Biota re-run

I could not visit Bowral without going to Biota, the restaurant holds a special place in my heart because that is where TimmyC proposed to me. We have been there multiple times; the first visit was an eye widening, jaw dropping meal as we had never had that kind of dining experience before. The second time, I didn’t love it as much and I was starting to wonder if they were doing unusual things for the sake of being avant-garde and the third was a casual encounter on the bar side trying to eat as many croquettes as I could.Keen to add it to my birthday dining list, TimmyC booked weeks in advance so we didn’t miss out.Cooler months Five courses ($110.00 pp)

Snacks~Pear and cheese. This reminded me of a sheep milk cigar I had at MoVida, the outer layer is chewy and sweet which offset the tartness of the cheese.Kangaroo and Acacia jerky This was really tough jerky (but I guess most of them are), but the kangaroo flavours were subtle which is good because I don’t usually enjoy the strong aftertaste of kangaroo.Tasty Dory roe fish smoked roe with charcoal lavosh bread, garlic oil and salsa verde. I could not believe how much I enjoyed this. When I ran out of lavosh bread I started slathering it on the rye loaf.

Molasses and Rye loaf with cultured butter. I found the crust a little too tough and chewy but that is my personal preference.  The soft bready centre created a wonderful transportation system to get all the tasty dory roe into my mouth.

The bread is hiding in the fur pouch.Mains~

Creamed eggs, spanner crab and persimmon. This was perfection. The richness of this dish reminded me of the delicious crab dish from Noma but the flavours reminded me of a burnt butter sage pasta.Whipped potato, hen yolk and cabbage buds confit hens yolk, whipped potato, garden Brussels sprouts and egg white pearls. I was really surprised that the cabbage leaves were more sweet rather than bitter. The whipped potato was light in flavour and texture which went well with the rich yolk and refreshing cabbage leaves.Peek-a-boo, there is the egg yolk!Pastured fed beef cooked over coals beef cooked over coals with leeks and potato. My favourite things on a plate. The beef itself had lots of flavour but the leeks and potato it to another whole savoury level. I would have preferred a bigger portion but that’s just me being selfish.Dessert~

Sheep yoghurt and our honey. Tim was ready to hand over his plate when they said sheep yoghurt, but he was probably glad that I prompted him to try it first as he was scraping the last of his bowl while I was finishing up with my photos. There was no strong aftertaste that I usually find with most sheep dairy products. The tartness of the yoghurt was sweetened with the perfect amount of honey and I loved the abundance of the finger lime. It was so ridiculous how good this dessert was even though it was so simple, it was just a perfect balance of flavours.Mandarin and goats milk custard. The mandarin powder coating had a slight bitterness to it but it quickly dissipated as the delicate sweetness of the meringue and centre hits the palate. The softness texture of the ball with the icy sorbet reminded me of the snow egg from Quay.

It is so sweet that they put a candle in for my birthday.Beverages~ I ordered the non-alcoholic juice pairing which was really good and I loved how complex the flavours were ($50.00pp?).

Lemonade, smoke apple and pear juice, red grapes with cinnamon cloves and bitters and ending with caramelised pomegranate and grapefruit. 
I loved how the menu keeps evolving and changing almost every week to encompass local fresh produce. We really enjoyed our meal and the service was perfection. Ingredients are not puréed, chopped or foamed, they appear  whole and are paired perfectly with each other. It is almost like there was minimal cooking (but a lot of talent) and it was showcasing the best produce.

Venue: Biota

Address: 18 Kangaloon Rd, Bowral NSW 2576

Phone(02) 4862 2005

Entertainment book: I’m so annoyed I forgot to use my Canberra 2016/17 book, I told TimmyC he will have to take me again.
Biota Dining Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Outback Jacks re-run

I didn’t think I would be back here in a hurry and it puzzled me that another franchise of Outback Jacks was opening in Civic but due to over shopping on my part, we thought we’d stay within the Belconnen mall to get dinner rather than venturing out to the suburbs which was the original plan. It also really helped having the Entertainment book voucher which provides a ‘complimentary main meal’ when another main meal is purchased.

They were nice enough to accommodate for my friend who can’t eat pork (very sad I know) and replaced the pork ribs from the Steak and Ribs combo with lamb ribs 100 day grain feed 300g rump and out meaty Jack Daniels basted pork ribs, served with chips and salad ($39.95). My friend really really enjoyed her ribs! I have never had lamb ribs before but now I’m curious to try. Her steak which she ordered ‘rare’ was bordering towards medium but I think the deliciousness of the lamb ribs made up for it.IMG_4682.JPGPrime rib on the bone (400g) served bone in to maximise tenderness and improve flavour. Our champion steak! ($39.95). My other friend and I ordered the same steak but she got hers with a ‘surf & turf topper’ ($10.00) while I opted for mushroom sauce on the side (2.95). I was much more impressed with my steak than last time I was here (last time I had the steak and ribs combo). The steak was cooked to medium rare which was how I ordered it and prefer it. You could taste the meat which what I like in the steak but I did like the creamy richness that the mushroom sauce provided.

Prime rib on  the bone with a surf and turf topper. Best of both words if you like steak and seafood.IMG_4675.JPGMy simple steak with the sauce on the side so I could control how much I had per mouthful or ditch it if it tasted horrible, but luckily it wasn’t!IMG_4677.JPGA cross-section of my medium rare steak.IMG_4679.JPGThe service has really improved, the giggling unhelpful girls were either not rostered on or have been replaced with more efficient staff. We ended up going somewhere else for dessert and I was partially not ready to relive that experience again. The Civic store has some hope if they have good service, tasty food and family friendliness. It is really close to Hogs Breath though, so we’ll see.

Read my previous visit here.

Entertainment books 2014/2015

So you guys would know by now that I’m a big big fan of the Entertainment book, using it when I can to save on restaurant bills and trying to beat my previous record of 14 restaurants from the Gold card (has anyone gotten higher than this? TimmyC said that it was a poor effort on my behalf). I usually save the cost of the book (ACT book $60.00) after eating at two restaurants and it is how I find out about a lot of new places to eat, so it is a no brainer that I get one (and I already have!).

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This year my friends are selling books to help raise funds for a local Canberra woman Narelle Raftery who was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2013, through fundraising efforts they hope to relieve her financial burden (treatment and pills are expensive!) so she can focus on getting better. So if you haven’t bought a book yet, please consider buying one from them. You can find the link below.

The 2013/14 Entertainment™ Book is expires on 1 June 2014! Make sure you contact us to secure your 2014|2015 Membership before they sell out! So many amazing offers are waiting for you! Click this link to buy your Membership TODAY! https://www.entertainmentbook.com.au/orderbooks/914981n

This year they have two options: the traditional paper book or the digital version which can be shared across four devices (for all those who forget their book at home).

 

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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

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