Up In Smoke Footscray

Up In Smoke, BBQ Restaurant Footscray
Up In Smoke, BBQ Restaurant Footscray

It’s not often I get to check out a brand spanking new restaurant so I was really happy to be able to check out Footscray’s newest addition “Up In Smoke” Melbourne’s newest addition to it’s current BBQ restaurant mania.

Situated at 28 Hopkins St it’s very close to Footscray station. Up In Smoke is the creation of Shayne McCallum the man behind 8bit burgers also in Footscray.

The theme is BBQ with their $20,000 double barrel Yoder Frontiersman offset smoker that is going to be cooking up ribs, pulled pork and brisket that’s set free at 6pm each night.

Up In Smoke Menu
Up In Smoke Menu

During the day you’ve got taco’s sandwiches and sides to keep you going till the big boy foods come out 😉

Today we wanted to get a few different flavours so started out with some ham hock and cheddar croquettes.

These little fella’s aren’t the biggest starter on the menu but with low prices as well as heaps of choice you are going to be able to mix and match some great choices.

These were great however I reckon they could have gone a bit more cheese to add a slightly bitey angle to the dish.

For mains I opted for two of the tacos: pulled pork with pineapple salsa and the brisket ends.

Now these guys are not huge. The are probably no bigger than 12cm diameter. I’ve done a pic with the fork so you have something to compare.

The pulled pork was really tasty. The pineapple and tomato was really fresh and the combination worked fantastically well.

The brisket ends were pretty chewy which put me off a little. Yes I know that is kind of the deal with brisket ends but these guys were feeling pretty dry. The smokey flavour was nice and strong which both my companion and I agreed is pretty rare in Melbourne BBQ joints.

My mate opted for the “Up In Smoke” sandwich.

Up In Smoke Sandwich
Up In Smoke Sandwich

First thing I noted was they have totally gone authentic with the american orange cheese. Yes yes I know it’s cheddar however every time I see that colour cheese I have to wonder about the lifestyle of US cows and and how they manage to get such a strong colour.

My mate reports the sandwich was really good. He was impressed with the smokey flavours however he would have preferred a little more dressing and zing to go with the slaw. Now he’s a big time BBQ man so he knows this stuff. Overall impression was a thumbs up.

IMG_7837Added to the meal was some fries. Nice and crunchy and plenty of seasoning to give them some zing.

So today I have to say I was impressed. Great tasting offerings and I am definitely going to have to cross town to check out the evening menu. I am a huge rib fan so I will make sure I am there at 6 on the dot to make sure I don’t miss out.

So yes, colour me impressed. Good food, smaller serves however the prices are made to match…

Kicking ass Mr McCallum. Thumbs Up

You can check out the menu above and sign up for thier mailing list here: http://upinsmoke.net.au/

Dr George

Up in Smoke Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tokushima Collingwood

Tokushima Japanese Smith St Collingwood

 

Tokushima Japanese Collingwood
Tokushima Japanese Collingwood

Tokushima reminds me of the style of “neighbourhood Japanese” restaurant I have enjoyed on travel. Not over stated, plenty of the standards that you expect to see on a Japanese menu.

This is not high end Japanese rather a good solid “place for casual dining” style Japanese.

If you are looking for high end may I strongly recommend Wabi Sabi just a few doors down.

Tokushima is more a relaxed style, perhaps even “home cooking”? That said prices are set a bit too high for that home cooking feel. $20 for a run of the mill chicken teriyaki is starting to get expensive. I notice that some of the reviews are complaining that the prices are high and I do have to agree.

That said let’s talk about the food.

So tonight we had a nice selection of meals…

I opted for 2 entrees: Yakitori and Nasu Dengaku (fried eggplant with miso sauce).

The chicken yakitori was exactly as stated. Nothing really unusual, well cooked however I would have added a little more teriyaki sauce.

When it comes to fried eggplant I was pretty disappointed.  The serving wasn’t very generous. My Sydney local Japanese serves nice big eggplant chunks along with sauce and tofu so I was underwhelmed with the serving I got here.

The eggplant was tasty and the miso sauce was well balanced, how about a bit more of it please!

My dinner companion opted for the teriyaki beef and tempura.

The beef was a fairly generous serve ($21) and it certainly looked to be enjoyed. I thought the tempura could have had some more vegetables but this seems to be a common theme here.

Perhaps it’s the location or the higher rents of Smith St however I just am left with the feeling that while the food is of a good standard it’s overpriced for what it is…

Compared to other options including Pabu & Wabi Sabi, Tokushima might need to up it’s game if it’s going to compete in this Smith St Collingwood location.

Dr George

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

Two Birds Collingwood

Two Birds Cafe Peel St Collingwood
Two Birds Cafe Collingwood
Two Birds Cafe Collingwood

Today I decided to check out Two Birds Cafe on Peel St Collingwood.

Two Birds is one of those places I had heard a lot about but never been to. This place has a reputation for coffee so I decided that’s exactly what I was going to zone in on.

I had had lunch earlier at Tomboy on Smith St who’s decor was pretty messy and all over the shop. If you are looking for industrial done right, Two Birds is dead on the money. Plenty of wood, brick and heaps of windows to allow the light in.

I love how the windows retract back giving it a wonderfully open feel.

I arrived at about 1:30 in the afternoon and there were still a few people lingering drinking coffee. I had a hankering for something sweet however by this stage almost all was sold out.

Available options included a chocolate brownie, a nice muffin and a salted caramel biscuit which is ultimately what I opted for however I was a little disappointed on the lack of choices given how early it was in the afternoon.

salted caramel biscuit Two Birds Collingwood
salted caramel biscuit Two Birds Collingwood

The biscuit has a very meringue like texture, firm with a decent crumble that was picked up with the sweet salty filling. It was quite rich so one was more than plenty. Thumbs up.

Coffee wise I opted for my standard flat white.

flat white Two Birds Cafe Collingwood
flat white Two Birds Cafe Collingwood

The coffee was great, perfect temperature and certainly met the reputation I had heard so much about.

The overall impression is this is a well done cafe. There are more than a handful of places in Collingwood that could afford to check Two Birds out and get some tips… Hint: less hipster and more quality is an excellent start!

You can check out the menu and more here: http://www.twobirdscafe.com.au/

Dr George

Two Birds Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tomboy Collingwood

Tomboy Smith St Collingwood
Tomboy Smith St Collingwood
Tomboy Smith St Collingwood

Today in my ongoing search for the perfect brunch I’ve decided to check out Tomboy on Smith St Collingwood.

Tomboy is an interesting venue with a bit of a mix between a tinkers shop and “Melbourne shabby chic”. Lots of different bits and pieces brought together in a back dining room style cafe.

Feature piece of the room is an old milk bar sign and I get the feeling this has set the mood for the decor with a bit of rescue and hang styled theme.

Decor aside I came to eat so let’s get stuck into it.

Chai Latte Tomboy Collingwood
Chai Latte Tomboy Collingwood

First up was a chai latte. Served a little cold it was pleasant but nothing out of the ordinary. Tasted like a powered chai which given the popularity of loose leave chai I am always surprised when it comes out. Surely it’s not that big a jump to the real deal?

Menu wise it’s very much a breakfast selection. Given brunch is my favourite meal of the day I had no issues with this however seems some people have complained when reading other reviews.

Today I opted for the pork belly brioche bun.

I really enjoyed this choice. The roll was soft and just sweet enough. By the time I had tucked in the base had already absorbed some of the pork belly juice and was amazing. The pork was super soft and tender. The fat gently rendered and sweet and so so smooth. The combination of crunchy coleslaw and tofu was interesting and blended well in the flavours. This was a pork belly roll I will be back for.

Overall this is a good feed and I would recommend it. The menu is a little limited and if you are looking for more substantial or lunch oriented you are probably going to be best served elsewhere. Thankfully there is heaps of fantastic food in Collingwood.

DSC01814

If you happen upon a sunny day don’t forget there is a great outdoor space out the back.

You can check out the menu and more here: https://www.facebook.com/tomboymelb/

Dr George

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

MamaNee Thai Collingwood

 

Mamanee Thai Smith St Collingwood
Mamanee Thai Smith St Collingwood

With today being Australia day I thought we would go for a traditional Aussie meal and head to one of our local Thai restaurants. One of the joys of living in Australia is the huge amount of different asian cuisines available and Thai happens to be one of my favourites.

Rocking up at 6pm we were pretty early and the only people in the restaurant other than the staff who were enjoying an early dinner.

The restaurant is setup with a long row of tables to the left a bar at the back and the kitchen is on the right side of the room. I can only imagine this place would get very hot were it not for the air conditioning.

As you can see from the picture above you can also watch the kitchen from the footpath. This must be a bit of a mixed blessing as as we were leaving I got to watch the cook tasting and licking the spoon… Let’s hope that spoon was dropped into the “to be washed” basin?

Kiddygate:

IMG_7776

So as I mentioned we were the only people in the restaurant. On arrival we were seated at a 2 person table in the middle of the row… Excellent.

2 minutes later a family arrived. Mum, Dad and two of the most hyperactive, bouncing and undermedicated children I have ever had the pleasure meeting…

Of all the tables in the whole, empty restaurant the waitress decided to seat them right beside us. I was totally what the fuck?

I actually asked the waitress why she would do that to which I was just given a blank look. Given that response I asked we be moved. She offered one table over.

Ummm lady, you don’t seem to be getting the point. We want our dinner without screaming…

When we asked to be moved to a table well away from the ruccus she started to complain that “well that table is for customers… If a group of 6 arrives what am I going to do?

I actually needed to explain that it was only 6pm and only 2 tables were occupied…. I promised to move should a small bus load of pensioners arrive. We were reluctantly moved.

I noticed mid meal that another couple arrived, again sat next to the screaming banchees, again asking to be reseated… WTF was it “meet a family living with ADHD” night?

So Tell Us About The Food:

Overall the food was decent Thai.

We started with a mixed entree. Included were prawn parcels, vegetable spring rolls, meat spring rolls (though to be honest both me and my companion were totally unsure of what meat it was), awesome fish cakes and 2 of the biggest vegetable curry puffs I’ve seen.

The pasty was crunchy and flavours were nice.

For mains we went with the chicken pad thai and stir fry pork belly with Chinese vegetable.

The pad thai was ok, not dazzling but tasty.

The pork belly was a little dry and over cooked. While the skin did have a nice crunch, the meat was dry and really did need to be carefully chewed…

Overall impression was, meh. Had this been delivered to my home I’d have thought, well it’s ok for take away. As a meal in a restaurant it struck me as subpar…

At least at home I’d not have to negotiate seating.

My personal feeling is that there is heaps of great food on Smith Street. Considering the service & average food, Mama Nee Thai isn’t one of them.

You can check out the menu and more here: http://www.mamaneethai.com.au/

Dr George
Mamanee Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Great Video Showing Some Of Melbourne’s Coffee Scene

Just saw this cool video of some of Melbourne CBD’s interesting coffee and food haunts. The video walks you though the smaller lanes that take you from Flinders Street station to the Bourke Street mall.

Along the way you see quirky shops, grafitti to photograph as well as a pit stop @ Sensory Lab a small coffee nook at the back of David Jones Men’s.

If you were interested in following along the walk I’ve marked up a map below so you know where you’ve been.

IMG_0249

I urge you to explore more than just the streets of this video. Melbourne has such a vibrant coffee and food culture. Dive on in, enjoy, share!

Dr George

 

Le Bon Ton Collingwood

Le Bon Ton Collingwood
Le Bon Ton Collingwood
Le Bon Ton Collingwood

Today I was fortunate to have the opportunity to catch up with two mates over great food. Looking for something different I decided to check out Le Bon Ton on Gipps St Collingwood.

If you are familiar with Melbourne you may remember Le Bon Ton is now resident in the old Glasshouse Hotel. Between Hoddle and Wellington St this gastro-pub is situated a little away from the food corridor of Smith St however it’s well worth the walk.

It’s interesting to see the layout as it’s an eclectic mix of restaurant, tavern and beer garden with a great space filled with tables, candles and a fantastic area outside for when the weather is good.

The beer garden is great for a sunny day as well as warm twilight, the bar area dark and moody with plenty of candles to give that “Anne Rice” feel to go with your meal.

The food is a great mix of options with the main theme being BBQ and Tex-mex. We decided to check out the starters sharing 3 of the recommended options.

First up was the “Cowboy Beans With Smoked Brisket”. I have to say these were my favorite. Really tasty smokey flavours with generous hunks of brisket. This starter is a perfect meal for one if you are looking for a sunday rib sticker.

The sweet corn hush puppies were nice but not the most exciting I’ve had. They were a little on the dry side and could really afford to go a little heavier on the corn. They were served with what appears to be tartare sauce however the menu calls it a tabasco remoulade. Not what I expected the combination was nice.

Last up was Southern Style Fried Chicken. I like the slight sour flavour from the buttermilk with a nice crunchy coat and a decent whack of white gravy  with pepper.

 

Le Bon Ton is also open quite late with the menu running into the evening. Perfect for a quick beer and bite on the way home from the pub (Just 2 blocks from The Laird for those in the know!)

I give this place a thumbs up. Nice US style food and good potential for a first date or good mates after work. I’m going to be back to check out the meat platters and ribs.

You can check out the menu and more here: http://www.lebonton.com.au/

Dr George
Le Bon Ton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato