Peppan’s Bar & Cafe, South Yarra

If ever there’s an ideal spot for afternoon drinks in the sun and people watching it’s at Chapel Street, South Yarra. And a great spot to enable that is Peppan’s Bar & Cafe. Hear the roar of the Toorak tractors as you sip your drinks to food that comes in big serves with big flavours. Peppan’s comes to the scene with full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. We sampled a mix of the calamari, fries, zucchini flowers, lamb shoulder and pork belly. Portions across the board are generous, and we didn’t even make it to dessert! The hand cut fries are worth coming back for alone, and the drinks and great service keep the good times rolling.

peppans-calamari

My friend Ryan and I headed to Peppans on a Saturday evening, to catch up and check out the cuisine here. Lots of nostalgia for me, as South Yarra was my first suburb in Melbourne and where I spent most of my first year. A huge new Soda Rock, lots of more apartment blocks (sigh) and Peppan’s taking over from the former La Camera spot here. After a spot of cocktails (good!) we ordered some fried delights for appetisers. Ryan’s was the Crispy calamari ($15) served with chilli and lime salt, cumin and pepeta aioli. There was some trepidation towards the spices, but he reported it was a good mix with the right amount of kick. There’s a lot of calamari here as well.

peppans-zucchiniflowers

I had the Zucchini flowers ($14) which are tempura fried with goats curd and harissa. I enjoyed the crunch of the batter and the creaminess of the curd with a lick of the harissa. I could have done without the leaf garnish but it was a more than satisfactory start to things.

peppans-chips

We overestimated our appetites like we normally do and as such, ordered fries as well ($8). Staff were fine for us to substitute the usual spicy ketchup with normal ketchup and aioli. These are some fabulous fries, I probably haven’t had as big a serve anyway else. And to boot, they are the thick, hand cut style with a tasty, herby seasoning. A perfect side order for soaking up some drinks any good afternoon. So, we were feeling quite full at this point for sure.

peppans-lambshoulder

First up for the mains was the Lamb shoulder ($25). This is 12 hour braised, with roast harissa potato and salsa verde. It was good, but wasn’t quite as standout for me – the lamb was a touch on the dry side. The salsa verde is nice and does help things. Again, the serve is huge and generous, so make sure you do bring your appetites.

peppans-porkbelly

I was quite a fan of the Crisp Roast Pork belly ($25). Parsnip puree, roast parsnip, cabbage and speck braise. Both of us were fans of the braise, which is interesting, and the sweetness of the puree was a tasty contrast to the saltiness of the pork. I would have preferred the roast parsnip a bit softer. The crackling was spot on and with two triangles of the pork, it makes for another substantial serving. We ended up having to pass on dessert (rare!). Service was with a smile, and we had a great time at Peppan’s. The drinks were solid and the food delivers a lot (figuratively and literally!). Check it out.

8/10

Peppan's Bar & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Note: author dined at invitation of the restaurant

Frozen by a Thousand Blessings, South Yarra

I’ve always been a heavy cynic when it comes to frozen yoghurt places. Why should I have the trouble of preparing and designing my own food? Why should I be manipulated into upweighting (literally) my own choices? However, Frozen by a Thousand Blessings is one exception to the rule and so far remains my favourite frozen yoghurt place around.

A friend and I popped in post-movie to get a sweet bite and it’s mega handy having the ability to choose our own portion size (also mega dangerous for the appetite-inclined).

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I try to mix it up and my three swirls were almond milk (I refuse to type it with a y) and hazelnut, coconut and something with mixed berries. The mixed berries once was the only downer as the pieces were still in frozen chunks. Not sure what was up, I blame it on the mixer. Almond was good but the best of this bunch was the coconut – lovely deep flavour and stood out clearly of the three. None of frozen yoghurt at Frozen by a Thousand Blessings is terribly sweet either, a refined balance and mostly natural tasting flavours. Won’t say healthy, this is never healthy.

I was mindful of my toppings – here, goji berries, almond flakes, jelly balls, chia seeds and kiwifruit – the range available is extensive and impressive. I was pretty pleased to end up at $5.08 for this little tub though the women behind me managed to chalk up $16 something for hers. Pretty sure her dad/ date/ other was paying and the expression on her face rather confirmed this.

8/10

Frozen by a Thousand Blessings Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lux Bite, South Yarra

There’s quite a few patisserie and dessert shops over in South Yarra side and LuxBite is one of the better well known ones thanks to an appearance on some TV show called MasterChef. Of course I had to go for the Lolly Bag Cake, and also got the Caramel Cravings for good measure. The former did sound like one of the more impressive offerings with layers featuring banana lolly joconde, freckles crunch, mandarin jaffa ganache, musk mallow, spearmint leaf buttercream and a redskins glaze. The caramel was on a chocolate and coconut base and topped with a macaron (not two as the website LIES).

All in all, it wasn’t anything especial or out of this world and the Lolly Bag Cake was a bit too gimmicky in the end for my liking. I liked all the components, I just didn’t feel they really went together for any reason other than theming. The caramel was nice and rich and wasn’t too overbearing. I would also mention the slices were really centimetre slices so you don’t get exactly much to taste. I guess everything in moderation, by way of choice or design. Here it’s design.

7.5/10

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

Soda Rock Diner, South Yarra

Back in my day, Soda Rock was the cornerstone of the area, literally being the corner between Chapel and Toorak Road. It has a very cool retro-American vibe and you can tell the staff have a bit of fun working there. It has a few fond memories for me due to being one of my first intersections I crossed when I moved to Melbourne. And I’m glad Soda Rock managed to find a new home in the Jam Factory, being such an iconic character in the South Yarra foodscape.

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I went for the combo option with beef and bacon cheeseburger, fries and a Dr Pepper. The burger was good and I rather liked the bun and even the plastic cheese too. It was an enjoyable burger. It kinda reminded me how Burger King (or Hungry Jacks, ugh) could have been good. The staff apparently do a jig from time-to-time but fortunately I was allowed to eat my meal in peace, silently judging.

7.5/10

Soda Rock Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Smile Thai Take Away, South Yarra

Smile Thai Take Away on Toorak Road served me so well when I first landed in Melbourne. It delivered consistent, good quality Thai food at a ridiculous price – only $8.50 in fact for the daily rotating specials. I popped in at least once a fortnight, even when I moved again to Prahran. Wait time was never longer than five minutes or so and the location was super handy to the pad in Claremont Street.

The staff are really friendly and it’s not a terrible experience to sit in the cafe, but it’s always been a bit more of a takeout joint in my mind, and hey, it’s in the name. Everything across the menu is pretty good and can safely say that having ordered most of it! Stir fries features plenty of vegetable variety and meat that tastes like meat and curries are creamy, rich and aromatic. I rather quite like the chicken satay which comes with a sweet, peanut sauce. Full stomach and a full wallet for the win. And a smile.

8/10

Smile Thai Take Away Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Krakatoa, South Yarra

One of the lunch cafes I was always keen to hit but always missed was Krakatoa, which does Asian-styled breakfasts with funky Malaysian and Indonesian twists. It’s closed on a Tuesday as well as after 3pm but it’s a nice change of pace that’s well worth making time for when you’re in South Yarra.

I went for the satay chicken on rice and this also came with a good selection of vegetables underneath a satisfyingly nutty peanut based sauce. The chicken was well done and all came together for a nice hot filling bite for ten bucks. Service was super friendly and although the coffee wasn’t the greatest, it is one of the cheapest here on the Toorak Road strip. I’d say give Krakatoa a crack.

7.5/10

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

Fiesta Mexican Restaurant, South Yarra

The name Fiesta conjures visions of smiling people, great music, excess alcohol and a happening vibe and our experience at Fiesta Mexican Restaurant had all of these components going for it. The dinner itself was a precursor to my boardgames evening extravaganza so it was satisfying that at least one half was fun. We had a server full of life who pulled out some decent comedy and we ordered a mix of sharing corn chips to start and I ordered the chimichanga de carne for main.

The corn chips at Fiesta are really good and I enjoyed the char on the chips and the fact the were served piping hot and at the crispy best. Tops. My main dish of the chimchanga was a flour tortilla fried and baked and filled with beef, Egmont cheese and served with salad and brown rice. The dish was of excellent quality and is of a huge portion but I didn’t dig the filling as much. Couldn’t quite put my finger on it. We did end up having a great time at Fiesta and the rest of the table enjoyed their offerings so we still rated it well. The boardgames, maybe not so much, but you’d have to ask them.

7.5/10

Fiesta Mexican Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Veg Out Time, South Yarra

I don’t usually frequent vegetarian-orientated food outlets, but this place had a indescribable charm that enticed my curiosity after a few dozen times walking past. Diners looked happy too. And I’m glad I did, and I came to visit quite a few more times after that. Veg Out Time on busy Chapel Street has a slogan of “positive eating” and serves up a surprisingly extensive menu with predominantly Asian influences.

I only ever want for the ready items (probably should have tried a cooked to order meal at least once I guess) and for only $8.80 you’d get half rice and two choices. The ordering options are a little crazy to navigate, but you get in there in the end. I particularly rated the butter tofu with all the goodness of that sweet, tomatoey curry substituted with the aforementioned tofu. Stir fried vege options are also good but probably tend to avoid if it’s looking like it’s been there a little while. Solid Asian/ vege takeout options that don’t have the usual guilt or snootiness that sometimes vegetarian places can carry.

7.5/10

Veg Out Time Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Coffee Terminal, South Yarra

I grabbed a bacon and egg sandwich for my parents for a quick morning bite before a busy day of showing them all the wonders of Melbourne. This isn’t one of them. Coffee Terminal exists in the South Yarra Station and wins top marks for convenience and proximity. However, the sandwich was pretty disappointing, bread was dry and the overcooked bacon was more of a garnish than anything.

I was most upset with getting a slice of end crust rather than two slices of bread. Who even does that? I’d say avoid, but getting to the tram or the station legitimately requires passing through. The fried stuff might be alright because it can’t really be done wrong, and it’s still handy if you need to kill some time.

5/10

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

Two Birds One Stone, South Yarra

If I had to name my favourite brunch cafe I’ve discovered in my short time here, it’ll probably be Two Birds One Stone which is situated right next to my first apartment in Claremont Street, South Yarra. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the Melbourne food scene and I have been fortunate to only have had very excellent experiences dining here. My coffee snob friend also attested that her best coffee was the cold drip here. Living next door I was always enticed to pop in for a coffee, but sadly these days I don’t get to venture as much since I signed my allegiance away to the North.

twobirds
Feeling toasty

It’s a cafe that has a tendency to get queues if you time it wrong, but that wasn’t the case on my last solo visit, in which I splurged (diet-wise) on the twice cooked brioche french toast with banana, chocolate sauce, vanilla anglaise and macadamia nut praline. What a mouthful. And what a mouthful it was indeed. A rich, decadent indulgence that made for a sweet end to my time in flat #1. The banana kept it from being too heavy and although the praline was very sweet it didn’t take away from the dish too much.

onestone
Shroomer or later

On another brunch date I had the sautéed mushrooms with poached eggs and this was a huge plate with well seasoned, well cooked fungi that made for a nice wheat free breakfast. My only qualm is that I probably could have done with less of the king oyster mushroom, that wasn’t quite as tasty as the others. My friend ordered the Two Birds deluxe breakfast and it was a significant serving with equal excellence in keeping him happy. I probably should visit again soon.

9/10

Two Birds One Stone Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato