Only a few things about America make sense to me.
A dinner of fucking champions
Only a few things about America make sense to me.
A dinner of fucking champions
It was a day for discoveries. Today’s achievement? Gourmonade on Valencia St.
Unfortunately the situation that led me to this discovery, was watching a video online detailing yet another racists-calling-cops situation because apparently people of color are not allowed to do things. When I realised this situation had played out just three blocks from my house, I quickly decided that lemonade should be consumed and blogged about in support for Gourmonade.
Gourmonade is owned and ran by Vicktor Stevenson (see below), and their doors opened very recently (also check out their Insta right here)
This place is dope for the following reasons:
1) The brew tastes amazing. I tried the Jasmin Palmer. It would also pair well with soda water or a Dolores Park picnic.
2) “Home of the $8 lemonade” – never have I witnessed anyone making an $8 lemonade so fucking enticing. Naturally, the debut of the $8 lemonade takes place on Valencia St amongst the overpriced stationery and obscure record stores. There is a delicious irony here that I really appreciate.
3) The packaging was ace.
4) Supporting entrepreneurs outside of tech. Supporting entrepreneurs who are not white. The owner of this establishment is doing great things and he’s hella charming.
5) Gourmonade also sells cookie dough, because why the fuck not?
Show your support for local business, check this place out and enjoy some fucking lemonade! Also, call out your racist friends and steal their phones. Then drink more fucking lemonade.
🥂So canned wine is a thing now?
Somehow I drank it on 3 separate occasions with absolutely no shame. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE 🤦♀️ My previous observations of canned wine have involved yelling and trash bins (people were in trash bins when it should have been the canned wine). Suffice to say, the Australian canned wine landscape was looking grim.
Maybe Australia just hadn’t caught up to can’o’wine sipping? I’m pleased to say that at the very least, the Bay Area has done what it does best and turned something from trash-bin to fridge-win.
This doesn’t mean that canned-wine drinking populous is oblivious to its preceding reputation. When I recently ordered some rosé with dinner at a respectable establishment, the waiter had to take a moment to choose his words… “Yes we have rosé, but… it’s in a can” he said, as if he had just informed me I need to drink it from a shoe. It’s possible at some point in time, drinking wine from a can was akin to drinking wine from a shoe, but lucky for this guy I was ready and willing pay for wine served in a chic and recyclable vessel.
These things are made for getting white-girl-wasted. Just look at that pink washed rose branding and matte aluminum feel. They even included fucking bubbles (!!!). I’m sure there are approximately zero straight dudes purchasing this stuff. Effervescence and equality work so well together 😑
Wino notes: With the exception of this rosé in shoe thing, it’s likely you’re drinking canned wine at a picnic or festival. Meaning, trashy day drinking has now been made a bit more bougie. Note, they can also fit in ‘stubbie holders’, or ‘koozies’ as y’all Americans call them? (I had to google this). Perfect for stealth drinking, an added bonus.
Canned wine is a thing now. Time to embrace it.
That something being, employer decided I would be more useful to them if I worked in the same room with them. Not a completely unfair call.
So here I am. In the least sunny part of California, grappling with America’s excuse for coffee. But I’m making it work.
Most of the Vulgar Foodie action is now happening on my Instagram (follow me!), but the most exciting reviews will be making an appearance here.
Stay tuned for more profiteroles and profanities!
This is Occupie Fitzroy, and welcome to my very first scathing review of a north-side dining location. The culprit: Howler, Brunswick.
Context: My friends love their loaded fries. We read this article a few months back, decided to give these recommendations a go and now it’s Howler’s turn.
I wouldn’t say that the pubs and bars of Brunswick generally take themselves too seriously. Brunswick is diverse, and its hospitality industry reflects that. For anyone unfamiliar with the street style of Brunswick, you’re just as likely to see a tattoo-clad gentleman, riding his Samson Fixie down Sydney Rd with a rollie between his fingers as you are a hijab-wearing mother driving her three children to school, an elderly nonna purchasing some meat for Sunday roast or a tracksuit toting junkie that hasn’t seen a full mouth of teeth since age 15. There’s an authenticity to Brunswick that means it can be a bit cool, but its reality is checked before it gets too ahead of itself. Howler is the exception to this, and with the exposed brick and industrial chic styling that makes Broadsheet readers wet in the pants, it’s done a fine job of ferrying some of the Fitzroy brunch vibe across the north side of Park St.
I should make it clear that Howler’s cooler-than-thou vibe is not the deal breaker. At first, the hanging gardens and indoor bike racks are an awesome first impression to this venue, and their menu seems satisfying for a moment. But please, allow me to enlighten you with what followed:
Arrive. Sit down at some tiny tables. Try to move tiny tables, and realise said tables are bolted to the ground. Lose 10 points.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever expressed my deep distain for unmovable tables on this blog (especially at popular venues), but this hatred is there and it’s real. For one, these uselessly unmovable tables are never fucking big enough to serve their sole function of keeping my food off the ground (they barely did in this case). And often they’re placed too fucking close for private conversations or too far away for friendly ones. Unless Howler has a serious concern for tropical cyclones tearing through the streets of Brunswick with the mission to upturn their piss tiny tables, the purpose of bolting tables to the ground is entirely lost on me.
Whatever. I get over Howler’s lack of functional furniture and order some food. They have a pretty good burger + beer special. I go for the saganaki burger and a bowl of the togarashi fries, and enjoy another cider while my food is prepared.
The fries arrive first… and they stink. This is no metaphorical stink, they actually smell extraordinarily pungent. Confusion ensues. It turns out they stink because they’re garnished with fucking fish flakes of all things (did I ever mention that I’m vegetarian and really hate stinky fish?). I double check the menu to see there isn’t some fancy new breed of stinky fish flakes that I hadn’t heard about, but their menu mentions nothing of this stinky fish garnish. We return the bowl back to the waiter who looks at it with the same confused look and says “I have no idea why that’s there”.
The saga continues as we wait 40min for the rest of our food to arrive. I’m not usually one to complain too much about slow service but I had just been taunted with almost-delicious togarashi fries and I was getting impatient. My saganaki burger arrived, and while I was pretty stoked to be stuffing my mouth with cheese (as I always am), I was promptly assaulted with the reality that saganaki is just a poor excuse for haloumi and that it doesn’t below in this burger or in my mouth.
Why would you not just make this a haloumi burger, Howler? Has the humble haloumi become too mainstream? If haloumi is the bacon for vegetarians, saganaki is the fucking beef jerky that’s sat on your supermarket shelf for the last seven months. The first two bites are filled with the promise of satisfaction, then it just becomes too dry and too salty. Even thinking about it dehydrates me. There’s a time and a place for food of this intensity, and Howler with their non-functional tables is not it.
To Howler’s credit, their wait staff were really cool and patient with us during this trying time. I also don’t like to rag on wait staff for issues beyond their control but in this case, I don’t need to. I think they felt bad but overcompensated by bringing another six bowls of loaded fries to our table (only 3 of which we had ordered), but two of them still had stinky fucking fish flakes on them.
Door to Beard Index: It’s high. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re handing out vouchers for finger tattoos along with their substandard jerky burgers.
Noms: Their food gets two thumbs down along with all the sarcasm and bitterness of a true north-side resident.
How poor will it make me? If you choose to experience Howler’s kitchen for yourself, you’ll be paying pretty standard dinner prices. Their specials go ok too but you can get better food for the same price (or cheaper) in most areas of Brunswick.
Is it instagram worthy? Yes, if it’s daytime. They take an interesting approach to mood lighting after sunset, in the sense that they don’t have any. Even the best Instagram filters and manual tweaking of contrast levels can’t do you any favours. Most Howler photos will be blurry photos.
Food blog fury: This is it. Their 3.9 rating on Zomato tells me not everyone has shared this experience but I needed to write a negative review eventually.
NEW METRIC- Occupie Enthusiasm: Does this get a ‘Fuck yeah’, a ‘yeah, alright’ or a ‘yeah… nah’?
Yeah… nah. Obvs.
Final thoughts: I guess Howler is attempting to fuse Asian food with the standard pub meals Brunswick usually does so well. I’ve paid for plenty of worse meals in my life but considering Howlers reputation, I expected a little better and I expected no fucking fish flakes. I still had a enjoyable night because my friends can make most things enjoyable, but I could have gone without the cheesy jerky burgers.
This post has been a long time coming.
Warning: I’m about to spend a few hundred words ranting about bagels and haloumi (two of my favourite foods), & why this New York style diner has made all my food dreams come true. I’ll also be introducing some new metrics to categorise my eating experiences into. Brace yourself.
Where do I even begin with this place… I’ve probably consumed food and/or coffee from Bowery to Williamsburg at least 50 times (not bad for someone who doesn’t actually have an infinite eating budget, despite what this blog may suggest). My place of employment used to be situated a casual 3 minute wander from Bowery to Williamsburg, just off Flinders St, and this led to the consuming of breakfast bagels on an almost-daily basis. This then also led to bagel runs on behalf of my entire office. They stock 5 & Dime bagels which are baked fresh just a few blocks down the street, and they smother them in delicious schmears that are guaranteed to give you a bagel butt worth twerking. My workplace was beginning to collectively develop some serious bagel butts, but then our office moved a few more blocks down the street and we developed a big case of the CBFs come our usual bagel breakfast time.
I’ve fallen so in love with 5 & Dime bagels that I’ll follow their stock list all around inner Melbourne, however I’m yet to encounter somewhere that gets the toasting/bagel-schmear-ration as good as Bowery does (perhaps with the exception of the 5 & Dime bakery themselves). Many Melburnians believe bagels are simply a bread roll with a hole in the middle, and I’m excited to see 5 & Dime changing these blasphemous ways.
Fast forward 12 months from my initial bagel discovery: I’ve only made a few visits back to Bowery, however 2 weeks ago I returned and saw something very new and very pleasing on their chalk board menu: A haloumi bagel, available at 2pm. I was stunned. Translation: Bagels had not sold out, and I could put one with haloumi in my face. Phenomenal.
My favourite bagels are the aptly named everything bagels, and on this day I managed to score the final one. Their lunch time haloumi bagel came with sweet potato, plain schmear, roasted bell peppers and basil. I also happened to enjoy this bagel with a friend who spent seven years living in New York, so she knows her shit about bagels. She approved.
The haloumi bagel got me hooked again. I returned again one week later to enjoy one more, and it was just as magical as the last time. Rolling Stones don’t know shit about the satisfaction this glorious meal could provide. I was also reminded upon returning a second time that Bowery serve a bomb-ass mac’n’cheese. See photos below for hunger inducing details.
Door to Beard Index: Medium. Its CBD location amongst the fancy pants that work on Collins St mean there are more suits than beards. Also, tourists.
Coffee: They serve Padre Coffee, a roast I only recently discovered was super close to my Brunswick East digs. Only downside is they just serve one size, so not as helpful if you’ve had a big night or are falling into a bagel-coma. However Padre Coffee is good coffee.
Noms: Tops. They definitely serve the best bagels in Melbourne. Their menu can be a bit vegetarian-adverse at times but I’ve always found something that’s incredible and I will always return.
How poor will it make me? Extremely poor because you will want to eat there every day. Also, gym memberships can be pricy and that bagel butt isn’t going to work itself off (who am I kidding, I give no shits about bagel butts).
Is it instagram worthy? Yes, and it’s clear Bowery’s Instagrammers take themselves quite seriously. The #Bowerytowilliamsburg hashtag is looking fine.
Food blog fury: The only negative Zomato review is from someone who actually hails from Brooklyn, saying it’s overpriced and they could get a better sandwich for $5 back home. They should be reminded that the reason food prices are so cheap in the US is because the people making it are not earning a proper living wage and can’t afford basic health care. PS. Soz about your overpriced sandwich.
NEW METRIC- Occupie Enthusiasm: Does this get a ‘Fuck yeah’, a ‘yeah, alright’ or a ‘yeah… nah’?
Bowery to Williamsburg firmly sits in the ‘fuck yeah’ category.
Final thoughts: I absolutely adore this place. Bowery will always impress. They’ve also opened up another store in Hardware Lane which looks just as swish but also has the same menu (I was slightly disappointed by this). However they did swap some chicken for haloumi in their waffle special which made me very happy (see below).
Last week I experienced the highlight of my short career as a north-side snob/food critic: I was invited to a Zomato meet-up and fed divine coffee with freshly cooked pastries at Green Park. I’m not even going to cloak this experience in some sort of humblebrag; I was invited to a foodie meet up, and it was totally rad.
For those who aren’t aware, UrbanSpoon (everyone’s favourite food app with terrible usability and poorly managed user reviews) has recently been taken over by Zomato. I do have a slight soft spot for UrbanSpoon as it was the very first app I ever downloaded on my very first iPhone (those many years ago!). Zomato seem to have upgraded the app from its former 2009 glory and actually made it useful tool to keep for when you get hungry. They also invite their local bloggers to coffee meet-ups, and this time Occupie Fitzroy was included on the guest list #fuckyeah
The host for this meet up was Green Park, on Park St in Carlton North, and it focused mostly on their new blend of coffee, ‘Capital Blend’ from Small Batch Roasting Company. While I’ve been using coffee to keep me awake for years now, I actually know very little about how it’s made, what makes it delicious and why the hell everyone’s drinking filter coffee these days. Our brews were served to us by a lovely dude called Kyle, and he told us that this roast comes from a farm in Guatemala where the farmers can live rent free, and also have space to grow their own food. Awesome.
We started off with a filter coffee from the Guatemalan roast. For a few years now, I’ve been wondering “why the shit does anyone drink filter coffee, it’s the American way to drink coffee and America knows nothing about coffee”. However this was a magical day, and I was fed a filter coffee that was actually quite delicious. Turns out that filter coffee is made delicious when the coffee itself is delicious, ie. from a farm in Guatemala and fed to me at an exclusive coffee meet up. As there is no milk or sugar to hide anything that might be nasty, you need to make sure your roast is in top shape.
Kyle then also made us all a short black (those things are not for the faint of heart) and a third coffee of our choice. Yes, I drank three coffees in an hour on a Saturday afternoon and managed to avoid a heart attack. The soy flat white I ordered was also delicious, but I definitely had a new found appreciation for this coffee having just consumed it black. I’ve learned that milk and sugar can hide many things, and thankfully this Guatemalan blend had nothing to hide.
We were also fed some incredible snacks, my favourite being donuts from Cobb Lane Bakery in Yarraville and a chocolate mousse made fresh for us at Green Park. A meal from their standard menu doesn’t look like it would disappoint, either (it includes haloumi and a decent vegetarian spread). Thankfully the prices aren’t anything outrageous, especially for the area. I’ll be returning here for some dinner in the near future.
Occupie Metrics; I think the only metrics I can really judge this on are:
Coffee: Amazeballs. Try the filter coffee in a bid to understand coffee lovers in Melbourne are not crazy, we’re not following America’s lead on caffeine consumption and it can actually be tasty. With any luck, Kyle could make you one.
Is it Instagram worthy: Green Park was actually closed to the public as they were setting up for a wedding, but I’m pretty sure this place looks fantabulous even without 40 bouquets being hung from the rafters and the oh-so-wedding-esque music being sound checked for 40min (although, Etta James’ At Last was a rather fitting soundtrack to 7 food bloggers foodgasming over those donuts). The staff were super rad too.
Don’t forget, Occupie Fitzroy is now on Instagram! Click that button below!