Rubicon

It had been years since I had been to Rubicon and after the fantastic meal I had the other week, I wondered why I stayed away for so long.There was a choice of four, five or six course degustation and we decided on six courses (surprise surprise) with a few extras. When we had the ‘Design your own degustation‘ explained to us that we could choose any six items on the menu it threw all reasoning out the window. It meant I could have 6 Wagyu steaks or Timmy could have all the desserts but the whole table had to decide on the same 6 courses, so we had to compromise.

Amuse bouche~ orange, rhubarb and walnut.Extras~

Toasted garlic, chive and parmesan ($1.50). This wasn’t as delicious and moreish as Sizzler parmesan bread (I swear they use some sort of addictive drug to make that), but it came out very fast and it was at a bargain price.Oysters with smoked bourbon sauce, bacon, shallot, pecorino ($4.00 per oyster). Not my favourite as I found the sauce overpowering the other ingredients. It had too much going on and I couldn’t even tell there was an oyster in there with all the other textures.Design your own degustation 5 courses($80.00 pp).

Yellowtail kingfish sashimi, green nam jim, lime, yuzu, coriander, coconut, cress. This dish had a perfect balance and pairing of flavours. This was definitely worth ordering.Scallops, confit chicken, bacon jam, apple, calvados. I LOVED this dish and I was surprised as a lover of scallops, for me the chicken stole the show on this one.Roasted pork belly, celeriac remoulade, crackling, apple. Classic pairings that work really well together; the pork was incredibly tender.Green beans and snow peas, tarragon and lemon dressing ($9.00). This was my attempt to eat more vegetables during the degustation but I really could have skipped it. The snow peas were just a touch over cooked and I wasn’t a huge fan of the dressing.Duck confit, ginger miso roasted mushrooms (swiss, king, oyster, enoki), braised cabbage, duck brik. I was a little disappointed with this dish as I wanted more saltiness to the duck, the mushrooms to be more flavoursome and the brik outer layer to be crisper. In hindsight, I probably would have skipped this course.Shoestring fries, smoked paprika ($9.00). I know this sounds simple, but it was delicious because it was served ridiculously hot with the right amount of seasoning. YUM! Also the perfect side to the rib eye.Chargrilled Wagyu rib eye, onion, boulangere, asparagus, horseradish, sauce bearnaise. YAY! This was really delicious and cooked perfectly. BOO! I was starting to get uncomfortably full and forced myself to finish it. I probably would have enjoyed this more, earlier on in the degustation.Cooked perfectly to my liking.Palette cleanser~ carrot and green apple sorbet. I wouldn’t have been able to tell this contained carrot except by the colour.Dessert~ they let you choose different desserts (phew!)

Caramelised apple tart, sablé, butterscotch, creme fraiche sorbet. This was definitely not what we expected as we thought the tart would be made from pastry, not sablé. The base was really hard in comparison to the apple and we found ourselves having to stab our spoons in the base just to break it. It had a beautiful butterscotch sauce but we felt it just wasn’t the same calibre as the savoury dishes we had chosen.Spiced rum and honey panna cotta, drunken fig, sauternes jelly, hazelnut, earl grey ice cream. I liked the sound of spiced rum and honey in a panna cotta but oh my! This would have been considered a fire hazard with how much rum was in it. It was so intense, we didn’t even finish half of it, albeit it was the biggest panna cotta I have seen.Even though we didn’t completely love our desserts, we had a fantastic time and I look back on my savoury courses fondly. The service was friendly and attentive and I definitely look forward to going back soon.

Venue: Rubicon

Address: 6A Barker St, Griffith ACT 2603

Phone(02) 6295 9919

Rubicon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Agostini’s

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.

Venue: Agostini’s

Address: East Hotel, 6/69 Canberra Ave, Griffith ACT 2603

Phone: (02) 6178 0048

Agostini's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Clove Club

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


-Bonus course-

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!)

 


-Overview-

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

Koi Dessert Bar

This was the last stop of the day during our epic progressive foodie tour across Sydney CBD. We had booked Koi Dessert bar several weeks beforehand and we tried to keep enough stomach space to enjoy their famous delightful desserts.Complimentary bread and butter~

Set dinner ($77.oo pp)

first course

Eggplant

steamed eggplant, trout roe, eschalots and smoked eggplant broth

This arrived so quickly and the portion was so small, I had initially mistaken it for an amuse bouche. I loved the clean presentation but I found the broth’s harsh eggplant burnt taste too much like baba ganoush, which I’m not really a fan of.

second course

Quack

duck breast, micro green, cherries and cherry reduction

I loved how they cut the cherries in tiny little precise wedges; they made for gorgeous adorning presentation and provided just that little bit of sweetness to the duck. There was a good meat to fat to skin ratio, it was just a shame that it was all over in a matter of a few bites.

third course

Angus

Angus beef with wagyu bresaola, burnt onion and mushroom puree (cooked medium rare)

After my first bite, I thought I really enjoyed this course until I realised what I really like was the mushroom puree. We were all a bit disappointed as the duck course had set the bar high and the beef was hard to cut and a little chewy.

fourth course

Vanilla Cherry

vanilla mousse, frozen raspberry, blackberry gel, cherry slices and long pepper

Oh wow, I loved the way they presented the cherries. The mousse was super delicate and carried well to sweeten the flavours from all the fruit. Despite the presence of long pepper, there was only a subtle amount of heat. This was delicious.

fifth course

Typical chocolate

summer berries, chocolate, citrus and caramel. We were advised to start with berries and ending with caramel

It was no surprise that chocolate paired well with berries but I made a disgusted face when I bit into the burnt citrus; it was a very harsh flavour and I did not enjoy it. The caramel was a beautiful way to finish off the dessert though, I could just sit and eat that all day.

optional sixth course ($20.00) 

We were all super full from the day’s events but we weren’t one to miss out on a course even if it was optional. It was nice that they let us order one to share between the four of us.

Moss

pistachio mousse, caramel gel, white chocolate matcha dulce cremeux, pistachio sponge, matcha moss, apple blossom jelly, nitro lime and yoghurt and green apple

Many different components to this dish and I can’t say that I could taste them all even though I was careful to get a bit of everything on my spoon. The strong flavours to me came from the nitro lime, yoghurt, white chocolate and apple. I liked how the sour and sweet notes were subsided with the yoghurt and white chocolate.

seventh course

Cheesecake

lime cheesecake mousse, brown butter and shiso.

I loved who they made a well out of the cream cheese in this deconstructed cheesecake, I might use that idea if I ever try to recreate something similar. Like all of the previous desserts, this was not a heavy dessert that was OTT; they really understand the balance of flavours and textures.We felt a little up and down about the mains but when the desserts came out, it felt like I was eating at another restaurant. It was seriously next level! And although we had eaten four desserts, I never did feel like something was too sweet or heavy that I couldn’t finish it. I will definitely have to bring TimmyC with me next time I come.

Venue: Koi Dessert Bar

Address: 46 Kensington St, Chippendale NSW 2008

Phone(02) 9212 1230

KOI Dessert Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Cheesecake Factory cheesecake

While casually shopping in Costco, I walked past the freezer section that I don’t often venture past only to find myself slowly reversing and pressing my face up to the glass. Do my eyes deceive me? Was that really what I thought it was?

Yes ladies and gentlemen. Costco Canberra (for now) is selling The Cheesecake Factory original cheesecake ($21.89), complete with graham cracker crust and the smooth cheesecake filling that we all know and love. Upside: it is all pre-cut and equally portioned for your convenience with a paper dividers; it’s the original cheesecake so you can dress it up however you like it (I had mine with berries, passionfruit, my friend added Nutella) and it tasted like I never left Hawaii.

Downside: the serving suggestion was to thaw it in the fridge for 8-12 hours (ain’t no body got time for that, I just left it on the counter until I was ready to eat it); our pineapple isn’t as sweet so I can’t replicate my favourite flavour.I take no responsibility with what you do with this information.

returning to XO

It had been just over a year since I had last been to XO in Narrabundah and I was about eleven months overdue for a revisit. With a promise of fabulous company and new dishes on the menu, I booked for the next free day everyone was available.

Starters~

Shantung bao twice cooked pork belly with cucumber, pickled daicon and ginger ($8.00 each). It might seem steep to pay 8 bucks for a bao but it is worth every cent. The pork belly is a thick cut but very tender; the meatiness is balanced by the vegetables and the bao is super soft.

The baos are teeny tiny but mighty tasty.XO FC wings marinated in butter milk with kewpie mayo ($10.00). I love chicken wings and if you fry it, I will come! These were really crunchy while remaining succulent and I love mixing the mayo with their modified sriracha sauce.Steamed dumplings minced prawn and pork with spicy soy vinaigrette ($16.00). These were so delicious, we ordered another serve just before we started on desserts. A delicate steamed parcel in a beautiful spicy soy which made it very hard to share with other people.Small plates~

Vanella stracciatella dressed with tomato nam jim, granny smith apple, crushed peanuts and crispy shrimp ($18.00). This my friends….Was the dish of the night for me and that is a massive call since I also ordered Asian bolognese. To be honest, I didn’t pay attention to anything else on the menu once I confirmed that my old favourites were still there. TimmyC suggested we get this dish and I casually dismissed it aside allowing him this as his ‘one’ while I chose 5 other plates. It is difficult to describe this dish, it was a mix of stretchy cheese, different flavours and crunchy textures. You MUST order this!!! Asian bolognese stir fried udon in XO chicken ragout with a 60° egg ($18.00). This dish was the sole reason I came back to XO, I’ve been having dreams about this ever since I had it the first time. I think it is genius to use udon!Shallow fried tofu shallow fried tofu seasoned soy and candied ginger ($16.00). I can see how this was supposed to be a simple tasty dish with a ridiculously soft tofu but I found it underwhelming in comparison to the other dishes.Hiramasa Kingfish miso cured with pineapple relish, wasabi nori, spelt and freeze-dried raspberry. Kent was nice enough to treat us to one of their new dishes on the menu, this would have been $18.00. It was interesting to have the Kingfish served in cubes, the curing processing apparently makes the flesh ‘tighter’ and it gave the dish a very meaty feel. This is a dish where you have to eat all elements together; the wasabi nori had a kick but the pineapple made it very sweet and it seemed like we were eating a sushi without rice.Larger~

Prawn Kapitan spicy Nyonya style curry with wok fried king prawns ($34.00). The prawns were really fragrant and tasty but I was hoping for more of a sauce to mix into my rice.Crispy lamb ribs tossed in a sticky plum sauce ($28.00). A popular favourite amongst the table, it is a little messy to eat. Ditch the chopsticks and just use your hands.Sides~

Cauliflower nuggets fried with mixed spices and mint yoghurt ($12.00). I was hit with a strong taste of cumin which probably would have been offset by the yoghurt but the bowl got taken away before I could go back and smear some on.Desserts~

Chrysanthemum tea soft serve ($5.00). I knew when I made the restaurant booking that I wanted this for my dessert, I was just hoping that they still had it. Anyone that has had a chrysanthemum tea popper growing up, this is exactly that flavour in soft serve form. I encourage all those who have not tried chrysanthemum tea to order this, although I  don’t know if they still  have it on the menu because they have just released a watermelon szechuan and sumac soft serve yesterday.Black rice pudding coconut ice-cream, golden honeycomb  and lime meringue ($14.00). I love this dessert but I  was surprised to see that the desserts had not changed for a year. Chef AK explained for these popular desserts to be replaced, it would have to be just as good but he assures me that something is in the works.Pandan panna cotta gula melaka syrup and sesame tuile ($12.00). The panna cotta isn’t really sweet and all the sweetness comes from the intense syrup. The texture was super smooth which was a good contrast with the crunchy tuile.They might have turned down the volume dial on the music but they still play the music that I love. The staff was attentive and everything came out a timely manner.

One wonders why I’ve stayed away for so long but since the three days of not being there, they have already released a new soft serve flavour and there will be new dishes released in December. Looks like I’ll need to head back there ASAP.

XO Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Godiva Chocolatier – Hawaiian series

One of the many franchises that I researched to see if it was in Hawaii before my arrival was Godiva Chocolatier. I had to specify that they sold soft serve and not just their delicious chocolate biscuits because that’s what we had craved since we tried it in Japan several years ago. Luckily for us there were multiple franchises around Honolulu and we happened to visit all of them.

Mixed soft serve ($6.00 excl tax). On a warm day in Hawaii, this is exactly what we wanted. There are extras you can get on the cone etc. but you don’t need the bells and whistles, just this delicious soft serve.Salted caramel chocolate shake ($6.00 excl tax). It was okay, it had a very thick texture which made it hard work to suck up the straw, but we much preferred the creamy soft serve.All three locations didn’t have any seating which is a little annoying but the high calibre of product is consistent.

Venue: Godiva Chocolatier

Locations:

Ala Moana Center, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814, USA
International Marketplace, 2330 Kalakaua Ave Honolulu, HI 96815
Waikele center outlet, 94-790 Lumiaina St Waipahu, HI 96797

Hello Kitty Diner

There is so much cuteness in one cafe but the Hello Kitty Diner isn’t just for little girls.Even their booths are covered in this cute material.I really wanted a cute cheeseburger with the iconic Hello Kitty bow but we had just come from lunch so all I could squeeze in was a cute milkshake and a waffle for an afternoon snack (don’t give me that look).

When we were seated, we were given water in these really cute paper cups.The Pancake Milkshake ($8.00). This had little chunks in it and yes it tasted and felt like a pancake milkshake with maple syrup. I don’t know if it is worth $8.00 for the size, but I didn’t want a lot and it didn’t disappoint in flavour.Cinnamon waffles apple pie ice-cream, salted caramel ($8.00). I was pleased to see that it was freshly made and was hot and crunchy, while a lot of cafes I have been to serve a warmed pre-made one or even worse, from frozen. The fact that it was in the shape of Hello Kitty’s head topped with a cute bow was just a super cute touch. I really enjoyed the apple pie ice-cream that went really well with the salted caramel sauce. A perfect sweet treat that isn’t overly sweet or filling.True, a lot of the appeal of this diner comes from the novelty of having cute Hello Kitty detail around the cafe but the food we experienced was surprisingly quite good, albeit a little over priced for some things.

Venue: Hello Kitty Diner

Address: The District, ChatswoodInterchange, 436 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood, NSW

Phone: 04 3017 7850
Hello Kitty Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Courgette

There is nothing more I can say about Courgette since I’ve blogged about it so many times; TimmyC and I always enjoy our visits here, even after all the restaurants that come and go in the Canberra dining scene.

Here is a collage of our last visit; even though it was in the middle of the week, it was a very busy night. We particularly enjoyed the Moreton bay bugs and surprisingly the venison.

Four course dinner ($88.00pp)~

– First course – 

In house smoked salmon, seared scallop, fennel sand, cauliflower puree, fermented black garlic

Sweetcorn croquette, heirloom tomato, bail pesto, green olive, toasted seeds

– Second course – 

Sauteed Moreton bay bugs, tomato, asparagus, cauliflower foam, chorizo crumb, petit herbs

Golden plains pork fillet and crispy jowl, miso mustard, celery fig salad, air dried black pudding

– Third course – 

Mandagery creek venison loin, truffled mash, baby spinach, red cabbage gel, port and thyme jus

Blue eyed cod and prawn sandwich, colcannon, bearnaise, salted baby capers, cornichons

– Four course – 

Baked hazelnut tart, coffee marscapone mousse, raspberry gel, dulce de leche, praline dust

Dropped cinnamon apple pie, vanilla bean custard, burnt apple ice cream, toasted oat crunch

Courgette also offer a 3 course lunch for $66.00pp, you should get there and see for yourselves why they keep winning awards.

Kusina

It was just coincidental that I was able to get to Kusina‘s Monday Madness AND Boodle feast in the same week but I was one happy well fed girl!

Monday Madness~

All you can eat served with unlimited papaya salad, rice and soft drink ($24.00 pp) every Monday

I would definitely recommend booking; I booked for a table for four and we were seated on the last available table. When we ordered we said that two of us wanted the ‘fry up platter’ and the others would have the ‘grill platter’, which meant that we could try a bit of everything. Some of the pork pieces were really fatty but the grilled meats were marinated really well so that was our pick of the platters. The first platters were served with banana leaves underneath and were well presented, while the subsequent ‘refills’ were just meat on a plate. They were happy to give you more of anything when you had finished which minimises food wastage.

Fry up platter crispy chicken wings + crispy pork bellyGrill platter grilled pork belly marinated with sweet BBQ sauce + grilled chicken marinated in lemongrass, garlic, soy



Boodle Feast~

($36.00 pp – minimum of 4 people?) last Sunday of every month.Again I would definitely recommend booking, this feast only happens once a month and man, the restaurant was packed when we arrived. I didn’t know what to expect and no one really explained anything to us, I just knew that there wasn’t going to be any cutlery which meant I had to tie my hair up, clean my hands and wear something with lots of patterns so you couldn’t tell how much food I dropped on myself.

I told a waitress that we were ready to eat when all the guests had arrived and moments later, an impressive sized board was placed on our table. I didn’t catch all the names but the gist was (starting from the top left) potato salad, corn cobs, beef, grilled chicken wings, pork belly, fish balls, prawns and rice in the middle. Everything was really good, there was a vast difference in texture, flavours and meat. My pick of the platter would have to be the grilled chicken wings (regular readers would not be surprised) and the prawns (oh that sauce!). It was easy for me to get ‘handsy’ with most of the food but I really struggled to eat the rice without a spoon or chopsticks, especially since it wouldn’t clump in a ball for me as hard as I tried. I ended up with a lot of grains of rice in my hair (at the end of my plait, I didn’t just tip rice on my head) and down my dress, but it is a different way to experience food and I’d be happy to it eat again.

We didn’t understand if anymore was coming so we requested more chicken wings and rice, which we were happy to extra pay for. They came back with more rice and only two chicken wings but we weren’t charged more.

Leche flan ($9.80). A little thicker than I thought it would be, it had the texture more like New York cheesecake rather than an egg custard but it still tasted very nice.

Filipino Pop Up dinner series by Lolo and Lola

Yes! You read that right, Lolo and Lola are doing a pop up dinner series every month and I was lucky enough to attend their inaugural dinner last Thursday as their guest.

I haven’t been to Westside at night and I was happy to see that Lolo and Lola had a marquee set up with warm lighting, cute assigned seating and a menu that made me very excited.I am loving the penmanship.Adobo in four different ways pork, chicken, mushroom and snake beans. When I was browsing the menu, my eyes lit up when I saw adobo and in FOUR WAYS! It was hard to choose a favourite but being a big meat-eater I loved the pork and chicken, although the mushrooms were definitely a close second. If you have never eaten adobo, you need to change that immediately.Sinigang confit of salmon in hot tamarind broth with okra, radish and cherry tomatoes. This was unlike anything I had eaten before. The broth had strong sour notes which really made the tomatoes and radish taste very sweet, while the salmon seemed really rich and fatty without a strong fishy taste. As we ate the salmon, the broth became almost creamy and contrasting flavours weren’t as sharp.Inasal grilled chicken maryland marinated in garlic, lemongrass and vinegar with vegetable atchar salad. I could happily eat this for the rest of my life. The chicken was succulent with a fantastic marinade, while the punchy pickled vegetables kept it all refreshing. A real perfect balance of flavours displaying real skills from the kitchen.Kare-Kare Filipino stew of fork tender beef cheefs, honeycomb tripe and vegetables in annatto peanut sauce. The scaredy cat in me gave away most of my tripe but the happy girl who was enjoying everything so far kept a little bit to try, it had a really unexpected texture as it was super soft and reminded me of bone marrow. The description did not lie, this was definitely tender beef! Unsurprisingly, Lolo and Lola’s stews are always amazing.Check out how tender that meat is.Filipino fruit juice as a little refreshment between courses.Lechon slow roasted pork belly served with garlic liver sauce and petite pomelo salad. Lechon is definitely a must have dish when you have a Filipino event. The pork had a perfect crunchy crackle, the meat was succulent and it was a generous serve that defeated me towards the end. Having pieces of pomelo gave the dish a refreshing touch.Salabat brewed ginger tea with honey. This reminded me of a Chinese tong sui and took me back to my childhood and home cooking.  The tea was perfect on a cold winter’s night. As you sipped the tea, you could feel the tingle of a ginger ‘burn’ on your tongue and down your throat.Bibingka souffle interpretation of the classic coconut rice cake served with salted egg creme anglaise. Luckily we all had a different stomach for desserts and we had no trouble finishing this. I don’t love salted egg but the anglaise had just enough that you could tell it was salted egg without being overwhelming and I almost licked my shot glass clean. The souffle itself had a fluffy delicate texture that was a perfect end to a stunning dinner.

I can honestly say that I loved every dish. Kim from Lolo and Lola was describing how Filipino food is unpretentious and it really was just fantastic food with fresh ingredients and well-balanced flavours.

Since the first pop up dinner sold out in 1 hour and September booked out also, keep your eyes on their Facebook page for their upcoming dinners and get in quick!

Venue: Lolo and Lola

Address: Westside Acton Park, Container 20, 3 Barrine Dr, Acton ACT 2601

Facebook: Lolo and Lola by Waterhouse Bakers

Phone: 0412 929 780

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

I was making fun of TimmyC that we were going to somewhere called ‘Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’ for lunch despite having booked months ahead. It wasn’t until I read the definition of the ‘dinner’ on the wall did I realise that maybe dinner didn’t mean what I thought it meant.Drinks~

Cider gimlet Calvados Domfrontais, acidulated butter, cider cordial ($24.00).Peter Pipe’s pickled lemon lemonade lemon juice, lemon brine, lemon sugar, soda ($14.00). My mouth is watering just thinking about this drink again. Man it was intensely lemony and tangy.Complimentary~

Bread and butter.Starters~

Meat Fruit mandarin, chicken liver parfait and grilled bread ($38.00). This was spectacular, visually and texturally. This seemed like the obvious choice for a photo but I really enjoyed tasting this even though I’m not a huge fan of pâté like objects. The mandarin gel covering was subtle and melted away almost at an instant when it hits the tongue. I was completely blown away by how creamy the pâté tasted and the airy light texture, which was a sharp contrast to the crunchy grilled bread.This is truly a work of art.Rice & Flesh saffron, curried kangaroo, red wine and amaranth ($38.00).Savoury Porridge garlic and parsley butter, grilled abalone, pickled beetroot and fennel ($36.00). The texture of the oats along with texture of the fennel reminded me of the snail porridge from Fat Duck. TimmyC said he thought that some of the elements of the dish seemed odd but when you put everything together, it all paired perfectly.Mains~

Slow Cooked Pork Belly Spelt, lardo, baby turnip & Robert sauce ($58.00). I have never had pork belly that was as white as the clouds that tasted like a Christmas ham. It was absolutely incredible. Even though I was thoroughly enjoying my main, I leant over and helped myself to the pork belly.Chicken cooked with lettuces grilled onion emulsuion, oyster leaves and spiced parsnip sauce ($58.00).Specials~

David Blackmore Waygu (marbling score 9+ 200g) served with mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips ($120.00 yes you read that right). I know what you’re thinking, if a ‘special’ is so special, why isn’t it on the menu? The only reason that it isn’t usually on the menu is because the steak isn’t always available so now that it was, I jumped at the chance!

I think there is nothing more sad than when a steak sits alone on a plate but seriously – this needed nothing else because it was perfect just the way it was. I didn’t even eat the mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips after tasting them (I hear you all gasping!). It was the nicest steak I’ve ever eaten; it was well seasoned but the meat itself was very flavoursome and it almost didn’t require chewing because it melted in your mouth. The only downside is that it has ruined me for other steak.That marbling- WOW!The triple cooked chips were really crunchy.Desserts~

Tipsy cake spit roast pineapple with a freshly baked brioche ($32.00). When the waiter was describing how the pineapple was prepared by spit roasting while being basted in an apple salted caramel sauce, I was sold! What really surprised me about the dessert was the amazing freshly made brioche; it completely blew me away. I spent a lot of my time sniffing its intoxicating scent, it reminded me of stepping into a bakery. The brioche is finished off with brandy and Sauternes cream which was like an amazing bread and butter pudding on another level. I would have this every day if I could.Want a bite?The beautiful pineapples slowly being spit roasted while being basted every now and then.Chocolate bar passionfruit jam and ginger ice cream ($30.00).The Lamington cake raspberry jam, toasted coconut, rum and vanilla ice cream ($30.00).A little something something~

Just when we thought the experience was about to end, we were given an extra little something sweet before we left. Chocolate ganache with carraway seed biscuit– the ganache was extremely soft and smooth and the biscuit was the perfect accompaniment because it offset the sweetness.We found the service to be very attentive, efficient and friendly. I wouldn’t wait for a special occasion, just come here and experience fantastic food.Venue: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Address: Crown Towers Melbourne, 130/8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC

Phone(03) 9292 5779

Websitewww.dinnerbyheston.com.au/

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

All You Can Eat

When you mention ‘all you can eat’, most people would think of the the dodgy looking Family Food Court upstairs in Dickson (which is now closed) or the Star Buffet down in Kambah, but there is more that Canberra can offer.

See below for more all you can eat options.

Kusina 

Monday Madness 5pm – 9pm ( $24.00 pp). Choose one of the platters or better still go with someone else to get a chance to eat a bit of everything, just finish your platter before ordering more. Monday Madness is served with unlimited papaya salad, rice and soft drink.

Grilled platter grilled pork belly marinated with sweet BBQ sauce + grilled chicken marinated lemongrass, ginger, garlic, soy

or

Fry up platter crispy chicken wings + crispy pork bellyUntitled.png


Park Hyatt Canberra Afternoon Tea ($59.00pp)

Enjoy the famous afternoon tea buffet during Friday (2:30pm to 5:00pm), Saturday and Sunday (11:00am to 1:30pm and 2:30pm to 5:00pm) at the Park Hyatt. They have an array of savouries, finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, a selection of tempting cakes and slices and includes a glass of Lerida Estate Zenzi sparkling wine.


The Promenade Cafe

This is one I’ve haven’t tried yet but they have a breakfast buffet, seafood buffet and a BBQ and roast buffet! This is the information I found on their website.

Breakfast
Daily Full Buffet ($39.00pp)

Lunch
Saturday Full Seafood Buffet with antipasto, hot and grand desserts ($75.00pp)

Sunday BBQ and Roast Buffet with bountiful seafood, soup of the day with fresh bread, live cooking stations, gourmet salads and selections of antipasto, hot buffet dishes, farmhouse cheeses and decadent desserts ($85.00pp for cuisine only or $115.00pp inclusive of unlimited beverages for 2 hours that includes Australian sparkling, white and red wine, draught beer & soft drink).

Dinner
Wednesday – Sunday  Full Seafood Buffet with antipasto, hot and grand dessert ($75.00pp)


Up 2 U ($25.00pp)

During the cold winter nights, you can warm up with a personal steam boat with your friends at Up 2 U in Belconnen. There is a large range of meat, noodles, vegetables, seafood options and condiments.

If ‘all you can eat’ hot pot isn’t for you, you can also order their delicious claypot rice or BBQed skewers.


Eightysix ($86.00pp)

That’s right, you can get all you can eat at a fancy pants trendy restaurant. Apparently no disclaimers, just let them know you’re ordering the all you can eat menu, order until your heart/stomach’s content and try and be out before the next seating (usually two hours). We greedily ordered all their desserts because we could!

Their pasta range is A-MA-ZING! Read my latest visit here.

 

There is a huge variety in the ‘all you can eat’ sector from sweets to Asian to modern Australian, all with a varying price tag. Which one will you be trying?

 

 

 

Eightysix

I know this is a big call to make because we aren’t even close to the end of the year but my meal at Eightysix last week was definitely in the top 3 best meals I’ve had in Canberra this year. What was even better was that it was only $86pp and I say ‘only’ because for this price, it was all we could eat… And so we did.

Duck bun with hoisin and hot sauce. This was a nice soft bun that had a nice meaty filling but I think the pickles overpowered everything. Whoever was running this station was very efficient as every time we ordered them they came out super fast. Gnocco fritto. This is like a deep-fried pastry topped with prosciutto but I found the pastry a bit too oily for me.Heirloom carrot, hummus, mint and almonds. Who knew I could enjoy carrots so much? This was a perfect pairing of flavours and with all the pasta and meat, it was good to have a salad somewhere in there. I love the sweetness from the cranberries, apples and carrots.Four cheese risotto with radicchio and balsamic. Man I love a cheesy good risotto, it was a shame I had to share.

Don’t be fooled by the camera angle, this was a really small serve. Order three!Pappardelle with parmesan and local black truffle. I felt that the truffle didn’t have as much of an effect because it wasn’t infused in anything. It was a nice simple pasta and the perfectly cooked egg yolk bursts to make a rich sauce.Pumpkin and mascarpone tortellini with hazelnuts. This ladies and gentleman, was exquisite. I really do love things that involve a pumpkin parcel pasta with burnt butter sage combo and this has to be the BEST rendition I’ve ever had. Hands down! Before they change the menu you HAVE to try this. The filling is silky smooth, the pasta thickness is perfect and the sage is super crispy.Rag pasta with lamb and rosemary ragu. I loved the sauce, the pasta, the whole thing. This was a very close second pasta choice for the table. Ghetto beef with rocket and salsa verde. I had tried this before where the beef was really dry and the rocket leaves were limp, I couldn’t tell if this time was much better or I was just really hungry. Be aware that the beef is rather quite pink, one of my friends didn’t eat it which meant more for us!Whole lamb shoulder with sides. Wow! This was incredible! A wonderful lamb roast served with chimichurri sauce and a really smooth mash potato and jus. This was apparently a 1kg roast and we almost finished the whole thing.One of the downsides of being in a busy restaurant is the wait. Sometimes there was a 15-20 minute wait between dishes, which left us a little frustrated and hungry and in turn we ordered more food hoping that something would come to the table soon. Despite ordering so many things, we had very little wastage. I knew we were testing the time constraints of our sitting (2 hours) but we asked if we could have dessert with a hopeful look in our eye. The waiter checked to see if there was someone waiting for our table but he came back happy to report we could squeeze in our dessert first.

There was a little pause in the conversation when the waiter asked us what we wanted for dessert and without hesitation while not joking I replied ‘all of them’.Strawberry cheesecake. I loved the soft creamy textures with strawberries. I didn’t realise that there was granola at the bottom for the ‘base’ until I dug a little deeper but there was a strong saltiness to it that I didn’t enjoy.

It might not look like much but I promise you there is a lot going on under that snow.Choc mint fudge sundae. If you love the choc mint combo then this is definitely for you, it was like an after dinner mint on the palette. There was a really good brownie somewhere in all that.Caramel popcorn sundae. I felt that the signature dish of the restaurant was superseded by the other desserts. It is a nice combination but this wasn’t our favourite this time.Banoffee pie. That caramel wasn’t too sweet which meant that this wasn’t OTT. A great way to finish the meal.Frozen margarita. The description didn’t give much away but this tasted like lemon meringue. It was very delicate and was the pick of the desserts. You have to try this!Even though there was a wait from the kitchen, the front of house service was fantastic, efficient and attentive. I keep telling everyone about my experience and it excited me so much I pushed it up my backlog of posts to write about because I wanted you all to know about it too.

Venue: Eightysix

Address: Elouera St, Mode 3 Building, Braddon,ACT

Phone: (02) 6161 8686
Eightysix Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chocolate fondant deal at Mövenpick Kingston Foreshore

Today marks The Swiss National day and to celebrate all things Swiss during our cold Canberra winter, Mövenpick – Kingston Foreshore have kindly offered readers a special deal on their amazing chocolate fondant cake with a hot drink for only $14.95 when you show them this post and like either their Instagram or Facebook page! That is a sweet (get it?) deal! See the details below.

Chocolate fondant deal at Movenpick Kingston foreshore

Dates: Monday – Thursday during the month of August 2016
Deal: chocolate fondant cake (which comes with a scoop of ice cream) + hot drink
Price: $14.95 (rrp $19.95) 
Redemption: ‘follow’ Mövenpick – Kingston Foreshore’s  Instagram or ‘like’ their Facebook page and show them this post when paying.

 

Chocolate fondant rich, molten chocolate fondant served with decadent hot fudge sauce and a scoop of Mövenpick ice cream and finished with a fresh strawberryimg_7232-3
I chose the chocolate fondant as my pick of their winter dessert range as it was indulgent but not overly sweet and the perfect winter warmer.So if you’re in the area and you want to warm up with a gooey chocolate fondant cake and hot drink, don’t forget about this deal!

Venue: Mövenpick Kingston Foreshore

Address: Element, Kingston Foreshore, 154/43 Eastlake parade, Kingston ACT 2601

Phone(02) 6112 8725

Opening times: 11:00am–10:00pm 7 day a week

Mövenpick Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato