One of the joys of moving house is exploring your new neighbourhood, including its eateries.
We have been lucky enough to strike some absolute gold on a number of levels, not least of which is living within walking distance of Melbourne’s only ’5 star Thai restaurant’ as they proudly proclaim on the extensive website at ‘Paladarr Thai Issan’. Right opposite Alphington train station, with a beautiful, modern interior to match its food, and even a sommelier to help you guide you through the spices and flavours of your meal to reach the perfect alcoholic match. A highlight is their famous appetiser, Miang Karm, where you’re presented with a plate filled with diced ginger, chilli, toasted coconut, diced lime and dried shrimp which you then wrap in a Chapoo leaf, add their tamarind sauce and send your tastebuds into sensation overload! Great special-occasion dining, and apparently people come from all over Melbourne for dinner here. www.paladarr.com.au
One of our favourite breakfast haunts is the ridiculously popular Apte, on Heidelberg Road in Fairfield. Despite its bustling activity, they always manage to find you a seat, and bring your piccolo latte with speed and a smile, which is surprising given the heaving weekend workload. Happily the menu has remained constant for a little while now, allowing me to indulge my love of their pea and corn fritters served with Tasmanian smoked salmon, dill, sourcream, rocket and avocado. The big breakfast option is also sensational, their coffee is unfailingly great, and the pikelets with maple syrup, strawberries, banana and sugared pecans are very popular with Mr 6 year old. Apte is very child -friendly, including space for strollers, (and dogs) and has a lovely outdoor area which is covered, heated and filled with flowers, herbs and garden sculptures.
When you go inside to settle your bill, you will be distracted and mesmerised by the large cupcakes on the counter. Or perhaps the homemade preserves or muesli, or the carrot cake. Give in. You won’t be disappointed.
Apte, 538 Heidelberg Road, Fairfield
Next stop, Chianti Bistro, in Clifton Hill which was recommended by our neighbours. We had to search hard for this rustic, unpretentious tiny bistro, covered in prints of Italy, shelves full of Chianti Classico, and a small, handwritten menu up on a chalkboard offering typical dishes like parmigiana, veal scallopine, etc. Delicious, honest food, served with steamed veg, and a huge dose of Italian hospitality, our host alternating between speaking to us in Italian and English. Charming, intimate, well-priced and a new favourite.
Chianti Bistro 376 Queens Pde, Clifton Hill
Station Street in Fairfield is another gem waiting to be fully explored, and we are making our way slowly up one side and down the other. The clear front-runner at present has to be Viet Palace, which serves great Pho, excellent special fried rice (hard to find and very important in my book), a salt and pepper squid to knock your socks off, and a Chef’s special of duck with sesame prawn (sounds wrong but trust me, the flavour is sensational). This place is your standard Vietnamese decor, complete with fish tank, but the food is most definitely fit for a king.
http://www.fairfieldvillage.com.au/viet_palace_vietnamese_restaurant.htm click here for a link to the full menu