Melina on the Rooftop

Melbourne has entered into the depth of Winter without a warning, but here I am, still clinging onto rooftop bars. Although it’s nothing like bathing in the Summer sunshine with a cocktail in your hand, there is still something charming about sitting snugly under some heaters with a view. All that is to say, we decided to have dinner at Melina on the Rooftop recently.

Crispy Saganaki Cheese – $18.00

We decided to grabbed a few dishes to graze on, with the first being the crispy saganaki. The crunchy batter on the saganaki added some texture to the soft cheese, and the sweetness from the drizzle of the balsamic glaze paired nicely prevented the saganaki from becoming overly salty.

Fries – $12.00

The shoestring fries was golden brown, and the Greek season on the fries were quite addictive. The feta cheese dip on the side was an interesting addition, although the crumbly texture and the thinness of the fries meant that it wasn’t the easiest to dip in.

Antipasto – $34.00

The antipasto had your usual suspects with a Middle Eastern twist with the addition of some grilled halloumi. The meats were all quite average, with the smoked ham seriously tasting like it was bought from a supermarket deli. It was nothing really worth writing home about altogether. The bread served on the side was also quite dry, and the balsamic glaze drizzled over top seems like more of an afterthought.

There’s no question that the vibe is quite intimate and romantic at Melina on the Rooftop, definitely a place that’s good enough to take a date. That being said though, I did find the food to be quite overpriced, especially considering the portion size. We made a booking on EatClub, which took 30% off our bill, making it quite reasonable. I still think that the food was quite average even after the discount. All in all, Melina on the Rooftop might be better suited for a couple of drinks after dinner than a proper sit-down meal.

How to get here:
Melina on the Rooftop is located on Lonsdale Street, a 5 minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

Melina on the Rooftop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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The Meatball and Wine Bar

Let’s talk about balls. I mean, meatballs. Yes I have the maturity of a 10-year-old.

So, what makes for some great meatballs? They can’t be too dry, and have to be the perfect size with a good amount of garlic and herbs thrown into the mix. When done right, although simple, it’s what comfort food is all about.

With meatball in its name, I was ready to be hit up with some world class meatballs at The Meatball and Wine Bar. How many times can you throw meatball into a sentence? Meatball meatball meatball.

Beef Balls, Red Sauce, House Pasta

Anyway, balls for all is a simple but clever idea. Choose a ball, choose a sauce, and choose a sotto palle, i.e. something for your balls and sauce to sit on. The first combination we chose comprised of beef balls, red sauce, and house pasta, so essentially spaghetti and meatballs – but not really, because they actually do a version of this at The Meatball and Wine Bar.

Back to the dish at hand. The only ingredient listed under the beef balls was pasture-fed angus beef, and I get it, the chef’s gotta keep their secret and all, but seriously, list a few more things so I can at least attempt to make this at home! The beef balls were extremely flavoursome, benefiting from a generous use of herbs and spices, and the al dente pappardelle was the perfect vehicle for the balls and sauce.

Chicken Balls, White Sauce, Super MB Potato Mash.

I was worried that the chicken balls might edge on the dry side, but this was not the case at all. The chicken balls were milder in flavour compared to the beef, especially when put together with the creamy white sauce and the mashed potato, but it was still miles ahead of any ball you could have elsewhere. The pistachios in the balls added some texture, and all in all, this was a delightful plate.

Jokes aside, The Meatball and Wine Bar is the great place for date night. Dark and moody, pasta and wine, I can’t think of a better way to guarantee a second date. Restrain yourself from making too many balls pun though, that might not fare too well. Then again, if they don’t laugh at the word balls at least three times throughout the night, are they really the one?

Yup, this restaurant review has officially turned into some grade A dating advice, thank me later.

How to get here:
Meatball and Wine Bar has three locations across Melbourne, CBD, Richmond and Collingwood, I visited the CBD restaurant, located on Flinders Lane, seven minutes walk away from Flinders Street Station.

Meatball & Wine Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Brim CC

Brim CC is a no-frill Japanese restaurant that serves up a range of home-cooked comfort meals, including their famous curries, which you can have paired with a salad or a soup; omurice, udon and the like.

The decor is minimal to say the least, with tables that could fit around ten to fifteen diners. Although simple, it was very welcoming. There was bookshelf to browse through, and a Japanese map made with stuffed cloth, highlighting some of the attractions you could find in different prefectures of Japan.

Brim CC Bento Box – $12.90

It was quite a humid day, which meant that I had to pass up on the curry to prevent myself from sweating up a storm, and settled for the titular bento box instead.

The bento plate, rather than box, reminded me of how versatile Japanese food can be. The plate was filled with Japanese potato salad, rice balls, meatball, tofu topped with a sweet miso sauce, and a carrot salad.

Brim CC Bento Box – $12.90

Everything was cooked with love and care, and I especially enjoyed the miso sauce. It was a nutritious meal that left me feeling satisfied but not stuffed.

Brim CC is nothing fancy, but the food here reminds me of dishes that can only be cooked by a mum, delicious and nutritious. Maybe it’s not a great place to impress a date, but on nights that you’re not quite feeling up to the task of cooking yourself, this is the perfect place to be. Oh, and the fact that most dishes cost under $15 definitely doesn’t hurt either.

How to get here:
Brim CC is located on Little Collins Street, a short 5 minutes walk from Southern Cross Station.

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

Goodovening

Some food trends come and go, but Korean fried chicken is here to stay, and I’m all for it – nothing brings satisfaction to the table quite like a plate of greasy chicken.

While there are some promising restaurants that can always be counted on, I had wanted to try out Goodovening for a while now. The restaurant had been packed on the few times that I had walked past, so we made sure to book beforehand.

The outdoor seating area was reminiscent of restaurants scattered on the streets of Seoul, being slightly elevated, lit dimly and the tables are set under clear covers, which means diners can sit outside all year round.

Complimentary

I have no idea what these were, and it’s hard to describe the taste. They were sort of tasteless to be honest, and quite hard, but were fun to nibble on nonetheless. We finished chewing on these quickly actually, and the waitress was more than happy to bring us more without us having to ask.

Fried Chicken (16 pcs, half original and half soy garlic) – $34.00

Of course, we had to test out the benchmark first with some fried chicken. The batter looked promising, and indeed had that light airiness that I have become accustomed to. We chose soy garlic for the flavoured half, and although the chicken had less sauce on it than other places, they were sweet and tangy, and the crispy batter was not compromised at all.

The chicken came with a cabbage coleslaw and we also order some chips ($5.00) with it, because hey, if you’re going to be frying chicken then you might as well fry some potatoes on the side!

Hot Chilli Cheese Chicken & Rice Ball – $25.00

Cheese make any food taste better, and Koreans are known for putting cheese over absolutely everything. The spicy chicken pieces were very punchy and had a nice kick to it, and the cheese added some creaminess to the dish.

Hot Chilli Cheese Chicken & Rice Ball – $25.00

Although nothing out of the ordinary, these rice balls were adorable and fun to eat with the chicken, and also helped to tame down the spiciness when needed.

Carbonara Chicken – $35.00

We’ve gone all out at this point, so what’s one more chicken dish? Carbona chicken is exactly as it sounds; the pan was filled with boneless fried chicken, fries and cabbage, all served on top of a thick and creamy carbonara sauce. This was indulgent to say the least, with the crunchy chicken paired especially well with the richness of the sauce. We all thoroughly enjoyed each and every bite of this.

The dinner actually turned out to be a surprise birthday dinner for me, my friends had bought me my favourite cake from Bibelot, and it was a really enjoyable night for all of us. My friend had asked one of the waiter to put the cake in the fridge at the beginning of the meal, along with some candles. At the end of our meal, the same waiter came out and plopped the cake box in the middle of the table, without opening the box or clearing out our chicken bone filled plates first. I was so confused by this point, and my friend had to ask him to bring out the candles and a lighter in two separate attempts. I mean it was a little odd, but we all had a good laugh about it. It probably just came down to a matter of miscommunication, but I guess just make sure that you ask the waiter to bring out the cake more clearly if you were also celebrating a birthday?

We tried out three styles of chicken at Goodovening, and maybe that seems like a lot, but the extensive menu actually made it really difficult to narrow our choices down. I’m definitely looking forward to returning, although it’ll be hard to not order the Chicken Carbonara again, I will try to venture out and try out some of the other chicken dishes on offer.

How to get here:
Goodovening is located on Queen Street, get off at Flagstaff station and the restaurant is around seven minutes walk away.

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

A25 Pizzeria

Italian food has become synonymous to summer days for me, since going to Italy itself is not happening anytime soon, I’ve settled for trying out some new Italian restaurants for the time being.

A25 has three locations in Melbourne already, and recently added some vegan options to their menu, which I was more than happy to try. The airy and funky space looked promising, and I was ready to dig in to some good ol’ pizza!

Aperol Spritz – $14.00

Aperol Spritz is my go-to drink in the warmer weather. It’s light, sparkling and fruity, what more can you ask for?

Truffle Porcini & Parmesan Fries – $8.50

The truffles fries came with the pungent smell of truffle, which means you’re either going to love them or hate them. I am personally a huge fan of truffle, and thought these were delectable.

Vegan Vegie Explosion – $20.00

Featuring a range of grilled vegies, the pizza surely looked promising. I thought the vegan mozzarella was actually pretty decent, I mean sure, it doesn’t exactly give off the same creamy taste, but it did the job. The vegies were quite sweet after being roasted, especially in the case of the roasted pumpkin and capsicum, and this was offset nicely by the brininess from the olives scattered across the pizza.

A25 – $25.00

With the titular A25 pizza touted as a favourite, I had to give it a go. The combination of prosciutto and fresh mozzarella is always a classic, and the homemade pesto and roasted pine nuts added some earthiness to the pizza.

With deals such as $15 pizza and pasta for weekday lunches, A25 has become a hotspot for those that work in offices closeby. Indeed, the outside terrace was filled with patreons grabbing a quick bite to eat during rush hour.

The expansion of the menu will certainly be appreciated by those that frequent the restaurant, as it means that they are able to bring friends who may have dietary requirements to dine with them, while still being able to get some traditional offerings themselves, a feat that has become harder to accomplish.

So next time you’re in need of a mixture of vagan and non-vegan options, why not give A25 a try in one of its three locations?

How to get here:
I visited the South Yarra location of A25, which is on Chapel Street. Catch tram #78 and get off at Malcolm Street/Chapel Street, and the restaurant is right next to the tram stop. Alternatively, catch the train on the Sandringham line and get off at South Yarra, and A25 is around 10 minutes walk away.

I dined as a guest of A25.

A25 Pizzeria - South Yarra Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Meat and Wine Co

I’m always down for a good piece of steak, and what better place to go than a place that has meat in its name?

The Meat and Wine Co specialises in an assorted array of meat dishes, that combines African and Australian cuisine, a fusion that is not commonly found in Melbourne.

The restaurant has several locations in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, and on this occasion, I paid a visit to its Hawthorn East location. The interior was filled with wood and leather, clearly a hub set perfectly for meat lovers.

Raspberry Beret – $19.00

It was a nice and warm day, and what better way to start your meal than a sweet cocktail. The raspberry beret had a mixture of vermouth and gin, ensuring that there was mixture of sweet and floral notes. The raspberry gave it a summery touch.

Wagyu Tartare – $16.00

We shared an entree of wagyu tartare, something that I have grown to be fond of. The mixture of pickles and smoked yolk, when mixed through with the minced steak, lifted the heaviness of the meat. The addition of crackling meant that there was plenty of texture. My only gripe is the limited pieces of lavosh that the tartare was served with!

Monte – Grain Fed 120D – Rump – $29.00

The Meat & Wine Co has its own exclusive source of beet – Monte, because why not? There was a range of different cuts available, and unfortunately, our waiter did not offer to explain them all to us. After some reading myself, I chose the 120 days grain fed piece of rump.

Monte – Grain Fed 120D – Rump – $29.00

The steak certainly looked amazingly, with perfect char marks and all. It was quite juicy and tender, and did not have a strong beef flavour, which is what I expected. I asked for medium-rare, and did think that it was slightly overcooked.

The accompanying chips, on the other hand, were as good as thick cut chips can be, with the contrasting texture of a crunchy exterior paired with a fluffy interior.

Pork Ribs (Half Rack) – $39.00

We settled on the pork ribs for our other main. THe ribs were cooked perfectly, the sweet and sticky glaze meant that there were plenty bits of meat that were caramelised.

The side farm salad was simply yet refreshing, and prevented us from getting too guilty.

Mac & Cheese – $12.00

We shared an addition side of mac and cheese, a dish that never disappoints. The rustic interpretation that The Meat & Wine Co offered was quite mild in flavour, with some smokiness coming through from the charred cauliflower.

I certainly did enjoy my meal at The Meat & Wine Co. Although there was nothing especially innovative about the menu, each of the dish was executed well. I’m still on the hunt for that perfect piece of steak though, until next time.

How to get here:
The Meat & Wine Co is located on Riversdale Road, around a 7 minutes walk from Camberwell Station; alternatively, catch tram #75 and get off at Camberwell Junction, and the restaurant is a minute walk away.

The Meat & Wine Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Murasaki Tanuki

Local gems are some of my favourites, especially when authentic food is found in unlikely places. Murasaki Tanuki certainly falls under both categories, being a small Japanese eatery located on a inconspicuous shopping strip.

Sure, the interior may seem quite bare when you first enter – tables scattered around, with minimal decoration. However, the restaurant was filled with diners even during lunch hours on a weekday, which sort of hints at the quality of food that can be expected.

Takoyaki – $6.50

Takoyakis are some of my favourites, although they’re usually pretty good – think gooey batter containing octopus bits, and topped with a mix of takoyaki sauce (what I think of as Japanese BBQ sauce) and kewpie, and what could go wrong? However, it has also been truly difficult to find ones that stand out from the rest, especially after having tried some of the best renditions in Osaka.

The Kanto population are said to prefer a more textured take when it comes to takoyaki, and this description matched the version served here at Murasaki Tanuki; being quite different to the Kansai rendition that I had become accustomed to. They were a lot crunchier, which of course, highlighted the soft interior.

Curry Udon – $11.50

Given the weird humid yet cold weather that Melbourne is currently experiencing, a bowl of warm curry udon was in order. The soup was very thick and boasted the milder and sweeter flavour of Japanese curry. The thickness can be attested in this photo, as there were pieces of tender beef and slippery udon hidden beneath the soup too!

Miso Soup served with the Bento
King Salmon with Miso Bento Set – $19.00

There were plenty of bentos to choose from, and they each come with miso soup, sashimi, an array of side dishes, takikomi gohan, i.e. rice that’s cooked with the addition of scallops and vegetables in this case, and the main dish of your choosing, which in this case, was the daily special of king salmon with miso.

The salmon was grilled perfectly, and the sweetness of the miso enhanced the freshness of the fish. It even had crispy skin!

The extensive menu at Murasaki Tanuki covers all of the standard Japanese fares depending on what you’re craving on the day coupled with the reasonable prices, especially when taking the high-quality of produce into consideration, it is easy to see why the restaurant has become a local favourite. Whether you live nearby or not, Murasaki Tanuki is worth a visit!

How to get here:
Murasaki Tanuki is located at the Studfield Shopping Centre, catch the #901 Frankston to Melbourne Airport bus, and get off at Studfield SC, and the restaurant is a short two minutes walk away.

Murasaki Tanuki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato