Brunching @ Aunt Billies (Blackburn) @ Saturday, June 09, 2018

Saturday 2nd June
Charlie & Co. dined as guests.

How exciting it is when brunch comes to the suburbs, those without tram lines! For years it seemed something of inner suburbs, with limited parking, but here comes Aunt Billies. Located just off Whitehorse Rd, with plenty of parking. Also an easy walk from the station on a sunny morning. 

With a modern interior with airy ceilings, and a trendy vibe it's nothing like no other cafes in the area, one of the very first brunchy places in the area. It was a lovely day and there's outdoor seating too in a no smoking dog friendly under cover area, if you'd like some air. 

We started off with coffee as we pondered what to order, sweet or savory? Classic or something different? At Aunt Billies the menu changes regularly and features a fusion of Modern Australian and Middle Eastern food.

This could be a pimped up version of the eggs benedict, but I shall find out. 

Vegetarian Mediterranean 
Poached eggs with falafel (or sujuk sausage, non-veg option), grilled haloumi, 
ful meddenes, roasted cherry tomatoes, labness and zatar flatbread

Kabsee Chicken 
with warm roasted beetroot, dutch carrot & black 
barley salad, lemon yoghurt and crushed pinenuts

Veggie Billie
Roasted pumpkin and califlower with falafel, feta, chilli, beetroot hummus, 
pinenut dukkah topped with poached eggs on dark rye sourdough

Open Souv
Pressed lamb shoulder w harissa yoghurt, mint taboulhi, pickled 
turnip finished with a pomegranate dressing on grilled flatbread

Everything looks amazing! So fresh and vibrant, full of colour and flavour. 

This is what the girls (and one guy) ordered. We've also ordered desserts to share.

Surrey Mushrooms
Mixed mushrooms and spinach with crispy polenta, buffalo mozzarella, 
basil pesto and poached eggs // + smoked salmon + haloumi

I personally ordered the mushroom dish (my go to) with a side of smoked salmon and haloumi, though really it's a pretty filling dish, a big breakfast on its own. The classic big breakfast dish isn't on the menu, though quite a few dishes could be that, including this one; where a bunch of great things like eggs (always poached) and mushrooms are combined to create a platter of a dish. 

The flavours were subtle, though the basil pesto added something, textures hit the holy trinity of soft, crunchy and chewy. I would have liked to add a sauce, dip or avocado to make it less dry (not that it's dry, I can't seem to find the word for it - but you know a milkshake would work too). Overall a great selection of brunchy things we love, that's pretty healthy too.

Love the way everything is plated. 

Dulce de Leche Hotcakes
Fluffy hotcakes with deep fried cinnamon banana, honeycomb, chocolate 
sauce, hazelnut praline finished with a house made dulce de leche

For dessert we shared some beautiful dulce le leche* hotcakes, thick and fluffy layered with more of that rich creamy caramel-like (but better) sauce with interesting styling, that's a banana fritter by the way (the log). Personally I'd cover that up with lots of sauce and plant a garden over it. XD I love brunching in groups, as going solo you can't really order dessert to share.

*Caramel is made with a base of water, heavy whipping cream, sugar, and butter. Dulce de leche is a base of milk, sugar, and sometimes cinnamon. Dulce de leche is commonly made with condensed milk and simmered for hours, while caramel is a reduced mixture of water and sugar with the addition of cream and butter.

Espresso Panacotta
Hazelnut and cacao granola with caramelized white 
chocolate, burnt orange caramel and vanilla meringue

Panacotta is great, but for brunch? Add espresso and it's now perfect for breakfast! Dessert before dinner. If you're still thinking about that affogato last night, this is the one for you, it packs quite the punch! Not sure about the granola though... it's a bit dry and doesn't work for us. I'd prefer a chocolate crumb or without, and plate it with rings of that orange caramel sauce.

Brunching at Aunt Billies is perfect if you're out in the suburbs and driving (and looking for parking), no longer do you have to travel to Camberwell for brunch if you're in the South East side. There's something for everyone here it's not your regular brunch spot, with that middle eastern fusion, adding a twist to your dish!

For coffee lovers you'll be pleased to know Aunt Billies serves St Ali's. And if you're on the go there's plenty of cookies, and beautiful crumblessly flawless cakes from Little Bertha.

What's your go to dish for brunch, or do you pick something different each time?

More importantly, do you too always get dessert to share?

Aunt Billies Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Open Everyday from 7am - 4pm 
184 Surrey Rd, Blackburn 
Near Blackburn Station 

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Pizza Night @ IL Faro Pizza in Kew @ Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wednesday 16th May
Charlie & Co. dined as guests.

On an autumn evening we were invited to dine with 'IL Faro Pizzeria & Cucina' conveniently located on the Kew tram route and main street. Opening just this March on High St in Kew is 'IL Faro Pizzeria & Cucina' a great family owned Napoli style pizza restaurant. 

Italian Hot Chocolate

It's freezing outside and so the 'Italian Hot Chocolate' was the perfect choice (trust me, when I drink my photos are all blurry). A rich thick custardy drink it was perfect to warm us up and some reckon it we should have totally dipped the nutella donuts in it XD The wine list was quite inviting too along with some sodas.

Bruschetta Classica (V)

extra virgin olive oil, diced tomato, diced red onion, 
baby fior di latte bocconcini, fresh garlic and oregano

With a fluffy dough this is quite similar to the pizza crust, but with toppings. How cute is the bocconcini? It's tiny! This is the perfect starter to share for a group in anticipation of pizza!

Arancini - traditional arancini filled with our slow cooked beef ragu

Delicious pyramids with ragu, with herbs & spices this was perfect hitting all the right notes - high recommended. I love good arancini and this one is absolutely the best one I've ever had.

The Wood Fire Pizza Oven

What makes IL Faro's pizzas special is an Italian milled multigrain mix of Italian flours, made via a traditional stone ground method. The 30% whole wheat dough is fermented for 72 hours creating a full flavour dough. 

Mini olive oil!

How cute is this 'Ham And Cheese Pizza' from the kid's menu?
- Italian tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella and ham -

Margherita - italian tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, 
parmigiano, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil

We started off with the classic margherita, with a beautiful doughy crust that's just right and a topping that just melts in your mouth, the base is quite soft so you may want to hover over a plate. Pizza's always been one of my favourite food groups, and this IL Faro is pretty good, and quite similar to Mother Dough a couple suburbs away.

Recco (Our Signature Pizza) - italian tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, 
zucchini, smoked salmon, cherry tomato, smoked mozzarella

There's no question as to why this is the signature pizza, a crowd pleaser it has all those things we love about a white based pizza, a margarita like base with smoked ingredients for that beautiful rich flavour and smokiness, while being light, and counting as a serve of veggies (if you eat the whole thing ;).

Spizy Nduja Calzone - italian tomatoes, fior di latte mozzarella, 
nduja (calabrian hot salami paste), ricotta, and chargrilled zucchini

Living life anything but slow? A calzone would be the way to go, I'd describe it as a pizza turnover. It's spicy! - but my standards are like, toothpaste can be spicy to me, so perhaps don't take my word on this. The cheese melting over everything in there combats that spicy kick.

Gnocchi Sorrentina (V) - potato italian peeled tomatoes and a selection 
of mozzarella, parmigiano and basil, and finished in our wood fired oven

For those who prefer pasta, gnocchi is just the thing to order, I mean just look at that cheese! This is the tomato based one, and tastes like pillows of soft beautiful dough.

Gnocchi Salsiccia E Porcini - gnocchi with italian pork sausage, 
and porcini mushrooms, and finished with a touch of cream

For those who like it creamy like me, the creamy gnocchi is recommended 
with just the right spices with the sausage and meatiness of the mushrooms. 

If you don't drink alcohol there's a few Italian sodas to choose from including the ones picture here. Andy had the cola, which was refreshingly lighter than Coke and tasted less artificial.

I had the Gazzos which was a lemonade, it was lemony and tasted of summer and definitely lighter than your supermarket stuff. I don't usually order drinks when we go out unless they offer something unique, and this is it.

Cannoli - filled with fresh ricotta, orange zest and pistachio nuts

It's always exciting when an Italian restaurant has more than pre-made generic ice cream and freezer fresh desserts. Cannoli has to be my favourite Italian pastry/cookie, which we're well acquainted with from our college years out west (T Cavallaro and Sons). And these were just at good, if not better. I love that subtle combo of citrus and cheese in desserts, and anything with pistachios is great. I would eat this cream by the pot :P

Affogato - an espresso coffee with a shot of bailey’s, 
served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This is what you order when you want coffee and ice cream, such a brilliant invention! Oh and there's a couple liquors you can choose from though Baliey's has always been our favourite.

Nutella Pizza - topped with nutella and strawberries, 
dusted with icing sugar, and served with vanilla bean gelato

For quite some years now Nutella seems to be the new salted caramel, in which you can find it almost anywhere. Served warm these doughy slices are the perfect ending when you can't get enough pizza or like to order a dessert to share with the group. The ice cream was great itself, housemade with specks of vanilla bean. 

Donuts - Italian style donuts served with nutella 
and strawberry topped with vanilla ice cream

Though who could go past the donuts? Deep fried and delicious these are unlike any other donut I've had, little balls of dough deep fried and dusted with icing sugar. Decedent and the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee. I'd love to see a variation of these rolled in cinnamon, and another with lemon & sugar.

Everything was delicious tonight at IL Faro, the perfect place in Kew for pizza night, being new they don't deliver yet, but do offer takeaway. Our recommendations? Go in a group and order a few items to share (don't forget dessert!), or for a couple order the arancini, a pizza or gnocchi each (can't decide? go with the signature ;) and the cannoli to share.

Service was very friendly and we can't wait to return soon! 
Excited about this new addition to High St, Kew. 

Check out IL Faro's site for the menu, bookings and to order online.

IL FARO  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Open 5.30pm - 10pm // Tues - Sun. Closed Mondays.
321 High St, Kew VIC 3101
P: 0415 448 623

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Seafood Noodle Soup @ Wonder Bowl @ Sunday, May 13, 2018

Charlie dined as a guest. 
Wednesday 9th May

With winter rapidly approaching, hello wet windy, hail & thundery days on the forecast, it's the perfect time to get those coats to the cleaners, condition those gloves, and go out for a hot comforting bowl of soup. 

Introducing Wonder Bowl with their fresh and quality noodle soups at affordable prices in the city (do I have to reference that? it's from their site, and it's true). Located opposite DonDon we've been curious though hesitant to drop by because there isn't much English other than the name, and the sign pointing up stairs. This is why we have jas, he encourages us to try new things that we wouldn't have gone near without him. 

How cool is this? It's like noodles hanging off a chopstick! 

The interior designers of Zumbo South Yarra and Vue de Monde, did Wonder Bowl too. A 120-seater eatery, minimalist with clean white spaces, high ceilings and bright lights it sets a lovely backdrop to the food - especially if you order the spicy soup.

I love anything in a jar! And here we have some fun drinks, including iced matcha lattes, and things we haven't heard of before. On the next page there's coke & all that, if you prefer to play it safe. 

But know that if you're going to get something spicy, that matcha latte is the way to go. *sorry something strange happened with the camera for the lighting, just had it serviced* 

Sides to share? Ticking that deep fried box, though there's also the eggs which aren't deep fried :P Yes these are all the entrees on offer, I love the clean bright very visual menu.

Herbal Tea Leaf Eggs - Hope you got your wet wipes, cause this one's a hands on dish. The flavour is quite nice and light, with a lovely cracked pattern from the tea infusing through the cracked egg shell. 

Deep Fried Fish Cake - Yum! could use more pepper but otherwise I really liked these, esp with the sweet chili sauce. This one's my favourite entree, other than the chicken.

Deep Fried Fish Ball - A bit chewy, wasn't really a fan but you can't say 
it doesn't look fun. What if we popped these in the soup instead?

Deep Fried Tofu Puffs - Clouds of tofu, this is tofu but as you've 
never known what it could be, @2wofatgirls loved these.

Deep Fried Chicken Spare Ribs - A crispy skin with a little spice, full of flavour, 
definitely get this, comes with a sweet chili mayo + chili sauce.

Wonder Bowl is unlike any other soup place in that unlike traditional noodle soups which has a pork/beef/stock, while WB's superior soup uses a seafood base. With thick vermicelli noodles and Chinese rice wine to create something special.

Created by Malaysian-born co-owner and noodle aficionado Steve Tan and friends, inspired by a noodle soup with a seafood base in China’s Guangzhou province, light and delicate yet full of rich seafood flavour. They was inspired and created their own version of the dish
combining thick vermicelli noodles with a home-style seafood broth and Chinese rice wine, the latter being the secret ingredient (and came the creation of the superior broth!). 

If you're not feeling like soup there's also dry noodles.

There's also a spicy version of the superior soup, inspired by the Sichuan ‘ma la’ hotpots as well as claypot yee mee, dry noodle dishes and crispy egg noodles with a variety of toppings.

Signature Seafood Combination in Superior Soup

The best selling dishes include 'superior noodle soup with drunken chicken' and the
'signature seafood combination with superior soup'. With so many options it was a challenge to pick one, cheated and went with the recommended seafood combo. The noodles were the perfect chewiness and the broth was light though still had flavour. Gawd how do you peel prawns though? With time and two forks, no fingers was my answer. I'll get the chicken next time. :P

How do you like your noodles? Are you a spicy fan?

Strawberry Winterland Ice Cream

We didn't get a picture of the dessert menu, though like entrees there's only a few, a mix of asian desserts and... ice cream. Strawberry toppings and vanilla, surprised there isn't matcha ice cream on the menu as it's the new salted caramel. We had the strawberry one, which was a berry, (boysenberry?) ice cream with strawberry sauce and pistachios.

We do like the seafood soup here, and can't wait to return to try the chicken one.

Have you been to Wonder Bowl? Next week's the perfect time to check them out! ;)

Wonder Bowl Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wonder Bowl - A Taste of Wonder. A Bowl of Perfection!
Level 1, 267 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 11:00am – 10:00pm

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