Pinkie – Ivanhoe

Melbourne

Where: Pinkie, 1 Westley Ave, Ivanhoe VIC 3079

When: January 2020

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx $40 each, because we ordered an extra dish!

Pinkie has so many delicious sounding things on the menu that we struggled to decide what to have. I usually avoid smashed avo for brunch as I feel it has become very generic, but the Pinkie version looked amazing on Instagram so it was a must have.

Pinkie’s Avocado Toast ($18.5) was described on the menu to have smashed avo, pomegranate, beetroot hummus, feta, sesame seeds and fresh herbs, however it came with radishes and was missing the pomegranate. I love pomegranate so that was a shame, but I actually didn’t notice this until reviewing the pics later as the flavours worked really well, with great seasoning in the avocado and salty feta. We also added a poached egg ($2.50).

The Halloumi & Sweet Potato Fritters ($19) were served with a tangy, fresh salad and a plentiful serve of salmon, but I tend to prefer my fritters to be shallow fried with crispy edges, otherwise I find them a little soggy.

Despite these meals being generously sized and us being pretty full, we just had to try the Dulce Riccotta Pancakes ($19). They come with a delicious white chocolate crumble that I could not stop eating and would have loved to have taken a jar of it home! It was a great dish to share, but probably too much sweetness for me to eat the whole thing alone. 

We were being very extra for this brunch and also tried their smoothies. The Nutberry ($9) was perhaps a bit adventurous with raspberries, banana, peanut butter, coconut nectar and almond milk, but the raspberry and PB just didn’t work together for me. However, in the Oreo Thickshake ($8.5) with oreo, ice cream, malt, milk, the addition of the optional peanut butter ($1) was delicious and definitely recommended!

Pinkie was really busy on the Sunday morning that we visited, but it had a nice lively vibe and the team were incredibly friendly and attentive with fast service. 

Would I go back? Yes, the food we tried was delicious and there are plenty of things on the menu that I also want to try, like the Chilli Scrambled Eggs and the Pinkie Cheeseburger.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes and you should definitely try the Dulce Ricotta Pancakes.

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Frankies Food Factory Latte

Frankie’s Food Factory – Milperra

Sydney

Where: Frankie’s Food Factory, within Flower Power at 479 Henry Lawson Dr, Milperra NSW 2214

When: February 2020

Meal: Brunch

Cost: $48 for two

I’d heard a lot about Frankie’s at Flower Power, including that it gets super busy on weekends and is always packed, no matter the time of day. I had the opportunity to visit on a Monday for brunch and it was surprisingly busy for a weekday, but easy to get a table and service was fast.

I visited with my Mum who is always up for sharing meals so we can enjoy both a savoury and sweet option. We opted for the Za’atar & Mint Bagel ($19) to start with which had za’atar, hummus, truffle burrata, avocado, sesame seeds & mint on a fresh and soft bagel. The combination was a punchy flavour hit, including the hummus which had full flavour on its own. We also added the poached egg ($3) which is a must in my mind.

For our brunch dessert we had the Butterscotch Banana Pancakes ($18). This was a stack of three thick, fluffy and moist pancakes topped with a thick butterscotch sauce, that actually truly tasted like butterscotch. So often I feel people try and palm off a caramel sauce as being butterscotchy, but no, I’m onto those people. The flavour of the butterscotch worked really well with the bananas, white chocolate drizzle and peanut brittle chunks. My only wish was that there was a smear of the butterscotch sauce in between the pancake layers. That would have made it a 5/5 dish for me!

Coffee was also good, served on a nice board. I enjoyed a small latte ($4).

Would I go back? Yes, I really enjoyed my first visit and I’ve heard their Donut Fries on the dessert menu are definitely worth returning for!

Would I recommend it to you? Absolutely, I’ve already been telling locals I know that they must go. Frankie’s is pet friendly too, so take your pooch…if she/he is well behaved. There are many, many expensive things to knock over in Flower Power!

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Left of Field Rhodes Interior

Left of Field – Rhodes

Sydney

Where: Left of Field, 3/7 Gauthorpe St, Rhodes NSW 2138

When: February 2020

Meal: Lunch

Cost: Approx $32 for one, but then I received a 15% discount by using my Zomato Gold membership

I went to Left of Field with something healthy in mind, and from seeing the way the Summer Falafel Salad ($19) was presented, I knew it would fit the bill. With falafel, rocket, kale, carrots, cabbage, onion, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, beetroot hummus, pomegranate dressing, tahini and candied walnuts it was full of all the good stuff, but also plenty of flavour and texture.

I’m always a little hesitant about falafels due to ordering them in the past and they end up being hard little tasteless bricks. These were served warm though and were really soft and fluffy on the inside with a light, crisp edge. Perfect.

I added avocado ($5) to the dish because I was super hungry and I felt the added fat would fill me up more. I expected it would have been sliced avocado, but smashed avocado arrived separately in small dish. Paying $5 for avocado seems a little excessive to me and I estimated it to be about a 1/4 of an avocado so I felt slightly ripped off, but it really added to the dish.

I also ordered the Tropi Cool Juice ($7.50) with pineapple, apple, lemon, orange and mint. This was a good sized serve and wasn’t too sweet and I felt the mint really gave it a refreshing quality that made it nice to have with lunch on a warm day.

Would I go back? Yes, this is my second visit to Left of Field and it has improved even further from the first time where they left an item listed on the menu off my dish when serving. Next visit, I think I need to try the Pavlova Hotcakes.

Would I recommend it to you? Definitely, plenty of variety on the menu with All Day Breakfast and All Day Lunch, so you’ll find something no matter what you’re in the mood for.

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Cafe-Ventotto-Surry-Hills

Cafe Ventotto – Surry Hills

Sydney

Where: Cafe Ventotto, 510 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills NSW 2010

When: February 2020

Meal: Late Lunch

Cost: Approx $30 each

Café Ventotto is a beautiful little café where you can escape the bustle of Elizabeth Street.  It has the usual tables and chairs format in the front of the cafe, but up just a few stairs is a lounge area with velvet couches and low coffee table style dining.

We visited for a late lunch on a Friday and ordered a few dishes to share between two. The timeslot perhaps worked against us as a few items we picked off the menu were unavailable. This was particularly disappointing in the case of the La Vita Bella which is a sweet ricotta, strawberry and croissant dish that I had been lusting after on Instagam and I was definitely intending on getting it.

The standout for us of the dishes we did get was the Moo-Moo burger which had beautifully tender slow-braised beef brisket and lots of flavour from the housemade tomato eggplant relish, aioli and pickles. The Farmer Salad we choose to add grilled halloumi to, which was a plentiful serve. The Prince’s Feast also had tender lamb and worked well with the pearl cous cous and housemade hummus.

Drinks-wise we didn’t have much luck. My friend was interested in the Kombucha which listed four varieties on the menu, but the waitress looked at us like she didn’t know they existed and said they were out. We then diverted our attention to the smoothies, only to be told they had just two of the four options. We picked the Purple Bliss with blueberries, banana, dates and boysenberries, but found it lacked flavour. We added a strawberry shake too, but that was just a standard syrup shake, nothing special. Neither I would order again.

Would I go back? I really enjoyed the Moo-Moo burger and found the meals generous in portion size, but based on my experience with the lack of availability of dishes that I wanted, no I wouldn’t go back.

Would I recommend it to you? If you’re in the area, I would say sure pop in for a burger and try your luck with the La Vita Bella (make sure you tell me what it’s like), but I wouldn’t suggest you make a special trip to visit.

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First Drop Cafe – Redfern

Sydney

Where: First Drop Cafe, 69 Baptist St, Redfern NSW 2016

When: November 2019

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx $30 each

I love fried chicken and to be able to bring it forward to a mid-morning meal of brunch with the Southern Style Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict ($22) was perfect. The chicken had a tasty, crunchy coating, the eggs were perfectly poached, the kale nice and crispy and the whole thing was doused with the most delicious sriracha hollandaise. The biscuit it was perched on was perhaps a little too big as I couldn’t finish it, but I’m never going to complain about having too much food!

I also had the Serious George smoothie ($9.50) which has the magic combination of banana and peanut butter with dates, chia seeds and coconut with soy milk and coffee added. You can also get it without coffee which is the Curious George ($8.50). It was super thick and really filling and I loved scraping the peanut butter off the side of the glass with my straw.

I experienced great service and the cafe has a cool vibe, particularly out in the street when the jacarandas are flowering.

Would I go back? Yes, the Fried Chicken Benedict is a special that I felt I needed to take advantage of, but there were plenty of other things on the standard menu that I would like to try, particularly the Aegean Skillet.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, it is definitely a menu that has something for everyone.

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first-drop-cafe-redfern

Buttercrumbs Croissant – Five Dock

Sydney

Where: Buttercrumbs Croissant, 189 Great N Rd, Five Dock NSW 2046

When: November 2019

Meal: Morning Tea

Cost: Approx $10 each

I love a buttery, flaky pastry and Buttercrumbs delivered on that aspect. There were about 10 different options of croissants in the window to select between, but I couldn’t go past the Strawberry and Nutella pastry ($6).

It had a tasty vanilla custard on top with sliced fresh strawberries and inside contained a layer of Nutella. The flavours worked really well together.

My latte ($3.70 small) was ok, but on the edge of bitter and it was a coffee brand I had never heard of before, Normcore. The seating area is basic and seemed like an afterthought. I unfortunately sat between two groups of ladies that were having very spirited conversations and it was so noisy it was unpleasant. Next time I would do take away and enjoy my delicious croissant in the serenity of my home!

Would I go back? Yes, I would like to try their square croissants. They have the classics on the menu daily, but have a variety on rotation, so a few visits is definitely warranted!

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, maybe you’ll get lucky and have a better dine in experience than I did, or pick up a few and take them home.

Show me the food…

buttercrumbs-strawberry-nutella-croissant

 

Concrete Jungle – Chippendale

Sydney

Where: Concrete Jungle, 15 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008

When: November 2019

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx. $27 each

I’ll admit I visited this place as I saw the Blue Majik Smoothie Bowl ($17.50) on instagram and thought it looked amazing…and it did not disappoint. So often pretty things on instagram lack flavour, but this is the exception. I loved the pineapple and banana flavour with the coconut yoghurt and the contrast between smooth and crunchy with the puffed granola. It almost messed with your mind as pineapple and banana conjure up ‘yellow’ thoughts, not blue! With the wave like swirl it was like Summer in a Bowl.

I also tried the Berry Booster Smoothie ($9)  which had mixed berries, banana, coconut yoghurt, maca powder, milk and vanilla. It was smooth and creamy and not overly sweet.

Coffee ($4 regular) was good too which is their own ‘Concrete Jungle House Blend’. Everything was presented beautifully and was clearly high quality food, plus the cafe has a nice, bright and airy vibe to it.

Would I go back? Yes, these guys are clearly quite creative with their food and flavours and there are a few other things on the menu that I’d love to try such as the Blueberry & Lemon Ricotta Hotcake and the Seared Tuna Black Bean Spaghetti.

Would I recommend it to you? Absolutely. You won’t believe how good that Blue Majik bowl tastes until you try it for yourself!

Show me the food…

Auvers Cafe – Rhodes

Sydney

Where: Auvers Cafe, 2/42 Walker St, Rhodes NSW 2138

When: November 2019

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx $25

Recently I saw an Instagram post of Auvers’ Apple Crumble French Toast. It looked amazing and it made me add Auvers to my foodie to do list. When I went though, I got distracted by their Eggs Benedict and it was a good distraction indeed!

Auvers’ Eggs Benedict ($18) is unlike any Eggs Benny I’ve had before. With pulled pork, soft onsen eggs, spinach, ponzu hollandaise and corn salsa on top of a toasted croissant with a garnish of pork floss, there are lots of interesting flavours in every bite.

I also had the Black Sesame Frappe ($7) and added a shot of coffee. When I’ve had them before they are very sweet, but this was very subtle and the coffee made it perfect.

I love the food at Auvers, but I will say that the location and cafe is lacking some ambience. On my visit there was also a lot of clutter around the counter and coffee service area that was a little off-putting, but not enough to put me off the great food!

Would I go back? The food was great, but the location is really in the centre of apartments and there isn’t much else there. Instead, next I will try their Darling Square location.

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, if Rhodes is near to you head there, otherwise Darling Square sounds like a good prospect.

Show me the food…

Auvers-Cafe-Rhodes-Eggs-Benedict

The Spot Car Wash Cafe – Punchbowl

Sydney

Where: The Spot Car Wash Cafe, 69-71 Belmore Rd North, Punchbowl NSW 2196

When: October 2019

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx $20 each

I know I may have lost you at the title of this cafe, but please forget everything you know about car wash cafes here! Usually they are places where you dread spending up to an hour waiting for your car with a terrible coffee and if you’re brave (and desperate), some pre-prepared rubbish food looking sad wrapped up in cling wrap.

But not with these guys! Everything is made fresh and is beautifully presented. The menu has many delicious options, but I can’t go past the Pancake Revolution ($16). You get three buckwheat pancakes that are thick and fluffy and the dish isn’t overly sweet like so many that you’re unable to finish because of sugar overload.

I also loved the Spot Pulled Beef Benedict ($16) which is 12 hour slow cooked beef, with spinach, poached eggs and freshly made hollandaise on top of charcoal sourdough. The beef is so tender and the eggs were perfectly poached.

The coffee is also great and is made with Pablo & Rusty beans ($4 large).

Would I go back? Yes, my car is back to being regularly washed since I’ve found these guys. Perhaps I’m slightly more skewed in that decision by the food, but my car is immaculate after a visit ($35 in and out wash for a sedan).

Would I recommend it to you? Yes, they opened only a few months ago and the decor of the cafe is a work in progress, but the quality of the food and the service makes up for any current lack of ambiance.

Show me the food…

Higher Ground Melbourne Dining Room

Higher Ground – Melbourne

Melbourne

Where: Higher Ground Melbourne, 650 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000

When: August 2018

Meal: Brunch

Cost: Approx $30

Higher Ground was recommended to me by a friend who is a new Melbourne local. She described it as a place that would be ‘great for your instagram’. Sold!

When I arrived at Higher Ground about 11am on a Sunday morning there was a queue out the door. I went to put my name down, but when I told them I was a party of just one, they said they would be able to find me a seat immediately.

I was shown to a communal table with three other pairs already eating and ordered a coffee. Whilst waiting for the waitress to return I took in the beautiful surroundings of the building. At first I thought it looked like quite a hipster type place, but it actually feels very historical and just had a nice vibe.

I ordered the ‘avocado seed cracker, macadamia feta, mojo verde, poached eggs, toasted and fresh seaweed’ ($17.50) with a side of Berkshire Bacon ($6.50).

It was delicious. High quality ingredients, cooked perfectly. My only complaint was that it needed a little salt. There was salt on the table, but it was the type in a little dish that you would normally grab a pinch of. Not ideal on a communal table! I asked the waitress for my own little dish for hygiene and thankfully she didn’t seem to think I was a fussy nightmare….well not to my face anyway!

Would I go back? For sure. The food was tasty and the ambience was lovely.

Would I recommend it to you? Definitely. It will be great for your instagram haha! But, I wouldn’t recommend the Ricotta Hotcakes. They look so pretty and I didn’t try them myself, but three people on my communal table left theirs half eaten.