The Mill (71 Hardware Lane), Proud Mary (Collingwood) and good times with Laura and Katie

Last weekend I was lucky enough to have a night out with my gorgeous girls: Sydney friend Laura and Melbourne-then-Sydney-now-back-in-Melbourne friend Katie. They are such beautiful women and we always have a ball sharing laughs, thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears and drinks. On Saturday we ventured into the city to Hardware Lane for some top nosh at The Mill, an awesome restaurant I actually sampled and loved a few years ago when it first opened during a trip to Melbourne.

I had two entrees – wasabi crusted baby squid followed by the gorgonzola tart with beetroot, poached pear, roquette and carrot salad. Laura had the rosemary and palm sugar smoked  lamb and Katie had the Eye Fillet with horseradish mash.

Dessert was amazing! Katie had the sticky date with honey roasted walnuts and La and I shared the chocolate tart with double dark swiss chocolate ice cream and espresso ganache.

The girls drank cocktails, red and white wine after sending back one glass and swapping another and I enjoyed my usual Grey Goose.

One of the best parts of the experience was our delightful waitress, aka our new best friend, who was helpful and friendly without being sickly sweet. She had a sense of humour and was efficient. She over-delivered but without contempt for our requests and questions.

I really enjoyed our experience at The Mill. My background in hospitality and passion (as weird as it sounds) for the industry means I am always looking at the experience of dining out as a whole: the food, the decor, the vibe, the staff and the extra sparkle that really makes something memorable.

The next morning we nursed our sore heads at one of my favourite local cafes Proud Mary in Collingwood (cnr Oxford and Stanley St). The 15 minute walk in the crisp air to the cafe from my place also helped before we tucked into their yummy coffee and comfort foods.

Here are a couple of pics but only from Proud Mary. As I’ve expressed before, I’m not a very good food blogger because I generally eat the food before I remember to take a pic!

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Yum Cha Cafe (193-195 Exhibition St, Melbourne) … and why I suck at food blogging

The name ‘Yum Cha Cafe‘ made me suspicious about the authenticity of the yum cha being served at ‘Yum Cha Cafe’ – it sounds kind of ‘Westernised’. I’ve been past it many times and while the interior looks inviting I just wasn’t sure what I would be getting. But, I ventured in with my cousin last Sunday and was very pleasantly surprised – what a find!

The interior is stunning with a bar,  paintings, tea in jars, decorative bird cages and lanterns adorning the red and black fit-out. We were seated (with no booking – although I did call to check and they assured me it would be fine) with no fuss and relished the un-stressful, relatively quiet and serene atmosphere. Yes I know it is the antitheses of yum cha but for a special occasion (it was her birthday), this is the ideal yum cha place for small groups wanting to be ‘trolley fed’ in luxury.

There was a great selection of food and the quality was impressive. We shared prawn dumplings, scallops wrapped in wontons, Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, prawn rice noodle, and mixed dumplings (prawn, beef, duck – YUM!). We finished off with mini darn tarts (egg custard tarts) that were not as good as the bigger ones that usually come served warm. And so we also tried the custard buns for a more satisfactory ending! They were yummy with a coconut flavour as well.

I would recommend Yum Cha Cafe for a relaxed lunch where you can sit back, not feel rushed and enjoy the food and good service.

YUM CHA CAFE: 193-195 Exhibition Street, Melbourne (cnr Exhibition Street & Little Bourke Street). Tel: 9662 9668

… And Why I Suck at Food Blogging

I really wanted to show you each dish because they were worth photographing but every time a new dish came out I was overcome with excitement and before I could get the camera out we’d eaten it all. And this is why I suck at food blogging – it happens every time!

So you’ll have to excuse these two lame looking pics I did manage to get of the scallop wontons and gai lan!

Thai Foon, Darling Harbour Sydney

During my luxurious weekend in Sydney with my gorgeous family we went to a fabulous Thai restaurant in Darling Harbour called Thai Foon. I am quite picky when it comes to Thai food – quite often I feel the dishes are too oily or one flavour dominates the whole dish but the balance of fresh ingredients of the Thai Foon offering was just right.

My family enjoy their food and we all cook, even my 17 year old brother! The Chinese influence means we are great believers in sharing our dishes which is great because it means you get to sample more options from the menu. The menu is extensive but not overwhelming with choice and there are more creative recipes mixed with the usual traditional Thai fare. I wish I could remember exactly what was in each dish but Saturday seems like such a long time ago now! I hope you can see well enough in the pics I took in the dimly lit restaurant.

We chose crispy skin duck, sizzling mixed meat dish, whole snapper flash fried with sweet chilli, Thai style seasonal vegetables with rice noodles.  All were delicious and the flavours well married so the freshness of the ingredients could be appreciated.

My only criticism of the evening was the noise level. At the risk of sounding like and oldie it was a bit too loud – it’s not the kind of place to go for a quiet evening. But overall, yes I would recommend Thai Foon as one of the better Harbourside restaurants.

THAI FOON

Shop 329-330 Level 2, Harbourside Shopping Centre
Darling Drive, Darling Harbour
Sydney NSW 2000

Ph: 02 9281 2005

My Melbourne (honeyjoys included!)

It has been a while since my last ‘Operation Relocation: the settling in phase’ post so thought it time to bring you up to speed. Transferred my third rental payment which means I am celebrating three months in Melbourne. Yay! The time has passed quickly though not without leaving an immeasurable impression on me with every passing day.

I have met, connected and am yet to meet many wonderful souls here. I have seen, heard, tasted, smelled, touched and absorbed the magic of this beautiful city and a visit to Sydney has really made me appreciate the differences between the two cities. Although the people I love are an hour flight away, I am very nearly comfortable to call Melbourne ‘home’.

This is not an exhaustive list because I can’t remember the names of some of the places I have been to but these are the ones I remember: Ladro,, MoVida, Silk Road bar/club/meat-market, The George, Joe’s Garage, Jim’s Greek Restaurant, Ethiopian, Noodle by Noodle, Goshen, European Cafe, Akari, International Cakes, the Chinese Restaurant I can’t remember the name of that is at the Spring St end of Chinatown, Shanghai Dumpling House, Solarino, a few of the places in DeGraves, Roule Gallete, Giuseppe Arnaldo & Sons (amazing), Tuscan Bar, The Mess Hall, Tony Starr (& something), Love Machine, Mr Wolf, Mr Tulk, the cafe at the top of the stairs at GPO, a questionable place that my bosses will remember (thanks TY), the good Japanese place my bosses took me to when I started, San Churro, Classic Curry Co., and that’s about all I can remember. Apologies to the places I have left out. (ha, sounds like an acceptance speech list!)

I have also embraced the amazing stalls at the Queen Vic markets and today I had the joy of experiencing the South Melbourne markets which I am smitten with for so many reasons.I breezed through the Arts Markets which I hope to get to next Sunday for some last-minute Christmas gifts and another set of stalls I could see near Fed Square if they’re there next week as well.

And there is still much to discover. How exciting! I will be back in Sydney over Christmas which I am looking forward to but mainly for the people I will be sharing the time with and perhaps a little beach action. I will also be trying to convince everyone to move to Melbourne so I can have the best of everything…

Walking through the Fitzroy Gardens today I took a moment to really enjoy the moment. And I feel truly lucky and happy in my new city of wonders.

x

Taken at Yarra St after grabbing coffee at the amazing cafe there

I felt five years old again eating this giant honeyjoy from the South Melb Markets (cornflakes bound with lashings of honey in a patty-pan)