Chocolate & Spice

chocolate, spice and the other pleasures in life

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Spoonful of Fun

With the realisation that our weeks in Melbourne will be drawing to a close all too soon and too many things/places/restaurants/shops still on our list of "to-dos", A and I decided to explore more of our immediate neighbourhood on the weekend just past. Shocking but true, we hadn't ventured further than the edge of South Yarra (into neighbouring Prahran, Malvern and Windsor 'villages') in the months we've been here - I put this down to inertia during winter and the disinclination to put on many layers and brave the gusty winds and dreary skies.

With spring weather and sunshine now, exploring the neighbourhood on foot has become more enticing - there's heaps of shops (especially vintage shops) to poke around in and lovely outdoor cafes to have a cuppa when our legs are screaming blue murder with all that walking.

This past weekend, we took a stroll (well, it was more like a reeeeaaalllly walk) to Prahran East to check out a cafe recommended in The Age Good Food Guide. From the map, it looked like it was a short walk down High Street from Chapel Street and definitely doable on foot. Well, I miscalculated since the map wasn't drawn to scale and it was MUCH further than we anticipated it to be. It didn't help that earlier that morning, we had both completed a 4km circuit of the "Tan" and were nursing slightly sore feet.

Thankfully, Spoonful was worth the long trek there. With inspired vintage decor and whimsical accessories (check out the huge Chinese wedding lanterns over the counter) emulating someone's understated pad, A and I felt right at home.
Other than the "joy" lanterns (in red) I'm not so sure the blue lanterns are
appropriate - I'm not sure but I thought they were used during Chinese funerals

Echoing the communal, laidback feel about the place, one helps oneself to water from huge tin pitchers (I think they could be watering cans in another life actually) on a stand in the corner and dig out your newspaper of choice from the basket near the counter. If you choose to, take a seat around the big dining table instead of the 2 seater-cafe tables scattered around - it helps to have the extra space when you're trying to read a newspaper while having your brekkie! Unfortunately, we got there around 2pm and breakfast was long over so we'll have to try the recommended poached white nectarines and strawberries in rosewater syrup with pistachios another time.

Don't you love the overhead lamps?

What that meant was that we'd be able to explore their lunch offerings for that day and tempting offerings they were! I'm a sucker for homemade pates/terrines/mousses and was delighted to note that the daily menu listed a duck and rosemary terrine with a bitter leaf salad, whole-grain toast and some relish on the side. A was torn between a spiced rare beef on ratatouille and potato salad and orrechiette with salmon and after some deliberation, opted in favour of the former.

A generous thick slab of the duck and rosemary terrine arrives on a ploughman's board (typically used for serving cheese) with toast and the rest. It was a little crowded eating off this but I managed not to drop the toast all over the table or drop the salad leaves into my lap. The terrine was nicely chockful of duck meat, appropriately chunky but not coarsely so and the savoury taste was set off by the sweetness of the relish. Although the terrine is probably better as a shared appetiser, it made for a nice light lunch.

With A hurrying me to take the photo so that he could start on his lunch, the photo turned out blurred - sorry about that! While A enjoyed the spiced rare beef, it was unfortunately not quite as described given that it was cooked to a degree of medium to well-done! The ratatouille was a nice tart contrast to the beef as was the chunks of the Desiree potato salad.

We were rather stuffed by the time we finished lunch and looking at the huge slices of the rhubarb cakes passing us by, decided regretfully to give dessert a pass. Which was just as well seeing that lunch was a tad bit on the pricey side (mains were $18) for a cafe. All in, Spoonful is a great place to enjoy a leisurely weekend lunch or a cosy place for cake and a cuppa.

The shop which A hovered nervously at the door owing to the profusion of girly items therein

Another reason to vist Spoonful would be to rest your weary legs after traipsing up and down High Street. There are plenty of quaint furniture and homeware shops down this stretch, including this lovely French-inspired shop offering vintage, country and shabby chic accessories and furnishings, appropriately called Vintage Living. I poke around the vintage pillbox hats with veils, ornate mirrors, dainty Sheridan teacup sets (in pink!!) and fluffy pillows but sadly decided I couldn't lug back any more breakable items. Definitely a girly shop as the owner tells me that all the guys (just as A was doing) accompanying their partners would hover at the doorway before saying something along the lines of "Honey...I'm err... just going to be out here, looking around/having a smoke/(away from all this PINK)....".

High Street also has other delights like this wedding cake shop, AB FAB, where you're invited to browse to your heart's content and to sample their cakes (by appointment only - so disappointing!) before deciding on a towering delight or a modest 1-tier beauty. Hmm... does Singapore have something like this? After encountering this shop and woo-ing and wow-ing over the pretty cakes, we come across a wedding at the Art-deco styled church further down the street complete with vintage Holden convertibles for the wedding car entourage. A thought it was a bit odd for me to stand there and be paparazzi-like with my camera so I didn't get a shot. Shucks.

There are other delights on High Street to keep one occupied, including the Melbourne store for Sambag (the Sydney store selling bags and shoes), a cute shop, Boy and Girl, stocking cute children's clothes, bags and toys and a lovely boutique, Torsa, which stocks Tocca and other US labels. I end off our ramble down High Street with a shot of this laundromat - at $1.20 a wash, that's definitely a bargain (the laundry near us in South Yarra charges $3 I believe). Until I notice that the laundromat is eerily empty, although the door swings open invitingly. Hmm....


543 High Street

Prahran 3181

Tel: (03) 9521 5212

Their sister store selling produce, homeware and coffee is called Teaspoon and is right next door.

497 High Street
Prahran East
Tel: (03) 9510 5585

Boy and Girl
495 High Street
Prahran East
Tel: (03) 9525 0300

489 High Street
Prahran East
Tel: (03) 9533 2274

Vintage Living
463 High Street
Prahran East
Tel: (03) 9529 3929

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