In the pursuit of becoming an all knowledgeable foodie (one can dream) I have found one cuisine falls by the way-side – Italian. I think it relates to a loopy mentality that goes something along the lines of, “I can make a spag-bol at home”, so why would you go out for it? You are now probably thinking that I am naive and slightly stupid. You’re probably right too.
We decided to steer clear of the burger bonanza, take a trip away from Thai and choose something other than Chinese. I had Franco Choo’s in Prahran on my list ever since it opened in 2011.
The menu consisted of three entrees, two main courses and two desserts. For a night out as a couple, this was a blogger’s paradise. It was suggested by the waiter that a 3 course menu was available for $43.00 per person. We did some calculations, assessed our hunger levels and naturally, obliged gracefully.
The vitello tonnato was a beautiful appetiser consisting of thinly sliced poached veal with tuna mayonnaise ($13.00). The veal was served cold and the pieces were much thicker than a carpaccio which is good for the big chommer. The thick dressing of mayo was full on but totally delicious.
If only this pasta came in a main course size – if not that – if only I could have a life time supply in my fridge. Either one, I will be happy with. The pasta was perfectly boiled – perfect al dente (none of that shmooshy/watery stuff). The pork mince gave it a meaty goodness that my heart desires, and the shavings of cheese was a great topping (especially when tossed through). Note: Photo does not do justice (PDNDJ).
Saffron braised free-range milawa chicken leg, artichokes and polenta gnocchi ($26.00). If the chicken falls off the bone without the use of a knife then generally speaking you have a winner. Each soft piece was dripping with chicken goodness as the remainder braised itself in the sauce on the plate. The polenta crisps were delicious without being over-fried and worked well to soak up the sauce.
Why not throw in an overused cliche – This dish looked too good to eat! Pan roasted barramundi, squid ink risotto and new season’s pea ($28.00). A generous portion of fish that possessed a crunchy and nutritious skin. Call me crazy but the highlight was actually the risotto. I don’t know if you buy the squid ink from a calamari store or Officeworks but it makes for amazing flavours!
Almond meringue rotolo (roll), strawberry and blood orange sauce ($11.00). Strawberries (check), cream (check) = happiness.
While dessert has become a staple conclusion on my eating adventures, it usually only consists of one only – we did manage with two this time. Warm semolina pudding, burnt orange caramel, pear and mascarpone ($12.00). Another very visually pleasing dish for the evening. A really interesting option that worked very well. The crushed pistachios are a great finishing touch.
I am sure these are not the typical dish you imagine when you hear of an Italian restaurant, but sometimes it is better that way. The combination of flavours, the beautiful arrangements and the high quality produce used in each dish, places this gem aside from the standard pizza/pasta charade. The menu changes every 2-3 weeks, so odds are we will have a different experience next time. Now it is time to tie up your shoes, because you can’t refuse a lovely night out at Franco Choo’s.
The Important Details…
Noise: Gentle background music
Suitable for: Adults – no children
Dress: Slightly above average
Price: $43 for 3 courses – no alcohol
My View: Small but great!
Address: 179a High Street, Prahran
Phone: (03) 9529 7310
It was difficult to contain my excitement for the much anticipated, and hyped up release of two epic sequels both hitting Melbourne in the same week. The third and final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s epic Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, and the opening of the latest project by the highly talented team who brought us Three Bags Full – Two Birds One Stone. I followed both of these projects closely as they moved through each stage of development, though in my mind only one met my high expectations.
The space is bright and comfortable and the heater is on high and works very well. The design is simple, clean and very effective. We perched our group inside one of the booths running along the side of the premises. These were sitting around round tables which encourage conversation and are still appropriate for private discussions. If you can brave the cold, seating is available on Claremont Street where you can get front row seats to the construction of upcoming residential spaces.
Coffees are a no-brainer here, with Five Senses in charge of the bean supply and highly skilled baristas manning the machine. You can take comfort you are in good hands. Flat white and regular coffee varieties are $3.80. The lactose intolerant option – add 20 cents.
The blonde omelette with hot smoked salmon, fennel, chili and coriander ($16.50). Everyone loves omelettes, even if this one wasn’t the smartest egg in the bunch. A fluffy choice, served with a spicy side salad and only one piece of toast. Damn! Different use of salmon being cooked in the egg rather than a side dropped on after cooking.
Good to know that the staple breakfast favourites are done well. Above is scrambled eggs ($9.50) with avocado ($4.00) and bacon ($4.00). The eggs are soft and buttery – just how I like em’. Meanwhile, half an avocado is generous and the rashers of pig are crispy and very chommable.
A monster breakfast for someone with a huge appetite. The two birds breakfast: eggs, bacon, pork chili and fennnel sausage, mushroom, spinach and tomato relish ($18.50). Somehow, I feel that two birds would struggle with this plate, but anyway. Eggs with a great range of companions to make for the signature option. The sausages are certainly the featured side, sitting so eloquentlly on the top. At $18.50, that is a very reasonable South Yarra price tag for a serving of this size.
When you’re offering the same dish that has become a staple on just about every Melbourne cafe menu, it better tick all of my boxes. Avocado and feta mash ($15.50) with a side of bacon ($4.00). I’m easily pleased – loads of avo, two pieces of toast will keep a smile on my face. The garnishes of tomato and capers provided that extra bit of jazz and flavour. And who can resist a side of crispy bacon? Is there anything it doesn’t go well with?
The fourth and final egg inspired choice for today’s post. Eggs benedict with house smoked ham hock and bearnaise sauce ($16.50). This was a very satisfying meal and one that I do not eat enough of. The eggs – poached, the sauce thick and rich making for a delicious experience. Extra marks for the chunks of hock being used instead of the cheaper, lamer shaved leg ham that usually accompanies this dish.
If fritters aren’t one of the most scrumptious breakfast options nowadays call me Miles Davis. The charred corn and zucchini fritter with guacamole, halumi and house smoked salmon ($16.00) were awesome. The pig in me wanted to see a third fritter lying with his two mates on their bed of avocado. Nevertheless, this was a solid portion size. The fritters were lightly fried complemented by the award winning match of fish and avo made for an eating delight.
Two Birds One Stone appears to be shaping up to be yet another success story by a team of experts that certainly have their magic formula down pat. A journey from APTE in Heidelberg, to Liar Liar in Hawthorn, Three Bags Full in Abbotsford, and now Birds in South Yarra. A rumoured two more projects are on the cards – it would appear the sky is the limit. For all the dedicated Bags lovers, I would describe the new Birds as a smaller, more relaxed space, maintaining a strong focus on good coffee and food. The ‘off the main drag’ location makes for a small getaway from the bustle on Toorak Road and one where you can sip your latte in some sort of peace. Time to flap those wings and fly to South Yarra to nest yourself at Two Birds One Stone.
The Important Details…
Noise: Nice and relaxed
Suitable for: Humans
Dress: As you wish
Price: $15 – $25 per head
My View: One of the nicest thing to happen to South Yarra in a long time
Address: 12 Claremont Street, South Yarra
Phone: (03) 9827 1228
Finding a good lunch destination around the Chapel Street precinct can be a daunting experience. One must have their wits about them when making the crucial decision of which cafe to place your bottom in. There are a plethora of overpriced, commercial and frankly down right unappealing spots to grab some lunch on/around possibly Melbourne’s most iconic Street. Thankfully, for your sake, you are reading The Chommery, which will bestow upon you the power of knowledge. With this knowledge you can eat happy & eat happy you will.
The crazy crew behind The Chommery would recommend Tyranny of Distance, located on Union Street, Windsor as a super spot for a feed. Just look how happy the bloke in two different shoes is standing out front! Carefully placed, just away from the frantic Chapel street, Tyranny is conveniently open from breakfast to dinner every day of the week. We headed on down here on a lazy Sunday morning after we avoided some of the berserk crowds we noticed at all the well-known ‘hot-spots’ in South Yarra and Prahran. If you are looking to relax and skip the up-to hour long queues then Tyranny is a solid choice.
Let me be the first one to tell you that it’s preferable to sit in the room pictured above. When the room that is photographed is full, often the staff will direct you towards an atmosphereless, dark and dingy over-flow room. I will not eat/drink at Tyranny unless I’m placed in the room above. The main dining room is open plan and spacious. You can smoke in there with good ventilation, and last but not least, those funky gas cylinders placed all around the shop are very funky.
Some teas and coffees to start? Why not. Soy Latte (left @$3.50) and Chai Latte ($4.00). Personally, I am not a fan of the soy milk used at Tyranny. Sorry to sound like a massive fuss pot, but the Nature’s Own Soy brand tastes terrible. I drank it, but didn’t love it. The chai Latte arrived nicely presented on an Olde English tray using loose leaf chai and a side of honey.
I usually prefer the table orders an array of different and exciting dishes when The Chommery is considering writing up an eatery. On this day, we could not help but order a very egg-fuelled assortment of breakfasts. You can not blame us though, ey! Scrambled eggs with mushroom, cured salmon and flatbread ($14.50). Totally adore the homemade flatbread here. I think everyone does. The salmon was fresh, the shrooms were buttery and flavoursome and the scrambled eggs were fluffy with little hints of parsley.
Poached eggs with avocado, cured salmon and flatbread ($15.50). Very generous serving of avocado – nearly a full one. Can you ever be served too much? Eggs poached perfectly. Once again – no complaints from here. The flat bread can be used as a sponge – like friend to mop the egg yolk up!
Scrambled eggs with grilled tomato, spinach, mushrooms, and housemade flatbread ($17.50).
Spanish style baked eggs with chorizo, roasted capsicum, smoked paprika, tomato compote and sweet onion ($13.50). I would describe this as a great replica of an Israeli style dish called Shakshuka – which I really love. On the topic of love, I loved this dish t0o. I rated the big chunks of juicy chorizo and sweet potato pieces floating in the stew as well as the eggs cooked in a different way. Besides the fact I burnt my entire mouth when I started eating, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal.
I have eaten at Tyranny many times. An affordable and easily likeable dinner menu is on each night as well. The lunch offerings are pleasant too, with many flat bread varieties (can’t get enough of that flatbread). It’s not the warmest inside the Tyranny, so I would suggest rugging up and heading down for B/L or D (breakfast, lunch or dinner). Even the late night beer or wine may take your fancy as well.
No need to keep your distance from Tyranny of Distance.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Regular cafe fare
Noise: Gentle buzz
Bookings: Possible but hard to organise
Suitable for: Most types
Dress: Funky as you feel
Price: $20 per head
My View: Groovy cafe – Great flat bread!
Address: 147 Union Street, Windsor
Phone: (03) 9525 1005