Dining

Lunch at the Collective Espresso, Camberwell

When you go a 2 hour round trip just to go to a cafe, and you do that twice within the last 2 months the place must be pretty special.

The below review is over our last two visits, with the most recent one last Saturday!

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This is exactly how I feel about Collective Espresso in Camberwell!

The Cafe is the perfect size, nice and cosy but with an outdoor area for your pooch. It is opposite Camberwell Train Station so easy to get too, plus it has plenty of street-parking.

The BAM ($7.50) was the perfect way to start the meal, and especially after my morning hike.

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The BAM is a Blueberry, Apple & Mint Slushie – so good! This is going to be so refreshing come summer – the perfect way to cool down.

While Collective Espresso is serving up delicious coffee from Undercover Roasters, the team in the kitchen are creating and making some absolutely amazing dishes.

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Quite possibly the most Instagram worthy food photo around, the Gravity Waffles ($18.50) are extremely popular. You can see why, how cool is this! I wasn’t kidding when I said the team in the kitchen were creative.

The Gravity Waffles  come with vanilla and white chocolate, whipped cream, kiwi fruit, strawberries, salted caramel & popcorn.

The waffles were a great size and I love the fruit component, I would have loved a little more syrup however.

I was feeling like something substantial so ordered the Sweetcorn & Zucchini Fritters ($19) and added a side of Salmon ($5). I was so happy I did as the whole meal was so tasty and well put together!

The Sweetcorn & Zucchini Fritters were made with sweetcorn, cumin seed & zucchini. It was served with a poached egg, whipped goats cheese, lemongrass & tomato chutney. The Fritters were quite fluffy, and full of flavour, I was hoping for more whipped goats cheese as it was more a smear to hold the fritter in place – I certainly savoured what I did have though – yum!

I love how softshell crab is finding its way into brunch dishes. What a better pair than crispy soft-shell crab and Mac n Cheese – oh lordy, I was in heaven!

The Crumbed Mac & Cheese with Crispy Crab ($18.50) is one of those dishes you eat slowly, so you can fully appreciate the flavours. The tempura soft-shell crab is beautifully presented on a Mac & cheese croquette with, green cheese sauce & ranch dressing.

It was so satisfying – I’ll be having this again for sure!

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Last but not least, the burger to end all burgers. The Double. Does it even need an introduction – ha! You can maximise the cheesy goodness of The Double ($20) by making it a Beast ($5) which includes double beef, double cheese, double pickles, bacon, lettuce, a Mac & Cheese croquette & fried egg on a brioche bun. It is served with shoestring fries, relish and trufflenaise (go just for this, it is so yum!).

Yup, it’s a beast of a burger!

If you love creative food, and love taking pictures of your food (let’s be honest we all do ha!) then pop Collective Espresso on your must-try list.

A big thank you to Collective Espresso for inviting us both back (@chefjordanbird). We thoroughly enjoyed it, and look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Renee
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Dining

Lunch at Sault Daylesford

Daylesford is one of my favourite places in Victoria, I love the town that is always bustling but still maintains the small-town charm.

Two weekend’s ago, we returned to Sault Daylesford after dining there nearly two years ago when Chef Santiago Fernandez was in residence.

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Sault is located on the most beautiful properties with Lavender bushes scattered with a path leading to a stunning chapel overlooking the lake.

The restaurant itself, is a charming cottage and as you enter you are welcomed by a delightful fire and seating before you turn to your left and the big windows overlooking the property catch your eye.

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By coincidence we were seated at exactly the same table we sat at previously, which worked for me as I wanted that brilliant natural light for my photos.

I had emailed several days in advance to request seating by the window however didn’t hear back.

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We decided to have the Winter 2018 7 course tasting menu for $110 per person with the optional cheese course which was an additional $10 per person.

Freshly baked bread was swiftly delivered to the table and was served with the most delicious ricotta butter. I think one of my favourite things about eating in a fine dining restaurant is the butter. I never normally eat this at home so love having it as a little treat when out.

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First – Heirloom beetroot, Holy Goat piccolo cheese, basil, Pedro Ximènez glaze

This was a stand out dish that excited me for what was to come. The cheese had a different texture to it but once you cut through it, the delicious creamy Holy Goat piccolo cheese was utterly dreamy.

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Second – Cured Kingfish, finger lime, wild rice, truffle, lemon

The Cured Kingfish was a standout, I loved the generous serving size and the use of the finger lime as the citrus. Those little bursts of tart were heaven. Unfortunately, I could taste the truffle at all.

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Third – Trout, potato crisps, fennel ketchup, nasturtium berry, leaves

The trout was cooked to perfection and melted in my mouth. The crispness of the potato matched the dish perfectly. I found the flavours subtle which was perfect as the trout really was able to shine.

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Fourth – Quail breast, pancetta-wrapped quail leg, sprouts, black barley, quail egg, pickled walnut, quince aioli

I found this dish delicious but very common. Most fine dining places do something similar with quail, and while it’s not the easiest to work with I’d love to have seen a little more creativity. The black barley was a good choice to add some texture to the dish.

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Fifth – 48 day house-aged beef sirloin (served medium rare, peak whiskey mustard, baby onions, beef jus

Another great serving size, the beef melted in my mouth. The beef jus it was served with was flavoursome and the peat whisky mustard was perfect. Sometimes the dish can be simple, and in this instance simplicity was all that was needed.

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Optional Cheese Course – Fromage d’Affinois, caramelised onion and bee pollen ice-cream, Waldorf garnish

I’d be lying if told you I didn’t order this because of the reference to bee pollen. One of my favourite dishes I ever had was at Marque in Surry Hills, Sydney. It was so simple with honeycomb and I thought maybe this would be similar – I don’t know why ha!
This was something else though, I loved the caramelised onion and bee pollen ice-cream, savoury yet sweet and went perfectly with the Fromage d’Affinois.

The Waldorf garnish was cute too – I liked how they did that!

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Sixth – Granny Smith apple sorbet, poached rhubarb

Classic flavours that work perfectly together to cleanse the palette and prepare you for what will undoubtedly be a rich chocolate dessert. The sorbet wasn’t too tart which was great and the rhubarb had a great amount of sweetness to it.

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Seventh – Chocolate, white rum ganache, chocolate coffee crumb, poached pear

This was an extremely decadent dish which unfortunately I couldn’t finish – purely because I’m not a big lover of chocolate desserts (however my Husband loves this!). I really enjoyed the chocolate coffee crumb, a great technique was used here and it tasted great. Peat was a great choice to help break through the sweetness of the chocolate and white rum.

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No petit fours were served which was disappointing however it didn’t put a dampener on the meal.

What I love most about Sault is that you never leave hungry. Serving sizes are generous and I find the menu affordable for such great food.

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After lunch we took a stroll around the property to walk off lunch, it is incredibly relaxing to be surrounded by such beauty and fresh air.

You can find more about Sault, including menus here.

If you are in Daylesford, Sault is where you should dine at. I’d happily go back in a heartbeat, I’m serious – put this on your list of must do’s.

Renee
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Renee
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