Do you know of any all-you-can-eat places in Canberra besides the Dickson Family Foodcourt?

There are not many in Canberra, all the other ‘all you can eat’ places are just yum cha (lunch time @ Spicy Ginger @ the Uni lodge precinct and @ the Italian soccer club in Deakin), although there are some places that do a really good bargain banquet which you are sure to leave full (or even with left overs).

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The need for Knead

——-12/08/2012——-

I was taking my Mummy out and about in Belconnen markets and we couldn’t pass Knead without stopping by.

From their website:

Knead Patisserie’s philosophy is simple: to use real ingredients (organic where possible) and create delicious food from scratch on a daily basis.

 Knead Patisserie serves an array of rustic breads including Baguettes, Traditional boiled Bagels, Sourdough, Light Rye and Multigrain Cobbs, tarts including crème brûlée tarts, frangipane, chocolate ganache and berry cheesecake tarts, and individual cakes, muffins & pastries.

They have a beautiful marble top studded with beautiful tarts, breads and pastries.

Berry Cheese cake ($5.00) and creme brulee tart ($5.00).

Berry Cheese cake – Even though the cheese layer was very thin (in comparison to a ‘normal’ cheesecake), there was intense cheesecake flavour. Truly wonderful.

Creme brulee tart despite leaving it a few hours before eating, the top still had a great toffee sugar top that I could break with a spoon. The custard filling was silky smooth and delicious!

There were so many choices and everything looked incredible it made it very hard to only choose two things.

Venue: Knead patisserie

Address: Shop 18, Belconnen Markets, Belconnen

Phone: (02) 6162 3200

Caffe Lella -ella -ella

——-10/08/2012——-

After eating so much Asian food, it’s good to break from the norm and eat something different so we headed out to Caffe Lella out in Kingston for some pasta.

There were so many choices, I was tempted by some of the specials on the board too, hmm what to choose…

Spiralli Salsicce spiralli with Italian sausage, onion, garlic, cavolo nero (Tuscan cabbage) and truffle oil ($16.90).

Penne al gamberi penne with king prawns, chilli, garlic and Italian tomato pasta sauce ($16.90). The sauce tasted like it came out of a can and the prawns didn’t really have much of a taste- a very underwhelming pasta.

Frank’s Speciality~

Spaghetti ai frutta di mare- fresh clams, mussels, prawns, garlic, chilli and extra virgin oil ($24.90). Two of us ordered this and for some strange reason they said they had to serve both portions on a platter and couldn’t divide it into individual portions. The pasta itself had a subtle flavour of garlic, chilli and oil but the clams and mussels tasted really nice.

The service was friendly enough and although my meal was not too bad, I don’t know if I’d eat  here again when there are so many places to go in Kingston.

Venue: Caffe Lella

Address: 68 Jardine Street  Kingston ACT 2604

Phone: (02)6239 6383

Caffe Lella on Urbanspoon

Ha Ha bar

——-04/08/2012——-

I was excited to head to the Ha Ha bar in Belconnen as it is one of the few restaurants along the street that I haven’t been to for dinner.

Entree~

Breads and dips grilled artisan breads with house made dips ($12.00) We asked them what the dips were (chilli and tomato, olives, hummus and pesto) and lucky we did because only one out of the four dips really tasted like anything. 

Crispy calamari smoked chilli aoili and fresh lemon ($14.00) Nice crispy calamari that wasn’t chewy and stringy.

Grilled Spanish chorizo with roast garlic aioli and grilled bread ($15.00) Unfortunately from this photo you can’t see that one side of the chorizo was really burnt.

Special~

Fetta in carrozzacrumbed fetta with a medley of mixed tomatoes and fresh basil ($16.00). I do love combining the flavours of cheese, tomato and basil. They have gone one better by crumbing the fetta!

Mains~

Grilled chicken salad with cous cous, beets, roast pumpkin, walnuts, onion, fetta, tomatoes and mixed leaves ($23.00). An okay salad but nothing to write home about.

12” pizzas:

Ha Ha pizza Sicilian meat balls, Italian sausage, proscuitto, roast chicken, chilli, mozzarella and olives ($23.00). Surprisingly not overly meaty, a great mix of flavours on a delicious base.

Margherita pizza tomato, mozzarella and basil ($18.00). The base really made all the difference which really brought out the simple flavours of the pizza.

Linguine with fresh local seafood, squid ink, garlic, chilli, olive oil and herbs ($27.00). This was truly a surprise when they put this down in front of me. For some reason in my head I thought I was getting squid ink pasta not squid ink mixed in with my pasta. There was a lot of chilli which almost made it unbearable to eat but there were a lot of prawns. It also didn’t look very appealing.

This is clearly not first (or any) date food. I had to wipe my lips after every bite and at the end my napkin was black. I dared not to bare my teeth at anyone while I was eating.

Even with the dim light you can see how black the dish was when I mixed it all through.

You might have noticed that we didn’t eat dessert which is very unsual, that’s because at 9:15pm ish they had only the cheese board left (1 out 4 desserts) which I thought was ridiculous considering they weren’t that busy.

I was excited to come here after a reading a review about delicious tapas and pork belly but they weren’t on the menu. The food was mediocre and the messy squid ink pasta ruined my dining experience. Maybe I’ll come back and see what brunch is like.

Venue: Ha Ha Bar

Address: 102 Emu Bank  Belconnen ACT 2617

Phone: (02) 6251 6110

Ha Ha Bar on Urbanspoon

A Phat fail

——-04/08/2012——-

When I saw The Phat Burger Cafe in the Entertainment book I was super excited as I was hoping that it was a hidden gem that was going to be the next new upcoming ‘Brodburger’. So at the first chance I grab Timmy enticing him with their all day breakfast menu.

From the website:

“Homemade food (yes made on the premise with fresh ingredients) that fills the belly and gives you that satisfaction only a good meal can. Even a variety of Romanian meals to chose from (check the website regularly).

All day Breakfast, (all day every day) fresh free range eggs, lots of bacon and a variety of sides topped off with a hot Kaldi Coffee.”

The first impression wasn’t great when I thought the woman who took our order was really rude with an attitude without a cause. When we go to order pancakes, she sighs and tells us there is limited items left of the breakfast menu and pancakes aren’t available. I thought that was disappointing considering they go out of their way to mention “All day Breakfast, (all day every day) ” on their website. We order our food and go sit down. Luckily for us our beverages were served by another woman who was really polite and friendly, although that did mean the angry woman was cooking our food.

Kaldi coffee ($4.20) better than average coffee and an average caramel milkshake ($4.00). 

When we are served our food by the first server she informs us that the cutlery is near the cash registers but I noticed when the friendly lady was serving she would get cutlery for the patrons.

The Phat burger temptation homemade beef patty, tasty cheese, tomato, beetroot, caramelised onion, tomato relish and lettuce ($9.95) The roll wasn’t toasted at all which didn’t really add to the appeal and using Turkish bread seemed way to filling so I ditched the top half way through.  I wasn’t particularly fond of the patty but all the salad seemed very fresh. All and all, it wasn’t a good burger which is such a shame when you’ve based the name of the cafe over this menu item.

Eggs benedict free-range poached eggs served on toasted English muffin with bacon and hollandaise sauce ($16.95) I don’t see how my big burger is $10 and this tiny ‘bacon and egg roll’ is $17.00?(!) and if that wasn’t bad enough the hollandaise tasted truly terrible like an off mayonnaise, we had to scrape it all off. Such a disappointment!

Vanilla slice ($5.00) This was the first vanilla slice that I didn’t finish. I was hoping that the sweets from the store would be its redeeming quality but alas I was just as disappointed.

A lot of people dropped by for a coffee while we were there and the occasional person would order a cake. I understand that some people have bad days and I would go back to try some sweets but I wouldn’t bother with their hot food.

Venue: The Phat Burger Cafe

Address: Farrer Shops, Farrer Place, Farrer, ACT 2607

Phone: (02) 62901086

Entertainment voucher: luckily I used mine as I don’t know if I’ll be coming back.

Phat Burger Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thip’s thai lunch box

——-02/08/2012——-

Where did all the tasty cheap Thai places go? Lucky for me, I found one that still exists. Thip’s Thai Lunch box might not look like much and has limited parking (unless you park at Belconnen Westfield Mall at least that’s two hours of free parking) and it’s in this weird place called the Belconnen Churches centre but it is a hidden gem where many people go to grab a cheap delicious meal.

If you’re getting take away then you can be in and out pretty fast despite the long line during the lunch rush, as there are already made selection of dishes to choose from.

Pad See Yew– served hot and delicious, the best noodles I’ve had in a long time!

Beef with Thai basil with chilli (medium) ($14.50) I could only just eat this (with lots of rice of course), not only it didn’t have heat but you could taste the chilli which was very good with the basil and beef.

There isn’t any glowing service, it’s more of an in and out rushed experience, but the food comes out pretty fast and hot with great flavour to everything. I can’t wait to come back and try more dishes. 

Venue: Thip’s Thai

Address: Level 1 Churches centre, Benjamin Way, Belconnen

Phone: (02) 6251 5555

Thip's Thai on Urbanspoon

guilt free sweets

I was strolling along Kingston markets and Veganarchy caught my eye with their unique gluten free and vegan cupcakes and interesting flavours that included chocolate brownie, ‘The Elvis’, French toast and Raspberry lemonade.

French toast vegan cupcake ($3.50) A moist cupcake with beautiful flavours of cinnamon and nutmeg. The icing had a perfect amount of sweetness which didn’t dominate the whole treat. You couldn’t tell that it was a vegan cupcake!

Veganarchy Sweets & Eats currently supplies to the following businesses:

ANU Co-Op Food Shop and Cafe

Cafe Essen

Van Der Veens Coffee

Mezzalira Ristorante

——-27/07/2012——-

Despite the cold, people are still going out in civic. A lot of people! Parking has been a nightmare recently and we had to park considerably far away but we finally got to Mezzalira through the cold dark night.

I have heard good things for years about Mezzalira, I don’t know why but I never was excited to come here until recently when my friend said he had a good degustation. 

It was hard to choose what to order considering all the pastas and mains were expensive for a place that I didn’t think was fine dining. We opted to go for the 5 course tasting menu as there were several things I wanted to try and it was the cheapest way to try them all.

5 course tasting menu ($85.00)

Bread with rosemary and sea salt – it was served nice and warm although it was heavily seasoned with salt. 

Course 1~

Seared scallops on fennel puree and ‘agro dolce’ vinaigrette – a simple small morsel yet so good.

My friend who doesn’t like seafood got a mushroom alternative, she said it was really good but I didn’t want to try any as it looks like she only got what appears to be half a mushroom.

Course 2~

Tortellini di zucca– Buffalo milk ricotta, pumpkin and leek tortellini with burnt sage butter – Wow, this would have been one of the dishes I would have chosen as a ‘single’ meal (I don’t know how much I would get for $33.00 though). This was AMAZING! Really really good and it is a vegetarian dish!

Course 3~

Truffled risotto with ‘Spezzatino’ of Northern Rivers veal osso bucco– a great dish and it didn’t have an overly ‘meaty’ taste. A perfect portion during a 5 course menu.

Course 4~

Salted crusted fillet of beef ‘tagliata’ with local king brown mushroom ‘trifolati’, globe artichoke and horseradish – A great beef dish, my friend doesn’t like any pink in her meat and the chef was very accommodating to cook a well done beef without making it into a piece of charcoal.

Course 5~

Ricotta rum and chocolate cannoli with pistachio and cantiano amarena cherries– I thought this was a too simple of a dish to end such a wonderful 5 course tasting menu but I wrong. A perfect amount of subtle sweetness to complete the meal.

Well yes you might have already counted 5 courses. That’s because I REALLY wanted to try their tiramisu after some big raves on urbanspoon, so I ordered second dessert.

Tiramisu pick me up ($15.00)– My friend has been to Italy and she said that there was a famous restaurant which made a-mazing tiramisu and this one was the same if not trumped it. I really really liked it but I couldn’t tell if it was as good as the one from Locanda, maybe I’ll have to eat one from both places on the same day to make a direct comparison.  

We had great service with perfectly timed courses. I didn’t have any expectations and I was completely blown away by the food. I was surprised to find that Mezzalira was linked with Italian and Sons, if they have similar menus I’d much prefer to sit in an open dining area at Mezzalira than the crowded space that is Italian and Sons (< but I want to still try at least once).

Venue: Mezzalira Ristorante

Address: 55 London Circuit  Canberra ACT 2601

Phone: (02) 6230 0025

Mezzalira Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Delissio re-run

——-27/07/2012——-

It wasn’t that long ago that I had noticed the considerable positive change in the staff’s attitude at Delissio Brasserie and I was keen to see if the same had happened at Delissio in Curtin. We were greeted by a smiling friendly face who was kind enough to open the door for us as we entered the restaurant. A good start!

One of the first things I noticed was the new style of menu with lots of changes but still thankfully had some ‘old but gold’ dishes remained on there too. The menu had only been out for a couple of days and I was excited to try something new.

Entree~

Specials board: Pork with parsnip puree and muscat jus ($15.00) I was completely blown away by this! The pork was perfect and had just a hint of fat under the crispy skin and I made sure I scraped as much of the parsnip puree onto my fork as I could.

Zucchini Fritti haloumi, cumin and shallots, topped with paprika yoghurt ($10.00). I thought they were a little undercooked on the inside.

Linguine Oceana prawns, calamari, market fresh fish, tomato, garlic, chilli and parsley ($28.00) You think we would get bored of this dish but we don’t. Cooked well today and not bland at all.

Penne Delissio bacon, chorizo, capsicum, olives in a light chilli tomato sauce ($24.00) My friend reached for the cheese before I reached for my camera. 

Canneloni Bolognaise braised beef in red wine, oregano and tomato ($24.00) I opted to try something from the new menu. The beef was very tender but I found the tomato based sauce very intense. It would have been balanced out by the melted cheese but the cheese flavour wasn’t strong enough, but luckily I had more of a cheese taste in my last mouthful. I don’t think I would order this again.

Overall I had a fantastic lunch despite a few of the dishes. The atmosphere amongst the staff has really improved and it is now a lot more attentive. I want to come back during dinner service to see how they go and of course try more of their delicious food.

Lime Leaves

——-26/07/2012——-

My friend and I have tried to get to Lime leaves before but we got lost and ended up at Punjabi Hut (still serendipitous), I didn’t realise it would be on the corner in what almost looks like a house from the outside. This time I was determined to go after a few bad Thai restaurant experiences within Canberra, everyone assured me I would like it here.

Entree~

Pik Gai Thoddeep fried marinated chicken wings ($7.50) Not particularly great on its own, much better with the creamy white sauce.

Garee Puff puff pastry filled with diced chicken and potato ($7.50) 

Popia Thod minced pork and vegetable spring rolls ($7.50) 

Accompanying sauces– they didn’t really explain what the sauces were or what it went with so I just dipped everything in one of them once and stuck with the nicest one.

Mains~

Massaman curry tender beef with potatoes and roasted peanut simmered in delicious curry sauce ($16.50) Not sweet like some other restaurants I have been to and it has really tender beef, I really enjoyed this curry.

House special~

Gaeng Ped YangRed curry duck with lychees and cherry tomatoes, garnished with lime leaves and capsicum ($21.00) This was bordering on the ‘too hot’ side for  me and boy did I have to eat a lot of rice to compensate (although my chilli tolerance is poor and nothing to go by). The duck meat and skin was really juicy and even though it absorbed all the curry flavour, you could still taste the duck.

Pad Cee lew stir fried fresh rice noodle in dark soy sauce with Chinese broccoli and egg and chicken ($15.50) Really nice noodles served really hot (temperature wise) just the way I like it.

Saffron rice steamed rice mixed with coconut milk and saffron ($3.50 per serve) I have never had any rice like this, a lovely mix of coconut milk and saffron.

I didn’t find the service slow, I was having a great chat with my friends that I didn’t notice it was hard to flag someone down until we ran out of rice. This is a family run business and Lime Leaves has also expanded to open another restaurant (same name) in Kaleen. I am keen to come again as this is the best Thai I’ve had in a long time.

Venue: Lime Leaves

Address: 24 Lowe St, Queanbeyan NSW

Phone: (02) 6299 2000

Website: http://www.limeleaves.com.au/

Eat in and takeaway
Dinner 5:30pm-9:30pm Tuesday-Sunday
Lunch 12:00pm-2:00pm Wednesday-Friday

Lime Leaves on Urbanspoon

An Indian affair

This is more of a food porn post as another cold windy day in Canberra makes me crave the warmth and satisfaction of Indian food. We were celebrating the retirement of a colleague at work who has had an astonishing career. Everyone brought something for the curry/Indian themed lunch and together we created one magical feast. There was a multitude of exotic curries, mango lassi, burfi and condiments and sides such as papadums, rice, chutneys and samosas.

Breakfast at 3 seeds

——-22/07/2012——-

With Belgian waffles that I haven’t yet conquered from Bean and Grain, I was keen to drag my friends along to the Fyshwick markets for brunch but the down side to the cafe is the lack of seating. So we walked across the car park to my next choice, 3 seeds– the school, gourmet store and cafe above Ocean fresh.

It was also full but with more space to work with, the staff were very nice and cleared a space for us as soon as it became available (5-10 minute wait). The place was full of families with children and babies all having breakfast away from the hustle and bustle of Fyshwick markets.

We started off with some beverages while waiting for our other friend to arrive. 

Earl grey tea ($4.00)

Freshly squeezed juice ($7.50) I thought I wrote down the flavour somewhere but apparently not, it was apple something. Nice enough but not worth $7.50!

Flat white ($3.60) Okay coffee and not crazily priced.

Poached eggs with bacon, mushrooms (in place of the tomato) and baby spinach on toast ($18.00) With not even butter on the toast, this dish was standard- poached egg with bacon and mushrooms with not even wilted spinach plonked on top of some toast. I don’t see how this is $18.00 worth?

Thick cut toast and 3 seeds jam ($6.50) The bread was hard and the jam very underwhelming.

French toast with berries, vanilla yoghurt and maple syrup ($17.00) Interesting that they used their sour cherry bread for the French toast. The egg/milk mixture didn’t really infuse into the bread, more just like an outer coating. Not overly sweet which was good for me.

There is a gourmet store around the back with some unique food items.

The cooking classes must be a hit with most of them being booked out way in advance, they provide a wide range of courses from Spanish Tapas to preparing seafood to French cooking. I might come back for a cooking class but I think I’ll cross brunch @ 3 seeds off my to do list based on the overpriced breakfast. I wonder what all those families were ordering and how they are affording such an expensive mediocre breakfast.

Venue: 3seeds

AddressFyshwick Markets  Cnr Dalby & Mildura St ACT 2609

Phone: (02) 6295 7722

Websitehttp://3seeds.com.au/

Cafe & Gourmet Store:  Thursday-Friday 9.00-5.00pm, Saturday 8.30-4pm

& Sunday 8.30-3.00pm

Cooking School: Wednesday & Thursday nights 6.00-9.30pm, Saturdays 3-5.30pm. 

3seeds on Urbanspoon