It’s been a month since our return to Melbourne Australia. Hibernation and recuperation has been a big factor and it was only a few Fridays ago where we enjoyed our favourite meal since we’ve been back. Feast of Merit is an initiative from ygap that takes inspiration from seasonal and locally sourced produce with a Middle Eastern twist. The former cafe interiors have been stripped off and the raw bones and exposed bricks left us all feeling like after a detox, bright and happy.
I’ve always had a poor sense of direction so distinguishing between Hardware Lane and Hardware Street left us aimlessly wandering along the wrong lane. Later, we finally found Nieuw Amsterdam settled nicely next to Hardware Societe (which coincidentally, is due to reopen next week). Nieuw Amsterdam has risen and completely transformed a former Irish pub into a sleek and underground bar and eatery. Upon entering, we were given an option to descend the stairs to the bar to wet our whistles with a couple of drinks while waiting for the rest of our party, however laziness got the better of me and we were promptly settled into our table.
The smell hits you as soon as you walk in – pungent, intense, nutty all in one hit. Our friends are seated at the communal table down the back but we can’t help lingering by the display windows filled with copious and seemingly never-ending wheels and wedges of cheese hailing from all over the world. Mmm… cheese.
Cumulus Inc. has been a perennial favourite since its opening and can always be relied on for a great meal. Upon entrance, instead of turning left to find Cumulus Inc – hanging above the staircase is a illuminating ‘wine bar’ sign leading to Cumulus Up.
Following my indulgent dinner at Scott Pickett’s new joint venture in Collingwood, Saint Crispin, I was lucky enough to be invited by a friend to have dinner at his first venture with partner Ryan Flaherty (now a solo venture by Scott Pickett as of 5th Nov 2013) in Northcote, Estelle Bar & Kitchen. She assumed she was lucky because I didn’t mind a revisit to Estelle but in reality, I was more than willing to tag along and experience the fanciful and playfulness of the dishes served up at Estelle.
Knowing that in some instances, diners were left disappointed when they did not have enough time to experience the full nine course tasting menu ($110 per person), we informed our waiter of our intentions as soon as we were seated. With the two seating sessions in restaurants these days, arriving on time and alerting staff of this is a must!
Soon after, a platter with some starters arrived. The bonito cracker with drops of pumpkin (?) puree provided a nice contrast of a sweet and fishy flavours. The venison tartare on the sweet, crumbly biscuit was the favourite of the lot while the compressed melon in an edible wrapper was a refreshing bite.
Souvlakis are a staple food for any night involving a lot of alcohol; nothing better than an inordinate amount of bad-breath inducing garlic and tangy chilli sauce slathered throughout a mishmash of greasy meat and limp lettuce. In the inebriated state of mind, it is remarkably good and although you may be left feeling queasy with all that greasy fare sitting on a bubble of alcohol, you can’t help but crave another souvlaki when the onset of another big night occurs.
At the other end of the spectrum, Jimmy Grants in Collingwood brings a marginally more refined version, albeit in a very casual and funky setting, featuring their soft, pillowy pita bread with a variety of fillings and, my favourite addition of all, crispy chips. I had the pleasure of having a few of these wonderful souvlakis a few years ago – the “Hellenic Republic” open lamb souvlaki which featured at the Taste of Melbourne festival in The Press Club’s stand. Ever since then, my heart has been set on that souvlaki I had many years ago.
Disclaimer: I was invited by Wrights PR to attend a bloggers lunch at GG. All thoughts and opinions are based purely on my experience at the time of visit.
GG is the perfect spot to hit up for a quick meal before a footy match at the MCG or simply the perfect setting for a long lunch/dinner to waste your day away in. In fact, that’s exactly what we did at GG (the long lunch bit) when a few bloggers and I were invited to come down to sample their menu.