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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

McConnell Marathons

1 Jun

Sorry for the absence!! It seems DDO have been too busy eating or breast feeding to properly document our culinary adventures of late!  But rest assured… we are still eating… rather excessively in fact!  So whilst the other part of DDO is busying herself tending to the little chub – little babe is gaining the weight of a block of butter every couple of weeks! – I thought I’d give y’all a little look into what I’ve been stuffing my face with in her absence from society!

I’m going to start with an oldy but a goody!  It’d been a successful week on the fitness front and i’d just completed my second workout session at the gym.  Feeling pretty excited by my commitment to working on my fitness I thought i’d treat myself to CUMULUS INC… Something about cold weather and craving carbs!  I needed some of that Fried Bread that Cumulus does so damn well!  I called my favourite mid week dining companion Z to help celebrate my new found lease on life.

Filling the Void: Fried Sour Dough!

I don’t know how Z felt about this bread.  Especially given how much I harp on and on about this stuff, but I enjoyed it!!  This was Z’s first time at Cumulus so I let her do most of the decision making (bar the bread and cauliflower salad).  We decided to get 2 starters, 2 mains and a salad.

Smoked mussels, escabeche $9

First to arrive were the smoked Mussels, with the escabeche giving it a nice vinegar-y kick!  Soon after came the soft shell crab which came with lettuce for wrapping up, and kewpie mayo!

Fried soft shell crab, kimchi, lettuce & kewpie $18

I’ve always been partial to soft shell crab!  Only because you generally, you can’t really f*** it up!  Having said that, credit to Cumulus for getting their batter/crab piece size ratio perfect!  SO many textures and flavours topped with smooth sweet Kewpie!  Winner!

Tuna tartare with crushed green pea salad $32

I think by this stage i’m already getting pretty full, and rather boozy.  Some thing about exercise and making you get drunk really quickly…? The Tuna Tartare came at a good time though, as it’s cold, and light.  I forgot almost instantly about my almost full stomach …

Roast Aylesbury duck breast, toasted grains, lentils & quince $36 (back) & Cauliflower Salad

The duck was delicious and completely unnecessary.  And while  I’ve always been a firm believer of not winning friends with salad, for this Cauliflower salad, I always make an exception!  There’s a bit of greenery, a good smack of paprika… those mouthfuls where you get the pop of pomegranate and pine nut crunch!  It’s a pretty good mouth party!

I left feeling it was all a pretty great way to celebrate my new found fondness for working on my fitness and discovering the genius invention that is ‘skins’.   Sadly, I have since fallen off the fitness train.  But I am still wearing my skins, and eating out!

Our next adventure was also an Andrew Mc Connell establishment.   This time we decided to take new DDO mum out on the town while getting a rest from baby duty, with Little L, Z and I meeting her at the newly renovated The Builders Arms Hotel.

Bread & butter

It didn’t take long for us to settle in, order some wine and get our orders in!  It’d been a while since we all got to hang out and try somewhere different, so amidst me losing my shit over the bread being served  (…yeh don’t get too excited!  It LOOKS like fried bread… but it paled in comparison to that of Cumulus… think it was just a regular sour dough!) and trying to participate in the verbal diarrhea happening at the table, we almost let the waiter open a Magnum bottle of  Valpolicella!

We’d ordered the 2010 Ca’Rugate Rio Albo Valpolicella, which the waitress somehow assumed we meant ‘bring us the biggest bottle of it you have!’.  Love a night out with my girls, but I personally don’t want to imagine the state of us (we’re kind of small, driving and 75% of us asian…) after having 1.5 Litres of wine!

Anyway, crisis averted, normal sized wine served, back to the talking at each other and food on its way!

Pig ear scratchings $6

We decided to get an appetizer and an entree to share.  Between the Pig Ear Scratchings and the Roast Chicken Hearts on the menu, I was right in assuming no one would be into eating hearts…which was annoying because I was sooo intrigued by the tiny little things!!  No matter.  The Pig Ear scratchings were given the go ahead and were tasty, salty and crispy!  We also ordered the Corned duck, raw brussels sprouts and prune ($16) which I have no idea how, but I decided not to take a photo of it.  Come to think of it, I can’t even remember what it tasted like… I guess that’s enough said…?!! (The other DDO – it was amazing! raw brussel sprouts were delicately sliced and surprisingly tasty and the duck was pretty amazing)

Fish pie, smoked trout, prawns, hapuka, sorrel $32

For main’s, both N and I decided to get the Fish Pie (it’s seems N has grown soft since her recent birth giving, and has now relaxed on her ‘everyone order something different’ rule).  It was a very generous serving, with really big, fresh chunks of trout and hapuka in a béchamel type sauce inside.

Z and Little L went for the Dry Aged, grass fed Rib Eye, Cape Grim 800g ($69) to share (that big chunk of meat in the back of the photo) which by all accounts looked cooked to order (Rare!  Of Course!!) and juicy.  We also ordered the obligatory side of fries and baby cos.  Z couldn’t finish her steak, but feedback was positive from both of them.  We all sit back rubbing our rather over stuffed bellies as they clear our well demolished dishes… until the suggestion of dessert seems to magically revive us instantly.

Poached meringue, frozen curd, sour quince jelly $14 (front) & suet pudding

We share the poached meringue and the suet (i.e. animal fat – really) pudding special which the waitress convinces us is the BEST thing on the menu.  Thankfully for her, we aren’t instantly turned off at the sound of animal lard baked into a small cake… because that’s all I remember of the little syrup covered cake to the back.  And she was right!  While the meal wasn’t bad, I think the only redeeming factor of this whole meal (from start; with the lack luster bread, and almost catastrophic mis-serving of the magnum to finish) was in fact this dessert.  You probably won’t see me rush back to the Builders Arms in a hurry….but if I had to, it would be for that pudding.  Animal fat – baked and served with cream!

Cumulus Inc- 45 Flinders Lane  Melbourne VIC 3000 | (03)9650 1445
The Builders Arms Hotel- 211 Gertrude Street  Fitzroy VIC 3065 | (03)9419 0818

Eat Drink Man Woman (EDMW)

3 Jul

A touch of Gold at EDMW

A far cry from its namesake film, the Eat Drink Man Woman philosophy is simple – we Eat, we Drink, and we’re either Man or Woman.  There are no meat cleaver toting chefs (well not from my vantage point into the sleek open kitchen) and no barbeque pork buns on the menu (well not yet, although it would be a bit of a kitschy move to reference the Asian gore flick).

The brainchild of Daniel Schelbert and Marcelo Tummino (of The European and Supper Club fame), EDMW occupies the large space that used to house that Brunswick Street stalwart Retro – which by the way, was probably 10 years past its used by date anyway.  Gone is the garish yellow paint, replaced by classy neutrals, with hints of deep blue and gold – all of which blend with surprising harmony.

Open for just a few weeks, and being where it is (Brunswick St will always be dear to us, despite it now turning into the new Chapel St for the North) we were keen to give the place a go before it became the next over-reviewed and over-populated establishment (ok we’ll admit it, we wanted to be one of the first blogs to get to it before The Age did!).  So despite the no-booking policy (I don’t do no-bookings generally, although the lady on the phone assured me we should be fine for a table of 4 as they had just opened – and then added as an afterthought that ‘yes, we are getting busier and busier by the day…’), we found ourselves seated at a window table (the fam crew – J, JP and E) on a Saturday night.  The place had a nice buzz to it and despite being a rather large space, didn’t feel like it was only half full.

Water came shortly after we were seated (tick!), along with a wine list that whilst not extensive, includes some carefully picked Australian, Spanish and Italian wines, which are all available by the glass and very reasonably priced.  We order a Spanish tempranillo/grenache for $45 and settle in to peruse the menu which offers a mash-up of influences – Thai, Vietnamese, Spanish, Chinese, French…the universe!  Its not a large menu, but add in a couple of specials, and there is more than enough to satisfy any hungry belly.  Being the Asian foodies that we are, we order 5 entrees, 3 mains and a few sides to share – I’ll note here that whilst its not a ‘share menu’ per se, ordering the conventional way will mean that you miss out on all the wonderful offerings on the menu (which is exactly what the patrons next to us opted for…how boring).

For entrees we opted for two specials – salmon cooked at 35 degrees; Spanish jamon; chicken liver pate; ox tongue and mussels with chorizo.  Whilst the mussels were nothing to write home about (well cooked, but uninspired) the 4 others would be what my DDO counterpart would describe simultaneously using superlatives such as ‘flavour nation’, ‘party in the mouth’, and ‘amaze balls’, etc..

Salmon - cooked at 35 degrees

Spanish Jamon

Chicken Liver Pate with grilled bread

Ox Tongue with Bagna Verde

Mussels with Chorizo

First the salmon – the waitress wasn’t lying when she said it melts in your mouth – and melt it did, silky smooth in texture and bursting with flavour that only the freshest piece of produce can – true Flavour Nation!

Secondly the jamon – thinly sliced and served simply with some crusty bread and pureed tomato (I am sorry, its some Spanish way of doing tomatoes but the name escapes me completely).  The fat to meat ratio on each slice was perfect and the saltiness of the meat balanced well with the sweetness of the tomato.

The ox tongue – taste I cannot comment on as I don’t eat it – was beautifully presented with a drizzle of a Bagna-verde and anchovies.  By all accounts its as tasty as it looks and it disappears within seconds of being placed on the table.

Then came the chicken liver pate in its cute little jar and thin slices of grilled bread – not much to look at but talk about a party in the mouth!  The pate was the perfect spreadable consistency (not sludgee, but also didn’t turn into bread crumbs once out of that jar) and not too heavy so that by the end we were all wishing it came in a much larger jar.

Needless to say, entrees had left us hankering for more and we’re salivating as we wait for the mains and down the last drops of wine.  Lucky we didn’t have to wait long at all.  For main course we have the slow cooked pork belly, beef ribs and chargrilled lamb with sides of mushrooms and Vietnamese coleslaw (there are also fries on the menu which looked very appealing at the next table – but alas given the no carb dieters on our table we opted out).

Pork Belly

The pork belly was soft and juicy, the Balinese style dressing of lemongrass, shallots, turmeric, chilli and lime providing the perfect tang and a little spice to each mouthful which melted like butter in the mouth.  Ditto the beef ribs – which was a pleasant surprise actually as ribs usually conjure up a dental nightmare with bits of meat left stuck in hard to reach places as your tear it off the bone.  No dental nightmare here – the meat falls effortlessly off the bone and the housemade barbeque sauce was an amazing balance of sweetness and saltiness.

Beef Rib

The chargrilled lamb rump (with olives, artichokes and rosemary), was probably the only disappointment compared to the other dishes and was probably not worth ordering.  Not that it wasn’t cooked well, just that it could have been replaced by potentially another more inspired dish.  As for the side dishes – highly recommend the Vietnamese coleslaw.  Not the mushrooms though which were a little tasteless.

Lamb Rump

Trifle

Affogato

As always dessert cannot be bypassed even though we are all nursing rather large food babies. J and I share a trifle of raspberry, biscuit crumble and vanilla custard, whilst the others order the affogato.  The trifle comes in a basic glass and is the perfect way to finish off the meal – sweet, crunchy and creamy in all the right proportions, this one’s a winner!  By all accounts the affogato is a hit too (you’d be surprised how many places can stuff up a simple espresso with a  bit of ice cream).

At the end of the night we all agree that this is one of the better dining experiences we’ve had in a long time (particularly in this end of town).  Great service, nice (for now) unpretentious ambience and fantastic food – go there now before the secret gets out!

 

Eat Drink Man Woman

413 Brunswick Street

Fitzroy

(03) 9419 0088