Operator25: Best Breakfast in the CBD

Wow. I picked a good one this time. On Wednesday I took Blackburn J out to breakfast before work. I did some scratching around the Internet deciding where to go and came across positive reviews for a place I had never been: Operator25. The reviews were right – this place is GOLD.


This specialty-coffee cafe lives on Wills Street, near the Flagstaff Gardens. Inside the historic building is a beautiful cafe in the industrial-chic mode, professional and attentive staff, gorgeous flowers and really top quality coffee.


So to the important part, the food really is exceptional. Though clearly today’s photography isn’t. If you think you have pretty much done the Eggs Benedict, you should have one last try of this one. Blackburn J did. Operator25 do their eggs benny on a crispy outside, fluffy inside potato rosti – the grandmother ham is smokey, the eggs are runny, the hollandaise is just the right rich but tangy and the watercress is pretty much what it is, but looks pretty.


I tried the breakfast tortilla filled with soft, moist scrambled eggs, some of the most delicious bacon ever (I must find out where they source it), rich aged cheddar – scattered over with a fresh bean and corn salsa and drizzled generously with a sensational herb oil that I would have licked the remainder from the plate if nobody had been looking. This is an amazing brunch dish and, for hungry-types, absolutely massive.

The menu is compact, but all looks interesting so I am definitely returning and soon. You can scope out the menu on the Operator25 website HERE.

I really think this is a lovely brunch spot. The interior is gorgeous and the service is gorgeous – the Jazz classics music is lovely … Possibly best of all, the coffee is absolute perfection. I opened with a flat white which was as good as it gets – and rounded off with a divine cold drip blend, which is a way of brewing coffee that I love so I’m so glad to see it offered in specialist coffee places. To be honest, until recently I was too shy to order these differently brewed coffees popping up here and there because I didn’t know what I was ordering so felt a bit of a tool. Ha! Over it now and totally able to order exotic preparation coffee and stare down the trendiest gits in Melbourne!

This is my nicest CBD find in a while so I am looking forward to making it a regular.

Operator25 on Urbanspoon



I have been meaning to visit Dalmatino on Bay Street, Port Melbourne for ages. I heard so many people rave about the place. Finally we have been, and are already planning a return visit.

Dalmatino offers “a modern take on traditional Croation cuisine” – so already this is something new for me. I remember seeing the chef from Dalmatino on SBS food Safari making a Dalmatian Fish Stew, and doing this thing of cracking the bones of a massive eel. In fact, you can find the clip HERE if you are curious.

imageThe restaurant is not that large, but feels comfortable, attractively laid-out and lit, with enough little touches in the decor to give a sense of being a family owned restaraunt – like random, antique lockers and other bits and bobs. We were seated at the front of the restaurant, at a little corner table with a window seat, and well happy. It was a warm night, so I started by ordering a nice, chilled glass of prosecco, so quickly got happier. Best of all was our waiter was the very guy, Ino, of Food Safari Eel Cracking fame.

From this point on, expect no decent food photos since the restaurant is romantically lit. But you can take my word for it that the food is exceptional. Portions are generous and the prices very reasonable so it would be easy to over order. The menu is published online HERE.

imageFor a starter, Blackburn J has this enormous pile of mussels cooked with garlic, tomatoes and chilli because, well, why wouldnt you? When they arrive in a massive pile, visibly steaming and emitting a cloud of garlic mussel scent, my stomach actually growled and I experienced sudden food envy. Blackburn J was happy to share, though, and they tasted every bit as good as the aroma.

imageI decided to order Cevapi because it is the only traditional dish from Croatia that I have heard of – even so, I had never tasted it. Cevapi are a type of spiced, skinless sausage served with a kind of capsicum and eggplant dip and kajmak cheese, a very soft, mild sheep cheese. These guys were delicious – smokily grilled, and perfect when matched with the traditional condiments.

From now I officially give up on the photos, which are eerily dark and sinister and truly don’t do the restaurant any favours. Also, I think Eastern European cuisine is meant to be eaten not aesthetically studied.

I also had a main dish which, obviously, had to be the Dalmatino Fish Stew. It was every bit as delicious as it looked on Food Safari, and looked so cute when it arrived in a hot ceramic dish with the scampi curled around the outer rim and, in the centre, a pointy-nosed garfish poking though the polenta pile!

Blackburn J chose a 300 gram wagu rump served with fresh cherry tomatoes and assorted pickled vegetables – this one was from the specials board (and from the moment I saw it, I just knew he would order it). The wagu was sliced and done perfectly to medium rare. The pickles combination, scattered over the meat, was sensational. We thought it was one of the most enjoyable steaks in Melbourne – though Cafe Di Stasio also cooks up a storm in the steak department.

No room for desert this time, though I fully intend trying the sweet dishes when we next visit. Dalmatino is just gorgeous and walking distance back home to the biscuit factory, so I anticipate being a regular before too long.

Dalmatino on Urbanspoon


Pet Detective

So clearly I’ve emerged from about the worst week ever, what with my cat escaping out the front door over a week back.


Obviously, This is picture was taken slightly before Burger cat escaped, given that traffic is pretty much horsedrawn, but all the same you probably get a sense of the environment and the vibe and the doors opening straight onto the street.

Burger is nearly two and has never been outside, and is completely frightened of pretty much everyone but Blackburn J and me. Hence escape is a matter of concern. Being a mature, collected sort of person I choose the sensible option of fully fledged hysteria. I’m running around a medium to high density region in a Melbourne Demons dressing gown alternately sobbing and screaming Burger Burger Burger. Since it is about 8am on a work day in a semi-corporate yuppie-couple suburb, this totally doesn’t draw attention or anything.


Its about now (now at time of writing – not ‘now’ meaning the bit in the story when cat is missing and I’m screaming and sobbing unobtrusively in a built up area) that it occurs to me that I should be sharing this experience with my massive Urbanspoon audience of maybe a handful of dudes – seriously, I’m not the 77th ranked urbanspoon blog for nothing. So to attempt to get this out there, I figure I should mention something along food review lines about some place.

Fritz Gelato

Fritz Gelato on Urbanspoon

So – I choose Fritz Gelato. I really like a Fritz Gelato. I know that because there are lots of them and all, you sort of start thinking they might just be some boring chain, but I swear they do awesome gelato. I often visit the one at the Prahran Market. The award winning coffee rush ice cream flavour is utterly amazing. When I’m in a traditional, sorbet-style gelato mood I tend to go with a three scoop cone with lemon, passion fruit and blood orange. It’s difficult to describe the experience, especially with formerly missing Burger Cat on lap, so I think you should just visit the website HERE, find a Fritz Gelato and go nuts.


Anyways, with Burger Cat out there somewhere for over a week, I needed a strategy as opposed to running around screaming and sobbing. I probably didn’t even contemplate a Fritz Gelato, which underlines the bigness of the crisis. I was also facing a second, corresponding problem which is that I really do need to be at work – after 2 years of being treated as a kind of uninvited, redundant yet paid lodger, I have suddenly broken though as critically necessary and vital. Clearly any temporary absence isn’t going to be permissable, even by cat freaks. Actually, I’m not sure I know of any particular cat freaks at work. We do have a high percentage of your average, run of the mill freaks, but not necessarily of the cat variety.


Luckily I’m super clever and extra sharp now from Burger-crisis-induced inspiration, which means obviously I ask the interwebs what to do because everything typed into Google instantly produces a perfect solution and there are certainly no weirdos or scammers out there. And look what I found: which you can go to HERE.

Since it is difficult to know from the website whether this is a genuine, useful service or a cynical money grab, I thought I would share with you that these people are seriously brilliant.


From the beginning … starting with completing this weird-ass form that seems to be scoping out Burger’s psyche, my strength to weakness ratio, as well as the environmental risks – to the week of coaching on the best methodology to locate a displaced Burger, the pamphlets and flyers prepared and distributed by the super cat detective team while I’m being important at work, the alerts sent to pounds, shelters, councils, vets and general subscibers in the vicinity to the refund I have been given for unspent media buy because we caught the cat, the ability Pet Search gave me to cope and function during the week of madness is indescribable. Which is now the second thing in this post I haven’t been able to describe (the first being a freaking gelato). So Christ only knows why I write this drivel anyway given my struggle with adjectives in a pressure environment. It’s probadly the pride I take in my 77th ranking on Urbanspoon.


Obviously those that know me instantly recognise me in this picture – which I placed there by way of a visual segue to the second part of my coping strategy which involves heavy use of alcohol, most of a packet of valium, and virtually no solid food for a week (okay – that bit was clearly not sensible, but you’ll have to take it because that’s the way I roll). Also, my smokenders program which had progressed to quit point fairly successfully took something of a bashing.

Mind you, I had an almost unbelievably productive week at work. Likely, the emotionally wreaked, spasmodic weeping, pill popping piss-artist approach brings certain intangibles to the table in the corporate world. Like my inspirational, impromptu lecture of the most senior people I could find where I used the word integrity totally more than once. That was a wildly good plan because I’m sure you have noticed for yourself how much important leaders love being lectured about the obvious by random, sleep-deprived, nobody-type staff.


Check out that poster! Nice work pet detectives! Burger is a bit offended because she is a Bengal cat with papers and stuff so regards herself as a bit spesh, but I explained that the Pet Detective lady recommends steering away from mention of the more sought-after breeds and all, so Burger swallowed that explanation of the “tabby” slur, and has gone back to sleep.

Sleep. Me and Blackburn J could use a piece of that. We are utterly zonked now, since our personally crafted pet detective strategic advice involved lying around likely cat-hiding regions saying burger burger burger burger burger in a reassuring way, accompanied by a hot roast chicken (for scent), Parmesan cheese (Burger’s all time favourite food), a burger blanky and igloo (familiar cat objects) and cat catching bag (avoid scratches) each night from 3 until 5 am. On concrete. Not even an excellent Fritz Gelato within reach. 


Picture that over 8 nights. Factor in the not eating, drinking, valium, chain-smoking, controlled (okay – medicated) panic. So I’m in tip top shape and never felt better. So now seems a good time for working through the thousand sms messages from a gazillion very kind (and occasionally odd) people who got one of my 1000 pet detective letterbox fliers and thought they would get in touch to sort of say Hi and I’m sorry about your cat and all. Which is way touching and nice – and certainly not at all distracting during the wall to wall high-level meetings I’m now attending what with me having a current phase of being important at work and indespenible – only with a constantly ringing phone (which is set to iphone5 duck noise quacktone – really making a solid contribution to my professional reputation). So now I’m communicating the return of the lost cat, and fielding more messages from a massive, regional cat network of which I was previously unaware, saying how good it is Burger is home. I’m suddenly pleased I selected a pretty comprehensive telstra plan.

So – to the cat.


Actually, even with the no sleep, the constant supply of roast chickens, the coaxing strategy etc. I have work to thank for the Burger grab. Which is good, because aside from salary I have precious little else to thank work for in the past few years. As it happens, Blackburn J has this massive blowout with his boss, who really did this time cross a way long way over any acceptable line, so stormed out of work and went home. Apparently (not being present myself what with being professional and therefore still at work) a person over the road targeted by pet detective fliers grabbed him on the street because she had found Burger crouched between her house and the adjoining church (finding God, presumably).

Anyhoo …. There is apparently a good 30 minutes of Blackburn J lying in Mrs Lady’s yard “burger burger burgering” at this church/house, Burger-filled gap. There is a sort of tentative inching process involved, some proww noises from a very dirty Burger, with some occasional setbacks until Blackburn J judges the time is right and makes a lunge and grab manouver and sprints home with hysterically struggling freak cat with a high-velocity claws threshing in all directions.

So what happens next?

Nothing much. I get home and the cat is perfectly fine. She doesn’t even seem greatly distressed after the ordeal, instead stuffing down about 1,000,000 fishbickies and a drink of water. Her latest move is that she has curled herself in ball and gone to sleep on my lap.

Blackburn J is in a celebratory state (slightly pizzled) alternating between hysterical self-praise for cat-grab skills and occasional rants about his boss while simultaneously eating left-over roast chicken. He is also cut to ribbons from a wild series of Burger scratches, so I go get some betedine and attempt a bit of repair work, discovering part-way that I’m actually swabbing his arm with a betedine throat gargle.


Lost cat is reunited with not lost cat. I am exhausted. Once I have slept for a few days, I plan to go get myself a Fritz Gelato.



De Clieu: another breakfast in Fitzroy

Right on. Here we are back in Fitzroy and I’m off to De Clieu for a bang up breakfast. Matter of fact I have been here before in order to try the pork neck with a spring onion roti which made the Herald Sun 25 best breakfasts in 2013. Now I’m seasoned in Melbourne breakfasts so want to try again to see if De Clieu really is up there with the legends.

Coffee scores highly. Love it that de Clieu uses five senses coffee, and it is rich, nutty, beautifully made and worth ordering twice, which I did.


Ok so Blackburn J is feeling a bit unadventurous so goes with the eggs benny. He rates it as good but not amazing. The hollandaise is a bit bland (though an interesting if somewhat disconcerting lemon-yellow shade), but I do like that it is served on a muffin and not over hard-crusted, saw-me-if-you-can ciabatta.


So I order these three balls, or five if you count the eggs, with bacon, rocket and saffron aioli. I’m not certain how you make ball croquettes look elegant. Maybe by sort of half hiding them behind random rocket? Nah – doesn’t work entirely. Whatever, I’m meant to be eating right? If I wanted to gaze at some art, the obvious place to look is at a gallery, not at a plate. How about I sort this now and forget the matter and eat? Right. Sorted.

Nope … not entirely sorted. It appears I have more to say on the issue. I’m feeling compelled here, you don’t get a choice in the matter…

I don’t know if this sounds nuts. If food is to be plated well and intended to be decorative, it has to be done really really well and look entirely gorgeous and, if possible, a sort of magic trick of balance or colour or whatever. The other alternative is to serve without so much attention to the plating – sort of honest, down-to-earth, Italian hungry peasant pile of stuff that you don’t even look at properly because you’re swooning just at the smell. This approach works too. When things go slightly wrong is when something appears to be plated with some thought and planning, and manages not to look so great. That is just a bit off-putting. What with the black plate etc, an effort has been made here on the three to five balls of contention- just not an entirely successful one. Yes – I am the Robert Hughes of breakfasts. Time to move on.

The balls are fennel and potato croquettes… swell… and they are fluffy inside, crisp outside and the tang of aniseed in the fennel is actually very tasty. I’m not a mad fennel fan as a rule, I say keep your aniseed for your liquorice straps, but this combo is balanced quite well so I’ve learned that fennel can be good.

So my three balls turn out to be tasty, well seasoned croquettes, so this part of the dish is getting a thumbs up, even though I’m restricted in gestures due to holding a fork. It would really benefit from a good sauce. I like the aioli plan when it was a just a plan and consisted of a concept written on a menu. The reality is that the aioli has gone much the way of the hollandaise and, while very yellow, tastes somewhat like a thick-textured glass of water. It’s difficult to see just how that was achieved, but I swear on Burger Cat’s whisker-pads that it was. Having said that, it is seriously yellow, extremely so, which deserves a judicious nod to its yellowness. Very yellow indeed. In the category of yellow aioli’s, De Clieu rates highly.

Decidedly, the Berkshire pork dish I ate here last visit was the better choice. It is still on the menu and if the standard has been maintained, is much the thing to check out in my opinion.

De Clieu is a place I would swing into for a quick coffee if I were a local, and it is a pleasant and comfortable little cafe to sit, but probably not at the moment holding it’s own in the super brunch stakes of Melbourne – especially when inner north examples include so many breakfasts of an exceptionally high standard.

Now I’m freaking myself out – what if I have eaten all the good breakfasts there are around and can’t ever be really thrilled again? Arrrrrrgh! Though it seems more probably that while De Clieu’s food is good,  it just isn’t on the level of Small Victories  or Hammer and Tong or Duchess of Spotswood, all of which have set the bar extremely high. I may have to plan some revisits of my list of legends, just to check that all is still well etc and maybe once try something that doesn’t involve bacon. Now that I’ve stopped smoking, I may have developed a sweet tooth so can broaden my range to order waffles and similar. Cool! Yeah – I’m going to research the next breakfast right now. Totally.

Note though – the coffee at De Clieu is excellent, nearly worth of a ‘totes amazeballs’ and well worth the effort to get here (especially since I don’t actually know how to drive and am chauffeured everywhere by Blackburn J and can just snooze in the passenger seat). I had a third coffee, just to be sure numbers one and two weren’t flukes. Nope – I was right the first time. The coffee is excellent. And pretty bracing, what with the caffeine and all – to a point when I am briefly convinced that I can and, indeed, should drive. Right now!


(Blackburn J talked me down from the ceiling at this point and I got strapped back into the passenger seat and muzzled for the journey back to Port Melbourne.)

De Clieu on Urbanspoon


Cobb Lane – heaven with salted caramel

Today was a super-good breakfast day. Why? Because we tried the Cobb Lane Bakery in Yarraville, that’s why. Diving straight in here, Blackburn J ordered the Full English and on my life this is one that you shouldn’t go past.

imageFor a start, you get these big, fat slices of some of the best bacon I have tasted (poached, in this case), secondly you get a hunk of rich black pudding, third you get a lovely mustardy Welsh rarebit, fourth, some home made beans… And just look at that scotch egg which is crispy fried and lovely with gooey, runny yolk in the middle.

This one is destined to become a classic – strangely, amongst a plate of beautiful beautiful things, the blob of homemade HP sauce and the dense, sourdough bread managed to be the standout. Really good sauce. Divine bread. Inner west is very fortunate to first have the Dutchess of Spotswood and now to have Cobb Lane in Yarraville.

imageMe? I was saving space for afters, so selected a lighter  house made, ruby grapefruit cured salmon with super wobbly poached eggs, capers, pickled kohlrabI, creme fraiche and baked-in-house dark rye. This is a gorgeously fresh offering and I love the tang of pickles and capers with the silky and only lightly cured fish. Again, the bread is a winner and I don’t think you can conceive a better plate to highlight the crunch of delicious, sour and dark rye bread. Doesn’t it look attractive too?


Okay, so this is why I’m really here. The Cobb Lane Bakery is the new, artisan bakery of Matt Forbes who is one of those chef types that Melbourne people can rattle off the name of (and potted resume of) as though he is the fifth Beatle or first man on Mars. I’ll leave it there, but suffice to say I had a bite of someone’s salted caramel doughnut by Mr Forbes a few months back and have been planning to descend on this bakery for a while. And check out those amazing pastries!

So, because it is getting mighty busy in here … I decide to take a peanut butter, salted caramel chocolate mousse thing home to deconstruct, chew and digest at leisure.

imageHere he is at home where I am pairing him with my second coffee of the day. Absolutely sublime. You won’t find a softer, creamier mousse or a better salted caramel anywhere. I love the toasted peanuts. I love the fine but firm biscuit base.

I love this cake and Cobb Lane in general.

Tips for the unwary who go on a Saturday. I made the right move by arriving at 8:30 as it opened, so getting a table provided no dramas. However, 20 minutes later this was not the case – the seating is limited so there may be a wait. Alternatively, if you are after cakes and coffee consider takeaway. The Cobb Lane Bakery, while very little, has a gaggle of lovely staff who manage to wait tables while overseeing an incredibly efficient take away service. The pastries, cakes and coffees flew out the door and I can’t even guess how many doughnuts I saw hovering past at eye level.

imageIf you are local – lucky you. You should make this your one and only shop for bread. I have never seen such an appetising selection of fresh baked loaves, and I am a person who spends more than a bit of time in queues at noisette or the Woodfrog bakery.

Excellent place. Go. Go now.

Cobb Lane on Urbanspoon


Breakfast in Port Melbourne: the verdict

I’ve spread myself around, breakfast-wise, in the ol’ Port Melbourne so I’m at a point where I can probably list a few local places in a compare/contrast manner … discuss, summarise and devise a ranking.

First to look briefly at the most recent visits, in no particular order:


Nifty place, very cute, relaxed interior with a flying pig hanging from the ceiling, which is always nice. The coffee is very good indeed, and the adventure-seekers get the cold-drip offerings and so forth. The cafe often has large numbers of customers who act like regulars, so clearly there is a following.

Obligingly, Balderdash publishes its menu HERE.


I tried the corn, zucchini and feta fritters with the avocado and goats cheese (nom), nice and runny poached egg, bacon and tomato relish. I found the dish excellent with the small reservation about the relish which I steered around because it was too sweet for me.


Mr Blackburn J chose the omelette and rated it as excellent. Omelettes aren’t entirely fashionable at the moment, but with fillings of bacon, chorizo, spring onions, pesto, tasty and feta cheese, I expect a renaissance. Nom!

Service was a bit slow and haphazard. We were planted at a table and menued up with a promise that the waitress would be back to take orders. I think she forgot. The guy we eventually signalled seemed to be having a slightly bad day. Entertainingly he was sorting cutlery later on in full fury, crashing mode – sort of hurling metal at the cutlery trays which was set off nicely by the acoustics from wood furniture and polished concrete floors. I figure it was a temporary mood issue, because he appeared to stabilise in time. He forgot my second coffee order, but once reminded was apologetic and didn’t charge (for the second coffee, that is. We were charged for everything else).

I’ll be back. Balderdash has a lovely menu and very good coffee. On a good weather day, there is outside seating (though quite noisy, being on the corner of Bay Street and Bridge Road) and worth a visit any old time, though possibly not when pressed for time.

Balderdash on Urbanspoon

My Sister Says

No website to sus the menu. My Sister Says gets a fair amount of blogger notice for its super small and cute layout. It is a wee little place which would be a good size for a master bedroom so long as it also has a walk-in robe somewhere. I acknowledge the cute, but found the intimacy awkward. There is one communal table, and sitting on the far side of it puts you in the serving area. I ordered simple-like and had a New York bagel with avo and goat cheese. You could probably say I deserved what I got, but I was a bit surprised by just how simple it turned out to be – in that the mush was not seasoned and without the cheese mixed through. Butter might be good here too, otherwise the dry bagel didn’t really marry with the other properties. Mind you, I did get this unexpected lemon slice. Goodski.


There are regular-types who dash in for a take away coffee. I won’t join them. I have had coffee twice here – the first a takeaway that I had to throw out because I really disliked it. Warm milk with a sinister background. My second attempt sit down coffee wasn’t much better (I wanted to see if the first coffee was an anomaly), and the Barista seemed new to the job so the micro foam wasn’t really happening. Probably not for me, this cafe, but it does display a really attractive sweet selection for those who are that way inclined.

My Sister Says on Urbanspoon

Seven:am cafe

Great! For some reason this surprised me and I don’t even know why. A lovely, crisp but cosy interior with enough space for comfort. And some bicycles hanging from a wall which is essential in a cafe to have at least one unnecessary decorative touch. The coffee is excellent and up to the Melbourne, great coffee standard. For those that like to explore in advance (me) all is published by the cafe HERE.


This is above is my Port Melbourne recommendation for the cripplingly-hung-over:  the brekkie roll with really good, smokey bacon, a fried egg with a runny yolk that drips all over the place, tomato relish and tasty cheese – all grippable and chompable in a soft roll. I added to the restorative work by sculling a freshly squeezed orange and ginger juice, which comes in the now expected jar instead of glass with a paper straw. I don’t know what the next trend for receptacles will be – watering cans possibly.

Seven:am is a friendly, sleek establishment that seems to be clear about what it is doing and how to do it well. I like it – v much.

I think I have worked out why I approached this cafe with reservations. It’s the slightly cutesy menu writing style. For some reason putting dumb phrases like “the yee old faithful” in front of brekkie roll makes me a bit embarrassed. Also, does Yee normally get spelled with two ‘e’s?

seven:am on Urbanspoon

Bay 101

Pizza restaurant by night, cafe by day and opens good and early for breakfast. I have a feeling the business is owned or part owned by my new neighbor, Bomber Thompson. Certainly, the Facebook page appears to regularly offer discounts for Essendon club members.

For breakfast I thought it was pretty damn good and the interior is more spacious and attractive then you would expect. The waitresses were real Italians or decent fakes. The coffee was fine, but not my all-time favourite blend.


The food was very good, with one tiny reservation (and it’s a surprising one). This is my brekkie bruschetta, with poached eggs on smashed avo and feta on ciabatta with tomatoes and drizzled with a lovely pesto oil. Pretty decent – the pesto drizzle takes the whole nirvana beyond the mundane, and I could eat this most days. The reservation: the tomatoes. Fine and dandy, but tasted slightly of fish. Call me mad, but I’m sure at some stage of preparation these guys came into contact with a fish of some description. Maybe on a chopping board otherwise generally used to prep the seafood pizza, or on a less than sparkling grill plate or similar. Such a discovery is not deadly, but is somewhat disconcerting. I need to eat there again to decide whether the issue is more than a one off.

Fishy tomatoes aside, a decent place for breakfast. Menu can be found HERE.

Bay 101 on Urbanspoon

The verdict

Okay – I’m lining up these brunches alongside two previous Port Melbourne discoveries which were:

Third Wave Cafe – which I wrote about HERE


Station Street Trading Co – which I wrote about HERE

Ladies and others … The FIRST CAFE of Port Melbourne goes to The Station Street Trading Co for the bacon on a stick, the Woodfrog Bakery loaves, the multiple dog customers and the general loveliness

Followed closely, SECOND goes to the Third Wave Cafe for the massive menu and the sensational muffin burger

THIRD is Seven:am for the hangover treating capacity

Balderdash slips in FORTH, with Bay 101 following just behind in FIFTH with its mystery fish tomatoes

SIXTH is the tiny tiny My Sista Says

So I’m pretty much full now on the basis of Port Melbourne alone, but plan to recover some time to try a dinner at Dalmatino, of which I have heard many good things.


Chin Chin: mad good loud Thai

So on Wednesday Blackburn J and me are out on the tiles (following a concert at Federation Square) and it’s getting on for 10pm and my stomach is growling. But I have a plan. Chin Chin serves food late. We can become the last people in the entire universe to try this restaurant.

Whoa is it good! Really fresh, brave, punch in the face flavour. Nutso loud pop music and cute, cheeky waiters. Ours was unnervingly young-looking so I was a bit concerned it might be past his bedtime. And Billy Brownless was at the next table, so Blackburn J was pretty excited about that.

Chin Chin is often described as a fusion resteraunt, but the dominant theme is very Thai with a couple of excursions elsewhere in Asia. This isn’t just nice local Thai with a damped down sweetish red curry and some mild fish cakes. This is serious, pow! scuds, pongy fresh pastes, sharp ginger, mad chewy lemongrass popping in, holy basil (holy cow!) and some of the best cocktails in Melbourne.


Okay, so it is also pretty dark and I’m not going to use the flash and possibly piss off Billy Brownless. I don’t quite remember what this cocktail was except that it involves pomegranate molasses and a goodly amount of gin and it was so excellent that I could go another right now – and it is 8:40 am at the time of writing.

I give up on the photos since they consist entirely of dark sinister lumps when the reality is bright, fragrant, fun food. We shared some crunch of deep fried school prawns with a seriously raucously pongy Nahm Prik Pla Gapi – a kind of thick, dried shrimp chilli dip. I rolled my prawns with the Gapi in the crispy lettuce leaves with a squeeze of fresh lemon and the hot hot hot with the sweet lettuce crunch and the prawns come together in a sort of mystical way. And things only got better. We also had some lovely chewy crab and prawn cakes with salted duck egg and tamarind Nahm Prik which was a sweet and sour and salty starter that sort of works in a cunning way to persuade me to order another cocktail from the waiter who should be in bed on a school night.

The Crying Tiger – almost like a thai salad, with rare, chargrilled strips of wagu with holy basil and lemongrass, glass noodles and ground roast rice in a tamarind chilli dressing. I adore tamarind and after only a few mouthfuls I was certain this was to be the highlight (I was mistaken as it turned out) and I was dead pleased Blackburn J selected this because I don’t often order thai salads which from now will surely change.

We also enjoyed a beautiful salmon in a coconut red curry cooked in a banana leaf. The salmon was pink and flaked perfectly and the curry fresh and hot. I would go one of these again, except I really need to eat other stuff on the menu when I return because it all looks sensational.

But the true star of the night was the son in law eggs. This must be a Chin Chin superstar – I don’t think I could miss ordering these ever. The eggs are boiled and fried but still have an oozy soft centre, and are served with a chilli caramel and some decorative herbs. Sensational.

Chin Chin is loud and crowded and generally a bit crazy. Even at 10pm the place was full – go at 8 and bank on a queue. But the food is knockout and, surprisingly, the prices are pretty reasonable. Just go. Go now. Go.


Okay, so these are cats, not thai food. Truth is I have provided this unrelated image of sleeping cats because my Chin Chin shots are too dark to use, and also because my Mum wanted a photo of Ron so she could see how much his colour has changed (Ronnie on left – started at 14 weeks as a little white kitten and is now a big brown 2yo marbled slob …)

imageBut isn’t he cute?

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