2010 Cheap Eats Champs

February 23rd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

The Age Cheap Eats 2010 Awards

Bar Idda

132 Lygon Street, Brunswick East, 93805339

Seasonal, familial food is what this Sicilian kitchen is all about, cooked with heart by Alfredo La Spina, while wife Lisa runs a tight ship out front delivering warm service. Highlights include the mulinciani (baked eggplant) and Idda’s own pork and fennel sausages.

See awards winners’ photos here

Mr Hyde

11 Malop Street, Geelong, 52231228

Congratulations, MrHyde, you are this year’s country champ, a three-star winner in Cheap Eats for three years running. Part bistro, part wine bar, this converted old bank with chandeliers and swanky booths delivers fine dining at Cheap Eats prices.

BAR OF THE YEAR

Riverland

Federation Wharf (under Princes Bridge), city, 96621771

Riverland is the effortless all-rounder you can’t help but like, with its prime Yarra River possie and Six Degrees fit-out. The outdoor barbecue food is exactly what you want with a tall glass of tap beer.

CHEAP EATS HALL OF FAME

Bombay by Night

355 North Road, Caulfield South, 95786150

When Jaspal and Arvind Gandhi moved from Bombay to Melbourne in 1990 — and opened BBN that same year — they brought with them recipes from their homeland and created a top-end Indian restaurant. It’s still going great guns.

BEST BREAKFAST OF THE YEAR

Demitri’s Feast

141 Swan Street, Richmond, 94288659

You’ll be hard pressed to order just one of the inventive brekkies at this Hellenic hotspot. The baklava French toast rocks, but they also do good eggs, sage mushrooms and fancy semolina pancakes with a sprinkling of edible Persian rose petals.

PIZZERIA OF THE YEAR

+39 Pizzeria & Degustation Bar

362 Little Bourke Street, city, 96420440

Named after Italy’s international phone code, +39 is run by Remo Nicolini and, as you’d expect, this polished pizzeria is primo. File in for thin-crust pizzas, top-notch ingredients and charmingly offbeat service.

CAFFEINE HIT OF THE YEAR

7 Seeds

106 Berkeley Street, Carlton, 93478664

Being judged as making the best coffee in Melbourne is a mighty big call. At this progressive micro-roaster run by Mark Dundon, you’ll find beans sourced from estate to single-origin to micro lot and, the bottom line, a superb cup of coffee.

VEGETARIAN DISH OF THE YEAR

Half Moon Cafe

13 Victoria Street, Coburg, 93502949

Half Moon should be on your falafel Holy Grail. These Egyptian-style patties are made from a chunky fava bean mix and fried crisp in fresh oil, and there are five falafel combinations.

WORLD FOOD DISH OF THE YEAR

En Izakaya

277 Carlisle Street, Balaclava, 95258886

The dish? Seared momen tofu and miso-infused eggplant. Tofu and eggplant … how good can it be? Well, pretty good. It’s the meeting of the soft, creamy, charry eggplant with the lightly crisp-fried tofu that does it.

BEST COMMUNAL TABLE

Dead Man Espresso

35 Market Street, South Melbourne, 96862255

The recycled messmate table sitting proudly in front of the coffee machine is in the dead centre of the hip bustle yet still manages to be an uncluttered, calm oasis with a vase of fresh blooms.

BEST POSH EAT

The Court House

Front Bar, 86-90 Errol Street, North Melbourne, 93295394

This fancy front bar is posh but not too posh, with its dark wood panelling, art deco style and knowledgable bartenders. The food is a cut above, like a grilled salmon salad or bangers and buttery mash.

Melbourne Best Breakfast

February 22nd, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Top 10 best-value breakfasts

Breakfast is a major part of a cheap eater’s repertoire, so here are 10 of the best dishes from this year’s Cheap Eats guide. (source The Age)

Babka
358 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 94160091

At this breakfast benchmark for nigh on 16 years, the Russian blintzes ($9.50) are a signature. Two smallish discs are filled with sweetened ricotta and sultanas, then pan-fried in butter and soused in a tangy orange and lemon sauce. Also try: almond croissants ($4) and fruit danishes (plum, rhubarb, raspberry or apple; $4) made with whole egg custard.

Birdman Eating
238 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 94164747

Birdman’s brekkies are still soaring. Try black pudding with braised tomato, potato hash and a fried egg ($17.50). The roma tomatoes are seasoned with chilli, garlic, cinnamon, brown sugar and white wine vinegar, then baked. The potatoes are a simple hash of grated desiree spuds with parsley and salt, and the egg comes sunnyside up. And the best bit? Breakfast runs till 5pm daily. Also try: coconut quinoa porridge with banana and palm sugar ($11.50).

Blue Dish
326 Highett Road, Highett, 99396641

The Gallic way of life is thriving at Blue Dish. Start your day with a rich croque-monsieur ($10.50) – a piece of noisette bread is layered with Dijon mustard, Virginian ham, creamy bechamel sauce and melty gruyere cheese (for $12.50, you can have it with roasted tomato and a fried egg). Also try: Blue Dish’s traditional take on baked eggs provencale ($14.50).

The Cornershop
9 Ballarat Street, Yarraville, 96890052

Glaswegian David Danks has taken his distinctive menu to the west. The signature dish is the black rice with mango, coconut yoghurt and palm sugar ($9), a zesty little number served in a glass tumbler. Black rice is cooked in palm sugar, dolloped with house-made coconut yoghurt (natural yoghurt hung with coconut milk for 48hours) and topped with mango and toasted, shredded coconut. Also try: field mushroom, garlic and gruyere baked eggs ($12).

Demitri’s Feast
141 Swan Street, Richmond, 94288659

Pull up an olive oil tin and feast on baklava French toast ($11), a Hellenic version of the classic dish with a Greek-style sweetbread topped with cinnamon-tossed walnuts, an orange honey-sugar syrup and citrusy yoghurt. Also try: semolina pancakes with rose jam, pistachios and a sprinkling of edible Persian rose petals ($11).

Fandango
97 Errol Street, North Melbourne, 93290693

It’s low key and laid back at this tiny cafe with excellent breakfasts that run all day. A winner is the nutty pesto scrambled eggs ($12) served on sourdough with roasted tomato. Also try: a triple stack of pancakes with banana, strawberries and a home-made honeyed cream cheese on top ($10).

Hardware Societe
120 Hardware Street, city, 90785992

Di and Will Keser are back with their natty cafe and superb brekkies, like the Continental ($10). It comes on a wooden paddle with a jar of tart yoghurt flecked with vanilla bean, a dish of syrupy, minted pineapple with pomegranate seeds, and a perfect croissant with real butter and house-made jam.

Service is faultless. Also try: scrambled eggs topped with salmon roe and served with a half-baguette of Tasmanian salmon ($12).

Las Chicas
203 Carlisle Street, Balaclava, 95313699

Breakfast is king at Las Chicas and four pages of its menu are devoted to the most important meal of the day. A walk-out-the-door dish is the Mexican-inspired Brekky Burrrito ($14.50) of scrambled eggs, bacon and rocket wrapped in a tortilla and topped with avocado and tomato salsa.

Also try: pumpkin and polenta loaf with baked beans, spinach and a poached egg ($13.50).

Mart 130
107a Canterbury Road (light rail station), Middle Park, 96908831

If you don’t know Mart’s story by now, then get on board, literally, at the light rail station in Middle Park.

Punters pile in for dishes such as the triple stack of pancakes, beautifully loaded with banana, Belgian chocolate sauce, toasted hazelnuts, vanilla bean mascarpone and maple syrup ($15.90). Also try: corn fritters with bacon, tomato relish, sour cream and coriander ($16.90).

Mitte
76 Michael Street, Fitzroy North, 90777379

You might have to wait for a table but the breakfasts at this back-street haunt are worth it.

Try the soft-poached eggs on Dench toast with half an avocado — it sounds pretty normal but not when it comes with a tomatoey spiced chickpea bake with Meredith feta and a sprightly herb salad ($16.50). Also try: fruit salad ($11) with banana, grapefruit, orange, kiwi fruit, lychees, mango and passionfruit.