Australia, Melbourne, Melbourne - CBD

Little Mule Cafe

Tucked away down a little lane in the middle of Melbourne CBD is this little café that seems to have been converted from an old warehouse or garage.

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The first impression I had when I walked into this café on a hot morning was how stuffy the place was, and that it lacked ventilation and air flow. There were only two fans in the café which made sitting inside the café not a very comfortable experience.

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We ordered coffees ($3.50), smashed avocado with feta and lemon on sourdough with poached egg ($15) and a brekkie bruschetta with cherry tomatoes, red onion, basil and avocado with poached egg ($15.50).

The coffees were ok, and the dishes were very rustic in nature. The dishes reminded me of a home-cooked breakfast, and were fine but weren’t that special. For the price we were paying I expected something more from the dishes. The poached eggs were nicely cooked though, with silky yolk oozing out when we broke them.

Given that the food was ordinary, and the discomfort I experienced from the lack of air flow inside the café, it is unlikely that I will return to this café again.

Little Mule Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Little Mule Café

Address: 19 Somerset Place, Melbourne

Website: www.thelittlemule.com

Opening hours: 7:30 to 3:30 Monday to Friday; 9:30 to 3:30 Saturday

Accepts Visa and Mastercard Credit Cards, not American Express Credit Cards

Australia, Melbourne, Melbourne - East

Noir Restaurant, Richmond

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Noir Restaurant is a boutique restaurant situated in Richmond, Melbourne. The restaurant has a classical layout with wooden tables and dimly lit lighting creating a warm and cosy atmosphere.

The service we experienced from the restaurant could be improved. We were shown to our table when we walked in, but no waiter came to serve us until we waved one down. The waiter who served us with the complimentary bread did not ask us which type we preferred and just placed a random bread roll in our bread plates. The waiters’ explanation of the wines were also very rudimentary, and everything seem to be just memorised with no further insight.

We ordered the Tasting Menu, which was $80 per person, and there was an additional charge of $55 per person for matching wines.

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Amuse bouche

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This consisted of three vegetarian tarts, being cauliflower, beetroot and pumpkin. A nice start to the meal.

Entrees to share – Eye fillet of beef tartae, waldorf salad and gaufrette potatoes, Cold smoked pacific oysters and Hiramasa kingfish vichyssoise with samphire, sugar snaps and chive oil

(Matched with 11 Domaine Pierre deLaGrange Muscadet Sevre et Maine, Loire Valley, Fra)

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The beef tartae dish, with the beef and potatoes, as well as the apple in the waldorf salad, reminded me of the taste of burger and fries and apple pie. The kingfish dish was well presented with contrasting textures from the different elements in the dish. The pacific oysters were presented with smoke inside a glass lid which was very fancy but they weren’t as fresh as I expected when I tasted them. The wine selected matched well with the seafood dishes.

Alternative Entrée: Pumpkin cheesecake, Potato croquette on pumpkin puree and Foe gras on toast

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Jono: “I do not like raw food so I asked the kitchen to prepare something else in place of the entrée selection that they had. As soon as the waiter brought this alternative entrée plate to me, my eyes were on the foe gras. Foe gras is my number one favourite. So I tasted the foe gras first with the complimentary bread. It did not disappoint as it melted in my mouth. The pumpkin cheesecake, however, was too dense with cream, but the flavour was nice.”

Seared fillet of John Dory with summer vegetables, calamari, chorizo and buckwheat

(Matched with 10 Bella Ridge Estate Chenin Blanc, Swan Valley, WA)

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The smokiness from the chorizo (which tasted more like ham hock to me) added a depth of complexity and flavour to the fish, and this matched well with the smokiness from the wine. A very enjoyable dish.

Hendricks gin and tonic sorbet, cucumber and dried botanicals

(Matched with Hendricks splash)

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This was a good palate cleanser, the cucumber providing freshness and the extra alcohol providing the acidity required to cleanse the tastes from the mouth.

Crisp breast of duck with green figs, beetroot and walnuts

(Matched with 12 Vincent Girardin Pinot Noir ‘Bourgogne Cuvee Saint-Vincent’, Burgandy, Fra)

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The duck was nicely cooked, with crispy skin and juicy meat. However, the wine seem to be a little too heavy for this dish, so a more delicate pinot may have been a better match.

Rump of Rangers Valley beef, roast capsicum puree and grains of paradise

(Matched with 11 Ngeringa Syrah, Adelaide Hills, SA)

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The beef was cooked rare, and was presented with a calamari ring (which was not what I had in mind to be “grains of paradise”). It was tender and well flavoured, and the peppery taste of the wine complimented the beef well.

Cremeux d’Anjou with strawberries, blueberries, honeycomb and berry and basil sorbet

(Matched with 11 Petit Guiraud, Sauternes, Fra)

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The dessert was presented nicely, the sweetness of the pear and honeycomb balanced well the sourness from the berries. The dessert went down a treat with the dessert. A nice ending to the tasting menu.

Overall, this was an enjoyable experience, with quality food and nice wines. The only let down to the experience was the service we received.

Noir on Urbanspoon

Noir Restaurant

Website: www.noirrestaurant.com.au

Address: 175 Swan Street, Richmond

Phone: (03) 9428 3585

Opening hours: Lunch & Dinner, Tuesday to Sunday

Accepts Visa, Mastercard and American Express cards

By Greg

Australia, Melbourne, Melbourne - North

Frying Colours Korean Eating Place, Kensington.

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Frying Colour is located on the corner of a busy road in Kensington, Melbourne. The restaurant has been opened since March 2014, and has a sleek and modern interior, with the use of wood and concrete to give it a distinctive and contemporary look.

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From the moment we walked inside, the service from the staff was impeccable. They were very attentive and made us feel very warm and welcome. They were very accommodating when we requested to change tables so we could sit by the window. Throughout the night, they asked us for our opinions about the dishes we ordered and they were constantly filling up our glasses with water to ensure that our glasses were never empty. When a young child on another table dropped her mom’s glass of wine onto the floor, the staff calmed the child and her mom straight away, cleaned up the broken glass with the minimum of fuss, and gave the mom another glass of wine for free. At no point were the staff angry or upset but they were very reassuring and comforting to the child and her mother. It is very hard to find such great customer service nowadays.

Now onto the food.

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Bimbimbap, vegetarian $18

We asked for the non stone bowl version, which they were able to accommodate. It was a nice simple dish, and giving us the sauce on the side to allow us to adjust for the level of spiciness was very thoughtful. The free side kimchi that came with this dish did not seem fresh though.

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Zzampong Seafood Spicy Noodle (Today’s Special) $24

The noodles were not too soft and the spiciness was at the right level for our tastes. A simple but satisfying dish.

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Beef Bulgogi Burger $16

The beef patty, although small, was tender with a good amount of seasoning. The other compliments in the burger such as the lettice, onion, ginger and cheese did not overpower the main star of this dish, which is the beef.

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Slow Cooked Lamb Rib Frame Grilled (Today’s Special) $24

This was one of the star dishes of the night. The lamb was soft and tender, and melted in our mouths. There was a hint of a smoky flavour from the charred meat. The home grown sesame leaves complimented the flavour of the lamb. The addition of saffron was a nice touch to the dish.

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Fried Chicken – Half and Half – Spicy and Sweet Soy $34

This was, by far, the best Korean fried chicken I have tried in Australia. The coating was light and crispy, and not overly dense. The chicken was soft and flavoursome. This was one of the most enjoyable dishes of the night, especially with a shot of soju.

Frying Colours is a great little restaurant with excellent food and nice friendly staff. This is a place I would come back again and again. If you are ever in Melbourne, this is a place you must visit!

Frying Colours on Urbanspoon

Frying Colours Korean Eating Restaurant

Website: www.fryingcolours.com.au

Address: 520 Macaulay Road, Kensington, Victoria

Phone: (03) 9939 9679

Opening hours: 12pm to 2.30pm Tuesday to Sunday, 5:30pm to late Monday to Sunday

Accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards

By Jono

Australia, Melbourne, Melbourne - CBD

Loch & Key – Behind the bookcase

We landed in Melbourne and it was 11:00pm at night. The only thought that flashed up in my head was to get to the hotel as soon as possible and hop into bed. But No, my buddy “Greg” wanted to go out and scout for late night snacks. Greg has found so many hidden gems but I chose to go to the one that was just around the corner from where we stayed. – “Loch and key – Behind the bookcase”. We literally saw the book-shelf right outside at the entrance.

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Loch & Key is upstairs from Captain Melville’s Bar and Restaurant and yes we were flustered when we saw the door has closed. But don’t let that fool you because Loch & Key is always open and ready to give you an intimate cocktail.

It didn’t take long for me to notice an actual lock has been put up on the door leading to the stairway. We also noticed a bookcase was standing next to the stairway which was also an indication that we were at the right place.

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Loch & Key has gained its popularity for being one of those hipster-ish pub among the locals, filled with mood lighting and vintaged couches and chairs spread all over the floor as well as in balcony area, where plants and flowers are laminated on the side wall and hanging from the balcony.

The cocktails, beers and snacks selections were limited but I was really impressed with their bartender’s knowledge in terms of knowing their wines and beers. They were more than happy to make a delightful mixed drink to reflect our personal preferences.

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For my drink, I ordered a cocktail called “War of the roses”. The name is as sexy as it tasted. The first sip was sweet on the tip of my tongue and then the bitterness carried through to the rest of my palate. Excuse for me being frank, the drink was disgusting but ADDICTIVE.

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Greg got himself a cocktail called “Chrysanthemum” which I did not adore so much as I’m a person with a sweet tooth.

Greg’s comment: “The drink has a strong liquorish flavour which was very oriental in style, but overtime the citrus flavours come out making it very enjoyable.”

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To satisfy our hunger, we ordered a Truffled mushroom, smoke scarmoza toasties. We actually waited for quite a while until the toasties arrived and have to ask the bartenders to chase up the order for us. But the wait was well worth it, as one bite blew me away. The bread was light and crispy, and the filling was very flavoursome with the freshness of the truffled mushrooms and the smoky and salty taste of the cheese was not overpowering.

Loch & Key is a great place to go for a night out where you want to get away from the crowds in the city and be intimate with your homies, sharing unique boutique cocktails and simple delightful snacks. This place is worth checking out.

Loch & Key on Urbanspoon

Loch & Key – Behind the bookcase

Website: www.lochandkey.com.au

Address: UPSTAIRS 34 Franklin St

Phone: (03) 9663 6855

Opening hours: 6pm till Late, Wednesday to Saturday

Accepts Visa, Mastercard and American Express cards

By Jono