1. the practice or art of choosing, cooking, and eating good food.

Good Food, Good Mood was established after I realised how often I was asking myself the difficult question of "Where and what should we eat today?". The Melbourne food scene truly makes us spoilt for choice, so I am hoping my honest reviews can act as a guide for any occasion - from cheap eats to fine dining, to burgers and pizza on cheat days, to fresh and healthy on cutting days. Recommendations on places to try and review are always welcome, just leave a comment.

All photos are taken with my Samsung Note 4 or Sony NEX-F3 unless stated otherwise. Thanks for dropping by!

- Lisa Pizza xo

P.S. Shoutout to my friends and family who dine with me - thanks for not picking up your cutlery when the food comes out so I can take all my food photos... y'all know my camera eats first haha.

The People's Market

Humans are curious beings. We enjoy the thrill of new experiences, colours, live music and food. We want to attend festivals and markets so that we can be surrounded by like minded people. The People's Market was a sea of individuals who had amazing wardrobes. Everyone was so 'indie/alternative' looking which was kind of overwhelming. It really felt like summer with the fake grass area and tables with umbrellas... this summer has been extremely frustrating to say the least. The weather is too cold and I've only been to the beach twice since November. I wanted to work on my tan, man!

This market has been open since the first day of December, but I finally paid a visit today. I'm so glad that it's open until April, because I want to go again, again and again. We went pretty late so all the awesome market stuff was closed and the majority of foods were sold out. On Saturdays they have market days which I'm really keen on visiting. Today we were initially meant to go to the Sandown Chinese New Year Festival, but could not be pooped with the drive. It's actually so far out (the festival used to be at the Docklands shed about a decade ago, but they migrated to such a distant location)!!! I'm so glad we made the decision of going here because he environment is like no other.

Ribs & Burgers

If it weren't for Mark Margayz my work colleague, I wouldn't have known that Ribs & Burgers existed. There are several reasons why this place excited me to my bones.
1. It's close to home, Northcote to be exact.
2. It's food related and the first word of the restaurant is "ribs".
3. I love trying out new food places.

We arrived at 9:15pm so unfortunately it was too dark to take proper / decent looking photos. They close at 10 on Fridays, and people were arriving at 9:45pm and ordering in! How inconsiderate! Working with a hospitality background, I know the frustration of waiting for customers to leave but still being patient at the same time...

Ribs & Burgers do indoor (and outdoor) seating, and take away as well for those cosy nights in! Fortunately they close at 10pm on Friday nights, so it was rather empty when we arrived. The only thing that really annoyed me about the restaurant is that there are no individual menus, but instead had the entire menu on a massive blackboard next to the counter. Basically you're left standing there... jaws dropped to the ground and feelings indecisiveness with what to order. There are on site toilets, a sink with hand soap, a water tap and various condiments such as tomato sauce and tabasco for those who like a spicy kick in their meals. Everything is clean, organised and very well thought out. When I walked in, I felt the same way I did when I first walked into PATS, The Philly Way - welcomed.

My phone battery died as soon as we got there, so the images below are courtesy of my sisters iPhone. How cute is the napkin font?! Between five adults, we decided on a rump of steak (for myself), lamb ribs and three mini burgers to share. Everything was too oily and greasy so we had to order an extra cabbage salad on the side.

Three Mini Burgers: One beef, one chicken and one lamb - $17.00

I only tried half of the chicken burger, and it was nothing too flash. The bread wasn't as sweet as the mini burgers from Olinda Tea House, and the chicken was dry as. I didn't get to try the lamb or beef burgz cos I was scared that I couldn't finish my steak. On my next occasion to R&B, I will probably order a full burger instead. The Hawaiian one sounded really appealing (because I'm a sucker for pineapple, bacon and beetroot in my burgers). I would only recommend these if you wanted a light snack... but let's be honest, we all know you came for the ribs.

The most important item: RACK OF LAMB RIBS - $22.00

My sister and her husband occasionally order pizza and ribs from Sinner's in South Morang, but R&B ribs has got to be the leading competition around the Northern Suburbs. Holy moley moley moley!!!!!!!!! 

There are three options for ribs - beef, lamb and pork. They are $21, $22 and $29 respectively. We ordered the lamb ones, and don't regret my choice one bit! Next time I will opt for the Korean Ribs! I don't know what it is or what to expect, but I know it should be tasty! 

The ribs were pretty hard to cut, but that's a given considering all the bones involved. I wish the ribs were dripping in sauce, but then I guess that would make the chips too soggy. I loved the idea of having the chips under the steak as it kept it warm and gave more flavour! Overall the ribs were 8.5/10 which is pretty high considering all the ribs I've eaten in my life time. It was really meaty, but not chewy... cooked to perfection. You can't go to R&B and not get ribs!!!!!!!!!!!

Specials: Rump Steak (with chips or salad) - $22.00

I think this option was a part of the Australia Day specials. If you want pepper or mushroom sauce for your steak, it's an extra $2. We weren't given the option whilst ordering so I completely forgot about it. But judging from the picture above, there was a substantial amount of sauce that just dripped down into the chopping board. The fries were of Nando's standard, meaning they tasted crispy and DELICIOUS. I wish we were given a little bit of greens or something on the side because this was toooooo greasy. The steak was medium rare, exactly what I asked for. I ordered this all for myself because I love steak!!!

 Cabbage Salad - $6.00

There were three salads to choose from and I had absolutely no idea which one to pick. I opted for the middle one of the three - cabbage salad. It was pretty basic, consisting of mints, green apples drizzled with lemon and olive oil dressing. Doesn't that sound refreshing?

To think that I went to high school just across the road from this place............. I graduated in 2010 and SO MUCH HAS CHANGED around the area. Change is inevitable, but I haven't been around Northcote in far too long and I love how it's developing. There are so many bittersweet memories associated with high school, as I spent most of my adolescent life, constantly learning there. Overall, I would recommend you to go, even if you didn't know what Northcote Plaza looked like before the new developments. There is plenty of parking around, and Degani's is just across the restaurant if you have room for dessert or coffee afterwards.

Ribs & Burgers
Address: Shop 94-96, 3 Separation Street, Northcote Plaza (across from All Nations Park)
Contact Number: 9482 7888 
Hours: Sunday - Thursday 11am to 9:30pm. Friday and Saturday 11am - 10pm.
Price Range: $$$ and a half
Website: http://ribsandburgers.com.au/

Olinda Tea House

One word to describe how I felt about Olinda Tea House: HAPPY

Olinda Tea House is my manager's fiance's business and my, my, my..... it is excellent!!!!!!!!! I've been meaning to go to this place for too long now but turned a blind eye due to other commitments and pure laziness (the drive from my area is quite far). Fortunately for me, Giraffe drove because he wanted to go up the Dandenong Mountain with maximum speed, leaving me shitting my pants at every turn. 

However, I'm glad I FINALLY MADE IT... The location, The story behind it, The menu... Everything that this serene place had to offer is remarkable. I love mini road trips, as I feel that every now and then we do deserve a vacay. The weather was sunny with blue skies and that just made my day a whole lot better.

Sorry the photo is so crooked, I was TOO excited to look at the menu and order some food. This is the first page of the extensive menu - it is a pretty sad and emotional story behind the tea house. To think that their daughter was the same age as I am now.. the pain would be unbearable. But to pick yourself up and move on with your life is not an easy task, and they did it perfectly. 

Forgot everything I learnt at the gym when I saw the food come out...
Cheat day everyday? I NEED TO STOP THIS HABIT.

♡ "Signature Chai Tea" - $6.00 

The teapot above filled about three mugs. I also like the idea of having pistachio biscotti on the side. Cafes rarely do that these days, so it was nice to see some thought and extra care. Unfortunately the teapot didn't keep the chai tea warm for long. They provided cinnamon but not honey, but it's sweet and amazing enough as it is.

 ♡ Homemade scones - $12.50 

Wow. Big, fluffy, warm and baked to perfection. The last time I ate scones was at Dead Man Espresso - they were small, hard and really displeasing to the tastebuds. I couldn't walk away from the tea house without trying the scones, something that my manager also recommended it when I told him I was coming. Now, I am recommending it to you all. The homemade jam was sweet and not too chunky. I like smooth spreads, such as smooth peanut butter or nutella. You can actually buy the jam in jars for $9.50, they are made by other manufacturers but it would definitely be a good addition to the pantry. The price is dear, but it is sure as hell worth it.

♡_♡ ERMAGHERD !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SCONEZZZ

Mini beef burgers with salad and shoestring fries - $18.00

The first time I ever had mini burgers was at my friend Morgan's 18th birthday. Her dad had prepared an entire tray of them and the concept of it was delightful and interesting compared to your conventional size. The bread was sweetened, and tasted good on it's own. I would recommend that you order one of the more interesting Mains - something I wish I had done but I already ate a substantial breakfast. The rest of the mains menu is awesome. The breakfast menu ended at 11:30am which totally sucked ballz because we really wanted the baked eggs. The only bad thing about these burgers is that they ended too quickly. You are left wanting more and more mini burgers. 

Hand cut "chips" with garlic aioli - $10.50

These were "chips" hand cut into wedges. Joe's Garage on Brunswick Street also has hand cut chips on their menus, but it's actually just a fried potato cut into irregular sized cubes. This had the perfect level of seasoning and salt, and was crunchy!!! I love crunchy chips. Hot chips are actually my weakness. 

After eating, we migrated from the outdoor tables to the outdoor couch to finish off our tea and coffees. It was sunny, the environment was green and refreshing and there were lots of elderly people that kept staring at me whilst I was taking photos. It was good to sit down, relax, calm down my food baby and to soak in the sun rays. The drive back was horrible because we were stuck in traffic and it was just busy and congested and was the worst way to end a lovely day.

The back patio area. There wasn't much of a view but it was beautifully constructed. The entire place had a very modern and clean look.
The best thing to see on a road trip - "arrived" !!!!!!!! We thought we were lost but fortunately there is a sign along the way that states "Olinda Tea House, 70m". Don't worry about the distance, it's about 25 mins away from Glen Waverley depending on how fast you drive. I thought it was so much further than that, but it's just pass Miss Marple's Tea Room.

L is for the way you LOOK at me....

I absolutely LOVED this place and endeavour to go back in the next couple of months. They have a rating of 77% on Urbanspoon which is pretty good considering there are only 108 voters.

Apart from the A La Carte menu, also have HIGH TEA (my favourite way too eat, right next to steakhouses). Make sure you let them know two days in advance that you're wanting it so that they can prepare the food. It's $50 per person which is pretty standard for High Tea. Overall my eating experience was hindered by my selection of food. Wish I had ordered something from the normal Mains menu, or arrived before 11:30 to order from the breakfast menu. Definitely on my next trip back, I will endeavour to go early. Hopefully some of you can come with me too!

Olinda Tea House
Address: 86A Olinda - Monbulk Road, Olinda 3788 (on the Dandenong Mountains)
Contact: 9751 0556
Hours: 9am - 5pm Wednesday to Sunday
Price Range: $$$$
Website: http://www.olindateahouse.com.au/

The Black Toro

¡Hola amigos

Happy New Year!!!

Hope you all have recovered from the big new year celebrations! I've probably gained 100kg from all the Christmas food but that can be helped with my friend gym ;) Twenty twelve was the year where Mexican restaurants (and chain stores) were opened in almost every corner of Melbourne. It is somewhat difficult to guess the trend for 2013. Give me a couple more days to investigate, it is only the 3rd of Jan after all. 

The Black Toro has opened for several months now, and yet I have never gotten the chance to pay a visit. It was either too packed or closed by the time I had arrived. Giraffe and I went for dinner at around 8:30pm and were seated quickly, surprisingly without reservations. Some of my friends were told to wait up to two hours for seats!

I read the menu with apprehension as I did not know what to expect. The menu is more extensive than Fonda Mexican which is a bonus... but the only thing that bothered me is that they didn't serve Horchatas on their drink menus! How annoying! All in all, the waiters were of excellent character, refilling our water instantly and being extremely polite. 

Before I visit a new restaurant, I always look at their menu to have a mental image of what I would like to order. Don't be fooled by Toro's online menu, as they've added more variety inside the restaurant! There are two more dishes, and modifications to the ones already listed. It was hard to choose which ones we wanted to eat because they all sounded equally amazing.

Lemon lime and bitters - $5.00

Lemon lime and bitters came in a glass that reminded me of my experience at MoVida , one of my first fine dining experiences last year. While other people are interested in buying car parts, shoes or make up, I like to invest my money in extremely good food that will leave me salivating for more. Fine dining is obviously a hard passion to maintain, but if you are yet to go, then make a booking somewhere fancy and live a little :) food makes everyone happy and I assure you, you won't be displeased.

Grilled corn on the cob with chipolte mayo - $4.00 each

I had high expectations for the corn anddddddddddd they were NOT met. It tasted stale, dry and was extremely displeasing. I have been to Mamasita's twice now, and on both occasions they were tasty and sweet. I'm going to have to visit The Black Toro again to re-try the corn and hopefully my dissatisfaction will be reversed. The chipolte mayo had a lovely taste, and was not overwhelming to the tastebuds, which I guess complimented the dry corn. 

Kingfish ceviche, melon, cucumber, crispy wonton and prawn oil - $18.00

I can only describe this with a physical expression, as I cannot put happiness into words for this dish. As the night was rather warm, the refreshing taste of the melon and cucumber really brought out the taste of the kingfish. What is ceviche, you might ask? It is basically freshly cut raw fish with juices, which in this case was prawn oil. It was lovely to order something with fruit that was not a dessert dish. I am going to order this every single time I go to The Black Toro, as I know I will never get sick of it. The crispy wonton strips gave the dish a fried taste, considering everything else is fresh. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as the crunchiness was fun! 
Quality over quantity - thumbs up to the chefs, this is a winner!

Sides - Triple cooked potatoes, paprika salt with garlic aioli - $8.00 

Another favourite of mine! I am rather fond of anything potato related, so this was definitely a dish that made me happy. After a while I must admit it was a bit sickening, but the skin is so crisp! Never had anything that was triple cooked to perfection before. Be careful before you take a bite, Giraffe and I were being hasty and almost burnt our tongues from the heat of the potato! 

Spicy pulled pork taco, shredded cabbage & sour cream sauce (two tacos) $12.00

There are only two varieties of tacos which I was unhappy about. The other was fried quail egg with mushrooms and sweet potato. We opted from the spicy taco, because I'm sooooooooo good at tolerating spicy food, nawt. To every bite I took, I had a drink of water so that kind of washed the flavour away. Giraffe and I both agree that the tacos are better at touches. 

The best tacos I've ever eaten was when Touche Hombre first opened. We went on the second day it opened and it was jaw dropping. If you click on the link, that is my post about my experience there. I can't believe that was all the way in May 2012... it's almost been a year! So much has changed since then in terms of my writing and the look of the entire blog. I can't wait to go back and update more information and details into the older posts. 

Deconstructed peanut butter cheesecake, chocolate ice cream and honeycomb - $14.00

Towards the end of the night we were feeling a bit full, but not 100% satisfied. Fortunately, TBT has a range of exquisite desserts. They are rather pricey, but add to the essence of 'fine dining'. There is always room for dessert. We ordered a deconstructed cheesecake... and I had no idea what to expect. I've never had one before. I probably wouldn't order this dish again... the sweetness was overwhelming (which is a big deal for me, I have a unyielding sweet tooth)! One of the ice creams were peanut flavoured, the other obviously chocolate. The flavour was premium and rich, something I thoroughly enjoyed. It didn't taste like your usual supermarket icecream! Get a different dessert if you don't like extremely sweet foods. 

View of the wall from outside. I love that the front wall is an open window, it creates more intimacy with the outside world. The bull is pretty cute as well :)  Toro means bull... just in case you were wondering. Overall I enjoyed my experience at The Black Toro... sorry for spamming your Instagram newsfeed the night I went haha! Pay a visit if you're in the area, it won't disappoint and is a nice change from all the other Asian restaurants on Kingsway. They need a fob roll, a recognised bubble tea and a froyo place and Kingsway will be somewhat complete.

The Black Toro
Address: 79 Kingsway, Glen Waverley, Victoria 3150
Contact: 9561 9696
Hours: Lunch is 12pm to 3pm, Dinner is 6pm until late
Price Range: $$$ and a half

The Black Toro on Urbanspoon