Monday, November 26, 2012

Xocolatl Artisan Chocolates - Kew East- review

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” 

― Charles M. Schulz

I could inhale and consume mountains of glorious chocolate every single day and never get sick of it. NEVER. Because of my addiction I have tried every type of artisan chocolate shop out there, but it was a little store on Maling Road that finally ended my search.
I don't know what has taken me so long to write this post as Xocolatl as been my favourite chocolate shop for YEARS. It is rather rude of me not to have shared my treasure. Please forgive me.

Every month, my three beautiful best friends and I would meet there rain, hail or in blistering heat to order some hot chocolates and a few small pieces (they ordered a few, I would order an entire box, naturally).

Not only did I find my favourite individual chocolates, I also found my favourite hot chocolate - luscious, THICK, and flavoured with exotic rose and heady spices - heaven I tell you!!!

Ever since my hubby relocated his business to High St Kew East, their Kew store has since become my local haunt; I go every week to get myself a box of nine (and that's showing restraint) lovingly crafted chocolates. I have sampled every single flavour they have, but to keep it short, I shall inform you of the ones I would buy over and over again - my most beloved.

I must start with my personal number 1 - the Rose Caramel (pictured above right in the middle).

the following below are also extremely delicious - you have been warned.

  • Popcorn caramel
  • Rose, lychee and strawberry
  • Apricot Gianduja
  • Tendre Praline
  • Cardamom
  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon
  • Salted caramel
  • Coconut
  • Creme Brulee
  • Sesame
  • Lime

They change flavours regularly and have such a diverse variety,from the more common raspberry truffle or praline to the most unusual such as:
  • Goat cheese and peach
  • Elvis (peanut butter and banana, another flavour much favoured by me).
  • Basil and champagne
  • Smoked olive oil
  • Strawberry Shortbread
  • the list goes on!
Do yourself a favour and head down to their Canterbury or Kew East shop and taste heaven in a morsel.
They have their Christmas editions currently in stock with everything from Christmas Tree printed chocolates to large Santas and even Babushkas!

Xocolatl Artisan Chocolates and Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lil Boy Blue - Kew - review

I might be in the dark as to what's popped up in the greater Melbourne area, but when it comes to my local hood (Boroondara) I spot a new restaurant whilst driving like an eagle spots a tasty mouse.
And it was on a trip down to Leo's in Kew that I spotted this little gem.

As soon as I got home, I googled it, checked their menu (most important) and their opening hours. And what a lucky day for me that they are pretty much open all hours, very handy when you have an irregular napper for a kid.

So off we sauntered for a 5pm dinner on a Saturday with some familia, a baby and a cucumber (baby's pacifier, or so we hoped).

Our familia had some trouble spotting the cafe whilst driving, so do keep a lookout.
The interior is lovely with some very prominent shag-like carpeting squares on the wall. Whilst I thought they complimented the decor, my 14month old had a panic attack like no other and shrieked with fear whenever she looked up at them. To avoid this I had to sit her in my lap instead of the offered high chair, luckily I was on one of their benches so I could sit her next to me when it came to eating.

Their whole menu looked delicious, so we just picked willy-nilly and crossed our fingers.

chilli prawn soft tacos with coleslaw, avocado lime salsa & smoked paprika

 Mr.M thought these were delicious.
I thought the branded wrappers were adorable.

chickpea & sumac battered mushrooms with balsamic reduction

Oh my goodness I loved these. I loved these so much that I did not wait until they were cool enough to eat and as a result burnt the roof of my mouth, but it was worth it. The batter offers a lovely, salty and crisp coating to the meaty mushrooms with the reduction delivering a pleasant sweet tang. Yum.

chacuterie board; cured & smoked meats, pickled veg, terrine, pate, bread

The offered was gluten-free as we were also dining with a gluten-free eater.

pork belly cooked twice with sweet corn puree, caramelised apple, preserved lemon & caper dressing

E really enjoyed this. Mr.M had pork-belly-envy.

grain fed beef fillet w hand cut polenta chips, pickled swiss browns, baby beetroot & juniper infused jus

L thought this was nice and didn't even realise the chips were polenta.

special: baby chicken with potatoes

Mr.M said it was lovely, but upon seeing the pork belly, lamented his decision.

spring vegetable plate.
artichoke hearts, asparagus, broad beans, polenta chips, goats feta, truffle honey dressing & crispy shallots

A really lovely, hearty veggie dish. The truffle honey was such a nice touch and I adored it with the creamily tangy goats cheese and salty shallots. The veggies were all done well and the polenta chips added a nice textural element.

I wish we could have stayed for dessert, but Little Miss was having none of it.

The service was excellent and really friendly. The staff were dressed in their own hipster attire which gave the place a really casual vibe.

I enjoyed the food, service and the atmosphere and will definitely be back for a date night or even brekky or lunch!

Lil Boy Blue on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Whoopie Pie Bakery - Camberwell - review

Ever since I had my beautiful daughter one year ago, I have been completely out of the 'foodie' loop; I wouldn't know what restaurant is hot, what's closed down and what's opened up on my own street. Needless to say, it's going to take me a while to catch up.
Just the other day, I found  myself with some time to spend, and used it to read some of my favourite food blogs. And whilst I was perusing Momo and Coco I was shocked to discover that not only had a Whoopie Pie store opened, but that it was merely a 10 minute drive away! After witnessing a whoopie pie explosion on American sites for so long,  I was so incredibly eager to finally sink my teeth into a whoopie pie, that as soon as my little girl had awoken, I had her dressed and out the door before she could even register that she had indeed, woken up. 

Taking Momo and Cocos review into account, here is what I selected.


I don't drink coffee but this pie was my absolute favourite. It nailed the tiramisu flavours. The cake itself was that perfect balance of moist yet light and the butttercream frosting was sweet but not cloying. 

Chocolate peanut butter

Mr.M enjoyed this one the most. Whilst it was nice, I felt it could have had more of a peanut butter kick, the flavours were a little subdued for me.

Red Velvet

This was the least successful out of the selection for me, I found it lacked flavour.

Pistachio Rose Water

I was very eager to try this, as I LOVE rose. Alas, this turned out to be my second least favourite of the bunch. The pistachio made the cake a touch too crumbly and it lost its 'softness'. The rose however, was completely lacking. I really wanted that floral note to stand out, but I think, in order to suit everyone, they may have dialed down the flavours on this one.

Apple and Cinnamon

This was my second favourite of the day. The tart apple and heady cinnamon were wonderfully balanced, it was like a mouthful of apple pie. Really delicious.

Chocolate Salted Caramel (the kind owner generously gave me three small samples to try out).

I adore salted caramel, the saltier the better. Whilst the chocolate component was delicious, I felt the caramel could have used a touch more salt. That being said, it was still a delightful pie.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tiramisu and apple flavours, but unfortunately all of the family members who also sampled the goods found all of the pies to be TOO SWEET for them. I didn't think they were overly sweet at all, but then again, I am a sugar fiend.

The store definitely stands out with its vibrant red and white stripes (I am obsessed with red and white stripes at the moment.) Inside though, the decor felt a little too much like a bar/lounge to me with the dark leather sofas. I didn't feel as though I was in a bakery at all.
That aside, the packaging is divine and feels very upmarket.

The service is super friendly to the point that it took a good 20 minutes before I could even ask for the pies I wanted. I wasn't in a rush to be anywhere, so I enjoyed the chat. The counter display still had the previous day's whoopie pies on show which was a little off-putting as you don't know what the actual merchandise looks like (the older pies were dry and cracking and some flavours had sold out and weren't on display).

I, personally, would purchase a pie again, but as none of our company enjoyed them it would only be a snack for moi if I found myself in the neighborhood.

The Whoopie Pie Bakery on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

St Katherines - Kew - review

The eastern suburbs tends to favour Asian and Italian cuisines, so when, on my way home from Leo's, I spotted this restaurant, I was rather excited.
1. Because it was new.
2. Because it was Greek/Maltese/Turkish cuisine - which appeals to both my husband's and my heritage.
3. Because it seemed like it might be child friendly and is open from lunch to dinner (which meant my baby's lack-of-naptime-routine wouldn't matter as we could eat at anytime.)

So once Sunday rolled around we waited until baby took her first nap and as soon as her eyelids fluttered open we were in the car and on our way. We arrived at 4pm on a Sunday and were warmly greeted by a gentleman that was extremely helpful and seated us in the corner booth that looks out unto the street (great if you have kids as there is plenty of room for them to sit in between you and the wall and they have the street window to keep them amused).

The space is quite large and with plenty of room and a mix of seating arrangements. Whilst it has a casual vibe there was a mix of patrons, those in their Sunday best and those in jeans and a tee. There was also quite a few families with young kids.

The cutlery is served in re-used tins with paper napkins that reminded me of lunch at my Yiayia's house. The plates are vibrant and are mismatched making the dining experience feel a little like a family home, but more refined.

As I'd already decided what we were going to order at home, we rattled off our list to our waiter and before we knew it, the food had arrived.

KFC "St Katherine's fried chicken" BBQ sauce, Japanese mayo - $13.50 half bucket (.5L)

Mr.M ate the whole tub - by himself.

Pide 1 mint, ricotta, haloumi, peppered figs - $15

 I was really excited about this as each ingredient sounded right up my alley. And whilst it was OK, what it really needed, to make it spectacular, was some salt. There wasn't enough haloumi to counter the sweetness of the mint, figs and ricotta. It was just a bit too sweet for me.

Pide 2 Maltese pork sausage, onion rings, tomato, kasar, mustard mayo - $18

Mr.M enjoyed this. I stole some of his onion rings and they were DELICIOUS - perfect ratio of crispy batter to sweet sticky onion - YUM.

Salad of ancient grains seeds, nuts, lentils, capers, currents, pomegranate - $12.50

I really enjoyed the varied textures and the sweet and salty flavours. I adore pomegranate in savoury dishes.

Chips and tarama - $9.50

Mr.M liked them.

Choc chip mousse hot cherry jam doughnut - $14.90

I was very excited to try this dessert, and being a huge sweet tooth, was prepared to hog the whole lot, but for some reason, it just didn't come together for me. The chocolate chip mousse tasted more like cream than chocolate. The donuts were nice but as a whole, it didn't really 'light my fire'.

“Mr Whippy” sundae options – salted caramel, pomegranate brownie and chocolate pomegranate sauce ($9.50).

Once again, despite it being ice cream (I'm not a huge fan as I don't like the ice cold temperature), the ingredient  list looked too good to pass up. But like the choc mousse, it left me cold. The tart pomegranate dominated and I could barely get a hint of cocoa or the salted caramel, and as other's have mentioned, the ice cream really does feel 'extra cold'. Maybe my expectations of dessert were a little high, especially after the savoury dishes were so tasty.

The service was fantastic, speedy and friendly. We enjoyed our meal and even though desserts were a bit of a let down, we will definitely come back, either with baby or without. And we might even bring the whole family along for a Sunday feast.

St Katherine's on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mister Bianco - Kew - review

Name: Mister Bianco

Address: 285 High st
Kew 3101
(03) 9853 6929

Food: Italian, Meidterranen

Average price: Entree: $12-$16, Mains: $24-$36, Dessert: $13-$16

Complimentary:  Bread rolls with marinated olives.

We ordered: Arancini with saffron, pea and smoked mozzarella $12

We ordered these based on the reviews of others, and were definitely glad we did. They were delicious. Generous portion for a starter too. They would be great as an entree for one person.

Crispy fried wagyu chilli beef with oregano leaves, parmesan wafer, celeriac remoulade + red pepper dressing $19 

Double baked goats cheese souffle, salad of candied walnuts, baby spinach leaves + salsa verde $17 

This was lovely and quite light. A little sweet but still pleasing.

Baked crepes ‘crespelle’ of ricotta + spinach, yellow tomato sugo + basil pesto $28 

A really generous serve, which I would never complain about. The dish was yummy but very rich and I found myself wanting more of the delicious pesto to cut through the heavy cheese. With a little more pesto this would be smashing, comforting food. Perfect for a chilly evening.

Braised lamb ‘eye of shoulder’ in red wine, creamed spatzle, savoury nut praline + glazed dried figs $37

Broccolini and green beans, parmesan + lemon crumbs $8

We received this order by accident and were given it for free anyway, which was nice. But otherwise a fairly standard dish, wouldn't order it personally.

mister bianco ‘vienetta’, chocolate semifreddo. hazelnut caramel crunch $16 

This got me salivating from the description, unfortunately it wasn't as nice as it sounded. The chocolate was too mellow and drowned beneath the somewhat bitter caramel. There wasn't much 'substance' to it.

“sfingi”, hot Italian donuts, ricotta candied cream $15

Oh boy, these were a sugar overload. I think because the other dishes we had eaten were already so rich, that when these came out we just couldn't eat more than one. Very sweet but well cooked.

Service: Good. The wait staff were lovely however the desserts took quite a while to come out compared to the first three dishes. We did however receive a side order by accident and were given it free of charge which was lovely.

Atmosphere: Modern, neutral tones. The restaurant has a minimal look with the bar running along one side. It is a touch on the small side, so tables are fairly close together.


Hours: Fri & Sun noon-2.30pm
Daily 6pm-late

Would I return: Yes. With the generous serving size and delicious dishes I will definitely be back.
Mister Bianco on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 6, 2012

Vegie Hut - Box Hill - review

 Name: Vegie Hut

Address: 984 Whitehorse Rd 
Box Hill, VIC 3128
03 9898 2287

Food: Chinese, Vegetarian, Vegan, Buddhist

We ordered: (take away). Vegetable Spring Rolls
These were some of the tastiest spring rolls I have had, but the pastry could have been cooked a touch more.
Salt and Pepper chicken
Incredibly spot on texture wise. Reminiscent of KFC's popcorn chicken. These were still nice the next day.
Chicken Nuggets
Mr.M exclaimed these were some of the best chicken nuggets he has had so he enjoyed them. I never liked chicken nuggets back in my meat-eating days so these weren't to my liking.
Pad See Ewe
Unfortunately this was too bitter for me and the noodles quite gluggy. I wouldn't order it again.
Lemon Chicken
Probably the least spot on in terms of texture but others a fairly good replica of lemon chicken. Funnily enough, despite chicken being the only meat I used to eat I didn't enjoy the faux versions, they tasted too much like the real thing and meat just doesn't taste great to me. Hubby enjoyed it more as it didn't have that chewy, poor meat quality taste you sometimes get from the real deal. (pictured without sauce).
Crispy Duck
As you can see I accidentally poured the lemon sauce over the duck. That aside I couldn't eat this as it just tasted too much like meat and duck was one of those meats I never tried as I couldn't bring myself to eat a duck. Hubby said it tasted extraordinarily similar to the real thing.

Veggie dumplings
My favourite dish of the night.


Hours: Closed Tuesdays.

Would I return: Yes. Great place for vegetarians/vegans - it would probably fool most meat-eaters too!
Vegie Hut Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 11, 2012

Wunderbar - Rye - review

Name: Wunderbar

Address: 2409 Pt. Nepean Road
Rye, VIC 3941
03 5985  9187

Food: German, European

Average price: $4 - $34.

Complimentary:  Nothing,

We ordered: Langos - $7.50
hungarian fried flatbread, served with sour cream and grated cheese

This was our favourite dish. The bread was crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. It was decadent and yummy with the sour cream and cheese. It's not gourmet but it's still yummy, trashy food.

Mozzarella, pear, prosciutto, honey - $13

We were surprised at how nicely this was plated up. Mr.M liked it but I found the pears to taste rather 'old' and grainy which was a shame as the other ingredients were fresh.

Thick cut chips - $7

Nicely cooked chips that were well seasoned.

Apfelstrudel - $12
with vanilla sauce and whipped cream

I love Apfelstrudels and unfortunately this one was the worst I have ever had, two mouthfuls was all I could eat. The pastry was tough and the filling was tasteless. The accompaniments were no better with the sauce tasting like sugar and cornflour and the cream like water.
Service: Good. We were the only patrons in the place so it is a bit hard to tell what the average service would be like.

Atmosphere: European pub with a view of the ocean. I can't comment on the atmosphere as we were the only people in the place so it was deadly quiet when we dined, but they have lounge areas as well as tables with board games to play as well.


Hours: Monday, Wednesday and Thursday: 4pm till late
Friday and Saturday: 12noon till late
Sunday: 12noon till 11pm
Tuesday: closed

Would I return: Yes, the langos and chips were nice enough and cheaply enough priced to warrant another try.

Wunderbar on Urbanspoon