is to relax. Maybe wallow the hours away in the many books they have scattered across the shelves, in conversation with some friends, or even a wonderful daydream. An alternative is to follow L’s example to curl up into a chair and sink against one of the oversized pillows - what ever floats your boat.

While I found it a suitable place for relaxing, the food ruined the experience.

L ordered Belgian Waffles with blueberry compote, poached pears and chocolate sauce. The waffles were crispy but ‘mushy’ on the inside, and there was little compote to be found. Meanwhile the poached pears were plain and the sauce drowned out the other flavours to be had.

I submitted to the call of Pistachio Fudge Brownies which were sickeningly sweet and had grainy sugar. My attempt to ‘counteract’ the sweetness with ice cream and chocolate sauce was obviously futile.
Unsatisfied and still hungry, we left to the next impromptu destination.

Total: About $16

Oliver Lane Espresso

24/2
Oliver Lane Espresso
140 Flinders Street, CBD


Did you happen to pick up ‘The Coffee Army Handbook’ from The Age today (edit: Friday)? Good friend ‘R’ gave me a copy of it and in my excitement I demanded we check out one of the places in the afternoon. The first stop was Cup of Truth, which happened to close early, so we opted for Oliver Lane Espresso instead.

The latte wasn’t as strong as expected and left me in a pleasant, rather happy mood afterwards - to the point that I bought another despite the sweltering heat. The foam was even better the second time round: perhaps the type of milk really did make a difference. Unfortunately I’ll only be coming back when I’m feeling rather mellow - towards the end of the cup it tasted more like a supersized babycino.


H had a berry milkshake which reminded me of medicinal syrup ._.
A, Kr and L went with iced coffees which didn’t taste of coffee at all, but I suppose it served its purpose as a cold drink.
Ky ordered an iced mocha to which she testified:

“I haven’t tried enough properly critique it, but I thought it had just the right amount of creaminess/sweetness of milk and the taste of chocolate and coffee I wanted, though once you got to the end, there were just the fat of the milk/cream.”

What can I say? We all have different opinions :)

A thumbs up for the friendly service and cheaper prices!

Prices: Latte - $3.30
      Iced coffees - $5.50
      Berry Milkshake - $5.50

Five66

23/2
Five66
 566 Flinders St
Melbourne, VIC 3000


Breakfast with L. Our main motivation for checking out this place was the mention of a “tall hot chef with the blue eyes” and, just our luck, we didn’t sight him at all. Right, that’s points down already…[I kid, I kid]
L's masterpiece
Orange seats and murky green tables :/
If we get enough people..
L ordered the Provincial style Frittata with chorizo sausage, leek, potato & basil and her usual Flat White. The only notable thing was the bird. Didn’t get to try the frittata, though L’s expression and half-hearted hacking at the food told of its mediocrity.

I had the Veggie Omelette rolled with tender asparagus red peppers (capsicum) & tomato chutney and a Latte. I’m happy that they didn’t overdo the seasoning. The addition of sweet corn was pleasant and the different textures of the fillings was exciting. Eventually I smothered the lot in chutney; the slight sourness really did enhance the flavour.
Mmm. Avocado

Wasn’t happy about their placing the omelette on top of the toast. The latte, was a latte. A cautious sip, then downed so as not to waste the 3.50 spent on it.

Total for 2: $32
Five66 on Urbanspoon

Luneburger

24/2
Luneburger
316 Elizabeth Street
Melbourne Central Shopping Centre
Excuse the quality of the photos, a tram was coming when I took these and my stomach was grumbling ^^;

Point is: If you’re in a rush but can afford a quick detour, head here for some tasty bread rolls. And choose pesto base. Always pesto base.

Total: $5 (Salad roll)

Update: Luneburger has since closed. Farewell dear breakfast.

Cacao Green


22/2

Cacao Green
Corner of Swanston St and Lonsdale St

I consistently visit this place, and almost worship their Original Frozen Yoghurt w/ almonds. It is a cup of heaven. With almonds.


I don’t know what flavour ‘original’ is. It isn’t vanilla, it has a slight tang but isn’t overpoweringly sweet. It’s looks like ice cream, but it’s very light and incredibly addictive [I’ve brushed off two large servings of this before. The extent of my obsession and with this place is sad, bordering inspirational]
Alas I can’t say I’ve always been loyal - there was a small mishap which resulted in my boycotting Cacao Green for 3 months ^^v

Today’s expenditure: $7.50 [Regular size]
Cacao Green on Urbanspoon

Pie Face

20/2
Pie Face
Swanston St

Breakfast with L, the [usually] regular companion when eating out. This time I went for a Chunky Steak Pie w/ Mashed Potato and Peas + Gravy  and a Latte.


The latte was stronger than other places I’ve tried and L noted its burnt taste. Nothing special.
I’m really not an expert on mash [or food in general, but hey, it’s an excuse to take photos and have a blog] - in fact, my general rule is the smoother it is, the happier they’ve made me. Whilst Pie Face have done well on decreasing my potential weight gain, I would have appreciated extra butter.

In my vain attempt to stop the gravy from dripping overboard, I completely forgot to note its taste ^^; Flakiness of pastry I can’t comment on, considering how it was drowning underneath the gravy. The beef bits were nice and soft; salt content was too high.
And the cheesecake, which was looking oh so seductive behind the glass counter..only to weigh heavily on my heart afterwards. Now that I think about it, who makes a single slice of cheesecake in the morning ready for breakfast? As L pointed out, the woman looked very happy to be selling it.

It definitely wasn’t fresh and was too crumbly for my liking. The top of the cake had a near plastic texture, and the biscuit base and jam was terribly dry. This thing cost me $5.95: excuse me while I cry in a corner and mourn the loss of better tasting and valued food I could have enjoyed instead.

Total: Just under $17

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hanaichi

19/2
Hanaichi
245 Little Lonsdale St
Melbourne, VIC 3000



Being low on funds and alone, the food court seemed like the way to go..until I passed by this place advertising their cheap eats at a mere 6.90.
At that point in time the picture of Kay’s Chicken with Rice was looking very appealing, though I really doubted it my meal would look anywhere as pretty. Surprise surprise, after a short wait (and a moment’s mulling over someone else ordering after and getting their food before me) I was presented with the above glory. Looking good.
The chicken was in nice, bite sized pieces and was slightly crispy, although it was terribly salty. This clashed with the dollop of tangy sour cream, which I eventually abandoned on one side of the container (no corners here). On the bright side, the salad was fairly fresh, and the rice was great: soft and not too sticky. Much better than some other restaurants.

After noting the tastes though, my mind left for another world and the food stopped registering. That’s why this place warrants another visit for the next time I’m feeling cheap :D


Price: $6.90
Hanaichi (Qv Sq) on Urbanspoon