Cabinet Bar & Balcony

It is no secret by now that Melbourne has lots of hidden gems tucked between laneways or up a few flights of stairs. Although how hidden are those places really? Sure, you won’t be able to spot it from a main road, but with the prevalence of online reviews and just social media in general, it’s near possible for a place to remain truly hidden.

I ain’t complaining though, because without recommendations of the internet, how would I come to find a place like Cabinet Bar & Balcony?

The bar is sleek and moody, with the best seats located on the, you guessed it, balcony! Being one of the minority of restaurants that still offers bookings, it made it much easier for my friend and I to secure a table on the balcony on a weekday night.Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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The L-word – $13.00

We started things off with some champagne cocktails, and my choice of the night was rather fruity and light, thanks to the addition of cranberry juice.

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Pouring Rayne – $13.00

Pouring Rayne (ha!) on the other hand, was more subdued and more of an adult drink imo.

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Cabinet Popcorn Chicken – $13.50

Although short, the menu had a fresh take on your average bar food, and the popcorn chicken was an example of that. The bite-sized pieces were juicy and crunchy, and I loved dipping it in the tangy mayo.

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Eggplant Chips w/ Aioli – $13.00

Eggplant chips is something that I’ll always if it’s on the menu. The version at Cabinet faired quite well, with large strips of eggplant cover in a thin layer of panko crumb, and fried to perfection. My only complaint would be that it lacked some seasoning, however, the aioli on the side certainly helped with that.

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Chorizo, Olives, Feta + Basil Flatbread – $10.00

Being a Wednesday night, we had to take on Cabinet’s offer of $10 flatbreads, and after some intense discussion, we settled on the chorizo one. This was a healthier take on your  traditional pizza, being on a much thinner base of flatbread, leaving us with more room to indulge on the toppings. The thickly-cut slices of smoky and flavoursome chorizo were undoubtedly the star of the show, and the simply yet classic combination of flavours made the flatbread an overall winner.

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Mini Chocolate Fondue w/ Croissant, Strawberries and Marshmallows – $12.00

Cabinet keeps its dessert menu short and sweet, with only one item on it – the mini chocolate fondue, so it was a good thing that my friend and I were both keen for it. The melty pot of chocolate was perfect for dunking all the other goodies in, I especially enjoyed the buttery croissant.

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Cabinet certainly carries its own charm, as showcased by the constant flow of diners throughout the night. I always enjoy a bar that puts some serious effort into its food menu too, and Cabinet does just that.

And with events like $10 flatbread Wednesdays, $10 Aperol Spritz Sundays, and $10 Margherita Mondays, it’s guaranteed that no matter when you visit, it will always be a good time.

How to get here:
Cabinet Bar & Balcony is located on Rainbow Alley, although it’s visible from Swanston Street, it is a 10 minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

Cabinet Bar & Balcony Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Cumulus Inc

1Cumulus Inc needs no introduction, but I’ll give you one anyway. One of the busiest restaurants on Flinders Lane, Andrew McConnell’s creation takes no bookings, which means the small space is bustling all night long, and if you get there past 6pm, prepare to wait out in the cold.2If you do manage to grab yourself a table however, two types of bread will be placed in front of you after you have placed your order, with some freshly churned butter on the side.

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Originale – $11.00

Because this was a celebratory dinner, I started off the night with a cocktail. The originale was quite simple in flavour, although the mint was quite refreshing.

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Kitchen Charcuterie Selection – $29.00

While sipping on the cocktail, we nibbled on some high quality charcuterie. Our waitress did not go through all of the items on the plate, but I remember loving the small pieces of some sort of salami, it had a very strong umami flavour.

6The pickled chillies were both spicy and sour, and was a nice palate cleanser between tasting the various types of cold cuts.

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Asparagus and Olives

I can’t seem to find this on the menu, but from memory, it was a light and refreshing salad, just what we needed to tone down the roasted lamb shoulder.

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Whole Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder To Share – $73.00

Onto the star of the night, a visit to Cumulus Inc is not complete without ordering the roast lamb shoulder. They weren’t kidding when they said the lamb shoulder was to share, thank God there were four of us!

9The lamb were slow roasted to perfection, while still pink inside. The skin was crispy, and the jus was lovely. Although a tad more seasoning would’ve helped, it already left us feeling contempt with our meal.

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Madeleine Filled with Lemon Curd – $2.50 each

But hey, why stop there? For dessert, we got the simple yet stunning freshly baked madeleines. The madeleines were soft and spongey, and the lemon curd added a touch of freshness.1213

Due to the no booking policy and the relatively small space, you definitely wanna rock up before 6 to secure a table, otherwise, a wait is to be expected.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Cumulus Inc, and am already eyeing a number of the smaller dishes to share on my next visit!

How to get there:
Cumulus Inc is located on Flinders Lane, five minutes walk from Parliament station.

Cumulus Inc. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Conservatory

Happy blogiversary to me! I can’t believe it’s been one year already since I started this blog haha, we’ve definitely come a long way.

Given the significance of this post, I thought it would only be fitting for me to blog about a special restaurant. And Conservatory certainly fills that criteria; ever since I started coming here on my birthday three years ago, it kind of became a tradition.

With a view of the riverbank, high ceilings, plush leather chairs and spacious setting, Conservatory fits right in amongst some other spectacular restaurants inside Crown. A booking is pretty much a requirement, as the restaurant is always filled, no matter what time of day.

There was a cute little bread basket already waiting for us, and some lemon water for us to wash our hands in after digging in some seafood, and thus, the night began.

Conservatory is divided into three main sections; cold meats and cheese, seafood and salad bar; the hot food section, and then the desserts. Here is some of the sushi that was on offer.

Oysters, Prawns, Crab

The prawns are always gigantic, and the meat remains tight and succulent. The crabs were my favourite of the seafood though, the meat was extremely sweet, and although it takes a bit more work, the end result is definitely worth it!

Scallop Ceviche, Cold Cuts, Bocconcini, Duck Salad, Bread, Bread Sticks

I also got some salad and cold meats. The spongey bocconcini balls were delightful, and the sheer novelty of the bread sticks made them fun to eat. The highlight, however, was the shredded duck salad, as the dressing was extremely fragrant, and complimented the duck perfectly.

Prawns, Oysters

The oysters come and go like crazy, since everyone’s obsessed with them. They were relatively fresh, and with a light squeeze of lemon juice over the top, they were ready to be slurped up.

Roast pork, Calamari, Pork Rib, Roast Pork (HK style), Garlic and Cheese Naan, Tandoori Chicken, Pumpkin, Mashed Potato

It was time to move onto the hot food. There was so much to choose from, so I got a bit of everything. The roast pork was a bit dry, but I couldn’t be bothered to go back for more gravy. The other type of roast pork was lovely though, with its fatty meat and crispy skin. My favourite is always the garlic and cheese naan though, because it’s cooked in front of you, the cheese is still gooey by the time I get my hands on them, and it’s seriously addictive, especially when paired with the tandoori chicken.

Roast Potato, Chicken, Roast Beef, Roast Lamb, Green Beans

The second plate was a lot less memorable, just because I was getting pretty full by this point, and yeh, you know when you start eating for the sake of eating? That kind of happened here 😦 I do remember enjoying the roast beef though, it was still pink in the centre, and with some of that crushed black salt, the beef was tender and delicious.

We received two glasses of complimentary champagne since it was my birthday haha.

As you can tell, they take their desserts very seriously here at Conservatory. From chocolate fondue and ice cream, to fruits and tiny cute little cakes and slices, no expenses are spared.

I managed to take 21 desserts, since I was turning 21 HAHAHA I’m so cool I know. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to finish the desserts, as much as I wanted to. My favourites were the eclairs and the fruit cups.

While we were stuffing our face with the decadent desserts, the waitress placed down a cake for us, also complimentary. It would’ve been a hard task to finish the cake between the two of us on a good day, let alone the fact that we were literally filled to the brim. I did manage to try a tiny little slice, and from memory, it was an orange and chocolate cake.

Conservatory will always hold a special place in my heart, if you haven’t noticed already, I love birthdays. With the incredulous amount of food on offer, Conservatory is definitely one of the best buffet in Melbourne. The service is always on point too, as expected. With a beautiful setting, and even better food, Conservatory is great for any special occasion, or if you just feel like a treat 😉

How to get there:
Conservatory is located inside Crown, which is accessible by tram #96, #12 and #109 from Southern Cross Station.

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

Squires Loft

Squires Loft specialises in steaks, and after my mum went there for a work dinner, she enjoyed it so much that she decided to take us there too. Actually, this is our second attempt to visit, because the first time we didn’t make a booking and well, let’s just say that you should always make a booking, during dinner time at least.
The blend of dim lighting, leather chair, and wooden tables created a low key, but still sophisticated atmosphere, perfect ambiance for a date in my opinion, just not the first one haha.
Complimentary Bread
When a restaurant has complimentary bread on offer, they win some instant brownie points from me. Especially if the bread is slightly chewy and warm, allowing the butter to melt into its crevices.
Entree Platter – $74.00

Because there was seven of us, we decided to just go ahead and order the Entree Platter to share to make things easier. The grill tiger prawns were succulent, the pork ribs were falling off the bone, the Boerewors, a type of South African beef sausage, was something that I’ve never tried before. It was fatty and satisfying, with a crispy exterior from the grill. My favourite out of the whole platter though, was the baked garlic mushrooms with feta. The button mushrooms were filled with feta, and baked until the feta is slightly melted; the saltiness of the feta went perfectly with the earthiness of the mushrooms.

Rib Eye on the Bone (400g) w/ Chips – $42.00 and Creamy Garlic Sauce – $4.75

Being a steakhouse, it was no surprise that there was various cuts on offer. I went for the rib eye on the bone, as I wanted something that is quite tender and juicy, with a high marbalisation for that beefy flavour. And this piece of steak ticked all the boxes, I asked for it medium rare, and it was exactly that. It was covered in Squires Loft baste, but the addition of the creamy garlic sauce took the steak to the next level, not to mention that it meant I had a sauce for those golden and fluffy chips too!

Everyone ordered something different from the menu, and they were all happy with their meal. Squires Loft is definitely a promising steak restaurant, unlike some of the other ones I’ve been to, and with its proximity, I can see myself returning whenever I’m feeling like some steak!

How to get there:
Squires Loft is located just outside of Brand Smart Nunawading, a ten minutes walk from Nunawading Station, which is on the Belgrave and Lilydale train lines.

Squires Loft Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bluetrain

This is such an overdue post I can’t even. That’s probably gonna be the intro for the next ten posts since my backlog is getting pretty insane, but anyway, we visited Bluetrain when my Japanese friend was here, because her and her mum came here for dinner the day before and loved it.

I absolutely loved the interior of Bluetrain, with the windows allowing plenty of sunlight in, a view of the river, and graphics scattered around, it had a hip yet comforting vibe. Oh and the toilet’s amazing, make sure you visit it at least once when you go!

B.T. Seasoned Chips w/ Aioli – $8.00

We ordered some chips to share, because, well, chips are chips, and they make any meal better. I couldn’t really taste the seasoning on the chips, but the aioli was creamy and delicious.

Pumpkin Salad – $18.00

My friend’s mum loved the inclusion of zucchini ribbons – amongst other things – in the salad. The walnuts and sunflower seeds gave the salad texture and added a nutty flavour, whilst the goats cheese made the pumpkin extra creamy.

Prawns, Scallops, Calamari and Crab Meat Linguine – $30.00

The pasta was absolutely amazing. The linguine was cooked perfectly al dente, and all the seafood elements were cooked just right too, something that’s definitely worth praising. However, what I loved the most was the sauce that tied the whole dish together, the simple combination of herbed olive oil, chilli and garlic had such a depth of flavour, and really took the dish to the next level.

I don’t have much experience dining around the Southbank area of the CBD, but I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Bluetrain! The food was delicious and the setting was beautiful, definitely somewhere I’d return to!

How to get there:
Bluetrain is located inside Southgate Landing, a short 10 minutes walk from Flinders St Station.

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

Larder

My mum and I took a short 3-days-trip to Daylesford in the Winter holidays, and of course, I compiled a list of restaurants to visit before we went based on the recommendations from Martin, the host of our Airbnb, Musk House (beautiful cottage, highly recommend) and some research on Zomato. Larder was high on our list, because Martin said that it served up the best coffee in Daylesford.

House Marinated Wild Olives – $6.00

Because we were still full from brunch earlier that day, we decided to opt for a few things to share. First up were these glistening olives. There were a selection of different olives from the region – forgive me for not knowing the specific names, I’m no olives connoisseur – and they were exactly what we expected. Salty and briny, and the olive oil was excellent to dip the warm ciabatta in.

Larder’s Sharing Plate – $29.00

And because we’re both super indecisive, the sharing plate gave us the perfect opportunity to try a bit of everything.

Left to Right: Chicken Liver and Sherry Pate,  Roast Fennel and Cannellini Bean Dip, Chicken and Pork Terrine 

The pate was silky smooth, and very tasty. The roast fennel and cannellini bean dip was our favourite, surprisingly. The dip still had some chunkier bits in it, adding some dimension to it, and although slightly on the saltier side of things, we couldn’t stop eating it! I also loved the pistachio in the chicken and pork terrine, it was a pleasant surprise.

Left to right: Cured Ocean Trout, Smoked Trout Mousse, Gorgonzola Mousse

I wish the ocean trout were cured a little more, it just tasted like fresh ocean trout to me. The smoked trout mousse was definitely very fishy, which we liked, and the beetroot relish on top paired well with the mousse. The gorgonzola mousse definitely had a distinctive flavour, and if you’re not a fan of blue cheese, this one is not for you. The texture was a lot lighter than the smoked trout mousse, which we preferred.

If the weather was a bit warmer, the outdoor seats would be perfect for people-watching. Larder was buzzing with customers when we visited during the lunch hours, I can definitely see its appeal to both locals and visitors.

How to get there:
Larder is located on Vincent Street, one of the main streets in Daylesford, and being a small town, you just have to take your car there, unless your hotel is close by.

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