Miznon

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Has anyone tried Israeli food? If the answer is no, then you’re not the only one. Miznon promises to bring Israeli street food to Australia, and I was keen to see what it was all about.

Although Miznon is a new addition to the Melbourne food scene, the restaurant has already set up shop in Paris, New York, Vienna, and Tel Aviv. Opened by Israeli Masterchef Judge Eyal Shani back in 2011, its worldwide expansion meant that I went in with some high expectations.Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetUpon entering the restaurant, we were taken away by the lively and buzzing atmosphere, and the extremely friendly kitchen staff.

We got some of the best seats in the house, the table being right next to the free nibbles station, which included pita off-cuts, sauerkraut, tahini, tzatziki and some sort of chilli sauce. It was also a dangerous spot to be in, it was extremely hard for us to stop ourselves from eating the endless supply of pitas.

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The first of many oops

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White Spritz – $12.00

We had some cocktails to accompany the pita. The mixture of rose, soda and orange made the White Spritz a light and refreshing drink.

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Red Spritz – $12.00

The Red Spritz, on the other hand, was a lot more intense, with the addition of Campari, and the fresh plucked sage leaves.

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Clockwise: Sweet Potato, Calamari Plate, Sabich

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Sweet Potato – $8.00

Onto the food. We started off quite simple with a piping hot sweet potato straight from the oven, it was tender and sweet, and I’m so going to steal the idea of eating it with sour cream on the side, as it prevented the sweet potato itself from getting too heavy.

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Sabich – $12.00

Sabich is a traditional Israeli dish, featuring eggplant, topped with tahini, tomato perfume, and a sliced hard boiled egg. Sabich actually reminded me of the Japanese dish, Nasu Dengaku, i.e. miso glazed eggplant. Though the cooking technique is somewhat similar, Sabich had a much more earthy flavour, especially because of the tahini. The chilli on the side, though unassuming, was very spicy, so tread with caution.

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Calamari Plate – $15.00

The calamari plate was exactly that, lightly grilled calamari served with a salsa of sorts, made up of cucumber, tomato, onion and parsley. The dish was extremely refreshing, and the calamari was cooked perfectly. Although quite simple, the elements all complimented each other, and it was executed with care. My friend hates seafood (I know), but she actually ate a few pieces of the calamari, an indication of how good it was.

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Baby Cauliflower Flower – $13.00

The baby cauliflower flower is sort of a legend at Miznon, being featured heavily in its instagram feed. The whole head of cauliflower is boiled the grilled until tender, and every part of it is edible, including the leaves, which I liked more than I care to admit. The cauliflower falls apart at the prick of a fork, and after dipping it in some tahini and Atlantic salt, it’s simply irresistible, even if you’re not usually a vegetable lover.

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Clockwise: Pita with a Bone, Sac de Coque

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Pita with a Bone – $19.00

Although we were already becoming full at this point, more food were on its way. The pita with a bone is another dish I had been looking forward to all night, being a big fan of well-cooked lamb. The bones were plucked out with minimal effort, and the meat was so soft and juicy. The pita bread itself was perfectly airy, having earlier been deemed as the best pita I’ve had, based on the off cuts alone. Although I wished there was some sort of spice or acidity to lift the flavours a little, this was still a very satisfying experience.

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Sac de Coque – $14.00

Sac de Coque is Miznon’s take on a chicken salad, or at least that’s how it felt like to me. The pieces of the roasted chicken were a little dry, but it was made better by the aioli. Although this was not a stand out salad, it was a good way to sneak some green leaves into the meal to make us feel better about ourselves.

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Miznon was everything I expected and more, from the lively kitchen yelling out orders all night, to the prominent use of lunch bags and cardboards over plates, it had an extremely welcoming atmosphere. The flavours of the food were also top-notch, and I was happy to tick Israeli cuisine off my list. The only drawback is probably the price tag; for a restaurant that features street food, it certainly is on the higher end of things.

Although the menu at Miznon is only one page long, the variation of exotic dishes and pita pockets means that a future visit is required; maybe when I am no longer stuck in the full time student status.

Miznon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

How to get here:
Miznon is located on Hardware Lane, a short five minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

I dined as a guest of Miznon.

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Shortstop

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Pumpkin Caramel – $5.00

Shortstop is tucked away in an alleyway opposite Melbourne Central. It is home to one of my all time favourite donut – the Australian honey and sea salt. Shortstop makes four varieties of donuts; raised, cruller, cake and filled; the names are quite explanatory.

On this occasion, I went in for the pumpkin spiced donut, which was unfortunately sold out already. Note to self, go earlier to ensure the full selection is available. I settled on the pumpkin caramel, which was actually a Halloween special, as shown by the web icing on top. The inside of the donut was orange too, and the pumpkin flavour was very prominent. The caramel was sweet, but not overly sweet.

Although the store is quite small, the friendly staff are able to provide prompt service to ensure that you don’t have to wait for too long to enjoy your donut. There are a few tables inside, as well as a bench; and there is also some seating available just outside the cafe. Given its convenient location and seasonal rotation of flavours, I am quite proud of myself for not visiting in it on a weekly, if not daily basis. Be sure to give the donuts a go next time you’re doing some shopping in Melbourne Central.

How to get there:
Shortstop is located on Sutherland Street, just opposite of the Elizabeth Street side ofย  Melbourne Central.

Shortstop Coffee & Donuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Milkcow

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Watermelon Ice Cream Sandwich – $10.00

Milkcow hailed from Korea a couple of years ago, and this summer, they introduced the Watermelon Ice Cream Sandwich, and if this doesn’t scream summer, I don’t know what does.

We treated ourselves to the icecream after finishing up with exams, and although the pricetag of $10 is not cheap, the serving is huge, and is enough to share between two to three people. The concept is quite simple really, a thick slice of watermelon is hollowed out in the middle, and filled with the vegan watermelon ice cream. The seeds are actually chocolate bits, which was cute but not very tasty. I loved the ice cream, on the other hand, it was sweet and refreshing, kind of reminds of the watermelon flavoured Chuppa Chup. If you start finding the ice cream a bit too sweet, carve out a piece of the watermelon, and it tames down the whole thing.

This is strictly limited edition, so if you’re after a cartoon-like dessert that’s both photogenic and delicious, head down to Milkcow and try the sandwich for yourself today.

How to get there:
Milkcow is located on Swaston Street, a few minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

Milkcow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Madame Brussels

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Madame Brussels is a popular rooftop bar, especially in the warmer weather that Melbourne’s finally experiencing over the last week. The space is decked up in the garden party theme, completed with hot pink serviettes and Japanese paper umbrellas that’s both practical and adorable.

We visited on a Saturday for the actual garden party, an event that’s on every weekend at Madame Brussels, and it’s strictly limited so booking ahead is essential at $55 per head.

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The Madame’s Fruity Double D Cups

Excuse the half filled jug, I only remembered to snap a photo of this later on. The drink was Madame Brussel’s take on the classic Pimms. It was made with a concoction of lemonade and gin, and was light and fruity, with plenty of fruits floating around.

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Phillipa’s Parmesan Sables with Goat’s Cheese, Beetroot and Orange Relish

The appetiser per se came out on the gorgeous floral plate, and the flavours worked well together. The sable acted as the perfect carriage for the beetroot and orange relish, which was tart and zingy, and the creamy goat cheese.

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Old-Fashioned White Breach Sandwiches

There four sandwich fillings included cucumber, ham, chicken and curried egg. My favourite was the chicken, the mayo had ample amounts of chives, ensuring that the chicken was very flavoursome. My friend picked the curried egg as her favourite, a clavour twist on a traditional egg sandwich, without the curry being overpowering.

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Home-Made Sausage Rolls with White Crow

These sausage rolls were piping hot from the oven, and they were some of the best sausage rolls I’ve had to date! The filling was moist and well-textured, not overly mushy as they can be sometimes, and the pastry was crispy and buttery. The tomato sauce on the side prevented the sausage rolls themselves from being too heavy.

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Petite Cupcakes with Gooey Centres, La Belle Miette Salted Caramel Macaron

The cupcakes were nice and moist, with the right ratio of icing to cupate, and it had a rasberry jam centre which added even more flavour. La Bell Miette does some of the best macarons ever, and these were delightful as usual. The pink shell was light and airy, and the caramel filling was gooey and sweet.

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Mini Pavlovas with Lemon Curd

I’m usually not a huge fan of pavlovas, since they tend to be quite sweet. However the lemond curd was thick enough to hold iteslf, and its tartnesshelped to balance the sweetness of the meringue out, and I actually quite enjoyed it.

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Warm Scones

Scones are a must at high tea, and the ones at Madame Brussel came with rasberry jam and cream on the side. The scones were on the small side, but were buttery and warm. I especially liked the cream, because of how thick and creamy it was, just how cream should be.

The ambience at Madame Brussels was very fun and light-hearted, the service was friendly but not intrusive. On the Saturday we visited, there were several bigger parties that were hosting birthday parties and the like. I can definitely see its appeal, however the $55 price tag is a tad bit steep for the amount of food we had.

I would be open to returning for a couple of drinks though, it would be a great location to relax before a musical, given its proximity to the Princess Theatre.

How to get here:
Madame Brussels is hidden upstairs on Bourke Street, catch the train to Parliament station and get out of the Bourke Street exit, then walk up a couple hundred metres, it’s right next to Spaghetti Tree, the glass door has a sign that says Madam Brussels, go up a few steps and then up the elevator to level 3 and you would make it to the bar.

Madame Brussels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Things I ate at the Night Noodle Market

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Not wanting to repeat my mistake last year of leaving the Night Noodle Market in my folder for an insanely long time, and eventually just missed the limited time window to post completely, I’m typing up this post on the first day of its duration this year. Is it too early to give myself a pat on the back?

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Hoy Pinoy | Pork Belly Skewers – 2 for $13.00

Given that Hoy Pinoy operate at markets as far as I’m aware of, I always make sure I grab a few of their skewers when I get the chance. The Filipino street food stall has made an appearance since the inaugral noodle market, and there’s a reason that it is able to do so. The skewers were grilled to perfection, and the banana glaze was sweet and enticing. My only complaint is that they were lukewarm, which I guess is the downside of it not being a busy night, the skewers weren’t exactly freshly made.

Hoy Pinoy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Wonderbao | Korean Chilli Chicken Gua Bao – $7.50

Wonderbao is also a staple at the market, and a personal favourite of mine. Although its location is quite convenient for me to grab a quick lunch, Wonderbao always does a few market specials, and I’m always curious to try the limited edition ones out.ย  Unfortunately, the fried chicken wasn’t my favourite. The chicken was fried pretty well, but there was an overwhelming amount of sauce, and it was overly taste for me, making the whole bun a bit of a mess.

Wonderbao Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Gelato Messina | Aunty Tomsu’s Cheesecake (Japanese cheesecake, strawberry & cherry blossom cream, strawberry meringue, strawberries & strawberry gelato) – $12.00

Messina is probably one of the most highly anticipated stall at the market, to say the least. The theme this year was Japanese Gameshow, and in typical Messina fashion, they did not hold back with all the incredible flavour combinations, as well as the decked out stall, completed with a board to flip for luck.

I experienced a Sophie’s Choice moment in choosing one out of the four desserts they had on offer, but ultimately picked Aunty Tomsu’s Cheesecake. Do I know who Aunty Tomsu is? Nope. Do I like her cheesecake? Hell yeah. The container was filled with goodies, and if you like strawberries and cheesecake, you’re in for a treat. Needless to say, the gelato was perfection, on top of that, the cream at the time really drilled in on the cheesecake factor. The meringues were not only perfectly shaped, they were also very airy, albeit a tad bit sweet. That’s probably my only complaint about the whole thing, it was just all a bit sweet towards the end.

Gelato Messina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Dining at the Night Noodle Market is certainly not cheap, even by Melbourne standards. You could easily rack up a $50 meal by the end of the night, trying to sample a bit of everything. It may be pricier than food markets in other countries, Asia in particular; however the serenity of the location and the variety of food that is on offer makes it a must-go event for the Summer time.

So, grab a few friends and head out to the Night Noodle Market, it’s open every night until 26 November, giving you just over three weeks to find some time visit.

Oh and it’s also cashless, meaning that you can simply pay by card at every stall, including the $2 fortune cookie donation.

How to get there:
Night Noodle Market is located at Birrarung Marr, which is right next to Federation Square.

MoVida Aqui

The MoVida Group needs no introduction, but I’ll give you one anyway. Focusing on bringing authentic Spanish food into Melbourne, the MoVida Group largely serves up a range of tapas, using copious amount of seafood; and larger plates of dishes, all aimed for sharing. There are four MoVida restaurants in Melbourne, and one or two in Sydney too I believe. Needless to say, MoVida has been on my radar for the longest time, and I finally made the decision to give it a visit for some birthday celebration.

We visited MoVida Aqui on this occasion, because the original was fully booked out on a Friday night, and although they do take walk-ins, I’m not a fan of bar stools, the only type of sitting available to walk-in diners.

Entering into the restaurant, it felt very sophisticated and mysterious, with dimmed lights, and a bar as its centrepiece. We were sat promptly by our waitress for the night, and from the beginning, let’s just say, she didn’t seem very friendly. This is going to possibly take up a large portion of the review, and I apologize in advance.

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Complimentary Bread

We were served some complimentary bread after placing our order, and the bread had a nice bite to it, although it was nothing spectacular, it was a pleasant enough way to start our night.

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El Maestro Oloroso – $12.00

MoVida Aqui had an extensive drinks list, and we were quite overwhelmed. My policy for choosing wine is generally anything that is under $20, has the word berry in it, and if the bottle was extra fancy looking, it’s pretty much a done deal.

On this occasion, we had a browse through the food menu first, since that’s what we were here for. The waitress asked us if we wanted anything to drink right away, and we said not for now, and she responded ‘no drinks’ in a condescending manner, almost mocking us. We felt extremely unwelcomed after this exchange, and just wanted to place our order as soon as possible so that we don’t have to have any further contact with her.

I settled for the Oloroso, knowing pretty much nothing about it besides it being a sherry. The waitress’s response for my choice of drink was ‘it’s got a bit of a bite to it, are you sure?’ And as often is the case, it’s not what she said, it’s how she said it.

The drink was quite dark and nutty, definitely not something I would grab a bottle of at Dan Murphy, but it suited the general atmosphere of the restaurant, and I was happy to step out of my comfort zone.

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Ponce Rosato – $13.00

My dining partner had the only Rose that was available by the glass. She liked it enough; being a Rose and all, it was quite easy to drink.

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Cecina – $23.50

Our first dish of the night was the Cecina, described simply as ‘David Blackmore’s air dried wagyu’. It was served with pickled jalapenos, and I’m not sure what the white crumbs were, but it had strong wasabi flavours coming through. The wagyu was cut into thin slices, and almost melted at the tip of your tongue, its richness complemented by the bitey jalapenos, as well as the crumbs.

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Pincho – $5.00

The Pincho was one of the specials, described as ‘quail breast, pancetta, red mojo’. I was curious by the sound of the dish, but wanted to clarify what red mojo was. Response by our waitress: ‘it’s quail breast wrapped in pancetta’ as she tries to not roll her eyes at such a simple question. I had to ask again for an explanation of the red mojo, and it turns out to be a capsicum sauce of sort. In what universe would the most exotic ingredient out of the three not require an explanation? Beats me.

I enjoyed this tapas immensely. The quail breast was surprising tender, and was seasoned heavily with cumin – aka my favourite herb for long time readers – and the pancetta added both crunch and saltiness, with the red mojo balancing everything out.

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Bomba – $4.80 each

Onto probably one of the most infamous tapas across all MoVida restaurants, the bomba. This was essentially a potato croquette, with chorizo mince as its centre. The potato was very creamy, and the exterior of the bomba was quite crunchy. Placed on top of the bomba was a dollop of the same red mojo, and a smaller dollop of a mystery white sauce, the flavour was not prominent enough for me to pinpoint what it was.

I gotta say, the high expectation I had for this dish probably didn’t work in its favour. Having tried many croquettes in my time, this was nothing special. Sure, the textures were nice, but there was barely any flavours coming through. This could be due to the ratio of the potato and chorizo being off, or the chorizo being chopped too fine, whatever the case, there is definitely room for improvement.

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Pulpo – $18.00

Onto the only dish that we actually didn’t like on the night. From the menu, I expected a grilled octopus tentacle with the sauce on the side. This was certainly different to what I envisioned, and the flavour was also not up my alley. There was a heavy use of yuzu or something similar, resulting in an extremely bitter sauce. If you got lots of the creme fraiche underneath, it kind of overpowered the bitterness, but it was still not enough. The redeeming factor of the dish is that as always, the produce was cooked perfectly, the octopus was extremely tender.

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Tartar – $7.50 each

We originally wanted to order the crispy pork belly, but unfortunately that was sold out for the night, and we settled for the tartar instead after finally getting a recommendation out of the waitress. With a topping of Flinders Island lamb, cracked wheat and mullet roe puree all placed on a thin semolina cracker, it was a rather refreshing and refined dish. I have never tried lamb tartare before, and was worried that it would be too gamey, but that was not the case at all here.

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Arroz Negro (small) – $35.00

This was the most substantial dish of the night, although it had an exotic name, it was pretty much a cuttlefish squid ink paella. After hearing that I was going to dine at MoVida, my friend at uni highly recommended this dish, and having only tried a couple of paellas at markets in my time, we decided to give it a go.

The waiter that set this on our table was very helpful, telling us that he likes to heavily drench the dish in lemon juice, and that adding some creme fraiche – which was served on the side – adds more uniqueness to the dish.Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

We followed his orders, and what resulted was a very decadent and unexpected dish. The rice was cooked perfectly, and there was a decent amount of cuttlefish thrown into the pan. However, the dish was quite salty, although it was somewhat balanced out by the creme fraiche and lemon juice, I still had to down a couple of glasses of water while eating it, and many more afterwards.

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Flan – $15.00

After our table has been cleared by our waitress without asking if we wanted anything else, there was no hint that she was going to be bringing us the dessert menus. Debating whether to just leave the restaurant without having desserts at this point, the waitress seemed to sense our agitation, and kindly graced our table with her presence, and I still had to request for the dessert menus nonetheless. When we were ready, we had to practically wave our arms around to get her attention to place our dessert order.

The flan left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the creme caramel was some of the creamiest I’ve had, and the pestinos – deep fried biscuit glazed with sugar – were also a nice touch. On the other hand, the burnt caramel or whatever the brown syrup is, was extremely bitter, and we had to eat around it to not let it destroy the dish.

As you can probably tell already, I was not pleased with my dining experience at MoVida Aqui, to say the least. The food were largely pleasant, but the flavours were often just a little bit off. The appalling service, however, is not something I can overlook. I know that this may be a rare case, as other reviews tend to rave about how helpful the waiters and waitresses can be, explaining the menu in detail and all. But that wasn’t my experience on this particular occasion, and I think it is important for me to share that.

At its pricepoint, MoVida Aqui can’t get away with having shockingly terrible service, even if it is just one waitress. From beginning to end, our waitress made us feel that we didn’t belong in the restaurant, we didn’t understand and couldn’t appreciate Spanish cuisine, and thus she did not have to pay any attention to us. That is not how I wish to feel after any meal. Food is supposed to be a medium for people to gather and share joy. Unfortunately, I do not recommend for anyone to dine at MoVida Aqui in the near future. I am open to re-visiting the restaurant to see if it was really just a one-off thing, however, given the plethora of similarly priced restaurants that gave me a much more enjoyable experience, I am in no rush to return.

How to get there:
Catch any of the City Loop trains to Flagstaff Station, and the restaurant is about a 5 minutes walk away.

MoVida Aqui Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Le Petit Gateau

Le Petit Gateau is tucked away in my favourite part of the city, and serves one of my favourite cake in town. We stopped by for a quick dessert after lunch one day at, you guessed it, my suggestion.

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Lemon Tart – $8.50

Starting things on a simpler note, we ordered the lemon tart. This is such a classic dessert, and I loved Le Petit Geteau’s interpretation. The pastry was buttery and crumbly, and the lemon curd was tangy and silky smooth. Although nothing ground breaking, this is as good as lemon tarts can be imo.

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Brownie and Passionfruit Chocolate Gateau – $9.90

The precision of this cake never fails to blow me away, just look at how crisp the layers all are! The flavour profile certainly lives up to expectation, with chocolate brownie, passionfruit curd, and milk chocolate mousse layered on top of one another, and then the whole thing is covered with dark chocolate glaze, and topped with a mango jelly.

Five ingredients isn’t all that crazy when it comes to French patisserie I don’t think, however, these five elements all work in harmony, and brings the best out of one another. The tartness of the passionfruit curd and mango jelly balances out the richness of chocolate in its three different textures so well, making it a must order every time I visit!

There are still many more cakes and pastries I want to try out from Le Petit Gateau, it always takes me so much self control to not order a couple more to take home when I leave the store. But hey, given its accessible location, I’ll be sure to go back!

How to get there:
Le Petit Gateau is on Little Collins Street, which is less than 10 minutes walk away from Melbourne Central.

Le Petit Gateau Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato