Where we ate and drank in Melbourne

In September, we had an amazing time eating and drinking our way around Melbourne. Although I had a huge list, we only had a small amount of time but still managed to get through a good deal of them. Here’s some of the places that we ended up visiting.

Eating Places

  • Fancy Hanks (Level 1, 79 Bourke St) – If you’re craving some good American style BBQ with a wide variety of sauces and craft beer, then Fancy’s Hanks is for you.
  • Dehli Streets (22 Katherine Pl) – A cheap and cheerful restaurant tucked away in an alley but was full even on a Monday evening. A good mix of Indian food served in a Thali which gives you a good option to try several things at once.
  • Sezar (6 Melbourne Pl) – A more upmarket restaurnat serving Armenian food which is an interesting mix of dishes that remind me of a mix between Turkish and middle Eastern dishes. Try the feast, although make sure you leave some room for dessert! Bookings essential.
  • Bibim Fresh (9/108 Bourke St) – A cheap and cheerful Korean restaurant serving focused on serving Korean stone bowls with fresh ingredients and a slightly healthier twist on the dishes such as brown instead of white rice.
  • Maha (21 Bond St) – An underground Turkish restaurant that offers both ala carte and an amazing 4-6 course tasting adventure. This is definitely a bit more fine-dining and we noted a number of people coming here for birthdays because it was nice.
  • +39 Pizza (362 Little Bourke St) – A popular but tiny pizza place that offers huge pizzas. The pizza was good but I was disappointed that the foccacia was basically a pizza dough, not a proper foccacia one. Cheap and cheerful.
  • Frances’ Food and Coffee (1/245 Franklin St) – We stumbled across this place looking for breakfast when we were near the QVM. I’m glad we did with good coffee, great variety of cooked breakfasts, seats in the sun and friendly service – what more does one need?
  • Dex2rose Nitrogen Gelateria & Cafe (377-379 Little Bourke St) – Instagram-friendly creative dessert cafe based on ice cream made with liquid nitrogen.

Drinking Places

  • Fall from Grace (Hidden bar in State of Grace at 477 Collins St) – One of those speakeasy bars that is hidden behind a retracting bookcase that will make you fall in love with the atmosphere. Cocktails take a while to whip up, and ordering them at the counter is worth watching the amount of preparation. Rather darkly lit on the inside but lots of comfy lounge areas if you come early enough.
  • Berlin Bar (Upper floor – 16 Corrs Ln) – I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this place. The reviews made me think it could be really cheesy… but it was really well done! Sit in the East or the West side and enjoy the creative and German-inspired drinks, the fitting atomsphere and some of the great entertainment (black and white film and an in-house magician!) Cocktails weren’t cheap AUD20 but were worth it for something unique. Even better is that everyone must sit at a table, so it’s never too crowded (but there was a line so come early or book)
  • Madame Brussels (59 Bourke St) – Brightly decorated tennis lawns, pink chairs and camp decorations make this jovial bar a delight to drink at. Why order a single cocktail when you can order the cocktails by the pitcher to share! They have a nice terrace that even in winter was used because of the outdoor heating. Light finger food made available (the sausage rolls were amazing!)

Coffee Places

  • Brother Baba Budan (359 Little Bourke St) – This tiny place was just down from hotel we stayed at and was a place I remember from the last trip I had in Melbourne. It’s not really a huge place with lots of tables but works for a couple.
  • Duke’s Coffee (247 Flinders Ln) – Some of the folk from my office showed me this coffee place. Proper hipster style, with a long stream of regulars and often a line out of the door. They also offer some amazing looking cakes and pastries to snack on as well.
  • Manchester Press (8 Rankins Ln) – We actually dropped in here for breakfast. It’s a larger airy place that apparently is really crowded on weekends (we went on a weekday). I wasn’t particularly impressed by the breakfast offerings – various bagels with different toppings but the coffee was good with lots of seating area in a large warehouse-like environment.

Where we ate in Washington DC

We ate very well in Washington DC, and wanted to go to more places but we didn’t have the time (or the appetite) to eat at all of the places that we wanted to. Here is a flavour of the some of the places that we managed to get.

Birch and Barley on 14th Street

A popular place with locals known for its huge selection of beers. Like it’s Belgian cousins, they have more than a hundred varieties and they even offer a beer tasting menu to go along with their food tasting if you want. We just ordered a ala carte and everything was amazingly tasty. I highly recommend you book and try a few of the places.

See http://birchandbarley.com

The Oval Room

Modern american cuisine, served in a fairly formal environment. When we went, The Oval Room definitely attracted people who were significantly older than your usual crowd; very well dressed and up for an evening out. It’s not really surprising when it is located almost right next to the white house. Some excellently well prepared food although prices are on the higher side.

See http://www.ovalroom.com/

Masa 14 for Brunch

Masa 14 is well known for its weekend bottomless brunch. It’s a steal too when all alcoholic drinks are included and you get to order their interesting dishes off the menu a la carte. They fuse latin flavours with asian and American fare turning out interesting and delicious bites that are definitely great sharing.

See http://www.masa14.com/

Dishes that Delight at NoMad

We try to always have a special meal whilst in New York. My sister asked if we wanted to go back to Eleven Madison Park since they have changed their format to an extravagant 18-course meal but I wanted to try something a bit different. Along the same line with the same chef, Daniel Humm is the much talked about NoMad restaurant located in the NoMad hotel.

NoMad Hotel

The restaurant is dark, and even my very fast lens had difficulty without stabilising it on a glass in the dark. Comfy red velour cushions dot the benches, and dark wood panelling finish off the decorations.

After doing some preparatory reading, we knew what to have for our main and desserts, but unsure about the start. We make our choices and then order. Very good bread (i.e. focaccia) arrives soon after.


We start with some roasted cauliflower and mushrooms served with a poached egg. Both at extremely high prices considering the base cost of the ingredients, but I guess it’s consistent with the rest of the other dishes. Next time I would skip it and go straight for the main course as these cold dishes didn’t do anything particularly spectacular.

Cauliflower and Mushrooms

We order the “famous” roast chicken for two that comes with heft price tag. It is rather decadent with a foie-gras, brioche and truffle spread under the skin of a whole chicken for two. Slow cooked and basted with butter, the chicken is then presented at the table-side before being returned to the kitchen to be finished prepared in two ways. If you want to know about how they prepare this, read this article as I cannot do it any more justice.

The Famous Nomad Roast Chicken

The chicken being presented.

Roast Chicken in Tray

The brown meat.

Brown Meat

And the beautiful chicken itself. Although the meat amount looks small compared to the rest of the dish, it is one of the most delicious chicken preparations I have ever had. The skin is crispy and full of flavour. The white meat super juicy and best eaten in combination. The dark meat, rich with full of umami and just so, so delicious.

The meal didn’t stop there as we headed into dessert. Fingers crossed they still offered the dish I had read about before joining. Yes!

Dessert Menu

The lemon tart is so well executed, beautifully presented and unlike and like those you have had before. From this post:

On first glance, the tart appears to be surrounded by a thin, shiny layer of caramel or mousse. In fact, the covering is made of shortbread. Welker explains that they start with a classic French-style tarte citron that’s baked in a half sheet pan before the lemony discs are punched out and frozen. Then a traditional almond flour-based shortbread is pureed in a blender until the heat melts the butter, creating a molten mixture. The discs are then dropped in liquid nitrogen and then dipped into the shortbread batter. The shortbread coating solidifies as soon as it comes into contact with the cold lemon discs.

Lemon Tart


Lemon Tart

Name: NoMad
Found at: 1170 Broadway, New York, USA
Website: http://www.thenomadhotel.com/#/dining

Two Completely Different Restaurants in Brooklyn

Brooklyn is the Dalston of New York, an area having developed after costs in Manhattan push younger people out to more affordable areas. Although they still have some dodgy neighbourhoods, a lot of areas have redeveloped, new, cool bars and restaurants have flourished.

Do or Dine is one such place. Popular on the weekends for its alternative breakfast, the whole place is designed to give you a different experience. Despite being on a relatively main street, it is disguised from view with its restaurant banner actually displaying an alternative name (see pictures below)

Do or Dine Canopy

Do or Dine Door

A small bar sits in the back, alongside a bathroom-tiled small kitchen where they mix up the most interesting drinks and foods. A disco ball spins, sending light to other distracting corners of the room.

Disco ball

They decorate the walls with some strange elements, and find the most unusual things such as a can of “Unicorn meat” (not for consumption).

Unicorn meat

All of this, naturally points to interesting combinations and new designs of some classic dishes. We start our brunch by sharing some appetisers including a foie gras doughnut (good but not really my favourite as the foie gras is too overpowering), some “fawntons” (or wontons filled with venison) and some “e666s” (or some battered devilled eggs)

All of the food was beautifully presented, and pretty good although I think I liked the fawntons the best – the wontons filled with a meat that reminded me of tender pulled pork and matched with a mustard sauce that held some punch. For our mains, we tried “A chicken and woffals” and “Fish and some chips”. The chicken arrived as a “jerk chicken” that was super tender, moist although the coating reminded me more of a sweet thai chilli sauce than any strong jerk coating.

Chick and waffles

The fish dish was probably one of the most impressive, an upright, wholly fried fish “mohawked” my some caviar that had been brightly marinated in fresh yuzu sauce. The chips were crunchy, and it was all accompanied with a vinegar-enriched sauce providing freshness to this fried dish. Super yum.

Fish and some chips

At the other end of the Brooklyn spectrum, we met some of my sister’s friends for a brunch at “Egg“, a stronghold place known as a good place to have brunch. I think it may have hit the Lonely Planet book as we saw this no-reservations place filled with people carrying a “New York” or “Brooklyn” edition. Naturally like most “no reservation” places, you have to queue. Here, at least, they get you to sign up on a board and they have a pretty quick turn around. Best suited for tables of two or four, we had a bit of an awkward seating for six.


Paper tops off the table and crayons in a container provide entertainment as you peruse the menu. Not that you have much time as our waitress checks back (a bit too frequently) about whether or not we were ready to oder. Despite being very nice, we definitely felt the pressure to order, pay the bill, and were “encouraged” to leave. Fair enough, but not really the dining experience I want.

Pancakes with bacon

This restaurant offers much more classical American fare such as oatmeal and pancakes. I opt for the pancakes with bacon which turns out to be a pretty good choice – three fluffy huge pancakes and a side of salty bacon. Yummo.


Others decide to get the “most ordered dish” on the menu, the “Eggs Rothko” which is basically a brioche French Toast topped off with cheese and slight deviation of a slightly undercooked egg that seeps from the middle of the toast. Others still order the hash, which whilst presented very plainly apparently was pretty tasty as well.


They are very straight up about what they do. And do not. They do not have espresso based coffees. They do not do eggs Benedict. Although a pretty decent place, I’d only line up for this if I was in the area rather than make a special trip out for it.

Bea’s Crawfish Boil

Last year I remember reading about the Crawfish Boil that Bea’s of Bloomsbury fame held with an endless feast of Crawfish and other goodies in the arches of their Malby Street location.


This year I was fortunate to find the time to attend one of their feasts with a number of people where we had a lot of crawfish. How much crawfish? Several trays of crawfish like this:

Loads of crawfish

I had no idea what a crawfish was, or how big they were but they do take a bit of work. It’s like tiny little lobster tails and most of the space is inedible either being shells, or the internals you just don’t really want to go near. I don’t know where they source them from, but we commented about how crazy many there must be in the farms that supply them since the event probably catered for hundreds over several weeks. That’s a lot of crawfish.


The crawfish are not just boiled in ordinary water. They are instead cooked in some delicious sauce that has both potatoes, chorizo and sweetcorn. The sweetcorn was probably the thing that absorbed the most flavour and was in hot competition at our table. In addition to the other sides, they served giant garlic bread that was particularly good when you dipped it in to soak up some of the juices.

Garlic Bread

To finish off the event, they handed out some super sweet raspberry frozen ices (all home made I’m guessing) and small chunks of their brownies.


Dublin Restaurants

Brasserie Sixty6

Located in the heart of Dublin’s busy centre, Brasserie Sixty6 is easy to walk by, but you probably don’t want to miss the food they have on offer. The dining area is large, but it’s worth booking on a weekend as I suspect they get busy. It’s the sort of place where they call or text you to confirm your reservation. I’ll let the food speak for itself.

66-67 S Great George’s St Dublin 2, Ireland
+353 1 400 5878

The Waterloo Bar and Grill

Short listed for one of the best Gastro pub’s in Dublin, you can tell they are trying hard to get things right with a decent cocktail menu, an interesting looking menu and a special of the day. The food is well executed, the drinks spot on and my only complaint was the low level of lighting (making photos even with my fast lens pretty tough).

36 Baggot Street Upper Dublin 4, Ireland
+353 1 660 0650


Another Ranleigh restaurant that is bringing the touch of New York to the Irish shores. The owners of this place have at least another place around town, and both are considered popular options. Although we came here for dinner, I read about how popular their brunch is on weekends. I opted for the ribs which, though soft, weren’t really the best that I’ve had (tasted a bit more boiled than grilled).

47 Ranelagh Dublin, Co. Dublin City, Ireland
+353 1 497 8010

The Chop House

A bustling Irish steak place that has a great location with a naturally lit dining area akin to sitting inside a greenhouse – perfect for an early dinner to catch the sunset. They had a decent selection of wines (as you would expect from a steakhouse) and they do an amazing set of changing bread (Guinness and a curry + chutney one on the day that I visited). The steak arrived perfectly cooked – it was pink on the inside and well rested so it remained very juicy on the inside. Steaks arrive with a couple of sides (cooked mushrooms, tomatoes) but I’d recommend ordering some salad or green vegetables as it was all very brown.

2 Shelbourne Rd Dublin 4, Ireland
+353 1 660 2390

FX Buckley

Another steak place, this time apparently part owned by one of the Irish national rugby players. Knowing that they would probably like steaks, we were not disappointed. They have several around town, but we visited the one on Pembroke Street, tucked away in a little courtyard.

The restaurant is certainly fitting for a steak restaurant – a wood panelled wall and dark green tiles on the other that reminded us part of being in a butchery. The restaurant doesn’t appear very large, so I would recommend booking. They had a strange 1:45 turn around on tables, instead of the usual 2.

They certainly know how to cook their steak, and is accompanied by a single side. You can order more for an additional €4 surcharge. Good service, topping up water and a nice experience

1 Lower Pembroke Street Dublin, Ireland
+353 1 676 4606

Dublin Food Hot Spots

On my second business trip back to Dublin, we continued our eating well spree. It also happened to be the first time I ordered room service, mainly because I had a quick workout in the hotel gym and had a conference call so I didn’t really want to be eating too late. The “silver dome” service was very nice indeed. But back to the food in Dublin.

I organised for a couple of work dinners and one of my colleagues constantly mentioned, “I am yet to have a bad meal in Dublin yet!” Of course, it helps to be doing a bit of research on what is good, get some local recommendations. I do agree with his sentiment though, and as I mentioned the last time I was here, the food scene has changed. Good value meals are found if you are happy to do early bird, although still be prepared to pay London prices as some of the more popular restaurants.

Cheating a bit, here are the highlights on this trip.

The Chameleon (Indonesia)

This restaurant missed my research radar, but a friend recommended it and I’m glad they did. The specialty of the house is the Rijsttafel (rice table) or an elaborate multi-course meal of many bites. I highly recommend eating on the first floor as it has more ambiance than the downstairs. They do have traditional seating areas where you sit on cushions but I think it tends to be very uncomfortable unless you are used to sitting like that dinner.

Indonesia food is very similar to Thai or Malay foods with curries, satay and pan-fried vegetables common dishes. The Chameleon does a wonderful presentation of the food and I highly recommend a menu that contains the confit pork belly. It’s a small tiny square that melts in the mouth and jam packed full of flavour. I liked the sautéed cabbage and the fresh salad that made the meal a bit lighter.

Great value for money and plenty of food!

1 Lower Fownes Street, Temple Bar, Temple bar Dublin 2, Ireland
+353 1 671 0362

The Winding Stair (Modern Irish)

Generous portions and friendly service match up to the Bib Gourmand recommendation given by the Michelin Guide. It also means that you have to book in advance as all the tables fill up rather quickly. The food here is traditional Irish, using locally sourced ingredients, beautifully presented and, most importantly tasting amazing.

I started with the traditional Irish chowder soup that was thick, creamy and extremely hearty. The dark bread (Guinness I think) was a perfect accompaniment, or even just good by itself. Although tempted by so many other options on the menu I continued a seafood theme with mussels and frites. The frites were just how I liked them, remaining super crunchy on the outside, super fluffy on the inside and perfect for dipping into the sauce that came with the mussels. Unnecessarily so, the mussels came with brown shrimp and mayonnaise on toast for that extra decadence. I wasn’t the only person to be impressed by the execution with one person claiming the steak was the best one they had eaten for a long time and a thumbs up on the pork belly.

I couldn’t resist trying the ginger cake – a lighter alternative to the brownie that others ordered and we all went home very full and very happy.

40 Lower Ormond Quay Dublin 1, Ireland
+353 1 872 7320

Kinara Kitchen

Kinara Kitchen is part of a wider group around Dublin and I was hoping for some very tasty Indian/Pakistani food. I had previously tried Konkan (listed as the best Indian in Dublin) but was a bit disappointed. Kinari is noticeably more up market, complete with your asian-inspired cocktails to take you home.

Sticking to my vegetarian dishes, I was tempted to give in to try the Tandoori dishes (the monkfish was apparently amazing!) I stuck with two classic dishes, a Tarka Daal, and a Channa Masala.

Although both dishes are based on chick-peas, they taste totally different. The tarka daal was definitely decadent, like you could almost taste the ghee running through the dish. Strong chilli flavours had my taste buds going and I thought a good level of heat considering the local taste for blander stuff. Thumbs up to this dish. The Channa Masala was also wonderful.

Great stuff to the naan bread as well and though not really needed, I did try a dessert in the form of sugar-soaked doughballs and ice cream – a classic Gulab Juman.

Kinari Kitchen is located in the very posh district of Ranleigh.

17 Ranelagh Rd Dublin 6, Ireland
+353 1 406 0066

Joe’s Southern Kitchen (in London)

On one of my most recent flights I came across a short article about food trends in London. I certainly found myself agreeing with with the author who wanted London to get over its apparently never-ending openings of “American dirty food” Think of burgers, fried chicken, hot dogs (sometimes with champagne) and you get a gist of what the author was going on about.

With the opening of Five Guys and Shake Shack, most recently, I was impressed to hear of Navajo Joe’s undergoing a transformation, opening as “Joe’s Southern Food”

Although joining in with part of the “American dirty food” trend including what looked like good fried chicken, I was excited to hear about their “Beer-can BBQ chicken”, or a chicken roasted and BBQed whilst perched on top of a beer can. The idea is that the chicken remains moist whilst still acquiring the lovely smoked flavour around the coals.

As you can see, it looks pretty impressive when it arrives on its own carving trolley.

Along with the chicken you can order a number of sides, and I was quite impressed by the mac and cheese. Slightly saucy and tasty, it worked amazingly with their home made hot sauce.

The verdict? Impressive. Tasty, smoky skin that doesn’t feel greasy and super moist and flavoursome chicken meat that had a lot of taste even without the aid of all the sauces they had on offer.

I found service really friendly and quite attentive with our tap water frequently being refilled since it was a super hot day and we sat alongside their large glass windows by the entrance.

Name: Joe’s Southern Kitchen
Found at: 34 King St, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8JD
Website: http://joessouthernkitchen.co.uk/

A Sketch Gallery Experience

Although I have drunk a number of times at the very ritzy, interesting Sketch bar, I’m yet to eat there. The gallery restaurant sits in between the main foyer and the egg-shaped cocktail room (you need to visit the toilets for an interesting alien-like experience) and this is where we ate. There’s is a good reason I haven’t eaten at Sketch as well – because all of the art-themed decore and beautiful surroundings, the unique and its in-the-heart-of-Mayfair location definitely reflects in the prices you pay for the food and drink.

I believe the Sketch Gallery restaurant is the more casual of the two dining locations. The other being a more upmarket restaurant that holds a Michelin star although I don’t really know if it is more formal or fancy. I’m just guessing.

What’s fascinating about the Gallery restaurant is how everything is totally unique – and it’s the interesting attention to detail to ensure that nothing is repeated. The theme goes right all the way through, and I can appreciate the effort. Cutlery, drinking vessels, tables, chairs, all of them completely different. Even the salt and pepper shakers at each table are different.

You could argue this makes replacing broken or missing items much easier, but each item is still pretty high quality. Anyway, on to the food. Bread and butter doesn’t come for free, but at least it was pretty good quality. It really should at £4.

We started with two different dishes. I tried the Chantilly Lace: black rice, basmati rice, lobster bisque, red pepper, horseradish cream (£13). The allure of a good lobster bisque is something I can’t really resist and it was very well executed as well. I did find the double rice combination a bit strange, and would have preferred more bisque and less rice. Still very good.

The other starter was the Foie gras terrine, girolles in vinegar, cranberry chutney, quince paste and pistachio (£24).

The Poached, roasted and lacquered pork belly, crunchy red cabbage, salad was actually reasonable at £20, although I only had a small taste. The pork belly was tender, not too fatty and still full of flavour.

I had ordered the Roast wild venison saddle, and lemon purée, quince paste, shoulder of venison stew, Jerusalem artichokes (£30) and boy was it good. The venison stew was probably the best part of the entire dish although the venison saddle was cooked extremely well (rare!) and still very tender. I just love anything that is so soft, full of flavour and the stew was the perfect vehicle to carry all the other flavours.

We opted to try a couple of sides as well. The strangely sounding (and just as strangely tasting) gnocchi with green curry sauce (£5) and a stack of onion rings (£4) very well executed. Each ring perfectly crisp and a decent sized onion strip inside.

Although none of the desserts really jumped out at me, I figured I wouldn’t be back for a very long time, so it was worth trying something. Just like the main menu, it took me a while deliberating over the crazy choices. They all sounded so complicated and the result sounded quite confusing. In the end we asked for a couple of recommendations and ordered them. The one that I didn’t order, the Sketch Chocolat – Salted butter caramel, sacher sponge cake, guanaja chocolate mousse, orange ice cream. (£10) was probably the best. The orange ice cream by itself was one of the best parts.

I didn’t really want to order the same although that one appealed the most. Instead, I had the Cheese cake – Elderflower sponge cake, cheesecake cream, ‘bono’ shortbread, candied lemon, pear sorbet (£8.5), a lighter and more delicate dessert that was completely the opposite of what you think of when you are ordering a real cheesecake. It was still a very pleasing dessert, though not the best I’ve ever had.

Sketch Gallery is definitely best reserved for one of those special occasions. The price definitely adds up for the meal and that’s not even including the drinks that would add significantly more if you want to try all their amazing cocktails. Still, it was a great experience and I think that’s what they are all about.

Name: Sketch Gallery Restaurant
Found at: 9 conduit street, London W1S 2XG
Website: http://sketch.uk.com/


This last Tuesday gone was Shrove Tuesday or sometimes called Pancake Tuesday. We sort of cheated on the day – instead of making them, we simply went to The Delaunay for breakfast where they have some great pancakes at reasonable prices.

I’m a big fan of the American style fluffy cakes. German Pfannkuchen is quite often just as fluffy – often used in a regional food called Kaiserschmarrn. I like French crepes less as a pancake. Crepes are good – just not what I feel pancakes should be.

I realise I haven’t posted a pancake recipe on here, so to make amends. Ingredients for 2 people for a hearty breakfast:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Pancakes baking


  • Take three bowls. Mix the dry ingredients in one of them.
  • Separate the eggs into the other two bowls. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form, add a bit of the sugar and keep beating until it’s stiff. This extra step ensures the pancakes remain light and fluffy.
  • Combine the rest of the wet ingredients with the egg yolks. Beat, and then gently fold into the dry. Fold the beaten egg whites in until just combined. You don’t want to overbeat the batter as this develops gluten and moves the pancake away from being a cake to more of a bread/dough consistency.
  • Melt some butter in a pan, pour batter on. Cook until bubbles appear, and then flip
  • Serve how you like. I prefer it the Canadian stack way – crispy bacon and maple syrup.

Pancakes cooking

Pancakes are certainly a good treat. They are definitely not your everyday food but they are good in so many different ways. Try putting nutella on as a topping. Lemon juice, with some dusting of sugar works very well as well. Blueberries, greek yogurt and honey add another dimension.

Canadian Stack