Sunday, January 6, 2008

Madame Brussels and Gingerboy

How wonderful to combine these two delightful venues in one evening- and that's just what we did on Friday night- a steaming (37 degree!) Melbourne day, the outdoor terrace at Madame Brussels was perfect as the sun went down (ok it was nice in the air conditioned interior too- but no space!).
For those of you unfamiliar with Madame Brussels, it is on the 3rd Floor at 59-63 Bourke St, Melbourne (Phone 03 9662 2775). Inside, you are welcomed by a garden path leading through astro-turf to the bar- wait staff in attendance in tennis outfits and a groovy, sometimes eccentric crowd. The deck is less spiffy- however plenty of chairs and a good view out across the city compensate for that (we also love the free pink blankies in winter and the fans handed out in summer). A proliferation of pink drinks provide plenty of variety- from a simple rose to their spectacular punches (we had campari and gin...mmmm...) or cocktails- both served in jugs (how practical!). Also available are a good range of beers and other wines.
Food is available- splendid sandwiches or cupcakes complement the ambience- but there are more mainstream options like turkish dips and bread.
What I love is the vibe- we were there on a Friday night and the buzz is contagious- strongly recommended!!
Bar rating: 4 stars - love the individuality, the drinks, the friendly staff and the terrace ambience!

Hungry after a few drinks, we found it convenient to go across the street for a quick (and the service is very quick!) meal at Gingerboy. We were lucky to get one of the tables near the bar- which suited us fine- but if you want to sit down- you really need to book ahead!
Gingerboy has been open over a year now and still people are undecided- overrated and overpiced- or a great restaurant. Supposedly inspired by the hawkers of Malaysia and Thailand, the prices bear no relation to those humble providores- however the flavours are almost as good. It is definitely a pricy feed for two- if you want to come out feeling satisfied...but for the odd treat- I really think it's worth it.
I really like the ambience- kitchen half open to the bar- a thousand stars glittering above- though apparently some larger people have issues with the rather narrow perspex chairs.
We also like bar staff who not only have a great range of cocktails, but will mix up anything you want without rolling their eyes is a bonus.
So the food: starting with pork dumplings and deep fried chicken- the flavours were great- quite deep and intense (unlike the lighter flavours I prefer of lime, chili, coriander). The duck curry as main was also deep and intense in flavour- no lightness- but delicious if that's what you're after.
Desert? Yes a banan fritter with star anise ice cream- pretty simple stuff, but did not disappoint- absolutely delicious!!
Also highly recommended- if you're not too worried about what a dinner might cost.
I'm taking off half a star for the price- so only 3 stars from me.

Madame Brussels
Level 3, 59-63 Bourke St, Melbourne
Phone 03 9662 2775

Ginger Boy
27-29 Crossley Street, Melbourne
Phone 03 9662 4200

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