***Miss L’s Melbourne Extravaganza Part 1 of 3***

With a friend’s enticing “free accommodation in a nice apartment near the city” invitation to Melbourne, I went on a long weekend trip east.  The main mission – YUMMY FOOD!  We ate all day and night, literally.  Coincidentally, I found out my bestie was also heading there on the same weekend for a conference! Yay! She enjoys great food too!  Actually, she loves food more than me!  I was over the moon!

Here are some of the restaurants we visited!  Enjoy reading :)

Stalactites

Website: stalactites.com.au

Stalactites is located on Lonsdale Street which I was told by the locals to be the Greek ‘hood’.  That explained the numerous Greek restaurants I passed walking to Stalactites from Swanston St which is only a block away.  Quite fierce competition I would imagine!

The restaurant was recommended by a few people back in Perth so I was excited to try out the place.  When we arrived, there was already a queue outside.  A great sign as the other restaurants we walked past still had a few empty tables.  We waited in line and was promptly served by the host but alas!..as two of our friends had not arrive, we were told to wait in line until they did, in what I thought was a not so friendly tone.  We waited and waited with looks from other patrons as they walked pass us.  Strange I thought, it wasn’t common in Perth that we are not let into the restaurant unless the whole party has arrived.  I’m also not used to not being able to book for a table, but apparently it’s the norm here in Melbourne.  All good, adaptable I am! :)

The restaurant is casual in appearance, with the normal wooden tables, not much in terms of ambience.  We sat on the second floor.  It seemed lifeless compared to the bottom floor.

Definition of a stalactite, an icicle-shaped mineral deposit, hanging from the roof of a cavern, formed from the dripping of mineral-rich water.  The Greek version stalaktos = dripping.  I looked up to the ceiling and what do I see?  Replica of stalactites!  How clever! I like it!  After the initial admiration, my attention turned to the menu.

Quite an extensive menu I thought but I’m no expert in Greek food.  In fact I hardly ever dine in any greek restaurants back in Perth.  I let my newly met friend order for us.  He had been here numerous times and knew what’s good and not.  We had the following:

  • Mixed Dips ($9) – tarama, melitzanosalata, tzatziki & hommus
  • Homemade Moussaka ($24)
  • Lamb Souvlaki ($12.50)
  • Kalamari Platter ($19)

The Mixed Dips came with fresh and hot pita bread.  There were four dips, two of which I was familiar with – tzatziki (yoghurt with chopped cucumber & mint) and hommus (mashed chickpeas).  The other two I found out later were tarama, salted and cured roe of the cod and melitzanosalata, mashed eggplant.  I actually like these two unknown dips the most, tarama being my favourite.  I nearly had two of the pitas all by myself with the dips.  Yum!  It’s also great that you get four dips with one order, rather than having to pay extravagant amount for each.  I like.

The Homemade Moussaka was also great.  I have never tried it before but heard about it from My Kitchen Rules, a dish cooked by Helen & Steve from NSW.  Theirs was an open style moussaka so looked totally different than what I saw in front of me.  It consists of layers of potatoes, minced beef & eggplant topped with béchamel cream sauce and served with baked vegetables.  It’s the favourite of the night – it’s almost like a lasagne but with more flavours.  The vegetables were buttered too.  This could be my favourite greek food.

The Lamb Souvlaki looked like a kebab, and tasted like one, except with much more tender chunks of lamb, with crisp lettuce, tomato, onion and tzatziki rolled in warm pita bread.  Was an ok dish.

The Kalamari Platter was also another favourite, fresh, lightly floured and fried.  It was also very tender, not chewy as some I have eaten but maybe slightly salty.  Still a good dish though.

The service at the restaurant was mediocre, not sure whether I expected everyone to be really friendly in Melbourne but none of the waitstaff smiled or chatted, just poker faced whilst serving.  Maybe it’s due to the busyness but still, not an acceptable excuse.  I hope the other restaurants I visit in the coming days have better service.  Overall a great Greek food experience!

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

Telephone: 03 9663 3316

Address: 183 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Stalactites on Urbanspoon

Max Brenner

Website: www.maxbrenner.com.au

After dinner we wondered around looking for a good dessert place – tried looking up a few on Urbanspoon but most of them were closing by 9 – 10pm.  Why!?  We were trying to avoid going to Max Brenner as I’d been a few times (really wanted to try some place new) but couldn’t find anywhere decent so we ended up here.  As usual it was packed to the max.   I always love the atmosphere in Max Brenner.  The colourfulness, scrumptious praline chocolates, smell of chocolate, buzz in the air.  Bring it to Perth!

We only ordered drinks on this occasion as everyone is too full from dinner.  Would have loved to order the Chocolate Fondue (and also get some fruit goodness in me) but no one had the space.  Maybe next time.

Our drinks:

  • White Chocolate ($5.50)
  • Dark Chocolate ($5.50)
  • Mocha with Dark Chocolate ($6)
  • Max’s White Chocolate Chai ($6)

The drinks were served in the Hug Mug, cute and easy to hold with the cup of your hand.  I absolutely love my Dark Chocolate Mocha drink.  It was warm, thick but not too sickly and not too sweet – I could finish it with a big gulp which I almost did.  This drink really soothes the soul.  Love!

I tried some of the White Chocolate Chai and it was great too.  I mixed some into the Dark Chocolate Mocha drink and it tasted even better.  We were mixing our own drinks with great results.  Come to Perth Max Brenner!  Always a favourite each time.  Must try!  Also the service was great in this place.  The staff was very friendly at the counter and on the floor.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Telephone: 03 9663 6000

Address: 210 Lonsdale Street 25 – 27 Qv Sq, Melbourne

Max Brenner Chocolate Bar on Urbanspoon

The Hardware Societe

Another popular café which I was told is a must try for brunch.  It is located on Hardware Lane, off Lonsdale Street – a very unassuming location, the street was very quiet due to the heavy rain and we nearly turned around had we not trusted Google Map.

As expected, it was packed!  I was warned that there will be at least 30mins wait by friends, however luck must be on our side (or the heavy rain), we were seated in 15mins on a communal table.  I love the cheeriness of this place, it’s so bright and comforting even with the dreary weather.   I also spied lots of bakery goodies at the counter!

This place also has the friendliest service.  The guy was so helpful, explaining the drinks and specialy dishes on the menu.  He even ended up telling us how to pour out the drinks we ordered.

We had:

  • Hot Chocolate with 54% dark callebaut ($4.50)
  • Mocha ($4.50)
Check out the pics!  The drinks are half assembled on the table.  I had fun!  And they tasted great too.  Their milk is supplied by Jonesy’s Dairy Fresh of Loddon Murray Region.  Made a difference.
  • Baked Eggs ($15)
  • Croque Madame ($17)
There are three varieties of the Baked Eggs - my friend chose the chorizo, romesco and confit tomatoes.  The eggs tasted absolutely delicious!  The only complaint she had was that the bread slices were too hard.  Otherwise all good!
I had the Croque Madame which came with smoked salmon, fried duck egg and herbed creme fraiche.  Honestly, one of the best dish I’d had, with the fluffy thick bread, generous salmon and crispy egg!  Duck egg!  I couldn’t stop eating it and wanted more!  It was great for the price too!  No wonder this place is so packed all the time.  Wish I could come back here to try their other dishes!
We started chatting to the couple sitting opposite us for some culinary tips.  They were so friendly (everyone is so nice in Melbourne) and told us that Hardware Societe is their favourite spot for breakkie/brunch – they eat there once a week!  Talk about repeat customers!  They pointed us to either Tiamo or Tiamo 2 on Lygon Street for some Italian.  We headed there next for lunch.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Telephone: 03 9078 5992

Address: 118 – 120 Hardware Street, Melbourne

The Hardware Sociéte on Urbanspoon

Tiamo
Website:  www.tiamo.com.au
Choosing a restaurant to lunch on Lygon Street must be the hardest decision of the day.  There are so many to choose from.  We went with the recommendation of our friends in the morning and headed to Tiamo.  We were actually not that hungry but did not want to miss dining on Lygon so shared a dish between the two of us.
Tiamo is a cosy little cafe with a funky outlook albeit a bit on the dimmer side, in terms of the lighting.  It was divided into two sections, we were seated in the smaller and quieter section.  Not much view but all good for me. :)
We ordered our coffees – a Long Mac ($3.40) and a Affogato ($3.70).  The coffees in Melbourne are definitely cheaper than in Perth!  Whilst waiting for my coffee hit, along came the complimentary bread.  Alas, I did not touch, leaving room in my stomach to try the Spaghetti Don Giovanni ($17.90) we ordered.
The Long Mac gave me quite a bitter coffee hit!  I forgot to ask for the topped up!  Finished it in two sips :)
The Spaghetti Don Giovanni was a pasta dish with mussels, clams & spinach cooked with garlic, oregano & chilli in a light napoli sauce.   The sauce was flavorsome and spicy, with fresh chunky tomato pieces stirred through!  I’ve started to eat spicy food recently so that was good for me.  The mussels were huge as well.  A good portion for us!  It was a hearty meal on a cold rainy day!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Telephone: 03 9347 5759

Address: 303 Lygon Street, Carlton

Tiamo on Urbanspoon

PART 2 PREVIEW

A 2 hour wait in one of the most talked about restaurant in town for dinner.  Which restaurant is this?  Did Miss L and her friends walk out or persevered?  All to be revealed in Part 2 :) – Click here

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