Thursday, November 8, 2012


Belle's Diner's Fried Green Tomato Burger ($17)

Yalei and I hit up Belle's Diner a few weeks ago. I'd actually been here a few nights after it opened, but my camera died (trust) just as the food arrived. Belles Diner is the newest place on Gertrude Street, and is a contemporary take on the traditional American diner, without all the '50s crap that is usually associated with such places. Instead, the interior feels like a set from Mad Men, with a stainless steel counter and sleek wooden booths that sit with large windows overing a street level view of Gertrude Street.

On our first visit, we put our names on the door an hour before they let us know we could be seated and the place was heaving with the young crowd you would expect around the area. The next week, we arrived for lunch, and still had to wait for a few minutes for a table, because we weren't keen on eating on the counter.

For lunch, I ordered the fried green tomato burger, as above. It was good, but a vegeburger would have been much more satisfying. Instead of a pattie, a large slice of deep-fried green tomato sat in the burger with crisp lettuce, cheese and pickles. However, the tomato just didn't keep it's shape as I progressed through the burger, and by the end,  developed into tomato mush. The bun though was sweet and the fries were well seasoned and tasty, so it wasn't all bad. While there for dinner, my meat eating friends ordered the Waguy burger and judged it to be 'Good, not as good as Huxtaburger but better then the burgers at the workers' which is a good indicator of a satisfactory burger.

Yalei ordered the clam chowder, which I had also tried when I went last time. She summed it up pretty well, when she said it was 'kind of like pumpkin soup, but with clams'. It was good though because her size was much bigger then the one I had received the week before for dinner. My verdict was that the soup was good (who doesn't like pumpkin soup?) but a little bland and the clams were a nice inclusion, but did more for the texture component of the dish then the flavour part of it. I was a little disapointed as I remembered clam chowder to be creamy and more sea-foody then the chowder at Belles. More like a calorific-cream based soup, then the more healthy vegetable based one served here.

The Clam Chowder ($15)

Cost-wise, the meal kind of just sat at $20, which was fine, but not brilliant. Belles Diner seems a little style-over-substance. On arrival, the cafe is neat and very well presented, but the food wasn't anything that got me too excited. If they are going to run with the American theme, I think it deserves that extra push, because there wasn't really anything that you couldn't get at the majority of restaurants in Melbourne and there is much more interesting dude-food to be found for the same price.

 The Wagyu Beef Burger with Fries

I would return to Belle's diner, but maybe when they have worked on their menu a bit. Since my visit/s, they've added a 'Salted Caramel Milkshake' to the menu, and I'm also keen to try the Sundaes and Key Lime Pie from their desserts, as well as the Chilli Beans and Lobster Roll. For lunch though, not eating meat meant choosing dishes was way too easy when I had maybe three things to choose from, which always kind of sucks a little - although, I do remember having more options over dinner.

Staff at Belle's are friendly, although a little disinterested, but I liked the music and generally the vibe of the Diner is lo-key and relaxed during the day, and lively but laid back in the PM times.


150 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Tuesday - Sunday 10am - late.

Good for: Casual style dining for small or large groups.
Vegetarians: Have options, but they aren't too expansive, especially for lunch.
Seats: Lots of booths, and tables available.
Wait time: About 5 minutes for the two of us for mid-week lunch. The previous week, a larger group of about 8 of us were wait-listed for an hour until they called us to let us know we had a table - but the restaurant was packed, so this was fine. 
Food waiting time: Around 20 minutes for lunch, around half an hour for dinner.
Cost: Including drinks, both our meals sat just under $20.00.  

Belle's Diner on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 4, 2012


I march almost daily these days up Flinders Lane, on my way to work, and Little King has become a welcome, regular stop on what has in turn, become a pretty shitty jaunt.

If you haven’t visited, Little King is a pretty little cafe tucked away in a small alcove, sheltered on one side by one of Melbourne's oldest buildings, St Paul's Cathedral. Little King's outside seating area sits privy to to a view of Melbourne that you don't expect to see on the sheltered route that is Flinders Lane, until, on turning the corner towards the cafe, you are hit with a force of light that looks towards Federation Square.

Broadsheet recently featured the owners in a piece about female cafe owners, and it is very clear on entering the cafe, that this is a grrrl-run operation. The ladies who run Little King are refreshingly informal, and I don't know, maybe it's the size of the little cafe, or maybe it's their chatty natures, but you kind of feel like you're sitting in the kitchen of a Carlton sharehouse. The cafe is personable, sweetly decorated and the girls behind the counter are doing a great job at establishing a coffee spot with some heart in the CBD.

Which is great by the way. There are too many places in the city where you're just shoved along and  treated as the little more then the next customer. But here, as corny as it sounds, you feel like a friend. Isn't that just lovely? No, SRSLY, it’s really nice. Before Little King, small yet quality cafes so close to the tourist hubs of Flinders Street and City Square were annoyingly absent. Even somewhere like Sensory Lab lacks a 'cafe vibe' that most Melbournians look for in a coffee spot. So good job, Little King.

The first time I visited was with Antonia, and it was the first ‘hot’ day of the year. Little King was perfect, providing much needed shade, coolness from the concrete of the church aswell as a wonderful view of people enjoying Melbourne on the other side of Flinders Street.

Anyway, this is really only a half-post because I've only ever stopped for a drink. But if you're looking for some place to perch for a half hour or so in the CBD, which can be a pretty lonely place sometimes, Little King should provide enough company to settle the soul for some time.




Mon - Fri 7.30 - 3.30 

Good for: Good and prompt take-away coffee. A break from the chaos of the CBD.
Vegetarians: I just had coffee.
Seats: The cafe is only small, which suits as it's a coffee and quick lunch sort of place. I like sitting outside in the fresh air, but there are a few small tables inside too.
Wait time: There was not seating wait.
Cost: Standard Coffee Price. $3.50

Little King Cafe on Urbanspoon