Review: Soul Press, Edithvale

When my friend Beth asked to take me out to dinner for my birthday, I said “Actually why don’t you take me out to brunch instead, and we can try that healthy cafe in Edithvale?” Most people would have said thanks for dinner, but I had to just take it that one step further. It all worked out in the end anyway. Beth had been wanting to try the same cafe, and we went to Costco Moorabbin afterwards which we had been talking about for a while (because clearly, neither of us have a life).

soulpress-01

The cafe in question was Soul Press in Edithvale, a second branch of the original Soul Press in Brighton. Like all ‘healthy eating’ cafes, they offer a range of super smoothies, acai bowls, pressed juices, and in this case – sushi burritos as well. To fit in with the other diners, I recommend wearing your tightest activewear to the cafe with your hair in a jaunty ponytail and a yoga mat under your arm.

Chai Latte, $4.50, and Beetroot Latte, $5
Chai Latte, $4.50, and Beetroot Latte, $5

I had wanted a matcha latte but they were unfortunately out of matcha on that Sunday morning – strange for a health food cafe! I had to settle for a Skim Chai Latte (too milky without enough spice) instead, whereas Beth tried a Beetroot Latte with coconut milk for the first time. I don’t think she’ll be rushing back to trying beetroot lattes any time soon, finding the beetroot a bit too sweet.

Avo Smash with chilli flakes and edamame and pumpkin seeds with optional goats cheese, $15.50
Avo Smash with chilli flakes and edamame and pumpkin seeds with optional goats cheese, $15.50

As a smashed avocado lover (it’s okay Bernard Salt, she’s already a property owner with a hefty mortgage), Beth immediately gravitated to the Avo Smash with chilli, edamame, pepitas and goats cheese. This was a great mix of textures and flavours – soft avocado, tangy goats cheese, crunchy pepitas, fresh edamame and crusty bread. A great blend.

Snickers superfood bowl with acai blended with banana and coconut water, topped with muesli, strawberries, coconut chips, banana, vegan Snickers slice, caramelised bukinis and bee pollen, $14.50
Snickers superfood bowl with acai blended with banana and coconut water, topped with muesli, strawberries, coconut chips, banana, vegan Snickers slice, caramelised bukinis and bee pollen, $14.50

I chose my first ever acai bowl – a Snickers Superfood Bowl featuring banana, coconut water, muesli, strawberries, vegan Snickers slice, and more. It’s the type of naughty sweet treat you feel virtuous ordering and eating, even if the fats contained in the vegan Snickers probably has more kilojoules than an actual Snickers bar. I quite enjoyed my first acai bowl experience and can see how people get addicted to them! Next time around though, I think I’d choose one that’s less of a mock dessert and has more fresh fruit toppings.

Soul Press isn’t far from where I live…yet, I don’t think I’ll rush back to eat there unless I was already planning on having a particularly healthy day with a long 15km walk along the beach. If I’m going out for a cheeky weekend brunch, I’d much rather spoil myself with a plate of Cointreau hotcakes or corn fritters at Hendrik’s Cafe in Mordialloc instead!

Soul Press is located at 265 Nepean Highway in Edithvale.

Review: FloCafe, Piraeus, Athens Greece

A mere twenty minute drive away from central Athens lies the port of Piraeus – a town that thinks it’s independent but in reality acts as a satellite suburb of Greater Athens. With a long history stretching back to classical times as the chief port for the Golden Age of Athens, Piraeus as a town has gone through many ups and downs.

At the moment, it’s in a Renaissance period of relative prosperity. Chinese cargo ships anchor at Piraeus as their gateway to the European market, cruise ships with thousands of foreign tourists dock in its harbour every day, old warehouses have been turned into hip clubs and bars for the young and cool Athens crowd, and local families stroll along kilometres of harbourside paths to enjoy the fresh breeze of the Aegean sea.

We joined the local crowds one sunny Sunday afternoon (20 degrees in winter!) and strolled for a while along the harbour before turning into the nearest cafe for a quick and casual lunch. This was actually one of the few establishments on the Marina Zeas that actually offered a minimal food menu – most places are coffee and cocktail bars where locals linger on the outside patio for hours sipping a single drink. FloCafe at least offered a dozen sandwich and salad options for their customers alongside an extensive drinks menu.

FloCafe-02
Floshake Mandarin with mandarin sorbet and brownie pieces (4.50 Euro) and Freddoccino (4.80 Euro)

Needing some cool refreshment after the absurdly warm winter’s stroll, we ordered a cold drink each – a Freddocino for K, and a house-named Floshake Mandarin for me. A Freddocino is not dissimilar to a iced frappe but in this case, with the addition of a little bit of chocolate powder to soften the bitterness of the coffee – very drinkable on a warm afternoon.

My Floshake Mandarin was very sweet and refreshing – I only wish they hadn’t advertised it ‘with brownie pieces’. Chocolate sprinkles do not equal brownie pieces! I’d been hoping for a chocolate orange jaffa style of smoothie drink – this was anything but. If they had simply described it as a mandarin sorbet smoothie, I’d have been much more satisfied – as it was, I felt like I’d been lied to!

Chicken Club Sandwich with chicken fillet, turkey, edam cheese, tomato, lettuce, mustard sauce (7 Euro)
Chicken Club Sandwich with chicken fillet, turkey, edam cheese, tomato, lettuce, mustard sauce (7 Euro)

First rule of thumb when ordering off a sandwich-only menu – always order the Club Sandwich if it’s on offer. For me, it’s all about the variety in the sandwich, with (usually) chicken, bacon, lettuce and tomato, sauces, maybe some slices of cucumber, definitely some cheese…it basically ticks off all the food groups.

The chicken club at FloCafe was a little bit uneven in bits, with a chicken fillet that didn’t quite cover all four corners of the sandwich. The tomato and lettuce was extremely fresh though, and the turkey slices helped to make it slightly healthier than the usual bacon variety. With some plain potato chips/crisps on the side (curiously served with ketchup and sour cream, as though you were supposed to dip the chips in the sauces), it was quite a filling meal, and good value.

Baguette with vegetable kebab, lollo verde and olive-sweet chilli sauce, 3.50 Euro
Baguette with vegetable kebab, lollo verde and olive-sweet chilli sauce, 3.50 Euro

We also ordered a sandwich off the vegan menu – a Baguette with Vegetable Kebab. Vegan food is hard to find in Greece…and well, this explains why. The kebab was like a Quorn faux-chicken tender, but very limp and not as crunchy and crispy as it could have been. With nothing but lettuce in a soft white baguette, it made for an awfully plain sandwich without much to recommend it.

There’s not much to FloCafe, other than the fact that it’s one of the few places in a 1km stretch of the Piraeus waterfront that offers more than coffees and cocktails. If you can hold onto your hunger and walk a kilometre and a half down the waterfront back towards Athens, there’s a half dozen or more restaurants serving proper food that you can choose from. However if you’re just after a sandwich to go with your Greek coffee as you wile away hours of a sunny afternoon, FloCafe will do the job.

FloCafe is located on Marina Zeas in Piraeus (Athens), but has multiple other locations elsewhere in Greece. Check their website for more details.

Review: Percy and Percy, Bendigo

I spent my 30th birthday weekend in Bendigo, a regional Victorian town that I last visited on a school trip when I was still in single digits. As I said to everyone on our return, visiting Bendigo as an adult is very different to visiting Bendigo as a child. For one, you’re not forced to go on excursions to the former gold mine, but more importantly, you can pick exactly where it is you want to eat rather than eating soggy peanut butter sandwiches packed the night before.

In this case, I had done a lot of research before we got to Bendigo and had planned all our meals in advance. Percy and Percy was my pick for a light breakfast on Saturday morning – light being key, as I had made an early lunch reservation for 12pm.

percyandpercy01

Located slightly out of the main town centre on a quiet residential street, Percy and Percy is still easily accessible on foot, like much of the small town. Having taken the V-line train to Bendigo from Melbourne, we actually spent all weekend walking around town without wheeled transport at all, and found it all very accessible.

Given that we expected to be quick with our light breakfast, we chose to sit outside on the casual bench seating rather than inside or in the busy courtyard. It was a beautiful day for it, with blue skies and warm sunshine. Luckily, we had that good weather for most of the weekend.

Soy Cappuccino and a Skinny Hot Chocolate (approx $4.50 each)
Soy Cappuccino and a Skinny Hot Chocolate (approx $4.50 each)

I started with a Skinny Hot Chocolate, adorably served with both a marshmallow and a Tiny Teddy which was a real blast from childhood. The hot chocolate was beautifully rich and creamy, an ideal hot chocolate that wasn’t too sweet. K opted for a Soy Cappuccino, not wanting to aggravate his lactose intolerance – not comparable really to a regular coffee as the Bonsoy soy milk always has a stronger nuttier flavour that can sometimes overwhelm the strength of the coffee.

Dr Marty's crumpets, $7.50
Dr Marty’s crumpets, $7.50

While I was very tempted by other more elaborate items on the menu (the massive Breakfast Board looked ideal!), I kept it simple and light with a serve of Dr Marty’s Crumpets served with giant wedges of salted butter, local honey and Bonne Maman jam. I definitely count Dr Marty’s crumpets as some of the best that Melbourne and its surrounds has to offer – thick, chewy and spongy, and manages to absorb all the honey you would want to slather onto the crumpet.

The Good Loaf's Raisin Toast and Gourmet Fruit Toast, $7.50
The Good Loaf’s Raisin Toast and Gourmet Fruit Toast, $7.50

K chose a lighter breakfast as well – Raisin and Gourmet Fruit Toast from Bendigo’s local gourmet sourdough baker The Good Loaf. I had a personal preference for the raisin toast, which I thought was perfectly dense and chewy, soaking up melted butter which gave it the creamiest and richest mouthfeel. K preferred the fruit toast with its big chunks of orange peel and slightly brioche-like sweetness. Both were really as good as the other and it was to my disappointment that I found out The Good Loaf was closed on Sundays so I couldn’t buy a loaf to take back to Melbourne!

While we only sampled the simplest of items on the menu at Percy and Percy, I was impressed with their service, with their judicious choice of the best food items available in Bendigo and its surrounds, and with their deliciously rich and creamy hot chocolate. If only we had capacity for more meals in a single weekend, I would have gone back to Percy and Percy for a larger and more substantial brunch, sampling some of their more elaborate breakfasts. Next time!

Percy and Percy is located on the corner of Hargreaves and Baxter St, Bendigo.