Dining, Dining Reviews

Lunch at Aunty Franklee

I ventured to Hawthorn for a delicious lunch at Aunty Franklee 2 weekends ago. I’ve mentioned it a few times, it’s pretty cold here in Melbourne this winter, so I was keen to go and have some delicious food to warm me up.

I should mention there are two Aunty Franklee locations, Melbourne CBD and Hawthorn. Hawthorn is the newest baby of Fiorn. After receiving much acclaim for the Melbourne CBD store, with a write up by my favourite food blogger Not Quite Nigella, Fiorn set out to open a second location.

The restaurant is conveniently located within close proximity to Hawthorn Train Station and the number 75 tram stops right out the front.

Upon opening the door, you are immediately greeted by a light, bright and airy space. White floors, cane furniture and the most gorgeous turquoise coloured feature wall.


I am in love with how this restaurant has been styled. I felt as though I had been transported to another country. I felt like I was on holidays, some tropical destination.

Gorgeous watercolour paintings are scattered throughout the restaurant, painted by Fiorn and her Husband. There is a spot at the window, where her Husband paints and why wouldn’t you? The space is perfect with the massive glass window.


Fiorn asked if I would like some tea, while I looked over the menu. Next arrived a beautiful pot of Lemon Grass & Ginger tea. This kept me going through the whole meal.


Even though I am a foodie, I don’t think I’ve ever had real authentic Malaysian Food. Except the classic Laksa or Satay Chicken. So to try real Malaysian food was quite exciting.

The menu isn’t massive or complicated but does have a great range of items to choose from. To be honest, they all sound so good! I was glad when Fiorn suggested we do small plates of a select few items.


Silver Whiting with Tumeric Relish $9/$12 and Chicken Skewers $6/$11
The moment I took a bite of the Silver Whiting, I knew I was in for a real treat. Think deliciously crunchy with most of the taste coming from the fish itself.
Full of flavour, it’s served on a bed of daikon radish, which is perfect. I love LOVE the addition of the sea spray as a garnish. It’s fresh with just the right amount of bite.

The Chicken Skewers were very tender, it’s more a dry rub of spices vs the traditional peanut sauce I’m used too. Very delicious!


Grilled “Bakars” Short Beef Ribs $12/$20 and Nasi Lemak (new to menu)
I was extremely excited for the next 2 dishes. I had seen the beef ribs on the Aunty Franklee Instagram and just knew I had to try them.

The Nasi Lemak is a new item and the coconut rice is coloured with Butterfly Pea Flower, how cool is that!


The Grilled “Bakars” Short Beef Ribs blew me away! Presented with a subtle satay sauce, full of peanut goodness and pickled purple cabbage which was a perfect pairing to help with the spicy meat. The meat just fell off the bones and was incredibly tender.
It had that perfect charcoal taste too. I’ll have another serve of these please!


The Nasi Lemak is a new menu item. A traditional dish, I tried a few weeks back. They have used Butterfly Pea Flower to colour the coconut rice. Butterfly Pea Flower not only makes dishes pop but there are actually therapeutic properties associated with it (I wrote about my learning experience with it here).

As Fiorn explained to me, this dish is best eaten when you mix a little of everything all together, so that I did! It’s amazing how there are some really simple ingredients on this plate but the flavours they make when joined together – out of this world!


Mother Hen Soup $14/$28
Just when I thought my taste buds had peaked, Fiorn brings out this dish. The first sip of broth that I took, I literally died. This soup is AMAZING. I don’t even have words to explain just how good this is.

The recipe is from Fiorn’s grandfather who would make this soup on a Sunday. The soup gets its name from the Mother Hen, which is used to make the broth due to its intense flavour. There are also 5 different types of mushrooms used in this dish.


What makes this soup a little different is the noodles. They are work fried before being placed into the bowl. This leads to the delicious taste and aroma of smoke from the work plus crunchy noodle pieces. As the noodles soak up the broth, you are left with an intense, delicious flavour sensation.

Thigh is used as the meat, which is perfect as it was just so tender! This is definitely my favourite dish, and also the best soup I have ever had.


Char Kuey Teow $14
A delicious noodle dish with crunchy pork pieces, fish cake, prawns, Chinese sausage and tofu. Another dish with so much flavour, and very filling. I love the addition of the homemade sambal as it adds that spicy touch to the dish that I’m fond of.

I love the smoky flavour, and the perfect pieces of egg and crunch beansprouts. This would make the perfect dish to share alongside your mains.


I absolutely enjoyed Aunty Franklee, not only was the food an absolute standout but Fiorn was such a gracious host. I loved how she explained certain elements to me and her passion.

Hopefully we see her in the next few weeks over on Meet the Makers!

I recommend you pop in when possible and try this delicious Malaysian food. Take me with you too if you wish, I wouldn’t decline the invite!


Dining, Dining Reviews

Breakfast at Mr Peebles, Ivanhoe

On this cold Melbourne morning, I popped into Mr Peebles in Ivanhoe. I was greeted by a happy waiter and the owner, Scott Curatolo. It was a lovely, warm welcome and immediately felt at home.

While the cafe is small, there is still plenty of room with the seating placed to maximise space.

Mr Peebles is also dog friendly, with seating outside available and a little water dish for your furry friend.

I started with drinks, a soy cappuccino. However upon looking at the separate tea menu I decided to get one of those too!

The tea is from Tielka, and I went with the Limonada Rosa, which is a Lemon Myrtle blend including Hibiscus and Rose Petals. I loved the little tea book which explains the benefits of the tea – plus it tasted so nice!

My soy cappuccino was made perfectly, and I liked the cup it came in. Some places the cups are so small, but this was a very welcoming mug!

I forgot to ask where they get their beans from, but this was such a delicious cup of coffee! Plus how cute, it matched my nails!

I had checked out the menu before I arrived, as I do, and was unsure of what to have. All the dishes looked so good! A favourite on social media, the Green Eggs has been photographed quite a bit. One of my fellow foodies actually tried it a week ago.

img_9224Photo courtesy of @erwiny11

The Green Eggs consists of house smoked salmon, halloumi, kale and basil pesto, pickled ginger salad, creamy scramble in a toasted croissant. – YUM! I am definitely going to have to try this one next time!

I decided to go with the Mr Hash. I liked that it was a little different and not just bacon and eggs. It included, a crisp potato hash on pureed peas, spicy nduja (spreadable salami paste), fried corn, peas, grilled chorizo, edamame beans, poached egg, paprika oil.

It was the absolute best! I found the elements on the dish extremely tasty, from the paprika oil to the puree peas and chorizo. So much flavour in this dish!

My poached egg was cooked perfectly, the moment I cut into it all the gooey egg yolk ran out and added an extra element and flavour. Yum! I want this again too!

As I had ordered the tea also, I couldn’t finish my coffee however the waitress was so lovely she popped it into one of the takeaway cups. It’s little things like that, that mean so much and make the experience incredibly enjoyable.

I loved Mr Peebles so much that I’m heading back on the 11th of August! I really want to try the P.P.P with house porridge mix, saffron poached pear, coconut milk, cacao nibs, hemp seeds, pink muesli crisps. Scott explained the pink muesli crisps to me and it sounds so cool!

Also the Avo Schmavo is undergoing some changes which sound amazing! Although, currently it has 1⁄2 avo, sautéed broccoli and silverbeet, house made cashew cheese, celery salt, mixed seeds and seaweed cracker on toasted multi-grain which has tickled my interest.

This is a great little cafe in Ivanhoe, I recommend you add this to the list of places to try. They also have an extensive burger menu AND crazy milkshakes!

I hope you enjoyed my review of Mr Peebles, you can find their website here which includes a link to the menu!

Check it out!


Dining, Dining Reviews

Lunch at Bankvale Run, Marnong Estate

Two weeks ago an exciting new restaurant opened 4 minutes from our house, called Bankvale Run – part of Marnong Estate. Set on the most exquisite grounds, with a surrounding vineyard, Angus Cattle (my absolute favourite) and stunning architecture. It is located 15 minutes from Melbourne airport and only 35 minutes from Melbourne CBD.

I was so excited to have somewhere close by that we could go to on special occasions, where we would celebrate birthdays, anniversary, Christmas and so on.


Booking was simple and easy to do through Open Table and I like how you can modify your booking through the website, saves making a phone call.

Bankvale Run is open Thursday and Friday for lunch and dinner, and on Saturday & Sunday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is led by Executive Chef, Matt Coates who previously worked at the Sofitel in Darling Harbour.

Upon arrival, you are greeted by some amazing views. They have hit the nail on the head with the placement of the restaurant, overlooking rolling hills through big glass windows. The only trouble I had was the lighting with my photos ha!


The interior is absolutely stunning, with the most amazing open kitchen where you can see the Chef’s busy at work. Although he won’t admit it, my husband loves watching the kitchen whenever we dine out and from where we sat he had a bird’s eye view on it all.


I love the colour palette of the interior, you can see so much thought has gone into the design. Its warm, inviting and blends with the rugged exterior. The use of the slate and wooden floors, matched against the tanned leather is perfection. The perfect escape for a cold Melbourne winters day!


Of course, I had to get a shot of the bathroom, even though we live 4 minutes down the road. It was equally stunning, and I love the choice of soap they have gone with – very upmarket.


Prior to opening, I’m certain the menu included several more items that have since been removed and I recall sitting with my Husband (who is a chef) and pondering how they were going to manage with so many different dishes. However upon arrival, the menu appeared significantly shorter. I questioned one of the Waiters, however he stated the only thing that had changed was the layout of the menu?

img_3986Views from our table at Bankvale Run.

img_3978Extensive drinks menu, I wish I had tried an Espresso Martini!

img_3979The perfect spot to enjoy a glass of wine in the afternoon.

I may be a little biased, however I do find the menu very typical, think the classics like Salmon, Pork Belly etc. I also get bothered when you have to buy the sides separately, I  just feel the protein should come with something, anything!

We skipped entrees and went straight to mains as nothing really stood out. The Crumbed fried sardines, lemon and caper mayonnaise do sound really tasty and perhaps I’ll have those next time.

I ordered the Pan fried salmon fillet, tomato, caper and pea tendrils, priced at $34. I requested the salmon be cooked well and they cooked it to perfection. I really enjoyed it, although a little small, the flavours were very nice. I do wish I had two cherry tomatoes though ha!


My husband ordered the 300gm Black Angus scotch fillet, herb and garlic butter, jus and lemon, priced at $32. He ordered it medium-rare and was more towards the medium side, only slightly. Of course I had to try his and was blown away by the beautiful smooth flavour. It was quite a good size.

img_3983Excuse the poor lighting on this picture, the sun wasn’t playing fair!

We shared a bowl of the Polenta chips with roasted tomato salsa, priced at $10. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of them, they looked like French fries though. Pleasant and crispy.

At this point, I admit I was feeling a little deflated. Again, I’m an extremely harsh critic due to where I’ve dined and having a husband who is a chef but then we ordered dessert.

What we ordered for dessert isn’t even on the menu, I’m assuming it was the freshly baked cake of the day, priced at $12 however this was something else. Both my husband and I were absolutely blown away by this dish. It was so delicious, I would drive back there right now and have it if they were open. It was like a cheesecake with jelly in the centre and a biscuit base. OMG. Absolutely blown away, and the creativity! I think that’s what I was searching for in the mains and entrees, especially since most of Melbourne does really creative things with food.


After lunch we went on a walk around the grounds, which made me super happy as it really is so beautiful. Especially seeing the old homestead, I’m actually tempted to stay here as it looks so inviting!


They have set up a large space for growing their own produce, with a little greenhouse. I love when restaurants do this, especially if they have the space. It’s also nice for guests of the homestead to have these beautiful grounds for wondering.


There is also a new tennis court for the guests of the homestead. With views like that from the tennis court, even I would take up tennis!


After we wandered through the grounds, we slowly made our way back to the car. I really didn’t want to leave as I have fallen in love with Marnong Estate and all it has to offer.

img_3994.jpgBeautiful views, perfect for that fab Instagram worthy shot!


As we strolled back to the car, I couldn’t help but think when will I return. Hopefully within the next 2 months when we have visitors from Sydney. I really want Bankvale Run to be a success, especially for our community. Mainly, so that I can celebrate many more birthdays there and tell my future grandkids that I dined here “when it first opened”.

I recommend you try this place when you can, its great for kids (the kids menu sounds pretty good) and it’s just a great spot for being semi outdoors.

I hope you enjoyed my review, do let me know your thoughts, especially if you have been there!


Dining, Dining Reviews, Food Photography, Food Reviews

Lunch at Barrenjoey House

Getting to Palm Beach is super easy from the Central Coast, Ettalong to be exact, as there is a ferry that runs there and back on a regular basis.
My lunch date was my Mum, I was up visiting her for the Easter Weekend. She had visited Palm Beach and dined at Barrenjoy House in late 2017 and raved about it-so we had to go!

We jumped on the FantaSea Ferry to Palm Beach from Ettalong for the short trip over at around 11am. The trip is roughly 30 minutes, however the scenery and views make it an adventure in itself. Before we knew it, we were pulling up at Palm Beach.

As we were running late due to tide issues, Mum had called ahead to let them know. When we arrived at Barrenjoey House they still had our table ready and it was one on the terrace at the front. This was wonderful, and we truely felt valued.

We started with a drink, I enjoyed the Lychee Berry Smash – a mocktail with muddled lychees, raspberries, fresh mint and lemonade. It was so refreshing and the berry smash made it a delightful purple shade.

Mum enjoyed a cocktail, the Andy Warhol – Vanilla Vodka, passionfruit pulp, egg white and prosecco. Perfect for the hot day, it was refreshing yet sharp. I am obsessed with the glasses they were served in. Does anyone know the name of them?

Photo 2-4-18, 4 45 51 pm_previewMum with her Andy Warhol Cocktail

For starters, we ordered the marinated olives which were perfectly marinated. The marinade contained chilli, rosemary and what looked like orange rind. So tasty.
We also ordered a serve of the sourdough which was toasted with garlic and parmesan – I have had “garlic bread” before but this was next level. Light, crispy and with a hint of garlic.

Photo 2-4-18, 4 46 13 pm_preview

Service was extremely fast, I felt perhaps, a little too fast. I wanted to sit and enjoy my lunch and take my time however there was little time between drinks/starters/mains etc. Our waiter was so lovely and attentive and offered suggestions on the menu. I always love when the waiter is happy to have a chat.

For our main meal, we each had the seasonal seafood platter. Priced at $42, I felt there could definitely have been more seafood on the plate, perhaps a full Balmain Bug rather than half or even a side salad. However in saying this, the seafood was cooked to perfection. The Balmain Bug was sweet and tender, the prawns firm and the fish lightly battered.

Photo 2-4-18, 4 46 50 pm_preview

Next up was dessert. I chose the Affogato. I actually hadn’t tried one of these before but was craving a good coffee. It didn’t disappoint. With the perfect serve of vanilla bean gelato, it was presented with the espresso and Frangelico in separate shot glasses. I loved pouring it over the ice cream myself, it added a sense of fun to the dish. It also featured a piece of almond biscotti.

Mum enjoyed the dessert special, Eton Mess, which was pleasant and surprised us both as it had banana in it. This added a different texture, alongside the meringue. It was light and refreshing.

Both desserts were $15

Photo 2-4-18, 4 47 50 pm_previewMum enjoying dessert, Eton Mess

After we finished dessert we decided to head off and explore Palm Beach (especially the shops). We had a look through the dining area, ensuring we weren’t in anyones way. The interior is gorgeous, with Morrocan light fittings, beautiful leather lounges and a gorgeous fireplace. Beautiful mirrors are featured throughout the spaces, I especially loved the one above the fireplace.

My only concern with lunch was the way my Mum was spoken too by a waitress, well berated. It was unfortunate, my Mum was standing in front of an opening door which the lady opened into my Mum. Rather than apologise the waitress was extremely rude to my Mum. Mum apologised for being in the way and we moved on.
I went to the bathroom, and overheard the waitress talking poorly about my Mum to another waitress, who then rolled her eyes. This was extremely unprofessional and uncalled for and has left a bad taste in my mouth.

Even with this poor customer service experience, I would return to Barrenjoey House. The other staff were fantastic, the food perfectly cooked and presented and its also has a great vibe.

Photo 31-3-18, 4 00 16 pm_preview

Renee x

Dining Reviews, Health, In The Kitchen, Recipes, Wellbeing

Smoothie Sunday!

Smoothie Sunday was easy as pie today. I only needed 3 ingredients, and with summer berries coming into season it was cheap as chips!
I love smoothies, sometimes I worry about the sugar intake so I look for ways to reduce this.

Photo 24-9-17-2

Today was also my first day using the Beauty Chef, Glow Inner Beauty Powder. What a magical canister of goodness this is!

The Glow Inner Beauty Powder is a bio-fermented superfood blend created to improve the outer skin complexion. Beauty from the inside out!
Key ingredients are;
* Dunaliella salina – nutrient dense algae
* Queen Garnet Plum- has up to 6 times the antioxidant properties than blueberries
* Probiotics- promoting up to 500 million good bacteria per serve
* Vitamins + minerals- such as vitamin C which assists in collagen production

Photo 24-9-17

The ingredients you will need are as follows;
– Punnet of strawberries
– Punnet of blueberries
– Coconut water
– Ice

I added the recommended amount of Glow Inner Beauty Powder, 1 tsp, to the smoothie mix prior to blending.

Once blended, the smoothie is ready to enjoy!

Photo 24-9-17-1