Archive for the ‘Brunch’ Category

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Cuban sandwiches are pretty much an exotic treat for a man from Australia- Cuban cuisine (even the Americanised version) is not something readily available in the suburbs of Melbourne. So every time I have an opportunity to sample some I get pretty excited.

Down here in Key West you’d be forgiven for thinking that you had wondered into a tourist trap – if you stick to the resorts, landmarks and Duval street then you would be right.

Ana’s Cuban café is located in walking distance from the southernmost point Buoy. The café is actually located inside the southernmost deli and groceries – there’s a place to order out the front or you can order inside the deli. Either way you order and eat out on the veranda surrounding the shop. It doesn’t look particularly appealing, particularly considering that it’s surrounded by resorts and hotels and not far from the start of Duval street – you would be forgiven for assuming that this is just another overpriced café catering to the tourist crowds. However, in this case you would be wrong. Ana’s actually does a really good, reasonably priced Cuban mix sandwich. What’s that you say – especially if like me you are from the land down under you probably have no idea what a Cuban mix sandwich is. It starts with Cuban bread – or Pan Cubano – which is a long baguette style loaf with a crunchy curst and a really light dough. The next layer is mayonnaise on one side and mustard on the other, you have ham, pickles, Swiss cheese, and roast pork (often slow roasted in a mojo sauce). Sounds very simple – but like a lot of simple dishes, if executed well, it can be really good. In this case they do it well. Every time I go there I get a Cuban mix. $7.50 is not a lot considering the amount of meat you get. It’s one of my favourite sandwiches.

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Blue Heaven was recommended to us by a friend who had spent a lot of time in Key West, so we figured we’d better give it shot when we came down this time around. Jessica and Chris had gone off with their girls to visit the beach, but Katie was feeling the effects of a night out on Duval street and all she wanted was brunch so we decided it was a good time to give it a go.

When we arrived the place was very busy, there was a fairly decent line and the wait was at least 30mins inside and an hour to sit outside. We figured we’d wait and so we pulled up to the bar and had a refreshing beverage. There was a pretty decent live band playing and plenty of seating in and around the bar so it really wasn’t too bad waiting. Katie had a Bloody Mary that she said was quite refreshing considering (or perhaps because of) her condition. After about half an hour of waiting we got called and were seated outside just next to the stage where the bad was playing – this actually worked out well as it distracted Lucy who was bopping away in her highchair and clapping her chubby little baby hands after each song.

The food here is quite upmarket – although not cheap. I ordered the Eggs Benedict with ham and a side of bacon and Katie went for the Shrimp and Grits New Orleans style. The Eggs came with a Key lime hollandaise which was one of the most delicious hollandaise I’ve tasted. The eggs were perfectly poached, runny and delicious – I felt like the dish wouldn’t have seemed out of place in a trendy Melbourne café back home. Everything on my plate was executed perfectly. Katie loved her shrimp and grits – it’s not something that I would ever order so I can’t really comment, but Katie is a bit of an expert and she was impressed. We ordered a slice of key lime pie to finish with because we had heard they were good here.

The downside to such a lovely meal was the price – the check came in at a smidge under $60 and with tip it cost $70 – not including the $10 already spent at the bar. If I was back home in Melbourne it would be par for the course. Here in the USA, it felt a little bit expensive and when you take into account the exchange rate – very expensive. I’d probably come back because the food was excellent – but I think I’d skip the $9.50 slice of pie at the end (but then I’m not a sweet tooth so I’m sure Katie would disagree…)

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I’ve visited Fordham’s in the past for brunch – and I’m a fan already. However, I’ve always wanted to try their burger – well, today I got that chance. As most of you know – I’m broke. it’s really not Awesome. So going out and about is far less common that it used to be. However, Taz (Poppy Taz) hadn’t visited Lucy for a while and had offered to shout us Lunch. I’ll never pass up the shot at a free lunch – and of course it is always nice to catch up with Taz.

It wasn’t too busy at Fordham’s – we arrived a bit after the Brunch rush so things were starting to settle down – we got a table inside and had the menus out and food ordered pretty quickly. I got the double cheeseburger, Katie – the steak sandwich and Taz went for the scotch eggs. The scotch eggs looked amazing and according to Taz, were pretty good.

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An interesting take on the old scotch egg – Taz felt that they were surprising – but in a good way. Katie’s steak sandwich was apparently very good, she didn’t give me any so I can’t confirm. I ordered the burger, which comes with big chips – nice and soft in the centre and accompanied with some very nice dipping sauce. The burger is advertised as the double cheese burger – I normally think double beef when I hear that, but on this occasion it meant double cheese. I would have liked another patty to be honest – next time I might order it that way. Anyway – the burger comes pretty standard – meat, double American cheese, pickles, tomato, sauce. For a cheese burger, it’s very good. You know my position on bacon, so I feel as though it could only be enhanced by a couple of crispy slices – but aside from the lack of bacon – it’s quite good. So good in fact that I had to keep it away from Lucy:

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The bun in this burger was well toasted, a little on the sweet side for me, but balanced well by the other elements. The patty was cooked all the way through, I think it would have been better with a hint of pink. Even still, it was juicy and tender, and most importantly – well seasoned. There were quite a few pickles and a fair whack of sauce – when coupled with the double cheese – this gave the burger a really, juicy, saucy kind of feel which I really liked. A bit on the small side for me – however the elements are there for a great burger – and considering the place is a brunch place and not a burger joint – I’m impressed. I give it a 7.5 – which is a solid score – add bacon and I’d say it would be an 8+.

 

 

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Judging by the frequency of my posts of recent times, it would appear that fatherhood has placed a bit of a handbrake on my food adventures… These days, when I do go out, it’s not often that it’s on an adventure. You’re just never sure what the environment will be like, and whether it will be baby friendly etc. Oh well.

Since it was fathers day today (my first) Katie decided that heading out for brunch would be a good option. Low key, normally baby friendly, and there’s plenty of good options. Maling road is a quaint little heritage listed district not far from home with a plethora of cafe’s to choose from. We wondered into Bombaleros (as we spied a high chair – must be baby friendly), and proceeded to set up for brunch. We have to set up these days… Not that I would swap things for the world – but there was a time when things were much more spontaneous. Anyway, Bombaleros, unbeknown to us, is a Spanish/South America inspired cafe. The menu is short and sweet for the bunch options – most have that south American vibe. I would normally go with a big breakfast, but on this occasion it would have been too expensive. They don’t offer a big breakfast, so you would have to construct your own, by adding to the eggs on toast. When these are north of $10 already and your side will set you back between 3.5 and 4.5, then my usual would have come in around $27… Normally the big breakfast option is a bit of a discount so the build your own option was just too pricy here. I was forced opt for a more creative option, which I usually want to do anyway, I’m just always scared I wont get enough to eat. I ordered the Columbian Burrito, which was filled with mushrooms, bacon and chorizo mixed with scrambled eggs wrapped, on the side was guacamole and Pico de Gallo. To be honest – somewhat bland, needed something to really give it some zing.

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Mum and Jo ordered the Serrano croquettes which came with roasted tomato, bacon, wilted spinach, poached egg, aioli & chimichurri. These were excellent, and thankfully I had a fair helping of mum’s as she wasn’t all that hungry. And Katie just went for Bacon and eggs.

Quite a nice place, and an interesting take on Brunch. If I were to go back I definitely opt for the croquettes, they were delicious. Not a bad way to spend fathers day – and Lucy only cried at the end. Success!

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It’s been so long since I’ve updated the blog that I forgot my login details… Anyway, lets enjoy this moment while it lasts. Christopher and Mum decided they wanted to shower Lucy with some more baby presents, so we thought Brunch could be a good idea. Katie visits the Food Republic with her mothers group every Wednesday so we knew the place was fairly decent and not too far away, so it was an easy choice.

I’d suggest booking for Sunday brunch, as the place was packed and there was a wait when we arrived. Thankfully I took my own advice and we had booked a table off to the side so we could fit the baby capsule. The staff here are very accommodating and efficient and the table they had chosen for us was well located with plenty of room.

Christopher, Katie and yours truly all opted for eggs of some sorts and Mum went with the super sized schnitzel sandwich. Looking around the restaurant I was a bit envious of the lunch options coming out, and I think I’d probably opt for one of those next time, as they all looked amazing.

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I ordered the big breakfast however as I hadn’t eaten and it seemed wrong to jump straight to lunch. I went with scrambled eggs – as the waitress had recommended them  – and they were very good. The big breakfast was around $22 I think,  and overall it was quite nice. However, there was nothing really that made it stand out. I think there needed to be something different – some baked beans could have done the job – you know how I love my beans. It comes with mushrooms, bacon, tomato, pork sausage, plenty of toast and I got some potato rosti as well.

First impressions and it looked the part – a good serving size – although, the first thing I noticed was the bacon. I’m not a fan of short cut bacon – and although this was a nice smoky bacon, it just lacked the crispy fat that I was really craving. Nice mushrooms, with a nice rosemary hit, and a lovely whole grilled tomato. The rosti wasn’t the best I’ve had, and the sausage was ok – I had Christopher’s as he didn’t like it. As you can see a bit hit and miss. On the other hand, Mum’s schnitzel sandwich was very good.

It’s a nice place, with very good, friendly staff and a good honest breakfast, and some very good lunches. Well worth a visit.

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Any place that has Black pudding on it’s brunch menu gets bonus points in my book. There’s just something to be said for a good blood sausage to get the day going.

As Katie and I were in South Melbourne to pick up some baby related things that Katie had bought off EBay, we decided to grab some brunch at Dead Man Espresso. I didn’t know anything about the place, but Katie had heard some good things. We got there at about 12ish, so a little bit after the normal brunch rush and grabbed a seat inside. The one issue I have with a lot of café’s is that their tables are just too cramped. With Katie being 39 weeks along, it was pretty hard to navigate through the tables let alone sit down at the cramped bench table- although the waitress was very friendly and helpful. Once we had finished with the human Tetris process and had finally squeezed in, we ordered our tea and coffee and browsed the menu. When I saw the Campfire hotplate item on the menu had Black pudding I was pretty sure I knew what I was getting – it came with bacon, potato and kale hash, mushrooms, tomato’s, toast & fried eggs along with the Black pud ($22.50 from memory). Katie opted for the Potato & kale hash which came with grilled kaiserfleisch & fried eggs($19.50). Neither of the items were on the cheap side, but I guess these are more interesting than your usual fare so I figure it’s worth the slight premium.

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My Brunch came out on a sizzling skillet – great idea… Except on the tiny table, which was already overflowing with my tea pot and tea cup, Katie’s coffee and the water jug, glasses etc… the skillet becomes this dangerous burning plate of pain. I scalded myself a couple of times… but it was worth it. The plate was overflowing with food – the toast didn’t even fit, and the hash and black pudding were hiding underneath. It started to look like value for money to be honest. The black pudding was lovely, well spiced with a slight sweet note to counter the richness. The bacon was good quality, smokey and thickly cut – but they only gave me the short cut, would have been nice to get the streaky section. The Potato and Kale hash was also delicious, and with the mushrooms and tomato’s rounding out the dish I think we have a winner here.  Yes, there are a lot of great brunch options in South Melbourne, but I tell you what, I wouldn’t be complaining if I found myself at Dead Man Espresso for Brunch again.

Dead Man Espresso on Urbanspoon

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Katie and I love brunch – it’s possibly the most stress free dinning experience there can be. It’s slow and relaxed and you can just take your time, sipping your tea or coffee (gross – don’t even try to tell me coffee taste good). There just a ritual kind of aspect to Brunch that I like – it makes the day so much easier to face. Today’s brunch destination was in Camberwell – or Surry Hills – I’m a little confused as to which suburb this café is situated… Anyway, it’s a short drive down Riversdale rd. Katie did a little research and found All Blue Espresso, so this turned out to be the venue for our “Valentines day date”. I placed that in  “” because Katie is really the only one who would refer to our brunch as such. I on the other hand refuse to bow to this commercial hallmark holiday!! I’ll buy my wife flowers and shower her with attention when ever I feel like it thank you very much. Of course I’m hoping she doesn’t read this – Katie is after all, American, and they tend to take these things a little bit more seriously than us Aussies. Add in the fact that she’s pregnant… Well let’s just say that this valentines day I had to make more of an effort to shut my mouth (Debatable as to wether I succeeded).

All Blue Espresso is quite a small café, located in a row of shops off Riversdale rd. On arrival we were a little worried that we may have need to book – not to worry though, we managed to find a table inside easily enough, and were soon hungrily perusing the menu. After some indecision, Katie selected the corn fritters and I decided to go with the same dish I get just about every time, just about anywhere we go for brunch – the big breakfast. The “I’m Hungry” breakfast comes with chorizo, bacon, tomato, mushrooms, toast and eggs. No baked beans with this one, which is a bit of shame as I do love my beans. The breakfast itself was pretty standard, I liked the fact that they had buttered my toast – strangely enough so many places don’t these days, this just makes me annoyed. Who wants dry crusty toast? The mushrooms were almost a dice, but they were quite flavourful, and the tomato was a whole tomato, not halved, still spherical, and roasted which I really liked. The chorizo was lovely although a little spicy for me – but so nice that I kept eating it. What I didn’t much care for was the fact that the bacon was just the short cut:

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I may as well have a piece of ham – it’s the fat that gets crispy and tastes so good. Why leave that out?? Oh well. Katie quite enjoyed her corn fritters and the service was quite good. The price was also pretty  reasonable. We both got drinks – a pot of English breakfast for me – which was lovely, and a coffee for Katie. All for less than a $50. Whilst good, I’d say there are many great choices in the area, so I’d probably not go out of my way to go back just for Brunch (Or I’d try something different). The hunt continues…

 

All Blue Espresso on Urbanspoon

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Katie found a gem with this one – Fordham’s Milk bar, is a lovely café and actual milk bar located in Camberwell, not far from Hartwell train station. After all the moving and baby stuff lately, Katie and I needed some time to just sit and relax and have a nice brunch. Thankfully, Katie suggested Fordham’s – which is not too far from us. As it was a nice warm day we decided to sit outside and enjoy the breeze. I was pretty hungry so I order the big breakfast which comes with eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and spinach. Katie ordered a breakfast burrito and then a croissant. Both meals were really delicious. Apparently Katie’s coffee was good, my tea was nice – but then it’s hard to stuff that up – although I did like the fact that it was loose leaf tea and the water was nice and hot.

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You can also probably see that I got an order of the Boston baked beans on the side as well. Whilst they were nothing like “Boston” baked beans I’ve had in Boston, they were still amazingly scrumptious. The crumbled feta added a nice sharp note and spice blend on the beans was really good. not sure if I’d call them Boston Baked Beans though… Everything else on my plate was executed exceptionally well. The scrambled eggs were done nicely, creamy and not dry at all. The sausages were excellent and had a nice flame-grilled flavour. The mushrooms were lovely and even the spinach was nice. I’d go back in a heart-beat. Apparently they have a burger as well. I know where my next burger adventure is taking me… Highly recommended.

Fordham's Milk Bar on Urbanspoon

Located right down the end of Main Street Mornington, Boyz 4 Breakie is a popular place to get that bacon and egg fix so often needed on a Saturday or Sunday morning after…  After a big day spent adventuring down the Great Ocean road yesterday, none of us felt much like cooking so the decision was made to head down to Boyz 4 Breakie. A good time to get a late breakfast before heading back up to the city and saying goodbye to Melissa and her Mum, Maria as they return to Sydney. I’ve been a few times to Boyz 4 Breakie and it’s always packed – probably because the food has always been pretty decent.

When we arrived today, Melissa spotted another table finishing off what looked like three burgers – I was of course intrigued. Further investigation revealed that one of the menu offerings was the three Breakie Burger Sliders! Happy days I thought, I grab those thank you very much. Melissa ordered the same, with Katie getting a big Breakfast type of arrangement and Maria ordering the Pancakes. Katie really enjoyed her breakfast and I was lucky enough to sample a little bit of her plate. The chipolatas were really good and the scrambled eggs were lovely. Maria enjoyed her pancakes, and everyone thought their coffees were nice – god I hate coffee… But I wont go off on that rant – I had a T2 Tea, in a pot, English Breakfast, just the way I like it – a civilized way to start the day.
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The Breakie Burgers came with Black Angus beef patties, bacon, fried eggs, cheese, lettuce, tomato relish, all served in-between three rather generously sized, white bread, sesame seeded slider buns. The patties were more of a back note – cooked medium and lightly herbed, put together with good quality meat, not overly beefy – they worked well, allowing the bacon and eggs to be the stars of the show.

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The eggs were fried, still runny, one exploded on me and the yolk went all over my hand and arm, thankfully missing my clothes – I love that runny egg yolk on a burger – so good. The bacon was salty and had a nice grill flavour and light char marks, and the relish really rounded out the sliders. All in all, one of the better burgers I’ve had recently – and it was for breakfast. Great way to start the day, I give them a solid 7. Very nice.

Boyz 4 Breakie on Urbanspoon

A little while back Katie and I caught up for lunch/brunch with Paul and Ness on the way back from some house hunting. Ness suggested Crackerjack Café right on Carrum Beach as it was hot as hell and they were headed to the beach anyway. Crackerjack is located in the new Carrum bowls club, and the name stems from the fact that some of the scenes from the movie “Crakerjack” were filmed here. Anyway, so the café is up stairs and has been designed to make the most of the view – you get uninterrupted views of the bay and the beach here is also pretty nice. We organised to meet at the café but didn’t think to make a booking – unfortunately when we arrived there were no tables inside. It was a very hot and windy day, the conditions weren’t the best out on the deck – our menus were blowing all over the place. Thankfully the friendly waitress did mention that it shouldn’t be too long before a table was ready and we could order our meals and then move inside when a table became free. We didn’t have to wait too long and we were soon inside in the air-conditioned comfort ordering our meals.

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Paul and Ness were looking at the lunch items and Katie wanted a few of the smaller plates – I had skipped breakfast however so I really felt the need for eggs of some description. I ended up ordering the crackerjack big breakfast which was quite nice, it comes with your choice of two eggs, tomato, mushrooms, spinach, bacon, chipolata, hash brown and hollandaise sauce pretty standard big breakfast – however I only realised on the drive home that they forgot to give me any bacon – I must have been effected by the heat to not realise that… Oh well, and if I didn’t notice it during the meal then it can’t have been too badly missed – that or I was distracted by the great conversation and company (More likely).

I liked the addition of the hollandaise, not so much for the eggs – since mine were scrambled – but to dip the hash browns in, quite tasty actually. The breakfast itself as a whole was average, the eggs were over cooked and a little dry and the chipolata was dead and rubbery. I’d probably go poached eggs next time to be safe and the hollandaise would make sense then. The hash browns were the frozen kind, they were the ok I guess, but not winning any points here. The mushrooms were uninteresting and could have used some herbs or seasoning although the spinach and tomato’s were both quite good and well seasoned. To be honest, it was standard suburban breakfast fare – I make it better myself at home and it doesn’t cost me $22, however I don’t have the view and it’s nice to have someone make it and then clean up. I should mention that everyone else enjoyed their meals, so I guess mine could have just been the odd one out – but then no one was raving about it afterwards. Would I go back? Probably, but I wouldn’t go out of my way.

Crackerjack Waterfront Cafe on Urbanspoon