Iris and the Secret Squirrel, Melbourne

So this is a bit of a weird story, we were in Richmond looking for this Mexican food truck that I read about, because hey, you take some food, you put it in a truck, all of a sudden everyone wants to eat it. I can’t explain it really, since it gets me too, must be some issue people have with regular kitchens. Anyway, as we were walking we kind of got a bit lost, and a bit tired, and decided to go into whatever door happened to be to our left. That happened to be Iris and the Secret Squirrel!

This place is a quirky little shop that you would barely even notice from the street, just a metal door with frosty glass but towards the side of the door, there’s a tiny alley way and keeping in line with my “go into every alley ever” philosophy we went inside for a look and found that it opened up to a small area with tables, chairs and a massive chalkboard menu. There was some sitting inside which we saw when we ordered our dishes. However, we settled for an outdoor seat, purely because well, I’m not outside much. Need to take these chances when they come.

Anyway, food time. Time to talk about food. You know, food talk time.

First up, a Pulled pork with slaw and chilli jam slider ($4.50). This was absolutely fantastic, a lot better than I was expecting from a random place and it made me seriously consider doing stuff like this more in the future. Pulled pork, to me, is something that can be fantastic, or it can also go really wrong. Pulled pork has got great texture, and the flavours can really pop because it’s just been cooking for so long, but I find that most people go crazy with pulling it apart and then letting it sit in some sort of apple vinegar sweet and sour concoction and it just makes it a bit too much for me. Otherwise, it’s rad.

The pulled pork in this sandwich at Iris and the Secret Squirrel was pretty fantastic, and this is going to to against the last five or so lines, but it was actually pretty apple vinegar’y. In this instance however, it actually worked within the confines of the burger and matched really well with the slaw which was creamy and quite moist. One thing you might notice, moist slaw, moist pork, this was not a sandwich with incredible structural integrity. Not sure if I’ve rambled on about this before, but the structural integrity of a burger is really important to me, it’s the difference between a burger and a meal. They tried really hard by using a dense bread, and I thank god they didn’t go the brioche route on this one, but it was probably a bit too much responsibility placed solely on the shoulders of the bread.

All this goodness was only $4.50 too! It’s an absolutely massive slider! Kind of gives other sliders a bad name. If they’re concerned about those sorts of things.

We decided to also try out the soupy Dumplings ($1.50 each + $2 for soup), we had four dumplings including the chicken lemongrass, pork and cabbage, pork and prawn, shitake mushroom and tofu dumplings in a chicken soup. Interesting little take on Asian flavours and ingredients.

We decided to go with one of each flavour and added some chicken broth to turn it into a full fledged dish, there was also a vegetable soup option, for those non chicken stock eaters out there. The soup also came with a lot of Asian veggies and herbs including bean sprouts, Asian styled fried onions, coriander and other bits and bobs. The dumplings were really tasty and it went really nicely with the warming chicken soup. I would have preferred my soup slightly saltier but I think that’s a preference thing, it was also easily fixed. There were plenty of cool looking condiments sitting on each table to add to your dish.

When we got this dish, the owner came up to us and started going on about this chilli sauce (which you can see on the left there) it’s house made and he implored us to use it in our soup. Unfortunately for him (and us) we kind of can’t handle spice at all, we did give it a crack and tried a bit but it was pretty intense. From the small amount we had, we could tell it was quite nice and an interesting take on a traditional oil chilli sauce, but yeah we just kind of freaked out a bit there and didn’t really use it much. Sorry.

Finally, a refreshing drink to top it all off, Orange whip ($4.50). This was nice, it was like a fresh juiced orange juice with pulp, but with a creamy after taste like a vanilla Fanta but fresher and less process tasting! I would have preferred it sweeter but again I’m a terrible sweet tooth. I can see plenty of people enjoy the freshness of this the way it is. I’m sure this makes it a lot healthier too. Again, easy fix, there was plenty of sugar sitting around for the tea and coffee drinks. After adding a satchel or two of sugar, it was perfect!

(Side note, please be warned that this menu might be outdated, we headed down to Melbourne a couple of months ago, so theres a good chance that things may have changed a little but I won’t be surprise if there is still plenty of goodies with Asian influences throughout them. Regardless, everything we got when we were there was fanastic, so anything they make in the future, I imagine will also be as solid and tasty!)

Iris and the Secret Squirrel was a really cool little place and we were really happy to have a chance to go in there and try it out, because it definitely wasn’t on any list of ours heading to Melbourne. This is something I blame entirely on the lists. In any case, if I lived in Melbourne, this is a place I’d go to pretty often, because it’s got a fantastic casual vibe, and doesn’t cost a crapload like all other breakfast joints I inevitably end up eating at. A great example of just taking a chance on something without reading about it first. So in the spirit of that, disregard everything you’ve just read.

Iris and the Secret Squirrel on Urbanspoon

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