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

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Pouring Rayne – $13.00

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

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

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.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetProcessed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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

Advertisements

Very Good Falafels

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetMiddle Eastern food is one of my favourites. Grilled meats all piled high on a plate, with dips and pickled goods on the side, and everything can be wrapped up in a pita bread, what’s not to love?Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetVery Good Falafels do things a bit different here, as the name goes, they have a focus on serving up some of the best falafels in town, coupled with a rotation of house salads that can either be served on their own, or topped off with falafels.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Falafel Plate – $10

I went for the signatory falafel plate, piled high with goodies ranging from pickles, trio of dips, and a simple salad, with three falafels and a large ladle of tahini to finish the whole thing off. To say that the falafels were very good is an understatement, they are probably the best that I’ve had to date! They were freshly made to order, and you can definitely tell by the crunchy exterior, and a soft interior that still had some bite to it.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Falafel Plate – $10

I loved that I could assemble this plate however I wanted, whether it was pairing the falafel with one of the dips or throwing a bit of falafel with some vibrant vegetables in the pita bread to freshen things up a little.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Salad – $10

Very Good Falafel has three or four house salads at one time, and unfortunately I failed to write down the options available on the night we visited (I know I know). However, I have it on good account that they were all better than your average house salad, with the beans salad (?) being my friend’s favourite of the night.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

As you can see, we wiped our plates clean. Very Good Falafel exceeded my expectations in the best ways possible, I was happy to see that something I often view as a side to mains that are much more exciting being the star of show. The tahini and hummus were also phenomenal, I had thought that nothing could beat home made hummus prior to my meal, but the silky and nutty blend here is much better that I could whip up in a food processor.

I had wanted to bring a tub home, but it was sold out at this point. Oh well, guess I’ll just have to go back.

How to get here:
Very Good Falafels is located on Sydney Road, catch tram #19 from Melbourne Central or Flinders Street Station, and get off at Stewart St/Sydney Rd, and the small restaurant is a minute walk away.

Very Good Falafel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beef Noodle Bar

After two weeks of this weird heat wave, the weather has finally cooled down enough so that noodles doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch for dinner. There are endless varieties of noodles all around the world, and I recently visited a small restaurant called Beef Noodle Bar, to try their specialty of, you guessed it, beef noodle.

There are several types of noodles even just within the beef noodle family, and Beef Noodle Bar serves the traditional noodles from Lanzhou, which is the capital city of Gansu, situated in northwest of China. Before dining at Beef Noodle Bar, I’ve only had Lanzhou beef noodle at a few restaurants in Box Hill, and they were not very memorable. After getting several recommendations to try out Beef Noodle Bar, I was keen to see how the traditional noodle would stack up.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Mixed Shredded Kelp, Carrots and Vermicelli – $2.00

Beef Noodle Bar had a number of side dishes, most of which were at a reasonable price of $2.00. This small plate was nice and refreshing, with the three ingredients each offering a different texture.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Beef – $4.00

The beef were the braised kind that is common around China, however, each area has their own mix of herbs and spices that they put in the braising liquid, resulting in an unique flavour. The ones that Beef Noodle Bar is quite mild compared to what I’m used to, but it was flavoursome nonetheless, and the tendon has been braised down where it was still had a bite to it, but wasn’t too chewy.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Bean Curd – $2.00

I love soy products, in fact, there is always some tofu, beancurd puffs and the like in the fridge at home. These shredded bean curd sheets were light and refreshing, and were morish to have on the side.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Beef Noodle (Wide) – $12.80

There were only two mains on offer, the beef noodle, and the beef noodle soup. You could choose the width of the noodles you were after due to the hand made nature of them, ranging from thinnest to widest. The noodles all come with a scoop of chili, spring onions and coriander, and you can request to not have any of the three, because of my strong distaste for coriander, no coriander were present here.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

I chose the wide noodles, and they were a bit overcooked for my liking. The stewed beef however, were very tender, and there was a good amount of it. This was a dry noodle, and it is therefore better suited for the warmer days imo.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Beef Noodle Soup (Thin) – $10.80

Onto the soup version of the beef noodle. The soup was light and aromatic, and looked quite clear actually. The beef in the soup version were a lot more delicate in flavour compared to its stewed counterparts.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

The thin noodles fared better in the texture department, with a nice bite to it. It might be safer to order the thinner noodles if you like your noodles al dente.

Beef Noodle Bar has been getting quite a bit of hype from the international students community. Given its proximity to Monash University, and the recent opening of a new restaurant close to Melbourne University, it is clear that students are Beef Noodle Bar’s primary target audience. They’ve done a good job at that too, with food that is quite traditional and hard to find, in addition to being reasonably priced and having a quick turnaround, it is indeed a good place to grab a quick bite to eat in between classes. I probably won’t be doing so any time soon, given the weather, however, I am looking forward to returning once the weather cools down.

How to get here:
Beef Noodle Bar is located on Derby Road, take the train on the Pakenham, Frankston or Cranbourne train, and get off at Caufield Station, the restaurant is right outside the station.

Beef Noodle Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya

From its name, it’s obvious what Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya is, an izakaya, duh. Izakayas are Japanese-style pubs, serving up a range of dishes aimed for sharing.

Unlike izakayas back in Japan, Ichi Ni Nana sprawls over four levels, with the top being a rooftop bar, a good place to grab a few drinks while you’re waiting for a table. There are a range of types of seatings available, including larger tables in the courtyard and intimate booth.

The menu was extensive, ranging from traditional Japanese tapas such as nasu dengaku, chicken karaage and gyozas, to sushis and sashimis, with Western influence throughout.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Tori Soboro – $14.00

Chicken mince piled on ricecake skewers, this was not something that I’ve had before, and I really enjoyed it. The chicken mince were flavoured with a touch of soy, and were very morish when had with a bite of ricecake.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Nasu Dengaku – $15.00

This eggplant dish is one of my favourites in Japanese restaurants, and Ichi Ni Nana has put its own twist on the traditional dish. Sections of eggplant were covered in the miso sauce that was oh-so-addictive, and left us wanting more.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Gyu Tataki – $20.00

The thinly sliced scotch fillet were seared perfectly and very tender. The salad on top added some extra texture, I especially enjoyed the fried garlic pieces that’s hiding underneath the green leaves.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Soft Shell Crab Tempura – $22.00

Still on the soft shell crab bandwagon, we picked it from the tempura section. The batter was light and crispy, and the soft shell crab were as good as all soft shell crabs, though nothing out of the ordinary. Also, the portion was on the small side.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Chicken Gyoza – $10.00

We picked two varieties of gyoza on the night, the first being the chicken. The chicken filling was again, light and flavoursome, and the skin was extremely thin.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

Pork Gyoza – $10.00

The pork gyoza were equally as delicious, tasting more meaty than its chicken counterpart. My only complaint about the gyozas is that I wish they had a crispier bottom.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Soft Shell Crab Roll – $25

Continuing the soft shell crab trend, the first sushis we ordered was the soft shell crab roll. The roll was filled with soft shell crab, avocado and cucumber, and topped with tobiko and Japanese mayo. Although not a traditional sushi, the roll tasted fresh, and the soft shell crab added more texture to the plate.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

Dragon Roll – $25.00

Being an even more untraditional dish, the dragon roll was an inside out sushi roll with seared tuna, cucumber, avocado, and topped with tobiko, Japanese mayo, spring onion and chilli sauce. Every bite of this was a flavour explosion, and dish was also very visually appealing.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Ichi Ni Nana Platter – $150.00

The star of the night, and probably the most instagrammed dish from Ichi Ni Nana. The platter had all sorts of sushi and sashimi, including but not limited to sashimi in the forms of (because I can’t remember them all oops): salmon, tuna, kingfish, octopus,  cuttlefish and scallops. The sushi included all of the above, as well as tamago, prawn, salmon roe and eel. All the seafood were very fish, and this platter not only looked spectacular, but also left us feeling very content.

Offering a large variety of dishes that accommodates both Japanese lovers and those who are still being introduced to the cuisine, Ichi Ni Nana is a good place for group gathering, intimate dinners and the like. If you are going in a big group or on a busy night, make sure you make a booking ahead of time, or, be prepared to wait for a bit on rooftop bar, which certainly isn’t the worst thing in the world.

How to get here:
Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya is located on Brunswick Street, catch tram #86 towards Bundoora RMIT and get off at the Brunswick Street/Gertrude Street stop, and the restaurant is 350 metres away. Alternatively, catch tram #11 towards West Preston from Parliament Station and get off at the Hanover Street/Brunswick Street stop, and the restaurant is 100 metres away.

Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kaprica

Kaprica has been a hidden gem close to uni for as long as I can remember. It is easily missable if you don’t know what you’re looking out for, but on any sunny day, there’s sure to be a crowd sitting outside, and that’s what gives away its location.1

2

Provelone (Small) – $16.00

I’ve been here from time to time throughout my study, but is still yet to test every pizza on the menu. On this occasion, I went for the Provelone, which had the topping of artichoke, provolone, rocket and tomato. This was a very lightly flavoured pizza, and all four ingredients worked in harmony. I especially loved how the rocket cut through the richness of the provolone and the saltiness of the artichoke, and the tomato base lent every bite some acidity.3

The small pizza is very satisfying for one person, and doesn’t break the bank, which is why Kaprica remains popular amongst students nearby. I’m pretty sure we visited at around 3pm, hence the empty tables, but trust me, if you’re visiting on a Friday night, be sure to make a booking so that you don’t have to wait out in the cold.

How to get here:
Kaprica is located on Lincoln Square, catch any tram heading out of the city from Melbourne Central/Swanston Street and get off at Lincoln Square South, Kaprica is less than two minutes walk away.

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

Green Refectory

Green Refectory is somewhat of an institution on Sydney Road, and after all these years, I finally managed to visit it myself.

The menu is sprawled over the blackboards over the counter, and the glass cabinets are filled with cakes, pastries, and salads, you are definitely spoilt for choice here.

The service is minimal, find a table on your own, and order up at the counter, and you’ll be given a whiteboard with a symbol on it as your table number, and in a few short moments, the food will be at your table.Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

The atmosphere is the perfect sort of laid back, relaxing place, the type that make you feel like you can stay for hours, whether chatting away with a friend, indulging in a book, or getting some work done, and there were definitely people doing all those things during my visit.

2

Skinny Flat White – $3.70

My friend and I met up at 9am, which meant that a coffee was definitely needed. The flat white was smooth and velvety, and the adorable old school saucer added a cute touch.

3

Breakfast Stack – $12.00

Being a first time visitor, I thought it was obligatory that I order one of Green Refectory’s most well-known dishes, the breakfast stack. The tall stack consisted of a potato rosti, tomatoes, bacon, grilled haloumi, spinach, and an egg on top. The potato rosti was pretty much a mash, but it was tasty nonetheless, with bits of melted cheese throughout. The whole stack was tied together with a tomato relish, and although it’s truly nothing special, it had all the key ingredients of a good breakfast, and for a little more than $10, there really isn’t much to complain about.

Green Refectory certainly had a lot to offer, and although it’s definitely not your refined brunch, and does not have that many innovative dishes on offer, given its sheer quantity of choices, everyone can surely find something that they like. I heard it can get quite busy around meal times, but it really was a quiet and relaxing place when we visited at the earlier part of the day, and it is a place that I am likely to return to, especially since it’s literally right on the doorsteps of a tram stop.

How to get there:
Green Refectory is located on Sydney Road, get on tram #19 from Melbourne Central or Flinders Street Station, and get off at stop #20 Barkly Square/Sydney Road, and it’s literally 10 meters away.

Green Refectory Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Oriental Spoon

1

Oriental Spoon is amongst one of the oldest Korean restaurant in CBD, backed up by no evidence other than my memory. I was never really that big a fan of it, but after being turned away at three Korean restaurants, we finally admitted defeat and walked into Oriental Spoon at 9pm.

2

Top: Bean Sprouts | Bottom: Kimchi

The banchans were placed promptly on our table. The bean sprouts were pleasant enough, but the kimchi was a lot sweeter than I’m used to.

4

Top: Cucumber Kimchi | Bottom: Fishcake

The cucumber kimchi had the same sweetness as the standard kimchi, and the fishcake had a nice bite to it.

5

Fried Chicken Combo – Soy and Sweet Chilli: $34.00

The whole night we were trying to hunt down some Korean Fried Chicken, so this was a no-brainer of an order. When the chicken was placed in front of us, it looked so sad and pathetic. There was only 10 pieces of chicken, and the pieces were quite small too. My Korean friend even asked the waitress if this was a full of half serving, and we were told it was indeed the full one, and the waitress looked a little embarrassed by the question, if that’s any indication.

Size apart, these were pretty disappointing taste wise too. My friend said they were no better than actual KFC chicken, which I had to agree with, there was barely any sauce, and the chicken were just not the crunchy and juice kind that I’m used to from other Korean restaurants.

6

Jap Chae – $17.90

We also got the jap chae to fill us up, which is sort of like a fried noodle dish with sweet potato noodle, sliced beef and a variety of vegetables. According to my friend, the authentic way to make this dish is to cook each element separately, and then mixing it together, to ensure everything is cooked perfectly. The dish is meant to have a very light flavouring of soy and sesame oil, but this was not the case here at all. This reminded all of us of beef bulgogi, and not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s just not the flavour you have in mind when it comes to jap chae.

7

The restaurant was reasonably filled up when we visited, and there was a range of customers. Given that Oriental Spoon has stayed around for years, and expanded during that time, clearly it’s doing something right, but I am unwilling to give it another go after this meal, especially because there are so many grean Korean restaurants around Melbourne.

How to get there:
Oriental Spoon is located on La Trobe Street, 5 minutes walk away from Melbourne Central.

Oriental Spoon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato