Christmas baubles

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas with these new Lindt flavours. ūüėč #chocolate #christmas #canberra #food #foodie #baubles

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Outback Jacks bar and grill

—–15 Dec 2013—–

I drag this one friend of mine along to all the steak and seafood places in Canberra because that’s what we both love, so when we were celebrating her belated birthday, it was a no brainer that I had to take her to Outback Jacks bar and grill in Belconnen so we could both try it out.

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If you don’t notice the big sign, I’m sure you’ll notice the very big crocodile that is situated on the ceiling at the entrance.

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A great selection of steaks all on display. I got very excited and hungry- fast!

IMG_7408I had booked several days ahead so that was one less thing I had to think about leading up to Christmas, she repeated my booking date, name and number and it was all correct and we were ready to go… Well so I thought. When we arrived, they seemed to a bit puzzled and couldn’t find my booking, when I insisted that I had booked they took me to a vacant table because the restaurant wasn’t too busy.
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A unique menu cover, I was excited to see what I could order that could incorporate everything I loved eating, steak and ribs!

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That’s not a knife, this is a knife!

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This place had a great family friendly atmosphere and the staff sing a unique ‘Happy Birthday’ song to those who are celebrating their birthday (seriously, I think someone should fake their birthday so you can hear the song).

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I wish I had this when I was growing up! A kids area with consoles, TV with the latest movies playing and toys. I could imagine it would be hard for kids to break away from playing to go and eat.

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Entrees~

Chook wingsmild. Seasoned chook wings, tossed in Jacks own firecracker sauce¬†(serve of 5 $9.95). For those who know me, you would know I would push you over for a chicken wing so I couldn’t help myself but to order a serve despite knowing a lot of food was coming my way. The chicken wings were nothing special or particularly temperature hot, all the chilli heat comes from the sauce and you could definitely taste it even though we ordered mild.

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Mains~

Big Jacks RackOutback Jacks famous rack of full bone pork ribs served with chunky chips ($49.95). Ribs are generally expensive but I’ve never seen a $50 rack before. As they lowered the platter plate, I could see the shadow descending over TimmyC’s shocked face. We all stared at its enormity for a while, even neighbouring tables peered over. I assured TimmyC that it was mostly bones and he would be fine, we both took a chip (not that we needed any more food on the plate) but they were cold and soggy. Oh well, at least we know now not to bother with them. The ribs themselves were very tender and tasty and I loved the smokey BBQ sauce and I’m glad it came with extra (it tastes like the BBQ sauce from Soulfood). We definitely ate those bones clean. TimmyC struggled towards the end so I helped him out.¬†

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Tasty, tender and well marinated pork ribs.
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My hand for a size comparison.

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The ribs were daunting when they were put down but you have to remember most of it is bone so it wasn’t too bad, but they are big long bones.

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Cattle Dogs True Blue T-bone (400g for $31.95) with an added ‘Topper’ Neptune topped with sliced avocado, grilled prawns and b√©arnaise sauce ($8.00). Meals sure do get expensive fast if you add anything to them.

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Steak and ribs 100 day grain fed 300g rump and our meaty Jack Daniels basted pork ribs, served with a choice of chips or mash potato with salad ($39.95) with an extra Diane sauce($2.95) and BBQ corn on the cob ($4.50). After all the extras, this ended up being a $47.40 meal!

I love BBQ corn and it tastes amazing if it’s cooked right (you should definitely try this!) but these tasted like an almost water-logged corn that had been sitting in hot water, it wasn’t much better than a corn on the cob from KFC (do they still do those?). The steak didn’t have much of a taste to it, the only thing my mouth could distinguish was the charcoal lines that had been seared onto it, that is not a good sign of a decent steak, I had to smother it in the sauce. The ribs were delicious and tasted like what TimmyC had ordered but the ribs they serve on top of the steak are much shorter and meatier than those from the rack of ribs. I’m pretty sure the mash potato I had that was tucked underneath everything was instant mash potato.¬†

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Desserts~

The meal was already expensive so what a bit more for desserts, we were all tempted by the menu and the descriptions.

Outback Jacks sticky date pudding with butterscotch sauce hot pudding served in a ceramic dish with a generous serving of silky butterscotch sauce with ice cream. With compliments from us we will wash your ramekin and you may take it home as a souvenir of your experience at Outback Jacks ($12.95). As we were ordering this dessert, the waitress said it was the ‘best dessert in the world’, I call porkies on that, not because I’ve eaten a lot of desserts in my time and I might have had more exposure but because I wouldn’t even rate this dessert as ‘good’ let alone exaggerating it to be one of the best dessert that I’ve ever had. The ‘generous serving of silky butterscotch sauce’ they describe was no more than a small pool at the bottom of the ramekin that wasn’t enough to cover the whole pudding which made it very dry in some mouthfuls. The ice cream tasted cheap and watery and the ‘plate decoration’ of caramel and chocolate topping didn’t help either.IMG_7451

Where’s the sauce?

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Hot home style apple pie crispy sweet pastry encasing crunchy apple, infused with cinnamon served with caramel sauce, freshly whipped cream and ice cream ($10.95). This wasn’t even close to being even luke warm and the pastry wasn’t crispy, it tasted like a disappointing defrosted frozen apple pie. P.S. caramel sauce is not the same as caramel topping, I think they might have actually forgot to put on any caramel sauce and it was just happened to be placed on a ‘topping decorated’ plate.

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Throughout the night I found it hard to get anyone’s attention despite having a lot of wait staff and not many people left in the restaurant. Ordering drinks, ordering mains, ordering desserts, all took a lot of effort to flag someone down. The older people were more attentive and the young girls seem to just stand around and talk.¬†As I went to pay the bill, I asked the young waitress that I was waiting for the cleaned ramekin to come back from my dessert, she said that she could grab a clean one for me, ‘that would be great, thanks’ but after the few second it took me to put in my eftpos pin number, she gave me my receipt and gave me a blank look like she was waiting for me to leave. ‘The ramekin?” I asked, “oh yeah” she responded slowly. Seriously the service here is really lacking.

Their bathrooms are shared with Belconnen malls food court, as I was washing my hands I heard a loud bang. I walked back to the restaurant door and it was shut and locked. I banged and knocked loudly on the door several times before having to frustrating walk in a big circle to get back to the restaurant. Seriously if I had my bag (and friends) I would have considered not returning back to the restaurant.

So after my very expensive ($179.05 for three people) night out at a ‘casual family restaurant’ what did I think? I think the ribs were fantastic and tender, the sauce was rich and smokey but everything else was disappointing – the service, the steak and the desserts. Come here if you love ribs as much as me but just be aware that it could get pricey fast.

Venue: Outback Jacks Bar and Grill

Address: Shop 332, Westfield Shopping Centre, Belconnen Way, Belconnen, ACT 2617

Phone: (02) 6251 8381

Outback Jacks on Urbanspoon

Persian Mawlana Restaurant

When we sat down in the unlit room with nothing but the bright afternoon sun filtering in through the front window, I didn’t know if I had made a huge mistake in coming to Persian¬†Mawlana¬†restaurant in Dickson, which had only been open for a few months where Firestone used to be. My two plates in front of me had multiple stains on it, as soon as I sat down my shoe slipped on a wedge of tomato that was under the table and the drinking glasses were a bit dirty and not matching. I’d hate to be ‘that annoying customer’ but I had a lot of things changed and taken away before all the other guests arrived.

After things had been replaced and they eventually turned on the light, I decided not to let that affect the meal that we were about to try. We didn’t know what to expect as none of us had eaten Persian food before.

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I really liked their cutlery, very unusual.

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The menu was in a weird format, it starts off (if you read from left to right) with mains and then hot starters underneath followed by cold starters. We ordered a couple of entrees and main meals to share between the 5 of us. I wanted to try their yoghurt drink too as I wanted to try as much as possible and not many cultures have their own unique drink.

Doogh yoghurt drink ($7.00 jug or $3.00 for a glass). The sour yoghurt drink was not for everyone. I dislike sparkling water and it tastes like someone added sparkling water to some sour yoghurt/milk and added some dry herbs. We ordered a jug because it was more economical but we really could have all shared one glass.

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Main meals~¬†“All our main meals are served on NAN bread and dips. All served with Saffron Rice, Grilled Tomato and salad.”

NAN bread and dips. This must be their version of NAN bread, but I was surprised it came out so early. It was a bit curious when we asked what the dip flavours were, the waiter had no idea nor did he try to ask anyone. It turns out one was a chickpea which was very garlicky and the other was carrot. The bread was a bit hard but we made do. They took the bread away before we were finished and before the actual main meals but I thought the bread was supposed to accompany the main meal?

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Entrees~

Potato skin¬†grilled potato with skin, cheese and topping of onion and capsicum ($7.00). I don’t know why but I somehow thought ordering a baked potato with its skin on with melted cheese would be an interesting tasting dish with a Persian twist to it. Nope this was just a potato with its skin on with a mild cheese melted on top with a bit of capsicum that wasn’t salty enough and we added more table salt ourselves. Do not waste your time with this underwhelming dish.

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Must-o-khiar creamy yoghurt with chopped cucumber and mint ($5.00). A lot like raita, we wanted something cooling to take the edge off what was a very hot day. The bread that was taken away would have been very handy right about now…

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Kashk-o-bademjan pan fried eggplant mixed with garlic,mint, onion and kashk ($6.00).¬†I wasn’t expecting a ‘minced away beyond recognition’ eggplant so I was quite surprised when they put this down. This has a very short sharp eggplant taste finished off with an overpowering garlic aftertaste. The yoghurt looking topping tasted like a potent blue vein cheese. All these strong flavours were a bit too much for me, so I often went back to the cucumber dip.20131226-180850.jpg

Actual mains~

Mahie Polaw marinated and grilled snapper fish, served with saffron rice and BBQ tomato ($20.00). The whole fish was surprisingly really nice and not too many bones. The salad was very fresh and well dressed. It was a promising start to the mains.

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Jujeh marinated chicken in saffron, lemon juice on skewer served with saffron rice and BBQ tomato ($18.00). It made it easier to share that the meat was not attached to a skewer, the meat was very tender and moist.

20131226-180912.jpgLamb tikka marinated lamb fillet capsicum, onion on skewer served with saffron rice and BBQ tomato ($19.00). Not as tender as the chicken but a lovely lamb taste. Sharing these mains were more than sufficient because they all come with so much rice and salad. We were a bit confused as to why there was butter on every plate, were we supposed to add it to the meat or the rice? We just left it on the plate.

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Qabuli palaw lamb pieces topped with basmati rice, raisins and carrots served with two (koftah) mead (?) balls in a tomato based sauce ($19.00). I wasn’t particularly fond of the rice I chose, but I was keen to try this as I ate something similar at Koochi restaurant and really enjoyed it. The meatballs didn’t really add much to the dish, the rice was rather dry and it just didn’t really have the same vibrant colour as I was used to.

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Two koftah balls in a tomato based sauce to accompany the  qabuli palaw.

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So it turns out that Persian food has very similar elements to Afghan food but I felt that Koochi in Gungahlin did their rice dish much better and their skewered meat was much more moist and flavoursome.

It was nice that they honoured both our entertainment cards considering a lot of businesses get confused when you give them more than one card. Our dinner was heavily discounted but still I don’t think I would be coming here again.

Venue: Persian Mawlana Restaurant

Address: 14 Woolley St, Dickson, ACT

Phone: 02 6247 4447

Persian Mawlana on Urbanspoon