Big This Week

Recent Posts

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

OTTO, Richmond

OTTO Café, 3/189 Bridge Rd, Richmond / The coffee utopia with a new-world menu.

If you’ve fallen asleep on one of the Pope’s balconies at The Bridge again, a morning-after feed at OTTO café may be your only hope for redemption, with sin-cleansing caffeine and celestial plates.

Plotted on Bridge Road, Richmond, OTTO makes its mark among a cornucopia of coffee-slinging cafes, restaurants and places to sink cold ones. For those especially dusty Sunday or calamitous Mondays, this place will be your incubator of soul-hugging things. 

You can bet there are all the hallmarks of a trendy Melbourne cafe here - marble, blonde timber, sleek menus and lashings of light. With a mad-scientist-esque approach to food, the point of difference lies in its eccentric take on conventional dishes.

The menu takes some wild approaches to traditional breakfasting. I’m a Plain Jane eggs ‘n bakey kinda gal nowadays (snooze), but more daring types will take delight at the whimsical lineup of freeze-dried truffles, funori (purple seaweed), tangerine pearls, whipped maple syrup and slow-cooked duck egg yolk - all rarely seen peculiarities on Melbourne’s brunch serve.

We tried to polish off every last clod of OTTO’s lavishly topped hotcakes (apple, blueberry gel, hob nob, butterscotch sauce, caramelised grains and mascarpone) but struggled despite our colossal appetites. This is one of those beauties to share and split the bill straight down the middle with. How bueno.

Most mornings, my Nespresso pod machine concoction nearly hits the spot. Compared to the real deal latte retrieval - complete with barista banter and people watching and paper-reading - it’s close but no cigar. One glance over the counter and you’ll see Padre Coffee’s Daddy’s Girl (ha) blend perched in pride of place like veritable trophies OTTO’s wall shelves. 

The coffee here is bloooooody good. I mean it. 

From pedestal to keep cup, the grind undergoes a masterful trajectory. OTTO’s Slayer Espresso Steam LP is the first of its kind to be used in Melbourne. Swanky as heck, I know. Apparently, this elaborate instrument combines an artisanal approach to crafting espresso with high volume commercial needs. For dummies (aka me), this basically ensures coff consistency (which we love). 

If you’re getting jazzed up for a day-to-idek marathon in Richmond’s food and bev nucleus, a pitstop at OTTO is worthwhile. IMO, the modus operandi here is fantastic coffee and explorative breakfast foods. Sounds like the sorta stuff in your wheelhouse? Get behind a table.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

BIG SANGA ENERGY at Dari Korean Café

YUGE sandwiches ahead. Bigger than your school lunchbox ever saw. Cos, size matters.
Dari Korean Café 27-29 Acland St, Melbourne /  The toastie wonderland.

If you find yourself in a city-based rut, it’s time to abandon the working lunch and broaden your dining/snacking/sipping horizons for a good feed somewhere sun-soaked (now that it is SPRING and all). In that very predicament on a marathon-length Uni day, a girlfriend and I retreated to Dari Korean Cafe at my starving behest. Nestled on Hardware Lane, Dari is a green-hued sandwich bar with a Korean slant that emanates all sortsa BIG SANGA ENERGY. 

There’s a menu smothered with VISUALS (which we love), so you can gauge what exactly will be landing on your plate. Unsure about you, but menus with visual aid are a godsend for disaster orderers like myself. I had a good trawl through the clipboard pad to see what buttered my bread. 

Opting for Dari’s signature, outrageously oozy Mama’s Toast grilled sandwich was a big, fat win. Mama’s Toast comes replete with egg, ham, melted American cheese, crispy cos lettuce and a finger-lickable Mama’s Special Tartar Sauce. The sauce is homemade and well worth a trip back for. Heed this caution, however: come hungry, or struggle bigtime - these sangas are for empty, post-3-hour-tutorial stomachs only. 

Over on the drinks menu, there are all sorts of dizzyingly wonderful libations to cheers with. Although I’m not at all opposed to the mid-uni-day happy hour, we decided to go for the non-alco refresher of Korean Kombucha. Being a reluctant passenger on the whole buch bandwagon, I was pleasantly surprised to adore this sip. Fruity, superbly fizzy and sangria-esque in colour, this would be a welcomed addish to my fridge. (Pls bottle it up and let me take it home by the gallon). 

Dari is open for lunch, dinner and even has an ingenious ‘order online’ tab to ensure your feast is waiting for you when you walk in the door (if for some tragic reason your working lunch is totally unavoidable). 


Monday, 26 August 2019

Ultimate recovery feeds at Monroe's St Kilda

Now you can go out in St Kilda and have a fat revival degustation there too. 

Monroe's 107 Acland St, Melbourne /  The Burger vault.

Monroe's Burgers has been a stalwart of greasy, glorious buns in Healesville since 2016. The burger joint was born like many great ideas are - over beers between two best friends, Paul Stephens and Alex Bright.

They trawled through Melbourne's hypersaturated burg scene on a patty pilgrimage to separate the good, the bad and the ugly. (Our kind of market research). And now, Acland Street has a new incubator for Really Fucking Good Burgers thanks to the duo. There's also a Yarra Valley outpost open, so after one-too-many vineyard stops on the next gals winery tour, initiate a driveby.

Despite pulling up a seat at the street-facing outdoor table and profusely whining about our gargantuan appetites, we obviously over-ordered and ended up almost catatonically full. Be warned, these buns mean biznez. Less burger bravado, more burger bravura. I even accidentally intermittently fasted that morning off the back of a rather questionably large Friday evening. 

For lovers of a chicken-centric burg, you'll have to wrap your hands around one of Monroe's The Deep South burgers. With mouthwateringly crispy chicken, lettuce, red onion and lashings of smoky, southern-style BBQ sauce on a toasted milk bun, I was left reeling. When it comes to sides, do not hold back. This trip marked my first foray into the finger-licking, irrevocably addictive world of onion rings and the boys here bloody nailed it (according to my much more experienced girlfriend Soph).

Being the deso driver for the outing, I had to skip on a drinks menu that I would've otherwise guzzled at breakneck speed. Monroe's has a curated lineup of highly sessionable drops, with staple offerings from Melbourne craft brewing bigshots like Moon Dog. The point of difference here, however, is a whole fridge full of rogue sips like the Peanut Butter Porter from Bad Shepherd or a Peach Milkshake IPA from Dainton for more adventurous types. 

There's no denying the exhausting groundswell of burger joints across this city. But if you find yourself in the St Kilda area craving an onslaught of carborific fare, Monroe's is your main man.

Stalk the buns out of them, here. 


Thursday, 25 October 2018


Frank’s is one of our favourite F words. Behind the doors of this unsuspecting Cheltenham cafe swells a maelstrom of BHE (big hospo energy). Its namesake is the art of simplicity, and the seemingly easy but oft-forgotten knack of plating up authentic, unadulterated, and truly frank (GEDDIT?) nosh.

Sure, influencers get around the lofty, blonde timber interiors as they model a grain salad, and its Instagram is by no means understated. BUT, when it comes to cafe courtship, Frank’s reminds us that chivalry is indeed alive.  

Built upon the fundamentals of good people, great conversation and glorious coffee, these guys have striven to make a hangout where people know each other’s names, memorise your ritualised large-extra-hot-strong-soy-latte order and offer quality fare. The ingredients are localised, the most common phrase you’ll here at the coffee kit is ‘g’day Peter, just the usual?’ and the staff are engaged in real discussions with real customers. The veritable cherry on top has to be its senior Walking Team (yep) that dons bespoke, sexy Frank’s tees, goes for sun-doused strolls and caps their sessions with a good feed at HQ. Essentially, pass over an application form because we’re infiltrating this rn.

It’s all coming up community at Frank’s. Today, we accost Harry Butler - the man behind this unparalleled cafe-cum-home.

image credit: @theedibleimage

image credit: @franksmelbourne
Give us a history lesson in how Frank's came about?
Basically, I'm a qualified carpenter with a business/marketing background that was saving up for a house, and came across what I believed was an under-utilised pocket of Cheltenham. I put my savings into the fit-out and just like that, Frank's was born.

Was this your first venture into the gastronomy world?
First serious project. I have a little private catering company called Corn Boss that was basically just a hobby/passion business for extra money I did on the weekends while building. I also had a stall at Meredith Music Festival called Little Champs, which was my first food concept, and was basically mini sandwiches.

Melbourne's cafe culture is more saturated now than ever. How do you stay relevant?
Long story short is build a local business for the locals. It's not about what I like, it's about what our local market like. That, and don't try to be the next "Flash-in-the-pan" with a stupid doughnut burger or spaghetti taco. No one cares. Simple food done well is the go. Build a genuine offering.

So many cafes rely heavily on their social media to drive their customer influx. How do you temper this so that barista banter, ritualised morning conversations and long lasting relationships with locals aren't compromised?
Your regulars and genuine customers don't give a f*ck about instagram. Yes, it's a necessary part of doing business these days, but not ahead of building genuine relationships in my opinion. The industry has seen a few "insta famous" venues fold, which reinforces my theory that there's only one true measure of success in business (and that's your bottom line). If you start to put your ego ahead of that and focus on being popular on the internet instead of building a genuine business/offering/relationship, then you're compromising your entire business.

What exactly makes Frank's a cafe with a difference?
I don't necessarily believe we are a cafe with a difference, or at least we shouldn't be. We're just a suburban cafe with a nice fit-out, but nothing over the top. We've got good food, good coffee and good service. There is definitely an art to getting that right, but it's not like we've got some secret recipe. We just genuinely care about our customers and staff and that shines though I guess.

What does the word 'hospitality' mean to you?
I've never really given it much thought, but I believe whether it's a massage, silver service dining, or just a simple morning coffee, people are exchanging their money for your service. If you own a service business, it's in your best interest to make that service/experience as good as you can whilst still making money. Simple.

Do you think Instagram is a help or a hindrance to the preservation of 'good hospitality'?
I think the game in changing and there is now a split across the industry. There's still plenty of places that aren't on Instagram, that are a more basic offering for a more basic clientele. Then you have the places that try to be part of that "insta hospo" crowd, and the two almost aren't competing as their such different markets. Insta, for us, is a help, as it's a way for us to engage our staff, regulars and other locals. But we're very aware what we want out of it. I don't care how many followers we have, or how many likes we get, we just want our crowd to be able to follow our journey and feel apart of what we do.

Tell us a bit about Frank's Walking Team. Why do you do it?
John Reid, the walking team captain (lol), came to us and said there was a small group that lived in a retirement village up the road that loved going for a walk on a Friday and finishing for a coffee at Frank's. Why wouldn't we do it?!?! All we did was pay for the t-shirts and look after them when they arrive on a Friday. They get so much joy out of it, and it just goes back to us genuinely caring about our community. We make no money out of it, but they make Frank's a better place.

How important is it to stay 'real' in this industry? Do you think a lot of fellow small foodie businesses are somewhat 'selling out' in the age of influencer marketing, showpony dishes, and hot pink lattes?
One of our core values at Frank's was "genuine doesn't care about being cool". It's important for us to "Stay Real", but there are plenty that don't and have success, and there are plenty that do and fail. Everyone thinks running a cafe would be fun/easy/a great lifestyle, but it's far from the truth. You have to get the balance of so many varying factors right, all at the same time, with "staying real" being just one. It's important for us, but I'm not saying it's essential for everyone.

Who are your cafe crushes right now? What other cafes/businesses/brands do you draw inspiration from?
Humble Creatures is great. The Left Handed Chef is great as well. They're not insta places, but place that I feel are genuine with great food. That's just me personally though. I'm absolutely obsessed with RAMBLR. I also LOVE Hectors Deli.

And with that concludes #2. If you’re reading this at 11:35 at night with an irrational desire for brunch, I’m sorry. Go to sleep and pull up a chair at Frank’s tomorrow. If F45 isn’t your bag, also flag a mental note to get on that Walking Team, stat.
© . | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Developed by pipdig