Maestral- long time no see

It had been years since I had been to Maestral in Weston and a revisit was long overdue. When I stepped into the dining room, I had forgotten how tiny their space was, but it always filled with happy patrons and today was no different.

Platter potatoes, calamari, pan-fried fish, prawns and oysters to your liking ($36.00). Everything on the plate was finished. I loved the potatoes, the calamari was tender without being oily, the prawns were plump and the fish was cooked perfectly. Unfortunately, the Kilpatrick oysters weren’t as grilled as I would have liked but the oysters themselves were fat and meaty.Hand made pasta with chilli, capers and crab meat ($30.00). I loved the texture of the pasta and it was cooked perfectly. The sauce had lots of flavour and a nice dose of chilli kick; I would happily eat either of these dishes.Garden salad ($5.00). A simple light salad that was well dressed and stifled our guilty conscious of eating something green in our meal.The service was attentive and food came out in a timely manner. I must go back again soon, I really do miss seafood.

 

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

Mr. Wong

I had culled a lot of my backlog drafts but this was one I was desperate to tell you about.
I had to been to Mr. Wong once before but without TimmyC which he constantly reminds me about, so when we had some free time between visiting family, we decided to go there for dinner. They don’t take bookings for less than 6 people for dinner, so we had no choice but to wing it. Knowing we had a public holiday on the Monday in Canberra, TimmyC and I figured ‘how busy could a restaurant be on a Sunday night, especially when there was only 3 of us?’, the answer is VERY. We arrived just before 7 pm and the next available table for 3 pax was just after 8:30 pm. We were there, TimmyC could almost taste the duck, so we put our name down on the list and took a stroll to get some cheesecake from Uncle Tetsu’s while we waited.
When we came back more eager than before, the table was still not available yet but they encouraged us to get a drink at the bar. Just after browsing the cocktail list, we were approached by the wait staff again and shown to a table downstairs. All my photos are pretty dark because of the poor lighting inside.

Coconut martini mocktail I didn’t get a photo of the description, all I remember is there was kiffir lime ($10.00). I’ve had a lot of mocktails in my time and most of them just end up tasting like a tropical fruit juice or a sweet fizzy soda, but I simply adored this. There was so much complexity in the flavours and it morphed as my tongue picked up different flavours, all this within a sip. I can’t wait to go back and go through the rest of the list.
Starters~
Dim sum platters steamed dim sum platter (8 pieces) a selection of today’s specialties ($32.00). The different dumplings were a combination of lobster, duck, scallops and the like. All of them were very delicate, perfect and oh so delicious. I would highly recommend ordering this despite the price tag.
Peking duck pancakes (half serve 8 pancakes $45.00). You cannot come to Mr. Wong and not order their duck. It is amazing. I love the duck pieces as it has a good skin to meat ratio, the meat is tender and the skin is impeccable.
Mains~
Prawns, scallops and calamari wok fried with ginger and spring onions ($36.00). To have prawns, scallops and calamari cooked perfectly until it was all tender was fantastic, I just wish there was more of a ‘sear’ to them from the wok.
Sweet and sticky pork ribs ($34.00). They did not lie, these ribs were sweet and sticky! Perhaps a little too sweet for my taste, but the meat was very tender.
Stir fried snow peas, sugar snap peas and broccoli with garlic and rice wine ($19.00). It was easy to get your fill of vegetables when they tasted this good.
King crab fried rice “typhoon shelter style” with garlic and chili (small $24.00). A fried rice is best eaten hot and that is what I told myself as I scoffed mouthfuls of rice like I had not eaten in days. The taste of crab was subtle but I really liked the oomph that the garlic and chili added.
Dessert~
Mango pudding with coconut tapioca, lychee granita and mango pearls ($16.00). TimmyC said he was starting to get full already after the starters but he then proceeded to eat the mains, by this stage, he was convinced he had enough and was so full that he could not order the deep fried ice cream that he had his eye on since we sat down. The waitress then came past to see if we wanted any dessert and just as TimmyC finished his ‘no dessert’ declaration to the table, he ordered the mango pudding almost in the same breath. There were no regrets. The mango pudding was silky smooth and we loved the flavour combination with the coconut and lychees.
I still dream about those mango pearls. Instead of just being flat one noted gelatinous balls, they actually burst in your mouth releasing sweet and juicy mango flavour, it reminded me of the dessert version of fish roe. Incredible!
Even though I was impressed by everything from the ambiance, to the efficient staff to the amazing food we had, I think I preferred our starters to the mains. It might have been our menu choices but those starters were seriously next level. I guess we will just have to come back and try more of the menu to know.

Venue: Mr. Wong

Address: 3 Bridge St, Sydney NSW 2000

Phone(02) 9240 3000

 

Mr. Wong Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Flatheads

I remember going to Flatheads back in the day at least once a week. They delivered on giving me a delicious cheeseburger and I always ordered a potato scallop that I would slide in under my bun lid. For it me it was always quick and reliable.So you could imagine my delight when I saw that The Food Avenue posted the return of the awesome fish and chip shop but other than being in the same location, everything else has changed. The menu is different, their look is a thousand times more modern and it really is just an extension from Duxton’s bistro as they share the same kitchen. There are a lot of ‘on the go’ products even for those with a sweet tooth.Check out their menu!Fisherman basket calamari, oysters, panko crumbed prawns, fish, chips, lemon and tartar sauce ($20.00). I wanted to eat fish and chips and as much variety as I could, so this was the logical choice for me. Unfortunately by the end of it I was having deep fried sweats and I couldn’t eat anymore, leaving behind some calamari, some prawns and a lot of chips. I didn’t love my oysters as it looked like someone had gouged them while shucking the shell. I wouldn’t order this again unless I shared it with someone and ordered something else non deep fried but I would like to go back and try with cheeseburger (no potato scallops on the menu, boooooo!) or their pizzas.BBQ King prawns and salad chilli, garlic ($20.00). After indulging in a big breakfast, my friend wanted a lighter lunch option but she was surprised to see a big portion and that her meal also came with chips. I was amazed to see 6 prawns in the box but my friend said that she was little disappointed with the lack of freshness because they were hard to peel. It got really messy real quick- not a first date meal.Fish and chips barramundi, lemon, tartar sauce ($16.00). My other friend really enjoyed his lunch but he couldn’t finish it. You can get your fish either battered or grilled.The service was friendly, I think they have incredible opening hours and it is handy to have a take away shop in the area. I wonder if you could just grab a big bottle of water from the pub otherwise you’ll be left paying $4 bucks for Mount Franklin water like I did.

Venue: Flatheads

Address: cnr Bluebell street and Macpherson street, O’Connor

Phone: (02) 62477330

Opening hours: 6am – late, 7 days

Yummy Chinese BBQ re-run

I haven’t been back to Yummy Chinese BBQ since it just opened but with the cooler weather setting in, my friends and I wanted to warm ourselves with hot food over some hot coals. See my first post here.

Things have changed slightly since my last visit; there is no more steam boat, the small hot plates that sat in the charcoal chamber have been replaced with big gas hot plates which means more room to cook chicken wings and there is no more confusing iPad to order things from.

Yummy Chinese BBQ offers you ‘all you can eat’ from a range of skewers and raw meat that you cook yourselves and a buffet of hot Chinese food for those who can’t wait for the food to be cooked.

$36.00 per person all you can eat and $3.00 for unlimited orange juice and Coca Cola.
Skewers on offer include prawns, smoky lamb, beef and caramelised pork. We were not constrained with a time limit which was good because the coals took a while to arrive and we didn’t mind sitting outside because it meant it was less smoky. The food choice might seem a little odd to some because it is more ‘traditional’ Chinese food (that night’s buffet selection included pipis, fish in a chilli sauce, chicken feet and sesame balls filled with red bean) but it is a fun and different way to dine with friends.

We were done eating just under two hours and I basically just ate my weight in chicken wings.
Yummy Chinese BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Noma Australia re-run

This title might seem a little odd as Noma Australia isn’t a place you usually get into once during their ten week pop up at Barangaroo, let alone twice (see my first post here).

I had said to TimmyC during my wedding speech that I didn’t know how he was going to top taking me to the Fat Duck when it was in Melbourne, but I hoped that he would try and here I am. I know I am a very lucky girl when there were supposedly 27,000 people on a wait list.

The menu was mainly unchanged since our last visit, although they had incorporated the avocado as another course into the degustation and there wasn’t any foraged blackberries this time. Overall, the consistency between visits was pretty high.

This time we went for lunch, I was hoping to get better photos with the natural light.

An overall glance at the entire 13 course degustation menu ($493 per person including credit card costs).Unripe macadamia and spanner crab the juice of a spanner crab, green macadamia nuts with rose oil.Wild seasonal berries flavoured with gubinge bowl of berries (lilli pilli, native lime etc) with seaweed oil dusted with kakadu native plum powder.Porridge of golden and desert oak wattleseed with saltbush wattle porridge topped with salt bush and finger lime.Seafood platter and crocodile fat starting from the bottom right hand corner pipi, blue mussel, strawberry clam, cockle and oyster all prepared with tomato juice and crocodile fat.

This time I remembered to take a photo!W.A. deep sea snow crab with cured egg yolk lightly steamed snow crab in a fermented kangaroo meat sauce (we are pretty sure that is what they said).PIE: dried scallops and nasturium flowers kelp tart with scallop fudge and a celery reduction served with foraged flowers.BBQed milk ‘dumpling’ with marron and magpie goose marron brushed with magpie goose ragout wrapped in a burnt milk skin.Mushroom paste and tomato dried with pepperberries semi dried tomatoes from the Blue Mountains with mushroom paste. This was the alternative dish to sea urchin.Truffle and avocado kelp, avocado and truffle.Abalone schnitzel and bush condiments finger lime, beach floral bouquet, succulent, kakadu native plum, Neptune’s necklace, glass beads, seaside fennel served with an abalone schnitzel and celery yeast water.It takes great skill to cook abalone well.The table was divided between choosing their favourite course between the snow crab, marron and the schnitzel; they were all still my favourite and I enjoyed them even more the second time around.

Marinated fresh fruit mango ice cream sandwich with green ants, compressed watermelon with black currant wood oil and pineapple sprayed in whisky and sprinkled with some salt.A close up of the mango gelato sandwich with green ants.Mirrabelle plum, lime and pepperberry twigs.Rum lamington lamington with milk crumb and native tamarind sauce.Peanut milk and freekah “Baytime”.Native lime.Noma have auctioned off their last dinner service (2nd April) in Australia, with profits going to OzHarvest and MAD. They have also given back to the community by allowing hospitality students an opportunity to dine at Noma free of charge, a tour of the kitchen and time to meet members of the Noma team. They also offered a vocational program for aspiring chefs and waiters as well as baking bread for the homeless.

I think it was fantastic having the Noma team in Australia, they have inspired chefs, they have pushed boundaries and showed off Australia’s unique native ingredients.

 

Progressive walking dinner – Kingston foreshore

It is always wonderful to meet up with like minded people, so when fellow foodies and I met for dinner at Kingston foreshore and we weren’t sure what to eat, we strategically planned for a progressive walking dinner to get the most of our meal.

To start we made good use of C dine‘s ‘Buck a Shuck’ Friday’s in summer and we had a dozen oysters each for our entree.Venue:C dine bar

Address:17/19 East Lake Parade, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

Phone: (02) 6239 5299
C Dine Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


7 by the Lake has only opened recently so we were excited to check it out. As we walked in, I was confused by the decor, it was supposed to be an Indian restaurant but it had African-eqsue statues around the room.

We ordered three curries: Goanese prawns ($29.90), murgh makhani (aka butter chicken $23.90) and palak paneer ($23.90). I really enjoyed their butter chicken, it isn’t your typical creamy and sweet version. I felt that the prawns and the paneer tasted slightly watery and didn’t absorb the flavours of the curry, maybe because it was added in later from a stock sauce.

 

We also ordered a serve of masala kulcha fermented plain flour bread stuffed with a mix of spiced potatoes and herbs, sprinkled with onion seeds, chopped coriander and mint, cooked in a tandoor ($5.00). It smelt divine and I would easily just eat this with butter chicken and be happy.
Our waitress did three odd things while we were there 1) she didn’t really know the name of the dish when she put down our palak paneer, she just stated it was our ‘cheese dish’ 2) she interrupted our conversation when she over heard us wanting to have dessert somewhere else 3) she opened the bill folder counted the money at the table, every last cent of it.

 

I found the prices of the curries a little steep but to be fair, everything along the Kingston foreshore seems to be over priced. I really enjoyed the bread and the chicken curry but I feel that isn’t enough to have me running back for more any time soon.

 

Venue: 7 by the lake (contemporary Indian cuisine)

Address: 143/41 East Lake Parade, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

Phone(02) 6140 7040

Websitewww.sevenbythelake.com/
7 by the lake Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


To not be disappointed any more, we opted dessert an an old favourite, Morks. I had eaten their other desserts recently so I chose the Pikachu *I choose you* mango gelato ($3.00) for dessert with a side of BBQ pork bun ($8.00). It may not be conventional but I think a BBQ pork bun and mango gelato from @morksrestaurant was a wonderful way to end the nights meal. Venue: Morks

Address: 18-19 East Lake Parade, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

Phone(02) 6295 0112
Morks Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Stunned Mullet re-run

I was going to just let this restaurant visit slide but as soon as the amazing warmed bread arrived, I instinctively started taking photos. We had taken TimmyC’s Grandma with us to the Stunned Mullet two years ago and she was very keen to go back, was it was going to be as good as we remembered?IMG_8257.JPGSourdough with Roast Chilli and Pecorino Little Gen EVOO 8 ($8.50). It is very expensive for bread and oil but it is warmed perfectly, the crust is crunchy and the bread itself is so soft and fluffy. Yes TimmyC’s Grandma couldn’t wait and grabbed the first slice before I took a photo.IMG_8243.JPGGlacier 51 Toothfish soy and mirin stock, Asian salad, galangal, smoked shallot chilli ginger reduction ($48.00). I had my heart set on the Cape Grim beef but when the waiter was describing the toothfish, I was easily swayed. His logic is that there is always beef on a menu but you would rarely get a chance to eat toothfish.

The flesh of the fish was unlike any fish I’ve had before, the texture was a cross between a scallop and the meaty pincer of a mud crab. The meat itself wasn’t sweet like a mudcrab but you got hints of sweetness from the mirin in the sauce. I had no regrets ordering this dish.IMG_8251.JPGPhotos of my dish from every angle.IMG_8252.JPGIMG_8253.JPGPork Belly and Seared Scallops nuoc cham and Asian salad ($38.00). TimmyC had his eyes set on the pork and scallops and asked for this to be served as a main, I thought the main price was steep for not many pieces of pork and scallops, I’m just glad that they executed this dish perfectly. The pork crackling was crispy and fatty and the pork was well cooked while still remaining moist. The scallops were fantastic! They were easily the best scallops I’ve had in a restaurant recently; the sear was really good and the meat was naturally sweet. TimmyC wasn’t particularly a big fan of the bold Asian flavours in the sauce but we just tilted the plate so he would get less of it.IMG_8250.JPGLamb Shoulder parsnip puree, red chutney, labne, watercress, compressed apple, papadum ($25.00). Grandma ordered a smaller sized dish but wow, the flavours were so complex and there were so many textures to the plate. I am now a big fan of labna! The lamb meat was super tender and had so many spices in it which gave it a middle Eastern feel.IMG_8245.JPG

IMG_8247.JPGSides~

Mizuna lettuce salad with hazelnuts, pear, pecorino and verjuice ($11.00). I loved the delicate pecorino cheese which was mounded on top. The greens were partly light and well washed and I adored the combination of pear and hazelnuts.IMG_8246.JPGDesserts~ all desserts were $18.00.

Chocolate Hazelnut textures, white chocolate cremeux, praline semifreddo, strawberries, chocolate brownie, vanilla mascarpone cream. I thought there was too much going on with this dessert which was much to TimmyC’s delight as he devoured the rest. He has a bigger sweet tooth than me so he probably didn’t think that this dish was too rich.IMG_8259.JPGVanilla Bean Macarons, poached pear, cinnamon crumble, gorgonzola gelato, cider gel. I really liked their size of macarons, they were big but very delicate with a subtle vanilla bean filling. I knew instantly TimmyC would dislike the gorgonzola gelato but I thought it paired perfectly with the poached pears. The two blobs of gel looked deceivingly black but that was because of the slate plating, it was actually in fact like a very smooth apple sauce.IMG_8264.JPG

IMG_8266.JPGThe staff is always attentive and polite here and the food is magnificent. Even if you just bypass through Port Macquarie, I definitely recommend that you plan your trip around having a meal here.

Yummy Chinese BBQ

So I found this sitting in my drafts folder and I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to finish this post, here it is!

I love it when friends find new places to eat, I just get to go along for the ride with very few details about the food. The new place we were headed to this time was called Yummy Chinese BBQ, based on the name I assumed we were going somewhere where ducks and bbq pork hung from the windows.
My friend sent me a message before we met to wear something that I wouldn’t mind smelling like BBQ smoke, luckily he did because I had a whole new outfit picked out, now I was going to wear any ol’ thing.

It is an ‘all you can eat’ situation with ‘cook it yourself’ elements from the BBQ and hotpot whilst also being able to choose some pre-made hot food from the buffet ($35.00 pp with a two-hour time limit).

The Uni Lodge Precinct is forever growing and is catering towards the increasing Asian student population in the area. IMG_5474.JPGIMG_5475.JPGAfter snapping photos of the surrounding area, I met my friends at the table and a look of confusion took over my face, if it’s a charcoal BBQ place, why is there a hot pot? I was further confused when I was also told there was an all you could eat buffet inside. With so much variety, where do I start?

Well the coals weren’t in the BBQ yet so that could take the back burner. My Asian friend was in charge of the tablet where you could order drinks and skewered meats for the BBQ, so I left her to deal with that as I went to venture inside to check out what was happening. At first, I didn’t know if I liked the thought of sitting outside until I went inside… Although there were exhaust fans above each grill, the feeling of smoke was irritating to the eyes.

 No coals yet, time to go to plan B.IMG_5478.JPGPlan B requires food input from the food buffet inside. Okay! Inside we go!

Broths are continually refilled by the wait staff and there is one hot pot between two people. It does take up valuable table real estate though because there isn’t much space left after a BBQ is fitted into the table.IMG_5480.JPG I’ve never seen portable hot pots like this and I thought the pattern was gorgeous!IMG_5476.JPGThe tablet luckily had some English translation or I’d be very lost. IMG_5479.JPGInside there is a cold open fridge with unlabeled marinated meats for the BBQ, an assortment of Asian salads, a limited range of sweets and fruit, a buffet of noodles, luncheon meat, greens for the hot pot and the last three trays were filled with hot ready to eat food (fish, pippies and crab).

The unidentified meat fridge is constantly being restocked. I particularly liked the chicken wings and garlic bread on the BBQ.IMG_5483.JPGA weird combination of sauce/condiments and dessert area. Not too many to choose from, just some sesame balls and fruit (not refilled yet).IMG_5484.JPGA variety of salads that I didn’t try at all, I was too busy om nom noming other things.IMG_5482.JPGNext up: an assortment of luncheon meat, vegetables and noodles for the hot pot as well as some pre-made hot food.IMG_5485.JPGI went to town on the pippies, the crab looked like it was too much effort for little return. IMG_5491.JPGI grabbed a few things for our hot pots.IMG_5503.JPGIMG_5504.JPGIMG_5500.JPGThe coals finally arrive!IMG_5497.JPGIt’s time to BBQ!IMG_5498.JPGThe BBQs are fitted with genius moving racks that have slots to connect with your skewer and constantly rotate them for even cooking.IMG_5501.JPGIt’s all starting to happen on the table, BBQ, hot pot and om nom noms. IMG_5502.JPGIt is a good way to dine as it provides some instant food as well as a fun way to eat with friends, it also allows everyone to eat what they like while still sharing an experience together.IMG_5510.JPGI must admit it was a fun way to dine with friends once you figure out all the food options and what was happening. There is a combination of ready to eat foods as well as novelty ‘cook it yourself’ options and once all the food starts cooking, you could be eating for a non stop 2 hour duration.

Unfortunate traits are: figuring out what all the unlabeled meats were (I’m pretty sure I ate tongue somewhere), some of the meats were too fatty and not worth cooking, going to trek for the toilets which were deceivingly far away and getting the smell of BBQ smoke from your hair and clothes.

Venue: Yummy Chinese BBQ

Address1 Childers St Canberra, ACT

Phone: 02 6248 9154

Opening hours:

IMG_5481.JPG

Yummy Chinese BBQ on Urbanspoon

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.

The District

Who knew, tucked away in the suburbs that The District existed, but I guess that’s what the place needs since the Gungahlin area is expanding so rapidly. We couldn’t get a table til 8pm and when I went in, I realised why. Number 1: it is very popular and number 2: they have very limited seated when it is cold and no one wants to sit outside.

I made a rookie mistake and ate a very large snack to keep me going to dinner time but instead it probably limited my stomach space and therefore limited my choices on what we tried from the menu.

The District is a versatile place that welcomes friends and families in a casual environment which has a menu to suit everyone and a lot of drink specials at the bar.IMG_4355.JPGIMG_4354.JPGIMG_4353.JPGLight starters~

Creamy garlic prawns with steamed rice ($15.90). Probably not the best value considering it was almost the same price as our shared main but it was very delicious, rich and creamy which almost made TimmyC order another one, but I suggested he leave room for dessert. We drenched our whole rice into the sauce and ate every last grain *licks lips*. IMG_4363-0.JPG
A close up of the creamy garlic prawns.IMG_4366.JPGThe Pizza~ (gluten free bases available)

Funghi with mushrooms and mozzarella ($16.00). TimmyC just wanted to eat something light and simple, so when I suggested pizza, he wanted to choose a basic topping. The base was really nice and the perfect thickness (for me), despite being really cheesy with the beautiful stretch of mozzarella when you pull away, I think the cheese lacked a bit of salty flavour.IMG_4374.JPGCheck out that gorgeous cheesy stretch when you pull a slice away.IMG_4373.JPGThe District Specials~

700g Cattleman Cutlet with herb and garlic roasted kipflers topped with tiger prawns and seeded mustard hollandaise ($38.90). This was shared between two people so it wasn’t a huge monstrosity to devour. My friends really enjoyed this, they ordered it medium rare and it came out perfectly despite it’s very thick cut.IMG_4370.JPGDesserts~

Rosemary  and white chocolate panna cotta with berry compote ($13.00). It might seem like an odd combination and it was, but that wasn’t what I had a problem with as I took a liking to the subtle taste of rosemary. It was the texture. As soon as I placed a spoonful on my tongue, I could feel the gritty texture. It was odd because overall it was smooth with a fine grain grit throughout it all. A shame really because it had a lovely wobble to it.IMG_4379.JPGPeanut butter parfait ($12.00). This was like a cold ice-cream version of a picnic chocolate bar minus the wafer. A lot of different textures and it was at times a little hard to dig through with our spoons but I love me some picnic!IMG_4376.JPGButterscotch pudding ($10.00).  A lovely warming pudding for the cold weather but I would have liked more butterscotch sauce.IMG_4382.JPGIMG_4381.JPGThe District is a really lovely place that is casual and inviting. I wish that this was my local where I could pop in for a quick dinner if I didn’t feel like cooking but still wanted a large variety of things to choose from. Random fact: I really like their taps in the bathroom.

I do intend on returning to try more of their menu but next time without snacking between meals.

Venue: The District

Address:  Crace Central Shopping Centre – Cnr Abena Avenue & Hillcrest St Crace, ACT

Phone: (02) 6162 2265

District on Urbanspoon

Bernie’s from the bay

I don’t know if I’ll start riots in the streets of North Belconnen by adding Bernie’s from the bay onto Urbanspoon, for an establishment which has been there for years I expected it to be on the list or maybe I’ve just unknowingly spilt the beans on the best kept secret of Charnwood?

I remember hearing about this place years ago and my first reaction (although I’m sure it wasn’t uncommon) was ‘what?! Charnwood?’. After several failed attempts and empty promises from local residents, I took myself to Bernie’s from the bay as I had a particularly ravenous craving for fish and chips that day (yes I’m looking at your Pete!).20131201-004053.jpg

There is a selection of fresh seafood (delivered straight from the bay Wednesday through to Friday) that you can request to be grilled/deep fried or buy as fresh seafood.20131201-004119.jpg

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Garlic prawn ($1.60) you could taste the garlic flavour and the batter coating wasn’t too thick.
Homemade prawn cutlet ($3.00 each) this was a really nice crumb on top but I thought it was a bit pricey at $3 a pop.
Chips ($4.00). Great and crunchy (I’m a big fan of the small crunchy pieces)! I saw a woman take away some chips with a bottle of tomato sauce and a loaf of bread in hand. Chip sandwiches!!! That would have been awesome!!!
Crumbed fish ($6.50). The crumb didn’t fall off, it stayed very crisp and the fish was tender and moist. All in all the perfect crumbed fish.                                                             Potato scallop ($1.50?) I don’t usually eat scallops outside of my burger (yes insert a potato scallop into your burger, it’s sooo good!) but I couldn’t put this one down. Golden brown, crunchy and not overly oily, how do they do it?!

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Grilled grenadier fish ($9.00) I asked for a suggestion of the best fish to grill and they chose this one, but I found it lacked seasoning (I do love pepper on my fish) and the meat wasn’t delicate but rather quite clumpy when I was trying to break it apart. A squeeze of lemon helped.

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Pineapple fritter – definitely lacking in cinnamon sugar, as in: it had none what so ever, it would have been perfect otherwise.

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I’m going to put it out there and say it is the best fish and chip shop in Canberra! For a completely deep-fried meal, I didn’t think it was very oily, everything was perfectly cooked to a golden brown colour and retained its heat for quite some time. I would love to come back and grab a burger (with a potato scallop inside of course!).

Venue: Bernies from the Bay takeaway seafood

Address: 33 Charnwood Pl, Charnwood Shopping centre

Phone: (02) 6258 4707

Opening hours: Wednesday – Sunday 11:00am – 8:30pm

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Royal Tara

It’s not that I ran out if places to eat in Canberra nor was I tired from the restaurant scene that I drove over an hour out of Canberra for a meal but I heard that there was an amazing place that I must try out in Binalong which only happens to open for dinner. So out we drove into the country to see what all the fuss was about at the Royal Tara.

The decor is simple and quaint, with all the effort placed in the food and serving it hot and fresh. This place has a very laid back atmosphere with all the locals wheeling in eskys filled with beer and wine, I even saw a guy bring in a bottle of vodka and casually placed it on the table and added it to his drinks. Tables are rearranged to accommodate large tables and families etc, you gotta love the country hospitality.

20131106-215520.jpgRiverport raspberry and lemonade ($4.00). A red slush puppy slushie to the tee!!20131106-212807.jpg

Entree~

Garlic bread 4 large pieces per serve ($5.00). There are some breads that fill you up and there are some other breads make you want more, wet your appetite and then leaving you more hungry than when you started. I had a little smirk when I saw it was topped with cheese. It was so good.

20131106-212504.jpgSpanish garlic prawns Chef’s specialtygreen prawns cooked in chilli and garlic ($18.00). This tasted like they used minced garlic from a bottle but it still had a good garlic punch to it (on the sweeter side) with a good mix of chilli. I love how this was served piping hot with all the oil, garlic and chilli. Lip smacking.20131106-213240.jpg

Crumbed chicken tenderloins with salad greens and sweet chilli ($17.00). Tender crispy chicken morsels that will keep any adult or kid happy.20131106-213354.jpgTempura battered calamari battered calamari rings with salad and lime aoili ($18.00). I didn’t really see much visual difference between the chicken and the calamari. The calamari had a crispy coating while the meat inside was very soft and not chewy at all.20131106-213525.jpg

Mains~

They kept it simple on the menu, there was a choice of fish, chicken or steak and as good as the other options sounded, I knew my stomach was get meal envy if I didn’t get a steak.

Fillet steak tender eye fillet topped with parsley butter – a selection of mustards is available ($28.00). A very tender piece of beef and probably more for the people who didn’t want to have their steak covered in a thick rich sauce.

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Pepper steak fillet steak with green peppercorn cream sauce ($30.00). There was a decent amount of peppercorn in that sauce which I loved, this would have been my second choice for a steak but I chose something different so there was no meal overlap.20131106-213721.jpg

Steak diane fillet steak with garlic cream sauce ($30.00). Every now and then I would steal a bit of TimmyC’s sauce, it was very nice and I probably would have licked the plate if I wasn’t eating at a restaurant with judging eyes around me.

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Fillet steak with mushroom sauce fillet steak with mushroom, tomato and onion sauce ($30.00). All the sauce may have looked ‘brown’ but there was a distinct taste difference between all of them I promise! This was a very good steak, I was worried about not disclosing the size (nothing worse than having a sad little piece of steak on the side of the plate) but it was good decent portion (around 300g?). I also liked how despite everyone having the same vegetables, they didn’t just make it ahead of time and let it sit on a bain marie to get overcooked and mushy, all the vegetables were cooked perfectly. You could really taste the steak and it wasn’t overwhelmed by the sauce of choice. It has been a while since I’ve had a good steak, such a shame this place is so far away!20131106-214126.jpg

No matter what the customer wanted (even if it was well done *gasp*), all the steaks were cooked to perfection.20131106-214325.jpg

and then back to entrees…

Oysters kilpatrick a dozen oysters cooked with bacon and Chef’s secret sauce ($23.00). Yes, while half way through my steak, I started to have eaters regret for not ordering oysters. Trust me, the waitress was as surprised as you were that I was ordering an entree after my main, but to cancel things out I shared a dessert rather than have one to myself, although I was tempted.  They were made very well and I’m always a fan of crisping up the bacon rather than under cooking them under a grill.

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20131106-215131.jpgDessert~

Sticky date pudding served warm with caramel sauce and vanilla ice-cream ($11.00). There was a bit of a dessert stand off, three out of four of us wanted sticky date pudding. I looked on with an unapproving blogger eyes. I convinced TimmyC against his will that he did not want this but rather the refreshing tangy taste of a lemon and lime tart. As soon as the sweet smell of caramel hit the air and the warm caramel pooled around a very moist pudding, I got a dirty look.  We all had a taste of this dessert but instead of relieving curiosity, it gave us all dessert envy. In short, do not get talked out of getting a sticky date pudding.20131106-215301.jpg

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Chocolate mudcake served warm with vanilla ice-cream ($11.00). Probably the most unexciting dessert on the table, it was moist and rich but it just didn’t compare with the other desserts.20131106-215339.jpg

Lemon and lime tart served with vanilla ice-cream ($11.00). Despite being the second choice, this tart was amazing. I was completely blown away by how smooth the tart filling was with the perfect balance between tangy and sweet. A lovely refreshing way to cleanse the palate after a fabulous meal.

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It might be a far way to go for a meal, but I encourage everyone to come out here if you love a good steak. They are supposed to also make fantastic frozen pies (even better than Gum tree pies which is a very big call!) which are usually made on Wednesday but are sold out by the Friday. You wouldn’t think that such a fabulous establishment was attached to a motel out in the sticks.

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Venue: Royal Tara

Address: 27-37 Stephens Street, Binalong, NSW 2584

Phone: (02) 6227 4310

Websitehttp://www.motelroyaltara.com.au/diningroom.htm

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