The Kicciboo Tales, Chapter 2

The second half of The Kicciboo Tales is finally here. It’s basically a whirlwind tour of Melbourne eateries that I took a visiting friend, Kicci, to.

He’s supposed to guest post this second half, but work life in Singapore has been too busy for him, so I’ve no choice but to take over. Big pity… cos Kicci writes very well (see his post on Rockpool) and it would’ve been great to hear his perspective.

Duchess Of Spotswood (Dinner)

87 Hudsons Rd
Spotswood, VIC 3015
03 9391 6016

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Part of Kicci’s food itinerary had to include a visit to The Duchess. I’ve always enjoyed brunching there, and they’re doing dinners now. It’s quite surreal seeing my beloved brunch spot looking so different yet somewhat familiar in the nighttime.

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Myrtleford fermented butter w/ sea salt.
Sourdough Kitchen unbleached white / Zealy Bay, unbleached multigrain

Dinner at The Duchess is set as a prix fixe menu, 3 courses for $55. No share plate rah-rah-rah here. We visited on a Thursday night after I’d finished work.

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Pork belly, caramelised pineapple

Kicci pretty much liked his entrée of pork belly while I thought it was on the sweet side.

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Sea scrambled eggs

I took a leap with a scrambled eggs and seafood combo as my entrée, and it turned out just lovely.

Kingfish, sea blight, bottarga (cured fish roe) in a fluffy egg cushion. I normally prefer my scrambled eggs plain, but this was one instance where the combination worked! It went really well with my sourdough bread and tasted quite brunchy.

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Ox cheek, pumpkin, beetroot, heirloom carrot

Kicci’s main satisfied completely as well, he simply said that sometimes when you really like a dish, you often can’t even explain why.

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Barramundi, tiger prawns, cauliflower

I went seafood again with my mains. My dish came with interesting twists, with added pistachios and muscat. I thought it was good, but they could’ve seasoned the fish with less salt.

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Rhubarb, mint

Kicci was less excited about his desert though. It sounded interesting when our waiter described how it had 5 exciting components. But eating it, it just tasted too experimental. And I agreed.

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Creme brulee

My brûlée was also an experimental dessert. The custard was eggless, it was smoked over bay leaves, topped with a walnut praline, and the classic caramelised crust had been replaced with sheets of bay leaf sugar.

I enjoyed how interesting it tasted. The custard had the texture of soft tofu, but with a very nice and unusual smoked flavour. Eating all the glass-like bay leaf sugar made me feel a little sick at the end though.

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I think we had a pretty good dinner here, but I will probably stick to visiting The Duchess for her brunches.

I Love Pho 264

264 Victoria St
Richmond, VIC 3121
03 9427 7749
Facebook Page
I Love Pho 264 on Urbanspoon

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Phở Bò Dặc Biệt
Special Beef Combination (Large $10 / Medium $9)

Dinner on Friday was simple but delicious. After I’d finished work, I took Kicci to one of my favourite pho joints in Melbourne. Having MSG in the broth is a given, but the quality cuts of beef that they use here are just the best!

The last time I blogged about this place was when it was located a few doors down
and called Pho Chu The.

Pope Joan

77-79 Nicholson Street
Brunswick East, VIC 03057
03 9388 8858

We started our Saturday morning with an early brunch, so that we could fit in ANOTHER brunch later in the day, ha ha!

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Chai by Calmer Sutra $4

Pope Joan is another food pilgrimage for Melbourne visitors (read my first visit here). While the coffees (by Allpress) can be skipped, the brunch fare here is generally very good.

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Open Nettle Omelette, Fetta, Cauli & Almonds with White Anchovies $18

I had a deliciously different omelette, containing pickled anchovies and stinging nettles! The eggs were cooked perfectly and the nettles held a faint taste of green, herbaceous bitterness.

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Bacon Steak, Poached Eggs, Branston Pickle with Chestnuts & Smoked Maple Butter $19

Kicci really enjoyed his bacon steak. He could not stop saying how goood it was.

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I sort of wished the anchovies weren’t pickled, but the brunch dishes here were still interesting and tasty enough for me. I’ll still be back!

Spanish Donuts | Churros

Shed D Peel St
Queen Victoria Market
West Melbourne, VIC 3003
Spanish Donuts on Urbanspoon

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Churros (Spanish Donuts) 7pcs 6.00 | Choc Dip Sauce 3.00

We swung by Queen Victoria Market so that Kicci could grab a few souvenirs. We were still full from brunch, but went ahead and got some churros from this iconic vendor anyway. That truck has been on the Peel St side of QVM for ages.

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As delicious as the pictures looked, let’s just say that we weren’t all that excited by these churros.

Coin Laundry

61 Armadale St
Armadale, VIC 3143
03 9500 1888

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We next hopped over to Armadale in the mid-afternoon for our second brunch.

Coin Laundry is another place where the food’s really good. But management has changed hands since the last time I visited, so I was curious to see whether the standard’s still up there.

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House cured ocean trout, winter salad w/ walnuts and toasted brioche with a poached egg $16

I was honestly still stuffed from the churros, but when my dish arrived, it was just soooo good that I still could eat it fast, and with gusto! All components just worked beautifully together and made delicious culinary sense.

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Confit pork belly on a minted cabbage salad, fennel puree, roasted baby beets and pistachio dressing $18

Kicci was just as wowed by his pork belly dish, he loved it. Yes, this Melbourne trip for him was like ‘the journey of pork belly’, he kept ordering that. *oink oink*

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Coin Laundry is still serving pretty good brunch fare. The only reason why I don’t visit more often is the long queues outside during peak brunch hours on any given day.

La Pétanque

1208 Mornington Flinders Road
Main Ridge Vic 3928
03 5931 0155

La Petanque

That evening, we drove down Mornington Peninsula for dinner at a one-hatted French restaurant. La Petanque has already been written up as a separate post, you can read our thoughts here.

Twenty & Six Espresso

594 Queensberry Street
North Melbourne, VIC 3051
03 9329 0298

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Seven Seeds Magic $3.80 | Proud Mary ‘Honeysuckle’ Piccolo $3.80

Brunch on Sunday was at a favourite place of mine where the coffees have remained consistently good.

You know I’m having a good cup of coffee when my face brightens up into a big smile on first sip. I’d also become all happy and chatty.

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The Russian 16.90
Vodka & lemon house cured-salmon tartare, free range poached egg, dill crème fraiche w/ seed & spelt sourdough (add avocado 3.50)

Guess what? Kicci didn’t order a pork belly dish… *GASP*! Ha ha ha!

I suppose since this was his last day with me, he needed a bit of detoxing. I was not sure about this dish when I had it a month before, but Kicci ordered it and really liked it.

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Power-house muesli 10.90
served w/ Schulz organic orange blossom yoghurt & a pear and berry compote

I also had my bit of detoxing to do. This was a lovely, floral tasting muesli that was surprisingly filling.

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Look at the little flowers!

St Ali

12/18 Yarra Pl
South Melbourne, VIC 0205
03 9686 2990

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White Chocolate Cheesecake $5.50

While Saturday was the day of overeating, Sunday turned out as the day of coffee tasting.

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Cold Drip 6.0 | House Blend ‘Cult Of Done’ Magic 4.0

The coffees at St Ali has gone up in standard in the past 6 months. When I visited last year, the coffees were always meh. But this year they’ve improved tremendously, and I’d come back here just for the coffee alone.

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This place was the last port of call for Kicci and I, we shared cake, took photos, and quietly chatted over coffee.

Looking back, it was a very fun (and calorifically scary) week of eating together. We’ve sort of drifted apart as friends since he flew back to Singapore and got ridiculously busy with work life there. But I hope we’ll eat together again.

You may also want to read Chapter 1 of The Kicciboo Tales.