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North? West? South? East? The only direction is wine, with Wine Compass.

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On a cloudy Winters’ day, a group of Melbourne foodies headed out with Adam from Wine Compass to experience some of the more unknown and niche wineries in the Yarra Valley. Adam picked us up bright and early, and in his mini-bus and with a wine glass in one hand and a wine compass in the other, we headed off to see what kind of tour he can offer. As we picked up our tour group from various locations around Melbourne, he gave us some information about what he loves about his job, the winery regions of Victoria and the particular wineries being visited on our specialised tour.

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Why is Wine Compass the go-to for winery tours in the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula? There are many reasons. Wine is Adam’s passion, and he has the connections and know how to make sure that your experience is highly personalised and tailored to the group you are wining and dining with- from small groups to large bus tours. His good-natured tolerance of us by the end of the day after a few too many vinos was highly appreciated too.

The first and probably most memorable stop on our tour was one of Adam’s very favourite wineries in the Yarra Valley Region, the small and unassuming Pimpernel Vineyard. Meeting Mark, the winemaker, was a memorable experience and I don’t think any of us realised that within 15 minutes of our first stop, we would be in the wine cellar, tasting a variety of incredible wines from the barrel themselves. Marks’ entertaining anecdotes of wine making and in depth knowledge of the process was so interesting. We loved hearing about the difference between feminine and masculine wines (and there is such thing as a transgender wine!), funny translations of French wine names (Did you know Mataro translates to strangled dog?) and trying to pick out the interesting tasting notes (Ham hock… seaweed… gingerbead… passionfruit). When asked which was his favourite wine, Mark candidly replied, just like with children he can’t have favourites, just one’s that please him the most.

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A real treat was being taken upstairs for our first foodie fix of the day, and a well needed snack to start to fill up our already wine filled stomachs, and trying some of his freshly made chicken liver parfait with horseradish and caramelised shallots, topped with a wine jelly and with some crusty toasted bread.

A little bit louder and gigglier, our second stop bought a well needed substantial feed. Soumah’s rustic Italian menu impressed our gang of foodie Instagrammers and was very gram-worthy, as well as the gorgeous sweeping views of rolling hills surrounding the venue. Stand-out dishes were the beautiful tasting boards, a divine angel hair pasta dish with truffles and sage, and a winter warming slow cooked lamb with olives and a pea gnocchi.

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Our final stop was another surprise, as we pulled up in front of a large, two story, country style house complete with some very cute donkeys hanging out the front. It would be easy to assume this was just a beautiful home, not a wine cellar door, but we were welcomed into a living room style tasting area at Yileena Park Estate. Bob was another very passionate wine maker, and patiently tried to tolerate our giggly moods by then as we tasted a variety of wonderful wines. Not all of us were able by this stage to master the tasting technique of swirling the wine around the glass. We continued to learn about the wine making process and different types of wines, and laughed as Bob candidly described one of his merlots as a Ribena for adults, and described delicious dishes that would pair with his wines. Just as delicious as the wines on offer were the fantastic antipasto options for sale, such as smoked meats and cheeses made by burning the wine barrels which results in a unique smoky flavour (our tip, try the Duck Ham and the cheddar!)

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It would be a lie to tell you that we were all able to stay awake for the ride home, and once again Adam’s patience kicked in as he put up with us snoring in the back. Thank you to Adam and Wine Compass, as well as three lovely local wineries, for giving us a fun-filled day of vino and great food that we will remember fondly. Being able to have a tour tailored to our personalities, needs and group dynamics, and being able to have unique, personalised experiences like drinking wine out of the barrel and dining with the winemakers is an experience everyone should have at least once! We look forward to summer; Mornington Peninsula style.

Words: Lauren Kenrick
Photography: Ricky Sam (@forksake)
Trattoria D'Soumah Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Weekend winery visits at Tarrawarra Estate

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I get to try a lot of amazing food in Melbourne, and feel very privileged to be able to do so. As much as I love Melbourne though, it is fantastic to be able to escape every now and then to the Yarra Valley and be surrounded by rolling hills, far horizons, great wine and fabulous food.

Mum and I headed to Tarrawarra Estate on a rainy, cold day and were comforted by delicious food, incredible service and some beautiful wines; not to mention the roaring open fire. Tarrawarra has long been one of my favourite estates to take Melbourne visitors to for tastings when I do the mandatory tourist visit to Yarra Valley. From the long, grand driveway to the tree-lined paths, fantastic cellar door and beautiful sweeping views, not to mention the art gallery attached, it has plenty of appeal.The building itself is architectually stunning and photographs beautifully (check it out on Instagram to see what I mean). This was my first time being lucky enough to dine in the restaurant.

Luckily, Mum is a sharer like me so we were able to try several dishes and the wait staff were quick to ensure we had share plates and could properly try everything. A side note to vegetarians- this is the winery for you! Both of the vegetarian options we tried were absolutely divine. The soft yolk with roasted cauliflower, baby peas and rye was such a surprise, as what sounded quite simple was a complex and texturally exciting dish that the staff were very proud of. The salt baked pumpkin with pickled walnut, kale and creme fraiche was also a delight.


Although not the most visually exciting dish, the veal tartare with spanner crab, warm potato and puffed tendon was a great starter, once again offering sophisticated textures and flavour combinations. The octopus with artichoke, smoked garlic and parsley was soft, melt in your mouth and presented well.


The barramundi with macadamia satay, sea grapes and fried sprouts was also cooked well, plated beautifully and a really interesting dish. We couldn’t go past the sides of charred broccolini and fried crushed potatoes.


I have been dreaming about Tarrawarra’s desserts since my visit, in particular the absolutely gorgeous Turkish delight meringue with brioche ice cream, one of my favourite desserts I have had in a long time. The chocolate with peanut butter and granola was rich and decadent, a chocoholic’s dream.


We rolled out of Tarrawarra back into the cold like bears ready to go into hibernation; wined, dined and ready for a Sunday afternoon nap. I highly encourage Melbournian’s to stop whinging about the weather, rug up and head towards the hills… I promise a dining experience like this will quickly chase your Winter blues away.

Have a delicious day!
Foodie Melbourne

Please note: Foodie Melbourne dined here as a guest, however all opinions are authentic.
TarraWarra Estate Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

European Road Trippin’ at Copper Pot, Seddon

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It is that time of year, when I am here freezing in Melbourne spending exorbitant amounts of money on electricity to heat my house and watching the lucky few who have jetted off to Europe chasing the sun flooding my news feed with their incredible photos.

Luckily, Copper Pot in Seddon recently allowed me a fleeting glimpse of a European road trip with their fantastic ‘Road Trip’ menu; a shared chefs menu that showcases food from European favourites like Italy, Spain and France with food that is quality enough that if you close your eyes you just may be able to believe you are really there. The incredibly talented Ashley Davis has created a concept that allows he and his staff to experiment regularly with both classic European cuisine and modern takes on favourites, bringing a slice of Europe to the ever expanding dining scene in Melbourne’s west.


Food aside, the fit out in Copper Pot is gorgeous. A large warehouse type space with a huge mural towering over you at your table, the decor is a fine balance between funky and elegant. The open kitchen is a perk too- I would love to one day sit at the counter and watch the talented chefs make and plate up your food.


The road trip menu is so reasonably priced at $65pp, especially since we were absolutely stuffed to the brim after consuming around 7 small courses. From grilled garlic prawns (Spain) to venison tartare (France), to incredible mushroom agnolotti with truffle (Italy), Spain again with the most divine roasted brocolli with romesco sauce, whitebait (Greece) and then back to France for a cassoulet, each dish was finely executed and beautifully plated. We finished on a high note with a rich Black Forest dessert and one of the best Creme Brulee’s I have ever tried.




At the end of the meal, I was left fondly reflecting on the times I have been the lucky one eating these dishes in the European sun (and shamelessly flooding people’s news feeds with photos of it) and keenly anticipating returning back to trendy Seddon for my next road trip.

Have a delicious day,
Foodie Melbourne

Please note: Foodie Melbourne dined here as a guest, but all opinions are authentic.
Copper Pot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japanese that doesn’t break the bank, four locations. 

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I have to admit, when I see an All You Can Eat menu I usually assume that quality is immediately compromised and generally stay away from that venue… However, the owner of Okami Japanese seemed so proud of his four restaurants that I was willing to put aside my hesitation and head across town for an ALL YOU CAN EAT Japanese food experience. 
  
I am glad I did as the experience was the opposite to what I expected. For $32.80 a head, Okami provides an affordable varietal menu of Japanese food that was very good quality. Obviously, the dishes are not going to offer the same finesse as some of the fancier and more upmarket Japanese restaurants in the city, but those restaurants aren’t going to cost you under $35 either! From sushi to gyoza to grilled meat dishes, my dining companions and I ‘oohed and aahed’ over an array of Japanese dishes that we thoroughly enjoyed. 
  
Some stand out dishes were the salmon sashimi, which was great quality for such a low price, an incredible miso eggplant that had been abuzz on Zomato so I knew must be part of my lunch feast, and some tender, melt in your mouth Teriyaki beef. We ordered one round of food joking that we would try more next round… Which we never made it to, as the serving sizes were so generous that the first array of dishes was literally ‘all we could eat’. 
   
   
This is an excellent option for a variety of diners- from people like my brother who is a garbage disposal and can eat like an absolute horse which can be expensive, to friends or family who want to feast on a budget to Japanese lovers who want to try a bit of everything and not be stuck with a big bill. 
Okami has restaurants in Caulfield (where I dined), Footscray, Hampton and Wantirna- all offer this dining option although an ala’carte menu is also available separate from the set price per head option. 

The new Thai to hit the West-Side, Narai Kitchen

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I have long been a fan of Narai Thai, as it happened to be one of my local Thai places growing up with restaurants in both Bundoora and Camberwell. Years on, Narai has moved to the Westside, with a modern restaurant and bar space in Ascot Vale.

Fronted by the friendly and passionate Saf, who has been involved in the Narai franchise for many years, Narai has a level of sophistication about it similar to their other restaurants I have frequented for so long. Modern furniture and a bright fit out make it the perfect spot for a special occasion dinner that doesn’t break the bank or just a casual date night or dinner with the girls.

The traditional Thai fare on offer is varied and done well, but the stars of the menu are the more experimental fusion dishes unique to Narai Kitchen that take your standard Thai dinner to the next level. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good green curry or a Pad Thai, but I also really enjoyed some of these more interesting and innovative dishes also.


The Kana-Moo-Grob (Crispy Roast Pork Belly with fresh Chinese broccoli stir-fried with garlic, chilli and special sauce) is a delectable, comforting treat, with the greens balancing out the rich and heavy pork.


My favourite dish had to be the Goong Makhem (Fried King Prawns in a light batter with tamarind sauce, pineapple pieces, chilli, coriander and crispy lemongrass floss). This was like a sophisticated version of the old Chinese favourite sweet and sour, with the tamarind sauce and pineapple balancing those sweet and sour flavours. I loved the crispiness of the generously sized prawns.


The soft shell crab was another crispy and fried treat worth trying if crab is your style. I never really know how I am going to feel about soft shell crab, as sometimes the batter is too much for me, but this one was crispy and not oily at all and served very simply with a spicy Papaya style salad.


As the Ascot Vale area starts to develop into more and more of a little foodie hub, Narai Kitchen seem to have made the right choice in choosing the large space just as more and more people seem to be making the trip across town to try some of the food on offer in the Western ‘burbs. If you are a local or passing through, it is definitely worth hitting up for a Thai food fix.

Have a delicious day!

Foodie Melbourne

Please note: Foodie Melbourne dined here as a guest but all opinions are authentic.
Narai Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Jack B Nimble, Brunch be sweet at Jack B Nimble, Maidstone

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I was not entirely sure where I would end up whilst heading to Maidstone to try the menu at Jack B Nimble cafe. Hidden in a bustling, somewhat factory laden strip of main road, Jack B Nimble is not what you expect to find in this part of Maidstone, but it is definitely a pleasant surprise.

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The fit out is impressive, decorated with cool blonde wood and neutral tones, as well as greenery, which gives the cafe a clean, calming vibe. Combine this with some excellent coffee or a matcha latte, and some delicious brunch options, and for a second you will become confused and think you are brunching in Fitzroy or Collingwood.

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The menu boasts a wide range of innovative brunch and lunch options with not a smashed avo or Eggs benedict in sight, so refreshing! Some dishes have a distinctive Asian flair such as the Omelette with house-smoked hapuka, braised leek, shitake mushrooms, kombu broth, nori and mizuna salad, bonito flakes or the Roti Jack – Slow-roasted lamb shoulder in a grilled milk bun with egg, spicy chilli mayo, coriander, spring onion, gogi berries and lemon pangrattato.

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Even the more traditional brunch options are jazzed up, such as the stand out savoury dishes; a medley of Mushrooms on cauliflower rice, grilled pepper romesco, spiced pepitas and soy bean crisp, and an awesome roasted Cauliflower with chickpeas, hommus, kale, sumac-spiced yoghurt, tamarind, fresh coriander, pomegranate and crispy quinoa- both vegetarian but chock full of flavour and substance. For those who like their breakfast to have your typical eggs and meat combo, there is a hearty, gourmet Mediterranean version for you with the spiced Cotechino sausage with braised beans, cucumber ribbons, pickled persimmon, greek yoghurt, pistachio dukkah and poached eggs.

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The Southern Fried Chicken Burger with chipotle aioli, cheese, iceberg lettuce and green apple slaw was very Instagram-worthy, and tasted like a fast food chicken burger but with a lot more class and finesse, particularly enhanced by the addition of the sweet and crunchy apple slaw.

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My advice would be not to visit Jack B Nimble without adding a convenient dessert to your breakfast or brunch, as the French Toast with dulce de leche, poached pear, fresh kiwi fruit, earl grey mascarpone, and malt crumb is not to be missed. The French do many things well, with French toast being one of them, and this creative take on French toast will leave any sweet tooth satisfied. A lighter dessert option are the divine freshly baked Lemon and Blueberry Madeleines, incredibly moreish and reminiscent of a Grandmother’s kitchen.

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This West-side cafe left me with only one constructive criticism… They need to open a second cafe on the North-side! West-siders rejoice, as this is a cafe that you would be proud to have as your local.

Have a delicious day,

Foodie Melbourne

Jack B. Nimble Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

All the sushi you can handle at Okami, various locations 

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I have to admit, when I see an All You Can Eat menu I usually assume that quality is immediately compromised and generally stay away from that venue. However, the owner of Okami Japanese seemed so proud of his four restaurants and the reviews were good, so I was willing to put aside my hesitation and head across town for an ALL YOU CAN EAT Japanese food experience.

I am glad I did as the experience was the opposite to what I expected. For $32.80 a head, Okami provides an affordable varietal menu of Japanese food that was very good quality.

Obviously and for fussier eaters this is important to note, the dishes are not going to offer the same finesse as some of the fancier and more upmarket Japanese restaurants in the city, but those restaurants aren’t going to cost you under $35 either!

From sushi to gyoza to grilled meat dishes, my dining companions and I ‘oohed and aahed’ over an array of Japanese dishes that we thoroughly enjoyed.

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Some stand out dishes were the salmon sashimi, which was great quality for such a low price, an incredible miso eggplant that had been abuzz on Zomato so I knew must be part of my lunch feast, and some tender, melt in your mouth Teriyaki beef. We ordered one round of food joking that we would try more next round… Which we never made it to, as the serving sizes were so generous that the first array of dishes was literally ‘all we could eat’.

  

This is an excellent option for a variety of diners- from people like my brother who is a garbage disposal and can eat like an absolute horse which can be expensive, to friends or family who want to feast on a budget to Japanese lovers who want to try a bit of everything and not be stuck with a big bill.

Okami has restaurants in Caulfield (where I dined), Footscray, Hampton and Wantirna- all offer this dining option although an alacarte menu is also available separate from the set price per head option.

Please note: Foodie Melbourne dined as a guest of Okami restaurant, but all opinions are genuine.

Have a delicious day!
Foodie Melbourne
Okami Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Okami Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Okami Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Okami Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Meeting Chapel St’s new Sister of Society, Prahran

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Sister of Society’s owner and manager Frazer is very clear about what he wanted to achieve with this moderately sized, funky bar on Chapel St.

Under a hazy red led light glow from the very appealing SOS light on the wall, he explains that he wanted to create a place where you could get good quality food and cocktails in trendy Chapel St, without feeling like you had to bring out your best clothes and fancy shoes- you can head there in jeans and a nice tee for drinks and dinner with friends, or to start off the night before heading out. Brought together by a team that runs several of Melbourne’s hottest nightlife spots, this is a fresh and welcomed establishment to the  area that aims to offer a more laid-back alternative to start the night casually for party animals, or end the night for those of us who don’t always want to party on.

This bar and eatery on trendy Chapel St ticks a few different boxes, and in its second week of opening when I visited, was ticking them very well.

Food-wise, the offerings are vast and exciting. Featuring an ex-Mamasita chef, SOS houses an eclectic mostly Asian inspired menu that creatively uses baseball terms to describe it. The offerings range from snacks (first base) all the way through to larger plates designed to share (home run). From tacos, to seafood, to lighter options such as the delectable watermelon and haloumi, there is a dish to match any appetite. The menu has managed to stay on trend with some Melbourne’s current ‘musts’ for food- sharing food, decent serving sizes and the continued embracing of fusion cuisine.

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Betel leaves with smoked eel

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Sticky beef tacos (with coriander on the side, for a fussy dining partner)

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Karaage sake chicken ribs

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Haloumi with salted watermelon and mint

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Salt and Pepper squid with orange dressing

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Marinated BBQ prawns with thai almond creme

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Whole fried baby snapper

And, for those of you prefer something a little less elegant with your Friday night beer, SOS understands that sometimes you just want ‘dude food’. Be sure to check the ‘off the menu’ ‘Cheeseburger Pizza’… it won’t disappoint either!

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Off menu: Cheeseburger pizza

Dessert is also a treat worth indulging in at SOS. With a delectable ice cream sandwich (that trust me, you don’t want to share), a creative take on a tiramisu with ‘beeramisu’, and a waffle dish that will give you all those comfort food feelings, by the end of dinner you will feel like you have hit a home run.

If you are looking for somewhere on Chapel St to enjoy a balance of sophistication with an enjoyable casual vibe, along with a dynamic food and cocktail menu, this may just be your new sister.

Please note: Foodie Melbourne dined as a guest of Sister of Society, but all opinions are genuine.

Have a delicious day,
Foodie Melbourne

Sister Of Society Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Modern Italian dining at the Keystone Restaurant, Wantirna South

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Housed within a shopping complex in Wantirna South, the Keystone Restaurant is a family owned Italian restaurant and pizzeria with an innovative menu and modern fit-out. Complete with a woodfire pizza oven, this seemingly residential restaurant brings a little modern to the ‘burbs with floor to ceiling windows which creates a light filled dining space and a menu that specializes in more than just pizza and pasta.

When I arrived and was greeted by the staff, I was both amused and comforted by overhearing a conversation between them. I asked for the table by the window (better light for photos, duh!) and one waitress was mortified because there were regulars that HAD TO HAVE TABLE 4. The other waitress assured her they weren’t coming in anymore tonight, and the relief on the first waitresses face was classic… It was lovely to see that even though they had a blogger coming in, their main priority was their regular customers, Mr and Mrs Jones who always sit on table number 4, which is the way it should be.

We started with some tapas style starters. I didn’t love the zucchini fritters with roasted tomato, green pea mash, Harissa sauce, crispy pancetta and goats cheese mousse- I found them too floury, more like the fritters you would have with eggs for breakfast which confused my palate. I expected smaller more croquette-like fritters.

 
The mushroom arancini with taleggio cheese, porcini mushrooms topped with truffled aioli and buttery kale however, WAS TO DIE FOR. I haven’t had arancini like this for a long time. Forget those bite size arancini balls that always seem so gooey on the inside you don’t know if there is even risotto in them, this was the REAL DEAL. Delicious perfectly cooked risotto, gorgeous mushrooms, perfectly cooked kale, balanced textures. These are arancini worth travelling to Wantirna South for.

  
Kale really stars on this menu, as it also makes the pumpkin ravioli with broccolini, kale and a burnt butter and sage sauce. The pasta was well made and well cooked, and the greens were the perfect thing to cut through the rich, buttery sauce. Practically a salad, right?!

  
The chorizo and roasted potato pizza could have had less toppings, less cheese and a thinner base to make it more like a traditional Italian pizza, especially to better utilize the woodfire oven. I personally prefer a more traditional ‘ less is more’ style pizza, but the flavours were very nice regardless.

  
We didn’t have any room for dessert, but I would have liked to have been able to try one of their dessert pizzas which sounded amazing also! It was clear that effort was put into the presentation of all the dishes as well, which is always nice to see in the ‘burbs.

The Keystone Restaurant is conveniently located for all you East-siders who are looking for affordable Italian food in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. A menu that will please those who just want bolognaise and margarita pizza, but also those who want something a little more.

Please note: Foodie Melbourne dined as a guest of The Keystone Restaurant but all opinions are genuine.

Have a delicious day!

Foodie Melbourne
The Keystone Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Trading in Brunch at The Tradesman Cafe, Moorabin

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Nestled amongst factories and warehouses, The Tradesman Cafe is easy to miss. It looks out of place amongst an industrial area, but provides a little bit of solace from the busy area in a light filled, modern cafe space serving innovative brunch and lunch options.



The menu is extensive and caters for those that want a light, healthy and nourishing breakfast and also those who need to ravenously consume a big brekkie, baked eggs or pancakes. Locals from the area can expect to find their inner city favourites without having to travel too far, a welcome addition to an area somewhat lacking in modern food options.


If you are like me and eat out too much during the week, by Saturday you are in need of some serious greens. I love it when there is a decent breakfast salad on the menu; something that will fill you up and get your day started, but also nourish you and have you feeling great afterwards. The salad on offer at The Tradesman is full of all the good greens- asparagus, avocado, brocollini, kale as well as mung beans, almond dukka, cottage cheese and some poachies. This was HUGE, and kept me going for the rest of the day!


The Acai Bowl is such a must have option on cafe menus these days, and this one is your standard, topped with coconut flakes, chia seeds and fresh fruit. Gorgeous presentation, and a light and healthy way to start the day, particularly on a hot day.


The pea and haloumi fritters were full of peas and haloumi, much more filling than batter which is just how they should be. Served with a zesty corn salsa and on top of smashed avo with a poached egg,  this is a nourishing and filling breakfast option also.


Upon meeting the owners, they spoke of their desire of bringing a modern cafe scene to an area that really needs it, and if I was living in that area, I would definitely add this cafe to my local weekend brunch rotation. Keep your eyes peeled Moorabin and Highett-ites, and don’t accidentally drive past this new local.

Please note: Foodie Melbourne dined as a guest of The Tradesman Cafe but all opinions are genuine.

Have a delicious day!

Foodie Melbourne
The Tradesman Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato