Monday, September 25, 2017

Ubud

September 10-15, 2017


After a very lazy time on Nusa Lembongan, we headed across to Ubud for the second part of our holiday, ready to do some seriously good eating. We stayed at Honeymoon Guesthouses, owned by Janet de Neefe, who has run food businesses, festivals and accommodation in Ubud for 25 years. The guesthouses are spacious and comfortable, although we found our outside chairs already occupied when we turned up (see above).


Food-wise, we spent our first night at Indus Restaurant, which is part of the de Neefe empire - the hotel puts on free transport to and from the restaurant and you get a 10% discount if you're staying at Honeymoon. Indus is beautifully situated, with a terrace looking over a lush river valley - we got there right on dusk, so we only had a few minutes to enjoy the view before focussing our attention on the food.

I had the vegan nasi campur (IDR70k - $6.70) - a plate of rice and goodies including pumpkin, curry eggplant, tofu, snake beans, jackfruit and the best tempeh I've ever eaten. Cindy went for the jackfruit rendang, with green beans, coconut milk, crispy shallots and red rice (IDR85k - $8.10), which was nearly as good. We left enough space for our first real dessert of the trip, a slice of Casa Luna's famous lime tart (IDR60k - $5.70) - it easily lived up to the hype.


We had five mornings at Honeymoon Guesthouses to sample the full range of breakfasts they offered up (breakfast was part of the package) - it was such a treat to have fresh fruit and fancy juices for breakfast every morning.  


This was followed by our choice of main: banana-stuffed pandan pancakes, banana fritters, French toast with palm sugar syrup, eggs and, most impressively, a vegetarian nasi campur. Tempeh for breakfast is the best. Coming back to cereal for breakfast has been one of the hardest parts of the holiday being over.


Our other Casa Luna food-related experience was a half day cooking class the involved a tour of the Ubud market (right before it changed from the locals market to the touristy one). It was fun to get a rundown of the local produce and to get a sense of how locals do their shopping.


After we finished at the market, we headed back to the cooking school to get stuck into some Balinese cookery. A group of about 12 of us pitched in to produce a ridiculous feast: two kinds of coconut salad (urab pakis), a tempe curry, a roasted eggplant sambal (sambal tuwung), a fried chilli sauce (sambal goreng), a raw chilli seasoning (sambal matah), fried noodles (mie goreng) and a fish curry (ikan mekuah). The hands-on parts of the course were tag-teamed, so people took turns grinding up spices pastes, chopping and frying things. 


The food was astonishingly good, and the course was well suited for vegos (the mie goreng was split into two batches - one with fish sauce and one without). While we ate the savouries, the instructors whipped up a batch of pandan pancakes stuffed with palm sugar and coconut, an amazing way to end a fantastic meal. Look out for some of these dishes on the blog in the next few months.


We had a wonderful stay at Honeymoon - the staff were super helpful, the pool was great and everything we ate or drank that had any connection with the place was delightful. We'd definitely stay there again.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Nusa Lembongan

September 7-10, 2017


After our first night in Seminyak, we quickly escaped to somewhere a bit less intense, Nusa Lembongan. It's a little island about 50km east of the main island of Bali and has a much more relaxing vibe. We stayed at Sunset Garden, a lovely little hotel with gorgeous villa-style accommodation, a terrific pool and a cute little restaurant. We didn't have much luck with vegetarian food there for lunch and dinner, but we hit them up each morning for breakfast - fresh fruit, juice or coffee and a decent selection of mains to choose from. Cindy couldn't resist the pancakes (with pineapple or banana), while I went for tomato, cheese and egg jaffles most mornings. It was a good start to the day.



There weren't heaps of vego options in our neighbourhood - most places offered up a couple of meaty Indonesian dishes alongside heaps of weird western food - burgers, pizzas and the like. We were in Indonesia to eat tempeh, so our eyes lit up when we saw that the restaurant at Mushroom Garden Villas had both a tempeh curry (IDR40k - $3.75) and gado gado (IDR35k - $3.30) on the menu. We stopped in for lunch on our way to the beach and had a very satisfactory meal.



We were even happier when we wandered past Oishii Bar & Grill, just around the corner from our hotel, and saw the word 'vegetarian' painted on their sign outside. They're a primarily Japanese place, but like most restaurants on Lembongan do a bit of everything (more pizza and burgers, plus some Indonesian food).


We had a couple of meals there, featuring some excellent crispy tempeh sushi rolls, avocado rolls, tempura veggies and a decent tempeh and vegetable curry (meals were between IDR50k-80k, so about $4-$8). Like everywhere we went, they sold beautiful fresh fruit juices (and pretty decent cocktails).



While we were there we got a good tip from Amy that the best vego food on Lembongan was at Pisang-Pisang. It was right across the other side of the island from where we were staying, but we sorted out a taxi over to that side of town for some beachside cocktails and a wander down for dinner. It was well worth the trip - Pisang-Pisang has heaps of vegan options, easily the most we found on the island. Cindy had some delightful salt and pepper tofu (IDR42k - $4) while I had an amazing tempeh masala curry with fresh pineapple and roti bread (IDR60k - $5.60). The only challenge was finding a night-time ride back to our accommodation!


We had an incredibly relaxing time on Lembongan - it's a beautiful and calm place to hang out. The vegetarian food doesn't hit the heights of the more heavily touristed parts of Bali (see Cindy's forthcoming Ubud post for some real highlights), but we ate well and cheaply. You wouldn't go to Lembongan for the food, but there's enough to sustain all that pool-side lounging.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Seminyak

September 6-7, 2017


Michael and I have just returned home from our first holiday in Bali. It was a fabulous, relaxing experience and we're both hoping that it won't be our last visit to this island. Over the next week on the blog we'll be writing about our favourite meals during our travels.

We spent just one evening in Seminyak when we arrived. Lined with surf clothing shops, restaurants selling pizza and seafood, and crowded with sunburned Aussies, it reminded us of the Gold Coast.


Michael picked up some eating tips from VegieHead, and we ate dinner at Chandi. It was an expansive restaurant aimed at travellers, with a clear vegetarian & vegan section in its menu. Michael went all out on the Vegetarian Sate Platter on River Stone (IDR154k ~ AU$14.30), a selection of vegetable skewers including bacam tofu, coconut milk marinated tempeh, and caramelised pineapple. I was just as delighted with my Tempestuous Arugula Avocado Salad (IDR86k ~ AU$8.05), even though it only had three teeny avocado bites - it was scattered with coconut oil-fried sunflower seeds, shallots, chilli & tempeh chips, and dressed with lemongrass.


Our hotel had a good reputation for its breakfast spread, and we were slow to take stock of the entire spread. There was the typical western stuff: eggs to order and bacon; toast with jam, Nutella or Vegemite; cereals and a pancake station (!); a more European spread of cheeses and cold meats; then the tropical fruits and juices I craved, and clay pots with south-east Asian foods. I lined my stomach with fried eggs and rice, pickles, fried shallots and doughnut pieces, then finished up with a bowl of fruits. I loved it, and I loved anticipating many more such breakfasts to come.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Banana & molasses cake

August 26, 2017


I have nothing new to share with you here. You already know that over-ripe bananas are perfect for banana bread/cake. And you already have at least one great recipe for that (I've got about six such posts on the blog, myself). And what's more, I bookmarked this one from a blog in 2008.

But, but, but. This cake includes molasses, and that changes everything. In the raw batter it's too dominant, too minerally; in the baked cake it's mellow and malty. The bananas aren't as distinct as they are in other banana cakes, they're just supporting the overarching sweetness agenda and ensuring a dense, moist crumb no matter how volcanic and crusty the cake's surface becomes.


I stirred dark chocolate chips and walnuts into my banana and molasses cake, and cut thick slabs of it for afternoon tea over the course of a week. (It wasn't robust enough to sustain slices less than about 15mm thick.) I like that walnuts are a bit softer and woodier than most other nuts, melding a little into the cake and lending only a subtle texture contrast.


Banana & molasses cake
(slightly adapted from Yeah That "Vegan" Shit,
where it's credited to Veganomicon)

spray oil
3 small very ripe bananas, peeled
1/4 cup apple puree
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup choc chips
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped


Heat an oven to 180°C. Line a loaf pan with paper and lightly spray it with oil.

In a large bowl, thoroughly mash the bananas until as smooth as possible. Stir in the apple puree, oil, sugar and molasses, whisking to combine. Sift in the flour, bicarb soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake it for about 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean (it's OK if the batter still feels a bit damp!). Allow the loaf to cool a while before slicing and serving.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Saffron rice with mixed herbs,
barberries & pistachios

August 13, 2017


The Iranian stew that Michael made this winter has left us with a lot of extra dried barberries. They're small, bright and tangy, and they're also commonly served with saffron rice. The rice dish zereshk polow typically involves chicken, but Ottolenghi has a version on his website that doesn't include a bird in the ingredients list.

This is really fancy rice, designed to be a centrepiece dish. It's coated in butter and infused unevenly with saffron, so that the tossed grains show ombre yellow. There's green herbs and pistachios as well as the red barberries, so there's lots of variety in texture and flavour.

We couldn't locate any chervil on the day we prepared this, so we were just a little more generous with the other herbs involved. The half-dozen other polow recipes that I looked at didn't include any green herbs at all, so there's clearly no particular need for it. I'm still not really sure what the best vegetarian alternative to chicken might be alongside this rice, but we enjoyed eating it with tempeh burgers that were drizzled with tahini. It made a terrific packed lunch for work, too!


Saffron rice with mixed herbs, barberries & pistachios
(recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi's website)

1 teaspoon saffron threads
40g dried barberries
pinch of sugar
360g basmati rice
40g butter
salt and white pepper
30g dill
20g tarragon
60g pistachios


Put the kettle on to boil and place the saffron in a small mug or heat-proof bowl. Pour 3 tablespoons of boiling water over the saffron and allow them to soak for at least 30 minutes.

Place the barberries and pinch of sugar in a separate small heat-proof bowl, and pour boiling water over them until they're covered. Let them soak a while too.

Rinse the basmati rice and allow it to drain.

Boil the kettle again. Set a medium-large saucepan over medium-high heat and melt the butter in it. Add the rice and stir it around to coat the grains in the butter. Pour 560mL boiling water into the rice, and sprinkle over the salt and white pepper. Give it a stir, pop on a lid, and turn down the heat to low. Cook the rice for 15 minutes and don't be tempted to lift the lid! While the rice is cooking, roughly chop the dill and tarragon.

When the rice has absorbed all the water, pour the soaked saffron water over one quarter of the rice's surface, leaving the rest white. Cover the saucepan with a tea towel, replace the lid and allow the rice to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Transfer the rice to a big bowl. Drain the barberries and stir them through, fold in the herbs and most of the pistachios. Serve sprinkled with the remaining pistachios.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Black Waffle

August 12, 2017


Vegans-in-the-know N & I have introduced us to Black Waffle on High St. This cafe has a cabinet full of gelato, and a menu full of smoothies, bagels and (of course) waffles. There are vegan options tucked into every section, and every last waffle plate can be veganised!

After a meal at Loving Hut, we shared in Hazelnut Heaven ($15, pictured above). The two waffles were cute and modestly portioned, sandwiched with strawberries and vegan cream and sprinkled liberally with hazelnuts. The plate was rendered utterly immodest with a cup of molten 'nutella' and stout scoop of dark chocolate gelato.

This is a treat well worth saving room for... or even skipping dinner altogether!

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Black Waffle has already won fans on The Brunswick Brunchie (freebie), The Penguin Eats, he is hungry, and Curious Charlie.
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Black Waffle
262 High St, Northcote
9041 2029
drinks, food
facebook page

Accessibility: Our memory is of a flat entry, gentle ramp indoors and a clear corridor through the shop. We ordered and paid at a low counter.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Handsome Her

August 6 & 12, 2017


We noticed Handsome Her almost as soon as they posted their coming soon note on the door. This cafe's located within our regular roaming distance on Sydney Rd, and we were curious to see what would replace the unexpectedly-departed Bar Estrella.


The note included news that cheered us and attracted a little media attention: Handsome Her would not stock takeaway coffee cups. Instead, customers seeking their morning shot could take a standing spot for a discounted price (as it's done in Italy), bring in their own cup or grab something reusable from the emergency mug wall to take away.


A second resolution attracted even more, and more mixed, attention. Handsome Her is an explicitly women-centred spaced, holding social justice, feminism, community development and, yep, environmental responsibility as its core values. As a consequence, they invite male customers to pay 18% more on their visits than other customers to redress the gender-based pay gap, with proceeds directed to a women's service.


While Handsome Her's values are serious, the atmosphere is upbeat. The 100% vegan menu includes four kinds of 'milk', coffees, teas, novelty lattes, smoothies and blended-ice beverages. Meals are named after inspirational women, and are all complex concoctions with sauces, sprinkles and edible flowers. (That some of the staff previously worked at Glass Den makes sense!) Just about everything has a gluten-free option.

I had eyes only for Michelle Obama ($20, pictured above), a plate that starts with brownie hotcakes. These didn't have the depth of cocoa that I'd hoped for, but all the trimmings kept my taste buds active: peanut butter mousse, caramelised saffron bananas, salted caramel brittle, lemongrass infused coconut cream, matcha popcorn and strawberry baobab icecream.


After some deliberation, Michael chose Park Yeon-Mi ($23). It's a huge board carrying a charcoal bubble waffle, tumbling mock drumsticks glazed in Korean sweet and spicy sauce, cucumber kim chi, turmeric infused daikon, pickled carrots, dots of tofu emulsion and a scattering of rainbow slaw. It was glorious!


The following weekend, we returned to venture further into the menu. Michael selected more mock in the Yoko Ono ($18.50), a slightly more restrained plate of polenta-crusted eggplant, quinoa black bean tabouli, roasted broccolini and chicken nuggets, with streaks of avocado puree and goma emulsion and an oversized spicy rice cracker.


I settled in with Celeste Liddle ($15.50), a bowl of polenta porridge with plentiful fruit and nuts - dates, pistachios, pomegranate and apple three ways (fresh, dehydrated chips, and cooked down into a sauce). It's finished off with the requisite flowers and microherbs, plus Gula Melaka syrup and gingerbread batons. Not much could tempt me away from brownies for breakfast, but this did it and it could win out again.

Even in these first harried weeks of trade, we received confident and efficient service from unfailingly friendly staff. We're looking forward to ticking off what remains of the menu, and likely becoming regular local customers in the process.
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Handsome Her
206 Sydney Rd, Brunswick
8383 7360
drinking, eating, booze
http://www.handsomeher.com.au/

Accessibility: The entry is flat, and tables are densely packed with a clear corridor through the middle of the cafe. We ordered at the table and paid at a low counter. We haven't visited the toilets, but we noticed a 'wheelchair accessible' sign beside the directions leading to the loos.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Archived photos are restored!


Two months ago, I noted that more than a thousand photos had dropped out of our blog's archives due to changes in photobucket's terms of service. Today they're back, thanks to the sustained voluntary work of where's the beef? reader and our personal hero, James H. We are deeply grateful!

James has additionally packaged his solution into an app, which other blogger-photobucket users can access here.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Yarra Hotel II

July 23 & August 8, 2017


Our first trip to The Yarra Hotel was such a great success that we've already been back twice more: firstly to catch a friend's band on a Sunday evening, and then for a bookclub meeting in the beer garden on a Tuesday night (catching the half price vego food offer once again). It's a lovely pub - buzzy without being super busy, with a beautiful big beer garden filled with dogs, people and an open fire. The fire can get a bit smoky sometimes, but it's a small price to pay for the warmth and atmosphere it brings.


On the Sunday night we had a couple of non-vegan mains - the vego toad in the hole ($22) for me and a vego version of the kangaroo burger ($18) for Cindy. The vegetarian options on the burgers involve a simple substitution of a pumpkin and chickpea patty for the meat involved, so Cindy got to keep all the trimmings of the roo burger - fig jam, cos lettuce and gorgonzola mayo. They worked well alongside the fairly basic patty and delicious chips - $18 is a bit steep for a decent veggie burger, but that's why Monday and Tuesday night are the best time to visit. The toad in the hole (top photo) was wonderful - a thick loaf of Yorkshire pudding stuffed with two good vego sausages and slathered in gravy, with Brussels sprouts and pea mash for some greenery. I don't think they can do the Yorkshire pudding vegan, which is a shame because this is a magnificent pub meal.

Our second visit was with our bookclub mates, which meant Cindy got into a vegan shared plate situation, sampling four of the sides and snacks (all half price on a Tuesday night). Clockwise from top-left she had: vegan pickled pea and potato pasties ($6), buffalo veg nuggets ($6), vegan mushroom pate with crispbread ($6) and mixed greens ($4). The nuggets were probably the highlight - chewy little bites with a nice spicy marinade, but the pasties and the pate had fans as well. The greens were pretty basic, but worth the $4 to provide something resembling vegetables to the vegan spread.


The Yarra is an excellent addition to Melbourne's veg-friendly pubs, with a decent range of food that's especially worthwhile on Mondays and Tuesdays, when you can eat your fill for a tenner. The beer garden is great, they put on lots of great bands and the staff are friendly - we'll be back again and again.
____________

Read about our last trip to The Yarra Hotel here.
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The Yarra Hotel
295 Johnston St, Abbotsford
9417 0005
menus
http://www.theyarrahotel.com.au/

Accessibility: There's a small step on entry and another down to the beer garden. Tables are quite generously spaced. We ordered and paid at a high bar.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sweet Evelyn

July 16, 2017


Sweet Evelyn is nestled among the cluster of shops on Union St in Brunswick, and it came especially recommended by our friends Dave & B. We managed to wrangle Dave and a couple other friends (but unfortunately not the jetsetting B!) for our first weekend breakfast visit. What seems to set Sweet Evelyn apart from most cafes is that they bake their counter goods in-house. Their savoury brioches - topped with mushrooms, pumpkin and various cheeses - attracted my eye even before the sweet stuff!

The menu itself appealed to us as much as it does to the wheat-avoidant Dave. Michael ummed over fancy smashed avo, smashed pumpkin, cornbread, Huevos Mexicano (with potato gems!), Shakshuka baked eggs and chilli scrambled eggs. I ahhed as all shades of my sweet-brekkie habit were covered with French toast, granola and porridge.


After an extravagant evening earlier in the weekend, we both gravitated towards the less rich-looking dishes. Michael went for the Super Food Breaky Greens ($16), a huge pile of kale, avocado, greens, radish and quinoa with nuts & seeds and a couple of explosive poached eggs on top. The yolky mess on his jeans was Michael's only regret.


I was glad to have porridge as an option, and even more delighted with this particular rendition ($16). There was plentiful fruit to lighten up the warm, comforting cereal - tender poached pear, strawberries, blueberries and a couple of tangy raspberries, plus a little crunch from some toasted hazelnuts. I couldn't quite make it through the whole portion, but I was roundly satisfied.


We're keen to come back for more of Sweet Evelyn's menu (watch out, French toast!). Other reviews (see below) especially praise the bakery's wares and the milkshakes, so I might even be better off stopping in at snack time.
____________

Sweet Evelyn has also scored positive reviews on TOT: HOT OR NOT and Champagne & Chips.
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Sweet Evelyn
128 Union St, Brunswick
9078 3734
menu
http://sweetevelyn.com.au/

Accessibility: There's a small lip on entry. Tables are densely packed with a clear corridor through the middle. We ordered at the table and paid at a low-ish counter. We didn't visit the toilets.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Attica III

July 14, 2017

Cindy took me to Attica for my PhD completion five years ago for one of the most spectacular meals of my life. This year I was out of town for my birthday, and I was thrilled when she forwarded me a booking confirmation for a celebratory revisit. Attica continues to be Melbourne's most awarded restaurant, picking up three hats in the Good Food Guide every year and regularly making it onto "world's best" lists. With all the hype, it's bloody hard to get reservations, so a Friday night table for two was a pretty impressive reflection of Cindy's commitment.


The set menu is the only option at Attica these days, an eye-watering $260 a head for an extravaganza of fancy courses. They have a vegetarian menu as a standard option and will happily cater for vegans and other dietary requirements with a bit of warning. Dining at Attica is an incredible experience - there's a focus on Australian ingredients, meaning you get to taste things you don't often see at fine dining places (finger limes, wattle seed, saltbush, etc etc). There are so many dishes that it's difficult to keep track of everything we ate, but I'll try to give a quick rundown.

The meal starts off with a flurry of snack plates, designed to be eaten with your fingers - you've worked your way through about 10 different dishes before you even start with cutlery. Our meal kicked off with the cook's leaves, a mix of different greens including sorrel and broad bean with a dipping sauce of house-made sour cream and apple cider vinegar - a nice mix of creaminess and bitterness to get things underway.


Next up were a couple of slices of aged Santa Claus melon, with their sweetness offset by a beautiful sour dusting of dried Davidson plum powder.


This was followed by a couple of cute little baby onions stuffed with creamy house-made coconut yoghurt. The root were fried, crispy and delicious - there's a lot of impressive technique going on in the Attica kitchen, even for dishes that look as simple as this.


Speaking of simple, a couple of serves of 'smashed avo on toast' - these were fancied up with some micro-herbs and caviar-looking dots of finger lime. 


Next up was a small plate of golden beetroot slices, hot smoked for nine hours to tender perfection.


The next dish was the first that came with a little story - this is An Imperfect History of Ripponlea, with each tart representing a community who have called the area home: the pink tart is filled with native pepper and fruits like lilly pilly to represent the Bunurong people, the green tart with broccoli, walnut cream and English tea represents the English and the yellow tart somehow nodding to the Jewish population of the area. My note-taking didn't keep up with the description given by the staff, and the standard option seems to be chicken, so I'm not sure exactly what the last one was, but I loved the varying tastes and textures across these three little bites.


The next dish was one of my favourites of the night - a vegemite, cheese and mushroom pie. It's a pretty simple dish, but they absolutely nail it, the faint hint of vegemite adding depth and novelty.


The snacks just kept coming - these little baby corns were grilled in paperbark and topped with a macadamia and tofu butter plus some native anise. 


They were followed closely by these chewy carrots, cooked slowly on pepper leaf and served with a lovely avocado dip.


The last of our snacks was this concoction - the crispy skin of a Jerusalem artichoke, filled with mushroom shavings, washed rind cheese and lemon thyme. 


It's only after you've worked your way through these ten snack-sized courses that you get to the bread - in this case a wonderful wattleseed damper, served with both house-churned butter and a macadamia and saltbush concoction. So good! It was quickly followed by the first of the 'proper' courses - an intriguing combination of smoked eggplant, native wattle seeds, waxflower and bunya nuts, which really highlighted chef Ben Shewry's enthusiasm for native ingredients and flavours.


I love the way high end restaurants focus obsessively on particular ingredients - Attica served up 'all parts of the pumpkin', which combined crispy pumpkin skin, sweet and sour pumpkin seeds, slow-cooked pumpkin flesh and a cream infused with pumpkin juice and Tasmanian ale. This is a lovely sweet and nutty combination of flavours.


Campfire potatoes seem to have replaced previous Attica favourite 'potato cooked in the earth it was grown in'. These are cooked with crispy saltbush and finger lime and slathered in a yeasty butter and aged cheese sauce. 


After a couple of heartier dishes, we got something a bit fresher to finish off the savouries - winter peas, shallots and pepper berry ash squeezed between a couple of edible tulip leaves. 


Once we finished our drinks one of the waitstaff invited us to take us on a walk out to the kitchen garden. This felt a little forced to us, with a bit of awkward small-talk about how the staff are like family - I'd have preferred a quick rundown of the garden. Luckily the awkwardness was broken by a serve of delicious little jam doughnuts served with gumbi gumbi tea. 


We returned inside to work our way through the desserts, starting with creamy camel milk ice with dulce de leche, finger limes and native honey.


This was followed by a creamy whipped emu egg custard served with Daintree chocolate and quandong, served on a nest of native grasses.


By the end of the meal I was a bit overwhelmed by it all (the matched wines probably didn't help), so it was fantastic to end with something cute and simple like these Attica cheftales, Shewry's take on Fantales, complete with chef-related who-am-Is on the wrappers. A lovely way to wind things up.


Drinks-wise, I ordered the matched wines which, at $185 was probably wasted on me. Cindy took on the more interesting matched non-alcoholic selection ($85), getting to try fascinating drinks like carrot, pepperberry and mushroom juice and peppermint tea infused with rosellas and Davidson plums. We also had lovely gin and tonics to start with, and I finished with one of their filter coffees (which, to be honest, they should really throw in to the $260 set menu rather than charging an extra $5 for).


Eating at Attica is a heck of an experience - there are so many dishes, with so many interesting ingredients, flavours and techniques that it's hard to pick out a favourite (although I think the vegemite mushroom pie might sneak in). I had a wonderful time, but I couldn't quite shake the nagging feeling that this time didn't quite measure up to the heights of our previous trip, which remains probably my favourite ever high-end meal. The focus on native ingredients means things get a little bit repetitive - quandong, saltbush and finger limes appeared several times each - and some of the more performative parts didn't quite work for me. Service was slick and friendly without being totally relaxed, and the prices really are exorbitant - can any meal really be worth nearly $1000 for two people? If any meal ever is, it might be this one.

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Read about our two earlier visits to Attica here and here. Since we were last there, there have been two vego reviews, both of which were positive - see Nouveau Potato and The Unbearable Lightness of Being Hungry.

The non-vego reviews are mostly positive - see raves at Gourmet Chick, The City Lane, Ministry of Gluttony, Go Chiso, notundelicious, kT eats the world, Memories of a GourmandFood, Eat, Repeat, Finding Resonance, kit & kafoodle, Queen of bad timing, The Escort and the Thief, Ferris Wheel Flights, For Food's Sake, The Epicurist, BLK's Food Blog, Sarah Cooks, GastrologyRedheadeatsI'm Still Hungry, The Peckish Connoisseur,  The Foodie World, A Girl Has to Eat, Mab vs Food, shiitake and stuff, Le Bon Vivant, Almost Always Ravenous, off the spork, The Epicurean of Southbank, Barley Blog, I'm So Hungree, let me feed you Melbournefoodie mookiewhatimdrinkingatthetime and alifewortheating.

A few people didn't think Attica measured up to the price-tag - 15,000kms of Food, dining with simmybear, The Pursuit of Chubbyness, 1001 Dinners, 1001 NightsA to Za'atar were disappointed, and Snow Crab Nebula were utterly scathing.

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Attica
74 Glen Eira Rd, Ripponlea
9530 0111

Accessibility: Attica has a couple of steps on entry. It's quite spacious inside. The toilets are up another couple of small steps, although once you get there they're pretty spacious. Lighting is low with spotlights centred on the tables. There's full table service.