Little Tommy Tucker

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Little Tommy Tucker has all the things that are expected from a modern Melbourne cafe. Single origin coffee, stark white walls, black grout in between the tiles, furniture made from plywood, and staff adorned in hardware store-style aprons.

Cliche aside, the coffee here was altogether not bad. Certainly a reason to come here, but the burger was the main draw for me. I had heard about this place a while back, and it is almost acceptable as a lunch venue, in terms of distance from work.

The burger was a bit of a let down, I have to say. Difficult to eat, with a bun that struggled to hold a too-thick, overcooked patty inside. Relish was a mistake as a condiment inside, and it was hardly necessary to compulsorily include kipfler potato wedges as a mandatory side, pushing the price of this plate to $19. As is my way, I added the bacon, which was an additional $3.

This burger is definitely not worth the money, or the trip to Little Tommy Tucker. The photos I saw on Instagram showed something worthy of our visit. The actual burger was a let down, visually as well as in taste. I wish I could comment on the rest of the food. It all looked very good coming out of the kitchen. It is likely this added to my high expectations. The whole table ordered the burger, so no idea whether the non-burger food items were any good.

Little Tommy Tucker Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Mr Miyagi

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The food was amazing, but the service lacked some polish.

That is how I would describe the experience in one sentence. Mr Miyagi is an incredibly popular Chapel St restaurant that is constantly teeming with customers. It’s modern Japanese food with a few twists, and more than a quirk or two.

In order to get a table, we got in early. No bookings here. It was Friday night and it seemed reasonable to get there as early as 5:30pm. We were surprised to arrive at an empty restaurant, but after sitting down in prime real estate at the front window, the place very quickly filled up. Dark, but dripping with cool.

The menu presents a real challenge, because there are so many dishes I wanted to try. Annoyingly, the waiter insisted on making recommendations, whilst scribbling on the paper menu – hello OCD trigger! Ignoring his advice we chose for ourselves.

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First came the Nori Taco. A piece of nori, battered and fried to hold the shape of a taco, then filled generously with salmon. A delight of richness and ingenuity.

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The Wagyu Tartare Pipe followed very quickly after. A “pipe” made of spring roll pastry, filled with a rich mix of raw beef, complemented by a spicy sauce and Japanese “Kewpie” mayo.

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Next was the Black Pig Gyoza, which looked so good I almost forgot to take a photo. A quality gyoza, but lacked the ingenuity or inventiveness of the previous two dishes. Nonetheless a worthy ode to more traditional Japanese cuisine.

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Nikuman Steamed Pork Bun was an absolute triumph of deliciousness, although annoyingly another dish with an odd number, shared between 2 people. Slow cooked pork, pickled butternut squash, barbecue sauce all wrapped up in a steamed bun, bao style. Yum!

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Finally, Miyagi Fried Chicken, beautifully presented KFC style in a box. Nice dish, but came at the end of a big meal. Was nice, but nothing to rave about. This was served with Kewpie mayo again. If I have one complaint about the food: overuse of this mayonnaise. Seriously, the Japanese do have some great sauces. Enough already. At the time I made a comment that they must be getting this stuff delivered in 20L buckets. It’s seriously on everything!

We spotted a number of dishes that we felt we missed out on – Mr M’s Tonka Slider one of them. Perhaps another meal is in order? Those small dishes add up to a filling and satisfying food experience.

The service at Mr Miyagi was a little pushy, and altogether not so great. Perhaps this is a product of how busy they are; the rush to keep things under control on what looked like a very busy Friday night. I would have liked to have felt a little more relaxed, but at this price point they probably have it about right. This is definitely a place on my Melbourne must-go list. Bucket list tick.

Mr. Miyagi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Miss Jackson

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Having enjoyed a great coffee here in the past, I was excited to come here for breakfast and see what the kitchen had to offer. WOW! I was salivating over the list of specials for the day. Meat platters, mussels, pulled pork, did I mention the meat? Clearly these are lunchtime ideas, but I was sorely tempted to get stuck in for breakfast.

As it happens, my breakfast was far from the traditional. Yes, there were eggs; yes, there was bacon; yes, there were baked beans; and brioche is hardly fringe for a breakfast offering. But, it was the way it was put together, and the style of those ingredients that set it apart.

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Thick slabs of bacon, or pork belly, tender as you like. Hearty, rich house-made baked beans. Brioche that was thick and soft. All this was covered in a fried egg and brought together with lashings of barbecue sauce. The mayonnaise was way OTT, but I can forgive them for that. Certainly not a standard breakfast, and a massive mouthful, despite the fact that I was having my first meal of the day at 11:30am.

The service here was so-so. Understandably they were busy. Late morning on a Saturday tends to be this way, so no complaint there. But there was just a couple of little things that were off. Slightly less than friendly when organising their wait list for tables, this was rectified with a friendly reception when being seated. I always worry when wait staff don’t write down orders. Sure enough, a small coffee was delivered instead of a large. Waiting to pay was a bit of a challenge, as there was a long conversation with perhaps some regular customers.

Despite the little gripes, the food here was sensational, and matched by the great coffee on offer. It’s walking distance for me, and I’ll be sure to return. I just hope that the specials list matches the drool inducing level of this particular visit!

Miss Jackson Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Miss Moonshine’s – Auckland

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Miss Moonshine’s is tucked down an alley in the ever trendy, hipster area of Auckland; Ponsonby. It seems that eating early is not the done thing in this area. A massive restaurant greeted me, with so many empty tables I thought that perhaps there was something I was missing. I sat down on my lonesome – second night of my business trip – and began to enjoy the absolute pinnacle of attentive service.

The menu here features some of my favorite flavours – smoked low and slow. If they were even halfway good, I knew I would be in for a good time. I settled in for a full belly, wanting to try as much as possible.

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Starting with the popcorn fried chicken, I was hit with a little spice. Interestingly, this version of popcorn chicken actually had popcorn in it. Go figure. The dish was a little greasy, especially for a starter, but the spices and dipping sauce made for a pleasurable start to the meal, all washed down with some amazing NZ craft beer. (Seriously, the beer in NZ is nothing short of spectacular!)

The main event was a beef short rib, cooked and smoked to perfection. I love that they used a particular NZ wood for the smoking – “Pohutukawa.” The wood distinction wasn’t really obvious in the flavour profile, but a nice touch all the same. This thing melted on the plate, let alone in my mouth. So rich that it was a massive effort to get this down the hatch. I could barely touch the sides I ordered which were curly fries and some apple slaw. The sides were nice, but didn’t come close to the magnificence of the rib, so I opted to leave most of them behind, lest I pass out from overeating.

Towards the end of my meal, I noticed the restaurant starting to fill, as the punters came rolling in. Nothing to worry about here. And, rightly so. The food here is a dream for lovers of low’n’slow barbecue. Definitely a worthy player in the popular Ponsonby market.

Miss Moonshine's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Little Jimmy – Auckland

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I came across Little Jimmy by accident. Just happened to be driving past and immediately I saw its potential. The signage and general look screamed out that this was my kind of place. Some furious Googling confirmed my initial suspicions, and I was in. It was a Sunday night, and I got here quite early. A little disoriented, having just flown in from Melbourne; not quite sure what time it was. I sat down on my lonesome (business travel can be so lonely), and thus began the enjoyable experience.

First cab off the rank was the beer. A local Pilsner that was not really a big hit for me. Not to worry, as the food was not far behind. I ordered the Pork Schnitzel. It comes on the bone, beautifully presented with a apple and mustard sauce. This was very quickly devoured, along with some of the best fries and a side of kale to even things out in the “healthy” stakes.

After washing it down with a Panhead Supercharger XPA from the tap – a beer I know and love – I was one satisfied, stuffed little piggy. There is much that is good to say about Little Jimmy. Indeed, there is much to say that is good about the food scene in general in Auckland right now. Apparently Little Jimmy is a brand new concept for this particular area. One thing I know for certain, I have some delicious things to look forward to on my future trips to Auckland. Delicious.

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

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L’Hotel Gitan

L’Hotel Gitan is one of a newer breed of restaurants that captures the best of the chef’s skills, without the pomp and ceremony of silver service. (Silver service may be taking it too far as a descriptor, but you catch my drift.) Yes, there are table cloths on the tables. Yes, the waiters are knowledgeable. And yes, the standards are high. But, the dining room has a buzz, and the accompanying din see-saws between loud and too loud. The atmosphere is created by the crowd, and by the open kitchen, allowing the goings-on to be centre stage.

The food was outstanding; delivered flawlessly on a very busy Saturday night where the tables were turning and the place was alive. Not the place for a quiet dinner – there is so much going on here. Efficient service was somewhat rushed as they tried to deal with the influx of customers at dinnertime. The kitchen appeared to be well-equipped and delivered with ease.

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We ordered the bone marrow special and the charcuterie plate to start – both were exceptional. As this was a celebration, we paired them with a couple of glasses of fine Australian sparkling.

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For mains we both went for the 300g Bavette steak. They came out perfectly medium-rare, although I would have liked a bit more flavour from the grill. I love this cut for it’s additional flavour, but find that it needs some charring to bring it out. It brings with it the necessity to chew a little more, but this compromise is ok with me. The onion rings that came with the steak could have been omitted, as they didn’t really add anything to the dish. We paired the steaks with a Nick O’Leary Bolaro Shiraz (2013) which was nothing short of divine, and available by the glass.

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The side of greens was perhaps slightly overcooked, and over-seasoned – although this is more a matter of preference than anything else. Of course we would have loved to order dessert (or cheese), but we were both too full to even consider this option.

Few things get me more excited than the opportunity to get out to a properly good restaurant and enjoy a night of decadent feasting. I’m not one for the pomp and ceremony of fine dining. Rather, I prefer to enjoy the best of the food, in a more casual environment. Lucky for me, this seems to be the way the restaurant scene is heading.

L'Hotel Gitan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Third Wave Cafe

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Got to be a Mecca for dude food right here. They’re all ribs, burgers, barbecue; big slabs of meat. A wet dream for lovers of cow or pig.

Cafe is an apt description. The style of service is very casual. About right for a burger place. They have beer, wine, 15 different burgers, and meat of all delicious descriptions.

This was my third burger in 4 days. I may have been suffering from some fatigue, but soldier on I did. Third wave are doing their own thing in some elements of this burger. The tomato relish used was unique. Not as sweet as you might expect something out of a jar to be – made in house for sure. The barbecue sauce is also a house made number that comes in a number of different flavours. All were delicious with the onion rings.

A generous and juicy patty was the main event with a nice meaty flavour. I’m still daydreaming about the amazing beef at Burger Project in the CBD, and everything from here on in will be compared to that. Unfortunately, I think that level is something few will achieve.

The bun did a great job of keeping this together. The bacon was tasty, although it wasn’t the best maple bacon I have tried. That title goes to Mum’s Burger Kitchen (which I visited again last Friday). All in all a solid effort. I would be happy to recommend this place.

Third Wave Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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