Thursday, 29 January 2015

Event: Royal Croquet Club 2015

Have you been to the Royal Croquet Club yet? The event is coming to its last few days, ending on the 1st of February, so if you're a fan of food and croquet, make sure you catch it before its gone!

I, myself, have been on a number of little adventures to The Royal Croquet Club and checked out many of the stalls there including: Mr Claws, Meatmother, D.O.C, Miss Chu, Gelato Messina and St. Ali. I liked the options available, but some of my friends were left feeling not so impressed - there were few vegetarian options and no value-meal options. I could understand the cost factor for those who don't love the idea of dining out. But as a foodie, I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

I had dinner there on my first visit. Of course after seeing the lobster rolls by Mr Claws I had to get my hands on some. I tried the Buttermilk Lobster Roll and the Spicy Lobster Roll.It was pretty much big chunks of Lobster meat with a creamy sauce in a toasted sweet and buttery brioche roll. Mmm. Although I liked the Buttermilk Roll a lot, I couldn't really tell the difference between that and the Spicy Roll. The Spicy Roll was not Spicy at all. Only the chives on top differentiated the two. I'd only recommend the Buttermilk roll. At $12 a roll, they aren't cheap especially as they're very small in size. But if you love your seafood, as I certainly do, it's worth a go.

Mr Claws on Urbanspoon

I also tried some of the Vegetarian Net Spring Rolls by Miss Chu's, which were the most affordable of all the snacks, with 4 rolls for $6. The Spring roll skins were crispy, flakey and delicious, though I'm probably biased because I definately prefer 'netting' on my spring rolls. Miss Chu's also got the filling right with tasty vegetables and vermicelli. I've had so many terrible spring rolls in my life, especially vegetarian ones that I was pretty impressed. Despite being to Miss Chu's many times before, both in Melbourne and Sydney, I'd never tried their vegetarian dishes before. But I'll probably try them all now, the next time I visit.

Miss Chu on Urbanspoon

An interruption to the food photos to show you the pretty flags all over the place...

To wash down dinner...Pimm's! Quite non-alcoholic here, watered down with ginger beer, lemonade, fruits and mint...but it was sweet and refreshing. I like my drinks, but I also enjoy it when my drinks are fruitier in the Summer....

Of course, we had to try dessert before heading off. So at sunset, we went to try Gelato Messina's ice-cream sundaes in soup tins. I love the creativity of this dessert house. They're always getting up to some quirky or cheeky idea that appeals to the Melbourne scene. So I visited on two nights and tried two different sundaes, as well as one other flavour which I bought for my sister. My favourite would be The American Chow-Down. I think it won for the best flavour because it was a creamy Peanut Butter gelato with a decadent Cream Cheese mousse and Oreo Custard. A heavenly death right there. 

Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon

The Faux Pho was a strange combination that I was at first reluctant to try, but it turned out to be quite fun and exotic (Also, having been stood up by a friend who cancelled last minute on me, I was feeling adventurous. But luckily I ran into some work friends and it turned out to be muchos fun. But I digress.) It was a lot of coconut with a whiff of lychee cream and crunchy chilli cashew nuts. Almost like the peanuts in the American Chow Down. The Zuppa Duppa had a thick layer of crumbled biscuits and pistachios. But once I'd dug under that, there was a rich hazelnut gelato that reminded me at once of Ferrero Roche and Nutella together. So good.

My advice for the event? Come prepared with cash - the ATMs there are costly and run on good old dial-up technology! Slop on the sunscreen too because the weather has been warm...but high in UV rays. And prepare to enjoy the atmosphere and dine on summer snacks!

Also come before 5:00pm to ensure you don't have to pay a $5 entry fee...though if you stay until it gets dark your bound to see the place light up brilliantly.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Tea Elegance and Aromatic Company

Address: Stud Park Shopping Centre, Stud Park and Fulhm Road, Melbourne, Vic 3178
Phone: 0430 348 384

I've been meaning to visit the Tea Elegance and Aromatic Company (or T.E.A Company) for a looong time. I'd always walked past it when running errands and admired the beautiful teapots lining the windows of the store. So on my day off, I decided I'd visit the little teahouse with my sister. I like tea a lot, which was my main motive for visiting but I was also charmed by the little cupcakes in the display cabinet. Between the two of us, we ended up trying 3: Red velvet, Orange velvet and Lemon Squeeze.

The cupcakes certainly looked pretty with a lot of edible glitter and decorations. Such nice colours, particularly the Orange velvet one. In fact, I'm pretty sure I picked that one solely on the pretty decorations on it...

But I can't say that it was the best cupcake experience I'd had. I'll start with the green one, Lemon squeeze. The cupcake didn't taste much like lemon. Only the buttercream icing was slightly lemony. Also, I suspect that the cupcake given to me had been around since the end of December, as I noticed that it had a Christmas Tree decoration on it (The ones in the window had fondant heart decorations, which was kind of what I was expecting to get.) So the cupcake was kind of dense and hard. Don't get me wrong, it was edible and not stale or just wasn't very soft either.

My sister said the same thing about the Red velvet one. It didn't taste much like the traditional mixture and the cake was not very soft. We shared the Orange velvet one, which turned out to be much more pleasant with cream cheese frosting. It didn't taste very much like orange either, but the cake was more moist than the others. As pretty and as unique as the cupcakes were, they were not to my personal taste. I think my sister and I are a fan of softer, fluffier cupcakes. 

There are many other food items at T.E.A. The rest of the cabinet was stocked full of pies, quiches, tarts and cakes. A family next to us were trying the English High Tea, which looked alright. But my sister had just had lunch so we didn't try it ourselves. But I did go for some tea and really enjoyed it.

Tea is pretty much my lifeblood. I probably drink tea the way other people in Melbourne drink coffee. I also happen to like floral Asian teas, so I was pretty stoked to discover that they had the kind of tea that blooms in your teapot. 

I selected the Green Tea and Peach flavour, which was nice and fragrant and tasted a little fruity. The weather was warm, so we took to the outside to enjoy their shaded seating. After we'd finished with our tea time, we had a look at the shop component of the cafe. There were lots of pretty Chinese trinkets, house decorations and tea-related presents for purchase.

Before we left, I stopped to admire the window housing the collection of teapots. Such a colourful window! 

Overall, the space was pretty, the tea was enjoyable, but I was not sold on the sweets, which were a bit dry for my liking. Was it a nice place to visit? By all means, the service was pleasant enough and they were happy to refill my teapot, so I'd recommend the T.E.A company as a place to bring a book and enjoy a peaceful afternoon tea. 


Service: 7/10
Ambience: 8/10
Food: 12/20

Worth Visiting? Enjoy an afternoon tea, but maybe lay off the cupcakes, kids.
Price: $ (You're look at around $2-$10 for tea and cakes. They also do Chinese tea with some Yum Cha foods and English High Tea which may cost more.)

Tea, Elegance and Aromatic Company on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 17 January 2015


Address: 180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Vic 3000
Phone: (03) 9650 8688
Facebook: Supernormal

A few days ago, I had my first food adventure for the new year. Kind of late, I know, but I thought it'd be better to start visiting restaurants after everyone had left on their summer holidays. My sister and I had talked about going to Supernormal, another venture by Andrew McConnell (who you may remember was the chef behind Cumulus Up), pretty much since it's opening. But we didn't get around to it till the other day. We arrived at 2 o'clock, to a comfortable open-space environment and ordered some dishes. The first one to arrive was the New England Lobster Rolls. 

The brioche buns were crisp on the edges and deliciously soft and buttery inside. Wedged between each bun was a slice of tender lobster meat which laid on a bed of shredded lobster and mayonnaise The combined flavour of the buns and the lobster meat was sweet and satisfying. At $16 a pop, they were by no means cheap. But I had no regrets ordering these rolls and I would have totally ordered another if I had not made so many dinner plans for the following week which would require saving some cash. But yes, those lobster rolls. So, so delicious.

Next came the Pork Baos with Tamarind Sauce. Baos are all the trend in Melbourne at the moment and pretty much all modern or fusion Asian restaurants will offer an interesting take on the traditional Chinese bread. The Pork Bao was interesting at Supernormal. Instead of streamed or straight out fried meat, the pork patties were crumbed nuggets of juicy, chunky meat served with a spicy, Tamarind sauce on top of some cucumbers. It was definitely not the traditional filling for a Bao, but the meat was flavoursome. I don't think I enjoyed the Tamarind sauce too much though. But the Bao texture and consistency was just right. It was good, fluffy steamed bread.  

For our mains, my sister and I shared a fish, The Whole Roasted Flounder with Seaweed Butter, Potatoes and Spring Onions. For some reason I pictured this dish a little differently...probably because I assumed the potatoes would be roasted as well. But it was still an enjoyable dish. The fish was fresh and melted in your mouth with the seaweed butter. The potatoes turned out to be potato shreds, which were crunchy and also deliciously addictive when served with the seaweed butter sauce. I wish they'd actually provided more potatoes, rather than the spring onion as it could have made for a fancy fish and chips dish!

The part of lunch that we both looked forward to the most was dessert. I'd heard about this Peanut Butter Parfait with Salted Caramel and Soft Chocolate since the opening of the restaurant and I knew that if I had to try one thing at Supernormal, it'd have to be this dessert. And it did not disappoint.

The parfait was silky and creamy, with a light peanut butter taste. It was my favourite part of the dish and it was paired perfectly with the sweet, rich, salted caramel sauce that it was swimming in. To conteract the sweetness, the soft chocolate ganche on top was made from dark chocolate. It was slightly bitter, the natural bitterness of unflavoured cocoa, which helped to offset the sweetness. When all the elements were gathered together, along with some of the roasted peanuts sprinkled on top, it was an explosion of dessert flavours and textures that delighted the taste buds.

What my sister had been really curious about was the Miso and Fuji Apple Soft Serve Ice-cream. We'd seen some pictures of the pretty looking sundae and wondered what Miso Ice-Cream would taste like, so my sister ordered one. It turned out to be an interesting experience, but not one I'd be keen enough to try again anytime too soon. The yellow soft serve was the Miso component and it was mighty salty. Sort of like frozen, sweetened Miso soup. The pink soft serve was the Fuji Apple component and it was sour, with a slightly sweet finish. So when combined together it was a bit like salty apple. It reminded my sister of sun-dried apple chips. I will add that I really liked the seasame brittle on top. It was very thin and caramel-flavoured and the seasame was not over-powering, as with the case with some sesame biscuits.

The restaurant had a lovely dining area. Large and open with long counter-tops and simple furniture. It was lined with some Japanese sake bottles and plants. Nothing super fancy....just Supernormal. Hahaha, sorry, couldn't resist. At two o'clock lunchtime, it did have a business lunch and intimate date vibe, but not exclusively so as there was a family with some kids dining there too.

My favourite decoration in the restaurant, apart from it's hot pink neon sign, was the giant Bonsai they kept in a glass case by the front of the restaurant. It looked a bit like a Japanese pine tree. Kind of cute in it's glass case. There's something nice about plants in restaurants, don't you think?

My final verdict? I loved a lot of the items that we tried, particularly the Lobster Rolls and the Peanut Butter Parfait. But some dishes felt like they needed a little more to make them more desirable to me as I mentioned with some aspects of the Bao and Fish. All in all, it was a super pleasant experience. 

The service was polite and on point. If we asked for something, we'd get it in good time. It did take awhile for the fish to come out though, but perhaps it was the cooking time required for the dish. It was an enjoyable meal and I'd love to come back to try some other dishes sometime. 


Service: 7/10
Ambience: 8/10
Food: 18/20

Worth Visiting? Yes - Peanut Butter Parfait! And other dishes are lovely too!
Price: $$$ (You're looking at anything between $6-$69. There's some entree dishes, Baos and such, that are well over $10 for a very small serving. But if you'd like to try them, they are quite enjoyable. Most filling main dishes are about $30-$40, with rice at a separate cost.)

Supernormal on Urbanspoon