Ming’s Noodle & Sushi Bar, Collingwood

One of the cheapest places to eat on Smith Street also turns out to be one that’s up there with the best of them. Ming’s Noodle & Sushi isn’t about innovative, forward-thinking delights, this is straight up traditional noodles and stir fries done simply, done well and done for a good price. For $8.80 I had a huge bowl of the fried kwai teow. These rice noodles come with a mix of BBQ pork, beansprouts, shrimps and other seasonal vegetables in oyster sauce. Not overly greasy and more than enough for a Sam-sized appetite. The couple that runs it are lovely and although the dishes take a minute, there’s a lot of heart in this cooking.

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7.5/10

Ming's Noodle & Sushi Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Re: Proud Mary, Collingwood

Third time’s the charm for Proud Mary, and I think I have a good view of the place with that many visits now. Service remains shit, the staff have an aversion to greeting and you stand in the front door a solid five minutes before losing all patience and asking someone to sit you. General gist: good food, not the most out there menus (but they change often) and very, very good coffee. Anthony joined me in for a pre-leaving catch up and ordered the ricotta hotcakes special. Orange caramel, berries, seeds adorn the full sized serves. Mine was the mushrooms and egg on toast with a sort of hollandaise. Happy with the food and coffee, wish the people were a bit cooler.

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8/10

Proud Mary Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bluebird Espresso, Collingwood

Bluebird Espresso has some amazing scores on Zomato, but I can’t say I fell in love with the place myself. I dragged my friend Jo to check out the food and whilst the service was warm and hip, the food left a little to be desired. The spot is great and it wasn’t too busy at all when we got in, which is a boon as the seating is a tighter around the edges. We had the zucchini and mint fritters ($16) as well as the grilled halumi sandwich ($12.50) with mushroom, dukkah, spinach and mayo. The fritters were alright, but were soggy in the middle with the mint being hard to taste. The harrisa labne was a highlight. The burger was okay, but was a bit too plain.

bluebirdesoresso-fritters

The crispy sides of the fritters were great, as they should be. But inside the filling was wet and didn’t feel cooked through. Compare to the South Melbourne Borek Shop in which the zucchini fritters are $2 and crispy like the fences of the underworld. We did enjoy the flavours of the harrisa labne which brought the dish up and were a good accompaniment for the eggs.

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Continuing the short-lived vegetarian theme, my friend Jo had the halloumi sandwich/ burger. The halloumi was well cooked and the bread was solid, but the dish was a bit bland. A sweet sauce or something else with a sharp taste would have helped make it a little more memorable than cheese, leaves and mayo in bun.

6.5/10

Bluebird Espresso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bedford Street, Collingwood

I wanted to like Bedford Street, but ended up feeling a little underwhelmed by the offering in the end. After a busy morning I headed up the road to try some of the American-inspired menu options. Fried chicken features prominently on the offerings and that’s a good sign. I had the fried hot chicken sandwich with BBQ slaw on white bread with a side of fries that came to $19. I don’t mind the paying a higher price but the sandwich is mostly bread and the actual slice of chicken (non-battered part) is sadly thin. The fries were crinkle cut with a nice seasoning and an okay amount for the $4. Plenty of good things going, shame about the meat ratio.

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6.5/10

Bedford Street Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

N. Lee Bakery Cafe, Collingwood

N. Lee offers the best baguette bread in town, and of the many banh mi options on Smith Street, it’s generally the busiest. The queues are worth it, my last roll was the pork belly ($7 ish I think) and you can’t put a fault on the addictive mix of butter, pate and salad. I do slightly prefer the pork belly used at Trang or Master Roll but still good. Great value is so easy to find at N.Lee and so pleasant on the wallet.

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8.5/10

N. Lee Bakery Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Fonda Mexican, Collingwood

The newest Fonda opened up last week in Collywood, and I supposed I should have checked it out given it’s proximity to the home base (and Messina). I’ve seen its mini-transformation from a weird cheesecake shop and barber and was eager to see what they’d do with the resulting space. Along with Hotel Jesus we’ve had a mini-influx of Mexican in the area and Fonda brings the same characteristic charms as its other stores.

Not sure if this store has yet found it’s footing, the dishes were on the rushed/ dry side and not quite on par with my other experiences. Pricey, but clean (too clean) Mexican flavours. The fit out at Fonda is fantastic and although I didn’t see all the levels there’s a lot of potential with the three storeys (and courtyard) and I’m sure it’ll be a hip get together place in no time.

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Fonda was the choice of the night after some catch up boardgames thwarting zombie invasions and exploding cats. The usual Sunday affairs. We headed in and were advised the kitchen was about to close so we should order quick. Fair enough. The store is a at-counter ordering affair, like other Fondas. Our first item to arrive was the tortilla crisps ($9). The corn chips are a fun mix of white and blue corn and are freshly fried for the perfect crunch and grease. Thankfully, guacamole and salsa come as standard with the crisps, but the petri dishes were a little on the small side, there was a stray tomato square here and there from the dipping. Guac and salsa was good, less the mess.

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Fries are confusing called Chipotle chips ($8) and also “potato chips”. What. They come with a chipotle aioli and a parsley garnish. Decent chips. Not the most for the price, I could have cleaned them up myself. Taste was fine.

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Matt and Jamie had two mystery tacos that were $7 each. Okay, one looks like it was the pulled beef brisket with pickled cabbage, guacamole, tortilla crisps, salsa verde and a single leaf of coriander. I’m going to hazard the second was the grilled chicken, this has cabbage slaw, guacamole, pico de gallo, smoked corn, chipotle aioli and salsa. I think the guys were fine with these, but feedback was there were not quite as good as the city Fonda ones. They looked a little empty, to me.

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My order was for the beef burrito ($16). Well actually, all our orders were, we ended up all getting the same thing. $16 is pricey for a burrito, it is an upmarket/ modern/ clean version of some of the other places in town. The meat is tasty, yet almost patty like, it gets rolled along with shaved cabbage, tortilla crisps, Fonda salsa, quinoa, chipotle aioli. Not sure I enjoyed it per se, it was dry and I had to use the leftover dip from the chips (not potato chips, mind you) to get it down.

I hypothesise we had the end of shift so maybe it wasn’t as good as it should be, and the protein was dried out, but we just call it based on what we end up with our stomachs. Quinoa and the crisps add the entertaining mix of textures and the burrito is a very easy eat without collapse or dripping.

Overall a worthwhile addition to the neighbourhood and a very good spot for some evening entertaining. Food isn’t quite there yet for me but perhaps I’ll check back in a few more weeks and see how it’s progressed.

6.5/10

Fonda Mexican, Collingwood Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Xeom, Collingwood

As you walk into the store you realise just how super funky Xeom is with its high ceiling and tasteful interior features. There isn’t too many Viet options around Collingwood so I hobbled in to give their menu a sample for my dinner. The place was pumping and the crowd probably gives you an idea of who it’s aimed towards, this is like Miss Chu territory. I enjoyed my lemongrass beef vermicelli salad from Xeom but couldn’t help feeling there wasn’t quite enough of it. Victoria Street isn’t too far away so there’s even more options for this kind of food, with better pricing and quantities but stickier floors.

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6.5/10

Xeom Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Smith Street Alimentari, Collingwood

Putting the delicious in deli any time of the day is Smith Street Alimentari, handily located on well, Smith Street of Collingwood. It’s a bustling spot every time I’ve been, with tables packed and queues across the gorgeous cabinet offerings. I popped for a midday bite and the sandwich and salad was great, save for a a stray raw chickpea. Meat and goodness filled with excellent balance of taste, it’s a real treat for lunch and they offer plenty of sweet choices too. Dine in and you get a different experience as well, based on how the takeout went, it’s most likely very good.

My first day off work saw a morning filled with packing and cleaning, so it was opportune to pop out for some lunch and have another place crossed off the list. Everything in the window looked appealing, with rotisserie chicken, colourful salads, stuffed sandwiches and wraps as well as freshly baked patisserie treats. I went for the porchetta panino ($10.50) and a small serve of the cauliflower and chickpea salad ($5). This is a heap of food.

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As well as a grand helping of porchetta, the roll came with greens, salsa verde and provolone cheese. I loved the plentiful stock of meat and the additions helped it avoid ever tasting too salty as pork can have a tendency to do. Tasty, fresh bread make it a good lunchtime option with the other fillings just as enticing. I enjoyed most of the salad, the raisins and currant adding a desirable sweetness to the bite. The pita chips also kept things crunchy. On the small side for five bucks, but I had spare for later.

Plenty of options and healthy-looking, I’ll be keen to pop in Smith Street Alimentari a few more times to check out some of the other things on offer. There’s plenty. They also do take home meals and the usual deli offerings as well so you can try emulate some of the success back at home.

8/10

Smith Street Alimentari Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Everyday Coffee, Collingwood

Always full to the brim with hipsters on laptops, I was quite tempted to join them too. I had an iced filter coffee and was a bit disappointed as they had run out of the bagel options as I was really craving food. Run out. At 12:15. So I ended up having to get fed elsewhere as I wasn’t so into the sweets that were on offer. The iced coffee was good but the end service was iffy, I had to wait for a staff member to finish flirting with a customer before I could pay for my order and ended up getting it done by another. I guess it’s okay. Okay coffee for every day.

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6.5/10

Everyday Coffee Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Noble Experiment, Collingwood

This week I’ve been raving about my experience at The Noble Experiment, a drinking and eating house located in Smith Street of Collingwood. The experiment is undoubtedly a worthwhile and memorable one and I’d highly recommend it for anyone to give a go with a creative menu in food and drink that really delivers.

Jamie, Matt and I headed in for their $65 Chef’s Menu on a work evening, which gave us six courses over the space of two hours with innovation and theatre in abundance in each plate and drinking vessel that came out. This option would deliver some house favourites and new dishes, so were excited to see what would come, given that everything on the regular menu already looked enthralling enough. Spoiler alert, if you’re already keen on going, possibly skip the descriptions as part of the fun is in seeing what arrives next.

First to the table was the swordfish ceviche and goat’s cheese croquette. Although the first bites start out on the petite end, we more than had our fill after the full sitting. Both dishes here had punchy flavour and had a modern twist on their dishes. As someone who typically avoids seafood, I could quite enjoy the less-fishiness of this ceviche and I always will dig any form of fried cheese. A great start.

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The second bite was the 12 hour lamb steamed bun with red miso and peanuts. This was a somewhat surprising follow up to the first course in terms of concept, but a good surprise at that with tender meat and thoughtfully spiced peanut sauce. It steers away from the usual bao executions you get in other places and avoids ever imitating another type of cuisine.

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I was excited about the next item, which was Pork belly served with seared scallops and pickles. I can’t recall what the components of the sauce was, but it was delightful and with a pleasant sweetness that added to saltiness and crunch of the pork. The meat had a tasty sear with the pickles keep the plate from ever feeling too heavy.

I should mention that the cocktails at The Noble Experiment are an absolute treat and each one we ordered arrived with much anticipation and were followed up with satisfaction. It’s hard not to like the cleverness of the bath tub cocktail with it’s teensy rubber duckie, as well as my Tropical punch that came in a mock sunscreen lotion bottle. The silliness of the presentation is backed up with some solid cocktail making abilities in the diverse and original menu options.

The next dish was sourdough served with a soft cheese and some sauce thing that was green. This was a nice filler bite until the almighty main course arrived – 48 hour short rib with apple cider glaze and apple relish. There was also a plate of Smoked honey glazed carrots with a cacao sauce. This final savoury dish filled us up completely, we loved the delicate sweetness of the meat, it was tender and enjoyable to eat. The carrots were well roasted and the cacao continued the surprise factor. I didn’t care so much for some of the garnish items on the beef plate (too sweet) but this course solidified my joy with the restaurant.

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We couldn’t not have a dessert course and the sixth part of the evening was the Sloe gin compressed watermelon with lime, mint and cucumber granita and a yoghurt parfait. This was an intriguing bite, but I loved the twist on classic watermelon and the flavours were all potent, and came together nicely. It was a great palate cleanser and a perfect end to the evening. Service was fantastic over our time and The Noble Experiment has a nice vibe; they also happened to be doing a special Mexican street menu dinner event at the same time. No doubt they’re always trying new things and that’s a really good thing for the eating scene. The Chef’s menu represented value for an interesting and creative eating out experience.

9.5/10

 The Noble Experiment Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato