Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Claremont Quarter Combo

I believe that any excuse is a good excuse to eat. 

For example:

"Happy Birthday! When are you free?
I'll take you out for dinner."

"Finished exams? Sweet.
Down for some Tuesday Waffles?"

"You got a new boyfriend? Since when!
We have to get coffee tomorrow."

"Oh would you look at that, it's Wednesday!

The problem with this philosophy is that when I actually have a valid reason to celebrate something, I tend to get a little bit carried away. For our 9 months, me and Michèl headed to Grill'd and Koko Black to commemorate the splendiforous occasion.... Yep, I'm one of those girls that insists on celebrating monthly. Sucked in.   

Figure 1: "Fast food goes upmarket." - Vogue Magazine
Until recently, I had no idea how big Grill'd is in the Eastern states. There are over 50 Grill'd restaurants all over Australia, with a whopping 20 outlets in Victoria, and 4 in the Melbourne CBD alone. We don't even have 4 McDonalds in the our CBD for goodness sake. No wonder the rest of Australia thinks Perth is retarded.

Grill'd Movember 2010:

Grill'd Airstream:

Figure 2: Healthy Burgers, Healthy Mind 

The first Grill'd opened in 2004, with a vision to produce the best tasting oxymorons in town: healthy burgers. Grill'd professes that their patties are super low in fat, their ingredients are super fresh, and everything is delivered daily.  Their motto "Healthy Burgers, Healthy Mind" is emblazoned on everything from their comic-book wallpapers to their napkins, and after having a look around their website it becomes clear just how important this is to them. If you go to and click 'Nutrition', you'll find detailled descriptions of their ingredients, down to which region of Victoria their patties are sourced from, as well as special info for vegan, vegeterian and gluten-intolerant customers. Being a bit of a health nut, this definitely put Grill'd in my good books. I love it!

Figure 3: Summer Sunset

After agonizing over the menu for a good 10 minutes, I ordered a Summer Sunset ($12.5) which was grilled 100% lean beef, avocado, crispy trim bacon, golden pineapple, salad, relish & herbed mayo. In short, it was fabulous. The beef was juicy and tender without being oily or heavy, everything tasted fresh as promised, but the relish and mayo were the real heroes of this burger. All the flavours worked really well together because Grill'd got the basics right: fresh, high quality ingredients. Add some kick-ass condiments in a nicely crusty roll and you've got yourself a very satisfying burger.

Next came dessert.

Figure 4: Koko Black Chocolate Salon, Claremont Quarter

The Koko Black establishment refers to itself as a chocolate "salon". Not a chocolate "shop", not a chocolate "café", not even a chocolate "specialist". This puzzled me at first, because I'd only ever known the word salon to refer to a hairdressing studio, or an pub for cowboys.

However, the word here is more likely referring to the French salon, which is pretty much the equivalent of a British "drawing room". In France throughout the 17th & 18th centuries, wealthy upper-class intellectuals would gather in these elegant rooms to indulge in the art of conversation; admiring each others wigs, smiling and nodding politely, using big words, trying to breathe through their corsets, et cetera et cetera. 

Figure 5: "A Reading in the Salon of Madame Geoffrin" (1755) oil on canvas by Anicet Lemonnier

Figure 6: An 18th Century Louis XV Salon

Although the inside of Koko Black doesn't quite look like an antique French salon as depicted above, I'm assuming that they have drawn on the concept of a salon's lavish, elegant surroundings to create a unique experience for their customers. One could also argue that the idea of like-minded people gathering in a place like this has carried on. Only difference is now, instead of sharing a passion for politics, society or large expensive wigs, Koko Black is a place where people can share their passion for chocolate.

Figure 7: Koko Black Grandmaster ($125)

Figure 8: "Chocolate. An amazing food, deserving unwavering attention."

Figure 9: Died a little bit on the inside looking at the menu pictures...

Figure 10: Soy Belgian Hot Chocolate

Our Belgian beverages arrived first, which were in short; delicious-looking, delicious-smelling and delicious tasting. Made with 54% Belgian Dark Chocolate, piping hot and intensely sweet, I was in heaven. Hot chocolate for him, mocha for me.

 Figure 10: Delicious.

Then our order came: the Winter Spoil, Sharing for Two ($24) which was "A winter version of our Belgian spoil: caramelised pecan ice cream, chocolate mousse, milk chocolate mud cake, poached quince compote and two chooclates - salted caramel and dulce de leche. Includes two hot or iced chocolates." 

My favourite bit was the salted caramel - an indulgent kind of chocolate, not because of its sweetness, but for its intense, rich flavour. The thick praline slab on top of the pecan ice cream shattered sweetly in your mouth and went beautifully with the smooth ice cream. Absolutely divine. And the serving was just big enough for the two of us.  

Figure 12: Winter Spoil for Two

"Wandering is more fun with two."
 - Winnie the Pooh

Koko Black on Urbanspoon Grill'd on Urbanspoon

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