Saturday, 20 April 2013

Wonderbao - Literature Lane Curiousity

After reading a fair amount of positive press and equally good comments on Twitter about Wonderbao my interest was effectively peaked so we went on the hunt for this place on A'Beckett Street, which is technically accessed via Literature Lane for lunch the other day.

This is a small shop that is hugely popular considering the very reasonable prices and the proximity to not only the CBD but also RMIT. The first thing I noticed when approaching the building that Wonderbao is housed was that the police were conducting some sort of operation across the road. It wasn't long until the whole of the police were also queued up to get a bit of the Wonderbao goodness.

We were lucky and were able to secure one of the six stools against the window after ordering. You can easily have a wide variety of tastes for under $10, and I was very impressed. People rave about the pork belly gau bao ($3.80) so that was the first one that went down my gob. The bao itself was light and fluffy and had a very nice texture. I was impressed by the amount of pork belly which which was both gelatinous and tender. The crushed peanuts and coriander complemented it well and I appreciated the volume of food and intriguing tastes that you experience for that meager price. The Cheung chay bao ($2) was the biggest surprise. It is a Chinese sausage bao, not only full of flavour but the bao itself was awesome. I used a fair amount of the chilli sauce provided to spice it up and was thoroughly impressed. Finally "da" chicken bao ($3.20) was consumed. Although the chicken contained a trace of cartilage was tasty however the bau starred with this menu selection and the taste was once again highlighted by the addition of chilli sauce.

If you are fortunate enough to secure a stool, you will have views out to the street art and rubbish bins on Literature Lane. Most people seemingly choose to eat their food in the laneway which has a fair amount of character itself. There is a perfect symbiotic relationship with the location of Wonderbao and this particular laneway and makes for a relaxing and interesting time where your senses are piqued. Don't be surprised if you turn up and see a long queue however do not abandon your desire for bao. The staff are really efficient and you will not be waiting long - in our case less than five minutes, which included time spent in the queue and waiting for the finished product. So good.

Wonderbao, A'Beckett Street, Literature Lane, Melbourne
4/19-37 A'Beckett St., Melbourne VIC 3000
03 9654 7887
My Rating: n/a
Service: n/a
Ambiance: n/a
Quality: n/a
Value For Money: n/a
Opening Times
Mon - Fri8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sat: 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
Beware... Cash only.

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

At the time of this post, 89% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like Wonderbao.

Wonderbao on Urbanspoon

Friday, 19 April 2013

Little Creatures Dining Hall - Of Mice and Men

After visiting Little Creatures Dining Hall on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy for a drink or two in recent times, it wasn't until last weekend when I was able to convince my learned friend to join me not only for the requisite vat of beer to be shared between us, but also wine, pleasant conversation and offerings to share from their menu.

There are a few stools at the bar and a handful of high tables that are technically considered part of the bar, so you can not order food from the proper menu and have it delivered there. Instead, you are asked to walk around and present yourself to be allocated a table in the dining hall. Fair enough. The high tables in the bar are quite small so it was more apt to wander to the back of the hall after being lubricated by pints of Little Creatures after a few hours.

I really liked our server. She brought a certain amount of honesty and it was evident that she was "on our side" with respect to what to get from the menu and actually suggested that we not order some of the items. With this sort of information, we were intrigued so in the end defied her advice which proved to be a bad decision but it was still very refreshing to be provided with such a level of consulting that usually is not on offer.

We requested the cured salmon, beetroot, creme fraiche with toast ($18) to come out first so that it could be enjoyed with the pilsner instead of the red wine that was ordered. This dish was a light and refreshing way to start and with my stomach filled with beer, tasted wonderful. The beetroot was crunchy and the creme fraiche was a nice touch. Sadly this is where the positive experience ended.

Despite placing all of the food orders at the same time, it took 45 minutes for the next dish to come out. However not only a single dish came out but all of the remaining food at the same time which I suppose satisfied the order but caused some chaos on the table. The cheese kransky with sauerkraut and chutney ($13.50) was just horrible. This was one of the dishes that the server recommended not to order. The kransky itself was dry and the cheese was awful. The sauerkraut did a good job of removing the foul taste from my mouth and certainly the wine helped. Chilli, tomato mussels with fennel ($19.50) were then sampled. The chilli completely overwhelmed the mussels and I could not taste them. I could not tell if they were fresh as my senses could not detect the mussels at all. The charred lamb ribs ($16) although technically would make good fare at a beer hall, did not make the grade at all here. Although you would expect one side of the rib at most to be fatty, the meat was completely surrounded by fat.

A serve of enterprise bleu (45g for $11) was ordered to finish off the wine. The cheese was really bitter. Surprisingly bitter.

Despite the majority of the food, we had a good time at the Little Creatures Dining Hall, mainly because of the atmosphere, the server and the quirky ambiance. This place would be good for groups but if you order a single kransky from the "share" menu I can imagine a larger group being disappointed when the single sausage comes out for the relatively high price. There are a few tables outside on Brunswick Street so you can enjoy the elements, the sound of the trams and have a cigarette if that motivates you however when I return next it will be just for the beer.

Little Creatures DIning Hall, Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Little Creatures Dining Hall
222 Brunswick St., Fitzroy VIC 3065
(03) 9417 5500
My Rating: 11/20
Service: 3.5/5
Ambiance: 3.5/5
Quality: 2/5
Value For Money: 2/5

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

At the time of this post, 87% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like the Little Creatures Dining Hall.

Little Creatures Dining Hall on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The Lucky Coq - Pizza au Vin

Standing proud on the corner of Chapel and High Streets in the modest suburb of Prahran, it isn't hard to not notice the Lucky Coq. Some would consider this more of a bar that caters to many subcultures however they do have a pizza menu that is somewhat renowned in the circles that hunt out value for money.

I wasn't intending on calling into the Lucky Coq on this adventurous and pleasant day. I needed to bide some time before an engagement in St Kilda so I happened in there for the first time in over a year. Before I had found the venue to be a good meeting place before toddling off to other venues in the area, most notably Jacques Reymond, but the Lucky Coq, being so conveniently located serves multiple purposes, and as I discovered, they sell pizzas for $4. A glass of postmix Coke is $3.50.

There are roughly twenty pizzas available for purchase. Some being "special" and are not discounted. I placed an order for the "Funghi" which is a simple pizza with a tomato base, cheese and mushrooms. About ten minutes later it was delivered.

What you see on the menu, with respect to the wording, is what you get. The pizza isn't especially large - and is about the size of my Samsung Galaxy 7" Tablet, just round. The sauce was applied very frugally and had little taste. The cheese also seemed to be rationed like they would have done during a Soviet winter in the 1980's. Although the mushrooms were soft and tasted like the familiar fungus should, they were indeed the standout if I am bold enough to nominate one. You are responsible for cutting the pizza also. However given that the pizza cost $4, how critical can you be? It is fine for bar food and if you are looking for some value for money.

The bar itself is designed like there was an explosion at an Op Shop and the fit-out does amuse me a bit with the merging of about four different styles from four different eras where lounges are mixed in with high tables, a pool table and of course an upstairs area which includes a small area outside for our friends that smoke and wish to endure the elements. The furnishings just makes the place a bit funny, where you can't take anything too seriously. A bit like communism in a way.

Lucky Coq, Prahran, Melbourne

Lucky Coq
179 Chapel St  Windsor VIC 3181
(03) 9525 1288
My Rating: n/a
Service: n/a
Ambiance: n/a
Quality: n/a
Value For Money: n/a

Twitter: @epicurean3006
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com

At the time of this post, 87% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also like The Lucky Coq.

Lucky Coq on Urbanspoon