Little River Vegetarian Cafe – Brunswick

What can I say about the past couple of months other than… I’ve been some places.

Brunch at Little River with Thomas and epic-babe-Naomi was my first brunch after a whirlwind of moving house, 5 weeks overseas including 1 week at some desert party called Burning Man (epic), followed by another week at some awesome bush party called Burning Seed (also epic), followed by four solid days of sleep. I somehow managed to fit some brunch in there. It was in my new hood of Brunswick (my dedication to the north-side is admirable), and it was fucking rad.

Little River is located on Albion St up the top end of Brunswick. In true Brunswick style it’s nestled amongst seventeen bridal shops, three Lebanese bakeries and a converted warehouse-turn swanky apartment block with some ‘how did this get here’ style street art conveniently located along its trim. Little River is unassuming, and it doesn’t feel like it’s trying to remind everyone of it’s Brunswick location. It was not however, playing any music by the Little River Band, and this was bitterly disappointing.

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Undecided whether this is considered latte art.

The staff were super friendly. I had some serious difficulty deciding what to eat as it’s unusual to have anymore than four vegetarian options on a good day, but after overcoming this decision paralysis I settled on eggs florentine with spinach and mushrooms. Simple yet effective. The other potential brunch option was a tomato and haloumi grilled croissant. For anyone that hasn’t met me, my love for haloumi can border on obsessive… it was with great reluctance that I opted for this instead.

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Love me some motherfucking mushrooms

Alongside my haloumi obsession… I also have a bagel obsession. Pictured below is a cabinet full of delicious bagels, a bunch of motherfucking haloumi, and no fucking meat. As well as some delicious pastries, because fuck yeah. Little River wants to see that Brunswick butt turn into a bagel butt, and this cabinet of spectacular, meat-free deliciousness is what’s going to achieve that.

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Little River wants your bagel butts

Door to Beard Index:  Despite Brunswick’s density of beards I would still rate this a medium.

Coffee:  Good. My coffee snob radar didn’t register this brew as anywhere near sub-standard.

Noms: Tops. Extra points due to the range of options, and their enthusiasm for bagels and haloumi, all in the name of bagel butts.

How poor will it make me? There are plenty of options below $10 which is a nice change to Melbourne’s outrageous brunch prices. Pretty sure breakfast hasn’t cost less than a ten dollar note since 1997. Bigger meals are upwards of $15.

Is it instagram worthy? Somewhat. Meals are plated nicely and you’ll definitely get some likes on your foodie hashtag of choice. The decor is simple, a welcome change to the exposed brick of every Fitzroy cafe in existence.

Food blog fury: There’s only one negative Zomato review and I think it’s from someone on crack. They said the food tasted like canned food and that they could have gone to Coles and got some canned food instead; a confusing scenario as I’ve never seen bagels, or haloumi, or eggs florentine with a soy flat white available in a can. And if it was, I would be really fucking excited and not complaining about canned food on Zomato. They then signed off with the witty, unclickable hashtag of #stepupyourgame and probably went to Coles to cry in the canned food isle.

Final thoughts: I appreciate how Little River seems to avoid almost all of the wank associated with most north-side cafes these days. No snobbery, just a good time and some bagel butts had by all. This place comes recommended.

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This is how vegetarians like to party.

Also, DID YOU KNOW OCCUPIE FITZROY IS ON INSTAGRAM NOW? Exciting times indeed, you can now stay up to date with every coffee I drink and every bagel I consume. Follow me now! Then, listen to this glorious song by the Little River Band and admire their fabulous hair.

Little River Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

I might actually be a writer now, also check out my Instagram

I might actually be a writer now… in the sense that, I have been paid to have my words published on actual pieces of paper. Rather than, my ramblings just followed on the internet by people who haven’t seen any sunlight in three days.

That’s right folks, I wrote things and other people wanted to read it.

Beat Eats Magazine in Melbourne have published two of my articles. Neither of them are *specific* to food, instead they’re about Tinder dates and being hungover, two very regular experiences for most Melbournians aged 17+.

You can read them right here. I’m on page 16 & 22. I hope you have a laugh.

For now, please enjoy my serious face (I’m eating Ben & Jerry’s on Haight St and it’s hot) :

meicecream

ALSO: 

Occupie Fitzroy is now on Instagram! Huzzah! I was reluctant to take on yet another account (I currently manage 3) but I figured I should be embracing this smart phone-foodie revolution so that you can follow my food experiences and my face IN REAL TIME. You can check it out right here. There’s currently nothing on it but that will change soon.

-M

Shifty Chevre – Fitzroy

Picture this: You wake up on a sunny but chilled autumn morning in some hip Melbourne suburb. Vague memories of the previous night come trickling back, memories that involve Norwegians and a cowboy hat. Your hangover begins to register. Your smart phone reminds you that you’re running late for a brunch date in an adjacent and equally hip suburb, so you do what it tells you and promptly join your friends for brunch while you piece together the previous nights escapades.

Upon your arrival to this brunch venue, your wildest dreams are affirmed as you step into a cheese cave. Nay, a cheese heaven. That stinky, glorious mould is everywhere. You’re almost swimming in it, and your hangover begins to subside. Delicious, dairy delights from exotic regions in France comes accompanied with bread, mushrooms, more cheese, coffee, and then some champagne because yolo.

This was my Sunday morning, and it was fucking glorious.

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Photo via Broadsheet (My iPhone can’t take photos like this)

I’m not lying when I say Shifty Chevre is a cheese lover’s heaven. There is everything you could want, including cheese, wine, coffee, attractive wait staff, a sunny courtyard, and my hot friends. Depending on your mood, you could take the traditional route and order a cheese board that comes with crackers and fruit paste (boring), or in a defective state such as mine, you could order the most fancy fucking cheese toastie that has ever graced my cheese-adoring eyes.

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This toastie involved crusty bread, mushrooms, and leek (a bit random but it works) that had quite literally been soaked in a three-cheese blend, and grilled to perfection. This meal has set an entirely new standard for the humble cheese toastie. Masterchef ain’t got shit on this delightful, crispy goodness. But I digress. My point is that I fucking love cheese, and Shifty Chevre has managed to produce some cheesy, culinary masterpieces. I know of very few legal substances people crave in the same way they crave cheese. The minds behind Shifty Chevre figured this one out and are winning.

It was also decided that champagne was an appropriate addition to our morning brunch. We needed something to help us feel a little more fancy (see: ridiculous), because a gourmet French brunch on a sunny Fitzroy patio wasn’t quite meeting our standards of sophistication.

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This is my yolo face. My friends laughed at me when I took this selfie.

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More cheese. And hot friends.

Occupie Metrics:

Door to Beard Index:  It’s medium. Cheese lovers come in all shapes and sizes, and the ones visiting Shifty Chevre seem to enjoy beards of both the ironic and non-ironic variety.

Coffee: It’s your standard inner-north brew. Pretty good, it’ll take you right out of your impending cheese coma.

Noms: There’s a variety of cheeses to suit every taste and level of hangover, and it’s a vegan’s worst nightmare. User reviews on Zomato (formerly Urban Spoon), seem to be mistaking the cheese for crack. I’m not the only one who’s into this in a serious way.

How poor will it make me? Was it pay day yesterday? Go for it. Otherwise it’s on the upper-end of doable, providing you don’t get all fancy and demand spontaneous champagne.

Is it instagram worthy? Yes. Who doesn’t love an instagram feed full of cheese? Surely there’s an #cheesesofinstagram or #cheeseporn hashtag floating around that Shifty Chevre has something to do with.

Final thoughts: It’s like a giant lounge room. A giant lounge room where all your dreams come true. Also, check out the bathroom (weird advice but it’s quite the surprise).

On a slightly related note, URBAN SPOON HAS NOW TURNED INTO ZOMATO, WHAT THE SHIT? They still feature user reviews that are equally as hilarious as the Urban Spoon reviews, but their website is way prettier. Thank you Zomato.

More to come soon!

-M

Click to add a blog post for Shifty Chevre on Zomato

Smith & Daughters – Fitzroy

In the name of all things Fitzroy, stop what you are doing right now. Whatever it is. Stop eating your toenails. Stop banging your housemate. Because Smith & Daughters exists and they can feed you a foodgasm in the form of Mexi-vegan delights, so everything else you will ever do is meaningless.

Smith & Daughters is certainly the talk of the Northside town right now, however it must be noted that many of these words are from Caroline Springs residents who fail to fathom a world beyond fried chicken wings (is that some Northside sass going on? Ummm, yes). UrbanSpoon has been quick to label this venue as a vegan mecca, though I would more accurately label it as a mecca for people who just love to eat the shit out of something delicious and can handle an absence animal carcass, served by attractive hipsters. They also feature ampersands prominently in their branding, which is deserving of some serious vegan brownie points. S&D know how to impress.

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Ampersands, yo.

My Smith & Daughters experience went a little something like this:

I booked a table for about 9.30 on a Saturday night. Upon arrival, we were greeted by a waiter whose excessively dark fashion decisions did not quite match her sunny disposition. She apologised and told us that we may have to wait an extra 10min for our table in such a way that made it seem my childhood pet had suddenly died. I appreciated her concern for my culinary wellbeing. We were seated on some stools facing the window, a prime location to watch the Brunswick Street ruckus pass us by, probably on their way to Perseverance or somewhere equally as frightful. I ordered a glass of New Zealand red, delicious as it didn’t come out of a $10 box (my standards are lofty). We were then awkwardly greeted by another waiter who also apologised for the excessive wait of 10min, and offered us more drinks. Approximately four minutes later, we were seated and had ordered our meals. Turns out vegans can also do efficiency.

10min later, food had arrived on our table. Our side involved potatoes mixed with something vegan that tasted like chorizo. Our main dish involved a tortilla ‘bowl’ of sorts, filled with more chorizo-esque edibles, some corn, beans, jalapeños and my favourite thing in existence: guacamole. I can confidently say this dish has redefined what food means to me. And what living means to me. My descriptions of such meals shall remain ambiguous, partly because some mystique must be reserved for your inevitable visit, but also because I was too fucking excited about life and forgot to photograph the menu.

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This is it.

The possibility of dessert diminished swiftly as our bellies filled up the best fucking meal we had eaten in months. I have since raved about Smith & Daughters to everyone who has dared to look me in the eye. I plan to write a play about this glorious venue.

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I enjoy wine.

Occupie Metrics:

Door to Beard Index:  Whether they be of the hipster or hippie kind, vegans tend to be attached to beards. The S&D beard index is high.

Coffee: Apparently they do a mean coconut milk latte however coffee was not on our agenda this fine evening.

Noms: I’m hoping my previous ranting has made this metric redundant.  

How poor will it make me? It doesn’t matter. You will pay it. (Not much, <$50).

Is it instagram worthy? Yes. The #SmithAndDaughters hashtag is full of badly filtered photos of the same meal that I ordered. However the walls are pretty.

Final thoughts: These words may possibly suggest to you that I’m prone to hyperbole. However I challenge you to eat here and not feel the same way.

-M

Smith and Daughters on Urbanspoon

Gelato Messina – Fitzroy

Check me out. I’m expanding beyond the world of avocado smash and cold-filter coffee, to something even cooler; Ice cream. Or as Eddie Murphy so very aptly puts it:

ICE CREEEEEEEAM

Don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about? Educate yo’ self, fool.

I’m also talking about Gelato Messina in Fitzroy, which is by all north side standards, the only place to get your sub-zero dairy intake. Messina has taken what I grew up eating in traditional Italian restaurants, injected some modern flavours (usually in the form of peanut butter and a pop-culture reference), and is now serving it to half of Melbourne along side a deep house soundtrack. Who the fuck wants dessert at Trampoline these days? Messina has done some things well.

Messina is also pretty hip. They achieve this by featuring an interior red-brick wall (probably spending a lot of money to make it look unkempt), and some 1950s-Diner style signage. They feature some 30 odd flavours, and will probably give you free tastings. The rest of the store is lined with some funky mod style seating, and obnoxious customers all Instagramming their frozen $6 purchase and their face. Myself included.

Red brick walls.

But what really distinguishes Messina from, well, every other gelato dispensary, is their blend (and title) of flavours. A featured flavour for this month is called the ‘Steve Jobs’. There’s another called ‘A Gay Old Time’. They all involve biscuits or marmalade or something a bit unusual, and I’m sure many people have ended up asking for A Gay Old Time with Steve Jobs, and had a little giggle (good one, Messina). My personal favourite is the Banana Split, for no particular reason other than it’s the fucking bomb.

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Also upon throwing myself into the fiery depths of UrbanSpoon reviews (an important part of the #OccupieFitzroy process), I did begin to struggle with some of the moronic statements being offered, and so I feel it’s my duty to offer some clarity around these words (this is the internet, after all). UrbanSpoon user Madbitchdrags (yes, really), said that “It’s just like being in Italy!!!!!!”. Despite never having been to Italy, there is a seed of doubt lodged firmly in my mind that Gelato Messina is not, at all like being in Italy. Correct me if I’m wrong dear followers, but amidst the cobblestone pavements and 16th century cathedrals , I don’t think there is a line of 50 outside a Gelato store, iPhone in hand, ready to order A Gay Old Time with Steve Jobs for $6. I just don’t.

Perhaps this calls for a new Occupie Fitzroy section: The Spoons of UrbanSpoon.

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Occupie Metrics:

Door to Beard Index:  When the population of a small town has decided to buy gelato at a Fitzroy venue, statistics say that there should be a beard in there, somewhere. Despite the decor, the hipster index is diluted.

Coffee: They have it. I haven’t tried it.

Noms: Their flavours are entirely phenomenal. Who wouldn’t love A Gay Old Time with Steve Jobs? Or is that getting weird now?

How poor will it make me? The best part. 6 buckaroos for two flavours. It’s a good life.

Is it instagram worthy? I think most Messina-related Instagrams are of the queue that extends half way down Smith Street, and their soon-to-follow empty gelato cups. I’d argue that it’s still worthy of your Instagram time.

Final thoughts: They get through their hideously long queues very efficiently. They only take cash which is annoying as fuck. Their website looks like it was designed by a 16 year old who just discovered WordPress. Their ice cream will change your life.

Also, watch Eddie Murphy.

-M

 

 

Stagger Lees – Fitzroy

From the folks that brought you Proud Mary (the highest concentration of beards east of Smith Street), is your latest stimulant-serving venue that doesn’t take bookings on a weekend.

Stagger Lee’s might at first seem like your run of the mill, over-priced, hipster-filled, brunch-serving northside cafe, but don’t let the exposed brick work and finger tattoos fool you – they’re doing something different.  They’re serving their coffee single origin. No blends. They explain on their website that they’re grinding it with a EK 43 Grinder, which I’m sure means something to someone, somewhere, but those words in that sentence just sound like caffeinated wank to me. Regardless, their coffee is good. In fact, it’s fucking good. I went back for more a week later, and now my life is plagued with some seriously meta questions, like whether my other coffee providers also grind their single origin beans through an EK 43 Grinder, and whether I should get a finger tattoo.

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The place looks alright.

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You can’t see the beards from here.

Some further context: I visited Stagger Lees on my birthday, with my parents and partner. My mum was excited by my existence, and my dad was confused by the coffee (my dad’s a big coffee drinker but likes to keep things simple). And it was my birthday, so everything was amazing because I had spent 25 sweet years on this earth and I had 3 people sitting next to me telling me I’m fabulous.

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My father, post-coffee confusion.

Stagger Lee’s describe their food as simple and sexy.  I would also describe it as sexy, and fucking delicious, but certainly not simple. Their asparagus comes with cashew cheese, and their buttermilk fried chicken comes with jalapeños. In my humble world of avocado smash and poached eggs, this isn’t simple. Simplicity is more like baked potatoes with gravy and the word of Jesus. Fitzroy just isn’t simple and neither is their brunch menu.

Their menu is however, original. They’re inventive and a little bit adventurous, which I’ve come to appreciate in our north side world of french toast and flat whites. Buttermilk fried chicken with jalapeños is absolutely not my bag, but they have an ok-ish selection of vego options and their Fitz-Royale was pretty spectacular. You don’t see much asparagus on the menus around here, and it was a very welcome addition to my birthday morning.

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Love a bit of greenery.

Occupie Metrics:

Door to Beard Index:  Monstrously high. And they’re spectacular. If you end up with part of one in your spectacular meal, savour it. It is precious.

Coffee: Despite the wank, it was great. A difficult feat in a place that generally serves very kick-ass coffee.  They’re also licensed, so getting wasted here one day is a distinct possibility.

Noms: Not as simple as their website makes it out to be, but really, really decent. They do paleo, and I don’t even know what paleo is.

How poor will it make me? Double dollar signs baby. It was my birthday so my parents paid. Ain’t no Chin Chin but I’d argue you get what you pay for.

Is it instagram worthy? It really is. Instagram away, but if you capture the beards as much as you capture the food, their Stagger Lees hashtag could be a bit more interesting.

Final thoughts: I will return. They receive a measly 73% UrbanSpoon rating, which just tells me they haven’t engaged in any north side Spoon wars as of yet.

-M
Stagger Lee's on Urbanspoon

Chin Chin – Melbourne CBD

It has been some time since #OccupieFitzroy graced your hearts and computer screens. I’ll admit I dropped the north-side ball for a moment there, and it was only two nights ago (over some hipster’s tears, aka PBR) that I was reminded this blog still exists. So seeing as I haven’t stopped eating, I shouldn’t stop blogging.

Chin Chin – There is something implied, when any of my friends mention they recently encountered Chin Chin. That implication being, ‘I’m poor, but through a divine combination of Mercury being in retrograde and some possible tax evasion, I was able to eat here’.

I experienced Chin Chin just recently, whilst attending an end-of-financial-year lunch (yes, really) with some colleagues. In the finance team, we like to party hard. And by party hard, I mean get paid to eat at one of Melbourne’s most popular restaurants. Times are tough.

The first thing to mention about Chin Chin is that it has a super cool, NYC vibe about it. I’ve never been to New York before, but I have seen every episode of Girls, so I’m certain this is a solid comparison to draw. Chin Chin is also really noisy, and being seated is often preceded by a long wait time. Both these factors, along with its triple dollar-sign price point ensure that Chin Chin is an enticing lunch/dinner time option for all those who probably don’t live on the North side. Some South of the Yarra Spending is required.

Nom Nom Nom Nom

The food however, is phenomenal. Despite the menu being cluttered and light on vegetarian options (#wankers), it’s almost guaranteed your meals will be incredible. They produce some seriously sublime food. I ordered some DIY rice paper rolls, a South Indian curry with a side of naan bread and some weird and whacky dessert, but I’m just not cultured enough to describe how fucking fantastic it was. I’ll admit it did make me wonder if this is how the 1% enjoys their food every day. Is this their default? Do they not understand the single dollar-sign on an UrbanSpoon rating? Shit got a bit existential as I remembered my options for dinner that night probably involved canned soup and a cheese toasty.

Chin Chin is modelled off Asian dining culture, so the menu briefly alludes to something about “designed to be shared”. What that actually means is that you need to order two meals and a side to adequately fill your belly with Asian Fusion. I’ll repeat: Mind-blowingly good food, but prepare to spend.

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This was my dessert. I don’t remember what it was, but I would have been fine with just half of it. It involved honeycomb.

Occupie Metrics:

Door to Beard Index:  Low. Very low. Beards are indicative of one’s existence as a (semi) poor arts student. A north side style beard at Chin Chin must be met with scepticism.

Coffee: Their coffee is an afterthought to their food, but it took me right out of my food coma.

Noms: Stunning.

How poor will it make me? Are you under 30? Do you live in a share-house? If so, the numbers will probably scare you.

Is it instagram worthy? Everything about it is pretty. Make your followers jealous.

Final thoughts: Great place. There is even a Chin Chin recipe book available, just in case you wanted to realise exactly how bad your cooking skills at home are.

-M

Chin Chin on Urbanspoon