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Friday, 23 January 2015

Mighty Boy Eatery

I went there for the breakfast, but ended up trying the lunch.

Late last year, Mighty Boy Eatery (59-61 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy) was all the rage, having taken opened on a prime corner location on the ever-popular Gertrude Street. Usually keen on brunch, I was initially dubious at the idea of South-East Asian inspired breakfast food. But then my sister visited from interstate, and I like to take visitors to new and interesting places. So we checked out Mighty Boy for a late brunch one weekday.

Unfortunately, after a sleep-in, we were *too* late! Breakfast was no longer being served by 12.30pm, so lunch was our only option. I had been eyeing off the haloumi sandwich, and there were no other cheesy options on the menu for lunch to satisfy my craving.

Pulled lamb shoulder roti wrap

The lunch options available were all Vietnamese/Thai style (noodles, salads, roti wraps and rice paper rolls) and, appealingly, very affordable - a stark contrast to next-door neighbours, Cutler & Co. (blog post on them coming soon!). I would have liked a bit more variety in the lunch offerings overall. It is odd that breakfast should have some 'regular' options plus a few Asian inspired (house baked eggs with an Asian spin) or unusual offerings (snickers toast), but lunch is just one straight cuisine. Why not apply the same approach as breakfast to the lunch dishes?

Tofu rice paper rolls

We ended up trying a variety of roti wraps and rice paper rolls, all extremely fresh and brightly presented. Although I like them, they are generally messy to eat, and this time was no exception. Even though they would not have been my first choice for breakfast, they were tasty and I would recommend them for lunch.

Tofu roti roll

Wrapping up

Pork & prawn rice paper rolls

The coffee (by Melbourne coffee house Niccolo) was decent, if a bit light in flavour, but again, beautifully presented. Other drinks included exotic looking juices and ice crushes with equally exotic ingredients - tropical fruit flavours, coconut and the like.

Ice tea? (which. for the record, should technically
be called "Iced" tea... harrumph!)

Decor is appealing: light and bright, but sparse. Floors are a simple grey, walls are white-painted brick. Fixtures are various types of wood, and brown-orange chairs and sun-yellow lighting (courtesy of Mark Douglass Design) add splashes of warmth.

Due to all the hard surfaces, there can be a lot of white noise inside - fortunately, there are also large sidewalk tables to choose from, if you are lucky enough to nab one. Service was unsmiling but relatively efficient - perhaps an element that needs a bit of work.

Mighty Boy is run by Mark Peou - owner of what must be Melbourne's tiniest cafe, appropriately called "Tiny", in Collingwood - and family, bringing the flavours of their Cambodian background into the food. The kitchen is headed up by Peou's former colleague at Prahran's Borsch, Vodka & Tears, Christian Simoni, who chalked up time at Chin Chin, and all rice paper rolls are personally hand-rolled by Peou's mother out the back.

Mighty Boy is open daily for breakfast and lunch, with dinner in the pipeline (pending the granting of their liquor licence).

Mighty Boy Eatery on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Red Spice Road QV

The Orchid Room at Red Spice Road QV

I'm feeling less than wordy today, so rather than an extensive recap in words, here are a bunch of pweeetty pictures from a work lunch at Red Spice Road QV (37 Artemis Lane, Melbourne) quite a few months ago. We were well looked after and the South-East Asian-inspired (essentially Thai) food was fantastic, both visually and taste-wise.

Snappy, clean and bright

Looking up towards the main dining area

Hangin' out

Large group table overlooking Lonsdale Street.
And some heavy dudes minding the windows.

Word on the street is that RSRQV is currently under renovation, reopening on 9 February, 2015 (I hope they don't do too much to their pretty events space, The Orchid Room). Meanwhile, the more traditional-looking original Red Spice Road venue (27 McKillop Street, Melbourne) is still open for business.

The Orchid Room at Red Spice Road QV.
I'd like a pond in my dining room, too.
Actually, I'd just like a dining room. 

Wine room behind The Orchid Room

Function space i.e. DANCE FLOOR

Moroccan-style function/canoodling space

I believe we requested the kitchen to "feed us" whatever they thought appropriate. There was a lot of food. We probably ended up trying most things that were listed on the menu at that time.

Probably all of the below captions are wrong, because I didn't write anything down, OOPSY.

Soft shell crab mini burgers

Fish curry

Son-in-law egg??

Pan-fried salmon

Excellent chilli chicken drumsticks

Pork belly... WOW

Betel leaves with lots of yummy shredded stuff

The drinks were pretty amazing, too.

Definitely mine, as it has a lychee



Finally, because it was a birthday, we had a festive dessert course:

Birthday boy looking suitably embarrassed

Birthday boy's special dessert

Share dessert platter

Due to the sheer amounts of space at this venue, it's probably best for large group meals - work or social events. Also, that means you can share more of the food... WINK WINK.

The restaurant often hosts seasonal events and offers set menus, which I generally find makes decision-making much easier.

OK - enough words - I'm sure the visuals are enough to whet your appetite!

Red Spice QV on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Voila at Three Bags Full (no longer running)

As I was moving out of the area, I made a few nostalgic brunch visits to one of my favourite cafes, Three Bags Full (60 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford). It was on one of these visits that I picked up a postcard advertising French dinners at the very same venue.

Two of the cafe's chefs, Nicolas Tollé and Fabien Laville (better known as Nico and Fab), are French expats who came up with the clever idea to use the cafe's space by night to stage dinners showcasing their talents as chefs with French-inspired dishes. Two handsome young French men cooking me food with the novelty of a setting I only knew by day? Sold!

It turned out to be a girls' dinner on Thursday 11 December 2014. Four of us met at 8pm (sadly the only booking time left - we were quite starving on arrival! luckily there was bread) among the quiet hum of chatter and clinking glassware.

There were no great changes in the cafe's layout, however the tables were laid with floral fabric placemats, small vases of cheerful flowers, and centrepiece candles - definitely giving the place more of an evening dining vibe.

We were given a surprise appetiser (not listed on the menu) of a banana prawn wrapped in raw carrot, served with ginger puree. You ate the whole thing off the end of a kebab stick. Fun and enticing!

Professional food model ;)

Next was the official appetiser: salmon with shiso and mango. Effectively it looked like salmon sushi, but it tasted nothing like sushi. It was partially cooked, apparently, but served cold, and surprisingly pleasing.

Another cold dish that was surprising was a cantaloupe (rockmelon, for the Sydneysiders, or uninitiated) "soup". This entree was essentially a cantaloupe puree with lemon myrtle and a soft white cheese. I'd never had rockmelon in a savoury sense before, only ever as fruit on its own or as part of a dessert. It reminded me of pumpkin being used in sweet dishes: unexpected, but quite successful.

Then, a second entree of honeydew (again, the melon!) with pancetta and schechuan sauce. The pancetta was crispy and salty, which went perfectly with the sweet honeydew.

Fortunately, all these appetisers and mains were quite small portions, so we still had room for the main when it came around. It was pan-fried snapper, served with a burnt eggplant sauce, grated carrot, pomegranate and ginger. I tend to find large servings of fish a bit samey tasting, so I was glad this wasn't a massive portion either, but still enough to fill me up, and the sauce had enough kick to break up the fish flavour. It was tasty but I was starting to get full, so couldn't quite finish mine.

Dessert was more visually interesting. It was sort of an "Eton mess" comprising baked apricot, salted caramel ice cream and candied macadamias, served in a glass tumbler, covered with a brightly spotted, thin chocolate disc.



Everyone was served their dessert and then one of the chefs themselves (Nico, I believe) came around to pour a slug of molten chocolate on top of the disc, making it melt from the centre outwards, and disintegrate over the other ingredients. I'm not a massive fan of apricots, and I found the whole thing a bit rich, but I really enjoyed the presentation. Here is a short video of it, for your viewing pleasure:


Reading up on the Voila dinners, it seems Nico and Fab have the philosophy that chefs should not be confined to the kitchen, but share interaction with those eating, as well. On our visit, they served some dishes personally, and took the time to say goodbye and thank you at the end of the meal. This personal touch is sorely lacking in many of Melbourne's establishments today. Food and eating out has become somewhat clinical - while still an enjoyable process, there is no sense of community between those doing the creating and those enjoying the creations. I was impressed by this element of their dinner.

For $59 a head, plus drinks, the amount and quality of food we consumed was very reasonably priced. I enjoyed trying French influenced dishes without the heavy hand of cream, butter or meat. There were some very French touches (melon, fish, sauces galore) but overall, the dishes were quite light and refreshing. Events like this go some way towards breaking down cultural stereotypes.

Voila dinners at Three Bags Full have been running for just over a year. They are held once a month, with a changing set menu. Bookings can be made through the Voila website. Patrons tend to attend regularly, and they are popular evenings, so it's best to book well in advance. I'm looking forward to the February one already!

Three Bags Full Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato