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.

Pear Crumble

Although apple crumble is probably one of the most well known “crumble” desserts, the concept translates very well to other fruits similar to it. Plum, rhubarb, cherry are all good types, but my favourite is the pear crumble. Crumbles are great for a proper winter dessert, and I love the contrast of hot and cold elements when you combine it with custard that has been sitting in the fridge or a plain vanilla ice cream. Even a hot custard works just as well with these sorts of puddings.

There are plenty of variations worth trying including stewing the fruit beforehand to produce a crumble with more sauce, or try cloves *and* cinnamon for a very festive treat. Here’s the recipe that I have used for a crumble pretty reliably:

Ingredients for the base

  • 6 pears (for four people) – Find good cooking pears if you want more texture
  • 20g brown sugar

Ingredients for the topping

  • 100g butter
  • 100g flour
  • 3 tablespoons oats
  • 1 tsp cinammon
  • 30g brown sugar


  • Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips. Or cut the butter into the flour with a knife. It should look a little like breadcrumbs afterwards.
  • Mix in the oats, cinnamon and brown sugar. The oats give the crumble more texture. Try Demerara sugar for some more bite.
  • Peel, core, and slice the pears into fan-like fingers. Arrange in layers until you at least cover the bottom of the dish you are using
  • Sprinkle the 20g of brown sugar on top (not too much otherwise it’ll be too sweet)
  • Cover the pears with the crumble topping and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 180oC until it’s brown
  • Serve with your choice of accompaniment. Serves four people.

And now in pictures:

Measure out the butter.


Add the flour in.


With some cinammon.


Now with a knife, cut the butter into the flour, or rub it in with your fingertips. Your goal is to coat the butter with flour and minimise the amount of gluten.


Now add the brown sugar.

Brown Sugar

And muesli. Mix together, and top your cut up fruit.


After baking, enjoy the result. Serve with custard. I prefer the hot-cold contrast and decadence to have crumble served with ice cream.

Pear Crumble Result

Visiting North Road Again

I was really impressed by North Road last time that I felt that I had to go ahead, but this time do the full tasting menu. My sister accompanied me on this journey, appropriate since we ate at Noma last time and Danish fondness of foraging was not a foreign concept.


We started with an espuma – a light crisp mouthful delicately dotted with some tangy, herby sauce.


As well as a smoked quails egg and potato delicately nestled amongst the brush that I assume was a source of the smoke. Both were strongly infused (something I love) with that smokey flavour.


We then had the two types of butter. Sweet and salty. I have to say that the brown butter really grew on me this time, and although I’m hadn’t expected to enjoy the sweet butter on bread, was surprised how much I enjoyed it the second time around.


Here’s our bread basket filled with tiny pieces of bread.


Our first dish was a light crab with cucumber. I think we were both surprised at how the strength of the crab flavour really shone through despite being cold. The cucumber also really went well to balance out the dish, bringing a cool clean flavour.


Our next dish, served warm and continuing the seafood theme, was a generous piece of lobster. I can’t really remember the other components (seeing as it was a couple of months ago) but yummy and delicious!


The yogurt dish, next, pleased my sister the least but I found it a good palette cleanser and refreshing.


The next dish was a real winner both in flavour and in appearance, being a jersey royale dish served with lovage. It looked and tasted just like a little garden (in a good way). It’s funny because in most places potatoes don’t really taste like potatoes – just a bit more like starch and fortunately these ones did. Nestled amongst some “fake soil” this was a real delight to consume.


Our next dish was a lamb dish served with fresh flowers and other components I can’t quite remember.


This was labelled as “stone and hay” but basically was a clever piece of hay ice cream wrapped in a covering that was a clever mouthful.


Our main tasting menu finished with an amazing plate of Kentish strawberries in several forms including marshmallow, sorbet, cream log and fresh as well. Lovely, light and full of flavour.


Though full, we were then bombarded with the petite fours – a tiny rose marshmallow, some bark with sweet dollops, a small shortbread sandwich and a clever take on the fløderboller (or chocolate covered marshmallow).


A lovely dinner and one that I wouldn’t hesitate to do again.
Name: North Road
Location: 69-73 St John St, EC1M 4AN
Website: http://www.north-road.com/

DeLise Dessert Cafe

This cute little ice cream and cake store sits quite close to the tourist-central Fisherman’s Wharf. They offer an eclectic range of foods including sandwiches and salads involving truffle (mmm!) and other interesting flavour combinations.

Choose to have a coffee and a small cake from their broad range of offerings like banana, carrot, green tea, red velvet or perhaps you want something a bit lighter light a brown butter cookie or a chocolate macaroon. A small, beautifully displayed assortment of what’s available shows you what is on offer.

The store looks very inviting being extremely bright from the large windows but unfortunately they only have one table and a counter for you to sit out. Not really a problem if you’re taking things to go. Here’s the picture of the brown butter shortbread cookie and bacon maple scone that we tried. Both fairly small portions and reasonably priced at 85c and USD1.50. I’ll admit it’s a bit of a premium for the size and bear in mind you’re paying for some quality stuff.

Of course we had to try the ice cream flavours of which they cycle through plenty of different offerings. In the end I settled on a pear yuzu involving plenty of tart bite, as well as the sweeter honey lavender yogurt. A good combination that left me refreshed.

Beware their opening hours as we tried to visit on the Monday and found them shut. Check out their website for a more up to date account.

Name: DeLise Dessert Cafe
Found at: 327 Bay St, San Francisco, CA 94133, United States
Website: http://www.delisesf.com/

Humphry Slocombe Ice Creams

San Francisco seems to have an abundance of artisan ice creameries. My kind of town. One of the ones we tracked down was Humphry Slocombe’s. Even as we licked down our refreshing ice treats, a continuous stream of people entered and left with more goodies.

Although they had a number of classic flavours like vanilla and coffee, they had a few more different spins like my favourite black sesame, and an amazing tasting cinnamon brittle ice cream. Of course I wanted to try all the flavours but only settled on the two.

Found at:
Website: http://www.humphryslocombe.com/

Chile Pies and Ice Cream

San Francisco has some pretty amazing dessert places. Just like Chile Pies and Ice Cream, a restaurant devoted to just serving pie slices and ice cream alongside a small handful of bites. They form part of the Green Chile Family including a mexican restaurant that looked absolutely heaving when we passed it.

They had an amazing selection of pies including interesting combinations such as Apple Chai, Mexican Chocolate Pecan, Peanut Butter and Chocolate, Lemon Buttermilk and more. Most of the pies are hot with a small handful that were served cold like the Peanut Butter and Chocolate one. These change regularly so I’d watch out for some interesting combinations.

The store itself is quite large with plenty of seating area. We noticed quite a few students sitting around on their laptops or with their studying books out.

In addition to the pies, they serve Three Twins Ice Cream, a local ice cream store to California that I hadn’t seen anywhere else. Just like the pie combinations, they seemed to offer a number of twists on just plain ice cream flavours such as Cardamom, Lemon Cookie and Mint Confetti as well as vanilla, mocha, and strawberry flavours. I tried a scoop of the lemon cookie ice cream with the slice of peanut butter chocolate pie (based with crushed oreo cookies instead of graham cracker crust). A bit excessive but amazed at the strength of the flavour from the ice cream and the richness of the pie from the peanut butter. A winning combination but we probably should have shared a slice.

My sister tried the chile apple pie that came drizzled with the chile sauce. She wasn’t too impressed by the odd spice combination given by the chile sauce. We both failed to finish our slices. A pretty good store that I’d definitely come back to.

Name: Chile Pies & Ice Cream
Found at: 601 Baker Street, San Francisco, United States
Website: http://www.greenchilekitchen.com/ice_cream/index.html

Avec’s Spin on Mediterranean Food

I caught up with a number of friends for dinner the first night I spent in Chicago and they recommended the restaurant Avec. They recommended getting there early (6pm) that worked for me as I was still recovering from the flight and wouldn’t really last to a very late dinner. It’s a good thing too because like many popular restaurants in the town, they had a first come first seated basis.

The front door to the restaurant is rather discrete. Upon walking in, it feels like you’re entering a huge communal sauna where the entire room is wood-panelled including the tables and the major counter top. Putting my name down for the group of four, I sat at the counter and sipped on a glass of red wine from spain until the others arrived. I asked about getting something local (i.e. American) but they said that this was a mediterranean restaurant and thus only offered wine from France, Italy and Spain. Strange.

The others soon arrived and we were shown to our table that we split with another group sitting at the end of the large table side. A lot of the dishes had been designed for sharing and even though we ordered a number of large dishes, we still opted to split them as a group to try to savour and experience all that Avec had to offer. It worked for me. Our waiter came to recommend a number of dishes including a number of daily specials on the board.

We went for these chinese greens that were served with some toasted quinoa and had a great earthy nutty feel to them. It had a great mouth feel and gladly had not been overcooked.

Next up were the apparently famous chorizo-stuffed medjool dates with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce. Our waiter pushed us really hard to order more than just one of these dishes, but we only really wanted to try one each. Of course the date, meaty flavours mixed with the spicy tomato sauce worked really well but I remember this being particularly overseasoned and needing to reach for more water to quench the thirst.

We then tried the marinated hanger steak with lemon marscapone leeks, escarole and charred onion vinaigrette that turned out to be a perfectly cooked, slightly smoky piece of steak that disappeared rather quickly.

We also tried the crispy duck with toasted fregula and couscous, mustard greens, squash and egg yolk that reminded me of a Chinese style duck blended with mediterranean flavours. I really enjoyed the choice of the large cous couse here, and the egg yolk bursting to add a richness to this dish. The crispy duck added texture to the dish and, at the same time, was too overcooked to enjoy any of the duck flavour.

Ajit recommended ordering the “deluxe” focaccia with taleggio cheese, ricotta, truffle oil and fresh herbs. This bread, slightly slimmer than what one would expect from a Foccacia was filled with a creamy filling all full of great umami. Once again the only disappointment was how they went a bit heavy on the salting of the bread that was perfectly fine with out it.

Typically unable to resist desserts, my friends ordered some dessert wines and I opted for the hazelnut crumb cake with fennel creme fraiche, candied hazelnuts and butterscotch, a rich cake including a sweet sauce very well balanced out by the choice of a creme fraiche instead of whipped cream.

Overall a pretty good dining experience though not as perfect as I’d hoped after hearing all the reviews. I’d still definitely go back and try a few of the other dishes as I think the flavour combinations were pretty inventive and not what you would find in many other kitchens.

Name: Avec Restaurant
Found at: 615 W Randolph, Chicago, IL 60661
Website: http://avecrestaurant.com/

Gelato in Marrkech?

One of the last places I’d think to look for a gelateria was in Marrakech. Nevertheless, when it’s hot (and it wasn’t really that hot when I was there), it’s a good thing to have. How happy I was to find Dino on the main stretch leading to the French district.

This very generous three scoop sundae came in at about MAD60, a little pricier than you’ll pay for ice cream at other places but was very good. Delicious.

You can find Dino Gelato on Avenue Mohamed V in the French-built new side of town, Guiliez.

The Icecreamists

This group first popped up on the food radar a year or two ago when they Selfridges hosted them and their “wholistic” experience to giving people uniquely flavoured ice cream. They recently returned with a vengeance and to much more controversy this time serving an ice cream named Baby Gaga, an ice cream made out of human breast milk.

Don’t expect for your ordinary run of the mill ice cream. Walking inside feels a bit like walking into, what I imagine, some sort of BDSM or fetish club might seem, and with ice creams named, “Cold Sweat”, “Sex, Drugs & Choc and Roll” it’s only the public openness of the store that convinces you that it really is just an ice cream parlour.

They didn’t have a full cabinet when I went and since I’ve enjoyed chilli infused ice cream in the past, decided to go for their challenge with a one made with plenty of Thai bird’s eye chillis combined with a soothing white chocolate one to balance the heat out. Servings aren’t cheap at £5+ however it was more than enough ice cream to almost defeat me.

I have to applaud them on their efforts to try new ice cream flavours, and new experiences with ice cream. I can’t say I’m going to try the Baby Gaga anytime soon, but it might appeal to some of you out there.

Name: The Icecreamists
Website: http://www.theicecreamists.com/
Found at: 15 Maiden Lane WC2E 7NG, Covent Garden, London, UK

Homemade Honey and Pear Sorbet

When I had some friends around for dinner in January, I wanted to focus the meal using seasonal ingredients. One of the ones currently in season (in January) at least, are pears, so the weekend before I ended up at the Islington Farmer’s market.

The wonderful thing about the farmers markets is that you end up with some really fresh fruits and vegetables, and even though they don’t look like the perfectly polished wax-ware you might find in your typical supermarket, the taste is like nothing you can believe. At the stand that I purchased them from, they even had four varieties of pears on offer, some better for cooking retaining their shape, others better for reducing down into sauces, and others that were best for eating fresh, remaining crisp.

Inspired by the fact that I had, indeed, bought some really fresh fruits, I wanted to make a pear and honey sorbet. I couldn’t really find any recipes on the internet, so I made one up myself.

Here’s the one that I used:


  • 1.5 kg pears
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • squeeze of half a lemon
  • tablespoon of vodka

Put the honey, sugar, lemon and water in a saucepan and heat using a low heat until the sugar has melted. In the meantime, peel the pears, taking out the core and seeds, and then slice them so they all sit underneath the liquid. I substituted honey instead of sugar to add a different dimension of sweetness. I added the lemon because I didn’t want the pears to brown too quickly. Poach the pears until you can stick a fork through them without too much resistance.

Cool the mixture down, and add the vodka. I don’t know if the vodka had much effect, but I hoped that it would mean that the sorbet didn’t freeze too hard.

After the mixture is cooled down, using a blender (I used a stab blender), puree the mix until you achieve the same sort of consistency. I guess you could choose to them pass it through a sieve if you want the pear juice/nectar but I think it’s quite nice to have some texture in the sorbet.

Freeze in an ice cream maker and you’re done!

How did it turn out? I served the sorbet with a pear crumble and it went down a treat. The honey certainly added depth to the sorbet, although I think I would change the ratio of honey to sugar next time to further accentuate the flavours of the pear.