Station St Trading Company

166 Station Street
Port Melbourne 
T:9646 6663
 
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On the corner of Station street and Raglan street in Port Melbourne sits a busy little cafe with a laid back attitude. Frequented by locals grabbing a coffee on their way to work, men and women meeting up on their lunch breaks or those just out for a stroll with their dogs; Station street Trading Co is clearly a favourite amongst Port Melburnians. I must admit I came across this gem when I got a little lost in the local streets while house hunting, finding myself in dire need of a coffee and something to eat. Lucky for me this cafe across from the tram tracks and overlooking a park had everything I was looking for and more.

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What has kept me coming back has been their ‘Cajun chicken, with chipotle aioli roasted bell peppers’ which is nestled between two slices of the softest gourmet bread (I have an inclining it might be sourdough but I can’t be sure). I am a self proclaimed sandwich avoider (my mother was forced to keep my school lunch boxes SW free)  but this meal has me converted.

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Apart from a selection of tasty gourmet SW (pictured above) they provide breakfast all day which include the essential sweet corn and herb fritters with poached egg.

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There is ample seating inside however its hard to pass up on alfresco dining outside on a sunny Melbourne morning.

3/5 Bites

Price $$

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Fandango

97 Errol Street
North Melbourne
T: 9329 0693
 
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Just two doors down from one of my all time favourites (Auction Rooms) is Fandango; a quaint little cafe on errol street with a whole lot of charm. Not sure if preserved foods or pickles are a theme here but they feature all over the menu and the place is decorated with an assortment of jars of what I assumed were home made chutneys.

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The coffee was perfection, in both appearance and taste, using a blend from Supreme coffee.

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I was famished when I tried this place and so went with the house burger with home made pickles and tomato relish of course. The dinner plate pictured above is normal size and the burger is actually that big…so it’s safe to say I was completely full half way through eating it! All in all a great burger with a juicy patty with melted stringy cheese, crisp lettuce and that much needed tanginess from the pickles. Wonderful meal for sure, but can’t say its the best burger I have had in Melbourne.

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Should definitely come for the coffee and stay for the quirky warm atmosphere

2/5 Bites

Price $$

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Rumi

116 Lygon Street
Brunswick East
T: 9388 8255
 

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There are not  many choices for Middle Eastern cuisine in Melbourne that fit somewhere between your local take away doner kebab and the fine dining experiences of ‘Maha’. Rumi has been my saviour during the times I have wanted to enjoy the very best authentic cuisine in a romantic atmosphere without having to fuss over reservations or give my credit card a workout. Located on the brunswick end of Lygon street, Rumi is named after the great 13th century  Persian poet and celebrates food & wine from the area with a modern twist.

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The menu is designed to be shared and has a selection of small to large dishes. Usually a couple of small dishes, couple of medium dishes and one larger item is a perfect combination for 2 people. Spiced school prawns with tahini sauce, not pictured, are a must try and I warn are highly addictive. Persian meatballs (pictured above) are also a favourite of mine. Exceptionally flavourful and tender from being slow cooked in a tomato saffron sauce. The richness best complimented with a fresh shaved cabbage salad, soused onions, raisons and almonds (pictured above).

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Lamb shish kebab with labne (yoghurt).

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Rice Pilaf with spring onion and chives; one of the tastiest pilaf’s I have ever tried, my mum’s included.

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Almond milk pudding with sour cherries and pistachios; kind of a middle eastern panna cotta though with a more grainy texture and less sweetness. Other sweet options included baklava and turkish delight of course.

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Food aside the service at Rumi is one of the best which is no wonder it was recently awarded the best specialty restaurant in the nation for service & catering excellence. The bill is presented with chewing gum from Lebanon, very different from your traditional mint so worth a try though not maybe to everyones taste.

5/5 Bites

Price $$

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Manchester Press

8 Rankins Lane
Melbourne
T: 9600 4054
 

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Best bagels in Melbourne and it seems everyone already knows!  Once down the alley to Manchester Press you will usually find a wait at the door, however with such a quick turn over of patrons you shouldn’t be waiting too long. The staff are incredibly friendly and highly efficient too; making sure people have a lovely experience inside yet mindful that people outside aren’t waiting too long for a table to be cleared and seated.

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D and I headed there after one of my night shifts to have an early breakfast (dinner for me) and after a 30min wait we were finally inside. They had done a great job of turning this former warehouse into a rustic, casual yet quite sophisticated cafe and managed to keep the draft out too. Large sketches of a few ‘melburnian’ persona’s hung off large canvases and the tables appeared to be old seamstress, woodwork and craftsmen benches.

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While we waited in anticipation of our famous bagels I sipped on chai latte (I didn’t want caffeine) served with honey while D had his regular latte. Stealing a sip of his coffee I instantly wished I had ordered the same. It was deliciously nutty yet smooth and reminded me of a blend served at St. Ali’s. Turns out the coffee is from 8oz coffee company and they have another cafe like this in Elsternwick.

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The bagels themselves did not disappoint and we devoured each sizable portion. The tuna and mayo whole grain bagel with jalapenos and melted cheese had a great combination of salty savoury tuna filling with a much needed spicy bite to cut through the richness.

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My favourite remains their  fruit bagel topped with a generous serving of mixed berry mascarpone, fresh strawberries and pistachio dust. Just yum! Must try this sweet creation and share with others (only if you can’t finish it on your own).

Apart from waiting for a table (which is only an issue if you are stretched for time) there is nothing I can fault with this is place. Incredibly tasty, affordable food with great coffee, what more could you want.

5/5 Bites

Price $

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Sticky Asian Ribs

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Absolutely easy to put together and definitely one of the tastiest things to come out of my kitchen; these sticky asian ribs are one of my favourite things to make.

Ingredients:

1. 500g of beef spare ribs

2. 2 tsp crushed garlic (fresh or from a jar)

3. 3 tbsp kecap manis (sticky soy sauce; alternatively you can just add sugar to dark soy if you can’t find this at your supermarket)

4. pinch of salt

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Marinate the ribs with the sauce and garlic for at least 1hr to allow the flavours to be absorbed into the meat. Preheat oven to 180 degrees when ready to roast.

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Place ribs in a oven tray lined with baking paper and bake for approx 60mins over a low 160 degrees Celsius or until the meat is tender and falls off the bone.

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Serve with a fresh salad, to cut through the sweety fatty richness of the ribs, and fresh crusty bread. Just finger licking good.

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Maedaya Sake and Grill

400 Bridge road
Richmond
T: 9428 3918
 

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I love Japanese food, so when I learnt of a sake and grill bar in Richmond I couldn’t wait to try it. And Maedaya did not disappoint. When we walked in we were greeted “Youkoso irasshai mashita” (Welcome) by friendly staff and I felt like I had been transported to a sake bar in Tokyo city.  Inside the walls were decorated with large ship ropes from floor to ceiling, patrons sat along the bar watching the sake master at work while chefs were busy at an open grill frying skewers.

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Maedaya kept the surprises coming with their Menu on an ipad, just ingenious. You can place your orders directly to the kitchen and/or bar in your own time. Just make sure you pace yourself as it’s very easy, as I found, to get click happy and order more than you can eat. The menu is broken up into tapa style small dishes to more larger main plates along with a selection of sushi and sashimi. Perfect for sharing a meal with company or for just having nibbles while you drink.

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Hot miso soup with friend tofu croutons hit the spot on a cold winter evening, while their crunchy prawn karage (to be eaten whole) was finger licking good.

As a sake house Maedaya had an abundant selection of sake and wines lined up along the wall, I chose my favourite plum wine to accompany my supper. Plum wine is very different from any wine you may have tried, it’s sweet fruity and incredibly smooth, just delicious if you ask me.

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Their chicken gyoza (Japanese dumplings) are some of the best I have had and I highly recommend them.

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D was a big fan of their spicy soy marinated Salmon which was served with Japanese mayo and dried chilli.

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The sizzling plate of miso chicken was my favourite; great flavour and tender chicken pieces with fresh vegies.

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Calamari rings with sweet chilli and mayo.

An entertaining dinner experience, whether you come with friends or by yourself.

3/5 Bites

Price $

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Chez Dre

287 Coventry street
South Melbourne
T: 9690 2688
 

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Hidden away in an alley along Coventry street is one of Melbourne’s best french patisserie. Whether you drop in for coffee, breakfast or lunch you would be foolish to leave without trying one of their beautiful sweet creations. And one mouthful is enough I assure to be hooked. I have been coming to Chez Dre ever since I can remember and though I have moved away from South Melbourne this place along with a few other treasures (like the market) keep me coming back.

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From green tea mousse with mango jelly and black sesame brule to the more familiar chocolate eclairs and passion fruit tarts, this french patisseir has perfected the ideal dessert. Each a treat on the taste buds (combining tangy, sweet and rich flavours in perfect harmony) as well as the eyes.

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Bringing friends to try this place for the first time always gives me great joy, partly because they love the place but mainly because I love sharing a guilt free cake or tart over coffee.  On this occasion, a friend from work and I devoured the peanut butter and caramel brownie. A recommendation from the waitress, it had all the comforts of a classic brownie but with a salty caramel and peanut butter mousse twist.

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And if you are after something sweet for breakfast, their french crepe with poached peach, roasted walnuts and vanilla ice cream are one of the best I’ve ever had. The only unfortunate thing is that this dish is seasonal and not always on the menu.

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Their macarons are exceptional (no surprise there) and come in a range of flavours, of the more unique are tonka-orange and lime-basil.

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A generous tasting platter above the dessert counter is very helpful when you have no idea which one you want the most!

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4/5 Bites

Price $

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