Gourmet Girl

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Gourmet Girl in Blackburn is a tiny little restaurant in Laburnum/Blackburn, situated close to Laburnum Train Station. Frequented by many of the locals, and it certainly piques my interest. Gourmet Girl by day serves your typical breakfast, brunch/lunch affair. Toasted sandwiches and Focaccias, salads, wraps, pies and pastries as well as a wide selection for breakfast such as pancakes, eggs, muffins, toast and of course your big breakfast. Variety is there and it’s certainly its strong suit and of course they serve your typical hot and cold beverages as well. By night they have a tapas menu with wine for an enjoyable evening out.

We ordered the Smoked Salmon topped with red onions, and served with scrambled egg with toast and a side of greens and tomatoes. It certainly looked inviting, the smoked salmon had a nice smokey flavour to the fish, but not over powering. The scrambled eggs however were on the bland side, and lacked any sort of pepper or salt seasoning. However, I guess the saltiness from the salmon is supposed to carry the dish so you are not overloaded with salt, but unfortunately the eggs did not have any richness to it, nor did it taste like eggs. It was honestly disappointing. The bread was also leaning on over toasted as well (the edges are slightly dark brown) and almost had a burnt taste to it. Care and attention to detail is key and it’s what made this a real letdown.

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The “Canadian” Focaccia that we ordered was also a Smoked Salmon dish with cream cheese, capers, red onions, avocado spread and mayonnaise served with a lightly dressed garden salad. Again you can see it was burnt on several parts of the bread, definitely over toasted. The bottom of the Focaccia was also visibly dark brown unfortunately. Flavour wise (apart from the burnt-ness), was decent. Although, on this occasion too salty. The capers and smoked salmon add the saltiness but there is nothing there to really balance it as you also have the richness of the mayonnaise and cream cheese. The avocado attempts to provide a milder flavour to the dish but the avocados here also lack fragrance.  The garden salad was basically a small pile of rocket and sliced cucumber with a huge chunk of grated carrot, with a generous drizzling of dressing. Presentation is not their strong suit. Again, I was not impressed with how this was served, lacking in any consideration and served blackened that definitely should not have gone out in any decent cafe.

Impressions

Gourmet Girl, leaves a bad taste both literally and metaphorically in my mouth. The customer service at Gourmet Girl was one of the bad experiences I’ve had to sit through. They forgot one of our orders (which was served to another table that came after us), which I admit can happen when its busy and I do understand. When we finally received our order after more than half an hour of waiting, what we received was above, a charred sandwich (as mentioned above). The kicker, no apologies made when they informed us of their mistake nor when actually providing the dish to us. They even asked if we would like to order drinks (to pay for) while we are forced to wait! Absolutely amazing.

I know this sounds like a rant, but good or even mediocre service can go a long way in providing a satisfactory dining experience. One poor (or many in this case) experience can ultimately damage any good will the place as brought with its dishes. Which unfortunately, in this situation it did not generate any.

To top everything off in our visit to Gourmet Girl, they misplaced our entire order when paying. So having to repeat ourselves of what we ordered, we were questioned on our one coffee. In which, the staff leaned over the counter to check the number of cups on our table. You know, that coffee we ordered while having to wait. That one. Served by three staff during our time there, none was positive and that’s not a good sign. Gourmet Girl certainly is a popular place but I’m unsure if its as a result of desperation for a decent coffee around these parts or if my situation was out of the ordinary.

Overall, I cannot overlook the poor service over the sub-standard food served. It would be dishonest of me to recommend this place to someone, but I do hope that if you do dine here that your experience is wonderful and pleasant and unlike mine. I do although prefer Red Cup Cafe which is minutes away by car over Gourmet Girl (both in service and quality of food).

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Gourmet Girl
21 Salisbury Ave
Blackburn VIC 3130

Red Cup Cafe

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If you’re ever travelling on Whitehorse Road in Box Hill, you may come across Red Cup Cafe, brimming with people on the weekends no matter how early or late there is certain to be filled with locals. Red Cup Cafe offers your typical dishes that you would find in any other cafe but it’s not what kind of food that matters, it’s the taste.

One of their offerings is the Baked Eggs with Chorizo, Tomatoes, Cheese and Spinach (shown above) and it’s an absolute stunner. The dish pan comes out straight from the oven with the cheese golden in colour. Mixed in with this is the spinach, tomatoes and the chorizos, served with a Spanish styled chilli sauce and toasted sourdough bread. The spiciness of the chorizo opens up the palette and complements everything extremely well and with just the right amount of sauce from the tomatoes at the bottom of the pan. Nothing to fault.

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Their Ham and Tomato Sandwich with Mayonnaise isn’t quite the looker and nor is it anything special, unfortunately. I would say it needs sauce or dressing and although the mayonnaise is supposed to fill that role, I find the mayonnaise too overpowering and too rich to be consumed with the sandwich. Some may prefer the tomatoes still to be cold even after the sandwich is toasted but I’m not one of those people. It’s a decent dish but not one you would solely come back for.

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Red Cup Cafe’s Steak Sandwich with chutney is also a slight disappointment. The centrepiece of the dish is supposed to be the steak and here the cut of meat chosen makes a poor filling for a sandwich. The reason being as the beef is extremely chewy, difficult to slice apart and lacks in any sort of seasoning whether that be pepper or salt. The chutney I find does not complement the sandwich at all, having a sweet and sour flavour to it that is jarring to the steak and salad within. A letdown of gargantuan proportions.

IMG_0455Customers coming to Red Cup Cafe wouldn’t come back if the coffee wasn’t any good and the coffee here is one of the better offerings I’ve found around these parts (Gourmet Girl’s coffee in Blackburn does not even come close)  At Red Cup Cafe they offer a Seriously large cup, which is made for two or maybe one that desires a significant coffee hit.

Impressions

Red Cup is a bit of a mixed bag. Their Baked Eggs is probably one of the better versions I’ve come across and yet their sandwiches do not meet the same standard. Luckily the coffee is good or otherwise I wouldn’t give this place a second look.

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Red Cup Cafe
1124 Whitehorse Rd
Box Hill VIC 3128

India Delights

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India Delights, as the name suggests is an Indian restaurant in Forest Hill, across the street from Forest Hill Chase Shopping Centre. I head one of the chefs here was from another Indian restaurant in Knoxfield (or around there) who has established this one recently. The food at India Delights is predominantly Indian (duh) but the food also has its Malaysian influences. It’s Mamak (Indian/Malaysian) but I feel it leans more heavily on its Indian ingredients as opposed.

Their Chicken Briyani as pictured above is quite tasty, the flavours of the rice are beautiful and taste as a Briyani should, plentiful of spices, and meat. The curry isn’t too bad either but it definitely tastes like your standard Indian curry (and spicy too). I prefer ChilliPadi’s Briyani to be honest and Taste of Singapore’s Briyani, but this would be a close third.

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Indian Rojak is one of those dishes you hardly see, but nonetheless it is a treat to order. It’s basically an assortment of vegetables/salad ingredients with crispy friend potatoes and tofu mixed with a spicy gravy. My mother swears this is one of the tastier Indian Rojak’s around, better than ChilliPadi’s. Her stamp of approval is extremely hard to get (haha) and I find it it be quite great too.  The gravy has a nice hint of spice that tingles on your tongue but doesn’t overtake the taste of the other ingredients. Very complementary.

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I ordered their Lamb Murtabak and it certainly is on the thick side of things, packed full of lamb and onions. I found the bread to be too soft, I prefer my Murtabak to be crispy on the bite but here it feels like roti that hasn’t been toasted. It’s probably because it’s difficult to get the balance of crispiness right with the inside cooked well but I’m unsure.

The curry also isn’t too bad, I felt it uses too many spices that doesn’t sit right with me. Some might prefer this kind of curry but I like the creamier varieties with the spices toned down. Overall it’s a decent dish, and quite filling at that, but Taste of Singapore’s Murtabak has it beat.

Impressions

Unsurprisingly, Indian Delights is quite popular with Malaysians and Singaporeans. During lunch time, that’s all you see eating there! I actually haven’t seen Indian diners there.

The food here as indicated above is more Indian influenced as opposed to Malaysian/Indian but that’s not a bad thing. A bit of variety is always welcomed. I don’t know if it’s my go to place for Mamak cuisine, however the food here served is overall quite good so on occasion I might venture down there again.

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India Delights
59 Mahoneys Rd
Forest Hill VIC 3131