The Cru in Kew

Cru
916 Glenferrie Road
Kew
(03) 9818 4366

In the leafy suburb of Kew, the guys at Cru are bringing the locals some tasty treats after the morning school run. Peering through the glass it’s easy to feel this place would be right at home amongst the cafes of Fitzroy: it’s got the same vibe that makes it feel like a hidden secret only locals are allowed to enjoy. But take a deep confidence-boosting breath and walk through the door and you’ll be rewarded with some fab fare.

It’s a narrow space, but deceptively big. Grab a seat along the narrow bench opposite the marble counter, otherwise make your way past the bearded baristas and down the narrow alleyway and you’ll find a surprisingly welcoming outdoor area out back.

The menu is inspired by the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The shakshuka eggs – eggs baked in tomato sugo with basil and chilli served with sourdough ($16.00) – are a common sight on menus these days, but are a favourite nonetheless.

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If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, the Middle Eastern inspired eggs with felafel, chilli, humus, plenty of herbs and some real pita bread ($17.00) is something you won’t find everyday and worth making the trip for. The doughy pita bread is a great alternative to sourdough, great for mopping up those poached eggs and hummus. Just watch out for the chilli though if you can’t handle heat – this one has a real kick to it.

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Even the fruit salad ($13.00) has it’s own Middle Eastern spin. A selection of seasonal fresh and poached fruit come served with labneh flavoured with dates and toasted quinoa. It’s a nice, light start to the day.

MFF_Cru_FruitIf all that sounds too scary, rest assured you’ll still find classics like smashed avo on the menu. This Cru’s version comes with minted peas and lemony ricotta ($14.00). Add a side of bacon if you’re in the mood.

MFF_Cru_AvoThe lunch menu is full of baguettes, burgers, salads and sliders with interesting combinations such as the crab slider made with soft shell crab, wombok slaw and lime mayo on a brioche bun ($18.00), or the 8 hour chermoula spiced lamb wrap with minted yoghurt, braised lentils and tomato ($16.00). Add a side of chips or salad for an extra $4.00 if you’re feeling hungry.

The guys are even open in the evenings too, serving up small, medium or large sized share plates to accompany their extensive wine list. Enjoy some pork belly with watermelon, pomegranate molasses, whipped feta and herbs ($17.00) or some potato gnocchi ($27.00) with a glass of Tempranillo from Spain.

These guys are definitely adding a little spice to the quiet suburb of Kew.

Cru on Urbanspoon

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Splurge at The Kettle Black this long weekend

The Kettle Black
50 Albert Rd
South Melbourne, VIC 3205
(03) 9088 0721

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In Melbourne there are a lot of good brunch places, some might say too many. Come Saturday, we Melbournians love nothing more than to pull on our lycra and dash out the door to meet up with friends at the latest and greatest brunch spot. Well, maybe you don’t don the lycra, but I’m sure you are meeting up with a friend or two who is.

There seems to be a bit of a formula though for the ‘IT’ places to visit: industrial chic fitout + smashed avocado on toast + baristas with beards = success. So when a place decides to do things a bit differently it’s a bit of a gamble, but one that is seemingly paying off for the guys at Kettle Black in South Melbourne.

You won’t find any distress timber or exposed brick here. Instead, the guys at Studio You Me have done a clever job at making the space feel incredibly light and airy, which is just as well given the number of people trying to cram their way to a table. White marble is paired with gold trimmings, blond timber and subtle green embellishments in what could potentially be the next big thing in restaurant fitouts. It feels decadent yet strangely relaxed at the same time.

Of course such a beautiful space should be matched by some equally beautiful food, and Kettle Black delivers in spades. The kingfish with potato crisps, tomato, avocado and purslane leaves ($23.00) artfully demonstrates the chefs’ abilities to build beautiful plates of food. But while it’s an attractive dish, it doesn’t quite deliver so proficiently in terms of taste. It’s a bit ordinary sadly, and the purslane leaves may perhaps be more gimmick than suitable accompaniment.

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While this restrained approach may not work for the kingfish, other dishes are more successful, such as the burrata with raw hairloom tomatoes, burnt rainbow chard and vinegar ($17.00). The classic pairing of tomato and mozzarella is lifted by the sharpness of the vinegar with some added texture from the chard. Again though, the purslane leaves make an unnecesary appearance.

I think someone in the kitchen must have shares in purslane as just when you think you can order something that doesn’t contain the tough leaves, they pop up again on the benedict-style eggs with braised pork shoulder and aerated hollandaise ($17.00). Scrape them off and order a side of avocado instead ($5.00) and enjoy scooping the creamy flesh straight from the skin.

MFF_KettleBlack_BurrataMFF_KettleBlack_BenedictIt seems like just about everywhere you can find a version of a lobster roll, so it’s nice to see somewhere take advantage of our country’s amazing produce and offer a crayfish version instead ($21.00). In what is already a fan favourite, the Kettle’s version still comes doused in mayo (this time it’s yuzu flavoured), but it’s also got sorrel and lime for some added punch. Don’t even start me on the purslane leaves.

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To keep things interesting, there’s a list of changing specials. When we visited, the crayfish burger was being given a run for it’s money by a prawn incarnation with mayo and jalepeno. A very pretty dish of snapper with heirloom vegetables, burnt onion and buffalo ricotta was also on offer.

MFF_KettleBlack_PrawnRollMFF_KettleBlack_SnapperAs if that wasn’t enough reason to trek all the way out to South Melbourne on a Saturday morning, the Kettle also has it’s very own unique blend of coffee from 5 senses, as well as a range of single origin and filtered options sold from a coffee cart by the front door.

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It should come as no surprise that there are some big names behind Kettle Black. Owners include Nathan Toleman, Jesse Mctavish, Ben Clark and Diamond Rozakeas from Top Paddock, former Two Birds One Stone manager Tim James, and Sam King (ex De Clieu and Seven Seeds).

With all that experience between them, it’s little wonder Kettle Black is forging a new direction in Melbourne’s congested brunch market. The beautiful surrounding and equally beautiful dishes mean they can get away with charging a little more, and after a busy 4 day working week this is just the place to splurge this long weekend.

The Kettle Black on Urbanspoon

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Master of None keeping locals happy

Master of None
57B Station Street
Malvern, VIC 3144

MFF_MON_Sign There’s something nice about having a good local coffee house. Good coffee, good conversation. It brings a smile to your face on a cold morning when you’d rather be tucked up in bed. Malvern local Master of None is one such place. Conveniently located across the road from Malvern Station, it provides such much needed sustenance and caffeine for weary commuters.

Formerly an old garage, owner Tennyson Andrew converted the space himself, maintaining the the rustic, homely vibe with chip board covered walls, timber cabinetry and minimal fitout. It’s almost like dropping by for a bite at a mates place. “I was drawn to Malvern’s warm sense of community and saw the opportunity to return some of the love”, says Andrew. “I fit out everything, bar the electrics and plumbing.”

The star here is the coffee, supplied by Coffee Supreme. It’s strong and rich, just what you need first thing in the morning for a pick me up. A convenient take-away window also means a quick exchange for those hurring to the station.

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The space is small, with no room for a proper kitchen. Instead the menu offers a few quick to prepare items including a couple of good toasties, some pastries, and croissants from Noisette. The chicken toastie with avocado, mayo, mustard and rocket might not be pushing any culinary boundaries, but it sure does satisfy. As does the ham version with tomato, rocket and cheese.

If you’re saying no to gluten, there’s gluten-free bread available. But aside from the odd salad there’s not a lot on offer.

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Above the cafe, Andrew’s runs his multi-disciplinary design studio Tennyson Design. If client’s aren’t sold on his designs, I’m sure one of his coffees will pursuade them.

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Master of None on Urbanspoon

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Milkman brings you the goods

Milkman
818 Glenferrie Rd
Hawthorn, VIC 3122
0405 686 671

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It seems Melbournians still love a good pop up. When a certain real estate agent on Glenferrie rd found themselves with a spare bit of space next door they needed to fill for 6 months, first-time owners Kim Stephen and Kirsty Lawler jumped at the chance.

Opened in November last year, Milkman is halfway though it’s lifespan, but don’t be fooled into thinking that because of it’s short lifespan it’s any shabby makeshift establishment: this is the real deal. With it’s slick blue and white colour scheme, blond timber and white pegboard covered walls, this Milkman is the blueprint for a more permanent location later in the year.

The guys work with what they’ve got. The small space means there’s no room for a proper kitchen, therefore the menu is short and to the point. A bit of toast and some muesli aside, the real focus of the menu is on the three versions of smashed avocado on toast: The Mr Simple with goats cheese; The Italian with prosciutto, peas, bocconcini and chilli; and the Mexican with grilled corn, goats cheese, tomato, and coriander.

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But if that leaves you filling hungry, one of the Milkman’s almond milk smoothies made with ‘proper protein’ will hit the spot. Choose from either: The Green with kale, baby spinach, banana, cacao nibs and avocado; The Breakkie with banana, LSA, chia, oats, cinnamon and coconut chips; or The Berry with banana, blueberries, strawberries and chia.

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Off-menu at the counter there’s a selection of fresh salads and sandwiches made daily, as well as a range of sweets with a health bent including raw chocolate bars from Fig & Salt. With home made jam and coffee from Niccolo, this Milkman is sure to deliver.

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B’Stilla bringing back Moroccan

B’Stilla
30 Bray Street,
South Yarra VIC 3141
(03) 9826 2370

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He once was behind the food at one of Melbourne’s most successful restaurants, so when Jason Jones, former chef and co-owner of Mamasita, decided to try something different, he opened B’Stilla in the back streets of South Yarra. Unveiled in April 2013, the venue delivers a modern take on predominantly Moroccan cuisine with a relaxed, bar-like vibe that is perfectly tailored to the trendy Chapel St types. Pronounced “bas-stee-ya”, the eatery is named after a traditional Moroccan pie usually served at the beginning of special meals.

The menu is designed to share, full of dishes inspired by traditional Moroccan favourites so incase you’re having trouble translating there’s a glossary on the reverse. Under “Small Plates” obviously is a list of smaller dishes to get your taste buds going. The spiced okra ($5.00) is the Middle-East’s answer to beer nuts. Cut into small pieces, deep fried and doused with spices they’re the perfect snack to accompany a pre-dinner drink. The merguez, a barbecued duck sausage ($6.00) is another smaller dish with a kick of spice that’ll help you settle into your meal.

A serve of tangier BBQ’d octopus with tahini remoulade and kale ($12.00) is a must-order when you visit. The barbeque imparts a subtle smokey flavour to the octopus that matches oh-so-well with the creamy remoulade. The accompanying kale chips also demonstrates Jones’ ability to adapt his menu to emerging food trends.

MFF_BStilla_OctopusOf course the restaurant’s namesake dish, B’Stilla, is on the menu. But instead of the traditional pigeon version common in Morocco, this one is made from a mixture of chicken and duck, mixed with almonds and lightly scented with cinnamon and saffron ($14.00). It comes served dusted with icing sugar for that customary sweet/savoury Moroccan flavour combo.

The lamb ribs are another winning starter, laiden with red dukkah, date and lime ($16.00) with meat tender enough to fall off the bone.

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There’s plenty to choose from for vegetarians on the menu. The spinach rghaif with eggplant, zucchini, curd and za’atar ($15.00) is one such dish. Familiar flavours of spinach and cheese are wrapped in a light dough, served with a spicy sauce that’s sure to heat things up a bit.

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The “Larger Plates” menu is decidedly shorter than the “Small Plates” but touches on all the main proteins. The vegetarian tagine made of pumpkin, broadbeans, beetroot and chic peas ($28.00) is hearty enough to sate even meateaters, but for those in need of iron, the beef short ribs with carrot jam and herbs ($34.00) will fit the bill.

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You’ll need some sides with the short ribs, and the cauliflower with pine nut sauce, ras el hanout and herbs ($8.00) is a good choice. Otherwise the hairloom carrots with hazelnuts and smoked chilli ($10.00) is another winning dish.

MFF_BStilla_CarrotsDesserts are limited, but the set yoghurt with honeycomb, raspberry and lime ($12.00), akin to a panacotta, is a pretty dish with contrasting creamy and sharp flavours. The fez mess with prunes, meringue and walnuts ($12.00), meanwhile, is a little clumsier but tastes better than it looks.

MFF_BStilla_Dessert_PanacottaMFF_BStilla_Dessert01It was always going to be hard to follow up the success of Mamasita, but B’Stilla is forging it’s own path. It follows the same ideals of authenticity, casual atmosphere, and value for money, but does so in it’s own unique way.

B'Stilla on Urbanspoon

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