Ordering Food Delivery Online + $50 Menulog Voucher Giveaway!

As a busy mum with two very young kids, some nights I barely manage to put a decent meal together.  If we have had a busy day and I have either been out most of the day or had other chores to take care of, or had to do some work on the computer while the kids are napping, or even just needed to have a snooze myself in the afternoon just to stay sane, 5.30pm comes along and I realise the baby needs to be breastfed and bathed - and I still haven't put dinner on. How am I supposed to cook a meal whilst feeding a baby and getting her ready for bedtime? Meanwhile, the toddler is starting to get restless and wants his dinner. Husband is not yet home from work to lend me a hand. What do I do?

Thankfully, thanks to Menulog I have the option of ordering takeaway and have food delivery straight to my doorstep. I have downloaded the Menulog app on my phone, so on those nights while I am stuck feeding my 6 month old baby on the couch, I can browse through the many restaurants in the area and decide what to have for dinner and order my food online. It is so easy and convenient! To be honest, a lifesaver on those crazy hectic days.

If you are not familiar with Menulog, here is how it works:

Go to www.menulog.com.au to get started. If you already have an existing account and have ordered takeaway from the website before, a list of your previous orders would appear on the homepage so you can conveniently and quickly re-order your favorite meals with one click of a button. If you are new, you can start searching for restaurants in the area by entering your postcode.

After entering your postcode, you then have a list of all the restaurants in your area. You can search by a specific cuisine type, or even a dish if you are craving something specific, or by which restaurants that are currently offering a special discount or offer to make the most value out of your money.

If the restaurants are not open yet, you can pre-order your meal and set the delivery time in advance and when the restaurant opens they will send you an email and/or SMS to confirm that they have received your order and confirm what time the food will be delivered.

Once you have selected your restaurant, enjoy browsing through the entire menu by category of food and add your selections to your order by clicking the "+" button next to the price. It is so user friendly, so easy to navigate, the only difficulty is actually choosing what you want! Once you are ready to proceed, click "Place Your Order" and follow all the prompts in regards to payment methods. You can choose to pay online or to pay in cash when food is delivered. Once you have set up your account and all your details, your next orders will be even quicker as all your details would have been prefilled. Too easy!

This particular restaurant is personally one of my favorites on Menulog. They always deliver on time (sometimes even earlier than scheduled!) and the food always arrive hot and fresh, and so delicious.

The quality of food and speed of delivery is entirely dependant on the restaurant establishment and have nothing to do with Menulog - but Menulog definitely serves as a great medium for browsing and ordering conveniently online. 

If you haven't tried ordering food delivery online before, why not give it go? Thanks to the generous people at Menulog, I have a $50 Menulog voucher to giveaway to one very lucky winner. 

All you have to do:
  1. Leave a comment on this blog post and tell me why you would like to win this voucher (this is the only mandatory step for you to gain 2 points into the draw) but after you comment, you MUST use the Rafflecopter app below and checked "I commented" to secure your entry. Please don't forget to include your NAME when you comment on this post so I can match your comment to your entry!
  2. Once you have commented on this post and checked "I commented" on the Rafflecopter app - you can optionally submit more entries by following me on Facebook and Twitter and answering a simple poll. All done via the Rafflecopter app below:

Winner will be contacted and announced here after the 6th of October. Good luck!

Easy Brown Rice Salad

The past two days in Melbourne, we have had the joys of beautiful sunny and mid 20s weather. Spring is finally here! In fact, daylight savings starts again next weekend so we will have a lot more light in the evenings! Oh this is so wonderful.. we have survived yet another winter. I must be fully honest and say that I am not the biggest fan of summer at its worst... but these lovely mid 20s (deg Celcius) temperatures are amazing, so enjoyable and great for taking kids outdoors for their play.

So I thought I'd share a really cool recipe for these warmer days. A friend of mine made me this brown rice salad just last week and I just fell in love with it. Not only is it tasty and nutritiously healthy, it was a filling meal on its own. Very satisfying and fulfilling. Great for lunches this coming summer!

The great thing about this salad, is that you can pretty much do whatever you want to it and make up your own variation in terms of flavour. Just like what you would do with a pasta salad, brown rice is very versatile and I love the texture and flavour of it. In fact, I think I will permanently switch from white rice to brown rice now!

This recipe is just an example of what you can do as a brown rice salad. I love it so much. All the flavours work so well together and we just had it for lunch AND dinner today and I am still happy to eat more tomorrow. Hope you like it as much as I do!

(Some items have no specified quantities, it is entirely up to your personal preference)
1 1/2 cups of brown rice
4 cups of water
Fresh chopped parsley
Semi dried tomatoes
1 can of chick peas
1/2 can of sweet corn kernels
Olive Oil
1 tbsp Honey Mustard dressing
A handful of almonds, crushed
Tuna (optional)

To cook the rice using the absorption method, combine the rice, water and enough salt to season and cook in low heat in a covered saucepan for approx. 30-40 mins or until all the water is absorbed. Stir well occasionally. When cooked, leave rice to cool for 10-15 minutes.

Combine cooked rice, chopped parsley, semi dried tomatoes, chick peas, corn, olive oil, and honey mustard dressing in a bowl. Mix the ingredients well. Leave the salad to chill in the fridge until ready to be served.

Serve salad topped with avocado and crushed almonds. For a meat version, also serve topped with tuna or chicken or any other meat as desired. 

This recipe serves 4-6 people.

EightyOne Fine Food & Wine, Berwick

Charcuterie Platter for 2 inc Ham Hock Terrine, Fennel and Garlic Salami, Butifarra Negra, Grilled Sour Dough, Pickles, Jam, Cauliflower, Artichoke.
I actually blogged about EightyOne restaurant almost 2 years ago (click here to read that blog post) and wasn't sure if I would come back to the restaurant. I am so glad I did, because the food has improved tremendously and I walked away a really happy (and full) customer last night.

Interior and ambience wise, not much has changed. The restaurant itself was still that same intimate, quiet, beautiful place I remembered. The service was still prompt and friendly. The menu has changed, but the selection was still quite limited. There were still only three desserts to choose from, but personally I was very happy with the options they offer for entrees and mains - they were all "my kind of food" and I would quite happily eat any one of the dishes offered in the menu. That's just my opinion, I love meat and they offer a dish of each type of meat which I love. For someone who maybe has a preference for vegetarian dishes or pasta, they might struggle!

EightyOne also offers a Tapas menu, which is again rather limited. We did not order anything from the tapas menu though, so I won't say anymore!

I started by ordering the cocktail that was on special that night, the "Tipsy Teddy" which was basically a jar packed with Midori, Malibu, Vodka, Lemonade, Strawberry and Gummy Bears! It was a delicious treat and I went easy on it and sipped it slowly all throughout the 3 hours I was there in the restaurant.

Between the three of us ladies, we quite comfortably shared the Charcuterie Platter for 2. The platter offers a nice selection of terrine and sausages and accompanying jams and pickles, etc to go with the grilled sour dough. Some elements were better than others, but overall it was quite a nice start.

I couldn't go past ordering an Entree for myself on top of the platter (so I ate less of my share of the platter to make room for a separate entree. I knew I just had to order the Twice Cooked Crispy Ham Hock, and was so glad I did! The ham hock was basically slow cooked first so the meat is super tender and melts in your mouth, then fried to crispy perfection.

Twice Cooked Crispy Ham Hock with Sweet Pear & Tendrils, Smoked Parsnip Puree, Ham Veloute && Jamon Dust
The sauce that came with it, apparently the smoked parsnip puree, is to-die-for! It went so well with everything else. I was savouring every bite of my amazing entree. Yum yum yum.

Confit Pork Belly with Pear Gastrique, Pomegranate, Radicchio, Fennel & Pear Slaw
Pork again for my main? Why of course! Like I said, their menu may have limited choices... but I would happily eat ANY item on their menu. It was as if the chef had my kind of taste in food, hehe. Anyway, the pork belly was deliciously tender and was quite an appropriate portion. Not too big, not too small. Sometimes I feel ripped off going to these "fancy" restaurants that serve only a tiny little piece of meat. This pork belly was the perfect size. I loved the fennel and pear slaw that came with it, but wasn't a big fan of whatever it was that sat underneath the pork. It was... not my cup of tea. Overall, a great dish! Would've preferred a bit more crunch to the crackling.

Slow Braised Wagyu Brisket with Lentil and Root Vegetable Jus, Soft Polenta, Wild Mushroom Crumb & Asparagus
Parpadelle with Chorizo, Rocket, Tomato, Olive & Yarra Valley Fetta
My dinner companions, two wonderful friends I met through Mothers Group and have kept in close contact ever since, ordered the wagyu brisket and the pasta which was on special that night. Both were pretty happy with their mains, we all had a great time sharing stories and eating delicious food so cannot complain!

Deconstructed Candy Bar - Milk Chocolate Nougat, Peanut Mousse, Bitter Chocolate, Almond Nougatine, Salted Caramel.
Technically, I didn't NEED to have dessert but I thought what the heck - let's do this. How often do I get to do this anyway (not very often these days) so I ordered the deconstructed candy bar. Oh. My. Goodness. It was DIVINE! First scoop was of the peanut mousse and a bit of salted caramel. More more more! A bit of this mixed with a bit of that. Need more salted caramel sauce! It was just the perfect finish to the night. I was very happy. If there were little imperfections in the previous dishes, this dessert fixed them all. I forgot. All I remember then at the time of eating this dessert was how bad it was for my hips but how good it tasted. I will worry about my hips tomorrow haha.

Rhubarb Cheesecake with spiced ginger bread, sesame crunch, rhubarb pearls & filaments, champagne jelly.
My friend had the rhubarb cheesecake and judging from her body language she enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed mine! I thought it looked beautifully presented in a glass, very pretty.

We truly did have a great night out. EightyOne finally redeemed itself, the food was so much better this time around and I really want to go back and try some of the other items on the menu. The restaurant may have gotten some average reviews in the past, but I can see a trend of people appreciating it more in the recent months. Perhaps they still need to be able to offer a more extensive menu and more variety to please more diners, or perhaps they should stick to what they do best and offer what they are good at - in my case, I am more than happy with the selection.

EightyOne is also one of the restaurants featured in the Entertainment Book so we got $40 off our total bill which made quite a significant difference to what we ended up paying! Basically we paid $55 per person for our 3-course meal including drinks. That was not bad at all for a fantastic night out. Just sad now that we've been there and used the discount, next time we go we won't be able to get that discount until next financial year... aawwww.

Eighty One Fine Food and Wine on Urbanspoon

O.MY Restaurant in Beaconsfield - Fine Dining and Degustation in the Suburbs

Is writing a review on a restaurant a year later a bit too late? Haha... not if I have recently returned to the restaurant just last week and realised it was exactly a year ago that I started drafting this blog post I never got to finish...

Before I get into the content, let me just explain to my readers (if you are still out there) why I have been MIA for a full year. Well, the short version is I went on maternity leave. The long version is, I had my second child, Silver in March 2014 and took 6 months prior to her being born off as a break, and a further 6 months after she was born because I was too busy being a full time mum to do anything else! Now that she is a little bit older and my daily routine is a lot more structured, I can finally re-focus on something other than parenting and what better than to go back to my passion in food! Super excited about blogging regularly again. It doesn't even matter if no one is reading this, I just needed a creative outlet and this is it!

Back to O.MY....

Who would've thought in the little suburb of Beaconsfield, 45 mins away from Melbourne CBD, is a little gem of a restaurant called O.MY. Our friends introduced us to this restaurant a bit more than a year ago after accidentally stumbling across the newly opened place back then. Much to their surprise, the food was of superb high end restaurant quality and the service was great. They didn't even realise they could enjoy a fine dining experience so close to home... they were driving around looking for a place to eat in their T-shirts and trackies!

So the second time around, they brought us. Our little party of 6 got all dressed up and suited up to celebrate our friend's birthday and enjoy this wonderful Five Course (now options are available for you to choose either 4-course, 6-course or 8-course) Degustation. The menu changes very frequently, so I won't even bother describing each dish we had a year ago and each dish we had last week... and just let the photos do the talking.

This little degustation experience includes almost unlimited homemade bread and butter, as well as several snacks and palate cleansers along the way. So, if you count the little exquisite dishes in between, it feels more like a 10-course meal!

The very talented young chefs at O.MY pay a lot of attention to detail when it comes to plating, and they demonstrate a lot of different cooking techniques in their dishes. Every dish is a surprise!

These individual photos above were taken from a year ago when I actually went to the restaurant with a proper camera. The mosaic photo at the very top are all photos combined from our degustation party last weekend. That was taken just on my camera phone. I didn't know last week that I would make the decision to return to food blogging so I didn't go prepared with my DSLR!

O.MY truly provides the fine dining experience and exquisite dishes. Personally, it is a "special occasion only" restaurant for me - as we don't usually spend $100pp (including drinks) when we go out to dinner. We are so lucky that we DO have a decent option like O.MY just 5 minutes down the road though, rather than making the trip out into the city and pay too much for parking and wasting precious babysitter time just driving to the restaurant etc.

Expect excellent service from the boys at O.MY, they will truly impress your date.

Expect exquisite food, although because it IS a degustation the portions are quite small and you may be left wanting a bit more by the end of it if you are used to having a lot more food in terms of quantity. I know last week I wished there were more of that succulent, tender beef cheek! I didn't feel like I had enough meat, mostly because I am a huge meat eater and quantity is quite important when it comes to my protein. I don't remember having that quantity problem last year as the servings were far more generous a year ago!

Overall, excellent restaurant. Keep up the great work, guys. I know you have lots and lots of happy customers and amazing reviews. I definitely recommend O.MY to all my friends, it is a wonderful food experience not to be missed especially if you live out in the South Eastern Suburbs. This restaurant is a GEM and needs to continue to be successful so they can stay in business for a long, long time!

O.My on Urbanspoon