Comfort eats · Dining Review · Greek · Melbourne · Modern Australian · Sweet Treats

Casual Eats at Collingwood

What comes to your mind when you hear of Collingwood? A dirty suburb lined with old buildings with peeling paint and tasteless graffiti stricken all over the walls, with dodgy-looking people walking around… Or do you think of a cool suburb lined with vintage buildings and artistic graffiti to give that hippie feel, with interesting-looking people filling the scene?

Collingwood certainly has a lot of conflicting identities. But like it or not, this suburb is filled with eateries and no real foodie in Melbourne can avoid this place!

This suburb certainly cannot be discounted as within these old/vintage buildings, therein lies heavyweights in the Melbourne food scene, such as Saint Crispin, Josie Bones, Proud Mary etc. Dining at Collingwood can be an expensive affair but at the same time, there are some nice casual eats around. So if you’re looking for a casual night out at Collingwood, here are some places you might want to consider!

Huxtaburger 

The burgers are better at Huxta's :P
BURGERS- Yup, make no mistake on what this place is about!

This is the place where burger dreams are made of, in Melbourne at least! They have since opened 1 more branch in the CBD area but we thought, why not check out the original outlet? It’s a small little shop with only 1 speciality… BURGERS.

Huxtaburger ($9) & small chips ($2.50)
Huxtaburger ($9) & small chips ($2.50)

I’ve heard so much about their burgers so when I finally sank my teeth into the Huxtaburger, I knew what the rave was about. The beef patty was well, beefy (for a lack of a better word, hurhur) and I like how the cheese is a melty gooey mess all over the patty. But the draw of the burger to me lies in the bun, which was deep-fried to crisp and sweet perfection. Mmmm..

I must admit that the portion size is a little small and the guys that were with us weren’t satisfied at all. But for the girls, we found it just right. After all, with so many choices in Collingwood, you should make some space in your tummy right?

Huxtaburger on Urbanspoon

Jimmy Grants

No restaurant sign but that's not stopping the crowds!
No restaurant sign but that’s not stopping the crowds!

So if you fancy a burger wasn’t enough, try a souvlaki at this street-food themed restaurant, opened by none other than Masterchef judge George Calombaris!

The taste of Greek street food...
The taste of Greek street food…

As you can see from the above pic, this is also a eatery that doesn’t have much seating, adding all to casual eating vibe. I came here with Mr JC, Ms CC, Ms NO, Ms JQ, Ann & Ms Gan and somehow, we managed to get seats because we came early enough at 6pm. We noticed after we left the restaurant, a line was forming outside the restaurant already.

Mr Papadopoulos (lamb) - $8
Mr Papadopoulos (lamb) – $8
Nonna Maria (chicken) - $7.50
Nonna Maria (chicken) – $7.50

So yes, what’s with this famous souvlaki-packed-with-chips? Ok where do we start – the warm and fluffy pita bread, the wonderfully marinated meats or the unique mustard aioli sauce that ties everything together? And of course, those fried chips stuffed inside that are so bad but so good…

Most of us preferred the lamb over the chicken as we thought that the lamb was more tender and more flavourful than the chicken. A slight gripe I had was the lack of veggies in the souvlaki, with parsley being the only green thing in it. I’m also not sure how authentically Greek these souvlakis are, especially with the use of the aioli sauce. But as Ms Gan puts it, ‘Who cares?? They taste good!’ Hahaha..

So yeah, if you’re not too bothered about the authenticity of the food, and just want a yummy inexpensive souvlaki, Jimmy Grants it should be!

Jimmy Grants on Urbanspoon

By now, you should have satisfied your savoury side so if you’re looking for a sweet bite, there are also casual dessert options around too!

Gelato Messina 

This is literally round the corner from Jimmy Grants, which makes it a most apt dessert choice.

A testament to the popularity of Gelato Messina
A testament to the popularity of Gelato Messina

I’ve been here 3 times already and on the first visit, it was opening night and the line was crazily snaking outside the shop and around the corner. This was abit of an eye-opener to me – who would’ve thought that laid-back Melburnians would queue for their food too? I thought that was a most Singaporean thing! Haha I guess the hype from their Sydney stall has travelled far enough and by my 3rd visit, as you can see from my above pic, the popularity has yet to die down!

Spoilt for choices at Gelato Messina
Spoilt for choices at Gelato Messina

So why is Gelato Messina such a crowd favourite? I think the answer lies in the number of ice cream flavours – with such a wide variety of flavours offered, it is quite hard not to please everyone. The flavours are also unique and delicious, such as their award-winning salted caramel & white chocolate flavour, and their rich chocolate flavours that my friends are big fans of. AND if that isn’t enough to draw you in, what about special flavours offered daily? How’s that for choices??

Tasting Plate - 5 scoops for $6
Tasting Plate – 5 scoops for $6

It also helps that the prices are quite reasonable. Gelati can be quite expensive but the scoops at Messina are generous and reasonably-priced. My friends and I tend to get the Tasting Plate and it’s usually enough to share among 5-8 people, depending on your tummy space.

And recently, Messina launched a Scoopon deal of $3 for 2 scoops!!! That’s almost unheard of in the Gelato world in Melbourne, especially for gelati of this quality!

Scoopon deal of $3 for 2 scoops?? Cheers to that!!
Scoopon deal of $3 for 2 scoops?? Cheers to that!!

So that accounted for my 3rd visit to Messina.. hehe. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the ice cream texture as I find it abit melty but the flavours are definitely unique and worth trying. So with the many flavours available in-stall and affordable pricing, it’s quite hard to miss out on this dessert place!

Gelato Messina Fitzroy on Urbanspoon

N2 Extreme Gelato 

How extreme can gelato go? (photo credit to Ms Slim)
How extreme can gelato go? (photo credit to Ms Slim)

If you’re looking for something more unique and out-of-this-world, then venture a little further into the suburb for some liquid-nitrogen ice cream fun!

Are we in a science lab or ice cream parlour?
Are we in a science lab or ice cream parlour?

Part of the experience is definitely the spectacle of it and because of that, I ended up coming here 3 times as well, accompanying different friends at different times, namely, Ms JQ, Ms Slim, Ms CC, Mr JC, Mr NH & Andrew. And everytime we went, we never fail to go ooohhh & ahhhh over the ice-cream making process… it’s like being 1 step nearer to a Heston Blumenthal dessert!

How much liquid nitrogen is in there? O_o
How much liquid nitrogen is in there? O_o

And besides the (literally) cool process of the ice-cream making, the flavours are really out-of-this-world….

Menu on 1 of our visits
Menu on 1 of our visits

You may heard of Salted Caramel, but what about Black Lava Salted Caramel?? And what does Strawberryen mean??

So with such intriguing names, we gave them a try…

Strawberryen & Black Lava Salted Caramel
Strawberryen & Black Lava Salted Caramel

The Strawberryen was made up of strawberry ice cream, topped with cornflakes and a cointreau-flavoured marshmellow. I quite liked the marshmellow but I wasn’t so sure if the cornflakes paired well with the rest of the ice cream.

Black Lava, as we found out, is a volcanic salt. It is extremely salty and when ate sparingly, went really went with the caramel. That was clearly the favourite of the night!

Other flavours we tried on other visits…

French Earl Grey, Strawberries & Cream
French Earl Grey, Strawberries & Cream (photo credit to Ms Slim)
Creme Brulee & Black Lava Salted Caramel (again!).. Yea I guess the fake grass is all part of the hippie Collingwood vibe
Creme Brulee & Black Lava Salted Caramel (again!).. Yea I guess the fake grass is all part of the hippie Collingwood vibe

The other flavours were nice as well (the Earl Grey really tasted like a milk tea! And I enjoyed breaking the sugar coating on the Creme Brulee) but my favourite is still the Black Lava Salted Caramel, due to the uniqueness of the black lava ingredient and how it complements so well with the caramel.

But with so many flavours up their sleeves, I’m sure I can find another mind-blowing flavour soon at N2. And you most likely would as well!

N2 Extreme Gelato on Urbanspoon

So there you have it – 2 savoury and 2 dessert choices at Collingwood, all at casual eating prices. And whether the facade of the suburb appeals to you or puts you off, the number of good food places in Collingwood remains undisputed. It does help to go in a big group so thanks to the big guys around us (like Mr JC, Mr NH & Andrew hurhur) we never felt unsafe eating around these places. So if you’re looking for a fuss-free meal out, grab a few friends and try out these delicious casual eats!

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