When I speak with fellow food lovers about French cuisine in the south-eastern suburbs, only two names rise to the surface – Bistro Thierry or France Soir (11 Toorak Road, South Yarra), ‘or’ being the operative word. Everybody thinks that one is better or worse than the other. I must ask why? Why is it that human nature specifies a stronger and a weaker and then evaluate so intensely? I look at these two beauties and say with confidence that both are different and special in their individual ways. On the topic of french food, I hear that Chez Bob – tucked away in Beatty avenue, Toorak and Chez Olivier in Greville Street Praharn are also serving up some fine produce too.
Bistro Thierry is positioned on Malvern Road, Toorak. You might know the area as Hawksburn village. This section of Malvern Road is a very popular destination for pricey ladieswear, homeware stores as well as multiple cafes and high-end gourmet produce stores. Thierry fits right into this precinct and is a local favourite. A classic french facade with a dark, striking awning and some tables outside - I would recommend to eat indoors any day of the week. How great to see the French and Australian flags flying high and mighty side by side from the roof of the popular destination.
The dining room is typically French, with waiters in shirts and vests and opulent table settings covered by white table cloths. An older crowd is usually drawn here although I am a typical Gen Y and this is one of my (many) favourite places. My feelings are so strong for Bistro that we went here for my birthday. If the MD Chommery went here for his birthday, then that is a big statement.
Salade Belge – Salad of Belgian endive, pears, walnuts and a mustard honey dressing ($17.50). A basic, yet delicious salad. Good to place in the middle and accompany a main dish. Pears are way too underused!
Coquilles – Pan seared scallops with blue swimmer crab bisque and pea puree ($39.00 – main). I ordered this dish last time I was here as an entree size, but four scallops did not suffice. The main size was just perfect. The scallops were very lightly cooked and pretty much melted in my mouth. The puree did not overpower the delicate flavour of the scallop and created a nice accompaniment. A pricey but delightful mouthful.
Yellow fin tuna tartare with mustard oil avacado mousse and horseradish foam ($25.50). Delightful.
Harictos verts Sautes – Sauteed beans with garlic and toasted almonds ($9.00). Heavily buttered and obviously very tasty. It almost defeats the purpose of aiming to put some healthy greens on the plate. What can you do?
Jarret de veau glace en cocotte – Braised veal shank with parsnips, baby carrots and a sweet garlic mash ($35.50). If I didn’t order the eye fillet, this would be my back up option. The veal was braised particularly well. You could tell this by how soft the meat was and how easily it fell apart. The addition of the steamed carrots and creamy mash only increased my fondness towards this choice. Top notch.
Bavette Grillee – Minute fillet steak with fries, salad and bearnaise sauce ($35.50). This would not be my dish of choice, I am more of the eye fillet man myself. Each to their own. This meal was still lapped up like all the food we had at Bistro. The bearnaise sauce is to die for. I fully support ordering it. Rich, creamy, mayonnaise mustard spread to put all over your meat. Heaven. Not to forget thin (almost Maccas style) chips. USE the sauce for the chips to. You will not regret it.
Boeuf a la Bourguignonne en croute – Beef braised in red wine, onions and mushrooms with a puff pastry shell, served with mash potato ($33.50). A typically french dish, the beef bourguignonne is a hearty, winter warmer with heavy red wine and onion flavours. The accompanying mash was silky and smooth. The ham chunks included in the dish were not particularly enjoyed but the beef was very tender.
Snapper on mash ($39.50). Not any marvellous comments to write, but a nice piece of fish. This is the healthy chommers option at Bistro. I am sure you can easily tell that the food offered here is on the heavier and richer side – as you would expect french food to be.
How can anyone go past an eye fillet steak? Above is the Le Steak-Frites 250gm – Eye fillet steak served with fries (alternative sauces are available – red wine or mushroom) ($39.50). A piece of beef cooked exactly to my liking (medium rare – naturally). A piece of meat that is to be eaten calmly and steadily in order to enjoy every bite (and not get indigestion). For this heavy piece of meat, 250 gram portion was the optimal size. Even enough to share a little with fellow diners. This is one truly epic dish that I would recommend you order when visiting this Bistro.
Magret de canard, sauce orange et coing – Oven roasted duck Magret, pumpkin puree and Szechuan pepper with sweet sherry, orange and quince sauce ($39.50). The duck was boneless and super tender. The outer layer was a thin, slightly crusted duck skin which made for a little crunch. The sauce was not heavy like the bearnaise, rather lightly sweet and not too overpowering. My third top dish from the nights escapades.
Bistro Thierry is an ideal spot to go to for a birthday, date, anniversary or any other celebratory rendevouz. I was very happy with my decision to dine here on my birthday and would recommend a visit. For convenience, bookings are gladly accepted and it is very suitable for oldies. Take note, there are no bargains to be found here by a long shot. We did drink some bottles of pinot, but we did not indulge in desserts and to a lesser extent entrees. Nevertheless, you only live once and the occasional special chom is always in order!
The Important Details…
Noise: Quite a bit
Suitable for: All – Older will appreciate more
Dress: More formal than usual
Price: $65 – $70 per head including alcohol
My View: A top place for a celebration
Address: 511 Malvern Road, Toorak
Phone: (03) 9824 0888
Sitting dark and handsomely on Malvern Road, Prahran, Hobba Coffee + Kitchen has made it’s mark in the neighborhood since they opened in mid 2011. The property in use is a converted garage that is strategically placed between Chapel Street and Williams Road, closer to Hawksburn Village. You wouldn’t label Hobba as being fashionably hard to find, at the same time it is not smack bang in the middle of a busy strip. The Chommery would direct one here by saying it’s almost adjacent to the Prahran Cop shop.
You can have cafe confidence when visiting Hobba, with the knowledge that the Hobba guys are the same people from Willim Esspresso in Malvern. I think Willim deserves a shout out and a big thanks for being the first (or maybe the only) cafe that provides good coffee to Glenferrie Road, Malvern. Hobba is definitely the big brother in this equation, with a far larger seating capacity and a full commercial kitchen offering a vast range of interesting dishes, some of which will be shown below. Above we have a snap of the front of the cafe, and these two very happy customers wanted to express their delight at their recent breakfast at Hobba.
An abundance of light and fresh air flows through the premises while there is technically no outdoor seating. All the front private and communal tables often creep a little over the boundary line to grab some sun when it is beaming. Take away coffee goers can sit up at the bar and watch the Hobba professionals behind the Synesso slam out kgs after kgs of caffeine. A range of different shared tables are placed closer to the streetside with a strip of wooden booths running down the center catering for tables of up to 4 people. There is a large communal table situated at the rear for casual dining.
These guys are serious about their coffee, offering their own ‘Maverick’ house blend, which is sourced from expert roasters, 5 Senses. Consistency is the key for Hobba’s coffee trade, always smooth and creamy and at the perfect temperature. Flat white ($3.80 – left) and Soy Late ($4.20 – right).
Chermoula braised charred omelette, kefalograveria, smoked tomato, dukkah and a slice of sourdough ($14.70). Although this sounds very fancy and technical, don’t be scared. This is a close relative of baked eggs, topped with herbs and an unbelievably good house-made sweet relish. I was offered a slice of toast on the side and accepted graciously.
The Smashed avocado, persian fetta, slow poached egg and grain sourdough ($11.80) is a great choice . Here lies a major talking point - Hobba’s poached eggs. They have implemented the ‘slow poaching’ of their eggs instead of the standard method. To my knowledge this is a technique that involves cooking the eggs in the the optimal egg boiling temperature of 62.5 Celsius and when they are ready you crack the egg shell open and ‘voila’. I have had these at Cumulus Inc before and seen the recipe in David Chang’s Momofuku cook book. Some people love them, others don’t, best is to come and try yourself. By the way, I love them.
62.5C slow poached egg, zucchini, poached salmon, goats curd, pickled celery and apple ($18.00). While this may seem an expensive choice for breakfast, it is fair to say that you need to pay a premium for a quality piece of salmon added to the plate. We found this to be a light option, which was suprisingly filling and we loved the addition of the apple and a whole square of salmon to the breakfast plate. Awesome to try something different.
The Hobba breakfast – tomato, bacon, mushroom, cumberland sausage, relish and grain sourdough ($16.50). Many cafes attempt to make a dish in their own name, it doesn’t work every time, but Hobba’s is excellent. I feel that the sausage isn’t around as much anymore unfortunately, but you just gotta love that fat succulent piece of meat with your breakfast. Additionally, not one but two of their signature eggs complement your meal – Magical.
I regularly head down here for lunches as well. They offer a great range of take-away sandwiches and an intense braised lamb shoulder salad with carrots – anyone that speaks about the chom with me knows I can’t stop raving about it. Rumor has it that the crew behind Hobba are currently applying for a liquor license and hoping to expand into dinners and some late night boozing. Great to have something more to look forward to from these guys in the not too distant future. For now, head down for a top breakfast and lunch or the ever longing coffee fix.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Slightly fancy cafe fare
Noise: Not quiet
Suitable for: All people, kid friendly
Price: $15 – $20 per person
My View: A cafe that Malvern Road has been begging for, for years
Address: 428 Malvern Road, Prahran
Phone: (03) 9510 8336
You want excellent quality Japanese food, very reasonable prices and a top-notch location and I’ll tell you Hibari Japanese restaurant is where to go. Running with the same successful formula for many years (maybe 10 or more) in the same location on Malvern Road in South Yarra, Hibari serves up dish after dish of all the usual suspects that you desire.
Very unassumingly positioned with no outside seating, which is no problem for The Chommery and won’t be one for you either. You haven’t come here to spend many $$$, ogle multi-million dollar fit outs or be served by a person wearing oversized Ray Bans (without lenses) with a snake tattoo crawling on to his neck from underneath his top-button done-up collar. You have come for GOOD – WHOLESOME- INEXPENSIVE food. Do those places still exist in Melbourne? Yes!
Basic, self explanatory interior which forms a very cosy seating arrangement that only holds 30 people at any given time. It’s standard to see a continual influx of ‘in the know’ locals picking up take-away all through the night.
Edamame Beans ($5.00) – boiled green soybeans. Served salted and warm. In case you don’t know the correct way of eating these. You suck dem beans out and throw away the wrapping.
One bottle of sake (or more) always goes down as a great companion to any Japanese meal. The regular house blend, slightly heated is my standard choice.
The Moriwase is the combination plate of sushi and sashimi ($24.00). Fresh fish, perfectly made and a simple yet effective presentation. Top suggestion to share between 2 or 3 people. The real chommers should ensure to smoosh up that wasabi+ginger+soy to make a great sauce to coat your pieces in.
The large Califonia roll with prawn, vegetables and mayonnaise ($10.00) Your standard roll – no complaints.
Spicy inside out tuna roll ($10.00) Very aesthetically pleasing presentation. The addition of the fish roe and the sesame seeds on the outside provide for something slightly different.
Yakiniku – sliced beef in Japanese BBQ sauce ($14.00) For the price I shouldn’t complain. As for the readers, they want the truth or they won’t trust The Chommery anymore. The beef is very edible, but not of an amazing standard. Therefore, it is an order if you want – but I’m not saying it’s a must.
Good Japanese main courses are hard to come by. Although, The Tori teriyaki – chicken in teriyaki sauce ($14.00) is an exception. The chicken is tender and perfectly coated with the sweet teriyaki. A side of rice goes well with this to lap up the sauce. Further, at the price you are paying the serve is far from stingy. Definitely order to share with 2 + diners.
Minutes from Chapel Street and just down the road from Hawksburn Village (Malvern) placing Hibari in a prime location. Note: It’s often difficult to notice; it’s almost opposite the McDonalds.This is my favorite spot for local Japanese dinner. You can get a table rockin’ up, but to ensure you get one, it’s best to book ahead.
Chommery Approved Suggested times to visit Hibari:
- Casual relaxed weeknight (except Monday)
- Wholesome food with NO pretentiousness
- Post/pre movie at Jam Factory (Yes, it’s worth driving away from Chapel Street)
- Lining the stomach before a night out on the booze and/or start with BYO @ $4.00 per bottle
The Important Details…
Noise: When full quite loud
Bookings: Yes, via phone
Suitable for: All
Price: $20 – $25 per head
My View: An oldie but a goodie
Address: 479 Malvern Road, Prahran
Phone: (03) 9827 0155