Eat here: Sookie La La, Melbourne V.2

Sookie La La
593 High St, Northcote
http://www.sookielaladiner.com.au/

It’s hard to believe it was September 2015 when I first visited and blogged about this place… since then, it’s become our favourite Sunday breakfast nook and feels like a second home 🙂

Almost 18 months since that first visit, nothing about Sookie La La is slipping. The service is wonderful, prompt, and most importantly, welcoming and friendly. The booths are perfect – your own private little breakfast nooks. And the standard of the food is still top notch – it’s simple, homely, comforting food that makes you feel like you’re in a favourite aunt’s home.

Husband’s new favourite thing in the world is their fried chicken on waffles. You can probably see why. But tasting it is another story – the waffles are soft and fluffy, and the chicken is perfectly white and tender on the inside, with the perfect crunch on the outside. We’ve eaten a bit of fried chicken, but Sookie La La’s is both of our favourite.

I went with the reuben sandwich, the towering king of bread and corned beef and sauerkraut and pickles and cheese and Russian dressing. This is a proper sandwich. For breakfast or lunch, it’s just magic.

After a long week, when we roll up to their glass front door on a Sunday morning and slide into one of the beautiful wooden booths, it really feels like home. We both seem to sigh in relief as we sit down to a hot pot of strong tea for me and a chocolatey coffee for the husband, always brought over by the ever-smiling lady of the house, and we know that no matter what we order, it’s going to be delicious. We’ve spent many hours planning our #👫WorldTour there. Talking about our weeks at work. Mulling over problems that need solving. Discussing our plans for the future and remembering all of the good and bad from the past. We eventually look out at the street through the shuttered windows with the Sunday morning light streaming in, and reluctantly slide out of our booth to get on with the day. Always knowing we’ll be back soon 🙂

Sookie La La Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: The Old Milk Bar Cafe, Thornbury

The Old Milk Bar Cafe
144 Dundas St, Thornbury

Back in Melbourne and back to weekend brunches! And don’t I feel just a bit silly not having visited this place sooner… We’ve been living a stone’s throw from the Old Milk Bar Cafe for a few years, now, and it’s one of those places that’s been on my radar but I just haven’t gotten around to visiting.

We finally made it to the sweet, little, old milk bar converted into a cafe over the weekend. High Street in Thornbury is getting to be a pretty popular location for cafes, but this one’s tucked off the main drag. If you don’t know about it, you’re not likely to stumble upon it, and that was instantly obvious – staff were greeting a lot of customers by name, which was really lovely to see 🙂

I adored the space itself – little touches like the old THE AGE sign on the wall under the kitchen were the perfect throw back to the old days. While the inside of the cafe isn’t enormous (with seating for around 8 on small tables and one larger communal table that seats another 8 or so), the outside patio seating was pretty spacious. And the menu looked great! Husband’s choice was made quickly; he went with the smashed avo – 2 slices of toast with an absolute mountain of smashed avocado, goats curd, and a panko crumbed egg on top. He gave big points for the amount of avocado and how perfectly oozy the egg yolk was, but was a little sad the panko crumbs didn’t stay crunchy.

My choice was even easier again – lemon lime ricotta hotcakes with blueberries. Yes, please!! These were hands down the lightest, fluffiest, most delicious hot cakes I’ve ever had. No competition. No other was to describe it. Absolutely perfect. Swimming in the most delicious citrus curd, and plenty of juicy blueberries. I was told these were a new addition to the menu, and I hope they stay on the menu – I’ll be back for them again. They were magic.

Vietnam was a good time, but no one does brunch like Melbourne. And when places like this are making food this delicious, it’s good to be home 🙂

The Old Milkbar Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Gellibrand Cafe, Melbourne

Gellibrand Cafe
16 Gellibrand Cres, Reservoir
https://web.facebook.com/gellibrandcafe/?fref=nf&_rdr

They’ve been open less than a month, and I managed 2 visits in less than 24 hours – I think I’ve found my new local! Tucked away in a little suburban pocket of Reservoir, it’s not the kind of place that’s going to get crazy foot traffic, so they’re going to have to rely pretty heavily on good word of mouth. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem…

The space itself is beautiful – it’s modern and minimalist looking, but the little touches like the Globo posters behind the counter give it a bit of a throwback to the past and makes it feel more homely.

Our first visit was last Saturday afternoon; they close at 4pm, but we thought we’d try to sneak in a quick coffee/tea date around 3pm on our way out. It’s incredibly how many places get narky when you roll in an hour before closing on a Saturday afternoon, so we braced ourselves for an icy reception. Which was completely unnecessary; we were welcomed with smiles and open arms. Massive points there, because another similar cafe in the area is quite the opposite when you arrive within 90 minutes of closing time.

We asked for tea, coffee and donuts, and while we sat waiting for them, we picked up on seriously happy vibes. The staff were laughing and joking around with each other, they were happy to chat with us instead of ignoring us, and it felt more and more like hanging out at a friend’s or extended family member’ place rather than a shiny new cafe.

Oh, and they stock Doughboys Doughnuts, which makes me very happy, because I love them!! Husband loved his coffee, my tea was hot and brewed just right, and the doughnuts were magic. Salted caramel that was properly salty and sugary, and a gorgeous little key lime number filled with lime curd and a toasted meringue hat. Perfect afternoon tea. Also, as the clock ticked closer to 4pm, more big points for not starting to turn off light and clean around our feet – sorry our timing was crap, guys, but thank you for not making us feel like a total inconvenience!! We decided then and there that we’d return for breakfast the next morning.

And so we did. Sunday morning rolled around, and we turned back up to Gellibrand again. A pretty simple menu with plenty of options to keep everyone happy, husband went straight for the smashed avo with chilli on toast, with a poached egg and bacon on the side. He’s fussy with anything that claims to have chilli in it (his tolerance levels are bordering on unnatural), so he was a pretty happy camper when his avocado came out with actual pieces of chilli mashed through it. He was even happier when he opened his egg up and found it all molten lava yolk (he’s has some sub-par over poached eggs lately). He also commended the amount of bacon.

I was hovering over the porridge, until I caught a glimpse of the specials board. There is something oddly satisfying about being able to order pancakes and ice cream for breakfast, for a few reasons:
1. When you’re a kid and you want pancakes and ice cream for breakfast, your parents laugh at you and give you cereal and fruit instead. As an adult, if you want ice cream for breakfast, you can.
2. When you’re a highly disordered eater, any time you can override the mechanism that tells you to order eggs and vegetables for breakfast and not to finish the toast, that’s a big win.

And it was a bloody good decision – they were proper, home made pancakes, not the perfect round cookie-cutter ones. They were full of blueberries, plenty of salted caramel toasted almonds, more blueberries and top, and that ice cream was the perfect side. I don’t often order pancakes because they’re such a special treat meal to me, and I don’t want to waste a special treat breaky on crappy pancakes, but these were exactly what I felt like – hope they make their way back onto the specials board again!

I’m feeling really fortunate to be living out in the northern suburbs these days; back when I was a kid, Preston and Reservoir weren’t the nicest areas. Now, as the suburbs next in line for gentrification after Northcote and Thornbury, they’re starting to become prime locations. I just hope that the new places opening up keep the friendly neighbourhood attitudes and a few little throwbacks to the past, like Gellibrand have. See you again soon, guys 🙂

 

Gellibrand Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Sartoria, Melbourne

Sartoria
115 Plenty Rd, Preston
http://www.sartoria.com.au/

Sartoria was once a successful dressmaking, bridal and evening wear business from the 70’s through the 90’s created by J & C Agricola. In modern day, the whole space has been transformed into a friendly, warm light filled café and eatery adorned with machinery and novelties straight from it’s dress factory days.

Walking into this place last weekend gave me the biggest hit of nostaglia. My mum’s parents were both sartorialists; Nonna a dress maker and Nonno a tailor. I used to spend a lot of school holidays at their house, sitting with Nonna in her sewing room, watching her work. I would go with her to her friend’s houses while she measured them up for their next new outfit. She taught me to sew by hand (and knit), how to cut patterns from fabric, how to pin and stitch and hem and sew on buttons. I used to stitch together little outfits for my dolls and sisters, design dresses on Nonna’s scrap graph paper, and spend hours flicking through Nonna’s old fashion magazines from Italy. With all the beautiful old Singer desks and machines, Sartoria felt just like home.

The space inside is enormous, with ample seating and room to move. The little touches like the glass bowls filled with buttons and beads, and the fashionista slide show beaming through a projector make a place like this, and they’ve done really well on that side of things.

When it came to the food, the menu reads brilliantly, however I’ve heard lots of mixed reviews. While we mulled over our options, we started with tea (from Storm in a Teacup) for me and coffee (from Where’s Marcel?) for husband – both delicious and brought out quickly, great start.

I especially loved the little timer that came out with my tea, and the beautiful tea cup it as served with – again, little things that make a big difference.

We finally decided on food; husband went with The Machinist ($19.80): crispy pork hock, crumbed black pudding, romesco salsa, poached eggs and crostino. While the pork hock didn’t look like much being compressed into soldiers, once he started pulling it apart, there was suddenly a whole lot more. And it was good. The black pudding, he described as a “ball of flavour,” He said it was comfortably the best thing on the plate, and he’d go back again just to eat that. Unfortunately, though, his poached eggs were overcooked and the yolks were set inside, so no runny, gooey egg yolk to sauce it all together. Massive let down for what was otherwise one of his favourite breakfast dishes this year.

I had a really hard time picking a dish, but was ultimately feeling something sweet, and went with The Designer ($17.50): buffalo yoghurt hotcakes with activated nuts, green tea cream, caramelised pineapple and salted kaya. First up, I had to question the mention of activated nuts on the menu, because there were barely any on there! Other than that, though, I couldn’t fault the dish – the buffalo yoghurt made the hotcakes super moist, surprisingly fluffy and not overly sweet, they were perfectly cooked through, and the green tea cream generously plonked on top was delicious. I loooooved the caramelised pineapple as well as the bits of fresh fruit; this is the kind of breakfast I love going out for and treating myself to!

Overall, I think my hesitations were very much unfounded – while the over-done eggs were a big disappointment, we both agreed they got a lot more right than they got wrong, and we’re both already looking forward to our next visit. My only regret is that Nonna Gemma isn’t still around, because I think she’d have absolutely loved Sartoria 🙂

 

Sartoria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Northern Soul, Melbourne

Northern Soul
843 High St, Thornbury
http://www.northernsoul.com.au/

Happy hump day, kids! I hope everyone has a better day lined up than I do; I’ll be off having a few wisdom teeth ripped out in a few hours  >.<  I’d obviously rather be brunching, so let’s talk about that, instead.

I’ve had a bit of a crappy few weeks, so I was pretty excited to have not one but two lady breakfast dates over the weekend, with my two best friends 🙂 yay! Saturday morning’s breaky was at Northern Soul, and the second I set foot in the place, I was ready to use said foot to kick myself for having lived in the area for two and a half years and not having visited before.

I was in there all of 60 seconds before being hit by a combo of beautiful space, sexy dessert display, killer menu, super lovely staff and a general all round happy vibe. That’s what you want on a Saturday morning after a trying fortnight. In their own words, Northern Soul is a place where you can sit down, relax and enjoy some of the most delicious food in Thornbury.” They use fresh, organic, local, seasonal produce, happily catering for gluten free, vegan and vegetarians alike. They’re incredibly community and family focused, too, which is so great to have in an area that is so heavily built on older families and traditions.

When I head out to eat, I can usually pick a stand out dish pretty quickly to go with. This was one of those very rare times that I actually could not make up my mind. I’d narrowed it down to about 4 options, before remembering that they’re actually a Tibetan influenced operation, and they’re quite well known for their momos (dumplings). Breakfast momos it was!

Three big, fat, spinach and cheese filled momos, topped with smoked salmon and 2 poached eggs, with the most phenomenal dill and (I think) mustard seed yoghurt. While dumplings and smoked salmon initially seemed a bit of an odd combo, this was hands down the most creative breaky dish I’ve seen on a menu in a very long time, and it didn’t disappoint – completely perfect!

My beautiful friend went with one of the other dishes I was contemplating – the French toast, with Barbados cream, maple syrup and berry compote. Amazing…

I’m really reluctant to share this unassuming little spot in it’s quiet part of High Street, because I want to be able to keep visiting without a massive crowd, but when the food is THIS good and the service is lovely, and they’re supporting the community, you can’t not share it. The whole reason I blog is to share the things I love, and I really did fall in love with the place mighty quickly. If you’re a northerner, make it a priority. If you’re not, plan a visit out this way.

Meanwhile, I’m off to get my teeth pulled out and enjoy a diet of soup and jelly for a few days. The thought of heading back to Northern Soul when I’m all healed up is pulling me through!

 

Northern Soul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Ruby’s, Melbourne

Ruby’s
138 Nicholson St, Coburg
https://www.facebook.com/RubysOnNicholson/

This little cutie pie art deco café has been open around 18 months now, and I’m guessing it’s tucked-away location on the quieter side of Coburg is the reason it’s not more popular. Husband and I found ourselves in the area not long ago, and having visited before, I suggested stopping in for lunch.

They have an incredible milk shake menu that fits perfectly with the kitschy diner-style set up and had me once again cursing my lactose issues. On the food side, there are equally delicious jaffle options, and a Greek inspired brunch menu. Husband went with the chili scrambled eggs with (very generous) sides of bacon and avocado, and he loved it – the fresh chili in the eggs especially.

I went with the olive toast with grilled haloumi and fresh herbs, plus a fried egg on top. Clearly the most perfect little fried egg to ever come out of a kitchen, as you can see below. The haloumi was the perfect topping to the olive bread, and the fresh mint was an especially nice touch.

This place was designed to be a laid back, down-to-earth, dog & child friendly eatery, with good, unpretentious food and attitudes, and it delivers 110%. Yet another reason to head to the North this weekend – the cafes there are seriously the best in Melbourne!


Ruby's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Eat here: Kitty Burns, Melbourne

Kitty Burns
24 Acacia Pl, Abbotsford
http://kittyburns.com.au/

OMG it’s Thursday. I’ve been hanging out for today for almost 2 months. I desperately need a break from everything, so I’m finally getting some hard earned days off in lieu and heading to Warburton (AKA my special happy place) for the next few days… YAY! I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to today, but last weekend I had the pleasure of brunching with the loveliest bunch of ladies, and that pumped me up to get through another few work days 🙂

Let me be frank and honest here (because, let’s face it, when am I not?); I love hanging out with these girls. They make me feel like I’m part of a T-Swift girl squad. They’re all intelligent, fun, funny, talented women. And at a time where it seems a lot of women sadly want to compete with and one-up each other (and the blogging world can be surprisingly “mean” and competitive), I cannot tell you how refreshing it is that I’ve fallen into friendships with these ladies where it’s all fun and giggles and absolutely NO competition or egotism whatsoever.

We try to catch up semi-regularly (or as regularly as six busy women can manage), and chose newbie Kitty Burns for our latest brunch. Tucked into a cute little nook off the main road opposite Ikea, Acacia Place is beautiful. Lots of open space and big trees, fresh air and bright sunshine, it’s the ultimate spot for a brunchery. And the menu is every bit as incredible as the setting; there was a LOT of indecision before we finally just dove it, surprisingly all ordering something different…

Sheena (Chasing a Plate) went with Meet Mr Burns, the meat platter from the heavens… That slab of bacon looked amazing!

Terri (Little Wanderings) had the awfully pretty french toast…

Tian (Eat More) had the spiced Togarashi avocado with toast and a mac & cheese croquette (actually, I think we all either ordered or tried the croquette – it was creamy, cheesy, fried happiness)…

Mon (Mon’s Adventure)  went with the Omelette “Arnold Bennett” with slow poached smoked rockling, which she kindly let me taste (delicious and creamy) and a very cute little bottle of coffee…

Cass (Hungry Cookie) picked the Eton Mess with coconut yoghurt and strawberry textures and spiced meringue – also kindly gave me a taste test and, again, amazing! The flavour of the strawberries and cherries were pure Aussie summer to me 🙂

And I couldn’t go past the coconut chia pudding. With mango. And strawberry bits. And aerated coconut. And activated buckwheat clusters. And magic. I dunno how they get theirs to taste that perfect, I need help with this at home! It was rich and thick and creamy, the coconut yoghurt was probably the best I’ve ever tasted, and the crunchy buckwheat clusters were the perfect addition – need these to add to my oats at home!

brunch

I was a bit apprehensive before visiting, as I am with all places that blow up with attention on opening, but the praise is well deserved. The cafe itself is stunning, with high ceilings, enormous windows to flood it with natural light, and surrounded by trees. The company was obviously top notch, with conversation ranging from new jobs to travel adventures to the many uses for the humble potato to ballerinas at weddings and I think literally everything in between. And the food was fantastic. It was just the kind of menu I fall in love with and want to sample everything from. I just wish it was a little closer to home so it could be my regular!!

Kitty Burns Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato