The Penny Drop - The North Melbourne Hotel - Cōchin10/21/2016 11:00:00 PM
Good morning! Over the last little while I've gotten invited to some new venues to try out, and I wanted to tell you about three new places today: The Penny Drop, The North Melbourne Hotel, and Cōchin. Let's roll!
The Penny Drop
913 Whitehorse Rd
Box Hill, VIC 3128
Ph: (03) 9077-7455
|The Penny Drop|
The Penny Drop is a fancy cafe in Box Hill, which stands out amongst all the cheap and cheerful Asian restaurants. They're known for their brunches and super-instagrammable dishes, but also have a full dinner menu and cocktails.
|Espresso Martini - Kahlua, fresh coffee, vanilla bean sugar syrup & vodka - $18|
The espresso martinis were on the sweeter side, but were still rich with real coffee. Yum!
|Half-shell scallops - Homemade xo sauce - $4.50 each|
The half-shell scallops are definitely worth an order - these were fresh and cooked just right. The savoury XO sauce was an unusual, but delicious, flavouring for the sweet scallop.
|Salt and Szechuan Fried Chicken Ribs - Mandarin sauce, sesame, kaffir lime - $13.00|
The salt and Szechuan fried chicken ribs were a great mix of salty, sweet, sour and spicy. Great drinking food.
|Pork belly banh mi - pate, cucumber, coriander, chilli - $6|
Priced at $6, I thought the pork belly banh mi would be more of a slider size, so I was pleasantly surprised when it came out as a full sized banh mi. This was really good - generous slabs of juicy roast pork, with crunchy pickled veggies, chilli and pâté.
|Wagyu Cheeseburger & Chips - Tonkatsu sauce, pickles, lettuce, tomato - $20|
The wagyu burger was done simply, and well. The patty was juicy with a nice char on the outside, and the bun was soft, but maintained its structural integrity. Extra points for thick and crispy chips.
The North Melbourne Hotel
480 Victoria St
North Melbourne, VIC 3051
Ph: (03) 9329-1634
The North Melbourne Hotel has taken over the building in North Melbourne that used to be Rubira's seafood restaurant. (I visited once for a rather epic all-you-can-eat oyster event). New owners Sandra and Jose de Oliveria from Bouzy Rouge have given the space an eclectic makeover, with mismatched chairs, chandeliers, mirrored deer heads, marble statues and more. They're a well priced local, with classic and original cocktails at $15, and a good range of wines by the glass at under $10.
|"Cuptail" - a cupcake-flavoured cocktail with crème de pêche, fresh raspberries & lime - $15|
|Aperol Spritz - $15, Espresso Martini - $15|
The food is crowd-pleasing mod-oz with a European bent - think char-grilled calamari, duck à l'orange, grilled eye fillet, tiramisu, and so on. All the dishes pictured below were very good, but I have to give a special mention to the excellent linguine marinara. Thick strands of al dente linguine, with super-fresh seafood and a wonderful slick of garlicky oil. Highly recommend this one!
|Ceviche - apple and jalapeño - $14|
|Linguini marinara - chilli, garlic, basil and white wine - $32|
N.B. this is a slightly smaller tasting portion
|Char grilled pasture fed Eye fillet - sweet potato puree, jus, roast witlof - $38|
Super cute donut burgers!
|Italian donut - salted caramel - $5|
256 Swan St
Richmond, VIC 3121
Ph: (03) 9421-0510
Cōchin offers French-Vietnamese cuisine in a cool venue, with friendly service. I was invited to try their Tuesday night gluten-free set menu - that's $35 a head for three shared courses. (Here's a sample menu). When I saw the invitation, I knew I had to bring my good friend Jess with me. She is a coeliac who loves good food, and often struggles to find good Asian restaurants that suit her dietary requirements. Spoiler alert: we both loved it!
Even though the GF set menu is offered on a Tuesday night, the menu has lots of gluten free options, all clearly marked, so it would be easy to have a completely GF meal there on any night!
|2014 Denis Pommier Petit Chablis Chardonnay - $14|
Cōchin is both restaurant and wine bar, with a good mix of local and French wines. The 2014 Denis Pommier Petit Chablis was a great recommendation from our waiter - it was a nice, clean-tasting chardonnay, with a good backbone of oak, and it matched our food well.
|Chicken liver pâté -served with pickled carrot & a crispy French style baguette or sesame rice crackers - $15|
Our first course was a rich and creamy chicken liver pâté, served with sesame rice crackers. (Normally this is served with crispy baguette).
The mains are served family style. We had prawns in coconut milk, with a salad and steamed rice. I loved the prawns - the coconut sauce was lovely and creamy, and even though it was mild in terms of chilli, it still had a good depth of flavour. The refreshing Mekong salad - basically a Vietnamese coleslaw - was a refreshing and crunchy contrast to the rich prawn dish. Delicious!
|Coconut crême brûlée - classic Vietnamese crême brûlée - $12|
Marou chocolate truffles
For dessert, we tried the coconut crême brûlée and some dark and intense Marou chocolate truffles. Both were good, but the crême brûlée was definitely the stand-out for me. It was incredibly rich and smooth, with a prominent, but not overpowering, coconut flavour. And of course, the crackly burnt sugar top was just perfect. Would definitely order this one again!
Sarah (and respective +1's) dined at The Penny Drop, The North Melbourne Hotel, and Cōchin as guests