Patience is not a strength of mine, so when I saw that Grease Monkey, whose black garage shutter had been teasing all of Braddon for months, had opened, I couldn’t wait to go – so I didn’t. I grabbed my book, joined the (fairly long) queue to order, then took a perch at the stool along the front window to await my burger experience. I chose the ‘Greasy’ – their basic burger, with a beef patty, lettuce, cheese, onion, pickles and Greasy’s sauce plus tomato sauce and mustard. All the burgers come with chips, and whilst I did wait quite a while for my food (they were very busy), the portion was great value for $15. The burger itself was on a soft bun (oh the joy! This is what burger buns should be!), although I was surprised at how thin the patty was – the burger crumpled down a lot for ease of eating. But the flavour – oh yum. I am a huge fan of pickles and there were plenty, and whatever is in that Greasy’s sauce, it was gold. The chips were nice and crispy with a flavoured salt (chicken? peri peri?) on top. I really appreciated the uncomplicated menu and will be back to try the other burgers for sure.
Grease Monkey, 19 Lonsdale Street, Braddon ACT http://www.greasys.com.au/
On a recent visit to Canberra, I took Mum down to the Kingston foreshore for lunch. We wandered up and down, but both really felt like something a bit naughty – so we indulged in some pub grub at The Dock. Whilst the fish and chips was tempting, we both decided to go for the hot dog on the specials menu. We sat outside looking out towards the water, and after a bit of a wait (we were starting to get pretty hungry by then) our meals came out. The hot dog was a vienna sausage, topped with mustard and tomato sauce, American-style. The roll was sitting on top of a bed of The Dock’s amazing chips, with a side of tomato sauce for dipping (Mum liked the chips so much she said they didn’t need sauce – more for me!). The hot dog was really tasty – plenty of onion underneath – but we both agreed that the roll itself was a bit much considering how much filling there was. Neither of us ate all the bread, but the filling was devoured pretty quickly! We both had a lemon lime and bitters, which was huge and very refreshing. Got to love the great flavours and value at The Dock!
The Dock, 7/81 Giles Street, Kingston ACT 2604 http://www.thedockkingston.com.au/
My stop in to Brother Baba Budan was delightfully spontaneous – after an afternoon browsing the shops, the buzz and an impulse drew me in to this hole-in-the-wall coffee den. Not being a coffee drinker, I chose peppermint from a minimalist tea menu, and then I spotted the donuts and my impulse was rewarded. I picked the choc-mint over the iced vovo, although both looked great, and took a seat at the bar at the back. I watched my tea being brewed while I started on the delicious donut. The donut itself was soft and not too dense, whilst the icing was evenly spread across the top and just a little bit melted (perfect!). There were sprinkles of mint sugar on top which flavoured the whole donut. The tea was made from loose leaves although the brand was not listed on the menu. It came out in a gorgeous iron teapot of just the right size, with a small cup that meant the tea didn’t cool too quickly. The brew itself was just the right strength and left a lovely peppermint aftertaste. The staff were happy to let me finish my tea even after they’d closed up for the day.
Brother Baba Budan, 359 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC http://www.sevenseeds.com.au
Dessert before dinner is one of those beautiful things that being an adult makes possible, and I’m convinced it’s even more legit when you’re on holidays. So I stopped by Brooklyn Parlour for dessert. Before dinner. Yep. I was given the choice of a solo or share table when I arrived, and I picked the share table – it was in the middle of the basement space and gave a great people-watching view amid the floral arrangements and bookshelves. I started out with a pot of peach and apricot tea, which was bright pink when I poured it and lightly aromatic to taste. For dessert I chose the red berry, pistachio and chocolate mousse glace (icecream). The berry coulis around the icecream was full of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and cranberries, and added a nice tartness to contrast the sweetness of the chocolate. The mousse-icecream was mostly frozen but soft enough to eat and silky smooth, with a rich but not-too-rich milk chocolate flavour. The real delight was the layers of frozen raspberry and pistachio inside the icecream – aka heaven. One of the best desserts I’ve had in a long time, and in one of the coolest venues.
Brooklyn Parlour, OIOI Anex B1F, 3-1-26 Shinjuku, Tokyo Japan http://www.brooklynparlor.co.jp/shinjuku/
I do love a good pre-work breakfast, and that’s what my friends and I found at Bean & Grain. I couldn’t go past the breakfast burger, with bacon, spinach, fried egg and potato rosti – mmm, rosti. My soy hot chocolate come out first – it was served in a glass but didn’t come with anything to stop me burning my hands, so I had to wait a bit for the glass to cool before drinking it. The chocolate was nice although I could still distinctly taste the soy, so probably not the best soy hot chocolate in town, but warming and sweet for a chilly morning. The burger came out on a lovely round plate and when I cut it in half the egg yolk oozed everywhere – perfection! There was plenty of bacon, although I would have liked more of the tomato relish that sat in a tiny dollop on top. The rosti was a bit soggy and the grey colour looked a bit offputting, but it did add to the overall flavour, even if it wasn’t as visually appealing as the sweet potato rosti my friend got with her mushroom stack. We left very full (I couldn’t quite finish my meal) and warmed through.
Bean & Grain, Fyshwick Markets, 12 Dalby Street, Fyshwick ACT http://www.beanandgrain.com.au
I met my friend at the Meating Room in Weston for dinner a couple of nights after their opening, and was immediately impressed with the fitout and the atmosphere. The place was full of all sorts of groups (families, couples, groups of friends) at 6:30pm on a Sunday. We were seated in lovely armchairs and ordered a few things to share. The tapas came out together – arancini balls with a garlic sauce and pulled pork sliders – and really that would have been enough dinner for the both of us. The arancini was the highlight for me – with a crispy panko crumb and full of veggies, parmesan and rice, they went perfectly with the garlic sauce and were great value with 12 pieces on the plate. The sliders (2 in a serve) were tasty to start but the flavour faded after a few mouthfuls (not enough BBQ sauce?) – the pork was tender but my friend’s slider was very oily. Finally our Meatingroom pizza arrived – it was clearly made on site as the shape was imperfect, but the base was lovely and crispy and the topping was full of meat – chorizo, bacon, salami, pulled pork and beef – so good. The staff were exceptionally friendly and I look forward to many more cozy evenings exploring their menu.
Meating Room, 45B Liardet Street, Weston ACT http://meatingroom.com.au/
Sometimes you just want a light breakfast, and when I met my friend at Maple & Clove I was a bit disappointed to realise it was one of those days. The menu looked amazing and whilst I would have loved to try a cooked breakfast, the Spelt Fig and Walnut toast was calling my name. I ordered a pot of sencha meicha loose leaf tea to start, which came out in a petite teapot with a removable infuser. The tea had just the right note of green overtones and was comforting and warm. My toast came out with butter and chia strawberry compote, which I have to admit was a wonderful substitute for jam. Presented in a cute little jar, the compote was lovely and spreadable and wasn’t overly sweet. Whilst it didn’t look like much, there was plenty there. The toast itself was perfectly toasted, still easily cut and with a light texture. The crunch of the walnut was perfection and the meal was exactly what I felt like. My friend had poached eggs with mushrooms and found it very filling – I’ll be back at Maple & Clove when I have more of an appetite.
Maple & Clove, 7 Burbery Close, Barton ACT mapleandclove.com.au/
This was my second attempt to have breakfast at Barry, and I’m glad I finally made it. Barry has a lovely corner spot with lots of windows, giving it a light and airy feel. We didn’t have to line up, but not long after we were seated the queue began outside. To start, I ordered the Blended Drink #1, which is a dairy free smoothie with banana, dates, cinnamon, almond milk and cacao nibs. The latter gave a fantastic crunch to the drink (chewing required) which was surprisingly thick for something dairy-free. The banana flavour wasn’t as strong as I was expecting but was still present – all the flavours worked together perfectly. I chose breakfast from the specials menu – poached eggs with mashed peas, shaved ricotta and lime on toast. The dish came out looking like spring on a plate; it was lovely and light, and the eggs were the runniest I’ve ever had. The toast was a bit crispy for my taste, but the bread was delicious, with sesame seeds crusting the outside. The lime was a stroke of genius with the citrus bringing the whole dish to life. The queues are there for a reason – well worth a visit.
Barry, 85 High Street, Northcote VIC http://www.barrycoffeeandfood.com
On our way back from Kyoto we were a bit early for our shinkansen, and given how warm the day was, the best solution was clearly to hole up at the nearest icecream store. Luckily, the nearest icecream store happened to be the adorable Mister Donuts icecream brand, Ice de Lion, with a supercute lion mascot. Obviously, I had to order my icecream in the lion wafer sandwich, which has an impression of the lion mascot’s face on top. I picked the ‘passion’ sorbet flavour, which was a blend of mango and raspberry sorbets. The serving was a huge sphere of sorbet and it actually stayed together quite well, considering how slowly I ate it. Both fruit flavours were really true and I’m very glad someone thought of swirling them together, because they went perfectly – the sweetness of the mango really complemented the tartness of the raspberry. We even got to enjoy a live band performance of music from Disney songs coming from the next floor up while we enjoyed our icecream and people-watched. Oh, and the Ice de Lion lady even gave me a sheet full of cute lion stickers, like the big kid I am when it comes to icecream.
Ice de Lion, Kyoto station (JR), Kyoto Japan https://www.misterdonut.jp/icedelion/
The reviews for Zootz were mixed, so when we went for a celebratory dinner I was a bit worried about what might happen. Zootz has a fabulous location right near the jetty, and we were one of many groups seated outside. I’d heard it was a seafood place, but on arrival the menu didn’t actually have a lot of seafood options, and I couldn’t go past the call of a good steak. My friends ordered drinks and they took a while to come out – we had to ask after them twice before they arrived, which was a bit poor, even for a busy night. Our food arrived at the same time though, and I was amazed at the large cut on the plate. I’d ordered it medium-rare, which to me means pink in the middle, but sadly my steak was overdone. However, the flavours were incredible – the caramelised onion on top went nicely with the rich, smooth mashed potato and the sweet balsamic sauce drizzled on top. The steak itself was lovely and tender, although not melt-in-your-mouth, and both of us eating it agreed we would order it again. Don’t expect perfection, but Zootz offers a good value meal.
Zootz Kitchen Bar, 257 Seaview Road, Henley Beach SA http://zootzhenleybeach.wix.com/home