Friday, February 22, 2013

Small Town Bakery - Kew East - review

One sunny afternoon, on my way to visit the husband at work, I spotted a new addition to the High St shopping strip. With a wooden picket fence and neon yellow chairs it grabbed my interest enough to warrant a peek. Their window was filled with beautiful rustic loaves of organic bread which I am always on the lookout for, and to have it so close to the spouse's workplace made me jump with glee. (Inside they have a bread schedule to let you know what loaves are coming up)
Looking at those delectable loaves made my tummy rumble so I decided to pop in. The space itself is quite tiny but wonderfully decorated. The first detail that caught my eye were the cheerful bouquets of billy buttons which are a personal favourite flower of mine.
The colour scheme is natural with bright yellow accents and plenty of rustic wood and old-school chalk boards. The display case is the center of attention and filled with quality-looking items that are labelled with the cutest pegged and twined tags.
Behind the counter are large wooden boxes filled with supplies such as free-range eggs, scales and juices. 
The packaging is right up my alley - I wrap all my gifts in brown paper so I loved the small cardboard boxes for the salads and the brown paper and serviettes the other items come in; simple but stylish. 
They also have a record player, which on my first visit was filling the air with the music of the Jazz great, Miles Davis and on my second visit a selection of cool funk from the 70s.

Enough about the interior - unto the food!

Roast Beef with Dijon Mayonnaise, Rocket and Caramelised Onion - $7

Mr.M enjoyed this. He also wants to mention their Beef Empanada which comes with a delicious tomato chutney.

Quinoa, lentil, bean, rocket and veggie salad - $7

This is the second time I have purchased this salad. It is light yet filling with earthiness from the lentils, nuttiness from the quinoa, freshness from the herbs and sweetness from the diced veg. I have to also mention their Broccoli, cranberry and sunflower seed salad which I buy whenever it's available - it's delicious.

Dream bar - $5

With a name like that expectations are made, luckily for this little rustic beauty it was tremendously dreamy. The meringue like crust gives way to a gloriously fudgey chocolate center speckled with walnut pieces and chewy coconut which sits atop a crumbly base. I am incredibly smitten with anything that consists of cocoa-y gooeyness and so I am already thinking of heading back tomorrow to purchase another of these bars (ok, make that 2...).
Highly recommend to any sweet tooths. I have also tried their scones which were generous portions and delicious.

Lemon Bar - $5

I adore lemon bars, but so far none that I have purchased have truly satisfied my criteria until today. The ratio of lemon curd to shortbread base is spot on. The crust is akin to a creme brulee and cracks beneath your teeth to reveal a lusciously decadent filling that melds the right amount of tartness to sweetness. Another repeat purchase for sure.

Their selection of food is good quality, diverse and reasonably priced (I have noticed so many cafe sandwiches these days priced at $10!). I have also tried their vegetarian smashed avocado roll and the bread itself was so incredibly soft with the slightest hint of sweetness, and I am not even a bread person! They also have vegan empanadas as well as salads so even vegans are catered for.

With both of my sweet picks being so successful I am eager to try more of their desserts, especially the single origin chocolate brownie - drool... 

With friendly service, delicious, affordable and interesting food, not to mention great music, you can't go wrong with a visit to Small Town Bakery. 

Small Town Bakery on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 18, 2013

Estelle Bar and Kitchen - Northcote - review

Mr.M and I found ourselves with a babysitter and 1.5hours to ourselves. Naturally, we set straight about to finding a restaurant to glutton the time away. 
Mr.M felt like some Modern Australian so after a quick search on Urbanspoon I stumbled upon a restaurant in a suburb that to be honest with you, wouldn't have even registered on my radar to dine in. Seeing so many rave reviews we thought we couldn't lose, and as luck would have it we snagged a seat at the bar.

The restaurant itself is very intimate, the smallest of spaces, dimly lit with patterned walls and a wooden bar. Mr.M remarked that the tiled wall reminded him of a public bathroom though. We informed our waitress that we only had 1.5hours to spare and what courses could we fit in that time, she remarked that they could definitely do 7 in that time frame, but I was dubious and decided to play it safe with the 5 courses for $70., which was fortunate as we ended up leaving 10 minutes late.

We started off with some appetisers:

Jerusalem artichoke with Persian feta
This was my favourite of the trio. 
Fake chicken skin with yoghurt

This was quite oily and a strong acrid overtone.
Pickled rockmelon

Mr.M enjoyed this one the most. It was quite fresh and light.

Aviation cocktail ginmaraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice.

Mr.M thoroughly enjoyed this cocktail, even if he did find it a touch strong.

Leek, fennel and olive

This was pleasant, the olive paste was the starring element and brought the subtler leek and fennel flavours together.
Eggplant, soy and sesame

I was incredibly hungry and yet I had to force myself to finish it - the seawood and salt factor was too overwhelming for me, it wasn't balanced.
Heirloom tomatoes and fior di latte

This was nice enough but nothing flash, middle of the road tomato salad and consomme.
Green apple and coffee

Mr.M enjoyed this.


I enjoyed this. The little 70s orange droplets (I cant remember what the flavour was) were delicious and kicked everything up a notch. 
Sher Wagyu, burnt onion and horseradish

Mr.M's favourite dish of the night.
Sour cream, pumpkin and salted caramel

I feel like there must be something wrong with me, because contrary to all the reviews I have read, I did NOT like this at all. For me, it was reminiscent of soggy bread. There was no flavour that spoke to me and the textures were unappetising. It is probably one of the least delicious desserts I have ever had. I honestly don't know why so many other customers liked it...

Perhaps I walked in with too empty a belly because after their 5 courses I felt as though I had only eaten a standard entree. Their portion sizes are quite small, even for degustation.
The service was also slow with our empty plates remaining before us for 15 minutes each time. 
I do want to say though that our bartender was fabulous, and on more than one occasion it was he who alerted our waitress to remove our finished plates and ended up bringing us the bill.
With dining out being a rare occurrence for us now, I don't think we shall be returning.

Estelle Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon