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The rise in popularity of American cuisine in Melbourne has seen the trend adopted by many new restaurants in the past few years. And while Joe’s Bar and Dining Hall in St Kilda can be counted amongst these restaurants, a recent revamp in its menu to highlight the delights of traditional Texas BBQ gives it a slight edge above the rest. I recently received an invitation to visit the restaurant to try out the new menu, and I would like to thank Joe’s Bar and Dining Hall and 360 Immerse Agency for this opportunity.
Southern fried chicken - with chipotle mayo and lime.
I had heard much about the fried chicken from blogger friends who had also recently dined at the restaurant, and the real deal lived up to my expectations… mostly. The delicately crunchy batter was packed with a tantalising mix of seasoning that paired well with the creamy mayo and burst of fresh lime. The let down, however, came in the form of the flesh’s dryness, which screamed overcooked.
Mac and Cheese.
The dish sported a great textured and flavoursome crust, but the bottom layers missed out on some flavouring action.
Carnitas taco - coffee spiced braised pork, Pico de Gallo, guacamole and iceberg.
The braised pork was wonderfully pulled and tender, and its exterior was coated in a smoky, grilled flavouring. The coriander and guacamole provided a refreshing contrast that balanced perfectly with the meat. I was intrigued by the mention of coffee on the menu description, but was unable to detect even a hint.
Baja fish taco - chilli beer battered fish, fennel slaw and remoulade.
Combining the creamy, oily remoulade and the crunch from the slaw with the crispy battered fish, Joe’s take on the fish taco is one of the best I’ve tried in all of Melbourne. Underneath the batter, the fish was fresh and silky tender in texture. The hint of spice and the saltiness of the fried capers really added something to the flavour profile of the dish.
Poutine - curly fries, sausage milk gravy and cheese curd.
I love the concept of using curly fries in a poutine dish, but my excitement was taken down a few notches when my eyes landed on the unappealing pale colouring of the gravy. ‘Gravy’. Quite different from the conventional gravy, it tasted oddly meaty and heavy.
Quinoa salad - quinoa, panzanella, beetroot, wild rice, radish, basil, baby cos and avocado oil.
I wasn’t responsible for choosing the salad, and given the presence of beetroot (blegh!), this is one salad that I would not normally touch. But it just goes to show that you can’t knock something until you try it. My palate was wowed by the earthy nuttiness of the toasted rice and quinoa. There was a slight sour tanginess that permeated the salad and playfully cut through the other ingredients. Even the beetroot belonged on the plate!
BBQ Beef Ribs - with atomic rub and Black Label BBQ sauce.
If spice is your thing, there is a selection of homemade spicy sauces to pair with your ribs… or anything else you like, really.
*Note. the sauces are available for sale.
If there’s one thing that must be nailed on any Texas BBQ menu, it’s the ribs, and Joe’s does not disappoint. Far from it. The smoky flavour of the grilling and BBQ marinade complemented the natural flavours of the beef to a T. Speaking of which, the beef itself was surprisingly abundant and was succulently tender, immediately falling away from the bone with little effort. The addition of the dish’s accompanying tomato sauce or any of the spicy sauces sealed this dish’s fate as AMAZING!
I had high expectations for both the chicken and ribs, but Joe’s managed to sneak in a few more culinary surprises; in addition to the ribs, the fish taco and quinoa salad were also deserving of the highest of praises. For a delicious take on Texas BBQ food, as well as other dishes American, be sure to check out Joe’s Bar and Dining Hall.
Disclosure: the opinions expressed in this post are based entirely on my experience and observations made during the time of my visit.
Joe’s Bar and Dining Hall
64-66 Acland St,
St Kilda, Victoria, 3182.
(03) 9525 3755
My first experience with paper pasta took place years ago at The Banff in St Kilda, and the dish was very memorable. The sealing of the paper during the cooking process resulted in much flavour, while the dish itself was visually stunning. Feeling somewhat adventurous one Saturday, I decided to try my hand at the cooking technique (en papillote).
450g Linguine, cooked according to package instructions
600g seafood marinara mix
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup chopped flat leave parsley, plus extra to serve
1 1/2 cup basil leaves
4 tablespoons chilli flakes
1 cup white wine
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon wedges and garlic bread to serve
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 200C conventional oven or 180C fan forced.
2. For each serving (four), place a piece of baking paper onto a piece of foil.
Alternatively, you can use two sheets of baking paper, with string to secure the parcel when assembled.
3. Divide all the ingredients into four portions, and starting with the cooked linguine, place these on top of the baking paper.
4. Pour a 1/4 cup of wine onto each pasta portion before folding over the baking paper, followed by the foil.
5. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, checking on the progress of the seafood.
*Note. cooking times are slightly longer with the foil.
6. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil, garnish with parsley and serve immediately with garlic bread.
When the words ‘fried chicken’ come to mind, thoughts of KFC automatically follow. Which, let’s face it, isn’t anything spesh. So when an invitation to visit Hot Star Large Fried Chicken, a Melbourne branch of a popular Taiwanese franchise, I gotta admit that I wasn’t expecting anything too different from the typical takeaway offerings of fried chicken joints. Like KFC. But the queues and my experience say otherwise…
I would like to thank Hot Star Large Fried Chicken, Gong Cha and Harvey Publicity for the invitation to visit.
Hot Star is located next to Gong Cha, and both are popular franchises that originate from Taiwan. That popularity seems to have carried over to Melbourne… THERE ARE ALWAYS QUEUES OUTSIDE FOR BOTH! In fact, so well received was Hot Star (Swanston St) that a second store opening arose on Elizabeth St! Also located next door to a Gong Cha.
I was treated to a little behind the scenes action, and learnt that there was more to the chicken than just chucking it into a fryer.
With deliveries from their chicken supplier every morning, the chicken is cut in a specific manner before being left overnight in a marinade. The chicken is then coated and fried to order, ensuring that each order is fresh and piping hot when in the hands of the customer. With an assortment of seasoning to choose from, I decided to go with the spicy seasoning.
Hot Star Large Fried Chicken.
The star of the show is their chicken breast on a bone, which goes by the name of ‘Large Fried Chicken’ on their menu. Weighing in at about 250g, the chicken is large indeed! I took one bite of my chicken, and was gobsmacked by the onslaught of flavouring that hit my taste buds. The juicy and tender chicken underneath the coating also contributed much to the flavour thanks to its marinade.
The chicken bites were essentially the same as the large fried chicken (prepared from the same cut of chicken as the larger piece), except smaller and with no bones. Fried with the chicken, the pieces of basil imparted much aromatic flavouring that paired hand in hand with the spicy seasoning.
For the vegetarians out there, there’s the deep fried oyster mushrooms on the menu. The mushrooms were surprisingly fleshy and juicy, and the thin layer of batter added a delicate crunch. I personal prefer my mushrooms without batter, but I imagine that these would make a good hangover snack.
Sweet potato fries with plum seasoning.
The plum seasoning is an acquired taste, and my taste buds did not jump on board. The fries were already quite sweet, and that sweetness was compounded by the plum presence in the form of the seasoning. For those of you out there who are fans of dried sour preserved plums, the seasoning tasted like a dusted version of that!
Lychee oolong tea.
There’s nothing like a cold ice tea to wash down the heaviness of fried chicken… except maybe a coke. But still, the two paired surprisingly well together, and it’s no wonder the owner brought them both to Melbourne. A leg up from the other milk tea joints around Melbourne, Gong Cha offers customers the option of altering the sugar levels and amount of ice used in their drink.
If you like your fried chicken, Hot Star is definitely one venue to put on your to-visit lists! Miles ahead compared to other fried chicken takeaway venues thanks to the quality and flavouring of their chicken, it’s not too hard to see why Hot Star has made such a splash down under!
Disclosure: the opinions expressed in this post are based entirely on my experience and observations made during the time of my visit.
Hot Star Large Fried Chicken
233 Swanston St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
0481 134 291
231 Swanston St,
Melbourne, Victoria, 3000.
I am currently sitting at LAX killing some time before my next flight. Killing time seems to be a common occurrence on this trip, with two layovers before reaching my final destination. With a 17 hour stopover in LAX, I decided to leave the airport to do a little bit of exploring. And found myself in Hollywood. First thing to do? Well asides from checking out the sights ie. the walk of fame, the Hollywood sign yada yada, I’ve been told that eating at In-N-Out Burger is a must. So that’s what I did.
From afar, I could already see that the venue was quite full. Uh oh.
I’m not sure if it’s usually this busy, but with the Academy Awards taking place a mere two blocks away, I suspect many of the diners went to grab a burger fix before heading over to get their celebrity watch on.
A 25 minute wait later, I finally received my order. Not so fast food after all!
After taking just one bite, I could see what the hype was about. For lack of a better description, the burger tasted as though a McDonalds cheeseburger had swallowed up bits of a Whopper and Melbourne’s Huxtaburger. Perhaps a touch too over toasted, the buns tasted a little dried out. Fortunately, the juicy beef patty and slathering of flavoursome condiments helped counter this.
While not quite as in and out as the name suggests, the tastiness of the product pretty much made up for the longish wait time. Oh, and the walk in the rain… all the way from Union Station.
7009 Sunset Boulevard,
Los Angeles, CA, 90028.
After spotting a gorgeous-looking pavlova on the cover of February’s Taste Magazine, I decided to use the recipe to whip up my first ever pavlova for a friend’s Australia Day BBQ gathering. What’s Australia Day without pavlova? I had previously heard much about the disastrous cracks that may appear for meringues if not prepared correctly, so much caution was exercised during the preparation process. With my fingers crossed and a silent prayer to the meringue gods, all turned out well.
Before I go into the recipe, I wanted to point out that this post will be slightly different to my other recipe posts. A few days following this baking adventure, my SD card snapped (all 14000 photos taken last year, including during my Europe trip, GONE in a split second). Moral of that story: always back up you data, folks! Anyway, I had fortunately copied a few photos of the finished product, so onwards with this post!
4 egg whites, at room temperature (or zapped in microwave for 10 seconds)
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon baking cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons cornflour
1 cup water
440g extra light Philadelphia Cream Cheese, at room temperature (two containers)
200g low fat ricotta
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 tablespoons caster sugar
400g strawberries, hulled and sliced
Extra berries for top (125g strawberries, 200g blueberries)
10-15 Maltesers chocolate balls
30g Cadbury Flake chocolate bar, crushed
1. Preheat oven to 120C conventional or 100C fan forced.
2. Draw a 20cm circle on two sheets of baking paper, and placing the ink side down, use these sheets to line two baking trays.
3. Using an electric beater, beat egg whites at medium speed until peaks start to form. Gradually add a tablespoon of caster sugar at a time whilst continually beating. Continue until firm peaks form, and the mixture has a glossy texture.
4. Divide the meringue mixture between the two trays, and use a spatula or palette knife to smooth out the meringue into the shape of the circles.
5. Bake the two trays for 1 hour 40 minutes, swapping the two trays at the half way point.
6. Turn the oven off, and leave the meringues to cool in the oven.
Note. I left them in the oven overnight.
Two hours before serving:
7. Add the dry ingredients for the chocolate sauce into a saucepan before adding the water. Stir the mixture to thoroughly combine before turning on the heat to low.
8. Continue to stir over low heat for 5 minutes or until the mixture boils. The sauce should thicken during this process.
9. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover with cling wrap and allow the sauce to cool at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Using an electric beater, combine the cream cheese, ricotta, vanilla essence and caster sugar.
11. Place the filling mixture into the fridge for an hour.
12. Place one meringue layer onto a serving plate. Top with half the filling mixture and spread.
13. Place half of the strawberries on top of the cream filling.
14. Add the next meringue layer, and top with the remaining cream, followed by the strawberries.
15. Drizzle over the chocolate sauce and sprinkle with the chocolate flakes. Top with extra berries and Maltesers.
When it comes to crab, Miss Katie’s name is up there with most Asian banquet restaurants. Having had more than my fair share of crab with egg noodle dishes but nothing from Miss Katie’s, it was time to pay the crab shack a visit!
With no bookings, be sure to arrive well before 8 if you want a share of the crab action. We did well with an arrival time of 6.30pm.
Katie’s Fried Chicken - secret blend of herbs and spices, golden fried with ranch. Paired with a Belgian waffle and Canadian maple syrup.
Having visited previously, Pam Pam mentioned that it’s the chicken that won her over. It wasn’t hard to see why after just one bite. The secret mix of seasoning brought much flavour, and the sweetness from the waffles served as a contrast to highlight the aroma of the chicken.
Chesapeake Crab Burger - 100g Blue swimmer crab cake, fresh slaw, herb mayo, dill pickle, and sesame bun.
Now this is a crab dish that I can get on board with. The crab cake was packed with seasoning, while the creamy combination of the slaw and mayo brought a zesty sweetness that complemented the crab. The brioche bun was deliciously buttery and sweet.
Buffalo wings (special).
This was another spot on chicken dish, with both great flavour and texture. The blue cheese sauce was thankfully not too overpowering.
Katie’s Low Country Boil - traditional crab boil. Local organic blue swimmer crab, cob corn and smoked kranski, Old Bay and garlic butter.
Check out the mallet provided for crab pounding!
Despite being one of Miss Katie’s signature dishes, I thought the crab boil was the most disappointing dish on the night. Much effort and pounding was required to get to the flesh of the crab, but frankly, the effort wasn’t really worth it. There wasn’t much meat, and it tasted very bland. The most enjoyable aspect was the grilled flavour from the kranski.
French fries - with Old Bay seasoning and blue cheese sauce.
Wow, what a feast!
With two winning chicken dishes (winner, winner, chicken dinner!) and one delicious crab dish, it was definitely the chicken that left more of an impression. Miss Katie’s Chicken Shack, perhaps?
Miss Katie’s Crab Shack
238 Victoria St,
North Melbourne, Victoria, 3051.
(03) 9329 9888
With Pam Pam frequently starting a sentence with, “Ooooh! You need to try…” or “Have you tried…?”, she has fast become one of my many sources for restaurant recommendations. One of her most recent recommendations was The Premises, a breakfast/brunch/lunch eatery located in Kensington. Given her memorable experience, we decided to pencil in a visit, with Meow Meow coming along.
Spanning across ‘three’ different adjacent spaces, The Premises takes up quite a large portion of the block. Despite being that spacious, the venue still fills up to the brim! Fortunately for us, we arrived at a great time and managed to grab a table outside with no waiting required!
Spot the difference.
Apple and lime juice.
Who needs coffee when you have apple juice with a touch of lime? The slight sour zing of the citrus component served as a great wake up call.
The Premises Eggs - two poached eggs, green olive tapenade, Persian feta & zucchini salad, on organic toast.
Slow roasted pulled pork - with Nana Kath’s mustard fruits, fennel slaw & dill pickle.
Many past diners have referred to this dish as The Premise’s signature dish, and just one bite confirmed that the pulled pork was deserving of this title. Pulled and tender, the texture of that pork was superb. Adding to the texture was the spot on combination of sweet to aromatic flavouring. The slaw was deliciously creamy (albeit slightly too heavy when eaten together with the pork) and the mustard fruits brought an intriguing flavour to the mix, but I thought these additional elements were somewhat unnecessary as they did very little for the pork.
Corned beef and potato hash - with saurkraut, mustard aioli & poached egg.
With a similar texture to the pork, the corned beef fell apart with ease and just melted in the mouth. I particularly enjoyed the crispiness and taste of the grilled exterior. Combining the flavouring from the curry-spiced potatoes, sweetness and slight punchiness of the creamy aioli, wheat sourdough flavour of the base and the sourness of the saurkraut, the dish packed a delicious blow to the taste buds. Oh, and the egg was poached to perfection.
With hits across all our dishes, adding to the successful visits from both Meow Meow and Pam Pam, The Premises seem to know how to wow with breakfast and brunch. Given my occasional Sunday visits to uni, and with The Premises conveniently located along the way, future visits are expected.
202 Bellair St,
Kensington, Victoria, 3031.
(03) 9376 7565