Monday, 4 July 2011

Howdy Seven Seeds

Date: Sunday July 3rd
Where: Seven Seeds
Location: 106-114 Berkeley St, Carlton

Good coffee. Hard to come by, even harder to resist.

So, the Age Good Cafe Guide told me that a certain Seven Seeds Cafe was awarded 3 cups for its fine brew. Seven Seeds? I had heard of the name but quite frankly never took much notice...  Not sure why, I guess I like to stick to what I know...the likes of St Ali and Di Bella ensures I remain monogamous...for now. But on this particular Sunday, I decided to venture outside of my comfort zone and off I went with my partner in crime to a cafe lacking in good signage, hidden between construction zones and warehouse buildings. We were having real trouble locating this little coffee wonder until we spotted a couple holding what appeared to be coffee outside a run down building. Eureka! We have found the golden brew!

The interior is open and spacious, nothing you wouldn't expect from an old warehouse building. We waited in line for about 5 minutes with not a single hint of service. Wait staff would look at us, smile then walk away. No acknowledgement of our need for a table nor our yearning for a decent cuppa in the cold echoing building.

We finally got directed to a table, a share table with seating for around 10 people. 3 other parties were at the table....sipping away contently...reading magazines, checking their iPhones, diving into what looked like a chocolate cake. 

The food menu at Seven Seeds is by no means extensive. A couple of pressed sandwich options, a muesli I think and a house made baked bean special typed on a slip of paper and attached to the front of the menu. There were a few other dishes but they were pretty unmemorable which is probably why I have erased them from my memory. Coffee is clearly the golden child here....everything else act merely as an after thought. 

First things first, the coffee. I order the soy latte as per usual, the sweetness of the soy allows me to forego sugar while my boyfriend went for his typical strong latte. The coffees arrive swiftly...we admire the coffee art on my boyfriend's brew... some kinda leaf arrangement...nothing too special. The coffee art on mine was a little fuzzy and we couldn't make out what it was. Nonetheless we were there for the coffee and not to fuss over aesthetics. The coffee itself had a thick creamy layer of froth, just how a coffee should look.  The coffee was aromatic and creamy, not overly strong but with nice subtle flavours. It was easy on the palette and I could have easily downed several cups that afternoon. 

On to the food. My boyfriend and I both ordered the grandma ham pressed grain sandwich with a sweet tomato jam and some variety of cheese.  It was delicious. The cheese melted perfectly over the sweet tomato jam and the ham was juicy and succulent. I particularly enjoyed the gherkin which accompanied the sandwich...and seeing as my boy isn't much of a gherkin fan.... I got 2 for the price of 1. The side of pretzels was a little too American for my liking but I did entertain a couple of the crunchy goodness.

So all in all, great coffee and good hearty sandwiches. 

To queue or not to queue? - Queue!  

A Friday Night at Chin Chin

Date: Friday July 1st
Where: Chin Chin
Location: 125 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

What has revolutionised the Melbourne food scene in the last couple of years? Is it the popularity of food shows such as Master Chef and Heston's feast? Or have Melbournians always had the palette for fine and innovative food but we were lacking fine and innovative chefs? The sudden craze in all things food has resulted in a sudden surge in new Fooderies as I like to call it. But do all new Fooderies deserve the hype just because its owner is the cousin of a sister's mother's father who owns a three hat restaurant? Or should they earn their stripes before dazed Melbournians plunge head first into a queue 70 people deep? 

Chin Chin is the latest craze amongst foodies.  Located on 125 Flinders Lane in the heart of Melbourne, the decor is chic and the Donnie Darko'esque glowing rabbit on the mirror adds an element of queer to the feel of the place. 

Like many Fooderies these days, there is a no booking policy unless you have a substantially sized party of 500 million. And like many new Fooderies, they won't sit you unless you entire party is present.

45 minutes was my wait time on this one particular Friday night. 25 minutes before my boyfriend arrived and another 20 minutes after. We were seated at the chef's table which is literally the bench area overlooking the preparation area. A U-shaped bench where patrons can stare at the goings on in the kitchen... Normally I quite enjoy such a spot as I enjoy being mesmerised by the artistry of chefs as they go about preparing my meal. Unfortunately, this time around the preparation fell well short of artistry.

We ordered a cider and a beer to settle us in as we ran our eyes down the menu. There was a good selection of dishes ranging from eggnet rolls, curries and roti to crunchy school prawns and house made fried rice. Earlier that day I had read reviews online and thus already had a good idea of what to order. We settled on 4 dishes, the braised suckling pork wrap, the mince beef roti, quail and massaman curry. 

As we waited for our meals to arrive we were naturally drawn to the chefs running around in the kitchen, mixing dressings with chillies, vinegar and lime, rolling eggnet rolls and garnishing plates filled with golden spring rolls. It all looked very appetizing until I saw shredded pieces of steamed pork being pulled out of the bamboo steamer. The pork pieces looked dark and appeared to have been in the steamer for quite some time. As I caught a glimpse of the 10 other containers of pork sitting in the steamer slowly dying, I was praying that the pork was not an ingredient in our suckling pig wrap. It was.... 

Suckling Pork Wrap
The flavour of the pork was good but when one hears suckling pig one expects juicy meat covered by a layer of crunchy skin. Braised pork which had been sitting in the steamer all night just doesn't cut it. The chilli jam was tasty and the coleslaw was quite refreshing with good acidity and sweetness. Unfortunately, the hero of the dish lacked flavour and for a restaurant with so much hype, you can't rely on a sauce and side salad to rescue a dish

Massaman Curry:
So much hype about this dish but it delivered so little. The dish came out luke warm, the top layer had already solidified due to the lack of heat. The beef was tender but the sauce lacked punch. The dish looked subdued as soon as it landed our table and it tasted much the same.

Mince Beef Roti:
Nothing to write home about. Layers of mince beef between 2 pieces of roti. The vinegar dip just didn't complement the strong beef flavours. The beef reminded me of something you would find in a curry puff which one would not normally dip in vinegar

Nicely flavoured quail but the flavour was destroyed by the shop bought chilli sauce it accompanied. The sauce was far too hot which overpowered the taste of the quail. The quail would have been better served with five spice salt and a touch of fried chilli and shallots.

So all in all, a disappointing night at Chin Chin. Maybe we chose the wrong dishes but maybe we chose the best dishes they had to offer. The service was good but the food was over-rated.

Melbourne, wake up to yourself......I would wait in another queue if it was me. 

To queue or not to queue? - No queue!