I used to come to the Jacaranda Tree Cafe quite often when I lived nearby. I haven’t been for quite some time so decided to see what the cafe was like now. I looked up the website before I went to see whether the menu had changed. It looked pretty much the same but when I actually received my menu in the cafe, some of the prices had gone up. Time to update the website guys. The chairs had all been replaced with fold-up chairs which were comfortable but unattractive. Most people were choosing to sit outside today though. We were not greeted at the door as we used to be and glancing around showed that the usual friendly waitresses were not working here today (or perhaps not anymore). Today, I chose the Egg, lettuce, chopped bacon, and mayonnaise on a focaccia ($9.00). There are lots of other fillings to choose from too. Mine had burnt edges but otherwise tasted okay. My friend chose the Shepherd’s Pie ($13.90). This beef pie came in a bowl and was quite good. But the accompanying salad needed a dressing of some kind. It took a long time for our food to arrive. The cakes are made at the cafe ($7.50) with my favourite being the Lumberjack cake. The combination of apple, date, and coconut warmed up with a side of cream is very decadent. The coffee ($3.60) had a burnt taste but surprisingly improved as you went along. A pot of tea is $4.00 and is just a teabag! If you are going to charge high prices for tea you should at least use loose leaf tea. We used to love coming here because the staff were very friendly but when it was time to pay, we could barely get a smile out of the waitress. Next time I am in Blackburn, I think I will try the cafe round the corner...
If you keep going though the Kallista round-about and head towards the Patch, you will come across Cook’s Corner. Situated in a house in what seems the middle of the forest is a tranquil refuge in the hills. I have been here a number of times before but unfortunately the coffee went from being excellent to barely drinkable. This was a shame because I always loved the food. There is seating inside with a cosy heater or if it is a nice sunny day you can sit outside. A Mexican menu is now on offer which looked interesting, as well as the corresponding cocktails. The service here is usually good but on this instance the waiter was very keen on up-selling which was very unpleasant. If I wanted to order these items, I would have done so! Instead, numerous ‘no thanks’ were needed. I ordered the Smoked Salmon Sandwich ($10.95). Smoked salmon, cream cheese, rocket, avocado, red onion, and crispy capers served on ciabatta sourdough. The crispy capers made a novel addition to the sandwich which was very big and tasty. The bread was easy to eat unlike some places where you need razor sharp teeth to bite into it. My friend ordered the Chicken Sandwich ($10.95). Roast chicken, avocado, bacon, cheese, rocket, and a garlic aioli. She could barely eat it all as it was so filling but delicious. Our coffees arrived and thankfully, the coffee ($3.50) today was back to being great! A complementary chocolate freckle also sits proudly on the teaspoon accompanying the coffee. Now for sweets...The scones here are huge and at $3.80, they must be one of the best value Devonshire teas in the hills. One scone is a meal in its self. The essential jam and cream are also excellent. Yummy food here as always!
Nestled in the Union Road shopping strip in Surrey Hills is Watt’s Cooking. I’ve always wanted to try Watt’s Cooking and on Saturday I happened to be in the area and thus seized the opportunity. We were greeted by a waitress when we entered which always makes you feel like a valued customer. We chose a table in the window and were quickly offered a menu. One side of the menu showed more substantial meals (around $20). I was tempted to order the risotto as it did sound delicious with cauliflower puree, asparagus, mushrooms, and truffle oil but I didn’t feel like a big meal today. I flipped the menu over and found some lighter options and decided on the Vegetarian lasagne ($15.00) of pumpkin, spinach, and ricotta. This was the best tasting vegetarian lasagne I have ever had! I would love to know this recipe... A wonderful salad of greens, zucchini ribbons, and tomato with a luscious, creamy dressing came with the lasagne. My friend ordered the Corn fritter with chicken, crème fraiche, avocado, and tomato and Spanish onion salsa ($15.00). Again accompanying the dish was that yummy salad. The chicken was so tender and coated in spices. Very tasty. The chef here is clearly very good at their job. We then ordered a coffee ($3.00) which was nice and hot. The service here was very attentive and efficient, and table service was also provided. Overall, a very pleasant experience and can’t wait to come back and try some more dishes off the menu.
A friend suggested to me a wonderful cafe in Seville they had discovered just off the Warburton Trail. This cafe also happens to be created from a train carriage... Well, I had to check out this place. This cafe certainly is hidden away. We turned off at the roundabout in the Warburton Highway and headed down a bucolic road until we spied a train carriage to our left. This is such a popular place! Even horses seem to enjoy coming here (or maybe that is due to their owners wanting a break on the trail). In front of the carriage is a large deck. As it was a lovely day, all the tables on the deck were taken. So instead we grabbed a table in the actual carriage. Of course this was our first choice anyway and much more in the spirit of the setting. Although, the children running up and down the corridor of the carriage was rather annoying. We perused the menu and found an interesting and tasty selection. Then I saw that a cappuccino was $2.80! Fantastic value. I chose the Roast Pumpkin Galette ($8.50). A puff pastry tart filled with roast pumpkin, sundried tomatoes, baby spinach, and Persian feta. Very yummy. My friend picked the Open Smoked Chicken Sandwich ($10.50). A thick slice of pastadura with garden salad, smoked chicken, and beetroot coleslaw. Also, delicious. We did have to wait some time for our food though. The sweet options were delightfully different from your usual cafe ‘fare’. Plus, the cakes ($5.50) are homemade. You can even have homemade ice-cream ($3.00). The cafe is closed on Monday and Wednesday but it is open on public holidays. It is definitely somewhere the kids would enjoy, as well as the ‘big’ kids.
After a busy morning of shopping at Chadstone, we wanted to escape the crowds and have a bite of lunch. I remembered that there was a cafe ‘hidden’ in the garden centre, Flower Power, up the road. It has been quite some time since I had been to this cafe and therefore was interested to see if it was still a pleasant cafe to visit. Well... no one could doubt that the setting here is still lovely. As today was warm, the folding doors were opened right up so we could enjoy all the flowers surrounding us. The place was busy but we managed to get a table. Everyone seemed to be ordering an iced coffee/chocolate. We ordered a couple of lattes ($3.40) instead. Maybe we should have ordered an iced coffee like everyone else because our coffees were cold. They didn’t taste that great either. As for food, I ordered the smoked salmon sandwich ($9.00). Smoked salmon, cream cheese, cucumber, red onion, capers, and spinach served on $1 supermarket bread tasted pretty damn good. A salad of mixed leaves, red cabbage, and carrot also accompanied the sandwich. My friend opted for one of the specials. Mushrooms sautéed in herb butter with poached eggs and English muffin ($11.50). Mushrooms were indeed plentiful and the herby butter lifted the dish. During the meal, a door bell would ring constantly which was really annoying, especially as it had the same ring as my own door bell! Not sure what this was for but I assume it was for signalling that food was ready to be taken out. A better method could surely be introduced in order to not detract from the pleasant environment of the cafe. Will I return? Yes, but definitely will be ordering tea instead of coffee!
I have been hearing wonderful things about this charming little cafe tucked away in Mont Albert Road so I had to see for myself what was generating such excitement. I’ve always had this notion that I knew what a good coffee tasted like but today I was proven wrong. The coffee ($3.50) at the Red Brick Cafe is simply amazing. In fact, so amazing that I will find it quite difficult to go anywhere else for my next latte. Fear not my lovelies, I shall continue my food quest. The menu included a variety of interesting choices but I eventually decided on the Breakfast Bruschetta with two poached eggs ($13.50). This dish consisted of roasted tomatoes, smashed avocado, roquette, and feta on a piece of toast, with a balsamic reduction and the two poached eggs crowning the meal. Very delicious. My friend opted for the Breakfast Taco De Harina ($14.50). Served on a wooden chopping board, the tortilla was filled with scrambled eggs, mango relish, roasted tomatoes, spinach, bacon, and cheese. Even more delicious apparently, so I think I will order this next time. Or perhaps the Smashed Pumpkin ($10.50). The combination of pumpkin, roquette, pine nuts and fetta sounds very tempting. A quick perusal of the cakes (under $5.00) revealed some intriguing choices including a Hazelnut and Cranberry Meringue Cake. I love the gorgeous chandeliers and the fancy bottles the water comes in. I also love the fact that they provide table service. Why can’t all cafes offer this? It should be an essential element rather than an occasional occurrence. The wait staff are warm and efficient. I’m always impressed when they can remember your order without writing it down. A wonderful experience and can’t wait to visit again.
I don’t know about you but I am now finding Sassafras and Olinda to be extremely busy and frustrating hamlets of the Dandenongs. I now prefer to bypass both and continue on to Kallista where I can easily find a car park and enjoy a relaxing lunch. The Kallista Deli is somewhere you feel so content that you are reluctant to leave. Perhaps it is observing the antics of the visiting crow hunting for goodies amongst the tables out the front that puts you in a hypnotic state. However, I think that the tasty and comforting food and the peaceful atmosphere also contribute to this. My favourite dish is the Eggs on Salmon ($14). Two poached eggs served on a large slice of toast with lots of smoked salmon, quarter of an avocado, spinach, and plenty of hollandaise sauce. As this dish is quite filling, I usually opt for the Calmer Sutra Chai tea ($3.50) which is one of the best chai blends I have had at a cafe. Sometimes they offer honey to go with it which makes it even better. The coffee ($3.50) can be a little bitter so I usually have tea here anyway. The breakfast menu is served until 2pm. I also like the Mushies Galore ($12.50) which has mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, spinach, and fetta on toast. From the lunch menu, the Salmon and Fetta Frittata ($9.90) is also tasty and includes a yummy, creamy herb mayo and an interesting salad. There are also cakes if somehow you can eat anymore food. The food usually takes a while to arrive but that allows you to gossip with your friends while you wait. The young staff have always been friendly and are happy to help. After lunch, you can pop over the road to Vintage Cookbooks if you still have food on your mind...
$3.00 for a coffee... no wonder it is getting so difficult to find a table. This place is getting so popular now, and so it should be. Situated in the Pines shopping centre is a bustling cafe where you can have a rest from your shopping spree and enjoy anything from a light lunch to a massive meal to a sweet treat. The menu is extensive and you would be hard pressed not to find something that tempted your tastebuds. If I am feeling really hungry, I love the BLT Focaccia ($9.50) which consists of short cut bacon rashers, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and mayonnaise with a side of chips and salad. All day breakfast options such as Eggs on Toast ($6.50) are always good. You can create your own sandwich fillings which are then served on huge slices of bread that make the biggest sandwich you have ever seen. The Zucchini Frittata ($7.50) served with salad is also appetising and allows you some space to perhaps indulge in a sweet. A ‘small’ slice of cake is $3.90! Believe me, you only need a small. Many choices are available including a berry cheesecake and a lemon, lime, and pear tart. For something less rich, the banana bread ($3.50) is super yummy, toasted and served with butter. There is a coffee card available too where you get the sixth coffee free. Or if you would prefer something stronger, a glass of wine is $4.50 or grab a beer for $4.00. The wait staff here are so friendly! I am pleasantly surprised to be always asked how my coffee and meal was as this simple act of customer service is so unusual nowadays. This cafe is a delight and should be part of your next visit to the Pines.
Ah Sassafras, the busiest place in the hills. Only the most devoted foodies will agree to the long waiting times to gain entry to Miss Marple’s Tea Room. Other options are therefore a must if you are lucky enough to obtain the mythical vacant car space. I have only been to The Black Kettle for coffee before as it was a quiet alternative to the other cafes available in Sassafras but unfortunately the other day we decided to go for lunch. The cafe was fairly empty so I thought this place was a possible oasis to escape the crowds outside. I tried to order the Harvest Pie ($14.95). Cheese, tomato, spinach, onion, potato, capsicum and egg in a wholemeal pastry served with chips and salad. Alas, this was not available. I then came up with many different options from the menu but none of these were available either. I was tempted to ask what actually was available on the menu but finally got lucky with the Homemade Tartlet of the day ($14.95). This was a capsicum tart served chips and salad. Sadly, the tartlet was tasteless and the pastry was uncooked. The chips and salad were great, thankfully. ‘Homemade’ apparently means bland here. My friend ordered the Egg and Bacon Sandwich ($8.50) which was very plentiful and tasty with thick slices of bread. The coffee ($3.50) was again good. Today, cakes included a Belgium Lemon Tart ($7.00) which the crust had fallen off and a Gluten-free Mud Cake. The older waitress was unfriendly but maybe that was because she was sick of having to explain that they didn’t have many things on the menu available. The front door was also quite startling for diners of the cafe as it let off a thunderous bang every time people entered or exited. There are much better places in the Dandenongs to eat and would probably only come here again as a last resort.
Serendipity intervened when deciding to visit the Basin Music festival. With a sudden urge for a coffee, I came across one of the eastern suburbs hidden secrets. One visit was all it took for Svaks to become one of my favourite foodie destinations. The staff are very friendly and the service is excellent. They offer a vast range of quality sweet and savoury treats which are incredible value. The pancake stack is a popular choice ($6.50) which is a wonderful creation. Layers of pancakes are filled with avocado, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes and béchamel sauce and served warm. There are also pies and quiches ($4.00) among other savoury offerings. Coffee is excellent ($3.50). Always hot with a smooth taste. If you still have room for something sweet then the Danishes ($3.50) are delicious, especially the cherry! There are too many cakes on offer for me to include them all here. However, I would highly recommend the fruit tart, carrot cake, and lemon meringue pie ($4.50). Sweet servings are generous and can easily be shared between two people. Oops, now the secret is out but sometimes things are too good that they have to be shared... Enjoy!
Be aware cafes of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne because Miss Sage Sugar might be coming to visit you! No more lost coffees, unhelpful staff, limp salads, chipped cups, dirty cutlery or be prepared to face the consequences.
Are you bored of reading reviews about trendy restaurants that cost lots of money and involve foams and soils? Well I don’t know about you but I sometimes just want to go out and have some decent food and coffee, where the staff are friendly and prices are reasonable. So if you do too, then this blog is for you.