Having trouble on deciding what to have? LBSS takes away the guesswork

Little Big Sugar Salt
385 Victoria St
Abbotsford, VIC 3067
(03) 9427 8818

MFF_LBSS_Entrance

Ever been to brunch and can’t decide what to order? Little Big Sugar Salt have come up with an ingenious way to help you decide. The entire menu – laid out as a ‘mostly healthy food pyramid’ – lists smaller items at the top and larger items at the bottom, with sweeter items are on the left, and savoury on the right. Simple, right?

LBSS, the first venture from Charl Laubscher, Erika Geraerts, Morgan Green and Adam Houston, opened late last year on a strip of Victoria St where you’d more likely expect to find Pho than poached eggs. What’s more, the tiny establishment, laid out within the confines of the original workers cottage it inhabits, runs from a tiny kitchen located behind the coffee machine at the very entrance. Here you can watch the team, run by Clint Gresham, create some top notch nosh.

Feel like something not to big and on the savoury side? The “Keyword Tasty” towards the top right fulfills your needs ($15.00). Drawing on the inspiration surrounding them, the guys top your regular avo and feta mash with kimchi, finishing it with quinoa and a poached egg, the resulting dish an balance between Melbourne’s hipster brunch scene and the Asian cuisine of Victoria st.

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A little hungrier? Try the “Secret Garden” ($15.00). Spoiler: it contains broccoli, broad beans, peas, asparagus, baby chard, pesto and goats cheese, topped with a poached egg. The optional trout (+$2.00) or bacon (+$4.00) make it more substantial, sliding it further towards the ‘big’ end of the scale.

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But if you’re truly looking to be fulfilled, try the “Sir Ron Swanson” ($19.00), so good it’s “the first toastie to ever receive the Order of Merit” according to the menu. Deliciously filling, this bad boy is stuffed with pickled onions, braised leek bechamel, slow-cooked ham hock and loads of gruyere cheese. Arise! Sir Ron indeed.

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From the sweet side of the menu, there’s classics like crumpets made special with the addition of peanut butter, maple syrup, banana and blue cheese ($13.00); or Cacao Pops, made in house with vanilla coyo, fresh berries and almond milk ($13.00).

This establishment caters for just about everyone, making note of gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian items. Those going gluten-free rejoice: there’s pancakes made with blueberries and ginger, topped with coconut vanilla ice cream, maple syrup and seasonal fruit ($18.00) just for you (any anyone else really).

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The drinks menu is even divided between hot and cold. On the hot side, the coffee (from People’s Coffee in Wellington) is available black or white, with almond milk or soy. There’s also a range of teas available, or an almond milk hot chocolate. From the cold side: a range of cold coffees, virtuous waters (coconut or Antipodes sparkling), or a choice of purple or green smoothies.

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In an era where Melbourne Cafes have to do just about anything they can to stand out, LBSS is certainly doing things differently. The menu, while short, is solid and seemingly has all tastes covered, catering to the health obsessed, superfood-fueled crowd.

Little Big Sugar Salt - LBSS Cafe on Urbanspoon

Posted in Abbotsford, Eastern, Reviews | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Korean without the queuing

Seoul Soul
315 High St
Northcote, VIC
(03) 9481 3027

MFF_SeoulSoul_Entrance

If you want Korean but don’t want to wait in line at Kong, head on down to Seoul Soul on High St, Northcote. This neon-lit eatery, owned by 3 interior designers, is serving up tasty lunch and dinners 7 days a week at a very reasonable price.

With a sister restaurant of the same name on Victoria st, you know these guys must be doing something right. The menu may not be the most authentic – you’ll find teriyaki chicken and dumplings along side the regular stuff – but that’s not the focus here. It’s “modern” Korean that’s “a bit sweeter and less spicy – more Westernised” according to owner Insu Kim.

The Kim Chi pancake for instance that’s “cooked with various vegetables and kim chi” ($8.00) according to the menu, has definitely had the chilli dialed down from more traditional versions. Deep fried with a side of pickles, it’s the a great way to get your daily dose of veggies for the day.

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For something a little different, the Dduk Bok Ki ($13.00) is like a Korean take on pasta. Tubes of rice cakes, similar in texture to gnocchi, are served in either a sweet chilli or soy sauce with mixed vegetables, spring rolls and triangular parcels. Be warned: unlike the other "Westernised" dishes, the sweet chilli has a good hum of chilli to it, so opt for the soy version if you can't handle the heat.

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It wouldn’t be a Korean restaurant without Bibimbap – a piping hot stone bowl filled with steamed rice and topped with various veggies and meats and a fried egg ($16.00). Available in a range of meats – beef, pork or chicken as well as vegetarian options vegie, tofu or kim chi – finish off the meal by adding your own sesame oil and as much chilli sauce as your can handle.

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There is also a chargrilled BBQ section on the menu that serves up various grilled meats and veggies on a sizzling plate. The sweet soy shitake mushrooms ($17.00) are an excellent choice. Served in a sweet sauce with mixed veggies, these meaty fungi are sure to please both veggos and meat eaters alike.

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There’s a lot of great cheap Asian eats around Melbourne but there’s few that have the style and atmosphere of Seoul Soul. The staff are friendly, the fitout is cool and modern, and most importantly the food is good and well priced.

Seoul Soul Plus on Urbanspoon

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Moussaka: A family favourite

MFF_Moussaka

If you love lasagne but want something a little healthier, this easy recipe for moussaka is just for you. Moussaka is a traditional Greek recipe similar to Italian lasagne, but uses eggplant instead of pasta for the layers. Great for using up leftover bolognese, feel free to use your own recipe. It’s comfort food at it’s best, perfect for a family dinner or if you’re like me, great to whip up on the weekend for an easy mid week meal. And if you’re gluten intolorant, substitute the flour in the bechemel for corn or gluten free flour.

1 large eggplant, finely sliced longways
3 cups bolognese sauce (recipe below)
3 cups bechemel sauce (recipe below)
 1/2 cup grated cheese
spray oil for greasing

  1. Make the bolognese sauce and set aside to cool.
  2. Make the bechemel sauce and keep warm.
  3. Preheat oven to 180C.
  4. Grease a 30cm  x 20cm tin with oil. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer over the bottom of the tin. Spread 1/4 of the bolognese evenly over the eggplant, then do the same with the bechemel. Repeat layers in this order until everything is used up, finishing with a layer of eggplant topped with bechemel.
  5. Sprinkle grated cheese over moussaka and place in a moderate oven for 45 minutes or until cooked through.
  6. Serve warm with salad.

Serves 4

BOLOGNESE SAUCE
2 tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500g beef mince
700g passata tomato sauce
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat oil in a large saute pan. Add onion and carrots and cook until the onion is translucent but not brown, about 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the beef and use the back of your spoon to break it up. Continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
  3. Once all the liquid has evaporated, add the passata and balsamic and stir through. Season to taste.

BECHEMEL SAUCE
60g butter, chopped
1/4 cup plain flour
3 cups milk
60g parmesan cheese, finely grated
good pinch ground nutmeg
salt and pepper

  1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of milk and wisk until absorbed. Continue adding milk a little at a time, whisking until all incorporated.
  3. Stir through the parmesan and nutmet and season to taste.
Posted in Dinner/Main Meal, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Som Tam: High quality Thai food in Thornbury

This is a sponsored post

Som Tam
750 High Street
Thornbury 3071
(03) 9480 5276

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In the midst of a restaurant and café district, Som Tam Thai restaurant brings high quality Thai cuisine that is equally delicious and fresh to Thornbury’s High Street. Som Tam offers a variety of rich flavours and dishes that will satisfy the Melburnian food lover’s palette

Som Tam drew on the wonderful sights and colours of Thiland to inspire their menu. Their menu may be short, but it is carefully selected with flavoursome dishes using fresh and unique ingredients sourced from the best traditional grocers around Melbourne. Vegetarians are well catered for as are the gluten intolerant, with many options or alternatives throughout the menu that are just as rich in taste and colour.

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Enjoy the fine authentic taste of the Roast Duck Red Curry ($18.90) or, indulge in something sweeter in the dessert menu such as the Sticky Rice with Coconut Ice-cream. ($6.90) Thai cuisine is traditionally enjoyed in a communal atmosphere. In Thai culture, dishes are made to be shared and enjoyed together with family and friends. Som Tam sure kept this is mind when creating the menu. The abundance of flavours available will have you sampling the starters and wanting to share dishes around with all your dinner guest. The Pla Goong poached prawns with Thai chilli paste and ginger ($11.90) would be perfect to pass around the table.

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The surroundings of Som Tam are reflective of the charming scenery and colours of Thailand. The restaurant’s philosophy of preserving traditional Thai food culture delivers a warm and welcoming family environment. The dishes are truly authentic to Thai cooking, simple, flavoursome and made to be enjoyed and shared with loved ones.

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Hammer & Tong good for more than brunch

Hammer & Tong
Enter from Westgarth St.
Rear 412 Brunswick St
Fitzroy, VIC 03065

(03) 9041 6033

What do you get when two ex-Vue de Monde expats decide to open their own restaurant? A casual yet sophisticated eatery of an exceptionally high standard in the back streets of Fitzroy.

Hammer and Tong opened at the start of 2013 in the space that was previously The Brix. “They had very good taste,” says owner Dennis Ferreira of the previous inhabitants. “We basically got handed this very beautiful restaurant.” So the space was left virtually untouched when they moved in – same large windows, same open kitchen, same plants, even the same crockery. But Ferriera and chef Simon Ward have made the space their own, serving up Modern Australian fare with an Asian leaning.

While many may know the place as an excellent spot for breakfast and lunch, it’s worth noting they also have an excellent dinner menu from Tuesday through Saturday nights. The cocktail list is definitely worth a mention – all the classics are there like a Tom Collins, Boston Sour or Kamikaze, a steal at $15.00 each.

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The menu is designed to share, broken into small dishes and large dishes with a couple of sides. Since opening, the soft shell crab burger ($14.00) from the small dishes menu has been a staple. It’s a dish that pops up on a lot of menus around Melbourne, some good some bad, but this is definitely one of the better ones. The crab is crispy, the roll is fresh, and the whole thing will leave you wanting more.

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The smoked duck yolk and potato with chicken crackling & aruga caviar ($20.00) is a good example of what happens when gourmets do bar food. Drag your crispy chicken skin through the silky-smooth mash potato, breaking the egg yolk and scooping up some caviar as you go. It’s a real treat and just what you’d expect from guys like this.

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From the larger dishes, the Lebanese eggplant & paneer curry with angel hair chilli ($20.00) comes served with a grain salad to keep things interesting. Even though it’s vegetarian, the meaty eggplant and paneer are sure to leave you satisfied. It’s quite a light curry, not bogged down with heavy cream, with fresh flavours and a subtle hit of chilli.

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The twice cooked crispy pork, blood orange & star anise jus with curry spiced brussel sprouts and kale chips ($26.00) is one of the more ‘classic’ dishes on offer. The beautifully fatty pork with crispy crackling is well-balanced by the nutritious kale and brussel sprouts.

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But no meal would be complete without the hand cut chips with truffle mayonnaise ($9.50), the decadent truffle a subtle reminder of where these guys have come from. Never tried truffle mayonnaise? This is a good place to start.

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To finish, the roasted coconut pannacotta with splice curd, kaffir lime and maluka honey flakes ($14.00) is as delicious as it is beautiful. Served in a petri-dish with a good wobble, the splice curd and matcha powder cut through the creamy coconut flavour.

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If you thought Brunswick st is only a place for hipsters and cheap eats you’d be wrong. Hammer &  Tong brings to the area a sophisticated eatery with serious pedigree. It’s a good place to take friends for a special occasion with cocktails, or for an intimate, casual dinner for two when you’re trying to impress.

Hammer & Tong on Urbanspoon

Posted in Fitzroy, Northern, Reviews | Tagged , , | 2 Comments