Maybe it was a sign from the food gods telling me that when you are watching an AFL match at the MCG you are meant to eat the food that is offered at the stadium. Hotdogs, jam doughnuts, meat pies and hot chips, coke and beer are all absolute winners every day of the week. You certainly cannot go wrong with a combination of those timeless junk-esque snacks. We tried to beat the system on this occasion – to find a suitable pre-match restaurant that was quick, affordable and delicious. Maedaya was quick, affordable and semi-delicious.
I had been to Maedaya on several occasions before, and thought that it would tick all the requirements for this evening. We had no choice but to arrive early, considering we wanted to watch the first bounce, and there is a strict no booking policy for under 6 patrons. The staff are very friendly as they greet you in Japanese (I think) as you enter the room. Further, our waiter was very kind as he helped us select our dinner and drinks – nice to find some helpful staff.
The team behind Maedaya have done a great job fitting out the downstairs room. As you walk in the front door, it is impossible not to notice the ropes hanging from the ceiling that creep down the walls. An interesting touch. I like the space a lot. Meanwhile the bar is on the right hand side displaying an impressive range of Sakes and Japanese beer on tap. I did not get a photo but you will surely see the small grilling station upon entering, where a dedicated griller stands and cooks a variety of skewers (a specialty here). An upstairs room is available too where they host self-barbequing stations – personally I find the downstairs much more cosy and cute.
The menu is enormous in both physical size and variety of izakaya inspired dishes on offer. The skewers are certainly a feature of the menu taking up an entire page of different options including, mushroom, eel, scallops, chicken … you get the picture. We started with the scallop (pictured above). I was hungry and ate them very quickly. The scallops were not a brilliant quality. But they were only $5.00 for the two. It is hard to complain when normally they are a very expensive treat.
Beef, teriyaki chicken and chicken mince skewer ($6.00ish for all). These were very chommable and arrived very quickly.
I cannot criticise the presentation of the Maedaya skewer set. Five of these babies are lined up next to each other, each ready and waiting to disappear. Each skewer was meant to have a different dressing, although I found the mayonnaise ones to be very similar, besides the colour. The three on the right were all alike too. They were very inexpensive and tasted like mushy chicken mince. Not superb, but an ok snack.
The salmon sushi was presented very nicely with carrot slivers and toasted sesame seeds to decorate – stock standard hand rolls. This dish was probably the best of those ordered and was appropriate to share with 2 people.
Main serve of chicken teriyaki. Tender pieces of chicken coated in a thick sweet marinade. You can’t go wrong with it. A good option to plonk in the middle between 2 or 3 people. Three forks please?
Above is the salmon and tuna salad. I felt like the pieces of salmon and tuna were slightly sub-par standard overall – seems like the average fish theme runs through all the dishes here. Nevertheless, this was a healthy and surprisingly filling salad. The golf ball inspired mayonnaise constructed pile of crab meat was a very nice touch. I chommed him up real quick.
We were in and out of Maedaya within 40 minutes, not bursting out of our pants and our wallets had not suffered either.
Overall, Maedaya is not creme da le creme Japanese. That long lasting feeling when you think about the restaurant for days post-visit did not occur after this experience. Will I go back in the future? I would go under similar circumstances. Certainly the level of haste to re-visist has decreased a notch or so since this experience. In such a competitive industry in Melbourne, you just have to be perfect (or at least close to it) with simple dishes like these. Or maybe my mind was a mess the whole time and I just wanted my Four’N Twenty Pie…
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Japanese Izakaya
Noise: Bearable chit chat
Bookings: Groups of 6 or more
Suitable for: All
Price: Approx $25 a head
My View: Fast, friendly and cheap
Address: 400 Bridge Road, Richmond
Phone: (03) 9428 3918
There is no question that we have been rocked by a tidal wave of Mexican eateries over the last year or so. It was only a couple of years ago when eating Mexican food in Melbourne was a very overpriced and dissatisfying experience. If I am the first to tell you, it is in a process of a radical change. The CBD is undoubtedly the headquarters with ever supreme Mamasita, newbies Seniorita’s & Touche Hombre on the scene, Movida’s Paco’s Taco’s and word is out that Curtin House will build a latino quarter too. Not to forget the suburbs, where Newmarket Hotel dominates St Kilda, Taco truck running a muck around Brunswick and of course Fonda Mexican is doing a world of good in Richmond.
Sitting Black and pretty on Swan Street, Fonda has been divided into thirds. The outside seating along Swan Street and some tables up the graffiti-ed wall, the inside/kitchen (motor engine) and a cosy courtyard at the rear. Note: this courtyard gets HOT when the weather heats up. Rumour has it, these guys are ready to expand to the property to the right. Here’s hoping once they do, there will be some more exciting menu additions and more space for The Chommery for future visits.
Eating in the inside section proved to be an eventful choice. Midweek at around 9:00pm, I expected the dinner rush to have died down. Boy, was I wrong! Not only, were pretty much all the tables in each third taken, but the take-away queue was snaking out the doorway. STOP, in case you are thinking… busy – avoid, busy – avoid. These guys know what they are doing. The food arrives in a very timely manner. The most unbelievable part is how the Fonda staff find synergy in that tiny kitchen. I don’t know how they do it, but they do – Everyone is loving it.
A 6″ braised pork, pineapple, onion, lime and coriander taco ($5.00) was a great appetiser to warm up the engine that is my stomach. Very fresh ingredients, delicate pork and the sweetness from the pineapple made for amazing mouthfuls of goodness. It would seem that tacos are the dish of the moment. I am certainly not complaining. Give me about 7 – 10 (preferably assorted, but not essential) and I’ll be a very happy camper
The mesmerising turns of the mixers on the old-school slushee machines made ordering the Horchata’s a must. Once you approach the counter and are faced with these unusual drinks, you know what you have to do. They are made of rice, cinnamon, water, evaporated milk and vanilla ($4.50). I would consider these a light and not overly sweetened accompaniment which are cleverly presented in jars with thick retro straws. A good recommendation, especially if you get stung by a strong jalapeno. All the regular Jarrito options are available too.
Chorizo 12″ quaesadilla – chorizo, queso fresco (cheese), jalapeno and salsa roja ($12.00). This cheesy choice is served as four separate pieces and is ideal for sharing. I didn’t notice the jalapeno flavours, so this dish is fine for the chilli averse.
Tortilla chips with guacamole and spicy salsa ($6.00). Very self explanatory starter with no gastronomic properties. Nevertheless, the avocado left overs were used optimally on the burritos to come.
The Charred corn with chipotle aioli, riccotta salata and lime ($3.50 each). You can find these treasures more easily in Melbourne nowadays but you still can’t go past them. Juicy corn, limey zing and amazingly soft parmesan is felt with each bite as you make a mess while chomping on these. The corn prices at Fonda are more reasonable than what you would expect at some of your flashier alternatives. So, you should order one or two.
You have to order a burrito when you come down to visit Fonda. It’s the backbone of your meal and will provide the major sustenance of your experience. The 12″ ‘Chopped Beef’ burrito – beef/pork burger, black beans, salsa roja and chipotle ailoli ($13.50). A delicious choice, surprisingly filling and a salsa sauce is provided on the side if you feel it needs more jazz. An amazing contraption is being used in the kitchen to flatten and cook the Abbotsford Convent Bakery dough into the these scrumptious burrito wraps.
The ‘Grilled Chicken’ - quinoa, salsa verde, corn, queso fresco and cabbage burrito ($13.50) is a great choice too. The use the power grain quinoa is very interesting in this wrap as it provides an alternate substitute for rice or lettuce. These delicate burritos are overflowing with their respective ingredients and each bite into these lush wraps is better than the one before. The Fonda burritos are pre cut and are great for sharing with 2 or 4 people.
Fonda Mexican really is a brilliant place. It isn’t trying to be a fancy restaurant, and at the same time it is managing to steer clear of being just another fast food joint. Positioned on Swan Street Richmond, far enough away from the crazy intersection at Church Street ensures that you will have some peace during your visit. Open seven days a week, Monday to Friday from 12:00 and Saturday and Sunday from 3:00pm. Come down in the evening and you will notice the Fonda troops creating burritos and taco late into the night.
You can rest assured that The Chommery would not lead you astray. Get yourself down to Fonda!
The Important Details…
Suitable For: All
Price: $15 – $25 per head
My View: Funky spot with great Mexican fare
Address: 248 Swan Street, Richmond
Phone: (03) 9429 0085
Attempting to source a cafe in Melbourne with a difference can prove to be a challenging task for any foodie. Again and again you dine in very similar environments, sipping similar blends and finding almost identical items on the menu. Truthfully, the winning formula works, and it hasn’t been a problem thus far. However, Demitri’s Feast is a top discovery if you are looking for an edge, a bit of zing or something that provides a different take on the standard brekky or lunch.
Positioned on Swan Street, very close to the intersection of Church Street, makes for an extremely busy location. Queues, up the wazzoo can be expected for Monday to Friday lunch times. I visited Saturday afternoon and managed to get a table reasonably easily. In width, this place is very small comprising a very tightly packed front room with a long work bench, which flows through to a humble and intimate courtyard.
The converted Greek oil container stools are very funky. The display case beautifully displays the assortment of take-away options to support the hustle of the residential and business types that come here to feast on the run. Assortment of toasted pita bread wraps, salads and smaller Greek delights can all be packaged up to chom while your on your merry way.
Mezedes plate of selected small tasty treats ($18.00) includes chorizo sausages slices, dolmades, spicy roasted capsicum and green beans (maybe chillis – they were extremely hot!), sauteed mushrooms, olives, quiche and a trio of dips. This is a fantastic sharing plate for approximately 3 people (a larger plate is offered at $29.00). A perfect appetizer !
Fluffy, soft, lightly toasted pita bread which comes with the plate of goodies – worth the carbs!
The free range egg, bacon and ouzo aioli pita bread sandwich ($9.50). This dish was consumed at 2:30 in the afternoon after it was most likely prepared closer to the 9am mark. Considering this, I probably should have chosen something freshly made as there was a slight dryness. Suggestion: order this one closer to the morning rather than the arvo.
Demitri offers breakfast served till 3pm each day (Tues-Sun), which is just super, but at the same time makes deciding what to have a tougher choice. Above is The Gigantes, which consists of baked beans, a free range egg, lokaniko sausage and feta ($15.90). The toast is sourced from St Kilda’s baking experts, Baker D. Chirico.
Another delight from the breakfast menu is the Rizogalo ($9.80) – an excellent choice. This is a warmed Greek rice pudding topped with poached fruit compote. I like to think of this as an excellent replacement for the standard porridge. In some form this has been sweetened, but not too much. Just enough to tickle the taste buds’ fantasy. It may be described as a creamy, vanilla-y bowl of heart-warming goodness.
Spanakopita, whitebait, calamari, semolina pancakes and baklava french toast are just some of the mediterranean inspired courses that feature on the menu (some of these I have tried and will be back for in the future). Demitri’s Feast should definitely be high on your ‘to try’ list, especially if you’re keen for an alternative to the typical Melbourne cafe fare.
We certainly feasted at this lunch destination. Demitri would be proud.
The Important Details…
Cuisine: Greek cafe
Bookings: Unfortunately no
Suitable For: Young and old
Price: $15 – $20 per head
My View: A top cafe with a difference
Address: 141 Swan Street, Richmond
Phone: (03) 9428 8659