Cafes and Restaurants


Campos Coffee to open in Melbourne

Campos CoffeeCampos Coffee, one of Sydney’s brightest coffee stars is opening a cafe and roastery in Carlton. Opening on the 20th of November, the address is 144 Elgin St. As you would expect, the bar will be decked out with all the usual suspects – a slayer, pour over and syphon.

As a company they appear to be very active at origin, and have been pretty active in the recent Cup of Excellence auctions. The Sydney store has just opened a purpose built cupping room, and there’s certainly a focus there on consumer education. They’ve got an interesting blog that’s well worth a read.

For mine, it will be fascinating to see how a Sydney cafe fares here in Melbourne. My guess is that, our appetite for high quality coffee can certainly accommodate another good coffee shop. It hasn’t been a problem for the 12+ recent openings and I doubt another one will be a problem.

De Clieu, Gertrude St

De ClieuThere’s been a quiet buzz on Twitter about a new Seven Seeds venue opening in Fitzroy. A photo of a door; a few comments by people and
now a few photos on Flickr and a name – De Clieu.

It’s a great name, and perfectly in the theme of the other Seeds venues – a testament to the origins of coffee. Gabriel de Clieu took coffee seeds from the French botanical garden and introduced them to the French colonies – most of which are the primary producers of Arabica today. In many ways the opening of a new venue in Fitzroy is much the same – taking the Seven Seeds brand of coffee away from the mother ship to a suburb almost completely devoid of quality caffeine.

And a brand it is. The execution across the 3 cafes is almost identical and amazingly consistent. Every coffee produced is impeccable in balance, flavour and presentation. De Clieu, on opening day is no exception and with the sharing of staff it is no surprise. There’s a range of single origin’s on offer and brewed in the usual array of methods.

The coffee isn’t the only consistent element. The cake and pastry counter has been cloned from Brother Baba and the menu is similar to that of 7 Seeds in content and presentation. The menu consists of light breakfast food, grilled sandwiches and pizza. Gourmet seems like a poor descriptor – but it is what it is. Seasonal produce; classics with a twist; and interesting combinations are all featured.  There’s great attention to detail in the food, with the little things that make a good sandwich great – a few olives or a pickled gherkin on the side. It’s short, sweet and interesting. There’s no doubt it will change regularly.

The biggest step away from the existing formula is a large area dedicated to retail. Currently the shelves are lightly stocked with a few of the usual suspects – Aeropresses, espresso machine cleaner and a few different beans, but there’s no doubt it will be a great coffee retailer.

It may not sound impressive – a clone of the Carlton cafe with a retail arm. But taking something that works so well in one place and move it to another is no easy feat. For the coffee lover in Fitzroy it’s an absolute gem; on a greater Melbourne scale, it’s not going to be one of my coffee “destinations”.

IMG_1541.jpg IMG_1523.jpg IMG_1536.jpg IMG_1538.jpg IMG_1539.jpg Latte. De Clieu. IMG_1533.jpg IMG_1531.jpg IMG_1544.jpg

Ceramics at Padre Coffee

There is this concept in Japanese cooking that a piece of food on a plain plate is naked – an insult to the food. This is why sushi is always served on beautiful ceramics. It’s an oft forgotten idea – that the plate is as much a part of the meal as the food. We eat with our eyes so why not focus more on the crockery.

Padre Coffee in the South Melbourne Market (and I assume the East Brunswick store) haven’t forgotten. They are serving their coffees on the most beautiful hand-made ceramics. They are made by Karen Ho; a regular at the East Brunswick store; at the Carlton Arts Center. For such a simple thing, they add an amazing warmth to the coffee – something that no machine or bean can reproduce.Ceramic Coffee CupCeramic Coffee SaucerCeramic Coffee Mug

Luciano’s, Queenstown

Luciano’s can be described quite simply, great meat cooked brilliantly. If you take away the mobster theme; the walls covered in quotes from gangster films, the Tommy gun mounted on the wall near the entrance, and the blues brother’s car that drives around town; then the food can stand on it’s own. I believe Luciano’s is the best restaurant in Queenstown – the food isn’t quite as refined as a couple of other places, however the price is great and the vibe is familiar.

The origins of the food As the menu suggests (see picture) the produce is all sourced as locally as possible and is as fresh as possible. The menu is italian, pizza, pasta, and meat. I haven’t even considered the pizza or pasta – the “3 hour slow roasted 90 day aged Hereford rib-eye baked gratin, seasonal veg, whole garlic & pinot jus” or “Wild fiordland venison, bacon arancini, Sicilian caponata & cherry balsamic” are far too tempting. To make matters even better, the prices are great – any one of these mains for $30  would be a steal but the entire menu is downright outrageous. Couple this with the fact that the portions are quite large and not only do you have brilliant food, it is at great value.

The food isn’t thae only thing going for it, the service is great; friendly, prompt and courteous and the wine list is well considered, a good range of prices and varieties but nothing over the top or pretentious.

What more can I say? Luciano’s probably isn’t going to feature on the list of New Zealand’s best restaurants but it damn well should. It encapsulates everything that the south holds dear – great food, good produce and a warm friendly atmosphere.

Duck & goose liver pate

The duck and goose liver pate. I’m not normally a fan of pate however this was sweet and rich but not the flavour wasn’t too overpowering.

Slow cooked wild rabbit & hare, grilled brioche, quince c

Slow cooked rabbit and hare ragu with brioche and chutney. I’m a sucker for ragu and this didn’t fail to impress. The gamey meats are perfectly suited for slow cooking – it falls apart perfectly but still maintains a great texture in your mouth. Served with brioche and chutney what more can I say?

Duck

Half a duck w baked kumara & leek, green beans, toasted almonds & caramelised orange sauce. I only tasted a little bit of the duck and the meat was beautiful but the skin was a touch too fatty. As far as I’m concerned this was the only blemish and perhaps hard to avoid.

Venison

The main attraction. Wild fiordland venison, bacon arancini, Sicilian caponata & cherry balsamic. If I didn’t like all the other food so much, I’d say this was my favourite dish. There’s something about venison that makes me wish for a baby’s bib so I don’t have to hold the drool in my mouth. This was no exception. The sweetness of the balsamic reduction cut through the weight of this dish brilliantly.

Rhubarb & hazelnut crumble, berry sorbet

Rhubarb crumble with berry sorbet. Warm, comforting rhubarb. Sweet, acidic sorbet. Almond meal crumble. A well-balanced almost savoury dessert.

Adventures in Queenstown

Northburn Station - Central OtagoOver the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time in Queenstown. I lived there for about 18 months and have been for a couple of holidays before and since. Needless to say, I love the place; it has a unique combination of good food, great bars, plenty of things to do and see and a truly amazing surrounds and that is without mentioning the wine. Having just spent the better part of 8 weeks in Queenstown juggling eating, drinking, snowboarding and working I’m happy to be home yet sad to leave – it has been a great 2 months.

I don’t think I could say that over the 2 months we’ve eaten at every good restaurant in the resort – but we’ve damn well tried and I think the only restaurant on our list that we didn’t get to was closed for a private booking on our final night in town. There has been lots of meals, plenty of wine, a few photos and about 67 hamburgers to write about so it might span a few posts.

A few of the highlights from this trip have been:

  1. Northburn Station: Spending the afternoon talking to Tom and Jan about the young winery and function centre that is Northburn Station.
  2. Botswana Butchery: I’m a sucker for massive pieces of roasted meat so the slow-cooked lamb shoulder took me hook line and sinker.
  3. Eichardt’s Private Hotel – Far and away my favourite place in Queenstown, the cocktails are always great and the whole place makes you feel like a king.
  4. Motogrill – Being treated like a regular after not having been there for 18 months.

Fergburger has a new menu

I’m not entirely sure if I made it entirely clear the other day, but I’m in Queenstown for 7 weeks and you can bet your bottom dollar I’m going to be eating a fair few hamburgers. There’s a longer, more gushing blogpost about everything Fergburger coming soon, but in the meantime there is a few new items on the menu.

I’m not sure the last time they changed the menu here, but I don’t think it has changed in the last 3 years. So for what could be the most famous hamburger joint in the southern hemisphere, if not the world, this is big news.

There are 3 additions to the menu.

The Bulls Eye – $18.50

Prime New Zealand Ribeye steak (200g), Grilled medium, topped with rings of white onion, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, aioli and tomato relish.

Chief Wiggum – $14.50

Slow roasted pork belly, lettuce, tomato, red onions, hash brown with aioli, and a delicious spread of apricot seeded mustard.

Double Ferg with Cheese

Same as the old, twice the meat. With Edam ($10.50), Swiss or Blue ($11.50).

The New Fergburger Menu

On Being a Regular

Motogrill There is nothing better than being a regular at your favourite bar or coffee shop. It’s like the Cheers song, you keep going back because everyone knows your name and they are glad you came. It’s as though even the coffee tastes better when it’s served by a barista that knows your order or a barman that knows you like heaps of ice in your drink.

It’s probably been about 18 months since last I had a coffee at Motogrill. I wouldn’t have ever considered myself a regular there but after a few minutes of sitting at the counter one of the owners turns around and asks, “You guys haven’t been in here for a while, have you?” She even remembered the running joke I had with one of the baristas about how they needed to serve beer. Turns out, now they do.

Not much else has changed, the menu is still about 8 different dishes, written on a blackboard above the stove. The cafe itself is bigger, but the furniture is still the same and I think I spotted a NZ Snowboarder magazine that I read 2 years ago sitting on the same table.

It is so easy to get caught up in the launch of a new cafe, the latest coffee brewing method or a new menu at a cool cafe. But it is little things like the barista knowing your order and the waitress knowing your name that actually mean something.