Author Archives: tristan

south side sprawl – it’s not pronounced Bolognese

It’s not pronounced Bolognese. My semester of French tells me that much.

Boo-lounge-err-ree? Not sure that’s right either.I should have paid more attention in class, dagnabbit!

However it’s pronounced, Chez Dré patisserie boulangerie is a welcome addition to the South Melbourne lunch scene.

Once up the alley-way, and through the snaking entrance, you are presented with a remarkably large and bright space. A beautiful purpose-built kitchen is on display for diners to peak through at the madness. The brain child pastry chef Andrea Reiss (who like my EDS co-conspirator, Gem, is also a mestizo).  If you feel so inclined, you can view the transformation on Chez Dré’s previous website.

Given this is part of the South Side Sprawl ‘series’ of posts, I was eating during my lunch hour, and again convinced my workmate Daniel to lunch with me. After the required uming and ahing, and consuming of a short black and latte, we selected our dishes. While I didn’t catch the blend used, the coffee was solid.

Daniel, having recently made a Moroccan salad at  home, decided to contrast his with Chez Dre’s offering.

While I didn’t get to taste it, Daniel found it a little unexciting – he was a fan of the chutney, but thought it needed more points of interest to liven it up. It did also look a little messy from the other side of the table.

To continue the midday Moroccan madness!, I went with Moroccan-style baked eggs. I’ve had many a ‘nom-time’ experience with baked eggs at places like Big Dish, and this was no exception. The minted yoghurt provided a nice cut through the acidity of the tomato base. My only minor gripe was the eggs were slightly overdone.

On a previous visit I had the ploughman’s lunch – a hearty affair, with its terrine being the highlight for me.

Despite the fact that I nearly killed a co-worker last time I brought macarons to the office (damned anaphylaxis!), I somehow managed
to saunter out to lunch with petty cash to buy macarons. Apparently macaron lust knows no limits.

Securing two of each of the day’s flavours, they were quickly disseminated to my fellow office dwellers. Unfortunately, I can’t remember all the flavours (marmalade, chocolate, salted caramel…and…and…two others) but I do remember they were all well received. While I don’t necessarily agree with all the hype in the foodie world surrounding macarons, I am a massive sucker for a good one. While I don’t have a great ‘palate’ for the subtleties of macarons, these ticked all the boxes – crisp outer shell, soft but not chewy inner shell, and balanced and flavoursome filling. For me they are on par with the well thought of La Belle Miette.

I do believe I will be back, with my mestizo other-half.

Chez Dré on Urbanspoon

south side sprawl – rampant consumerism


I take a good while to make a decision to purchase expensive items. I labour over the decision in my head; I weigh up the pros and cons. Usually the pros amount to “I want this new piece of shiny and it’d make me feel happy” and the cons “fleeting happiness is not edible and will not provide sustenance in the absence of food”.

The ‘pro’ argument tends to get louder the longer I obsess. But let’s be honest, I eat too much as it is! What’s a little self-inflicted starvation for the sake of a new shiny?

My latest internal ‘struggle’ was over the purchase of a new fancy-pants lens. I had tortured Gem with insentient talk of the damned thing for months. She was a good sport about the whole thing — she managed to constrain her homicidal mutterings to sleep talk. Well that, and there may have been a few failed smothering attempts. But I digress.

Finally, I gave in and I purchased the beauty.

Then I waited for it to arrive.

And waited.

And. Waited.

Then, after many a passive-aggressive tête-à-tête between myself and the retailer, the lens arrived! To celebrate, a South Side Sprawl was in order. You, the reader, I hope, rejoices.

After scouting Urbanspoon and reading Jeroxie’s review, Claypots Evening Star was decided upon. After some initial confusion in regards to the location due to gross enduncedness on my part, I found the restaurant. I was playing hookie from work and Melbourne was less of a petulant shit than normal, allowing the sun to make an appearance.

the bar

After attracting a glass of Gilgamesh riesling ($7 a glass) I took in the ohm-bee-ants of the place. Mr Dylan’s spastic harmonica was blaring from the loudspeakers and  the aforementioned ‘skylight of the Gods’ was providing  a good view of the kitchen. The kitchen bisects the restaurant and gives diners a view of the urgency in the kitchen and the madness of a busy service. A nice touch.

cooking working hard for the money

After responsibly imbibing inhaling my initial riesling and ordering another, Bob Dylan was replaced by a piano player. A lovely lunch time treat that’s repeated on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to piano, diners can except one side of the restaurant to be closed off, allowing a band to play and an ad-hoc dance floor to function.


After my brief but intoxicating relaxation period, I resumed my delicious mission, deciding on the garlic clams and bread and fish. I had arrived along with the lunch time rush. Judging by the frantic and often raised voices emanating from the kitchen, I think they may still be finding their collective stride. As such, my food took longer than I would have expected, but it was a lovely day and the wine was doing the trick.

chilli clamschilli clamschilli clams
















Above show the clams in various states of undress. They were wonderful, with a lovely chilli kick and chargrilled smokiness balanced by the freshness of the coriander. Unfortunately the one piece of bread was not nearly enough to mop up the broth, with the delicious concoction seemingly taunting me from the bottom of the bowl. At $12 it was a generous serving size, and it has me in the mood for more clams. Speaking of clams, the clam chowder seemed to be a crowd favourite amongst fellow diners.

bread and fish

While I could have quite happily stopped at the garlic clams, I’m glad I had the bread and fish. Throughout my childhood I was tortured with my mother’s overcooked trevally. Fortunately for me her sadistic streak rarely surfaced. Even so, I was sufficiently scarred that I avoided the aforementioned fish, errantly assuming the fish to be bland, rather than blaming its heavy-handed preparation.

Fortunately this was nothing like the trevally of my childhood — meaty and perfectly seasoned, it was the star of the dish. The bread was fairy floss fluffy with the onion and lettuce providing a nice textural contrast, if not a lot flavourwise.




One side of the kitchen is skirted by display cases showing the day’s fish and tapas offerings. You really get the impression of the seafood being super fresh, almost like you’re sourcing the fish direct from the a fishmonger. Unsurprising given the restaurant’s location in the South Melbourne market.

Lunch was finished and I had to vacate with new camera lens in hand. I was slightly rueful that I had dined solo. Unfortunately I didn’t have the extra dining companions required to (shamelessly) indulge in further gluttony. Next time I won’t make the same mistake.


Claypots Evening Star on Urbanspoon

hipster free tacos

Full disclosure: while Gem had very recently eaten as a guest of Mad Mex’s, this review is based upon my experience and at my own cost.

Corona as art.

A phrase not often uttered I suspect. Especially not by this (beer) snob.

That is, however, a rather apt description of Mad Mex’s light fittings in their Melbourne Central shop – perhaps the most beautiful and tasteful (ha, a pun) take on Corona yet – made from Coronas consumed by customers.

Aside from the lost-found-garbage art stuck to the ceiling thing they’ve got going on, Mad Mex looks pretty fast foody. One could be forgiven for walking past in sheer ignorance and derisive judgement, especially in a food court of a big arse shopping centre. However as the cliche goes, looks can be deceiving. Mad Mex fills the new but old and rapidly expanding fast casual segment. Think Nando’s, Grill’d and other similar restaurants where it kind of feels a bit fast food but served on a ceramic plate, using a lettuce other than Iceberg.

Yeah, one of those places.

If the marketing copy of Mad Mex’s corporate website is to believed, the chain was conceived to fill a gap in the quality Mexican food niche within Australia. After the run-away success of restaurants like Mamasita with their fresh and light menus (unlike the bastardised stodgy sour-cream-and-cheese Tex-Mex most Australians are familiar with as ‘Mexican’) I’d have to agree with them. I’m surprised it’s taken this long to see some quality Mexican food in Australia — apparently our collective repulsion at having to eat at Taco Bill wasn’t loud enough (though don’t knock their margaritas, bitch!).

Very much like a Subway or similar franchise, customers are herded cattle-style from one side of the counter to the other, to pick and choose their toppings. At its simplest it’s a three-step process: first, you must choose your Mad Mex style (i.e. what you’re having). I chose the burrito — I was hungry and it was the most expensive option on the menu at $10.90. Being the simple creature that I am I equated the most expensive item with also being the largest. Second, the meaty or (if you’re that way inclined) vegetably innards are picked — I went the Carnitas, a slow-cooked shredded pork. Then the last step: the ‘piece of resistance’:the salsa.

I chose Picante, a habanero based salsa which is the hottest in the line-up, but for my palate not particularly so. Fear not. More chilli sauce can be acquired. In the midst of the mêlée, I secured a serving of guacamole too. All in all, it came up looking a treat, I think you’ll agree. Other than looking great, it tasted pretty rad too.

While I haven’t yet tried the their tacos (though I will be back), I suspect they may rival the famed Taco Truck. Best of all, no hipsters.

Mad Mex - Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon