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Brother Burger & the Marvellous Brew

18 Aug

Its been a bit quiet on the DDO front, but that’s what having a little one does. Not that we have stopped dining out completely, but dining options (read pram friendly) and time is limited when there is a little one dependent on you pretty much 24/7. So the past weekend JP and I decided to take a bit of time to ourselves to celebrate 3 years married and apart from the fine dining (at Ezards which we thoroughly enjoyed) we also did a quick and dirty option which on this occasion meant burgers (because lets face it, how do you enjoy a burger dripping with sauce with a baby) at the newly established Brother Burger & the Marvellous Brew. Arriving for an early dinner, we eagerly headed in through the black door underneath the neon burger at the side of the large site that used to house Retro and Eat Drink Man Woman. Brother Burger inhabits the back section of the cavernous site (the front will be home to an Argentinian bakery of sorts – yet to open), and despite the new use of space, it still feels rather large. Inside the open kitchen runs the length of the room, bar stools lined up against the countertop with booth style seating against the windows.

We settle into a seat next to the window and are promptly greeted with some menus, which apart from the burgers, offers some entrees, counter meals and desserts that represent a modern take on traditional (daggy) Australian pub fare (think Chicken Kiev, the Pie Floater and Seafood Mornay).

We started with the Corn Hush Puppies – essentially corn fritters – which whet our appetites for more, and we weren’t disappointed.

Corn Hush Puppies

The burger offering is generous, with bacon, egg, cheese, pineapple as optional extras. For those not wanting the wagyu beef patty, there is a chicken, a fish and a vegetarian offering. Yes – the Magic Mushroom is just that and does not come with a patty (clearly having a child has killed some brain cells of mine – as that is the only way I can explain how I came to order the vegetarian offering). Despite my mistake, I thoroughly enjoyed the crumbed mushroom and the juicy peppers that were squashed between the fresh buns. The goats cheese provided a refreshing bite which finished off the burger beautifully. JP opted for the Royal Blue which came oozing blue cheese goodness all over that juicy wagyu patty. The only (small) complaint would be that it was impossible to eat the burger without dripping those tasty juices everywhere – but that’s to be expected with a fresh burger offering.

The Magic Mushroom (Onion Rings at back)

The Royal Blue

A side of onion rings (HUGE!!) and french fries (hmm satisfactory, but not crispy enough for me) rounded out our feast. We did consider getting the lettuce (for maybe one split second), but let’s face it, any goodness harnessed from a few green leaves would be cancelled out by one onion ring alone. All in all a great meal – here’s hoping that Brother Burger lasts the distance.

(P.S. as the name suggests there is also a good selection of Victorian artisan beers, including a Stout from Hargreaves Hill, as well as a couple of wine options)

Brother Burger & the Marvellous Brew

413 Brunswick Street
, Fitzroy (03) 9419 0088

Xi’an Famous Foods – NYC

3 Oct

After a month of ‘settling’ in to New York City and it’s ever vibrant -not worth missing-i’ll sleep when I die- cultural offerings, it took a bad douse of Bronchitis to finally slow me down!  Nothing like a bad case of disease to make you really home sick…

And so, for the past week, I have taken to curing my physical and mental illness by loitering around Chinatown every chance I get.  Something about the smells.  The crowds of people.  The rather loud often unnecessary hollering.  Did I mention the smells…?  I found comfort in hearing my mother tongue even if it were from the mouth of a stranger!!

Although i’d been more than successful in visiting a large amount of Asian Bakeries and grocery stores -yes I already have my firm favourites: Grand Bakery!  HK style milk tea and their egg sponge paper cake – I was still yet to dine at any of the many Asian restaurants…which, given my fear of eating out alone kind of makes it rather difficult.  So having spent much of the week obsessively ‘researching’ online for good recommended Asian eateries, I found the most commonly written about happened to be a little place called Xi’an Famous Foods.

Xi'an East Village

So on a night where it was cold, rainy and the thought of consuming another dumpling was enough to make me want to self harm (my freezer is FULL of dumplings!! That’s what happens when you put a lazy Asian girl alone… in New York City… who has been hitting EVERY Asian grocer in town!!)  I decided to give Xi’an a go!  It ticked all the boxes: within 0.5 miles (umm… i guess thats less than a kilometer…?)  from my house, did takeaway and was fast and cheap!

Xi’an offers a range of noodles, soups and starter dishes, and is most famous for it’s hand ripped noodles, a dish called the Lamb Face Salad (which I thought about ordering…. maybe next time!) and most highly touted The Cumin Lamb Burger.

Having done all my research online before going, I decided I wasn’t hungry enough to tackle the Lamb Face thing, and didn’t feel like dealing with the wrath of noodle soup done Take Out, so I went with the famous Lamb Burger.  Walking into the tiny shop that is Xi’an, I couldn’t help but feel relieved to find the shop full of Asians!! Not to be controversial… but choosing to adorn your Asian Eatery’s hoarding with the words “Western Chinese Cuisine” hardly instills confidence – and I do not have enough energy to start ranting about why no one (not even white people) orders Lemon Chicken anymore… !  (Upon more research, it seems the Xi’an restaurant chain ‘boasts a unique cuisine that may be best described as a fusion of Middle Eastern and Chinese foods.’)

Cumin Lamb Burger $3

So it took approximately 97 seconds between me ordering and paying, and walking out the door with my dinner!! It also took that 97 seconds of waiting whilst seeing everyone eating their hand ripped noodle goodness to give me SEVERE food envy and make me suddenly starving!!

Lamb Burger

I pull that neat little ‘burger’ out of its bag, to reveal a nicely toasted bun with the filling sitting neatly inside.  I was pretty delighted to find no sauce spills or mess when taken out of the wrapping.

Inside. Cumin spiced lamb

Although, after taking a few initial bites, it didn’t take long for me to wish it had been a sauce laden mess!  The bun tended to be a little… no… actually a lot on the dry side.  Given the Cumin Lamb is not meant to be saucy, it is kind of understandable!  But I wish I was given some hot sauce or something to relieve those bland chunks of bun!!

Having said that though, the lamb was very well cooked.  Not tough at all, and well marinated in the cumin giving off a nice subtle heat (it could have been hotter!! But then again, all the places i’ve eaten and ordered the item with the chillies next to it are lacking heat).

Maybe it was the slightly dense, dry texture of the bun… Or more likely the fact that I feel like i haven’t eaten meat in a long time … I found myself to be struggling at the half way mark.  This little ‘burger’ is surprisingly filling, amazingly cheap and as far as (VERY VERY) fast food goes, I think i’ll be revisiting this over McDonalds.  Now all I have to do is get over my fear of eating out alone and it’ll be Lamb Face Salad time…

Xi’An Famous Foods –

East Village  81 St. Mark’s Place, New York, NY 10003

China Town (counter only| no seating) 88 East Broadway #106, New York, NY 10002

China Town  67 Bayard Street, New York, NY 10013

Flushing 41-28 Main Street Bsmt #36, Flushing, NY 11354

Smith & Mills

4 Sep

Coffee

Given my current ‘every day is kind of a holiday’ situation whilst in the culinary city that is New York, I’ve been overwhelmed with choice, but have been eating brunch out pretty much everyday.  (Yep!! Have been neglecting my peanut butter obsession for almost 3 weeks now…)  So today, G and I decided to head to Tribeca (and it may or may not have been in hope of the off chance of running into Jay-Z and Beyonce… G has an innate talent for searching out celebrity hang outs and postal codes!)

Tucked away on N Moore Street, we entered to find this little gem, void of hustle and bustle – and or people – and furnished to industrial perfection.  A line of quilted seats line the borders of the cafe and it is decked out with raw iron furnishings.  We like it here.  Apparently so does James Franco… I could go on about Mr Franco and his ability to have his fingers dipped in seemingly EVERY pot of artistic cool!  But I might just spare us all and talk about the food.

The night before we’d made a trip out to Astoria – the Greek equivalent of Lygon Street in Melbourne… but kind of a lot further out on the subway- and I’d made the mistake of letting G order … or OVER ORDER!  So still feeling the food coma of last nights escapade, I decided to go for something lighter.

Greek yogurt, granola, seasonal fresh fruit, raisin walnut toast $9

Normally I would be the one scoffing at the person who would order this out!  And yes!! I am paying 14 times what I probably should be for some cut fruit and yogurt!! But after last night’s mass feed, the mere thought of ANYTHING meat or in oil made me want to hurl!  So my over priced bowl of yogurt and fruit and bread was JUST what I needed!  And for $9 it was actually a VERY generous serving.  (or maybe my values are all askew from being in the states). Although don’t ask me what that bread situation was… because although the menu said raisin walnut, I’m PRETTY sure it was just brioche.  NO MATTER!! I enjoyed every non salty-meaty-greasy bite!

French Toast, seasonal fresh fruit, butter, local maple syrup $14

George also went for something sweet, his French Toast lookin’ all cute stacked up like a Jenga tower… Oh and DROWNED in maple syrup!  By all accounts, it tasted delish.  We did some sharesies and the corner I got was nice and crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside!  Possibly the only gripe I had with both of ours was the finely sliced apple situation.  Bit of a cop out?!

Quilted interiors

Like most cafes here, Smith & Mills also offers a dinner menu and cocktails all day (New Yorkers know how to drink… and it’s anytime of day!!  My kind of people!).  The menu is simple offering raw sections, some starters with a Hungarian twist  and 4 Mains – with one of them being the obligatory burger.

The entire time, besides 2 ladies sitting at the bar enjoying a bit of a cocktail and some flirting with the barman, the place was nice and quiet!  I felt like sitting there all day.  Perhaps if G wasn’t with me, I’d be the one flirting with the Bar Man! Perhaps next Saturday…

Smith & Mills

71 N. Moore Street

New York, NY, 10013

+212 226 2515

The Spotted Pig

2 Sep

The entrance of the Spotted Pig

It’s almost my third week in New York City.  The City that never sleeps… and most certainly NEVER stops eating!!  I’m slowly ticking off my ‘eats list’ around NYC (which is endlessly growing)!

I’d had a fun day at work, and got out kind of early so decided to walk home.  I do that a lot here.  Walking!  Even if I get back from a day of it and SWEAR to not walk 30 blocks again, I always find myself getting home exhausted and feeling like my feet have been raped by pounding the pavement. The upside of walking though means I have A LOT of thinking time.  And it means I work up an excruciating appetite.

George and I decide it’s finally Burger Time!  The Spotted Pig is a small corner pub in the West Village, known for Mario Batali’s heart attack inducing Roquefort Beef Burger.  Despite it’s many accolades and constant crowds you can tell it hasn’t fallen victim to the hype.  It’s cosy.  Still looks like a pub, and the place isn’t jam packed full of hipsters or corporates or wannabes wanting to be seen.  In fact, the only thing it is packed with is pig paraphernalia…

After our 45 minute wait at the bar, by the time we are seated G and I are both beyond starving!  We are presented menus but in my Burger Blinker state, don’t even skim over it and get right to business.  (sitting at the bar for 45 minutes meant I had to watch approximately 3 burgers a minute be ferried from kitchen to customer… it made me ravenous for one!!)

Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese & Shoestrings $ 17

Roquefort cheese oozes over the medium rare patty

The burger arrives cooked to order (we both asked for medium rare) covered with a mountain of shoe string fries.  It’s a decent thick patty, and upon cutting it open, is indeed cooked to how I ordered.  Nice!  Although a simple burger, with nothing but meat and cheese (livin’ the dream in my books… one doesn’t need bother wasting time with greens), there isn’t a moment throughout the experience of flavour boredom.  And yes!  That cheese is intense!!  But it’s by no means over the top!

Given the size of this Meat/Cheese flavour bomb, by the time I finish it I can’t even get through half the fries… and dessert is most certainly not happening!  Instead we leave with a belly full of goodness (it’s nice to leave a restaurant without feeling ripped off, pissed off and hungry!)  Next time though I must be sure to actually read the menu…

I heart NY. I heart Spotted Pig!

The Spotted Pig

314 W. 11th St (@Greenwich St.) West Village

(212) 620-0393