Bowery to Williamsburg – Melbourne CBD

This post has been a long time coming.

Warning: I’m about to spend a few hundred words ranting about bagels and haloumi (two of my favourite foods), & why this New York style diner has made all my food dreams come true. I’ll also be introducing some new metrics to categorise my eating experiences into. Brace yourself.

Where do I even begin with this place… I’ve probably consumed food and/or coffee from Bowery to Williamsburg at least 50 times (not bad for someone who doesn’t actually have an infinite eating budget, despite what this blog may suggest). My place of employment used to be situated a casual 3 minute wander from Bowery to Williamsburg, just off Flinders St, and this led to the consuming of breakfast bagels on an almost-daily basis. This then also led to bagel runs on behalf of my entire office. They stock 5 & Dime bagels which are baked fresh just a few blocks down the street, and they smother them in delicious schmears that are guaranteed to give you a bagel butt worth twerking. My workplace was beginning to collectively develop some serious bagel butts, but then our office moved a few more blocks down the street and we developed a big case of the CBFs come our usual bagel breakfast time.

I’ve fallen so in love with 5 & Dime bagels that I’ll follow their stock list all around inner Melbourne, however I’m yet to encounter somewhere that gets the toasting/bagel-schmear-ration as good as Bowery does (perhaps with the exception of the 5 & Dime bakery themselves). Many Melburnians believe bagels are simply a bread roll with a hole in the middle, and I’m excited to see 5 & Dime changing these blasphemous ways.

Fast forward 12 months from my initial bagel discovery: I’ve only made a few visits back to Bowery, however 2 weeks ago I returned and saw something very new and very pleasing on their chalk board menu: A haloumi bagel, available at 2pm. I was stunned. Translation: Bagels had not sold out, and I could put one with haloumi in my face. Phenomenal.

My favourite bagels are the aptly named everything bagels, and on this day I managed to score the final one. Their lunch time haloumi bagel came with sweet potato, plain schmear, roasted bell peppers and basil. I also happened to enjoy this bagel with a friend who spent seven years living in New York, so she knows her shit about bagels. She approved.

The haloumi bagel got me hooked again. I returned again one week later to enjoy one more, and it was just as magical as the last time. Rolling Stones don’t know shit about the satisfaction this glorious meal could provide. I was also reminded upon returning a second time that Bowery serve a bomb-ass mac’n’cheese. See photos below for hunger inducing details.

Occupie Metrics:

Door to Beard Index:  Medium. Its CBD location amongst the fancy pants that work on Collins St mean there are more suits than beards. Also, tourists.

Coffee: They serve Padre Coffee, a roast I only recently discovered was super close to my Brunswick East digs. Only downside is they just serve one size, so not as helpful if you’ve had a big night or are falling into a bagel-coma. However Padre Coffee is good coffee.

Noms: Tops. They definitely serve the best bagels in Melbourne. Their menu can be a bit vegetarian-adverse at times but I’ve always found something that’s incredible and I will always return.

How poor will it make me? Extremely poor because you will want to eat there every day. Also, gym memberships can be pricy and that bagel butt isn’t going to work itself off (who am I kidding, I give no shits about bagel butts).

Is it instagram worthy? Yes, and it’s clear Bowery’s Instagrammers take themselves quite seriously. The #Bowerytowilliamsburg hashtag is looking fine.

Food blog fury: The only negative Zomato review is from someone who actually hails from Brooklyn, saying it’s overpriced and they could get a better sandwich for $5 back home. They should be reminded that the reason food prices are so cheap in the US is because the people making it are not earning a proper living wage and can’t afford basic health care. PS. Soz about your overpriced sandwich.

NEW METRIC- Occupie Enthusiasm: Does this get a ‘Fuck yeah’, a ‘yeah, alright’ or a ‘yeah… nah’?

Bowery to Williamsburg firmly sits in the ‘fuck yeah’ category.

Final thoughts: I absolutely adore this place. Bowery will always impress. They’ve also opened up another store in Hardware Lane which looks just as swish but also has the same menu (I was slightly disappointed by this). However they did swap some chicken for haloumi in their waffle special which made me very happy (see below).

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Bowery to Williamsburg Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Green Park – Super Special Coffee Tasting, Carlton North

Last week I experienced the highlight of my short career as a north-side snob/food critic: I was invited to a Zomato meet-up and fed divine coffee with freshly cooked pastries at Green Park. I’m not even going to cloak this experience in some sort of humblebrag; I was invited to a foodie meet up, and it was totally rad.

For those who aren’t aware, UrbanSpoon (everyone’s favourite food app with terrible usability and poorly managed user reviews) has recently been taken over by Zomato. I do have a slight soft spot for UrbanSpoon as it was the very first app I ever downloaded on my very first iPhone (those many years ago!). Zomato seem to have upgraded the app from its former 2009 glory and actually made it useful tool to keep for when you get hungry. They also invite their local bloggers to coffee meet-ups, and this time Occupie Fitzroy was included on the guest list #fuckyeah

The host for this meet up was Green Park, on Park St in Carlton North, and it focused mostly on their new blend of coffee, ‘Capital Blend’ from Small Batch Roasting Company. While I’ve been using coffee to keep me awake for years now, I actually know very little about how it’s made, what makes it delicious and why the hell everyone’s drinking filter coffee these days. Our brews were served to us by a lovely dude called Kyle, and he told us that this roast comes from a farm in Guatemala where the farmers can live rent free, and also have space to grow their own food. Awesome.

We started off with a filter coffee from the Guatemalan roast. For a few years now, I’ve been wondering “why the shit does anyone drink filter coffee, it’s the American way to drink coffee and America knows nothing about coffee”. However this was a magical day, and I was fed a filter coffee that was actually quite delicious. Turns out that filter coffee is made delicious when the coffee itself is delicious, ie. from a farm in Guatemala and fed to me at an exclusive coffee meet up. As there is no milk or sugar to hide anything that might be nasty, you need to make sure your roast is in top shape.

Kyle then also made us all a short black (those things are not for the faint of heart) and a third coffee of our choice. Yes, I drank three coffees in an hour on a Saturday afternoon and managed to avoid a heart attack. The soy flat white I ordered was also delicious, but I definitely had a new found appreciation for this coffee having just consumed it black. I’ve learned that milk and sugar can hide many things, and thankfully this Guatemalan blend had nothing to hide.

We were also fed some incredible snacks, my favourite being donuts from Cobb Lane Bakery in Yarraville and a chocolate mousse made fresh for us at Green Park. A meal from their standard menu doesn’t look like it would disappoint, either (it includes haloumi and a decent vegetarian spread). Thankfully the prices aren’t anything outrageous, especially for the area.  I’ll be returning here for some dinner in the near future.

Occupie Metrics; I think the only metrics I can really judge this on are:

Coffee: Amazeballs. Try the filter coffee in a bid to understand coffee lovers in Melbourne are not crazy, we’re not following America’s lead on caffeine consumption and it can actually be tasty. With any luck, Kyle could make you one.

Is it Instagram worthy: Green Park was actually closed to the public as they were setting up for a wedding, but I’m pretty sure this place looks fantabulous even without 40 bouquets being hung from the rafters and the oh-so-wedding-esque music being sound checked for 40min (although, Etta James’ At Last was a rather fitting soundtrack to 7 food bloggers foodgasming over those donuts). The staff were super rad too.

Don’t forget, Occupie Fitzroy is now on Instagram! Click that button below! 

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Green Park Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Little River Vegetarian Cafe – Brunswick

What can I say about the past couple of months other than… I’ve been some places.

Brunch at Little River with Thomas and epic-babe-Naomi was my first brunch after a whirlwind of moving house, 5 weeks overseas including 1 week at some desert party called Burning Man (epic), followed by another week at some awesome bush party called Burning Seed (also epic), followed by four solid days of sleep. I somehow managed to fit some brunch in there. It was in my new hood of Brunswick (my dedication to the north-side is admirable), and it was fucking rad.

Little River is located on Albion St up the top end of Brunswick. In true Brunswick style it’s nestled amongst seventeen bridal shops, three Lebanese bakeries and a converted warehouse-turn swanky apartment block with some ‘how did this get here’ style street art conveniently located along its trim. Little River is unassuming, and it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to remind everyone of it’s Brunswick location. It was not however, playing any music by the Little River Band, and this was bitterly disappointing.

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Undecided whether this is considered latte art.

The staff were super friendly. I had some serious difficulty deciding what to eat as it’s unusual to have anymore than four vegetarian options on a good day, but after overcoming this decision paralysis I settled on eggs florentine with spinach and mushrooms. Simple yet effective. The other potential brunch option was a tomato and haloumi grilled croissant. For anyone that hasn’t met me, my love for haloumi can border on obsessive… it was with great reluctance that I opted for this instead.

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Love me some motherfucking mushrooms

Alongside my haloumi obsession… I also have a bagel obsession. Pictured below is a cabinet full of delicious bagels, a bunch of motherfucking haloumi, and no fucking meat. As well as some delicious pastries, because fuck yeah. Little River wants to see that Brunswick butt turn into a bagel butt, and this cabinet of spectacular, meat-free deliciousness is what’s going to achieve that.

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Little River wants your bagel butts

Door to Beard Index:  Despite Brunswick’s density of beards I would still rate this a medium.

Coffee:  Good. My coffee snob radar didn’t register this brew as anywhere near sub-standard.

Noms: Tops. Extra points due to the range of options, and their enthusiasm for bagels and haloumi, all in the name of bagel butts.

How poor will it make me? There are plenty of options below $10 which is a nice change to Melbourne’s outrageous brunch prices. Pretty sure breakfast hasn’t cost less than a ten dollar note since 1997. Bigger meals are upwards of $15.

Is it instagram worthy? Somewhat. Meals are plated nicely and you’ll definitely get some likes on your foodie hashtag of choice. The decor is simple, a welcome change to the exposed brick of every Fitzroy cafe in existence.

Food blog fury: There’s only one negative Zomato review and I think it’s from someone on crack. They said the food tasted like canned food and that they could have gone to Coles and got some canned food instead; a confusing scenario as I’ve never seen bagels, or haloumi, or eggs florentine with a soy flat white available in a can. And if it was, I would be really fucking excited and not complaining about canned food on Zomato. They then signed off with the witty, unclickable hashtag of #stepupyourgame and probably went to Coles to cry in the canned food isle.

Final thoughts: I appreciate how Little River seems to avoid almost all of the wank associated with most north-side cafes these days. No snobbery, just a good time and some bagel butts had by all. This place comes recommended.

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This is how vegetarians like to party.

Also, DID YOU KNOW OCCUPIE FITZROY IS ON INSTAGRAM NOW? Exciting times indeed, you can now stay up to date with every coffee I drink and every bagel I consume. Follow me now! Then, listen to this glorious song by the Little River Band and admire their fabulous hair.

Little River Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Shifty Chevre – Fitzroy

Picture this: You wake up on a sunny but chilled autumn morning in some hip Melbourne suburb. Vague memories of the previous night come trickling back, memories that involve Norwegians and a cowboy hat. Your hangover begins to register. Your smart phone reminds you that you’re running late for a brunch date in an adjacent and equally hip suburb, so you do what it tells you and promptly join your friends for brunch while you piece together the previous nights escapades.

Upon your arrival to this brunch venue, your wildest dreams are affirmed as you step into a cheese cave. Nay, a cheese heaven. That stinky, glorious mould is everywhere. You’re almost swimming in it, and your hangover begins to subside. Delicious, dairy delights from exotic regions in France comes accompanied with bread, mushrooms, more cheese, coffee, and then some champagne because yolo.

This was my Sunday morning, and it was fucking glorious.

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Photo via Broadsheet (My iPhone can’t take photos like this)

I’m not lying when I say Shifty Chevre is a cheese lover’s heaven. There is everything you could want, including cheese, wine, coffee, attractive wait staff, a sunny courtyard, and my hot friends. Depending on your mood, you could take the traditional route and order a cheese board that comes with crackers and fruit paste (boring), or in a defective state such as mine, you could order the most fancy fucking cheese toastie that has ever graced my cheese-adoring eyes.

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This toastie involved crusty bread, mushrooms, and leek (a bit random but it works) that had quite literally been soaked in a three-cheese blend, and grilled to perfection. This meal has set an entirely new standard for the humble cheese toastie. Masterchef ain’t got shit on this delightful, crispy goodness. But I digress. My point is that I fucking love cheese, and Shifty Chevre has managed to produce some cheesy, culinary masterpieces. I know of very few legal substances people crave in the same way they crave cheese. The minds behind Shifty Chevre figured this one out and are winning.

It was also decided that champagne was an appropriate addition to our morning brunch. We needed something to help us feel a little more fancy (see: ridiculous), because a gourmet French brunch on a sunny Fitzroy patio wasn’t quite meeting our standards of sophistication.

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This is my yolo face. My friends laughed at me when I took this selfie.

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More cheese. And hot friends.

Occupie Metrics:

Door to Beard Index:  It’s medium. Cheese lovers come in all shapes and sizes, and the ones visiting Shifty Chevre seem to enjoy beards of both the ironic and non-ironic variety.

Coffee: It’s your standard inner-north brew. Pretty good, it’ll take you right out of your impending cheese coma.

Noms: There’s a variety of cheeses to suit every taste and level of hangover, and it’s a vegan’s worst nightmare. User reviews on Zomato (formerly Urban Spoon), seem to be mistaking the cheese for crack. I’m not the only one who’s into this in a serious way.

How poor will it make me? Was it pay day yesterday? Go for it. Otherwise it’s on the upper-end of doable, providing you don’t get all fancy and demand spontaneous champagne.

Is it instagram worthy? Yes. Who doesn’t love an instagram feed full of cheese? Surely there’s an #cheesesofinstagram or #cheeseporn hashtag floating around that Shifty Chevre has something to do with.

Final thoughts: It’s like a giant lounge room. A giant lounge room where all your dreams come true. Also, check out the bathroom (weird advice but it’s quite the surprise).

On a slightly related note, URBAN SPOON HAS NOW TURNED INTO ZOMATO, WHAT THE SHIT? They still feature user reviews that are equally as hilarious as the Urban Spoon reviews, but their website is way prettier. Thank you Zomato.

More to come soon!

-M

Click to add a blog post for Shifty Chevre on Zomato

Stagger Lees – Fitzroy

From the folks that brought you Proud Mary (the highest concentration of beards east of Smith Street), is your latest stimulant-serving venue that doesn’t take bookings on a weekend.

Stagger Lee’s might at first seem like your run of the mill, over-priced, hipster-filled, brunch-serving northside cafe, but don’t let the exposed brick work and finger tattoos fool you – they’re doing something different.  They’re serving their coffee single origin. No blends. They explain on their website that they’re grinding it with a EK 43 Grinder, which I’m sure means something to someone, somewhere, but those words in that sentence just sound like caffeinated wank to me. Regardless, their coffee is good. In fact, it’s fucking good. I went back for more a week later, and now my life is plagued with some seriously meta questions, like whether my other coffee providers also grind their single origin beans through an EK 43 Grinder, and whether I should get a finger tattoo.

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The place looks alright.

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You can’t see the beards from here.

Some further context: I visited Stagger Lees on my birthday, with my parents and partner. My mum was excited by my existence, and my dad was confused by the coffee (my dad’s a big coffee drinker but likes to keep things simple). And it was my birthday, so everything was amazing because I had spent 25 sweet years on this earth and I had 3 people sitting next to me telling me I’m fabulous.

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My father, post-coffee confusion.

Stagger Lee’s describe their food as simple and sexy.  I would also describe it as sexy, and fucking delicious, but certainly not simple. Their asparagus comes with cashew cheese, and their buttermilk fried chicken comes with jalapeños. In my humble world of avocado smash and poached eggs, this isn’t simple. Simplicity is more like baked potatoes with gravy and the word of Jesus. Fitzroy just isn’t simple and neither is their brunch menu.

Their menu is however, original. They’re inventive and a little bit adventurous, which I’ve come to appreciate in our north side world of french toast and flat whites. Buttermilk fried chicken with jalapeños is absolutely not my bag, but they have an ok-ish selection of vego options and their Fitz-Royale was pretty spectacular. You don’t see much asparagus on the menus around here, and it was a very welcome addition to my birthday morning.

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Love a bit of greenery.

Occupie Metrics:

Door to Beard Index:  Monstrously high. And they’re spectacular. If you end up with part of one in your spectacular meal, savour it. It is precious.

Coffee: Despite the wank, it was great. A difficult feat in a place that generally serves very kick-ass coffee.  They’re also licensed, so getting wasted here one day is a distinct possibility.

Noms: Not as simple as their website makes it out to be, but really, really decent. They do paleo, and I don’t even know what paleo is.

How poor will it make me? Double dollar signs baby. It was my birthday so my parents paid. Ain’t no Chin Chin but I’d argue you get what you pay for.

Is it instagram worthy? It really is. Instagram away, but if you capture the beards as much as you capture the food, their Stagger Lees hashtag could be a bit more interesting.

Final thoughts: I will return. They receive a measly 73% UrbanSpoon rating, which just tells me they haven’t engaged in any north side Spoon wars as of yet.

-M
Stagger Lee's on Urbanspoon

1000 Pound Bend – Melbourne CBD

#OccupieFitzroy Followers,

An FYI before I begin – I’m considering adding the audio widget to this blog. I figured MySpace was long ago, enough so that it must be considered completely ironic. I might put on Kanye, because this blog is all about… THE NORTH SIDE (PLEASE HIGH FIVE ME RIGHT NOW).

Anyways, I am writing about 1000 Pound Bend on this fine evening.

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THIS GUY…

This venue is definitely one of my CBD favs – it transcends the ever important boundary of cafe/late night bar, so it’s good to know there’s always something awesome open. The food tastes pretty fucking fantastic, however after brunching hardcore for some months now, I’m beginning to understand the value of originality in a menu. Also, their coffee is not *actually* the best I’ve ever had, although it’s still worth paying your $4 for a soy latte.

And the place is fucking hip.

Tucked inside an old warehouse space down Little Lonsdale St, this place is just oh, so Melbourne.  I find it particularly cosy during the winter months as it’s sufficiently heated, and an awesome place to have after dinner drinks while remaining considerably chilled. Everything’s a bit grungy and they have cool art. The staff haven’t exactly been the friendliest in my experience, but hospitality tends to do that to people. This hasn’t deterred me.

FUCKING DELICIOUS YET UNORIGINAL

FUCKING DELICIOUS YET UNORIGINAL

This place is functional enough so that its taking itself seriously becomes an afterthought. It’s not claustrophobic, there’s constant free wifi and places to plug your laptop in if you want to be productive. Therefore, it ticks all the boxes that an awesome venue should. It’s very essentially Melbourne, but it’s not exactly… humble. When your mum asks you what hipsters are, please take her here, and feed her tasty, non-conformist cider while listening to Lou Reed (RIP).

Occupie Metrics:

Door to Beard Index:  Everyone here LOOKS like they’re participating in Movember but Movember isn’t underground enough.

Coffee: It’s fine, but there are better places in the CBD to get your fix.

Noms: I could make most of this at home, and it could do with some more vego options. But the ones that exist are excellent. HALOUMI BURGER, DO IT.

How poor will it make me? It’s fine.

Is it instagram worthy? It certainly is! But it’s’ high competition. If you want to stand out there, invent a witty hashtag or some shit.

Final thoughts: URBAN SPOON DESCRIBES THIS PLACE AS ROMANTIC, I DON’T UNDERSTAND. They’re rated a measly 72% on UrbanSpoon, but perhaps there were some UrbanSpoon down voting wars happening because I know that happens (thug life, yo). Defs check it out though.

And to finish it off…

YEP, THIS IS ACTUALLY A THING #NORTHSIDE4LYF

-Maddy 

1000 Pound Bend on Urbanspoon

Three Bags Full- Nicholson St, Abbotsford

Firstly, it’s been a while since I graced the Occupie Fitzroy page with any new words, but shit’s been cray the last month. I went to Burning Seed, I LOST MY JOB (WAH), I graduated (YAY), and life has consistently been reaching epic levels of insanity, but DON’T YOU WORRY. Occupie Fitzroy has not been forgotten.

Secondly, I AM INCLUDING A NEW OCCUPIE METRIC, ‘is it Instagram worthy?‘. It speaks for itself, and it’s an important factor in selecting a dining location.

I wish to write about a magical place. It’s a wonderful cafe tucked away in a suburb everyone forgets about, Abbotsford. It’s name is Three Bags Full, and it’s amazing.

Check out the sweet depth of field my iPhone achieves! I’m impressed.

I visited Three Bags Full on a wonderful Saturday morning, with two of my favourite people, Thomas and Jodi. I get the impression this place is always busy because it’s always awesome. We got seated in a light filled, dining room-esque little spot full of amazing art. A guy took photos of his food with a telephoto lens and we lol’d pretty hard.

I ordered an amazing sandwich type thing. It had pumpkin, goats cheese, roquette & caramelised onions, kind of what I eat on my pizza most weekends. It was amazing, as was the coffee. The service was great. What can I say… I have no harsh words about this place, and it’s kind of obvious I need another set of adjectives to draw from.

It definitely falls into the category of ‘awesome yet typical Melbourne cafe’, so if you’re happy to frequent those then this is definitely a place to check out. I’m not sick of this category yet so I will always rave about them, yet I can understand why someone may want to dine somewhere with a bit more flare.

Occupie Metrics:

Door to Beard Index: Three Bags Full is located in Abbotsford, which is kinda the classier version of Collingwood (for families & those afraid of junkies). The beard index was comparatively low.

Coffee: It’s great, but there are few places in Melbourne’s inner north that aren’t.

Noms: Eat them. Could do with more vegetarian options though.

How poor will it make me? It’s on the upper end of reasonable.

Is it instagram worthy? Your stunningly plated meal will look amazing with a rustic, red brick backdrop. Go hacks.

Final thoughts: It’s been a while since I went here so my memories are fading, but it was lovely. Go there.

-M

Three Bags Full on Urbanspoon