Saturday, September 29, 2012


Life changes mean that I now am mostly unable to do brunch, which I used to do over quieter times during the week. It's all a bit of a downer but the obvious upside is that I can now suss out the dinner scene for Melbourne's poor studes. So far, it hasn't been too much of a stretch but it does take a little more planning when finding places that will fit the budget in the PM hours. 

The Seafood Curry Laksa

To begin this slightly new phase, a small group of us hit up the west side to visit Flemmington's Laksa King a couple of weeks ago. We went on a Monday night, thinking it would be pretty quiet, but the place was a hive of noodle eaters, with a quick turnover of customers. 

For some reason, I had assumed Laksa King would be this kind of little restaurant, intimate and a little smaller. Apparently, that's the old one. The new Laksa King, in reality, is quite large, with long communal tables and not a lot of space. It's more like a diner-style, fast-eating restaurant, instead of the 'sit down, chat and enjoy your meal' kind of place.

To be honest, huge eating places like this kind of put me off. This should be called 'foodcourt syndrome' - I think there is something kind of nasty about lots of people who don't know each other, eating in a room together. But hey, it's obvious Laksa King is a big hit, and it's turnover is huge, which meant we didn't have long to wait for our table.

The Beef Curry Laksa

It's not Pho King, and it's not Rice King, and as long as we were in the palace, we we're going to order it's signature dish. Between us, we chose the chicken, beef and seafood curry laksas.

My friends were big fans of their chicken and beef laksas. They reported back that there was lots of meat, the perfect merging of spice and coconut milk and enough noodles to last the soup.
I ordered the seafood version, which was also a good choice on a miserable Melbourne night.
The quality of seafood wasn't great, which is always a risk when you order seafood for cheaps, but was more then bearable. I was however, a big fan of the big cubes of fried tofu that soaked up the laksa. But I will concur with my pals that the coconut and spice flavours were right on in terms of taste - if not a little too intense coconut-wise. If you don't enjoy that usual 'breathing fire' feeling after eating spicy soups, then this is the place to come to because the laksa's aren't too intense. Ultimately, because of the coconut milk, this is one full bodied, voluptuous laksa and we struggled a bit after.

The pluses are that Laksa King is super, super quick, and really great value and you don't have to get laksa- the menu is diverse in offerings. It's the perfect student eat, especially as it's so close to Newmarket train station. The cons are that it's not the best quality food and I've heard that it's authenticity is questionable. At the same time, it's not 'a hang out for a leisurely meal sort of place'- you're in and out the door within half an hour and because of this, there isn't much ambiance to speak off.  However, that's probably why it's so popular, especially around the 6.30 mark when we went, just as people were arriving for a quick meal, from the end of a long day at work or uni.

         Having and blast with Antonia and her beef curry laksa


6/10-12 Pin Oak Crescent, Flemington VIC 3031

Mon-Sat 11:30am-3pm, 5-10:30pm

Good for: A quick Malaysian-style meal with a group of friends, after uni or work. Probably not as good for dates or 'serious' catch ups as the venue is not particularly romantic or private.
Vegetarians: Will be happy with the selection on the rather extensive menu as it caters for most eating preferences.
Wait time: Only a couple of minutes. Laksa King's turn over is fast and the venue is huge.
Food waiting time: Not long as all; it is the type of place where your drink arrives only a few seconds before your meal does.
Cost: My memory is terrible, but I think we all paid around $16 for our laksa and diet cokes, which was really good value for the decent size of the laksa.

Laksa King on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

#YOLO @ Fitzrovia

I haven’t ventured out to the south with Poor Student Eats, so the end of ‘FREEDOM WEEK’ was the perfect opportunity and my friend Yalei and I visited St Kilda Cafe, Fitzrovia for a splash out, lets-celebrate-the-last-days-of-freedom brunch on Saturday. Fitzrovia is appealing a soon as you enter, with a delectable bench of baked treats lining the front counter. What could be more enticing then mountains of beautiful food on arrival?

The Saturday we visited was the perfect day to pop in,  as the cafe was drowning in sunlight from a warm afternoon. Fitzrovia is beautiful and spacious, with fantastic light fittings and interesting details; crates of fresh vegetables and bunches of flowers that give it modern-day general store vibe.

We found a table immediately and sat down for a few minutes before some staff realised we were there. I ended up ordering the haloumi and zucchini fritters, while Y ordered some kind of prawn pasta. We were both feeling flashy, so threw caution to the wind and ordered polenta chips to share. In hindsight, this wasn’t a great idea. Too much food. Not enough stomach. The worst of all first world problems, but Fitzrovia's menu is excellent and it's difficult to hold back.

The Zucchini and Haloumi Fritters; a meal that would serve me well for the rest of the day.

The haloumi fritters though, were a wonderful idea. Perfectly portioned and served with a poached egg and chutney on the side, they meal’s components were complementary to each other and when combined created a sweetly-savory dish. The chutney added a necessary moisture to the dry, but still crunchy fritters and went well with the slight zucchini flavour that gradually came through. My friend reported back that her pasta was really good, substantially sized and included plenty of fresh seafood.

With so many great places offering them, it’s hard to mess up polenta chips and Fitzrovia’s truffled polenta chips too were also v. good. Crunchy, beautifully coloured and sprinkled with salt and parsley, they were everything you could want in a polenta chip selection. But there was no sauce.? Come on, guys. We all love condiments and there aren’t many crunchy things that can remain enjoyable without some kind of moisture.

However, Fitzrovia checked all the boxes for my ideal brunch: A good, solid serving size, an interesting meal, a touch of sweetness and the requisite brunch 'egg'. Fitzrovia really demonstrates why I like to eat out - food like this isn't food I would regularly experience by cooking myself which was my favourite thing about this cafe. Do you remember a few posts ago when I was talking about how I loved that feeling of being excited after ordering a meal?  You get that feeling here and they certainly deliver on their menus promises.

If you're considering ordering juice; ask for ice on the side. Although freshly prepared, they are as think as smoothies.

Staff at the cafe were a little slow considering that we had just missed the rush and the cafe was quite empty, but were also quite friendly when we did see them. The wait for the food wasn't too long, but service could have been a little more attentive.

The meal was kind of horrific for my $20 budget. A good way to justify this is to say that it would be a long time until the next brunch, so I may as well buy two brunches in one sitting. As my total came to $30, this is almost what happened, except I’m never been very good at maths so my adding up can probably take part of the blame for the unexpected price hike. So, I’ve said it; Fitzrovia, as fantastic as it was, was not exactly a Poor Student Eats Eat, but if you’ve got the resources, it’s a great place to dine and has an excellent menu to boot.

Later, I read that it’s some kind of store policy that all ingredients used must come from within 100KM of the store. I felt slightly less guilty after hearing that. At least I’m doing my bit to support the Victorian economy. This was last-week-of-freedom-week after all. YOLO.


155 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda 

Tue to Sun 7am–11pm

Good for: A solid breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. The menu is great. 
Vegetarians: Will be happy with the selection on the menu - it's fantastic, and caters for most eating preferences.
Wait time: The cafe was quiet when we arrived, around 1.30 on a Saturday. We walked right in and found a table.
Food waiting time: Not too long, but there was a considerable amount of time between arriving and receiving menus, which wasn't a great start. 
Cost: I paid around $30 for my fritters, a juice and half of the polenta chips. It was an expensive meal, but a great one and although it's a lot more then I generally spend, the food was really great. It's just a shame the service wasn't so snappy. 

 Somehow, we fit in dessert a few doors down at YO-GET-IT. Yam Yam.

Fitzrovia on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 21, 2012

SMALL FISH, BIG POND @ Three Bags Full

It’s funny how once you start food blogging, every social occasion becomes surrounded by food. Every catch up is another opportunity for a post, another meal with someone I love spending time with. This is the upside of writing this blog. The downside is that because I have so much on right now, I am eating and working more then blogging and thus, my little patch of internet has not been tended to for some time. I’m going to try and rectify this.

My mum and I went to brunch at Three Bags Full, which sit around that Abbotsford, Richmond area. You know how occasionally in American shows, when a place is really busy, someone will say something like 'It’s like Grand Central Station in here' ? Well, at 10AM on a Sunday, Three Bags Full is Grand Central station, for breakfast.

The vibe of the cafe was good and due the number of people inside and the levels of noise, the pace of the establishment is energetic, maybe even too energetic for a Sunday morning. It's a little dwarfing walking in It's also huge and is spread over the multiple rooms of a converted warehouse. Diners belong to no specific crowd and instead, there are just all kinds of bods, everywhere, on every table, and on every stool, eating, drinking or waiting to do both.

We arrived just- and I mean, just minutes before the cafe got seriously crowded, right on 10am.
 Not wanting to join the line for a table inside, we scooted outside in the slightly windy sunshine. At the rate Three Bags Full fills, if you find yourself in the same situation, I strongly suggest you do the same. You’ll also be able to hear your eating companion talk, which is always nice.

After a while pondering the menu, I ordered the Roasted pumpkin + sage fritters ($16) with grilled haloumi + a parsley, pinenut, parmesan + pomegranate salad, while my Mum choose the Roasted field mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, goats cheese + almond dukkah ($15)

I have to admit, I didn’t enjoy my meal as much as I thought I would. Although it looked great and was nicely arranged, it was lukewarm, and the fritters were dry. For this reason, I suspect it had been sitting on a counter somewhere for a while before it got to me. I love haloumi, I eat it like it’s a magical, wonder food, but halomui cold has the texture of rubber. That was kind of a bummer. - because if all the temperatures had been right, it could have been a great dish. Although for $16, I also expected it to be a little more substantial then it was.

My mum on the other hand, loved her choice of mushrooms. Her dish was sizable, and the mushrooms large and meaty.  You can see from the pictures that the goats cheese was also plentiful and according to her, the meal was a substantial and well cooked brunch.

I don’t quite know what to make of this eatery. The menu is fantastic- versatile, expansive, and presents lots of options for the variable modern day Melbourne eater. And, the coffee was good, but could have been hotter (I seem to be finding this a lot, is this a 'thing' now?)

But organisation seems to be a problem, and getting things from the kitchen to the table quickly was certainly an issue that Three Bags Full needs to work on, especially in the case of my meal, and the coffee we had. I know that Sundays are crazy for most businesses, and I have an inkling this is may be an issue of staffing. The waitstaff in fact, were very friendly and weren’t slacking off by any means - the problem was that there just wasn’t enough of them to go around.

I was disappointed; I've read so many great reviews, and heard so many great things about Three Bags Full that it seems my expectations had been set a little too high. I suppose the obvious answer to this is that everyone else has read these same reviews too, and perhaps peak-hour on a peak day isn't the time to really enjoy this cafe.


60 Nicholson St


Open daily: 9am- 5pm

Good for: A really great menu. Hopefully next time I visit, it will live up to its promises.
Vegetarians: Have lots of options for interesting and fulfilling meals. 
Wait time: Quite a while - I strongly advise visiting outside regular weekend brunching hours. 
Food waiting time: Quite a long time- Half an hour during peak time over the weekend. 
Cost: Including a latte, my meal sat at $19.50. Had the dish been delivered sooner, I would have considered it better value.


Three Bags Full on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 9, 2012


With such an extensive cafe culture in Melbourne, I imagine that it must become hard to create a point of difference. Really good coffee, an innovative menu that caters for most eaters, and a slightly intriguing interior are considered the basics, but it’s the little things that now set each of Melbourne cafes apart. I'm always interested in seeing how newly opened cafes are making their mark, and so after the amazing experience that was Proud Mary, Antonia and I took the short walk down Smith Street, to Tomboy. I’d wanted to visit since it had opened, as the team there used to deliver these amazing little cupcakes and baked treats to my old work. Unfortunately, the didn’t have any cupcakes when we made our visit. Sad face. But full and bloated after breakfast, we soldiered on.

We only intended to try the cafe's coffee, however I took one for the team and ordered the chocolate and raspberry brownie. Rich and gooey, it was less of a brownie, and more of a raspberry-hinted chocolate cake. Highly recommend. Our coffee (Seven Seeds) came beautifully presented in one of their signature cut-glass jars and was as good as any well-travelled Melbournian would expect.

I thought the in-built counter speakers were a nice touch.

Tomboy's most impressive quirk is that their baked goods are all gluten-free. Apparently one of the owners is gluten intolerant, and creates treats that don’t compromise on health, texture or taste.
Most of the time, I associate gluten-free foods as being like the poor man's version of ‘normal’ foods, but this belief was shattered after delighting in Tomboy’s brownie. As one of the best cakes I have had for a long time, rich and flavoursome with a shadow of raspberry appearing after each mouthful, there was nothing poor man about it.

All in all, I liked Tomboy. It had all the components of a good cafe, and is somewhere I would go with friends to try the lunch or breakfast options. At the same time, the vibe within the cafe was pleasantly quiet and it certainly wasn’t a ‘loud’ cafe, probably because of the intimate size of the venue- which also means it’s perfect for a solo coffee. It’s probably worth noting that the selection of magazines they have for customers is also first-rate, with recent additions of I love you and Russh, which will always win extra points from me. I suspect Tomboy will do well on Smith Street, with lots of thoughful little details that are sure to keep the northern suburbs a’coming for some time.

We're in Melbourne, so there was the requisite clip-board menu


356 Smith Street

Tue-Sat 7am-4pm
Sun 8am-4pm

Good for: Early morning Coffee (Opens at 7am!) or a quiet coffee with friends. Although I didn't stay for a meal, there are breakfast and lunch options too. The gluten-intolerant will love it.   
Vegetarians: Not sure, as I only ate the brownie. Although, that was vegetarian.
Wait time: We walked straight in and found a table at around 11am. The cafe was slowly filling, but not bursting.
Food waiting time: Not long at all.
Cost: I paid $11 for two lattes and the brownie- works out to be the standard $3.50 for coffee and $4 for the brownie.  Bonza.

Tomboy on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 7, 2012


I just started a new job this week, so the week before I began, I took advantage of my short lived freedom to eat like crazy and brunch like there was no tomorrow mornings off.

 This was breakfast. This is why they tell you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If everyone started their day like this, Melbourne would be a beautiful place.

The first port of call was Collingwood’s Proud Mary to begin a chilly Wednesday for breakfast. I used to visit Proud Mary a lot when I was an intern in Collingwood but as it’s almost on the other side of town, I don’t get there too much now. Either way, as I was reminded, the cafe is well worth the trip and food here is top notch.

Crowded for breakfast, lunch and take-away coffee, Proud Mary is a Melbourne favourite for all of the above. Despite being packed almost every time I've visited, wait times are minimal and it’s not a huge challenge to find a table on a weekday morning. When we arrived, menus were distributed within a few minutes of sitting, and our coffee arrived a few minutes after that. Generally, service is fast and organised, without lacking in care. At Proud Mary, they have crowd-management down to a fine art, and live between that fine line of wham-bam-thankyou-ma'am service and a nicely paced eatery.

We both ordered the Potato Hash, which usually is made up of a thick hash brown, grilled bacon, spinach, a poached egg, bagna cauda (a light italian sauce, made up of anchovies, cream and garlic) which proved to be a good choice on a miserable Melbourne morning.

My meal involved just the right amount of potato, spinach and salmon (my substitute for bacon) with a well poached egg. It was hearty and warm, but I was thankful for the salmon, which added a change of texture and some lightness to a heavy dish. However, my friend altered hers by swapping the eggs for tomato, and was just as pleased with her meal as I was with mine. Both dishes were perfectly sized, leaving us pleasantly full.

What I really noticed about our meals, and those of people around us, was that both dishes were beautifully presented, full of colour and delicately arranged. The salmon on my plate has been perfectly folded into a little round nest, while the other components of the meal looked wonderful alongside. There is no real benefit to eating food art, but it certainly made me slow down and enjoy my meal a little more then usual and I appreciated the effort that had gone into the look of our meals. 

I also liked how much choice the meals were. With a huge selection of sides on offer beyond the regular menu, you get the impression that Proud Mary is willing to cater for everyone. Although the hot breakfast menu is not huge, the set menu is adaptable to almost any taste, so if your favourites aren't there, try the 'sides'. 

Price wise, Proud Mary reaches, and almost exceeds my $20 budget, especially after I added my latte to the bill. But this breakfast experience was really, really great and with sufficient staffing, minimal waiting times and decent serves (the big three, am i right?) I left feeling more then satisfied that it was money well spent. So, if you're having a flash week and find yourself in Collingwood, head to Proud Mary.   

Proud Mary roast their own beans. Thus, best coffee out. 


172 Oxford St (off Smith Street)
Collingwood, Victoria 3066

Monday – Friday : 7am to 4pm
Saturday – Sunday : 8am to 4pm
Public Holidays : 7am to 4pm

Good for: Coffee; both the take-away and in-house options are quick and really good. Also good for groups of friends because of the long tables, but I'd stick to smaller groups during peak times.
Vegetarians: Will be able to eat well-  for breakfast, there are more vegetarian options then there are meat-options with additional vegetarian sides available.
Wait time: We walked straight in and found a spot on a communal table at around 10.30am last Wednesday morning.
Food waiting time: Not long at all- less then 15 minutes in total. 
Cost: PM added an extra dollar for the salmon, making the meal and my latte $21.00 all up.

 Proud Mary on Urbanspoon