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Another Hazelnut Hot Chocolate with Awesome Foam Art!

Review: Social Bean Cafe, Belconnen

Winter has been slowly approaching us and that means I’ve been on the look out for somewhere that will make me excellent Hot Chocolate at a reasonable price. Last year I was going to Max Brenner most of the time and while that is tasty it is also quite expensive. I don’t really want to spend nearly $8 on a Hot Chocolate when the feeling arises.

Small Hazelnut Hot Chocolate ($4)
Small Hazelnut Hot Chocolate with awesome foam art! ($4)

One afternoon I was considering Max Brenner but I had no cash on me and they have an eftpos limit so I thought I might give Social Bean a try and hoped that they wouldn’t have an eftpos limit. They’re a bit hard to find if you don’t know where to look as they’re nestled under a government department building but they are worth hunting for. On this particular day I got to the counter and asked about an eftpos limit and my eyes lit up when the answer was “no eftpos limit” and that is when my love of Hazelnut Hot Chocolate began.

Another Hazelnut Hot Chocolate with Awesome Foam Art!
Another Hazelnut Hot Chocolate with Awesome Foam Art!

I’m so glad I decided to give them a try because the hot chocolate is one of the best I’ve found from a cafe. Generally places that make great coffee tend to make mediocre hot chocolate but that is not the case with Social Bean! It is hot but not so hot that it burns your face off when you first attempt a sip. As soon as it is handed to you, you can sip it and it will be perfect!

There is a good amount of foam (and if you decide to have it there it will have some great foam art!) and it actually tastes good. So many times I have bought hot chocolates and found they just taste like warm milk. I am a bit embarrassed to admit that over the last month I have been to Social Bean at least twice a week for a hot chocolate. This is quite a lot for me!

French Toast with Bacon and Maple Syrup
French Toast with Bacon and Maple Syrup ($13)

Now I’ve raved about the hot chocolate for 3 paragraphs I thought I might move onto the food. After finding their hot chocolate very good I thought I might see how the food was. It didn’t hurt that they would serve me French Toast for lunch as that is a thing I do now, apparently.

The food came out quite quickly and was pretty good. Nice and syrupy with a bit of a crunch on the outside and nice and squishy on the inside. There was also a good amount of maple syrup to dunk my bacon into. For some reason I always thought maple syrup and bacon would be a terrible idea. I’m glad I decided to try it because it is so amazing!

Chicken Burger with Chips ($15)
Chicken Burger with Chips ($15)

On my second lunch visit I decided to try the Chicken Burger and asked for it with chips (an additional $3, the burger alone is $12) which came out as a massive mountain! They were crispy and fresh and satisfied my craving for chips for the time being (it always comes back, chips are awesome!). The burger was also well made with grilled chicken breast, bacon, cheese, baby spinach, tomato and aioli. It came out on a massive toasted piece of turkish bread that I couldn’t actually finish. It was very tasty and also incredibly filling.

Social Bean also do salads (I’ve had multiple!) and wraps and some great little cakes and muffins! I definitely recommend checking them out.

Not only do they do all of the above but they are operated by the Belconnen Community Service and work to get people involved in the community, plus they have ‘suspended coffee‘ where you can buy an extra coffee and someone else who needs it can come and claim it. It’s a great endeavour that I’m happy to support – it’s an added perk that I get all the deliciousness in return!

Facebook | Website
Social Bean Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

8bit. Burgers and drinks

Review: 8bit., Melbourne CBD

In the week leading up to our Melbourne trip I started looking into good burger places in Melbourne. It turns out the city has exploded with fun burger places but through all my searches one place kept popping up and that was 8bit. A few days before we left I also asked The Drunken Bear team (food & travel vloggers) for the best shake place in Melbourne (something that appears to be lacking in Melbourne – my recommendation would be the Tim Tam Slam at Trunk) and they also mentioned 8bit so we definitely needed to give this place a try.

We went in search of it on for lunch on our first day in Melbourne and, although it was a Sunday (in my experience that means the CBD is dead but apparently not so much anymore) the place was packed! It is only very small with about 15 seats but they also do takeaway. In hindsight we probably could have ordered takeaway and eaten it on the grass at the beautiful State Library but we decided to come back another time… dinner that same night!

8bit. Burgers and drinks
8bit. Burgers and drinks

8bit is basically fastfood but the burgers are more like your local takeaway than McDonalds. With a name like 8bit you can guarantee that there is a old school game theme to the place from burgers named after video games to arcade machines in the stores. The website may also cause you to go blind.

I ordered an 8bit with Cheese ($9.50) which is basically a cheese burger, and Jarrod ordered the Double Dragon ($14.00) which is double everything. I love how they are presented. Initially, I thought it was weird to have burgers come out on their sides – wouldn’t all the ingredients slide down? – but everything stays in-tact and it’s actually really easy to pick them up and eat them when they’re like this.

The burgers were so good. It’s been a while since I’ve eaten a burger that delicious and they were, comparatively, quite cheap and the service was quick even though the place was packed. I left wishing that they’d open a store in Canberra (hint hint).

They have some unusual flavoured shakes and in the end I opted for the Strawberry Cheesecake shake ($7.50). I was pretty scared about this as I don’t like strawberry milkshakes so it could have ended up terribly. In the end it was a good idea as it was like drinking a liquid cheesecake. Yum! Jarrod went with the Chocolate Bar shake ($7.50) which has a featured chocolate bar each week, at the time that was a Bounty bar. It was also very good. Not overpoweringly coconutty and nice and thick.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to fit in the chips and I completely forgot about the softserve! I was really looking forward to trying it, or at least checking out what the weekly flavours are. That just gives me motivation to go back there some time!

Website | Facebook
8bit.- CBD Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Oreo Shake ($6.50)

Review: Dobinsons, City

A few weeks ago Jarrod and I had nothing much planned for Saturday afternoon lunch and were considering where to go. Jarrod had made a trip to Dobinsons earlier that week to try out their thick shakes and thought I needed to give them a try so off to Dobinsons we went. As a side note, this was the cafe and not the little shop in the Canberra Centre.

Oreo Shake ($6.50)
Oreo Shake ($7.50)

First up were the aforementioned shakes with some tasty mini oreo’s on top, yum! These were really well made, the shake tasted very much cookies and cream, they were topped with cream and also had chocolate syrup drizzled down the sides of the glass.

Original Beef Burger - with Iceberg lettuce, tomato, spanish onion & housemade burger mayo ($13.95)
Original Beef Burger – with Iceberg lettuce, tomato, spanish onion & housemade burger mayo ($13.95)

Jarrod chose the beef burger which overall he described as bland. The mayo was all hiding in the middle and overall it was Ok but not great. There really could have been more toppings on this, maybe some cheese. The chips were great though (I wonder when places will stop with the gimmicky things like chips in fryer baskets and shakes in mason jars) and the salad was ok. Nothing exciting though.

Chicken Schnitzel - with Oregano chips, fresh garden salad and gravy ($13.95)
Chicken Schnitzel – with Oregano chips, fresh garden salad and gravy ($13.95)

For some reason I had been craving chicken schnitzel when we went so decided to give theirs a try. Firstly, why do restaurants place the schnitzel on top of the chips. How are we expected to eat it? I resorted to pulling out chips one by one, jenga style, until the schnitzel had some plate room of its own. I really enjoyed the chips from Dobinsons and if I’m honest, I could have just eaten a whole plate of them by themselves and not had the chicken.

The schnitzel was odd. There was something not quite right about it. The chicken didn’t taste or look like breast chicken (I’m not sure if it was, there is no mention of it on the menu) and I think it had too much batter. I think that is what the problem was anyway, it was hard to pinpoint the reason I didn’t really like it. It just wasn’t great. Overall, an average schnitzel that was saved by the chips on the plate.

I think if I were to take another visit out to Dobinsons it would be to have a shake and one of the delicious looking cakes they have in their display window and make an afternoon tea of it rather than a lunch. Or just a big bowl of chips!

Facebook | Website – not sure if this is updated. The menu is out of date.
Dobinsons Bakery Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Butterscotch French Toast - Brioche French Toast Slice, Walnuts, Butterscotch Mascarpone & Salted Toffee Popcorn. ($17)

Review: Kingston & Co., Belconnen

Since I started working out in Belconnen I have been trying to find some good places to eat lunch but haven’t been finding much inspiration (where are the good burger and pizza places for lunch?) however, I decided to investigate Kingston & Co. as it was easy to get to and always smelt delicious when I had walked past previously. One day I decided to look them up online and see if their menu was any good. As it turns out they had Nutella French toast and something called a Frozen Bounty listed on the menu online so it seemed like it was meant to be.

Unfortunately, it looks like the version online (which is still up on their website) is an older version of the menu and they no longer had either of the items. So that was somewhat disappointing (will I ever know what Nutella French toast tastes like?).

Chocolate Thickshake ($7)
Chocolate Thickshake ($7)

Instead I decided to start with their chocolate thickshake and hoped for the best. What came out was this incredibly thick, chocolatey goodness. It was in a MASSIVE metal cup and I almost needed a spoon to “drink” it. It was exactly as thick shakes should be. Alas, it was so thick and so large (that’s what she said) that I wasn’t able to finish it in my lunch break and had to leave about a third of it behind. I didn’t make the same mistake on my second trip though and ordered it in a takeaway cup instead. It still came out in a massive cup and so I was still able to enjoy it when sitting back at my desk at work.

Butterscotch French Toast - Brioche French Toast Slice, Walnuts, Butterscotch Mascarpone & Salted Toffee Popcorn. ($17)
Butterscotch French Toast – Brioche French Toast Slice, Walnuts, Butterscotch
Mascarpone & Salted Toffee Popcorn. ($17)

As I wasn’t to be having Nutella French Toast on this day I decided to try their new French Toast offering. I was a bit hesitant as I wasn’t sure how popcorn would go with the toast and it is true that I scraped most of it to the side, it was just far too chewy which I guess is because of the salted toffee. I have to admit when I saw this 1 slice of toast come out I was pretty disappointed, I was paying $17 for it after all. As it turned out, it was so rich that I wasn’t even able to finish it so I guess it is perfect size and if you’re a bit faint-hearted you might want to share it with someone. Overall it was excellent, the butterscotch was so tasty and the walnuts added a nice little bit of crunch. I also found out that Mascarpone (it might be the first time I’ve had it in a dessert like this) was so much better than ricotta for dishes like this! Why did I waste all that time trying pancakes with ricotta? Mascarpone is where it’s at! Sweet, smooth and delicious! I would definitely recommend trying this but maybe share with a friend.

American Cheeseburger - Freshly Ground Beef Patty, Cheese, House Pickles, Sweet Mustard, Ketchup ($15)
American Cheeseburger – Freshly Ground Beef Patty, Cheese, House Pickles,
Sweet Mustard, Ketchup ($15)

On my second trip I was looking for something a bit more savoury and decided to try one of their burgers. This is just their basic cheeseburger which I described to Jarrod as “McDonalds if it was decent”. It was quite bready but overall tasted pretty good. I especially loved the sweet mustard and pickles, yum! The fries were very moreish and although I was quite full I just kept eating more and more of them until I had finished them all. They were nice, fresh, hot and crispy!

The food has really proven to be quite decent at Kingston & Co. with everything tasting fresh and well made. The only downside is the seating system is a bit strange. They have table service but you go and pay at the counter which can be difficult as the tables have no numbers on them. I decided to sit at the same table the second time because I knew what number it was. I wonder though if this type of system could lead to some people leaving without paying.

Kingston & Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

French Toast - Served with maple syrup, bacon and fresh strawberries ($12)

Review: Cherryripe Brasserie, Watson

Last Saturday Jarrod and I decided we wanted to try somewhere new for brunch and I remembered a few people had talked about Cherryripe Brasserie in Watson. I looked it up online and it had fairly decent reviews so we decided to go. When we got down to the Watson shops there were cars everywhere and it was a lot busier than I expected but Cherryripe itself was fairly quite with about half of their tables inside full and no one sitting outside.

When we walked in I wasn’t sure whether they had table service or not. There was nothing around that really indicated what the system was so I awkwardly asked someone making coffee if we were ok to sit anywhere and was told yes. A few minutes later someone else came up and asked if we had been served so it sounds like the system isn’t working very well. We were handed the breakfast menu and advised the lunch menu was up on the board because it was being updated. I’m not sure whether that meant the board was the new menu or the old though.

Chocolate Milkshake with extra icecream ($6)
Large Chocolate Milkshake with extra icecream ($6)

First up, as with most of our cafe visits, was the shakes! When we were provided the menu we weren’t given the drinks menu, I suppose they expected we’d be ordering coffee? Eventually we were able to order and we opted for the large chocolate milk shake with additional icecream ($0.50 extra) and they were quite large! Much bigger than expected, ice cold and of a decent consistency for a milkshake. They also tasted good. Not too sugary or chocolatey but also didn’t just taste of milk.

French Toast - Served with maple syrup, bacon and fresh strawberries ($12)
French Toast – Served with maple syrup, bacon and fresh strawberries ($12)

Just in case I hadn’t eaten enough french toast recently I decided to give Cherryripe’s version a go. It was the promise of maple syrup, bacon AND strawberries that enticed me as,  in my experience, it is rare to have all 3. The toast was well made with a little bit of crunch and none of the sogginess which can happen with french toast. The berries were nice and sweet and the bacon plentiful. I doubt it was real maple syrup but it still tasted ok when everything was dunked into it. The only downfall here was that it waited at the kitchen window for about 5 mins before it was brought to the table and wasn’t as warm as I’d like.

Beef Burger - Bacon, cheese, tomato, spinach and spiced aioli with chips ($16)
Beef Burger – Bacon, cheese, tomato, baby spinach and spiced aioli with chips ($16)

Jarrod decided to go with the lunch menu and chose the beef burger which appears to have endless bacon! The chips were nice and crispy with a delicious beer batter and they weren’t so hot you burn the roof of your mouth the instant you eat them. Jarrod enjoyed the burger but found the bun a bit too bready, it was quite massive.

Overall the food was good, the atmosphere was ok and the service was average. I got the impression the staff would have liked to be anywhere but there.

Even though the food tasted ok I don’t know if I would be in a hurry to get back there.

Cherryripe Brasserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato