Review: The Mess Hall, Melbourne City

Review: The Mess Hall, Melbourne City

the mess hall

the mess hall

the mess hall

Breakfast in Melbourne city. I haven’t done that in awhile as I moved out of the city many years ago and driving all the way in for just breakfast really seems like a waste of time. Plus, everybody knows there’s a ton of other Melbourne brunch places that are way more exciting anyways. Right? RIGHT?

I ended up in The Mess Hall for brunch one morning, not entirely by choice. I was there because I had just been to Cumulus and was told that I had just missed their breakfast hour. Taking pity on me and my disappointed face, the helpful waiter directed us to The Mess Hall, which was how I ended up there.

The Mess Hall is an italian food restaurant that had signage that I couldn’t see. I nearly walked straight past it but the patrons sitting outside in the lazy morning sun clued me into the fact that a restaurant must be around the place somewhere.

Once inside, we were greeted with friendly smiles that lead very quickly to a table and menus.

Service however was a little slow. After what felt like forever, our food finally arrived: Hollandaise eggs with ham, spinach, hollandaise & dukkah on a sweet bun and Corn fritters served with avocado, cherry tomato, cream cheese and chilli.

The food was pleasant enough, though I wasn’t overly taken by the Hollandaise sauce. It seems nobody can beat homemade hollandaise sauce yet (made by Sefie, not me), ah well. The eggs were well poached, the corn fritters tasty.

Would I head back? I doubt it. While everything was pleasant enough, it just didn’t pack enough wow factor into the place, service and food to warrant a re-visit especially since I have moved out of Melbourne and am now one of those annoying tourists who tries to cram too much eating into one stomach. Oh wait, that’s really everybody. Never mind.

The Mess Hall on Urbanspoon

Cafe review: Cacao Green, Melbourne CBD

Cafe review: Cacao Green, Melbourne CBD

Cacao Green

(03) 9654 9674
285 Swanston St
Melbourne, 3000

It’s been awhile since I have been able to walk around Melbourne City. Even when I was still working in Melbourne, it was often just work, work, work, and the only times I saw the city was during morning and evening peak hour traffic when I was trying to get through it as fast as I could.

So on one of my last weekend trips back to Melbourne, I took the chance to have a stroll around and to have a leisure Saturday afternoon to catch up with a few fellow bloggers at Cacao Green for a Nuffnang meetup.

Cacao Green is one of the many frozen yoghurt places that have been popping up like wild flowers in Spring time. (you should check out how crazy they are going here in Murrayville.) Sadly, Adelaide hasn’t quite caught on yet so I’m only able to get my frozen yoghurt fix when I’m back in Melbourne. On that day, I was fortunate enough to meet the owner of Cacao Green who very graciously offered us yoghurts and toppings on the house for us to try. Thanks Nuffnang for arranging this!

Hey look, fair trade coffee!! Though I don’t drink coffee, it always makes me happy to see people using fair trade coffee. It’s always good to see people doing their bit for the world! Cacao Green is a fairly small place, they do have some small tables for you to sit and enjoy their desserts, but most people seem to do takeaway frozen yoghurt.

What I really liked was the range of toppings they offered. Till today, they are the only place I know who offers Frosties as a topping! Yum! The fruits look pretty yummy and fresh too. Unlike the pomegranate seeds I had as a topping at the Frozen Yoghurt place in Chaddy. Those were foul.

Here’s what I ordered. Green Tea Frozen Yoghurt topped with Frosties. It was so yummy! We were pretty lucky that it was a really sunny day that day despite being in the middle of winter. It meant we could indulge in the frozen yoghurts without shivering our butts off! The first frozen yoghurt was Strawberry flavoured. Not quite sure what it’s topped with. I think it was Violet‘s, but I’m not 100% sure.

Strawberry frozen yoghurt with cheesecake! This was absolutely brilliant. I adored this combination. Not mine though, so I didn’t get to stuff my face with it. It belonged to Kev.

We were also given the chance to try their waffles. Unfortunately, these were not crispy, somewhat soggy and not very memorable at all. Pass. Don’t waste stomach space on this, go for their frozen yoghurt!

And here’s the hero drink of the day. Green Tea Latte. Omigosh, this was so rich, so good, and brought me right back to the Japanese tea ceremony I participated in when I was in Japan. So, so good.

If you are in the area, don’t bother with slurpees from the 7-11 next door. Just grab a frozen yoghurt. These guys are good!

Cacao Green on Urbanspoon

Travelling in Mary Janes dined at Cacao Green as guests. But the opinions are my own, so there.

Review: Mad Mex, Melbourne central

Review: Mad Mex, Melbourne central

I have something a little different for you lot today. I would like to officially welcome a new addition to the Berrytravels family! Two new additions actually – my two good friends: Violet and Jimmy. They are starting to learn the beauty of food, so what better way to share than to blog about it?

Today’s post is written by Jimmy, and seeing as it’s mexican food, I think he is definitely the expert! Hope you enjoy.

Mad Mex – Fresh Mexican Grill
(03) 9663 7010
Level 2, Dining Hall, Melbourne Central
Melbourne, 3000
Mad Mex online

Have you ever been walking through a food court and thought “man, I could really go for Mexican, but I wish it was prepared on an assembly line like at Subway!” no, me either, but as it turns out this is a fantastic idea and I’ll tell you why.

I’m a picky eater…a reeeaaallly picky eater, but I have a good reason. I’m allergic to fruits and veg. No, really, I am. It’s because of this allergy that I have become a master of eating around things, but when I go to Subway I don’t have to worry about it.

“Any salads at all?”
“No thanks!”

Well Mad Mex has incorporated a similar ordering system. First you choose from a selection of seven Mexican dishes including tacos, burritos and quesadillas. Then you continue in the queue and choose your fillings, such as chicken, steak or vegetarian and you can add extra meat for another $2. Then the last part of the queue, choose which salsas you would like. This is where the queue system really shines for picky people like me. I said, “Just a very little bit of capsicum thanks” and he said “Would you like me to put in a container on the side for you?” *enter bright lights and a chorus of angels* That is EXACTLY what I would like thank you very much.

This isn’t just great for picky people like me either! They offer a range of very spicy options and if you are feeling adventurous but don’t want to ruin your meal, you can ask for just a little bit of the picante habanero chilli or have it on the side in a little container! It’s all done right in front of you, so you have complete control. Mad Mex has a team of 5-7 people working behind the counter and each one is responsible for each station. The whole process is very efficient and so as we queued, even though there were around 10 people in front of us we were in and out very quickly. This ensures that the food is fresh, made to order, but still fast so you don’t waste your lunch break waiting for someone to make your food.

So how’s the food? Well let me tell you, I grew up in Texas and for those of you who don’t know American geography, that’s one of the states that borders Mexico. Also I’ve been to Mexico. I’ve only had Mexican here once, Montezuma’s, and I have to say, I wasn’t impressed. The food was SO heavy and oily, not very nice. You get halfway through it and feel like you’re going to explode. Mad Mex uses locally sourced ingredients for things like lettuce and corn, but they also import things like tomatillo’s and Mexican spices and peppers by the container full from Mexico. You can really taste the difference. Even the tortilla chips are made by a Mexican family in NSW using an old family recipe. For $2 extra you can add guacamole to any dish and while this may seem a bit expensive at first, but my dining partner Violet said the herbs and spices they add to the specific type of Avocado make it the best she has ever had. Verdict: totally worth the extra money.

The staff? Couldn’t be nicer. We weren’t sure if it’s just because we were reviewing the restaurant or if it’s just because they had only been working for a few day but when we went back a few weeks later they were still incredibly friendly. The first time we dined there, despite the fact that they had only been working for a few days, they knew all the proper names of the ingredients, could tell me what level of spicy things were and didn’t mind dealing with my pickyness. You can even watch the chef cooking through a window at the side of the restaurant.

What would I recommend? Everything. But on a more realistic note, the pork was amazing. All the meat was incredibly tender and juicy but the pork is slow roasted for hours, marinated with garlic, onion, lime and cumin and literally just falls apart. The beef is also slow roasted, but the chicken and steak are all grilled fresh on site. The menu was clear and very easy to follow.

I had the chicken Quesadilla which comes with sour cream and two salsas. The salsa’s (something I can’t usually eat) were phenomenal. So much flavour and yet not overpowering. Violet had the vegetarian Burrito (free guacamole) and her only complaint was that it was too big so she couldn’t finish it!

What else? DELICIOUS churros with chocolate sauce of course! I would say that the chocolate sauce was a bit too rich for my taste. It seemed like it was made with dark chocolate and I prefer milk, but that’s just my taste. The churros were light and fluffy with a slightly crispy crust, which are what I grew up on. Violet didn’t like them as much because she prefers really crispy crunchy churros. For you booze hounds they are going to start importing (by this point they might already have) authentic Mexican tequila as well as already providing a few other alcoholic beverages and for those who aren’t big on the drink with lunch they also import a delicious Mexican soda called “Jarritos” which comes in either “Tamarind” or “Guava”.

The prices were pretty reasonable, ranging from $7.90 to $10.90 plus a little more for a drink and you won’t have any trouble finding the place, just look for the giant chandeliers made of empty Corona bottles or the huge mural of the Mexican wrestler! All in all, I’d have to say our experience at Mad Mex was muy bueno!

Violet and Jimmy dined at Mad Mex as their guests


Mad Mex - Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Review: Gami Chicken, Melbourne CBD

Review: Gami Chicken, Melbourne CBD

Gami Chicken and Beer
(03) 9671 3232
100 Lt Lonsdale St Melbourne 3000
Melbourne, 3000

Gami Online

K has a thing for fried chicken. And she’s been going on about Gami Chicken and Beer for awhile now, so after we checked out the Tutankhamun (which btw, you should totally go if you haven’t already. It blew me away!) we headed over to Gami’s for dinner.

Sitting there in Gami, I had a little issue wrapping my head around the fact that there wasn’t really dishes. It wasn’t really a proper dinner restaurant. I really should have looked at the website before coming, but I tend to not do that as I like to surprise myself.

Instead, it really reminded me of Karaoke places where it was beers and drinking snacks. Gami was like there, minus the Karaoke. Which was fine by me.

The house beer was really smooth. I really liked it and it went surprisingly well with the chicken too. They sell their beer in jugs as well and beer comes in these little barrels with a tap and all. Seeing as I had to drive, I stuck to the minimal amount of beer. Not without a great deal of reluctance tho!

Kimchi pancake! It could be that I was hungry or that it was really tasty but this tasted amazing. I loved it so so much. I’ve done kimchi pancakes myself but nothing like this. Nowhere near. This was amazing!!

The description for this dish is rather unglamorous. Three different grilled sausages. Tasty, tasty sausages. But at the end of the sausages, you just get to a point where it’s just “urgh protein overload….” because of how big the sausages are!

But I do realise that these are just distractions. Distractions from the main event which is …. CHICKEN!

Do you know how hard it is to blog about this when you are 600++ kms away from Gami and dying to go back to eat this, sore throat and all?

Because this was the one fried chicken to rule them all. Finger lickin’ good! KFC, eat your heart out. Your secret recipe will never be quite as awesome as the ones that Gami come up with!

And that was when I realised it. The beauty of Gami. You don’t need any other dishes. You don’t need rice. You don’t need anything else, to have a beautiful dinner of just fried chicken and beer. A match made in heaven, how did I ever live without you before?

Gami Chicken and Beer, best fried chicken in town? Oh yes, I do think so. (If you disagree, recommend me a place to beat Gami’s!)

Gami on Urbanspoon

Review: Cookie, Melbourne.

It was the housemate’s birthday and we were geared up to go to Mamasita. But that was not to be as Mamasita was packed with a 2 hour wait at the door and hungry tummies will wait for none, not even a much-hyped about mexican restaurant.

So upon K‘s recommendation, we headed to Cookie instead. Of course, not having a booking makes things slightly tricky but the waiter who was sporting a spoon and celery in his hair wasn’t fazed in the slightest. Cheerfully, he told us that if we found ourselves a table on the bar side of the room and ordered at the bar, we could still get our dinner. So we did just that.

Word of warning: the lighting was really really bad. And I don’t carry flashes around. So please just .. try and ignore the bad quality photos!

For starters we got the cauliflower bruschetta. What I didn’t realise was that it was a lone, solitary bruschetta. A teeny bit expensive at $14.90 per pop. I had requested for there to be no anchovies in the brushchetta as the birthday boy hardly eats meat, let alone seafood. After some artful dividing of the bruschetta into the necessary number of portions, I took my first bite.

Now, cauliflower (and anchovies) is about the last thing I’d put on a bruschetta. I was skeptical but my first bite blew that skepticism out of the water. It was incredibly tasty, absolutely heavenly and never shall I question the wisdom of cauliflower bruschettas. I bow to the masters.

Next up was the cabbage rolls filled with shiitake mushrooms and bean curd ($13.90). These were a little bland. I’m not quite sure why as it was definitely stuffed full of normally yummy ingredients. But it didn’t really hit the mark, pity.

For mains we shared:

Coconut rice ($3.50) – can’t go wrong with that. This was yummy! But if you were merely judging coconut rice, I’d rather go to Destiny Cafe, much more fragrant.

Stir fried pork belly with red curry, kaffir lime and bean ($23.50) – were a let down. The pork belly was chewy, not tender. And it lacked the satisfying crunch of the skin. The red curry on the other hand was very tasty. Awesome sauce for the rice! Tho I must note, tasty but not spicy. Lacking the kick that I crave from my curries.

One of the dishes I was looking forward to the most – Wild mushroom salad with coriander, mint, lime and chilli ($13.50). Again, the chilli lacked the punch I was hoping for but the mushrooms did not fail to impress. Too bad about the tiny tiny portion tho.

I think the best part about being in Cookie is the atmosphere and the drinks. While the food was nice, it wasn’t particularly memorable, and a mere one month later, I’m struggling to remember the meal.

I wouldn’t go for the food, but I’d definitely go for the drinks again.

252 Swanston St
Melbourne, 3000
Tel: 9663 7660

Cookie on Urbanspoon