Bianca: After much discussion team FFS managed to finally score a booking at Attica. Our bags were packed, restaurants booked and hotels and accommodation sorted… so off we went.
Alex and I made our way down a few days before Ness. We spent a few days at the Langham where I had one of the best hotel experiences of my life. And then we moved over to an Airbnb apartment in Southbank.
I suggested a return visit to Krimper café in the CBD after a good experience last year. It’s essentially a converted low-lit warehouse. You’d completely walk past it if you weren’t looking out for it. Alex referred to the internal fit-out as ‘barnyard chic’ haha. Hate to say it but service was atrocious, everything from having to ask for menus, to water and then having to flag someone down to order. Super frustrating.
We settled on the Avo Green Toast – Avocado, broccoli, pomegranate, radish, chilli peanut, lime, kale chips and a poached egg $16. You pretty much have to be failing at life to stuff up avocado on toast. This was a fairly good jazzed up version. The pomegranate seeds were an interesting touch but the absolute standouts were the kale chips and the chilli peanuts, which were both excellent textural elements. The eggs were poached perfectly and added creaminess.
Alex went with one of the specials, a Chicken toastie. Neither here nor there for us I’m afraid. Pretty dry and ordinary. Ultimately we left unimpressed.
There was no way I was going to miss out on Shane Delia’s Biggie Smalls another time. So we made a beeline for Collingwood (on foot mind you). I love Maha and was equally impressed with his Kebabs. We had already hit our 20,000 steps for the day so we went all out at lunch time. We got a few little nibbles just to get a bit of a breadth of the menu. The Hot Crinkles – Biggie $5.50. Were cooked well, crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. But the herbs and spices just didn’t do it for us. As a bite they were just overwhelmingly dry. We had a dipping sauce on the side so it wasn’t too much of an issue. But beyond picking at a few, I didn’t find myself gravitating back to them.
Without question you need to order a serve of the Corn Dogs – Turkish beef sausage corn dog (3pcs) and smoked mustard mayo $7. My first time trying Sujuk was at Mister Gee’s back when the Balkan made a few rotations. The sausage has an intense beefiness with a wallop of spice. The batter is light, almost pancakey.
We can’t look past Mac and cheese, so the Return of the Mac (3pc) Mac & Cheese fritters $7 was an easy one. I’d have to say these were probably some of the tastiest incarnations we’ve had. Full flavoured and not overly ‘watered down’. Which you can sometimes encounter.
Alex going for his usual favourite, fried chicken with the Dirty South – fried chicken, lettuce, pickled onion, garlic & lemon aioli $13. The crumb on the chicken was more schnitzel like than a crunchy KFC coating but it was succulent and juicy. The aioli had a touch of sweetness with some acidity.
And once we heard wind of a pork belly special our last decision was an easy one. The Piggy Smalls kbab – Crispy pork belly, chilli jam, candied peanuts, crackling, pickled carrot slaw, coriander and kewpie mayo. This should really be on the menu all the time and to date it’s the best kebab/ gyros I’ve ever had. The pork belly was melt in the mouth tender, the crackling was a genius touch. The chilli jam was an intensely thick hit of sweetness and the peanuts were another fantastic addition.
With Ness now in Melbourne town and breaking up the heavy fried foods we checked out HAPPY PLACE BY LOLA BERRY. It’s not exactly my type of food and beverages, with a heavy focus on healthy eats. It’s more geared towards takeaways and is situated in the South Melbourne Markets. We got a few things to tide us over till lunch time.
I opted for the Salted Caramel smoothie $12.50 all vegan, all the way. And you could almost be fooled into thinking it was gluttonous. The addition of the salt flakes was a great accent to the salted caramel. Alex ever the Acai bowl fiend just had to get the Acai Aura Bowl $14.50.
With our treats in hand we waddled around South Melbourne Markets.
We were pretty disappointed with our breakfast earlier this year at CHEZ DRE and hoped we’d fare better with lunch. Suffice to say, twice is now more than enough to get an accurate portrayal of the food on offer and we’d probs never go back. Between us we had the Pulled Pork Toastie $16.50 which was on the bready side, the pork was particularly flavourful but the balance of ingredients were all out for me.
The Truffled Eggs $18.50 was the top pick of the three dishes with perfectly runny eggs and lashings of pecorino cheese. But the white truffle oil was overpowering and it did repeat on us further on during the day. I’m sure you wanted to know that I’m sure.
And the last choice of the Chicken Sandwich $12.50 was a pretty poor one. I wanted to add avocado to my toasted sandwich but as they were pre made they couldn’t oblige. Who knew lifting a lid of a piece of bread was such hard work? Apparently it is. Ratios were again off on this one, with it being overly bready.
A few days later we were joined by Ness’s hubby, Manny. A trip to wine country was first on the list and after a few wine tastings we stopped in for a spot of lunch at the all-day dining section at EZARD AT LEVANTINE HILL. We’d woken up with the mother-load of food hangovers from Attica that day so opted for a late lunch with a coffee in the morning to tide us over….and the booze.
We started with a few nibbles – Chickpea chips w/rosemary salt and roasted garlic custard were particularly moreish and made for an interesting alternative to regular run of the mill potato chips. The garlic custard was a great accompaniment.
The Manjimup truffled mac n cheese croquettes –w/ spiced mayo were everything you’d want from a mac and cheese croquette and more. The shaved parmesan was great to add just that extra hit of saltiness.
And the last of the nibbles. The Wagyu Beef Sliders –w/ caramelised onion puree, sweet house pickles and gruyere. Lots of potential here but these fell short. The beef patty was too underdone, to the point where they tasted so. The onion puree was a nice sweet addition but the burger lacked sauce and a punchy cheese.
Service took a huge nosedive between entrée’s and mains with a huge 45 minute + wait, with no mention of the delay from staff at all. Especially with only a few nibbles between us, the hunger was high.
We decided to share two main dishes. The Pumpkin risotto –w/ parmesan, goat curd and crispy sage was indulgently rich and luxurious. It was heavy and even sharing between four we struggled to get through it. The crispy parmesan wafers were a stand-out for me and the rice was a perfect al-dente.
But the favourite was unquestionably the Coq au Vin –w/ radish and a burghul salad. Manny our resident father for the weekend, removed all the meat off the bone. Practically falling away with the slightest prod. The sauce was full flavoured with a mushrooms and cooked onions adding some heartiness. The burghul salad was an interesting addition but I felt a potato mash might have made a better side.
And with that we made a few more drinky pit stops in the Yarra.
HIGHER GROUND in Melbourne’s CBD is pretty much at the top of most people’s must try, new cafes. From the team that brought us The Kettle Black and Top Paddock.
You can pretty much expect similar menu items with the infamous ricotta hotcakes making an appearance. The only thing I will say. Don’t order the avocado on toast. It comes in an avocado half that you then have to shell out yourself. I don’t pay $14+ for that shit not to be done for me!
Alex had his first Magic. Which is basically a less milky flat white.
Scrambled eggs on toast w/added avocado $14 + $5. Highway robbery re the avocado prices. But credit where it’s due, the eggs were perfectly seasoned, light and creamy and bordering on ‘just set’.
And the must order dish, the Ricotta Hotcake –w/ maple syrup, seeds & grains, cream, seasonal fruit & flowers $21. Still a strong contender for one of the best pancakes/hotcakes in Melbourne/Australia really. We had them at The Kettle Black and loved it. My only gripe here would be the sheer amount of seeds & grains, way OTT. But the hotcake was light and fluffy. But really this is a dish best shared between two or three.
One café you need to add to your list quick smart is HIGH SOCIETY in Armadale. Which instantly reminded us of a leafy tranquil Paddington. Melbourne pretty much own brunch and all other states pale in comparison. This is verifiable truth! Servings were huge and with a full day of eating ahead of us we were slightly scared.
A couple of strong suggestions from us would include the Smashed Avocado on toast, which actually comes pre spread on the toast like Jesus would prefer it, Hallelujah. The Cumin Roasted Pumpkin –w/sautéed kale, hummus, feta, pink tahini yoghurt, turmeric eggs, crispy kale and pine-nuts $19.90. Is pretty much the epitome of ‘instagram goals’. But with the flavour chops to back it up. A delightful play on Middle Eastern flavours.
Ultimately if you go, you need to order the Banana Bread –w/ a berry compote, fresh banana, figs, mascarpone and chopped pistachio $17.50. Allow me to toot my own horn for a moment, I make a killer banana bread with multiple variations which is why I never order it out. Mine’s the best. BUT High Society have one of the best banana bread’s I’ve had in a café. Incredibly light with a strong banana flavour. And the addition of the compote and the mascarpone keep each bite interesting. Go now!
And for our last meal in Melbourne and my birthday meal. It was only ever going to be one thing. BURGERS! I wanted it to be somewhere I hadn’t been before and after ogling the food when we picked up donuts from All Day donuts earlier this year I just knew it had to be JUANITA PEACHES.
I had the Cheeseburger w/ fries $15. Suffice to say my burg-day burger was delicious. A streamlined cheeseburger, excellent cheese meltage and pickles. The first bite was the best but every subsequent one slowly revealed a few flaws. The burger was overly bready and while I did enjoy the soft squishy roll, entire burger was on the dry side. Which tied in with the lack of sauce, it needed slightly more creaminess. And finally the patty was charred, it did have a black exterior BUT it wasn’t burnt, just a little on the dry side. It was still a delicious burger and I would definitely go back. A 3.5/5 pickles.
Everyone else seemed to be taken by the Fried chicken and a popular choice was the 2 piece box w/slaw, fries and sauce $16. We were pretty surprised by just how good the chicken was, moist and juicy with a crispy coating. It’s more of a KFC style, so if you’re expecting a super crispy exterior you might be disappointed.
Come for the burgers and leave with donuts.
Make sure to check back for our posts on our hotel, The Langham, Nobu, Attica, Cecconis and The Press Club. We did a lot of eating in Melbourne-town!
Photos by Alex