When the table next to you starts judging your table because the food barely fits, you ignore them and try and stand on your tippy toes to get it all in the frame. #judgement #fridaycatchup #flatlaystyle
For years, Canberrans have been yearning, nay DEMANDING that we get one decent ramen place in Canberra. We aren’t greedy, we just want one.
Hopefully our prayers have been answered with Ramentic opening its doors at lunch time this Friday with the promise of tonkotsu and other types of ramen (I tuned out after hearing tonkotsu, it’s the only one I eat). It may look like the tiniest little restaurant but I don’t care.
I really hope this place is good; Ramentic don’t let me down!
Photograph, eat, chat, repeat. What four hours of dining looks like in under four minutes.
I had such high hopes for Agostini’s, the latest Italian restaurant to open in the Canberra dining scene. The lure of their pink sign and the promise of handmade pasta and authentic pizza easily convinced me to have one of my birthday celebrations there with some close friends.When I had booked two weeks ahead for a Monday night, I thought I was being super organised. It caught me by surprise when I saw that we were expected to leave after two hours for the next booking. I assumed they were super busy and I would endeavour to eat as fast as I could. It turns out that we weren’t rushed at all, there must be a two hour allocated seating time for bookings through Dimmi.
I liked the spacious dining area, it allows for larger groups and even as a table of four, I didn’t feel that we were sitting on top of each other.Entrees~
Calamari fritti lightly fried calamari served with an aioli of grilled lemon & mint ($15.00). Not chewy but nothing special and a tad too salty for my liking.Frico a typical dish from the Friuli region of Italy. Paper thin layers of Montasio cheese & potato, oven roasted to form a heavenly, crunchy, chewy morsel ($10.00). We were all curious to see what this would look like and was surprised to see it so flat despite the description. I think the reason why I enjoyed it so much is that it reminds me of the crunchy part of a lasagna- think a thicker parmesan wafer.Margherita bufala pizza bufala mozzarella, Agostinis’ spice & basil ($22.00). Their pizza bases are really good with good quality toppings. We really enjoyed this.Mains~
Napolitana pizza anchovies, olives, capers, Fior di Latte mozzarella & basil ($22.00) with a request to top it off with rocket ($2.00). My friend really enjoyed his pizza, I think the rocket helped balance all the salty components.Lasagne al ragu classic Italian lasagne with slow cooked wagyu beef, sandwiched between handmade pasta sheets & topped with grated Reggiano Parmigiano ($25.00). I was very disappointed with my lasagne, it had no flavour. Frankly, I’ve had better lasagne from my supermarket.Fusilli funghi corkscrew shaped pasta with mushroom ragù with scamorza cheese & thyme ($22.00). The most flavoursome out of all the pasta dishes on the table but I thought it needed a lot more sauce and ingredients to cover the pasta as some mouthfuls seemed like I was eating plain pasta.Spaghetti alla marinara vongole, prawns, fish, vino bianco, cherry tomatoes, chilli, garlic & parsley ($28.00). This seriously lacked flavour. No salt, no chilli, no garlic; it was just bland and disappointing. The spaghetti felt a tad too thick and it was over cooked therefore it almost had the consistency of tinned spaghetti. Shame, I had high hopes for this dish.Desserts~
Affogato House-made vanilla gelato served with an espresso & your choice of digestivo: Cafe Patron XO Tequila, Frangelico or Grappa ($15.00). My friend requested to omit the digestive and we were still charged the full amount. That is one expensive coffee shot!Gelati choice of 3 flavours – vanilla, coffee liquor, chocolate peanut butter ($10.00). They had some strange choices (cherry salted caramel?) but we opted for these flavours, which were very nice. It is probably best to clarify the flavour choices as we thought there was a cherry flavour and a salted caramel flavour, not one flavour with cherry and salted caramel combined.Agostinis’ tiramisu made to order… savoiardi biscuits, freshly brewed coffee, mascarpone & chocolate mousse ($12.00). This definitely made your eyes widen as your hit that base that started to pool with coffee. Being made to order meant that there were some crunchy parts of the tiramisu which I thought was a bit odd. My friend and I ordered one each and if you add the part that I had eaten with the part that she had eaten, we wouldn’t have even finished one portion. It was too strong, too much mascarpone and too OTT.
I found the service really terrible. No one was rude or unpleasant but they needed constantly prompting. Can we have more water? Can we get cheese for the pasta? Can we get more wine? On top of that, we found ourselves needing to ask more than once because no one came back for almost 20 minutes. For a restaurant that wasn’t terribly busy, I felt that we were forgotten about A LOT.
I won’t be rushing back here in a hurry, but I would come back for their pizza and hope that their pasta and service improves.
Address: East Hotel, 6/69 Canberra Ave, Griffith ACT 2603
Phone: (02) 6178 0048
TimmyC and I got cocky. We had only just arrived in London and we thought we had the Underground system worked out. Then we got off at the wrong stop which delayed us getting to our 7pm booking at The Clove Club. Between nerves of missing our booking and hunger, I told TimmyC that we should just get off at the closest stop we can and taxi the rest of the way there, I didn’t have time to change lines and then add a stroll in between to get there.
We arrived a tad late but all the scurrying was quickly forgotten after a doorman opened the door and we are happily greeted and seated, which closely followed by a hot towel to wipe away the city and to start our dinner.We were congratulated on our honeymoon by several servers who came to check on us, we had written it was a special occasion when we booked online months ago and it was nice that they remembered. They clarified again if we had any particular dislikes or allergies and we assured them we would try anything and everything. For an extra element of surprise, we opted not to have a menu on the table to keep us on our toes.
We asked if it was okay to set up a GoPro to take a time lapse of our entire meal and they didn’t have a problem. We conveniently had a little window sill to perch it on too.
We were all set up and ready to go!We really enjoyed our dinner but there were too many dishes to go through, so I’ll just comment on the exceptional ones that I adored or really surprised me.
Dining room (£110 pp) plus one soft pairing (£30.00 pp). A discretionary 12.5% service was also added to the final bill.
I was initially writing notes on my phone but the waitress informed me that we would get a menu at the end of the night so I wouldn’t have to. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the soft pairings listed and they didn’t have it on record so I wouldn’t be able to tell you what they were. It was a combination of tea and fruit and vegetable juice, one of which was served through a whipping siphon to make it ‘bubbly’. TimmyC and I agreed that the juice paired with the langoustine was sublime.TimmyC also ordered a G+T using a local gin called Sacred gin (£10.50).
-A Selection of Snacks to Start-
Beetroot gazpacho with walnut oil Mackerel on a spinach and parsley leafButtermilk fried chicken with pine salt – My oh my! Could this possibly be the best fried chicken I have ever eaten? It was moist and succulent while having a really crunchy exterior with the perfect amount of seasoning. I would have fought TimmyC for his piece if he didn’t finish his serve before I did. Apparently, you can also order this at the bar and it is a menu favourite.Warm haggis buns – This really surprised me as the name really put me off, but I rather enjoyed this. It reminded me a lot of a ‘ham sui gok’ as it had a somewhat crispy outer coating with a savoury filling.
Hay Smoked Trout Tartare, Jersey Royal Potato & Sansho (with a spoonful of Petrossian Caviar £15 Supplement). Sure, add approximately $25 AUD of caviar to one of my courses, I’m on holiday! You can’t go to London and not have fish and chips 😉 This didn’t have a ‘fishy’ taste at all because it was so fresh. I loved the texture contrast between the meaty fish, crunchy chips and trying to pop all the caviar in my mouth.Scottish Langoustine Tail, Charcoal Cream & Devilled Spices – We were a bit confused about how to eat this as there was no cutlery; our server said to pick it up, dip it and eat it. This was incredible as it looked very simple but the flavours were clean and sooooooo tasty. The sweet meat of the langoustine was complimented by the cream rather than drowning out the natural flavours. This was TimmyC’s favourite dish of the meal.Spring Herb & Smoked Herring Broth. This reminded me of an Asian fried fish ball in a broth with crunchy vegetables. It was lovely to receive bread and butter with a serve of smoked salt (not pictured) to add to our liking. I’m glad it was only a small portion as we had many more courses to get through. Hazelwood Grilled Pollock, Grelot Onion, Cinnamon & Curry LeafSlow Cooked Suckling Lamb, English Asparagus & Sleightlett
We were getting the details on how the lamb was prepared and where it was from etc.Just adding the finishing touches.Duck, Morel & Ginger Consommé and Hundred Year Old Madeira – I have eaten a lot of courses in my life (my hips don’t lie) but I have never had a liquid course, so I thought it was really interesting when the server came to our table with wine glasses and two bottles. We were given a nip of the 100 Year Old Madeira and it sure did warm the chest and clear the nostrils; it is incredible to think that it was aged for so long. We were then given more Madeira with a generous swig of duck consommé and it transferred the broth into a rich soup with lots of depth without the harsh alcoholic burn.100 Day Old Lincolnshire Chicken, Morels Broad Bean & Ramson
A selection of British cheeses (£10.00?). I didn’t catch what they were but man, that soft cheese on the right was very pungent and I could not finish it, although I didn’t mind it in small doses with the jelly. I particularly enjoyed the house made crackers.Burnt Clementine Sorbet & Spiced Meringue. I could not get enough of this; for someone that doesn’t have an overly sweet tooth, it was the perfect amount of sweetness and they were very generous with the meringue. It acted like a palette cleanser to ease you into the sweeter side of the menu. The dessert was served in a burnt clementine skin and not meant for eating.Yorkshire Rhubarb, Sheep’s Milk Yoghurt & Rose. I loved how incredibly crunchy and delicate the disc was. Don’t try and eat all the components separately (especially the tart rhubarb), have a little bit of everything in each bite and it is perfect.
-Petit fours-Wheat cakesDulce de leche truffle a decadent truffle with the world’s favourite filling.Digestive these were oh so delicate. TimmyC had his first and said the outer layer instantly melted away, leaving the liquid centre to ‘burst’ in his mouth. I then tried mine, I was in the middle of asking him how long does it take to burst when my eyes just widened. There it was!
The funniest thing happened as we were about to leave.
I had been watching Isaac McHale and his team doing their thing in the open kitchen and I thought to myself, do we even try and ask for a photo? Or when would even be an appropriate time? I decided we wouldn’t try and just to enjoy the meal.
I went to the bathroom for one last time before we had to go on a 45 minute trek back to the hotel, TimmyC waited for me at the bustling bar where one of the front of house staff was talking to Isaac. As I was putting on my millions of layers, the front of house woman asked if we were the couple who had set up a video of our whole meal and we started talking about how to exchange details so they could see the finished product.
I then asked if Isaac had enjoyed his time in Australia knowing he attended the awards in Melbourne and one thing lead to another and I asked for a photo with him. He said that the lighting was better in the kitchen and off we went. He shooed the other chefs away (lucky it was towards the end of service) and gave our camera to someone to take our photo. We talked more about our meal afterwards and he was just such a lovely down to earth guy.
Of course they would take our photo, but not without a selfie first! I love this photo haha.Just getting our photo with Isaac McHale in the kitchen of The Clove Club while the other chefs patiently wait to get back to work- no biggie (omg omg omg!)
Meal duration: 4 hours
Overall food and menu: I was impressed with the variety of protein in the menu and how locally sourced a lot of the ingredients were. No crazy theatrics here, just showing off UK and surrounding region’s finest produce.
My favourite: Somewhere between the Buttermilk fried chicken with pine salt or the Duck, Morel & Ginger Consommé and Hundred Year Old Madeira
TimmyC’s favourite: Scottish Langoustine Tail, Charcoal Cream & Devilled Spices
Toilets: I thought I’d give this a mention as it was really unusual to head down a really steep set of stairs (girls in heels beware), to an old school toilet complete with a chain lever.
Atmosphere: The restaurant had an unpretentious vibe and people were just there to have a good time with fantastic food while being able to still have a conversation as the dining room was intimate. Having the open kitchen allowed the diners to peer into all the workings of each dish.
Staff: It felt like we met the whole front of house as well as the chefs, as a different person introduced each dish. It was good to see the diversity among the staff and everyone’s knowledge on the menu was impeccable.
Venue: The Clove Club
Address: Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old St, London
World’s 50 Best ranking (2017): #26
I am the first to admit that I am the worst foodie to travel with. I want to eat anything and everything, but if it involves booking in advance I am not usually that organised and we end up missing out.
Not this time! TimmyC and I decided a long time ago that we would make our honeymoon a feast we would not forget and on the top of that list was Osteria Francescana. Being the number one restaurant in the world at the time, I knew it was going to require some coordination and timing on our part to secure one out of the twelve tables. Bookings usually open a month at a time, three months in advance; they are done online the first of the month at 10:00am CEST which meant 8pm AEST.
I initially thought that meant we would be looking for bookings on the first day of 2017 for our April meal, where I would have some advantage on the hungover people around the world, but we found out that March and April bookings were to be released at the same time on the 1st of December 2016. I was coming home from Melbourne for a work trip at 7:35pm, so I told TimmyC not to pick me up and that I’d figure it out as I needed him to be near a computer.
The hard part about booking Osteria Francescana is that you don’t know if you got a table straight away. You put in your request for a day that isn’t sold out and hope to get an email back from them. Waiting for a response to see if we got a table was so nerve-racking, it was like waiting for exam results. I kept refreshing my inbox and when an email from Osteria Francescana popped up, my heart skipped a beat.
TimmyC figured that since we were on that side of the world, we may as well go to The Fat Duck in Bray. I had watched many YouTube videos about the revamp and we very much enjoyed our meal when they ‘popped up’ in Melbourne; so it didn’t take much to convince me.
Bookings open on usually on the first Wednesday of the month at midday BST, which meant 7pm AEST. I was nervous if they would be open around Easter time which was when we would be in London, but the calendar was wide open.
You know if you get a table immediately as you also pay at the time of booking on the website.
We had our two restaurants booked; we were done… Or so TimmyC had thought.
The plan was to just go to two countries and take our time exploring the area instead of country hopping, but I had my eye on a restaurant in Barcelona.
It probably doesn’t make sense that we went from London to Italy back to Barcelona, but this is the order that we booked the restaurants. I had just finished a book called ‘Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ and knowing I couldn’t get to Ferran Adria directly at El bulli, I learned he has a brother and they share a tapas bar called Tickets.
They open reservations for the same day but in two months time, which meant I had to have a day in mind and remember to jump on the website in February for my April dinner.
I remember I when I booked The Clove Club. It was the 1st of March and I was out celebrating a friend’s birthday eating dinner while booking another dinner for April. That was being a foodie multitasker at its best.
I asked TimmyC across the table if he didn’t mind I squeezed in another London restaurant winning accolades for one of UK’s best restaurants and had been featuring in The World’s 50 Best list for the last few years, he said ‘sure why not’. Bookings had just opened up for April (two months in advance) and I easily got a table in the Dining Room; the booking system also uses Tock which also asked for payment straight away.
That was another restaurant booked!
TimmyC and I have a bad habit of browsing through our social media channels and email before getting out of bed in the morning. One particular morning he had shown me a video on The World’s 50 best Facebook page for Disfrutar, a restaurant in Barcelona who had just won the ‘Miele One to Watch’ award. This video was wonderfully shot; the music, the array of dishes, the hustle and bustle of the kitchen- I was hooked.
During my lunch break, I read a bit further and discovered that the restaurant was run by none other than the three key chefs in the El Bulli kitchen – Oriol Castro, Eduard Xatruch and Mateu Casañas. I immediately went to their restaurant website to check their calendar and it was wide open while we were in Barcelona. What a coincidence! I booked a table for two immediately. Later that day my phone conversation with TimmyC went something like this:
Me: ‘Hey, you know how you called me a spoilt girl this morning?’
Me: ‘Well I booked a fifth restaurant for our honeymoon’
TC: ‘I thought you would have after showing you that video this morning’
He knows me too well, or did he deliberately plant the seeds so I thought it was my idea when in fact it was really his? I don’t think he is that cunning, I think he just knows me too well hahaha.
So with five world renowned restaurants booked, we were set for our amazing feast adventure aka our honeymoon.
I remember when TimmyC and I were eating cakes at Platine – patisserie by Waku Ghin. I couldn’t taste anything because I had a cold, so TimmyC happily ate all three desserts by himself and described them to me. It wasn’t the same 😩
#singapore #wakughin #tetsuya #cake #honeymoon #marinabaysands #stupidcold